“Creation’s Glorious Epiphany Confirms Christ as Our King”
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah (NKJV)
Dear redeemed in Christ Jesus,
We are in the season of Epiphany. Epiphany means manifestation or revelation of someone divine. With Jesus, we know that God appeared in the flesh to bring us salvation. But the reality is that His initial epiphany happened at creation. Not merely because He showed up as God; but because everything – visible and invisible – came into existence at His Word manifesting His ultimate power and authority. We read in John 1:10 that “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him.” Or even as it was expanded upon later in the book of Colossians 1:15-18:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, which is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
The fact is … Jesus is King! And creation’s epiphany reveals that He is King over all things and all people. There is no restriction to His power. It is unlimited in scope. This is why there are so many attacks on the idea of the six-day creation. Many people just won’t accept the fact that God did it just like He says He did at the beginning of Genesis. If you do away with the fact that God created everything, then you do away with Christ’s power and authority. If you do away with that fact, then you do away with the need for us to have a God that saved us. Creation and salvation go hand-in-hand. They are tied together like shoestrings. Both are essential to hold up in truth because that is what Scripture teaches us. Just as with salvation, creation’s glorious epiphany confirms Christ as our King.
At different points in His life Jesus gave us glimpses of His kingship. Scripture points to the arrival of His birth being the fulfillment of the prophecies that Jesus would take the throne of David. David was the king who had been promised that another king would come from his line and He would rule on the throne, not merely for a limited time but forever. This is reiterated in the book of Isaiah, the familiar words that we hear at Christmas time, chapter 9 verses 6-7:
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There 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 Lord of hosts will perform this.
Even the threat of Jesus coming as Israel’s king caused the current king of Israel, Herod, to have a fit of rage and in that rage kill all the baby males that were two years old and younger in the little town of Bethlehem. But even Herod, as mighty of a king as he was, could not overthrow the power that that young Child had. Of course, Herod eventually had his demise, even as Jesus’ power became apparent. The most outward display of Jesus’ kingship was on Palm Sunday when He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. People spread out clothes before Him along with palm branches to give Him glory and honor, cheering out from the streets (Matthew 21:9):
“Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
Then there were those outward miracles He did to demonstrate His power. In doing these He clearly demonstrated that all the things He created were under the authority of His almighty power. He turned water into wine, something physically impossible with merely water itself. The Bible also tells us how He made the blind to see, how He calmed the stormy sea, how He even raised the dead to life, plus many, many other amazing miracles! Through all of these incredible feats it became obvious that even the laws of nature which He himself created were under His authority. How true was the message of the sign that Pontius Pilate inscribed and posted above the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Psalm 24 is about welcoming Jesus as our true King. In verses 7-10 it says:
7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah
Certainly that acknowledges Him as our king. But it’s the initial two verses of this Psalm that set the tone:
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.
These two verses show us the earth belongs to God. He is the rightful owner of this world. Even the things that we have in our possession really aren’t ours. All the materials they are made of were created by God. We are simply stewards of the gifts He has given us. They are part of this earth and He is its rightful owner and King. And why? Because “He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” He established the world by creating it Himself with absolutely no assistance. Therefore the entire creation is subject to Him and His rulership. That means each of us is under His authority. Really, all people in the world are under His mighty rule even if they have rejected it or don’t realize it. What’s different about us as children of God is that we look to Him by faith. We trust in Him. We know that He not only rules outwardly with His almighty power, but also inwardly in our hearts. He has led us to accept that power and authority by faith. And we recognize it. We submit to it. We do all this because we recognize that He came to save us. Led by the Holy Spirit we bow before Him and submit to Him because we recognize how He created us to be His and how He saved us from those evil and powerful enemies of sin, death and the power of the devil. He overthrew those three things. He defeated them and made them powerless. He is “the King of glory, the Lord mighty in battle,” just as the Psalm declares.
Here in the United States we don’t use the monarchy concept of a king. Constitutionally we are organized under the concept of a democracy. We elect a president who has a mere four-year term and can only serve a maximum of two terms. Furthermore, he really isn’t the ultimate authority of the land. We have equal branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. This year we have a presidential election which is greatly charged. It is clear that there is a greater division among us in our country regarding political ideas. There is also a breakdown in our society heightening the tension. There is dissatisfaction with current leadership throughout government because there is corruption that seems to be growing and accepted. But isn’t it a blessing that we have term limits, especially for certain offices? Furthermore, we as citizens here have the right to vote. As a democracy there are limits to what each branch of our government can do.
Compare that to the monarchy concept of being ruled by a king. The king had unlimited power in his own land. Historically the people of a kingdom had no right to vote for their ruler and usually the ruling family had power which endured for several generations. Sometimes people had to endure a leader who unscrupulously took the throne through leverage, maybe militarily or some other clever way. The people had to endure that leader for a long time unless he was supplanted or died. His term likely wasn’t merely for four years, but at times for decades.
Put all this into perspective when it comes to Christ as our King. There is absolutely no corruption when it comes to Him. There is absolutely no greediness. There is absolutely no power-grab on His behalf. He doesn’t rule for His own personal benefit. Everything He does as a King is done perfectly. Furthermore, His rule is eternal:
Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,
There is no king, no president, or no military might that can supplant Christ from the power He has. Not even the devil could overpower Him. He tried at the cross, but he failed.
Isn’t this reason for us to rejoice?! Even though there are rulers in this world, the fact remains they are under Christ’s authority. Even though there are even scientific laws in this world, Christ created everything and therefore has power over them all. He can circumvent even the laws of nature to accomplish the purposes of His grace. How comforting this is for us as God’s children! Even though we often struggle within ourselves with our old man – that sinful nature trying to grab rule of ourselves with our actions and desires – Christ is still in power. He has created that new man within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when things go absolutely crazy in this world and there are forces out there seem to be growing in might and power, Christ still has more power than they do. Even though there are so many false teachings that prevail, even within the pale of the visible church, God’s Word is greater and more powerful. It powerfully exposes all that is false. Even though there are all these problems in the world that seem so insurmountable, Christ still wields all power and might to help.
This is why our Psalm tells us what our final purpose is as His believers in verses 3-6:
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah
As God’s people, we are the people of Jacob. We are those who look to the Lord, not seeking after some other idol or some other god to replace Jesus. We come to God’s house taking advantage of those treasured opportunities to stand before and worship our King. We submit to His Word of grace. Through His righteousness He has cleansed our hands and our hearts. We don’t look within ourselves to find goodness; we look to Christ who has become our righteousness. He has taken our sin upon Himself, nailing it to the cross. He has cleansed us of all our sins! As a result we should never treat our worship opportunities trivially. The righteousness that He has given us by faith leads us to honor Him as our King. Just as the Magi were led by the star to the King, so we are led by the star of God’s Holy Word to come and worship Him, the same powerful Word He used to create the universe and everything in it.
As we at Grace move into 2016, it is time to reflect on the grace and rule of our King. It is a time to reflect on how the Lord has ruled us in the past year and how He will do so in the coming year. There have been many changes here within our congregation at Grace. Frankly, this year was a year where many people transferred out. We can be grateful that they maintained their confession by joining like-minded Christians in CLC churches elsewhere, but the result is obvious here among us. There are fewer people in church; there are fewer people to share in the workload. But the opportunities before us are still as great. And the Lord can use those opportunities to challenge each of us personally. Maybe we see ourselves as not having been engaged with the Lord’s work at church as we should. I think this has led quite a few of us to recognize that and how important it is for all of us step up and share in that service to our King.
The King is giving us lots of opportunities to conduct our ministry. He is opening doors for us in Liberia where there are people thirsting for the truth. Liberia has become an oasis of Christianity where Islamic nations surround them, and it appears the Lord is giving us a chance to strengthen their understanding of God’s Word. The Lord has presented us many opportunities and through it all we need to bow before Him as our King, to recognize that no matter what the future holds He is still in control. He is still in charge. And He will lead us in the direction He has in store for us. Our King’s blessing abounds toward us as we continue to follow the voice of His Word. His creation has established Him as our King, and His salvation for us has led us to treasure Him as our personal king. Amen
Submitted by Pastor John Hein
Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church
Soli Deo Gloria!
January 17, 2016