The Scepter of the Kingdom of God
Consider if you would, the words of Hebrews 1, verse 8; “..And the scepter of righteousness, is the scepter of Thy kingdom.”
A scepter is basically a rod, or a staff; However a scepter is almost always an ornamented staff, or a decorated staff, that a king or an emperor would carry in his hands, especially on ceremonial occasions. And the scepter serves as a symbol of the sovereignty of his nation, and as a symbol of the power of his nation.
Psalm 23, verse 4 says; “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” The rod and the staff of the Lord, are symbolic of the power that the Lord has in providing for us; In protecting us and in comforting us.
And we can make an analogy, between the Lord’s rod and staff, and “the scepter of righteousness” and “the scepter of Thy kingdom.” The “scepter” of righteousness, is the “power” of righteousness; It’s the “power” of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God IS righteousness, and there’s power in righteousness! There’s power in doing the will of God!
Righteousness is, the keeping of God’s commandments. We’re told in Deuteronomy 6, verse 25; “And it shall be righteousness unto us, if we observe to do, all this commandment before Jehovah our God, as He has commanded us.” The fact is, that there is power in being diligent, and in observing that we DO, all that God has commanded us to do.
Righteousness is what God’s kingdom is! Romans 14, verse 17 tells us; “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking..” The discussion had been about what things were clean to eat, and what things are not clean, and about not judging others. And so verse 17 says; “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The kingdom of God is righteousness, and it is peace, and it is joy in God.
Verse 18 says; “For he that herein serveth Christ, (he that serves God in righteousness, peace and joy) is well-pleasing to God, and approved of men.” And verse 19 concludes with these words; “So then, let us follow after things which MAKE for peace, and the things whereby we may edify one another.”
So this scripture is encouraging us to think about how we live. Do your actions seek to make peace with others? And are your actions such that they seek to cause others to be edified? Does our behavior collectively, seek to create peace with one another, and does it seek to edify one another? If we’re serving God in righteousness, our behavior will do both of those things.
And there’s power in that kind of behavior. That kind of behavior has the power to heal a broken relationship with God. That’s the very behavior that enables us to have fellowship with God. And, that kind of behavior has the power to heal broken relationships, with one another. It can ease, and sooth harsh feelings. It can bring compassion, where there was bitterness. And it can create a relationship, that is both peaceful, and happy. And what so many people evidently fail to understand, is that when we don’t have that kind of relationship, one with another, and when we fail to strive for peace, and when we fail to try to encourage one another, then we have actually failed, in our relationship with God!
That’s a fact.. I haven’t made it up, and I haven’t exaggerated it. The bible says, in 1 John 4, verse 20; “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar! ( The word “hate” in this verse, simply means to “not love”. And the next part of the verse shows us that) For, he that loveth not his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” There’s the facts right there; If we fail in our relationships with one another, then we have failed in our relationship with God. You “cannot love God” the scripture says, if you do not love, your brothers and your sisters in Christ. And we could probably extend that out to loving all people, in or out of the body. Because all people are God’s creation. And if we can’t find it within our hearts to love God’s creation, which we see every day, then we cannot love the God of all, whom we have never seen. That’s what the bible says.
Romans 12, verse 18 gives us this exhortation; “If it be possible, and as much as lies within you, be at peace with all men.” (with all people) When we strive for peace, the majority of the time, we will create peace. When we strive to edify, we will edify! But it’s unlikely that neither peace nor edification will come about, if we don’t make them come about. “So then, let us follow after the things which make for peace, and the things whereby we may edify one another.”
Overcoming Human Tendencies
Have you ever felt like you were “at odds” with someone? Haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? And so, if you have ever felt like that, how did you act in response to it? How did you behave? Did you get stubborn? Did you get unapproachable? Did you get bitter? Sometimes we do that, even though we know we shouldn’t. Because that’s not righteousness. That’s not what God’s kingdom is.
“..Let us follow after the things that make for peace, and the things whereby we may edify one another.” You know, that’s really not that hard to do. Give up your pride, humble yourself. If we don’t humble ourselves, God will humble us. Strive to make peace, and strive to edify. “He hath shown thee O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6, verse 8)
“The kingdom of God.. is righteousness, and peace, and joy.” And it’s walking humbly with God. And it’s walking humbly with one another. When we do that, it becomes righteousness to us, because those are the very things that God commands us to do.
And those things sound so soft and gentle don’t they? Humility, and kindness, and justice (fairness).. they sound so soft and gentle, but yet they’re powerful! “The scepter of righteousness, is the scepter of Thy kingdom.” The scepter, is symbolic of power! Those gentle behaviors, are the power of the kingdom of God. Those gentle behaviors, have the power to save your soul!
Paul wrote in Romans 1, verse 16; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation, to all those who believe..” The gospel, the “power of salvation”. And how does the gospel teach us to behave? Well, it teaches us to behave in gentleness, in kindness, in humility, in joy, and with the hope of making peace, and with the hope of edifying.
The gospel teaches us to behave, in love. How much power is there in love? 1 Corinthians 13, verse 7 says; (Love) “..beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, and endureth all things.” Verse 8 says; “Love never fails!” Love has the power to never fail!
Love sent Jesus Christ to this earth! (John 3:16) Love did that.. God’s love did that. And love can cause a person to do many things, great things! Love can cause a man to give up His own life, for the ones he loves. Sometimes we can’t even give up our own pride, let alone give up our life! We need to learn how to love.
A Sign of our Salvation
Sometimes people wonder, “How can I know that I’m saved.” The apostle John tells us, how we can know. John wrote, in 1 John 3, verse 14; “We know that we have passed out of death, into life, because we love the brethren.” We know, that we have gone from being lost, to being saved, because we love the brethren. Of course, loving the brethren isn’t just something that you say. Verse 18 tells us; “My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” How we behave toward one another, is the true sign, of whether or not we love one another., and whether or not we love God. And according to this scripture, it’s the true sign of whether or not we are saved.
Love has the power to save, and love can give us the power, to stand confidently before God. Verse 19 tells us; “Hereby.. (by loving one another in deed and in truth) ..Hereby we shall know that we are of the truth, and our heart shall be assured before Him.” Verse 21 says; “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have boldness toward God.” The way that our heart dos not condemn us, is for us to have that love for our brethren, within our heart, then we have boldness to stand before God, in any situation.
Whether we stand before God in joy and thanksgiving, or we can come before God in weakness and in need. If we have love in our hearts for one another, we can stand before the Lord with confidence, and boldness! That’s the power that love can give us.
And don’t forget the analogy that we’re using from the bible, how “the scepter of righteousness, is the scepter of Thy kingdom.” We need to hold love and righteousness in our hearts, just like one would hold a scepter in their hand, as a sign of the kingdom, and the power of God. And as a sign that we, are a part of the kingdom! God’s kingdom IS righteousness and love! And we need to hold that “scepter” in our hearts, always.
Comfort and Protection
But let’s also think back to the 23rd Psalm, where it says; “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” Just like the staff of the Lord gives us comfort and protection, in like manner, love and righteousness, gives us comfort and protection. It gives us power, but it also gives us comfort and protection.
The apostle Paul wrote, in 2 Corinthians 1, verses 3 thru 5; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in affliction, through the comfort wherein we ourselves are comforted, of God.” You see, God’s love for us comforts us, so that our love for others may comfort them. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us, even so our comfort also aboundeth through Christ.”
I hope that it comforts you to know, that when you show your love, by the giving of your time, and the giving of your support to others, and by giving kindness to others, and especially to your brothers and sisters in Christ, that God sees that, and He smiles, and He’s pleased, because that’s what God’s kingdom is all about. It’s about righteousness, and peace, and joy, and love. And that’s what religion is all about too.
James 1:27 says; “Pure religion, and undefiled before our God and Father is this; To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” But that doesn’t refer ONLY to those who are literally fatherless, and widows; But rather, “the fatherless and widows” is a phrase that refers to those who are in need. When you go out of your way, to supply the needs of others, that’s love and righteousness; That’s what religion is all about. That’s what the kingdom is all about. That’s the “scepter” of the kingdom.
“All Hath Been Heard” (Eccl 12:13)
I could extend this lesson out for a lot longer if I wanted to, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. What the bible has said to us thus far, is sufficient. We understand what the kingdom is, and what righteousness is. We understand the value, and the power, of love and peace, and joy.
So then, let’s make that our purpose, every day. Let’s make that happen in our lives. Let’s see to it, that we “do justly”, and that we “love kindness”, and that we “walk humbly with our God.” And let’s see to it, that we “follow after the things which make for peace, and the things whereby we may edify one another.”
Because by doing so, “We know that we have passed out of death, into life, because we love the brethren”, and because we love God. Let’s all “personify” the kingdom of God, in our everyday behavior, and let’s allow that spirit, to guide us.
Will you take this bible lesson, and dwell on it, and apply it to your life, and live it? I pray that you will.
And I pray that you will always be willing to hear the word of God, and believe it. And believing that Jesus is the Christ, that you will always be willing to confess that faith to the world, and to repent of any sins you may have, and to continue faithful, even unto death. And of course, if you have never before been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, I pray that you would do that, even right now, so that you can stand boldly before God, knowing that you’ve passed from death, unto life.