Two coexisting rival kingdoms
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Mat 13:44
Jesus came and instituted his Kingdom “ahead of time”, as it were, while satan’s dominion on earth was still functionally intact. We know that God’s Kingdom is unshakable, and that it will continue to increase until all earthly counterfeits are done away with. But until that final day the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of man under satan’s domain coexist on earth. It is hardly a peaceful coexistence, as the enemy of God continually persecutes God’s saints, trying to wear them down through trials or trip them up with temptations.
Jesus left us in the world to bear witness to Him so that His Kingdom would increase. He could have taken each of us to Him the moment we possessed saving faith. But had He done that, who would have witnessed to the remaining lost of this world? In mercy, we were left here for the purpose of serving others.
Or we may think that at least God could have protected each of His children so that the sorrows of this world could not reach us as we went about our tasks. But if He had given his children a life of ease, then others would rush to join the side of Light not out of love of God, but out of selfish interest. So death has been permitted to reign during the present age, even over believers, to try our hearts and make us holy. Read more…
What if the glory was only in the next life? What if we were to serve God here and never reap any reward until then? Would we still cling to Him? Would we still believe in His goodness and power?
The Bible is full of promises even for this life, yet some people are taken early and some have very difficult lives. When life doesn’t make sense, will we still love and serve?
I used to be haunted by the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lyric, “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”
I’m no longer haunted by it – God’s love goes nowhere. God still loves us when we’re going through trials, and we should still love Him back. What we are subject to in this fallen life changes neither God’s objective worthiness nor His loving nature.
It’s important to get this right. Because if we’re serving for earthly rewards only, our relationship with God is selfish and we are going to fall when the tests come. And come they will, and indeed their purpose is to purge us of wrong motives.
All that can be shaken will be shaken, we are warned. The one motivation that cannot be shaken is to seek the manifest glory and love of God.
The three young Hebrews knew that.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Da 3:16-18
That’s an excellent attitude.
- While they were respectful, their faith was subject to no man. No authority can rival God’s authority.
- They believed that God was able to deliver them.
- They believed that God would deliver them!
- But even if, according to God’s unassailable wisdom He declined to deliver them, they were still going to remain faithful.
The three Hebrews were in a tough position, but all saints should count on trials that test their motivations. If we want to pass the tests and receive the promotions that last, those which come not from man, but from God, it is essential that our motivation is true.