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The Kingdom Of God

The truth of the kingdom of God leads us into an area of thought which emphasizes the supremacy and authority of God, with their correlatives, subjection and obedience. It reminds us also that God is a God of rule and order. This is seen in Creation itself, in the physical universe, its movements, its coherence and its functions. It is seen also in connection with created beings. We read, "The LORD hath established His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye angels of His: ye mighty in strength, that fulfil His word, hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Ps. 103:19,20). The mighty beings who surround the heavenly throne, in all, the vast arrangement of the angelic hierarchy, are subject and obedient to divine rule.

In the book of Genesis, in the history of the human race and in particular in that stream of humanity through Abraham with which God in a selective way was dealing, we trace a development of rule as affecting individuals and families and tribes. It is clear also that in a wider way men and women were grouped under human authority to form the kingdoms of men. Some of these kingdoms may have been small and primitive in character, but others were large and highly developed and organized. The progress of the revelation of God indicates that it was in the purpose of God to have on earth a kingdom for Himself, a people gathered in covenant relationship with Himself, subject to His authority and rule. An examination of how this purpose was fulfilled is not merely interesting and profitable but is also indispensable in a right understanding of divine principles in kingdom truth.

When God called Abraham out of Ur and separated him from the rest of mankind He was initiating a way which was to lead to the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. The subjects of that kingdom were to be of the seed of Abraham. When we reach the time covered by the opening chapters of Exodus we find Abraham's descendants in the kingdom of the Pharaohs of Egypt and suffering as slaves the tyranny of wicked despotism. Their plight became desperate and the groan of their bitter sorrows reached the throne of heaven. God remembered His covenant undertakings and He moved in for the salvation and redemption of those slaves who could not deliver themselves. They had to be saved not only

from their physical afflictions but also from the decreed divine judgement which was about to fall upon the nation of Egypt. God had said, "That nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge". From this judgement the children of Israel were saved by obeying the word of the Lord that they should apply to the lintel and side posts of the doors of their houses the blood of unblemished lambs, a lamb for a household. But those slaves needed also to be delivered from the cruel bondage of Pharaoh. This the Lord accomplished by the greatness of His mighty excellency. The Israel people were saved from the judgement of God by the blood of the lamb and were redeemed from the slavery of Egypt by the power of the Lord.

The purposes of God relating to this saved and redeemed people could not be fulfilled in Egypt. They must be taken out of that land. As they moved forward under divine leading the children of Israel soon came to an experience which tested them. They were confronted with the deep waters of the Red Sea. The Lord triumphantly led them through to the wilderness beyond. Paul, referring to this incident, described it as a baptism. In this event the Israelites pictorially demonstrated that they had died to Egypt, to its ruler, to its gods and to its service. This saved and redeemed people had become physically and geographically separated from that land. But more than separation from Egypt was required for the divine purposes. God required that the people must be separated collectively unto Him.

On the wilderness side of the sea the children of Israel could sing with full hearts their song of triumph and deliverance, but even that inspired song indicated that much had yet to be fulfilled. "... till the people pass over which Thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place, 0 LORD, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, the sanctuary, 0 LORD, which Thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever" (Exod. 15:16-18). The wilderness side of the Red Sea might have satisfied many of the Israelites. Could they not there rejoice in their deliverance from Egypt? Could they not sing that their chains were snapped, the bonds which had held them were broken'? This they could have done but they would not have been moving forward in the way of God's will. The Lord had purposes concerning His habitation and His sanctuary, and concerning His regal authority which involved much more than mere deliverance from Egypt. He had brought the children of Israel out of that land that He might bring them in and plant them in the mountain of His inheritance.

In the third month after their exodus from Egypt the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp before the mount of that name.

There God halted the people for what was to be a remarkable crisis in their experience. Through Moses, His mediator, the Lord gave a disclosure of His amazing purposes and made an unprecedented offer. In grace and by power He had brought them out of the bondage and suffering of Egypt. This He had done unconditionally in implementing the covenant made with Abraham about which we read in Gen. 15. But the Lord also covenanted conditionally with Abraham and his seed, and concerning this we have the record in Gen. 17. In Gen. 15 there was unconditional gift. In Gen. 17 there were conditional blessings and privileges based on obedience and conduct. At Mount Sinai the Lord announced to the children of Israel, "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me from among all peoples: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exod. 19:5,6). It is not puerile to draw attention to the "if" and the "then". The offer to become a people, a kingdom. a nation unto the Lord in a relationship unshared by any other people, kingdom or nation demanded an unreserved acceptance by the Israelites of covenant obligation, and a declaration of obedience.

At Sinai the lordship of Jehovah was emphasized and the claims of that lordship were promulgated. On their declared pledge of obedience, by which they avouched Jehovah to be their God, the Lord avouched the Israelites to be His people. In the bleak surroundings of Sinai there was established the kingdom of God on earth. Jehovah was the King of that nation and His word was its law and constitution. And the God and King of the Israel people commanded that a house should be erected in their midst, in which He would dwell and receive the worshipping service of His kingdom. This house would be His palace in which His throne would be established. A staggering conception is here placed in our minds. We think of the downtrodden, embittered Hebrew slaves in the land of Egypt, helpless victims in the clutches of the cruel power of its rulers. Some months later we see those same persons enjoying not merely national status but the status of a Theocracy, a kingdom whose King was Jehovah. Amidst the kingdoms of men on earth here was a kingdom which was unique. It alone had a divine constitution. It alone had the house and palace of Jehovah.