is the fulfillment of God's promises to serve as Theocratic King
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All of the passages in the four gospels which relate the narrative of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem utilize the quotation from Zechariah 9:9. They regard the triumphal entry as a fulfillment of prophecy. "Behold your King is coming to you." Was this just a caricature of kingship that took place on that day? Was this just a mockery of misunderstanding taking place on that day? I do not think so; I believe that by the inclusion of this passage in the gospels, God is indicating that Jesus really was King. It is important for us to understand what it means to consider Jesus as King.
In order to do so we need to take a broader look at Scripture as a whole and consider what God's intent was for Kingship in reference to the people He had created. When God created man it was His intent that He should reign as Sovereign, as King and Lord, in their lives and in their society. God intended to rule and control individually in the hearts of mankind, and collectively in the social function of His people. It was to be a spiritual and Theocratic Kingship. But he would not serve as King without the consent of man, having created man as a choosing creature, who could be a willing "subject" to God as King.
Man chose against God's Kingship and Lordship. Man sinned at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This did not put man on the throne of his own life or in a humanistically-determined control over society. Instead, a false-lord, a psuedo-King began to reign in man and in society. Satan tempted Jesus, offering to Him his "kingdoms" of the world (Matt. 4:8; Lk. 4:5).
As God continued to deal with fallen men,
the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, became the "picture
people" to illustrate how God wanted to serve as King within
and amongst His people and to have a holy nation. God told Moses
on Sinai what to tell the people about His intent:
But the Jewish people wanted a physical King like all the other nations. Samuel had been God's designated Judge to make determinations among the Jewish people. He was a poor example of a parent, and his sons who began to assist him as judges were not godly men. This was the "excuse" that the Israelite people used to demand a physical King.
"And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his first-born was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, "Behold you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." But the things was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. "Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day in that they have forsaken Me and served others gods so they are doing to you also. "Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them."
So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. And he said, this will be the procedures of the king who will reign over you; he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys, and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not asnwer you in that day."
Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, "No, but there shall be a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the Lord's hearing. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to their voice, and appoint them a king." So Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city." (I Samuel 8:1-22)
The Israelites selfishly and belligerently demanded a change of government, from the theocratic rule of God to a human monarchy, and in response God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, to be their King.
Samuel then introduces the first king of Israel to the people and explains the conditional contingencies of obedience necessary for the continued well-being of the kingdom.
It was not long before their first king, Saul, had himself sinned by assuming the role of priest as well as King, a type that was reserved for Melchisedek as a picture of Jesus Christ.
The second king over Israel was David, the son of Jesse, "a man after God's own heart." During the reign of David and his son, Solomon, the physical kingdom of Israel was great and magnificent. The Queen of Sheba could say, "The half was not told me!" (I Kings 10:7). But this was still just a pictorial physical representation of a much greater Kingdom that God had in mind for His people the restoration of Divine Kingship over man in Jesus Christ.
David knew Who the King really was, God Himself, and that there was a greater Kingdom coming. This is evident in many of the Psalms which he wrote:
David knew the intent of God for a Divine, Theocratic Kingdom. God had made promises to David about the coming Kingdom, combining prophecy of physical descendants and his spiritual "seed", Jesus Christ.
But the promise of a coming Kingdom did not take away from what God wanted to teach the people about faithfulness and obedience. God always works with His people conditioned by faithful obedience. David understood the conditions and passed them on to Solomon:
God verified to the same to Solomon:
What God promised to Abraham and David was not unconditioned. God's dealings with mankind always have the condition of a grace/faith relationship, which involves man's receptivity of God's activity.
What happened to the physical kingdom of Israel? The Israelite people were disobedient and unfaithful. The physical kingdom began to fade and pass away; the conditions had not been kept and the promise was annulled, as promised. But despite the unfaithfulness of the Israelite people, God is not unfaithful, and His promise of a new and greater Kingdom would not be deterred.
The physical kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms; the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. There were brief revivals followed by continued disobedience, unfaithfulness and idolatry, as the Old Testament prophets tried to warn the Jewish people.
The Old Testament prophets kept calling the people back to faithfulness, but at the same time prophesied of the coming Savior and King, the Messiah who would reign over God's people:
God is true to His promise of a King, true to His intent that the King over mankind should be Himself. God had promised David that his "seed" would establish the kingdom (II Sam 7:12). Jesus Christ was that "seed of David", the coming King, sent by God, as God, to restore God's kingship over mankind. (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; Rev. 22:16).
The angel, Gabriel, told Mary prior to the birth of Jesus,
John the Baptist proclaimed the coming Kingdom, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) "Kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" are used interchangeably in Matthew's gospel.
Jesus began His ministry saying the same thing, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15; Lk 4:1). Repentance as a prelude to experiencing the kingdom indicates that it is a spiritual reality.
The Kingdom of God is probably the central theme of Jesus' preaching. "The kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20). He used many parables concerning the "kingdom."
The chief accusations against Jesus as His arrest and trial was that He claimed to be "king".
They put purple robes of royalty on Him, put on a crown of thorns and gave Him a mock sceptre to ridicule His kingship:
Pilate presented the battered Jesus, saying, "Behold your King!" (John 19:14). The superscription on the cross read, "Jesus, King of the Jews" (Matt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Lk 23:38)
The Jewish leaders wanted it changed, to read "He claimed to be 'King of the Jews'". But it was written in three languages and remained written just as God intended. That superscription represented the "finale" for any hope of a Judaic, Israelitish kingdom and king. It exploded any expectation for a continued physical, Davidic kingdom. The crux of the difference in the expectations is displayed on the cross! Jesus was not a physical King of the Jews alone; He was the spiritual King of God's spiritual kingdom among all men.
From the cross Jesus exclaimed, "It is finished" (John 19:30) "Accomplished! Completed! Brought to fruition! I have established My kingdom!" By dying He won the battle, the spiritual battle with Satan. He is the Theocratic King, the Divine King, who has conquered sin, death and Satan to establish His spiritual kingdom. The cross is His victorious battle; the resurrection is His coronation; Pentecost was the inauguration of the kingdom.
In the first sermon of the church on Pentecost, Peter declared that David had prophesied of "his seed seated upon the throne" (Acts 2:30), and that by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God had done just that raised up Jesus to be Lord and King!
The preaching of the early church was of the "king, Jesus" (Acts 17:7); they were preaching concerning "the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:31), and that "through much tribulation we enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). This latter statement indicates that the kingdom of God is not a "utopia"; it is a spiritual reality with continued physical hindrances here on earth, until consummated in the heavenly continuation of the kingdom.
God used the physical kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament to pictorially portray the spiritual Kingdom that He intended to restore through His Son, Jesus Christ in the new covenant. "God is Spirit" (John 4:24) His kingdom, His reign and rule and lordship is spiritual.
The Jewish people in Jesus' day couldn't seem to see that. A servant-king, a despised king, a rejected king, a suffering king, a crucified King did not fit their proud, self-centered expectations. They were looking for a physical conquering King to wipe out the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom of David. Their conceptions of the Messiah as King were rooted only in the natural and physical. Their Messianic expectations were particularistic, materialistic, nationalistic, racist and wrong! They were looking for a national, Judaic, Israelitish kingdom, which included racial supremacism. Jesus and His message did not fit their system. Inherent in the message of Christianity is that Jewish particularism is ended! (Matt 8:11; 21:41; Lk14:24) -- it was only intended to be illustrative anyway illustrative of a people "set apart" to function as intended. The kingdom of God is universal ALL mankind can be restored to God's intent, by allowing God in Christ to rule and control in their lives.
Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19), and Peter used the keys to open the kingdom, first to the Jews (Acts 2) and then to the Gentiles (Acts 10). God's purpose was no longer limited to a nationalist, racialistic group of people. God's kingdom in Christ is universal the restoration of all fallen men.
What is the "kingdom of God" that God made available in Jesus Christ? It is a present, universal, spiritual and eternal kingdom. The primary meaning of the word "kingdom" is not "realm" or "territory", but "reign, rule and authority." It is not a physical residential kingdom with a specific and limited location, for the rule and reign of God cannot be thus limited. It is not a natural kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom the lordship of Christ in the hearts of his people; His authority guiding and directing their lives. It is not a visible kingdom of outward observation:
It is not physical:
It is not of this earthly world:
(Some would attempt to interpret Jesus' words as meaning "not of this world-system," but such fails to account for the context.) It is a kingdom that can only be entered by spiritual new birth:
Jesus would not allow the people to force him into their mold to be a natural, physical King:
Today, many people still want to impose that upon Him. They believe He came to sit on old King David's earthly, natural throne in Jerusalem, and that somehow He failed to achieve His Father's goal of making Him a political ruler. They imply that Jesus Christ came at His first advent as a political revolutionary seeking to overthrow the estabished political rule in Israel. They indicate that He offered a kingdom to the Jews, but they rejected it, so He withdrew the offer, postponed what he came for, and went to "Plan B" died on the Cross, establishing a parenthetical mystery kingdom until His second Coming. At His second advent they believe He will acomplish what He failed to do the first time, that is to become the Priest-King in Jerusalem.
This is the premise of the theory that is called "pre-millennialism." But I, personally, can find no biblical basis for the expectation of a physical kingdom here on earth a one thousand year millenial kingdom. In fact, such an expectation seems to be contrary to everything the Scripture says about the Kingdom. The kingdom is not limited in duration to a thousand years, but is eternal; the kingdom is not physical, but spiritual; the kingdom is not Jewish, but universal.
Neither did Jesus come to re-establish the old Davidic kingdom and thereby bring "good government" to the world; to reform society by enforcing high and moral and ethical standards. This is the premise of what is called "post-millennialism; reconstructionism; or theonomy." The premises of both pre-millennialism and post-millennialism blind Christian believers to the present spiritual reality of the kingdom of God. Both miss the point of Jesus' statement, "My kingdom is not of this world." this physical world - (John 18:36). So many Christians today are as deceived about the Kingship of Jesus as were the Jews of Jesus' day. It is no wonder that they are not shouting "Hosanna!", nor allowing Jesus to reign in their lives in godliness.
The kingdom, or authority, or rule of God is a spiritual reality in this present age, and it will appear in its final, perfected form in the eternity of the new heavens and new earth when Christ returns. The kingdom was established by Christ at His first advent, but only to those with eyes to see, spiritually. When He comes again, the whole world will see the power and glory of that present spiritual and eternal kingdom. There is the "already" sense of the kingdom and the "not yet" sense of the same eternal kingdom.
Jesus is King. He is King "after the order of Melchisedec...King of Righteousness... King of Peace." (Hebrews 6:20-7:2) "His throne is forever." (Hebrews 1:8) He is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Revelation 17:14).
Christians are "a kingdom of priests" as was God's intent (Exodus 19:5,6). We are a "royal priesthood, holy nation" (I Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Christians have been transferred into the kingdom of Christ:
Jesus is King for Christians right now. But Christians must never cease to learn the lessons of the Old Testament which were illustrative examples for us (I Cor. 10:11,12): Watch out for the Babylonians who try to carry off spiritual Israelites (Christians) into their false religious systems of idolatry with false pastoral kings. Watch out for the Babylonians with their false moral systems where ethical rules and regulations reign supreme. Watch out for the Babylonians and their false eschatalogical systems with far-out fantasies of what to expect in the physical future. As Christians we have all that God has to give us right now in Jesus Christ. "God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:3).
Christians are still like those persons present at the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We are still shouting, chanting, singing "Hosanna" to the King. We "sing unto the Lord" (Isa. 12:5; Ps 98:1; Zech 2:10; Ps. 137:3).
Is Jesus Christ reigning as sovereign in your life? ...as King? ...as Lord? Is Jesus Christ King in the kingdom of your heart? Are we prepared to let Jesus Christ reign and rule over the collective kingdom of His church? Are we praying evangelistically that Jesus Christ might reign as King over all peoples? These are the questions we must ask ourselves individually and collectively, as we understand that "Jesus Is King."
The condition for His effective Kingship/Lordship in our lives is still that of faith - our receptivity of His activity. The condition is still the obedience of listening to what the Lord Jesus Christ Jesus as King wants to do in our lives, individually and collectively.
Jesus is King and we can still shout,