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Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Kingdom Of Righteousness

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
II Peter 3:13

The Kingdom of Heaven, as envisioned by the apostles & Jesus Himself would not be a normal flesh & blood kingdom, at least, not one as the world had been used to seeing! To quote a line from the fairly recent movie, 'Kingdom of Heaven', this was 'a kingdom of the conscience'!

Imagine, if you will for a moment, that people could live together as one, disagreeing, maybe, in theory, but agreeing to live together, side by side, facing the glorious hardships of life! With an arrangement like this, how could anything go wrong! We should all live in such a way that we could love & honor our Creator by loving our neighbor as our self, by treating each other as we would have others treat us!

Our Heavenly Father envisioned such a Kingdom! The Marriage of Heaven & Earth, prophesied from Genesis to Revelation, was not One that would be won through force of arms, nor by swords loud clashing! No political contrivances of mere men would rule this Kingdom, but Love, Pure Love would rule the day! The Ruler of this Kingdom would be the Creator Himself, One who embodied Pure Love & was Himself embodied in His People, His Only Begotten Son!

Jesus told the Pharisees of His day that this Kingdom was in their midst! The Pharisees, of course, had no real idea why Jesus would say that, since they themselves were looking for political salvation, deliverance from this Roman beast who was holding a sword over their heads like the fabled Damocles! The salvation that Jesus brought, as we have seen, was not merely of the soul ( so that you could go to heaven when you die ); this salvation was one of the body as well, one that would bring back from the dead those that had died! That Body was the Body of Israel, the Body that had been betrothed to Her Creator & given the task of sharing His Love & Knowledge to the nations!
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As a nation of priests, Israel had forgotten Her First Love! She enamored Herself of those who were not Her, began to whore after them & broke the Covenant! She forgot what it meant to be a priest & rather than healing the nations, made of them eternal enemies who would eventually destroy her! Rather than spreading Peace, Love & Joy, chaos, hatred & murder! Though Israel had been unfaithful, Her Intended was Faithful still ( II Timothy 2:13 ); through His unfaithful & often unwilling Wife, the Creator of all spread His Love & Knowledge throughout the entire world!

The Pharisees, much like most American Christians today ( Religious Right? ), though claiming to be righteous, did not practice righteousness! They wanted the glory that men gave & were more than willing to take it by force! Righteous cannot be forced, as we have seen. Righteous actions, can in a sense, be persuaded, but it is not true righteousness unless it comes from a sincere heart! Even though the Pharisees practiced righteousness before the world of men, at heart, as Jesus said, they were full of 'dead men's bones'; they appeared to be clean on the outside, but on the inside they were filthy rags, good only for stopping the flow of blood!

The apostle Paul proclaimed, 'the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' ( Romans 14:17 ). Though this Kingdom, being made up of those whose physically need to eat & drink, is not about eating & drinking, but is about fulfilling the Creator's Purpose for Israel from the beginning, to be Co-regent with Him, to rule over His Creation, not by force, as it were, but by deeds of love & mercy!

The Covenant of Marriage was instituted from the beginning for this Purpose; to share the Love of God with His Creation! The Righteousness which the Creator bequeathed to His Covenant Creation through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son was the only violence that this Kingdom would ever see! Through the unrighteousness of His detractors, the Kingdom of Righteousness was inaugurated!

Let us ever remember that our strength is not in numbers, nor is it in the political machinations of man! Our Strength is the Creator of Heaven & Earth; it is in Him alone that we stand, never to fall! Since we have become 'the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus' ( II Corinthians 5:21 ), let us, as His Mate, share the Love & knowledge we have been given, not in force of arms, but in righteousness, peace & joy, to show that the Heavenly Kingdom's come!

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
Psalm 45:6 & 7 



Charles Haddon Shank

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