Seek First the Kingdom

What does it mean to “seek first” the kingdom of God, and His righteousness? Seek is an active word, not a passive word. Seeking means to keep going until you find what you are looking for. It is not half-hearted effort, poking around in convenient places with a toe or a finger. It is a whole body effort, straining to move heavy objects if they get in the way or pushing past people who might try to stop you. Seeking gets to be single-minded, forgetting everything in the urge to find what is being sought.

 

To place something first means to give it priority over everything else. Coupled with the word “seek” Jesus is saying the kingdom and God’s righteousness are before everything else in our lives. Even food and clothes. All activities or goals or plans or priorities get subordinated to the kingdom and God’s righteousness. Placing these things first frames our life, informs every decision, and drives all the other parts of living. We ask ourselves if what we are doing or where we are going will take us further or get us closer to the number one thing on our priority list. We don’t let anything as mundane as food or clothing stop us from attaining our goal.

 

His kingdom is His household, and His righteousness is outlined for us in His Law.
And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:8, ESV)

 

The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious. (Isaiah 42:21, ESV)

 

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (Romans 2:13, ESV)

 

If you have to find your car keys before going to the store for groceries you tend to seek in ways that you wouldn’t if you were just looking for dropped popcorn between seat cushions. Take out your “To Do” list (or lists). Put God’s kingdom and righteousness at the top. Does it change the items on your list? Does it change your priorities? Does it characterize things differently? Do you begin asking yourself if the other things on the list will help you realize the one at the top? Or do you just skip over it or put it off for another day like a trip to the hardware store?

The Wrath of God

I feel somewhat out-of-place in addressing this topic. Most messages from Christians are centered on a sappy Jesus who, to them, is like a refugee from the ’60’s hippie movement spouting one liners about human ideas of peace and love. They don’t read the Bible very much or we would hear a lot more about God’s wrath (hundreds of verses) and how it is surely building over the current state of the world’s culture. In my opinion it is also building over the church’s involvement in leading the way, too.

 

But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:16, ESV)

 

The reason for talking about God’s wrath is number one because it ain’t pretty yet it will surely fall; two maybe it will spur people to repent; and three that it might inspire those who are already elect to do good. Speaking of the wrath (or fierce anger) of the Lord is an act of love because we want people to stop despising His Words and scoffing at the prophets or messengers of God. If we keep on like we are there will be no remedy.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:1–3, ESV)

 

The preachers of the false Jesus hippie dude whose teachings resemble those of Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventure (“Be excellent to one another, and, Party on, dude!”) are presuming on the riches of His kindness. Obedience is not an option or a feeling. It is commanded by God that anyone who does not obey the gospel will be cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30).

 

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:4–8, ESV)

 

Jesus is coming back soon, and many will be shocked and stunned to the roots of their soul at the sword in His hand and the fury with which He treads out the wine press of God’s wrath (Revelation 19:15). Don’t you be included in that number.

 

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:5–8, ESV)

 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV)