Tag Archives: kingdom

The goal of Easter is a life of fully satisfied justice

By Daniel Downs

While Jews celebrate the freedom from oppression from tyrants like Pharaoh and Haman, they do not forget the holocaust. I have read that many Jews forsook God because of this horrific event. Yet, the senseless death of millions of Zion’s children proved to be more like birth pangs. It was a bloody birth but Israel was reborn in 1948.

Israel was birth through the bloody confrontation between God and Egypt. Even though enslaved Jews in ancient were as worthy of God’s justice for their own sins, God passed over their lives during that confrontation. Why? Because he saw the blood of sinless souls. The sacrificed life of those morally inculpable souls God deemed sufficient to satisfy justice’s demands.

Easter is the season during which Christians also celebrate God’s Passover. No, it is not the same as the Passover observed by Jews. Rather, it is a celebration of the blessings of God promised Abraham. Christians enter into covenant blessings of Zion through the Jew Jesus.

Many focus on death Jesus during this season and rightly so. The moral changes of life experienced as a result of a developing relationship with God through Christ testifies to the divine acceptance of the only sinless sacrifice capable of fully and eternally satisfying God’s justice.

From a philosophical perspective, the moral crimes of humanity cannot be fully satisfied by inculpable souls i.e. animals. For the death of an animal as punishment for human sin, this substitute must be without sin for the soul that sin dies. A soul dead in sin could hardly be acceptable. Yet, animals cannot commit moral crimes as far as we know; only human are capable and culpable of such crimes. That is why the death of animals could never cease flowing on behalf of humanity: the death of animals is not fully sufficient to atone for human sin.

As previously mentioned, only a sinless human being could fully satisfy the demands of divine justice for all time for all people. That is reason why the one apostle who saw Jesus after his resurrection and ascension to heaven, Paul, said all who accept Jesus death and Lordship as covenant with God are justified, which mean both acquitted of all charges of moral crime and regarded as righteous by God. Notice, justification is sealed by Jesus’ resurrection. Paul, a Pharisee who was confronted by the resurrected Jesus and not the intellectual myth claimed by liberalism, realized the law of redemption is completed by Christ. The moral law of God inherent the covenants of God never ceased, only the never-ending need for animals to bear the punishment for human crimes against that law of God.

Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus because he is their representative before God. His suffering, punishment and death is their suffering, rightful punishment and death. His resurrection represents their future. Hence, Christians enjoy the benefits of covenanted salvation because it is of the Jews. Jesus is the one sinless Jew who was the progeny on many Jews going back beyond King David and Jacob to Abraham. As Adam was federal head of sinful humanity, Jesus reigns as Lord over a new age of people renewed to the glory of God as those seeking to live holy lives this world now that is not yet fully His kingdom.

Adventure with God to the holy city

Deal bountifully with your servant,
That I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from your law.
I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide your commandments
         From me.
My soul is crushed with longing
After your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from your commandments.
(Psalms 119:17-21)

Studying the word of God is a wonderful adventure. It is a journey of exploration. The journey is not unlike the kind portrayed in Indian Jones movies. It is life-long profession that is often perilous. Overcoming the terrible obstacles means getting to and possessing the treasure. The Lost Ark is the treasure. The Ark represented the presence of God. The journey is thus both with and to God. It is a progressive relationship with our creator-redeemer-king. Inside the Ark was deposited the covenant and testimony God gave to Israel and the world. Thus the treasure deposited inside the Ark is God’s word.

As Psalms 119: 17-18 states, the treasure is more than something to gain for personal profit. It is something learned and lived while on the adventurous journey called life. It is life lived by the bounteous provision of the divine King in His kingdom. God’s kingdom encompasses our world as well as the entire universe. Nevertheless, those invited chose to enter by choice not by coercion.

The Psalmist expressed his emotional attachment to God. As above, the Psalmist’s emotional bonds to God are mediated through God’s concrete laws, testimonies, and judgments–in other words, God’s covenantal word.

As we are on the journey, we too may keenly feel like a stranger in a secular world. The secular world does not know God. Even many religious communities or nations, do not seem to know God. At least not as we experience the living God. You, I, or the Psalmist are not alone in this sense of being in a foreign land. The gospels express in great detail how Jesus not only felt this but, according to Christian teaching, he was literally from another world–from heaven. Like other acclaimed prophets, the feeling of not being of the present world is typical. The 11th chapter of Hebrews gives us a list of how many of them were treated as aliens as well. A more contemporary version of such a list is the Book of Martyrs.

As for the Psalmist, the people of God living in a world of biological and social necessities often experience periods of distraction in which they feel like souls disconnected from the life-giving Spirit. This is often described as weariness but not necessarily physiological. It can be spiritual affecting our mental state. Spiritual fatigue can create an intense longing for the renewed vitality experienced by communing with God mediated through meditation on His word. It is a moving meditation because the time spent contemplating the word results in mutual human-divine acts along the journey. Genuine relationships are always lived through mutual acts of communication and support.

That is meaning of verses 19 and 20.

However, the Psalmist is right to remember the consequences for erring from the commandments of God. Is it any different in secular society? Does breaking the law not result in suffering the penalty for doing so? Can mates violate their sacred vows of trust and loyalty without doing harm to their once mutual trust, love, and future life together? The end result is best defined as death. Death is the severance of morally bonded relationships. Can there be any worse curse than such a death? (v.21)

One reason for believing Psalm 119 was authored by King David is found in verses 22-24. Here again we read expressions of one who must have experienced injustices similar to those suffered by king David. Although anointed as king by the prophet Samuel, the same prophets who had also anointed Saul, David’s ascent to the throne was met with violent attempts to kill him. His rival was then King Saul, who had both ordered others to kill him as well as attempted it himself many times. After divine providence saw fit to end the evil reign of Saul, David was finally made king over Israel. Yet, his son, Absalom, was later to counsel with others about taking over the kingdom. Even David’s son attempted to kill the anointed one. There were leaders of other tribes and kingdoms who schemed against David as well. Yet, God’s chosen one overcame them all.

It is reasonable to conclude that these verses were part of very intensely felt prayer for help from God by David. For consider their content:

Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on your statutes.
Your testimonies are also my delight;
They are my counselors.
(Psalms 119:22-24)

Our Lord Jesus seconded David’s prayer when he proclaimed:

Blessed are you when people insult you and
Persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of
evil against you because of me. Rejoice and
be glad, for your reward in heaven is great;
for in the same way they persecuted the
prophets who were before you.

This is the last in a list of beatitudes and part of a summary of messages delivered by Jesus during his prophetic and redemptive ministry in ancient Israel. It is called a be-attitude for obvious reasons.

Because the Lord claims the sole right to vengeance for evils done against His people, we who are members of His kingdom must follow the righteous example David and Jesus. History has evidenced that both were victorious by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. (Micah 6:8). Whereas David was a victorious king in his time, Jesus remains victorious for all times. His victory is eternal because he perfectly and fully accomplished God will and redemptive plan without violating the moral law of God. Because the redemptive justice of God was fully satisfied through the sinless life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus resign over God’s kingdom is the prize of the adventure and treacherous journey to the eternal city of God.

Unlike David, Jesus was killed but God raised him from death and made him Lord over all. God made Jesus a winner of the prize of a sinless life that accomplished redemptive justice for all humanity, or, should I say, for whomsoever will humbly accept the divine terms.

Sabbath Discussions : On the most outrageous statement in Revelation (the book)

One of the most outrageous statements penned by the writer of Revelation is this:

Jesus Christ … the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:5)

How could John claim that Jesus was the ruler over the vicious Christian murdering Roman king Domitian? Show me any other king in the world who came to the aid of persecuted Christians before Emperor Constantine. I don’t know of any king today who appears to be ruled by Jesus either. Surely, the collective Emperor called the U.S. Congress does not follow the rule of Jesus Christ.

Do you doubt that Congress is king of a kingdom? Several years ago when new Congress was being sworn into office I caught the last part of the speech and prayer of the high ranking military chaplain, a black general, who was officiating over the ceremony. He instructed Congress to rule the kingdom they were inheriting well. There also seems to be a consensus among political analysts, economists, historians, theologians, journalists, and other scholars that America has achieved the status ruler over a global empire, and most regard it as an economic one. Some historians have shown how similar our federal government is to the Roman Empire at its terrible apex. Satan gave Jesus the tempting opportunity to rule over both the Roman Empire and all other earthly kingdoms as well. (Mt. 4 and Lk. 4)

Back to my question–how then could John make such an outrageous statement? Unless he saw Christians reigning with Jesus after the yet to occur resurrection, he could not be referring to Christ’s faithful followers. The world experienced what Christian rule was like. In the end, the Church ruling empire was not very Christ-like, just ask Martin Luther, John Calvin, or any of the dearly beheaded.

John may have meant that when Jesus returns he will reign over the kings of the earth. This would conform to the Hebrew prophets, the gospels, epistles, and Revelation 11:15-19.

However, I believe John is making a literal declaration not merely a prophetic one, which is supported by the gospels and epistles as well.

For Jesus to rule of the kings of the earth, Satan would have to loose his right and authority to do so. Jesus never disputed Satan’s right or authority to give him authority over all the kingdoms of the earth. (Mt. 4; Lk. 4) In fact, Jesus acknowledges the rule of Satan over the world. (Jo. 14:30; 12:31) The apostle Paul also acknowledged this rule. (Eph. 2:1-2) The thing to notice is this: Satan’s rule over the earth was from heaven, but he was thrown out of heaven to the earth. (Rev. 12:7-11; Jo. 12:31) The mission of Jesus was not just to restore willing humans the benevolent rule and kingdom of God. His mission also was to destroy Satan’s works and end his right to rule over repentant humanity. (1 Jo. 3:8; Heb. 2:14) Jesus accomplished the first by dying to satisfy justice fully for our moral crimes against God’s law. Having paid that price, he accomplished the second when God raised from the dead and gave him all of the authority both in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18). Paul describes this best in his letter to the Colossians:

For [God] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…. When [Jesus] had disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through [God]. (Col. 1:13; 2:15)

Everyone throughout the Roman Empire would have understood Paul’s meaning. It was common practice by the Roman generals to parade before all leaders and citizens of Rome the kings and leaders of conquered peoples and nations. All who read or heard Paul’s words understood that Jesus not only defeated his enemies but that he and heaven celebrated Satan’s and his followers humiliating defeat.

According to Peter, Jesus could not ascend to the throne of God until after angels, authorities, and powers had been subjected to him. (1 Pe. 3:22)

This may explain why Jesus appeared off- and-on to the disciples for forty days before his ascension. (Ac. 1:3, 9-11)

Paul further explains that after his resurrection, Jesus, the firstborn of all creation, created anew all spiritual and physical positions of authority and their powers. (Col. 1:16) This means no matter how many may rebel against the order and authority of Jesus’ rule the world will in the end bow to his world order. (Php. 2:9-11)

Though Jesus has authority over all powers as well as over all flesh (Jo. 17:2), but not all spirits or humans intend to submit to the kingly rule of Jesus Christ. The republican form of constitutional democracy may very well have reflected the rule of Lord Jesus. It certainly was shaped and informed by biblical principles. The noble idea of a nation that shines the biblical based light of law and freedom may have inspired many peoples; but,today, national and global trends indicate a determination not toward a messianic world but rather toward the kind worthy of judgment as previewed in Revelation.

The new types of ruler and kings of the earth cannot win by opposing the biblical reign of God’s risen Messiah. They certainly will never create a world of peace, justice, and prosperity for all by following the model of Rome or Satan. As any ruler worthy of the title, Jesus will have the last word concerning all of their schemes and plans.

Jesus died so that all of us could have an abundant life in good standing with the Supreme Judge of the world. Therefore, he is adamantly opposed to the abundance of choices for death, immorality, and injustice–social, economic, or any other kind. The wisest choice would be for a culture oriented to life, which is by definition messianic, and Jesus–a Jew–still agrees even after 2,000 years.