As we approach another Christmas, we are reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah 9;
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” [Isa 9:6-7].
We had the pleasure of Paul and Monika Zanardo’s company yesterday, and Paul shared with us from this – and many other – Scriptures about the kingdom of God.
The first thing Paul pointed out is that “of the increase of his government … there will be no end.”
We sometimes look at our society becoming increasingly hostile and intolerant towards Christians and despair for ourselves and for Christianity. We hear of the slaughter of Christians overseas, and watch the march of Islam, the New Age, and Secularism and wonder how the gospel can survive in the face of such opposition.
But the Lord has promised: “Of the increase of his government …there will be no end.” He guarantees it.
In fact, there are more Christians in the world today than in all of human history.
Around the end of the 2nd century, the early church theologian Tertullian wrote that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
This has proven to be sadly and brutally true through two millenia of the Church. Many have tried to wipe out the Church. Bu all have failed. In every place where the Church has been banned, attacked, persecuted, and slaughtered, Christianity has survived. And sometimes, even thrived.
We believers have been invited by the gospel to be a part of the survival, the health, and the growth of the Church.
How do we see the Church grow? How do we see His kingdom advance? Firstly, by keeping our focus on the King – Jesus Christ. He is before all, above all, and over all. He is preeminent [see Col 1:13-20].
Have you set your heart to seek after Him over all other things? For He alone is our greatest treasure.
Then we are to seek His kingdom. That’s more important than food or drink or clothing. “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (food, drink, clothing) will be added to you” [Matt 6:33].
Do you pray for the advance of the kingdom? Do you pray for your friends, family, workmates to be saved?
Finally, we see His kingdom advance by being His ambassadors. Ambassadors are called to represent their king, to reflect Him. We are to embody His holiness, His peace, His joy.
Do you pray for your own holiness, your own peace, your own joy?
Paul reminded us that, for many people, the nearest they will ever get to seeing Christ in this life is when they look at us. What are we showing them about Christ? Will they be stirred to seek after Him? Or will they be put off, even disgusted, by our hypocrisy?
An ambassador who chooses to do things his own way rather than express the character and values of the King is really an ambassador for the enemy. Which will you be?
Why does the Church survive in the face of sustained opposition? Why does it even thrive under relentless attack? Because the Lord has promised: “Of the increase of his government …there will be no end.” He guarantees it.
And He can guarantee it because He will do it Himself; ”The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” [Isa 9:7].
He uses His ambassadors, for sure. But His ambassadors can have confidence in the result because He is the One who is at work – in us and through us – to bring about the increase of His government.
Will you be an ambassador for this King?