The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.Unknown
We are innate storytellers, and we love stories about kings, kingdoms, and battles. Maybe that is why we are intrigued by the theme of the kingdom in scripture. It makes for a great story, and of course, it is so much more! And it is not the classic story of an arrogant king wreaking havoc in his kingdom. Instead, God is the just and righteous king coming to rescue a people, His created ones, the people He loves.
We are all like foolish puppets whoRandy Stonehill
Desiring to be kings / Now lie pitifully
Crippled after cutting our own strings
God’s mission in establishing His kingdom is to rescue us from our sinful rebellion and restore His rightful rule in our lives. He promises to make a new covenant with His people. In Isaiah, we read about a coming king, a servant to all, who bears our sin and rights the injustices of this world. In Jeremiah, the focus is on preparing the people to receive this coming King.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.Jeremiah 31:31-32
Although God was faithful to His people under the old covenant, the people were not. Notice how God took them by the hand. The people were unable to rescue themselves. God’s leading them by the hand is an illustration of His goodness and gentleness towards them. The prophet shifts word pictures to that of a husband and how the people of Israel were unfaithful, breaking the covenant made with them.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”Jeremiah 31:33 – 34
In contrast to the old covenant written on tablets of stone, the new covenant is internal. God writes it on our hearts and minds. The transformation is not outward but inward. Through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life sets us free from the law of sin and death. The sacrificial system is no longer necessary because Jesus paid the penalty for sins once for all. And in this new covenant, we know the forgiveness of sins; He removes them as far as the east is from the west.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.Ezekiel 36:25-27
In the new covenant, as we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He saves us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. We hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
God gives us His Spirit, who moves us to follow His decrees. He works in us both to will and to act on behalf of His good purposes. Our motivation comes from looking back at what Christ has done for us, His great grace given to us. Inspiration also comes from looking forward – for great is our reward in heaven. He motivates us by reminding us that He never leaves nor forsakes us!
“‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”Ezekiel 37:24 – 28
God promises to fulfill His covenants with the people through Jesus, our good shepherd! Living in the land fulfills the Abrahamic covenant. Following His laws fulfill the Mosaic covenant, and the promise of eternal kingship fulfills the Davidic covenant. In this new covenant of peace, we are established forever as His people, and He makes His dwelling among us, in us! Praise the Lord!
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.1 John 2:15-17
The desires of our hearts shape the direction of our lives. It’s not the violation of external rules that defile us, but the condition of our hearts. When we receive His grace, our hearts are changed, and our desires are transformed. God calls us to love Him supremely and to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. Initially, our thirst is satisfied by His grace and love, but strangely, this very satisfaction increases our appetite for deeper intimacy and communion with God. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled!
How is your heart today? If you feel far from God, why not pray this prayer from the Psalms and rejoice in the gift of grace extended to you through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Create for me a pure heart, O God. Renew a resolute spirit within me.Psalm 51:10, 12
Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance.
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey.
O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free;
a heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
so freely shed for me:
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne;
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone:
A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
believing, true, and clean,
which neither life nor death can part
from him that dwells within:
A heart in every thought renewed,
and full of love divine;
perfect and right and pure and good —
a copy, Lord, of thine.
Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart,Charles Wesley, 1742
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new best name of Love.
*These notes are based on our pastor’s sermon preached on July 25. You can listen to it here.
** If you want to follow this series of notes on the king and HIs kingdom, here are the previous links: