promises to David concerning Christ
The covenant made with David to be
realised in the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under
The fact that God made a covenant
with David, having reference to Christ, is placed beyond all doubt
by the statement of Peter on the day of Pentecost:
"Therefore being a prophet,
and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him,
that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he
would raise up Christ to sit on his throne"
Preliminary to a consideration of
the subject, we invite attention to the following further allusions
to the oath referred to by Peter:
"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"
"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" (Psalm 132:11).
"My covenant will I not break,
nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn
by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall
endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before
me" (Psalm 89:34-36).
"Of this man’s (David’s)
seed hath God according to his promise,
raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus" (Acts 13:23).
"And hath raised up an 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 1:69,70).
These quotations of Scripture establish
the fact, first that God entered into some pledge or undertaking
with David king of Israel, to uphold his kingdom in an unlimited
future; and, second, that the pledge, covenant, or oath had reference
to Jesus. David’s "last words" (2 Sam.23:1-7), confirm
this conclusion - "he hath made with me an everlasting
covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this
is all my salvation and all my desire". The identity of this
covenant with that referred to in the Scriptures quoted above, is
evident from the immediate context:
"The Spirit of the Lord spake
by me, and his word was in my tongue. 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. And he shall be as the
light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without
clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear
shining, after rain. Although my house be not so with God, yet -
Then follows the declaration:
"He hath made with me an
everlasting covenant,ordered in all things and sure."
David was an old man when he penned
these words by the Spirit, and it is evident that, to the mind of
the Spirit, the covenant was not realised in the state of things
prevailing at the time. Solomon, a young man of promise, was about
to ascend the throne, but although David himself recognised in this
a preliminary fulfilment of the covenant, it is evident that this
was not the event contemplated. The Spirit in David points forward
to a period when it would be fulfilled in the rule of one who should
rise upon the world, like a morning without clouds; and when "all
David’s salvation and all his desire" would be accomplished
in connection with that great event. This did not come to pass in
David’s day. We have the testimony of the words immediately
succeeding those quoted. David’s house was not at that time
in the position guaranteed by the promise:
"Although my house be not
so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting
The reign of Solomon, David's son,
was, doubtless, the meridian of Israel’s glory; but it was
not a morning without cloud - it was not the realisation of the
covenant. Solomon sinned and led Israel astray, and ultimately dealt
injustice to the nation. David’s salvation was not in any
sense secured in Solomon’s achievements. Contrariwise, his
crown was tarnished and his kingdom rent, through the perversion
of a son who departed from God, multiplied wives, and turned aside
to the worship of heathen gods. His very name was brought into abhorrence
with the bulk of the nation, through the oppressions of one who
falsified the expectations created by the commencement of his royal
career as the wisest of men.
It was not to such a feature that
the last (spirit) words of David had reference as the consummation
of "the everlasting covenant" in all David’s salvation
and all his desire. There was visible to the mind of the spirit,
in the dim distance, far beyond the days of Solomon, the form of
one whose name should endure for ever - who should descend like
the gentle rain upon the new-mown grass, diffusing life and fragrance,
in whom men should be blessed all the world over (Psalm 72:17),
who, while the destroyer of the wicked, the conqueror of kings,
the avenger of injustice, should be a refuge for the poor, a shadow
from the heat, a covert from the tempest, and rivers of water in
a dry place (Isaiah 32:2).
Let us now look at the covenant
itself. We cannot do better than quote entire that passage in the
history of David in which it occurs:
"And it came to pass, when
the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round
about from all his enemies, that the king said unto Nathan the
prophet, See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of
God dwelleth within curtains.
"And Nathan said unto the
king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with
"And it came to pass that
night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, Go,
and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build
me a house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any
house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel
out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and
in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with
all the children of Israel, spake I a word with any of the tribes
of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying,
Why build ye not me a house of cedar?
"Now, therefore, so shalt
thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts,
I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be
ruler over my people, over Israel: and I was with thee whithersoever
thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight,
and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great
men that are in the earth. Moreover, I will appoint a place for
my people Israel, and will plant them that they may dwell in a
place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children
of wickedness afflict them any more, as before time; and as since
the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel,
and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies.
"Also the Lord telleth thee
that he will make thee a house. And when thy days be fulfilled,
and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed
after thee which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish
his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish
the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and
he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him
with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.
But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from
Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom
shall be established for ever before thee; thy throne shall be
established for ever" (2 Samuel 7:1-16).
Now, before proceeding to look narrowly
at the significance of these words, it will be well to meet a preliminary
objection which is sometimes urged with considerable force, viz.,
that as they were fulfilled in the reign of Solomon, they cannot
be legitimately understood of Christ. That the things affirmed had
a parallel in the events of Solomon’s reign cannot be denied.
Both David and Solomon apply them in this way (see 1 Kings 5:5:
8:20; 11:38; 1 Chronicles 22:7: 28:3). Solomon was David’s
son; God, in a sense, was his Father, for he took him under his
special care, and endowed him with a degree of wisdom that made
him famous above kings. He sat on the throne of David "before"
(that is, in the presence of) David, being elevated to the crown
before David’s decease, by David’s own instructions,
and continued after David was gathered to his fathers. He built
the temple of God at Jerusalem, according to plans drawn out by
David under the influence of inspiration (1 Chronicles 28:12,19).
He was a man of peace. He committed iniquity and was chastened in
the divine displeasure by means of adversaries raised up toward
the close of his reign; but God’s mercy did not depart away
from him as it did from Saul, for he was allowed to reign till death
To this extent, the covenant with
David was verified in the days of Solomon; but to say that this
parallel was the substance of the things promised, is to go in the
teeth of Scripture testimony, both Old and New. David and Solomon’s
application of the covenant, as recorded in the Scriptures referred
to, does not interfere with this testimony. David and Solomon may
be presumed not to have known its full scope. The prophets generally
did not understand the full effect of their words (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Paul applies the terms of the covenant to Christ in Heb.1:5: "I
will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son". Peter,
as we have already seen, expressly says that the covenant had reference
to him (Acts 2:30). Jesus applies David’s language to himself:
"The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until
I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psalm 110:1), and furthermore,
he says of himself, "I am the root and the offspring of David"
(Revelation 22:16), and that he has the key of David for the purpose
of opening that no man may shut (Revelation 3:7). In the days of
his flesh, he was known and described as "the son of David";
the whole nation of the Jews looked for a son of David to be the
Messiah; all the prophets speak of him as a descendant of David,
variously styling him "a rod out of the stem of Jesse (father
of David)" (Isaiah 11:1); "a righteous Branch raised unto
David" (Jeremiah 23:5); "a child born and a son given
to sit upon the throne of David and his kingdom" (Isaiah 9:6),
and so on.
It is, therefore, a vain thing for
anyone to attempt to avert the application of the "everlasting
covenant, ordered in all things and sure", to Jesus, David’s
son and Lord, the "greater than Solomon", on the mere
strength of a view taken by David and Solomon, which does not exclude
this application, but which merely declares that the covenant made
with reference to Jesus was incipiently fulfilled in Solomon.
It may be a question for consideration
how it is that a prediction can have two fulfilments, so far separated
by time and the nature of the event. The fact is evidence of the
comprehensiveness of the divine word, but no disproof of the fact
that the prediction in its ultimate and complete bearing has reference
to Jesus. This is proved in too many ways to leave room for a moment’s
Assuming this to be settled, let
us see, first, how much of the covenant has been fulfilled in the
career of Christ, as so far developed; and, second, what Christ
will have to do at his future manifestation, in order to fulfil
that part of the covenant which was, unquestionably, not realised
at his first appearing.
The facts bearing on the first point
may very briefly be summarised: David’s days having been fulfilled,
and he being "asleep with his fathers", Jesus was born
in Bethlehem, the city of David, of Mary, a virgin, descended in
the line of David, and espoused to a man named Joseph; who was of
the house and lineage of David. The event was announced by an angel
to shepherds in the neighbourhood, watching their flocks by night,
in the following language:
"Fear not; for, behold I
bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10,11).
Zacharias, the father of John, notices
the event in the following language:
"Blessed be the Lord God
of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people; and hath
raised up an 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 1:68-70).
Jesus was born without human paternity;
his conception was due to the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing
Mary. "Therefore", said the angel, "he shall be called
the Son of God". Thus, in a sense far transcending the case
of Solomon, were the terms of the covenant realised - "I will
be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son". In fact,
the divine sonship of Jesus is the crowning feature of his position
as the Messiah. No man can Scripturally believe that he is the Christ,
while denying that he is the Son of God. A Scriptural confession
of his name involves the recognition of the two facts expressed
in the words of Nathaniel - "Thou art the Son of God; thou
art the king of Israel" (John 1:49).
John says, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5). The
divine testimony to Jesus, uttered at his baptism, and again at
his transfiguration, was couched in these words: "This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him" (Luke
9:35). Hence, the most striking feature in the covenant made with
David shines out in Jesus, who was both Son of God and Son of David
and in view of it, it is easy to understand the language of David
in the 110th Psalm, in reference to which Jesus confounded the Pharisees
so that they could not answer again. He said:
"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, saying,
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I
make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord,
how is he his Son?" (Matthew 22:42-45).
This was a question which the Pharisees
could not answer from their point of view, because, on the supposition
that the Messiah was merely to be a natural son of David, on no
principle admissible in Jewish practice could David have addressed
him as Lord, for that would have been to accord to him a position
and a deference which could never be recognised as proper to be
yielded to a son by a father. But in view of the truth, the question
admits of an easy solution: Christ is the son of David by the flesh
of Mary; but he is also David’s Lord, because of a higher
parental origin than David;
"God hath committed all judgment
unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they
honour the Father" (John 5:22-23).
The next feature in the history
of Christ corresponds to the next feature in the covenant made with
David. He did not commit iniquity, but he was "chastened with
the rod of men", and with the stripes of the children of men.
The original Hebrew of this part of the covenant, according to various
authorities, is more correctly translated as follows: "Even
in his suffering for iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of
men and with the stripes of the children of men". This is intelligible
as applied to the death of Christ:
"Surely he hath borne our
griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace
was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.... The LORD
hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:4-6).
But the mercy of God did not desert
him as it did Saul, who was rejected, and as we might presume it
did in the case of Solomon, whose last days, so far as we have any
record, were spent in disobedience. Christ was forsaken on the cross;
but it was only for a moment; God’s favour returned with the
morning which saw his deliverance from the grave, and was to him
an eternal river of joy. His relation to Deity in the whole transaction
cannot be better expressed than in the words of the 16th Psalm,
which Peter, on the day of Pentecost, applied to him:
"I have set the Lord always
before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also
shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither
wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show
me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy
right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:8-11).
In Psalm 89 the covenant with David
is repeated in substance, and here the following language is used,
which could not be applied to Solomon:
"Also I will make him my
firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth; my mercy will I
keep for him for evermore . . . his seed also will I make to endure
for ever; and his throne as the days of heaven" (verses 27-29).
In no sense was Solomon Jehovah’s
firstborn; while of Jesus, the following statements are made:
"He is the Head of the body,
the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence"
"For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among
many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
"Christ the firstfruits"
(1 Corinthians 15:23).
In this respect, he fulfils a condition
of the covenant made with David, which is in no sense satisfied
in Solomon. And he is indeed "higher than the kings of the
earth", for Paul says:
"God also hath highly exalted
him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the
name of Jesus every knee should bow" (Philipians 2:9-10).
But when we pass on to consider
other things said in the covenant of the son promised to David,
we find that Jesus has not yet fulfilled them. The first item may
be stated in the words of Peter, "That he should sit upon the
throne of David". In no sense can Jesus be said to have done
this. The throne of David is in ruins. Its condition is described
in the following language:
"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 broken down all his hedges; thou hast
brought his strongholds to ruin. All that pass by the way spoil
him; he is a reproach to his neighbours. Thou hast set up the
right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies
to rejoice. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast
not made him to stand in the battle. Thou hast made his glory
to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground" (Psalm
This state of things was predicted
by Ezekiel in the following terms:
"And 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 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 comes whose right
it is, and I will give it him" (Ezekial 21:25-27).
This prediction was uttered in the
reign of Zedekiah, the last Israelitish king in the line of David,
593 B.C., and ever since that time the kingdom has been overturned.
It was overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar in the lifetime of Zedekiah,
and was afterwards trampled down by Greece and Rome. Since the destruction
of Jerusalem by Titus, it has had no existence. The land was in
the possession of the enemy for many centuries, and the people scattered
as fugitives throughout the earth and, although the State of Israel
was established in 1948 in accordance with Scriptural prophecies,
the throne of David has not been re-established.
In view of this, what conclusion
is to be drawn from the covenant made with David, which expressly
guarantees the perpetual continuance of David’s throne and
kingdom, under that son of his who was to be the firstborn of Jehovah?
There is only one conclusion admissible in the premises, and that
is, that at some future time, Jesus must return and re-establish
the kingdom of David, and preside therein for God, as David did:
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" (Acts 15:16).
The testimony confirmatory of this
conclusion is very expressive, for example:
"For 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 with justice, from henceforth
even for ever" (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Then there are the words of the
other prophets, of which the following are only a meagre sample:
"In those days, and at that
time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto
David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the
land" (Jeremiah 33:15).
"Behold the days come, saith
the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel, and the house of
Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. And it
shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to
pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy,
and to afflict: so will I watch over them, to build
and to plant, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 31:27,28).
"For thus saith the Lord;
like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so
will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised
them" (Jeremiah 32:42).
"Behold the days come, saith
the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised
unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah" (Jeremiah
"In that day, saith the LORD,
will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is
driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her
that halted, a remnant, and her that was cast off, a
strong nation; and the Lord shall reign over them
in Mount Zion from henceforth even for ever" (Micah 4:6,7).
"Thus saith the Lord God,
Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen,
whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side and bring
them into their own land. And I will make them one
nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel;
and one king shall be King to them all;
and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided
into two kingdoms any more at all" (Ezekial 37:21,22).
"And they shall build the
old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they
shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations"
These predictions will not be realised
in the absence of Jesus Christ from the earth. This appears upon
the face of the testimonies themselves, but is proved in a way that
excludes the possibility of mistake, by Peter’s declaration:
"He shall send Jesus Christ,
which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive
UNTIL the times of restitution of all things, which
God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the
world began" (Acts 3:20-21).
From this it follows that the work
of restoration so abundantly described by the prophets does not
occur till Jesus returns and reappears on earth. This will account
for Paul’s connecting Christ’s appearing and kingdom
as coincident events: "Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and
the dead at his appearing and his kingdom"
(2 Timothy 4:1). When he appears, his kingdom will come, for it
is his return to the earth that causes his kingdom to be established.
Hence we can understand the statement that "when the Son of
man shall come in his glory, then shall
he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:31). This
statement Jesus repeats in another form, which only makes its identification
with the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel more certain.
He said to his disciples:
"Verily, I say unto you,
That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration (which is
equivalent to the restitution spoken of by Peter) when
the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall
sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes
of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).
When this comes to pass, there will
be a fulfilment of the words addressed to Mary: "And he shall
reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there
shall be no end" (Luke 1:33).And when these words are verified,
the covenant made with David will find a fulfilment over which no
obscurity can be cast.
The covenant guarantees the Messianic
establishment of David’s kingdom in David’s presence.
The words are, "Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established
for ever before thee". As we have seen, this was partially
fulfilled in David witnessing Solomon’s ascension to the throne
before his own death; but it is easy to see how much more completely
and substantially it will be fulfilled in the kingdom of David in
the hands of Jesus. The kingdom of Israel, as ruled by Christ, will
be the kingdom of God. The promise to all the faithful is that they
shall inherit the kingdom of God (Luke 22:29,30; Matthew 19:28;
James 2:5; Luke 13:28,29: 12:32,36; 2 Peter 1:11). Hence David,
who was a man after God’s own heart, will be among those of
whom Jesus says, in one of the foregoing list of references, that
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets - of whom David
was one - will be seen in the kingdom of God.
This cannot mean heaven; for Peter
expressly says, "David is not ascended into the heavens"
(Acts 2:34). It is the kingdom to be set up in the territory of
the Promised Land, when the little stone descends from heaven to
break in pieces all other kingdoms. David, looking forward to this
time, said in prayer, immediately after hearing the words of the
covenant, "Thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house
for a great while to come. . . . Therefore now let it please thee
to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever
before thee" (2 Samuel 7:19,29). This prayer is answered in
the words of Jeremiah:
"For thus saith the Lord:
David shall never want a man to sit
upon the throne of the house of Israel . . . If my covenant be
not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances
of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob,
and David my servant, so that I will
not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captivity to return,
and have mercy on them" (Jeremiah 33:17,25,26).
The time for this is now not far
off, and David himself will be in the land, rejoicing in the greatness
of his son, who will be a triumphant witness of the truthfulness
of Jehovah’s word. Every royal family will disappear and be
forgotten, except the family of David, an everlasting and glorious
institution, which will be in everlasting remembrance by the ransomed
inhabitants of the globe. Thus will be fulfilled the promise that
the house of David shall continue for ever.
We have next to observe a feature
of the covenant which few modern readers of the Bible have been
able, in any sense, to apply to Jesus. We refer to the first clause
of the thirteenth verse; "He shall build an house for my name".
Understanding this to mean the erection of a place in the earth
for the worship of Jehovah, it may be considered incredible that
such a performance should form any part of Christ’s work.
At first sight, such a thing may seem preposterous and degrading
to the dignity of Christ, but, looking closely into the subject,
we discover a different complexion in it. We shall see that not
only is the building of a temple, to which nations may periodically
repair for worship, one of the incidents of the age to come, but
that the performance of this work is connected with the noblest
mission of the kingdom of God.
We will first call the reader’s
attention to the evidence which proves that what is affirmed in
the covenant made with David will be realised in the kingdom of
"Behold the man whose name
is the Branch, and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall
build the temple of the Lord . . . and he shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule upon his throne. And he shall be a priest
upon his throne" (Zechariah 6:12-13).
The applicability of this to Jesus
might be doubted from the context were it not that the statement
cannot be understood of any other than he who bears the title occurring
in it. The Messiah is uniformly described as the branch,
and he alone is to be "a priest upon his throne", combining
in himself, like Melchizedek, the double function of rule in temporal
matters and intercession in things pertaining to God. Were this
the only consideration, however, to justify the application of the
prophecy to Jesus, it would fall short of proving the point. We
therefore proceed to weightier considerations.
It is said of the time when Jesus
shall reign on the throne of his father David that "many people
and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem,
and to pray before the LORD" (Zechariah 8:22). This is expressed
by Jeremiah as a gathering of the nations to the name of the LORD
to Jerusalem; in consequence of which they walk no more in the imagination
of their evil heart (Jeremiah 3:17); and by Isaiah, as the going
of many people, saying,
"Let us go up to the mountain
of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths"
Zechariah describes this in the
"And it shall come to pass
that every one that is left of all the nations which came against
Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year, to worship the King,
the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles"
That these things are true of Christ’s
reign on earth and nothing else, must be evident from the fact that
they are associated with a time when the nations shall cease from
war, and when men shall no longer follow the bent of their evil
inclinations. Such a state of things has never been realised in
the history of the world. If, then, nations are to go periodically
to Jerusalem for the purpose of worship, it stands to reason that
there will be a place in which this act can have suitable effect.
It is not to be imagined that a motley assemblage of people could
conveniently, comfortably, or profitably bring their devotion to
bear without those customary means of approach, which, in all past
times God has furnished to those whom he has invited to do homage
to him. Why should nations come to Jerusalem, if there were no temple
there? If their worship was simply to consist of the sentiment of
devotion, this could as well be cultivated in the countries they
inhabit as at the holy city.
The necessity of the case requires
that there should exist a machinery of worship adequate to the grandeur
of the dispensation, in which Jerusalem is the religious metropolis
of the whole world. It is evident from attention to the limited
testimony quoted, that this will exist. Mark, for instance, the
expression, "Let us go up to the house of the Lord". Again,
"The pots in the LORD’s
house shall be like the bowls before the altar" (Zechariah
"The glory of this
latter house shall be greater than of the former,
saith the LORD of hosts; and IN THIS PLACE will I give peace"
"Then shall Jerusalem be
holy... And a fountain shall come forth of the house
of the LORD THE HOUSE OF THE LORD and shall water
the valley of Shittim" (Joel 3:17,18).
It will be the peculiar honour of
Jesus to bring all nations to worship before God: and this he will
do in virtue of the covenant made with David. God will establish
the throne of his kingdom for ever, in the hands of Jesus; and,
under him, give to Israel the sure dwelling-place from which they
shall never be removed. These two conclusions are amongst the most
copiously attested doctrines of the Word of God. In the light of
them all prophecy is intelligible; without them, the Old Testament
is what orthodox people practically find it to be - a dark vision,
and a dead letter.
When the Son
of David comes to vest, in his single person, the authority now
exercised by all the rulers and parliaments of the world;
when he lays hold, with unsparing hand, upon the vested interests
which obstruct the path of general progress; and shivers to atoms
the rotten fabrics of respectable superstition; when he overturns
the institutions which foolish crowds fall down and worship, through
the mere power of antiquity; when he sends forth to all the world
the decrees of a divine and omnipotent absolutism; when he sets
up a system of worship to which he will command conformity on pain
of death; and demands the allegiance of every soul to be personally
tendered at Jerusalem, the city of the great king; when he comes
to sweep, from the face of the earth, the tangled cobweb of existing
institutions which shelters ignorance, vice, and misery; while professedly
based on right, religion, and morality; and to deal, with even hand,
the swift and powerful awards of unerring justice; when he, in fact,
breaks in pieces the whole constitution of human society, as now
put together, and substitutes for it a new order of things, having
the revived kingdom of David, in the land of Israel, as its centre
and basis of operations then, and not till then, will mankind see
their folly, and "come from the ends of the earth, and say,
Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein
there is no profit" (Jeremiah 16:19). There is no hope till
then. He will "judge the people righteously, and govern the
nations upon earth" (Psalm 67). "In that day there shall
be one Lord, and his name One" (Zechariah 14:9).
from Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts with slight amendments
to reflect the current state of affairs among the nations. Copies
of this excellent guide to understanding the Bible are available
by contacting us).