Rest Indeed – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Rest Indeed by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT - Feb 2015As we close out this busy week of labor and anticipate our risen Lord’s day of rest tomorrow, R.C.Sproul, Jr. reminds us in the above-linked article from this month’s Tabletalk (on the theme of “Labor and Rest”) that our rest is not only related to our labor but also to the great battle in which we are engaged as God’s soldiers from day to day.

It is good to also be reminded of this spiritual aspect of our labor in this life, so that we may also be refreshed in the knowledge of our Lord’s victory over our spiritual foes. I appreciated what “R.C.” writes here, and I pray it is an encouragement to you too as we get ready to rest in our Savior.

Find the full article at the link above; here is a part of it (keep in mind he takes his thoughts from Psalm 23):

When we turn the Sabbath into a set of rules of what we are allowed and forbidden to do, I fear we miss the whole spirit of the day. The rest to which we are called is less resting from our day-to-day jobs than it is rest from the battle. We are able to rest because we know He has already won. Sabbath is the good cheer to which we are called, knowing He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

When we enter more fully into our rest, when we sit at His table, untouchable, victorious, are we not overcome with joy? Is it not true that our heads are anointed with oil, that our cups runneth over? Like soldiers who come home for rest and relaxation, we soldiers of the King are invited to go home, so that when we return to battle, we know where we are going. We drink deeply of His goodness so that we know that His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. We go back into the battle knowing, having been to and tasted the end of all things, that we will indeed dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is rest indeed because for six days a week we are at war indeed. The great irony, however, is that the more we rest, the more we battle. For it is our worship, our rest, our joy, and our peace that are the very weapons of our warfare. By joy, towers are toppled. By peace, ramparts are ruined. By singing forth the glory of His name, by heralding His glory, walls come tumbling down. We fight in peace because the war has already been won. We die in war because the peace has already been won. This is His kingdom that we seek.

Our Privileges as NT Believers: Members of an Assembly, a Family, and a Kingdom!

In Christ Alone - SFergusonIn his book In Christ Alone and chapter 33, “Privileges Bring Responsibilities”, Sinclair B. Ferguson has some wonderful thoughts about both our privileges and our responsibilities as NT Christians based on the passage in Hebrews 12:18-29. This week I plan to share some of these thoughts with you, beginning with these which relate to our worship today.

What are our privileges? They are truly amazing. ‘For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest…. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering’ (Heb.12:18,22, ESV).

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers. Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus. We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.

This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift up our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters (cf. Heb.2:10-13). Consequently, this is also our family – composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host. This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens (12:23). It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that cannot be shaken (12:27-28).

What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace! An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers. We are brothers and sisters together – for Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes. Thus, we have the full rights of family members and citizens in the city of God.

No wonder we should be grateful (12:28)!

C.Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 – The Gospel Coalition

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 | TGC | The Gospel Coalition.

Year in review-1I have learned to appreciate Collin Hansen’s (editorial director for the Gospel Coalition) annual list of a different nature – the top 10 theology stories of the year. Past years have shown a church world in turmoil for various reasons – doctrinal controversy, persecution, and sin within and without. 2014 revealed more of the same (Posted Dec.22, 2014).

Yet we believe that the church remains our Lord’s and that He is at work in the church, in the world, and in us to accomplish His master plan of ultimate redemption and renewal when He returns in glory, executes His righteous judgment, and makes all things new. May our remembrance of this year’s theological stories remind us of the goal of all things.

Here is Hansen’s introduction and one of the picks that was of particular interest to me. To see the rest of the stories that make his list, visit the “Gospel Coalition” link above.

I’m not satisfied with how we ascribe value to certain news stories over others. While social media direct us to stories that might have been overlooked in older newsrooms, these outlets and cable news lead us to obsess with certain stories and ignore others for no apparent reason. While news editors formerly acted as judge and jury for public knowledge, our mob mentality hardly produces better results. The trending hashtag does not necessarily reflect what’s most valuable in the kingdom of God. In fact, this fallen world threatens to distract us from from thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil. 4:8).

As you’ll see in my list of top theology stories, I haven’t solved this problem. You may recognize these stories from your news feed, but you might arrange them in a different order or replace some altogether. I don’t claim unbiased perspective, and even if I did, past failings would betray me (see my lists from 20082009201020112012, and 2013).

…So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories of 2014. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God’s and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.

8. Debate over justification and sanctification reaches breaking point.

Can someone be too focused on the gospel? Of course not. Unless “gospel” becomes shorthand for privileging certain biblical teachings and isolating them from others. Then again, Paul told the Corinthians that the matters of “first importance” are Jesus’s death for sins and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3–4). Shouldn’t those priorities dictate how we read the rest of the Bible? This hermeneutical tension didn’t suddenly leap from the biblical text in 2014, but as co-founders Don Carson and Tim Keller noted with regard to recent changes at TGC, the debate over the relationship between justification and sanctification became “increasingly strident” this year with charges of legalism and antinomianism. They said, “Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity.” How do Christians find that unity? Perhaps futher debate will resolve the outstanding issues. But we must all first humble ourselves before the God of the Bible and each other to live out the grace we so fervently preach.

The Rise of ISIS – Rev.D.Holstege (Nov.1 “Standard Bearer”)

StandardBearerIn the newest issue of The Standard Bearer (November 1, 2014) we find a timely and significant commentary by Rev.Daniel Holstege (First PRC, Holland, MI) on the rise of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). To introduce this issue, we give you a part of his article today.

But is there any significance to the rise of ISIS and the ongoing Middle East conflict? After all, we are not postmillennialists either, who discard these wars as signs of Christ’s coming, who dream of a world that is getting better and better, who close their eyes to reality and look for a golden age of Christian history over the whole world.

No, the rise of ISIS and the wars in the Middle East are clear signs of the coming of Christ. Jesus said to His disciples that in the whole period prior to His second coming, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass: but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6). Christ sits at God’s right hand now and opens the seven seals. He opens the second seal too. This is what John then sees: “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev. 6:4). Christ sovereignly rules over all wars. He causes nation to rise against nation in order to prevent, until the proper time, the antichristian kingdom from achieving world dominion and peace. He prevents this in order that His Church might do her work of preaching the gospel in all nations and training up her children in the fear of the Lord, until the full number of the elect is gathered. According to Rev. Herman Hoeksema, if the red horse did not run, if there were no wars, “the kingdom of Antichrist would reach the height of its development prematurely,” and it “would naturally leave no standing room for the true church of God on earth. It would persecute and, if possible, destroy the kingdom of God in the world” (Behold He Cometh, p. 214).

The rise of ISIS and this new war is a means Christ is using to prevent that premature development of the kingdom of the Beast and to give His Church time to finish her work in the world.

If you desire to receive this Reformed magazine, visit the “SB” website for information on subscriptions, including digital formats.

Book Alert! The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer

Coming_of_Zion_s_Redeemer -LgI was excited to find in my mailbox at church Sunday the latest offering from the Reformed Free Publishing Association – an important and significant new commentary on the last three prophecies of the OT. The 527 page book is authored by Rev.Ronald Hanko and carries the title, The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer: The Prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014). The author is a Protestant Reformed pastor, ordained since 1979 and currently serving the Lynden, WA congregation.

In the “Foreword”, former parishioner Joel Sugg, provides this perspective of this new commentary:

The full commentary on each book may be read with great profit by virtue of the author’s trained, experienced, and studied insights. Three perspectives stand out: first, a living picture of Judah in the generation following the return from the Babylonian captivity with her special charge to reform true worship of God; next, a sharp delineation of the truth that these ancient prophecies especially have direct and significant application to us as the church today; and finally, a humble bowing in living fearfulness before the one only true God of heaven and earth, Jehovah of the scriptures, who sovereignly carries out his absolute rule over all to its culmination in the unconditional, covenantal salvation of his church, all to his own honor and glory alone (vii).

And the author provides this overview of these three prophecies in his “Introduction”:

The three prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi form a unit, not only because these three and they alone are the prophets of the restoration, that is, of Judah’s return from exile in Babylon, but also because they have the same general theme and purpose. That one great purpose is the preparation of God’s covenant people for the coming of Christ.

..Thus these prophecies continue to be of value to the covenant people of God, for the church is still waiting for the realization of God’s promises concerning the coming of Messiah, promises that will not be entirely fulfilled until he returns at the end of the ages. Though the types and shadows of the Old Testament have already vanished, the people of God must still be reminded to lift up their heads and see that their redemption draws near (Luke 21:28). They need to look away from a perishing world and be watching and waiting for the coming of a kingdom that will never be moved (xi).

It should be evident that this commentary would make for a fine addition to your Reformed home library and/or church library. And with Bible study season here, this volume will be an excellent guide through an oft-neglected and frequently misinterpreted portion of God’s Word.

Visit the RFPA website for details on obtaining your copy. And think about joining the book club to receive these new titles automatically, so as to build a solid Reformed library that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

*P.S. If any of our readers are interested in receiving a review copy of this book for the Standard Bearer, let me know and I will obtain one for you. Thanks!

J.Calvin on Psalm 149: “…Praise is their continued exercise.”

JCalvinPic1To benefit further from the Word of God in Psalm 149, we also post here the comments of the great Reformer John Calvin on vss.1 and 2. It may be noted that Calvin places this Psalm in the post-exile period of Israel’s history, that is, after the return from captivity. Keep that in mind as you also profit from his thoughts.

 1. Sing to Jehovah a new song.

The object, I think, of the Psalmist, is to encourage them to expect the full and complete deliverance, some prelude of which had been suddenly and unexpectedly given in the permission to return. As the Church was not fully restored at once, but was with difficulty and only after a long period brought to a state of vigor, comfort such as this was much needed. The Spirit of God would also furnish a remedy for evils which were afterwards to break out; for the Church had scarcely begun to respire when it was again harassed with various evils, and oppressed by the cruel tyranny of Antiochus, which was followed up by a dreadful dispersion.

The Psalmist had good reason therefore for animating the godly to look forward for the full accomplishment of the mercy of God, that they might be persuaded of divine protection until such time as the Messiah should arise who would gather all Israel. He calls this a new song, as we have noticed elsewhere, to distinguish it from those with which the saints commonly and daily praised God, for praise is their continued exercise.

It follows that he speaks of some rare and unusual benefit, demanding signal and particular thanksgiving. And I am disposed to think that whoever may have been the author of the Psalm, he alludes to that passage in Isaiah, (Isaiah 42:10,) “Sing unto the Lord a new song,” when he speaks of the future restoration of the Church, and the eternal kingdom of Christ.

 

2. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker.

He insists upon the same point, that the Lord’s people should rest firmly persuaded that their family had not been chosen out in vain from the rest of the world, but that God would be mindful of his covenant, and not allow the mercies which he had extended to them to fail or become extinct. Although they had been temporarily deprived of the inheritance of the land of Canaan, which was the pledge of their adoption, the Psalmist calls God their Maker, and king of the sons of Zion, to remind them that when adopted to a pre-eminency above other nations, this was a species of new creation.

So in Psalm 45:6, the Israelites are called “the work of God’s hands,” not merely because they were like other men created by him, but because he had formed them anew, and distinguished them with a new honor, that, of being separated front the whole human race.

J.Calvin on Psalm 144: “The accumulation of terms…, tends greatly to strengthen faith.”

JCalvinPic1As we reflect on the “worshiping warrior” psalm, Psalm 144, it is also profitable to receive these words of John Calvin on v.2. May they also inspire us to worship our sovereign Lord, Who is our Strength, Goodness, Fortress, High Tower, Deliverer, and Shield.

2. My goodness, etc.

…Elsewhere (Psalm 18:50) he calls himself “God’s king,” not in the sense of his having dominion over God, but being made and appointed king by him. Having experienced God’s kindness in so many ways, he calls him “his goodness,” meaning that whatever good he possessed flowed from him. The accumulation of terms, one upon another, which follows, may appear unnecessary, yet it tends greatly to strengthen faith.

We know how unstable men’s minds are, and especially how soon faith wavers, when they are assailed by some trial of more than usual severity. It is not enough, if God would sustain us under such weakness, to promise us his help in individual or single expressions; and, even however many aids he supplies us with, we are subject to very great vacillations, and a forgetfulness of his mercy creeps in upon us which almost overwhelms our minds.

We are to remember that it is not merely in token of his gratitude that David heaps together so many terms in declaring the goodness of God, but to fortify God’s people against all attacks of the world, and of the evil one.

…David accordingly having ascribed the victories he had gained over foreign enemies to God, thanks him at the same time for the settled state of the kingdom. Raised indeed as he was from an obscure station, and exposed to hatred from calumnious charges, it was scarcely to have been believed that he would ever obtain a peaceable reign. The people had suddenly and beyond expectation submitted to him, and so surprising a change was eminently God’s work.

Memorial Day 2014 | A Country Worth Dying For

Memorial Day 2014 | A Country Worth Dying For.

Memorial Day-2014The message of this brief Memorial Day post by the Heritage Foundation is not the only message we who follow Christ the King ought to hear. As those who belong to the kingdom of heaven, we know that the only country truly worth dying for is that new country to which we have been called by the Lord’s sovereign grace (Heb.11:8-16).

Yet, on this day when we remember those who have died serving in our earthly country’s service (including many believers) – protecting our freedoms, including those to worship our gracious Lord and to pursue our heavenly homeland – it is fitting to pause and thank God for preserving these freedoms for us through these people and to honor those who have served in our military.

I am especially grateful for my own father’s service (U.S. Army, Korean War), that of our son Thad (Army Reserves, Military Police, including almost a year in Gitmo), and that of our nephew Andrew Schipper.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday. And don’t forget the reason for this Memorial Day.

Here is a quote from the above-linked article; follow the link to see the rest.

The world drew a breath when Reagan, speaking at an anniversary event marking the start of the great crusade to liberate Europe, spoke to a sea of weathered veteran faces and called them “our boys.” For that is what they were — millions in uniform on the land, fighting on the seas, and soaring across the skies. They were our sons (and daughters), our husbands (and wives), fathers, mothers. They were white, Asian, black, Hispanic, Jewish. They were an army of all of us. And they were young.

They are the ones who bore the burden. On Memorial Day we remember that. We remember every member of every generation who gave their lives in service of their country.

Some were drafted. Some were volunteers. Some were brave beyond human understanding. Many were mere mortals who just wanted to serve and go home.

We mourn their loss, but we also celebrate their service — for they shared in common the sacred belief that this was, and remains, a nation worth fighting for.

The very best we can do to honor what they did is to commit ourselves to keep America a country worth fighting — and dying – for.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 132

Psalm132Today for our “Sunday worship preparation” devotionals we return to our series on the book of Psalms. Specifically, we are treating the ‘songs of degree” (or ascent) at present, ready to examine the thirteenth one, Psalm 132. For a brief reminder and review of the nature of these psalms, go back to our last post, on Psalm 131.

For now, let’s move on to Psalm 132, where we find this Word of God in Christ:

Psalm 132

Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions:

How he sware unto the Lordand vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;

I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,

Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

6Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.

We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.

Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

10 For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

13 For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.

16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.

18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

It is immediately evident that this is a significant psalm for the church in both the OT and the NT. This prayer (that is its form, even a prayer of lament) centers on the covenant God made with David – the “sure mercies of David” (cf. Is.55:3 and Acts 13:34) and the promised Son of David in the covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Lu.1:32; Acts 2:30).

Here the psalmist (who probably was not David, as the heading to my Bible states) beseeches God to remember David and to fulfill His covenant promises to him, especially as regards that Messianic Son and as regards God’s dwelling in Zion as His abiding resting place. In fact, the second part of the psalm is nothing else but a repetition of the Lord’s promises to David concerning his covenant Son and concerning dwelling in Zion. This, in effect, is the psalmists petition and appeal: “Lord of the covenant, fulfill Thy word to king David, because this is what Thou hast said! Bring the promised Son, dwell in Zion, and bless her richly! Do not forget Thy word or this covenant, and do not forsake Thy servant!”

And we should, then, clearly understand that all of Israel’s salvation and life was wrapped up in these two matters of the covenant – the coming of the Son of David and the Lord’s making of the church His dwellingplace. Take those away and Israel (the church) is nothing. If these two covenant promises are left unfulfilled, Israel is not saved and the church is an empty shell. And then, there also is no worship, as you can see from the rest of the psalm (vss.7-9). It is that simple and that serious. The psalmist understood this, and this is why he prays so fervently. Do we understand this too? And do we pray equally fervently?

It would be easy for us to say, “But the psalmist’s concerns in Psalm 132 have been answered. The Lord did keep His word to David. He did fulfill His covenant promises to His anointed. Christ Jesus, the Son of David, has come. He perfectly kept God’s covenant and testimony (v.12) on behalf of the elect He came to save. As their sinless Priest-King, he made the perfect sacrifice for their sins. God has come and made Zion His dwellingplace. Through the risen Christ and His poured-out Spirit, God rests now in His church. And He is blessing her constantly – satisfying her poor and clothing her priests (vss.15-16). This is why we as the church gather in His presence each week and worship at the feet of our covenant God. This is why we saints shout for joy! Yes, God has accomplished His covenant promises in Christ! It’s all done!”

But while this is true, it is not the complete picture. For reality is that God is not done with His covenant promises in Christ, and we as His NT church have not yet received the fullness of  salvation in the Son of David. If we can imagine it, there are even bigger and better things yet to come! We still await the manifestation of the heavenly kingdom of our Lord in the new creation and the perfect life of the covenant with God in glory. God is bringing David’s Son from heaven once more and when He does, His tabernacle will be completed and His resting place fully achieved.

And we who still experience the burden of sin and the sufferings of this present life, also in our worship, (as the psalmist did in his age – cf. v.1 again – “all his afflictions”), but who have the Lord’s sure promises to David and David’s Son ringing in our ears and stirring up our hearts, – we pray earnestly, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest! Bring Jesus once more and accomplish the perfect rest of the new heavens and earth! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and fully realize the tabernacle of God!”

Because now our worship is so imperfect – on account of our sin and weakness, and on account of the fact that we are still in this old world of sin and shame. But we desire the perfect day of worship when God and we are at perfect covenant rest. Do you see now why this psalm-prayer must be and is ours? Then, as long as we wait for our Savior to come, let’s pray it and sing it!

Psalter1912If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#368. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.

1. Arise, O Lord, our God, arise
And enter now into Thy rest;
O let this house be Thy abode,
Forever with Thy presence blest.

2. Thy gracious covenant, Lord, fulfill,
Turn not away from us Thy face;
Establish Thou Messiah’s throne
And let Him reign within this place.

3. Thy Zion Thou hast chosen, Lord,
And Thou hast said, I love her well,
This is my constant resting place,
And here will I delight to dwell.

4. I will abundantly provide
For Zion’s good, the Lord hath said;
I will supply her daily need
And satisfy her poor with bread.

5. Salvation shall adorn her priests,
Her saints shall shout with joy divine,
Messiah’s power shall be revealed,
His glory in His Church shall shine.

April “Tabletalk”: The Great Commission

The Great Ordinary Commission by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

April-TT-2014April has arrived, and so has the new issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional magazine. Last week I continued using the daily devotionals (on Romans – now chap.5), and yesterday I dove into the main articles.

This month’s feature is missions, under the large heading “The Great Commission”. Editor Burk Parsons introduces this theme with the above-linked article. And, as he points out, this so-called “great commission” is actually the ordinary calling of the church – to go into the world and make disciples, beginning at home.

Here is part of his introduction; you will find the full article at the link above.

The Great Commission is a call to the church to be the church and to do the work of the church by making disciples of all nations. And we must remember that Jesus never called it “the Great Commission.” It is indeed a great commission, but it is a beautifully ordinary commission that we have the great privilege of fulfilling in part as we gather together with every tribe, tongue, and nation to worship with our families every Lord’s Day. Then we partake of and bear witness to the ordinary means of grace in the building up of the church in the preaching of the Word, growing as disciples and learning from the Scriptures to observe all that Jesus commanded. Then we enjoy the communion of the saints in communion with God in prayer, observe baptism in the name of our triune God, and partake regularly of the Supper that our Lord provides at His table. This is the extraordinarily great and greatly ordinary work of the church as we go, send, and make disciple-making disciples of all nations, just as we see the early church being faithful to the fullness of the Great Commission (Acts 2:42–47).

The first main feature article on this theme is “The Great Commission in the Old Testament”, an intriguing article by Dr.L.Michael Morales. He ties God’s call to Israel to be a blessing to the nations to the so-called “cultural mandate”, to the covenant with Abraham, and to king David, showing that from the beginning God’s purpose was to redeem the world, i.e., to save His people and restore the whole creation under its glorious Priest-King, Jesus Christ. I think you will find his thoughts interesting and thought-provoking.

Here is a portion of what he writes:

It is important to understand that only as the anointed king did David receive the promise to rule and subdue the nations. David’s commission was to spread the will and reign of God over the earth—his “enemies” were not merely political or personal, but the enemies of God, kings who had set themselves against the Lord and His anointed. In reality, however, the goal of subduing Israel would prove quite enough. Worse still, it was Israel’s kings themselves who led God’s sheep astray into perverse rebellion and heinous idolatry. The exile was inevitable.

Yet, remarkably, within the context of Israel’s apostasy, God promised to raise up a Davidic Servant who would not only lead the tribes of Jacob through a new exodus but who would also be given “as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). This same Servant, we go on to read, would suffer God’s judgment in bearing the sins of many, that as an exalted priest he might “sprinkle many nations” (Isa. 52:13–53:12; see 1 Peter 1:1–2). Having atoned for the sins of his people, this coming Messiah—the last Adam, the seed of Abraham, the true Israel, the greater David, the Suffering Servant, the Son of God—would ascend on high to reign from the heavenly Mount Zion, from the right hand of God the Father.

 

Matthew 28, then, is but the embrace of the inheritance promised in Psalm 2. Yet this kingship is in the service of a priestly office, to usher us into God’s presence through the veil of torn flesh and shed blood. Through His outpoured Spirit, Jesus reigns to subdue and summon all creation to the adoration of His Father (1 Cor. 15:24–28), subduing us day by day ever more deeply that we might learn how to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

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