Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
When I came to the U.S.A. I could not order my foods at a restaurant. I wanted to eat hamburger at the McDonald. I asked my friend how to order a hamburger. He taught me, “Hamberger, please!” That was so easy. However, after I ate hamburger, I wanted to drink coffee. I used the same pattern, “Coffee, please!” They did not give what I want. They asked me back, “Cream and sugar?” I did not know what to do with that question.
Many times, we pray to God like that. We learned from Jesus, “Ask, it will be given you.” So, we ask money, power, fame, and prosperity. However, it is not given! Why? God seems asking us back, “cream and sugar?” Until we seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness first, God would not add those things unto us.
Israelites prayed for all the other things except for the Kingdom of God and its righteousness.
When God brought Israel out of Egypt, God had a dream. We can see God’s vision in this passage. “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:7)
For this vision, God made a covenant with the Israelites. “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5) The symbol of this covenant was the two stone tablets of Ten Commandments.
We all know that circumcision is a sign of disobedience and of the lack of faith in God. Now the two tablets of the Ten Commandments are the signs of obedience to God’s laws. When the Israelites keep the Ten Commandments they are treated as law-abiding citizens of God’s kingdom.
However, Israel did not keep the commandments of God. They worshipped other gods. They made images of them. They sought money, power, fame, and success with their own means.
God used Hosea’s life as a visual lesson for God’s people
In the book of Hosea, we read a strange story of a prophet. He was told to marry a promiscuous woman to show the nature of the relationship between God (a faithful husband) and Israel (a promiscuous wife). Following God’s commandments, Hosea married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. God wanted to call the son “Jezreel.” Jezreel is a plain where Jehu killed two of Ahab’s progeny—Joram, king of northern Israel; and Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 9:14–29) and Ahab’s wife, queen Jezebel. Two eunuchs threw Jezebel down from the window and Jezebel’s blood splattered over the pavement, and her body was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30–37).
Jezreel symbolized the violence and military power of Israelites. Even though Jehu tried to purge Israel from the idol worship of the pagan neighboring nations, his method was too violent. When we use violence to achieve our goals, we tend to rely on the military power, not God. There is always a danger. We have to walk between the thin lines of self-defense and of violence. When we have enough military power, we tend to use it according to our military strategy without time of prayer to discern God’s will.
The second child that Gomer conceived was a daughter. God commanded Hosea to name her “Lo-Ruhamah” It means “not loved.” In other words, God would not show compassion for Israel any more. Then finally, after Gomer had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God.
This is the cancellation of Exodus. God brought Israelites out of Egypt to be their God. However, Israel became like Egypt. They depend on military power in foreign affairs. They did not care for the well-being of the people. As we have seen in the texts of Amos, injustice and crimes were rampant in the community. Israel did not show its distinctive character as God’s people: Passion for justice and compassion for the powerless.
Israel as we knew was destroyed and God promised a new form of God’s people
However, that was not the end of the story. As all prophetic books testifies, God shows mercy at the end. Hosea also says, “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”
The day of Jezreel is the day of worship of the true God, purging all the idol worship, without the use of violence and military weapons. It was achieved through the cross of Jesus. Jesus did not use any sword or weapon. He was helplessly crucified, not because he was powerless, but because he was full of love. This is the paradox of Cross. Jesus achieved God’s will by dying on the Cross. We can carry out God’s will when we subject our will to God’s will.
There will be continuous efforts to restore the lost Kingdom Israel. But God has already started a new Israel through Jesus Christ!
It is the statement of the Colossians 2:6-13. We can live our lives in Jesus when we are “rooted and built up in Jesus,” strengthened in the faith as we were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians warns us not to follow hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. They usually argue that we need something else than Jesus.
However, in Jesus “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ we have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” In Jesus we were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.” The Bible calls it “circumcision of heart.” It is the sign of the assurance of salvation. When we have such assurance, we would not pray for other things than the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
We should pray for this new Kindom (It is not misspelling of Kingdom, but a new word coined to show God’s family).
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them to pray for the glory of God’s name and God’s kingdom. We usually say that prayer is ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication or Silence).
We adore God’s name first. We seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness first. Then we confess that we have followed other gods. We ask God’s forgiveness. Then we give thanks to God because God still loves us and provides us our daily necessities. At the end we can ask God to do something for us or become silent to listen to God’s voice. Actually, in the Lord’s prayer, we do not see any request other than daily bread because God would give all the other things to us when we seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness first.
This new Kindom will come to us when we ask the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, Jesus encouraged them not to give up their prayers when they felt that God was silent.
Jesus said to them to have audacity and perseverance in prayer. Jesus said, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
When we ask God, “_______________, please!” God would ask us back, “Cross and Holy Spirit?” When we are ready to say yes to both questions, everything will be given. May God bless all of us to have the same mind with Jesus Christ and to receive the Holy Spirit when we ask! Amen.
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