Jesus - The King of Kings        

Part 3 of a series of 3 Sermons - Jesus the Prophet, Priest and King.

Listening to the news today can be a depressing exercise.
Many do so only because the fear of not knowing is worse! Such is our natural curiosity.
For many this introduces a dilemma;
how can there be so much war, hatred, injustice, destruction, suffering, disillusionment and disasters if Jesus is King?
The two going to Emmaus shared the same problem - 'we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.'   Lu 2421
They had expected Jesus would expel the Romans,
      transform the Pharisees' hypocrisy into real righteousness and truth,
      and begin the promised era of forgiveness, love and peace.
But Jesus didn't.
He let them nail him to a Cross, and they watched him die.
How did Jesus answer their obvious disappointment?
He simply explained that this was the way he and Father had planned it!
And from the beginning the prophets had revealed that unchanging plan.
Why hadn't they seen it before?
We all tend to hear what we want to hear. We prefer success to death, and blessing to sacrifice.
Jesus had to die.
For without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins.
The blood had to be perfect - and only the Son of God could do this.
There was no other way.

A few days before the Passover  
"... the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."  (Jn 1212-15  and  Zech 99)

Jesus entered Jerusalem as King of Kings.
He told Pilate that if he wished he could call upon 12 legions of angels.
At the last supper he told his disciples, "The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me,
but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.  (Jn 1430,31)
And earlier he had said,  "I am the good shepherd ... and I lay down my life for the sheep ...
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.   (Jn 1014-18)

So it is clear that Jesus was not the victim of undeserved hatred,
      but the King who was willing to be the Saviour of all who turn to him.
Jesus was not an unfortunate martyr, but the perfect, planned Sacrifice.
His death was not defeat, but triumph.
"God raised him from the dead, ... because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."   (Act 224 )
Jesus remains priest for ever, "On the basis of the power of an indestructible life."   (Heb 716)
Because Jesus was raised from the dead by the Father, we can also say,
      "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? "  (1 Co 1555,56)
For the 'sting' is not physical death, but sin.
      And Jesus is King over both sin and death.

What about the future, the days that to many seem so bleak?
What does the King say?
Peace and prosperity? Triumph and revival?  
No! At least, not yet, for he says,
     "In this world you will have trouble.
      But take heart! I have overcome the world."   (Jn 1633)  (see sermon on Jeremiah)
Some seem to think that the triumphant Church will bring in the Millennium.
      Not liking the repeated prophecy of the Tribulation, they ignore it!
Others think that Christians will escape, being raptured before the Tribulation.
      For they do not like the thought of its reality either!  
The truth is not easy. Warnings never are.  But it does not stop them being true.
      (see articles Are we ready?,  Signs of His Coming,  Danger in the Church Today)

What do the Prophets say?

Towards the end of Daniel's long life, God gave a vision - He tells us in Daniel 7.
He wanted to know the meaning of the fourth brutal Beast and of the little horn in the last days:
      "As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and destroying them,
       until the Ancient of days came and pronounced judgement in favour of the saints ...
      He gave me this explanation: 'The forth beast is a forth kingdom ... different from all the other kingdoms.
      It will devour the whole earth, trampling it down ...
      It will speak against the Most high and oppress the saints ...
      But a court will sit, and his power will be taken away ...'"    Dan 721-26)

John sees much the same vision:
      "The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for 42 months...
      He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them ...
      This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."   (Rev 135-10)

Jesus in talking about the last days warns the disciples:
      "Watch out that no one deceives you ...
      Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me ...
      But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
      For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equalled again.
      If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened ...
      Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened ...
      At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky ..."   (Math 244-30)

How can Jesus be King and yet allow the persecution of his redeemed?
Jeremiah the prophet faced this continually during his 40 years of ministry.
At the start God promised him, "'I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord."   (Jer 18)
Now Jeremiah suffered beating, imprisonment, continual rejection; and he died in exile.
      But he never stoped using the expression 'declares the Lord'.   He repeats it 304 times!
He knew God remained the Almighty Lord, who always keeps his word.
True, he suffered. But God remained with him. Satan was never able to snatch his soul.
Only when his work was complete was he relieved of his mortal body and given his reward.
      "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."   (Rev 217)

Do I find the prospect of persecution frightening? Yes, I do.
But in the Scriptures there are 99 occasions when we are told not to fear.
In the end times there will be many martyrs.
That is why Joel assures us that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh.
Yes, the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Yes, the Spirit, the Counsellor, is being given to us today.
But the main outpouring will be at the end, when in the same verses (which many people ignore)
      he also tells us that  "the sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood."   (Joel 228-30)
In the days of greatest hardship, the King will be with us.
Without such assurance, I for one, would certainly perish.

What will happen at the end of the Tribulation when the King returns?
In Math 24,25 Jesus tells four stories. In each the return of the King is ‘delayed'.
The vital question is not, what would I do if Jesus were to come tomorrow,
but what if I knew he would not come for many years?
1. The tenants abused their power.
2. The five foolish virgins were careless and not ready.
3. The one talent man tried to obey the Law, found it too hard and gave up.
4. The goats did good deeds only to impress, not out of compassion.
We need to be ready for the King, so let us take heed to what he says.

One of the main lessons of the book of Revelation is that it is God, not fate nor Satan,
      who opens the seals (no one else is worthy Rev 51-6 61) .
      It is God's angels who blow the trumpets, and pour out the bowls of wrath upon the earth.
At the end, when the Beast and the False Prophet are allowed to rule the earth for a short time.
We see Babylon and the Harlot fall (the world economic pack of cards) in a single hour.   (Rev 18)
Then the whole scene changes:
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns ... 
his name is the Word of God ... 
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations ...
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS ...
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together
      to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.
But the Beast was captured, and with him the False Prophet ...
The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake ..."   (Rev 1911-21)

Do you find this revelation of Jesus quite a surprise?
Many do. God not a pacifist!
But what amazes me is the audacity of the Beast to attack the King of Kings!
While hanging on the cross it did not seem that the 'King of the Jews' was also 'The King of Kings'.
But he was.  Things are not always what they seem to be.
We need the whole of scripture to keep reminding us of the enduring truth.
That is what faith is:
      "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."   (Heb 111)

Where does this battle take place?
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Rev 1616
Armageddon is the plain below Megiddo, the valley of Jezreel in N.Israel.
This is where they gather, but Joel tells us where they fight.
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel ... Joel 31
The valley of Jehoshaphat refers to the battle where the king led with his musicians in front his troops,
      while their enemies destroyed each other.
It is about 12 miles south of Jerusalem and leads into the Kidron valley.

What happens is told in Zechariah:
On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her,
I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.
On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness ...
On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem ...
The Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.   Zech 123,4,9 142-4
Not for the first time, Jerusalem, the capital of tiny Israel, and the Jews will be the focus of world-wide hate.
How sad it is that George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, said recently
      that Jerusalem should be shared and the Palestinians be given a state.
      He is leading the Church to be on the wrong side!
For that day will end with total defeat for the Beast and all his forces.
And that day will also begin the 1,000 year reign of Christ in Jerusalem.

"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
      to cleanse them from sin and impurity."    (Zech 131)
This fountain was opened by Jesus 2,000 years ago,
      but on this day we will see all Israel saved by their Messiah.   (Ro 1126)
"On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land."    (Zech 132)
"The word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem ... He will judge between nations ..."   ( Is 23,4)
Only then will
"They will beat their swords into plowshares ...
      Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."    (Is 24)

So the King of Kings will reign on earth for 1,000 years while Satan remains bound.
Never will the earth know such peace and goodwill, righteousness and justice.

Then the King will release Satan and he will deceive all nations and lead Gog and Magog to attack the Lord, again!
"But fire came down from heaven and destroyed them.
      And the devil ... was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur ..."   (Rev 207-10)

Hallelujah! At last Satan will never again be able to harm us, all sin and even temptation are removed, the battle is finally over.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"   (Rev 211-5)

Doesn't this make us ache with longing for this great day, even if there is tobe a day of trouble first.
The King of Kings will surely come again.
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."    (Rev 2220)


Earth, rejoice, our Lord is King!
Sons of men, his praises sing;
Sing ye in triumphant strains,
Jesus the Messiah reigns!

Power is all to Jesus given,
Lord of hell, and earth, and heaven.
Every knee to him shall bow;
Satan, hear, and tremble now!

Angels and archangels join,
All triumphantly combine,
All in Jesu's praise agree,
Carrying on his victory.

Though the sons of night blaspheme,
More there are with us than them;
God with us, we cannot fear;
Fear, ye fiends, for Christ is here!

Lo! to faith's enlightened sight,
All the mountain flames with light;
Hell is nigh, but God is nigher,
Circling us with hosts of fire.

Christ the Saviour is come down,
Points us to the victor's crown,
Bids us take our seats above,
More than conquerors in his love.

Another Hymn

Christ, above all glory seated!
King triumphant, strong to save!
Dying, thou hast death defeated;
Buried, thou hast spoiled the grave.

Thou art gone where now is given,
What no mortal might could gain,
On the eternal throne of heaven,
In the Father's power to reign.

There thy kingdoms all adore thee,
Heaven above and earth below;
While the depths of hell before thee
Trembling and defeated bow.

We, O Lord, with hearts adoring,
Follow thee above the sky;
Hear our prayers thy grace imploring,
Lift our souls to thee on high.

So when thou again in glory
On the clouds of heaven shalt shine,
We thy flock may stand before thee,
Owned for evermore as thine.