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"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Messiah even when we were dead in transgressionsit is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Messiah and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Messiah Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Messiah Jesus. .....
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Messiah Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."
Matthew 25:1-13 "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
The bridegroom was a long time in coming and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: `Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
`No,' they replied, `there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. `Sir! Sir!' they said. `Open the door for us!' But he replied, `I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
Your Kingdom Come
1. When we are born again or from above, we enter the Kingdom of Godthat is God puts us in his kingdom, gives us our citizenship. But that does not mean we have arrived, we are in fact more like citizens in exile. We belong to a country but do not yet live in it, instead we now live in an alien landthis world. We have our papers and we have our ticket there paid (the Cross of Christ, the Holy Spirit), but meanwhile we still live in an alien land. But this is not because of bad management! You see when we applied for citizenship, there were stipulations! We, none of us, deserves or has any right to this citizenship.
1 Peter 2:10 "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul."
We were offered it by the Grace of God when we discovered that our current situation was desperate, our present country was doomed (the world IS doomed by the way!). We were offered `asylum' as it were in God's Kingdom.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no-one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
We do not earn our citizenship by these good works but, whether we like it or not, we ARE here as aliens and are required not just to sit on our hands and do nothing but wait for the boat or plane to fly us out. Be sure the `boat' will come and yes, as we shall see shortly, we must be sure to be waiting in one way, but meanwhile we are called to be two things: Witnesses and Ambassadors for Christ.
Acts 1:6-8 "So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
2 Cor 5:20 "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Why? Because God wants as many people as possible to be reached for the Kingdom, and they won't know unless we tell them and they can't become citizens without credentials. We are also Ambassadors and one of their modern roles is the issuing of visasnot on their own authoritybut by the authority of their home country and King.
Note the context of the Acts quotethe disciples wanted the kingdom to arrive now. This situation we are in puts us or should put us in some tension. Our ticket home comes either when we die or when Jesus returnswhichever be sooner.
2 Cor 5:8 "We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men."
"To Live is Christ; to die is gain."
We live with this tension of wanting Jesus to come again while carrying out HIS commands right up to that moment. It IS a tension. It's like keeping hot and cold apartit needs work doneotherwise the two will blend to something merely lukewarm and useless. Remember Jesus said, "My Kingdom is NOT of this world." Living in the world but not being of it means we face the danger of allowing hot and cold to mix. As much as we get too involved IN the world by that much we cease to be witnesses and ambassadors. The church at Laodiceawhich was neither hot nor coldhad done just that: compromised with the world and they could not see what they had done. The cure? Repentancerecognise that the way of compromise is wrong, that we have been doing this and turning back to Jesus for forgiveness.
Note also that neither Witnesses nor Ambassadors are their own masters. A witness is called by another authoritythe judge or the prosecutor or defence council. The Ambassador cannot act off his own bathe must fulfil the commands of his home government and represent them to the foreign country.
Christians are not the masters of where and when God will call us to witness or to act as Ambassadors. But The 20th century is a hustling century! We are like Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh "who never waited for anything to come to him but always went and fetched it." We are not willing to allow God to give the direction, we instead insist we can do it best ourselves. I know sitting on our backsides is not what God wantsI have made that very clear, but equally, we are not to rush off with our well meaning schemesGod will not bless them and sometimes will teach us hard lessons as we fail dismally. There are many biblical instances of thisthe story of Jacob is perhaps the best illustration of it. The old Jacob had to die, before the newer more obedient Israel could be manifest.
2. And now to the Second aspect of this petitionyour Kingdom ComeThe full coming of God's Kingdom. This happens when Jesus returns to this Earth (as you saw Him go Acts 1:11"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven").
Our petition should therefore place expectation before usnot that we can make it happenthe `when' is in God's Hands alone. He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (Acts 1:7)
The coming of the Bridegroom in the story of the Wise and Foolish virgins illustrates the same point [the following parable of the talents illustrates our call not to sit back and do nothing]. It was in the hands of the Groom as to when he would come, not in the hands of the virgins. Their job was to be ready whenever He came!
First some background. The season Jesus told this story is the time of unleavened bread and Passover. In the synagogues during this period the Song of Solomon was being read.
[I am indebted to Jacob Prasch for what follows].
That book is a picture of the relationship between God and Israel and by extension also God and the Church. He is her lover and husband to be. It is not an excuse, by the way, to individualise this into some kind of personal romantic relationship with Godsadly and dangerously misunderstood in some circles today. It revolves around two dreams had by the lady.
Song of Solomon 3:1-4 "All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him. I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. "Have you seen the one my heart loves?"
Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother's house, to the room of the one who conceived me."
Song of Solomon 5:2-8 "I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: "Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night."
I have taken off my robemust I put it on again? I have washed my feetmust I soil them again? My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him.
I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock. I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.
The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my cloak, those watchmen of the walls!
O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge youif you find my lover, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love."
What goes wrong? She is asleep but is unwilling to get up, she sees herself as ready but is not willing to get up (v3). This is replayed in Revelation 3:20 when Jesus says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock..." The Laodicean Church, the church that was self satisfied, thought itself rich.
`Your Kingdom Come'. If we pray that and mean it then we will beware of getting caught up in our own affairs (even though they may be affairs of the church) lest we are too busy or worse, ill prepared when He does come. The five virgins each reflect one or other of these dreams. Those who were ready and went in, and those who were not and were left out.
There are two more things here.
1. From Proverbs 31:18 "She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night."
Her lamp does not go out at night (night being the time of Tribulation that precedes the Lord's return and rapture of the Church) why? because she had ensured like the wise virgins that she has enough Oil for light, "Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
There is no substitute for the Light of God's Wordand as it becomes darker in the World the need for that Light will grow ever more necessary as other lights (such as they were) go out. When society was in some sense `Christian based', basing its law and morals on the Bible, then it was not totally dark outsidebut now the night is drawing in and there are no true lights but the light of God's Word.
If we pray `Your Kingdom come', then let us be sure we are ready, both to do what is in the meantime our calling to be witnesses and Ambassadors and be always ready for His Return.
For the foolish virgins were too late. What does it say?
"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut."
Where have we heard that before?
As it was in the days of Noah so it shall be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Mt 24:37)
Gen 7:16 "The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in."
Up till then anyone could have asked for passage. And we know Noah was a preacher of righteousness with the biggest visual aid in history. We are like Noah, we are in the business of getting people `on board' before the `night comes when no man can work'before the judgment comes.
Your Kingdom come. Even so Come Lord Jesus.
Appeared in Issue 6 -- June 1999
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