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One Husband, One Wife, Five Children and Everything in Between

Bookmark I spent this weekend with some of the fabulous ladies in our church at a Ladies retreat. We studied 1 Timothy 6: 11-21, then the next day broke out into smaller groups to look more in-depth at each section of verses.  When I was given this passage (1 Timothy 6:15-16) to share as a breakout session, my first reaction was, “oh, okay. I can simply read the passage, we’ll all agree in an “Amen,” and that will be that.” (ha ha)

Then after reading it more, I was filled with more of a “how in the world am I going to explain this” overwhelmed feeling.

It was a roller coaster.

I was thrilled, enthralled, nervous, inadequate, excited, and overcome all at the same time. The deep meanings and vastness of this description of God had me at a loss for what I would do or say to try to teach others about what this means. We call on the names of God all the time, but why these. I recently had written a blog post about the unapproachable light. Maybe I could do this. However, I knew I would have only 10 minutes, and I could quite easily spend 10 minutes just talking about that.

again I was overwhelmed.

A good place to begin when you are studying scriptures is to break it down into smaller pieces. This passage was assigned to me as “description of God as Ruler,” so that seemed like a logical place to begin.

Ruler.

I pulled out my handy Greek resources, my husband (who happens to teach Greek in the college he is employed with.) He looked it up and said, the word is “dunastes” (transliterated)  and it is actually only used three times in the New Testament. (Luke 1:52 alluding to 1 Samuel 2:8, Acts 8:27 speaking of the court official, and here in Timothy.) Upon further digging we found that the word is not really used anywhere in the Bible to describe God. With almost every single reference it was used to talk about a leader, usually not the king, but as part of the ruling court. (Genesis 49:24, 50:4, Judges 5:9, 1 Samuel 2:8, Daniel 2:10, Isaiah 5:22, Habakkuk 3:14 to name a few) Occasionally it was even used in a negative way, like in Psalm 71:12 the word is used for the oppressor. So, nothing magical about the use of the word “dunastes”. It was a bit of a let down.

I moved on to look through my cross-reference.

It led me to find that Paul (the author of Timothy), had used a similar chain of descriptions of God earlier in the book of Timothy.

Now to the King eternal,

immortal,

invisible,

the only God,

be honor and glory for ever and ever.

Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17

I quickly went back to the Hubby and asked if this “King Eternal” was the same as “Ruler” found later.

No. It wasn’t. Of course not.

It still interested me that Paul did this twice in the same letter. In chapter one, Paul was describing the grace that he had received in Christ. He described himself as the chief of sinners. I share more about this here. As he was writing, it’s like he gets overwhelmed and built up with excitement. Lost in thoughts of the greatness of his salvation and he bursts out  in a crescendo of praise listing God’s identity. Only God could save his soul.

Now, let’s go back to chapter 6. The end of the chapter Paul is giving Timothy some closing charges. These last instructions are more or less to encourage him to press on. In verse 13, Paul charges Timothy to live a clean life until the return of Christ. (The early church thought that it was near- but the point is that we are to keep on in our faith for the rest of our lives.) As he is giving him this charge, until the return of Christ, Paul breaks out again in a crescendo of praise.

Here is the significance; keep in mind that Paul is asking Timothy {and all of us, really} to keep pressing on, waiting for the return of Christ. Oh and by the way, this is God, not people. You are waiting on His time. In case you forget he is:

the blessed and only Ruler

King of kings

Lord of lords

who is alone immortal

lives in unapproachable light

whom no one has seen or ever will

In other words, he is the ultimate supreme power and we can not fully conceive the greatness of His existence. You are to press on and wait in a manner that shows you are waiting because he is coming back. He is the boss, applesauce. (I say this to my kids all the time. Well, that I’m the boss.) 

This is a hard concept for westerners because we (meaning me) like to be the boss. Oh sure, we have a President and Senators, but if we don’t like how they “rule” you better believe they are out of there. At the same time, God is not like any Ruler that has ever existed. He is not corrupt, makes no errors, is the same, true, etc. But maybe we can get an understanding about God as Ruler- at least just a glimpse.

I grew up 20 miles outside of Washington DC. As a teen, my friends and I would often go downtown on the Metro and see all the sights. There are so many museums and things to see. As a teen, if you wanted to go up the Washington Monument you had to wait in this huge line that wrapped around the base of it three or four times. They changed the format to tickets, which was ingenious. Now (well, not right now, because it’s closed for repairs) you go to a website, find a day and time that still has tickets (you don’t have to pay) and there is no line.

The White House was the same way. As a teen I had never been to the White House because all my friends said that it was a waste of time to wait in that huge line. All you got to see were rooms they used for entertaining but not the interesting parts of the White House. As an adult, my parents had met someone who worked in the White House and was willing to give us a private tour. These tours are only by those who work there, we had to have a background check, and we could only go if the President was not in the West Wing. It was neat to see the Oval office, even if from the door. To see the room where he would meet with the Cabinet; to learn that he doesn’t sit at the head of the table but in the middle. So much fascinating information.

As we were touring around, our Guide would tell us all kinds of details about the White House. At one time in history you could drive right up to the house. It was the people’s house. Now, of course, security is very tight. He shared about some of the secure passage ways and how heavy the security was. “Have you ever heard someone tell you that the moment you have your hands on the fencing that surrounds the White House that there is a sniper with a gun on you,” Our guide asked. Yes. We had all heard that. “Well, it’s true.”

So although we don’t fully understand the concept of a Ruler and King, we can maybe grasp at the idea of someone who is completely separate and in charge. The 1st century mind, that this letter was written for had a completely different understanding. They were under Imperial rule. The man in charge, Caesar had always been and would always be calling the shots of the kingdom. If they had a great ruler, everything was smooth. If the ruler was a opressor, like in the Psalm passage, they just had to deal with his harsh ruling. The word is about someone in authority.

blessed and only Ruler: This doesn’t have the sense of blessing that we normally think of. The intent is to describe, showing that He is different, sacred, endowed with favor.  Ruler, as we already mentioned, is not a title or name of God here as much as it is to point to his authority. In waiting for the return of Christ, we are waiting on God to do it in His time. We are put under His authority to wait, to serve Him, and to obey. Each description builds on this truth. It makes me think back to the reference that Jesus made. You are either under the authority of God or Satan.

King and Lord: King of kings and Lord of lords is one of those very familiar titles. I always think of Handel’s Messiah. Surprisingly, the title King of kings is used very few times in the Bible. It is used here, in Timothy, to describe God and then twice in Revelation to describe Jesus. (Revelation 17:14, 19:16) Lord of lords is used to describe God only 5 times. (Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 136:3, Timothy and the two Revelation references) Even more interesting is that when they are used together, they only are referring to Jesus. Here is a great post with more interesting study on King of kings.

It begins and ends with God. There is no authority that is greater than His, no power that is stronger or greater. When it comes to the plans of God, nothing can stop them. He is the one calling the shots. He is ultimately sovereign. The Ancient of Days seated on the throne unshaken by any who oppose Him. {see Daniel 7} God doesn’t worry, fretting in heaven. He holds it all in his rule. Our rebellious hearts don’t like this. Going all the way back to the garden; you have Adam and Eve wanting to be equal with God. God is good all the time- even when life is terrible. He is still enthroned, reigning. I don’t think it is possible to completely grasp this idea, because we are so limited in our mind to time and space. It doesn’t change the truth. God is the King, the Lord, the Boss, the Big Man. Right now there are other powers and rulers, mere men. We live and serve the King, and we are to be living in a way that shows it.

And along those lines, I would also like to point out that his rule is unlike any on earth. God is not an aging King whose kingdom is being threatened by the rising power of Satan. Again, it is unlike any kingdom that we have known. Our minds think of powers that rise and fall, replaced by someone stronger. God the Father is the King of kings. His kingdom is eternal. Nothing will cast it away.

Who alone is immortal: As Timothy and Paul, and even us today, wait for the return of Christ, we will most likely meet death first. Jesus was the only one who looked face to face with death and came out the victor. God is immortal. He isn’t an old father who is slowly dying in heaven waiting for Jesus to take his place on the throne of heaven. (sounds kind of like the movie Thor) God is immortal. He is nothing like us.

Being mortals we follow the scientific laws, but He is the author of those laws. He is not bound to time, space, and biology. Think of all the miracles he performed. When Jesus fed the 5,000 he created more food out of what he had. When the man born blind was healed, Jesus created new eyes for him to see like he did in the beginning creations. When Jesus walked on water, he defied the very laws of nature that he created. He calls things that are not as though they were. You can’t do it, but He can. You are limited, but he is limitless. You are mortal, but he is immortal.

unapproachable light: Going back to my earlier account of the White House, we the people cannot approach our chosen leader. If we were to try, without given the clearance more than likely, we would be eating dirt with many service men on top if not shot. But the Ruler is not unapproachable in this way. This is going to sound weak, but for lack of a better way to say it, He is too great. In the book of Revelation it says that there will be no sun because Jesus will be the source of light. Paul met the light on the Damascus road and was not only blinded (with scaly scabs) but he WHOLE life was changed. God is unapproachable but not for his protection. He is unapproachable because we are limited. He is so separate and holy from what we can ever know. That is what makes Him unapproachable.

who no one has seen or ever will see: Are you getting it? You don’t know how great God really is! I don’t know either. The little bit I do know is overwhelming. It’s vast, amazing, deep, mind-boggling, life changing.

Jesus is coming back, according to God’s time. Be busy, being steadfast to the Ruler. It might seem in this life that he isn’t in charge. Life is hard! It feels as if the world has overcome and won over. That’s not the case. God is the mighty ruler, unchanging, and He is yours.

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