I have spent quite a few articles looking at aspects of eschatology, that is, the study of last things. I think this will be my last one for a while with the intent of writing some more devotional blog entries over the next week or so.
I have already looked at these topics:
- A background to eschatology
- When are the last days
- Roots of dispensational theology
- Roots of covenant theology
- The rapture
- How to understand the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy
- How to interpret the words of the Old Testament prophets
- To whom does God’s promises belong
- The present day temple of God
- The land of Israel
Whoa! That’s a lot of things to consider. I might revisit some things on eschatology down the road, but for now, this will be my last article. In this article I want to consider the throne of David and its prophetic fulfilment. Many people hold to a belief that says, not only will God have the Jews return to the land of Israel and rebuild a temple in Jerusalem, but the Lord will also have David’s throne set up again from which the Messiah will reign during a future millennium. So, let’s look at this a little more in depth at this topic of David’s throne.
In God’s covenant bond with David, the Lord tells him this:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13)
Most will recognize that this was initially fulfilled as Solomon, David’s son and descendant, received the kingdom from his father (see 1 Kings 2:1-4).
Yet, as the story of 1 & 2 Kings unfolds, it becomes increasingly apparent that the descendants of David are not walking in the ways of Yahweh. After the reign of Solomon, the kingdom was divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and by 586 BC, both nations had been swept away into captivity. This was the judgment of God for their unfaithfulness to His covenant ways. Thus, the eternal establishment of David’s throne still lacked fulfilment.
‘Indeed, God chastened David’s sons according to the provisions of the covenant. But never did he remove his lovingkindness as he did from the house of Saul. Even as the last of David’s line languishes in prison [Zedekiah in 1 Kings 25:7], God does not forget his covenant mercies.’ (O. Palmer Robertson, Christ of the Covenants)
Here, once again, with the Davidic throne, Old Testament types and shadows point to greater things to come in Jesus Christ and the new covenant. Ezekiel prophesied that one day, ‘My servant David will be prince among them’ (Ezekiel 34:24), and, ‘My servant David will be king over them’ (Ezekiel 37:24). More and more, the Jews began to look with eager expectation for the coming Messiah, the Anointed One. Isaiah even prophesied that the coming One would sit on David’s throne:
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:7)
Thus, you can see an expectation and desire to see the Messiah come and, once again, sit on a physical throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. But, if we stopped there, I believe we would miss the whole picture. For the prophets even foretold that, not only would this coming King rule over the land of Israel, but His ‘dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River Euphrates to the ends of the earth’ (Zechariah 9:9-10). God’s rule was going to be established in all the earth…
Not only do we get this picture from the prophets of old, but again, we must remember that Christ and the New Testament are the ultimate interpreters of the words found in the Old Testament. And so, at the great Pentecost in Acts 2, we read these words of Peter:
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:29-33)
Peter proclaimed that, because David was a prophet, he knew that when God swore to seat one of his descendants of his throne, he was, in all reality, looking ahead to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:30-31), and His subsequent ascension to the right hand of the Father. Therefore, when Jesus was ‘exalted to the right hand of God’ (Acts 2:33), He was seated on the greater throne of David.
Consider it this way: When one is seated on a physical throne in a specific nation, that ruler is only given authority over that one nation. But when one is seated on a heavenly throne, like that of Christ’s, then the declaration is that this one has authority over all heaven and earth. When we use the word heavenly, we don’t refer to some immaterial and ethereal entity. Rather, we refer to that which is of God’s kingdom rule.
As a prophet, David knew that the promises would ultimately be fulfilled in the coming of the Anointed One. And this is confirmed through Peter’s words that the promise to David has already been fulfilled. The Messiah sits on David’s throne, but it has happened in a much grander way than could have ever been imagined.
Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and He is now ‘far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named’ (Ephesians 1:20-23; see also 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13). This is not something we await to take place in the future, for Christ is now able to establish the kingdom of God from ‘sea to sea’ (Zechariah 9:10) as He is seated on David’s greater throne at the right hand of the Father. Not every knee has bowed or every tongue confessed. But we know who is on the throne – the King above all kings! All the promises of God truly find their ‘Amen’ in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20)