Christ’s underlying message is one of perspective; where we put our primary focus in life:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt 6:33)

We are exhorted to seek God’s righteousness and His kingdom in order to find it, and this is achieved by meditating on the matter, thinking about it, enquiring after it, aiming for it, and craving it. This must be the desire of our heart. It is what we must desire “first”. It must be first in time and place, in rank and influence. It must be the principal goal of our lives and it must influence all our decisions. In seeking God’s righteousness, we are allowing His character to be formed in us. The way we act must be the way He would act; and the things we value, the things He would value.

Seeking rulership in the kingdom

The word for “kingdom” is the Greek basileia which Strong tells us means “royal power, kingship, dominion, rule, not to be confused with the actual kingdom—but rather the right or authority to rule over the kingdom.” This is the motivator, the career goal, the vision of the saint: to be involved in establishing God’s kingdom over the earth. It should change our outlook towards the vain and fleeting present. As Peter wrote:

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet 3:11-13)

Our Lord promised his disciples a very real and tangible hope:

“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt 19:27-28)

This is what we are to seek first in our lives. Everything else we do, our jobs, our education, our houses and wealth, are all just for the time being and will “pass away”. Understanding that, we need to lift our minds and hearts above those things that will eventually dissolve and concentrate on the things that will remain eternally. Instead of exclusively training for a trade, for an internship, for a professorship, we need to be training for a role as kings and priests. The qualifications are clear, and must be in development now, as David wrote: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam 23:3-4).

A future ruler must be just; that is why seeking a role in the administration of the kingdom of God and seeking righteousness are synonymous ideas. Righteousness qualifies us for rulership. This was the condition laid out by the angel speaking to Joshua in Zechariah’s vision:

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (Zech 3:7)

The angel’s ‘if: then’ statement lays out the qualifications necessary to receive the role of rulership in the kingdom of God. At the end of the day, it is still the gift of God, but one must possess the necessary attributes to receive it.

It is a time-limited offer, and we need to seek it while we have the opportunity, as saith Isaiah:

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)

Treasured treasure

Seeking a place in the kingdom of God alongside our Lord has to form the desire of our hearts and should be a prime motivating factor in our lives. Take, for example, David:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psa 27:4-5)

The Psalmist states that it was the one thing he desired, the one thing he carefully enquired after. His heart was set upon seeking it and striving after it so that he could secure it. He wanted to abide in the temple and experience its beauty and be able to inquire and reflect upon its glory. This was his goal in life above all, the one thing he desired. Is that true of us?

There is a benefit associated with this single-minded focus. When trouble or evil or misery or distress arose he would find a sanctuary. The original Hebrew in verse 5 conveys some vivid imagery. The word “hide” means to hide treasure, to store up goods. The word “pavilion” depicts a thicket, a lair or a covert. God would hide him as one would secretly hide treasure from the enemy, or an animal would be concealed in his lair. He would be hidden or carefully hidden away in the “secret” of God’s tabernacle. The irony is that if we treasure the things of the Father above all else, He will treasure us and hide us. This concept is clearly stated in Malachi’s prophecy:

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” (Mal 3:16-17)

Clearly, God treasures those who treasure Him in their hearts. This was His covenant with the nation of Israel from the time He brought His national son out of Egypt. He promised to make them a “peculiar treasure” above all people if they obeyed Him (Exod 19:5-6).

This “peculiar treasure” is exactly that: a valued treasure, a valuable possession or property. Those who value God by obeying Him and keeping His covenant are valued by Him. Those who have this outlook on life, God promises to “set [them] up upon a rock” as Psalm 27:8-9 continues to say:

“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.”

Clearly, God’s desire is for us to seek Him. Our seeking cannot be just intellectual, it has to be something that drives our hearts. The Psalmist’s biggest concern is that God would “hide” His face from him and conceal Himself from him. This was his greatest fear: that God would turn His face from him. Hence, David implores God not to leave him neither forsake him even when others do:

“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psa 27:10)

The phrase “take me up” means to gather, to collect or to assemble, and carries the idea of picking up the pieces. Being forsaken by one’s own family is shattering and David was asking God to pick up the broken shards of his life and put everything back together. In this way God would become David’s salvation. He would be rescued and safely cared for. Consequently, David instructs us to put all our confidence in Him:

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Psa 27:14)

We are to ‘wait for our God’ and that involves hoping for Him and eagerly looking for His help. Consequently, we should be of “good courage”. Putting trust in God gives us real confidence, not self-confidence but an unshakeable confidence in God’s strength because our God will never fail us, even though we fail ourselves. He tells us He will strengthen us and that should make us bold and determined to serve Him. This should be where our confidence is drawn from. It was where Joshua placed his confidence:

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Josh 1:5-10)

Joshua’s prosperity was dependent upon his observance of the law, and his faithfulness to follow its precepts. If he would observe to do what was written in the law, then he would prosper and would have good success. That expression carries with it the idea of being prudent and having insight and it is the Word of God that gives us that capacity to act wisely.

It was where David placed his confidence when he fought against Goliath (1 Sam 17:45-47).

This was where the Apostle Paul placed his confidence as he told the Philippians:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6)

We must place our confidence in our God, to redeem us to Himself, and complete the work begun in us. Our confidence should extend to trusting the way He has laid out before us. It should extend to our daily lives, and to where we put our trust.