By Larry Ray Hafley
Fleshly Israel longed and looked for a. glorious, exalted earthly King and civil Kingdom (Lk. 24:21; in. 6:15; Acts 1:6). They read the grand, -prophetic. utterances which foretold of the Mighty Messiah who would be involved in a universal labor of liberation and domination, so they “inquired and searched diligently” for a royal, regal Ruler who would banish the Babylon of their day and in the generalship of David restore the splendor of the kingship of Solomon. A casual, unstudied reading of the Scriptures of the prophets might render such a conclusion possible, but the life of the Nazarene was a living identification and interpretation of the essence and substance of the King and His Kingdom.
When the expectant Jews saw a humble teacher rather than a triumphant conqueror, they were disappointed, disillusioned and incensed with frustration. The very features and facets of the Lord7s demeanor that should have and in truth did stamp Him as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy caused them to cull and condemn Jesus as an unfit stone. The truth personified before them was a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.
Reading alone such passages as Psa. 2-6-9, one can conceive a government of God for men on earth. But Psalm 2, is not the only statement of the matter. Beside every segment of Scripture telling of might and majesty, one can lay those revealing weakness and humility. That is not to say that the Kingdom is only to be viewed as weak and humble, far from it, but collectively compiled and considered, the prophets assert the Messiah’s majesty while dispelling and defeating a carnal conception with a meek and lowly servant. Matthew cites and quotes Isaiah and Zechariah to this effect (Mt. 12:17-21; 21:4, 5).
Instead of presenting an armed warrior, Isaiah spoke of a retiring character and Christ. “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” He is not going to rally men with the ostentatious display of a summoning soldier, still, he shall “send forth victory.” That passage contradicts and corrects carnal notions. In similar and familiar language, Isaiah said, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is ,despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:2, 3).
Zechariah’s prophecy was also one the Lord interpreted in act and in fact before the people (Mt. 21:2-11). It achieved in its fulfillment at least three purposes. (1) It publicly proclaimed Jesus as the King of Old Testament prophecies. (2) It revealed that His Kingship was not temporal in that he did not seek opportunity to use the peoples’ popular favor to seize the government. (3) It gave the people an avenue of expression through which could flow their conviction that He was the Christ, the Son of David. (In seeing Him as King but not as a civil office seeker, they should have perceived the true nature of the Kingdom.) That we are not forcing a subdued, subservient view of the prophets’ King and Kingdom and thereby dulling their resplendence can be seen in the results of New Testament teaching.
The apostles’ doctrine pronounced repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ with an “ascended” and “exalted” “Prince of life” who hath been made “Lord and Christ” on the throne of David (Acts,2 & 3). Many thousands then saw the true import of the prophets and felt the full impact of the gospel and by the implanted word were sanctified and justified in Him, who was now glorified (Acts 2:36-41; 3:26; 4:4). If the submissive servant and the suffering Savior were contrary to the word picture of the prophets, why did Peter and the rest of the apostles use them? How could they have been successful? The truth, therefore, is as we have set it forth. Thus, when the scales of prejudice fell from their eyes and the veil over their hearts was lifted, they bowed in faith, repentance and baptism.
Paul preached a suffering Savior, a dying Deliverer, and a resurrected Redeemer as the Son of God (I Cor. 2:2). As minds were then opened, he testified “that this Jesus whom I preach unto you is Christ” (Acts 17:2, 3; 18:4, 5). What was the result of reasoning out of the Old Covenant Scriptures? Did the people with one accord reject the spiritual King and Kingdom? Hardly! After an open study of the prophets, “many of them believed” (Acts 17:11, 12).
Paul was charged with wresting, perversion and blasphemy because he preached through Christ the forgiveness of sins. He was accused of not believing the law and the prophets because of his “heresy” that Jesus was somehow the King of the Old Testament prophecies. However, he could answer with complete confidence in the prophets and Moses: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets” (Acts 24:14). “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22, 23). That serves as the Spirit’s exclamation point as to the true nature of the King and His Kingdom.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:32, p. 10-11
June 13, 1974