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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:Bow before Christ Jesus, your Great King!
Text:LD 48 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Christ's Kingship
 
Preached:2017
Added:2017-10-29
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 145:1,3                                                                                          

Ps 95:1,2,3  [after Apostles’ Creed]

Reading – Psalm 72

Ps 72:1,2,5,10

Sermon – Lord’s Day 48

Hy 41:1,2,3

Hy 19:1,2,3,4

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in our Lord Jesus, have you ever heard of a “failed state?” In the world today there are quite a few “failed states:” countries like Somalia, or Afghanistan, or Zimbabwe. These are countries where almost everything has fallen apart, from the top, right down to the bottom. In your typical “failed state,” the government is nearly powerless. The economy is badly broken, and poverty is widespread. You hear about them on the news, as these nations lurch from one disaster to another, its citizens caught up in an endless cycle of despair.

And the problem with these nations is not that nobody’s in charge. For there’s always a government of one form or another. There might be a dictator, propped up by the military. There might be a prime minister, “elected” unlawfully. Point is, there’s always someone that’ll give direction to a country—for better, or for worse. For as the leaders go, the people go. And if a government has no competence and integrity, then the citizens will suffer.

Beloved, let’s apply this to ourselves. For it’s true also for our own lives. Just picture yourself for a moment as a country, albeit on a very tiny scale. As a mini-nation, you’ve got your natural resources, and you’ve got your revenue. You have your defense mechanisms, and a few alliances. And apart from all that, you’ve got your government. What I mean is: Who makes the decisions in your life? Who directs you, and where you go, and how you live?

So is ruling our job? That’s what we’d prefer. For we’ve got an independent streak. It’s always been this way, from Adam and Eve long ago in Paradise, to us today in Mount Nasura. There are countless people who’ve said, “Never mind God, it’s me who’s king (or queen) around here. I’ll make the decisions. I’ll do as I please, and I’ll get the glory.” It sounds like freedom, but ends up in ruin.

Brothers and sisters, don’t take the throne. Don’t imagine that you have the wisdom or the integrity or strength to handle things yourself. You don’t. Even so, we’re not hopeless—we have a gracious King, our Lord Jesus Christ, and we bow before Him. Our King shows the way of victory, and not failure; the way of blessing, not curse. That’s our theme from the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 72,

Bow before Christ Jesus, your great King:

  1. confessing his glory
  2. praying for his victory
  3. yielding to his supremacy

 

1) confessing his glory: Have you ever wondered how the disciples first reacted when Jesus taught this prayer? Did they raise an eyebrow in confusion? Or did they all nod in agreement, knowing exactly what He meant? I wonder about that, because Jesus said very little to explain the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s interesting that the only petition that He really commented on was the fifth, where we pray “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Right after teaching his prayer, Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you.” Hear how He takes a moment to underline the importance of grace in this petition: that we must forgive the wrongs that others have done, just like God in Christ has forgiven us. Jesus surely knew that we have a hard time letting things go, that we need to hear this.

But for all the other petitions—including the second, the “kingdom petition”—Jesus said nothing at all. And in a way, we expect Him to clarify. For at his time, “the kingdom” was a big idea. You say “kingdom,” and every Jew thinks of their present situation, their land occupied by Rome, already for decades now. “Kingdom” means war, chasing the Romans into the Mediterranean and putting a son of David back onto the throne in Jerusalem.

Jesus knew that his disciples were unclear on this. Even at Christ’s ascension into heaven, the disciples ask Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). After three long years, they still thought that Christ had come to Make Israel Great Again, to initiate some grand earthly kingdom!

So did the disciples understand what Christ means with this petition, “Your Kingdom come?” They should’ve. From Day One of his ministry, Jesus announced that the kingdom was on its way. He told them parables about it, about the power of the kingdom, and the call of the kingdom. The disciples had learned that a new age was beginning, not an age of military power, but one of righteousness under the Messiah. For this kingdom to come, they ought to pray!

As for each part of the Lord’s Prayer, this was a petition with deep roots in the Old Testament. For what was Israel but God’s Kingdom? Who sat on the throne but the LORD Himself? The disciples knew Psalm 145, those words of praise, “I will extol you, my God, O King” (v 1). So much of the Old Testament revolves around this one idea, that the LORD is King, and his Kingdom is eternal, and his Kingdom is over all.

But how did that Kingdom get worked out in real life? God chose human representatives—some ambassadors, if you will—and He put them on the throne. In God’s place on earth, these men ruled and judged his people.

Some of these kings were pretty good, but most were very bad. And the results were catastrophic! A “failed state” isn’t a new concept—just look what happened to Israel and Judah, year after year. Wicked kings meant corrupt judges, impoverished people, false religion, and trouble abroad. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. They needed a better king, a king who would rule in God’s way and bless his nation!

So that’s what the people prayed for: a righteous king. It’s the prayer of Psalm 72. Now, notice first of all that it’s a Psalm written by Solomon, David’s great son. Solomon is definitely thinking of himself and his holy task, when he prays in the opening verses, “Give the king your judgments, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son. He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice” (vv 1-2). Solomon knows that if he’ll do the job properly, he’ll need God’s gifts of righteousness and wisdom.

It’s about Solomon, but it’s also about someone greater. Israel is praying for more than an earthly king. For one day they will have a King to reign forever, one to continue “as long as the sun” (v 17). He’ll rule with justice, and establish peace. He’ll be a King to give release from all their enemies, even from sin and death. “May this Kingdom come,” they prayed.

The prayer of Psalm 72 was answered—it was answered in Christ. Jesus was a king: He was born in David’s royal city, He was even announced by the angel as one of his descendants. But don’t expect him to wear a chest-full of medals and a heavy crown on his head. As a child, Jesus grew up in an out-of-the-way village. As an adult, He didn’t have a home. And when the time came, He entered Jerusalem riding a humble donkey. For a while He did wear a crown, but it was handcrafted from thorns. For a while He was clothed with the purpose of royalty, but it was borrowed. He held a sceptre, but it was made of wood, and then used to beat him on the head. This king was even killed by his own people, and mocked with that sign, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The cross looked like the end of it—yet another failure.

But this was a king of a different kind. Barely three days later, and King Jesus rose from the dead. Where did He go? He ascended into heaven and sat down, enthroned at the Father’s right hand. There He lives and He reigns—our glorious King!

Prophesying in Psalm 72, Solomon can’t say enough about the King’s glory and the blessings He brings: “There will be an abundance of grain in the earth, on the top of the mountains. Its fruit shall wave like Lebanon, and those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth” (v 16). It’s a picture of immense prosperity. These were the kind of promises that spoke directly to the Israelites, when the barns were full of grain and fruit, and the population was growing. Physical and material blessings meant God’s favour on the king and his people.

Today, the essential core of that promise holds true. Christ is the King who lifts us out of spiritual poverty, and He lavishes on us all the riches of his favour. From the fullness of his grace, we receive one blessing after another! Christ isn’t a ruler out for his own gain, and He’ll never treat his subjects badly. His greatest priority is the benefit and salvation of his people. He’s ruling all things in the universe for us!

Listen to the words of Hebrews 4: “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v 16). There is a throne of grace, and in Christ you can go there. For the King on the throne is patient and long-suffering. He sees our brokenness, and He restores us, and He lifts up the lowly.

There’s nothing too great for Christ to do, yet to Him there is no one too small. Though He’s the King of kings, He’s not too busy to pay attention. Though He’s Lord of lords, He’s not too exalted to bother with our little concerns. For we know this about our King: “He will redeem [his people] from oppression and violence; precious shall be their blood in his sight” (Ps 72:14). Our King cares! The very blood in our veins is precious in his sight—because Christ was willing to pour out his blood on our behalf, willing to die to redeem us. We have a glorious King, so confess him and pray for his victory!

 

2) praying for his victory: In the second petition, there’s something unfinished. Our prayer is that the Kingdom will “come,” that it will keep on moving forward and eventually arrive in fullness! By his earthly ministry, Christ brought God’s Kingdom very close, yet it’s still in progress. He’s made a beginning, but it’s yet to be completed.

That’s also a theme of Psalm 72. There’s no question that this Psalm is looking forward to an age of great peace and prosperity. There is blessing to come, but you don’t have look hard on the radar screen to find the trouble spots. Enemies are still circling, and battle can flare up at any moment. The King’s people are still in danger.

Take verse 4 as an example. Right next to all the considerate activities of the gracious king—doing justice, defending the afflicted, saving the needy—there stands another essential work carried out by our King: “[He] will break in pieces the oppressor!” This gentle and loving king is able to crush and destroy.

We see it also in verses 8 to 10. There the royal Son is said to rule “from sea to sea,” even to the ends of the earth. It’s a nice image. But how do you think the king gets such a wide scope of power? In the same way as they say today: If you want peace, prepare for war! See how those desert tribes and other enemies, the kings of Tarshish and of the distant isles—how they come before the king (v 10). They’re not coming to say hello, or to sign a free trade agreement. They’re coming in defeat. They bow, and give the king their gold and wealth as tribute. They even get down into the dust to show their submission. That’s what the Israelites prayed for in Psalm 72—for the total victory of David’s Son: “May your Kingdom come. May it come by devastating every other kingdom.”

Now remember that this is our Psalm too, our prayer. As church, we’ll often pray that the Kingdom of God spreads through preaching the good news of Christ in works of mission, and through efforts in evangelism. We pray that the Kingdom would be increased by people getting instructed in the Word, by the needy receiving relief. These are prayers for the kingdom, and we should keep offering them to our King.

But praying for God’s Kingdom means praying all of Psalm 72. We pray for the ruin of all who oppose our King. We pray for the collapse of Satan’s kingdom. We pray that God’s enemies would be trampled, and never rise again. In this petition we pray the pointed prayer of the Catechism, “Destroy the works of the devil, and every power that raises itself up against you!” (Q&A 123).

Christ has already locked up Satan’s defeat, and He has guaranteed the victory of God. Christ did so by his death on the cross, and his resurrection three days later. Satan is an enemy doomed to destruction, and he will lick the dust. But not yet. Don’t turn your back, because there’s time for Satan to fight. You know how animals are most ferocious when they’re cornered and they’re ready to die. This is what Satan is like, in these, his final days.

It means Satan will sign up any ally, any one to help damage to God’s kingdom. The leaders and rulers of the nations, the university professors and novelists, the entertainers and CEOs, the judges and law-makers, the movie-makers and media lords, the scientists and even the theologians—not all of them, but so many of them join ranks with the prince of darkness. Together they conspire and mount their attack against Christ and his Word, against his Kingdom and his church.

We know that to be true today, in our time and culture. Maybe we’re finally seeing it more clearly now, this war of the two kingdoms. You can’t ignore it so easily anymore. The devil does everything that he can to destroy the works of God, and to attack the truth of Scripture. In this war, he doesn’t send out those little red men with forked tails and pitchforks, the ones we’ve seen on cartoons—Satan is far more subtle and dangerous.

Satan directs his followers: “Distract God’s people from reading the Bible—make them so busy they don’t have time for it. Lure them with lust. Divide them with pride. Burden them with material things. Get them to believe that truth is relative. Divert them with constant entertainment. Lull them to sleep with false comforts. Confuse them with wrong teaching. Make them so comfortable that they become lukewarm in prayer and love.”

“And above all,” Satan says, “above all, get them to forget Jesus. Make the cross just a background detail in their busy lives—something unimportant, something forgotten.” Why does Satan want us to forget Christ? Because Christ is the only way we’ll stand. It’s only in his power and Spirit that we’ll persevere. If you’re a disciple who’s lost touch with the Master, or a soldier who doesn’t know his King, you may not be far from giving up and falling. So fix your eyes on Christ alone. Honour the King, and love Him!

And pray for victory! Pray, even if you know you’re safe inside Christ’s Kingdom. No, the gates of hell will not overcome his church. As Hebrews says, “We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (12:28). Yet pray it fervently: “O God, destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against you. Crush all your competitors—crush the idols of the nations, crush the attractive gods in our hearts—and crush the devil once and for all, that your Kingdom may come in its ‘fullness’” (Q&A 123).

We pray for fullness. That’s a big prayer, but before anything can be full, you need to start filling, and you’ll probably start small. Already today, King Jesus is giving us those little victories. It’s a victory when you can say “no” to temptation. It’s a victory when you find the time to grow in the Word. It’s a victory when you can devote yourself to building up his church, one donation at a time; one little child at a time; one Lord’s day at a time; one prayer at a time.

These are small building blocks of that coming kingdom. These are beginnings we don’t always appreciate. But seeing them in our lives and in the church, we know that our King is on his throne, and He’s working. We have a start, and that’s a sure promise of what’s to come. In the words of Psalm 72, that day will come when “all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve him” (v 11).

 

3) yielding to his supremacy: If our King is so glorious, and if his victory so assured, what does that mean for us? As we see Him on his exalted throne, what must we do? For the citizens of his kingdom, there can be no hesitation. We bow. We fall down on our faces, and we worship the King! This is yielding to his supremacy. This is surrendering to his greatness. This is what we ask in the second petition, “Your Kingdom come: Rule us by your Word and Spirit so that more and more we submit to you” (Q&A 123). We want to be ruled. We want to be led.

We find this same submission in Psalm 72. Solomon and all the people of God are placing themselves before their King. They’re expecting nothing from themselves, but grand things from Him alone. Psalm 72 is a nice song—but isn’t it still so hard to submit? We still want to rule ourselves, to declare our independence, to press for our rights. We want to be the ruler of our own little lives, on our own little throne, over our own small kingdom. As king, I want to do what I want, and rely on my own resources and trust my own alliances.

So Jesus teaches us to keep praying, day after day, “Lord, may your Kingdom come. May your rule reach deeply into my life. May you be the King of my weekend activities, and King of my quiet thoughts, King of my bank accounts and my daily work. May you be the King of my family, and the King of my marriage, and the King of every relationship. Help me in all things to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness!”

We pray, “Rule us, so that more and more we submit to you.” That phrase “more and more” says a lot. It tells us that submitting to God is a long process, it’s a learning process. Some parts of our life we find hard to yield. Some things we don’t want to surrender. We’ll always try to keep that hidden corner for ourselves and say, “This is my domain. Here I’ll do what I want.” But surrender it all to Christ. Submit to the King’s rule in all of life, as you listen to his Word. If you’re going to be part of this Kingdom, you need to live the Kingdom way.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Picture yourself as a nation—just a small territory, but important in God’s eyes. In this land, who is king? In your life, who’s in charge? Remember, there will always be someone directing our hearts and guiding our lives—for better, or maybe for worse. So are you the commander-in-chief? Be sure of this: Every life that’s self-governed ends in failure. You end up terrorized by guilt. You end up spiritually bankrupt. Your end up corrupted. You even end up counted among the enemies of Christ: licking the dust, bowing down not in worship, but in defeat.

Or is it the Lord who rules your life? Is it Christ who sits on the throne? He’s a good King, the King who gave his own life for us. Now He rules in justice and truth, and we know that “His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun” (v 17).

So confess His glory in all you do: “Christ is King! I bow before His heavenly majesty. I trust in his faithful care. I submit to his perfect Word. I depend on his amazing grace.” When we do that, his blessing will rest upon us, now and forever, as we dwell in the Kingdom of God our Saviour.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://frcmn.org/sermons/

(c) Copyright 2017, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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