The Kingdom of God 5: The character of the king
If a Principality is ruled by a Prince,
what is a Sheikdom ruled by?
So what is a Duchy ruled by?
And a Republic?
A Realm on the other hand is a derivative of the French word Royaume and is ruled by royalty eg King, Queen, Prince, Duke etc.
Funnily enough, The German word ‘Reich’ also means ‘a realm’ and actually refers to earlier times when Germany had a crowned monarch. Also you may be interested to know that the German version of the Lord's Prayer uses the words ‘
uses the words ‘Dein Reich komme’
....’your kingdom come’
So final question then, who rules over a Kingdom?.....
That's right... A King
But we are here to talk about the Kingdom of God and more specifically about the King himself.
We are going to try and explore something of the character of the King....the character of King Jesus or God himself
Britain has a monarchy, and is referred to a Kingdom, but what sort of power does our monarch actually have?
The true answer is very little apart from the trivial powers that have been granted her by the people. Like asking a new PM to form a government. However that has not always been the case. Royalty in the middle ages had enormous power compared to today. They could impose taxes, conscript armies, start wars, make new laws, and even have people executed if they so desired.
The Kingdom of God is also ruled by a King with absolute power, but how does He choose to use it? Totally different to what we read of our former Kings in history books!
There is a saying, ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
The character of our King Jesus on the other hand is absolutely different. His nature is wonderfully different as we shall see.
So let’s look at the character of our King from some different perspectives.
How does God see himself?
How He is seen by the Psalmist
How He is revealed by Jesus
How the rest of Scripture sees Him
How His character reveals something of His Kingdom
1. How does God see himself?
We can be forgiven if in the past we sometimes held a childlike image that God is severe and unapproachable. This is perhaps reinforced by God declaring himself to be a jealous being and in the impression that belonging to God is a series of ‘You shall not’s’ which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ex 20:2-6 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
· has our welfare at heart, wanting to ensure that we don’t put any substitutes before our worship of Him,
· knowing this would eventually lead to our alienation from Him, and our ultimate downfall.
God’s rules are in everyone’s best interest. They were not designed to reduce one’s enjoyment of life.
Why do we tell a child not to play or run near a busy road?
Why do we discourage youth from drinking heavily or from smoking or taking illegal substances?
Why do we tell them to abstain from sexual encounters in a non committed relationship? ……Because we know that the outcome can be disastrous!
God is even more concerned about our welfare than we are! That’s why he gave wise instructions to the people he loved so much
Still today, above all, God wants a relationship with us individually.
The word jealous does not only mean envious, or unhappy that someone else has something that you want. It also can mean being extremely careful in protecting what you hold as precious. (e.g a jealously guarded secret)
Unlike us God can never lie. His character demands of himself that He always speaks truth. There is no falsehood in anything God says.
Listen to some of the words that He gave Balaam to prophecy to Balak, King of the Moabites, after Balak had asked Balaam to curse Israel,
Num 23:19-20 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
David declares in Psalm 89 what God had told him,
33-35 I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness-- and I will not lie to David--
So we can take the promises of God on face value! He means what He says! What He promises He will fulfil, though sometimes we just don’t understand the outcome.
Practically all of us have preferences and bias that affects our judgments and decisions, but one thing we know is that God is scrupulously fair. Moses knew the character of God when he said,
Deut 32:3-4 I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
Nehemiah also said of God,
Neh 9:13 You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good.
Neh 9:33 In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.
So often our treatment of each other is unfair, or even selfish, but with God you can expect complete impartiality and absolute fairness, though God’s justice doesn’t always appear when we would most like it to.
God is pure. God personifies righteousness. Nothing unclean or impure can approach Him. We call this Holiness. God declares himself to be holy.
Lev 11:45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
Now although we know that our old natures are far from holy, once making it impossible for us to even enter the presence of God, we now can with complete confidence because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.
We could go on and on.
2. How He is seen by the Psalmist
The Psalms are packed with revelation as to God’s character, so I have picked just one passage to illustrate something of our King who reigns within His Kingdom.
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no-one can fathom.
4 One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.
5 They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you.
11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made.
14 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving towards all he has made.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
If you searched Psalms and marked every reference to God’s wonderful nature, you won’t find too many spaces left!
3. How He is revealed by Jesus
So many of us would just love to be able to see the Father with our eyes. I believe though, that as we are in our present human flesh, we would be unable to cope with the sheer splendour of His glorious being. Many others experienced this difficulty too. Moses for example made this request when he asked God to show him his glory. See what God replied,
Ex 33:18-23 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live." Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
But now, since Jesus has paid the price for all our sin and shortcomings, Father has bidden us enter His presence, for each one of us to enter the Most Holy Place where He dwells. He wants us there! He delights in welcoming us.
In OT times, the ‘Holy of Holies’ was restricted to just one person, the High Priest, and even then only once per year! The writer to the Hebrews confirms this.
Heb 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
So how can we enter this place and remain alive? Because we no longer enter in our old sinful, human frame but as a new spiritual being, utterly and totally forgiven. Our Lord Jesus made this all possible!
So when we want to know what God the Father is like, we can only gauge what He is like by looking at the character of Jesus. Listen to Jesus talking to Philip,
"Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
So the character of the King of the Kingdom is the character of Jesus. It is personified in all the beauty of Jesus. And if you were asked to describe the character of Jesus, it is likely you would develop a list something like this,
Loving, caring, compassionate, forgiving, gentle, truthful, confident, prayerful, peace loving, challenging, hating falsehood and hypocrisy, questioning wrong motives, sinless, focussed, making God’s priority his priority, ambitious only to do the will of the Father, putting the needs of others before himself, welcoming, giving time to the unlovely and the needy……
…we can go on and on! There are clearly many more!
Make a list of your own describing how you see your King, and then from that list pick the three characteristics that leastdescribe yourself, and pray and ask the Lord to help you develop them in your character and behaviour.
However, no matter how difficult the characteristics of Jesus that we want to see developed in us, there is the certain hope that one day all of us who love Him, without exception, will be like Him!
1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
4. How the rest of scripture sees Him
Jesus chose to summarise God’s commandments into two simple statements,
Matt 22:37-39 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'
I think we can summarise the character of Jesus too. We find it in two words, passion and love.
John (the disciple who leaned on Jesus’ chest…the one who knew the love of Jesus) encourages us to emulate one of these outstanding characteristics of our King
1 John 4:7-21 let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
So whatever we take away from this brief examination of the character of our King, let one feature remain in our minds.
Let it consume our motivation.
Let it be our passion
Let it override all other aspects of our nature
If we are to love God, we must also love others too
5. How His character reveals something of His Kingdom
We have observed the nature and character of our King. This reveals something about His realm too……the Kingdom of God.
Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom (Matt 6 v33). Our ability to enter it is conditional on us being born again ( John 3:3 Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." )
However, having received the keys to the Kingdom (Matt 16v19) as a gift following salvation, it is incumbent upon us to enter that Kingdom and participate of its benefits.
· The keys are our passport to God’s Kingdom. But it’s up to us individually to enter and occupy this Kingdom.
· The children of Israel were given a land to possess, but they had to occupy it by aggression.
· When we were saved God came looking for us, but He expects us to go looking for the Kingdom
Jesus himself described the Kingdom as being something which must be sought aggressively.
(Matt11 v12)…violent men take it by force, (violent meaning, focused, intent, active commitment)
Passion on our part is required to pursue this goal
- Jesus also indicated that the Kingdom is like treasure found in a field, such that a man sells everything he owns to buy the field.
- Now we can’t buy salvation so Jesus is describing something here that we must actively pursue by our own efforts. Commitment to this goal demands all that we have to attain it!
- It requires passion!
Jesus tells us simply that the Kingdom of God cannot be seen. Its not a geographical realm. It’s within us (Luke 17:20-21 Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
Finally we are reminded (1 Cor 4v20) that the Kingdom of God is,
- not a matter of talk but of power.
- not ‘pie in the sky’ theory or ‘fancy words’,
but is evident by the power of God being demonstrated in our lives.
So I believe the character of our King is summed up by two aspects …..love and passion.
Let’s ask ourselves, ‘Do I possess these characteristics in my pursuit of the Kingdom?