Issues analysis
Glory to the new born king: Christ, the ten-fold king
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Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
December 22, 2008

"Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born king."

Have you ever noticed that during the Christmas season, we sing a lot more about the birth of Christ as king than we do about the birth of Christ as the incarnate God-man? This is a curious practice, because the incarnation of Christ as a man is central to Christian doctrinal orthodoxy and is indispensable for eternal salvation, for only as the God-man can Christ atone for our sins on the cross.

We might be tempted to think that Christ's royal pedigree is a secondary question — but it is not. In fact, Christ's role as king has cosmic repercussions.

Christ is a very special kind of king. As a matter of fact, he is ten kings rolled into one. Each of his ten kingships implies the incarnation! For this reason, it is right and proper for us to remember Christ as king during the Christmas season. Let us consider each of his ten messianic kingships in turn.

1. Christ, the king of Israel

Jesus of Nazareth was eligible to sit upon the throne of David because both of his parents, Mary and Joseph, were descendants of King David. Careful records were preserved of their lineage, which is to be expected of a people who hoped to re-establish their ancient monarchy.

Matthew thought that everyone should be aware of Christ's royal ancestry, for he included Joseph's genealogy in his gospel record. He recorded14 generations from Abraham to David and 28 generations from David to Christ. Incredibly, Luke traced Mary's genealogy back to Adam and named 60 distinct generations of ancestors!

Only a flesh and blood man can sit on the throne of an earthly king. Christ was an invisible divine spirit being, eternally co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father as part of the Trinity. Therefore, to become a king, he had to take upon himself human flesh and blood, which he did in the Virgin Mary's womb.

2. Christ, the king of history

Tennyson called King Arthur "the once and future king." Christ is also a king of the past and the future. His birth placed this present age in motion. His future return to earth to become a king will bring this age to an end and will launch the next age. Christ is the hinge of history.

Christ died on the cross without becoming Israel's rightful king. He will not sit on David's throne until the eschaton, which is the divinely appointed climax of history. The eschaton will be the end and fulfillment of this age and the beginning of the next age. As Christ in his resurrection body sits on David's throne, the old world will pass away and a new world will be ushered in.

At the eschaton, Christ will not only bring this age to an end, he will fulfill and thereby end a covenant that was 2,000 years old when he was born in a manger — namely, the two promises God made to Abraham. God promised to Abraham that he would give his descendants a defined tract of land. When Christ sits on David's throne, he will reconstitute the nation of Israel and expand its borders to conform to the boundaries of the land that God promised to Abraham's descendants.

God also promised to Abraham that through his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The Apostle Paul made it clear that Christ was "the seed" through whom that blessing shall come. When Christ sits on David's throne, he will have gathered around him redeemed people from every nation. They will be his blessing on every nation.

3. Christ, the warrior king

Christ will return as "Lord Sabaoth," or "Lord of warrior hosts." He shall come down from the sky riding on a white horse with "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" written on his vesture and his thigh (Rev. 19:16). A sword shall precede out of his mouth which he shall use to smite the nations (Rev. 19:15). The resurrected dead in Christ will join him in the air, and he will lead them to the battle at Jerusalem (Rev. 19:14).

The hosts of warriors led by the Lord Sabaoth will be the resurrected Christians. After the resurrection, the Christian shall see war before he sees peace! The risen warrior Christ will not be a pacifist!

As Christ is seated on David's throne in Jerusalem, the hordes loyal to the Antichrist will encircle Jerusalem. Christ shall cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into a lake of fire and brimstone. He will destroy the hordes following the Antichrist by the sword proceeding from his mouth (Rev. 19: 20, 21).

Just as David, the warrior king, defeated Israel's enemies and became Israel's celebrated hero, Christ shall do the same thing for Israel at the end of the age and will be glorified for it.

4. Christ, the king of peace

During the new era after the eschaton that some call the "millennium," Christ shall rule the world from his throne in Jerusalem "...and his name shall be called... the prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:6). There will be peace on earth because Christ the king will be a just king and shall rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:2).

Christ shall also bring peace on earth by shedding abroad the spirit of peace.

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will towards men" (Luke 2:14). This proclamation by the angels was prophetic. The baby born in Bethlehem will bring peace and goodwill to earth when he rules the world in the latter days.

5. Christ, the Lord of nature

During Christ's kingdom of peace, he shall demonstrate that he is lord of nature. The spirit of peace on earth will be so powerful that the lion shall lie down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6).

God cursed the ground when Adam fell. Christ shall remove the curse during the time of his worldwide kingdom.

"No more let sins and sorrows grow/ Nor thorns infest the ground/ He comes to make his blessings flow/ far as the curse is found...." (Joy to the World).

Nature yearns for the era of the resurrection, during which nature itself will be set free: "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope, because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now" (Romans 8:19–22).

6. Christ, the head of the church

Christ has a very special kind of kingly role as the head of the church, the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the organic union of all true Christians bonded together by the Holy Spirit. This mystical entity exists now — and will exist in a fuller way after Christ returns.

Jesus is not only the head of the body, he is the bridegroom and the church is his espoused bride. The marriage will take place after Christ returns and raises the dead, and gathers his church together.

"The marriage supper of the lamb" will take place in Jerusalem. As the marriage supper is taking place, the birds will be eating the bodies of the slain kings and captains, who had come to Jerusalem to wage war upon Christ. Great joy in the city. Great horror outside the city walls.

When Christ's supreme dominion shall be revealed at the eschaton, the church will be the centerpiece of his glory. Christ will be "the head of all things to the church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1: 22–23).

7. Christ, the Lord of principalities and powers

At the same time that the fullness of Christ in the church is revealed, God the Father shall put all principalities and powers under his feet:

"...according to the working of his mighty power which he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come" (Ephesians 1: 19–20).

"Then will the end come, when he has handed over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet" (I Corinthians 15: 24, 25).

These principalities and powers include all realms of human authority. Thus, he shall be the king of kings. Angels and demons also are principalities and powers with realms of dominion under them. These too shall be put under Christ's feet.

The slain kings and captains lying on the ground outside the gates of Jerusalem will be a vivid token of the defeat of the principalities and powers that rose up against Christ's universal dominion.

8. Christ, the king of the nations

After Christ defeats his enemies, all nations shall come to Jerusalem to worship him as he sits on his kingly throne: "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of the Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14: 16).

This world government will not be a democracy. It will be a monarchy and a benevolent empire. This shall be the only world government ever known to mankind. Nations shall war against other nations until the very end of this age (Matthew 24:6).

Christ's victory at the eschaton will put an end to war for the first time in earth's history: "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up the sword against nation, neither will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4).

"Joy to the world, the Lord has come/Let earth receive her king....He rules the world with truth and grace/ And makes the nations prove/ The glories of his righteousness...." (excerpts, Joy to the World).

9. Christ, the representative and figurehead of the human race

The first Adam brought sin and death to many through his disobedience. Christ, the "second Adam" made many righteous through his obedience. (See Romans 5.)

Christ, as the "last Adam," was be the first to rise from the dead. Adam brought death. Christ will bring resurrection life to the dead. (See 1 Corinthians 15.)

When the believers gather around him in their resurrection bodies, Christ will still be wearing his resurrection body. He was the first to rise from the dead, and all who follow him in the resurrection will do so in the power of his resurrection. Although it seems that each resurrected believer will be recognizable as individuals (vs. 41), all shall bear something of the image of the risen Christ (vs. 49).

10. Christ, the Lord of the dead

Christ is the Lord of the dead in three ways:

1) On the cross, he "tasted death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). During his journey into the land of death he defeated Satan, who has the power of death (vs. 14). For this reason, he is able to set free those who are in bondage to the fear of death (vs. 15).

2) The dead in Christ who are not yet raised have communion with Christ in the realm of blessed death. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, Assuredly I say unto you, Today you shall be with me in paradise."

3) I speculate that Ephesians 4: 8-9, can be interpreted to mean that when Christ died, He descended into a place called "Abraham's bosom" to join the Old Testament saints. Christ himself was the last Old Testament saint.

The Old Testament saints died in faith in the coming messiah. Therefore, when Jesus, the Messiah, enters the realms of death, the Old Testament saints will greet him as Lord. When he rose and ascended to heaven, he raised them and brought them to heaven with him.

Paul's phrase, "to the Jews first and also to the Greeks," will come true. The Israelite who died in faith in the messiah will be raised from the dead prior to the New Testament Christians.

That is why the twelve patriarchs of Israel will have equal status with the twelve apostles in the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem will come down from heaven after Christ's millennial kingdom on earth has come to its appointed end.

The feast of epiphany

The historical "twelve days of Christmas" begins on Christmas day and ends on the feast of Epiphany, January 6th. The feast commemorates the visit of the Persian magi to the Christ child. "Epiphany" refers to the illumination they had when the recognized him as a great king who is also divine and worshiped him and gave him gifts fit for a king.

The three phases of the Christmas of old were: 1) the period of Saint Nicholas day (December 6) to Christmas day — a sacred time, 2) the twelve days of Christmas, a time of merriment, and 3) Epiphany to Candlemas (February 2) — another sacred time.

Many of these elements of Christmas that once took place in a period of almost eight weeks have been condensed in the modern Christmas into a period of shopping, decorating, carol signing, parties, and advent services leading up to Christmas day. However, the modern Christmas still retains some sense of the illumination of the Magi when they beheld with wonder the baby king. Let us join them and worship the king.

"Born a king on Bethlehem' plain/ Gold I bring to crown him again/ King forever, ceasing never/ over us all tho reign" (We Three Kings).


A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at Amazon.com.

© Fred Hutchison

RenewAmerica analyst Fred Hutchison also writes a column for RenewAmerica.

 

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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31