Way back in the day, when I wrote Jewel of Persia, I had to study not only the book of Esther and Old Testament history, but Persian history as well. It was interesting to learn that Xerxes was called “the king of kings” because of the vastness of his empire, and the fact that he had so many countries subjugated to his own–there were other kings, but they ranked beneath him.
Which of course got me thinking about why we call God the King of kings. Because there are always going to be other rulers on earth, authority over us. But He is above all of them. Makes sense, right?
In the story of Esther, it’s pretty clear how powerful and terrifying the king can be. And Xerxes was known for his generosity! But still, she was taking her life into her hands when she went before him without being summoned. To us today, this seems a bit weird, right? I mean, she was his wife. No, more than that–his queen. She had plenty of authority of her own.
But not enough to counteract his. Not enough that, had she caught him in a bad mood, he might not depose her or worse. He was the king–one of the absolute varieties who literally held the power of life and death in his hand. And she was but one of his wives. He had hundreds. What if they all just barged into the throne room whenever they wanted a favor or had something to tell him? It would have been chaos.
The same is true of other ancient kings. They were fearsome. They were intimidating. Because they were powerful. Their authority meant they could do pretty much anything they wanted.
So naturally, the people of God viewed Him the same way. He was, after all, the true King of kings. He held ALL life and death in His hands.
This power is not something to trifle with. This power is not something to ignore. This power is not something to assume yourself immune to. Because all too often we see what happened to those who did that–they were struck down, given over to enemies, cursed.
God is fearsome. Awesome. Terrifying. God is the sort of love beyond our comprehension, that kind that requires justice and purity and holiness, not just grace and mercy.
Just because we’re in the age of grace, that doesn’t mean His nature has changed. He is still the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is still that terrifying deity who holds life and death, blessing and cursing in His hands. He is still the God whose throne room cannot be breached by force of will.
But do you know who could always enter before the king? His heir. Now, ancient kings had a ton of children, most of the time, and they couldn’t all just fly into the throne room and launch themselves into his arms (see that note above about chaos). But once he had appointed an heir, things changed. That heir had to be there. He had to learn. He had a portion of the king’s authority, and in His absence from a region, all his authority. The heir could come and go as he pleased, do as he pleased, but with a certain understanding–that he was acting on behalf of the king, and that he could do so only because the king had granted him that power. Their wills were to be one. Their stances one. Their authority one.
You obviously know where I’m going with this, right? Christ is the heir. He can enter the throne room. But the King and his Heir did something amazing when Jesus came to earth and died for us–they named us co-heirs. Not just other princes and princesses, who might be loved and might receive gifts and might be allowed entrance now and then to their presence. No, co-heirs with Christ. Do we get what that means?? It means we also have that authority–but only because they’ve granted it to us. It means we have that authority when we share their will, share their goals, share their kingdom-oriented passions. We can approach God, not just because He is merciful and loving, but because He has appointed us as responsible parties, let’s say, for His kingdom.
That doesn’t mean we’re there to frolic and play with the crown jewels. That means we’re there to get down to business. We’re there to strategize with Him. We’re there to carry out His goals and visions. We’re there to do His bidding and be His emissaries to the world.
We can approach His throne without fear, because we’re authorized to be there and share in His authority…but at the same time, we need to remember that there is fear in approaching Him, because He has ALL authority. We should be always aware of how fearsome He is, and we should be aware of it in part because He’s granted that same power to us. If we’re to wield it effectively, lovingly, mercifully, justly, we need to understand it. Appreciate it. Respect it.
If we’re not walking in that authority, are we really acting like His heirs? But at the same time, if we’re misusing it, are we truly being the emissary of the King? If we ignore that it’s real, don’t recognize His awe-inspiring power, then we bind our own hands–because if we don’t recognize His power, we can’t accept it for ourselves, it means nothing. And yet when He looks upon us and calls us His child and tells us we are co-heirs with Christ, we also can’t just shuffle our feet and hide our face and say, “Thanks for the welcome, Lord, but I’m just going to hide in the corner.”
That’s not what the heir does. The heir goes out. The heir does business. The heir learns how to run the Kingdom.
What are we doing today to run the Kingdom for the King?