There might be a new king in England, but we are co-rulers with the King of Kings:
A grand theme of Scripture is that Christ is king. His rule is everlasting. The kingdoms of men will come and go, but his kingdom will know no end. God’s kingship is a comforting and marvellous teaching of the Bible. But there is related to this another theme: in some way we too will rule with him.
Before going any further let me point out one obvious matter: I am NOT here talking about some of the extra-biblical foolishness that some cults teach, including the idea that we will become a god and so on. Here I am simply looking at what Scripture itself says about our relationship with the one true God and king.
And some of the passages I will briefly feature here speak of this rule in a twofold sense: we NOW rule with Christ in a sense, but much more fully in the next life we will be some sort of co-regents with Christ. Consider just some texts – all from the New Testament – without any commentary:
Luke 22:28-30 You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
2 Timothy 2:11-13 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Revelation 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation 20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Each of these verses could be discussed at length, including looking carefully at the context in which they appear. But here I want to offer just one more such text, and in this case I will provide some comments on it. I refer to the Old Testament passage, Daniel 7:27:
And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
A few quick things can be said about this. One, Daniel – like Revelation and other apocalyptic works – contains plenty of symbolism and can be difficult to understand and rightly interpret. So some caution is needed in how we proceed with such passages.
Two, as to this particular verse, there is some question as to who the “people of the saints of the Most High” refers to. Some scholars think it refers to angels. I will not go into all the pros and cons here, but other scholars think that other options – including believers – are in view here. In his commentary Stephen Miller says this:
At this time “the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints” of the Most High God. Finally, believers will “inherit the earth” as Jesus promised (Matt. 5:5). These “saints” are clearly identified here, not as angels but as “the people of the Most High.” They are the followers of the “son of man,” Jesus Christ, described in vv. 13-14.
But it is not so much an academic or scholarly note that I want to finish on here, but a devotional and encouraging one. So let me wrap things up with a few helpful comments. In his fine book, The Gospel According to Daniel, Bryan Chapell said this about this passage:
Our job is not done, but the victory is already won. The certainty of our purpose and the victory of our great and good God are evident in the mystery of the thrones. We are told at the beginning of Daniel’s vision that “thrones” (plural) are placed in the courtroom (v. 9). The Ancient of Days sits on one, but that does not explain the presence of other thrones. Surely one throne is also prepared for the Son of man, for Jesus says in his trial before the Sanhedrin, as he prepares to offer himself for us, “I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). But still we have not identified all the occupants of the thrones of this heavenly judgment hall.
The apostle Paul tells us who will also sit on the thrones with the Ancient of Days. Paul says, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? . . . Do you not know that we are to judge the angels?” (1 Cor. 6:2-3). Our Savior sits on the throne with the Ancient of Days to judge heaven and earth, and we sit enthroned with him. The message is that we shall have ultimate victory over the evil of this world. The victory does not come immediately, and it certainly may not always be apparent. We may not be ahead in every inning, but the Bible assures us that we are on the winning team because we are the people of the One whose dominion is universal and eternal. This knowledge and assurance are for our inspiration and resolution and mission. We know that we are part of God’s eternal plan and purpose, and because he will prevail, we know that our lives have purpose regardless of the challenges we now face. Our great and good God is accomplishing his purposes through his people so that when he judges all that oppose him, we shall be colaborers with him in his final judgment because we have been colaborers with him in his unfolding victory.
Or as Iain Duguid put it in his devotional commentary:
So when you feel the beasts surrounding you and their hot breath closing in upon you, look upward and onward. Look up to your Judge; look up to your Savior; look onward to your glorious inheritance. Sing with the hymnwriter:
“The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey, though death lay in between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.
The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of Grace,
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.”
Samuel Rutherford, the seventeenth-century Scottish pastor whose words lie behind that hymn, was no stranger to suffering and persecution. As a young man, he was exiled by the church authorities from his beloved parish of Anwoth in Southern Scotland for writing in defense of the doctrine of grace. As an old man, when the monarchy was reinstated under Charles II, he was charged with high treason for his book in which he argued that even monarchs were subject to the law. When the summons came, however, he responded from his deathbed, “Tell them I have got a summons already before a superior judge and judicatory, and I behoove to answer my first summons; and ere your day arrive, I will be where few kings and great folks come.” His hope was placed in the knowledge that there would soon come a time when this present world would have run its course, to be replaced by a better one. The day is indeed hastening on when the sands of time will run out and the beasts will face their judgment, but for the saints, glory will dwell forever in Immanuel’s land!
Amen. And as I just saw posted on the social media this useful quote from Burk Parsons: “Your battle may not end tomorrow – but neither will God’s sustaining grace.” We serve a risen King, and we will reign with him throughout eternity. That should help us all to hang in their during this life of trials, troubles and temptations.