The Gospel-Ministry and Those In Authority(continued)
Thus, here in I Tim. 2:1-7, “all men” means all kinds of men, fathers and mothers, children, husbands and. wives, poor and rich, Greek and Jew, bond and free, Barbarian and Scythian. It makes no difference. In the kingdom of God it is no barrier to be a Jew and there is no advantage, there is also neither advantage nor disadvantage in being a Greek. The elective love of God chooses out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, simply because God takes reasons out of himself, and, as the one God-Savior in our Lord Jesus Christ, he has one Mediator. And among all these men you find kings too! Not many! Not many noblemen, not many wise, in I Cor. 1:26, but they are not excluded. He does not say: not at all. O, yes God hath chosen that which is poor to be rich in faith. That is the rule. Thus no flesh can glory except in the Lord. However, there may not be many rich, not many kings.
We sing, do we not, “The kings shall come from distant lands and islands of the sea; Oblations they shall bring to him, and wait on bended knee?”
Let’s keep this star high! It is the star of the great work of God in Jesus Christ, in his elective love! The work of God in Jesus Christ as he gathers the church out of every tongue and tribe and people and nation. I tell you, brethren, it is not an advantage to be a Dutchman, and there is no disadvantage in being an Irishman! God didn’t save you and me because we were Hollanders in background; He saved us because he loved us from before the foundations of the world. And He laid out the geography of the world and had us to be born in a certain country and nation, that He mightgather us there under a certain king.
And now when we pray for kings, we pray for them in the context as they are amongst “all men” as here taught by Paul in I Tim. 2:1-7! From this viewpoint too they are not to be excluded. We believe that they too are amongst the “all men” that are saved.
Yet there is more. There must be something here in the text which indicates that we are to pray for kings and all who are in authority. The reason? It is: that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life! Those who do not desire to pray for the king, as such, interpret this to mean: the inner quietude of heart and mind which is the subjective effect of praying. No, the king does not need my prayer, but I benefit from the praying in that I lead a life, of inner quietude, peace, contentment and bliss. I do not go along with this opinion. I cannot agree with such a contention because the word in the Greek for “life” is not “zooee,” but it is “‘bias.” This refers to the things that we have, our houses, our goods, our fields, our labors, the things that belong to our biological existence. It refers to this world, this life. Here we need the quiet and peaceful life where the Son of God gathers His church. Here we need this quiet and peaceful life.
Now I would like to point out that in that broad context we pray for kings and for all who are in authority.
Here the Son of God gathers His church, and it makes a great deal of difference what the king on the throne does in a certain country as affecting the preaching of the Gospel and the life of God’s people. O, I know, ultimately Jesus Christ has the victory! Yes, he causes all things to work for our advantage, but there are times in our life when Satan prevents certain things to be done by the church and by those who preach the Gospel. Paul affirms this repeatedly in his epistles. May I point out that Paul speaks here about prayers, askings, intercessions, and thanksgiving. Prayer doesn’t change things, but God blesses Jacob upon his prayer: I will not let thee go, except thou bless me! God does not hear us because we pray, but he hears us when we pray, because he loves us. Just think about this a bit. I think of Elijah, a man of like passion as we; James 5:16-18 speaks of him. He prayed that it might not rain, and it did not rain for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and it rained! For the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. One man and God is an army. That is why where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst with them. They might be the majority. If it comes to the cross-roads whether the saints must pray in a certain situation, and when prayers are made, God doesn’t take a vote, a certain popularity contest. Don’t forget that. God asks: who prays after my will? I think of Daniel. In Daniel 9:16 he tells us that he had been reading in the book of Jeremiah; he had read there concerning the 70 years, the Sabbaths which were enjoined upon the land, and also the duration of the exile of Israel and the destruction upon the beloved city, Jerusalem. He begins to pray and to confess the sins of Israel. What a prayer. What strikes me in this prayer is that he had not yet finished with the prayer, and there stands the angel Gabriel in answer to this prayer. It does my poor heart good to read this prayer in Daniel 9:16-19. Let us quote this prayer in part: “O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. . . . . . . . O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not for thine own sake, O my God: for this city and thy people are called by thy name.” Daniel’s concern ‘is Jerusalem and the people of God and the holiness and honor of God’s Name. I think of the case of Peter when he is in prison, and we read that the church is praying for him. We read that “while they were praying,” Peter is delivered in a marvelous manner by the angel of the Lord, leading him forth to liberty, causing the chains of bondage to fall from Peter’s arms. It was an answer to the prayer of the saints in Jerusalem. I think of Rev. 8:1-5, where we read of what precedes the trumpeting by the seven angels with the seven trumpets, that there was a silence of half an hour in heaven. An angel stands at the altar in the temple; much incense is placed on the altar, which are the prayers of all the saints. And fire is taken from the altar and cast upon the earth, there are thunders and lightnings and earthquakes, and convulsions in the earth, wars and rumors of wars. These are the answers to the prayers of all saints!
I believe that our prayers are most closely associated with the decisions of kings. Let us not forget that this warfare which we battle, the battle of the Son of God in the gathering of the church, there is closely associated even the battle in the heavens of the angel world: Satan and his angels warring with Michael and his angels, as we must battle here on earth often against kings, princes, and principalities and powers.
Paul is evidently very conscious in this passage in I Timothy 2:6 that he must preach the Gospel amongst the Gentiles. He had been arrested by Jesus Christ some thirty years before this on the way to Damascus, when he yet breathed fury and threatening against the church. There he had been converted, and a certain Ananias had been sent upon Paul’s prayers to Paul. This Ananias had been told that Paul was “to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.” For this Paul was God’s chosen vessel. And the Gospel course of Paul will lead through the pretorium of Rome. In fact, it is quite evident that when Paul writes to Timothy he had already stood once before Nero and would soon have the second trial or hearing in which he would be condemned to death! Yes, all things had indeed fallen out to the furtherance of the Gospel.
O yes, Paul says elsewhere that Satan through kings, through evil and harmful decrees, prevented him to execute his wishes and work as an apostle. In I Thess. 2:18, we read, “Wherefore we would have come to you, once and again, but Satan hindered us.” Those usurpers of power in the heavens had so worked through the hearts of kings that Paul could not come to Thessalonica.
Prayers, Intercession Also For Kings And All Who Are In Authority.
We now come to our third proposition.
You know, it is small wonder that Paul says that prayers be made, askings, intercessions with thanksgiving! For prayer is fundamentally thanksgiving. And thankfulness is not merely a happy feeling, it is profound acknowledgement that God is on the throne, and that you are glad in joyful confession that He alone is God!! To acknowledge that God is GOD is thankfulness! It is to bow deeply before the divine majesty, to acknowledge that He is Lord, and that He is God.
He is the Savior who saves you, and He has all power in heaven and earth, providential power. And in such thankful recognition there is first of all, the element of justice. It is just that God be acknowledged. Then too there is the element of truthfulness. It is truthful that He be acknowledged.
When we thus acknowledge God as being above the kings of the earth, above the course of the Gospel, above your salvation, and that He has all things in His mighty power, so that the devils cannot so much as move but by His will, and that whoever is on the throne comes there by the foreknowledge and counsel of God, then you begin to pray, do you not? Then you will have the salvation of the whole church at heart, as she is gathered by the Son of God from every tribe and people and nation. Then you truly have a world-wide vision of the church as this spans the ages. O, no, not the false ecumenical vision! But the true ecumenical vision as given in the Apostolicum: I believe an holy catholic church!
Then pray. Pray with thanksgiving! Pray with prayer of entreaty! Pray with the prayer of intercession. Do you know what the word “prayer” means? Prayer comes from the Latin word “precarious.” That the church is in a precarious position in the world, in relationship to kings and all in authority, means that she can only pray as did the church in the days before the Flood. Then men began to call upon the Name of the Lord!
Then I think of Hebrews 13:18, 19, where we read, “I beseech you, pray for us, for we trust that we have a good conscience in all things, willing to live honestly . . . . . . I beseech you the rather to do this that I may be restored to you the sooner.” Yes, restored the sooner “upon your prayers!” Pray for kings and all who are in authority!
Yes pray! Pray as we have it formulated in the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 123, where the petition “Thy kingdom come” is interpreted as follows: “Rule us so by thy word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more unto thee; preserve and increase thy church; destroy the works of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against thee; and also, all wicked counsels devised against thy holy word; till the full perfection of thy kingdom take place, wherein thou shalt be all in all.”
Yes, pray for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray, hearing the footsteps of the Son of God in history, in the Gospel course in the gathering, defending, and the preserving of the church. Hear these footsteps as he walks between the seven candlesticks in the church, and as he has the kings of the earth and the mighty ones in his hand. Pray then that he direct the heart of kings, either that they bow and worship at his footstool, or that he overrule their evil and antichristian decisions, taking the wise in their own craftiness and in their own deceit, until we shall stand before the Son of God in that Day, in heavenly joy and glory.
And thus we pray. We pray in the knowledge that the kings are appointed of God, and God maintains the office of kings and order in the world; that He will not take this order out of the world for His own elects’ sake. We pray knowing that this order is closely associated with the Gospel course. And that the Lord hears us for His Name’s sake. And we pray for that coming of the kingdom.
I thank you.