A Kingdom of Shalom

When we think about power and authority, we tend to think about strong leaders, no-nonsense attitudes, and ever fearful emotions. To be powerful means one has influence. Other people look up to him or her. Perhaps others might even be afraid of the powerful person. I think this is reflected in what we see in movies, television, politics, and our personal lives, too. We have a very narrow view of strength, security, and sovereignty.

While this might sound comical, this truth is clearly evident in cartoons. Tom and Jerry, Popeye and Bluto, and Buggs Bunny and Elmer Fudd use the “upper hand” to destroy one another (as opposed to resolving their differences). I supposed a peaceful resolution in these cartoons would make for boring TV, but the broad point is that we have a very limited view of power in our world. We frequently use power to hurt others.

This was certainly the case for many folks throughout history. When thinking about God (or gods), many assumed that God was the being who would grant military victory. God would be “on the side” of the winners in battle, and their rule was supposedly justified by the divine.

People in the bible also held this view, too. For ages, many assumed that God would establish a physical kingdom with a human ruler. That is what the story of the ark and the temple were all about. God supposedly needed a strong human to rule over all.

But God gradually worked to overcome this misleading preconceived notion. 2 Samuel 7 is one of the most important passages of all the old testament. In it, we heard about a prophecy concerning David and his family line. Here is verse 11b-13:

The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

With many historical figures in ancient Israel, their “rule” or “dynasty” would only last until their death. The “good” judges would provide guidance to Israel, but their authority did not last for forever. The “bad” judges caused a lot of trouble. Saul was a troubled king in 1 Samuel. David ruled, but eventually died and Solomon took over (also a troubled fellow). The point is that all of these rulers and leaders did not last forever. Their kingdoms rose and fell. Their impact was only temporary.

So when God promised David a “forever kingdom” in 2 Samuel 7, that was such a revolutionary idea. As Christians, we take this prophecy to mean that God would establish an everlasting kingdom through Jesus Christ. Christianity is not limited to a country or castle. It is not limited to one particular language or ethnic group. Neither is it determined by who your parents are or your social status. Instead, the only thing that matters in the Christian faith is whether or not one follows Jesus Christ. God’s kingdom is much different than any worldly government since it will last for all eternity.

Christmas marks the beginning of this “forever kingdom” with the birth of Jesus. As we explored during Sunday’s sermon, the Hebrew word shalom means to have completeness and safety in the Lord. Philippians 4:7 puts it this way: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Godly peace will go beyond anything we could ever understand. To have the peace of God means we are complete and forever claimed in God’s family. It surely is a wonderful kingdom to experience!

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