Israel: God's Temporal Kingdom

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Israel

God's Temporal Kingdom

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The tribes of Israel, descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, became a literal kingdom under the rule of King David.

David, a physical ancestor of Jesus Christ, considered the eternal question of man’s purpose as he contemplated the glory of the heavens. “What is man that You are mindful of him,” he asked, “and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalms 8:4 Psalms 8:4What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?
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). This is an eternal question of mankind. We continue to ask, “Is this life all there is?”

Through David, God revealed He would intervene dramatically in human affairs, He would make “wars cease to the end of the earth,” and He would “be exalted among the nations” (Psalms 46:1-11 Psalms 46:1-11 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the middle of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he has made in the earth. 9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; he burns the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
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).

Through David, God established a dynasty of kings over Israel. Christ Himself, as “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1 Matthew 1:1The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
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), was born to inherit David’s throne (Luke 1:32 Luke 1:32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
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). We learn of a direct relationship between the dynasty of kings God promised would descend from Abraham and David and the Kingdom of God preached by Jesus Christ.

How long will David’s dynasty rule over Israel?

“Should you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons … ?” (2 Chronicles 13:5 2 Chronicles 13:5Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
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).

David’s dominion is to last forever. David is the king who will rule over Israel after its restoration under the Messiah after His return to earth (Ezekiel 37:21-24 Ezekiel 37:21-24 21 And say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, where they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land on 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. 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
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). David’s rule, of course, can occur only after God resurrects David with all the other saints at the return of Christ.

The kingdom God established through David was a forerunner of a much more important Kingdom Jesus Christ will establish in the future. Notice God pointing out the significance of David’s dynasty: “He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:12-14 1 Chronicles 17:12-14 12 He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before you: 14 But I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for ever more.
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).

God claimed David’s kingdom as “My kingdom”— a type, an example or forerunner, of the coming Kingdom of God. Comprehending the relationship between David’s temporal kingdom and the eternal Kingdom of God is crucial to understanding the gospel Christ and His apostles preached.

Did Paul see a relationship between the gospel and God’s promises to David?

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-4 Romans 1:1-4 1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
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).

While teaching on a Sabbath day in Antioch, Paul explained this concept: “And afterward [Israel] asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus” (Acts 13:21-23 Acts 13:21-23 21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave to them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. 23 Of this man’s seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus:
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; compare 2 Timothy 2:8 2 Timothy 2:8Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
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; Revelation 22:16 Revelation 22:16I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
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).

When Solomon, David’s son, became king, on whose throne did he sit?

“Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father …” (1 Chronicles 29:23 1 Chronicles 29:23Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.
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).

Not only did God regard Israel as His temporal kingdom, He regarded the throne of Israel as His throne— the throne Jesus Christ will inherit (Luke 1:32 Luke 1:32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
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).

The kings of David’s dynasty were supposed to answer directly to God. But Israel and her kings were not faithful to their covenant with God, and the kingdom of Israel did not endure. Thus their direct contact with God ended.

After Solomon’s reign the nation of Israel split in two. The 10 northern tribes continued to be called Israel. The southern kingdom, known as Judah, remained loyal to David’s dynasty of kings. But neither nation thereafter wholeheartedly followed the examples of Abraham and David.

Eventually Israel and Judah both fell prey to their powerful neighbors. After a series of invasions, Israel collapsed and was taken captive by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. The kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. With their downfall, the temporal kingdom of Israel was crushed out of existence. Only a remnant of its people remained as captives and slaves.

Among Judah’s captives who were removed to Babylon was a young man of noble birth named Daniel. God gave him the ability to interpret certain dreams and visions. Through Daniel’s interpretations God revealed an astoundingly hopeful future for Israel.