One finds profound truths in odd places. Today I found one on a fast-food sign. “Join The King’s Army Today” it read. “That is really good counsel,” I thought to myself. I am reasonably certain that the fast-food corporation and I are not thinking about the same king and the same army but it is really good advice nonetheless.
When we think of kings and armies, we might think of David’s mighty armies (e.g., 1 Chron 21:5) but then we should also remember what happened when David took a census of his military forces.
There are those who seem to want to fight now, as if Christians are in a war with Ammonites and Philistines again and, from a cultural perspective, perhaps we are. Still, the army to which we are being called now is not David’s or even Solomon’s army and the war to which we are being called is not a holy war against the Canaanites.
The Psalmist put the armies of this world into perspective:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue (Psalms 33:10-17; ESV).
The Lord has no national people now but he does have a multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-generational people from across the globe. There is a King over that people. Psalm 2 tells us who he is:
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalms 2:2-6; ESV)
According to the Psalmist, God has already established his King, the Lord’s Anointed, on his holy hill. The title Christ means “anointed.” Jesus is that Anointed One, established on Zion. He took his position in royal splendor at his ascension.
The kingdoms of this world rise and fall. We Christians, however, have an unshakeable kingdom (Heb 12:28) and an immovable King.
We know that the Psalmist was referring to Jesus. The Apostle Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:32-33; ESV). He was interpreting Psalm 110 but he might just as well have been referring to Psalm 2.
Paul battled the Judaizers in Philippi. The Judaizers, he wrote, were searching for earthly power and glory. Paul called them “enemies of the cross of Christ,” whose end is “destruction” and whose god is their belly. Instead of glorying in Christ, they gloried in their circumcision (“their shame”; Phil 3:18–19).
In contrast, however, Paul says of Christians, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:20–21; ESV). Jesus is “King of kings, and Lord of Lords” (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:16).
There are some Christians who, because they are looking for an earthly glory age, are still waiting for Jesus to become a king. Some are looking for a re-establishment of an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. Others are not waiting for a literal millennium but they look for an earthly glory age when Jesus will really become king. They too are waiting for Jesus to really become king.
No, Jesus is King right now. He is ruling right now. He is ruling all things generally by his providence and he is ruling his church and his elect specially in his saving grace. We are not waiting for Jesus to become King. He is the King right now. He has defeated Satan and he has bound him for a figurative millennium (Rev 20:2). He does as he wills. No one and nothing can hinder him from saving all his elect.
If it does not seem to you as if Jesus is reigning it might be that you need to reconsider your notion of his Kingdom, because if you are a believer (i.e., he has given you new life and true faith), then he has already drafted you into his army. He is drafting and ruling his people from all across the globe, from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). If you are justified by his grace alone, through faith alone, then you are united to your reigning King right now. He is ruling you and all the members of his army by his Word and Spirit. He has given us the “weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left” (2 Cor 6:7). Indeed, Paul spoke explicitly about the distinction between earthly and Holy Spirit-ual weapons:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…(2 Cor 10:3-5; ESV).
Paul meditated at some length about our spiritual warfare:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph 6:10–20; ESV).
We have an armor, i.e., a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), and prayer. All these divine gifts lead us to be alert, to persevere by grace alone, to pray for the saints and for the progress of the gospel.
If you are not trusting in Jesus then King Jesus and his army are against you. He is at war with you. This is why the Psalmist goes on to say, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12; ESV). To kiss the Son is to bow the knee before King Jesus and to revere him in holy fear and adoration. He has a mighty, innumerable army and King Jesus is coming again. If you are in an opposing army then you should be afraid indeed. Revelation 1:15 pictures him thus, “his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (ESV). In v. 16 John adds, “[i]n his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (ESV).
That sword is not for decoration. It is a working sword, a mighty sword that will destroy many. The sign is right. Join the King’s Army today! This is excellent advice. The King whose army you want to join is the King who died for his people, who redeemed his people with his own life, and who is coming again to make all things right.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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