The Reunited Kingdom
For quite a while, I had the name of the little girl of the Bethel family (who passed away a few months ago) written down as the desktop background for my laptop (Her name is Olive). I really did it because I couldn’t find a sharpie to write her name on my hand, as I had seen a lot of the leaders and worship leaders of Bethel had done. I wanted to join with that in any way I could.
It was something very different for me, but when I heard and read about their partnership with her parents’ prayer for her to be raised to life, I felt immediately urged to do the same. I was also pulled several times that first week to stop whatever I was doing, play the song they sang live for her, and pray for about 10 or so minutes. After Bethel gently announced their plan to move on with a celebration of life and funeral service, I still did not feel like I was supposed to remove her name from my laptop’s screen.
I feel like I had to keep it up for two reasons — as a quiet stand against the heartbreaking unbelief leveled at Bethel in that season. I felt like I had to stand in solidarity, rejecting the hard hearts and harsh words unjustly and unfairly hurled their way regarding their faith, and the miracle they hoped for. They praised the Lord regardless of the outcome, regardless of the disappointment. This may sound harsh, but they did what was right, while their detractors absolutely did not. That’s not the point of what I am writing, but I am making it clear.
The other reason was that I just did not feel like the urge I felt to pray and participate with that hope had fully “happened” yet. I couldn’t explain it, it just didn’t feel right to even think about replacing my wallpaper with something else. I looked at my screen every day for months, and I still felt like it was right that her name was still there. I kept waiting, and I was confident that I was waiting for a purpose.
That changed late Tuesday morning. After spending some time in my journal, I opened up Spotify to listen to the “Peace” album from Bethel. I sat quietly, praying and reading many of the personal prophetic stuff printed and taped to the left of my desk. I realized I hadn’t regularly read them in some time, and decided it was a good idea to do it again. I heard a few things, but what came most clearly was a “it’s time” moment.
It was alright to replace Olive’s name (the image I created with the Paint program is still saved — I don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon). I did not remove it out of a sense of embarrassment or failure, because I still believe Bethel and every believer across the world who partnered with them will be rewarded for their faith in the face of death and unbelief. I did it because it was time for something different.
I immediately felt like I should hunt down an image of one of the flags of the kingdoms of Middle Earth, from Lord of the Rings. That whole universe is one of my favorite things, and I regularly feel like the Lord uses things He knows I love to talk to me. Anything related to LOTR is one of those things. I eventually settled on the “official” coat of arms for the kingdom of Gondor. There’s a lot of spiritual and literary significance to that kingdom in both the movies and the books. I won’t go into extreme detail, but I will (without getting too excited, if I can manage that) explain what it means and why I think I felt I was supposed to pick it.
For brevity, this kingdom was once the twin member of a pair of united kingdoms, legendary for their strength and rulers, a beacon for the whole world and a wall against the Enemy. Over the years, the failures of her rulers and the relentless evil of the Enemy led the kingdom to fracture, and the other kingdom, called “Arnor” fell completely — her line of kings failed. Gondor continued to rot under the rule of self-absorbed stewards. The kingdom even refused the reign of one king who desperately tried to reunite Arnor and Gondor. He failed, but one of his descendants did not. He carried on the honor and nobility and faith of the old kingdom, having been protected and hidden away since his childhood.
He’s called Aragorn; for pretty much my whole life of watching those movies and reading those books, I immediately identified him as a representative of Jesus. He’s the true King who returns to the rotted and dying city. He saves it, redeems an entire army of fallen warriors from their sin and failure and willingly risks his life to defeat and disarm the Enemy. Furthermore, in the books, he fulfills a prophecy of healing that stirs up the entire kingdom — they wonder if the mysterious ranger tending to the wounds of the injured and hurting is their promised King.
I got all excited and could fill up a dozen of these posts talking about Lord of the Rings. I guess I’ll be a little less brief, because it is all worth it! Aragorn becomes the king, reunites and totally restores both Arnor and Gondor, and the flag of the kingdom is fully renewed with seven stars and a crown above the branches of a white tree (there’s way too much significance to that, just Google it, it’s great).
The entire kingdom of men is changed and bettered. He rules for 100 years in perfect peace, makes amends with old enemies, wipes out the remaining darkness, and keeps all evil and unchecked greed from destroying living forests and all their creatures, and the lands of the Hobbits. He does not allow anyone to enter their land or cause them harm. There is no sign of evil for his entire reign. Also, under his reign, the races of the world renew their relationships after generations of distrust and anger. He’s the best, period.
All that nerdy stuff aside, it was the title behind this flag that struck me: “The Reunited Kingdom”. The kingdom that used to be snapped in half, with one end totally atrophied and the other falling apart is made completely new following the Return of the King (that’s not me, that’s the actual title of the finale of the whole story — come on!). No more failure. No more dissolving relationships, no more corrupt stewards, just one King.
I am seeing the promise of a Reunited Kingdom. Broken systems, governments, relationships, and people under the rule of Jesus. Fully fulfilled in eternity, and reflected powerfully in the present. The Hope of Men is coming — oh, did I mention that is straight up one of Aragorn’s names? You can’t tell me Tolkien didn’t do that completely on purpose.
I don’t know if you have the same emotional and spiritual connection to this story that I do, but I genuinely believe the Lord is wanting us to anticipate restored “kingdoms” across the world, all submitted to godly and just rule — all under Jesus. Every faithful decision made in the past few seasons, from all this COVID nonsense to those who partnered with Bethel will not go unseen or unrewarded by the King. Brighter days are ahead!
“Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head and said:
Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
(Sources for all my nerdy details are in the books, but also here…)
The Reunited Kingdom (also called the Two Kingdoms) was the restored kingdom of Arnor and Gondor, the twin kingdoms…