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Promises Made and Kept #1

https://wardmuseum.ca/myarchive/oiselibrary/rose/

The Toronto Ward Museum tells the story of a man commonly known as Crowfoot. He was chief of the Siksika Indian tribe, known for his peaceful relations with white Canadians during a violent time.

When the Canadian Pacific Railroad was being built the Canadian government made Crowfoot with an offer. They said, “If you will give us the land we need for the railroad, you can ride it free whenever you want.”

In 1887, when they finished the Canadian Pacific Railroad Crowfoot received a lifetime pass. It was put in a beautiful case. Crowfoot is said to have carried that case around his neck for the rest of his life.

As far as we know, Crowfoot never stepped foot on that train. He had the right to travel anywhere he wanted, but he never availed himself of that right.

Pastor Howard Harden observed, “There are a lot of Christians like Crowfoot; they possess God’s promises; they quote them; they frame them; they hang them on their walls; they even post them on social media, but they never actually make use of them. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “God never gives us a promise he does not intend for us to use.” (illustrationexhange.com)

“There are approximately 8,810 promises in the entire Bible. In the Old Testament there are 7,706 and in the New Testament there are 1,104 wonderful promises. Deuteronomy 28 has 133 promises, which is more than any other chapter in the Bible.” (family_times.net)

God promised David’s heirs would rein forever; Jesus kept that promise.

1. The promise: David’s dynasty would be an eternal one.

A. Isaiah 9:7.

Of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote, HIS GOVERNMENT AND ITS PEACE WILL NEVER END. HE WILL RULE WITH FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE FROM THE THRONE OF HIS ANCESTOR DAVID FOR ALL ETERNITY.

In previous chapters the prophet had painted a gloomy picture of dark distress about to fall on God’s people, His response to their sin. But this chapter turns to a promise of redemption: the darkness gives way to God’s glorious light.

A sign of this reversal and how God will accomplish it is a CHILD (6). This CHILD will be a King in the line of David, but His rule will be unlike David’s in two ways. First, his rule will be one of PEACE, FAIRNESS, and JUSTICE. David’s rule was could not be said to be perfectly peaceful, fair, or just. Second, the CHILD’S RULE is eternal: it will NEVER END, lasting for ALL ETERNITY.

A similarity between David and this ancestor is that they were both made king at the Lord’s choice. The Messiah’s reign will come about by God’s PASSIONATE COMMITMENT.

B. 2 Samuel 7:12-13.

King David declared his desire to build a temple. The prophet Nathan told David he would not, his son would: “FOR WHEN YOU DIE AND ARE BURIED WITH YOUR ANCESTORS, I WILL RAISE UP ONE OF YOUR DESCENDANTS, YOUR OWN OFFSPRING, AND I WILL MAKE HIS KINGDOM STRONG. HE IS THE ONE WHO WILL BUILD A HOUSE - A TEMPLE - FOR MY NAME. AND I WILL SECURE HIS ROYAL THRONE FOREVER.”

These promises would be fulfilled after David’s death (1 Kings 2-8) by his son Solomon, who was not yet born when Nathan spoke these words to King David. In the short term, David’s son would have the honor of building a temple to the Lord. In the long term, David’s dynasty would be an everlasting one.

The second part of this promise was not fulfilled by Solomon or any of the other descendants of David. Being mortal men, none of them could have an eternal throne. But Jesus is a son of David and the Son of God at the same time; Jesus alone is able to be enthroned forever. David’s response was to express his gratitude to God in a prayer recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.

2. The fulfillment: Jesus Christ is David’s heir and will reign forever.

A. Matthew 1:1+16.

With his genealogy, Matthew demonstrated that Jesus was a son of David. Verse one states, THIS IS A RECORD OF THE ANCESTORS OF JESUS THE MESSIAH, A DESCENDANT OF DAVID AND OF ABRAHAM. Verse sixteen reasserts this truth: JACOB WAS THE FATHER OF JOSEPH, THE HUSBAND OF MARY. MARY GAVE BIRTH TO JESUS, WHO IS CALLED THE MESSIAH.

Luke’s gospel testifies that Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus. This would be the kind of information important to a physician like Dr. Luke. In that case, it is a fair question to ask, in what way is Jesus descended from David?

Whether we look at it from the point of view of first century Jewish culture or modern genetics, we have to rule out the usual way: conception. Mary was a virgin and her conception was an act of the Holy Spirit.

We can’t appeal to adoption either. The word “adoption” did not exist in the Hebrew language until modern times. The Bible never says Joseph “adopted” Jesus in any formal way. There are biblical examples of arrangements where non-biological children were informally made a member of the household.

On the other hand, Joseph taking Mary as his wife would naturally include taking her son as his own. This means one could say Jesus was legally a son of David if not biologically.

This is an example of a question where we must avoid crowning science or reason as the chief basis for evaluating truth and then capitulate to it.

The answer to the question “How is Jesus a son of David?” is simply, “God said so.” These two verses in Matthew are examples of a truth that is affirmed in Scripture but not explained. Why should it sound so incredible to our ears that the Creator of all the Universe declared Jesus to be a son of David and the Son of God at the same time? That is good enough for me.

Verse one plainly identifies Jesus as both the Messiah and as a descendant of David. What’s more important than how this can be true is why it must be true. It must be true because the Bible says Jesus is the Messiah and the Messiah is the promised son of David. The genealogy that follows is given to establish the links of the chain between Joseph and Abraham with David in the middle.

Verse sixteen clearly spells out Joseph’s relationship with Jesus: he was Mary’s husband. That’s it. Nothing more is claimed.

The Virgin Birth of Jesus is a doctrine essential to Christianity for too many reasons to enumerate now. We cannot give at this point. We cannot accept Joseph as Jesus’ father just to draw a genetic line between Jesus and David.

It’s possible what bothers some people about these facts is that they make Joseph a supporting character in the story of Jesus. Also, contrary to the patrimony of that culture, a woman is the focal point of divine action and the man is important but secondary.

Some interpreters have tried to find Mary to be a descendant of David. This would’ve been irrelevant in that culture as descent was always through the father, never the mother. “God said so” is all the reason people of faith need to understand or support Matthew’s clear statements.

Jesus’ is the only person whose conception occurred by means of the Holy Spirit (1:18). Surely this exceptional circumstance defies the usual definitions of family relationships.

I like the way Rodney Reeves put the genealogy in perspective: “And yet, the way Matthew sees it, the story of God’s covenant with Israel can’t be reduced to a list of names revealing a direct line of descent, tracing the proper lineage of kingship. For if that were the case, one would simply show how Jesus has the proper messianic pedigree, listing his lineage from David to Joseph.” (Story of God, p. 44.)

B. Hebrews 1:8-9.

The letter to the Hebrews begins with a focus on Jesus Christ including a lengthy explanation of how He is greater than angels: BUT TO THE SON HE SAYS, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, ENDURES FOREVER AND EVER. YOU RULE WITH A SCEPTER OF JUSTICE. YOU LOVE JUSTICE AND HATE EVIL. THEREFORE, O GOD, YOUR GOD HAS ANOINTED YOU, POURING OUT THE OIL OF JOY ON YOU MORE THAN ON ANYONE ELSE.”

Hebrews 1:8 is a quotation of Psalm 45:6, a psalm of praise that resembles the love poems of Song of Solomon and was historically sung at a king’s wedding. In Psalm 45, praises were given to an Israelite king by virtue of his office. In Hebrews 1, praise was offered to Jesus by virtue of His divine nature.

Hebrews 1:9 is a quotation of Psalm 45:7 which explained that God appointed the man to be king because of His good character. In Hebrews, this verse shows that Jesus was exalted because of His obedient self-sacrifice on the cross. Jesus Christ is exalted above all other names (Philippians 2:9-11).

The important thing for us to note is the promise that His THRONE will endure FOREVER AND EVER. This is the fulfillment of God’s personal promise to David way back in 2 Samuel 7.

God promised David’s heirs would rein forever; Jesus kept that promise.

Good theology is a necessity, so it’s imperative for us to understand all this as a basis for our faith. Once we accept this as true, it’s fair to ask, “So what?” In order to apply it to daily life, this has to become something more than something to which we nod with approval. What difference does this truth make in the way I live today?

First, as we’ve proven God kept His personal promises to David, we are assured He will keep His personal promises to us. He will take care of us. As God has proven Himself capable of handling the big historical issues, He is certainly capable of handling your immediate personal ones.

Two, the birth of Jesus is not incidental. The human life of Jesus is the culmination of God’s plan. He stands at the center of all human history. Similarly, He deserves to stand at the center of your life. Give Jesus the first and best part of your day. Seek to obey His commands, follow His example, and make decisions that glorify Him. You must decrease, He must increase.

RESOURCES:

https://illustrationexchange.com/illustrations?category=471 retrieved on 24 November 2021

https://www.family-times.net/illustration/Promises/200150/ retrieved on 24 November 2021

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

Vol. 3, 1 & 2 Samuel, Ronald F. Youngblood

Vol. 8, Matthew, D. A. Carson

The Story of God Commentary, Matthew, Rodney Reeves

Zondervan Bible Commentary

Isaiah, David F. Payne

Hebrews, Gerald F. Hawthorne


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