Lecture 11: Messianic Promises - Part 1
Course: Old Testament Theology
Lecture: Messianic Promises - Part 1
Today’s topic is Messianic Theology and it’ll be our topic tomorrow. And we do have enough flex to talk about it as needed. Some people would almost consider Messianic Theology the whole of Old Testament Theology. Now as you can tell by the fact that I would give at least give two days out of ten to the topic, I consider it a central, vital, significant issue in Old Testament and Biblical theology. However, I do want to say, as I’ve said before, that it is not the only topic in Old Testament Theology.
That if we read the New Testament…I suppose we could use the word carefully or maybe with just an interested mind. We see that there is a great deal of attention paid to Messianic Theology in the Old Testament as it is fulfilled in Christ. But that is not all the New Testament talks about from the Old. So we’ve been trying to strike a balance.
But I do want to say without hesitation that Messianic Theology is the most important thing that the Old Testament can talk about. That Christ, whether you want to talk about him as his life unfolds in the Canon or whether you want to talk about it as his being placed in history or his place in theology, Christ is at the center of biblical theology and is primary and paramount.
So, I don’t want to overplay or underplay role of Messianic theology. But I start this because I read from time to time, even in some volumes on interpretation — principles of interpretation or hermeneutics — that the New Testament writers read the Old Testament through Jesus colored glasses.
And by that they mean, virtually any text in the Old Testament can say something about Christ. Now, I don’t find this to be true as I start from the Old Testament and move to the New. I don’t find it to be true of the Old Testament’s intention and nor of the New Testament’s usage of the Old Testament.
What I find is that the New Testament writers interpret Old Testament Messianic text contextually and fairly to the original context. So, that they’re not doing a bunch of special pleading to get Jesus into the Old Testament. Now of course, this does not mean that we don’t have some difficult passages to work with. And a high percentage of the difficult passages are in one Gospel — Matthew — which has led a lot of scholars to say well, maybe Matthew is working in a way others are not.
It is not my intention to affirm that or to discuss it in all that much detail. just to say when scholars two or three problem passages from Matthew and say they see the New Testament interprets the Old, this way all the time, I think it is a vast overstatement.
So, I am trying to say that though I believe in general or at least almost, I would say in the main, the New Testament writers interpret the Old Testament passages contextually, historically, and accurately without special pleading. Doesn’t mean there aren’t any difficult passages to deal with. But again I would want to deal with the vast majority of text and not with, start with a problem text.
So, when we go to the New Testament too, part of the difficulty we have in interpreting it is that the New Testament applies so many texts to Jesus — so many Old Testament passages. If we start with the Old Testament, and try to draw a portrait of the Messiah from Messianic theology, we’ll begin to understand why the New Testament writers cite so many passages. The reason is the Old Testament offers a multi-faceted portrait of the Messiah.
It seems to me that it does so in part to make sure that we eliminate all pretenders to the title. That it is not enough for a potential Messiah if you’re living in the first century and assessing Jesus, as you would have to do, right? You wouldn’t just say this person has a royal lineage. That’s not enough. They come from the Davidic line. It’s not enough. Or even to say, well, this person is a miracle worker, not enough. Or, that this person has suffered for the sake of the Lord’s work. It’s not enough. You see, the whole portrait has to come into the play.
And by the time you finish the Old Testament, if you don’t know, you would find it very difficult to believe that one individual could have all these characteristics, all these traits, all these roles, in and of themselves. Indeed, there’s at least a Qumran Dead Sea scroll texts or two that thinks there be two messiahs — one prophetic and one priestly. And so you could see why someone would say, well, this is a lot to be encapsulated in one person. But that’s what the New Testament argues is true about Jesus.
That you put all these things together from the Old Testament Jesus fulfills them. Jesus embodies them. And so what is the cost of having a partial view? Not having a full canonical portrait of the messiah if you’re a first century person. It could cost you an understanding of who Jesus is.
And I would say though it’s kind of a backwards question for today’s Christian. Often times, today’s Christian has already accepted Christ. That’s their entry point into biblical theology. Before they ever had a biblical theology, they had Christ. So what’s the danger of not having a full biblical theology there?
Not fully understanding the one who saved you or as full an understanding that you can get. Not having the richness of scripture. Not having the ability to evangelize to your full potential to people who would ask questions. I’m hoping in my own life and in others for a fuller understanding of the whole of what scripture says about Christ. So, that I can be a better teacher, preacher, to the extent that I’m evangelist, writer, etc., but it also helps us do one other thing. And that is as basically New Testament Christians, better access to truths of the Old Testament. It’ll help our hermeneutics in other words.
I have seen people work very, very hard to try to make an isolated verse or even a very solid, wonderful passage in the Old Testament, try to make it Christological. When I don’t think the New Testament does that with every Old Testament passage.
A lot of biblical theologians try to fit every passage into some sort of salvation, history scheme. I’m not saying that’s an illegitimate process. I’m also not saying that it is necessitated by scripture itself. I don’t think it’s an illegitimate process, but I don’t think it’s the only way of doing the job.
So, let’s talk about a biblical theology of the messiah and of course, you know by now our task is impossible. Because today’s topic like the one you already examined too large to encapsulate in a lecture or a lifetime. So we make a beginning. And the nice thing here is probably you would have your own parts of the beginning to help us with.
You have certain parts of the Messianic theology in mind from prior Christmases, if nothing else, and prior classes. So, we want to start in the law and talk about the roots of the Messianic promise. And as far as that goes, from the last class when we kind of ended at the second Samuel 7, this is not just a Messianic promise, this is a promise made to David. This is a Davidic promise.
And even prior to that, we might say it is an Abrahamic promise, but more on that in due time. Roots of the Messianic, Davidic promise in the law. I want us to look at a few passages. All the way back to Genesis 3. It’s been a bit controversial this Genesis, Chapter 3, uh passage but let us stick to what we know.
Prior to Genesis 3, there is no sin described in the creation. Possibility of it exists from Genesis 2-15 to 17. Many of you wrote about that in your exam that we talked about it. God has set out some basic standards of the people must respond to by faith.
We know then in Genesis 3 that in a dialog with the serpent, the woman believes the serpent’s argument instead of what God has said. She eats of the tree, gives it to her husband, who apparently also believes the serpent or believes his wife or believes someone other than God. Both of them sin. Both of them share consequences for their sin. And so we have consequences laid out, as you recall in Genesis 3, for the serpent, for the woman, for the man, in that order.
The serpent will come back to his curse or consequence in a moment because that is the main factor for today. But of course we know that the woman is given certain consequences. People will continue to dispute what it means, her desire for her husband to rule over her. At the very least, we can say that the relationship she has with her husband, however people have defined it, I can synthesize it this way that there will be problems, stresses, difficulties in her relationship with her husband. However you define that phrase.
So, in a primary relationship with her husband, this will no longer be naked and not ashamed. This will no longer be ideal. Doesn’t mean it has to be horrific. Doesn’t mean it’s doomed to horrible, nasty failure. We read the rest of the scripture and see from experience that it’s not necessarily true. But it’s not going to be a sinless relationship anymore.
She will have some stress and struggle physically. I think not in just childbirth but in other places. But the focus is on childbirth because of verse 15. Because there’s going to be something positive said in verse 15. She will have consequences within her own body and with her children. I can’t tell that pain with children stops with childbirth.
And for the man, the ground is not going to be as easy to derive a living from as before. Work is not the curse. Working and not having things work out is the curse. He worked before, but now there will not always be good results to his work. He can plant the best sort of garden. I mean there’s some lovely places around here and Lark was talking about reading a commentary in the Botanical Gardens.
She had this little touch of heaven reading a commentary in the Botanical Gardens. What did she say about her trip to England if you ever make or if you have made one? It is really a nation of gardeners. The biggest insult that I heard my neighbor, uh in England when we spent a couple of months there, that the previous occupant of the flat — because we have a little backyard — he said well, they tw’aren’t no gardeners, I can tell you that.
Didn’t like how they’d taken care…you could putt on the man’s yard. They do a great job around here. Any farmer knows, any gardener knows that you have to deal with the weeds. Any student knows, I’m grateful if you’ve never had to experience the saying, I prepared well, I worked hard, I did not show what I could do on exam. If you heard that, you know what that’s like.
Or that somehow the result is not what you wanted. Understand then that sin has cost them these things and death, which really comes to mercy. What’s worse than death? I suppose living eternally, endlessly in sin. There are some days I am not nearly as tired enough of my sin as I ought to be. There are other days where I’m just sick not only of mine, but of mine, yours, ours, et cetera. Really tired of it.
So, death and these consequences. The reaction would be a little like what Cain says in Chapter 4. This is terrible. This is more than I can bear. So, back to the curse placed on the serpent. Notice that the curse placed on the serpent is also a blessing to the human race. Remember when we talked about these events like war.
We said it can be a punishment for one and a blessing for another. In Verse 15, I will put enmity between you and the woman…and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head and he shall bruise you on the heel. Now if you’re going to be bruise or you’re observing this struggle between the man and the serpent. You would rather have your heel bruised than your head, wouldn’t you?
But even though there’s been a bruising, there’s a sense of which person who’s put the foot down has succeeded. But not without pain or cost or injury. Now, of course with the rest of biblical theology, we might be tempted to tease a whole lot of things out of this that may or may not be there.
But we do know that regardless of the complete implications of this verse, we know that the serpent’s not going to succeed over the seed of the woman always. That the good news is that evil and the temptation to sin as embodied in the serpent is not going to always be the case.
And that it is one born and the focus at this point is on the woman. The good news is that the one who was first tempted and gave way through a lack of faith in God to that sin and to that temptation will the very starting point for redemption from sin. And often I have heard sermons that I thought people who had really singled out Eve for the problem of sin did not adequately single her out for the solution to it. So as a positive promise made to the woman and as the scriptures unfold, we will see that, what these things mean, but at the starting point here.
And notice that God still sustains the creation he has made because the text in Chapter 3 and Verse 21, makes garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothe them. And even though He seems to be harsh, He drives the man out, so that they may not take from the tree of life and live forever according to Verse 20.
This too seems to be an act of mercy. It’s pretty hard for us to think of being driven out of some place of being a mercy. Some of you sadly if you stay in church and work long enough will have this feeling. That to be driven out may be a wonderful blessing. Hope not, but if it happens, remember it may be a mercy and not just a curse.
So we have here what scholars in the past have called the protoevangelium — that is the first offer of good news. And notice that the first offer of good news comes at the first moment of sin. And if we summarize a couple things, we learn that there is coming the seed of the woman. That second of all, this seed of the woman will bruise or, in other translations, crush the head of the serpent.
The victory over sin and evil is coming. Or maybe just to be more specific, victory over the source of evil is coming. So, this we can know. This is not a full-blown doctrine of the Messiah. So it will impel us forward. Certainly, sin moves forward, doesn’t it?
So that by Chapter 6 the imagination of the human heart is only evil always. Quite a telling state.
Male: I had a question about 3-15.
Male: Um, do you know any special reason why it would be in that order?
I have no idea except that the blow to the head is the stronger and primary blow and that the bruise on the heel would be secondary. I think it goes from the greater to the lesser. It’s also directed as a consequence to the serpent, so I mean the most serious thing could be put first.
Male 1: Because it sounds like it’s making the blow to the head to the serpent less permanent, you know?
See it doesn’t to me simple because it’s placed first, moving from the greater to the lesser, but I don’t. Maybe it’s just the function of how we hear it. I think that when the verse is over, however, whichever order you put the bruising.
You have to ask your question, who’s won? Who’s been victorious and I think it’s whoever’s got their heel in the head. I think it is significant to note too though that this is not going to be a painless victory. It’s not a full-blown doctrine of the cross by any means, but it’s not a painless victory.
So that even in the Ministry of Jesus, not just the cross… He once says if it’s in one of the best manuscripts. Once says something about demon, this kind can’t come out of except by prayer and fasting. There’s not a sense in which Jesus acts as if he’s not dealing with a significant enemy. It doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t defeat the enemy, but there is a sense in which this is a strong foe.
It even says you can’t…you must first bind the strong man. He doesn’t say you must bind the straw man. And I’m often concerned when I visited church. Not that they would talk about in prayer about binding the strong man and meeting Satan, but the apparent ease with which they think that’s accomplished. That concerns me.
Maybe that’s theological or maybe it’s just that I grew up with constant admonition from good athletic coaches not to take the opponent lightly. Remember that Jesus says this is a serious adversary and the cross.
There was a lot of theology and poems and literary treatments of the cross that would indicate. On the one hand you can say, Satan probably thought the cross was his finest hour. Such suffering poured out the Son of God but also of course we know it’s his downfall. So, it is a serious effort.
The scholars from way back in the early church were saying this is the first offer of good news. And you could preach a topical or biblical theological sermon and start here and move on through. And show people or how it’s found. What I don’t want to do is to leave the impression that at this point in the Old Testament, from this single passage alone, the average Bible reader oughta understand all there is to understand about Christ. If you develop these themes throughout the scripture, you can see it happen.
But I have this theory that in ministry, the more you tell…the more you would just use this passage say and act as if everything about Christ can be drawn out of it. I think it discourages Bible readers. Because they say I can’t get all that.
They could if you then show them where these themes then unfold in scripture and that that’s the way it has to be. They can understand it. But if they think they got to draw the whole of it out of that, in this one passage, I think it’s one more example of where it discourages Bible readers. So, show them where it is.
It took a few minutes yesterday and in church — at Valerie’s church — but I commend one thing that they didn’t want to read the scripture until everybody had found it and had it before them. And I think that encourages people to say oh okay.
It assumes that they can read and understand the scriptures. And what you draw out of it needs to be, if not evident, at least discernible from your text. So we start here with the first offer of good news.
With the protoevangelium, first evangelism, a seed of the woman, and this word seed becomes important. We’ll overcome the serpent. Evil will not prevail. We’re off to a start. In Genesis 17-6, we don’t have… well, I’m sorry I’ve gone too far.
Start back to Genesis 12. Back to an Abrahamic promise, which is I said the Messianic promise fulfills promises made to Abraham and to David. The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants are going to come together in the Messianic theology.
You will note that one of the promises that God made to Abraham is in Chapter 12 and Verse 3 — Then in Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed — Chapter 12, Verse 3. I just note this because the New Testament by the time the Abrahamic and Davidic streams come together, we’ll use this passage to talk about what God’s doing in Christ both in the Book of Acts and the Book of Galatian.
And also if we’re going to talk about a Davidic promise, we have to remember that without Abraham there is no David. So the Davidic promise is derived from the Abrahamic promise. And part of the Abrahamic promise is that in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed. And that Abraham would have descendants.
Now to Genesis 17-6. Again it seems to be another in a long line of promises God makes to Abraham. Genesis 17 is about the covenant of circumcision, which becomes the seal or the main symbol of God’s covenant with Abraham. And God promises blessing in 4 and 5. And here’s one of them, a further one in Verse 6.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful back to the promise of descendants. And I will make nations of you and kings will come forth from you. Now as this unfolds in the Bible, it’s not just kings of Israel but kings of other nations. But again, the notion that kings from Abraham is introduced here.
And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants or your seed. Same word as Genesis 3 and it just keeps moving on, your Zara. Your descendants after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
So, the covenant that God is making with Abraham is an everlasting covenant. And the covenant makes with David, as we saw last Friday, is also an everlasting covenant. There’s no real sense in which the mosaic covenant is never ending.
I think this is significant. We will not need laws to inhibit and define and to punish sin in heaven. If there’s no more sin, sorrow, or death — according to Isaiah 65 in Revelation 21 — then we do not need a law in heaven.
Because we won’t have to worry anymore about well if there’s no law, people will just do what’s right in their eyes and run amok. See there’s no one running amok in heaven. This is pretty good news.
But the covenant made with Abraham is everlasting. So is the one made with David as we shall see. Part of the covenant made with Abraham is that kings will come from him. This is part of the blessing.
I say that because then in Genesis 49, 8 through 10, we have a further clarification. That one of those kings will be in Israel. So Genesis 3-15, the first offer of good news. Genesis 12, that that good news, that there is good news for all nations. All nations will be blessed. A blessing is good news.
All nations will be blessed through Abraham, 17-6. Kings will come through Abraham and now a further point, Genesis 49, 8 to 10. Judah, now remember, Genesis 49 is Jacob slash Israel, his blessings, and assessments of his twelve sons before he dies.
In some of these he makes marvelous statements. In other ones, don’t seem so complimentary. Each one appropriate to his sons. Whereas 8 to 10 for Judah. Judah, your brothers shall praise you, your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s son shall bow down to you.
Now it’s clear he’s been given power over enemies and primary amongst his brothers and sons. So if your father’s sons shall bow down to you, you have the place of primacy. Judah’s uh — 49-8, Genesis 49-8 — Judah’s alliance whelped from the pray my son, you’ve gone up, he couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion who dares rouse him up.
Other words, Judah is compared favorable to a lion who’s ready to go. And really, basically to put in near slang, nobody wants to mess with a lion. Then Verse 10, the scepter, and Verse 10 is a difficult text to translate. The NAS does it fairly with its notes. The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet.
In other words, Judah’s the one from whom his father shall bow down to. He shall hold a scepter. So we know that Judah is going to be the ruling tribe. Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until Shiloh comes, which is a nearly to impossible to translate with total accuracy. So what the NAS has done is just bring Shiloh into the text.
Another reading — or two other — until he comes to Shiloh. Another reading, until he comes to whom it belongs. These are all possible readings. Until Shiloh comes is making Shiloh be the subject of the verb comes. As you know, if you’ve done Hebrew, though the verb comes is third singular, it can either be he or it, in this case comes.
The problem with saying until he comes to Shiloh is there’s no preposition on Shiloh. But who is Shiloh and what is Shiloh other than a place later on is always the difficulty. But the Verse 10 is fairly straightforward. And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Plural of people so that it’s not seeming to be just Israel but of other nations.
So this ruler, someone is coming, whoever Shiloh is or someone is coming to Shiloh or whatever. But the fact is this person will not just rule over Israelites, but over other peoples as well. So there is an extended kingdom seeing for Judah at some point in time in the future.
So then, at the very least, we can say Israel’s king, you should look to Judah’s tribe, for Israel’s king, right? We can say that from the text. And so even if you don’t find anything more than in this text, though you can find more than this, but even if you don’t find more than the following, we would have a good beginning.
David is from the tribe of Judah. David does subdue the nations around them. The peoples do bow down. The Philistines and the Amenites. The Molobites. And it is to David, a descendant of Judah, that God gives the eternal kingdom of the Messiah.
That’s the very least. It may be more than that in the text if it’s talking about the person having the obedience of the people ultimately being the Messiah. So, it may be more, but at the very least we have a straightforward thread — Messianic thread — from Genesis 49, 8 to 10.
Judah, ruler, promises then made to Judah’s ruler, David. But at least Genesis 49 focuses the ruling family on a specific tribe and that is Judah. Yes sir?
Male 2: [inaudible] …that David’s line will never, so how does that…am I just misunderstanding that or…
That is a possible interpretation of it. That Shiloh will replace or is replace the right word? There’s this delicious ambiguity here in the text, ain’t it?
So that you could say okay, Judah’s going to rule until Shiloh comes. So is then Shiloh a person who’s going to then take over? Would this person be from Judah or not or what? So see, the reading you have offered is an acceptable one that continues to force us to ask these questions.
If the Shiloh reading is the way to go, and that is again, the NAS thinks it’s the best way to go although it has these other…then the reading you offered and the questions that it engenders is a legitimate one. But it’s still going to take us at least through the tribe of Judah and then you would ask is David Shiloh?
Is someone subsequent to David’s Shiloh? What? But we do know that the peoples, less specific the nations, early on will give obedience to Shiloh.
Man 3: [inaudible]
That is a potential, effective reading. If we didn’t have the textual variance we have, not just trying to be postmodern here. Well you know, he’s right and she’s right and he’s right even though they say three mutually contradictory things. No I think it’s a Messianic text. That’s why we’re talking about. But at the very least, you’re starting to ask the right question.
Shiloh, would have to be, in the way that you’re talking about, of Judah, greater than Judah. A ruler of more than Judah, of more than Israel. So you’re already starting to ask the question, whoever Shiloh is in this reading, can this person…in what way are they greater than the normal Judahite. That’s the question to ask.
And so I think, the appropriate thing I would say is as biblical theology unfolds, we’re going to that see if Shiloh is the right reading. That Shiloh, if that’s the reading. The fact is, you’re pressed by the oddity of the name and pressed by the oddity of the syntax to say is there something different about this name and this person? Something beyond a normal Judahite? That’s the question.
And you could show people that in biblical theology that the answer is yes. That in order to fulfill the different things that are gonna unfold, this person must be indeed more than David even. More than, you know you pick the greatest Davidic king. You can say it’s David himself. You can say it’s Josiah. You can say it’s Hezekiah. It’s gotta be greater than, different than.
And of course, it is the New Testament’s job — if we put it this way — to pull all these themes together and state how it is that Christ is greater. And one way that John does pull it together in the other Gospels is to say that Jesus is not just the son of David, but Son of God. And that’s quite a statement and caused a bit of debate amongst the [inaudible].
I don’t think it’s a stretch unless you don’t show how it unfolds in biblical theology. So again, I’m not trying to negate the Messianic theology. I’m just trying to show that it builds.
And we got Judah online now. We’ve got a Judah ruler online now. But we’re still wrestling with how this would make sense over time.
Female: Let me stop you for a second.
Female: When you…you’re saying that the Messianic promise itself acts as [inaudible] primal Adam and Eve [inaudible] you know is less than the first time [inaudible].
Right. This is how salvation history unfolds according to salvation historians. We know human beings need salvation from sin. They need something to deal with the sin problem.
God’s answer is to say through the woman there will come a seed who will do this. As you proceed you see it’s to Abraham that the promise is given. But again the woman is very important, is she not?
Because it can’t be just any son of Abraham, right? Has to be the son through uh Sarah. All nations are going to be blessed. You can is that the solution to the sin problem. That’s the question you’re asking. But in salvation history, yeah, we then move to Abraham.
But then Abraham has a descendant named Jacob who has his 12 sons. And to one of these 12 sons, promises of ruling will be made. But if we give a general date of the patriarch’s at 2000 BC, we’re going to be waiting a thousand years for David to live and these promises to be made to him.
So this is why they talk about a vast salvation history. It’s going to God dealing with the sin problem. And it’s easier to see these threads I believe at the end than it is at the beginning, right?
So that the Bible states that Abraham knew more about the Messianic promise really than the text just explicitly says to us here. But you have to wonder what the run of the mill type of person would think. For us, we see it looking back. So again, I think those Old Testament people that are mentioned as having faith in Hebrews 11 would have a legitimate question to us.
Uh, you had it all laid out for you about your problem. We had to grasp it as it went. Then I think I would say to [inaudible] we had to defend your faith all the rest of our lives. So, having looked at a couple of those passages, let’s look at least one more.
Numbers 24, is another royal promise. Numbers 24, you’ll remember that this is an oration by a rather dicey prophet named Baylem. He’s one of the handful of prophets that the Old Testament shows having the word of God, an accurate word of God, but who [laughs] are not sterling characters.
It often makes use wonder. Balaam speaks a number of times from Numbers 22 to 24. You have a similar situation first Kings 13. Where a prophet who lies to another prophet has an accurate word from God later.
I don’t know whether this should admonish us, bring us comfort, or cause us to be puzzled. I don’t know. But Numbers 24, Verse 15, through Verse 19. He took up his discourse and said, the oracle of Baylem, the son of Bayor, and the oracle of a man whose eyes opened.
The oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the most high, who sees the vision of the almighty. We say all right already. This is hardly humble thus says the Lord. Falling down he having his eyes uncovered. I see him but not now. I behold him but not near.
In other words, this is a future prediction. A star shall come forth from Jacob. A scepter shall rise from Israel. And we would know already if there is a scepter in Israel, it’s which tribe? [audience speaks] Judah.
He shall crush the forehead of Mohab, which is not comes as good news since it’s Mohab who has hired Baylem to offer this oracle. They’re not getting their money’s worth. They’ll tear down all the sons of Sheth. Edem shall be a possession. Seer, which is part of Edem and its enemies, will also be a possession. While Israel performs valiantly, one from Jacob shall have dominion over Mohab and Edem.
Now again, this is a promise that is fulfilled in David. And the question is, is it yet a greater than David? But at the very least, David is going to arise. He is a focal point. He is one to watch. And he will rule Edem. He will rule Mohab. So the question is, is this a Messianic prophecy or is it simply a text that says watch, for, David?
And from David there will come more information. He’s singled out here. Same thing in two other passages, Deuteronomy 17, 14 through 20 — Deuteronomy 17, 14 through 20. This is a significant passage because in it Moses predicts that the day will come when Israel will want and receive a King. And he sets up standards for how a king should act.
So, if you want to understand how the rest of the scriptures assess kings, on what standards, on what basis. And I would argue you could have principles for any sort of leader including political leaders from Deuteronomy 17, 14 to 20, but particularly a Christian leader. Such as having the word of God, having the law of God always before them. That’s their standard.
Not putting themselves above their countrymen. Not using their office to gain in this case wives and horses and lands. In other words, you don’t use your office to get richer and richer. Understand that they’re to be one of the people. And this is tough in the current climate in the United States and in other lands as well. Much past the very local level.
Don’t say it’s impossible, but this is one of the challenges you have is, do people use their office for personal gain or for the people? And do the people try to sustain the leader or use them? Uh, it’s an interesting discussion in the John Adams biography that I’m reading now that John Adams argued that public servants should be paid or only the rich would ever be involved. [audience laughs]
But then you would have to work with how it operates. But the expectation for Moses is that there will be a king. He is in agreement with what he already stated in Genesis 49. In Deuteronomy 18, in Verses 15 to 22, Deuteronomy 18 this time, 15 to 22, there is a text that the New Testament cites as Messianic.
The Lord, your God, will raise up for you, a prophet like leaf from among you. And from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. And so it apparently, is a special prophet mentioned in 18. And so it’s a special prophet’s laid out, but it’s also true in 18 that general standards for prophets are also given. Special prophet is coming but general standards for prophets are also offered.
And so in Verse 21, you may say in your heart, how will we know the word in which the Lord has not spoken? Moses answers, when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, it a thing does not come about or come true, that is thing that which the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, you shall not be afraid of him.
What is a burden of a true prophet? Merely a hundred percent accuracy. The true prophet, the one who speaks for the Lord, their word whether it’s Jeremiah or Hosea or whether it’s Elijah or Isaiah. The mark of a true prophet is if your word comes true. So I just made a comment about that.
First of all, he says, there is coming a special prophet. This moves us to question whether we now have a parallel or, if you want to call it competing, I wouldn’t call it that, but some would. Theme running alongside this royal theme, there’s coming a king. There’s coming a prophet. Like Moses.
And in salvation history, these two are going to start running alongside one another. And when you get to the New Testament, the claim’s going to be, Christ is prophet…and king and what else? [audience mumbles] Right. All in one person. But this is the Genesis of the prophet promise according to New Testament. Someone like is Moses coming.
The other thing I want to say from Verse 22 as just kind of an aside. Whatever you believe about what the New Testament gift of prophecy is, we do have a standard by which those who would make predictions can be judged in Verse 22.
I was minding my own business after a wedding conducted in Louisville. It was hot. The air conditioning had failed in a late May wedding and it was hot. And I had been asked to wear robes in this wedding. I don’t mind that in a wedding cuz at least then you don’t have to get a suit. You don’t have to worry about it. They just say your robes. We want you to wear it, so I wore it.
Those things are hot, particularly the cheap model I had purchased. You know you need to get some cotton that’ll breathe or something, but I had polyester. It’s cheaper. I need to throw those things away, but…
So I had been hot and tired and I was minding my own business. At the reception in the side room, the one room that was air-conditioned apparently. And I was drinking some punch or whatever they had there. It was Baptist, there was no liquor, but I don’t drink anyway. So…now I could lose my job if I do. So anyway, and a guy comes up to me that I don’t even know. I’d never seen him before you see.
He said, so, you’re a college professor, huh? Made it sound like an accusation usually… usually reserved for questions like grave robbers or bank embezzlers. So, I owned up and said yes. Then he said he said so do you believe prophecies still exist? I thought I wouldn’t have been surprised if this fella had asked me what I thought about the um Hong Kong or something being turned over to the Chinese.
But he says to me, well I thought for a minute and I say well you know I want to dodge your question except I can say there is a standard for prophecy in Deuteronomy. It is accuracy. It is not prophecy from God to try out some predictions. So that I have prophecy for three or four of you and about your lives and you know, only one of them comes true. That’s not biblical, God oriented prophecy. That I would know.
Prophecies is not just trying out some things any more than teaching is just trying out some things. Or Evangelism or administration is trying out some things. So whatever else you think about prophecy and a lot of people think it is ceased. If you think continues, then you have a standard for it. Just thought I’d throw that in for free.
Because there will be people who will say to you, I have a word of prophecy for you. I always listen to those and then wait to see if it’s from the Lord or not. That’s all you can do.
Male 4:You said a standard here is for…the prophet?
I think there are two or three things going on here. One is there’s a future prophet that he talks about. It’s a little bit like second Samuel 7. Cuz you’re talking about Solomon, David, and some unstated descendants.
And here he’s talking about Moses, a prophet who is coming, and then prophets in general I think. There are three things going on here. So he says through 19, he said ok here’s the prophet that I’m going to send. He’s going to be accurate, he’s going to be from me, he’s going to be in the future. And it’s almost as if people are trying to say well how are we going to recognize somebody who is not that?
Then he says standard is the…if the thing that any prophet has spoken doesn’t come true, then they’re not the true prophet thus they cannot be [emphasis] the prophet. See what I’m saying? I think that’s what’s going on.
Certainly Jesus could not be [emphasis] the prophet if the words he speaks do not come true. And the people should not worry about such. Part of the burden of the New Testament is to show that the words of Christ came true. And if they don’t then he’s not [emphasis] the prophet. In fact, he’s not an accurate prophet.
But in general in the Old Testament, the prophets knew this standard and they knew they were not true prophets of God if what they said did not come true. Therefore I have to wonder, if they didn’t sweat a little bit about the predictions they made.
Male 5: How do you know that if some of them did? [crosstalk] [inaudible]
That’s my point. Fire in my bones. I didn’t want to put it out, didn’t want to let it out according to Jeremiah but he couldn’t do anything else. I think it’s a huge responsibility. So you want, I always say to people, so you want to be prophet?
Let me tell you at least the pressures of being a prophet the way I would tell you about pressures of any other gift. But here he’s saying the prophet is coming. You’ll listen to him. But that’s about all we get here.
We’re going to see further in the text that as the text builds, the prophet is the messiah. The king is the messiah. This we’re going to see, but it’s only started now.