When my son was in middle school, he and a friend spent hours and hours playing “Kingdoms” by creating noble kings who went on grand adventures, complete with maps of their worlds penciled onto poster-sized paper that allowed room for mountains, castles, forests, and roads—veritable works of art. I wish we’d saved them!
The Bible also describes a kingdom—an other-worldly one—but the King must come to earth first to save his subjects. The prediction of his coming, made in about 700 B.C., points to a village that is still in existence today. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
Every Christmas, newscasters focus on this tiny village of Bethlehem because, as predicted, Jesus the Messiah—Y’shua Hamashiach—was born there.
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
(By Phillips Brooks, 1835-1903)
Thirty-three years later, Jesus’ “kingdom talk” stirred up the authorities. A Roman judge named Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus at his trial.
Pilate: Are you the king of the Jews?
Jesus: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting…, but as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm.
Pilate: So you are a king?
Jesus: You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.
Pilate: What is truth?
(from John 18:33-38)
Subsequently, they crucified Jesus between two men outside Jerusalem. Pilate wrote an inscription in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek and put it on the cross: “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (from John 19:18-20)
Thank God, the King has power over death!
From December readings for Days 15, 16, and 17
Micah 4-5, 6-7, and Nahum 1-3
Job 35, 36:1-15, and 36:16-33
John 18:28-40, 19:1-16, and 19:17-27
Revelation 12, 13, and 14