How do we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness?
Matthew 6:33 is a very important passage in the New Testament because it reveals that God wants us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. But how do we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness? The answer is given in three parts.
If We Search For God, He Will Let Us Find Him
God urges us to seek Him in both the Old and New Testaments. The first time that we are urged to seek the Lord is in Deuteronomy 4:29.
But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NASB)
This verse is powerful. It reveals that Moses promised the nation of Israel that if they seek the LORD He would let them find Him. It is important to understand that this does not mean that God has not left us. It means that we have left Him. God states that He is not a God who is far away but a God who is near. He waits on us!
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD,
“And not a God far off?” Jeremiah 23:23 (NASB)
The Hebrew word for “seek” is baqas. The word means to seek as if trying to find something. The Hebrew word for “search” is daras and it refers to a careful ongoing attempt to discover something. Taken together this verse means that the seeker must actively, carefully be searching for the Lord with all of his or her heart and inner strength. There are no exceptions. The seeker must be extremely serious. Then God will let us discover that He is near and His blessings will follow.
Illustration Of This Prinicple
But what does God mean by if we seek and search for Him, then we can find Him? The answer is given in 2 Chronicles 15:1-4, but we will start with the illustration which starts in 2 Chronicles 14:1.
2 Chronicles 14 – King Asa and Judah Seek God
So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days. Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God, for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment. 2 Chronicles 14:1-4 (NASB)
The opening verses of 2 Chronicles 14 tells us that King Abijah died and Asa became king in his place. King Abijah was a wicked man, but King Asa was good and right or “straight” in the sight of the LORD his God. The proof that the king was good and right occurred when he removed the idol worship and commanded Judah to search (daras) for the Lord, to observe the law and the commandment.
Verses 6-7 reports that peace finally occurred in the land because Judah had sought the LORD. Then in verses 8-11 we are told that Zerah the Ethiopian attempted to invade Judah. When King Asa sought the LORD by praying to Him, the LORD helped. Verse 12 tell us that God routed the enemy and King Asa returned to Jerusalem. Because of King Asa, God blessed and protected the nation.
2 Chronicles 15 – How To Seek God and The Reward
The next chapter, 2 Chronicles 15, reveals what it means to seek the LORD.
Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. 2 Chronicles 15:1-3 (NASB)
Here we are told the prophet Azariah visited King Asa and taught him a divine principle. To the reader it might appear that the prophet gave the king three principles, but it is only one. The phrase “the LORD is with you when you are with Him” is the positive statement of how to have a relationship with God. “If you forsake Him, He will forsake you” is the negative side of how not to have a relationship with God. The phrase “if you seek Him, He will let you find Him” explains how we can establish a relationship with God. If we seek God with all our hearts, then God will let us find Him. As a result, we will be with Him and realize His blessings. But our seeking cannot be a one-time event. The Hebrew words translated as “seek” (daras) and “find” are in the imperfect tense which means that our seeking must be ongoing and as a result our finding and being with Him will be ongoing. Both words describe a continuing relationship.
Then the prophet described the sad condition that the nation of Israel had experienced. He said that Israel had been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without the law. It appears that the prophet was referring to the times of the Judges when they did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25) and this was the same condition that existed before Asa became king.
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6 (NASB)
The book of Judges records a very sinful and self-indulgent period in the nation of Israel where most of the nation abandoned God, went after other gods and lived as they desired. Consequently, God let them indulge in sin. When the prophet Azariah said Israel was without a teaching priest, he meant there was no priest that was teaching Scripture. Judges 18 tells us that Israel had priests but none of them were teaching the law. They ignored the law of Moses. As a result, God allowed Israel to sin and reap the severe consequences. Romans 1:24, 26, 28 reminds us that when people refuse to stop sinning, God will let them go their our own way and suffer. But under King Asa the nation of Israel sought the Lord and He let the nation find Him. Azariah’s illustration reveals that seeking the Lord means pursuing a relationship with the true God, learning what He wrote in the Bible, and then obeying Him. That is, God is your first priority in every way.
Then the prophet reminded the king of what happened when Israel had forsaken the Lord. God allowed them to suffer.
But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him. In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress. 2 Chronicles 15:4-6 (NASB)
We will be personal for a minute. When you have been in distress, did you realize that God may be trying to get your attention and motivate you to seek Him? Notice that God allowed the nation of Israel to be without peace and to be afflicted by various enemies because they had left Him. They had “every kind of distress.” This was the consequence of abandoning God. The prophet also tells us that when the nation turned to Him, He let them find Him. This historical event recorded in 2 Chronicles 14-16 reveals how to seek God and the results of seeking Him.
2 Chronicles 16 – Seeking The Lord Involves Dependence
In 2 Chronicles 15:19, we are told that the nation had peace for thirty-five years under King Asa. But in 2 Chronicles 16, the nation suffered because King Asa did not seek or consult God before he entered into a peace treaty with the king of Aram. Then in verse 7 we are told that the seer Hanani rebuked the king and announced that God was no longer with the king.
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand . . . For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. 2 Chronicles 16:7, 9-10 (NASB)
As a result, the king and the nations would have wars the rest of his life. God had removed His protection which covered the king and the nation.
Then in verse 12, we discover that King Asa did not consult the Lord when his feet were diseased but trusted the physicians.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (NASB)
The last time that you were sick, did you consult the LORD first or did you call the emergency at the hospital? This is the second time that Scripture records that King Asa did not consult the Lord. That is, the king did not seek the Lord in everything and God left the king.
Seeking His Kingdom and Righteousness
We have just discovered what it means to seek the Lord. Our God is always near and waits for us to seek Him. As we seek Him, He lets us know that He is near by giving us peace and meeting our needs. That is the message of Matthew 6:33.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (NASB)
To seek God’s righteousness means that our behavior is holy. Our actions and word conform to God’s commandments. God promises that if God is the priority of our lives in everything, including our behavior, then He is with us. One can only be righteous by knowing the Scriptures–what He wrote–and then by obeying what God commanded. Seeking the Lord means we are pursuing a relationship with the true God, learning what He wrote, obeying Him and consulting His will in everything. This results in God being your first priority in every way.
The message of the Old and New Testaments is that we are to place God first in our lives in everything. We are to love Him with all our heart (Matthew 22:37-39) and be His friend (John 15:14).
Treasuring Your Treasures
I want to seek God; how do I seek God?
Searching for God