A Different Kind of Kingdom (Thurs. Dec. 24)

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

The word of the day is “kingdom.”  On the eve of the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ, we hear of the identity of the child to be born and the significance of His birth.

As our reading of Hebrews 1:1-12 begins, the apostle argues that the angels may be magnificent.  But the divine Son of God is greater than the most stupendous angel.  Through Him, the worlds were made. He was His Reign is Forever the agent of the Creator who laid the foundations of the earth.  In Him, the brightness of God’s glory shines.  With Him, there is no change or alteration.

On Him, God has poured the anointing oil of kingship, for He has come to earth to establish an everlasting Kingdom, a reign that is far superior to any rule or authority on earth. Other kingdoms rise and fall.  Other kings make laws, collect taxes, govern lands, exercise authority, appoint administrators, order servants, make alliances, muster armies, fight battles.  Yet for all their efforts, their reigns come to an end.  Even their heirs cannot secure their reigns.

  His Reign is Forever

But the eternal Father who anointed Him King said,  “Your throne, O God is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).  The Greek phrase translated as “forever and ever” means “from age to age,” that is, from one era to the next (Strong’s #165, 10).  The Son made the heavens and the earth.  But like the kingdoms of this world, they will reach their end.  The apostle quotes the psalmist who says, “They will grow old like a garment, like a cloak You will fold them up” (vs. 12 quoting Psalm 102:26). The Greek text reads, “like a robe, you will roll them up, they will also be changed like a garment” (Hebrews 1:120).  The sense is that you will wrap up (Strong’s #1667, 85) a worn-out outer garment (Strong’s #4018, 198), and then the heavens and earth will be exchanged for another (Strong’s #236, 14).  However, the quotation from the Psalm continues, “But you are the same and your years have no end” (Psalms 102:27). In other words, the Lord’s Kingdom will endure forever because the King will live forever.  This immortal King fulfills the vision of the Prophet Daniel, “The God of heaven will raise up a kingdom, and it shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).

Certainly, the child born to sit on the throne of his forefather David is no ordinary king (Luke 1:32).  Nor were the circumstances of His birth typical.  He is the Son of God who descended from the glories of heaven to reside in a stable.  He left his royal throne to be cradled in a manger.  He took off the robes of his kingly majesty to be wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Yet He is a King.  He springs up from the  “root of Jesse, and is the descendant of the great King David (11:1).  The humble conditions of his birth reflect the nature of His Kingdom.  The prophets foretold that God would anoint a King unlike any other, a ruler better than any who came before Him.

The Rule of the King

In the Vespers service for the Eve of the Nativity, we read in Isaiah 11:1-16 about the nature of the Lord’s reign.  In this lofty passage, the Prophet Isaiah wrote:  He will be filled with the Spirit of God with all wisdom and understanding (Isaiah 11:2).  He will judge without partiality and will champion the cause of the poor and humble (Isiah 11: 4). Conversely,  he will strike the ungodly with the “word of his mouth” (Isaiah 11:4).  His reign will be a lasting era of righteousness, truth, and peace that has no end (Isaiah 9:6). Moreover, he will gather the Chosen People who are scattered throughout the earth (Isaiah 11:12) while he will be the Gentiles’ hope (Isaiah 11:10).  Finally, the Prophet declares that the King will vanquish His enemies (Isaiah 11:13).

All of these promises of an everlasting King and eternal Kingdom are now wrapped in swaddling cloths.  Out of the tiny village of Bethlehem has come the “Ruler,” whom the Prophet Micah said would “shepherd My people Israel (Matthew 2:6).  Of him, the priest Zechariah declared, “Blessed is the Lord God, for He has visited and redeemed His people.   He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (Luke 1:68—69).  The word “redeemed” in the Greek text means “delivered” or “released from bondage” (Strong’s #3085, 154).  Thus, Zechariah says that the newborn King has come to save us from our enemies” (vs. 1:74).  Again, the thought is that the People of God would be “delivered,” that is, rescued and brought to safety (Strong’s #4991, 246) from the menace of their enemies.  The phrase “the horn of salvation, is a metaphor of power and overwhelming strength (Strong’s #2768, 1317).  Being so delivered from our enemies, we can now serve the Lord “without fear, in holiness, and righteousness all the days of our lives” (Isaiah 11:74-75).  To summarize, the Son of God divested Himself of divine glory to be born in a cave.

For Reflection

Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that our King be born in lowliness and meekness.  For the King will become our Savior, a Redeemer who will deliver us from the greatest enemies of the human race, sin, death, and the devil.  Against them, no worldly ruler could prevail.  But the ruler who lies in a manger will wield the weapons of truth, goodness, and beauty.  Above all, he will arm himself with love that never ceases and never fails.  With loving-kindness, He will defeat our foes and bring us into His never-ending reign.

 

Leave a Reply