Dr. S. Lewis Johnson continues his exposition on the Davidic Covenant with a discussion of its referencing by Jesus during his messianic ministry.
[Prayer] Father we thank Thee for Thy word. We thank Thee for the great promises of the Old Testament and we thank Thee for the marvelous way in which Thou hast fulfilled them. When we think of the covenants and we realize that these great unconditional ones depend solely upon the faithfulness of our triune God, we’re so grateful as we look at history as revealed in the New Testament revelation to see that Thou hast fulfilled the Scriptures to the letter. We thank Thee. We praise Thee, of course, most of all for the fulfillment in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ who is the true son of David, heir of the Abrahamic promises, heir of the promises of the Davidic throne and kingdom and realm and who stands as the representative of the people of God. We are indeed grateful. We could never express to Thee, Lord, how we feel when we reflect upon our inability to respond in our sin and now have come to realize something of what Thou hast done for us in sovereign grace. We are grateful. We pray, Lord, that Thy blessing may be upon us as we read the Scriptures this evening and comment upon them.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Message] We were studying two weeks ago the Davidic covenant and this is our outline, the biblical doctrine of the historical covenants, the Davidic covenant. We’re looking at the historical covenants as set out in Scripture. And we’re calling them historical because they’re in the Scriptures, and we are seeking to set forth the significance of them both — they are unconditionally, they depend upon the faithfulness of God but also the content of them. And we looked at the beginning of the outline in which we considered the Davidic covenant in history and psalm. We looked at the three great passages which set out historically the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7, in 1 Chronicles 17, and then in Psalm 89. We likened them to a floodlight and we likened them also to a spotlight and we likened them also to a third light which escapes me at the moment and sought in that way to set out precisely what had been set forth. We looked at the floodlight, the spotlight, and then the searchlight and saw that one of the prophecies was very general, one of them centered specifically upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of David and then one of them looked behind this, we called this the searchlight and laid stress upon the magnification of the sovereign good pleasure and faithfulness of God. That is we commented upon the two characteristic words of Psalm 89, loving kindness and truthfulness. And we sought to show that these three great unfoldings of the Davidic covenant set out an unconditional covenant which God stands behind to fulfill in a literal fashion.
We discussed some theological observations on the Davidic covenant. It’s relationship to the Abrahamic covenant. Sought to show it was a simple expansion and further, delineation of the Abrahamic covenant laying stress upon the king, the Lord Jesus, who would come. We stressed the unconditionality and we also commented on the authorial understanding and suggested that David had a pretty good idea of what he was talking about because when he died or just before he died he made comment about the covenant that had been given him by the Lord God. And he acknowledged that it was not yet fulfilled but he said also that it was all his hope this great covenant that God had made with him.
Then, I believe, we looked at the Davidic covenant in prophecy and we just read a few of these passages Isaiah chapter 9, Isaiah chapter 11, verse 1 through verse 10, and then Haggai chapter 2, verse 20 through 24. We passed by a number of passages in the Old Testament which set out the Davidic covenant and aspects of it. Centered our attention upon these just simply to give you a sample of what the Scriptures really say because over and over again through the prophets, particularly, well I should add the psalms and the prophets much revelation is given concerning the Davidic covenant.
Now, tonight, we want to continue our outline and if you do have one of those outlines still before you this is roman IV, the Davidic covenant in the gospels and capital A: Our Lord’s teaching. And so we’re turning to Luke chapter 19, verse 11 through verse 27, and then we will take a look at chapter 22 of the Gospel of Matthew.
Let me say just a few words while you find Luke chapter 19, verse 11 through verse 27. You notice when you read the New Testament that our Lord’s claim to the Davidic throne is incontrovertible. There is no question that he made the claim so far as speaking of himself as the son of David. He encouraged people to speak of himself as the son of David. They made reference to him as the son of David. He did not object to that. He raised questions with the men of his day concerning David’s son in order to focus upon himself. When you look at the matter historically you may remember from your study of biblical history. You won’t find any of this in the history books. They don’t think its that important. In fact, they don’t even think Jesus Christ is important. In our history books, you will find usually just a few paragraphs devoted to Jesus Christ and what is usually given is a kind of sentimental reference to him generally presented as a kind of ethical teacher who had a little influence on certain people in his day. But the picture of our Lord in the history books is never of such a kind as to explain why it is that he’s had such a worldwide influence. In fact, if you knew nothing about Christianity and you were to read that and then you were to look out and find out something about Christianity you would naturally ask the question, how is it possible for an individual described in this way to have had the impact he has had? It would be a totally irrational kind of thing to explain how that could have happened if our Lord was just the kind of person the history books set forth.
But we do know this from history that when Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem all the genealogical records that have been preserved in the temple were destroyed. So that today the only genealogical records that give us the genealogy of the one who will sit on the Davidic throne are the genealogies found in our New Testament. That is the genealogy of the Gospel of Matthew, the genealogy of the Gospel of Luke. They are the only records of the Davidic line. Then so far as our Lord’s right and title to the throne is concerned, it rests in documentary fashion upon the records of the New Testament. In fact, according to the New Testament and according to history, Jesus of Nazareth is the only man with an incontrovertible genealogy from David.
Now, there’s a remarkable prophecy in Jeremiah chapter 22 in verse 30, that I have alluded to previously. In chapter 22 in verse 30, in connection with the disobedience of Jechoniah or Coniah, he is also called Coniah in this section and Jeremiah chapter 22 in verse 29 and 30, we read these words, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, ‘Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.’” Now, Jechoniah had title to the throne, but notice the prophecy it says that, “no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.”
Now, you read the New Testament and you will find that the Lord Jesus was the son of Joseph. Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon. The Lord Jesus was of the flesh of Mary preserved from Mary’s sin by the work of the Holy Spirit described in Luke chapter 1. Mary was also a descendant of David. That’s why he is called of the seed of David according to the flesh, but she was of the seed of David through Nathan. So Joseph is a descendant through Solomon. Mary is a descendant through Nathan. The statement in Jeremiah 22, verse 30, about Jechoniah that “no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David,” is a reference to the line from Solomon. So though the line from Solomon possesses the title to the throne, no one from Jechconiah’s seed shall sit on the throne. He comes under the curse if he’s of Jechoniah’s seed. On the other hand, one must be of the seed of David in order to sit upon the throne.
Now, the Lord Jesus if he had truly been Joseph’s son he could not have been the one who sits upon David’s throne. He would have come under the curse, but Joseph had legal title to the throne. So our Lord needs legal title but no physical relationship to the one from Solomon through Jechoniah who has legal title. So he has his Davidic relationship through Mary through Nathan and, thus, a true son of David but having been received by Joseph into his home; for when Joseph found out the facts he took Mary as his wife so that the Lord Jesus inherited the legal title through Joseph and was prevented from coming under the curse of Jechoniah by reason of the virgin birth. So you can see there is no one who can possibly sit on the throne of David except Jesus Christ. He had no descendants. The only person with legal right and title to sit upon the throne of David is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, you tell me whether the Bible is written with care and minute accuracy or not. It surely is. So the Lord Jesus then is the son of David through Joseph. Inherits the title through Joseph but, nevertheless, is the seed of David through Mary by virtue of the virgin birth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, when did the Lord Jesus himself teach about the Davidic kingdom? Well, we may put simply his teaching in these ways. Let’s turn over to Luke chapter 19. We’ll look at verse 11 through verse 27. Luke chapter 19 in verse 11 through 27, reads like this.
“And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” And, incidentally, there’s no question about what the kingdom of God is. It’s the kingdom promised to David. “And he called his ten servants, and delivered unto them ten pounds, and said unto them, ‘Occupy till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And it came to pass that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.’ And he said unto him, ‘Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.’ And he said likewise to him, ‘Be thou also over five cities.’ And another came, saying, ‘Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.’ And he saith unto him, ‘Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank (not Interfirst), that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?’ And he said unto them that stood by, ‘Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.’ And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds. For I say unto you, ‘That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.’”
You’ll notice that our Lord here tells a little story about a kingdom and, of course, it’s a reference to himself because in verse 11, it says, “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”
Now, we can put our Lord’s teaching in these words gathering up everything that is said about him. First of all, in our lord’s teaching the kingdom was near in him. Remember the statements, for example, in the Gospel of Matthew where John the Baptist preached, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then the Lord Jesus began his preaching in Matthew chapter 4, and he too preached the same message. “The kingdom of the heavens is at hand.” So the kingdom that was future to the Old Testament is now near in him. In fact, in Matthew chapter 12 in verse 28, we have a very strong statement to that effect. In Matthew chapter 12 in verse 28, we read, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” So in the words of our Lord, the kingdom had come because the king had come. At the same time, the Lord Jesus made it very plain in that verse that I just read, Luke chapter 19 in verse 11, that the kingdom in another sense had not yet come. Notice Luke chapter 19 in verse 11, particularly. Turn back again to that. I’m turning back again to it. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” And so he tells the parable of the nobleman who went into the far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So it’s evident that in our Lord’s teaching both of these strains are things of true. That is the kingdom of the heavens is at hand because he is present there, but at the same time, as his ministry unfolds it becomes evident that the kingdom is a future kingdom. So the kingdom is both present and yet it’s future. Put in another way, the kingdom is hidden and the kingdom is to be revealed in the future. Notice verse 11, because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Now, there’s question in the parable that our Lord believed and taught the kingdom would appear. It was the immediate appearing that he tells the parable to clarify. So our Lord’s teaching then is simply this; he’s the king and so when he’s there, the kingdom is there because the king is present but at the same time, the full revelation of the kingdom of God awaits the future.
Now, that’s why in his teaching you can see both of these things. He can say we should pray thy kingdom come and, yet, at the same time he can say repent for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand and he can also say when these signs are carried out or accomplished in your presence then the kingdom of God has come upon you. So there were then these two aspects of our Lord’s teaching. It was present because the king was present but it is a hidden kingdom. In the future it shall be revealed in a worldwide manifestation.
Now, our Lord tried to call to have the people of his day reflect upon who he was and I’d like for you to turn to Matthew chapter 22, and we’ll read verse 41 through verse 46, in order to see how the Lord Jesus tried to bring his listeners to the understanding of the fact that he was the son of David and the Messiah. Verse 41, this is the day of questions. He’s been answering a good many questions, “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them saying, ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?’ They say unto him, ‘The son of David.’ He saith unto them, ‘How then doth David in spirit call him Lord?’”
Now, he cites Psalm 110 verse 1, saying, “The Lord,” this is David speaking. “The Lord, Yahweh, said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?’” So David then says, “The Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?’” And then our Lord asks the question, “If David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no man was able to answer him a word. Of course, the answer is very plain. David can call him Lord and at the same time he can be David’s son because he is the divine son of David. He is both Lord and he is a descendant of David because the Lord, the Messiah, the Messianic king is a God-man. He possesses two natures. So as far as our Lord and the Davidic throne is concerned, the throne is not established in the cross and shall be manifested in glory at his second advent. That’s the teaching of the Lord Jesus in very simple fashion concerning the Davidic kingdom. So to sum it up, the Lord Jesus’ teaching is the kingdom is present when he was present because he’s the king but the kingdom in its manifestation awaits the future and he though David’s son is also David’s Lord, the God-man.
Now, let’s look very briefly at the Davidic covenant in the Book of Acts. So we’ll turn first to Acts chapter 13, verse 26 and verse 27. Now, I hope you don’t mind reading a good bit of Scripture because I do think if we’re going to truly understand something like this we must keep the facts of Scripture before us and we must be familiar with the terms of Scripture.
The Apostle Paul is an Antioch in Pasidia and by virtue of the fact that the rules of the synagogue saw him and those that were with him as strangers and asked them if they had any word of exaltation for the people to speak out. The apostle gave us this magnificent sermon recorded by Luke. Incidentally, as I’ve often said, in the early church the individuals in the meeting of the church if they were men of spiritual gift had freedom to speak. The early church meeting was that kind of meeting they had freedom to speak. The priests had freedom to give thanks and to pray and those who had spiritual gifts of ministry had freedom to speak. They derived that the early church derived that practice from the synagogues. In the synagogue, the elders of the synagogue were not the preachers of the synagogue. The elders of the synagogue were those who organized and handled and superintended the work of the synagogue. Those who did the preaching were those who had spiritual gifts who were instructed by God, primarily, in the things in the word of God ideally. So it was possible for Paul to stand up in the meeting and speak.
If you had the kind of meeting that we have in so many of our churches today, one man always doing all the preaching at every meeting, Paul could never have spoken. We could never have had this marvelous sermon. But let’s listen to what he said beginning at verse 26.
“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”
You know, I often think we are carrying out the same thing today in the professing church. The New Testament says the professing church is headed toward apostasy. We have apostasy today. We have great widespread apostasy in the professing Christian church and in the professing Christian church. The teaching of the New Testament, the simple teaching of the New Testament, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God-man, truly God, truly man, that teaching is denied. And the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation that teaching is denied too. And so just as Paul says here, “We read the word of God every Lord’s day and we fulfill the word of God,” and the professing Christian church in condemning the teaching the Lord Jesus as set out in the New Testament. You know that very same cycle is carried on in the Christian church today. It’s very sad.
Now, Paul goes on to say.
“And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers.”
Notice the promise made unto the fathers.
“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.’ And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, ‘Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.’”
Now, you can see from this that the apostle considers the Lord Jesus Christ to be the inheritor of the Davidic throne. Isn’t it striking that Paul doesn’t preach his miracles, he doesn’t’ preach his teaching, he doesn’t preach his good life, he doesn’t preach his love, he doesn’t preach politics, he doesn’t preach social reform, he doesn’t preach moral issues, he doesn’t preach contemporary thought. What he preaches is the death, burial, and resurrection of the son of David because that is the answer to the problems of human sin, human life, and human destiny.
And one other thing you’ll notice about the Apostle Paul he did not hesitate in the midst of people who would have been very upset and very angry as we read here, he did not hesitate to put his finger upon the errors that were transpiring right in the midst of the synagogue. It was not above him to point out the supreme error of the rejection of the Messiah right among the people who should have responded to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Augustine said many years ago, “Love men slay arrows.” That’s true. “Love men slay arrows.” We often hear people talk about we need not only to pray but to pray together. Well, I’d like to say we also need to slay together too. We ought to be very concerned about the errors that are untrue representations of the word of God. Very simply Paul preaches the rejection of the Messiah. He preaches the exaltation of the Messiah. He preaches that today is the day of the dispensation of the Davidic lesson. He calls it the sure mercies of David, and it’s clear that he regards Christ as the Davidic seed and the assurity of the covenant. Go back and read the passage from which he cites the phrase the sure verses of David in Isaiah chapter 55, and you will see that in that context there is the passage in which the prophet Isaiah says, “He will abundantly pardon.” So the apostle, as well as the others, considered the Lord Jesus not to be simply a king in a political sense but an individual who also while king in a political sense is the savior of men in the sense of savior from sin and corruption. The sure mercies of David. He will abundantly pardon as we often sing on Sunday night, “Who is a pardoning God like thee, who has grace so rich and free.”
Turn over a page or two to Acts chapter 15 in verse 14 through verse 18. Here at the Jerusalem conference of Antioch and the elders and apostles in Jerusalem, Luke describes what happens when Paul and Barnabas and others came down to Jerusalem to discuss the question of whether it was necessary for a person to be circumcised in order to be saved. And after they’ve settled that matter in verse 11, where we read, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” That settles the question, we believe, that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we should be saved even as they. That’s a simple and true apostle’s creed. Notice Peter says we not I, we. “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” So that settles the question but then the multitude keeping silence gave audience to Barnabas and Saul who told the things that were happening among the Gentiles through the ministry of the apostle, the apostle to the Gentiles. And after they had listened to that for a while both meetings must have been rather lengthy meetings. They weren’t one hour long. You can be sure of that. So after they had heard that then James stood up and he said, “Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared.” That is Peter, of course. “Hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.” It’s referring back to Cornelius’ house. “And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called,’ saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.’”
Now, you can see from that last text, incidentally, that James believed that God had a pretty good idea of the future. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Is it a strange thing for us to say that God is omniscient? Do you know that even in evangelical circles today there are prominent individuals who are suggesting to us in the evangelical circles that God does not really know everything that is going to happen in the future? Do you know that? That’s really happening in evangelicalism. Amazing isn’t it. Just amazing.
There is one individual who wrote a magnificent book on revelation. Wrote a book on inspiration some time back. Taught in a Baptist seminary in a southern Baptist convention. Taught not in Gath publish it not in Askelon as the uncircumcised of the liberal seminaries here. Taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago and today is publishing his doubts concerning the omniscience of God, a man highly respected among evangelicals. So when James says, “Known unto him all his works from the beginning of the world,” he’s talking about a sovereign God.” That’s the kind of God the Bible speaks about.
But we were talking about the Davidic kingdom. You notice, this passage very simply is a citation from Amos chapter 9, and in the citing of it James puts it together as a passage in which there is reference to an outgahtering, “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” Then a regathering for he says in verse 16, “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David.” And, finally, in the end gathering of the Gentiles verse 17, “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” So what James does is cite the passage from Amos chapter 9, in which the prophet long after the apostasy had begun in Israel says that the Davidic promises still hold and that God will fulfill the Davidic covenant he prophesized the restoration of the dynasty of David. A great deal of discussion has taken place over Acts 15, and we don’t have time to talk about. If you are interested in what I would say about it, you can go back and read. I’ll get the tapes on Acts 15, and some of the other places in the taped ministry in which this is discussed in more detail.
It’s my own personal opinion that when we read here in verse 16, “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David,” that he is not speaking about the building of what we call the church. When he says, “We’ll build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen down.” That could hardly be a reference to the church because the church is being built not rebuilt. And, furthermore, the term David in about approximately sixty uses in the New Testament of the term never refers to any other thing, any other person than the historic person that we know as David the son of Jesse. Furthermore, the idea that the tabernacle of David refers to the church and its build up by Gentile salvation is contrary to both of these things as well as other things as well. It would be ruins that are to be rebuilt and so when one thinks of ruins as tabernacle of David being rebuilt surely it can be a reference to nothing other than the nation Israel as a whole which Paul says in Romans 11 has fallen away and been cast aside. So this then is a passage in which James tells us that the Davidic covenant is going to be fulfilled and the tabernacle of David will one day be rebuilt, not built but rebuilt.
The danger of spiritualizing statements of the Old Testament, I think, is seen here. Christians sometimes read this as if the tabernacle of David means the church. So that David no longer means David and tabernacle while it might, we could take tabernacle as a figure. The expression tabernacle of David could hardly be a fit description of the church of Jesus Christ, but if we are anxious to try to show that the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the church, well then, it’s natural for us to turn to that kind of thing.
That reminds one of how the London economists once neatly impaled the logic of a financial writer whose premises were unsound by commenting that he was proceeding from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion. Some of our ways in which we handle the word of God when we have theological presuppositions in our mind lead, I think, to this. James is simply saying as does Amos in chapter 9, that in messianic times Gentiles will be saved as Gentiles, just as the prophet said and they will not be required to submit to circumcision in order to be saved. That is, they will not be required to become Jews in the Old Testament sense. That’s very simple it seems to me.
Now, roman VI the Davidic covenant in the epistles, just a few passages because our time is drawing near an end. Romans chapter 1, verse 3 and 4, the apostle writing to the church in Rome says these things, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Turn over to chapter 15, verse 7 through verse 13.
I hope you don’t mind reading the Bible. Chapter 15, verse 7 through verse 13, you know, I think, this to my mind, this is the greatest weakness that we have as a Christian church in Believers Chapel too, reading the Bible.
Verse 7, Paul says in chapter 15, “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now, I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” In other words, in order to show that God was faithful to his promises Christ came and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. Why Gentiles? Because Gentiles are included in the Abrahamic promises. Gentiles are included in the Davidic promises. Read the Old Testament. Read Isaiah over and over again. The great Davidic promises are accompanied with statements concerning worldwide Gentile salvation. That’s part of the covenant of the Old Testament; “That the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.” You know what Paul is doing. He’s just in his mind he’s thumbing through his Bible. He didn’t have the kind of Bible we did but he’s thumbing through his knowledge of Scripture and citing little texts that have the word Gentiles in them.
Now, notice the concluding one here, “And again, Esaias saith, ‘There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” Now, I’ll pass up the passage in 2 Timothy 2:8, for the sake of time and we’ll turn on to the apocalypse and Revelation chapter 3 in verse 7, because it’s not simply Paul who knows about the Davidic promises. All of the New Testament writers know about them and the Apostle John in Revelation has several references to them. Here the Lord Jesus in the message to the church at Sardis mention them himself and John records it in his revelation. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” Turn to chapter 5, verse 5. This magnificent vision of the one upon the throne and of the lamb who has by his sacrificial substitutionary penal atonement made it possible for us to be saved. “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” And now turn to chapter 22 in verse 7. This is, I think, or verse 16 this is very interesting, I think, because this is one of the last things that our Lord ever says to the church. Listen to it. He’s talking about the Book of Revelation and he says, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” So on through to the end of Scripture we have reference to the Davidic covenant.
Now, just for a few moments we have about five minutes left I want to say a few words about the Davidic covenant and theology. And the question first is, must the Davidic covenant be fulfilled literally? Sometime if you have a chance it would be nice for you to read some books by George N. H. Peters called the “Theocratic Kingdom,” three volumes. I have one of the volumes here. They’re rather big volumes. If you look at this volume, you not only will see that the print is relatively small but about half of it is of exceeding small print. Three volumes, three big volumes, it’s devoted to the theocratic kingdom. It’s an attempt to expound, to argue, to expound, to expatiate, clarify to teach what the Scriptures say about the kingdom of our Lord upon the earth. Magnificent volumes. You can read for the rest of this year and next year and maybe sometime after that in these volumes. In one of the chapters there maybe, I don’t know I’m going to guess now, but when Peters begins to discuss something like the Davidic kingdom he has literally scores of propositions which he sets out. It’s in proposition four. Peters was a Lutheran and in the fifty-second of his propositions, he has twenty-one reasons.
Now, I don’t always like to give twenty-one reasons for anything because its, I guess, it’s probably hard to give twenty-one good reasons why it’s nighttime now. Now, the chances usually what happens when you give that many reasons for something you have some, if your subject is a valid one, you probably have some good reasons and then you have some questionable ones and what happens to people who listen to them? They remember the questionable ones and not the real good ones.
I remember one man who was taught writing on the Rapture and he wrote a book on fifty reasons on why the Rapture is pretribulational. He had about three pretty good arguments but when you finished his book you had doubts about the Rapture because he had forty-seven poor reasons and three pretty good ones. So I learned from reading a book like that if you going to talk about something you better pick out your best reasons and give them and omit the others and let others read them if they like but after all what you’re trying to show is something that you want to show in a positive fashion.
Peters lists twenty-one arguments for the literal fulfillment under proposition fifty-two in his the “Theocratic Kingdom,” but that’s not the only place he discusses it. That’s in volume one. He has two more volumes. He says just to give you some examples of some of the arguments that he raises. He says if you read the Old Testament you will see that David understood to be a literal kingdom that’s evident from 2 Samuel chapter 23. And, further, that Solomon, his son, recognized it as a literal kingdom and you can see that from 2 Chronicles chapter 6. Furthermore, he said it was well known, and he was right in this, that the Jews expected a literal fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom and yet our Lord never denies it in all of the revelation of the gospel period, which would seem strange if they were so wrong on that point which is so big in biblical teaching. Further, the coming of the king Christ is literally accomplished and insisted upon. That is our Lord’s first coming and the prophecies of his coming are generally believed as being a literal second coming even by those who deny that there will be a Davidic kingdom on the earth. So these are just some of the reasons why the Davidic kingdom should be fulfilled literally. Must partial historical fulfillment be followed by complete historical fulfillment? The partial is the coming of the historical on of David the Lord Jesus Christ. Some wish to see the fulfillment of the covenant in a spiritualized kingdom, but to make the coming of his person literal and his throne a spiritual kingdom certainly is to confuse if not, in my opinion, to nullify a promise.
Just before I came over here I was reminded of a story of an argument between a Jew and Christian minister. The Christian minister did not believe in the literal fulfillment of prophecies concerning the Davidic kingdom, but he was a man who was sound on the person Christ. So he and the Jewish man got into an argument. The Jewish man had Jewish views and as he was speaking with his Jewish friend the Christian sought to show that the Lord Jesus was born of a virgin and was truly the God-man. And in his endeavor to present the person of Christ to him it was natural for the Jewish man to ask him questions. So the Jewish man said, “Well sir do you believe then that Jesus will reign literally on the throne of David?” And he said, “Well no I don’t. I believe that the kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and that he will sit upon a spiritual throne of David but not a literal throne of David in the city of Jerusalem were the kingdom upon the earth.” And so the Jewish man said, “Well how is it that you believe in the literal virgin birth but you believe in a spiritual kingdom of the Lord upon the earth?” And this is when it falls down because I forgot the punch line. [Laughter] And you know I am laughing but this is a fact. I was, I thought, about this ten minutes before I was to leave the house at five twenty this afternoon and I went to two places in my notes to try and find that story and I could not find it. So I don’t want to misquote it entirely.
But the Jewish man said something like this. He said, “On what basis then did you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin?” And he said, “As far as I’m concerned, if you can believe that the Davidic kingdom is only spiritualized, I’d like to say that I believe in the virgin birth only in the sense that the Lord Jesus was a very virtuous and unusual man. So then asked the Christian man, “Why do you believe in the virgin birth?” And the man said something like this he said, “I believe it because it’s reasonable.” And the other man said, “I believe Scripture because it’s the word of God.” Well, that really is the difference if we read Scripture and believe it as written then it certainly seems that we should look forward to a literal second coming of the Lord Jesus and a literal kingdom of God upon the earth. That seems reasonable. Is literal fulfillment? That seems reasonable. I think, its biblical.
Is literal fulfillment harmonious with the other covenants? Yes, and Israel’s present retained national identity is the stubborn fact that points to literal fulfillment of her promises. The very fact that Israel still exists and, mind you, I’m not thinking of simply Israel in the land of Palestine although that’s, I think, significant. We can make too much of that. It’s possible that those eighty million Arabs shall one day get together and drive Israel out of the land but, ultimately, Israel will be that, but the fact remains that the Jews are still with us. And, furthermore, as I’ve been trying to say over KRLD on Sunday morning the very fact that there’s a remnant of Jewish believers in the church of Jesus Christ is evidence of the fact that he has not forgotten his ancient promises to them. The remnant is the testimony to the faithfulness of God too. Is the New Testament in harmony with this? Well, we have seen that it’s so. Acts chapter 15 certainly says that and there are many other passages to which we might turn.
So that finishes our treatment of the Davidic covenant. It’s incomplete. We should have spent a whole lot more time on it but I think it’s sufficient to see the general lines of its teaching so far as covenantal teaching is concerned. Two weeks from tonight, we’ll devote our time to a study of the New covenant and answer the question of whether the New covenant is for Judah and Israel only or is also for the church of Jesus Christ.
Let’s close in a word of prayer. [End of Tape]