The Throne of David

“David’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ, must return to the earth, bodily and literally, in order to reign over David’s covenanted kingdom. The allegation that Christ is seated on the Father’s throne reigning over a spiritual kingdom, the church, does not fulfill the promises of the covenant” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come 114). Does God’s promise to David necessitate an earthly kingdom with Jesus ruling at Jerusalem, as premillennialists say?

The Promise
David was a man after God’s heart. He wanted to build a temple for God. Instead, God promised to build a “house” for him. “. . . I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).

Initial Fulfillment in Solomon
David was succeeded on the throne by his son Solomon. It was he who built the temple. David saw him as the fulfillment of God’s promise (1 Chronicles 22:9-11). Solomon saw himself that way, too (1 Kings 8:18-20). Solomon’s rule is variously described: he sat on his own throne (1 Kings 1:47), on David’s throne (1 Kings 2:12), on the throne of Israel (1 Kings 8:20), and on the throne of the Lord (1 Chronicles 29:23). Throne simply indicates the position of rule. It was God’s rule, executed through David’s line. It was “the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel” (1 Chronicles 28:5).

God’s promise of ongoing rule was conditioned on obedience (1 Chronicles 28:7). In time, David’s descendants became disobedient and their rule was suspended. The last king in the line was Jehoiachin [Coniah]. God told Jeremiah to write him childless: none of his descendants would prosper on the throne of David, ruling in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30).

Greater Fulfillment in Christ
Jesus is a descendant of David (Romans 1:3). Gabriel told Mary that God would give Him the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32-33). In the first gospel sermon, Peter quoted God’s promise to David, then affirmed that Jesus had ascended into heaven, exalted to the right hand of the Father where He now rules (Acts 2:30-36).

Jesus later wrote, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21). Again, it is the Father’s rule executed through David’s line, now through Jesus Christ.

Premillennialists object to a heavenly reign as the fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises; however, that is precisely the application of them that inspired first-century preachers made. Peter said, “. . . all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days” (Acts 3:24). Indeed, a heavenly reign is the only one which can meet the Old Testament criteria. Consider. . .

• Jesus is a descendant of Coniah (Matthew 1:11). Remember, no one of his descendants could prosper reigning in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30).

• Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), which means He is king and priest at the same time. Zechariah 6:12 says, “He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” Yet the author of Hebrews notes that Jesus could not be a priest on earth because He is of the tribe of Judah, not Levi (Hebrews 8:4). (Interestingly, some premillennialists call for a reinstatement of the Law of Moses in conjunction with the earthly reign of Christ, the very law which prohibits Him from an earthly reign!) If Jesus is priest in heaven, He is king there. If He is not king, He is not priest, in which case we do not have the benefits of His priestly function—namely, salvation!

• Daniel foresaw the Christ receiving His kingdom when He came up to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13-14), not when He came down from Him. That accords with Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, and with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus is now reigning and will continue to reign until His coming; at that time He will deliver up the kingdom to the Father (vv. 23-28). Premillennialism has it just backwards: Jesus’ coming will mark the end, not the beginning, of His reign.

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