July 31, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Isaiah 33:22 (NRSV)
For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our ruler;
the LORD is our king; he will save us.
God is our judge . . . but also our justifier. God is our ruler . . . and also the one who helps us to follow life-giving rules. God is the king . . . and also the one who humbled himself in Jesus for our sake. God our judge, ruler, and king is also our Savior.
As a citizen of the United States, I do not have a king (unlike Life for Leaders readers who live in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, or Thailand). More than two centuries ago, the English colonists who lived in North America rejected the authority of King George III of Great Britain. Therefore, I do not have a king.
Or, to be more accurate, I do not have a human king. As a Christian, I do acknowledge and serve a king, namely the LORD, the one true God, the One who is our judge and ruler, according to Isaiah 33. (The Hebrew word translated in the NRSV as “ruler” literally means “prescriber of laws” or “law giver.”)
As our judge, God sees when we do what’s wrong and pronounces a guilty verdict on our sin. As our ruler, God establishes right and wrong, showing us how and how not to live, and giving us laws to guide us. As our king, God has a rightful claim to authority over all things, including us.
Yet God is not only our judge. God is also the one who became incarnate in Jesus Christ, who received divine judgment on our behalf. Through Christ, God the judge is also the one who justifies. God is not just the ruler who makes laws, but also the grace-giver who helps us to do what’s right and forgives us when we fail to follow divine law. Moreover, God is not just our king, but also the King of kings who, in Jesus, humbled himself for our sake, becoming human and even dying on the cross. Thus, as Isaiah reveals, God is the judge, ruler, and king who saves us.
One of the great challenges and delights of the Christian life is learning to truly know God and to relate to God in the fullness of the multifaceted divine character. We live to please the judge, though we have been justified by this judge. We seek to obey God’s law, but only in God’s strength and in response to God’s forgiveness. We offer our whole selves to the King of kings, yet remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first gave himself for us.
Which of these three identities – judge, ruler, or king – do you most often associate with God?
What helps you to keep in balance the diverse aspects of God’s character?
How can one be a faithful citizen of a nation and a faithful subject of the King of Kings?
As you engage in your work today, keep in mind that God is your king.
I praise you, O God, because you are the judge, the one who sees all things clearly and perfectly determines right and wrong.
I praise you, O God, because you are the ruler, the one who has revealed to us how to live and how not to live.
I praise you, O God, because you are the king, the one who is sovereign over all things and who is worthy of all our worship.
I thank you, O Judge, because you took my guilty verdict upon yourself, justifying me through Christ.
I thank you, O Ruler, because you have put your Spirit within me to help me do what is right, and because you forgive me when I fail.
I thank you, O King, because you humbled yourself, taking the form of a slave, so that I might be saved, and even so that I might rule with you and share in your glory.
All praise be to you, O God, our Judge, our Lawgiver, our King, and our Savior. Amen.
Banner image by Pro Church Media on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Have You Prayed for Any Kings Lately?.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.