Progressive Dispensationalism In Depth

Is Jesus Seated on the Throne of David?
Copyright © Tim Warner Click Last Trumpet Graphic to Return to HomePage

One key unresolved question within progressive dispensationalism is the interpretation of the Davidic Covenant. 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 urgency of resolving this issue should not be underestimated. The issue itself is not central to the overall PD theological system. There is room for disagreement on this point within the PD camp without doing damage to the whole system. However, the partial fulfillment concept held by Blaising and Bock has become the "whipping boy" for traditional dispensationalists who seek to paint progressive dispensationalism as unorthodox, and leaning toward a-millennialism. Progressive dispensationalism is solidly pre-millennial. But the perceived similarity of a partially fulfilled Davidic Covenant to the a-mill view (which sees the Davidic Covenant as completely fulfilled with Christ's present reign from heaven) lends itself to emotional charges that are really rooted in fear. Yes, those attacking progressive dispensationalism are afraid that support for the pre-trib rapture is being seriously erroded by progressive dispensationalism. This fear may be well founded! But, the reactionary smear campaign, painting progressives as leaning toward a-millennialism, is absolutely false. Progressive dispensationalism is totally incompatible with amillennialism. Progressives are firmly devoted to a historical-grammatical (literal) method of interpretation that makes the a-mill view completely unacceptable.

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The purpose of this article is to show that Jesus is not yet seated on the Davidic throne. This is reserved for the Millennium. Isa 9:6-7 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.(NKJ) Luke 1:31-33 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
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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 Barabas." 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 fulfillmet 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. Acts 2:22-24 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and

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wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.(KJV) 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 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.30 Therefore being a prophet, and 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;31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.(KJV)

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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 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:21 Whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.(KJV) 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.
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Heb 10:12-13 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. Jer 23:5-8 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.(KJV) Matt 19:28 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) Matt 25:31 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:(KJV)

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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. Matt 21:99 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) Matt 21:15 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) Matt 22:41-46 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?45 If
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David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.(KJV) Jesus then gave his scathing denouncement of leadership of Israel. He followed this with this lament. Matt 23:36-39 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.(KJV) 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 [Rom. 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" [Matt. 19:28, Matt. 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. John 18:36-37 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so
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that I should not be delivered to the Jews; bu tNOW 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." Acts 1:6-8 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." (NKJV) 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. Rev 3:21 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.(KJV) 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.
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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, [Matt. 19:28 & Matt. 25:31]. The term "throne of David" is a synonym for "King of Israel." Other kings of Israel were said to be seated on "David's throne," [I Kings 2:12,24, Jer. 22:2,4, Jer. 36:30]. 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. Rev 12:5 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.(KJV) 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." Rev 19:11-16 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.12 His eyes
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were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (KJV)

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