Friday, January 23, 2009


I love tracing the kingdom of God through the OT with my Redemptive History students [10th grade]. Some of them totally get it and others just write stuff down to pass the next test. We've talked about how important this idea of the kingdom is to the God's story and the storyline of the Bible.

In creation, man is described in kingly terms; creation is about the kingdom [Gn 1.26-31].

When the people sing and dance after being freed from the clutches of Pharoah, the last line of their song is about YHWH as the King of the kingdom [Ex 15.18].

The covenant YHWH makes with them at Sinai is about them becoming a kingdom of priests [Ex 19.4-6].

When they finally get into the land and struggle through 200 years of deliverers [the book of Judges], the last verse in Judges is about them lacking a king and how problematic this is for them as YHWH''s people [Jdgs 21.25].

The people then beg Samuel for a king so they can be like the other nations. YHWH tells Samuel that this is because they have rejected Him as king and have lost their vision of His call to them to be a kingdom of priests [1 Sam 8.4-7].

YHWH then initiates an unconditional covenant with David in which He promises David that one of his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandkids will be YHWH's king over His kingdom forever [2 Sam 7.8-16].

David finds these promises so sweet and good that he won't shut up about it. He wrote scores of songs rejoicing that God is King and will prove it one day in a HUGE, covenantal way! Some of these are: Ps 24.7-10, 47.5-9, 93.1-2, 95.1-5, 97.1, 99.1, 100.4, 103.19-22, 145.8-13, 149.1-14, and others.

After the kingdom split, the prophets continued to declare that God's kingship was coming in the same way David sang about. However, for those who were rebellious and did not delight in YHWH as king, His kingly coming would be judgment for them. Some of these prophetic texts are: Is 6.1-3, Is 9.6-7, Is 44.6-8, Is 52.7, Jer 23.5-6, Ezk 1-2 [the throne imagry], Ezk 34.23-24, Dan 4.34-35, Dan 7.9-22, Obad 1.21, Zeph 3.14-17, Zech 14.9-21, and others. And, like Jesus said, all the prophets prophesied until John [Mt 11.13].

But then.

He arrives.

YHWH's King. David's Son. Isaiah's Servant-King. Ezekiel's Shepherd-King.

In the NT, the first thing we have recorded from the mouth of John the Baptist and from the lips of our Lord is shattering: "Repent! The kingdom is at hand!" [Mt 3.2, Mt 4.17]

This changes everything. Roman oppression will die. YHWH's people will finally be a kingdom of priests. All covenants will be totally fulfilled. All wrongs will be righted. Justice will finally be served!

But it didn't happen exactly like they thought.

However, there is still hope [this is where it clicked for a lot of my students]. We went to Gen 1-2 and saw that in creation, the kingdom is seen in its perfection - man reigning with God, like God and for God over His created order. Then, we flipped to the end of the story in Rev 21-22. Can we see anything in the New Creation that was similair to the creation in Gen 1-2? Yes. We see man reigning and ruling with God, like God, and for God over the new heavens and the new earth.

If we know that this snapshot will be the fruit of God's gracious promises in Jesus, we must have humility and confidence to live as His kings and priests right now. This hope is the lens through which we must view the word of God and the world around us, serving the King of all kings.


Anonymous said...

What's your view on tithing? Is it a sin not to tithe 10 percent or was that an old law like sacrificing animals that you don't have to follow?

jim thompson said...

i believe that God loves a cheerful giver. i also see in the NT that believers should be giving their whole life away... this includes their money, their stuff, their time, their talents, etc. further, the only time tithing is mentioned in the NT is in Mt 23 in which Jesus blasts the Pharisees for tithing out of their spice racks and not caring about mercy and justice. so, i would say that you better give money to your local congregation because you LONG FOR and DESIRE kingdom work to expand and not because you feel coerced by the precision of a command in the NT.