Deuteronomy 17:1-20; Luke 9:18-27; Psalms 73:1-20; Proverbs 18:6-7
OT: “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations around me,’ you are to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses. Appoint a king from your brothers. You are not to set a foreigner over you, or one who is not of your people. However, he must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are never to go back that way again.’ He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself. When he is seated on his royal throne, he is to write a copy of this instruction for himself on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It is to remain with him, and he is to read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to observe all the words of this instruction, and to do these statutes. Then his heart will not be exalted above his countrymen, he will not turn from this command to the right or the left, and he and his sons will continue reigning many years in Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:14-20 CSB)
Once Israel took possession of the promised land, it would be over 300 years before Israel would have a king – longer than the United States has been a country. Yet God knew that Israel would long to be like the other nations and desire a king – so He set forth guidelines. First of all, the king would be chosen by God, not appointed by the people… and the king was not allowed to become consumed by the world, nor use his position for personal gain. He was not to allow his heart to be lifted up above his fellow Israelites… and he was especially not to lift himself above God and follow his own ways and edicts instead of the word, will, and ways of the Lord. Israel did choose to become a monarchy, and sadly, not one king fully fulfilled the guidelines set forth here… and most kings used their position to gain the world, become corrupt, lose their soul, and lead their nation into idolatry. That is, until Jesus.
NT: “It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.” (Luke 9:22-26 CSB)
Jesus, the very Son of God, did not use His position for personal gain. Even when the devil offered to give Him rulership of all the nations, He refused. Instead, He laid aside His power and position and humbled Himself to become a man. And as a man, He was rejected by the world and killed in order to pay our debt and set us free from sin. Then He defeated death was was raised to new life, providing a way for those who identify with His death to be given new life as well. All the world offers us is lust and pride – and both of those drive us away from the abundant life that flows from the Creator. In order for us to truly live, we must, like Jesus, deny ourselves and all that the world offers us, recon ourselves dead to sin through Christ’s death on the cross, and allow ourselves to be made new as we surrender and dedicate our lives fully to the Lord. Compared to what we have in Christ, why would we ever give that up to gain the world?
Psalms: “God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray. For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well fed. They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people. Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment… Look at them — the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth… When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny. Indeed, you put them in slippery places; you make them fall into ruin. How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors.” (Psalms 73:1-6, 12, 16-19 CSB)
The world and the god of this world has a way of rewarding those who forsake God and give themselves over to lust and pride… at least for a time. This caused Asaph, the writer of this psalm, great consternation. It wasn’t until he entered God’s sanctuary and received God’s perspective on everything that he could be at peace. Jesus said that the thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. While the god of this age may “reward” those who reject the ways of God, his ultimate purpose is to steal you away from blessing and purpose, kill you, and ultimately eternally destroy you. When your goal is to gain the world, you may be temporarily happy at best, but in the end are destroyed. When you are after the world, this life is the best your existence will ever be. If instead, you take up your cross and follow Jesus, then your eternal existence will only get better.