I’ve recently read an article suggesting that President Obama may be “embarking on a new and dangerous direction for our nation” by “embracing an ideology of global governance” in which the United States may become subservient to the European Union or the United Nations. The article is worth reading; however, it brought to mind the kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke to the governing authorities with an understanding of the subversive nature of the kingdom of God, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…” (John 19:11). God possesses absolute authority and bestows authority upon whom He desires. Pilate possessed no authority in and of himself; however, God granted him authority in order that His purpose would be fulfilled in Jesus who, “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him…” (Colossians 2:14-15).
Whenever a Roman citizen declared, “Caesar is Lord,” he was confessing his ultimate loyalty to Rome, that there was none greater than Rome, and his life was committed to serving the Roman world. If someone refused to honor Caesar as god and confess him as Lord, he was risking his very life. Therefore, when Paul (a Roman citizen writing to believers in Rome) wrote that the word of faith involved confessing with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9-10), those reading the letter aloud would understand that the intended meaning involved a denunciation of loyalty towards Caesar and a confession of ultimate loyalty towards Jesus, that there is none greater than Jesus, and that their lives were to be committed to serving the King of the kingdom, Jesus. However, this loyalty would be centered from the heart, where belief/faith are centered.
The subversion of the political dominion/rule of Caesar was continued by Paul and John in calling Jesus the “King of kings and Lord of lords…” (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16); “…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). As Gordon Fee astutely observes, “Ephesus was not only the haven of Artemis, but an early center of emperor worship as well. This doxology, therefore, is Paul’s parting shot that the God with whom the church has to do in the gospel of Christ is none other than the supreme Ruler of the universe, the Lord over all other lords.”
We are inevitably destined for a time in which all kingdoms will be subservient to the righteous King of kings in the kingdom of God (Revelation 19:11-16). The kingdoms/kings of this world will be subverted by the kingdom of God as his rule/reign extends over the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1-6). The Father and Son will be the Temple and illuminate Jerusalem with its glory. The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it (Revelation 21:22-26).
In view of this, one must re-examine to whom we have given our allegiance (i.e. nationalism, political allegiance). Governing authorities (executive, legislative, judicial) need to be recognized as those given authority. We submit to them out of reverence to the One who bestows authority; however, our allegiance is to another kingdom and another King.
Memories of denial thrice
Dinners remembering the bread and wine
When one among them betrayed the Divine
What did His words “It is finished” convey?
Or his assurance He’d return on the “Day”?
How could they drink once again with their King?
When He’d tasted the bitter taste of death’s sting?
He said they were given a particular “sign”
The temple destroyed would be raised by design
Three days in death’s prison
Proclaim “He is risen!”