Looking to the Throne of His Kingdom as We Grieve

It has been a very tough week. We have seen the violence of wicked men exercised against the undeserving, nearby in Clackamas Town Center, then, later in the week, even more horrifically in Newtown, Connecticut. Not only do you and I need comfort and deliverance, we need a king who can set right the broken world in which we live.

2 Samuel 7:4-17 describes David settled in his new capital, Jerusalem. God had given his people rest from their enemies. Violent men had afflicted God’s people. Through a process under Samuel, Saul, and now David, the Lord had give victory to his people. Order had been brought to the land. A time of relative peace and prosperity was arriving.

As magnificent as the golden age of the united kingdom under David and Solomon was, you know that it didn’t last. Idolatry resulted in broken fellowship with God. The kingdom would eventually disappear into captivity. Just as Judges had shown the need for a king, the lives of the kings show the need for a King greater than David, more after God’s heart than he was, one who was capable not just of suppressing outward wickedness, but of dealing with the heart.

Mary’s Son would be the promised King. He is the One who gives rest. But as true as it is that the King has already come, there is a not yet aspect to our deliverance. He has accomplished the decisive victory, but the final battle is not over, as last week’s events make tragically clear.

David knew of the importance which had been attached to building the Tabernacle in the time of Moses. But the time of wandering was over. God had selected Zion as the place for his name to dwell, as the location where he would have the Ark of the covenant reside, the ark which included the mercy seat of God. David had proposed to Nathan the prophet his plan to build a temple, and Nathan immediately pronounced his blessing on it. That night God appeared to Nathan with a message for David. David was not the one to build the house, instead, God would build a house for David. Salvation is God’s work, not yours! The rest he would give David and his descendants anticipates the final Sabbath-rest of God’s people in the new heavens and earth. It is a rest that flows out of the “peace” of the message of the angels.

God promised to be a Father to David’s son. This promise would begin to be fulfilled in Solomon and the other kings who followed David. God’s special relationship of love, his covenant, would be with them. Notice that the covenant, though it has its origin in and depends on God’s grace, is two-sided. Disobedience always brings judgment. You see this worked out as you look through the history of Israel.

It becomes clear that God is talking about more than a human dynasty. Though David’s line ruled long, that rule did come to an end. But God’s faithfulness cannot come to nothing. When Gabriel comes to Mary, he promises that her child will inherit the throne of his ancestor, David, Luke 1:32,33. He is the Son of David who has ascended his throne, and his rule is indeed eternal.

If Jesus is the King, how do you explain the events of this past week? We don’t have final answers. Beware of going off the road either in the direction of questioning the goodness of God or of reducing him to our level of a helpless bystander. We do know that the fullness of rest is yet to come, and the evil one, whom Jesus described as murderer and father of lies continues to try to wreak havoc in God’s creation. The events of this week lead you to pray, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.”

Jesus is the one who truly builds a house for God. G. K. Beale writes: “Christ is the temple toward which all earlier temples looked and that they anticipated (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-14; Zech. 6:12-13). Christ is the epitome of God’s presence on earth as God incarnate, thus continuing the true form of the old temple, which actually was a foreshadowing of Christ’s presence throughout the OT era. Jesus’ repeated claim that forgiveness now comes through him and no longer through the sacrificial system of the temple suggests strongly that he was taking over the function of the temple, and in fact the forgiveness that he now offered was what the temple had imperfectly pointed to all along.” (A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, p. 632.)

Christ’s task is more awesome than Solomon’s, for he lays down his life to make you God’s people. He takes it up again to form you into the temple of God to be living stones, 1 Peter 2:4-6. His setting the world right starts with shaping you into the kind of stones that are fit for his temple. How do you respond to the presence of the true temple, Christ himself? How do you live as the product of his temple-building activity?

[In preparation for a message delivered on December 16, 2012]

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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