Chapter 10, The Promised King
In the previous chapters of this book I shared some of my personal experiences and some of what I have learned from them. Also I have attempted to show that God has always had a plan from the beginning that supports His desire to bless His creation and humanity. The reason I mention this again is that often we can get caught up in our individual daily lives. It is easy to forget that we have been given a greater and higher purpose by God than what is often thought. The Christian faith can become sort of a habit of living with customs like Sunday church attendance, Easter and Christmas celebrations, and giving support to missionaries. Then each Christian denomination can have somewhat different habits, practices and beliefs as well. This is not to say that habits, traditions and beliefs are inherently wrong. Whether one is a believer in God or an atheist, we all have basic routines and assumptions about life.
The point I am making here and hope to continue to make is that all of our daily routines and goals can have greater meaning in the context of God’s marvelous plan. While Jesus did promise us, His followers eternal life, He also said He came that we might have abundant life even now! In fact the eternal perspective we gain from our relationship with Him can have tremendous impact on the here and now. Story after story in the bible will demonstrate this fact: that which is invisible and eternal can truly shake up and transform our physical reality!
How sad it is when repentance is viewed as a signed contract for fire insurance and salvation is only for the purpose of keeping us out of hell. Somehow, God is often shown to work around our misconceptions about Him and the Christian faith, and I am thankful for that fact. At the same time I am also thankful that He is willing and able to give us a greater vision of His plan and the reason we are here. So I have been sharing a very condensed overview of the Old Testament because I feel that many important aspects of God’s eternal purpose are presented there. It is true that the New Testament is more directly applicable for us today, but the fact remains that they are linked. The New Testament simply cannot be fully understood without knowing what came before and was written about in the Old. I strongly believe that the oversimplified “lite” version of the Gospel we often hear today is a result of our neglect of the Old Testament. What we need today is the powerful, life-changing and world changing Gospel of the Kingdom!
When John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching “The kingdom of God is at hand,” this message did not come out of a vacuum. As civilization expanded the people of God became increasingly aware of the need for God’s righteous ways to be applied not only in the nation of Israel but also in the affairs of all nations. Their prophets had many things to say concerning the nations of the earth, and His plans for them. From men like Isaiah and Daniel, they learned of the wondrous future God had planned for all of us. This no doubt led to their interest in the messages of both John and Jesus.
Moses had led the descendants of Israel by the Word which came directly to Him from God. His law was their governor and protector. His judges and prophets were the interpreters of His law and the Spirit gave them guidance. Many times God even ruled them directly by demonstrations of His power. Eventually there came a time when they desired a king like the other nations around them. He first gave them Saul to teach them about the disadvantages of this decision. Then He gracefully gave them a king who was more desirous of His Heart. So David, the shepherd boy who killed Goliath the giant became the king over all of Israel.
David was by no means a perfect man or a perfect king. He was, however, a great example of one who loved God and desired to please Him. This we learn from the written record of his life and the Psalms he wrote for worship in the congregation. It was in these psalms of praise and worship that David declared God in heaven to be the true King! (Psalms 10:16, 24:7-10, 29:10) In His desire to honor his God he planned to build a temple to replace the tent as permanent dwelling place for God’s dwelling among His people. At first, David’s prophet and adviser Nathan thought this was as great idea. Later that night, however, the Word of God came to Nathan, saying:
4 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. 5 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. 6 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” ‘
7 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock, to be ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 9 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies.
“‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.'” (1 Chronicles 17:4-14 NIV)
Here is an early and clear prophecy of the reign of God over the earth through a descendant of David. In the first sense it was fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. David would go on to plan and prepare for the building of the temple, but Solomon, who had never fought in war would oversee the building of the first temple for the LORD. After Solomon, David’s dynasty, his “house” would continue until David’s devotion to God was abandoned and the kingdom crumbled.
Yet the hope for a future “Son of David” did not disappear. God spoke of this future Messiah (anointed One) in other ancient writings.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (David’s father); from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD — 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
In this and in many other places, Isaiah and others foresaw a world that more closely resembles the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. (Revelation 2:7). This should be no surprise to us, for a wise person once wrote that God “has set eternity in their heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) From around the world, and in ages past, philosophers and thinkers have yearned for something they hoped was once real — that could be real again. There is a longing in all of our hearts for what the heavenly hosts declared to some shepherds near Bethlehem while praising God. They announced:
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14 KJV)
How this will fully come about (if you believe these prophecies have any real meaning at all), remains to be seen. And yet we have from scripture a clear indication on when it started to unfold.
Foundational to all Christian belief is the truth an angel brought to the virgin Mary 2,000 years ago.
30 The angel said to her, ” Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, both descendants of David, brought their child to the temple at Jerusalem to present Him before the Lord. There they were approached by an older man named Simeon. Simeon was compelled by the Holy Spirit to hold Him in his arms and speak these words:
29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Simeon had waited all of his life for this moment. He believed that this descendant of Abraham would some day bless all the families of the earth. This calling was to bless the gentiles, or the nations outside of his covenant with God. He even quotes from the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 42:6-7). Now he is satisfied to die in peace, for He had seen the Lord’s salvation in the person of this infant child! What faith! What confidence in the written Word of God and witness of the Holy Spirit! In his heart and mind the scripture was already fulfilled!
Later, when Jesus began His public ministry, people who were healed by Him, saw His miracles, and His triumphant ride into Jerusalem loudly proclaimed Him to be the promised “Son of David.” (Matthew 9:27, 12:23, 15:22, 21:9).
After the Crucifixion, many abandoned Him. Yet He kept a strong core group who became the leaders of a great movement that began to cover the then known world. Many were martyred for simply refusing to deny that He was Lord of all! The Kingdom of God was real to them and in them! They had experienced true righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! (Romans 14:17)
What about you? Has the promised King, the Son of David come to reign in your life? Are you learning to look for His future reign in all the earth, in every heart, while you enjoy His wonderful life, love and Kingship over you today?