Sounds like: mel’eck and mal’koot
King (melek) is used to describe both earthly leaders and the Creator God. And Kingdom (malkuth) can be any earthly kingdom, as well as the divine Kingdom of God. Interestingly, there is only one letter difference between king/melek (מֶלֶךְ) and last weeks word, angel/malak (מֲלְאָךְ). It’s telling us that a messenger of the king is very similar to the king himself. If we are to be messengers for our King, we should be like the King who sent us.
Rejecting Our King
The Scriptures make it clear that YHWH intended to be our ONLY King, but the Israelites, in their envy, wanted an earthly king, like everyone else had. How could they show their might if they did not have a face to present to the nations around them? They begged God for a king:
1 Samuel 10:17-19
After this, Samuel summoned the people to YHWH at Mizpah and said to the Israelites, “This is what YHWH, the God of Israel, says:
‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hands of the Egyptians and of all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who delivers you from all your troubles and afflictions, and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king [melek] over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before YHWH by your tribes and clans.”
And so Saul was chosen to be the first king of the Hebrew people. Samuel, later, continued his conversation with the Hebrew people about this:
1 Samuel 12:12-15
“But when you saw that Nahash king [melek] of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we must have a king [melek] to rule over us’—even though YHWH your God is your king [mal’k’kem]. Now here is the king [ha-melek] you have chosen, the one you requested. Behold, the king whom YHWH has placed over you.
If you fear YHWH and serve Him and obey His voice, and if you do not rebel against the command of YHWH, and if both you and the king [ha-melek] who rules over you follow YHWH your God, then all will be well. But if you disobey YHWH and rebel against His command, then the hand of YHWH will be against you as it was against your fathers.”
Was all well? Did, Saul, follow God? Partially, yes, but not fully, and for this reason God chose someone else to be king:
1 Samuel 16:1
Now YHWH said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have selected from his sons a king [melek] for Myself.”
YHWH chose David, son of Jesse, from Bethlehem, to be His chosen king. He made this promise to David:
1 Chronicles 17:10-14
YHWH to David: “Moreover, I declare to you that YHWH will build a house for you. And when your days are fulfilled and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom [malku-tow]. He will build a house for Me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he will be My Son. And My loving devotion will never depart from him as I removed it from your predecessor. But I will set him over My house and in My kingdom [u’v’malku-ti] forever, and his throne will be established forever.”
This is the Messianic promise: a king from the line of David that will be a Son to YHWH… a person who will be set over God’s Kingdom… eternally. Even though we wanted an earthly king, He never gave up on us. If we really needed an earthly king so badly, He would send a piece of Himself, in the form of His Son, to save us and lead us. But this was not the kind of king we expected. This was a very different kind of king.
Kingdom of Heaven
YHWH promised an Anointed One… a Messiah to save us… and his name would be Salvation. Jesus/Yeshua (whose name literally means Salvation) is the Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom) who would became King (Melek), like his Father. This is Jesus’ main message, that the Kingdom of Heaven arrived with him:
When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
The phrase Kingdom of Heaven appeared in only one Gospel Book… Matthew, where it is found 32 times. Matthew makes it clear… the Kingdom is the core message. It was incorporated throughout the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5); it could be found in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6); it was the key theme in the parables of Matthew chapter 13. Even John the Baptist announced it just before Jesus began his ministry:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
John makes it clear: the kingdom of heaven was about to dwell among the people. Once Jesus arrived on earth the kingdom of heaven dwelt among us. Jesus brought the kingdom to us. It’s not about us trying to reach the kingdom. According to Matthew, the kingdom of heaven was the primary message of Jesus:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Without ever calling himself king, Jesus consistently called God, “My Father”. He also made the subversive statement that the Son of Man was bringing the kingdom, and for these reasons the people started to identify him as the Messianic king they had been waiting for.
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Long awaited King
In Jesus’ final visit to Jerusalem he was given a royal welcome:
Then they led the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, and He sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut from the fields. The ones who went ahead and those who followed were shouting:
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”
The people saw Yeshua as the promised King from the line of David. The fact that He came riding on a donkey only helped solidify their believe that the Messiah had arrived. According to the Messianic prophecy in Zechariah, the King would come, riding on a donkey:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your King [mal’kek] comes to you, righteous and victorious,
gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
What the people were expecting though, was a King that would act like an earthly king. They wanted someone who would lead the Jewish people in retaliation against Rome, their oppressors.
But this wasn’t the kind of Kingdom YHWH had in mind. The more this became apparent to the people the more they began to doubt that this Yeshua of Nazareth was the Messiah they were waiting for. Kings should have power and wealth; they were to be anointed; they were to look the part and have military experience and political clout. Jesus had none of these things. He was a poor, nomadic, Jewish man. He owned no possessions, he wasn’t part of the Sanhedrin, he didn’t own a crown or decadent clothing, and he wasn’t anointed as a King.
Anointed as Messiah
In the Tanakh the kings of Israel were anointed with oil:
1 Samuel 16:13a
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of YHWH rushed upon David from that day forward.
Unbeknownst to most of the people, Jesus, the humble King, was also anointed:
Then one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a sinful woman from that town learned that Jesus was dining there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume.
Yeshua, sensing that Simon the Pharisee was surprised that he was allowing a sinful woman to touch him, said this to him:
“Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not greet Me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing My feet since I arrived. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume. Therefore I tell you, because her many sins have been forgiven, she has loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
What kind of Kingdom is YHWH’s Kingdom? It is not about great wealth, or status, or military might. It is not about superiority, or land control, or market dominance. Yeshua brought a kingdom of love, and humility, servitude, charity and kindness. This is the opposite of earth-kingly behaviour. Theologians often refer to God’s Kingdom as “an upside down kingdom”.
Everything about Jesus/Yeshua was upside down. Instead of being born in a palace, he was born in a barn. Even Yeshua’s anointing was upside down. Instead of anointing his head, his feet are anointed. He is anointed with perfume and tears which are associated with death and burial. This is a King that was preparing to die.
Yeshua didn’t surround himself with high ranking religious and political officials, or wealthy patrons. Rather, his companions included the marginalized and the judged:
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in a righteous way and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Even little children were part of Yeshua’s royal entourage:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.”
Crown and Robes
Yeshua, as King, was not given a crown or royal garments at the beginning of his ministry, but hours before his death he received them:
The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and dressed Him in a purple robe. And they went up to Him again and again, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and slapping Him in the face.
Afterwards, Jesus was presented to the Jews:
It was the day of Preparation for the Passover, about the sixth hour. And Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”
At this, they shouted, “Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!”
“Shall I crucify your King?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” replied the chief priests.
Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified, and the soldiers took Him away. Carrying His own cross, He went out to The Place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
There they crucified Him, and with Him two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had a notice posted on the cross. It read:
JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Exalted on the Throne:
Several hundred years before Jesus’s death on the cross, the prophet Isaiah experienced a vision where he saw YHWH seated on a throne:
I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood seraphim, each having six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they called out to one another:
Holy, holy, holy is YHWH of Hosts; His glory fills all the earth.
The doorposts and thresholds shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips dwelling among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King [ha-melek], YHWH of Hosts.”
A throne is where you sit in authority. Yeshua, as the upside down King, did not sit, but was hung. He was exalted and lifted up high onto the cross… and the cross was inscribed with his name: Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews.
King of all Nations
But Jesus wasn’t meant to be King of the Jews. He was meant to be so much more than that. He wasn’t King of one nation. He was, and is, King of ALL nations:
There is none like You, O YHWH. You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who would not fear You, O King [melek] of nations? This is Your due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms [malku-tam], there is none like You…
…YHWH is the true God; He is the living God and King [u-melek] everlasting.
This everlasting Kingdom is God’s promise to all people. God chose young David to be the king for His people and David, in turn, recognized that the true King, the one we and all the kings of the earth should all bow down to, was God:
David to YHWH: I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name, for Your loving devotion and Your faithfulness; You have exalted Your name and Your word above all else. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold and strengthened my soul.
All the kings of earth [mal’kay aretz] will give You thanks, O YHWH, when they hear the words of Your mouth. They will sing of the ways of YHWH, for the glory of YHWH is great.
The Hebrew Scriptures makes it very clear. There are many kings and many kingdoms, but the Kingdom of God outshines them all. Yeshua came as a baby to this earth. He was, and is, our Prince of Peace. And like all good Princes, He became our King. Let us bow down and worship Him.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over His kingdom [ma’m’lak-tow], to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness, from that time and forevermore.
Next week: Cup