“So David Reigned Over All”
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“So David Reigned Over All”

2 Samuel 8:15–18  (ID: 3492)

During his reign, King David administered justice to his people and chose faithful personnel to help with this task. But even David’s reign was not perfect. As Alistair Begg explains, the king’s rule was the result of promises God had made to David—promises that would find their fulfillment in Jesus, the ascended King. Our hope today remains grounded in the reality of Christ’s return to reign in righteousness over His people.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 7

Great Victories, Terrible Defeat 2 Samuel 8:1–12:31 Series ID: 109017

Sermon Transcript: Print

Well, I invite you to follow along as I read again from the Psalms, from Psalm 101:

A Psalm of David.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
 to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
 Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
 within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
 anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
 it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
 I will know nothing of evil.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
 I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
 I will not endure.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
 that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
 shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit
 shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
 shall continue before my eyes.

Morning by morning I will destroy
 all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
 from the city of the Lord.

And we thank God for his Word.

And I invite you to turn with me to 2 Samuel and to chapter 8. And as we turn there, we ask God’s help:

We bow down before you, our good God, our faithful God, of whom we have sung. And we pray now for the help of the Holy Spirit to look into the Scriptures in a way that is honest and humble and will prove to be life changing. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, those of you who were present last time know that we didn’t manage to get all the way through this chapter and therefore have left ourselves with the challenge of what I’m referring to as the “final four,” verses 15 through 18. And I hope you have them open in front of you. And if you do, you will notice what we have for our study this morning. First of all, it is a list—a list, if you like, of David’s cabinet members; it is a summary of David’s reign; it is history; and it is, of course, the Word of God, which is profitable for correction, for reproof, for teaching, for training in righteousness.[1] And it is, as we’ve been learning in our studies in the Old Testament, that we learn from yesterday in order that we might live for today in light of tomorrow.

As Christians—those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus—we disagree strongly with the pessimism of Shakespeare put into the lips of Macbeth. And you will remember what every schoolboy or schoolgirl learns; if she learns only one speech from Shakespeare, it’s often this one. Now, admittedly, his wife had died; his power base was crumbling. But nevertheless, these words plumb the depths of a kind of pessimistic human emotion that are almost unparalleled. You will remember it:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.[2]

Not so, says the Christian, not even for a moment! But rather, that all the yesterdays of God’s dealings with his people have been written down for our instruction and our encouragement today in order that we may live in the light of that encouragement in anticipation of tomorrow.

A Description of What Was

With that said, let us consider these four verses, first of all, and recognize the description of what is. The description of what is—in other words, what was happening there, what is described there for us. And I want to summarize that by noticing first of all that it is a promise fulfilled. A promise fulfilled.

All the yesterdays of God’s dealings with his people have been written down for our instruction and our encouragement today in order that we may live in the light of that encouragement in anticipation of tomorrow.

You may have been taken off guard by the fact that I read from the 101st Psalm. But I did so purposefully, because that psalm was written by David before he became king. And you will have noticed as I read it that it reads almost like a journal entry. It’s almost as if he would have written it before he went to bed. And he makes these great declarations in it. He promises that his life will be marked by integrity, that he will not look upon evil, that he will endeavor to execute justice and righteousness and so on. And if you review the psalm, you will see that that is all there. It is about God’s covenant, his steadfast love. It is an expression of David’s character; in turn, a revelation of his conduct and, at the same time, of his constant refusal to look upon, to tolerate, or to encourage evil. So, there we have a promise fulfilled.

Then also you will notice that we have a priority that he has established: “So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.” More commonly, when this phrase is found in the Bible, it comes not using the word equity but the word righteousness. They’re virtually synonyms: righteousness and justice, justice and equity. In contemporary parlance, David in his reign set about doing what was just and what was right. In other words, he sought to establish justice in a righteous way. If you have a long memory, you’ll be able to recall how as we’ve gone through 1 Samuel, we’ve seen that sometimes justice was perverted. It was there to be engaged and applied properly, but, for example, Eli’s sons, we’re told, “took bribes and perverted justice.”[3]

Now, you will notice that David does not do this. He is committed, you will notice, to governing “all”: “So David reigned over all Israel.” That word for “all” in Hebrew comes about nine times in these four verses. It’s not always the word “all” in English as you see it there, and I won’t delay on it. But it is there, and it makes a point very carefully: that he governs all who are under his jurisdiction with impartiality. He avoids, if you like—when you consider the nations and the tribes that have been brought underneath his rule—he avoids the dangers of tribal affiliations, the almost inevitability that the people from one tribe would be engaged with the members of another tribe, and often in a way that was not what you would call wholesome and enjoyable. He is committed, in the execution of justice and righteousness, to protecting the poor and the needy, to making sure that the oppressor is not able to take charge, and to provide for the afflicted.

“Now,” you say, “that’s a lot in just a phrase or two.” Well, of course, it is. Because we read this description of what is in light of all that we know—all that we know of David and all that we know of his reign, and all that David knew about the God whom he served. David knew (Psalm 11:7) that Yahweh “is righteous; he loves righteous deeds,” and “the upright shall behold his face.” Or, as was read for us from Psalm 89, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”[4]

So we have, then, a promise that he has set out to keep, we have a priority that he has very clearly established to undertake, and we have the details of the personnel that he has chosen for the task. That is why you have, then, these various names.

Now, we should just say this: that the individuals that he chose were obviously not perfect. They were capable of all kinds of strange and willful decisions. But they were capable also of doing what he asked of them, and they were vital in doing what he asked of them, because, as would be obvious for any decent leader, the leader himself cannot do everything. And so the personnel that he chooses are those who are marked in large measure by faithfulness and by integrity of heart.

Now, if we were to delay on this list and work our way into the details of it, we would be here for a long time, and I think it would be tedious. “Now,” you say, “well, that’s just because you don’t want to or because you didn’t study it yourself.” Well, choose to believe that if you wish, but no, I’m thinking more of you than of me.

You can see the names there: Joab, who was the commander of the army. I’ll just say one thing about him: he wasn’t without his problems. If you go back a few chapters, remember, he stuck a knife in Abner’s belly. Jehoshaphat fulfills the role of a kind of business manager, a role that he was to fulfill under Solomon as well. Zadok and Ahimelech were descendants of two priestly families, all going back as far as Aaron’s sons.

And Seraiah functions in some role that seems to be almost akin to the king’s private secretary. We know very little of him, but he was crucial to what David was doing. I wonder, did you think about it yesterday when you watched—I hope some of you, at least, watched—the funeral of Prince Philip, and if you noted at the very end of it, as the Queen went into the car, there was a lady with her. And just the comment, at least in the British commentary, he said, “And there goes her lady-in-waiting.” We never saw a picture of her face. We don’t know her name. We know very little about her. But I guarantee you, she’s absolutely crucial to Her Majesty. Seraiah was in a very similar role.

Benaiah is the fellow here who ends up in charge of David’s bodyguard team. Interestingly, he chooses his bodyguard not from his immediate family or his immediate friendships, but he chooses them out of the… What are these folks? The Cherethites and the Pelethites. And Benaiah, a big, strong, tough man, apparently—“mighty warrior” is what his name means—was in charge.

Now, as we move on from this, from the description of what is, let’s just notice that David’s power carried with it the potential for tyranny. We know—we say the cliché often, don’t we?—that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so, here he is. He has now triumphed over the enemies. He’s established his territory. It is clear that he’s in charge. He has his cabinet in place and so on. But he exercises his kingship under the jurisdiction of one whose royal decree is that of justice and of righteousness. The king is under the King.

An Application to What Is

Now, from the description of what was to consider the application to what is. This may not make sense to you. It made sense to me; as I say it now, I’m not sure it makes sense to me either! But anyway, we looked back to where it was three thousand years ago, as it’s described for us, and now, three thousand years later, we say, “And so what?” So what? Here we are on a morning like this and studying this ancient book, and some of you have already started moving to degrees of anesthesia, and I need to call you back. Come back! We are three thousand years on from the circumstances that are described for us here.

Well, you see, that’s why I said to you, what we’re dealing with is not simply history, not simply a summary of his reign, but it is the very Word of God. And the very Word of God carries with it a power that is not found in our mere words.

Now, so, if we think in terms of application, if we think in terms of response, how do we respond to what we learn here? The key to it is not in the promise that was made by David—Psalm 101—not the promise that was made by David, but the key to application lies in the promise that was made to David. And what we have in chapter 8 is in light of the promise of God made to David in chapter 7. We won’t go all the way back through it. But if you go, for example, to verse 16, here is God’s promise to David: “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” And if you go down into verse 28, where David is now responding to the promise of God, he says, “And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

Now, a century and a half after this, approximately 150 years after this, the prophets, in messianic terms, were reinforcing, if you like, these promises—the promise first made to Abraham, the promise reinforced in the life of David here in 2 Samuel 7. And so that is why we then read, for example, the familiar words of Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” and you go on through that; “a child is born, … a son is given; … the government [will] be upon his shoulder,” and he will “establish it,” he will “uphold it,” he will do so “with justice and with righteousness.”[5] So they are anticipating the fulfillment of this. You have the same thing, for example, in Jeremiah, a contemporary of Isaiah: “[And] behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”[6]

The very Word of God carries with it a power that is not found in our mere words.

Now, how do we know about this? Well, we know from reading the New Testament. We know, for example, when we come into the Gospel of Luke that the writers—Luke here in particular, in chapter 1—sees the fulfillment of all of this in the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

So, if you follow my line: the application that we are able to make from this passage is not by pondering the promise made by David but the promise made to David, a promise that is fulfilled in Jesus as King. Therefore, the personnel that the king has enlisted are the members of his body. So, the personnel that are going to be involved in the application of the kingdom principles three thousand years on from David, two thousand years on from Jesus, are you and me.

Because, you see, we, in Christ, have been transferred. We have been transferred “from the domain of darkness” into “the kingdom of his beloved Son.” That’s Colossians 1:13. So when you waken up in the morning and you say to yourself, “Who am I?”—if you haven’t put your name upside down on your pajamas so that you can check and see. But you can not only see “Okay, so I’m Alistair Begg,” but who am I? I’m a child of the risen King. Jesus Christ is my Elder Brother. I serve in the foot soldiers of a vast army that is spreading throughout the world. I need to remind myself of this, because I’ve got to go to work. I’ve gotta do things. I’ve gotta just get on with my life.

Now, you see, so often I think we miss this point entirely. And in the same way that Joab and Jehoshaphat and Seraiah and Benaiah and these characters, as we said, they weren’t perfect people, guess what? Neither are you. And neither am I. Jesus’ team is not a perfect team. That’s why I love changing the words of that song, you know, “I’m so glad that you’re part of the family of God.”[7] I love singing it, “I’m surprised that you’re part of the family of God.” Because there’s no one more surprised about being in the family than that I am in the family. What a mystery is this, that God from all of eternity should set his love upon us, should woo us, should win us, should bring us to himself and should enlist us in his team! The personnel in King Jesus’ team are the followers of Jesus. And what a wonder it is that God in his mercy does not restrict his grace to those who are perfect, to those who are spotless, but rather to those who are caught up in and secured by and united to the very righteousness of Christ.

The promise, then, by application, is a promise that was granted to David and fulfilled in Jesus. The personnel are, then, the followers of Jesus. And the priorities are those established by Jesus.

Now, here we are. What was his kingdom like? What was his priority? Well, it was justice. It was righteousness. It was equity. It was asking, if you like, every morning that you wake up, every decision that you make, whether it is in a lab or whether it is in a classroom or whether it is on a Friday evening when you’re facing great temptation—or a Saturday, too—the great question, the fundamental question is “What is the right thing to do?” What is the right thing to do? For this kingdom in which I’ve been enlisted is a kingdom of righteousness. It is a kingdom of justice. It is a kingdom that flows in such a way that these radical dimensions of life are not only confronting us in the Bible but are being revealed in our lives.

Now, there are two places we could go by way of cross-reference, in particular. One of them would be to go to the book of Amos. We’re not going to do that. I’m simply assigning it as the Old Testament homework. I went back in my notes, because I had a recollection of attempting to expound Amos in the past. I did. It’s not something that anybody should go and look for, but between September and December of 1988, we worked our way through Amos. And it was a very uncomfortable experience—at least it was for me, to preach it. I used to get all kinds of letters from people saying, “I think you’re a socialist; I think you might even be a communist,” and so on. I mean, it was quite amazing. And so I listened carefully, but I think they were wrong.

But the tone, the tenor of Amos is on account of this: that the people of God—the people of God—had been infiltrated by the mindset of surrounding nations. And instead of resisting that, they had succumbed to it. They had absorbed it. They had begun to look like, sound like, live like those who were not under the jurisdiction of God’s righteousness and justice. And so—I just turned to it just now—“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,” says God, because this is the kind of thing they do: “they sell the righteous for silver, … the needy for a pair of sandals”; they “trample [on] the head of the poor”; they trample them “into the dust of the earth”; they “turn aside [from] the way of the afflicted.”[8] And then it goes on from there into some of the darkest elements of life lived outwith the framework of God’s intention. I say to you, you can follow it up for homework on your own.

If we wanted a New Testament challenge in relationship to the priorities of justice and righteousness, then probably Matthew chapter 25 would be as stirring as anything. Again, I’m not going to read it all, but you will remember that it speaks to the final judgment. Jesus is speaking: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his [righteous] throne.”[9] And you remember that, how Jesus then speaks concerning the gathering of the nations, the fact that he will separate the sheep from the goats and so on. It’s a very chilling picture, and purposefully so. It comes from the lips of the one who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[10] It comes from the lips of the one who said, “Bring these little children to me, and don’t turn them away, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”[11] It comes from the lips of one who, hanging on a cross, said, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing.”[12] The same lips!

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did[n’t] visit me.” Then they also will answer saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger … naked or sick or in prison, and did[n’t] minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.[13]

The righteous will inherit the kingdom not on the basis of their deeds, but their deeds will reveal the fact of their inheritance—an inheritance that has not been earned but has been bestowed by grace. The deeds are the fruits of the life set free to live in righteousness and in justice.

Now, the Bible is perfect in every respect, and not least of all in this: insofar as when the execution of justice and righteousness is divorced from gospel proclamation, then the former (namely, concerns of justice and righteousness) will almost inevitably squeeze out the latter (namely, gospel proclamation).

I was thinking about it as I woke up this morning. Is this too simple? That… I was thinking, like, when I read books, I don’t worry so much now about if it has pictures or not, but I often read to people who do want the pictures. So, if you like, some of us are tempted to have a story, but no pictures; some of us want to go out with the pictures, but with no story. When in point of fact, the balance of Scripture is good news, good deeds. “Let your light so shine … that they may see your good [deeds], and glorify your Father.”[14]

The righteous will inherit the kingdom not on the basis of their deeds, but their deeds will reveal the fact of their inheritance—an inheritance that has not been earned but has been bestowed by grace.

When Paul writes to Titus in this regard, it comes across very clearly there as well, this same wonderful, wonderful balance. Here’s a word for this morning. Talk about application to what is! “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”[15] “To be ready for every good work.” And you go down to verse 8, and here he says, “[This] saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things.” This is advice given to a pastor. Pastors don’t have to worry about what you’re supposed to say! You’re only supposed to say what’s in the Bible. It’s very easy. It’s really easy. So let’s be submissive to rulers and authorities. Let’s be obedient. Let’s be ready for every good work. Who says? God says. All right? “And here’s a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these things, pastor.” Why? “So that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to [do] good works.”[16]

I suggest to you that in a fairly cursory reading of church history, you find this in the best of folks. Spurgeon: unassailable in terms of biblical proclamation, the calling and the urgency of bringing people to the cross of Jesus Christ, and yet at the same time in the establishing of his orphanages. Dwight L. Moody, in the exact same way: fierce preaching, simple preaching. “Look to Jesus,” he would say again and again, akin with Spurgeon. And again, the establishing of engagement that executes both righteousness and justice. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, the same thing, absolutely clear: the necessity of the life-changing work of the power of the gospel and the engagement of the troops enlisted in his gospel army to deal with the execution of righteousness and justice. In each case, you see, they were totally convinced that while the ultimate answer to injustice and oppression and discrimination lay in the gospel of the Lord Jesus, lay in the news of the kingdom, nevertheless, the good news was accompanied by the good deeds.

An Expectation of What Will Be

So, that brings us to our final point. First of all, we have in these four verses a description of what was. From these four verses there has to be an application for us to what is. And the application to what is has to be seen, finally, in the expectation of what will be. The expectation of what will be.

Because as we read our Bibles, it is clear that the story’s not over. Jesus has ascended to receive an eternal kingdom. Jesus has ascended; he has triumphed over his enemies. And now, having triumphed over Satan and over sin and over death, he has returned to the glory of the Father, and he reigns from there. He actually does. You say, “Well, it doesn’t seem so.” It doesn’t alter the fact. It is so. He is the ascended King, and he reigns from there. In the same way, as we saw at the beginning of the chapter, that David’s triumph over his enemies encompassed territorially the north, the south, the east, and the west, in the same way, the Lord Jesus rules over the entirety of things.

If you use, as I do, the M’Cheyne Bible readings during the week, you will have read with me Psalm 22. And perhaps you did as I did and you just made note, as I often do, of just a couple verses that stand out to me in my morning reading. And I wasn’t thinking of this when I wrote this down; I just wrote it down. Psalm 22:27–28:

All the ends of the earth shall remember
 and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
 shall worship … you.
For kingship belongs to [Yahweh],
 and he rules over the nations.

“Wow!” I said. “Before I get going today, that’s a good one! I’m gonna write that down. I’m gonna take that with me, as it were. That’d be my companion today. That would be like one of those hard candies that you suck on, you know, to get you through something. This is some biblical… It’s not candy, but no, this is a good… This is a licorice toffee. This is very good. This is very good indeed.”

Now, when I began to advance on it, I found myself turning to Isaiah again and to the anticipation, to the expectation that is found in Isaiah chapter 65. I commend it to you again for your own reading. God is speaking through his servant, and this is what he says: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” Wow! “And the former things shall not be remembered or come [to] mind.”[17] And if you read on through there, it’s just a wonderful section. If you remember in Narnia, when they get into Aslan’s land, Aslan’s land is kinda like a souped-up Narnia. And when you read about the expectation of what God is planning to do, it’s very, very hard to conceive of it, isn’t it? Even, for example, a new heaven and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness,[18] when all of these things will be settled.

Well, you read on in Isaiah 65, and it says, “You know, there won’t be any more weeping. There will be no more weeping there.”[19] Try that! Try that. “Life will be fulfilled. No one will go before their time, and no one will live too long.”[20] Clearly, they couldn’t. It’s eternity. There will be no disappointed expectations. In fact, the environment itself will be transformed. Motyer, wonderfully… What wonderful sentences he writes! “A divine work of such novelty and greatness [so] that everything that went before will be forgotten.”[21]

In other words, what he’s going to do is just beyond our comprehension. “Eye has not seen” (it’s invisible) “nor ear heard” (it’s inaudible) “nor has the heart conceived” (it’s inconceivable) “the things that God has prepared for them that love him.”[22] But the Holy Spirit has given to us a little inkling of it. Every so often, a tiny little moment: in the sound of a bird, the experience of a relationship, the joy of something, or the sadness of something, or the funeral of Prince Philip, and in the midst of all of that you find yourself saying, “Oh, yes, but there is a new heaven and there is a new earth. The King is an ascended King, and the King is a coming King.”

Now, let me end in this way. We say to one another, don’t we, that the Word of God must interpret our culture and our history and not the other way around, right? So we read our Bibles, and through our Bibles we adjudicate on history and we assess the culture in which we live. We don’t do it in a judgmental way, but we do so. We ought to. Of course we should. So, our minds are alert to these things.

Those of you who watched yesterday—unless you watched the British feed, as I did—you will have been enjoying the American commentary. And when I had finished on my iPad and switched to the actual television, I just picked up a couple of comments. And I was struck in particular by the way this particular commentator from whatever channel it was—I don’t remember—decided to comment on Philip’s choice of Psalm 104. And this particular individual said, “You know, isn’t it quite wonderful that he addressed his environmental concerns in providing Psalm 104?” she said.

The Word of God must interpret our culture and our history and not the other way around.

Now, don’t just skate over that. He was concerned about the environment. Of course he was, and of course we are too. But do you really think that that was why he chose Psalm 104? Do you not think he’s bright enough to understand how it begins?

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
 O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
 [you cover] yourself with light as with a garment,
 [you stretch] out the heavens like a tent.[23]

And then he goes on to say, “Look at all you’ve done in creation!”

And if that’s not good enough, don’t you think he knew how it ended?

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
 for I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
 … let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
[Bless] the Lord![24]

Where’s the focus in Psalm 104? It’s on God, the creator of the universe, and the amazing wonder of what he’s given to us to enjoy! It’s terrific! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, his hat was there, and the sword that he wore in his wedding to the Queen was there, and all the medals were there. But they were all on the side. No, I think, to whatever degree, he knew: we lay these down. We lay these down.

Well, then, when I was just trying to recover from that, I got in the car this morning. I walked out, and the birds were singing, and I noticed the trees and the slight frost on the ground, and I said, “This is such a remarkably super day.” I got in my car, and I won’t tell you which station I tuned to immediately, but the opening line from the person was “You know, it’s a wonderful day today. It’s clearly… It’s spring. It’s spring.” And so the person went on to say, “And soon we will be able to enjoy Earth Day.” Okay. We know that comes up. And then the man said, “And we now have an hour. We now have an hour that gives us the opportunity to honor the earth.” “Oh no,” I said, “no, it doesn’t. No, no,” I said out loud, “it doesn’t. It doesn’t.”

“Why not? You don’t care about the earth, Alistair?” No, of course I do. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”[25] We live in this. We are the beneficiaries of this. But what are we supposed to do with this? Honor it? No! “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’”[26] “Subdue it.”

You see, our culture, our world this morning has got this completely upside down. Completely upside down. We have shifted—we have shifted largely—from the vertical axis of the authority of God and the honor that is due to God alone to the horizontal axis of, essentially, the congratulations of ourselves and the fierce, scrambling, eschatological fearfulness about giving honor to the creation while denying honor to the Creator.[27]

Here’s the wonderful thing, though. I get all these things. I understand why people would feel this way. Don’t you? Because if this is all there is, then you’re gonna have to do your best to try and keep it going for as long as you can. But all the longings—all the longings for peace, for unity, for freedom from discrimination, for the environment—all of them are answered in the kingdom of God: a kingdom that is previewed in David; a kingdom that becomes present in Jesus; a kingdom that is yet in the future, awaiting the return of Jesus; a kingdom that is advanced through the preaching of the gospel; and a kingdom the entry to which is by way of a new birth.

You might be listening to me right now, and you’re saying to yourself, “Well, that’s a very interesting thing, but I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it.” Well, Jesus spoke to a man, a religious man, and he didn’t get it either. Do you know what he said to him? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [he cannot get it,] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[28]

Do you see it? Do you get it? Which kingdom are you living in? Which kingdom are you living for? Have you ever turned from your sin, turned to faith in Jesus, recognizing that it is God who takes the initiative and yet recognizing that there is an RSVP, personal response required?

Well, we’ll leave it there.

Just a moment of silence.

We thank you, gracious Father, that you have sent Jesus. We thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have triumphed over all the enemies. We thank you that you have defeated Satan and sin and death. We thank you that you enlist members to your forever kingdom. We thank you that you have ascended to the Father, and we thank you that you will return. And so we sing in light of those truths, and we bless you in Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] See 2 Timothy 3:16.

[2] William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.5.

[3] 1 Samuel 8:3 (ESV).

[4] Psalm 89:14 (ESV).

[5] Isaiah 9:2, 6–7 (ESV).

[6] Jeremiah 23:5 (ESV).

[7] Bill Gaither and Gloria Gaither, “Family of God” (1970). Lyrics lightly altered.

[8] Amos 2:6–7 (ESV).

[9] Matthew 25:31 (ESV).

[10] Matthew 11:28 (paraphrased).

[11] Matthew 19:14 (paraphrased).

[12] Luke 23:34 (paraphrased).

[13] Matthew 25:41–46 (ESV).

[14] Matthew 5:16 (KJV).

[15] Titus 3:1 (ESV).

[16] Titus 3:8 (ESV).

[17] Isaiah 65:17 (ESV).

[18] See 2 Peter 3:13.

[19] Isaiah 65:19 (paraphrased).

[20] Isaiah 65:20 (paraphrased).

[21] Alec Motyer, Look to the Rock: An Old Testament Background to Our Understanding of Christ (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 184.

[22] 1 Corinthians 2:9 (paraphrased).

[23] Psalm 104:1–2 (ESV).

[24] Psalm 104:34–35 (ESV).

[25] Psalm 24:1 (ESV).

[26] Genesis 1:28 (ESV).

[27] See Romans 1:21.

[28] John 3:3 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.