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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 15

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The God of Heaven

"And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom ..." (2:44). In other places He is called also "the King of Heaven" (4:37) and "the Lord of heaven" (5:23). What do these titles imply?

Our general mentality makes us regard Heaven as a location, and, moreover, as a location very, very far away. The three men found that, as a matter of fact, far from being remote, Heaven was very near - it was actually with them in the fire. Or again, when Belshazzar made mockery of the things of God at his drunken feast, the hand wrote on the wall to show him that Heaven was by no means so far away as he would have liked it to be - that it was, indeed, uncomfortably near. This title, therefore, is meant not so much to emphasize where God dwells as to stress what He is like; it speaks of nature rather than location. The "God of Heaven" is not just the God who lives in Heaven, but the heavenly God. And His kingdom is essentially the heavenly kingdom - or the kingdom of Heaven, as Matthew calls it.

This is the kingdom which we, His saints, are called to share, and to that end, we, too, must be characterized by His heavenly nature. When Nebuchadnezzar saw it, he say only "a stone ... cut out of the mountain without hands". It was quite vague and indistinct to him naturally, for apart from the Spirit no man can truly "see" that kingdom; but in reality there is nothing hazy or ill defined about the kingdom which is destined to possess all things for God. To the king of Babylon it may have seemed like some hastily seized and ill-prepared missile hurled down from heaven, but we know that it represents a people on whom the Lord has expended infinite time and pains, in fashioning them together in union with His Son. Daniel himself, even to take his place among Nebuchadnezzar's wise men, had to undergo three years preparation and training. How much more time and trouble must be spent to make him fit for his place in the everlasting kingdom! This apparently shapeless stone is really a refined; highly integrated and spiritually powerful kingdom; its power lies in its heavenliness, which to us is interpreted in terms of humility, purity, faith and love. The New Testament, from the Sermon on the Mount onwards, makes it clear to us what it means to have a share in the kingdom of Heaven. "Without hands" means, not that it is shapeless, but that it is not shaped by human agency. For the Lord is at work all the time - planning, refining, shaping, fitting together - all with a view to our eternal vocation of reigning with Christ. He is working on us, working with us, to make us into a heavenly people.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

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