When we pray “Thine is the Kingdom” forever we are acknowledging that God is God over all. There are no lesser gods that God competes with. All belongs to Him.
St. Paul captures something of this idea when he writes in Romans 11:33
“36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Of course when we pray this we are acknowledging that God has absolute dominion over His creation. When we pray “Thine is the Kingdom forever,” we are confessing before God and remind ourselves that God does not have any competition. We need to be reminded of this when living in a time when earthly potentates cavort and strut upon the world stage as if they owned some kind of dominion that is original to themselves. We also need to be reminded of this when all to often we meet Christians who somehow think that the devil somehow is ruling now while God is a spectator. To such people we offer that God’s is the Kingdom forever.
The song “This is my Father’s World captures something of the truth of “Thine is the Kingdom forever.”
This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!
A piece of poetry that has always charmed me communicates much the same message,
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own
God alone has the sole authority and the exclusive prerogative to rule. All belong to Him and all is His Kingdom.
And so here we are praying and when we pray “Thine is the Kingdom forever,” we are recognizing God’s right of ownership and dominion. When we pray such we then arise and live and move in terms of that exhaustive dominion. As Christians we are not beggars and paupers. We are children of the great King who holds dominion forever and we offer no apology to anyone for God’s Dominion authority.
There is also another slight implication here. Because God’s is the Kingdom forever we do not recognize the Kingdoms of other lesser gods. The Sons of Allah and the Sons of the Talmud and the Sons of all lesser God’s are obliged to bow before Him whose Kingdom encompasses all and whose present Kingdom is forever. The God of the Bible is not a God who does time sharing arrangements with other Gods. He does not parcel out His Kingdom dominion here and there so that competing gods each can have their share of the earthly terrain. God’s Kingdom dominion extends everywhere and all lesser gods will bow and all the knees of the adherents of the lesser gods will bow to God’s Kingdom dominion.
The word power here is dunamis. It is the word from which we derive our words “dynamite” and “dynamic.” When we pray that “Thine is the power forever,” we are recognizing God’s eternal and infinite omnipotence.
When we recognize God’s power we recognize His ability to act or produce an effect; and His possession of authority over others. God revealed His power by miraculously delivering Israel from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 4:21 ; Exodus 9:16 ; Exodus 15:6 ; Exodus 32:11 ) and in the conquest of Canaan (Psalm 111:6 ). God’s acts are foundational for His claim on Israel. God’s power includes not only the power to judge but also the power to forgive sin (Numbers 14:15-19 ; Jeremiah 32:17-18 ).
When we think of the Power of God though we must not miss the everyday power of God that we so often rush right by. We are ourselves sustained by the power of God. Our every breath is only drawn because of God’s sustaining and governing power. The rising and the setting of the sun. The coming and going of the seasons. The growing of our crops and the maintenance of our families is only because of God’s power.
Yes, God uses secondary sources to sustain His universe. But to often we get caught up so much in the secondary sources that we forget God has the primary authority. Gravity keeps us from falling off the planet but who has the power over gravity? We rejoice in the company of our family but they do not have the power of life and death in themselves … Only God has that power.
And what of our right standing with God? Only God has the power to establish that and to keep us until the final day. It was God’s power from eternity that enter into covenant to Himself to all the saving of a people who could not save themselves. It is His power that has delivered us from the cankers of guilty, pride, and envy that would have otherwise eaten us alive. It is because of His power we are delivered from the self destruction that all men pursue who are not under the hegemony of His power. It is because of His power that we are gathered here today to be built up in the faith and to be reminded with what a great salvation with which we’ve been won.
What more shall we speak of this glorious power? Shall we speak of the power working in the resurrection? The power that brought us from death to life? The power that keeps us hungering and thirsting for righteousness?
Praise God for His glorious power.
When we pray that “thine is the Glory,” we are recognizing God’s position as the Great King and ruler over all. The word here literally means to “give weight to, to honor.” It is to stand in awe of and to grant respect. It is to recognize the inequality between the character and nature of God and ourselves. God is glorious and we are sinful. It is thus to ascribe praise and adoration to God because He is other than we are.
We have a hard time with the idea of the glory of God because we are a people who are prone to integration downward into the void. Which is to say we are constantly requiring those temporal realities that have glory — those temporal realities that are superior to us — to find the lowest common denominator with those things that shouldn’t be given weight or honor to because they are not superior.
So for example we work assiduously to veil the glory of those who have temporal superiority so that we are not required to give them weight or honor. When we embrace programs where those who are not exceptional are given points so that they might be as exceptional as those who do not need points we are refusing to give glory (weight, honor) to those who are glorious.
Kurt Vonnegut told this tale in his short story “Harrison Bergeron.” Written in 1968 this is a which satire raises serious question concerning desirability of social equality and the extent to which society is prepared to go to achieve it. It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. We might say, in the context of the sermon this morning, that no one has more intrinsic temporal glory than another person.
The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced and that no one is recognized as more glorious than anyone else. The government forces citizens to wear “handicaps” (a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down those who are too strong or fast).
The whole idea here is that the temporal glory must be suppressed.
Now a people saturated in this idea in the Temporal realm — the realm of everyday living — is going to find it very difficult to think of God as being glorious. In their existence glory is bad. No one should have glory. And so the idea of God being glorious is a character trait that they either cannot identify with or they cannot recognize.
There was a time when we would still automatically give glory to people in our community. There was a time when the aged would automatically be given deference and respect and so some of what we are calling glory. There was a time when a visiting dignitary might be given deference and respect but, while exceptions exist in our culture, this automatic extending of glory (deference, respect) is hardly to be found.
And so because it is not in our everyday living we find it difficult to understand what it means to pray, “For thine is the glory forever.”
God is Glorious and when we pray we recognize God’s glory. The Glory of God is stamped everywhere across the pages of the Scripture. From the miracle of Creation, to the miracle of his long-suffering with sin from the fall forward, to the deliverance of His people from captivity, to His shekinah glory as seen in the Temple, God is everywhere Glorious in Scripture.
And our Lord Christ, being very God of God, shares in that Glory. (Revelation 1)
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.
Oh for the ability to come to grips with the glorious character of the Triune God. That God is a God all together worthy of being ascribed with all honor and respect. Oh for the ability not only to say it or pray it or preach it but I would give anything to have just a beginning of the right estimation of God’s glory for I struggle as much as the next person stuck in the mire of a culture that is altogether unfamiliar with the idea of glory — both temporal and divine.
Of course none of us can take in all of God’s glory, as Moses was told on the Mt. Sinai. But to have just an inkling of God’s superiority, God’s otherness, God’s excellence, God’s Grace, God’s Love, God’s justice, God’s Mercy. To have just an inkling of that would satisfy all the doubts and questions we have. To have just an inkling of that would change us so that we would never be the same again.
This is of course a matter of adoration. When we say “thine is the glory” we are attributing to God something that is not true about ourselves. God alone is glorious as the absolute standard by which we measure all other lesser glories.
And so in the doxology we are reminded that part of our prayer life should be this matter of adoration. Prayer is not only a matter of confession and supplication. Prayer is also a matter of adoration. God is the maker and we are the clay and so it is fitting and proper to offer up adoration unto God.
You do understand of course that when we speak of giving God glory we are not bestowing something on God that He could not have unless we bestowed it. No, when we pray “thine is the Glory, Forever,” we are merely recognizing a state that already exists as true. God is glorious whether we recognize it or not. The world is suffused with the glory of God.
It is interesting that we pray all that we have prayed because the Kingdom, the power, and the glory belongs to God. This makes all the requests of the Lord’s Prayer vertical. We are praying the matters that we have looked at not because of our interests but because of God’s interests. We pray for or daily bread for God’s is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We pray for our sins to be forgiven for God’s is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. We pray for God’s will be done for God’s is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
This reminds us how God centered this prayer is. And though we all fall short it reminds us that all our living ought to be for God’s Kingdom and power and glory forever.
It is interesting that our Lord Christ ends this prayer by centering us again upon God and His character. This life is not about us but it is about God and as such the last thought in this prayer finds us thinking of God’s character.
The Church in the West will ever be trapped in her chains of lethargy until she can once again become God centered in her living and praying.