|Judah's Septere and Joseph's Birthright
Chapter 1 - The Sceptre or the Promise of a Perpetuated House, Throne and Kingdom to David
The Sceptre and the Davidic Convenant
"OUGHT ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?" (II Chronicles 13:5)
There is no question, with those who have followed us thus far, that the Birthright people have been cast out into an unknown and far-away country, which, when they entered, was an uninhabited and unexplored wilderness. While Israel has been exploring, pioneering and settling this wilderness, the Lord has so hedged up their way that they can find neither the paths by which they came nor the place from whence they came.
Although lost, in so far as their national identity is concerned, they are in the place where the Lord has said they shall find grace, and where he has promised to speak comforting words to their hearts — in the wilderness.
There we will leave them to fulfill their appointed destiny of becoming a multitude of nations, while we follow the history of the Scepter, and learn what the Word of the Lord has revealed concerning his present and its future. For, if God has been true to his word, and unless the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has become of no effect, then the Scepter, as well as the Birthright, has not only a present existence, but a glorious future.
When God made the covenant with Abram in which he made him (prospectively) the father of many nations, thereby changing his name to Abraham, he gave the promise, "Kings shall come out of thee." (Genesis 17:6, 35:11). Also, when the promise concerning the multiplicity of nations was reiterated to his wife, whose former name was Sarai, but now Sarah, or princess, it was said, "Kings of nations shall be of her" (Genesis 17:16, R. V.). Thus by the choice or election of God were they made, not only the progenitors of a race which was to develop into "many nations," which were to spread abroad to the North, South, East and West, but also a royal family. This, of course, includes a Sceptre — the emblem and sign of royalty.
These promised blessings, given by the Lord and confirmed to Abraham by an oath, were received by him in faith, and counted as though they were already in existence, for the simple reason that, when a thing is promised by the Lord and received by any one in faith, that thing must eventually materialize, because faith is the God-given force or power which will and must eventually bring promised things into existence. Hence both "the Birthright" and "the Sceptre" blessing passed from Abraham to Isaac as a real inheritance; while he in turn bestowed them upon Jacob, who so much desired them and considered them so surely to exist already that he was willing to strike bargains for them, or even resort to fraudulent measures to get possession of them.
At the death of Jacob these two covenant blessings — the Birthright and the Sceptre — were separated, the Birthright falling to one of his sons and the Sceptre to another one of them, as we have heretofore fully explained. When Jacob, at the time of his death, while acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit, gave the Sceptre blessing to Judah and his lineage, the prophecy which he gave with it was,
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be," (Genesis 49:10).
After the Abrahamic people had cried down the Divine Theocracy, rejected the Lord as their king, and insisted on having a human king, they chose Saul. Although Saul was not of the royal line, but a Benjamite, he was permitted to reign, for the Lord had determined to give the people the desire of their hearts. But after the downfall of that haughty Benjamite, David, a son of the royal family, was enthroned, and to him were reiterated the promises concerning the royal family, which had been emphasized to Judah by his dying father when he bestowed on him the covenant blessing of royal fatherhood.
When the Sceptre covenant was confirmed to David, the Lord gave the message through Nathan the prophet in these words:
"When thy days be fufilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men. But my mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: Thy throne shall be established forever," (2Samuel 7:12-16).
David was so impressed with the magnitude of this prophecy and with the period of time which it covered that he went in and sat before the Lord, pondering over it, until in wonderment he exclaimed:
"Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God [i.e., the present power, glory and prestige of David's house, throne and kingdom]: but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?" (2Samuel 7:18,19).
No. It is not the manner of man to prophesy concerning things "for a great while to come." But it is the manner of God. Yes, and it is the manner of God to make good that which he has spoken. David understood this; so he prayed,
"And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said." (v. 25)
If it be possible that there can be such power put into written words as shall yet come from that voice which shall sound the seven thunders, we pray that it may be put into those which record the above facts; and thus compel our readers to see that it is not the spiritual throne, the spiritual sceptre, the spiritual house, nor the heavenly kingdom, which are therein spoken of, but that it is the literal throne, the earthly kingdom, and the lineal house of the Judo-Davidic family which are the subjects of this prophecy; and that all these are to endure FOREVER.
There is also in this prophecy a note of warning to David's successor, which is given in the following: "If he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men." It is not at all presumable that the ruler, sitting on the spiritual throne, and holding the sceptre over the heavenly kingdom, would commit iniquity; hence no such a threat could have been given with reference to him. But when it is applied to Solomon, the immediate successor of his father David, and to others of the royal line, it is altogether another question, for many of them were as wicked as men ever get to be.
Further, this prophecy was to go into effect when David's "days were fulfilled," and when the son who should be set up after him would build a house for God. Solomon, who was "set up" after David, did build a house to the Lord, viz., the temple at Jerusalem. But the Messiah has never, as yet, built any such house. Before the temple was built, and when Solomon was giving orders to Hiram concerning the material for its construction, he said:
"Behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room he shall build an house unto my name," (1Kings 5:5).
Also, when the temple was finished, Solomon, standing before the altar of the Lord, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and with uplifted hands spread toward heaven, in that wonderful prayer at the dedication of the temple, said:
"The Lord hath performed his word that he spake; and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel... There is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servant ...
"who hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou promisest him; thou speakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying: There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel," (1Kings 8:20-25).
By this prayer we see that Solomon understood that the throne, the kingdom, and the lineal house of David should stand forever.
Solomon not only understood it this way, but declared it before all the congregation of Israel, so that the entire nation should be fully aware of the fact. This was so thoroughly known in Israel and acknowledged by her prophets that, at the time of the division of the race into two kingdoms in the days of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Abijah, in his zeal that the lineal rights of the royal family might not be ignored, stood upon a mountain in Ephraim and cried out:
"Hear me, thou Jeroboam and all Israel. Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever and to his sons [not son, not one, but many] by a covenant of salt?" (13:5). The marginal reading is, "a perpetual covenant."
The eighty-ninth Psalm contains much light regarding the covenant under consideration, which the Lord made with David and his sons, concerning the perpetuity of his throne, scepter, kingdom, and his posterity. In it the Lord declares:
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, saying, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations." (Psalm 89:3-4)
Not a few, not some, not even many, but "ALL generations."
Continuing, he says:
"My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments: then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my lips." (v. 28-34)
Surely it is not possible to break the force of these words. The proposition could not be stated in stronger terms. The Lord simply will not break his covenant; he will not change, nor modify, nor in any way or for any reason alter, the thing that he has spoken, even if the children of David do forsake his law and break every commandment in his statute book. If they do break his law, he will chastise and punish with "the rod" and "with stripes," but he will not suffer his faithfulness to fail.
The covenant is unconditional. It "shall stand fast," no matter how often they are visited with rod and stripe for their transgressions. No matter how severe the punishment, the fact remains that the throne, the sceptre, the kingdom and the seed, must endure forevermore.
The fact that in this confirmation of the Davidic covenant the Lord uses the expressions, "his children, " "they" and "their," all in the plural form, is proof that this covenant does not have reference to the spiritual reign of his son Jesus Christ in the hearts of Christians. Furthermore, it could not be possible that Jesus Christ, he of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote saying, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." whose "name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace," (Isaiah 9:6) we say it is not possible for this Prince of Peace, who is The Mighty God, to break his own commandments, forsake his own law, or disregard his own statutes, and then punish himself for his own wickedness. No, these warnings do not apply to the Immortal One, but to the frail mortal sons of David, of whom Solomon was the first, and whom the Lord punished for his wickedness, as we may learn by referring to the eleventh chapter of I Kings, where we read as follows:
"And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods, but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
"Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon: Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and I will give unto thy servant. Notwithstanding, in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father's sake; but will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake," (1Kings 11:9-13).
Please notice how perfectly the facts agree, in every detail, with the declared purpose of God. Solomon, the seed of David, who was set up after him, who sat on the throne in the room of his father, who built and dedicated the house of the Lord, did forsake his God and refuse to obey his commandments. If God is true to his word, he must punish any of the children of David who thus forsake his law. So, as a punishment to Solomon, he purposes to take the greatness and power of the kingdom away from that son, who, as Solomon hopes, shall inherit the throne, crown, sceptre and kingdom, in all its glory. But no; the Lord purposes to take away the greater part of the national strength and power of the kingdom and give it to one of the servants of Solomon instead of the royal heir.
But while the Lord is declaring unto Solomon the punishment which he purposes to visit upon him for his disobedience, he is careful to say:
"Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son." (v. 13)
Why not "rend away all the kingdom?"
The Divine reply is, "For David my servant's sake."
Why for David's sake?
Because the Lord gave the "kingdom over Israel to David and his sons forever."
Ah, he dare not take away the entire kingdom from that royal line! Yes, we can say "dare not," and emphasize it, too. And we may also add, must not cannot, or any and all such expressions as will voice our protest or express the impossibility of such a thing. Indeed, the Lord himself has uttered a stronger protest than ours could ever be. We say this because the Lord, in this Psalm which we have under consideration, after saying, "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips," has, in the very next statement, made use of words which forever shut the door of retreat; for he not only took an oath, in which he pledged his own holy character, but he brought the physical universe into the contract, or at least that portion of it which involves the continued existence of the present arrangement of our solar system. His declarations are:
"Once have I sworn, by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be estabished forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in the heaven, " (Psalm 89:35-37).
Also, in the twenty-ninth verse of that same Psalm is the following:
"His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven." (v. 29)
If we are willing to give these words their full and natural meaning, then surely we must see clearly that it is the intention of the Lord that we shall understand that, so long as the sun, the "great light" which he created for a light by day, and the moon the "lesser light," which he created to rule the night, shall keep their appointed places in the heavens, traveling their orbits, continuing to make their proper changes, passing through their ecliptics, or completing their lunations,just so long must they rise over, shine down upon, and set beyond, the limits of, a kingdom on this earth over which some member of the Judo-Davidic family is holding the sceptre. Just so long will they continue to say, by their very presence in the heavens.
"We are witnesses unto men throughout all generations, that the Lord God of Israel has not lied into his servant David."
Furthermore, it is certain that the expressions, "days of heaven," and "a faithful witness in heaven," as used in these Scriptures, are purely astronomic, and refer to the stellar and atmospheric heavens. Hence the throne, kingdom, sceptre and family of David must endure, "as the days of heaven," i.e., so long as the earth continues to revolve on its own axis, thus giving to itself that diurnal motion which causes day and night to succeed each other, and which enables the sun and moon to perform their functions of lighting the day and night.
"But," says one, "do not these sayings apply to the kingdom and throne in heaven, where Christ, the seed of David, is now sitting at the right hand of God? And is not the New Jerusalem, which is above, and is the mother of us all, the celestial capital of that kingdom?" To this we are compelled to give a negative answer; for that celestial city has
"no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof," (Revelation 21:23.)
But," questions another persistent spiritualizer, "do not the seed and throne mentioned in these Scriptures refer to Christ, who is the 'Son of David,' in his spiritual kingdom, which is set up in the hearts of men?" Again we are compelled to reply in the negative, for the Holy Ghost is the divine illuminator of that kingdom; the sun and the moon having never been heavenly lights, only in an astronomic sense.
Furthermore, a mere glance at the context will reveal the fact that the Lord is dealing with a very earthly seed and kingdom; for, intermingled with the promises of an everlasting seed, throne and kingdom, the declaration is made concerning the children of David that, if they do not walk in his judgments and keep his commandments, but forsake his law, and break his statutes, then he will visit their transgressions with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. But still, no matter how wicked the ruler on the throne or the subject in the realm, he will not suffer his faithfulness to fail, his covenant with David must stand forevermore.
The only conditions to the covenant are such as are entirely beyond the power of man either to control or to break, viz., the faithfulness of God in keeping and fulfilling his word, the holiness of his character — for he cannot lie — and the omnipotence of his power to keep the sun, moon and the earth rolling onward in their present cycles and order until, by the good pleasure of his will, he shall change those ordinances and bring into existence the new heavens and the new earth. Hence, the Holy Ghost has inspired Jeremiah to write:
"Thus saith the Lord: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne," (Jeremiah 33:20, 21).
Previously, in this same chapter, and in the seventeenth verse, the Lord has said: "David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel." Then he adds the following:
" If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinance of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Jeremiah 33:25-26)
This, too, after saying:
" As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant," (Jeremiah 33:22, 25, 26)
In the statement, "David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne," the word man is translated from the Hebrew "ish" (iysh), which is defined as meaning "a man, a person, a certain one, any one."
In the declaration that David should always "have a son to reign upon his throne," the Hebrew word from which "son" is taken is "Ben", which means "son, man, or a builder of the family name.
In the other expression, "take any of his seed to be rulers," etc., the word "seed" is taken from the Hebrew "Zara" — " a man, a person, a child, a nephew, a grandchild, or relative."
This being the case — together with the fact that when duration of time is being considered, there are no stronger words in the Hebrew language than those which are translated "forever," "evermore," and "everlasting," then these following propositions must stand:
The Lord God of Israel made a covenant with David concerning the perpetuity of his seed, throne, and kingdom, regardless of the good or evil conduct of his descendants.
The subjects of this Davidic kingdom must belong to the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Some person of the lineage of King David must be on that throne (seat of power) who holds the sceptre, and reigns over that kingdom.
National afflictions will come upon them, as punishment for their unrighteousness; but they will not be utterly destroyed; for the kingdom must endure so long as there be day and night, and the subjects must continue to increase until they become innumerable.
So long as the sun, moon and earth continue rolling onward in their appointed orbits, just so long must the seed, throne, and Israelitish kingdom of David be in existence, or we have no longer a holy God ruling in the heavens and watching over Israel.
In order to prove that God has become unholy — i.e., lied — some man must yet find a fulcrum on which to rest his lever with which he can stop the rotation of the earth, and then find some way by which he can drive those witnessing lights from the sky; or in some way break up the appointed ordinances of heaven and earth, so that there cannot be day and night in their season. Otherwise, the holiness and omnipotence of God must not be questioned. This is the reason that David so triumphantly says to him: "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name," (Psalm 138:2).
The fact that God has thus magnified his word above his name would, in case of a failure on his part to perpetuate that which he swears shall be in existence forever, give us authority to impeach his testimony on every line, for it would undeify him.