Last week, in Part 5 of our “What is the Gospel” series, we noted that God currently reigns as King; but the Father does so indirectly through the mediating work of one appointed man, Jesus the Christ. Someday though, Jesus will give the rule and reign over to the Father, so the Father can reign directly. But before that happens, all of his enemies must be put under Jesus’ feet.
Kings Crush Rebellions
If the Gospel is the Good News that God reigns as King through Jesus, then it is only a matter of time before the enemies of God will be judged. Every person, authority, force, and spirit who is in rebellion to God’s rule must be judged.
A king would not be a very good king if rebellion went forever unchecked. A king would not be a very good king if his loyal citizen continued to suffer persecution and injustice, but he never put a stop to it. A king would not be a very good king if he never brought peace, prosperity, and harmony. A king’s glory (his reputation as a ruler) hinges on whether or not he can bring peace and prosperity to the land.
God’s glory is no different. His reputation as a king is on the line. The prophets said the Messiah would bring peace and prosperity. Among many other metaphors, they described the Messiah’s reign as one where, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
The Messiah must deal with the enemies who continue to rebel against God’s rule, as they bring death, chaos, and disorder. The Messiah must bring peace, righteousness, and justice.
Who Are the Enemies?
Various passages of the New Testament tell us that among the enemies who will be destroyed are the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41) as well as those who do not know God and those who do not obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8). And the final enemy to be destroyed won’t be a “who,” but a “what.” Paul wrote, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
The whole creation is groaning under the reign of decay, corruption, and death. Everything that is born is destined to die. The whole earth is subject to a curse, but there is hope not only for us but for the whole creation. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Death, who holds creation in its grip, has already been stripped of its power for those of us who are forgiven of sin (1 Corinthians 15:57), but one day death itself will be completely destroyed. The book of Revelation says death will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).
All of the remnants of the curse of death will be swept away. God’s people and the whole creation will be “redeemed.” From that point on, nothing will decay, become corrupt, or pass away.
Why Does He Wait?
If God’s kingdom has come, if he currently reigns as King through Jesus, if he has already been victorious over the forces of darkness, if the fate of the wicked is sealed, why does he allow it all to go on like this? Why does he allow sin and death to continue to claim victims? Why does he allow the rebels to continue to go about doing evil? Why doesn’t he say, “Enough already!” and bring all of his enemies under the feet of the Messiah?
The answer is fairly simple: The Lord delays because he is patient and abounding in steadfast love. As Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Much of the world is still enslaved to sin and death, their lives are intertwined with evil; to destroy all evil in the world would mean they would be collateral damage.
These aren’t horrible people, but unknowingly they are in league with “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,” as we all were at one time (Ephesians 2:1-3). God loves each and every human being. He wants them to be delivered out of the kingdom of sin and death and into his kingdom of life and light before the end comes.
Because God is a good king, he is patient and wants to extend pardon to as many as possible. But also because God is a good king, he will bring the world into subjection. He will restore peace, harmony, justice, and righteousness. He will rid the world of evil.
Living in Anticipation
Until the last enemy is destroyed, citizens of God’s kingdom live in eager anticipation of that Day; but we also live as citizens of that kingdom right now.
We cannot wait for perfect peace to be restored before we choose to live at peace with all people. We cannot wait for death to be destroyed before we stop living in fear of death. We cannot wait for all things to be brought in subjection to the King before we live in subjection to the King.
Learning to Love Like Jesus,