Behold The King!
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” ~ Matthew 2:2
Some time between 7 and 5 BC wise men came into Jerusalem and had an audience with Herod the King concerning the location of the One who had been born as the promised King of the Jews. Their quest was extremely upsetting to King Herod who had gained the title as the King of the Jews through a tribute paid to Caesar Augustus. While we are familiar with the events that unfolded after Herod met with the wise men, we are probably not as familiar with the Old Testament foundation for the quest of the wise men from the lands of modern day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These men were king’s advisors who served in the king’s court even as had been true of Daniel and his three friends. Obviously godly Jews like Daniel, Nehemiah and Mordecai had left a witness to these gentile statesmen. The true King of the Jews was not the one who had purchased the title for himself from Caesar Augustus; but the One appointed and sent by God in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning the coming King.
The theme of the coming King who would deliver His people from the bondage of sin and establish them in His kingdom of righteousness and peace is a major one in both testaments of our Bibles. When God created man as male and female, he graciously gave them dominion over all physical creation.
“Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Genesis 1:26
Man, created in the image of God, was established as the king over all the earth. While the rule and dominion of the Lord is an absolute universal dominion over all things; man’s dominion as appointed by God, was over a specific sphere. When man was disobedient to the Lord, not only did his dominion lose its effectiveness; he also became a servant of sin and his lustful passions. Paradise was lost. Man’s rule over the earth now requires tremendous toil and is often met with ineffectiveness and frustration.
Thankfully man’s present situation is not hopeless. The same God who graciously gave man his exalted position in the first place is the One who now showers His grace upon undeserving men and women. There is One who has been born King of the Jews. He is the One promised in the Old Testament who would regain what Adam lost and would deliver all who trust in Him from sin’s bondage. Even when the Lord justly judged man for his disobedience, He still gave a message of hope and grace to Adam and all who have descended from him. Speaking to the serpent, God said: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The Lord had promised that a descendent coming from a woman is the One who would bruise the head of the serpent (a fatal blow) while he would be bruised on the heel (a wound from which He would recover). Adam believed this promise of the Lord and gave the woman the name by which we know her today. He called her Eve which is a word derived from the Hebrew term meaning life or living one. In response to Adam’s expression of faith, God provided a blood sacrifice to cover them and their sin. In this biblical account, God provided a picture of the coming King who would deal with our offenses against God and restore the dominion which was lost in Adam.
The biblical theme of the coming King who will restore dominion over the earth and deliver His subjects from the bondage of sin is developed further in the covenant promises that God made with Abram (whose name means exalted father). Later, the Lord changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning “the father of a multitude.”
“Now the LORD said to Abram: ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and will bless you and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
These promises made by the Yahweh (LORD with all capital letters indicates the Hebrew personal name of God) was later ratified as an unconditional covenant between God and Abraham. The Lord indeed gave Abraham a great name. He is not only honored by Christians as the example of saving trust and dependence on the Lord: but he is also honored by both Arabs and Jews as the patriarch of their respective nations. Yet in spite of this lofty honor given to Abraham by the Lord, he acknowledged One greater than himself when he meet Melchizedek in the valley of Shaveh.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all.” Genesis 14:17-20
While there are only four verses given to Melchizedek in the historical narrative of Genesis, the Lord included this encounter between him and Abraham because of the revelation or disclosure that the Lord made through him. First, this King is also a priest of God Most High. The designation for the Lord as “God Most High” indicating that He is the Supreme Being and Sovereign over all. Both Melchizedek and Abram are identified with Him. As the Supreme Being, He is the Source and Owner of this universe. As the Sovereign God Most High, He is the One who enabled Abram to have victory over his enemies. Even though both Melchizedek and Abram were identified with God Most High, Melchizedek has a higher status than Abram as a priest of God Most High. As a priest of the True God, he brought bread and wine to Abram as well as received the expression of worship by Abram in the tenth of all he gained from his conquest.
Second, Melchizedek represents the coming descendant of the woman who will crush Satan’s power and bring God’s promised blessings to the families of the earth. The One who is coming to set us free from sin and restore the dominion lost by Adam, will be a King Priest. In the Psalms it states that the promised Messiah will be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110). As such a priest, He is the One who saves forever all who draw near to God through Him (Hebrews 7-8).
Finally, there is significance in the names which designate this King Priest. He is the King of Salem, that is the King of Peace. In addition, the name Melchizedek is derived by the combination of two Hebrew words which translated mean “King of Righteousness.” The coming descendent of the woman who also fulfills the promises made to Abram is the King of Righteousness who will bring in everlasting peace.
The Lord provided more information about the coming Deliverer in the pronouncements made by Jacob when he was about to die physically. God had personally affirmed the covenant promises to Abraham’s son Isaac and then to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. The blessings of the covenant that God made with Abraham are now bestowed upon Jacob whose name God changed to Israel (Prince of God). As the divinely appointed recipient of the covenant, Jacob was directed by the Spirit of God to tell his sons what will happen to each of tribes in the “end of days” (Genesis 49:1). In his pronouncement concerning Judah, he stated:
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:8-10
In his declaration concerning Judah, the Lord disclosed additional information about the coming Deliverer who would restore the lost dominion. The tribe of Judah is the divinely appointed tribe to rule over all the other tribes of Israel. His brothers will bow down to him. He will also be given victory over all his enemies as indicated by the fact that his hand will be upon the neck of his enemies. Yet the exalted position for the tribe of Judah is anticipatory of the One coming who is called Shiloh. While the exact meaning of the word Shiloh is hard to determine, it is clear that it is used in the Old Testament to refer either to a place or a person. As a place, Shiloh was the town in the promised land of Israel in which the Tabernacle was located until David brought it to Jerusalem. In this declaration, the reference Shiloh is not to a town but to a person. Shiloh is the One to whom “shall be the obedience of the peoples.” So not only will He be the One exalted over the tribes of Israel, but He will also be exalted over the gentiles as well. Linguistically, it seems that the word Shiloh means “rest, repose or tranquility.” The One coming from the tribe of Judah who will rule over all the people on the face of the earth is the source of rest and peace. Just as Jesus said concerning Himself: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
This pronouncement made by Jacob concerning the tribe of Judah is developed further by the Lord in the covenant promises He made with David. The record of this gracious unconditional agreement or contract given to David is recorded in both 2 Samuel 7 as well as in 1 Chronicles 17. A portion of the covenant indicates that a descendant of David is the One who will be the exalted King and bring the blessings of God as promised to Abraham.
“And it shall come about when your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who shall be of your sons and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”
1 Chronicles 17:11-15
While David desired to build the Temple in Jerusalem for the Lord, he was prevented from doing so by the Lord. God specified to David that the House for the Lord would be built by a descendant of David. In the historical setting, Solomon was the one who built the physical temple in Jerusalem. Yet, not only did Solomon build the house for the Lord, he also pictured the coming One from the family of David who would have His throne and kingdom established by the Lord forever. He will be established upon David’s throne as the King of the Jews and have dominion over all the earth. He is the One who will rule forever. As the Lord stated concerning this descendant of David: “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Ps. 2:6) This coming King is the One who will rule over all the nations of the earth.
“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD; He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron, You will shatter them like earthenware.’” Psalm 2:7-9
Behold the King! He is descendant of the woman who crushes the head of Satan and liberates all those who trust Him. He is the Son of Abraham who brings the blessings of God to the families of the earth. He is the King Priest who is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace. He is from the tribe of Judah as Shiloh who gives rest to all who come to Him. He is the Son of David who will rule over all the nations of the earth forever and ever. He is soon returning to the earth and will restore the dominion lost by Adam for all who bow down to Him. Wise men still seek Him. The one born King of the Jews is the One who will bring in everlasting righteousness and peace. The LORD Himself will fulfill and accomplish all that He has promised. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.
“Worship the LORD with reverence,
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry
And you perish in the way.
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Soli Deo Gloria!