When you play the Game of Thrones, you win ... or you die.
It’s an interesting premise for a series of books, for sure. A long-term battle of epic proportions, casualties on all sides, all to decide who gets to sit in a pointy, uncomfortable-looking chair. Thrilling stuff.
Whether you’re familiar with George R.R. Martin’s epic (R+L=J, am I right?) or not, no one can deny this series of books and the accompanying HBO series are a huge phenomenon. Everyone is hanging out to see whether the Mother of Dragons can take back the throne of her father—as a society we’ve become a wee bit obsessed with who sits on the Iron Throne.
Even if you’ve never read it or seen it (and given that Game of Thrones has an R-18 rating, we’re naturally not saying you need to watch it!), chances are you still know who the Khaleesi is, and that Jon Snow knows nothing.
It’s interesting how we can collectively get so caught up in who is in charge of a fictional kingdom
—but have you ever stopped to consider who or
what is sitting on your throne?
Israel’s Iron Throne
In the book of Samuel, and continuing into 1 and 2 Kings, a series of epic struggles takes place around the rulership of Israel that would put even the best novels to shame. Seriously, go read it! It’s intense, and it really happened. No dragons, but a heck of a lot of bloodshed, betrayal, battles large and small, heroes and villains—all around Israel’s ‘Iron Throne’.
And what set off this epic struggle that would ultimately lead the whole country to ruin? The nation rejected God as their ruler.
Israel saw that the countries around them had earthly kings, and they decided they wanted one too. At first, Samuel—basically God’s spokesman to Israel—said no. He told them they didn’t need an earthly king; that God, the creator of the universe was their king. But they weren’t satisfied. They pushed and pushed.
Finally, in Samuel chapter 8, God tells Samuel he sees the Israelites have rejected him as king and allows Samuel to anoint a man as king instead. But he also warns Samuel to tell the people this would not end well.
Sure enough, it ended very badly for the Israelites, who (spoiler alert) wind up breaking in half, being conquered by one enemy after another, and having the vast majority of their population sold into slavery.
And why? Because they looked for rulers that had appealing qualities to their earthly eyes. Strong, heroic men who could win battles and make damsels swoon—all that nonsense. They got it right occasionally, but more often than not these kings fell further and further from the prosperity God offered the Israelites when they contented themselves with following in his ways instead of the ways of the world.
Long story short: kicking God off the throne of Israel did not work out well for the Israelites.
You’re in a battle
When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Israel didn’t win. This prosperous, powerful nation almost died. It’s only by their repentance and God’s grace that they survived as a people at all.
‘Well, that’s all well and good, but what has it got to do with me?’
You may not realise it, but there’s a battle for another throne going on right now, before your very eyes. Many different powerful forces are duking it out for supremacy, and only one of them can sit on the throne at any given time. It’s an epic, sprawling battle that encompasses everything around you, maybe without you even realising it.
It’s the battle for your heart.
Advertisers want the desire to consume their products to have first place on your throne. Abusive partners, boyfriends or girlfriends want to be on your throne. Your own sinful desires want to put greed or lust or jealousy or hatred on your throne. More often than not, the most powerful force in this battle will be your desire to sit on your own throne and be in charge.
The trouble with all of these things is that, like the Israelites, none of us do a great job of picking good things to be on our throne. We tend to put selfish things in charge, things that serve our own desires. Often these things can be straight-up sinful, if we’re honest.
Let God lead
When we tip our hat to God but then go about ruling the kingdom of our lives without God’s input, we’re going to find ourselves further and further away from God’s perfect plan for our lives. God’s way is the only way to prosper long-term, but it takes an act of will
to let him lead.
God won’t force himself onto our throne. He’s not like the other forces at work, trying to push and shove their way into first place in our hearts. No, seating the King of kings on our throne takes an act of surrender—we have to be willing to let God sit there. More than that, we have to be willing to clean all the other junk out to make room for God—he won’t share his king-ship.
God’s way is the best way and putting him in charge is the best decision we can possibly make. God leads our lives away from sin, which leads to spiritual death, and into eternal life. That’s a great trade!
Don’t play the Game of Thrones. Don’t take the risk—there’s no need to. Clear out your throne room and invite the true King in. Then watch the kingdom of your life reach the potential it was meant for.