Who Will Be King?

As shown previously, a kingdom has four basic elements: 1) a king; 2) territory; 3) subjects or citizens; and 4) laws and government. There can be no doubt that the King of God's Kingdom will be Jesus Christ. Even though He did not exercise any civil authority while on earth, when He returns He will be "King of kings and Lord of lords" (I Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16; 17:14).

David, one of ancient Israel 's greatest kings, was well aware that the physical kingdom of Israel was only a type of the Kingdom that God would later establish. He recognized that there were two God Beings (Psalm 2:6-8; 110:1), and that one of them - the one who became the Son (Psalm 2:7) - will be the King over the earth and all of its inhabitants. He will be given "the nations for [His] inheritance, and the ends of the earth for [His] possession" (Psalm 2:8). He will be "King forever and ever" (Psalm 10:16; 29:10; 45:6; 145:13).

When that Kingdom is established, "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before [Him]. For the kingdom is the LORD's, and He rules over the nations" (Psalm 22:27-28). While it is a given that God is sovereign over the earth, it is also painfully obvious from looking around us that this prophecy of the world turning to Him has yet to be fulfilled.

God made promises and recorded prophecies about the coming King as far back as Abraham's time. He made the first promise, though not detailed, to the patriarch when he was 99 years old, just after God made a covenant with him and changed his name: "I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you" (Genesis 17:6; emphasis ours throughout).

God later repeats this promise of royal offspring to Abraham's grandson, Jacob (Genesis 35:11). His prophecy through Jacob to his sons also predicts a coming King, saying of Judah, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 49:10). Centuries later, He inspires Balaam to prophesy: "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel. .. . Out of Jacob One shall have dominion" (Numbers 24:17, 19).

Other prophets also foretold of a coming King, not just of Israel and Judah, but also extending to the entire world. Isaiah tells us:

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. 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. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Similarly, Jeremiah writes,

"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

The prophet Micah foretells the Messiah coming out of Bethlehem, who would be "the One to be ruler in Israel " - but also "He shall be great to the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:2-4).

It is easy to understand why, when Christ came proclaiming the "Kingdom of God," the people of Jesus' day - including His disciples - were expecting the Messiah to be a conquering hero (Acts 1:6). They were familiar with the Psalms and other prophecies that described the Savior as a "King of glory ... strong and mighty", even "mighty in battle" (Psalm 24:7-10), who would "command victories for Jacob" (Psalm 44:4). They knew that one of the coming King's titles was "the LORD of hosts," meaning armies (Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 48:15; 51:57). When the people witnessed Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:2-9), they recognized it as a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

However, they thought that the next verse would also be fulfilled at that time, yet it remains unfulfilled even today:

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.' (Zechariah 9:10)

This same King, the "First and the Last" (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:11, 17; 2:8; 22:13), who entered Jerusalem on a donkey two millennia ago, will shortly fulfill this prophecy by establishing His Kingdom on earth (see also Zechariah 14:9). Jesus Christ has already fulfilled parts of these prophecies because He is a King (Matthew 2:2-7; 21:4-5; 27:11; Luke 1:30-33; John 12:13-16; 18:36-37; Acts 17:7).

However, when He came to earth the first time, He fulfilled the role of a messenger rather than as a ruler (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10; John 6:15). He came to deliver the good news about His coming Kingdom, but that Kingdom will not be established on earth until His return when "all nations shall come and worship before [Him]," their King (Revelation 15:3).

Next:  Where Will the Kingdom Be Established?  (4/12)

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