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The Parable of the Kingdom - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8233
Once upon a time, there was a kingdom who served as a beacon of freedom and light in a world dark with injustice. It was a newer kingdom, but unlike any that had ever come before it.
The kingdom had at its foundation, a charter of rights, written by the kingdom's founders that sought to preserve this idea that men were not granted rights from kings and queens, but from the Creator. By so doing, those rights could not be taken away by a king or queen, because they were not theirs to give or take.
The people enjoyed their liberty, and greatly expanded in developing their kingdom. Their freedom to pursue whatever skill, craft or trade meant that the market place was rife with new innovative inventions. It was that way until the kingdom went to war with itself some years later over those very freedoms that had been denied to men and women who others saw as inferior people. But the kingdom healed and moved on, and after the war there was a real boom in expansion and economic growth.
The kingdom changed kings every 4-8 years, and the system put in place by the founders in their charter was primarily designed to prevent the kingdom's rulers from becoming too powerful. But power, like a drug, is very addictive. Once you have it, it becomes very hard to let go. So the leaders emplaced by the people, began to give themselves more and more exceptions to the rules that everyone else had to obey. The people themselves had begun to divide into different groups based on their skills; artisan, farmers, cattlemen, mill workers, guards, experts in the law, medicine, and banking. Overall, the kingdom fared well when the leaders were just, and suffered when the leaders weren't.
Two major wars over thirty years left this kingdom as the dominant kingdom in the realm. The level of prosperity it enjoyed was as such that had never been seen. But the prosperity was a double-edged sword. It liberated more people to more free time, which they in turn used to become more individualistic and self-centered. Pretty soon, the people only wanted to put leaders in place who promised them more gifts, land grants, and titles. The people began to ignore the laws of the land and actively sought to once again label certain groups as non-human. A law was passed that deemed those who had not yet, been birthed, as inferior-humans and were at the disposal of the mother, if she did not want them to live. It had been championed by those who excel at twisting words to mean different things then what they clearly mean, so people's conscious' were not too troubled.
As time went one, a dark and terrible magic began to spread over the land. The darkness was in direct relation to the amount of blood that had been shed by its citizens...like a darkness that fed on only the most innocent of human blood. Pretty soon, the artisans became more perverse, and the people began to relish in more evil and violent means of entertainment. The kingdom officials became more elusive in their speech and more obscure in what rights they gave themselves. As the prosperity continued, it only caused the people to become more apathetic to the goings on in the leadership of their kingdom. They did not care, so long as the 'bread and circuses' continued unabated.
Life went on until a major attack occurred and the kingdom had suffered tremendous loss. The king, squires, constables, and chancellors saw this as the moment when they could put in place laws that had long been in the works but didn't have the people behind it to allow them to enact it. The people wanted action, and the royal court had the laws ready to go...as if they knew what the people's reactions would be ahead of time. They just had to wait for the right crisis to introduce it.
As the laws were enacted, the king decided to wage wars on two kingdoms far, far away. The king did so because they had been harboring those who were deemed responsible for that heinous act. And so the kingdom went to war, and for many years, war became an accepted part of kingdom life. This time it was known as the 'war on fear', and 'fear' can mean many different things to many different people. What it did do, was leave the wars open-ended, so they could continue on for as long as the kings needed them too.
It was a fight against lawless barbarians. Since they had no kingdom of their own, they began to spread fear everywhere they went. The cost of knights and soldiers became very high, not only in taxes taken from the local peasants and workers but in the cost of human life. The people soon tired of war but didn't know how to leave without looking weak. So the new king set updates on when we would withdraw from those kingdoms, and arbitrarily declared victories...although the barbarians were still out there, and would most likely attack the kingdom again.
A new king was chosen, and he was different than all the previous ones. He singlehandedly managed to procure more debt than all the kings before him. He also actively ignored the laws of the land and enacted laws that broke other laws. We all know him as the 'lawless king' who did as he pleased. And so it was that the kingdom was completely covered in this dark magic, and the people moaned under the leadership of this man and his royal party. Even after he leaves the position of king, the kingdom will continue to suffer because of the laws he put in place.
The kingdom then began to entreat one specific faith with specific vitriol and hate, more so, than all the others, even the religion of the barbarians. They did this because this one faith had real power, and real ability to raise the dead from amongst the living. It caused people to wake up from the slumber of life and realize that real life comes after their death and that life goes on forever. It held people accountable, even to the extent of the things they thought and the words that came out of their mouths. The name of that faith was first called "The Way", and its followers believed that that real King would soon come back one day and rule all the kingdoms under perfect leadership forever.
This is why the non-believers hated it so because they knew one day they would be held accountable for everything they did, and that scared them. In their hatred, they took out their vengeance on the King's followers. As time wore on, the days grew darker and darker, and it seemed like their salvation would never come. Many departed from the faith and began to follow teachers that only told them what they wanted to hear. Some left the faith altogether and worshipped nothing but the pleasures in that life. While some others were eager to believe at first, but never studied or grew in their faith, so when the hard times came, their faith withered and died. But those who did believe, and did grow in their faith, held on in the belief that one day, their King would return.
And so it was, that on an average, ordinary day when the people of the kingdom least expected it, He returned. He took those faithful to Him back to be with Him in eternity while those who remained suffered under seven of the most awful years that had ever befallen that kingdom, or any other kingdom. This awful, lawless king ruled like no other had. He sought to bring all the kingdoms under his control and have everyone worship him as a god.
It was a good thing he only ruled for seven years though, because he would have destroyed everyone and everything in his quest for total rule over the realm. But he wasn't destroyed by any other kings, but by THE King Himself, who is also known as the King of Kings. He destroyed him simply by speaking the Word, and this mighty lawless king was destroyed in seconds. All those who had rejected the King of Kings were then cast into outer darkness forever.
They would never see light again, or feel the warmth of love and kindness. They would forever hunger and thirst, and live out the rest of their existence in total darkness, alone, forever. Although they had plenty of chances, they ignored them. Although they had plenty of opportunities, they laughed and mocked those sharing with them. Each time they rejected the message of salvation, their consciences' became seared like burnt flesh and their hearts grew a little harder...until one day when their hearts of flesh, turned into hearts of stone.
So the King now reigns. Not only this, but He has extended His rule to His family of believers who also rule and reign with Him. They would never know hunger again, or thirst. They would never know saddness, or fear. They would never experience pain and suffering as they had under the previous kings in another life. It was and still is a glorious kingdom without end. It is love and joy, wrapped up in the perfect liberty of His light forever.
And so our tale ends, and they lived happily-ever-after. Amen.