The Lion King
The King and I
King 5 News
Crown him King
When I say the word “King” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
In my early years as a Christian I read the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. You could say I wanted to know how it all ends. Today I know the book of revelation isn’t necessarily all about the end of the age but rather a letter concerned more about the contemporary issues of the time it was written in. Thanks to the Left Behind series and other ideas about the end of the world I read Revelation strictly through the glasses of end time’s prophecy.
As you can imagine if Revelation is the first Christian book you read from the Bible your view of God will be shaped by that book. We have 66 books in our Bibles and each book holds within it a piece of the theology of who God is. It can become dangerous if we pick and choose our theology from these books without considering the whole of God’s word. But you’ve got to start somewhere right!
As I read Revelation I was profoundly confused, awed, and bewildered by some of its contents. Of all the strange material I’d like to focus on one aspect of that book that shaped my image of God.
A repeated image throughout Revelation is Jesus ruling the nations with an Iron Scepter.
Not knowing exactly what an iron scepter was I looked it up. The definition I came across for an iron scepter was what the king used to execute the wicked who opposed him. Simply put in my own words think of an iron scepter as a “skull cracker”. The imagery in Revelation of Jesus wreaking havoc on the wicked is definitely there and that’s the way I saw Jesus for a long time: as righteous judge and executioner. This is not a wrong understanding of who Jesus is for it is fully supported in scripture. The error creeps in when we believe this is all that Jesus is.
Everyone in this room is a theologian. Everyone who walks the earth at this time is interested in and has a theology. Theology simply means the study of God or what one believes about God.
When I ask what your theology is I want to know what your beliefs about God are. Even those who do not believe in God have a theology and that is that God does not exist. Theology and what we believe about God is the most important endeavor we can pursue. Our beliefs about God are more important than a Doctor pursuing a medical degree or learning how to discipline your children. The reason theology is more important than everything is because everything flows from who you believe God to be. If your God loves and that’s it then your God would never create hell to punish the wicked. If your God is a just judge and that’s it then your God would never offer salvation. The important part of all of this is whatever attributes you believe God to have you yourself will mirror. If God is all about guilt and shame and suffering as a means to pay for your own personal sin you will have guilt, shame, and put yourself through personal suffering because you believe salvation is achieved through the pain you experience. If God is just love you will be a very loving person but have no convictions of what is right and what is wrong.
A.W. Tozer famously stated, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I want us to keep all of this in mind as we delve into how God reveals himself in the Bible. If our theology is not biblically based then we need to re-evaluate our beliefs about who God is. The Bible is our authority on matters of life, faith, but especially theology.
Today’s message is titled “King”. Please open your Bibles with me to 1 Samuel 8. The first time I came across this passage I was a little confused. Israel asks for a king and their justification is so that they can be like all the other nations. This is bad news. Israel was supposed to be separate from the other nations, set apart from the evil and arrogant non-believing countries surrounding her.
Next, God tells Samuel to do what they say for in doing so they are not rejecting Samuel but him.
Here’s a little background behind Samuel’s understanding of Israel rejecting God. In the OT there was a hierarchy in Hebrew society. It can most accurately be defined as a theocracy. Where today we have a president who is elected by the majority vote of the nation’s people, a democracy, back then Israel was a nation truly under God for God was the king. Under Yahweh was the prophet who at this time was Samuel, and under the prophet was the people. God would tell the prophet and the prophet would tell the people. Here however, the people want a say in who they have as their authority. They want to vote Samuel out and replace him with a king who was not God but man.
Samuel would have taken this personally because the people would have been rejecting him but God tells Samuel “Don’t worry they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting me!”
How many of us here know that rejecting God is a bad thing?
This is the part that is difficult to understand: God tells them essentially that taking a human king in his place is sin then tells Samuel to give them a king. Samuel warns Israel what will happen if they take a human king but they still want a king knowing full well the results will be catastrophic.
What happens next? Saul is chosen to be Israel’s king and if you don’t know how badly that ended read on.
I’ve always made sense of God granting Israel’s request for a king, as a punishment. Sort of like Israel asking for something they know is bad and getting it as their punishment. This holiday season all the food that I’ve eaten seems to be this way. I asked for turkey and chocolate, sweet potatoes, and rolls. Those foods and the quantity I’ve consumed have become my punishment! Is anyone else with me on that?
Fast forward with me to 2 Samuel 7:8-17. This is known as the Davidic covenant, the emphasis of the covenant is a king from the line of David will always be on the throne.
There are times in scripture where God gave Israel what they wanted as their punishment, some even died from what they wanted. But the instance concerning a king in Israel has an even deeper revelation of why God allowed a human king in his place.
The argument that a human king became Israel’s punishment can surely be made for out of 39 kings only 8 did what was right and those 8 were not all blameless. 8 out of 39 comes out to about 20% …those are not good odds. The main purpose of the king was to govern the community with righteousness and justice so they would be light and a blessing to the nations. In limited ways these 8 righteous kings did this but none so fully performed the duties of the King as God himself.
The big confusing question: how does God grant Israel’s sinful request for a human king and then later bless them through that sinful indulgence? God is not schizophrenic is he?
Far from it! Everything he does has immense purpose, far beyond that of what we humans can grasp. Every once in a while though, we get a glimpse of his purposes and that’s exciting. When something doesn’t make sense to me from God’s word that’s when I dig harder.
Israel rejected God as her King and God allowed it. Not only did God allow it but he gave them the Davidic covenant ensuring that a king from the line of David would always sit on the throne.
God communicates in ways we can understand. I’ve met a woman who believes that God’s language is German, that his native tongue is German and that only the German translated Bible is the true word of God. During the Medieval age it was believed that Latin was the true and best translation according to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. God is not restricted to any one language; in fact he speaks all languages fluently. Throughout the Bible we have countless
people being spoken to or receiving communication from God in numerous ways. God rarely used the same way to communicate a message; for Moses it was the burning bush, for the Apostle Paul it was a bright light that blinded him. One thing is clear however, God communicated and what he communicated was clear.
We as Christians often know what God is communicating to us, that is rarely the problem. The problem is doing what he is asking us to do. It’s not the message but the reception of the message. “What’s that God? You want me to give this homeless person my money? You need me to provide food for a family who’s fallen on hard times? You want me to give up this sin? Read my Bible? Pray? Preach the Gospel? Show someone love or correct a misguided brother?” It gets worse because when we really know God is calling us to do something we don’t want to do we add a clause, “God if you really want me to do this give me a sign.” God has already given clear communication for us to act then we put him to the test to negotiate our way out of doing his will. I’m not saying that God’s will is always what we don’t want to do. In my experience though, it isn’t always the most comfortable at first.
What is God communicating in the book of Samuel?
Earlier I mentioned Revelation and my understanding of Jesus as a judge with an iron scepter. When I thought of Jesus I pictured a righteous and mighty King sitting on his sovereign throne pounding his scepter into the ground proclaiming I AM KING!!! I AM SOVEREIGN!!! I AM SUPREME!!! For the earlier part of my Christian life I saw God as sovereign in the sense of do not cross him or he’ll rain down fire and brimstone. I think that was how Israel viewed God as their king. I can envision them saying, “He makes too many rules, he doesn’t care for us, we could do it better! Put a human king in his place so we can be like everyone else.” Doing things so you can be like other people is never a good motive.
Israel, the people of God, rejected God as their King. Israel saw God as unfit to rule so they asked for a human to be put in his place. God granted their request to communicate something to them! God wanted Israel to know he was king but more importantly he wanted them to want him to be their king. It took Israel 1,000 years to realize God was king and to actually want him to be their King.
Matthew 21:1-5. In Jesus Israel as well as the world came to understand God not as a strict judgmental ruler with an iron scepter proclaiming I AM KING!!! But as a tender loving humble God stating, “I am king”. He’s not out to prove anything, he doesn’t have to. God had great patience in communicating the need for a king in a way Israel and the world could understand.
God took Israel from a place of not wanting him as king to the place of understanding they NEED Him to be their King. Jesus became the King we needed and not necessarily the king we wanted. All of the disciples thought Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman Empire and take his place as King…but he didn’t establish his kingdom in the way they thought he would.
Maybe you are in a place where you don’t want God to be your King in all areas of your life quite yet. If you don’t want Jesus to be your king now, you will find yourself in a situation where you will need Jesus to be your King later. Don’t take your time in accepting Jesus as King because there is one day when he will no longer communicate that he is King you’ll just know it and it might be too late. For one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The question is will you come to him on your terms or his.
In closing I’d like to read Psalm 72-
May God be the King that you need and want this new year.