Copyright © Tim Warner
Some progressive dispensationalists believe the Davidic Covenant is partially fulfilled by Christ’s being seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Other progressives hold that Christ’s being seated on David’s throne is exclusively reserved for the Millennium, (as do traditional dispensationalists). The purpose of this article is to show that Jesus is not yet seated on the Davidic throne. This is reserved for the Millennium.
6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (KJV)
The covenant God made with King David, that from David’s seed a righteous King would sit on the Throne of Israel and reign over Israel forever, was specifically applied to Jesus by Gabriel. The question is, When? In Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, he interpreted the Davidic Covenant in such a way that leads some to conclude it is fulfilled now, by Christ’s being seated in heaven at the Father’s right hand.
However, that is not exactly what Peter said. When we examine this passage in its historical setting, something entirely different appears. Peter’s goal in this sermon was NOT to show that that Old Testament prophecies of Messiah’s reigning on David’s throne were presently fulfilled. Such an idea would flow counter to the Millennial hopes of the Jews to whom he was preaching, and would invoke an immediate negative reaction. They did not even believe at this point that Jesus was any more than an executed criminal. To now imply that He was already reigning in some mystical way in heaven, while the Jews fully expected an earthly reign, would certainly be greeted with scorn.
Rather, Peter intended to establish Jesus’ identity as “the Christ” (Messiah – King of Israel) prophesied in the Old Testament who WILL physically reign over Israel as “King of the Jews.” He was preaching to a crowd of Jews from the Diaspora who had come to Jerusalem to worship on the feast days. Most of them were not residents of Jerusalem or Israel. They had traveled to Jerusalem from foreign lands where they lived to attend Passover seven weeks earlier, and had either stayed until Pentecost, or had returned.
They had heard about all the commotion surrounding the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Some of them may even have joined in with the crowds who cried “away with Him, give us Barabbas.” Yet, they were not privy to His three years of teachings or witnesses of His miracles, although they no doubt heard the rumors of miraculous healings. They had also apparently heard the rumors of His resurrection, which the Temple leadership were trying to squelch.
Peter began his sermon by appealing to Joel 2, the prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel. He claimed that the miracle of speaking in foreign tongues they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of this prophecy. This no doubt got their attention immediately, because it showed that long awaited prophecy was being fulfilled – God was visiting His ancient people. Next, Peter connected the fulfillment of this prophecy with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thereby, showing that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, whom the Jews expected would accompany the fulfillment of Joel.
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
Peter then launched into a series of Davidic kingly prophecies from the Psalms to prove that Jesus was the subject of their fulfillment, not David himself.
Acts 2:25-36 NKJV
25 For David says concerning Him: ‘I FORESAW THE LORD ALWAYS BEFORE MY FACE, FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN.
26 THEREFORE MY HEART REJOICED, AND MY TONGUE WAS GLAD; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL REST IN HOPE.
27 FOR YOU WILL NOT LEAVE MY SOUL IN HADES, NOR WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO SEE CORRUPTION.
28 YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF JOY IN YOUR PRESENCE.’
29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,
31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
35 TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL.” ‘
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Notice Peter did NOT say that Jesus presently occupied the throne of David. “knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”
He showed that David was not speaking of himself, but someone from “the fruit of his loins.” Then he applied this principle to another Psalm, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” In other words, the prophecy of his soul not being left in hell, or seeing corruption was not referring to David, but to the one prophesied who would sit on David’s throne. Peter then said Jesus was presently seated at the right hand of God after being raised from the dead. He quoted another Psalm to prove that such was prophesied of Messiah PRIOR to His reigning on David’s throne. “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” Notice that being seated on the right hand of the Father is for the purpose of WAITING until His enemies are made his footstool. In short, Peter was saying that Jesus is presently fulfilling prophecy while awaiting His position of King of Israel on David’s throne. That this is what Peter meant, is clear from his second sermon.
Acts 3:19-21 NKJV
19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Clearly, Peter was placing Christ’s present place beside the Father as a period of WAITING for the time when the prophecies of the earthly Kingdom will be fulfilled. Other passages support this “waiting period” concept.
12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. (NASB)
Old and New Testament passages clearly connect the assumption of the Throne of David with the full restoration of Israel to their land.
5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
The word “Christ” (Heb. – Messiah) means “anointed one,” and is used elsewhere to describe the ones “anointed” as Kings of Israel. Yet, being the “anointed one” does NOT necessarily guarantee assuming the position and duties of KING immediately. David was “anointed” king of Israel by Samuel. Yet, there was a long time of Saul’s pursuing David, and David’s having to WAIT until his throne was established, by the removal of Saul! I believe the situation is the same with Jesus. He was “anointed” Messiah and King at His first coming, yet He must WAIT until His enemies are made His footstool before assuming His role as “King of Israel.” This waiting is accomplished at the Father’s right hand. There is one thing that keeps Jesus from fully exercising His place as King of Israel, and that is Israel’s repentance and national salvation.
On Palm Sunday, many of the Jews were willing to accept Jesus as their King. But, the nation as a whole rejected Him as King of Israel. The last days of Jesus life speak a great deal to the question of His being the King of Israel promised to sit on David’s throne.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. (KJV)
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, (KJV)
Matthew 22:41-46 NKJV
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘LORD,’ saying:
44 ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, TILL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL” ‘?
45 If David then calls Him ‘LORD,’ how is He his Son?”
46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
Jesus then gave his scathing denouncement of the leadership of Israel. He followed this with this lament.
Matthew 23:36-39 NKJV
36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ “
Jesus implied that His taking His seat as King of Israel as the “Son of David” was being postponed UNTIL Israel repents nationally. Paul says this will occur when the “fullness of the gentiles” come in [Romans 11]. This in no way diminishes His being the King! It is just that Israel will NOT benefit from His being their King UNTIL they repent. Once national repentance takes place, Jesus will take His seat on the “glorious throne” [Matthew 19:28, Matthew 25:31].
Jesus is King, and His kingdom is present in the remnant of believers. But, the Davidic covenant specifically speaks of a political throne of Messiah. Jesus is the rightful king, just as David was the rightful King after Samuel anointed him. However, he had to await Saul’s removal. Likewise, Jesus is now WAITING in heaven for His enemies to be made His footstool. Let’s look at John’s account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate.
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but NOW My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (NKJV)
The word ‘now’ implies that Jesus’ kingdom at present is not “of this world,” but will be in the future. This is clearly what the disciples expected when they asked Jesus about when He might “restore the Kingdom to Israel.”
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The implication here is that the restoration of Israel’s throne will be AFTER the gospel is taken to the nations.
Jesus is now seated with His Father in HIS throne. He is NOT seated on HIS throne. Upon His coming He will sit on HIS OWN throne, the place of King of Israel under the Davidic Covenant.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
There is clearly a distinction made here between the present ‘throne’ Jesus occupies and the future ‘throne.’ One is said to be His Father’s throne, and the other is said to be Jesus’ throne.
It is clear then that Jesus’ present place at the Father’s side is a place of WAITING. And according to Revelation 3:21, Jesus does NOT consider being seated at the Father’s side as occupying “HIS THRONE.” Likewise, several passages say that He will sit on HIS own throne at His second coming, [Matthew 19:28 & Matthew 25:31].
Based on this, it seems that being “seated on David’s throne” strongly implies ruling over Israel in a political sense. In fact, this is exactly what Gabriel promised to Mary – “he will rule over the house of Israel forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”
Until Jesus returns, and actually takes his place as “King of Israel,” He cannot be considered seated on David’s throne in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Granted, it is well established in Scripture that Jesus is that King. And even that He presently rules in the hearts of the faithful remnant. But, His kingdom now is limited to the hearts of the redeemed. As yet it is not a political Kingdom, ruling the earth with Israel as head of the nations.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
There is clearly a distinction made here between Jesus’ place in heaven now, and His future place as ruling the nations with a rod of iron. His ruling in this manner begins when He returns as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.