When God established his natural kingdom on the earth at Sinai, he made it abundantly clear that the kingdom of God could not coexist with idolatry.
Exodus 20:3-5: “”You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them…”
The history of Israel and Judah is transparently laid out through the books of Kings and Chronicles. In reading these accounts, it is apparent that kings who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord prospered, and those who did not suffered at the hands of their enemies, and at the hands of God‘s justice.
2 Chronicles 28:1-5: “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: and he didn’t do that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, like David his father; but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for the Baals. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Yahweh cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. Therefore Yahweh his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they struck him, and carried away of his a great multitude of captives, and brought them to Damascus. He was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with a great slaughter.”
In his blindness to the things of God, Ahaz even went so far as to blatantly worship the gods of his enemies because he figured that they had helped them against his own army.
2 Chronicles 28:22-23: “In the time of his distress, he trespassed yet more against Yahweh, this same king Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which struck him; and he said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, so I will sacrifice to them, that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.”
In it’s national and natural form, the kingdom of God was being demonstrated and lived out through each of the kings that had arisen to power. Time and time again, the good kings prospered, while those who did what was wrong in God’s sight did not prosper. These examples in the natural realm were the model and pattern for the spiritual kingdom which was to follow.
The apostle Paul spoke to this issue in his letter to the church at Corinth. Today many people interpret this passage as applying to marriage; however, the context actually applies to the believers coming out from amidst idolatry in their society which they had turned away from to follow God. Paul was encouraging the believers to maintain separation from the idolatry around them because, as God had stated on Sinai and as the natural history of Israel and Judah had proven, the kingdom of God cannot exist alongside the kingdom of darkness.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “‘Come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.””
We, as believers today, are the kingdom of God on earth and we are his representatives. If it was critical in ancient times that the entire nation of Israel and the groups of early believers were to come out from the idolatry around them, it is just as critical and important for us to do the same. According to Paul, the two cannot exist side-by-side and work in harmony. We must choose whether we are seeking first the kingdom or if we are choosing to compromise with the corrupted standards around us.
Matthew 6:33: “But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.