In 1 Samuel 12, God used the words of His prophet to bring about repentance in His people. In requesting a human king, the people rejected their God (1 Sam. 8). But Samuel helped them to see that their true king was God, and though Saul now reigned over them, God still reigned over both people and monarch. In a real sense, Samuel simply reminded the people of their ultimate citizenship—they were of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man.
In truth, all human beings belong to one of these two kingdoms. Those who believe in God and trust Him for all their needs, including their eternal salvation, are citizens of the kingdom of God, or, as Augustine called it, the city of God. However, those who reject God and refuse to bow to Him are citizens of the city of man. No one holds dual citizenship, for these cities are mortal enemies engaged in ongoing warfare. But the Bible reveals that this war will not be eternal—the kingdom of God will prevail. Therefore, it is vital that each person know to which city he or she belongs. Having observed the Israelites wrestling with their ultimate loyalty, we will pause for the next two weeks to do the same, utilizing Dr. R.C. Sproul’s audio teaching series The City of Man and The City of God.
Many wars begin with a “first shot,” such as the initial salvo between the British and the Colonists at Lexington, Mass., or the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C. The war between the city of God and the city of man began with a question. The serpent, a representation of Satan, came on a mission of seduction, hoping to recruit troops for his war on heaven. As recorded in Genesis 3, he asked Eve, “‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” When the woman corrected him, the serpent then launched a direct assault, blatantly contradicting God and promising Eve that she and her husband would be “like God” if they ate the forbidden fruit. He was urging them to throw off God’s authority and thereby become autonomous, a law unto themselves. This prospect of being their own gods, of creating their own city for their own glory, was too much for Adam and Eve, and they succumbed to the temptation. Thus began the war between the city of God and the city of man, a war that will endure until the kingdom of God is consummated.