Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Yes! There Is Good News!
by Bill Rollins
“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” We do have a King; Jesus Christ, the King of kings!! He does have land; “The man who makes me his refuge will inherit
the land and possess my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13) And there are subjects to this kingdom; “Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land” and “The meek will inherit the land” and “Those the LORD blesses will inherit the land” (Psalm 37:9, 11 & 22). These things we have discussed in previous articles. The only piece that remains for the establishment of a kingdom is the creation of a set of laws. Laws are an integral part of any new government.
Almost 240 years ago a group of men sat down together to consider the creation of a new nation; their gathering was known as The Constitutional Convention and they met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They began the process of writing a constitution on May 25th ,1787, and after much discussion, wrangling, compromising and yes, prayer, 39 of the 55 delegates signed this document into law on September 17th; almost 4 months later the concept of the United States of America could move forward.
Without this set of fundamental laws of rights, liberties, and governing authority, our nation would not, could not exist. Now, our government was not set forth as a kingdom; we understand this. Our forefathers had had enough of the King of England. They had just fought a war to be free from that type of rulership.
But God, the one who is sovereign over the universe, will set up His kingdom here on earth when His Son Jesus Christ returns; as the book or Revelation puts it, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.” God will have an eternal kingdom! And His eternal kingdom will have a set of holy, good and righteous laws. Let’s look at God’s induction of His laws.
Approximately 3600 years ago God brought forth a rather large family of people from out of the nation of Egypt – we know them as the children of Israel. He would eventually take this rebellious people to a land that He had promised to their progenitor, Abraham. God knew that these people would need a system of laws that would regulate their nation, their society and their families and most importantly, show them how they should worship a holy God!!
This is how we read it from the hand of Moses, “See, I have taught you statutes and laws, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and laws so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)
God is perfect in wisdom and in knowledge. What a beautiful gift it was that He gave to His people! More on this next time.
In consideration of the four ingredients for a kingdom, the next item on our list should be “law.” But I just reread the previous article and noticed the final quote, “But the man who makes Me his refuge will inherit the land and possess My Holy Mountain.” (Is. 57:13) My mind immediately went to the fourth item on our list, “subjects.”
Yes, a King must have subjects to rule over. How then shall we consider this topic? Who are the subjects? We have but to look at the above quote and we have a good idea of the answer. The one who makes God his refuge shall possess the mountain of the LORD! And not only that, but this one will inherit the land.
The topic of God’s Holy Mountain is a theme that runs through the book of Isaiah … we also find it given to us from the pen of Israel’s greatest king, David. In the history of Israel, we find many types and patterns of things to come. King David is a type of the future coming King, Jesus Christ – of whom we have already spoken, two articles ago.
We also see a type or pattern for us in Psalm 15, “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy Mount?” In this Psalm David poses the question of ‘who’ and then lists the requirements for being a subject of the King – the true and future King. It is a short Psalm and I will include it in its entirety; verse 2-5, “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”
Wow, that is quite a list. Who among us has a blameless walk and does what is righteous? NO ONE!! So how can we ever become the subjects of our God and King? Well, that is what the true good news of these articles is all about. Jesus Christ, the One who has become King of kings and Lord of lords has given His life for us. It was He that shed His blood to cover our sins. It was He that came down to earth to present Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. And so because of what He did – it is by the grace of God that redemption and righteousness has come to us through Christ Jesus.
I am reminded of the words of a song that is very dear to me, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me. Amazing love, I know it’s true, and it’s my joy to honor You.” (Written by Billy Foote and sung by Guy Penrod)
Is there any other king that would die for his subjects? I know not one! Is there any other king that has the power to give eternal life to his subjects? The question is absurd!
David has much more to say on this subject and so does the Apostle Paul. Perhaps we should look deeper into this part of God’s Kingdom for it is really the part that includes all of us. Until next time – reflect upon the “good news” of Jesus Christ.
A king, some land, laws and subjects; add them all up and … one has a kingdom!
In our previous articles we have been considering the topic of "The Kingdom of God" and what that means. The last article centered on the idea of a King. We looked at the Old and New Testaments and saw that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, occupies the role of King in God’s Kingdom.
Let us move on to the second item on our list: some land. We have already noticed that both John the Baptist and Jesus spoke to the idea that the "Kingdom of God is at hand." The words "at hand" in the Greek may be defined as "imminent" or "urgent." So I’m sure we will come to see that His land will not be hard to find!! By the way, they said it was imminent almost 2000 years ago!! Are we living in it or are we partaking of it today?
The 37th Psalm is one written by King David, the title of it could be “Inherit the Land.” Let us take a short trip through that Psalm and read what David had to say concerning “the land.”
Verse 3: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and feed securely." Verse 9: “For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.”
Verse 11: “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
Verse 22: “For those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.”
Verse 29: “The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.
Verse 34: “Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land.”
Some might say that this is talking about the geographical area in the Middle East known as Israel. But in David’s day the entire physical land had already been divided and occupied by the ancient Israelites and he, in this Psalm, refers to a future inheritance with the word “shall.” There is a future fulfillment of these statements and David refers to them as “land.”
In the book of Isaiah, chapter 60, the prophet tells of the future Glory of Zion with a most beautiful piece of poetry. In that poem he speaks of a future time wherein “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your boarders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” (Verse 18) In verse 21 Isaiah quotes God with these words, “Then will all your people be righteous and they will inherit the land forever, for they are the shoot I will plant, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.”
Yes the Kingdom of God has what God Himself calls “land.” How does that play out for spiritual beings? That’s the beauty and the joy of our anticipation. For God is good – this we know; and yet the scriptures tell us that His ways are past finding out (Isaiah 55:8-12). Again in the book of Isaiah we find these words, “But the man who makes Me his refuge will inherit the land and possess My Holy Mountain.” (Is. 57:13)
Yes this is good news, and there is still more to come!
Yes! There is Good News!
by Bill Rollins
September 21, 2022
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) A few weeks ago we began considering what the scriptures call, “The Kingdom of God.” I would like to pursue that idea today.
What is a kingdom? Several days ago Queen Elizabeth passed away after serving as the British monarch for 70 years. She will be succeeded by her son and he is to be crowned King Charles. So, today, we have right before our eyes the concept of a kingdom. Most scholars agree that a kingdom consists of 4 things: a king, land, laws, and subjects; maybe that seems quite obvious, but let’s look at these four from a biblical perspective.
In the New Testament we have the word ‘King’ used some 85 times. It is used to designate Herod the king, Matt. 2:1; King David, Matt. 1:6; Caesar, John 19:15, Pharaoh, Acts 7:10; etc. But the overwhelming majority of uses are in relation to our Savior Jesus the Messiah, for He is the King of kings. The first usage of this title is found in Matt. 2:2 where the Magi, looking for the baby born to Mary, asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?”
Throughout His life references are made to His kingship and even as He faced death Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered Pilate, “It is as you say.” (Matt.27:11). We are told in the book of John that Pilate had a notice fastened to the cross with the words, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)
In the Old Testament the word king appears over 2100 times!! Of course it is used for many kings of Israel and Judah and other foreign nations. But it is also used of Jesus hundreds of years before His birth – He is not called by that name but we can be sure it is Him.
The concept of a coming King is prevalent in the Psalms; as one example we read in Psalm 145, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.” The Psalms from 93 through 99 are called the Kingly Psalms because of their references to "the Lord who reigns." In Isaiah 43:15 we read, “I am the LORD your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.” And in the Minor Prophets we see Malachi 1:14 giving a quote from God, “I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.”
In the last book of the bible, Revelation 19, we have a most wonderful description of the coming King. We see heaven standing open with one who rides upon a white horse whose robe is dipped in blood; His name is ‘the Word of God’ and He rules with an iron scepter and “On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written, ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’” (Rev. 19:11-16)
The first item that defines a kingdom is before us; Jesus Christ is the King and He will rule over the Kingdom of God!! We shall look at the other items that make up a kingdom in our future articles.
Reading over our previous installment, a certain phrase caught my eye,“We must seek Him daily.” Does that in any way bother you? We, who call ourselves Christians, would most likely answer ‘no’ to my question. We should already understand that God wants to have a relationship with us, so a close proximity and a good conversation is needful to any good relationship.
But what about you who are not sure about the concept of God, His kingdom and what they might be? Does it seem a little burdensome to spend a lot of time pursuing something you are not sure even exists? It was approximately 45 years ago that I felt this same way. I was very happy pursuing those things that I considered important to me and the concept of God was not on my radar. And yet, I was on God’s radar. He wanted me as one of His children. When that understanding finally hit me, I was awe struck. God wants me!!
I had friends who were members of certain clubs and they wanted me to join the organization or society they were associated with. But joining some club or other outfit was not my cup of tea. And yet, here was God, the one who created the universe, and ruled over it, wanting me to partake in His family. I had to know more! I desired to know more.
Since the day I made the decision to seek God and His kingdom, I have been showered with blessings, some of which I did not even know existed. The reality of (and I use the word reality in all of its force) living in God’s kingdom and being a part of His family is a much greater reality than having my feet touch the ground as I type this article!!
I know that there are many people who pooh-pooh the idea of a God who exists. I am not sure where that misunderstanding comes from. You see, 45 years ago, I never denied the existence of God, I just did not have the time for Him.
So then what did I mean when I said that we must seek Him and His kingdom daily? Well, have you ever talked to God? We oft times use the religious word “pray” when we think of talking to Him. But as any good father understands, it is a pleasant thing to talk with one’s daughter or son. Some might say that they do not know how to pray. God is a living being who enjoys conversation. We can come to Him just as we might come before our earthly parents for a visit.
I believe that everyone is familiar with the scripture in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” Yes, He loves His creation, and that’s the truth; that’s the reality of who He is! Yes, the times we are in, the troubles we see all around us may get the best of us at times, but He, our Father, wants to comfort us and take us into His care. His kingdom does exist. And His kingdom is what He offers to us. We’ll talk more, sometime soon, concerning this.
There are many things that one can seek in this life. There is the immediate search when you’ve lost your car keys and you seek for them until you find them – search over! Then there is the lengthy search of seeking to become proficient at playing the piano. For many years you will take lessons and you will practice for days on end until you are satisfied with you musical capabilities with the piano.
There are intermediate searches also: you need a new car and so you do your research on the new or used models you prefer and it’s time to take your homework to the dealership to seek an agreement for the best price for the car you have selected.
There is also a lifelong search: in Matthew 6:28-34 Jesus tells a story concerning someone who is seeking out some new clothing and another who is seeking something to eat and drink. He tells the crowd listening to Him that they should not worry about such things; God knows that we need them. The point to His story is told to us in verses 33 and 34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness is to be our first order of business if we desire to follow the Son of God. Wow! This seems to be a tall order; how do we do this and where do we begin? I’m glad you asked – let’s explore this because it is a many faceted concept.
First, Jesus is comforting those who may worry about such things as food, shelter and clothing. His Father is more than equal to the task of providing the things we need. We all may, at times, wonder where the next meal will come from. But straight from His lips, which can only tell the truth, Jesus lets us know that we should be examining our hearts to see if we are sincere about our faith in God. Are we really seeking God’s Kingdom? Again I ask, what does it mean to seek His kingdom and how do we do it?
There is an interesting word in the Hebrew language (and yes, Jesus spoke Hebrew) it is “darash” and it literally means “to tread or trample.” This word is translated “seek” about 90 times in the scriptures. In Psalm 34:10 we find a fitting example for the discussion we are in, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” The word “darash” is used here.
We who live in Iowa know that sometimes we must tread through tall grass to get to a farm shed. When we go there once, we may turn around and see our path, for we have disturbed the grass. But tomorrow the wind has turned those blades about, and the path we took is no longer seen. However, if we go back and forth through that grass often, we will eventually trample it down and beat a new path to the shed. So it is with our seeking God and His kingdom. It is not a one time event; if we are serious about our commitment to Him we must seek Him daily. Yes, one might say that we must beat a path to our God because that is how we
seek His kingdom.
Don’t go away folks, there’s still more to come.
The good news today is that I get to, once again, contemplate and formulate a lesson of importance from the word of God. As I see it, we left off talking about the Kingdom of God. I mentioned, in that article, that the first time the word ‘kingdom’ is used in the gospel accounts, it is spoken by John the Baptist “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John understood the commission he was given. He was to prepare the way for the Son of God.
John the Baptist and Jesus were relatives, perhaps second cousins; for the scripture tells us that John’s mother, Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother, Mary were relatives (Luke 1:36) When John was asked by the authorities who he was, he replied to them with the words of Isaiah the prophet, “A voice of one calling; in the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John pointed to Him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
The Son of God, born of a virgin, also spoke of the kingdom. The first time we find this word on Jesus lips, He says this, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The same words that were spoken by John.
And so, yes, the message of the kingdom is quite important. In fact, twice Mathew tells us that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every sickness and disease among the people.” (Matt. 4:23 and 9:35) What did the people in Jesus day know about this kingdom? Well, they were waiting, even longing, for a redeemer who was a descendant of King David, He would reign over them. They were under the control of the Roman Government and were not truly free citizens. They had been taught from the words of Isaiah and understood the prophecy of a coming kingdom; “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. He will reign 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.”
Throughout the book of Isaiah there are many references to this kingdom to come ,but the people in Jesus day couldn’t see beyond the physical aspects of such a kingdom.
Toward the end of our previous article I asked several questions: How much do you know about the Kingdom of God? What will it look like? Does it exist today? And if it does where is it? And now that we have caught ourselves up on this subject, maybe we might look at some answers to this topic that was on Jesus lips some 100 times!!
Jesus Himself said it was the “good news of the kingdom.”
When the angel first appeared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, he told her that she would give birth to a male child, one who would be “Son of the Most High.” The angel said that His name was to be Jesus and that the Lord God would give Him the throne of His Father David. And then she was told this, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
In our previous article I mentioned that Jesus taught extensively about the “good news of the Kingdom.” I mentioned that His ways are perfect and then asked the question, “So what is this Kingdom of God all about?
When we consider what might be most important for Jesus to teach, we may think of the word ‘love;’ and we understand that this is very much at the forefront of His mind. But if we consider how frequently Jesus used a word, we would count 72 times that the word ‘love’ appeared on His lips in the four Gospels but the word ‘Kingdom’ appears 108 times in His teachings. The people of His day understood that love was an important concept; after all they had in the Torah the two most important commandments: love for God and love for their neighbor. But the concept of the Kingdom of God was not that readily apparent to them.
They could look into their history and recall tales of the Kingdom of Israel and of Judah. The scrolls that were read every Sabbath were replete with these stories. And of course the prophets told about the Kingdom of God that was to come. In fact, the prophet Isaiah put it this way, “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given… Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his Kingdom.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) These words are reminiscent of the very words the angel spoke to Mary that were mentioned above.
The first time the word ‘kingdom’ is used in the gospel accounts, it is spoken by John the Baptist, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” This first time we find this word on Jesus lips, He says this, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Yes the same phrase is used by them both – indeed it was a very important point to be made.
How much do you know about the Kingdom of God or as Matthew put it, “The Kingdom of Heaven? What will it look like? Does it exist today? And if it does where is it?
Matthew tells us that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, tecaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (Matt. 4:23) It is within the Kingdom of God that we really discover the “good news.” And remember the word ‘gospel’ is defined as ‘good news’. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matt. 5:3) And so now we know a little something about this ‘Kingdom!!'
YES, THERE IS GOOD NEWS!
In our previous article I suggested that we all might accept the challenge
“to come to our Father and His Son and to seek out His ways and His
thoughts in His word.” Yes, God has set forth His ways and His thoughts
in the bible and He wants us to learn from Him.
I drive a school bus and have a great deal of interaction with school
age children. Sometimes they complain about having to go to school
and wish it were all over for them (All of us can identify with that!!) But
I usually try to encourage them by getting them to understand that we
never really stop learning. I joke with them and tell them that I am in
64th grade. We may graduate from high school or even from college but
learning is a life- long endeavor.
In the book of Matthew we read that Jesus “went throughout Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom
and healing every disease …” (Matt. 4:23) I cannot imagine that there
has ever been a greater teacher on earth than the Son of God.
In the New Testament we find the word Rabbi used several times
when the disciples and others addressed Jesus Christ. This word is
used as a term of respect for one who is considered a teacher; and Jesus
was known as a teacher. Even a prominent member of the Sanhedrin,
Nicodemus, addressed Jesus like this, “Rabbi, we know you are a
teacher who has come from God.” (John 3:2)
I suggest that there never was nor will be a teacher greater than our
Savior and now that we, today, need teaching and direction and insight
more than ever before I find it quite odd that more people are not opening
their bibles to learn from the one who can open their minds up to the
wonders of the universe and beyond!
I suggest that we are living in a world that is growing darker and darker
to the ways of God. And if you were paying attention, I just quoted a
line from the book of Matthew that Jesus was preaching the good news
of the kingdom. Friends, there is tremendous good news in the words
of scripture. Paul tells his assistant Timothy in his second letter to him
that, “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correction and training in righteousness, so that the man of God can be
thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16)
If you see that we are sliding toward darkness in this world, then
please take hope in what Jesus had to say in John 8:12, “I am the light
of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will
have the light of life.” Do you believe that? Jesus even went so far as
to teach in the Sermon on the Mount that we are “the light of the world”.
Several years ago when I was first asked to write an article for the
local newspaper, I desired to bring good news to you, the reader; thus
the title above. Jesus is the real teacher and He does teach about the
“good news of the kingdom”. His ways are perfect; so what is this Kingdom
of God all about?
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.