The failure of a Monarchy?

9 May

Don’t worry – this is nothing to do with the Australian debate about a Republic versus a Monarchy. It’s just that I’ve been thinking a lot about the Kings in the Bible lately. In Scripture at Bexley North we have been following the story of Kings Saul and David; in my personal Bible Reading I recently finished reading the book of Judges; and, in church we have just started thinking about Jonah and his place in the history of Israel and it’s Kings.

The Bible is all about a Monarchy!

From the beginning of the Bible it is clear that God is King. He was the one that made the Universe and everything in it. He was the one who chose a people for himself. He was the one who led these people. Isaiah 44:6 sets us straight:

This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer,  the Lord of Hosts, says: I am the first and I am the last.

There is no God but Me.

When Heather and I did a short term mission trip in Ghana in 2001 – the locals knew that God is King – it was even found on the Coca-cola advertising!

Sadly though, sometimes even God’s people need a bit of a reminder of that he is King. Just read through Judges to see a nation who has forgotten their true King. It’s anarchy:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted. (Judges 17:6)

The result of individual-self-governance was disaster for Israel and a slap in the face to their God.

Surprisingly though, God wasn’t totally against having a human Monarch for his people. He made provision for a King in Israel from very early on. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 about the type of King that Israel should choose. To use the catch phrase from my scripture classes: choose a King with a heart after God’s heart. Or, in other words, choose a little ‘k’ king who had the big ‘K’ King as his God.

The period of the Judges in Israel was a sad period of Israel forgetting their God. Eventually, when Israel demanded a King they even forgot the kind of King they should want. They wanted a big strong guy – King Saul – which was another disaster in the making. Though over time God righted that wrong and chose his own King – David – an unlikely youngest child but who had had a heart after God’s heart. The story of these two kings can be found in 1 & 2 Samuel and is one of the great narratives of the Bible.

In David, God’s people were given a new hope. According to 2 Samuel 7, David’s line would be an eternal line. His line would give rise to a king who would rule an eternal golden age for God’s people. So in a sense, from the time of David, the bible is a quest for this ‘eternal King’. Was it David? No. Was it his son Solomon? No. Was it his grandson?

The books of 1 & 2 Kings document the failed quest for this eternal king in Israel. The wheels fell off from the start when Israel split into two after Solomon. If you read the account of the northern Israel and southern Judah, the answer to the question: ‘Is this the eternal King?’ was constantly  ‘No! This King did evil in the eyes of the Lord’. Israel’s monarchy was a disaster – except for my favourite Kings – Hezekiah and Josiah (look them up!).

The Old Testament monarchy was a failure. Would this be the end of God as King? Would this be the end of God having his own people in this world?

Surprisingly, the answer came hundreds of years later on the first Good Friday. As Jesus hung from the cross on Calvary, above his head was the ironic title “King of the Jews”. The soldiers put it their for a laugh. However, it turns out that this Jesus is God’s son and humanly speaking, a descendant of David. God truly is King – and it is never more gloriously shown than when we see that he loves us so much that he would give his only Son to save us and to rule over us justly, forever.

Human Monarchy’s will fail BUT God’s Kingdom, built on Jesus, endures forever!

The Bible is rich in history and as we make our way through Jonah, can I challenge you to do two things? First, read the narrative from Judges to the end of 2 Kings and follow the development of Israel’s Monarchy. Second, if you have never looked into the rich story of God’s salvation across time – come and join our PTC – Introduction to the Bible course in term 2. It’s a great way to deepen your understanding of God’s Word.

 Jason Veitch

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