In November, Suyash Dixit declared himself king of an 800-square-mile piece of land located between Egypt and Sudan. The territory, known as “Bir Tawil,” is largely uninhabited and one of the few places on earth that is both habitable and unclaimed by a recognized government. Dixit visited briefly, planted a flag, and named himself “ruler” of this “Kingdom of Dixit.”
Yet, Dixit’s new kingdom will not succeed. International law dictates that an individual, acting independently of a sovereign nation, has no right to claim the land. Instead, a rightful king is recognized by legitimate claim to the crown, subjects to rule, and presence among his people. Dixit doesn’t live in Bir Tawil, he has no governmental authority behind him, and he has no people to rule. While he might say otherwise, Dixit is no king, and he has no kingdom.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen that Christ mediates for us as Prophet and as Priest. This week, we’ll consider His work as the rightful King. His claim to the throne is unrivaled.
A King is Needed
After Joshua died, the people of Israel lacked strong human leadership, and they floundered. The period of the Judges was one of anarchy, as everyone “did what was right in his own eyes” rather than following the leadership of the God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The Lord had created His people for a theocracy, but they demanded—and were graciously given—a monarchy (1 Sam. 8). These earthly kings were to rule the people in righteousness and defend the people with courage, providing spiritual and physical stability as they followed God’s leadership and shepherded God’s people (Deut. 17:14-20).
The first king, Saul, was a poor leader. He repeatedly failed to rule in righteousness and defend with courage, and God removed him from power (1 Sam. 15).
Then, along came David. David loved the Lord and obeyed His commands; he also loved his people and cared for them as a shepherd cares for his sheep (2 Sam. 24:17). But, David was still a sinful human. As his story continues, we read of adultery, murder, and a family broken by the consequences of sin. While David recognized and repented of his sin before the Lord, his leadership proved one thing to Israel: every earthly king would fail them.
The people needed a King who would lead them in perfect righteousness.
A King is Promised
While David sat on the throne of Israel, God established an unconditional covenant with him. God promised that David’s “kingdom will endure before me…and your throne will be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). A king from David’s lineage would always sit on the throne of Israel.
God fulfilled this covenant by allowing many generations of David’s lineage to rule, but king after king chose to forsake God and His instruction. They worshiped other gods, built idols, and led the people away from worship of the One True God. Eventually, God submitted His people to discipline at the hands of their enemies. But, God remembered His covenant to keep one from David’s line on the throne of Israel.
The prophets spoke of this Heir to the throne who would come next. He would be different from the others: He would rule in complete righteousness, leading the people to follow their God. This Prince of Peace would “reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness” (Is. 9:6-7). He would be the final king—the King to end all kings.
A King is Come
As God’s people anticipated the coming of the One who would reclaim the throne of David, a child arrived on the scene as an unlikely candidate for the crown. The angel Gabriel proclaimed that, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Lk. 1:32-33). This child, Jesus, would come from the lineage of David (Mt. 1:1-16, Lk. 3:23-38), and He would “shepherd my people Israel” (Mt. 2:6).
Though born of man, Jesus was God in the flesh, dwelling among man (Mt. 1: 23). He reigned over Satan and demons (Lk. 11:17-23), displayed power over disease and nature (Mk. 1:29-31, 4:35-41), claimed authority over the Law and Sabbath (Mk. 2:23-28, 10:2-12), and forced death to submit to His demands (Mk. 5:21-43; Lk. 7:11-17; Jn. 11:1-44). Jesus also cared for His people by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and weeping with those who wept, all while upholding a righteousness unlike any other. Though tempted like man, He never sinned. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself, giving up kingdoms and glory (Mt. 4:8-10) for a crown of thorns, “becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8), and defeating our enemies—Sin and Death—once and for all through His resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:55-57).
This perfect King came to earth to dwell among His people.
He proved His legitimate right to rule by coming from the lineage of David and displaying His power over all creation.
He protected and loved His people perfectly through His sacrificial death on their behalf.
There can be no better King than this.
This King is Ours
So, how should we respond to a King who is completely righteous, completely loving, and completely God? We love Him. We follow Him. We obey Him. Scripture tells us that, “God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10). To this King, we bend the knee and pledge our ultimate allegiance.
When I raise a flag to stake claim on the “Kingdom of Jeanie,” the rightful reign of my Sovereign King convinces me I have no right to a kingdom of my own. When I’m burdened by guilt or self-righteousness, King Jesus reminds me that He has born the load of my unrighteousness on His capable shoulders. When I’m fearful of a broken and hostile world, the presence of a King who dwells among His people emboldens my faltering hopes.
Jesus sits “at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him” (1 Pet. 3:22). Yet one day, this King will return to restore, rule, and reign forever. This King of Kings will judge the living and the dead based upon their citizenship in either the kingdom of this world or in His Kingdom. Consider wisely, friend. You can have only one king. May it be Him.
“Yours, LORD, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand… Now therefore, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chr. 29:11-13)