Q&A: Jesus as King and Son

Jesus as King and Son

How did hope for the coming kingdom of God develop through the Old Testament prophets?

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Answer

Well, the hope for the coming of God's kingdom in the Old Testament is primarily through the prophets. And when you think about God's kingdom, you really have to think about kings, kingship, kingdom. You don't have a kingdom without a king. And so, a lot of what the prophets talk about, both the minor prophets and the major prophets, the longer ones and the shorter ones, those who address this question of the kingdom of God, they're going to talk about a king. And so, some of the prophets are very specific and others, they're more general. Amos will talk about a sanctuary that is to come. But then you've got Isaiah, in the eighth century B.C., and he really hammers the idea of a king in his kingdom. And it's more than that, it's a son, because in the ancient Near East whenever you have a king and a kingdom, they're begotten of the gods, and the ideal king is the deified king, the one who is a god-king. And so, of course, Isaiah is all over that, because he's going to say, very early, there's going to be a son, a Davidic son, in the dynasty of David, which is the main dynasty of the kings in ancient Israel. And this son Actually, he's going to say something radical, which is not radical in the ancient world; he's going to say he's a God-King. He's the Eternal Father, the Almighty God, but he's the son of the ultimate God.

So, that's the ideal. And very quickly, you realize that this king, especially in Isaiah again, Isaiah is the most specific of the prophets to announce this kingdom of God and this king this king is actually going to be a mighty warrior, which is typical also of the ancient world, but he's also filled with wisdom. That's chapter 11 of Isaiah. He has all the spirits of God: wisdom, knowledge, understanding. He is the king that was the wisest of them all, greater than Solomon, because Solomon failed at the end of his life. He failed in his own wisdom, to be faithful to his wife and not to accumulate wealth, not to accumulate horses, like Deuteronomy 17 says. And so, this coming king for Isaiah is the perfect, obedient king. And but he is also the perfect sacrifice. And that's the connection, right? The king becomes a sacrifice. Why is that? Because the king has a dwelling, he has a palace, and this palace is also a temple, and he is the administrator of the sacrifices. You look at David, you look at Solomon, they perform sacrifices there, but they can never atone for sin. So, the radical solution that Isaiah proposes is that this king, who is God himself, will sacrifice the perfect sacrifice to secure righteousness in the city. And, of course, the perfect sacrifice is himself. And so, there you have it. And clearly, the Gospels, that's their entire focus: the king has come and he sacrifices himself on behalf of the people.

Answer by Dr. Thomas Petter

Dr. Thomas Petter is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.