A CHRISTMAS TREASURY
The Promise of a Royal Line
Jerry A. Collins
Today is full of anticipation. All week my wife has been working and planning for our luncheon with you in our home. This afternoon the much anticipated game between the Lions and the Bucs will happen to determine who sits atop the division. Of course, all of us are anticipating the upcoming Christmas season with all of its festivities including family gatherings, special services and Christmas morning. It is especially a time of anticipation as we approach the conclusion of one millennium and enter into the next.
The Bible is full of anticipation too. The Old Testament anticipates the coming of royalty to rule on the throne of the world and universe. The Messiah will come with the right to rule as the Old Testament prophesies. Jesus has already come but that first coming was as a servant. there was no regality associated with His coming in Bethlehem. His purpose was different. His purpose was not to rule but to be ridiculed. Not as Sovereign but as Savior. Not as Lord but as the Lamb. Not as King but to be killed. But He will come again and this time He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords as it is prophesied. We will learn about these prophecies as we anticipate with these writers the coming of the King of Israel.
THE PROMISED ROYALTY
Genesis 49:10 reads,The scepter shall not depart from Judah, not the rulerís staff from between His feet, until the Shiloh comes and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples. In verse 8-12 Jacob pronounces blessings on his sons and he pronounces that from Judah will come the one who rules. These verses anticipate the kingship in Judah culminating in the reign of Messiah in which the nations will obey him (Rev 5:5). Until Shiloh comes is a title of the Messiah and the scepter belongs to him, the One who has the right to rule. Jacob gave this blessing on his deathbed and the prophecy y has to do with the future of Israel. Here we see God narrowing the line once again to the tribe of Judah while at the same time broadening the expectations to look for one who will one day become a ruler of Israel. So, Judah will become the royal line from which the Deliverer will come to rule all of the world. This is a declaration of the right to rule from this tribe and that out of Israel the Shiloh, the Peacemaker comes to rule and establish His kingdom. As we travel further down the road of prophecy we see this royal line narrowed further until we know the family from the tribe of Judah which the royal line will come from and the son in that family from whom the lineage of the Messiah will retain royalty
1 Samuel 16:1 says Now the Lord said to Samuel, how long will you grieve over Saul since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons. Then we read in 1 Samuel 16:12-13, Now he was ruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said arise anoint him for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. After Saulís continued rebellion against the Lord and his subsequent rejection by the Lord, Samuel was commissioned to go to the one who would succeed Saul on the throne, David a man after Godís own heart (13:14). God had permitted the people to have the king of their choice. Now God proved his superior wisdom and raised up his king, the son of Jesse, David. Now we see the prophecies even more precise so we know in what line, when, where and how the lineage of the king of Israel will come. (1) We learn that God orchestrates his will and plan in human history. God is writing history here because history is the outworking of Gods plan for the world. (2) We see how God kept the line of ID clear so no impostor might be mistaken for Messiah. He, when he comes would have to be from Israel, the tribe of Judah, through the line of David. (3) We also see how God fulfilled His promise in the face of the enmity of Satan and sinful man. Saul was a mistake from the beginning because he was from the tribe of Benjamin not Judah as was prophesied in Genesis 49:10. The choosing of David meant that thousands of families and individuals of the line of Judah were eliminated and Godís choice was clear.
2 Samuel 7:12-17 tells us that the royal line will pass through Davidís son, Solomon. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before me forever, your throne shall be established forever. Here God declares a covenant with David. In this covenant god passed the royal line through Solomon assuring David that his house, throne and kingdom would be established forever. The right to rule would rest and remain with Davidís family as predicted in genesis 49:10 and one day it would be permanently established by the Messiah (Luke 1:32-33). There have been only three times in the history of the nation of Israel that they have governed themselves without any foreign interference. The first was during the reign of David and Solomon. For 80 years the nation enjoyed a united monarchy and experienced the glory days of the nation. The second self-governing was during the Maccabean rule from about 160-50BC until Rome emerged as a world dominate power. The third was in 1948 when the nation once again was raised from the ash-heap of history. For nearly 2500 there was no nation of Israel. Of course, God has plans he is going to fulfill through this nation as he promised Abraham he would do. Each time Israel governed itself, it was under threat from surrounding nations and armies. That is the case even today. You might ask yourself why did God give his people this land? And the answer is because it would force them to depend upon the Lord.
Jeremiah 22:28-30 tells us that the royal line was to be cursed and cut off. Jeconiah was king of Israel and was judged by God because he only cared for dishonest gain, bloodshed, oppression and extortion (Jer 22:15-17). The curse states that no physical seed of Jeconiah would ever occupy the throne of David. This means the royal line of David through Solomon was cut off. However, god saw to it that this prophecy was carried out by (1) by captivity in Babylon and subsequent rule in the territory by foreign powers (Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Rome) and (2) This has continued even today with the period called the times of the Gentiles, a period of Gentile domination on the stage of world history until the second coming of Christ, the Deliverer, the One who will rule on the throne of David (Luke 21:24). But what about Gods promises to David? Are the superseded and replaced by the church? is it only a spiritual rule in effect? Is God finished forever with the nation of Israel? Will there be no millennial reign on the earth? The answer is that God is not finished with Israel yet. the promised deliverer has not yet come as the prophecies promise. When the Old Testament concludes, we see that the promises made about a godly line, a godly rule and a promised deliverer are unrealized!
Interestingly, Matthew records the genealogy of Christ through Joseph (1:1-17) whose line comes through Jeconiah (1:12). Had Christ been a physical descendent of Joseph and not virgin-born, He would have been disqualified as Israelsí king because the line through Jeconiah could have no-one sit on the throne due to his curse. However, Luke presented the physical line of Christ through Mary (3:24-38) who was descended from David through the line of his son, Nathan (Luke 3:31). In that way Christ was not under the curse of jeconiah. This made Jesus the literal son of David and with the legal right of rule on the throne. The prophecy of this virgin birth goes all the way back to Genesis 3:25 where it was first anticipated. But Jesus never takes the throne at his first coming. He does not come to rule and reign as was anticipated and promised and yet everything pointed clearly to him. So we worship and serve not only our living Savior but our living Lord who will one day to return to rule as is his right. By the way, Luke traces Jesus genealogy all the way back not only to Abraham but all the way back to Adam and to God. This indicates the universal offer of salvation, which is common to Lukeís gospel, that Jesus came to save people, gentiles as well as the nation of Israel (Luke 2:32).
(1) God has given us clear marks of Identification, road signs as to who this Deliverer is. We know him as Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
(2) This clear ID guides us from being misled into believing false claims of Messiahs in history, today and in the future. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:4-5 see to it that no one misleads you, for many will come in my name saying I am the Christ and will mislead many. Whether David Koresh or Muhammad, we must be vigilant about the only one who fulfills these prophecies.
(3) He is coming again to take his place as king of kings on the stage of human history. Even know events rush to this culmination of all things!