God's Big Picture: The Partial Kingdom (Land & King)
Good and Bad Leaders
Good and Bad Leaders
We look to our leaders for inspiration.
I’m sure you can think of a good leader you’ve had. And no doubt a few bad ones too.
Well as we continue to unfold the story of the bible, today we see that for God’s people to live under God’s rule, this means the appointment of a king to rule them. And sadly, it’s mostly a story of failure and bad leadership, which is meant to point us to Jesus, the perfect king!
God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.
Gen 1 -2 - The pattern of the Kingdom is established.
Gen 3 - The Kingdom perished. Adam and Eve
Gen 12 - The Kingdom Promised
Gen 12 - Leviticus - The Partial Kingdom… How God fulfils his promises to Abraham.
The making of a nation (from Isaac through to the Israelites leaving Egypt)
As a nation they are going to live under God’s rule. The giving on the law at Mt Sinai
And they are going to experience God’s blessing. The tabernacle. God’s tent. God is going to live with his people again.
Partial fulfilment - hints all the way along that what we’re reading about can’t really be the total fulfilment of what God is promising.
God’s people (the Israelites) fail to live as they should. Eg golden calf (Ex 32). And there are many barriers to God. The people’s sin still cuts them off from God. He has to live in a box in a holy place and many ongoing sacrifices are required.
Well today we continue with how the bible shows the partial fulfilment of God’s promises. How we see the partial fulfilment of the kingdom of God in the OT.
Last week we did Gen 12 - Leviticus.
This week we do Numbers - Kings/Chronicles.
You’ll remember that one of the key parts of God’s promise to Abraham is that his offspring will inherit land.
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Well once God’s people have escaped slavery in Egypt, and received God’s law and are enjoying his presence with them they need a land. To enjoy God’s kingdom they need to be in God’s place.
And this is what the next part of the Bible focuses on. The entrance of God’s people into God’s place. Into the promised land.
This ought to be relatively straight forward, but it actually takes the people of God, 40 years from the time they leave Egypt to the time they enter the land. Why? Because we read in Numbers God’s people fail to trust him.
In Numbers 13 we read about what happened when the people who’d been sent to have a look at the land God had promised them come back to the main body and tell everyone what they saw.
27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
It’s a good land, but there are scary people.
And instead of trusting God, they are afraid and decided entering the land would be a bad idea. They ignore God. This is despite the pleading by Joshua and Caleb that they should trust God and not fear.
9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Because of this rebellion against God, a relatively quick trip through the wilderness from Egypt to the promised land takes 40 years. Because as punishment for not trusting God that generation will have to die out before they enter the land.
Their refusal to trust God leads to death in the wilderness and the missing out of enjoying God’s place.
A Warning for Us
A Warning for Us
In 1 Cor 10:6 Paul reflects on the actions of the people of God. He tells us that part of the reason why this happened was to warn us:
5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
Paul says, it’s the same God then and now.
And just as we are freed from slavery by faith in Jesus. We too are on a journey to our final destination, eternity with Jesus in the new heaven and new earth. We need to remember the keep trusting Jesus and not letting sin take hold of us. We must keep trusting God unlike what the Israelites did in the wilderness.
Trust God and be Blessed
Trust God and be Blessed
Following Numbers which chronicles the failure of God’s people to trust God, we have Deuteronomy. Here we see Moses recounting the story of God’s people to the next generation as they are about to enter the promised land. Don’t blow it like we did. Keep trusting God.
And throughout the book Moses reminds the people of God that if they do trust God, they will enjoy God’s blessing. But if they fail to trust him they will be cursed. Just as Adam and Eve were in the garden.
In fact, ultimately we read that a failure to trust God will lead to eviction from God’s place. Being exiled from the promised land, just as Adam and Eve were from the garden.
Then in the book of Joshua we have the story of God’s people entering the land and taking possession of it.
At the end of Joshua we read
43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
God’s people are in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing and are enjoying his rest.
Josh 23:12-13 ( a warning).
12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.
In God’s land they need to continue to trust and obey God.
God’s rule - under God’s king.
God’s rule - under God’s king.
In our reading from Deuteronomy today we heard about how once in the land God’s people will be ruled by a king.
The purpose of the king?
Not an authority separate from God, but one who would rule under God, submitting to him and his law and leading the people of God to do likewise.
God rules his kingdom by means of a king.
Once the people have entered the land under Joshua we read in the book of Judges the rather depressing story of how the people of God keep failing to trust God and keep rebelling.
Each time they rebel they find themselves defeated by their enemies and this in turn causes them to ask God for help. And even though they keep rebelling and failing to trust, God is gracious. Each time he sends a leader, a judge, to come and lead the people back to God and to victory over their enemies.
Of course these judges are hardly perfect themselves.
One of them, Jephthah kills his own daughter. Samson is strong, but also a womansing thug.
As we read this story, we are meant to marvel at God’s amazing grace that extends to the people despite their sin. But also we’re meant to start thinking, wow these people really need a king. Someone in a permanent leadership position who can rule over God’s people and keep them under God’s rule so they can enjoy his blessing and his land.
And so we have the story that starts in 1 Samuel and is traced through to the end of Kings (and recounted from a different perspective in Chronicles).
It is the story of the God’s people living under Kings.
And of course it isn’t a great story.
It has some high points.
David is a king who we read in 1 Sam 13:14
14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
“A man after God’s own heart”.
David rules well. He established Jerusalem as the capital. Israel enjoys peace and prosperity.
And God reiterates the promises he made to Abraham to David.
9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “ ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:
God’s people, in God’s place living under God’s rule and blessing.
The promise of an everlasting kingdom.
Though things are good for Israel under David, this is not the end point of God’s promises. They are only partially fulfilled.
And it doesn’t take us too long to realise this.
David himself fails to trust God and makes some pretty epic mistakes (eg. adultery).
And there is a battle between David and his sons for the throne.
Likewise as we continue with the story of God’s kings we see mostly a story of failure to trust God.
Solomon goes ok and enjoys much blessing at the start of 1 Kings.
We read in 1 Kings 8:56
56 “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
But Solomon himself fails to trust God. He takes many foreign wives and begins to worship their gods (1 Kings 11). And from that point on things really go from bad to worse.
From 1 Kings 12 - 2 Kings 25 it is a story of disobedience, division and decline.
God’s kings don’t rule under God’s authority, they do their own thing. God’s people are no longer unified but split into two kingdoms (north - israel and south - judah). And ultimately God’s people are kicked out of God’s land. They are exiled.
The kingdom that we have seen partially fulfilled as the God’s people have left Egypt and captured the promised land now by the end of Kings is dismantled.
However, this is not the end of the story, nor was it ever going to be.
The partial kingdom of God as lived out by the Israelites was just a shadow, or a model, of the perfect kingdom God will establish through Jesus Christ.
We see more about this next week.
For us today, as we’ve reflected on the story of God in the scriptures I think the takeaway is this.
Trust God and submit to his perfect king.
This is the road to enjoying God’s blessing.
Have you trusted Jesus with your life? Are you seeking to live in obedience to him?
It’s hard, we need to ask God to help us.