Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

If you had to summarize the entire message of the Bible in a single word, what would it be? Last Sunday, we discovered the best word might be “kingdom.” As John Bright says, “The Bible is one book. Had we to give that book a title, we might with justice call it ‘The Book of the Coming Kingdom of God.”

During our morning service, we traced this theme through the entire Old Testament, from Moses to Malachi, seeing three stages of God’s Mediatorial Kingdom.

  1. God Prepares for the Kingdom (Gen. 1:26-28; 12:1-3; 49:8-12). In the Book of Genesis, we are introduced to the idea that God will use human beings to rule over His creation as His mediator. Thousands of years after Adam and Eve fail to rule righteously, God appoints a man named Abram to become the father of a new nation He will rule over. God further announces that His chosen kings will descend from the tribe of Judah.
  2. God Establishes the Kingdom (Ex. 19:4-8; Deut. 17:14-28; 1 Sam. 15:24-31, 34-35; 16:12-13; 2 Sam. 7:8-16). In the early years, God ruled His people directly through Moses and the Judges. Later, when the Israelites asked for a king, God instructed them to choose a righteous man who would read the Scriptures and hide God’s word in his heart. Saul failed miserably as king, but then God selected David, a man after His own heart. God blessed David for his devotion and promised that his offspring would always be rightful heirs to the throne. The anointing of David points to the greater “Anointed One” (Messiah) whom God will appoint as an eternal King.
  3. God Expands the Kingdom (Jer. 23:5-8; 31:31-37). Despite repeated failure and apostasy by David’s descendants, God promised He would never abandon His people or renege on His promises to Abraham and David. God foretold of a new covenant that would be far superior to the one He made with Moses at Sinai. The major and minor prophets called the people to repentance and spoke of future days when hearts would be changed, the curse would be lifted, and God would raise up a son of David to reign in peace and righteousness.
At the beginning of the message, I announced I would be preaching the entire Old Testament in one sermon and encouraged everyone to “fasten their seat belts and put on their crash helmet.” After the service, one member remarked “I think my seat belt flew off!” It certainly was a sermon packed with information, and I was thankful for everyone's attentiveness. But I do hope it captured the “big picture” of our beloved Old Testament and gave us new insight into the central theme of the Bible.

After we look at the kingdom in the New Testament next week, we will spend an entire morning considering the practical implications of kingdom living, but for now, here are a few exhortations:
  • Be optimistic. The Christian life is not a na├»ve attitude of “don’t worry, be happy.” It is a joy much deeper than that. We view history not as some random cyclical process, but as a grand story moving in a linear direction, toward a victorious end.
  • Anticipate Christ's return (2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:20). Don’t become so preoccupied with the depravity of Romans 1:18-32 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that you forget the glorious promises of Christ’s return and reign.
  • Trust God. His Word is reliable. He fulfilled so many promises through Christ’s first advent, and we can be confident He will fulfill the remaining promises in Christ’s second advent.
  • Study the Old Testament. I pray this overview of the Old Testament will give us a greater appreciation for the Old Testament and whet our appetites for a lifetime of study. The Old Testament is rich and rewarding, because it tells us all about Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.
(Sunday’s sermon has been uploaded to our podcast site and is available for free download or to listen online.)

May God help us apply His Word this week in our hearts, in our words, and in our actions.