I imagine a great parade, a procession full of color, music, pageantry, and the greatest of human glory. Picture the “parade of nations” at the opening of the summer Olympics. Now envision it on scale 100 times larger.
“And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. … And the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city” (Revelation 21:2, 24b, 26).
When reading a passages like this one, does it make you pause? Similar ideas are found in the Psalms and Isaiah. The great potentates of the world, the emperors and czars and presidents, will come as those paying tribute to one much greater than themselves: God. Do you ever stop and try to picture it?
What is the expression on the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he leads his retinue right alongside Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his entourage?
Where in this procession of the “kings of the world” is the “king” of the United States? How close in the line is he to the “king” of North Korea? Each in their own way has had demigod status attributed to him. What is the level of confidence and bluster as they walk into the presence of the actual God?
Recently the United State President Donald Trump met with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. In their public dialogue, both expressed appreciation for the other. President Kagame said ”It’s always a great honor to meet the President of the United States, President Donald Trump. And we had good discussions of those two levels –the bilateral relations between Rwanda and the United States. Rwanda has benefitted tremendously from the support of the United State. In many areas where there is (inaudible) support operations we have carried out in different parts of the world, we had the United States, on our side, supporting us.”
Just a week prior to this meeting, in a session with members of congress, President Trump expressed frustration at the number of immigrants coming to America from poor, Southern hemisphere countries. Some in the meeting report that he is used an expletive to categorize these nations, mostly populated by dark-skinned people as he juxtaposed them to the more fair-skinned Norwegians as he pined for more of the Norsemen to come to America.
The whole exchange was fraught with racial overtones and elitism and was one more opportunity for the president’s political rivals to pounce.
What if we held in our minds these presidents (N. Korea, Iran & Israel, Rwanda & the United States, pick your country ) as we read Revelation 21? What if we held Revelation 21:24 and the procession of kings in mind as we read news stories? Does the word of God help us remember that presidents and kings and dictators are mere men and women, flawed human beings? In the light of the Kingdom of God, standing beneath the glow of the New Jerusalem, the United States is an impoverished, backward, place.
However one may feel about our president, followers of Jesus are to pray for him and extend him grace. This was true from 2000-2008, from 2008-2016, and it is true now. It always has been. We who are in Christ don’t need to overreact every time the president say something stupid. We see the glow of the city on the hill. We’re walking toward it.