The Kingdom and Revelation (continued)
2. The Issue for Christ
This brings us, of course, to what is yet in store for God's Son. What is the issue so far as He is concerned? Briefly, it may be described as Vindication and Administration.
When God has purged this earth of all that seeks its own glory or serves His enemies, it will then be peopled by those who give all the honor to His dear Son. Some of them may do so because they are afraid to do anything else; there may be, indeed there will be, a measure of imperfection before the eternal ages come in, but Christ will be publicly vindicated in this very earth. This is one of the issues, and one which should be very dear to all our hearts. For when we talk of the coming of the kingdom, we think not merely of some regime or way of living, however glorious; we think of a Person, the King. That He should be universally vindicated, appreciated as He ought to be and honored as He deserves - this is the true goal of all our spiritual conflict.
He is coming to be King. Of course, He is exalted above all now: He rules and overrules; He either restrains His enemies or else permits them to work and then turns their efforts to His own advantage. Daniel proved this and testified to it. Like him, we must maintain the testimony to the absolute sovereignty of the Lord; that is what we are here for. But, like Him, we are also here to bring in another kingdom. His overruling is marvelous, but it is exercised in the midst of a kingdom that is far from satisfactory, and it involves much that is painful for His own. We look for the day when the Lord Jesus will have absolute and effective rule in all things everywhere.
This brings us to consider what it means for Christ to reign. His kingdom is not merely a matter of His imposing His own will and forcing everyone to obey Him just because they have to. The letter to the Hebrews makes it very clear that Christ is Priest as well as King. Now the Priest-King does not merely tell you from a Throne what you ought to do, but comes alongside in love and helps you to do it. He not only sends forth edicts and making proclamations, but in a gracious and understanding way He devotes Himself to helping us through our difficulties, constantly imparting fresh grace to us for every new demand. In a sense He serves while He rules, He helps even while He governs. This is God's idea of kingship: it produces an administration which is not imposed from above but is, as it were, ministered from alongside.
Christ's kingdom is to be administered in association with His people: they are to function together as a harmonious unity under His headship. This is the interpretation and meaning of the "stone cut out without hands". To Nebuchadnezzar it seemed very vague and indeed in himself and his own kingdom, no doubt fascinated by it as many have been since; but he paid scant heed to the other kingdom. He could not understand it and does not seem to have been greatly interested. Yet that is the true purpose of the vision - to reveal the end to which God is working. How much time has been spent in study, how many books have been written, to concentrate attention on identifying the image in its various parts! That was Nebuchadnezzar's part of the revelation. But the part which belonged to Daniel and to the people of God was surely to prepare them for the kingdom from Heaven: to show them that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands foretells the coming of Christ and His saints - the great Head with His Body formed of a people gathered to Him, functioning in vital harmony as a kingdom of priests to reign on the earth.
We may have felt that it seems presumptuous to talk about reigning with Christ - wondered whether it is right to talk about sitting with Christ in His throne. Is there not a danger in this idea of sharing in His kingdom? Will it no make us superior or conceited? This is because we have not understood the nature of the kingship as God sees it. Christ is not harsh and domineering; He is "meek and lowly in heart." As we have said, He is "a priest upon his throne" (Zech. 6:13); He has learned to rule by learning to sympathize in the school of suffering and trial. We who know Christ as our King can gladly testify that His rule is not overbearing, but marked by loving patience and gracious helpfulness as He seeks to lead us closer to God, drawing us away from false paths into the ways of life and peace. This is the calling of the redeemed saints, to be a kingdom of priests; not to lord it over people, but to help them to come closer to the Lord.
(continued with # 4 - (3. The Issue for the Church)