Thesis: The "Kingdom" is absolutely opposed to the reign of any King but Jesus.
Introduction:Last week we considered Luke's purpose in bringing John's instruction to the tax-collectors into his record for Theophilus. I made the claim that the tax-collectors fit into John's thesis of "men are snakes" at the "poison" level. The tax-collectors were, in some ways, the most unrighteous elements in the kingdom of the fang. They, more than any others, put the focus of "life by the fang" solidly upon the issue of material wealth. It was my claim last week that man's fixation upon material wealth as the root of life is the poison by which men are destroyed by the kingdom of the fang.
This week, we are going to turn again to the question of Luke's choice of material for Theophilus as an eager consumer of the Truth about our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Why did he deliberately focus upon the soldiers who came to be baptized by John?
I. The Focus of John.
A. Is revealed by his response to the question of the soldiers.
1. First, it was "soldiers" who raised the question.
a. Soldiers are, invariably, the primary instruments of the establishment and extension of any kingdom.
1) Even God's Kingdom does not exist without warriors.
a) One of the titles of God is "Yahweh of Hosts".
b) The "Host" of Heaven was on hand at the birth of Jesus.
c) The apostle Paul's final victorious cry at the end was "I have fought a good fight"; and this was on the heels of 2 Corinthians 10:3, 1 Timothy 1:18, and 2 Timothy 2:4.
d) The picture of the Revelation of God's victory in Revelation 12 is a picture of an enormous "war" in heaven, and everyone has heard of Armageddon as the final event that will bring about the Kingdom of Messiah.
i. It is not incidental that Paul identified covetousness as idolatry and Armageddon is all about ridding this planet of idolaters.
ii. The "Mother of All Fights" is going to be over "money".
2) Every "lesser" kingdom only exists by means of warriors.
b. These soldiers were the primary instruments of the kingdom of the fang, but they have been, by repentance, transferred out of that kingdom into the Kingdom of the Son of God.
1) As the front line enforcers of the kingdom of the fang, the most natural question in the world for a transferred soldier would be, "How do I act as an heir to the Kingdom of God while being an active part of the kingdom of the fang?"
2) In a sense, the question was: "How do I function as the fangs of an ungodly kingdom?"
2. Second, the answer was deliberately "structured" from the "outside" to the "inside".
a. John's first word to the soldiers was instruction on how they used their fangs.
b. John's second word to the soldiers was instruction on how they enhanced the effectiveness of their use of their fangs.
c. John's third word to the soldiers was instruction on the driving force behind the use of their fangs.
3. These facts indicate that John clearly understood how "righteousness" was to function within the context of an unrighteous kingdom.
B. Is established by the reality that the bottom line for the soldiers was the very same as that of the tax-collectors: wealth as god.
1. There is no escape from ...
a. The reality that the entire fallen world has replaced God with wealth as the effective source of life.
1) The "dissatisfaction" of the soldiers with their wages was nothing more or less than the expression of the belief that more wages would make life better. [It would not, it does not, it never has, it never will ... Life is a relational reality that is completely out of the boundaries of what money can touch.]
2) The "dissatisfaction" of the soldiers was nothing more or less than the greed of the tax-collectors.
b. The reality that the Kingdom of God is absolutely intolerant of any King, but Jesus.
1) The issues of Heaven and Hell are determined by whether one "believes" that Jesus is the Christ or not (John 8:24).
2) The issue of "repentance" is the issue of being actually changed from a money-worshipping snake to a Father-worshipping child.
3) It is impossible to read Luke's record of John's words and see his focus upon the issue of "Just Who is the Source of Life?" and go away and not see that the question demands a final answer.
2. There is no escape from the fact that the other two "problems" the soldiers had in their most prevalent "behaviors" were rooted in their own dissatisfactions, which were, in turn, rooted in their idolatry.
a. The illegitimate use of power to intimidate others who were not legitimate opponents of the government was an expression of personal dissatisfaction.
b. The illegitimate us of accusation to force compliance to the soldier's personal agenda was the expression of personal dissatisfaction.
c. Dissatisfaction arises from being disconnected from the Source of Life.
II. The Implications of Luke's Record.
A. First, that the bondage to the idolatry of covetousness is pervasive and genuine.
B. Second, that the only release from that bondage is by divine action.
C. Third, that the only time God acts to release is when repentance is real.
D. Fourth, that the war over the question of "Who is God?" is not over when a person is regenerated...it must be fought every day [Note 1 Peter 2:11].