The next area that I want to focus on in The Apocalypse of the Sabbath is the Kingdom of the Messiah. It is primarily known as the reign of the LORD, but we have seen how this coming of the LORD to reign is the coming of the Messiah. We have seen from other Psalms such as 45 and 72 that the Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom.
I think it is interesting that the word for kingdom in Psalm 45:6 is rendered basileia in Hebrews 1:8. The word doesn’t mean kingdom as we understand, but more along the lines of a dynamic reign. “Basiliea: royal power, kingship, dominion, rule (a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom
(b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah.”
As a precursor to this particular study, I want to quote Ladd from The Presence of the Future. He had the correct idea concerning the dynamic reign of God as the meaning of the Kingdom of God being at hand in the ministry of Jesus.
The majority of exegetes have recognized that the central meaning of basileia, as of the Hebrew word malkuth, is the abstract or dynamic idea of reign, rule, or dominion rather than the concrete idea of realm. “The bond that binds them [the two Testaments] together is the dynamic concept of the rule of God.” We have discovered this to be the central use of the word in the Old Testament; but we have also shown that malkuth can be both the reign of a king and the realm over which he reigns (see p. 47, n. 6).
Serious students may want to drag The Presence of the Future back off the shelf and read the chapters The Kingdom: Realm or Reign? and The Kingdom Present as Dynamic Power. With that in mind, let us examine the reign of the LORD in Psalm 92-99.
93:1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
Notice here that the LORD’s reign has no beginning. It is as if He has always reigned. The wording of the earth being established is placed in relation to the LORD’s throne which must precede said establishment of the earth. His reign is from eternity past. The LORD is dressed like a king. He has the qualities of a king. His position of authority as a king predates anything that we know.
94:1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud.
Here we have a cry for God to shine forth in order to exact vengeance. Notice that the cry is not for God to begin reigning. This is a plea for God to act because of a position that He already has. He is already King so why does He allow the wicked to persecute the righteous? The main point is that the voice wants God to interact with events here on the earth. Also, let’s be careful about reading New Testament ideas into the passage. We might think that this is a cry for the Savior to come from heaven to earth. That might be here, but the original prophecy is more like a cry for God to get up out of His chair, or off of His throne, and interact on behalf of His people. It’s because the righteous believe that He is already King that they cry out to Him.
95:3 For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
While I have already mentioned in a previous post that this is the remnant crying out to the LORD in that day, I need to reemphasize how this group views God’s reign. They recognize Him as King above all things spiritual and all things physical. Because He created all things, He has sovereignty over all things. But if God is over all things, why does He allow the wicked to commit sin? This series of psalms plainly shows that the wicked committing evil is for a limited time only. We all sin, therefore we are all under the condemnation of the LORD. We all stand in need of judgment. Yet there are some who God claims as His own people. They recognize His right to reign over all created things, visible and invisible, starting with themselves.
96:1-9 is a description of the remnant praising the LORD in the earth heralding His reign which is about to break forth onto the earth in a new way. They sing of His salvation among all nations. They describe Him as being worthy of the title of King with splendor and majesty before Him, strength and beauty within Him. They sing how He is worthy of worship and summon the earth to tremble before Him. This announcement immediately precedes the breaking forth of the LORD upon the events of earth. This breaking forth will include a judgement upon the ungodly which we see in the verses that follow.
96:10 Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns;
The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously."
11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
13 For He is coming,
for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.
Here this group announces something previously unseen. While the LORD already holds the position of King, He now comes to take His rightful place over creation. The heavens and earth rejoice because they know the position rightfully belongs to Him. So we have this remnant of believers, and creation itself who have already submitted themselves to the reign of God in advance of this coming. This coming of the LORD is for the purpose of judging the earth in an ongoing way. So God already reigns, but now He will begin to administrate an ongoing, earthly aspect of this reign.
97:1 The Lord reigns; Let the earth rejoice;
Let the multitude of isles be glad!
2 Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about.
4 His lightnings light the world;
The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
Psalm 97:1-5 is a true prophetic apocalypse. The LORD will be revealed in a way that was previously unknown except by these brief words. The earth will experience the LORD and His reign in such a way that enemies will not be able to stand before Him. Does this mean that anyone who does not confess the LORD as their God will not be allowed to exist on this earth after this point in time? I don’t think we can come to this conclusion. Creation is rejoicing that the LORD is here to administrate justice. The remnant is heralding in this new aspect of the LORD’s reign. But it seems as if there is an ongoing type of judgement which will require the LORD to right wrongs over a period of time within the scope of His dynamic reign. Righteous judgement will always be found at His throne as He reigns. The Messianic Kingdom begins with the Messiah coming in judgement, then the Messiah takes the throne. The judgement need not be the ultimate judgement, though. In short, I’m promulgating Pre-Millennialism here.
98:1 A Psalm.
Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm
have gained Him the victory.
2 The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness
to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
I point out in this section the nature of the LORD’s coming to the nations as people groups. Here the LORD is making known His salvation by personally coming to judge the earth. He remembers His faithfulness to Israel which causes the [Gentile] nations to rejoice in subsequent verses. This coming is intertwined with God’s love for the nation of Israel. Yet all of creation is liberated when God makes this salvation for Israel known in the earth. The victory proclaimed here is somewhat of a mystery, yet it is surely coming at the advent of the LORD Jesus.
4 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
5 Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
6 With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.
While Psalm 96 gave some aspects of heralding before the King, this is much more descriptive. It is like a procession of musicians playing music announcing the arrival of the King here on earth. Again, the voice seems to be by a faithful remnant, but they sing a song which will be heard by the entire earth. We as the church stand as this eschatological people of God proclaiming the kingdom as at hand. As the day draws near, I believe events will polarize the church more clearly into focus. The church seems to have lost its focus on the kingdom that is coming, but we can be sure that as events begin to unfold, that the church will once again take up the mantle of prophesying that the kingdom of God is at hand, imminent, and about to break forth into society in the way described in these psalms. The church stands as the assembly of the citizens of the future kingdom.
1 The Lord reigns; Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved!
2 The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.
3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.
4 The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.
Let me set forth the problem up front in this last section. Where is the LORD ruling from after He comes to judge the earth? One aspect of this section places His reign here on earth on Mount Zion. Another aspect could envision this reign as being from the heavens. Perhaps God assumes sovereignty over the affairs of earth, but from His holy habitation in heaven. It states in vs. 1 that He dwells between the cherubim, and vs. 2 states that He is high above all peoples. That’s in heaven. Or is it? When the LORD Jesus comes, will there be a holy place for Him on Mount Zion with cherubim for Him to dwell between? What exactly will constitute the dwelling place of the LORD, the Messiah, the holy One of Israel? The remainder of Psalm 99 points back to the shekinah glory of the tabernacle. I believe we have a foreshadowing of the shekinah glory restored to Zion pictured in this verse.
Psalm 99 opens up with the LORD reigning from Zion in between the cherubim. Then there is the admonition to exalt the LORD and worship at His footstool; His footstool here must be Zion. Then there is the flashback to the days of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel who ministered at the tabernacle (it mentions the cloudy pillar) calling on the name of the LORD. They had a relationship with the God of Israel at that holy place that resulted in forgiveness, 99:8. Then the psalm, and entire apocalyptic section, closes with a command to exalt the LORD and worship at His holy hill, which would be Zion, the new dwelling place of the LORD after He comes in judgement.
Summary: The reign of the LORD can be seen in this section as being from eternity past. Yet at some point in time, when the remnant of Israel calls upon the name of the LORD in true faith, the LORD will come and take His place as the King, Judge, and Ruler of this world. Until that happens, it is our job to say among the nations that, “The LORD reigns.”
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman