Ever have a week were nothing seems right and you just want to run away? Yeah… Anyway, thank you so much for joining me again this week. We only have two sessions left before we are “done” with the Old Testament and we move on to the New Testament (and yet, we are never really “done” studying any part of the Bible, it just seeps into our souls and speaks to us on so many levels that it seems to grow as we grow as a true living word, we are ever learning). This week we get to talk about God as King. We’re in Part IV: Understanding the Old Testament: Session 8: The Kingdom of God. As always, read the study along with me on the site or in your own copy of the book: Multiply.
Amazingly, through much struggle with nature and God, the Israelites make it to their Promised Land. After all they have been through, you would think (and hope) that they would have all their problems worked out and they would be living life in tune with God and enjoying His presence, living in peace and contentment always. Unfortunately, just after Joshua conquers the land for them and he dies, we move into the period of the Judges when life is everything but hunky-dory and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”(Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25). Judges says that the reason for this turmoil is because there was no king, we will see that this is true, but not in the sense that you might first think. Eventually, during the guidance of the last judge, Samuel, Israel becomes a monarchy. To fully understand what is going on here, however, we have to go back to the beginning once more.
The King of Creation
Maybe you never really thought about it, but Genesis 1 & 2 actually introduce us to a King, the King of creation. He is so powerful that all He has to do is speak and His realm comes into existence. He rules all and teaches all how it should act in His realm. Like a beautiful symphony, each is given a part and all function in harmony in this glorious picture of what it actually means to joyfully live in the perfect kingdom of God.
And of course, humans bulk at authority, they want to rule their own worlds. This was not God’s plan, He created us to rule creation, but under His authority. All authority comes from and is established by God.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.” (Gen. 1:26-28 ESV).
“We were created to mediate God’s gracious rule to every part of His creation. Humanity was made to function under God’s kingship” (225).
Adam and Eve, with their “simple” act of disobedience, rejected God’s rule, His perfect reign. Because of this rejection of God’s reign, Satan, not God, is referred as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). The truth of the matter is, we were created to serve. If we aren’t serving God and sharing in the rule that He gave to us, then we are serving Satan, and he never shares… Ever since this event, human beings have been struggling with accepting God’s reign.
Discussion Question #1: Take a minute to think about what you learned about God by reading Genesis 1 and 2. How is God’s kingship established and displayed in the creation account?
The True King of Israel
In Exodus, we see that God, once again, must prove His kingship over His creation. With each plague, God demonstrates His rule over every part of His domain. Even though the Egyptians worshiped Pharaoh as deity, the domain he ruled didn’t belong to Pharaoh. In reality, he could claim no power over it. Only God has that power. Only God was the true King of the earth.
When God defined His covenant with Israel on Sinai, He was once again setting down how His kingdom was supposed to be run (a lot like, but quite a bit more complicated than “be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth”). God was King and Israel was His kingdom (226). Unfortunately, Israel constantly and consistently moved further and further from God’s rule. It was clear something needed to be done. Remember Judges? Everyone did what was right in there own eyes, Israel needed a king. Even Israel realized they needed a king. The problem was that they already had a king, and they were rejecting Him.
Israel Takes a King
“At first glance, it might seem like a good idea for Israel to be ruled by a human king. The period of the Judges was chaotic, so it would make sense to establish a clear ruler who would lead and govern the people…Wouldn’t they be better off with a human king?” (227) Reasoning along these lines, Israel asks God for a king.
Discussion Question #2: Read 1 Samuel 8. What does this passage tell us about the significance of Israel’s choosing to be ruled by a human king?
You might see the problem right away, Israel wanted to be like all the other nations around them. Isn’t that why God called them out, so they wouldn’t be like everyone else, to be “set apart”? Of course, God warned them that this was not a step that He approved of, but they did not realize the danger in what they were asking. Like parents when we often let our children make unwise decisions so that they can learn from their mistakes, God let’s Israel have their way. “Israel’s history continually teaches us that if it weren’t for God’s plan and His persistent grace, all hope would have been lost long ago“(228).
God’s Covenant with King David
I am constantly amazed that, in spite of all of humanity’s efforts to wreak God’s plans, He continues to work towards our redemption. Talk about immeasurable patience and love! Israel’s first king, Saul, was eventually rejected by God because he had his own interests at heart instead of God’s. Next, David was anointed, making him the “Lord’s anointed” (a concept that will become, like many Old Testament things, more clear with Jesus). There was quite a bit of time between David’s anointing and him actually being established as king of Israel, but eventually he was able to set the ideal of what a human king ruling for God should look like. David was far from perfect (as we all are), but God described him as a “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14)
Once peace is established and David has a chance to sit back and look at all the blessings God has lavished on him, he decides that God deserves a permanent dwelling place among His people, the temple. God actually denies David his request (but promises that one of his offspring would be allowed to fulfill it), but He affirms David and makes a covenant with David. Listen for the echoes from the covenants made with Abraham and Moses.
Discussion Question #3: Read 2 Samuel 7. What promises did God make to David in this passage?
Did you notice the parallels? God had promised to make Abraham’s name great, to give him and his descendants land, and to make Abraham into a nation that would be established forever. Now look at the covenant with David. God promised to make David’s name great, to give Israel the land they were established in, and to keep David’s line on the throne forever.
The Coming King
Ultimately, as good as he was, David failed at being a perfect king. Israel needed a truly perfect Ruler. Since David’s reign, prophets were sent to Israel with promises of a new king coming from the line of David who would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jeremiah speaks of a “branch” from the line of David who will “reign as king and deal wisely” (Jeremiah 23:5-6) and Isaiah describes the King as “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” (David’s father) (Isaiah 11). Ezekiel 34:23-24 speaks of a perfect shepherd who will lead God’s people. Amos 9:11-12 promises the rebuilding of the fallen house of David and Hosea 3:5 sees Israel once again being God’s people under the reign of “David their king”.
“God’s future for Israel was very much tied to the concept of Israel as a kingdom under the reign of the Lord’s Anointed, who would mediate God’s sovereign rule. Notice the imagery God used as He spoke about the future of His people in Ezekiel 37: (231)”
“‘My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.'” (Ezekiel 37:24-28 ESV)
Discussion Question #4: Spend some time thinking about these promises of a coming King (consider looking up the passages mentioned in the last two paragraphs). How does the concept of a King arising from the line of David set the stage for Jesus’s arrival in the New Testament?
Searching for the Kingdom of God
Israel had quite a few crummy kings. Eventually, Israel had failed so completely at following God that He allowed them to be taken into exile (we’ll talk more about this in the next session). Israel lost their kingdom and almost lost themselves as a nation. They knew that they needed to regain their kingdom. But it wasn’t until the birth of Christ that this would come about.
In the last bit of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament we see that God’s kingdom has not been established again. Jesus comes preaching that the “time is fulfilled, kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mark 1:14-15). This is an exciting prospect for Israel. God’s kingdom is finally being established once again and Jesus, the “Son of David”, is here to rule as it’s eternal King, God’s anointed.
Discussion Question #5: Read Jesus’s birth announcement in Luke 1:26–33. How does the language used here help us see Jesus in light of the Old Testament kingdom?
Discussion Question #6: Why is it important for us to see Jesus as the culmination of the kingly line of David?
We are almost to the New Testament, but hasn’t it been a great trip through the Old Testament? The Old Testament is so helpful in allowing us to understand all that is going on in the New Testament. The New Testament is all about Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular belief, “Christ” is not a last name. It’s actually a title. It means “Messiah” or “Anointed One”. Jesus is the anointed King of Israel, the Chosen One of God.
Discussion Question #7: How should the kingship of God and of His Anointed affect the way we view our relationship to God and His Son?
Discussion Question #8: Spend some time in prayer. Pray that God would help you to lovingly submit to His rule as the King of creation. Pray that God’s reign over this world would be established and that this rebellious world would see Jesus as the true King.
This has been an awesome journey so far. I’m really enjoying weaving all the parts of God’s story together, Old Testament and New Testament as one beautiful testimony of love. I hope you will continue to join me in the remainder of our study. We are more than 2/3 of the way done.
I thought this song was relevant to today’s study, hope you enjoy. 🙂 Have a blessed week!