Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 9 December 2000
Once upon a time there was a very unhappy Kingdom because the people of that Kingdom rose up in rebellion. They surrounded the king's palace and shouted at him, demanding that he abdicate. The King came walking down the steps of the palace carrying his crown in one hand and his sceptre in the other. The majesty of his appearance silenced the crowd, and he stood before them and said:
"My friends, who are no longer my subjects, here I yield my crown and sceptre to you. I want to be one of you. I am only one man, but as a man I will work together with you so that our lot will be made better. There is no need for a king. Let us go therefore to the fields and the vineyards and work hard with our hands. Only you must tell me which field or vineyard I should go. All of you are now king."
And the people marvelled, and they were quiet, for the king who they considered the source of their discontent now yielded his crown and sceptre to them and became as one of them.
Then each and every one of them went his way, and the king walked with one man to a field.
But the Kingdom did not improve without a King, and the mist of discontent was still upon the land. The people cried out in the market places saying that they wanted to be governed, and that they would have a king to rule them. And the elders and the youths said with one voice, "We want our king!"
And so they sought for the king and found him toiling in the field, and they brought him to his throne, and returned his crown and sceptre to him, and said:
"Now rule us, with might and with justice."
And he said: "I will indeed rule you with might, and may God help me that I may also rule with justice."
One day men and women came into his presence and told him about a baron who mistreated them, and to whom they were but serfs. Immediately the king brought the baron before him and said: "The life of one man is as important in the scales of God as the life of another. And because you do not know how to weigh the lives of those who work in your fields and your vineyards, you are banished, and you shall leave this kingdom forever."
The following day came another company to the king and spoke of the cruelty of a countess beyond the hills, and how she brought them down to misery. Instantly, the countess was brought to court, and the king sentenced her also to banishment, saying: "Those who till our fields and care for our vineyards are nobler than we who eat the bread they prepare and drink the wine of the winepress. And because you do not know this, you shall leave this land and be afar from this kingdom."
Then came men and women who said that the bishop made them bring stones and cut them for the cathedral, yet he gave them nothing through they knew the bishop's treasury was full of gold and silver while they themselves were empty with hunger.
And the king called for the bishop, and when the bishop came the king spoke and said to him: "That cross you wear upon your chest should mean giving life to life. But you have taken life from life and you have given none. Therefore you shall leave this kingdom never to return."
Then came men and women complaining about entertainers who came from another land who entered their villages with strange animals and performers, musicians and conjurors, selling strong wine and whoredoms, and all manner of fleshly lusts, who lived in expensive tents, and ate and drank in luxury. And they complained that their men and women and their children spent their hard-earned money on vanities and unclean things, that men became lazy and drunk, and the women neglected their duties at home. And they mourned that they families were destroyed and children made fatherless, their fields and animals neglected, because of all the adulteries and worldliness that afflicted them.
And the king summonsed the leaders of the entertainers, and when they came to his palace, he spoke and said to them: "You have entered our land and brought corruption with you, destroying the lives of our families and villages so that the men no longer work in the fields or the women tend to their children at home. And you have brought entertainments that we do not need, for our families and villages have their own family songs and dances, and their praises to God, and were happy before you came. Therefore you shall never again enter this kingdom to destroy its peace and happiness."
Thus each day for a month men and women came to the king to tell him of the burdens laid upon them. And each day for a month some oppressor was exiled from the land.
And the people of the Kingdom were amazed, and there was cheer in their heart.
And upon a certain day the elders and the youths came and surrounded the king's palace and called for him. And he came down holding his crown with one hand and his sceptre with the other.
And he spoke to them and said: "Now, what is it you would like of me? Behold, I yield back to you that which you desired me to hold."
But they cried, "No, no, you are our rightful king. You have cleansed the land of vipers, and you have brought the wicked plans of the wolves to nothing, and we have come to sing our thanksgiving to you. The crown is yours in majesty and the sceptre is yours in glory."
Then the king said: "Not I, not I. You yourselves are king. When you deemed me weak and a misruler, you yourselves were weak and misruling. And now the land fares well because it is in your will. I am but a thought in the mind of you all, and I do not exist except in your actions. There is no such person as governor. Only the governed exist to govern themselves."
And the king re-entered his palace with his crown and sceptre. The elders and the youths went their various ways and they were content.
And each and every one thought of himself as king with a crown in one hand and a sceptre in the other. (Adapted from Kahlil Gibran, "The King", in The Wanderer: Heinemann, London, 1972, pp.22-26).
Our Heavenly Father, Yahweh-Elohim, is also a King and is described as such in the scriptures. But He is not a dictator. Every human being has the choice to follow Him or reject Him. If an ancient Israelite, born as a citizen, did not wish to obey God, he could leave the Kingdom of Israel for another country, though that country would be a pagan one and would not give him the same protection and rights as his own.
Christians are not, however, born Christians. We are born sinners without a God into the world, rather like someone being born in a country without a king. It is our choice whether we become Christians and accept Yahweh's Church or not. And even after we have done that, we still have the choice of leaving His Church and going our own way.
The Book of Revelation in the New Testament describes Yah'shua (Jesus) as the "Lord of lords, and King of kings" and adds that "they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Rev.17:14). Most Christians assume that the kings that Christ is King over are the kings of the nations and in a way that is true, for Yahweh is telling us that all human governments shall subject themselves to Christ's rule when He comes back.
But there is a far more important meaning to this verse, for there is another group of kings and queens. Let us read from Revelations 1:5:
"Grace and peace to you all from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who is the faithful witness, the forstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us kings and priests to serve His God and Father - to Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev.1:5-7).
In the fifth chapter of the Book of Revelations John is shown a vision of the throne room of God: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with Your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be kings and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth" (Rev.5:9-10).
From this we see clearly that the kings whom Christ is King over - the "King of kings" - are not the unsaved, but the saved. All believers who have overcome through the blood of Christ become kings and queens under the King of kings. These are not unsaved presidents and prime ministers.
Now the purpose of the story I shared with you at the beginning was to teach you two important things. The first is what the people understood at the end of the story, namely, that you are not the king or queen of your own life until you yourself are governed by a righteous and just King. Whenever individuals have declared independence from God and tried to govern their own lives - making themselves kings and queens without a King of kings to govern them, they have never found contentment and happiness. When a man or woman places Self on the throne of his or her life - self-interest, self-want, self-glory - he discovers, often too late because his whole life has passed before him, that self-rulership brings nothing but unhappiness. This is not only because man has an unredeemed fallen nature which continually misleads him, guiding him into false and dangerous paths, but because others who have likewise declared themselves kings and queens over their own lives, are usually not content simply to rule their own lives - they want to rule, control and dominate other peoples' lives as well. The result is the selfish, corrupt and evil kingdoms and republics of this present world.
When people go to the polls to vote politicians into office, they are in reality selecting those people whom they think most closely resemble their own private interests and beliefs. And these days people are not too much concerned if these people are godly and will rule justly like the king in the story I told you. For the most part they want politicians who will give them what they want, and that is usually more money and the freedom to do what they think is personally right. The politician more often than not becomes an extension of Self, and therefore of selfish and carnal desire. The result is unhappy and discontented countries even in lands where there is incredible wealth. The Scandinavian nations are amongst the richest in the world but they are probably amongst the unhappiest with the highest divorce rates, highest suicide rates, and the highest number of Satanists and other evil people amongst them. Yet they boast of their imagined freedom in the areas of sexual morality and religious belief. The watchword is "plurality" and society is expected to tolerate and cater for every and any minority position, even those which the Bible calls evil and abominable.
The society we live in, with its values, moral standards, the kind of music it listens to, its religion or lack of it, is quite simply a reflection of the human soul without a righteous king. And though such people think that they are kings and queens of their own lives, the truth is that they are mere slaves - slaves to drugs, free and perverse sex including fornication and adultery, bad music, demonic religions, atheism, false man-made philosophy, and all that is unholy and impure. A true king or queen - a person who is master over his or her life and is living in contentment - was, and is, only that person who was him- or herself governed by a righteous absolute King. That King is Yah'shua (Jesus) who expects us to come to Him freely and to desire His Kingship and Kingdom freely.
If you want the crown and sceptre to rule your own life the way you want to, Yah'shua (Jesus) will give it to you. He will, if you want to, let you decide what god you want to worship or not to worship. He will let you decide whether to be sexually pure or perverse. He will let you choose a path of service and humility or one that exalts self and seeks fame. He will let you choose to listen to good music or bad. He will let you choose to live a useful life in His service or a life of indulgence and self interest.
But what He will not let you do is say: "Lord, I want you to be King over this area of my life but not this one and that one". If you come to the King and give Him conditions, He will give the crown and sceptre back to you to rule yourself, because a King cannot be a true sovereign unless He has the right to control everything. Remember that Yah'shua (Jesus) is not an earthly king with faults and weaknesses, but He is the sinless, perfect Son of God who rules with perfect love and justice. And He proves that love by giving you complete freedom to choose or reject Him. He is not like an earthly dictator who murders those who refuse to obey His wicked laws - Hitler never gave anyone their freedom not to be ruled by him! That is why those who are ruled by Him love and trust Him so completely, because He is a benevolent dictator - a King who never does anything evil to His subjects.
It is not true, however, that when we reject Christ and declare ourselves to be independent that we suddenly become our own kings. The truth of the matter is that there is actually no such thing as an independent human being even though they would like to thing so. There is no such thing as a society without rulers or rules. Whenever a country has found itself without a king or a president, it has descended into complete anarchy. And when that happens - as we see in many places in the world - there is a complete breakdown in order, there is no police force, no justice, no safety, no happiness. The result is often starvation, disease, and complete immorality. You see it happening in many African nations today. What happens is that anyone who fancies himself as a ruler takes up the gun and tries to force it on others. He becomes a petty dictator, a tyrant. Her may think that he is his own boss - his own king - but his actions reveal the complete opposite, because all those who appoint themselves as rulers over other human beings without those people's consent, reveal exactly the same moral tendencies. They reveal that they are not, in fact kings, but slaves, controlled by some unseen power that leads such men and women to commit acts of atrocity and turn the lives of people into misery. Such people actually place themselves under the lordship of none other than Satan Himself.
I've met a lot of people in my life who have boasted of their independence - who claim to manage just fine without God and put on a show of bravado. But they all display the same symptoms - even if on different degrees - of a person who is under the control of another, albeit invisible person.
Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul?" (Mt.16:26; Mk.8:36; Lk.9:25). Most of the world tries to do that - to get rich, famous or powerful - or a combination of the three - but only a tiny minority ever do. The ones that fail end up with nothing and the ones that succeed end up with nothing, because in the process they lose their souls.
There have been, and are, rich and successful Christians. But these men and women, without exception, put God first in their lives, and let God take care of their businesses Himself. They put God's Kingdom and their families before everything else. And when they became rich, they used their wealth to bless the work of the Kingdom - supporting Christian missions, hospitals, orphanages and the like - where Christ is preached and souls are saved - and used very little of that wealth on themselves. They did not seek the spotlight or the praises of the world because they hated it. And when these men received God's call to serve in the mission field or in other ways, they sold everything they had and made themselves poor for the sake of the Kingdom and went to did His will.
When a person rejects Christ as King he becomes antichrist and automatically receives Satan as his king even if he does not name Satan's name. His reward is eternal destruction. The apostle John puts it most clearly: "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is antichrist -- he denies the Father and the Son" (1 Jn.2:22). He says further: "Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist..." (4:3).
Most people think that the Antichrist is a single, evil man who will become the world's dictator when Christ returns. And this is true. But there is more than one antichrist: "Little children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come..." (2:18).
Brethren and sisters, the world is full of deception, of people claiming to be kings who seek a following-. And that is the clue to whether you are in God or not: Who or what are you following? The Pied Piper of Hamlyn played music and the rats followed. Today there are many pied pipers and people follow them all the way down to hell.
I want to finish today by telling you another story which I think is important and it goes like this.
"A man dreamed a dream and when he woke up he went to an interpreter of dreams and asked that the dream be explained to him.
"And the interpreter of dreams said to the man: "Come to me with the dreams that you behold in your wakefulness and I will tell you their meaning. But the dreams of your sleep belong neither to my wisdom not to your imagination." (Gibran, op.cit, "Dreams", p.41 - adapted).
What is your dream? What thoughts occupy your mind? If you dream of different things, what proportion of your thoughts occupy these different things?
Were I to make a list of things that I think about then this would be the order that I place them in:
1. The Kingdom of God - sharing the Good News of Salvation with others and building up the family of Christ;
2. My earthly family;
3. My career - how I provide my daily bread;
4. Everything else - hobbies, friends, etc..
The list you make, and especially the order in which you put them, will reveal who or what is your God. When that list is perfect, then your earthly family, your career and everything else - hobbies, friends, and so on, are an intimate part of the Kingdom of God, because the career I select, my friends and my hobbies, I will select because they are honouring to God. In that way there is only one thing on my list: the Kingdom of God. Then there is a King over my life, the divine King. Then there is order, peace, happiness and contentment, whether I am rich or poor, famous or completely unknown, because then it doesn't matter. What matters is that I am known and loved in heaven, that my name, and the names of my loved ones, are written in the Book of Life, so that I know that I shall be with them and my King in a world of joy and peace for ever and ever. Amen. q
This page was created on 21 February 2001
Last updated on 21 February 2001
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