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Friday, May 20, 2016

A Rod of Iron

'You shall break[a] them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'
 ( Psalm 2:9 )


'She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.
 And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.
( Revelation 12:5 )


As the People of God, the Body of Christ, and rulers with Him, as the 'Israel of God',  you might wonder if we are, indeed, in the right to be imposing our 'doctrines' of what is right, and what is wrong on other 'nations'. Is that not the basic meaning of David's prophecy? That, I believe, is exactly what he meant to say here, but then the question should also be asked, 'what, or who, were the 'nations' to whom David was referring?' To answer this question with any degree of accuracy, a study, long or short, would need to be made of how Scripture uses that term.

God told Abraham ( Genesis 22:18 ), 'In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice'. This should sound familiar: we saw above that Jesus would 'rule all nations with a rod of iron', but here the Scriptures are saying that these 'nations' would be blessed through the People of God; so which is it? Are we, through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, to 'rule all nations with a rod of iron', or are they to be blessed by our presence? Maybe what is most needed now is a definition, a clarification of the phrase, 'a rod of iron'. Are the 'nations' to be blessed by our use of this 'rod of iron'; is it by conforming to the Scriptural definition of right and wrong, that the nations will be transformed, or transferred, rather, into the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, where He shall reign forever and ever?

Not being a Hebrew or Greek scholar, as best I could tell, this phrase means just what it says, 'a rod of iron'. The use of metaphor is fairly common and well-known throughout Scripture ( 'fishers of men' ), and thus is the case here! This phrase, at least variations of it, are still used to to denote a firmness in rule; unyielding rulers, whether right or wrong, are said to rule with an 'iron' hand. The rule of King Jesus with 'a rod of iron' is simply His rule of all 'nations' under His dominion with the unwavering firmness of His absolute Truth. There IS one right, and one wrong, one is either right or wrong; it does not depend on his or her situation, whether something is right or wrong for them; there is one rule for defining what is right or wrong, and that is the 'rule' of the Word of God, both in and through us, His Body!

For the longest time, our nation, the nation of America, or the United States thereof, has seemingly endeavored to extend its rule through the use of this 'rod of iron'. Our nation's history, and before this, the nations from which we derived, show manifold proof of this. in the past century, give or take a decade, we have thrust, even forced, our will, our sense of right and wrong, upon 'the nations'. At first, maybe, our rule of law was based, in greater part, upon God's Royal Law, but anymore, especially in the last 50 years or so, it is not God's absolute Truth which has formed the foundation, or core, of our 'rod of iron'. Our imposition on these 'nations', the Middle East, for example, has been anything but a blessing to them; on the contrary, it has earned us their hatred and animosity! ( the terrible events of 9/11 are an example of this ).


Rome, as the fourth beast/kingdom of Daniel's prophecy, might be named, Scripturally speaking, 'the Iron Kingdom. Daniel 2:40 reads, 'Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others'. Historically, Rome was the 'rod of iron' that Yahweh used to bring the nations under His feet. Due largely to the fact that we have misunderstood the narrative structure of history, Rome's place as the 'rod of iron' in the hand of Yahweh has been transferred to these United States, and the U.S. Inc. in particular, the Military Industrial Complex.

The 'doctrines' spoken of earlier, those with which we 'rule all nations with a rod of iron' are not those of men, or ones formulated by men! These doctrines are those given, first, through Moses, then reiterated by Jesus, who was God Himself. The two new commandments which Jesus gave His disciples are an encapsulation, a fulfillment really, of the famous 'Ten Commandments' given through Moses. These instruct us, first, to love the Lord our God: secondly, He instructs us to love our neighbor as ourselves, then, to top it all off, and this is most important when the rubber meets the road, we are to do unto others as we would like them to do unto us.

The corporate entity known as the United States of America has used a form of doctrine called Foreign Policy, to spread what they call democracy throughout the world.  Time has borne witness to how well this has worked, as this democracy includes the murder of innocent women and children, along with those who are not so innocent, as well as the detrimental effect that our fighting forces have received at the hands of the Lords of War, all in the name of freedom!

Though the American Empire has often been compared with that of Rome, and indeed can almost be viewed as an extension of it, we must understand that the prophecy of Daniel has been fulfilled, not just in part, but the whole! 'In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.' ( Daniel 2:44 ) By correctly understanding the narrative of Scripture, we can tell that this Kingdom has been set up. The majority of evangelical Christians will say that, because of the wars and rumors of wars that we hear about all over the world, as well as the evil which persists in our own nation, that this Kingdom has not been set up yet, though it may have already been inaugurated!

The Promise to Abraham ( Genesis 22:18 ) was fulfilled and is being fulfilled! The nations around them, that 'world', was blessed through the Seed of Abraham. Most nations, particularly those in the Middle East, would doubtless have a bit of a struggle to say that the U.S.Inc.'s gift of 'democracy' has been a blessing to them! The Seed of Abraham continues to be a blessing to the nations, however, because it brings is what brings healing, not death, peace, and not war! Contrary to popular belief, and here is where it becomes most important to understand the narrative properties of Scripture, the 'nation' of priests that we as Christians are is not like other 'nations'; we are not bound by geography: we are spread throughout the world, in  all countries!

The People of God may, in some sense, rule the nations with 'a rod of iron', even though this
Promise was primarily referring to the Roman Empire. the 'doctrine' that we have borrowed, though, could use some work! Rather than following along with that of empire-building, which the corporate structure known as the USA is currently using, we should be Kingdom-building, employing the means by which our God and Father has made us 'healing leaves' ( Revelation 22:2 ). Rather than spreading death and destruction across the globe in the name of democracy, we should instead be seeking to spread the Good News of the present Kingdom of Heaven, not through imposing our will upon the nations, but by employing the principles that Jesus gave His disciples, that of loving our neighbor as ourselves and doing to them what we would have them do to us!

Charles Haddon Shank



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