Chapter 12 - The King
If it is the purpose of God to set up a Kingdom on this earth, the question naturally arises who is to be the King. Is there any intimation in the Scriptures as to who he shall be? In the Old Testament we have a "Prophetic Portrait" of the King, and in the New Testament the "Historic Portrait." These correspond as the die to the matrix. As the cartoonist first outlines his picture and then fills in the details, so it is the Divine method of revelation to begin with an outline, and then gradually fill in its details until we have the complete picture.
The first outline of the "Prophetic Portrait" of the King we find in the book of Genesis. The Lord God said unto the Serpent"I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. 3:15.
Here we have a reference to some future "descendant" of the woman who should be victorious over the Serpent. How luminous this becomes in the light of the New Testament's statements as to Christ's final victory over Satan.
We have to wait for 1700 years, until after the Flood, for our second outline of the "Prophetic Portrait, " when God tells us in Gen. 9:26-27, that the promised seed of the woman shall come through the line of Shem.
The third outline is given 400 years later, when God singles out Abraham to be the father of the race from whom the King shall come. Gen. 12:1-3. At that time Abraham had no heir, and humanly speaking there was no likelihood of his having one, so Abraham besought the Lord that his steward Eliezer, who had been born in his house, should be his heir, but God said "he shall not be thine heir, but he that shall come forth out of 'thine own bowels' shall be thine heir." Gen. 15, 1-3. Now Sarah, Abraham's wife was "past age, " and the only solution of the problem to her was that Abraham should take her handmaid, Hagar, an Egyptian, as his wife, to which Abraham consented, and in due time Ishmael was born to Abraham of Hagar. Gen. 16:1-3. This pleased Abraham and he said unto God: "O that Ishmael might live before Thee! " And God said-
"Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed, and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee. Behold I have blessed him and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my Covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year." Gen. 17 - 18-20.
Here again we see the principle of selection, or limitation. If in the days of Christ an Ishmaelite had claimed to be the Messiah because he was a "lineal descendant of Abraham, " his claim would have been rejected because the Messiah was to come from Abraham through Isaac.
In course of time Isaac was married and unto him and Rebekah twin sons were born, Esau and Jacob. Then another choice had to be made, and at Bethel God revealed to Jacob that he was the one chosen. Gen. 28:10-12. Here we see that the Abrahamic Covenant passes over Esau, the "first-born, " and falls on Jacob. No descendant of Esau therefore may claim the Messianic title.
To Jacob twelve sons were born, to which one shall the promise descend? To Reuben, the first-born, or to Joseph, the favorite? To our surprise God chooses neither, but selects Judah, the fourth son of Leah.
"Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. . . . The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet UNTIL SHILOH COME; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." Gen. 49:8-10.
Here the promise gains in definiteness. The Messiah must come through Judah, not through Levi, the progenitor of the Priestly order. The word "sceptre" indicates Kingly power, and the word "Shiloh" is a name for the Messiah.
The promise now skips 475 years to the time of David, who was of the tribe of Judah. God said to David, through Nathan the prophet-
"Thine House and thy Kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever." 2Sam. 7:-16.
This promise God afterward confirmed with an oath, saying-
"I have made a Covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations. . . . Once have I sworn by My Holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before ME. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." Psa. 89 :3, 4, 35-37.
This Covenant was unconditional and was reaffirmed to Israel through Jeremiah the prophet, many years after David's death when Israel had lapsed into idolatry (Jer. 33:17-19), in which God promised that David should never want a man (son) to sit upon his throne forever.
That these promises did not mean, as we now see, that there should be an "unbroken" line of successors on David's throne, is clear from the fact that, after Solomon, the kingdom was divided. and in B.C. 587 the last king of Judah was carried captive to Babylon. Jeremiah refers to a "future" king that God would raise up to sit on the "Throne of David."
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and ' justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name whereby he shall be called-THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." er. 23:5, er. 23:6.
When we compare this prophecy with Isa. 11:1, 2-
"There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, "and note the word "Branch" that is common to both, and then note the last words of Isaiah's prophecy-"The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, etc, " and recall Luke's description of the Child Jesus"And the Child grew, and waxed strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom; and the Grace of God was upon Him"-Luke 2:40, we have no difficulty in identifying who the Prophet meant.
But the Messiah was not only to come from the line so clearly marked out in the Old Testament Scriptures. He was also to be of Divine Parentage.
How this could be was a riddle until the Prophet Isaiah solved it by saying-
"Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" Isa. 7:14.
An obscure passage in Jer. 31:22 may refer to the same event"A woman shall encompass a man."' That is, a woman shall enclose in her womb a "man-child" without human parentage.
Later Isaiah says-
" For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever." Isa. 9:6, Isa. 9:7.
Where is the key that will unlock this passage? Listen.
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. . . . And the angel said unto her-Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto Him The Throne of His Father David; and He shall reign over the House of Jacob (Israel) FOREVER; and of His Kingdom There Shall Be NO END." Luke 1:26-28.
That this was not to be a natural birth after marriage with Joseph, is clear from the fact that when Joseph learned of Mary's condition he was minded to put her away privately, but was told not to do so by the angel Gabriel, for that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghost. Matt. 1:18-20. This is confirmed by the words cf Gabriel to Mary herself.
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of THE HIGHEST shall overshadow thee; therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the SON OF GOD." Luke 1:35.
Some have maintained that the Prophet Isaiah in his prophecy, "Behold a 'virgin' shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel; " referred to some maiden of his own time, but this is refuted by Matthew, who says "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying-
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God With Us." Matt. 1:23.
The "Virgin Birth" of Jesus is still further confirmed by the statement of Matthew that Joseph "knew her not" until she had brought forth her firstborn son. Matt. 1:24, Matt. 1:25.
The promise in Gen. 3:15 was to be fulfilled through the "seed of the woman." The word "seed" is always in the Scriptures, with this exception, applied to the "male" of man and beast, and the promise could only be fulfilled, as Luke tells us it was fulfilled, by Mary being with child by the Holy Ghost.
That we may have no difficulty in tracing the ancestry of Jesus, two genealogical tables are given us. The first, in Matthew, is of Joseph, and traces Jesus' ancestry back to Abraham. The second, in Luke, is of Mary, and traces Jesus' ancestry back to Adam. See the Chart on "The King." A careful examination of these genealogies shows what a safeguard God threw about the birth of Jesus and how careful He was to see that the Scriptures were literally fulfilled in Him. Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus back to David, through Solomon; Luke traces it back to David through Nathan. That there are similar names in the two tables presents no difficulty as such a thing is common in tracing any long line of descent. Again the statement in Matthew that "Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, " and the statement in Luke that Joseph was (as supposed) the son of Heli is easily reconciled, for Joseph could not be the son of both Jacob and Heli. The fact that the translators of the King James version use the word "supposed" and that the word "son" is in italics (which indicates that it is not in the original but is placed there to make sense), shows that some other word could be inserted that would make sense, and that word is "son-in-law, " and so it should read, "Joseph which was the 'son-in-law' of Heli." This makes the genealogy of Luke that of Mary, for two genealogies so clearly unalike could not both be the genealogy of Joseph.
But why two lines of descent, one through Nathan and the other through Solomon? Why was not Mary's genealogy sufficient? During King David's residence at Hebron, while he was as yet only the king of Judah, six sons were born to him. Of these, three appear to have died in infancy. Of the other three, Amnon was murdered, Absalom perished while in rebellion against his father, and Adonijah, having attempted to usurp the throne, was subsequently put to death by Solomon. The right of succession to the crown was thus secured to the sons of David born "after" he was enthroned king over all Israel.
The children that were born to David after he was crowned king over all Israel are also enumerated. 1Chron. 3:1-3. Of these two only need be mentioned, Nathan and Solomon. Solomon, as we know, succeeded his father as king, but Nathan was older than Solomon, and on that ground might have contested Solomon's right of succession, though we are not told that he did. Nevertheless Solomon's title had the shadow of Nathan's claim upon it, and that there should be no cloud upon Jesus' title to- the "Throne of David, " God ordained that Mary, the mother of Jesus, should be a direct descendant of David through Nathan, the "legal heir" to the throne. But Jesus had no right to David's Throne through Mary, for she was not in the "Kingly Line" of descent through Solomon. How then was Jesus' right to David's Throne to be brought about? Only by marriage.
Here we see the wonderful way in which God safeguarded the "Virgin Birth" of Jesus. He saw to it that Mary married (after conception) a man who could not be the natural father of Jesus, because of a taint or defect in his ancestry.
Joseph was a lineal descendant of David through the "Kingly Line" of Solomon, but in that line there was one Jechonias (Matt. 1:11, Matt. 1:12), called in Jer. 22:24-26, Coniah, of whom God had said,
"No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the 'Throne of David' and ruling any more in Judah."
So we see that Joseph could not be the "natural" father of Jesus, for no descendant of his could sit on the Throne of David and "prosper." This forever sets at rest the claim that Joseph was the "natural" father of Jesus, and establishes the fact of His "Virgin Birth."
The marriage of Joseph and Mary made Jesus the adopted son and "legal heir" of Joseph. The title, unaffected by the curse pronounced upon Coniah, was thus conveyed to Jesus, in whom there centres, through both Nathan and Solomon, exclusive right to the "Throne of David."
That there might be no question as to Joseph's and Mary's ancestors, God, when the time came for Jesus to be born, put it into the heart of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, to call for an enrollment, and this required that every Jewish citizen should be enrolled in the city where his family had lived, and as Joseph was of the "House and Lineage of David" (Luke 2:1-3), this required him to go to Bethlehem to be enrolled. And as Mary was of the same family, Joseph took her with him. They could not have been enrolled unless their names were on the Register, and that they were enrolled proves that they could at that time trace their ancestry back to King David. It was doubtless from this register that Matthew and Luke got their genealogy.
If the claim of Jesus to the "Throne of David" had not been known in Jerusalem to be absolutely without a flaw, the Jews would have denounced Him as an imposter and pretender on the day He entered Jerusalem and was received with royal acclamation as the Son of David. Matt. 21:9-11. Up to the time of Jesus' rejection as King, all genealogical records were preserved in the Temple, and easily accessible to all the people, but when Titus in A. D. 70 destroyed the city and the Temple those records were all destroyed, and since that day the genealogical tables of Matthew and Luke alone remain to give us the lineal descent of Jesus from King David.
Therefore the only living man who today can establish an unbroken genealogy directly and incontrovertibly from King David, is the MAN Christ Jesus, (1Tim. 2:5), born "King of the Jews, " (Matt. 2:2), crucified "King of the Jews, " (John 19:19), and to come again "King of the Jews."
It has been said that Jesus never claimed to be the "Messiah, " but this is not true. He made the claim to the "Woman at the Well" (John 4:26), and to Pilate (John 18:33-35).
But the Old Testament Scriptures not only give the Messiah's ancestry, but the time and place of His birth. If we can locate the "time" of His birth, we shall have strong evidence of His identification. If, according to the Scriptures, He was to appear at the time Jesus "did appear, " and Jesus fulfilled the other scriptures relating to Him, then our identification of Jesus as the Messiah is beyond question.
In Dan. 9:24, Dan. 9:25, we read that it was to be 69 Weeks from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the "Messiah the Prince." Now here is a definite period of time mentioned-"69 Weeks, " and these weeks were to date from a certain edict-"The commandment to Restore and Rebuild Jerusalem." The date of this "commandment" is given in Neh. 2:1, as the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, which was the 14th day of March, B.C. 445. Now we found in the Chapter on "The Gentiles, " under the head of "Prophetical Chronology, " using the "Year Day Scale, " that those "69 Weeks" expired within one day of April 2nd, A. D. 30, the day on which Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem as "Messiah the Prince."
If the students of prophecy of Jesus' day had been on the watch they would have known for a certainty whether Jesus was the Messiah or not; for in all probability they had among their archives a copy of the famous edict of Artaxerxes Longimanus, dated March 14, 'B. C. 445, and they could have computed from the prophecy of Daniel the year, if not the day, when "Messiah the Prince" would come. What a rebuke is this to the teachers and preachers of today who make light of the prophetical statements of God's word. The Second Coming of Jesus will find them just as much unprepared to receive Him, as the Jews were to receive Him at His First Coming.
But not only was the time of the Messiah's appearing given, but the place of His birth.
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be 'Ruler in Israel' whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Micah 5:2.
This prophecy we know was literally fulfilled. There are four prophecies in reference to the origin of the Messiah that seemed irreconcilable previous to their fulfilment. They were, that he was to be born at Bethlehem, born of a Virgin, was to come out of Egypt, and that he should be called a Nazarene, and yet, as we know, every one of them was literally fulfilled in Jesus.
But the very passage from Daniel which gives us the "time" of the coming of "Messiah the Prince, " also tells us that almost immediately "He Shall Be Cut Off But Not for Himself." Dan. 9:26. How then could be fulfilled the prophecy that declared that He was to be given the "Throne of David, " and that He should reign over the "House of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there shall be NO END? There is but one answer. His coming was to be in Two Stages. He was to come first as a "Suffering Saviour, " and then as a "King." Here is where the Jews of Jesus' day misread the Scriptures, They did not distinguish between the Sufferings of the Messiah and His Glory. 1Pet. 1:11. They could not understand how the Messiah was to be a mighty King and also be "cut off" for the sins and iniquities of His people. There was but one possible answer and that. was by Resurrection. They accepted Psa. 16, as Messianic, and yet did not see that it prophesied the "Resurrection of Jesus" in the words-
"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades); neither wilt thou suffer thine 'Holy One' to see corruption." Psa. 16:10.
This passage Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, quoted saying that David, being a prophet, here speaks of the Resurrection Of Christ, " and added--'This JESUS hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses." Acts 2:25-27
There can be no question but what "Jesus of Nazareth" was the promised "Son of David, " who is to reign upon the "Throne of David." But being rejected and crucified, and risen from the dead, He now sits on His Father's Throne until the time comes for Him to take the Kingdom.
The "Throne of David" was on the earth, and can never be anywhere else. To say that Christ now reigns on the "Throne of David, " and that His Kingdom is "spiritual, " is to subvert the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies. The "Throne of David" is now vacant, and has been for 2500 years, but when the "Times of the Gentiles" have run their course, and the time has come to set up again the "Tabernacle (House) of David" which has fallen down (Acts 15:13-15), the "Throne of David" will be reestablished and given to Christ.