Imagine you live in a country that has a king or a prime minister or a president. And everyday after your work is done and the evening meal has been eaten, this king or prime minister or president shows up at your door wanting to take a leisurely stroll with you ... just to find out how you are doing ... what your day was like ... just to walk and talk with you and enjoy being with you. That would be rather incredible!
That's exactly what life was originally supposed to be like ...
The Real Beginning
The One True King is eternal, which simply means He had no beginning and He has no end. Actually, there's nothing simple about it ... it's impossible to wrap your brain around!
And a King needs a kingdom ...
So at some point long ago He began creating ... can you even imagine the kind of pony He must have?!
First He filled His world with the angels, which are immortal, but are not eternal in the sense that they are created beings and therefore had a beginning.
Angels are way cool. Most of us have pitifully inadequate notions of what they are and what they look like. We think of them as pudgy little cherubs with wings flying around stroking harps. Or soft beautiful ladies glowing with golden light that watch over us at night while we sleep.
Sometimes, while trying to explain death to very young children, we'll tell them that "Grandma is an angel now". Not so. Maybe say Grandma went to live with the angels, but she didn't turn into one. We aren't angels and angels aren't us!
They are actually great and mighty beings. While tenderly watching over us is kind of true, their actual work involves guarding and protecting. They are asexual, but in my own puny brain I think of them as being more masculine, because they are powerful warriors. They don't procreate, so the number of angels is fixed, but apparently there are thousands and thousands of them ... maybe millions and billions!
They were created for a specific purpose, to praise and worship God and to serve Him and us. They are His personal servants ready to do His bidding, and sometimes that bidding is to come and assist us in some way. Did you know that angels were created to serve us? Gives me shivers and goose bumps to even consider such a thing!
Angels are organized into a hierarchy of authority and ranks, a bit like the military. There are the archangels, which I (maybe mistakenly!) think of as generals. There are angels assigned to different regions of our planet, and they are addressed as Princes. They literally wage warfare in the spiritual realms ... over us, no less! ... more about that later ...
A big part of the angels' assignment is to praise and worship the King. So to lead them in carrying out that assignment, the King created one very special angel who served as the praise and worship leader. This particular angel was the most beautiful of all the angelic host. He was designed specifically to bring praise and music into the presence of the King. His radiant body was literally made up of musical instruments and the simplest move he made would send beautiful melodies of praise for the King floating upwards toward the Throne.
The Stage is Set
So now it was time to create the real subjects of His Kingdom. First, there were more preparations ... a home for His subjects. A physical world suspended in a physical universe. A world full of life and variety.
The King was lavish in His creation. He made multitudes of different species of animals and plant life, and all kinds of different terrains for them to grow and thrive. He filled the lakes and oceans with life from the tiniest plankton to the largest whales. And land animals in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
He didn't just sprinkle a few stars in the sky behind our sun and moon. Oh, no. Some of those dots of light you see in the night sky are actually whole galaxies! And they are so far away from us, we are actually looking into the distant past when we look up at the night sky. What we see may not even exist, but it's ending just hasn't reached us yet!
So He created a home for us. Then He made us and set us in it. And gave us good, fulfilling work to do. He made us like Him, with eternity in our hearts and minds full of wonder and creativity of our own. And He made us immortal like the angels.
And, yes, He literally walked among us and talked with us. We lived in perfect harmony with each other and with our King.
This was the eternal kingdom.
Then Somebody got Jealous ...
Remember that one very special angel ... the most beautiful one ... the one in charge of leading the others in praise and worship ... the one with music and praise emitting from his very body ... THAT angel?
Maybe it was the other angels, and even the King Himself, telling him repeatedly how beautiful he was. Maybe he fell in love with the sound of his own voice as he led the other angels in worship and praise for the King. Or maybe he noticed how he was the only one – the special one – who had an amazing body made of music.
However it happened, it happened. That little seed of pride that told him how talented, beautiful, special and unique he was. When he looked around at the other angels, it was glaringly obvious to him and all of them that he was one of a kind.
He began to gather around him a following of admirers. Everyone wants to be seen and associated with the special one. That was validation. His pride puffed up even more.
It's impossible to offer up praise and worship when your heart is self-serving and filled with pride. He began to look at his King with different eyes. What made the King so special? Why was the King so worthy of praise and worship? He himself was the special one. He deserved all of the honor and praise. He should be the one on that throne! He should be king!
Treason and Mutiny!
He gathered around himself a large following – one third of the angels succumbed to his charisma and pledged devotion to him. And they followed him into battle when he attacked the King and tried to take the throne.
Pride apparently causes brain damage ... how could a created being overpower their own Creator? Impossible! So what would our good and righteous King do to serve justice on His wicked servant and his followers?
He stripped this angel of his high and honored position. No longer would he lead in praise and worship before the King. Then the King banished him and his followers from His presence and from His kingdom.
Revenge and a Second Kingdom
So what do you do when your Enemy has bested you? When you've been banished from your life and you're filled with spite and hatred? Knowing there's no way to eliminate your Enemy and take the control and power for yourself?
If you can't destroy your enemy, try to find a way to wound Him in the most hurtful way possible. Touch something or someone He loves and try to destroy that.
We all know the story of Adam and Eve. How Satan deceived Eve and enticed her and subsequently her husband, Adam, to doubt and disobey God, their King. What was really going on there?
When they were created and placed in the garden, they were bequeathed authority over the garden, and even over the whole earth. They were citizens of God's kingdom, answerable only to their Creator, the King.
When they disobeyed God, they were actually rejecting His authority over them. They removed themselves from citizenship in the King's eternal kingdom and another kingdom emerged ... now the evil one had citizens for his kingdom!
And more than that, he had control of the earth now, because he had control of man and anything that fell under the authority man.
Now he was indeed a king with a kingdom! He was maybe disappointed that he hadn't been able to destroy the eternal King, but perhaps this was better ... to be eternally wounding the King. It was true that Adam and Eve had been punished by losing their immortality, but it didn't matter, because now he had control over all of their future offspring! He would continue to wound his Enemy forever and ever!This was the beginning of the temporal kingdom.
The Real Enemy
This new king and his kingdom weren't the same. There was no real relationship between them and this king. This king only had love and concern for himself. He never bothered with his citizens unless he thought that it could somehow lead to causing pain and distress to his Enemy.
There was no justice in this new kingdom. People who did wrong went unpunished. People who tried to live by the original ways of doing right, were ridiculed. There were really no rules at all. Mostly people just lived however they wanted. Every person doing what was right in his own eyes. Every person only concerned with themselves and their own needs.
Even the very land itself began to experience death and decay. The King had cursed the ground, resulting in men having to toil wearily to grow food. Physical bodies suffered under the curse of painful child bearing. Physical sickness became prevalent in dying human bodies.
The heavy darkness inside men's souls covered the earth.
But some men remembered ... and they would pass down stories to their children about the first King and His eternal kingdom. And, helpless to free themselves, they would call out to Him to remember them ...
... and He heard.
A Hero Emerges
The eternal King is very wise ... the wisest, in fact. He was not taken by surprise when the evil angel rebelled. The King was not taken by surprise when the people rebelled and turned away from Him. He knew all along what would happen. He knew all along what He would do about it.
Justice had to be satisfied. The punishment for rebellion and rejection of the King is death. That's what we each deserve, because we each have rebelled. But what if Someone else stepped in and took our punishment for us? Someone totally innocent of any rebellion, and undeserving of the punishment?
The righteous and just eternal King has a righteous and just eternal Son, the Prince. He volunteered to take our punishment and died in our place. And then He took the next and final step and rose from the grave ... defeating death forever!
The Prince is the reason we were created to begin with. The King created us and a Kingdom that would last forever. A Kingdom that He would gift to His Son, the Prince, for His very own. Did you ever think of yourself as a precious and valuable gift that a King would give to His Prince Son? Because that is exactly what you are!
Prepare for WAR
When we accept the Prince's sacrifice for ourselves, the cleansing begins. It is called sanctification and will continue throughout our earthly life. I suppose we wouldn't survive instant cleansing. Perhaps we're so corrupt and unworthy, it just simply takes a long, long time. But no matter, when we join with Him, we become His again and once more we are citizens of the eternal kingdom!
But while you are going through this cleansing process, you will still be living on planet earth and inside the temporal kingdom. These two kingdoms are at enmity with each other. Don't expect to be a citizen of the eternal kingdom and live a completely peaceful life in the temporal kingdom on planet earth.
When we accept the Son's sacrifice and become subjects of His kingdom, His Spirit dwelling in us will always be leading us in His ways. But the evil temporal king doesn't give up his property so easily, and will be forever trying to deceive us and lure us back into spiritual darkness. Because he hates the eternal righteous King and will stop at nothing to destroy His people for no other reason than he simply hates our King.
Remember earlier when talking about the angels I said that they wage war in the spiritual realms? This is what it's all about ... our King's angels fighting the rebellious angels ... the demons. And when we stay in His Word and pray, we empower the angels and have a direct impact on their victories in battle!
We are embroiled in the battle, too. But is no ordianary war. Mostly this war is won by submission to Him and making wise choices.
Remember how we started out ... taking a leisurely walk with our King after dinner? That has returned! He wants to be in intimate relationship with us. We stay close to Him by talking to Him through prayer and allowing Him to talk to us by reading His Word daily. And we don't just do it once a day after dinner ... He's closer than a breath to us every moment!
By keeping that intimate relationship with Him, we will stay strong and sensitive to His leading. And we will learn to recognize deception when the enemy tries to trip us up. And when we make wise choices, we will live above the line and will win the war one battle at a time!
Living Above the Line
Okay, this is way cool!
Living Above the Line is the title of the second chapter of a terrific book called The Rest of the Gospel by Dan Stone and Greg Smith. This book will show you how to have relationship with your King and not just religion. Don't seek religion. It will keep you separated from Him. But if you find that wonderful relationship, the religious part will work itself out correctly in your life.
In this chapter the authors contrast the eternal with the temporal. Check out the book for a deeper understanding. Sometimes the things of God don't make sense to our natural minds, so we have to learn His ways and His thoughts. Studying and reading the Bible and talking to Him will teach you. You won't learn it all at once, and there will be things He says and requires that you won't like and won't want to accept. Never be afraid to be open and honest with Him and He will teach you and grow you up!
Meanwhile, use this simple list to get you pointed in the right direction. Begin living above the line ...
I am becoming
Appearance of Reality
And Then ... Only One Kingdom
One day we're going to be back where we started ... we'll be taking strolls with our King after dinner and finding out how His day went!
Different denominations have different ideas and interpretations about how it will come about. Some people dread His coming. Some people look forward to it. Some don't believe it will even happen.
The best advice is to just stay in relationship with Him by reading His Word, praying and just hanging close to Him. Allow Him to reveal to you what He wants you to know. If He comes today or tarries another two thousand years ... doesn't matter. He's got it all under control. Live in His peace and wait well. Be about the tasks He's assigned to you.
A picture is worth a thousand words ...
This is a painting by a British artist, Charles Ernest Butler, who died in 1933. The original painting was destroyed during a bombing raid in England in World War 2. I don't think our enemy liked it very much, and he needed it to be destoyed. When you learn more about it, you will know why ... he couldn't have a thing like this laying around!
In the center is the risen, victorious Christ. Behind Him is the defeated Prince of Darkness, our enemy. All around are kneeling, worshiping figures. These are rulers of this world ... people like Napolean, Augustus Caesar, Peter the Great, Alexander, Nero ... 150 of them!
I learned about this painting from a minister I listen to online, David Pawson. If you'll watch just the first couple of minutes of his talk, he will explain the painting much better than I.
It comes with a key and a diagram that identifies each of the figures. You can download a pdf image of the of the painting along with the key on his website.
We live in a mixed up world ...
On one hand, we get to enjoy the beauty of nature, the love of other people, puppies and kittens! On the other hand, our world is terrifying ... sickness and disease, tradgedy and heartache, loneliness and longing.
We shake our fists at heaven and demand to know why ... but we know why ... it was caused by our own rebellion and our willingness to submit to another authority.
But the King knew what to do. We've no need to fret. The plan has been set in motion and everything is playing out right on schedule ...
And one day we will take that stroll ...