Explorations in Theology

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One more time: end of monarchy

The Bible… Love it. So much empowerment comes through regular reading and meditating on the pages, and if I am not cautious, empowerment of my ideas. Just seems God has not put in our hands a book that is so clearly delineated that I am the one inside the ‘lines’ and I put others ‘outside’. Chosenness places us in the door, not in possession of the house. All ins in Scripture seem to be so that all can be in… Jews so that the whole earth, all the ethna are able to enter. That seems to be the ultimate manifestation of the ‘tabernacle of David’ (Acts 15:16, 17). It is not centred in on 24 hour worship (though we worship in Spirit and in truth and that is a flow from our lives), nor about the ‘throne’ of David in the sense of some Jewish restoration… though all of those aspects can perhaps serve along the journey.

Israel, so different. And the many diverse understandings of Israel / election led to the sects within the developing people – particularly post-Exile once they had lost the land – and probably also leads to so many viewpoints within Scripture. There is a strong ‘we must have a king’ angle to counter that of ‘every person doing what is right in their own eyes’. I like the double-meaning that I read in there, but clearly the editors are agreeing that ‘we need a king’ and the only legitimate king is the one that is descended from David, hence the disaster that had come on the Northern kingdoms. (Interestingly in the earlier books there is a lot of justification why David should be king and why Solomon should be king, but by the time of the Exile with Chronicles there is no justification for this at all. By then it was clear David and his lineage is the authorised one from heaven. Now that is a viewpoint!)

And the other stream… the one I like of course. Kingship is rejecting God. Saul does not cut it… that soon becomes clear, so God then looks for someone after ‘his own heart’. Soft, open, meditative, reflective, worshipping for sure. But that takes us so far. If kingship is a rejection (the statement is not ‘if they choose Saul they are rejecting me’, but ‘asking for a king is rejecting me’) then to be after God’s own heart is to empty kingship of all it consists of, it is to bring kingship to an end, so that with renewed hearts, sight changes (a big Pauline theme) leading to each person doing what is right in their own eyes.

I have prior to this blog pointed out that Solomon displays wisdom and foolishness seemingly in equal measure, his structure in the land is Egyptian (very impressive to a Queen of Sheba)… leading to the divided kingdom and one part choosing one who came up from Egypt as their king. And the other part, Judah, overtly not choosing such a person, but the die is already cast.

Jesus comes as the ‘son of David’. He represents humanity in all its forms, and as son of David there is an implicit understanding of him being ‘king’, and king he is, just as David was. The fruit of David’s kingship is mixed and there are despots as well as good kings released, for ‘power corrupts’… Then we look at the cross, there nailed to it, to be read is ‘king of the Jews’. Accidental? Or is kingship nailed to the cross?

Yes we can use the terms ‘king of kings’ for Jesus, and how ironic that was in the NT era where there was always one who claimed to be ‘king of kings’, the one based in Rome. The pathway though is so different. Jesus is not the victor over the (Roman) king of kings through out-kinging the emperor. Laying down his life, the principalities that lie behind kingship are drained of their power. Language is so challenging. We use the term ‘king of kings’ and probably go very quickly to that of power and enforcing a rule.

‘Not so among you’ are words that were explained in the act of foot-washing.

I don’t really know what Jesus as king really looks like. In his presence we rightly tremble, we fear… not because of impending wrath but because we simply do not comprehend love like that.

David was to totally re-calibrate kingship so that power does not shape the future. God as ‘king’ does not shape the future according to power. Love overcomes.

7 thoughts on “One more time: end of monarchy

  1. something I’ve discovered on the journey around power and community – sharing here in case others sense an affinity. https://sonec.org/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0BtOGFM49c
    Nathanial Whitestone came with Joseph Rathiman to our house, where Joseph was delighted to see a bible sat on the table – first one he had seen on his UK and Ireland trip. He went on to give a talk on radical love to people in Plymouth, UK starving, it seems, for true community, yet unable to see that present in church as they perceive it.
    Had a pin drop moment when he described a kind of reenaction of Jesus and the demoniac Legion meeting.
    No one there was presuming they had the answer; I am there praying that “the laws of the Lord would be written on men’s hearts” (jeremiah 31 v 33); and loving what you say about chosenness being to be sat at the door. A hard place to be when the public perception of Jesus and his followers has been so messed with.

    1. Thanks Karen. Authentic journeys are so invaluable. Sigue – continue!

  2. Thank you for your thoughts, Martin, provoking as always!

    I’ve been pondering on something related (well related in my mind at least). I’ve read that there are cycles of around 250 years in which power is being transferred back and forth between “a few at the top” and “the hands of many”. Right now, we’re in the brink of an end of “a few at the top” cycle, transitioning to “the hands of many”.

    What you had wrote before on “the shaking of imperial power” and what Samantha had sensed regarding “God is giving back the power to the hands of the people” came to mind. Of course the practical working out is still beyond me. I’m relying on God’s wisdom and keeping my eyes open to what He’s doing for that.

    The thought of God sending a king after His own heart to change the man-made monarchy structure from within might be a bit wild. But after all, He is a God who put Himself in a box just to be with us, and sent His only Son to destroy the limitations of said box afterwards. So, nothing is off-limits for the Radical Reformer.

    I heard a sermon before that the Lion of Judah came from the tribe of a man who willingly gave his own life for the sake of his brother and father (Genesis 44:33-34).

    The Son of David is the descendant of a man who restored everything for the people who wanted to stone him (1 Samuel 30).

    As imperfect as Judah and David were, perhaps our Father saw a glimpse of “true kingship” in their DNAs that He wanted to pass down to His Son. After all, we only need a mustard need, which was multiplied in the womb of yielded Mary.

    And a King who came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom to many was born.

    1. Provoking? Only the truth is allowed on this site!!!!!!!!!!!! Love what you write here, and the 250 year cycle is both illuminating and a challenge, as you say ‘the practical outworking’ is where we must journey.
      So much is open right now, or maybe we are right at a potential catalyst moment. I have been thinking a bit about ‘speculative eschatology’ – if they missed the whole aspect of the ‘first’ coming, maybe we are (maybe???) going to be very surprised… what if (and I am NOT post-millennial) there is a huge preparation before whatever is meant by parousia (lit.: presence)?
      I have been very exercised in recent days to revisit what I had in 2008 about recycling, reversal of pollution – to be honest I have lost hope given what a mess we have made. What if…
      And if the ‘what if’ is way off, we know what we are to get on with – alternatives to the system. And maybe learning how to ‘ride the beasts’ rather than opting out to the desert, and most likely both responses – some in, some out, so that everything can be shaken (by the Lord) about.

  3. I would reply that truth (or perspectives of truth) could provoke indeed, hereby I standby my statement XD. Regarding that, I’d like to share something you might like.

    Recently, I’ve been studying venture capitals as I’m exploring that field (I’ll share more in details in one of our catch ups), and one of those folks said something interesting. He would discuss with his fellow board-members on different ideas that they might/might not invest in, and in hindsight he noticed that their most successful investments were in ideas that “provoke” opposing opinions and heated discussions among themselves.

    He explained that those ideas were disruptive enough that they naturally evoked skepticism from some of them and excitement over the rocking of the boat in the others. He added that ideas that everyone instantly said yes to were normally not good as they were not disruptive enough, and those that everyone said no to were either indeed lousy ideas or maybe the timing was just not right (they were too far ahead of the curve that the society was not ready for it yet).

    So hooray to provocations, and those who are called to do it!

    I’ll be interested in finding out more about what you received in 2008, and I’ve been seeing glimpses of such solutions. Andrew is connected to a tech that transforms plastics into energy. In addition, there is this company in Auckland that developed a technology to extract gold from the waste. Silver is being used in many of our electronics and technologies and as it’s currently severely undervalued, many people are just throwing those electronics resulting in lots of silver in the dumpsters. If the company can do it for gold, they surely can do it for silver.


    And yes to both alternatives and “riding the beasts”, transforming it from within. After all He’s A God who both allocated Goshen and blessed Ishmael with His love and purposes.

    1. Love the examples Alex about e.g. plastics to energy. If we are to care for the planet, with creation as a Temple for the presence of God, and we are co-creators with heaven all of this creativity is so essential.
      What an adventure we are on… hence I am pondering, do we have to very tentatively reconsider our eschatology. The adventure continues… each in their place.

  4. Humanity is in a moment of transformation. We have a fork in the road but both sides lead to the same thing. The only difference is our perception and our investments. One fork is the realization now that climate breakdown challenges every single aspect of all of our lives. We can choose to manage the breakdown and resulting limitation or shift in resources by investing in communities, making sure they are disaster ready and resilient.
    Or we can choose to find someone, a strongman, who will assure us that he alone is capable of managing the social, political and economic stresses that are here and will escalate with climate breakdown. At the moment, the folks who want the security of a strongman are organized and belligerent. They know what they want. The rest of us are casting about for structures and systems that will keep us afloat and enable us to rescue others. We feel lost. The belligerents do not.
    No matter which road we choose, intentionally or simply due to dithering over what direction to go, we all end up in the same place. In a new climate. With some gains and some losses in terms of food production, availability of water, energy resources, and all other needs we have. In the end the climate that allowed for the development of land based agriculture, hierarchies, and civilization as we know it, will no longer exist. We will have to produce food differently. We will have to sort out our economic and social relationships, mostly at the local level. We will have to manage water much better. We will spend lots of our time planning for and managing disasters.
    The fork in the road. One direction is a soft landing into climate breakdown and whatever new climate regime emerges. The other is much hard and will involve the suffering and death of millions or billions of people, not to mention other species. We choose. At this point, for the past 30 years we have mostly chosen the hard landing though countless people are working hard on a soft landing.
    Monarchy is simply a legacy structure for hierarchy built on violence, resource theft and greed. That is why, presuming God is who they contend they are, monarchy can never be after their heart. Love lays itself down. Monarchies do not.
    As far as technologies go in terms of climate breakdown. Yes, we have every technology we need right now aside from better batteries really and scalable CO2 capture. But technology will not save us. It is essential for the transition but the transition is political, social and economic. Those are critically important factors. But as I tell my urban planning students. .. we have every tool required, right now to transform our cities to both mitigate and adapt, to become more resilient. We can do it. The question is which road we will take to get there.

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