Who is the King of glory?

The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in battle!

Psalm 24: 8

 

There is a battle going on around us. We know that this is a literal truth in our times, for there are stories and reports of armed conflict coming out of almost every corner of our earth. We are also aware of the violent nature of our times in that terrible things are happening in places and to people who would otherwise seem to be living and carrying out life in very safe conditions. As a follower of Christ, I certainly do see that we are also engaged in a daily struggle with evil and with the forces of our world for the souls of people. The reality of the conflict that fills our air and that saturates our airwaves is too present to deny, and it does demand that we pay attention to it and that we engage in its conduct or risk falling prey to its destructive forces.

 

Yet, I think that there is a real risk here in paying the wrong sort of attention to this conflict; so, there is also a high prospect of adopting inappropriate and ineffective tactics as we seek to engage in this fight. It is human nature to either run from the sounds of battle or to run toward them. In the first situation, we are attempting to save ourselves and to protect others from harm by leading them away from danger. In that opposite response, we are seeking to gain an advantage on the adversary by striking before they have time to fully prepare to meet us. When it comes to the underlying battle of the soul and to its spiritual field of contest, both of these approaches tend to leave prayer out as they maximize our human involvement in a battle that belongs first and foremost to the Lord.

 

Even when the news of the day tells us in graphic detail about the chaos and the destruction that are all around us in the world and certainly at those times when these harsh realities have settled upon our own lives, the Lord is still King, and He remains the answer to all that we are facing. That is why reflecting upon these few simple words and recognizing their message as my own can be a very helpful thing to do on a regular basis. Who is the King of Glory? He is Jesus Christ who is strong and mighty to save and to redeem all who are lost. He is the answer to every question that we might ask, and Christ fills every need that we will have during our journey through life. So, as the battle, both far and near, fills our ears with its roar, we do have a warrior going before us and leading us into His victory over all that is evil and over the sin and the death that they bring with them. Who is this King of Glory, He is Christ, and He rules my heart and saves my soul!

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On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19: 16

 

We sit on the edge of a great battle, the most significant in all of history. It has not occurred yet, but it will. It certainly will, and the timing of it seems to be sooner than later. This rider on the White Horse, Jesus the Christ, is poised in his saddle and prepared to engage with all of the forces in our world and beyond it that oppose God. Jesus carries upon Himself the battle name that God, the Father and the Creator of all, has given to the Son. He comes onto the field of contest with no uncertainty and absolutely no apprehension, for the outcome of the day was foretold by God from the earliest moments of history. Jesus is King over this entire world, and He is Lord, the absolute ruler, for all that exists in that creation.

 

The unwavering certainty that infuses this scene at the end of time is also ours to embrace during these days that are being played out a short while before these climactic ones. As we dwell in this world with its conflicts, struggles, and trials we can enter into the reality of Christ’s victory over all of the evil that surrounds us. God has already proclaimed Christ as King over this realm, and the Father has designated the Son to function as Lord in His kingdom come to earth. We have an all-mighty and absolutely capable ruler to follow into each and every day of our lives. There should be no confusion regarding who we are to follow and where we can go for wisdom and truth. Although there are many pretender kings in our world, and some of them are very persuasive or extraordinarily loud as they proclaim the validity of their plans and programs, they are all nothing more than vassal servants of the one great King, Jesus the Christ. So, we can truly follow only one Lord, and our singular source for what is righteous and real can be God’s Word alone.

 

This is the same Word that Christ will proclaim to end both the final conflict that is portrayed here and to eliminate all opposition against God that exists in Creation and beyond. This Word that issues forth from the essence of the being of the Lord is our tangible source of wisdom, truth, encouragement, and courage as we dwell in these days before all is set right again. The Spirit of Christ is with us in all that we encounter so that this same Word is granted a life that comes from behind the pages of the book and out of the heart of God, Himself. This Living Word is the source for life and leads us into the love and the grace that Christ seeks to pour out on all of us during these hours of our need. As we approach the field of contest that life has given to each of us today, we should do so with our hearts secure in Christ’s love and with our minds made clear by the truth of the Word so that this day will be one wherein our actions and our words will speak clearly of Christ as King and to His position as Lord over all of the world.

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1: 22, 23

 

The Father has given Christ complete authority over all of this earth and over everything that dwells upon it. There is nothing and no one that resides outside of Christ’s area of rule and reign, and not one aspect of what is happening in the world lies beyond His care and concern either. God does not exercise His authority over creation for the sake of His own power and He does not rule over all of this in order to gain position and rank; so, in granting Christ the right to hold direct authority over this world, God has conveyed the same sort of modality of dominion to Him. That is, Christ is King over the entire world, but His primary purposes in exercising that authority are oriented toward building relationships with people, transforming us into righteous beings, and in reconciling the brokenness of creation with the holiness of God.

 

These are attitudes and actions that come forth out of love, mercy, and grace rather than from power, control, and guilt. Although Christ presents this entire world with the hard truth of our fallenness and the shame that sin creates within us, He also provides each of us with the way back into the glory of God’s design intent for our souls, hearts, and bodies. In and through Christ we can be redeemed, and in Him, we are established as new creation on this earth and as newly alive before the presence of God, even God in all of His holiness. These are the acts of a loving Lord. This is the action that a God who cares about His Creation above all else takes in order to overcome that same creation’s rebellion and disobediently destructive bent. For reasons that seem to defy logic we are all born with a rogue spirit when it comes to following God, Christ seeks after each of us in order to grant to us the opportunity to enter into the light of reason through acceptance of His benevolent rule in and over our lives. We are granted the right and the lifelong opportunity to make that choice.

 

This choosing of Christ is a once and an ongoing thing. People are asked by God to make a decision to surrender our old lives to the rule and the reign of Christ, and He takes hold of us in a manner that imprints eternity into the deepest structure of our being. Yet, that is not the end of the process of transformative change that Christ works on and within each of His people. We seldom go easily into this new heavenly orientation for our lives, for each of us carries along with us on this new Christ led and directed road all that we were and everything that we have developed to form our concepts of who and what we are. Not all of this is negative from the perspective of righteousness and holiness, either. Christ takes who we are and molds us and shapes us into people who can use what God has given to us for the sake of God’s Kingdom and toward the spreading of the glory of His name. In Christ, we become the full expression of the wonderful creation that God, Himself, designed each of us to be. Through Christ as our Lord we all together form into one entity, His church, which is intended by God to be the focal point of love, grace, and righteous truth on the earth.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11: 6

 

This past weekend we worked on taking down the last of our Christmas decorations. I know, it is already a month after Christmas and Saint Valentine’s Day is the theme around most of our neighborhood; in truth, winter and its snowy vistas are the real theme in my world this year. One of the last décor items to go back into storage for next year is a little wooden sign that has been hanging on the outside of our house near the front door. It reads, “Wise men still seek Him.” We know that it is a reference to the coming of those eastern mystics and astronomers that God specifically called to come to meet their newborn king and the savior of their souls. These were learned men. They studied the heavens for its signs and they searched their world in order to gain its wisdom and to understand the truths that God had implanted in it from the dawn of creation. Now they traveled a great distance on nothing more than faith in order to meet the person who was the greatest advent in all of history.

 

God sought them out, and He presented to them a message that required the utilization of all of their wisdom to comprehend and to interpret. Yet, acting upon that knowledge was not an act of intellect alone, for critical thinking would tend to lead to the rejection of this strange and wondrous idea of God come to dwell with people as one of us in order to bring all who would believe into a restored relationship with our Creator. This idea is too wild and impossible to act upon, and these societally well-placed and highly regarded Iranian or Iraqi scholars would be risking much to follow the prompts in the heavens in pursuit of Daniel’s prophesy about Messiah. Yet God called to them, and their faith in the reality of His existence and in the relationship that He desires to have with each person on this earth led them to pack up and set out along the hard road of discovery that took them to the deep humility of submission to the singular Great King of the Universe.

 

God called these men from a foreign land with their strange language and different customs out of their ancient religious practices, beliefs, and understanding into the presence of Christ. They were truly wise in that they did not allow any of those strong traditions and long-held beliefs to keep them from coming to that place and time for their encounter with God, Himself. This same sort of wisdom when combined with faith is what leads each of us to turn from the life that we have been leading and the culture that is supporting it and to come to Christ. For some people this is a new journey, and it leads them away from the comfort of old practices and associations and into the new dawn of life that reflects eternity. For everyone who does know Christ, regardless of whether that relationship is newly formed or life-long in duration, we are still called to seek out Christ as we surrender more and more of ourselves and our old ways of thinking and acting to God’s ancient will and desire for peace on this earth and for reconciliation with all of its inhabitants.

For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10: 3,4

 

There are numerous forms of ignorance. For example, I know very little about the mathematical calculations involved in space flight, and my mind is probably not wired to either seek out that knowledge or to retain it if I were exposed to it. I am ignorant of most of the languages that are spoken in our world; yet, could acquire the basic understanding needed to communicate to some degree in most of them if I chose to do so. My mind has the capability and the capacity to grasp the sounds and their meanings if I would open myself up to the process of learning them. The most basic and essential forms of knowledge are made known to us through the process of living in this world. I learned how to breathe, eat, and engage in living without any formal instruction; these complex activities and the relationships that go along with them came to me naturally.

 

I believe that knowledge of God and of the righteousness that is His character and nature is also something that is present in this world so that all people are exposed to it. The desire to know God is present in people from birth as is the capacity to learn to know Him more fully and is the capability to enter into intimate relationship with our Creator. Yet, God’s righteousness can seem like a very high standard for some of us, and relationship with Him comes with certain requirements that we often find hard to accept. We humans are proud, self-reliant, and determined to do everything in a manner that we get to choose and select to engage with. However, God will not accept a secondary position in our loyalties, and He has established the singular truth that everyone needs to accept in order to leave behind the relational separation and its eternal condemnation that have come about as a result of our own sinfulness.

 

Thus, to know God we must set aside our selves and accept Christ as our Savior and Lord while recognizing and entering into the knowledge of Him as true King, the one who leads us in all matters, and as fully God, the Creator and the ultimate judge of all that is earthly and eternal. In Christ all of our humanly devised knowledge and wisdom is superseded and is completed. As we accept Christ and them enter into following Him in all aspects of life, we move from ignorance into revelation of the truth that has existed from before time began. This is the truth that our souls have longed to know from our day of birth, and the knowledge of God’s righteousness that Christ gives to His people is the solid foundation for living that grants to us the deep peace that is found only in living as fully submitted followers of our Lord.

 

 

As he was drawing near- already on the way down the Mount of Olives- the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Luke 19: 37, 38

 

The coffee mug that I am using this morning has a picture of a lion on it and the words “It’s hard being king” written on the other side. The people in Jerusalem on that spring day were right in declaring Jesus as King, and the mug is also accurate in its comment about the life of a king. For Jesus there would be nothing easy about the days that were to come. There had been nothing easy about the ones that He had already lived either. As Isaiah foretold, He was truly “a man of sorrows” (Is 53: 3), and Jesus knew grief and pain fully. But also as the Prophet had spoken, Jesus came to carry all of our grief and sorrows.

 

Suffering is normal in our world. No one seems to be able to escape from its diligent pursuit. This is so because we are all born into the brokenness of a life to be lived out in that shadow covered valley where death is both the feared enemy and its only respite. God sees and understands the struggles that we endure, and He desires with the yearning of a father who is distanced from His beloved children to welcome us home to His dwelling place of peace and eternity. Yet, we fight to retain control and to find other answers to our needs. We make kings in our own images in order to find this easy path to the security that we think we desire. We bow down before the idols of our world, and we shed our own and our children’s blood as the sacrifice that those idols demand from us in order to prove our loyalty.

 

Meanwhile, the one and the only true King suffers for us. He mourns our loss, and He grieves because of our lostness. But that is not all He does. He also seeks after us, and Christ does this with the energy, the passion, and the diligence of the ultimate shepherd that He is. It is in these two aspects of His nature that Christ is different from every other king who has existed throughout history. Christ suffers with us and for us, and He goes anywhere that we are in order to reach and to save us. Yes, it is not easy being King Jesus, but His love for each of us demands that He do anything and suffer everything in order to bring us home to God’s kingdom of grace and truth.

Open the gates,

that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.

Isaiah 26: 2

 

Although this is the day after the United State’s celebration of Independence Day, these thoughts are not about any one country and have little to do with the politics or the governance of any nation. I think that Isaiah was not talking about a specific nation here, and I am not either. Yet, he and I are also speaking to the people of the nations that we touch. It seems to me that human nature is such that we take a great deal of pride in the place that we are from. Most of the time we speak with real passion about our homeland and we desire to see it standing proud and powerful in our world. In the days of Isaiah that sort of singular strength was often achieved by means of stout walls that kept enemies out and that aided in the maintenance of national and racial purity.

 

God has no problem with walls and with the gates that are built into them. He inspired and directed the construction of them. However, He does not embrace the way that people frequently use those walls. When they become a source of pride in our ability to build and our power over others, then God is not pleased. As walls are used to divide and to separate people so that those that are deemed to be desirable are allowed in and all others are excluded, God is saddened. If we follow the long-standing trend of human culture and these walls start to define our true allegiance and frame in our identity, then God’s will is being ignored as we make the Lord into the servant of our national intent and agenda.

 

True greatness and the form of power that honors God is found in and through the sort of openness that Isaiah is calling us to embrace. For any of us to be strong we need to surrender fully to Christ. We allow ourselves to be immersed in the death of the cross, and we are then lifted up by our Lord into His victory over all that this world can bring upon us. Then walls as a means of pride, power, defense, and exclusivity have no use to us. Instead the walls that we control become a tool to be used in protecting and ministering to the weak and the lost. Inside of these redeemed structures we no longer live as citizens of an earthly nation; instead, we dwell in the Kingdom of God that has come to earth. In this kingdom we owe allegiance to only one ruler, Christ the King whose authority is over all the institutions and structures of this world and beyond.