Where can such a kingdom be found? We witness today the instability of thrones and kingdoms on all hands, and are sensible of a state of insecurity as to things below, as perhaps never before. Just as civilization was reaching her climax, peace tribunals promising arbitration, and the brotherhood of man appearing, in doctrine at least, to guarantee concord everywhere, there fell, like a bolt, on the most advanced of the nations, a convulsion which has shaken their very foundations. What does this mean?
If such a break-up of the bonds of society in this, the year of our Lord, 1916, when not only civilization but the peace-giving truths of Christianity have spread far and wide, what security have we for the future, even supposing that other forms of government, and a still more effective kind of education, are called into existence?
Is it likely that these things will be more able to prevent another shake of the nations?
Far from it! The fact is that, in their very nature, these kingdoms are shakeable, transitory, dissoluble. Where, today, are the great kingdoms which, of old, swayed the sceptre? Where is Babylon and Medo-Persia and Greece? They had their day and have been shaken; and what has happened to them will also happen to the kingdoms of the present. They are all to become like the chaff of the threshing-floor, and to crumble into dust.
A stone, cut out without hands, is to fall on the entire image, and to destroy it utterly (Dan. 2:45). This, we learn, is the divinely appointed end of every species of human government, whether monarchical or democratic. The whole thing must give way to a kingdom of divine order, constructed “without hands” and in which no element of human imperfection may have a place.
This kingdom will “stand for ever.” It will be actual; its King an absolute monarch; its rule righteous; its subjects secure while dwelling happily under their vines and fig trees; there shall be no evil occurrent; no adversary; Satan shall be bound; and obedience, real or feigned, rendered to its laws. The costly and most unprofitable science of war shall be learned no more; ploughshares and pruning-hooks shall do their own work, and peace shall reign to the ends of the earth. All very lovely, but is this the kingdom which we, Christians, receive and which cannot be moved?
No, when that kingdom begins to run its course we shall be beyond all earthly rule; we shall be with the Lord in the Father’s House, and in the place which His entrance on high has secured for us. The call of the church is heavenly, and our kingdom is spiritual. Hence the Apostle Paul could write that the Lord should preserve him unto His heavenly kingdom (see 2 Tim. 4:18). These two kingdoms must therefore be clearly distinguished, and the peculiar calling of the church—that is, of all the saints of the present period—intelligently maintained. This is, among other things, the kingdom which we receive, and which, thank God, cannot be moved.
It may not be seen in actuality; it may still exist in mystery, for the King is hidden in the heavens, and is refused by men here below; but, if not actual, nor visible, nor tangible, it is exceedingly real. It cannot be moved.
Tides may ebb and flow; empires may rise and fall; calms and convulsions may succeed one another; summer yield to autumn and winter; and memory may sink into oblivion; but whatever else may be shakeable and shaken, this, the kingdom which we receive, cannot be moved.
We have, thank God, an anchorage in the storms which no power of evil can touch; a foundation on a rock which no flood can undermine; a security which is inviolable amid the convulsions of time, and through ages eternal this cannot be moved!
We, ourselves, how weak! How fearful! How easily shaken! We are able, therefore, all the more to value, as honoured subjects of it, a kingdom which cannot be moved, and may well “have grace to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This is our one business today when things around are tottering, and when men’s hearts fail them for fear. “For,” says the scripture under consideration, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
Godly fear becomes the servants and worshippers of such a God as ours. He is spoken of in the succeeding chapter of our epistle as “the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ”; but though the God of peace He is, none the less, “a consuming fire.” “God is love,” but “God is light” as well. What reverence, what awe, should mark those who serve Him! What essential holiness must characterize His kingdom! Hence its stability.
The inherent corruption of all human kingdoms brings about, eventually, their downfall. Self-interest lies, necessarily, at the bottom of each and all; but not so in the kingdom which cannot be moved. Love to others—a holy and blessed love—is one of its leading features; and hence we are charged, in the sequel, to “let brotherly love continue.” The immobility of the kingdom which we receive, and the continuance of brotherly love, are our sun by day and moon by night, till both are perfected in “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
May we serve God acceptably and love our brethren continually.