|Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
Moses was given God’s law on Mount Sinai, and that law included what we commonly refer to as the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:1-17, we read, “And God spoke all these words, saying:”
Thousands of years ago, God gave these commandments to Moses. The wondrous thing is that, even though we are no longer under the Law, all but one of these commandments is still given for God’s people today! Let’s examine that thought.
Sometimes we say that the Old Law was given to those folks a long time ago. True, it was but the teachings of the Old Law still apply in almost everything that we do today. Thank God for His continuing laws of goodness!
[Editorial Note: The New Testament replaced all of the Old Testament, including the original Ten Commandments (2 Corinthians 7:7-13; Romans 7:6; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:8-13). However, essentially, nine of the Ten Commandments have been given again in the New Testament; we follow them, not because they were in the Old Testament – which is no longer authoritative – but because they are in the New Testament. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Kingdom and Empire
At the time of the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, an empire spread across three continents. It had been rising in power for almost 800 years before the incarnation of our Lord. Indeed, the wealthiest part of it would survive another 1,500 years, with many attempting to restore the unity Rome had brought Europe and its overseas possessions during that time.
There is a difference between a kingdom and an empire. The latter is made from many nations, and the former is one nation. Both have a sovereign, and, in the first century, both rulers of Rome and God’s kingdom shared common titles. Both were addressed as “Lord,” with all the religious applications applied. However, the moral decency of the Lord Jesus far exceeded Caesar on every level.
One message of the New Testament is that Christ is Lord and Caesar was not! This clash of kingdom and empire was amplified when you consider that Caesar claimed the title, “son of God.” Of course, in his case, it was false, but his worshipers did not take lightly to the Christian proclamation that not only was Jesus the Son of God but that He was the only begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 3:16), thus denying Caesar’s claim of divine origin and authority over the Empire. There was certainly a clash of world views and religions.
As faith in Christ grew, so did His kingdom. In Philippians 4:22, Paul wrote, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” Take note that these Christians remained working for Caesar, the cruel and twisted Nero who ruled at this time. These early Christians knew what it was to be faithful servants of their King behind enemy lines. They realized the true enemy was not Nero, but he was but a sinner in need of Christ, as well. They understood the war in which they found themselves was the war between light and darkness for the souls of human beings. Where they served, right at the very heart of government, was the ideal place for sharing the Good News. They knew their Lord and strove to overcome the temptation that so easily overcomes us and realized that Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). They saw how Nero glorified in sin while Christ came to save and lay down His life for the love of His people (Matthew 18:12).
We have no idea how many died to please Nero’s wickedness. The Roman Empire crushed its victims and enslaved well over a third of its inhabitants. Christ’s kingdom offers a much lighter burden. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The kingdom of our Lord would outlast the Roman Empire and surpass all of its glory. The Caesars died, their empires crumbled and the gods they worshipped turned to dust in the ground. In the arenas of Rome, men would say to the emperor, “Those who are about to die salute you,” and die they did – an estimated 250,000 for the pleasure of their god-emperor. Their cries are gone, just like their empire, but Christ’s kingdom grows still. It grows in the hearts and minds of those who love their King who died for them – Who rose from the dead, now reigns at the right hand of God and is exalted above all others.
We, the blessed citizens of the kingdom of God, must live for our King! We must proclaim the Gospel and ever forward march in His name. His church proclaims Jesus is Lord! To the powers of darkness in this present age, we have only two words: No surrender!