The Coronation 

Zechariah 9:9
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

A few years ago, during the height of the popularity of the tv show “American Idol”, I happened to be in a hotel room in Ghana. I turned on the tv and began  flipping through the channels. Soon I found a show I did not know existed. It was called “West African Idol.” The premise was the same as the American version, but without nearly the budget. Instead of renting out the Nokia Theater, it was held in what looked like a high school auditorium. Instead of millions of dollars in LED lighting and sound equipment, it had a banner and a few spotlights. Clearly, the more prestigious the event the more glamour it gets.

Kings have had coronation ceremonies for centuries. The more powerful the king, the more fanfare associated with his crowning. Here, Zechariah foretells of the coronation of Christ. The Bible calls Him the King of kings and Lord of Lords. His reign is eternal, righteous, and all reaching. Every creature will one day bow before Him, recognizing His authority and power. Yet when the time came for Him to be crowned, He rode into the city on a donkey and was celebrated with the waving of branches and singing by the common people; no bands, no  lights, no drama.

In many ways, this event perfectly reflects the reign of the King of kings. One of His chief characteristics, and perhaps the platform of His campaign, was humility. He stepped out of glory and into humanity by taking on the form of a man, and coming in the humblest of means. At Christmas we are reminded that Christ was born in a stable, laid in a manger, and greeted by shepherds. His ministry was marked with humility. He is constantly seen taking the lowest place and serving others. We find him washing feet, reaching out to the sick, noticing the neglected and caring for all. His death was the ultimate expression of humility, as the One who created the trees, hung upon a cross made from its wood. Willingly, and without resistance, He allowed men to beat Him, drive nails through His hands and feet, and hoist Him upon the cross. When taunted to prove His power and come down from the cross, He humbly remained, where He could finish the work of providing atonement for the sins of mankind.

Although Jesus is the greatest ruler who will ever reign, He aptly presented Himself with meekness and humility. The next time we see Him, things will be much different. The bible declares that the One who came like a lowly lamb will return like a wild lion. He will one day burst through the clouds with sound of a trumpet, and the the hosts of heaven at His side. At this time, He will set up His kingdom and righteousness will reign from sea to sea.

Pastor Jim

 

He Reigns 

Daniel 4:32
“…until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

This lesson is so important that it is set in an unforgettable backdrop. God allowed the most powerful ruler in the world to lose his mind, and behave like a wild beast, for a period of seven seasons, that he might learn that it is God who rules the affairs of men. While very few will go through Nebuchadnezzar’s experience, all of us need to come to the realization that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.

Scripture goes into great detail to teach this lesson to us. We read of Joseph, who was sold into slavery and cast into prison. What looked like a tragic end, was really the route God took to exalt him to a position where he was used to save Israel. We read of Caesar, the most powerful man in the world, who desired to increase revenue by requiring a census for taxation. He made all inhabitants of his empire return to the city of their birth to be registered. We find the real reason was so a pregnant Israeli woman would make her way to Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah, in fulfillment of Scripture. Paul capsulized this truth in one of the most memorable promises when he said, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 828). All of this is only true because “the Most High rules the kingdom of men.”

For Nebuchadnezzar this lesson was learned the hard way. His refusal to humble himself before God and His word, made for a very difficult and humiliating season of life. It did not have to be that way for him, and it does not have to be that way for us. We can choose, today, to humble ourselves under the hand of God. Then watch as He reveals, His is the hand  that guides and governs the affairs of our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

Dem Bones 

Ezekiel 37:11
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'””

Ezekiel was taken in the Spirit to a valley full of skeletons. I am sure the sight itself was quite shocking, but what happened next must have been truly overwhelming. The angel asked Ezekiel if these bones could live. The obvious answer is no. When a person has been under water too long and their heartbeat has stopped there remains a slight chance of resuscitation. When a person has been dead so long that all that remains is a pile of bones, they are way past ‘mostly dead’, and no hope remains of them coming back to life. I am sure my answer would have been “No Way!” Ezekiel, however, had seen God do some pretty amazing things, so he did not discount even the possibility of these bones coming back to life. Sure enough, as he stood by, the bones came together; muscle, organs, skin and finally life was added. What had been a graveyard was now a valley filled with life.

This is a graphic picture of the work God alone can do. This passage has often been used to illustrate the work of salvation. When a person comes to Christ a miracle no less amazing than adding life to dead bones takes place. While there are many similarities between conversion and this event, the real meaning behind it is God’s promise to restore the nation of Israel; it had been divided, conquered and scattered. While this event transpired, Israel remained captive in Babylon. However, in a few short decades Cyrus, King of Persian, would issue a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland. In a minor way, that event fulfilled this prophecy, but the promises looked way beyond ancient times into the future. God promised the nation would be restored and the Messiah would sit on the throne of Israel and reign. He promised these would be end times events.

After two thousand years without a homeland, Israel returned to occupy the Promised Land. This event was the precursor to Ezekiel’s promise. Soon, Jesus Christ will return to set up His kingdom. The fact that Israel occupies the land today should stir our hearts to live in expectancy of His return.

Pastor Jim

 

Responsible 

Jeremiah 22:2
“Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates!”

As king of Judah, Zedekiah was afforded certain privileges and responsibilities. His seat, or throne, gave him authority that others did not have, and this authority made him culpable before God for his actions and how they impacted the nation.

While very few of us have a seat that gives us authority over a nation, we have all been afforded certain privileges and authority. For some it is the position as a father. This role grants us the responsibility of instructing our children in the word of God, guiding them in the ways of the Lord, and setting a godly example for them. Others have been given a position as co-worker, where we are able to establish relationships with others and be a witness of Christ to them. It is through these relationships that we are able to exemplify what Christianity really looks like, and help to guide them to Christ. Still others, have been given a position of influence as a teacher, leader or role model. Whatever our seat may be, it is important that we recognize it to be God given and use it for His glory. Zedekiah’s failure was, he never saw that his position carried with it a responsibility before God. Membership not only has privileges, it also has responsibility.

Pastor Jim

 

That Will Fix It

Isaiah 33:22
“For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us”

Israel, in Isaiah’s day, was in dire straights. The Assyrians were on a rampage, overthrowing any nation that stood in the way of their desire for global dominance. Israel watched as their neighbors were defeated and enslaved to the most bloodthirsty nation the world had ever known. In the midst of these threatening conditions, people began to offer solutions. The most common was to make an allegiance with Egypt to withstand the Assyrian invasion. Isaiah offered an entirely different remedy. He encouraged the people to understand, it was God who could save them. But in order for this to happen, they would have to look at Him very differently than they had been doing. He used three words to describe a proper relationship with God.

First he refers to God as the Judge. This word was used in Israel for those who ruled over the people. If Israel was to be delivered, they must return to allowing God to rule over them, instead of following the dictates of their own hearts. Today, it very common for people to assume there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, and each person must do what is right in their own eyes. This is not a new concept, it was prevalent in Isaiah’s day and led to the collapse of the nation. The first step to deliverance is to allow God to be our judge.

Second, Isaiah refers to God as the Lawgiver. This word means exactly what it says. God is the one who sets the laws for mankind to follow. He has given moral laws to keep us in check and to lead us to His provision for our salvation. What we call the Ten Commandments, are a set of standards that will create a healthy living environment for mankind. However, they will also show us, we are unable to keep them on our own. There purpose is to lead us to Christ, the one who forgives all sin, and makes us right with God. Today, there are those who are passionately oppose to the law of God. They are attempting to remove His commands from schools, courthouses, and other public places, as though these laws were dangerous and destructive. Imagine for a moment what our nation would be like if we kept them. No murder, dishonesty, theft or destroying of families through sexual misconduct. I wonder why people are so opposed to the law of God?

Finally, Isaiah refers to God as King. A king sits on a throne and rules. Jesus was asked if He was a King, to which He responded, “that is the reason I came into the world” (John 18:37). Jesus did not come to be our personal advisor or friend, as much as He came to rule over us. He is a beneficent ruler, but He is a ruler none the less. The proper place for Him in our life is not as co-pilot, but as king. Deliverance will be found when we allow Him His rightful place.

I think Isaiah’s prescription for Israel is as necessary today as ever.

Pastor Jim

Coming Soon! 

1 Chronicles 11:1-3
“Then all Israel came together to David at Hebron, saying, ‘Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord your God said to you, “You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel. “‘ Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel.”

My father-in-law uses the phrase,“So soon,” to chide anyone who is late. I personally have heard the term more times than I care to admit. The basic idea behind it is “I am glad you are finally ready, but what took you so long.” I cannot help but think of that phrase as I read of David finally sitting upon the throne as king of all Israel.

It had been seven years since Saul and Jonathan tragically died in battle. A fraction of Israel rallied behind David, recognizing him as king, while the remainder of the nation clung to the family of Saul, and placed Ishbosheth on the throne. Those loyal to the family of Saul, fought desperately to keep Ishbosheth on the throne. After seven years of civil war “All Israel came to David at Hebron…,” finally recognizing him as Israel’s rightful king. By their own admission, they knew David was God’s chosen king. When they finally allowed God’s king to sit on their throne, the nation began to experience the fulfillment of the promises of God.

I wonder how many of us are currently fighting against God. We know He is our rightful King, but we stubbornly fight to sit on the throne of our lives. With each day, we refuse to surrender to Him, we are only doing harm to ourselves. Wouldn’t it be so much better to allow Him to have the reins of your life, rather than continuing to trot along on the path you have chosen. The fulfillment of the wonderful promises of God are all linked to allowing Christ to take His rightful place.

Pastor Jim

 

Armed And Dangerous 

2 Kings 11:12
“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, ‘Long live the king'”

There are times in life when we are required to do things that seem almost impossible. The odds are stacked against us and it looks as though we will never be able to do what is required. That is certainly the case when Joash was crowned as king of Judah. His grandmother killed all other heirs to the throne, and his life was spared only because a priest hid him away in the temple for six years. Now, at the ripe old age of seven, the crown was placed on his head and his reign began. The nation of Judah was in complete disarray: the throne had been stolen by an evil woman who surrounded herself with ungodly men, the people were given over to the worship of Baal, the enemies of Judah were threatening to attack, and the Temple was in need of repair. How in the world could a seven year old king and a handful of priests make a difference with so much stacked against them?

“And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony…”

On the day of his coronation, Joash was not armed with sword, spear or javelin, but with the testimonies of God. Long before this, Moses had written that the kings of Israel were to be given a copy of the Word of God, and read it every day. A grasp on the Scriptures is more valuable to a leader than natural resources or highly trained armed forces. The Word of God was designed to give guidance to rulers, so they can effectively lead the nation in righteousness. Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Joash’s success as a leader did not result from his own wisdom, strength, or ingenuity. He did not succeed because he had brilliant plans to bring about change in the nation. Joash was a good leader because he looked to the Word of God for guidance. His successes came from his obedience to God, and his failures were directly related to the times when he ignored the Scriptures.

We are living in challenging times in our nation. Isaiah’s statement that people would call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)  is an apt description of our world today. It seems as though our moral compass is broken and people are going insane. We are in need of leaders armed with the Scriptures, and willing to stand for what is right in the eyes of God. While we should be praying for those in authority over us, we also want to keep in mind that God might want to use someone who has not yet come on the scene. Time will only tell how the Lord might use us if we give ourselves totally to Him, and devote ourselves to His Word.

Pastor Jim