Minister Speaks: The Forever Kingdom
We sat on the stone seats of the amphitheater in Caesarea. The audience would have looked out into the Mediterranean as the performers acted out their plays. To the north stretched the outline and remains of a massive city and man-made harbor that Herod the Great had ordered built out of nothing in an attempt to impress the Romans.
Later we walked through the layers of the dig at Tel Megiddo where 37 different civilizations had built and re-built on a hill overlooking the valley of Megiddo. King Solomon had stabled some of the royal horses at this hilltop.
From there to Be’it She’an — a city which had been occupied since the Neolithic era. The City controlled the roads joining the Jordan river valley and the Jezreel valley and the roads north to Galilee. From before Abraham, men had built and re-built on the same space, from the Babylonians to Greece and then to Rome as the final architects of this amazing place filled with colonnaded streets, an amphitheater, a hippodrome and a coliseum that rivaled Rome’s.
Then on to Masada and the fortress built on a mountain by Herod the Great. Here, the final days of Israel were played out before the armies of Rome won the last victory over that ancient nation.
One of my goals for the trip, or hope anyway, was to find pieces of pottery to bring home. One of my theology professors had gone and brought back bags of the pottery shards which spanned the history of the occupants of Israel, inspiring my hope. It meant as we walked through the ruins, I was looking at the ground.
I found some! Pieces of broken pottery at each site mentioned above. They were just lying there in the gravel and rubble of the walk ways as we toured. Treasure, just strewn about like trash, varied colors, markings, clays, thicknesses. We got to walk through the ruins of great civilizations that had ruled and changed the world in their times and I was finding… well their throw away broken cups and plates and bowls. Junk really.
It was an amazing experience, but we were walking through the destroyed ruins of once great powers, massive walls, columns, streets all lying in ruin; all gone. In their time, I am sure they believed in their strength and invincibility until the next world power rose, or the next great earthquake or drought led to their demise.
Man-made life is destined to fade away, no matter how great the power or reign of leadership. Ruins are left of once great civilizations. There is a lesson there.
In Daniel chapter two, a great world leader had a dream of a statue towering above the plains of Babylon. The statue, made of changing qualities of metal is seen being struck at its base by a great rock from Heaven, a rock uncut by human hands. Daniel explains that the towering statue represents a succession of world dominating cultures that in the end will be no more. But one kingdom will remain, the uncut rock:
44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”
Jesus declared, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The forever Kingdom, the Kingdom of God is upon us, ushered in by the arrival of God’s own son, Jesus Christ. We are invited to become citizens of that Kingdom, an everlasting one, through faith in its King, Jesus, faith in His name, his life, his death and resurrection.