We are using the word "HAYSTACKS" to highlight nine key ideas that make Adventists Adventist. In a time of societal fracture, we must know who and what we are.
So far, we have highlighted "H" for Hope, "A" for Advent, "Y" for Youthful Eternity, "S" for Sabbath, "T" for Temperance, "A" for Alpha and Omega, and "C" for Counter-cultural. "K" today, might not be the first or second thing to come to mind. But "Kingdom" is a primary emphases that is part and parcel of Adventism.
God's purposes do not change. His purpose for humanity has always been intimate communion. He loves us. He designed us. He made us for social connection. Open to Exodus 19:4-6 and see something important in His original purpose for us.
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle's wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
God always planned for His people to be part of His kingdom. He delivered them to bring them back to Himself. His purpose is to induct us into His kingdom of priests to be His holy nation.
According to God's Own Code
Some have the idea that the Church can make things up in a slapdash fashion as it goes, that she determines for herself what truth is. But in God's kingdom we are not left to make things up as we go. Deuteronomy chapter 17 tells us that human kings under God were commanded to make written copies of God's Word. They were to record His Word in a scroll. They were to keep this scroll with themselves. They were to read it all the days of their life. God's code for living is in His Word, and the king, rather than making law, was to obey God's law.
The word of God is not an accessory but a necessity to the Christian. James admonishes Christians to "receive the implanted word" (James 1:21). His law is a "royal" law and a "law of liberty" (James 2:8, 12). We can make it our purpose, as the king was supposed to, to write it out and thus store it in our hearts. Or, we can read it through continually and store it in memory's sacred halls.
In the religion of the Bible, God is King. When Samuel's sons were too immoral to continue as judges over Israel, the nation sought for a human king "like all the nations." In reply to Samuel's prayer, God responded thus:
Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being King over them (1 Samuel 8:7).
God was the King of Israel, and the judges ruled Israel under Him. But now Israel wanted a king "like all the nations" (1 Samuel 8:5). Thus Israel transitioned to the human monarchy (1 Samuel 11:15; 12:12).
God's Kingdom in the Old Testament
The kingdom of David was the kingdom of God (1 Chronicles 17:11-14; 28:5). God is head over all (1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 22:28; 103:19; 145:11). God's kingdom is eternal:
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:7).
And call to mind this text, we saw in the previous presentation:
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever (Daniel 2:44).
In Daniel chapters four and five Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledges God as ultimate King and in five, the truth of God's ultimate rulership is highlighted again. In Daniel chapter seven, God's kingdom is given to Jesus and through Him is given to believers in Jesus (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27).
In Amos 9:8 God promises He will destroy the sinful kingdom from off the earth.
God's Kingdom in the New Testament
John announced the kingdom of heaven was near (Matthew 3:2). Then Jesus preached it (Matthew 4:17, 23; 6:10, 13; 13:43). At His coming, the kingdom will be His own (Matthew 16:28; 20:21).
One of the most well known texts in the New Testament is adamant about this kingdom: Matthew 24:14. Hear it again:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
It is a kingdom of unselfishness. Matthew 25:31-46:
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you? The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for he devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Do not miss that here, Jesus is King. He is referred to simply as "The King." You and I? We are either in the sheep list, or the goat list. The sheep have done good selflessly to others.
The goats were busy. To which kingdom do you belong? Our very business puts us at spiritual risk. It is easy to qualify for the goat list: so very busy. I have missed so many opportunities to manifest Jesus' kingdom. More, I have too often manifested the opposite kingdom. But Jesus' kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:33).
In John 18:36 we learn from Jesus' own lips that His kingdom is not of this world. In 1 Corinthians 15 we read,
Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. . . When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).
The kingdom is actively operating now. Colossians 1:13 says that we believers have been transferred into His kingdom. In Revelation 12:10 we see a sense in which the kingdom is yet future.
"By describing himself as the appointed messenger (APOSTOLOS) of a 'Lord' (KYRIOS) whose imminent arrival (PAROUSIA) he expected, and by warning the assemblies in each city to prepare to meet his lord at his PAROUSIA, Paul would have sounded like a diplomatic herald, speaking in the name of an approaching conquerer (Caesar was also regularly hailed as KYRIOS), preparing the cities of a province for a coming change in regime" (Richard A. Horsely, In the Shadow of Empire, p. 98).
The Kingdom Now: are we in or out of it?
It can be difficult to remember that Adventists have very intentionally taken an apolitical stance toward all things in the secular political arena. We identify with neither left nor right in secular politics. If we do, we recognize it in ourselves as an error. We restrain our lips; we keep ourselves outside the political envelope. We should be extremely wary when, as in the USA at present there are two political parties but no matter which is in power the same outcomes result. No matter which is in power, this nation has become a full-blown welfare state and the world's preeminent aggressive military power. Both represent spending immorality, raiding and extracting the financial possibilities from unrepresented children and grandchildren.
We identify too closely with our fleshly nation. As Christians Jesus is our King. This is not a theory or a fairy tale. We are pilgrims and strangers here; heaven is our home. The good intentions and well-intended principles the USA was founded on all will ultimately be subverted. We see this in Revelation 13:11. She has two horns like a lamb but in the end she speaks as a dragon, as Satan. Lady liberty will in the end be Madame Tyranny. In fact, this nation ultimately
causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16-17).
The nation we've loved and respected and which we have regarded ourselves citizens of, will embrace Catholic teaching and use power of state to enforce religious observance against us. Listen to this fascinating prophecy of the future found in Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451:
To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law. . . . By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.
To get votes, candidates will embrace popular demand for a Sunday law. Sunday observance will be voted by congress and signed into law by the president. Then the USA will be disconnected fully. Then, the Constitution will still exist but its principles will have been repudiated.
We are preparing for eternity, not for the next primary. Jesus is King. Understand: the political game can produce no important changes in our society. We must radically refuse to take part in it.
The Kingdoms of this World are Unsafe
The kingdoms of this world are united in opposition to God. Hear Psalm 2:2-3:
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying 'Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!'
In Revelation 17:1 the great harlot sits on many waters, in 17:18 she reigns over the kings of the earth. A bad day is coming. If we are unwise we'll be fully encompassed in all its illusions.
Adventists are looking to a better world, we are citizens of another kingdom. We don't "march on Washington" or become engaged in political campaigns. We don't fight for nation-states; we are people of peace. We aren't interested in secular conquests, military, or economic. We don't spend our resources on movies or luxuries, we are citizens of a fairer land.
We appreciate others who truly intend to protect us and protect our freedoms. Here, all our freedoms are tentative and temporary. There is irrepressible conflict between God's selfless eternal ways and every government's exploitative temporal ways.
Is America the best nation on planet earth? Then the best nation is guilty of many things.
The American people were highly resistant to war, and had to be brought kicking and screaming into World Wars I and II. Do the research. You'll find that the president did everything in his power to goad Japanese leaders into attacking America, and that the strike at Pearl Harbor was very much anticipated, even desired as the necessary justification to bring America into the war. American servicemen died, but justification for entry into the war was finally provided.
Later, America terror-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons, not to save half a million American soldier's lives, but to demonstrate the power of the new weapon and to end the war with Japan before the Soviets could enter. American leaders knew that the Soviet army was ready to invade North China in two weeks. They didn't want that under any circumstances. And so, to speed the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of Japanese were killed or injured, the vast majority of them, civilians, old men, and little girls. Publicly, the American government estimated that a conventional land invasion of Japan, minus the use of the bomb, would lead to one million American soldier casualties (Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, p. 578). But actually, on June 18, General Marshall had estimated a loss of 31,000 U.S. soldiers (Decision, p. 518). Modern estimates suggest that actual casualties would have actually been 7,000 to 8,000. Either way, that would have been but a fraction of the million or sometimes "millions" estimated and publicized.
These are very difficult things to hear. They are from so long ago, and are so contrary to the narratives we've been told. Let's try something closer to home. Spokane is downwind from Hanford. Hanford is where the government set up a facility to produce plutonium, the most toxic substance known to man. Across many decades the hanford plutonium plant released hundreds of thousands of curies of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Some was released merely because of carelessness, some, very intentionally. One intentional release was named internally by the government. They called it operation "Green Run." On the days of December 2 and 3, 1949, Hanford released an estimated 8000 curies of radioactive Iodine-131 into the environment. (For perspective, the Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, nuclear accident in 1979 released only one or two dozen curies.) It is estimated that throughout its active history, the Hanford plant released at least 740,000 curies of radioactive iodine-131, along with several other radioactive isotopes. "Green Run" was an experiment to see how Iodine-131 would affect the population and to test monitoring equipment. You were children. You didn't know. You were test subjects. One local mother wrote this poem:
It is as safe as mother's milk, they'll say
When wanting to assure you that it's all O.K.
If mom, a downwinder, eats Columbia River's fish,
Or consumes white snow - garden salads on the spot
Then mother's milk can become a deadly lot.
So I fed poison to my nursing son
With radioactive Iodine-131.
Just because we lived in the wrong place
I maimed my babe for that nuclear race.
By keeping apart from the state, Adventists avoid adding to this kind of suffering in the world.
Jesus told His hearers to render to God the things that belong to God and to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar (Luke 20:19-26).
Everything belongs to God and nothing belongs to Caesar.
Caesar owns no land. "The land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me" (Leviticus 25:23). The land and all its produce belongs to God. All human rule is impostiture.
Satan, when he tried to tempt Jesus, offered Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Matthew 4:8-9). He was claiming that they were his. He is the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:31).
Different kinds of situations make life different. You and I were born in the era of total war--another aspect of living in the "time of the end." At the period of the French Revolution we entered into a time of giant collectives, and by the early 20th century all of the substantial nations of the world were republics. This meant a massive change in the ways wars were fought. Before the modern republic or nation-state,
[War was] regarded as a kind of single combat between the two armies, the civil population being merely spectators. . . Conscription existed only in a rudimentary and sporadic form, . . . . Soldiers being scarce and hard to find, everything was done to ensure their quality by a long, patient and meticulous training, but as this was costly, it rendered them very valuable, and it was necessary to let as few be killed as possible. Having to economize their men, generals tried to avoid fighting battles. The object of warfare was the execution of skillful maneuvers and not the annihilation of the adversary (Hoppe op. cit Guglielmo Ferrero, Democracy, the God that Failed, p. 35).
But our modern wars
tend to be total wars. . . democratic republic strengthens the identification of the public with a particular state. Indeed, while dynastic rule promotes the identification with one's own family and community and the development of a 'cosmopolitan' outlook and attitude, democratic republicanism inevitably leads to nationalism, i.e., the emotional identification of the public with large, anonymous groups of people. . . Interstate wars are thus transformed into national wars. . . Conscription becomes the rule, rather than the exception. And with mass armies of cheap and hence easily disposable conscripts fighting for national supremacy (or against national suppression) backed by the economic resources of the entire nation, all distinctions between combatants and noncombatants fall by the wayside, and wars become increasingly brutal. . . . the new era of democratic-republican warfare, which began with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. . . and continues to the present, is the era of total war (Hoppe, pp. 37-38).
Be that as it may, hear one final, positive point. In Colossians 2:15 we are reminded of Jesus, that:
When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through it [the cross].
Jesus is Lord.
We belong to Jesus and Jesus is King. We don't belong to Bill Clinton or George Bush or Barack Obama or Donald Trump. We don't belong to Caesar; we belong to Jesus.
Seventh-day Adventists are apolitical. Jesus is our King and we are Jesus' citizens. Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely non-political. It makes as much sense for us to become embroiled in American politics as it does for us to become embroiled in Yugoslavian politics. Lift up your eyes, your redemption is drawing near because the coming of your King, King Jesus, is imminent.
On August 6, 1945 Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip. At 8:15 am, he was subject to the detonation of the nuclear weapon exploded that day. Despite his injuries, he traveled back to his home. On the morning of August 9 he was reporting to a skeptical supervisor at Mitsubishi heavy industries, how Hiroshima had been destroyed by one bomb, when, just after 11:00 am, there was a terrific explosion above. Yamaguchi had reported for work at his home town: Nagasaki.
Amazingly, he lived for many years longer, later dying of stomach cancer.
God's purposes do not change. We have been born onto the battlefield between good and evil. This is earth. Earth is a very dangerous place. As Yamaguchi was nuked twice, we have been severely damaged twice. Adam's sin weakened the human race and disordered our human nature. Then, in that disordered humanity we have added to the damage by choosing to sin against God. We set up our own kingdom and pretend we are kings. But Christianity means stepping down from our twisted throne and bowing before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. We are heralds of the kingdom of God.
We are pilgrims and strangers here. We are monarchists and Jesus is our King. Of all peoples, Seventh-day Adventists should be people who regard the Kingdom of God as most real, proclaim the kingdom, and live for the King. "K" in HAYSTACKS is for Kingdom.
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