The Fulfillment of The Davidic Covenant
The Future Fulfillment Of The Covenant
In the previous article it was noted that Amillennial and Pre millennial Bible scholars disagree concerning when and how God’s promises regarding David in the Davidic Covenant are to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Premillennialists believe that Christ will fulfill these promises in the future after He returns to earth in His second coming. After His return He will establish and reign over a literal, earthly, political, kingdom for 1,000 years on this present earth and for eternity on the new eternal earth.
By contrast, some Amillennialists believe that Christ fulfills these promises now (during this age before His second coming). He does this in His present rule over the Church or human hearts yielded to Him as He sits at God’s right hand on the throne of God in Heaven. According to this view, then, Christ fulfills the Davidic Covenant before, not after, His second coming.
Contrary to this view, several biblical factors indicate that Christ will fulfill God’s promises concerning David in the Davidic Covenant in the future (after His second coming). First, Daniel 7:13-14 portrayed God giving the kingdom which lasts forever to the Son of man when that Son comes with the clouds of Heaven. Several things should be noted concerning this portrayal. First, the context of this passage indicated that the Son of man would be given this kingdom after the Roman Empire and its final great ruler (the little horn or Antichrist) will have caused terrible tribulation for God’s saints and will have been judged by God (vv. 11-14, 17-27). Second, it is a fact that Jesus did not come with the clouds of Heaven in His first coming. Then He came as a humble baby born in a manger. It is in His second coming that Jesus will come with the clouds of Heaven. Third, in Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus clearly indicated that He will fulfill the Daniel 7:13-14 prophecy in His second coming. Having already referred to the great tribulation with the Antichrist (vv. 15-28), Jesus said that immediately after the tribulation of those days cosmic disturbances will take place in the heavens, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30). These things indicate that the kingdom over which Christ is to rule was not given to Him in conjunction with His first coming. God will not give it to Him until His second coming. Thus, Christ is not exercising that authoritative rule during this present age.
A second factor which denotes a future fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant by Christ is this: In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus declared that He would sit on His throne, judge the Gentiles and send believers into the kingdom in conjunction with His glorious second coming. Thus, He put His throne and kingdom at the second coming, not before.
Third, Zechariah 14:4, 9 disclosed the fact that Messiah will be King after His feet have touched down on the Mount of Olives at His second coming.
Fourth, according to Psalm 110:1-2 Messiah is to sit at the right hand of His Father in Heaven until it is time for Him to rule. Thus, Messiah’s rule as King will not begin until after His present session with the Father in Heaven.
Fifth, Jesus stated that He would sit on the throne of His glory as the Son of man when the earth is regenerated (when the earth is restored to its pre-fall condition as the result of the curse of man’s sin being lifted from it,) [Mt. 19:28; cf. Rom. 8:18-22]. This regeneration of the earth has not happened as yet. When Peter referred to this same change for the earth, he called it “the times of refreshing” and ”the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). Peter made it clear that these times will not come while Jesus is in Heaven. He indicated that they will come when Jesus has returned to be present on earth and when Israel has repented as a nation. The combination of Jesus’ and Peter’s statements demonstrate that Christ will not sit on His throne until He has returned to earth in His second coming.
The Earthly Fulfillment Of The Covenant
Those Amillennialists who believe that Christ fulfills the Davidic Covenant now believe that He does it in His present rule over the Church or over individual human hearts yielded to Him. According to this view, then, the kingdom over which Christ rules in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant is solely a spiritual kingdom. It is not an earthly kingdom, involving rule over everything on planet Earth.
Other Amillenialists who believe that Christ will fulfill the Davidic Covenant in the future believe that He will do it in eternity future after the present earth has been destroyed and history concluded in conjunction with His second coming. According to this view, the future Kingdom of God which is foretold in the Bible and over which Christ is to rule will not be present at any time during the present earth’s existence.
Although these two Amillennial views disagree with each other on some points, they agree that Christ will never reign over a literal earthly kingdom on this present earth.
Contrary to this Amillennial agreement, several biblical factors indicate that Christ will fulfill God’s promises concerning David in the Davidic Covenant by reigning over a literal earthly kingdom on this present earth. First, according to Zechariah 14:4 and 9, after Messiah’s feet have touched down on the Mount of Olives at His second coming, He will be King “over all the earth.” Christ will rule, not just over the Church or individual human hearts yielded to Him, but over the entire earth (cf. Ps. 72:8; Zech. 9:10; Dan. 2:35, 44-45).
Second, Jeremiah 23:5-8 promised that, when Messiah, a righteous Branch of David, would reign as King, He would execute judgment and justice “in the earth.” During the days of His rule the people of Israel would “dwell safely” and would “dwell in their own land.” The language of this passage implies an earthly kingdom rule of Christ.
Third, in the Daniel 7 passage observed earlier the kingdom which God will give to Messiah, the Son of man, when He comes with the clouds of heaven in His second coming (vv. 13-14) is described as “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven” (v. 27). The expression “under the whole heaven” indicates that Christ’s kingdom will be on the earth (cf. Rev. 11:15).
Fourth, the prophets foretold dramatic changes which are earthly in nature during Messiah’s reign. Peter referred to these prophecies in Acts 3:21. Having used the expressions “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things” for the period when Christ will be present on the earth after His second coming, Peter stated the following concerning that period: “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the age began.”
Examples of the dramatic changes foretold by the prophets for Messiah’s reign are as follows: wilderness and desert areas will produce abundantly (isa. 35:1-2; 41:18-20; 51:3); animals will be completely tame and vegetarian in diet (isa. 11:6-9; 65:25); diseases and deformities will be healed (isa. 29:18; 33:24; 35:5-6); longevity of life will be restored (isa. 65:20-22); a unique stream of water will heal other waters of their problems and will cause great productivity of animal life and abundant fruitage of trees (Ezek. 47:1-12), and food will be plentiful (Isa. 30:23; Ezek. 34:23-29; Joel 2:21-27; 3:18; Amos 9:11-15). Many of these changes which are to be characteristic of Messiah’s kingdom rule are very earthly in nature.
Fifth, the chronological order of future events which is presented in The Book of The Revelation indicates that Christ’s kingdom rule is to be on this present earth before history is concluded. That order of events is as follows: first, the second coming of Christ to earth (Rev. 19:11-21); second, the imprisonment of Satan for 1,000 years (20:1-3); third, the kingdom reign of Christ and His saints for 1,000 years (20:4-6); fourth, the release of Satan from the bottomless pit after the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign are expired (20:7); fifth, the revolt of Satan and the unsaved people of the earth against the righteous rule of Christ and His saints, and the divine judgment of that revolt (20:8-9) [several things indicate that this revolt will take place on the earth – Satan will deceive the nations located “in the four corners of the earth;” the rebels will go up “on the breadth of the earth,” and the divine judgment “come down from God out of heaven”]; sixth, the casting of Satan into the lake of fire and brimstone for his eternal judgment (20:10); seventh, the appearance of a great white throne and the destruction of the present earth and Heaven (20:11); eighth, the final judgment of the unsaved and their casting into the lake of fire (20:12-15); and ninth, the entrance of eternity future with the appearance of a new Heaven and a new earth (21:1). It should be noted that this divinely revealed order of future events portrays the thousand-year reign of Christ taking place on this present earth before it is destroyed, before history is concluded and before eternity future begins.
Sixth, the Bible presents several characteristics of Messiah’s kingdom which will not be true of eternity future. During His reign Messiah will have dominion from sea to sea (Ps. 72:8; Zech. 9:10), but eternity future will have no sea (Rev. 21:1). Unsaved wicked people will be present during Messiah’s reign (Isa. 11:4; Rev. 20:8- 9), but no such people will be present in the new eternal earth and Heaven (Rev. 21:8 -in eternity future all the unsaved will be in the lake of fire). Some people will die during Messiah’s reign (Isa. 11:4; Jer. 31:29-30 -rebels will be executed), but there will be no death in eternity future (Rev. 20:14; 21:4). Children will be born during Messiah’s reign (Jer. 30:19-20; Ezek. 47:22), but no children will be born in the new eternal earth and Heaven. In eternity future all the saints will have immortal bodies which do not marry (Mt. 22:30; 1 Cor.15:51-53), thus no children will be born through marriage. In addition, all the saints of eternity future will be sinless, thus no illegitimate children will be born. These contrasts require the conclusion that Christ will reign over a kingdom on this present earth before it is destroyed and before eternity future begins.
The Political Fulfillment Of The Covenant
Amillennialists believe that the kingdom over which Christ is to rule is not political in nature. By contrast several biblical factors indicate that Christ will fulfill the Davidic Covenant by reigning over a kingdom which is political in nature. First, Isaiah 9:6-7 stated that, when Messiah would sit upon David’s throne ruling his kingdom, the government would be upon His shoulder, and the increase of His government would have no end. The term “government” implies literal political rule.
Second, when Messiah reigns He will exercise control over international relations, causing the nations to live together in peace (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3).
Third, during Messiah’s reign His capital city, Jerusalem, will be the legal center of the world. Out of it will issue forth the law by which the nations of the world will be governed (Isa. 2:1-3; Mic. 4:1-2).
Fourth, just as David functioned as supreme judge over the affairs of his subjects (2 Sam. 15:2), so Messiah, when He reigns as the Branch of Jesse and David, will function as Supreme Judge over the affairs of His subjects and the nations (Ps. 72:1-4, 12-14; Isa. 2:4; 11:1-5; Jer. 33:14-16; Mic. 4:3). In this function He will protect the poor, the needy and the meek of the earth, and He will punish the oppressors and execute the wicked. This is the function of political government (Rom. 13:1- 7).
The Certain Fulfillment Of The Covenant
God stated no conditions when He established His covenant with David. Thus, the Davidic Covenant is unconditional in nature. The fulfillment of its promises depends totally upon the faithfulness of God. It is not dependent upon the faithfulness of David or his descendants. This means that the promises are certain to be fulfilled.
The certain fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant is emphasized several times in the Bible. In Psalm 89:28-37 God declared that His covenant with David will stand fast, that He will fulfill its promises in spite of disobedience by David’s descendants, that He will not permit His faithfulness to fail. To emphasize this all the more, God said: “My covenant will I not break, nor will I alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David” (vv.34-35).
Psalm 132:11 asserted that God will not turn back from what He has sworn to David.
After David’s descendants had sinned grievously for centuries God stated that, just as humans cannot break the day and night cycle which God has established, so His covenant with David can not be broken (Jer. 33:20-21). Again He asserted that He will set up a righteous descendant of David to rule as King (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-17; Ezek. 37:24-25; Amos 9:11).
Later still God declared His intention to fulfill the promises of the Davidic Covenant in Jesus Christ (Lk. 1:31-33). In all these assertions God stated no conditions and left no doubts concerning the covenant’s fulfillment.
In light of the biblical factors examined, it can be concluded that Jesus Christ will fulfill God’s promises to David in the Davidic Covenant in the future (after His second coming to earth). He will do this by establishing and reigning over a literal, earthly, political kingdom for 1,000 years on this present earth, just as His ancestor, David, reigned over a literal, earthly, political kingdom on this present earth. If Jesus were to reign over a different kind of kingdom than David did, then would He really be sitting on David’s throne, exercising David’s ruling authority over David’s kingdom?
It also can be concluded that this fulfillment is certain to happen and that the Premillennial view agrees with the biblical factors.