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Our God Reigns! (2)

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:24
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Two weeks ago I introduced the importance of the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Mark in my sermon entitled The Prelude to the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is such an important concept in the Gospel of Mark that I thought it wise that I devote another Sunday on this topic so that we can understand it. Much like the Jews of Jesus’ day, many today misunderstand the Kingdom of God. I want to begin by reading one of those Old Testament texts which I called two weeks ago a Prelude to the Gospel.
Isaiah 52:7–10 ESV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Now from the Gospel of Mark, a summary of the very first sermon Jesus preached!
Mark 1:14–15 ESV
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Together, these two passages give us:
A Definition of the Kingdom of God.
When the Kingdom of God was Inaugurated.
What our response must be to this Kingdom.
Let’s begin with the all-important question: What did Jesus mean by The Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God Defined

Here the beautiful poetic prophecy of Isaiah 52 is most helpful. This is a prophecy given to Isaiah to encourage future generations. Already in his book, he has foreseen a spiritual crisis in Israel.

Isaiah Foresaw a Spiritual Crisis in Israel

Isaiah foresaw the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Already the Assyrians had destroyed the Northern Kingdom and Isaiah was given the prophetic task to warn his generation that unless they repented, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed!
It is hard for us to imagine what a spiritual crisis this would cause a believing Jew. The Temple in Jerusalem was God’s dwelling place on earth. It was the place God would establish His reign so that all the nations of the world would be blessed. Therefore, for the Jews living at the time of the Babylonian conquest, it appeared that not only their hopes as a nation were destroyed, but also the only hope for this world was destroyed!
In the battle of Good vs. Evil, it looked to them as if evil had won!
Into this gloom and despair comes this beautiful image: A watchman stands on the highest mound of rubble of what use to be the walls of Jerusalem. He sees a runner, a messenger carrying a message. As the messenger draws closer the watchman hears him shout, “Your God reigns!”

God’s Reign is Not Dependent on Walls, Cities and Armies

God’s reign in not dependent on walls, cities and armies. God reigns wherever His people are. We think of kingdoms in geopolitical terms, but God’s throne is in Heaven and the earth is but His footstool! (Is 66:1-2) This is the mistake the Jews made and it is still the mistake people make today. Some are in despair because they don’t “see God’s Kingdom” in the political and cultural institutions of our society. Others are political and cultural warriors attempting to establish “Christendom” in our society. What both these groups miss is the beautiful Good News that God’s Kingdom is already here in the hearts of His people. Our God Reigns!

The Lord Will Return to Redeem Zion

Moreover, the messenger says in (Is 52:8-9) that there is a day coming when the eyes of those who dwell in Jerusalem will see “the return of the Lord to Zion” and on that day He will “redeem Jerusalem.” Jerusalem needed redemption because it was the people’s rebellion against God’s reign that caused the destruction of Israel. Throughout the book of Isaiah, God makes it clear that it was not the evil of the Babylonians that caused Jerusalem’s fall, but the sin of the people. God goes so far as to say that the Babylonians were simply acting as His servants.
What irony, Israel was to be God’s servant, but because of their sin, God used Babylon as His servant of judgement!
Now however, the messenger comes with Good News, God is coming to redeem His people and bring them back under His Kingdom reign. This brings us to Jesus and the inauguration of God’s Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God Inaugurated

This first sermon of Jesus is a bold declaration that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. In Mark’s day and in ours, not everyone accepts Jesus’ reign. Mark wrote his gospel to establish Jesus’ authority as the Messianic King. The first half of the book demonstrates Jesus’ authority in His ministry and the last half of the book demonstrates Jesus’ authority in His suffering. Jesus, according to Mark, is the one who will bring God’s reign and redemption to the earth.
This is why Jesus said, “the time is fulfilled.” The time is fulfilled, because Jesus is the one who will fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of Good News!
Two thousand years ago, the Kingdom broke into this world with Good News. Too many people think they have to wait for God’s Kingdom, but God’s Kingdom came to this earth on that day when the first person repented and believed the Good News that Jesus proclaimed.
What about you? Are you in God’s Kingdom?
Let’s make sure. Let us turn to the final point:

The Kingdom of God Received

There is only one way to respond to the message of the Kingdom: “repent and believe.”
Repentance is the recognition and submission to God’s reign.
Over a hundred and fifty years ago our nation experienced the trauma of a civil war. At the end of five years of bloody fighting, most Southerners laid down their arms and submitted to the “reign” of the Republic. Some however, still fought on and even today there are some that do not recognize the authority of the Federal Government.
Our world is in a civil war against God. It began in the Garden of Eden and is still going on today. However, the decisive battle that determined the outcome of the war was won by Jesus 2000 years ago. Repentance is the recognition of this fact.
Have you laid down your arms or are you still in rebellion against God and His Anointed One, Jesus Christ? Jesus is coming back soon to “mop up” the last pockets of resistance. There is an urgency that you repent.
There is also an urgency that you believe that Jesus came to redeem His people. As a rebel, you have every reason to fear Jesus’ wrath, but the Good News is that on the cross Jesus provided a way for your rebellion to be forgiven. Jesus is a merciful and kind king. He is not like the “carpet baggers” that raped and pillaged the South after the American Civil War. The heart of the Good News (in fact the heart of Mark’s gospel) is this verse:
Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This is the literary hub of Mark’s gospel and everything else flows out from this verse like spokes on a wheel.
Jesus’ Kingdom is not like the kingdoms of this world that are established by force. God’s Kingdom was established by service and sacrifice. This truly makes God’s Kingdom a kingdom of beauty and wonder:
Isaiah 52:7 ESV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Repent and Believe the Good News!
Let us pray.
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