Christ the King

Gordon MackleyPosted on Monday, November 25, 2013 by Gordon Mackley

A walk through 1500 years of Jewish history but following a theme which I hope will become clear.

The introduction to Psalm 46 refers to the Sons of Korah. Korah lived at around 1500 BC at the time of Moses. Korah was a Levite. The Levites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary. They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary, the curtain, practical day to day tasks associated with the Tent of the Lord.

Korah and some others resented this and started a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:28-35). After a showdown with Moses as to who was on God’s side, Korah and the 250 rebels fell into a hole caused by an earthquake and were all killed.

Despite this, Korah’s sons survive and through God’s grace the Korahites became doorkeepers and custodians for the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 9:19-21, 1 Chronicles 2). One group of Korahites joined King David (1 Chronicles 12:6) in various military exploits and won the reputation of being expert warriors.

The ‘Sons of Korah’ during the time of King David, became the great leaders in choral and orchestral music. These individuals played an important role in the thanksgiving services and pageantry. David formed an elaborate organisation for song, instrumental music, and prophesying through these men.

There are echoes of the fate of Korah himself in Psalm 46:2.

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way.”

The psalm reminds us that God is in control and however much evil may be seen to be triumphing over good, God has a master-plan and His plans cannot be thwarted.

“…though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
(Psalm 46:3)

Mountains were where God met people (Moses and the giving of the Law, Jerusalem built on top of Mount Moriah) and thus were good places. Mountains also went up towards the heavens.

Not being a sea faring nation, the sea was regarded with suspicion, especially with the chaos and confusion caused by surging water and it went down into great depths. It came therefore to be regarded as evil.

In Daniel 7, the four evil beasts come up from the sea and Revelation 21 tells us that eventually there will be no sea. Thus in this metaphor the sea (evil) attempts to overcome the mountains (good). However, Psalm 93:4 reminds us,

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea – the Lord on high is mighty.”

There is desolation and confusion in verse 8 as God fights evil.

“Come and see what the Lord has done, thead desolations he has brought on the earth.”

But ultimately God wins. Evil is defeated. God’s plans come to fruition.

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations’ ”

This is a prophecy a long time into the (still) future (Jesus’ second coming).

Going back to history and on to Jeremiah 23:1-6. He starts to prophesy around 620 BC and by this time the land Israel has been split and the northern kingdom carried off into exile. Jeremiah prophesies to the Kings of the southern kingdom, Judah.

During Jeremiah’s lifetime, there were other prophets to Judah: Nahum, Zephaniah, Joel, Habbakuk and later Daniel, Ezekiel and Obadiah.

Jeremiah means ‘Yah (God) exalts’. He is also called the ‘weeping prophet’ and is traditionally credited with authoring not only the Book of Jeremiah, but also 1 Kings, 2 Kings and the Book of Lamentations.

God’s message to Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 1:19) is,

“Attack you they will, overcome you they can’t.”

As a true follower and prophet of God, Jeremiah has a very rough time. He is attacked by his own brothers, beaten and put into the stocks by a priest and false prophet, imprisoned by the king, threatened with death, thrown into a cistern by Judah’s officials and opposed by a false prophet.

Finally, when Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem in 586 BC, he ordered that Jeremiah be freed from prison and treated well. We do not know for certain about his death, but it was probably in Egypt. It is ironic that a pagan ruler treated him better than his own ‘chosen people of God’.

Before King Josiah, the Jews had been practising pagan worship to Baal which involved children burned alive in the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom (or ‘Gehenna’ in Greek).

The Greek word, ‘Gehenna’ is one of two words translated as ‘hell’ in the King James Version of the New Testament, although the Hebrew is not so translated in the Old Testament references.

One of these is Jeremiah 19:5 which gives God’s thoughts on burning people alive.

“They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

This repeats God’s command in Deuteronomy 18,

9 “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.”

Josiah is a good king who supports the worship of the true God of Israel and embarks on reforming the worship from paganism. Sadly the four that follow are all bad and do not listen to Jeremiah and the true word of God, but allow Judah to slide back into paganism.

Jeremiah continues to try and convince all four of these kings to be righteous (remember this means being in right covenant relationship with God) but they prefer to follow false prophets who tell him what they want to hear.

The kings (descendants of David) are the ‘shepherds’ and the Jews are the ‘sheep of my pasture’. This metaphor of sheep is common in the Bible (1 and 2 Chronicles both refer to sheep in this way). Here Jeremiah in chapter 23 states,

“ ‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord.”

As we have already seen, the kings do not heed what God is saying and the inevitable conclusion is the destruction of the Temple and exile to Babylon.

God is however merciful and through his great grace makes a number of promises for the future,

“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.”

Here God is ascribing to himself the title of ‘shepherd’, as in Psalm 80:1,

“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth.”

We must always when reading biblical prophecy remember that Hebrew literature is not necessarily arranged in chronological order, as modern western writing normally would be. In verses 5 and 6 there is the most marvellous future prophecy of all,

“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord Our Righteous Saviour’ ”

Note the word ‘righteous’ again indicating here a perfect covenant relationship with God.

This is clearly a reference to Jesus the Messiah or Christ (meaning saviour or ‘anointed one’) born as a man from the line of David (Matthew 1).

However what can be lost in translation is that ‘the Lord’ is actually God’s name, ‘YHWH’ in the original Hebrew.

So here is an Old Testament prophetic reference to Jesus referring to him as not only from David’s line as a man, but also as YHWH, the God of Moses. This is what Jesus also claims of himself (John 8:58 and Mark 14:62).

So what can we make of all this?

People plot and get it wrong. They are led astray (by false prophets and religions). Leaders lead badly and lead their people astray. There is confusion, war and disasters.

However, God’s grace is awesome and his plans stand firm through the first appearance of Jesus (God and man) through to his second coming.

Ultimately there will be peace (as in Psalm 46, Isaiah 65, Revelation 21). Whatever happens, wars, disasters, evil regimes – we need to stand firm in that promise. We do have the victory. Psalm 46 again,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…”

“…10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations…’ ”

God and ‘YHWH our righteous saviour’ (Jesus the Christ) will be exalted, so as His people we already have the victory!

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