December 19 - 25
King of Kings
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Ps. 24:7, 8; Isa. 32:1; 33:22; Dan. 2:44; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 5:12, 13.
MEMORY TEXT: "But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to abide His indignation" (Jeremiah 10:10, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: Some day soon the entire universe will joyfully celebrate the final victory of our glorious King of kings and the inauguration of the eternal reign of righteousness.
OUR WONDERFUL GOD IS PICTURED IN SCRIPTURE AS A KING. In these days, there are not many kings. We might well, therefore, review the responsibilities of a king in order to see clearly some of the functions of our God.
Kings, in the days when the Bible was written, were sovereign in their land. In the same manner, God has sole authority. We are to obey His commands. He gives direction to every movement and policy. Some kings have been arbitrary in their Judgments, even wicked in their intentions. David was far from perfect. (Remember the way he treated Uriah, 2 Samuel 11.) By contrast, our God is a righteous king. Some kings have contributed very little, if anything, to the great ness of their nation. They have been mere -figureheads. But this is far from true of our God, whom we can call the King of glory. Some kings have had to fight for their kingdom and failed. Our God is a king who is engaged in a battle for the truth. And His victory is assured. In this lesson, we look at our God as King of kings.
What is God's four-point job description according to Isaiah 33:22?
This multifaceted aspect of the responsibilities of a king is not true of many, if any, kings today. Most rulers have checks placed on their powers. This seems to be necessary because of the limitations of any person. But the Lord who is our King is able, and He functions in these, as well as other ways.
How did Abraham expect that the Judge of all the earth should act? Gen. 18:25.
Note that it would be an injustice for the righteous to suffer with the wicked. Note also that the wicked can be given extra grace be cause of the presence of a few righteous people. Have you thought that, when you are fully surrendered to God and obedient to Him, your neighbors profit from your presence among them?
God is not interested in condemning the world and destroying it (John 3:17). But when people refuse to accept God's mercy, then punishment is inevitable. God sometimes has to do things He does not like to do. His heart "chums within" Him as He cries: "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?" Hos. 11:8, NKJV.
What is the relation between judging one another and the law of God? James 4:11, 12.
A king could also be a savior to his people. He could protect them from their enemies. Not all kings were always capable of this. But our God is a king who will never fail to save those who come in submission to Him.
|What is the relationship of law to Saviour as far as human kind is concerned? How does that relationship affect your daily life and spiritual growth?|
List the four characteristics of God that Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 1:17.
Contrasted with the wages of death, what is the gift of God? Rom. 6:23. What is the significance of the words wages and gift used in this context?
Life is a very precious commodity. God desires that we shall have it abundantly (John 10:10). He is the only source of life (John 11: 25). The knowledge of God leads to life eternal (John 17:3). It is very fitting, therefore, that our God should be represented as an eternal king.
The concept of eternal kingship rules out the possibility of unwelcome change or an order passing away. It speaks of stability and continuity, that which creates trust.
David writes in Psalm 145:13 that God's kingdom is an everlasting one and that His "dominion endures through all generations" (NIV). Thus we know that God's kingly authority governs all time and space, In other words, He is the sole ruler of the universe, and as such, demands our compliance and worship.
In Malachi 3:6, God says, "'I the Lord do not change"' (NIV). Because God remains eternally the same, we have the assured hope that He will fulfill His promises.
By contrast, we can see how fickle people are. Laban deceived Jacob and changed his wages ten times (Gen. 31:7). We cannot put our trust even in princes. We can never be certain of anything in this life, particularly riches (1 Tim. 6:17). We can only be certain that God is ruling heaven, that all things are in His control, and that we are under His care if we put our trust in Him. "We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. "Christ's Object Lessons, p. 146.
|Think of at least three or four ways you can express loyalty to your Eternal King. Plan to follow through with these expressions every day of the week.|
What question and answer do we find in Psalm 24:7, 8?
Explain how God displayed His glory to Moses in Exodus 33:18, 19. What implications does this have for Paul's counsel to "do all to the glory of God' (1 Cor. 10:31, KJV).
God's glory is seen in His gracious character. Some people think glory is an outward manifestation of light, a display of riches and power. But God's glory has to do with His inner being. What He is makes Him glorious. God made all His goodness pass before Moses. "The glory reflected in the countenance of Moses illustrates the blessings to be received by God's commandment-keeping people through the mediation of Christ. It testifies that the closer our communion with God, and the clearer our knowledge of His requirements, the more fully shall we be conformed to the divine image, and the more readily do we become partakers of the divine nature.'-Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 330.
Jesus pointed out the difference between an inner glory and one that is "put on" when He contrasted the lily of the field with Solomon and all his finery. If we want to reflect the glory of God in our lives, we need to allow Him to remake us. (See Ezek. 36:26, 27.) First Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5:13-26 elaborate on the goodness of God that we ourselves are to display.
God's glory is seen not only in His goodness and mercy. It is seen also in the conflict with evil. When sin first entered heaven, God was all good in pleading with Lucifer and his angels. But the time came when there could be no room for rebellion in heaven. A war broke out in which Michael and His angels fought against the dragon and his angels. (See Rev. 12:7-9.) Then there was the struggle on the cross, when it seemed as if Satan had gained the victory. But with the resurrection, God was vindicated. Truth will always triumph over evil. The King of glory is "mighty in battle." His strength is ours to claim.
|Meditate upon your relationship with friends, family, and co-workers. How could God's goodness improve these relation ships? How could your being made anew in the image of His goodness change some of the uncomfortable situations in which you now find yourself?|
Summarize what Daniel 2:44 tells about the future of earthly kingdoms and God's kingdom.
Earthly kingdoms ____________________________________________________
God's kingdom ______________________________________________________
The time is coming when God can stand no more delay. Everyone will have decided which side of the conflict she or he is taking, and God will destroy the wicked and vindicate the righteous.
Who does Daniel, in another vision, state are the final victims? Dan. 7:27.
What does God say about when this final victory will occur? Rev 22:20.
Jesus told His disciples to watch for the signs of His coming (Matt. 24:42). We know we are living in the last days, because the prophecies have almost all been fulfilled. It is not for us to know the time of His coming (Acts 1:7). But we are to be ready, since it will be unexpected (Matt. 24:44).
While we look forward to sharing in the victory which the King of glory will win over Satan, we ought to feel deep concern for the millions of unreclaimed sinners for whom that victory will mean eternal death.
"Again I appeal to the members of the church to be Christians, to be Christlike. Jesus was a worker, not for Himself, but for others. He labored to bless and save the lost. If you are Christians you will imitate His example. He has laid the foundation, and we are builders together with Him. But what material are we bringing to lay on this foundation? 'Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.' If you are devoting all your strength and talent to the things of this world, your lifework is represented by wood, hay, and stubble, to be consumed by the fires of the last day. But unselfish labor for Christ and the future life will be as gold, silver, and precious stones; it is imperishable."Testimonies, for the Church, vol. 5, p. 466.
|Examine your work for the Lord. What materials are you bringing to lay on the foundation He has laid? Pray that with His help you will better imitate His example.|
What two words does Isaiah use to describe how God will rule His eternal kingdom? Isa. 32:1.
"Reign in righteousness. Isaiah turns from the imminent Assyrian attack on Jerusalem (ch. 31:8, 9) to the time of peace that was to follow.... In a similar way the overthrow of all the forces of Satan will be followed by Christ's eternal reign in righteousness and glory. As usual, the prophetic picture of peace and security following upon tribulation blends into a description of the glories of the world to come, the Messianic age. In this Messianic setting the 'king' is Christ."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 224.
What wonderful things will God's people experience as He begins this reign?
Rev. 19:6, 7 ________________________________________________________
Rev. 21:4 __________________________________________________________
Isa. 25:9 ___________________________________________________________
Being saved is a goal that some of us hardly feel possible, Paul felt that he was the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). But God's grace is abundant (verse 14). Joshua the high priest was a "brand plucked out of the fire" (Zech. 3:2, KJV). But God had made every provision for him. Thus it will be with us. And we shall rejoice that God has saved us in spite of our weaknesses.
It can be our privilege to live during the Lord's eternal reign only because of God's forgiveness. God is eager for us to live in His kingdom. Jesus has extended a gracious invitation (John 14:1-3). John the revelator had a glimpse of the earth made new and recorded the invitation of the Spirit (Rev. 22:17). Paul says that the suffering we may have in this world is no hindrance to us when we consider future glory (Rom. 8:18, 19). We must learn to set our minds on the things above, not on the things around us.
|What are some of the things you look forward to when God sets up His kingdom, and why? What spiritual impact does contemplating the wonderful things God has prepared for us have on our challenging daily existence?|
FURTHER STUDY: Read Revelation 5:12, 13. Jesus is our worthy King. The scene is His final coronation. He had occupied the throne with God before the fall of Adam and Eve. But He had given it up when He came to earth as a human to give up His life for our salvation. Now Jesus is to reign again as Lord over all the universe. And all the universe is there to witness His coronation. As Christ is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords-as He is given a name "above every name"-all, both good and evil, bow in homage before Him. Why is Christ worthy of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon Him? Rev. 5:9, 10. Also read The Desire of Ages, pp. 832-835.
"Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences.... Satan's own works have condemned him....
"Before the universe has been clearly presented the great sacrifice made by the Father and the Son in man's behalf. The hour has come when Christ occupies His rightful position and is glorified above principalities and powers and every name that is named.... And the song of praise ascends from the white-robed ones about the throne: [Rev. 5:12 quoted]."The Great Controversy, pp. 670, 671.
SUMMARY: Throughout this quarter, we have learned much about God. At times we have trembled to think of His power and majesty. At other times we have rejoiced that every atom in the universe is under His direction. As we have encountered His call for obedience and justice, we also have come to know Him as a God of mercy and peace. Our divine Father combines the traits of strength and love, transcendence and personal friendship. Can all these characteristics really exist in one Person? They can, and they do. They exist in our King of kings. Today, as you celebrate His birth, invite Him again to reign in your heart.
Robert S. Folkenberg
Year end is inventory time, a time to evaluate progress and lay plans for the future. As Christians we need to conduct a spiritual inventory, to evaluate our personal spiritual growth. But what questions does a Christian answer during this personal inventory? Here are some suggestions: What is my highest priority? How do I define success? Does God define it the same way? Where do I spend my time? What topic most stimulates my interest?
Ellen White suggested an answer. "We should not make self the 'A center, and indulge anxiety and fear as to whether we shall be saved. ... Commit the keeping of your soul to God, and trust in Him. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in Him."Steps to Christ, p. 71.
As a practical example, let me share with you the words penned by a young Christian pastor in Zimbabwe that were found in his office shortly after he was martyred for his faith.
"I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been madeI'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
"I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean 'in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.
"My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
"I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And, when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me . . . my banner will be clear!"Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus.
Robert S. Folkenberg is president of the General Conference.
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