Your Kingdom Come
Your Kingdom Come
If you spend more than 3 minutes on social media these days, you know the flavor of the day is political criticism. We are more divided as a country than we’ve been in a long time — or perhaps social media has helped uncover what’s always been there. I’m more inclined to believe the latter. It’s easier than ever to make our voices heard, and we do so at the drop of a hat, thinking our voice of reason will stand out above the racket. In fact, I think it takes more courage to NOT post your opinion than it does TO post something.
At River City, we’ve been studying the book of Ecclesiastes, where the “Teacher” is challenging our perception of the places we turn for meaning and purpose here under the sun. After we left off in chapter 5 this past Sunday, the Teacher goes on to write:
If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don’t be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials protect them. The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field. -- Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 (CSB)
Comparing the above verses in Ecclesiastes 5 with our current situation in 2019, it seems not much has changed in the past several millennium. We still see governments all across the world oppressing their people and manipulating the system for their own advantage. In his wisdom, the Teacher says, “Don’t be surprised when that happens.”
He’s not saying we should excuse or permit injustice. He’s just saying, here under the sun, that’s how it goes. Officials protect officials who protect officials. It’s always been that way. Furthermore, we actually expect it to happen! That’s why we have a system designed for checks and balances. We know power goes to our heads. We know we’re inclined to look out for our own interests. We’ve designed our government to be a place where the extremes should, in the long run, balance each other out.
The Teacher closes up this section of scripture with a somewhat confusing statement about the king. “The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field.” Commentators can’t agree on whether this statement is positive, meaning, a good king is the best defense against corruption, or negative, meaning, the king is just another part of the problem.
Regardless which he intended, rather than looking for the government to solve our problems, we must acknowledge that even the best rulers fall well short of perfection. Therefore, we live in the hope of a better administration — one we may not find in Ecclesiastes, but we do find in the gospel (1):
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this. — Isaiah 9:6,7 (emphasis mine)
As we go about life under the sun, seeing injustice and oppression all around us, let us do the work of standing up for the weak and guarding our steps, as we praise God that this kingdom, although not fully realized on earth yet, is already here and in action! We have a better king, one who will reign with compassion, justice, and righteousness, and his name is Jesus!
This summer, we’ll be studying what Jesus said about his kingdom and how we go about finding it here under the sun.
Grace and peace,
(1) Philip Graham Ryken, Ecclesiastes : Why Everything Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010) p. 131