Tag Archives: Old Testament

Jesus As King: An Old Testament Perspective — Gantt Carter

As Christians, we often sing phrases like, “Jesus is Lord” and “He’s my king.” Jesus is not only our Savior from our sins, but He also the Supreme King we are to submit to in love. The reality of Jesus’ kingship/lordship is set forth throughout the Writings of the New Covenant, the covenant in His blood.

Before the Jewish crowd makes their request, the apostle Peter proclaims that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). “Lord” can also be translated as “Master” and “Christ” as “Messiah.” Jesus of Nazareth is the Master and the Messiah, and that truth is at the core of Christianity (cf. Phil 2:5-11).

The Perspective

This important concept of Jesus as King/Lord did not begin in the first century A.D. The truth builds on the history of God and Israel and flows out of several passages in the writings of the Old Covenant. In fact, the Hebrew term we translate as “Messiah” refers to one who is anointed, especially as a king. Jesus fulfills the thrust of the Old Covenant and the Scriptures given during that time (see 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Consider Jesus own words and actions:

“And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27, cf. 32, 44-47).

Please join me now in an overview of the Old Covenant perspective on Jesus as King and Lord.

The Prophecies

The first specific reference to the coming One is in Genesis 3:15, but the first reference to His kingship may be near the end of the same inspired book. Within the blessings of Jacob upon his twelve sons, we find the following:

“Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Gen. 49:9-10).

The lineage of Judah is significant for more than one reason in the history of Israel. David, king of Israel, descended from Judah and all succeeding kings came from Judah. Othniel, the first judge, was of the tribe of Judah (1 Chr. 4:13). The temple builders, Solomon and Zerubbabel, also descended from Judah (1 Chr. 3). King Jesus came as the new temple (John 1:14-18; 2:19), and His people are the temple as they are added to His body (Eph. 2:19-22).

Although dismissed by some, we submit that Genesis 49:9-10 is a foretelling of the timing and nature of the coming One (cf. Num. 24:17). Even many Jews through history believed this text to be about the Messiah. As we reflect on this, what can we see here?

1) He would be a descendant of Judah, the tribe of the kings (Matt. 1:2-3).

2) He would come while the authority of Judah was still perceptible. The last of any indication of royal Judah ceased with the Roman occupation. The Romans removed their authority and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. With the second temple and the genealogies destroyed, there is not even a possibility of rulership out of Judah or someone claiming to be the rightful King of Israel.

3) He would receive tribute (as King). We can translate this portion of the text as “until Shiloh comes” or as a reference to the “ruler’s staff” belonging to Him. “Shiloh” is often considered to be another title for the coming One.

4) All people and nations would submit to Him in obedience, giving Him honor. Jew and Gentile unified as they joyfully submit to their one King (Eph. 1-4).

In 2 Samuel 7, God gives King David a powerful promise about his kingly lineage. The most immediate fulfillment is in Solomon and the succeeding kings from Judah until the exile. However, God later foretells of yet another coming king, a Davidic king who would finally fulfill the ultimate purpose of God for His people. The term “Branch” below may be a technical term for the legal heir to an established royal line of kings.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (see Jer. 33:14-26; Ezek. 34:20-24; 37:24; Is. 11:10).

Gabriel tells the mother of Jesus that He will receive the throne of David and reign forever with His empire never ending (Luke 1:32-33). That parallels Isaiah who observes that the growth of His government and peace will be endless; that He will reign with justice and righteousness forever and ever (note Is. 9:6-7). Regarding David’s own understanding of the promises, Peter states:

“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” (Acts 2:30-31; cf. Ps. 16:8-11; 110:1).

Zechariah, who prophesied after the return from exile, employs “the Branch” language in the inspired document that bears his name. At first glance in chapter six, God seems to only refer to the then present son of Jehozadak, Joshua (see Zech. 6:9-15; cf. 3:8-10). But we submit that the ultimate application of these words is to the final “Joshua” or “Jesus.” (Jesus and Joshua in English are from the same Hebrew name for “Yahweh saves”). Zechariah refers to a priest also ruling as a king (v. 13; cf. Jer. 33:17-18). Although unlawful under the Mosaic Law, Jesus is the King and the High Priest of His New Covenant and Law.

Zechariah 9:9 foretells of a king who brings righteousness and salvation as he rides humbly on a donkey’s colt. Verse 10 includes a reference to battle and to the extension of his dominion but shows him speaking peace to the nations. Matthew 21:1-11 provides us with a clear fulfillment of this text in the life of Jesus as He enters Jerusalem gently and humbly on a colt. Born in David’s Bethlehem (Mic. 5:1-2; Luke 2:1-7), the eternal Ruler shepherds His flock “in the strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God” (Mic. 5:4a).

The last chapter of Zechariah gives us a (at least slightly) different portrayal of Israel’s coming king. First, a terrible and violent battle scene is picture (14:1-2), and then Yahweh Himself goes to war with the nations on behalf of His people (v. 3; cf. 9:14-17). If the Lord is the King after all, then what does this say of Jesus? Jesus is a member of the Godhood. Yes, He is the Great I Am (Ex. 3:13-14; John 8:58; Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus is the Lord, the Master of the universe.

The language of Zechariah 14 relates well to the second Psalm and the lyrics about the possession and the wrath of the King and Son (Ps. 2:6-12). Let there be no doubt, this Messiah is a force to be reckoned with (cf. Ps. 102:25-27; Heb. 1:10-12). But as the battle smoke clears, note the beautiful and powerful words below:

“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zech. 14:8-9).

On one hand, the Messiah meekly rids a donkey into town and suffers terribly for His people (Zech. 12:10-11; Is. 53). On the other hand, He proudly marches into battle and crushes His enemies with comprehensive authority. This seeming oddity led some Jews to conclude that there would be two different Messiahs: Ben Yosef (the suffering son of Joseph) and ben David (the ruling son of David). Others saw and continue to see this as either different possibilities or different points in time.

The Point

We know that Jesus became King by means of His death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne in heaven. The good news is “Your God reigns” (Is. 52:7). The Messiah was and is the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King (Heb. 1:1-13) of the true Israel (Gal. 6:16).

Zechariah 14 may refer to the gospel even in a certain sense, or perhaps it pictures the final coming of the Messiah. A time when He will deal with evil and suffering once and for all and rescue His people by granting them life forever with Him (Heb. 9:28; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:6).

Jesus was and is the long-awaited King that the people of Israel were longing to come and bring them final deliverance and peace. Of course, the fulfillment of these promises did not always match their perceptions of what He would be and how He would accomplish His work. As noted above, the true messiah (anointed King) is far more than a mere earthly king. For example, examine the way Jesus quotes and applies Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22:41-45.

As the Prince of peace (Is. 9:6), He is their security and He is their peace (Mic. 5:4b-5). His peace is a different kind of peace than that of the world (John 14:27). His peace is about finding rest for our weary souls (Jer. 6:16; Matt. 11:28-30; Phil. 4:4-9). He reigns in our hearts as we delightfully obey His commands.

As Christians, we eagerly await the return of the King. He will quiet us by His love and sing loudly to us (Zeph. 3:15-20). We shall see the King someday!

Gantt resides in Elk City, Oklahoma, with his wife and two children. He is the preaching minister at the 2nd & Adams congregation.

 

Complaining and the Christian — Stephen Hughes

When I was a teenager, I hated doing chores. My parents would tell me to clean my room, wash the dishes, or mow the lawn. I would eventually do it, but I would grumble and complain the whole time. The problem is I did not fully appreciate Paul’s exhortation: “Do everything without complaining and disputing” (Phil. 2:14, NKJV). Unfortunately some Christians ignore this exhortation, too.

The purpose for doing things without complaining and disputing is so “that [we] may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). We need to be bright, shining beacons of God’s truth in this world. When we complain and dispute amongst ourselves, we tarnish that light and threaten to put it out—this harms our evangelistic efforts immeasurably. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus also tells us that we are lights to the world, a shining city on a hill, and that we should shine our light before men for the purpose of glorifying God in heaven. We cannot do this if we are complaining and disputing.

Earlier in that passage, Paul says that we should be humble toward one another, fulfilling his joy by being like-minded (Phil. 2:1-4). As we continue reading, Paul calls to mind the example of Jesus since “in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). When we get to Philippians 2:14, Paul has already exhorted us to be humble, and the image of Jesus’ perfect humility is fresh on our minds. If our Lord can be humble and not complain as He is being led to the cross to suffer and die, then we also can be humble and cease our complaining and disputing in our lives.

When we complain about things, we send a message to those who hear it. It shows a lack of humility and a lack of respect for those in authority. Peter offers his own exhortation in regard to church conduct: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet. 5:5). With pride comes a lack of humility. When we complain and dispute with those in authority, whether it be in our local congregations, our jobs, or even our government, we are in danger of losing the grace of God.

Such an exhortation is not limited to New Testament times. The Israelites in the desert after their exodus from Egypt constantly complained and disputed with Moses and the Lord. Paul tells us about his ancestors, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not … complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:6,10). Throughout the books of Exodus and Numbers we see how much and how often they complained to bring about their destruction.

There are six main instances in these books, three in Exodus and three in Numbers, where the Israelites complained and disputed. On the fourth occasion in Numbers 11, Moses found it difficult to continue as their leader through the desert since he had to bear the brunt of their constant complaining. This time they were complaining that they only had manna to eat—manna that they did not have to plant or harvest, but that the Lord provided for them. This trap of ungratefulness and taking things for granted is unfortunately easy to fall into; I am sure many of us would feel the same way if we had only one thing to eat for several months. In the very first verse of Numbers 11, we see the Lord’s anger was kindled due to their complaining. “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”

Even after Moses pleaded on behalf of the people to cease this destruction, their complaining did not end. They craved meat despite their constant supply of manna. We see in Numbers 11:11-15 just how much the people had driven Moses to anger and despair, to the point of praying for his life to end. As a result of his pleading, the Lord told Moses to set up a group of seventy elders to handle the day-to-day affairs of the people, to take the bulk of the burden off Moses’s shoulders. One wonders if this is a reason for a plurality of elders governing the church today.

Regardless, God sternly granted the Israelites’ prideful demands. “You shall eat [meat] … until it … becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you …’” (Num. 11:19, 20). We see in this passage that God did this, not because of their complaining, but because they despised the Lord. Therefore we can conclude that the Israelites despised the Lord through their complaining.

After the Israelites complained again and threatened to stone Moses, Aaron, and even Joshua when they heard a negative report from ten of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the Lord appeared to Moses and said, “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” (Num. 14:11). Once again, we see that complaining is not mentioned here, but rejection and unbelief. The Lord equates such complaining and disputing with rejection of God and a lack of belief and trust in Him.

The Lord then said, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me?” (Num. 14:27a). Those who complain against God are called an evil congregation. A few verses later, God informs Moses and Aaron that because of their complaining and disputing, because they have despised and rejected the Lord, because they do not believe and trust in Him, and because they are an evil congregation they will be forced to wander the desert and never enter into the Promised Land. No one twenty years old or older will be allowed to enter, except for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who offered a favorable report of Canaan.

Sometimes, however, the Israelites complained for very legitimate needs such as food and water, but they did not make their requests humbly and respectfully. There will be times when we may have a legitimate need that we must take before the elders. In Acts 6:1, we read, “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.” Here we see that the Hellenists had a legitimate need, and that they presented it to the Twelve, who did not chastise them for this complaint, but instead tended to their needs (Acts 6:2-6). It is not recorded how the Hellenists made their needs known, but because the response was not like that of God to the Israelites when they complained, we can conclude that there is an acceptable way to make a complaint.

If a congregation has qualified elders, they must “be blameless, … of good behavior, … able to teach, … gentle, not quarrelsome, … not a novice” (1 Tim. 3:3-6). These are qualities an elder must possess; therefore if one has a complaint, the elders will listen. If the complaint is just, they will follow the example of the Twelve by tending to one’s needs. If the complaint is not just, they will be able to teach the individual gently why it is not just. It is each elder’s responsibility to “[hold] fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Tit. 1:9).

When we complain and dispute with our elders and those in authority, we must not do so in the manner the Israelites complained to Moses, with a lack of humility and respect. If we do, we would be in danger of bringing anger and despair to our elders just as the Israelites did to Moses. We would also be in danger of despising and rejecting God, showing a lack of belief and trust in Him, and being an evil congregation. My brethren, we ought to avoid this at all costs. Sometimes, however, we do have legitimate needs that must be heard. These must be made humbly and respectfully before the elders, and we must adhere to their scriptural decisions.

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