The object in view in the present study was primarily to get some help in Matthew's Gospel. It is generally known that it was written for the Jews and this accounts for the many Old Testament references (about 65). As we pursued our study of this book it became increasingly apparent that Zion's King was not only the hope of every godly Israelite, but keeping Him central in our meditations we found the answer to many of the apparent difficulties which confront us in this Gospel. A second reason for taking up this subject has been the recent sad breakdown of our own Royal house. We do well to consider that kingship is a divine thought and not the product of man's inventiveness. It was created by God (Col. 1: 16) and it is part of piety to "Fear God" and "Honour the king" (1 Peter 2: 17). It is also normal in regular assembly prayer to pray "for all men; for kings..." (1 Tim. 2: 1-2). The fact that most nations have given up royalty, and that our own Royal house is being shaken to its foundations, is but another evidence of the increasing apostasy that characterises these closing perilous days. Well may we say, "Thy kingdom come," and "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
It is not the intention in the present article to attempt to deal exhaustively with the subject. It is, or should I say, He is, so wondrously great, one could not hope to touch on every detail. For the sake of simplicity and order the material is presented under three headings:
1. Zion's King anticipated;
2. The King at His first manifestation and the result;
3. The King when He comes again in power and great glory.
Zion's King Anticipated
We begin then with the expectation so frequently found in the Old Testament. It is necessary to say that this hope was not always precise in expression. Kingship was sometimes connected with God, sometimes with Jehovah, sometimes with Messiah. To list the references goes beyond the scope of this article, but readers will recall such Scriptures as 1 Samuel 8, where the people said, "make us a king to judge us like all the nations... And the LORD said unto Samuel,... they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them." And in the Psalms, (e.g. Ps. 145: 1) "I will extol Thee, My God, O King," and "I speak of the things which I have made touching the King" (Ps. 45: 1) and many other like passages.
There are many Scriptures which plainly indicate the Divine intention to place all rule under one Man. In the types for example, we find that dominion was given to Adam-"over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Gen. 1: 26). Adam is the figure of Him that is to come, as we are plainly told in Romans 5: 14 (See Mr. Darby's Trans.). Then we have the wonderful double-type of David and Solomon. David was the man of blood and mighty conqueror over every enemy, and Solomon in all his majesty and glory-none like him before or since, sets forth the Lord when He comes to reign. There are others also, for example, Melchisedec, King of righteousness, King of peace, type of the King-Priest who will sit on the throne and reign (Gen. 14, Heb. 7, Zech. 6). He shall bear the glory! Mention should also be made of Moses, king in Jeshurun (Deut. 33: 5). Jeshurun means the upright ones, showing His reign will be in the midst of upright ones. Nebuchadnezzar, the head of gold, first Gentile monarch in the times of the Gentiles, was "ruler over... all" (Dan. 2: 38). "Whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive" (Dan. 5: 19). He was an absolute despot, as indeed our blessed Lord will be, though we also know the character of His reign will be completely different! The list could be greatly lengthened. Moses and the prophets spoke of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow and one extract may be briefly mentioned. "Judah is a lion's whelp;... as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen. 49: 9-10). It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda (Heb. 7: 14), but in the vision granted to John in Revelation 5, the One who has invincible power as the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David (telling us of His deity) is seen also as a Lamb (reminding us of His humanity) and also "as it had been slain..." The lion and the lamb thought are therefore seen both in the first book of the Bible (Gen. 49: 9-10 and Gen. 22: 8) and the last (Rev. 5: 5 and 5: 6). Suffering first and then glory is the history of this King.
The point emphasised at the moment, however, is the "forward look" which is constantly sounded. Even the Mount of Transfiguration glimpse of the King in His glory (His face shining as the Sun, and His garments white as the light-Matt. 17: 2) was granted as an encouragement to faithful saints and servants. In the light of that crowning day there is every incentive to sell all and lose all. From Abraham onwards, because of hope, faith has ever been prepared to accept the pilgrim path in this world.
The King at His First Manifestation and the Result
In approaching this section in our study it is helpful to consider Matthew's Gospel in two ways; first, in the way it is presented to us, and second, in the way in which it will be examined by the Jewish nation in a coming day. They are warned in Matthew 24: 4-5 not to be deceived, a necessary warning at a time when there is strong delusion (2 Thess. 2: 11). This King is the Son of David, and also the Son of Abraham to whom the Nation's promises were made (Matt. 1: 1). Inevitably this leads to the question, so important to the Jew: what is His genealogy? Matthew, as is well known, gives us Joseph's line, the royal line, through Solomon. Luke gives Mary's line through Nathan, another son of David by Bathsheba (1 Chron. 3: 5). An interesting point is that Matthew brings in Jechonias (1: 11), the Jehoiachin of the Old Testament, called Coniah in Jeremiah 22: 28-30. As the verses there indicate, no man of Coniah's seed was to prosper, sitting on the throne of David. So Joseph could not be the father of our blessed Lord. The virgin birth was thus necessary if the Scripture was to be fulfilled. And of course it has been fulfilled to the very last detail: how He was to be born-of the virgin (Isa. 7: 14); where He was to be born-Bethlehem (Micah 5: 2); and when He was to be born-Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 9: 25-26).
But there is more. Of necessity this King must have a fore-runner, and Jewish eyes would look for one who would fulfil this Old Testament promise, e.g. Isaiah 40: 3, Malachi 3: 1. The Lord Himself has confirmed this for us-see Matthew 11: 14. He tells us in the same passage how great the fore-runner was: "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." But what does this great one say of the Greater than he? "whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matt 3: 11). This statement is repeated in all four Gospels and also in the book of Acts! The greatness of this King is unsearchable.
Next in Matthew we come to the tempter, and again we notice not only the victory of the King but also a detail important for the Jew. In their eyes the temple, the ecclesiastical sphere, is more important than the city, the political sphere. Perhaps this is the proper explanation for the variation in the order in which the temptations are presented? In Luke we get the moral order, as always in that Gospel.
Passing on quickly, we come to the "Sermon on the Mount" (Chapters 5, 6 and 7). This King is mighty in word. He speaks with authority and not as the scribes (Matt. 7: 29). The ten miracles in chapters 8 and 9 confirm to us that He is also mighty in deed. In chapter 10 He sends forth His disciples, but in chapter 11 he stands rejected. This causes us to pause. The King with all His credentials, the Porter opening to Him, and plain evidences of the Divine marking His every movement here, and yet He is rejected.
Although rejected at the outset in John's Gospel, we are privileged to trace that rejection from the commencement to the climax in the Synoptic Gospels. Born and laid in a manger, no where to lay His head (Matt. 8: 20), He was crucified on a cross of wood. In Matthew 27 we find not only brutal treatment from the soldiers (Messiah delivered into the hands of the Gentiles), but particular notice made of His royal claims-the scarlet robe, the crown of thorns, the reed in His right hand and the knee bowed in mockery, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head, and mocked Him... and led Him away to crucify Him... They gave Him vinegar to drink, and mingled with gall... This is terrible indeed. But what of those who passed by and reviled Him... and likewise the chief priests and scribes...? "He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God." I suppose there are few readers who have not been deeply moved by this awe-inspiring solemn scene, but what of Israel in a coming day? They will look on Him whom they pierced. They will hear His cry, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," and it will have new meaning for them-it is the Nation's trespass offering. They will repent in dust and ashes and a fountain for uncleanness will be opened to them (Zech. 12: 12; Zech. 13: 1). But let us not miss the message for ourselves. As we think again of John the Baptist in Matthew 11 we hear the words of the Lord Jesus, "blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me" (Matt. 11: 6). John had temporarily lost sight of the One of whom he was the fore-runner. The miracles drawn to the attention of his messengers bore testimony to Him-the blind received their sight (only Messiah could do that-Isaiah 35: 5. There were no blind eyes opened in the Old Testament), the lepers were cleansed, (and only God could do that-2 Kings 5: 7), and the dead were raised up (and only the Son of God can do that-Romans 1: 4). There was no doubt as to who He was, but the depth of His humiliation (temporarily) was too much for John. As we seek to follow such a Saviour, let us be careful also not to be offended with a Saviour who died on a cross of wood! And what of Himself? The closing verses of Matthew 11 can only be described as a moral wonder. "At that time," says verse 25. What time was that? It was the time of His complete rejection. John Baptist was in prison, doubting. The Nation were like children in the market places, they could not be pleased. And the cities where most of His mighty works were done, woe and judgment were pronounced upon them. Still deeper evidences of His rejection were to follow: "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19: 14). "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19: 15). But the spirit that would crucify Him was already manifested. We read that in that hour "Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." He was rejected, doubtless, but consider His dignity! He was indeed sustained! "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father," and He tells us the impenetrable secret of His Person... "and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father." It almost seems like an extract from John's writings introduced into a Gospel telling us of Zion's King! We are reminded of the Son's relationship with the Father, and the inscrutable character of His Person. This King's official glory is under-pinned by the personal glory that belongs to Him as Son-Son of God and King of Israel. Therefore He can say, "Come unto Me." Although in the glory of His deity He was accustomed to command, He now is seen in the humility of His incarnation, meek and lowly in heart, and having a yoke upon him, the yoke of obedience-even unto death. Little wonder our hearts have been touched and won, and would to God that many more may be similarly affected. I repeat it, Israel's heart will be won in a coming day. A bruised reed He did not break, and the smoking flax He did not quench. Rejected, reviled, refused, certainly He was, but how could He give them up? (Hosea 11: 8). But this we must leave for another article.
Zion's King (2)
Zion's King at the Second Coming
In the second part of this article we are glad to sound the note, "Jesus is coming again"; "the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner" (1 Peter 2: 7). This time, when He comes, it will be with clouds, and with great power and great glory, testimony to which is borne by many Scriptures. It will be in His own glory, the Father's glory, and the glory of the holy angels (Luke 9: 26). Authority is one thing, power is another, and this King has both. He will come, amid His other glories, as Israel's Deliverer. "Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh to thee: He is just, and having salvation..." And when He comes, whose right it is to reign, He will send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and they that do iniquity (Matt. 13: 41). The fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor. The wheat will be gathered into the garner, and the chaff will be burnt with fire unquenchable...
This theme however is so grand and extensive that it is helpful to have some framework. As a lead into this wonderful subject we suggest Romans 14: 17 where we get the three features of the Kingdom selected by the Holy Spirit: righteousness, peace and joy. These are the features of the Kingdom, but they take their character from the King and this is the area upon which we would like to meditate.
The word righteousness, in various forms, occurs almost 30 times in Matthew. This King's throne is established in righteousness (Prov. 16: 12). It is righteousness that exalteth a nation and this King loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity (Prov. 14: 34; Ps. 45: 7; Heb. 1: 9). Righteousness is the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins (Isa. 11: 5). Even His enemies acknowledged this: "And they sent out unto Him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man; for Thou regardest not the person of men" (Matt 22: 16). His judgments are unerring, His eyes, like a flame of fire, piercing even to the secret intents of the hearts. He will discern and distinguish between wheat and tares, faithful and unfaithful servants, wise and foolish virgins, sheep and goats (Matt. 13: 24-25). Needless to say He will strike terror into the hearts of His adversaries. His enemies shall lick the dust but His good and faithful servants will rejoice (Ps. 72: 9). "Henceforth," says the apostle, "there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4: 8). True it is that every knee shall bow to Him (Phil. 2: 10). There will be a rod of iron (Rev. 12: 5; 19: 15), and some will render feigned obedience (Ps. 18: 44-margin). In this connection a sinner being 100 years old shall be accursed (Isa. 65: 20). But He will also be, as in the types, a Shepherd King, for He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper (Ps. 72: 12). What a day that will be! A King shall reign in righteousness (Isa. 32: 1)!
Not only in His day will the righteous flourish, there will be abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth (Ps. 72: 7). He will make wars to cease to the end of the earth (Ps. 46: 9). Men will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks (Isa. 2: 4). There will be neither enemy nor evil occurrent (1 Kings 5: 4). They will not hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain (Isa. 11: 9). There will even be peace in the animal kingdom (Isa. 11: 6). But what of Himself? He is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9: 6)! We often notice the difference between peace as defined in the dictionary and peace as we find it in the Bible. In the dictionary peace is the absence of war and this is what men look for. In the Bible however peace is the possession of adequate resource to meet every contingency, a very different thing. The peace of God which passeth all understanding, keeps hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, even when the circumstances are adverse. The God of peace also will bruise Satan under our feet shortly. It is a favourite appellation of our God. He is described as "the God of peace," no fewer than 6 times in the New Testament. Nothing can disturb His steadfast throne, even an uprising at the close of the 1000 years reign. Fire will come down and devour the adversaries. "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" (Job 34: 29). He is the Prince of Peace.
"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord" (Matt. 21: 9)! This was the language of the multitude at His first advent. So it will be at the second (Ps. 118: 26). "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah." The joy of God's earthly people can best be described in the words of Scripture. "We were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Ps. 126: 1-3). The Hallelujah-Psalms give the picture, and some of the prophetic Scriptures excel in beauty. "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isa. 35: 10). Jerusalem, the city of the great King, beautiful for situation, will be the joy of the whole earth (Ps. 48: 2). Even the boys and girls will be playing in the streets (Zech. 8: 5). But what of the King? "The King shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord; and in Thy salvation how greatly shall He rejoice! Thou hast given Him His heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of His lips... His glory is great in Thy salvation... Thou hast made Him exceeding glad with Thy countenance" (Ps. 21: 1-6).
God's earthly people will be betrothed... no more Forsaken and Desolate but Hephzi-bah and Beulah... and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall the King rejoice over Israel (Isa. 62: 4-5). And not only will He then be seen as Son of David but also as Son of Man, His dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the end of the earth. He shall have the dominion and the glory. "And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a Kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7: 14).
Such is the righteousness, peace and joy of the Kingdom, and of the King, Zion's King, the One so soon to come. But what of ourselves? Let us remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus Christ is never called King of the assembly. In the present day of grace those who know Him as Saviour know Him in much nearer relationship. We are not subjects of a King. We are members of His body, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, shortly to appear as His bride and His wife. He is our Lord and Head, and the Bridegroom of the bride. When He reigns, wonderful grace indeed, we shall reign with Him. In the types, sometimes the wives are associated with their husbands in exaltation, like Eve with Adam, Rebecca with Isaac, and Asenath with Joseph. Sometimes however the wives have to share the rejection of their husbands, like Zipporah with Moses, Leah with Jacob and Abigail with David. This brings to us a warning. Only in the measure in which we suffer with Him shall we also reign with Him; but what an encouragement this should be to us not to be offended in Him. Let us share His reproach and be found waiting, working and watching for His soon return, Zion's King, the Bridegroom of the bride. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!