Everyone wants to be a king.
Some of us want to be the king of our workplace, or the king of our house. Some of us want to be the king of our fantasy football league, or the king of our neighborhood’s Christmas light displays. Some of us treat the highway as our own little kingdom, demanding that our minions ask our permission before they change lanes or slow down.
Kings stand above everyone else, receiving praise and reverence from everyone around them. Nothing is withheld from kings, after all. They never come in second place, and they never have to acquiesce to another’s needs. It’s good to be king.
In 1 Samuel 8, Israel wants to install a king to make them like other nations. Despite God’s warnings, they were adamant: Enough with this judge stuff; give us a king! So God gave them their hearts’ desire in King Saul. For most of the monarchy, it was hit-or-miss. Most of Israel’s kings were nowhere close to David—a man after God’s own heart—but even David failed. Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and a few others had decent reigns overall. Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon, and Jehoiakim? Not so much. The people wanted a king instead of the King, and they often paid for it. Because of sin, Lord Acton’s words ring true: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As we saw in Zechariah 13 and are reminded of here in Zechariah 14, God plans to wipe away all sin and death and injustice. And the Israelites here are promised a kingdom with God on the throne. Regardless of any king of earth that they’d look to, there would be only one King for eternity.
Revelation 22 gives us hope in this promise: that we will be reunited with the tree of life, which our ancient parents were driven away from (Genesis 2–3). This is both a literal promise—the tree will be there, as it actually was in the garden—and a theological promise of everlasting life. The eternal kingdom will be the true and better garden of Eden. “On that day the Lord will become King over the whole earth—the Lord alone, and his name alone” (Zechariah 14:9). God’s plan of redemption never failed; indeed, God has always been working to heal His creation, erasing sin and death and all of its devastating effects. Though many kings have failed God’s people, the true King will be on His throne, and no one will ever breach His gates again.
Written by Brandon D. Smith