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The King's Sceptre

INTRODUCTION: God is the sovereign of all of creation, and to be a loyal subject under his rule is more desirable than any other position for man. The previous MPN chronologically, Mary Praises Her Savior directed my thoughts to the special birth of our Lord; and the Easter season brings focus on his sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. Christ our Lord, through his death in the place of all his subjects, has deposed the ruler of darkness; and has brought all who believe in Jesus, into his eternal kingdom of light and life. Although we do not see the full effect of his kingdom while we yet reside in our mortal bodies, we who are members of the only true absolute monarchy (absolute in every possible dimension of the word), know that he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. Considering the Lord as King could produce a huge amount of material, and even the concept of his sceptre provides much to contemplate. I have selected only a few portions of scripture, beginning with the sceptre, for this brief study.

NOTE: Scriptures are from the KJV, unless initials in parentheses designate another version.

A - The promise to Abraham began to unfold through Jacob's descendents

Genesis 49:10 "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."

Exodus 15:16-18 "Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever."Deuteronomy 7:14-15 "When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother."1 Samuel 8:7 "And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."

COMMENTS: As the promise to Abraham continued to develop, God set Israel apart from all other nations, even while they were few in number in Canaan. He further set his affection on the line of Judah with a blessing from Jacob at the end of his life while all of the twelve tribes were beginning their centuries of growth in Egypt. As he was near death, Jacob gave the prophecy of the king's sceptre. In a manner characteristic of Bible prophecy, the meaning was obscure until fulfillment: and perhaps even now remains somewhat less than clear as the concept is described in 1 Corinthians 13:12(MKJV) "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known."

After the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt and destroyed Pharaoh's army in the Red sea, Moses recorded the plan of God to displace God's enemies and establish his own chosen people in the land, and for God's reign over them to be forever. Moses told Israel in the wilderness, of the future demand that they would make to have a man over them as king, like the nations around them, but God would choose the man to be that king.After some 400 years in the land with various judges, and the Lord as king over very disloyal subjects, the last judge appointed the king designated by the Lord, as Moses had written. God is always faithful, even when those who should trust him completely, are not faithful. He will bring about that which he has decreed.

B - The line of man that would bring the eternal King from God

2 Samuel 7:12-16 "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever."

COMMENTS: The first King of Israel was from the tribe of Benjamin, and his outward appearance was fitting of a people's expectation. But Samuel later anointed David to become the king in Saul's stead, and the line of David from the tribe of Judah, was then established by the Lord to eventually provide for an everlasting kingdom. David was God's choice, revealed to Samuel and a man after God's own heart to display the glory of God, not the glory of man. Solomon's reign after his father David, brought temporary peace to the nation and provided some corresponding physical elements to the coming superior everlasting kingdom. The Christ of god however, brought peace that surpasses man's understanding. Messiah, or Christ, is the fulfillment of God's promise to David. Christ Jesus the God-man, embodied God as the rightful king of his subjects, but also came as a descendent through a long line after Solomon. King David declared the true King of his people in these verses of the psalm.

Psalms 24:7-10 "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah."

C - God never abdicated his eternal throne to mere man

Psalms 97:1 "The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof."

Psalms 146:10 "The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD."

COMMENTS: Israel could not remain faithful to their King in the wilderness under Moses, or in the land under judges, or during the period of many kings in Israel. The above psalms make clear the identity of the true king of all the earth. Eventually God dispersed Israel among the nations, then returned a remnant under foreign domination for centuries; but God's plan was never off course. Our king continued to move his plan forward to the next step. He is indeed our judge, lawgiver, and Savior!

D - Our judge, law giver, and Savior King

Isaiah 33:22 "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us."

Jeremiah 23:5 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth."

Micah 4:7 "And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever."

COMMENTS: Jesus is the righteous branch from David in his human nature, but HE IS God in flesh; and his kingdom has been established to continue throughout eternity. God did not utterly reject his chosen nation, nor did his promise to Abraham fail.

Genesis 22:18 "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."God's promise followed after that Abraham did not hold back his only son from God, and God implemented that promise by not withholding his only Son, for the sake of all who will be saved. And that unique Son came out of David's line when that prospect seemed most unlikely to human reasoning.

E - Our King has the righteous blend of mercy and judgment

Psalms 2:6-9 "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

NOTE: Above, the Hebrew word for rod, is the same word, which is also translated as sceptre in the KJV. The only exception for sceptre being translated from a different Hebrew word in the KJV is in the book of Esther.

Psalms 45:6 "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre."

COMMENTS: All the myriad of human kings who corrupt the earth have inferior and defective sceptres destroyed by the superiority of Christ.

Isaiah 14:5 "The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers."

Then this passage from Hebrews helps us apply the verse from Psalm 45.

Hebrews 1:8 "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Jesus the righteous Son, is indeed God, who reigns from the throne, which is reserved for God alone.

F - Would we have recognized the King at the time of His appearing?

Matthew 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

COMMENTS: God was king before the beginning of man's time on earth, and Jesus was already king when he was born, and fully worthy of worship. God's ways are so far beyond our understanding, that God became a king in the flesh, and was rejected again, as when Israel preferred a man to be king in the time of Samuel. But then the God-man willingly submitted himself to be put to death by men, to secure a place for us in his everlasting kingdom.

John 18:33-37 "Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

Jesus did not fail to confess himself as King; but he is king far more so, than any mere man could ever be. The rejection of Jesus by the Jews was representative of all organized religious rejection, and all personal rejection, of him since that time.

John 19:15 "But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar."The answer of the Jews to Pilate was very accurate, since they rejected the one who is Truth, and who offers a kingdom beyond this present world, they have no king but the ruler of the present world.

John 19:19-22 "And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I amKing of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written."

So, God caused a non-believing gentile, though not at all consciously, to declare the truth, even as he spited the Jews.

G - The King who is, who was, and who is to come

Luke 24:46 (ASV) "and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day;"

Acts 17:2-3 "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ."

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

COMMENTS: Our King holds the power over death, as proved by his own resurrection, and thus assures our confidence that we too shall be raised to an eternal kingdom! He made the statement of himself beforehand, and the apostles offered further testimony in their writings. And because our King's sceptre is a rod of righteousness, we must flee that which dishonors him, and pursue that righteousness of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

1 Timothy 6:11-17 "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen."

Our hope is a sure hope in our creator, redeemer King.

Revelation 11:15-17 "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned."

And again we offer praise for his title which none else can hold,

Revelation 19:16 "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord you began to show through Abraham that the heirs to your kingdom would not be by the decision of any man, but by your sovereign choice. You set your affection on a people you separated, and all people inside and outside of that nation could see the work of your electing love through that nation. Though a chosen people, they continually showed themselves unfaithful; but you continually showed yourself faithful. You brought them out of the land of slavery, and you continue to bring out from the slavery of sin, those who place their trust in you. You told Israel how they would abandon you, and how you would not let their sin go unpunished. But your mercy is new every morning, and your enemies cannot halt your plan even with persistent effort. You preserved the line of David until the time was full, and the nation had no strength of their own. Wonder of wonders, God became flesh and dwelt among us, and you tolerated the rejection of your kingship once again in your unfailing love. But your love has your righteous blend of mercy and judgment; so your Second Coming will close the time of extending your kingdom to the Gentiles who were once outside of Israel. We would not have known you of ourselves, any more than the Jews at your first coming, for no man comes to you except he be drawn. I praise you Lord for your marvelous work within me, and I glory in The King who is! -- who was! -- and who is to come! Amen.

Published 29 April 2004, revised 8 April 2011