Christmas is about the KingdomThursday, December 6, 2012
Recently I attended an outstanding Christmas hand bell concert; the Savior was exalted. I also enjoyed the conductor’s brief comments about particular pieces. I had to fight back tears when he talked about “Mary Did You Know?” In the song, Mary is asked “Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? That the child you’ve delivered will soon deliver you?” The profound irony in that turn of a phrase is staggering. While each line is striking in its truth and power, there’s another that stands out for me this Christmas: “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?”
That’s one thing we need to re-emphasize at Christmas – the arrival of the unshakable kingdom with the birth of Christ (Heb. 12:28). We say we don’t need to get caught up in the materialism and triviality of cultural Christmas. But, so often we unintentionally trivialize Christ’s birth ourselves when we focus on the baby in the manger. We have to get beyond the sentimentality of that event and see some larger issues. The manger points to the unspeakable humbling of Christ for His people. Christ was born to die – and rise again. But He was born for something more. He was born to die, to rise again, and to be enthroned over the Kingdom He came to establish.
Daniel prophesied: “In the days of the (Roman Empire) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . . it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Dan. 2:44).” Later, Daniel describes the “set up” this way: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:13-14).”
Christ is described in this passage as coming on the clouds to the “Ancient of Days,” that is to God the Father. This text is not about Christ’s second coming but about His ascension. After His resurrection He ascended into Heaven to be exalted at the right hand of God. Daniel says that all authority and dominion was given to Him so that the nations would serve Him. That’s the point of the Great Commission. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:18b-19a).” God’s kingdom has been established, King Jesus has ascended to the throne, He has given His subjects a commission to advance the Kingdom, and we are guaranteed that His kingdom is everlasting and will not be destroyed. “Of the increase of His government and peacethere will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lordof hosts will perform this (Isa. 9:7).”
In Psalm 2 we read about the Messiah’s triumph and kingdom. “The Lordhas said to Me, ‘You are My Son,today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel (Ps. 2:7-9).” That decree is being fulfilled before our eyes as God has given the nations to the Son.
But, how is He ruling them with a rod of iron? He is doing so in two ways. First, He is subduing some by grace and bringing them to Himself. The nations are streaming to Him. Second, He is eternally destroying those who reject Him.
Mary, “Did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?” He is. Does your soul sing at that reality during Christmas? We are living in the now/not-yet; the kingdom has been established but not yet consummated. We long for the day when all will be made right, but, we can rejoice that the guarantee of all being made right is before our eyes: the kingdom has already been inaugurated. The next time someone asks you the reason for the season, don’t go sentimental; tell him the kingdom has arrived and King Jesus is putting all His enemies under His feet. Tell him that “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15).” That’s Christmas.