" 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 for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30-32).
IT was revealed unto Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, through the prophet Daniel, that in the "latter days" (Dan. 2:28;10:14) the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that should not be destroyed; which kingdom should not be left to other people, as the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome have each successively been; or as the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire is at present divided should be; but a kingdom which "shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms (of men) and itself shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44). Some years subsequent to this, in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, Daniel himself had a vision of the rise and fall of the great monarchies above alluded to. After viewing them until their dominion was taken away, in his account he says, "I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan 7:13,14). Mark! this person like the Son of Man had given unto him, dominion, glory, and a kingdom! There will be no difficulty in proving that the individual whom Daniel saw receiving these high honours was no less a personage than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The reader will at once perceive an intimate connection between this prophecy of Daniel and a parable which Jesus spake to "some who thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear". (Luke 19:11) He said, "A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return" (Luke 19:12). The "certain nobleman" designates Jesus, who was "born to be a king"; the "far country" the heavens into which he ascended, and in which he will remain "until the times of the restitution of all things"; (Acts 3:21) the "kingdom" that which Daniel saw given to him, and which the Lord God has promised to give him; and "to return" his coming again, "in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, when he shall sit upon the throne of his glory", "and judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom". (Matt. 25:31) No one will deny that Jesus alludes to himself in this parable, and that he teaches in it -- that he was to possess royal dignity on his return. This is no isolated doctrine of the Bible, but is fully corroborated by the testimony of prophets and apostles.
John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, announced the approach of Heaven's King, and declared that he was then in the midst of the people, and in order that he might be manifest to Israel, he had come immersing in water (John 1:26-34). Jesus and his apostles taught the nation of the Jews that the kingdom of the heavens had come nigh unto them, and that they were therefore to repent, or amend their lives. Jesus frequently illustrated the nature of the kingdom by striking parables and apt illustrations, and declared who should and who should not enter into it. "Blessed are the poor in spirit", said he, "and those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5 :3,10,20). "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." "How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:15,24,25). "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5) . Such were the teachings of Jesus in reference to this kingdom.
He likewise intimated on various occasions that the Son of man should administer the affairs of the kingdom of God -- reward his servants, and punish his enemies. He also claimed this kingdom as his own. Hence he promised the apostles that they should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom (Luke 22:30). And when at Pilate's bar, accused by the Jews of making himself a king, he did not deny the accusation, but said, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him. Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest it, I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (John 18:36,37). There are some who infer that because Jesus declared his kingdom not to be of this world, that therefore it must be out of the world. This is not correct. Literally he said: "My kingdom is not of this kosmos " -- a word which means order, arrangement, or constitution of things. His kingdom will not be of the order of things which prevailed in Judea at that time, but will be arranged according to a heavenly constitution of things. Hence it is styled "the kingdom of the heavens". Jesus also said that he was born to be king; and in consequence of witnessing this "good confession before Pontius Pilate", (1 Tim. 6:13) 'suffered death. And for "the suffering of death he was crowned with glory and honour", (Heb. 2:9) and has obtained "a name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9), even "King of kings, and Lord of lords". (! Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16)
The future dignity and glory of the son of Mary is noted by the angel Gabriel in his message to the virgin: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest". (Luke 1:32) Did not the Father acknowledge him before witnesses that he was His Son? Did not the mighty works which he performed and to which he frequently appealed in proof of his Messiahship, also prove that he was the Son of God? And the apostle Paul says that "he was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. I:4). The writer to the Hebrews says that "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things". And alluding to his greatness he says, "When he bringeth his first-begotten into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Unto the Son, he saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows" (Heb. 1:2,6-9).
We will now inquire more particularly concerning the throne and kingdom which Jesus will ultimately possess. We have already seen that the diadem of universal dominion shall be placed upon his head; that regal honours shall be given to him; but as yet we have not ascertained his right and title to all this glory. This is hinted at in our text in the following words: "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever". (Luke 1:32,33)
This language is sufficiently clear to show that the kingdom which Jesus will possess is the kingdom of David -- that the throne which he will occupy will be the throne of David -- that the subjects of his kingdom will be everlasting -- and that he is the legitimate heir and son of David.
In order to understand this important matter fully, we must refer to the covenant which Jehovah [Yahweh] made with David, for He made "an everlasting covenant with him, ordered in all things and sure This covenant is recorded in 2 Sam. 7:12-16; also in Psa. 89, from which we make a few extracts: I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations . . . My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my lips. Once I swore by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Psa. 89:3,4,34-37). Again, "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne" (Psa. 132:11). The Lord, by the prophet Jeremiah, reiterates this covenant, He says, "Thus saith the Lord, If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne" (Jer. 33:20,21).
The covenant requires, then, that the heir to the throne of David be of a character approved by Jehovah [Yahweh]. Hence we find this specified in the last words of David in the following manner: -- "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God . . . Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow" (2 Sam. 23:3,5). David looked forward to the time when such a righteous king should occupy his throne; "who shall judge the poor of the people, save the children of the needy, and break in pieces the oppressor"; a king "in whose days the righteous shall flourish"; a king who shall have universal dominion, and before whom all kings shall bow, and become tributary; and a king "who shall live", or be immortal, whose name shall endure for ever, and in whom all men shall be blessed (see: Psa. 72).
And yet history shows that the sons of David did not all of them walk in the steps of their father, nor regard the God of Israel. Even Solomon, the immediate successor of David, and who is claimed by some as the one referred to by the covenant, grievously sinned against the Lord. And the house of David became so corrupt that Jehovah [Yahweh] frequently warned the kings of Judah of the result of their wickedness. By Jeremiah he said to them: "O house of David, thus saith the Lord: Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoilt out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings" (Jer 21:12). And because they repented not, but rather increased in wickedness, the Lord determined to deprive them of the royalty, and overthrow the kingdom. Hence Ezekiel said to Zedekiah, the last of Judah's kings, "Thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this (man) shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him" (Ez 21:25-2 7). This dreadful catastrophe was prophetically seen by the Psalmist. Hear his lamentation: "But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne to the ground" (Psa. 89:38,39,44). And the prophet Hosea says, "The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days" (Hos 3:4,5).
And now let us pause to inquire whether that method of interpretation can be correct which disregards the covenant which Jehovah [Yahweh] made with David -- a covenant confirmed by an oath, and the concurrent testimony of the prophetic word? We think not. Nor will it do to say the various items of that covenant are fulfilled, unless a descendant of David is now on his throne, reigning in his kingdom, over the tribes of Jacob, who is righteous, powerful, glorious, and immortal. This cannot be; for the kingdom and throne are yet in the dust, and Israel in captivity. And no one of Adam's race has yet appeared who fills the character of David's Son and David's Lord, except Jesus of Nazareth. But let us examine the testimony a little further.
Our text says, that "Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David", (Luke 1:32) from which we infer that he is the promised son and heir according to the covenant. Jesus was "the son of David according to the flesh". (Rom. 1:3) His genealogy, both on his father's and mother's side, proves it. He is frequently styled the son of David in the Gospels. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, designates Jesus as the Messiah long desired by the Jewish nation. He says, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began" (Luke 1:68-79). This horn of salvation is called "the horn of David" in Psa. 132:17; and "the horn of the house of Israel" in Ezek. 29:21. A horn is an emblem of strength or power; behold, then, how appropriate when applied to Jesus. The angel of the Lord said to Joseph, "Thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). Hence Paul says, "So all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins" (Rom. 11:26, 27).
Again, Jesus declares himself to be both "the Root and Offspring of David" (Rev. 22:16), which throws us back on the prophecy of Isaiah 11: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots . . . And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious". This prophecy is quoted by the apostle Paul and applied to Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:12), thus proving the fact that the Messiah was of the seed of David, according to his gospel (2 Tim. 2:8).
Again, Jesus says that he has "the key of David" (Rev. 3:7), and Jehovah [Yahweh] says of him by Isaiah, "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder" (Isa 22:22). The word key signifies authority or government; this is evident from what we read in Isa. 9:6,7: "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 justice, from henceforth even for ever". Compare this passage with the one at the head of this article, and it will be very evident that Jesus is the one who bears the key of David, and who will exercise the authority which it imparts. And Jesus declared before his ascension that "all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth and Paul says, "God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name : that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). Again he says, "God hath set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is, to come; and hath put all things under his feet" (Eph. 1:17-22).
The apostle Peter also teaches the glory and exaltation of Jesus: "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). And this exaltation to his Father's right hand is only for a set time: "Until I make thy foes thy footstool". (Acts 2:35) This glorious consummation will take place in the times of the restitution of all things, when God shall send Jesus Christ to bless Israel and the nations.
Without pursuing the investigation of this subject any further, we conclude by saying that the testimony of prophets and apostles agree in declaring Jesus to be the heir to David's throne, and that, having received the royalty of his Father, God, he will "return, and will build again the tabernacle of David that is fallen down, and close up the breaches thereof; and will raise up his ruins, and build it as in the days of old" (Amos 9:11; Acts 15:16); that he will "restore the kingdom again to Israel" (Acts 1:6); "make him that was cast far off a strong nation" (Micah 4:7); establish "Jerusalem as the throne of the Lord" (Jer. 3:17); and as "the Ruler in Israel", (Mic. 5:2) and "Prince of the kings of the earth", (Rev. 1:5) "shall stand and rule in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and he shall be great unto the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:4) .