Choose Your King

Your power of choice is incredibly important to you. No more so than with your choice of who to bow to. Ultimately you must bow your knee to Jesus Christ. You can do that in your life, now, and be happy about that for eternity. Or you will end up bowing your knee to Jesus Christ after this life is over, and having eternity to regret not having done it now.

Choice

Joshua, who led Israel into the Promised Land, understood the importance of making a choice about who you will bow to. He challenged the nation of Israel to choose who they would serve. He declared, as an old grandfather, that he and his entire household were dedicated to serve the Lord.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day who you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the water, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

So it is for each of us. We must make the choice of who we will bow the knee to.

That is why this post is titled, “Choose Your King”.

Abraham and Kings

Abraham did business with kings. He negotiated with them. He rebuked them. He feared them. He did battle with them. He fought on their behalf. So Abraham had opportunity to reveal how a man of God should deal with kings.

The historical record lists a group of warrior kings who oppressed parts of Palestine in the days of Abraham. There is no record that they oppressed Abraham personally, but Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was living in Sodom, and so came under the oppression of these kings.

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar.” Genesis 14:1,2

War of the Kings

When the local kings rebelled against the oppressors war broke out. The dominant kings invaded the land, attacked the rebelling cities and took them all captive.

“And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Genesis 14:8-12

Abraham’s Army

Fortunately for Lot, Abraham had his own standing army. And that army was an impressive force. Abraham had 318 trained servants in his household who were prepared for warfare.

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

That’s a pretty good effort. Four kings which dominated the region and beat all that was before them were overpowered and defeated by a small private army. It begs the question of what “trained servants” means and what kind of ‘training’ Abraham gave them.

King Rejected

Obviously Abraham was a hero after such a victory. The King of Sodom was overjoyed to receive his people and goods back. Abraham was like an angel to him. So the King offered to give a huge reward to Abraham.

However, Abraham declined to take anything from the King. Abraham did not want it to ever be said that the King of Sodom had made him rich. Abraham allowed his own servants to receive a reward, but he refused for himself.

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to yourself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich” Genesis 14:21-23

Abraham rebutted the King of Sodom, refusing to receive anything from him.

King Honoured

On the same day Abraham rejected the King of Sodom he met yet another king and gave that king total adoration. Now, isn’t that interesting? Abraham did not treat all kings equally. Abraham rebutted one king and fell at the feet of another.

The Bible records that Abraham met Melchizedek, the King of Salem, or King of Peace. Some even suggest that Melchizedek was King of the Heavenly Jerusalem (see the word “Salem” in the word Jerusalem).

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he (Melchizedek) blessed him (Abram), and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered your enemies into your hand. And he (Abram, later called Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.” Genesis 14:18-20

Spiritual King

We learn later, in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, that this meeting was very significant.

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like the Son of God; abides a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” Hebrews 7:1-4

This King of Salem was a divine and eternal being. I believe that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. He brought “bread and wine” to Abram, just as Jesus gave His disciples the Communion (Eucharist) meal at the last supper, in which He said, “This is my body… This is the New Covenant in my blood”.

So Abraham fell down and worshipped the spiritual king, but did not give place to the wishes of the wicked earthly king.

Wicked King

How do we know that the King of Sodom was a wicked king?

Not long after Abraham had rescued the city from the invading kings that whole region was destroyed because of the homosexuality of the men. The King of Sodom ruled a land of sensual, sexually abhorrent men. No righteous king would have created a culture so wicked that God would destroy it.

The King of Sodom presided over a nation of men who had lost their manhood. They had taken up a ‘lifestyle’ which cut the gizzards out of their personal moral authority. That is why they could not defend themselves, while a few hundred morally pure men under Abraham’s command could rescue them all. When men live for sex and abandon their calling as real men they also lose their moral might as men.

The King of Sodom had created a nation of wicked men. So it could hardly be argued that he was anything but a wicked king.

Choose Your King

Satan comes to us with all the grandeur of human kingly authority and offers us wealth and all that man could think valuable. But we are to reject that offer, even if it seems we are offending the King.

Christ comes to us with all the grandeur of heavenly kingly authority and challenges us to lay down all for him. We are to run to Him and gladly suffer the loss of all things in order to have Him as our Lord and King.

Abraham had no difficulty in choosing which king he would bow the knee to. But we get tangled up in the compromise of wanting wealth from earthly kings, through certifications, welfare payments, concessions, grants, funding, approvals and the like. We fall down and worship the “kings of Sodom” without realising the spiritual compromise that we enter into.

When we bow the knee to the “heavenly King”, ensuring our devotion to God’s divine leadership in our lives, even shunning the gifts offered us by earthly kings, we remain in the place where God’s blessings can manifest in our lives.

Shortly after Abraham’s sunning of the King of Sodom the city was destroyed and Abraham received the promised heir.

My wish for you is that you escape the destruction of the earthly kings and receive the fullness of God’s promises in your life instead.

God is the Substance

A world without God is an oxymoron. It is God who gives substance to all things. This is especially so in reference to things we readily recognise as moral in character.

Imagine a World Without God

John Lennon tried to conceive of a world without God. I suspect that he really wanted a world without consequences, such as heaven and hell. That was the focus of his Imagine song. So let’s take Johnny’s suggestion and do what he asks. Let’s ‘imagine’ a world where God does not exist. Then let’s see what happens to everything else.

Imagine Truth Without God

Let’s assume there is no God. Someone comes along and tells you something that they assert is the ‘truth’. What do they mean? Are they telling you the truth or not? By what empirical reference point can you test the validity and veracity of what they say?

They assert something to be true. Is it true in a universal sense, or only true in their perception? Is it a fact that has been tested or is it only assumed to be true? Are they lying?

To address those questions we need to answer the question, “Where does truth come from?” Is truth a matter of human perception? “I saw something so I know it to be true.” But did you see clearly? Many a witness has been shown to be unreliable in their assertion that “I saw it with my own eyes!”

If God does not exist then we only have human perception to rely on, and that’s unreliable! Human resourced truth can only be relative to the perceptions of the humans involved. It has not more reliable anchor point. Truth then ceases to be truth and becomes opinion or belief.

Imagine Justice Without God

In a world without God what is the measure of justice? Is it “the common good”? That could be terribly unjust to those who sit outside the social mean. Is it what some leader thinks is good? That is so open to abuse that it is frightening. Tyrants love to determine justice on that basis.

And just what is ‘justice’ in a world where there is no external reference point? If you believe you have been treated unjustly how do you appeal against it? You are reduced to popular public opinion. If you have more money or talent or skill than others they just might turn against you and decide it is ‘just’ for you to work, achieve and earn on behalf of all of them. But that would seem quite unjust, wouldn’t it?

If someone is seeking revenge for their loss are they likely to stop when exact justice has been achieved, or are they likely to act in spite, bitterness, retaliation or the like?

Justice falls apart unless there is an external moral reference point. And that’s what God provides for us, quite apart from His reality and power and love made available to us.

Imagine Morality Without God

If there is no God then who or what determines what is moral or not. There are millions of people ready to justify their immoral behaviour, even in a world where God and His Word are clearly presented. Imagine what a free-for-all it would be if God was not there at all!

What makes something moral? Is it because it doesn’t hurt someone? God tells us of secret attitudes and thoughts which He deems to be immoral (such as lust), even though no-one gets hurt. Is it because all those who participate do so of their own will? God shows that many actions are evil, even if the whole nation votes in favour of them. The inhabitants of Sodom all agreed on their behaviour, but God did not.

If God’s moral reference was removed people would do evil, justify their actions, promote evil among others and even aim to subvert the morals of others. There are many tools already in use today to subvert people’s morals, offending their sensibilities and arousing their lusts, so they will succumb to immoral behaviour. God is the only hope we have for maintaining morality.

My Old Mate (‘Buddy’ in US speak)

I once had connection to a chap who turned out to be a talented rip-off merchant. He often bragged about his various exploits and the way he took advantage of other people. True to character he did the same to me.

After several appeals for proper recompense my old mate was quite clearly intent on taking advantage of me and many others. Taking him to court would have been a vexing issue, as he was well acquainted with the courts and had many connections to assist him to use the courts to his advantage. The matter was not of sufficient consequence to warrant the dubious process of legal action. That’s what he hoped would be the case with each of his victims.

My wife, Susan, found herself quite aroused by this man’s actions. She made it a matter of prayer and then told me that she was concerned for the man. She wondered whether we should even call on him to warn him. She came to realise just how severe God’s judgement, justice and moral standards would be when applied to this clever rogue. His ability to play human instrumentalities would do him no good at all when God decided to look into his case.

Existence Without God

Many people, like my old mate, imagine a world without God. They make up their own truth, twist justice to suit themselves and work by their own morality. But God is not amused, nor is He required to sit back and watch.

Existence without God is a misnomer. There is no existence outside of God. And there is no morality apart from His. There is no truth outside of Jesus Christ, because He is truth. There is no justice outside of God’s judgements. We will all eventually face the judgement seat of Christ.

It is better to be judged in the here and now, so we can repent and attain God’s forgiveness, than to live this life as if God did not exist. Once we pass from this life without repenting we face an existence without God. That’s not some clever place of human freedom. It is an eternal torment of physical pain and mental regret.

I Wish You Judgement

Those who hate you may wish you every success in life, so you will pass into eternity with unresolved judgement resting on your head. Those who love you will warn you and pray that you face God’s dealings in this life, to alert you to what is to come. Once forewarned you are empowered to do something about it, through repentance and God’s forgiveness.

In the spirit of that observation, let me tell you that I wish you judgement. May it be the blessing of your eternal existence.

The Potency of Kings

Kings have authority and potency. That is why they are called ‘potentates‘. They wield authority over their domain and go to war with other kings to gain or preserve territory and authority.

Kings possess inherent qualities of authority. That authority has been expressed to the degree of the ‘divine right of kings’, which suggests that their superiority is divinely endowed.

King Solomon attested to the potency of kings when he declared…

“Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say to him, What are you doing?” Ecclesiastes 8:4

Where am I going with this? I am not here to tell you that kings have authority. What I want you to see is that people who are doing the will of God have authority that is equal to that of kings. So I’m pointing out that kings have quite some authority. Kings can virtually do as they please, and no-one can challenge them. Yet the same is true of the truly godly who are fulfilling the will of God in their lives.

Now, before you head off to defy authority, let me say again that what makes men equal to kings is that they are about their heavenly father’s business. You will not get to a place where you can defy authority just for the sake of doing your own thing. But if you are God’s man (so to speak), doing what God has called you to do, His way, then you can do business with kings, as an equal.

Let me show you several evidences of this in the Bible.

Abraham rescued the whole city of Sodom when it was captured by invading armies. Following the rescue the King of Sodom came to Abraham to offer him a handsome reward. Abraham flatly refused to take it, saying he did not want it said that Sodom had contributed to his wealth (see Genesis 14:1-24).

Abraham dealt with the King of Sodom, not as a lesser man who relied on the King’s graces, but as a man at least equal to the King, who would act as he so chose. Later Abraham proved to be of a higher authority than the King of Sodom when God allowed Abraham to negotiate for the city, but God did not even consider giving such a privilege to the King of Sodom.

Later we see Abraham doing business with a king of the Philistines. We know of this king as Abimelech, which is a dynastic title, like the title Pharaoh in Egypt. God told Abimelech that Abraham was God’s man and he was not to do him any harm. Abraham had no qualms in rebuking this king when his men stole wells from Abraham.

Rather than being in awe of kings, Abraham knew his own place as God’s servant and that he could go about his own business independently of the rulers of the land.

We later see Moses challenging Egypt’s Pharaoh with the same disregard for that king’s earthly authority. Moses had been sent by God and so he acted as an equal, or even a better than Pharaoh, going boldly into his presence to do business with him.

Yet again, even in the trial of Jesus Christ by Pilate, the delegated Roman ruler of Palestine at that time, Jesus declared that the only authority Pilate had over him was what God allowed.

“Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11

As you grow in your godly authority be aware that the time may come when you will stand before kings, not as a menial whom they wish to deal with as they will, but as an equal, or indeed even as one who has power over them. This is as it has always been.

Do not despise the authority of kings, for it represents the authority you may one day have as you pursue God’s purposes in your generation.