He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”Matthew 13:31-32
In many ways, God’s kingdom had an insignificant beginning, much like the mustard seed parable. God chose Abraham to father a nation. Abraham was an ordinary person, obscure, nothing remarkable about him. In just a few generations, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, his twelve sons had blossomed like that seed into a large nation – about a million people.
In His covenant with Abraham, God promises that Abraham will be the father of many nations and that kings will come through him. This is the first hint of a line of kings. As Jacob blesses his twelve sons right before his death, he speaks of a scepter, a ruler’s staff between the feet of Judah. Still, there was no king in Israel. In His covenant with the people of Israel, God clarifies that He desires that they would be a kingdom of priests, their purpose to represent God to the surrounding nations and be a bridge to God. But still, there was no king.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”Exodus 19:3-6
Israel wanted a “real” king. They wanted a king like all other nations to fight for them. They ignored, overlooked, forgot the kingly actions of God on their behalf. God delivered the people from Egypt with great power, He defeated the Egyptian army and led them into the promised land, defeating various inhabitants. God directed and fought for them. It is not that God did not want the Israelites to have an earthly king – the covenant with Abraham had foreshadowed a line of kings. Instead, the people rejected theocracy, God as their king, for a temporal monarchy. They wanted the wrong kind of king!
Interestingly, God gave the Israelites an earthly king even though He knew that so many of those kings would be evil and that they would lead the people astray. I can’t help but wonder what prayers of mine God has answered that might have been better unanswered.
Of course, before the foundation of the world, God had a plan for a king, the best kind of king. The poetic words of Isaiah are so beautiful –
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.Isaiah 9:6-7
In 2 Samuel 7, we have another glimpse of the future and glorious king. The story has an interesting play on words. David is on the throne. Although not perfect, he is a man after God’s own heart. After God had given David rest from all his enemies, David looked out from his palace and decided he wanted to build a house for God. The tabernacle/tent was about 400 years old. David’s palace was quite lovely. Maybe David felt a bit guilty that he lived in luxury, and God lived in a tent. But God says no. Instead, God reminds David how He took him from the pasture, tending flocks, and appointed him ruler over His people. God had been with him, cutting off his enemies and making his name great. Then God says that He will establish a house for David – not a house of cedar but a spiritual house!
“When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. … Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16
This promise is an example of “already and not yet!” God does establish David’s throne – at least for some years. David’s son, Solomon, builds the temple, the house for God. But David’s descendants do not reign on the throne forever in an earthly sense; David’s line lost the kingship under Zedekiah.
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”Luke 1:30-33
Jesus is the “real” king. Through Jesus, who is born of the lineage of David, God establishes His forever kingdom! And in us, He is building up a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. … Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.Hebrews 3:1, 6
My prayer today, that I might fix my thoughts on Jesus, being confident that it is Christ in me that is my hope of glory! Father, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Teach me your ways and lead me in your paths. May I listen and obey well. And most of all, may I desire no king but you in my life.
* If you are interested in listening to the sermon on which my notes are based, here is the link to Pastor Paul’s sermon from Christ Church Cedar Park!
** If you want to follow this series of notes on the king and HIs kingdom, here are the previous links: