Two Kingdoms
Wednesday of Easter 5
22 May 2019
Moses' regime has a place in government. It is the law. The world requires the discipline handed down in the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. The kingdom of the world works with law, commands, punishment, and wrath. This is the work of the law and the business of government. Until the world ends, this coercion of wicked humans is required.
However, even before the regime of Moses was established the Lord Himself had told of an order to come (Gn 3:15), in which the law would play no part, this is the kingdom of the church in which earthly government has no authority. The Messiah was long promised on the lips of Moses and all the prophets. The Mosaic law already had been superseded by the promise of the Savior, born of Eve. This was the spiritual kingdom that Christ would build by His suffering, death, and resurrection. The Church, although it stands alongside the house of Moses in the kingdom of this world, has an independent existence and is ruled by a man after God's own heart, His own beloved Son. Moses died in the wilderness within agonizing sight of the Promised Land. Only God's Son, the true Savior, could lead the people into the land promised by God to the people forever.
Where these two kingdoms conflict: world and church, Christ must triumph. Each kingdom must take care of its own business. The church preaches forgiveness of sins, the merits of Christ, and freedom from the fear of death. The kingdom of the world has nothing to fear from this preaching. The kingdom of the world must proclaim external righteousness, obedience, compliance with the divine order, and must back up these requirements with law, commands, punishment, and wrath. When the church preaches only law she becomes the world. When the world tries to preach the gospel it risks the blasphemy of butting into God's business in the church.
There is a new regime in the Church. It is Christ's. All the other human structures will see to Moses. That's what they are supposed to do. The Church must see to Christ. The Church must not let the law kill Christ again. Government must stay out of the church's business and the church must support the government's work of imposing order on the community through the law. Christian theology gives space to the workings of law in society, a realm over which God also rules, but which He rules by law and reason. Civil society is the realm of the law. This is the work of what the Declaration of Independence calls "Nature's God."
The gospel has its place too. Forgiveness rules in the realm of conscience, the church, which is the kingdom of heaven. Those two kingdoms must be kept separate, so that God can do the work proper to each with the weapons that suit each kingdom. So Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" has more to do with how God works in each sphere: in the church the gospel reigns and in government law reigns and both are under God. Just in different ways.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Everything goes back to where it came from. Everything finally passes away. Human life, kingdoms, and whatever belongs to men-all of these return to where they came from, from the earth to the earth, just as the wind blows back and forth and just as the sun returns to where it rose. This, then, is what Solomon means: One should get rid of care and anxiety about the things that are in the future and are still to be acquired, and should rather enjoy the things that are in the present."

 Martin Luther, Notes on Ecclesiastes, 6.6

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (ESV)
Lord Christ, bless our life in this world with good government. Continue to show us that though it is important, government is not the essence of our life with You, but rather a Mosaic construct to order our lives until we see the kingdom which is to come. Amen.
For Herbert Mueller in thanksgiving to God for improving health and strength

For the family and friends of Ileene Robinson, whom the Lord Jesus took to Himself, that they would grieve with the hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come
For the Floor Committees of the LCMS as they meet together to prepare resolutions for the delegation meeting in convention later this summer, that God the Lord would direct their work
For good weather, that the Lord would send rain where there is drought
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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