Anticipating Advent: A Kingdom Not of This World

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Coppo di Marcovaldo. Majestas Domini (Christ in Majesty). Battistero di San Giovanni. Firenze ITALY. second half of the 13th century

 

And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there…. 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in.
Judges 17:5-10

Even in the era of the judges, people who did as they pleased were simultaneously acting out God’s perfect will, as seen in remarks that Samson’s pursuit of a Philistine wife “was from the Lord” (Jg 14:4) and that Eli’s evil sons ignored their father’s admonition because “it was the will of the LORD to put them to death” (1 Sam 2:25). Nevertheless, the Israelite were particularly compassless and unstable without an earthly king. They asked God for a King “to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam 8:20). God warned them that they were rejecting the Lord as king and that the king they sought would take their land and bind them in servitude. Alas, the kings of Israel and Judah often acted with varying combinations of faithlessness, idolatry, petulance, tyranny, cowardice, and ineptitude; their subjects were no better. The people eventually came under external control.

With this backdrop, God sent his Son to be born in Bethlehem as a King without fault, yet one who claims of us not merely the property with which he has entrusted us but also our hearts. “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Co 10:5).   In fact, Jesus commanded us to be perfect (Mt 5:48). And “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (1 Co 5:10). But thanks be to God that his King provides what his law requires. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13). He strengthens us and has sent his Spirit to guide us in obedience. And when we inevitably and repeatedly fail in spite of that, it is his sacrificial work alone that can make us right with God. We cannot and need not compensate him the way Micah paid the Levite from Bethlehem.

Jesus informed Pilate (and Jesus’ mistaken disciples) that his kingdom was not of this world. But we know that in a day to come, he will return with power, and every knee will bow to Him, the King of kings and Lord of lords. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb 12:28). Let us worship Christ, the newborn King!
~Nick Wonder

 

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