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There was no King in Israel!

Nov 17, 2007 at 18:06


"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Judges 21:25

You may have heard this scripture read as descriptive of a problem to be solved by establishing a king and often the person reading it is presenting themselves as the king that you need to submit to in order to solve the problem! In reality it is simply two statements placed side by side. It was true that there was no king in Israel. It was true that everyone was doing whatever he pleased.

It was also true that God did not want to solve the problem by appointing a king! In I Samuel 8:7, He responded to Samuel when Israel demanded a king by saying, "they have not rejected you but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."

How was God reigning over the people? He had the priests to teach them the law and the prophets to confront them when they did not keep it! The plan was that they should obey God through free conviction of heart, not through force of arms. God was willing to accept the possibility of chaos rather than accept the "order" enforced by a king. He did not want a mediator between Himself and His people!

God's desire was for a theocracy for which priest and prophet provided the foundation. He never intended to make any man a king over his people!

That theocracy shipwrecked upon the reality of the old heart which did not desire the ways of God. That is why Jeremiah (31:31- 34) and Ezekiel (36:25- 27) prophesied the covenant of the new heart upon which God would write His law, upon which God would place His Spirit and by which God would cause us to walk in His ways.

The good news of the Kingdom of God is simply the good news that you can know the direct, personal rule of the King in your life. It is the good news of grace is that your heart can be forgiven and clean to desire the ways of God!

"But you, do not be called Rabbi : for One is your teacher, the Christ and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 23:8- 11

Those words are in the context of Jesus calling curses on the religious establishment of His day for their lust for the power and prestige that comes from position and title. But the point is not so much the destruction caused by the lust for power and prestige as the reality that when we seek those positions, we are taking a place that God has reserved for Himself! There is no delegated authority in the Kingdom of God! Their is only the authority of the King and we are all brothers!

Jesus never gave any man authority over another man! He gave us authority over sickness and demons and asked us to rule over ourselves by dying to ourselves. Those that do so will have functional leadership through example and by invitation but they will know themselves as servants whose primary task is to clear away the obstacles which separate men from the rule of their King!

Marilyn and I have been involved in three or four, "apostolic reformation" movements where the main emphasis became the restoration of the authority of the apostle over the people of God and where the the mark of spirituality became submission. (We are very slow learners!) Lots of good things happened in those movements but whether you call them apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers or popes, cardinals, bishops and priests, it makes no difference. You are building a religious system based upon man and you are taking away the authority of the King. The fruit of this is always a cult of leadership privilege and materialism with much moral failure.

The example of Jesus, as narrated in John 15, is crystal clear!

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." John 15:13- 15

The One who legitimately could claim all position, title, honor, glory and authority did not do so! He looked into the eyes of men who would soon betray Him and called them His friends. He absolutely, totally and for all time destroyed any possibility of religious hierarchy. Pyramids are for dead people! Before the throne is a sea of glass! We are all brothers before the throne! This is why there are almost sixty "one another" commands in the New Testament! This is why there are only six which ask for recognition of functional leadership with each of them resting in the context of the "one another" reality!

The example of Jesus as narrated in John 16 is even more startling!

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you." John 16:7

The disciples could not imagine a worse event than Jesus going away!
Jesus, the best leader that ever walked on earth, is telling them it is better for them that He goes away! And we think we are important, indispensable even? Jesus knew it would be better for the disciples to have the inward leading of the Holy Spirit than even His flesh and blood leadership! Our job is to take away every obstacle which would keep our friends from knowing the inner leading of the Holy Spirit!
Often we are the biggest obstacle!

The good news of the Kingdom is about the gentle persuasion of love from within rather than any kind of coercion from without! Philip Yancey's chapter four of The Jesus I Never Knew, titled "Temptation: Showdown in the Desert" does a masterful job of presenting this truth.

Jesus was willing to trust all upon the ability of the Holy Spirit to lead men into Truth. Are we?

Of course if friends are to embrace the Kingdom of God in their lives they will have to embrace some basic responsibilities and that is where the problem comes! Often people do not want the responsibilities of freedom. They would rather have a king tell them what to do! And there are always those who want to be king! I see four basic responsibilities of freedom in the Kingdom of God:

1/ To seek the King for yourself! That means you become a self feeder! That means you let His grace rule in your life. As Dallas Willard says in "The Divine Conspiracy", "You either live by grace or addiction"!

2/ To fulfill the "one another commands" with a few! If you cannot worship with your spouse or if you cannot be church with two or three, your public worship is a show!

3/ To disciple your own children! If you cannot disciple your own kids, how can you disciple the nations? If you do not have relational integrity with your own kids, with whom will you have it?

4/ To multiply your relationship with the King through making disciples. The basic command of the King is to make disciples! This is not about events or programs! Disciples are made by a relational process based in the transparency and humility of doing the "one another" stuff together!

There is good news!

The Kingdom of God is here

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