Like Father, Like "Son"
Insights into the Ages of Christ's Kingdom From the Reign of David
We're often told that we can't know where we are on the prophetic time clock, where the return of Christ falls in the scheme of things, or what the next age will be like. But as time progresses and the church matures in understanding, I do believe the Lord wants to reveal more and more about these things, giving more puzzle pieces to the prophets, and not leave us all blind til they are finally upon us.
One word lately arousing my attention is the word ages. Bible writers repeatedly speak of the Lord's purposes in terms of ages—"ages past" and "ages to come." Ages are marked periods of time that serve as "chapters" in the book of the divine plan of creation. In each age (sometimes called a "dispensation") the Lord reveals and accomplishes a portion of His purpose.
Just this week, the Lord suddenly opened my awareness to a broad prophetic parallel between the 70-year life and reign of David, and the ages-long development of the reign of Christ. Today I want to share with you some fascinating insights birthed from that awareness. David serves as a type of Christ. The Lord is specifically referred to as the "Son of David." So it shouldn't surprise us to see in David's kingship a prophetic foreshadow of the greater reign of his "Son."
Follow with me now to see an outline of David's rule as it reveals the unfolding of Christ's kingdom. Key events in David's life appear to mark off ages in the Lord's plan. Keep in mind that this account doesn't offer a fully precise sequence or tell the whole story. Nor as an imperfect type can David's kingship perfectly mirror the Lord's for purity. Still, David's reign offers an intriguing "sketch" of the times and seasons of Christ's kingdom—even those still to come.
Early Anointing and Victory
David's kingship starts as a boy marked by two back-to-back events. The first is his anointing by Samuel in obscurity. The second is his valiant defeat of Goliath. At the same time, David's arrival onto the Biblical stage happens under the shadow of two conflicting powers. One is that of the kingdom of Saul in Israel. The other is the Philistines.
These first two events of David's story with their power context prophetically typify the introduction of the Lord Jesus and His kingdom to earth 1000 years later. David represents our Lord. His youthfulness represents the early phase of the Lord's kingdom. David's anointing in obscurity pictures the Lord's anointing by the Holy Spirit at His baptism, also conducted in the obscurity of the wilderness.
The background powers of Saul's kingdom and the Philistines portray the background powers of the corrupted religious system and the larger world that existed when Christ was born and have continued to exist throughout his kingship. This is not hard to discern. For generations prophetically minded believers have been using Saul to typify the "carnal church," and Canaanites in general have been used to represent the world.
Right after David's anointing we read of his victory over Goliath. The youthful defeat of Goliath pictures our Lord's early defeat of the world at Calvary. As he said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." In the big picture of the ages, this victory occurs right at the beginning of Christ's developing kingship over the earth. As people the world over most remember David for His defeat of Goliath, so is Yeshua's early victory over the giant Death His most memorable feat!
Rejection by Saul and the Wilderness Period
Shortly after the defeat of Goliath and a brief period of notoriety, David is rejected by Saul and forced into the wilderness where he gathers to himself a rag tag band of followers. He has been anointed King. His followers know it. And many among Saul's people and even the Philistines recognize David's kingly anointing.
Nevertheless, David is tossed to and fro between the wilderness and the Philistine camp. His right to the throne is veiled, though he has great name recognition among both Israel and the Philistines. This arduous period answers to the present Church Age. It parallels the Lord's parable of the great mustard tree (the kingdom) where the mustard seed is first planted. This mortal Church Age answers to the "seed buried in the earth" phase of the kingdom.
As David was "hidden in the earth" despite proving his kingly anointing by defeating Goliath, so the Lord is largely incognito in the earth, being present only by His Spirit. His Name has garnered earthwide recognition, but His rule is not manifest. The Lord's followers, the faithful church, despite a very brief actionable period of power and acclaim after Calvary, remain hounded by both the religious and heathen worlds—sandwiched between their "church-state" conflicts.
Like David at this stage, the Church Age is an age of kingship testing through mixed receptions and betrayals. David was received in some places and betrayed in others—both in Israel and Philistia, but always underneath the surface of open power anywhere. So too for today's saints who are both received and betrayed in the larger church and world. Notably, Hebrews 4 compares our age to the time of Israel's desert testing. We are still in the Age of Kingship Testing!
David's anointing-without-standing specifically typifies the Church Age ministry of the Holy Spirit. David's anointing was a "down payment" on his kingdom. It secured him a measure of victory amid wanderings, but didn't give him power to come into the manifest authority spoken over him. The same remains true of the faithful church's ability to manifest our authority over the religious church kingdom and the world.
Defeat of Saul, the Return of David and the Suppressing of the House of Saul
As David and crew continue incognito in the land, Saul's reign grows ever more corrupt and conflict with the Philistines comes to a head. A great battle ensues and Saul is killed. In the aftermath, the people of Israel, having recognized David's anointing during the wilderness years, finally openly receive him as Israel's king.
David's return to receive Israel's crown prophetically pictures the physical return of Christ and His glorified overcomers to Jerusalem to head the visible kingdom of God in the earth. But there are intriguing twists and turns to this story we need to spiritually apprehend. II Samuel 1-8 reveals a graduated return and establishment of David to manifest power in Israel and the world.
While the Lord's return will be exceedingly more dramatic and climactic than David's, His manifest establishment will, like David's, have graduated elements. The progressiveness of David's return is perhaps the most important picture for us to grasp as it greatly alters our view of what the Lord's open rule will entail, especially in its beginning years.
- Key Points in The Phased Return of David
Several facets of David's return have end time significance that pull together some of the otherwise scattered prophecies that describe the Lord's return:
As mentioned, David returns in the aftermath of the great battle between the Philistines and Saul's kingdom that results in the death of Saul. This battle pictures the surrounding conditions of great world tribulation into which the Lord's return will be injected. In particular, it portrays the Revelation 17 turning by the "beast" to destroy the "harlot."
Of more intrigue is that David actually makes two returns, or we could say, a two-phased return. The first phase is very quiet (could we say, by stealth?) in which David goes up unannounced to Hebron. There he appears and is received only by His own tribe, Judah. ("Hebron" means "association.") Then, after seven years of reign over Judah, David is openly crowned king over all of Israel.
New Testament prophecies describe the Lord's return in two differing ways. One is by quiet stealth ("like a thief.") The ability to receive this coming depends on a certain watchfulness and closeness to the Lord. The other depiction of Christ's return is one of blazing glory and open victory over His enemies. Human readiness is not a factor. We have struggled to understand this contradiction, but David's two-phased return can help us here.
The distinction between Judah's first quiet reception and Israel's later open reception shows that the Lord will appear first to those who are closest to Him (say, in the "Holy Place") and only later in plain view and triumph to those whose spirituality has been defined by life in the "Outer Court" and alliance with Saul. But just what is this triumphant appearance all about?
The years between David's two appearances are marked by "long war" against those of Saul's house that resist David's rule. This portrays the Lord's return to His temple as a "Refiner's Fire" to "purify the sons of Levi" and to "discern between those who serve Him and those who serve Him not" (Malachi 3). It will involve a body-wide civil war to purge out of the church all pretenders.
David's war on Saul's house also answers to Christ's warning of Rev. 2:16 that He will return to fight with those in the church who have resisted His authority. Above all, it shows that the Lord will not be returning to a fully cleansed church, but that part of that cleansing occurs after He returns. The Lord's return will not be one happy party for all professing believers!
David's Kingdom Established: the Conquering of the Nations
When we think of the Lord's return and established kingdom, we tend to think of a final decisive point-in-time battle against the whole world, the entire church standing at His side in this battle, followed immediately by an age of total world peace and prosperity. But if David's establishment prophetically portrays that of the Son of David, then Christ's return will not happen exactly that way. There's more to this than we have thought.
We've just seen that when David arrives to be proclaimed king of Israel, he is received only by His own tribe, and must then fight throughout the rest of Israel til his reign there is total. Of great significance is that all this happens while the Philistines are still in power over Israel, having "inhabited their cities" after the death of Saul (I Sam. 31:7).
The Philistines are not immediately conquered on David's return. It's not til David secures his rule over all Israel that he moves to conquer the surrounding nations. II Samuel 5 & 8 then show David conquering the nations in the same graduated way as he does first with Israel, and only then culminating in "peace round about" (II Sam. 7:1). What does this tell us about the return and establishment of Christ's kingdom?
David's conquering of "the Jew first, then the Greek" shows us, first of all, the literal prophetic meaning of Peter's word that "judgment begins at the house of God." When Christ returns, He will be returning to judge, and His judgment will begin with everything in the earth called by His name ("Christendom") before He attempts to exercise His manifest rule over all the non-professing peoples of the earth.
Secondly, it shows us earth's peoples will not all fall under immediate welcoming submission to Christ when He returns, despite the horrific wars they have just survived. This is confirmed by various Old Testament prophecies about Israel's age of world rule under Messiah, such as Isaiah 11:14. It is reconfirmed by Revelation 2 which tells us Christ's overcomers will rule the earth with a rod of iron. (It is very interesting to compare the II Sam. 8 account of David's subjugation of the nations with the Isaiah 11 account of Messiah's subjugation of the earth.)
As He will first do with outer court Christendom, the Lord will also then do against the remnants of unbelieving nations that resist his rule. Though He will have defeated the central satanically-inspired world government Revelation 19 speaks of, He will have to go on to subdue earth's unsubmitted survivors in a progressive way until He brings peace everywhere. In the big picture of the ages, this graduated execution of Christ's rule could conceivably last several decades or longer.
There are many things the Lord wants to start opening our eyes to as we draw near to the time of all this. One is that at Christ's arrival, there will be many different classes of people on earth other than the glorified Church. There will not only be immortal believers but also mortal believers. And there will also be mortal unbelievers. These various classes of people will account for a wide spectrum of faith and non-faith toward the Lord throughout the world.
Among mortal unbelievers will be those who are willingly surrendered to Christ in form though they have yet to truly know Him. But there will also be mortal unbelievers who still resent Christ and store rebellion toward Him. Toward these, the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" will, like David, show himself as a mighty man of war demanding and commanding outward worship: "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry with you…."
Because of all this, the establishing of Christ's Manifest Rule everywhere under prosperous conditions is going to take an extended period of time. Eventually though, all the earth will indeed experience the full blessing of God through Christ's open reign, even as the rule of His Glorified Ones "waxes stronger and stronger," and the resistance of earth's holdouts "waxes weaker and weaker."
The Civil War and the Reaffirmation of David's Reign
David's reign continued for many prosperous years. Israel was blessed and the surrounding nations offered tribute, either willingly or by force. Justice prevailed everywhere. However late in David's reign, another civil war broke out. This war came about by the defection of David's son Absalom, fomented by spirits of deception and disaffection throughout Israel. The disaffection played on certain people's perceptions that David was no longer serving them justice.
Eventually, David's people crushed Absalom's rebellion and he was killed, but not before it appeared David's power and authority to maintain rule were put in serious doubt. At the time of rebellion, David was a very old king and not far from death. Nevertheless, his rule survived and He was able to ensure the transition of the kingship over to Solomon.
Near the end of Revelation, long after Christ's manifest rule has been established worldwide, we are told of a similar rebellion that is to occur. We are told that Satan, who has been bound since Christ's return, will be released for "a little season" to deceive all nations and foment a rebellion in His kingdom, which by this time is the entire earth. The duration of this rebellion is unknown, but in prophetic terminology, a "little season" could conceivably last hundreds of years or more.
Revelation devotes only 4 verses to this rebellion (20:7-10), but make no mistake: being the fulfilment of the prophetic picture of Absalom's rebellion, this late rebellion in the Lord's kingdom will be a major major event. Nor will it be an outside job, but will come from within. The fact that David was a very old king when this rebellion occurs speaks of the agedness of the Lord's reign, and that the Lord's reign is near the end of a certain period of its manifestation at this time.
The Transfer to Solomon
At the end of David's reign, the kingdom transfers to Solomon. Solomon builds a temple that cannot be built during the reign of David because David is a "man of much bloodshed." By comparison, Solomon's reign is to be one of great peace and even greater prosperity than David's. How can this transfer speak to us of the Lord's kingdom?
First of all, let's be clear. We know that the Lord's reign will never end after it is fully established. David had an end. The Lord does not. The transfer of the kingdom to Solomon therefore does not prophetically refer to a transfer of the kingdom from the Lord to someone else. It testifies rather to a transfer of nature by which the Lord rules, thus marking off yet another age in the ongoing divine plan.
The Solomonic Ages of divine rule will occur after the Davidic Ages. They correspond to the New Heavens and New Earth presented at the end of Revelation after the Great War that concludes the Davidic Ages begun at Calvary. Under the New Heavens and Earth we will see the reign of unconditional peace that corresponds to the original peace and innocence found in the Garden. There will be no left over Sauline or Philistine elements of sin and death against which to war as occurred in the Davidic Ages.
The building of the Lord's temple reserved for Solomon's reign has special significance. This corresponds to the completed descent of the New Jerusalem to the Earth in fulfillment of the promise that God will dwell with men totally unhinderedly (Rev. 21:3), even as it was in Eden.
Much more detail about the Lord's reign can be derived from the story of David. The Lord would delight to show us all so much more as we wait on Him. But for now, this is enough to ponder. May these insights work to center our expectations on the Lord's return all the more sharply as we get ready to emerge from "David's wilderness."
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 22, 2005