Some time back I was praying and the term “kings of the earth” came to me. I did a study on this term and I found the following verses. They can be broken into three categories:
1) Ones that reference the arrogance of the “kings of the earth”
2) Ones that assert that Jesus is above the “kings of the earth”
3) Ones that speak of Jesus punishing the “kings of the earth”
- The arrogance of the “kings of the earth”:
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision.” (Psalm 2:2-4)
“For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built ruins for themselves…” (Job3:13-14)
“The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the LORD and against His Christ.” (Acts 4:26)
- Jesus is established over the “kings of the earth”:
“He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.’” (Psalm 89:26-27)
“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6)
- Jesus punishes the “kings of the earth”:
“It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished.” (Isaiah 24:21-22)
“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)
A reading of the text before Acts 25:23 reveals that King Agrippa, who oversaw the Palestine area, came to visit Festus who was the newly installed procurator of Judea. Festus explained that he had inherited a prisoner (Paul) who had been there two years awaiting a trial. He told Agrippa that when the Jews who falsely accused Paul came before Festus their case was absurd and that Paul represented himself well.
Festus told Agrippa that he had considered sending Paul back to Jerusalem to be tried there but that Paul had invoked his right as a Roman citizen to be tried in Rome. So when Agrippa heard this story:
“Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I also would like to hear the man myself.’ ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘you shall hear him.’ “So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.” (Acts 25:22-23)
The Greek word translated as “pomp” is interesting as it is the word from which we get the English word "fantasy”. It literally means “outward display” or “an abundance of a vain show.”
As I taught this recently the term “kings of the earth” came to my mind. Who are “kings of the earth” in this story in Acts 25? King Agrippa, a very paganized Jew was there with his wife. Festus was there; he was a powerful Roman leader in the area. Also present were some commanders (of 1000 soldiers each) and some important prominent men of the city.
Until Jesus returns there will always be “kings of the earth.” The “kings of the earth” are people and organizations and situations who either have authority on the earth or somehow seem to be in control of us. No matter what they think and no matter how it played out on the earth, their authority originates not from man but from God Himself.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)
So, the “kings of the earth” are people or things who are in authority on the earth. Some of these rule in ways that would glorify God, the source of their authority. Most, however, do not rule in ways that would glorify Him because most do not belong to Him. Therefore, most usually consider their power to come from themselves, and that is the origin of their arrogance, excesses and destructive ways.
Everyone has or has had their own “kings of the earth” in their lives. This can be anything from unfair employers to unreasonable and hurtful spouses to an unfavorable economy to the IRS. A farmer’s “kings of the earth” might include prolonged drought. A high schooler’s “kings of the earth” might be bullies. For some, it’s cancer or epilepsy or some other diagnosis.
What makes something or someone a “king of the earth” is it’s potential to loom large over us and threaten to take control of our souls. It’s wealth, position, grand appearance, horrible consequences, lists of projected losses or bondage may all be real.
The certainty that it will dominate you, though, is not!
“…at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.” (Acts 25:23b)
In their eyes Paul was a nobody…perhaps less than a nobody. He was a prisoner and his fate really didn’t matter to them. One might expect that a lowly prisoner would cower before his captors and before the “kings of the earth”. Upon their command Paul is brought in before them. He is, at this time, amusement for them.
Romans 8:29 describes Jesus as “the firstborn among many brethren.” Jesus is THE ultimate King. He is the “firstborn.” We Christians are the “many brethren.” In other words, spiritually speaking, Christians are royalty (in God's eyes) and whatever is in His eyes is reality. I like that idea.
We should endeavor to never lose sight of that truth. In Christ we are spiritual royalty, and, as such, we spiritually outrank the “kings of the earth!” We should embrace that and stop living like slaves intimidated by people and circumstances. We are not destined to cower before “the kings of the earth.”
What lasts the longest is what matters the most and Christians live forever because we are fully alive spiritual beings and the spiritual lasts forever. Therefore, when Paul walks into the room he is the only truly royal person in the room, since he is the only born again person there.
Have you ever found yourself in an intimidating situation - a situation in which things were orchestrated so that you would be surrounded by people who had power, or who were in the know or who were people who had degrees or position? I have.
Many years ago four very wealthy couples who lived in the area of Houston in which the first President Bush lives invited me to teach Philippians to them over a two month period. At the time my wife and I were struggling financially. I drove an old truck without air conditioning...in Houston...in the summertime. I would drive there eating a fast food burger....sweating... wearing a nice pair of pants...and an old t-shirt. Whenever I arrived I would be soaked in sweat.
They would drive up from an expensive restaurant in their $60,000 cars and I’d meet them at their gated townhouse community. I would park in the dark and take my shirt off. I rinsed myself with water I carried, dried my hair and upper body and would put on a nice dress shirt. The security guard would watch me suspiciously.
I REALLY didn’t fit in there (in an earthly sense). This was an abode for the “kings of the earth.”
The first time I sat in their living room I realized that the rug under my feet was worth more than my house and cars and everything I owned all put together and I had a feeling of despair. An almost overwhelming sensation “less than” washed over me.
Then the Lord spoke to me. He told me that I belonged there because I was a Prince in the Kingdom of God and because I was invited. He said that I was among equals. I chose to believe the Lord and taught the Word of God with confidence and power, challenging these “kings of the earth” to repent and walk with the Lord in an ever increasing intensity.
Do you know that since there is no rank in the body of Christ (outside the fact that Jesus is King) and since we Christians are all equally His, there is no rank in the body of Christ? We are ALL equal.
When we stand before an earthly leader who has authority or power or money we are to respect the authority since God works His grace through that but if the person or persons before us is not saved...we actually outrank that person spiritually. When it comes to standing before a bad diagnosis or a life change, we surely outrank it because it is earthly and will eventually pass away. As eternal spiritual beings we will live forever...far beyond when a disease will be forever past. None of these deserve to control our hearts.
“So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus' command Paul was brought in.” (Acts 25:23)
There was Paul, supposedly a lowly prisoner. He stood before an ungodly King and his incestuous wife. He stood before a Roman procurator. He stood before several commanders (they all oversaw 1000 men apiece). He stood before the rich prominent people of the city. Paul was a man of royalty, in Christ and, rather than cowering, he conducted himself like a man of royalty.
We can learn a lot from this about how to handle situations in which we feel outclassed in an earthly sense. We can move in confidence instead of in fear or anxiety or apprehension. The kings of the earth do not rule over us unless we allow them to do so. For those who will heed these words - these are words of freedom and liberty.
At times we find ourselves in situations like Paul was in and we become reactive as opposed to active. When we react, are we in control of ourselves or the situation? When we react we’re actually in control of neither. When we react to anyone or anything whatever it is we react to is in control of us and, at least circumstantially, it can determine who we are. That is far too much control of ourselves to be giving to anyone or anything.
It is our responsibility and privilege to act and to NOT react to anything. We simply cannot let anyone else or circumstances determine who we are in any situation.
When we came to Jesus for salvation we all swore allegiance to Him. We proclaimed that He was our Lord (literally, Owner.) He alone is our Lord. While we are certainly free to allow ourselves or someone else or circumstance to rule over us, this track will never bear good fruit for us. Instead of serving Jesus in freedom we will effectively go into bondage to whatever does control us.
The apostle Paul was paraded out as a “nobody” before a pile of earthly “somebody’s”. This was to intimidate him - just like life tries to do to us all the time. This was to cause him to be reactive so as to cause him to give up control.
He never did.
I encourage you to sit down sometime and close your eyes and imagine what it might have been like for Paul. He was jailed for simply obeying the Lord Jesus and for being who he was in Christ: an apostle. One minute he is languishing in a filthy cell and the next he is dragged into a room somewhere before the “kings of the earth.” Try to get a feel for how intimidating it might have been for him to be dirty and smelly and standing before people who were dressed in fine clothing and who had earthly power over his body.
Then read starting in Acts 25:13 and see how in Acts 26:1 King Agrippa grants Paul the chance to speak for himself. Note how in the next verse Paul begins like this: “I think myself happy (supremely blessed.)…”.
Do those sound like the words of an intimidated and terrified prisoner? NO! Those are the words of a confident man among equals. Those are the words of spiritual royalty!
Read on and see the effect the words and demeanor of this seeming prisoner have on a king of the earth:
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’” (Acts 26:28)
See Paul’s authoritative response to Agrippa’s confession:
“And Paul said, ‘I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.’” (Acts 26:29)
Please note that Paul was aware of his chains. If he had a bad diagnosis, he wouldn’t be in denial about it. If he worked for a tyrant or was about to be sued he would acknowledge that. However, he would still be the prince in the Kingdom of God that he is and would conduct himself accordingly.
My word of encouragement is that although satan often tries to use the “kings of the earth” against so that we may panic and allow him to rule over us, it is God Who is at work within us. He allows these things to come to us because He loves us and wants us to experience the exhilaration of not reacting to these stressors through which satan craves dominion over us. God does this because He wants us to experience the thrill of casting down worship of these things and, instead, allowing Jesus to function as our Lord effectively ruling and reigning in us.
God allows these things to us so that we may not panic and, instead, respond to Him and allow Him to rule over us. While our enemy sends “faith buster bombs” which are designed to bust our faith, God responds with “faith cluster bombs” designed to sprinkle MORE faith all over the fields of our hearts.
He will have no other gods before Him.
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:3-5)
Paul stood before those men not as a lowly cowering prisoner. He stood before them as spiritual royalty.
So shall we if we always remember who we are in Christ and live that way.
© October 27, 2011
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
(For use with permission)