Ruling in a Universal Kingdom--Part 3
Jan 31, 2012
In God's instructions for kings in Deut. 17, we read in verses 18-20,
(18) Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.
This serves more than one purpose. First, he can never claim ignorance of the law, since he himself had to write himself a copy. It is understood that he was required to write out the whole book of Deuteronomy, which means "the second law" (the first being Exodus 21-23).
The second purpose was to have the law explained to him verse by verse and even word by word. Hence, he was to write his copy in the presence of the priests. They were to discuss the law so that the king would understand it fully.
(19) And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes,
The king is to read the Word daily in order to learn to submit to His laws and statutes, rather than instituting his own laws. In other words, he is to follow the first commandment, having no other gods before Yahweh-Yeshua (Jesus), who gave these laws to Moses. One large part of worshiping God is to obey Him, to understand how He thinks, and then to imitate Him.
(20) that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.
If one truly understands the law, it will result in humility--not in pride. If pride is present, then the king does not really understand the law. If one reads the law and it makes him self-righteous, then he has totally misunderstood it (as did the priests and Pharisees in later times). When we see this in the light of Paul's writings in Romans 7, it is clear that the law can make no man righteous, but was given to expose the unrighteousness that is in every man. So Paul says in verse 10,
(10) and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.
To function in humility and true understanding of the law (the mind of God) results in the lengthening of his rule in the kingdom. Theoretically, if a person could follow the law perfectly, the law would pronounce him justified and would have no occasion to sentence him to death for sin. His life and rule on earth would indeed be lengthened indefinitely into immortality. But Paul confesses his own inadequacy in verse 11,
(11) for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.
Take note that "sin... deceived me." It was not the law that deceived Paul. Yet it was the law that "killed me," because death is the sentence of the law upon all sinners. Paul then confesses,
(12) So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good... (14) For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Paul honors the Law of God and does not call it an evil thing. Paul's problem was that he found in his flesh he was incapable of achieving its righteous standard, as portrayed in the life and mind of Jesus Christ. The problem was in Paul, not in Christ and His Law.
So the reading of the law ought to instill in us the same humility found in Paul and even Moses himself, who was the meekest man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3). One might say that Moses knew the law better than any other man in his time, and for this reason he was also the meekest man on earth. Meekness is humility. I find it interesting that the law did not instill in Moses a sense of pride or self-righteousness.
Now when we relate this to the hope of ruling in the Kingdom of God as "kings and priests" (Rev. 5:10 KJV), it is plain that every aspiring king ought to read and meditate upon the book of Deuteronomy. He ought to discuss it with "priests" as well--those who know and understand the law and the divine intent of each law. I would not advise learning from Levitical priests, but rather Melchizedek priests who have an understanding of the New Covenant. Those who approach the law from an Old Covenant perspective will fall short of the glory of God.
In other words, learn the Law from its Author Himself--Jesus Christ. Remember that the Lawgiver identified Himself as Yahweh in Ex. 6:2, and His word is called "the law of Yahweh" (Ps. 19:7). We learn from Exodus 15:2,
(2) Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him.
Hence, my conclusion is that Yeshua (Jesus) is the incarnation of Yahweh, the Lawgiver. So if we truly want to understand the spirit of the law, we can find no better explanation than from Yeshua-Jesus Himself. He made many corrections in men's understanding, particularly in His Sermon on the Mount. But the issues that remained unexplained can be understood by the work of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth (John 16:13).
Those who reject Jesus as the Messiah and the original Lawgiver can only obtain a limited understanding of the law. The result can be pride and self-righteousness, which is often dressed in the guise of spirituality. In a worst-case scenario, such people may believe it is right and proper to mistreat and even to kill their perceived enemies. That is not how one fulfills the Abrahamic calling.
The Old and New Covenants employ very different methods of subduing the earth. The Old Covenant kills God's enemies; the New Covenant reconciles them and turns them into friends.
At Mount Sinai, when the law was given, the people ran, refusing to hear God directly (Ex. 20:18-21). God would have written the law on their hearts by the power of the spoken Word, but they could not hear. So they received the written word in an external form as an alternative. This was not bad, but it required a secondary step by the action of the Holy Spirit to internalize that Word.
In rejecting the spoken law, they also rejected (or grieved) the Holy Spirit. The result was that the covenant they received was imperfect. The perfect had to await a future time, and it was prophesied to be a "new covenant" (Jer. 31:31). Under this covenant, the direct voice of God would write the law in their hearts so that they would fulfill God's will by nature, rather than by compulsion or fleshly discipline.
But Israel at Sinai rejected the Holy Spirit, as well as "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). Hence, under the Old Covenant, they took the kingdom by the physical sword. By the New Covenant, however, we have overcome Israel's hearing problem, and so we have a better, more effective sword with which to bring all things under the feet of Christ.
Therefore, we ought not to model our methods after Israel's conquest of Canaan, for that was accomplished by means that did not truly reflect the heart of God. Paul tells us in Eph. 6:12, "for our struggle is not against flesh and blood." He then urges us to take up spiritual arms and provides us with a description of "the full armor of God."
Such warfare cannot be successful apart from recognizing Jesus Christ as our King and by hearing His voice through the mediation of the Holy Spirit. Yet if we are led by the Spirit, we will become proficient in using that spiritual sword. Only then can we truly become more than conquerors in the way that reflects the heart of God.
This is the third part of a series titled "Ruling in a Universal Kingdom." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones