‘Living with Uncertainty’ Meditations: 9. The Certainty of the Kingdom
Ex 3:7-9 I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt….. So I have come down to rescue them ….I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’
Ongoing: The good news is that there was only one Exodus and so the Lord will not be sending you and me to deliver a nation….. or will He? Well not a whole nation perhaps, but who knows what He has on His heart for you and me yet to achieve? In the uncertainties of this world in which we live, as we worry about getting by, perhaps we need to go back to that well known verse, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Mt 6:33) which we might put as, “put seeking God’s will and then doing it first of all, before all things, and then all the rest will fall into place as He provides for you.” Let’s ponder on this a bit more.
Moses? If you were a friend of God and you were standing beside Him as He spoke to Moses beside the burning bush, I have a feeling you might be feeling ever so slightly exasperated with the Prince of Egypt who is now a shepherd. In fact you might be wondering why the Lord had decided to stop by and talk to this guy. After all, he had squandered an amazing lifestyle in the royal palace in Egypt by suddenly getting the idea that he could be the savior of his own people, Israel. See how that worked out! Well actually it had worked out by him fleeing Egypt and becoming a shepherd – a shepherd!!! an outcast in the desert with only sheep for company – for forty years! He’s a nobody, so what are we doing here at this burning bush trying to suggest a path ahead that he’s clearly not interested in. In fact it’s much stronger than that, he’s dead set against it! So why is the Lord bothering with him?
Well pause up a moment, will you, remember we’ve said the Lord doesn’t make mistakes? Tack on to that one or two other things we know – the Lord takes the weak and foolish things (people!) to confound the strong and the wise, and He clearly knows people and what He can get them to achieve. So Moses? Well let’s add in a few more things the Lord says in this rather strange two-chapter conversation. “I will be with you,” (3:12) and, “I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians,” (3:20) and then He gives him two miracles (4:2-8), and He then lays out the plan (4:9), and “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say,” (4:12) and then He gives him Aaron his brother to help him (4:14-16) and, finally, He had said his past is gone and will not come back to bite him (4:19). In other words, the Lord covers all the bases, Moses has nothing to worry about. It may be a bit of a rocky ride but the Lord will be there AND He will be doing the stuff – through Moses – so what more is there to worry about?
And Jesus? Put like that it sounds simple doesn’t it, but it still required Moses to step up to the mark and do his side of it all, and that is pretty scary and coming to think about it, stepping out of a boat and walking on water is pretty scary, but with the Lord we can do it – IF he calls us to do it! And this takes us back to the talk about the kingdom that we are to seek – Jesus’ reign on his Father’s behalf that he spoke about as soon as he started speaking and ministering in Galilee. It was the message of John the Baptist – “John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” (Mt 3:1) and it was Jesus’ message – “Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Mt 4:17) It is also the message of the apostles: “the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor 15:24-26)
Establishing the Kingdom: ‘The kingdom’ is all about Jesus’ reigning in the midst of his enemies (Psa 110:1,2) working to destroy all the things that were NOT there in Eden when the Father first made the world. The last thing is to be death, but before that there is Sin in all its many forms to be dealt with. He deals with that by first of all convicting us by his Spirit so that we repent and die to the old life. The root of sin in us is thus dealt with and the ongoing, indwelling Holy Spirit within us will be working to overcome any resurrection-of-the-old-life attempts by the enemy. And every time we blow it, the Spirit is there, seeking to convict us afresh about that thing so that we may bring it back to the Lord, receive fresh forgiveness and cleansing and the thing be put to death and put under our feet. And so his work in dealing with the things of ‘the old life’ continue as he seeks to destroy them in us and replace them with the fruit of his Spirit. That’s the way he starts to bring about and establish his reign in us.
Expanding the Kingdom: ‘Establishing’ is all about working character into us, Jesus’ character, but while He does that God does not wait around until we are perfect before He can use us. As we saw with Moses, God takes us with our failures and sets us off down the path of service, because He knows that the very progress down that path will help bring about those character changes we referred to above. We get changed as we go, as we do, as we let Him lead us into joining Him in expanding that work of establishing the kingdom in others.
Trying to tie down how that happens is an impossibility because every situation, every moment with God, is unique. The way He used Moses against Pharaoh was one thing, the way He used Joshua to take the Land was another. The way, for instance, He used and worked through Elijah was one thing, the way He used and worked through Elisha, is another. Every person is tailor-made for the situation God puts before them. Every situation ultimately has the same goal – to bring the situation under the rule of Jesus for him to deal with and put to death all the wrongs that came post the Fall – but the way the Lord brings it about will be unique for you and unique for me.
Refocusing: So here we are thinking through some of the ways this fallen world manifests uncertainty, pondering our part in it all and, in this study, seeing that part in the light of the kingdom. Very often believers find themselves swamped by that uncertainty because they forget (or maybe never learnt) The Certainty that we have been considering here. It isn’t ‘just Jesus’ but Jesus whose goal is utterly set in concrete, to establish and expand the kingdom of God to fulfill the purpose established by the Godhead before the foundation of the world: it is to restore us after the Fall, to redeem us, so that we can enter into a relationship with the Father whereby we can receive all the good He has on His heart for us, be transformed and know the wonder of being His children here on earth as we prepare to enter in more fully to that as we move on from this life to the one in heaven. If you’ve never seen it like that, grab hold of it and never let it go.
And Us – along the way: We’re usually OK with the ‘establishing’ bit but may be a bit fearful about the ‘expanding’ bit. If that is so, remember the things we saw with Moses: the Lord comes with us, never leaves us, is there to guide us and resource us, and provides others alongside us so we are not alone in it (whatever the ‘it’ is) and remember, I used the phrase ‘tailor-made for the situation’ just now. God chose the path He has for you and me knowing that with Him we CAN handle it. There may come times when we don’t feel that and even the great apostle Paul confessed that there were times when he and those with him “despaired of life itself” (2 Cor 1:8) but, remember, when he wrote that he was looking back so that the truth was the Lord had brought him through that and he was still going strong. The Lord never promises that it will always be easy (though it will be sometimes) but that He will be there with us to see us through to the end, i.e. “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6) In the midst of the uncertainties of the world around us, let’s make sure we hold on to this confidence, this certainty. Amen? Amen!