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He Shall Reign Forever (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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December 20, 2023 3:00 am

He Shall Reign Forever (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 20, 2023 3:00 am

Throughout history, mighty empires and powerful leaders have come and gone. But thousands of years ago, a baby’s birth revealed a perfect King and an extraordinary kingdom. What does it mean for us now? Find out when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!


Throughout history, there have been mighty empires and powerful leaders who have come and gone, but today on Truth for Life, we'll take a look at a perfect king and an extraordinary kingdom that was revealed thousands of years ago when a baby was born. So what does all of that mean for us today? Alistair Begg is teaching from Isaiah chapter 9 and verse 7. 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.

Amen. I spent a little while yesterday afternoon with one of my old friends, Sir Winston Churchill. He did not appear to me—do not be alarmed by this—except as he appeared to me on my laptop, on my iPad. He was in my mind for a number of reasons, and I went back and listened to a few of his speeches during the Second World War. I think the reason that I was there in my thinking was because of this whole notion of a kingdom that would never come to an end. And I was thinking, in my limited life of kingdoms that I had known or experienced or had cognizance of—I was thirteen on the thirtieth of January 1965, when Sir Winston Churchill's funeral took place in London. I remember that.

It was on the TV in black and white. And I had grown up admiring those speeches. And as I went back, just to check a little, I thought, I wonder how long Winston really lasted after the success of the Second World War. Well, the Second World War ended in May of 1945.

And at that time, as a wartime leader, Winston Churchill enjoyed 83 percent approval of the people. Within two months, in July, he and his government experienced a crushing defeat as the Conservative government was swept out of power. The kingdom was over. The leader was silenced.

The proud speeches had, with the stroke of a pen, with the mark of an X, had come to an end. And that, of course, is the story of human history, is it not? The history records the rise and fall of principalities and of empires. Now, it's because we know that that when we read, for example, what we have read in these seven verses of Isaiah 9, we are immediately confronted by the fact that this kingdom—a kingdom that will last forever—is clearly no ordinary kingdom, and on this throne is no ordinary king. Incidentally, if you are skeptical about the things of the Bible, if you're inquiring about these things, if you're wondering, as I would assume some of you are, as you come to a verse like this, you have to really determine for yourself, is this rhetoric or is this reality?

Is this just a kind of notion, a fantasy land, or is this expressive of unerring truth? Let's summarize for one another what we've really been discovering in the totality of this passage. In these seven verses, we have seen this— that a child is born, and that child is Jesus.

He is the true King and Shepherd of Israel, and in him alone is to be found the peace that mankind needs. Now, this seventh verse, although written so many hundreds of years before the incarnation, and therefore thousands of years away from us today, actually is very contemporary in its focus, because one would not be hard-pressed to substantiate the fact that the newspapers that are about to be ours tomorrow morning, whether here or throughout the rest of the world, will contain significant amounts of verbiage in relationship to the three issues that are here in verse 7—the issue of peace, the issue of justice, and the issue of righteousness. Does the Bible have anything to say about peace?

Because globally, mankind longs for peace. Does the Bible have anything to say concerning justice, so that wrongs may be righted and that equity might prevail? Does the Bible have anything to say about righteousness, about the moral dimension of individual life, those ethics which dog us or guide us as we seek to live in harmony with one another?

Well, the answer is, of course, that the Bible has a tremendous amount to say about each. And the staggering claim that is here before us this morning is that God alone is the source of each of these aspects—that in him true peace is found, in him true justice is both displayed and defined, and in him righteousness is both legitimately demanded and is wonderfully provided. And it is into the shadowlands in which these people that were the contemporaries of Isaiah into these shadowlands of confusion and rebellion and oppression that the light has shone. This light, as we have seen, is not a philosophy that is to be adopted, but when they gazed out of the darkness to the light, they realized that they were looking into the face of a person, that they were looking into the face of a child. Unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given. Some of us will be here on the first Sunday of a new year and actually asking questions that, perhaps, we think may be answered by a philosophical perspective, wondering about the issues of life.

And it may be that you've never considered the fact that the Bible speaks not in terms of a concept or even a creed, but actually speaks in terms of a person who is to be known, trusted, loved—a person who brings all that we long for. Paul Simon, I confess, is never far from my mind. Not him as an individual, but his lyrics. I've grown up with them, I've lived with them. And I found myself this morning waking up with another one. I woke up thinking, Cloudy, you know, the sky is gray and white and cloudy, and sometimes I think it's hanging down on me. That's the opening line from—the opening couple of lines from his song, Cloudy. And I thought, I wonder—because it has the phrase in it, they have no border, no boundaries. And I was only thinking borders and boundaries about kingdoms, and that's what got me onto it, plus the clouds. And so then I had to pull it up and look at it, and then I discovered that the final stanza, which I hadn't paid much attention to at all I'd forgotten, reads as follows, Hey, sunshine, I haven't seen you in a long time. Why don't you show your face and bend my mind? These clouds stick to the sky like floating questions.

Why? And they linger there to die. They don't know where they're going.

And, my friend, neither do I. That might be exactly where you are this morning. And you might as well look up into the sky and see the movement of the spheres and say, I don't know where they're going, and I've frankly no idea myself.

And you may be ready to run around into the various bookstores and places and buy yourself up all kinds of self-help literature or whatever it might be. And I want, before you go on that quest, to say to you, Here's an opportunity to consider this. Isaiah 9 and verse 7. This child with the four names, we learn, presides over a kingdom, a kingdom that is established not by oppression and by tyranny but instead by justice and by righteousness.

Now, if you know your Bible at all, you will realize that this prophecy here is on the heels, if you like, of the promises of God that have preceded it. The people of God, called out by him and to live under his banner and to believe his truth, had found themselves at the end of the period of the judges in a real mess. In fact, the period of the judges ends with the statement that in that time the people had no king, and everybody did what was right in their own eyes.

It was a form of anarchy and chaos. As a result, the people decided that maybe if they could have a king, if they could have a different kind of government, if some other established structure could be put in place, maybe that would be the answer to their problems—how quickly and easily we look for the government to provide the answers to our problems, not facing the fact that we are our own biggest problem, but that's for another day entirely. And so God somewhat reluctantly but graciously gave them a king. But the kings came, and the kings went, as kings inevitably do—morally failing, religiously failing, one failing because he had too many wives, one failing because he never lived properly with his wife, and so on. So whether it was Saul, whether it was David, whether it was Solomon himself, eventually the people were left with the sense, There has to be a king! There has to be a king to out-king all these kings!

It's kind of like a gigantic chess game. And so the end of the Old Testament is the longing for this enigmatic person who will come, who will sit on David's throne. Because that had been the promise that God had made to David. He was reiterating previous promises that run through the entirety of the Old Testament, but he came to focus there. And this will be a king who will reign forever and ever. And so in the minds of the people, they had that expectation. And they were looking forward, and they were longing for this individual. But there were four hundred years of silence in between the Testaments, and then you turn into the New Testament, and unless one is aware of what I'm just pointing out, then it won't immediately make sense.

It will sort of come completely out of the blue. So, for example, imagine for a moment that without any of that background you are Mary. That is, Mary who is betrothed to Joseph.

You're six months pregnant, the baby is kicking, and you are quite amazed at everything. And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, the virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary, and he came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one, the LORD is with you. She said, Oh, that's jolly nice, thank you. No, she was greatly troubled at the saying, as you would be as well.

I think. So the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God, and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the LORD God will give to him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. And then the angel left. Well, that is dramatic even given the background, but without the background it is quite incredible. I'm going to have a child.

That in itself is remarkable since I've never had sex. This child is going to be a savior. This child is going to be a king. This child's kingdom will last forever and ever. Therefore, this king will have no one to succeed him, no one who will come after him, no one who will do a better job. And the nature of political transitions is that there is always someone coming after you.

This is the inevitable way of things, but not with this kingdom. Now, this one will have no successor. There will be nobody to come after him, no one to replace him. You see, he is the wonderful counselor. He needs no one to interpret what he says. He doesn't need Mary Baker Eddy's silly book. He is the wonderful counselor. He doesn't need the charlatan nonsense of Joseph Smith and all that marks the foundations of Mormonism. Now, he is either who he says he is or he isn't. And if he is who he says he is, then he is what he is. And Mary is amazed at this. In thirty years, when we fast forward on to the stage of history, this baby, now full-grown as a thirty-year-old man, steps forward in what is his opening line.

The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news. And people must have said, And who do you think you are? I'm the king. Oh, you are? You didn't have much of a beginning, did you? No, admittedly, no.

It wasn't particularly striking, I agree. You haven't lived in a palace. Apparently, you lived in a workshop. You're the king? Yes, I'm the king. How in the world is anyone ever going to believe that? How would they believe it then, and how would they believe it today?

That's the question, isn't it? Now, with all that by way of background, it is important that we understand what this kingdom isn't and what this kingdom is. And we'll just notice that, and then our time will be through. First of all, we need to notice that this kingdom is neither temporal nor local. It is neither temporal nor local. In other words, it is an unbounded kingdom, both geographically and temporally. And we've already pointed out that kingdoms have boundaries. And that's why we have passports.

That's why we move from country to country. That's why we are able to rehearse history and say, There was a time when there was a Roman Empire, there was a time when there was a Greek Empire, there was a time when there was a British Empire, and so on. But they're all gone now, really.

They're pretty well done. It's a long time since the 1950s, post-Second World War, Rule Britannia, and all that kind of stuff. No. This kingdom has no boundaries. Now, the disciples had to understand this in their day. Pilate actually was questioning Jesus about the whole notion of a kingdom. And in the context of that—this is the thirty-sixth verse of John chapter 18—Jesus says to Pilate, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.

That makes perfect sense. If his kingdom was temporal and was geographically bounded, then he would do what all other kings, what other leaders had done—namely, establish the borders of his influence, of his sphere of authority—and then seek to secure his unparalleled, unmitigated kingly rule over everything that is there, brooking no rivals and subduing all who rebel. So, if that were the case, then his disciples would have suited themselves up and been ready to defend his cause and to make sure that it was clearly seen.

Herod, of course, at the time of his birth, had assumed something like this. That's why he was troubled in all Jerusalem with him. He started to bring an end to the kingdom before it even began by making sure that every boy under the age of two was liquidated. That's what he was trying to do, to make sure the kingdom would never come to fruition. And in the same way, in Luke's Gospel, the Pharisees began asking Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, and he answered them, the kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed. Well, then, what's happening? Well, he said, the kingdom of God is not going to be such that you can say, Luke, here it is or there, for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

What does that mean? I'm the king. If I'm here, the kingdom's here. Now, you see how important this is for us as Christian believers. I know sometimes you think that there's a measure of my sort of British imperialism that bleeds into my preaching, that I am a somewhat reluctant member of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It's not true at all. So I hope you won't take it personally. I tried to let you know that the British Empire is long gone. But I want you to know the American Empire is pretty well long gone as well.

But don't be alarmed. Because we're not here to establish the British Empire, or the American Empire, or any other empire. As we live in this world, because we're members of a kingdom, a kingdom that is established by peace, we are committed to peace. A kingdom that is framed by justice, we are committed to justice. A kingdom that is defined by righteousness, we are committed to righteousness. But there is no place on the face of the earth that is peculiarly selected by God to be the sphere of his influence. The believers have come to Mount Zion already, Hebrews tells us, to the reality of things as they are now, not to what they're going to be in some localized physical form later on. This is not a throne that is a literal throne in a literal Jerusalem for a literal period of time.

How can it possibly be? This kingdom begins with the birth of the child. And this is a throne that will never come to an end. Therefore, it can't last for a thousand years. For a thousand years comes to an end.

This kingdom never comes to an end. And that, then, you see, changes the way we view everything. As Smeaton puts it in the Doctrine and the Atonement, he says, to convert one sinner from the error of his way is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of an entire kingdom from temporal evil.

Do you see what he's saying there? Not that the people of God are disinterested in temporal evil, or in dealing with the issues of our time. That's why I've just said what I said about peace and justice and righteousness.

But at the end of the day, that is not the issue. The issue is that unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. From what does he save? From sin and from all of its implications. Therefore, our concern for our children must always be—fundamentally be—that we bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that they might be able to answer the first question of that catechism. What is your only hope in life and death?

My only hope is life and death is that I do not belong to myself, but I belong—body and soul, life and death—to God and to my Savior Jesus Christ. That matters far more than where your children are educated. That matters far more than whether you are successful in your business. That matters far more than whether we have secured the boundaries and borders of our nation, which we love and are prepared to serve.

Why? Because we are kids of a kingdom that will never, ever end. It transcends borders and boundaries. It is the ultimate expression of the United Nations. It is the only true expression of the United Nations. But if we think kingdom and then think politics and then think nation, then it skews everything entirely.

This kingdom is neither temporal nor is it local. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the message titled He Shall Reign Forever.

We'll hear more tomorrow. As citizens of God's eternal kingdom, every believer is a part of what the Apostle John in the book of Revelation describes as a great multitude from every nation. From time to time, we mention that while you may listen to Truth for Life alone in your home or your car, you're actually listening alongside countless others in places all over the world. It's actually kind of hard to picture this, so to give you a sense of who's joining you each day as you learn from Alistair, we want to encourage you to visit our website at slash stories.

There you can take a few minutes and scroll through a special feature where we posted pictures and provided comments from some of your fellow listeners. You'll be so encouraged to see how God is using this ministry to reach people all across the globe in the Philippines, in Kenya, throughout Europe, and of course across the United States and Canada as well. When you give to Truth for Life, you are helping bring Bible teaching to all of the folks pictured and to so many more. Let me encourage you to make a year-end donation online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. And when you donate today, we want to say thank you by offering a three-pack of the Gospel of John. These are pocket-sized booklets designed as a convenient way for you to introduce others to Jesus without overwhelming them. We want to encourage you to think about three people that you'll be praying for in 2024 and then look for an opportunity in the new year to give them a Gospel of John. You can donate online at or by calling us at 888-588-7884. By the way, our offices will be closed next week as we celebrate the birth of Christ, so if you need to reach us by phone to request a book or make a year-end donation, be sure you do that before five o'clock Eastern Time on Friday. Of course, our website and our mobile app are always available.

You can request books and make donations securely 24 hours a day. Now as you think about sharing the Gospel of John booklet with someone you know, let me ask you something. Have you ever felt completely ineffective in your attempt to tell someone else about Jesus? Tomorrow we'll find out why we should not lose heart in sharing our faith. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 06:44:45 / 2023-12-20 06:53:33 / 9

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