Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: the Sovereignty of God

Scriptures: Psalm 103:19-22; Isaiah 46:5-10; Romans 8:28-31

Today we’re going to finish the series on the Lord’s Prayer, or the Disciple’s Prayer. So I just want to have a quick recap.

We first had an overview of the prayer, and we learned that the prayer was taught by Jesus to the disciples, because they were concerned that they address God properly. They were concerned that they would pray to Him in a way that would be fitting.

There are seven petitions in the prayer. The first three are directed to reminding us who God is, what He has done, what He is worthy of, and give us a perspective on the other four. Those start with “give us” instead of “thy will” or “thy name.”

Those four petitions teach us about God’s provision for us, and call upon God to hold us accountable, for what He has given us and what we do with it, as we, for instance, make a petition “forgive us, as we forgive others.”

Now we’re going to get to the last phrase, “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” But getting to the “meat” phrase today, I want to quickly mention the final word that we say – “Amen”.

We use it at the end of every prayer. We’ve used it already a couple of times today. And most of us, I’m willing to wager, don’t know what it means.

It was taken from the Hebrew word omein, and it cannot be translated as a single word. It’s a concept. It means, for example, “So be it.”

How many of you have seen the animated movie The Prince of Egypt? For those of you who haven’t, you should. I don’t care how old you are. It’s a worthwhile movie to watch. The animation is incredible. The storyline is well-written, and it was faithful to much of Scripture.

In it, there’s a particular phrase that the Pharaoh uses. Whenever he is making a proclamation from the throne, he stands up and he says [speaking in a deep, commanding voice] “So let it be written. So let it be done.” And he holds up his symbols of power and authority.

Amen – omein – was the kind of word that was put at the end of heraldic declarations of kings, or covenant vows. It meant “As it was written, or said, SO.SHALL.IT.BE.”

What was said or written is fact. Incontrovertible. Unchangeable by us. Our very lives and beings are staked in this being or becoming true. This is important for later on, so I mention it now. Think what you are saying, when you say “Amen.”

Now, it’s amusing in some ways, having gotten through the Lord’s Prayer here as we progressed, each week I said “this is a difficult phrase” and “this is a difficult phrase too.” Guess what? This last phrase is a difficult part of the prayer.

Mostly because it’s not in a majority of the manuscripts. It is not said, for instance, by the Roman Catholic Church. It’s not in the Gospel of Luke in any translations. When you find it, it’s in Matthew. The absence of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is quickly apparent when we read, for instance, the New International Version of Matthew. The New American Standard, which is my favorite, has it but puts it in brackets.

The fact that it is not universally prayed throughout the Church is obvious during ecumenical gatherings when Roman Catholics and Protestants pray and the Protestants rattle on for some time after their Roman brothers and sisters have ended their prayer.

Kind of like, even those of us who are Protestants, some say “debts and debtors” and some of us say our “sins” or our “trespasses, and those who trespass against us,” and there’s always that muttering or murmuring as some of us say “debts” and then we wait for the rest to finish the rest of the phrase.

There are many sources, however – some of the earliest we have, in fact – like the Didache – that do include it. If it was added, it was added in the first century, because the early Christians felt it was important to do so.

The Didache, by the way – that’s the Greek word that means teachings. You may not realize, but when the church was first formed, their confirmation class, their communicants class, it didn’t last six week, it didn’t last six months. It lasted three years. By the time you became a member of the church, you knew what you believed, in all of its various aspects and doctrines.

And in the Didache, it includes that phrase, in repeating what the Lord taught us to pray. The Christians felt it was important to do so. Jews, for millennia, had finished their prayers with a doxology (which is what this phrase is); and Jesus was a good Jew.

I am certain he included such doxologies after his prayers to Jehovah God. Even in the Psalm today, as we look at the verses 19-22, we see this doxological formula, as he finishes a prayer of adoration to the Creator with recognition of His sovereignty, power, and glory. Verse 19 says “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Likewise, most of the earliest Christians were also Jews, and would have felt the importance of ending their prayers with praising God. So we don’t know really whether it was in the Matthew Gospel, lost, and added back in later; or simply added in later because tradition within the church itself included such an ending. Regardless, I believe it belongs there, and I hope through my talk today to show why.

First of all, it is a demonstration of power. This statement is true: “It’s not about us. It’s about God.” I’ve mentioned this before, I believe, about Deb Kinney, down in Burlington Presbyterian. I don’t know if she still does, but a few years ago, when she began worship services, she’d come to the pulpit, and the first thing she would say was “It’s not about you!” And everybody would look back at her. “It’s not about you either!”

It’s true. It’s about God. He is the one who is the audience, the witness. We are players. If anything, I’m a prompter, not a performer.

The doxology focuses our attention away from ourselves, and back on God. We behold the glory and majesty of God as we end the Lord’s Prayer and step out to face the challenges of life.

Whenever momentous events were on the horizon and the faith of disciples would be challenged, God gave His people a glimpse of His power and might. Shortly after Jesus predicted his death to his disciples, he took Peter, James, and John up to a mountaintop and was transfigured before them. These three disciples, who would become the core of the early church, beheld God’s power and majesty.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s glory and majesty, and God’s victory over the forces of evil and death. The resurrection has been a source of hope for millions and millions of Christians throughout the centuries. We acknowledge the power of the resurrection, for instance, when we sing the hymn [singing] “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.”

This prayer, like our life, should begin and end with God. He is the source of life itself; the Creator of the universe and each one of us. He is the source of our redemption, and did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He is giver of new life and a new creation as we receive our salvation and begin to live as disciples of the one who saved us – Jesus Christ.

We began the prayer with a recognition of who God is, and His place in the universe as sovereign King. We prayed for His rule here, on earth, in our lives and the lives of others.

We admitted our need as we asked for our daily bread, and for Him to hold us accountable for forgiving as well as thanking Him for His forgiveness. We prayed for guidance and protection as we walk through this life as disciples of Jesus, trying to live as He calls us to do.

We have declared our trust in Him, our need of Him, and our desire to follow Him, and now we need to close the loop.

As we could see, the doxology (and by the way, doxology – we have that in our bulletin every week – it means to “give glory”) focuses on the power and majesty of God. Focusing on these attributes of God give us reason to hope that the requests we have made in the Lord’s Prayer will be answered.

They will not be answered because of our eloquence, our natural goodness, or our degree of need. Our requests will be answered because God wants to answer them and is capable of answering them.

The psalmist, in our reading today, speaks of God’s lovingkindness throughout Psalm 103, and shows us how the God who created us heals us, provides for us, saves us, and protects us. God desires a relationship with us, and gives us all that we need to be in that relationship with Him.

But it requires a certain recognition on our parts. Like the psalmist; like Jesus in the Disciple’s prayer; we need to recognize the Father for who He is, what He can do, and what He rightfully claims. We need to trust that the one who created us and loves us will meet all those needs of ours, and then show the gratitude in response that proves we recognize His provision and love.

Society today talks a lot about “entitlements”, and an “entitlement mentality”; and one of the aspects of that is arrogance and ingratitude. After all, if we are “due” our provision because of who we are or what we have done, why should we be thankful? It is only “what is right”.

If we deserve to be loved by others because of who we are or what we have done, why then that is only the just recognition of our uniqueness and greatness! Please note: I am not saying we shouldn’t be loved for ourselves, or learn to love ourselves.

But we can do so because we know we are God’s creation, and God loves us for reasons we don’t know fully and don’t deserve, and God has claimed each of us as His child, and it is His claim on us by grace that gives us our authority, power, and uniqueness.

As I am fond of saying (and I don’t remember who I learned this from, I just know I didn’t come up with it on my own) “It is not just who we are, but whose we are that matters.” Our core being, place and purpose are all based (or should be) on the God who created us and loves us and saves us. We don’t have to “earn” our love (though we may need to earn respect and trust from others); but we do need to realize where that ability to love and be loved comes from.

We are not “entitled” to anything; yet our gracious God sees fit to give us everything we need, if we only trust Him! We ask for daily bread, for forgiveness, for guidance and for protection; we claim that we earnestly desire for God to rule us and our world, and that we recognize who He is from the beginning of this wonderful prayer Jesus taught us.

Now, at the end of this prayer, as at the end of the Psalm, and as should be at the end of every prayer, we give recognition and glory to the one who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who was, who is, and who shall ever be, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – our God!

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three in one, one in three, and whom we praise in Trinity – our God! Can we be un-Presbyterian? Can I get an AMEN or a Hallelujah or something? [Some voices called out “Amen!”]

The Lord’s prayer is the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray. This is the prayer we recite every week. These messages are what I hope and pray you will be taking seriously and thinking about as you recite it.

This is what you claim to believe, and to know with your hearts. Who God is, and whose we are, and what is entailed in the relationship of being God’s child. And now, we finish the prayer with this doxology of praise and joy, and loudly proclaim to all its truth and message as we say “Amen and Amen.”

So be it, and so let it be done. You are, o God, what you have claimed, and we trust in you and your sovereignty, provision, and love. We admit our need and our dependence. We recognize our debt, and our duty, and our call. We testify to our salvation by grace, through faith, and give you the praise and the honor, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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