handel's Messiah

He Shall Reign Forever and Ever

15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become [the kingdom] of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. (Rev 11:15-17 NASB95)

No Politics Here!

I want to preempt this post to say that it is not political. This scripture invites us to use a political metaphor, and I am going to explore that idea. But I’m not trying to make a political point, so you can rest easy. No politics here.

When we have a presidential election, after the ocean of candidates is thinned out on either side, we are presented with a couple of choices. And I think most of us sigh with a level of discontent on either side. This is the person who will reign for four years. And in some cases we say, OH. MY. LORD! THIS person will reign for FOUR LONG YEARS!!! It might as well be eternity – FOUR YEARS OF PERSON X! I can’t take it! No matter who wins, half the country is as angry as hell.

All that to say, we have a taste of the gravitas of the idea of reigning, for a long time. We understand the importance of this. We know how important it is to have the right person reigning, and what kind of impact the right choice for leadership will be for even a few years. So we have a small taste concerning how fearful this could be when we are talking about eternity.

Hallelujah!

I was listening to a black gospel version of the Hallelujah Chorus this Easter, which caused tears to fling from my eyes across the room. Talk about abreaction! SO GOOD and SO POWERFUL! If every tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, I sure hope this is the rhythm section for that! Oh my goodness! As I listened to it for the hundredth time, I started to think about why this was hitting me so hard. What was it?

It Isn’t Glorious

It isn’t glorious that there is the idea of reigning, or that it will go on forever. If some fallen selfish sinful devil was going to reign forever, that would be SO BAD. I can’t even abide a selfish devil reigning for four years! Much less FOREVER. We all have this inner hope that somehow this is not what is going to happen, no matter how we believe that to be true. But we could never face the idea that forever and ever, an evil selfish fool would reign. Eternal reigning is not the good news of the gospel.

The Good Stuff

What actually IS good news is this: Jesus Christ will reign! If He even reigned for 5 minutes, that would probably be historically good news. Even the unfulfilled promise that He will reign someday is enormously comforting – imagine when it all comes true! He has already proven that even though He was the prince of heaven, full of all power and glory, a member of the very Godhead, He counted all that as loss. He came to walk among the likes of US, and we killed Him. He knew we were going to kill Him and from love He came anyway. He is the very zenith and icon of selflessness. He is self-effacing and delightful and patient and full of good humor. He proved that He is willing to be impoverished to the point of death for our welfare. He is wise and selfless and forgiving and just and kind and beautiful and compassionate and rebellious in just the right way. He is the outlaw God who loves us – we never know the adventure He has in store for us. He knows how to plan ahead and cause all things to work together for good from the very depths of the beginning of time itself. He is the exalted prince who falls for the peasant girl, and it is our good fortune to have caught the eye of the very prince of heaven who will reign forever.

The Even Better Stuff

It is an even greater grace than this. Even if we were so evil that we would wrongly kill and murder this lover of our souls, with His last dying breath from honest affection He would forgive us. We cannot stop Him. He would rise from the dead with love in His heart and love us more and breathe forgiveness upon us. Nothing can stop His eternal reign of love, not even our most heinous sin. HE WILL REIGN, and He is the friend of sinners and the redeemer of our souls. Our forgiveness is written in blood upon his very flesh.

Yes, HE is the One who will reign forever and ever. It is assured! What He has promised He will most certainly accomplish. He is omnipotent. Your free will means nothing in this equation whatsoever. He is the Lord God Almighty. He is not governed by a law of love – He IS love! He loves from perfect freedom, and from joy over it He sold all He had for the love of us. This means that our salvation is even bigger than we imagined. God wasn’t compelled by some law of love to save us. He needs no such compulsion. He actually freely loves us and redeemed us because that is what He truly desires! He asks no one for counsel in the matter. He is the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. Others may say that you and I do not deserve these great blessings, but their voice has no place in His decisions. He is a rebel in love and we are the object of His affections. He has decided to redeem you and so you shall be redeemed. What joy is this, that HE WILL REIGN FOREVER AND EVER?!!!!

It is absolutely overwhelming joy and comfort to believe these things. Come quickly Lord Jesus! Thank God this is not up for a vote! His eternal reign and ultimate authority are assured forever, and it gives us great joy! He rules with an iron will of perfect redeeming forgiving compassionate love, and it is a powerful unkillable love which will never ever come to an end. You are more than safe. You are the bride of God’s Son forever by God’s ultimate decree which He has scored into His very own flesh. It cannot be undone, it is ASSURED.

Why do you think they call forgiveness of sin “absolution”? It is absolute and there is only One who has any say in the decision. What He promises He always delivers. No one can remove you from His hand. Not even YOU.

Hallelujah! Forever! Hallelujah!

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:28-39 NASB95)

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