A Biblical Rebuttal of "The Fulfillment of the Promises of God"
Chapter 7: The Davidic Covenant
A Biblical Rebuttal of:
The Fulfillment of the Promises of God,
An Explanation of Covenant Theology
by Dr. Richard Belcher, 2020.
As mentioned in the Introduction, chapters 1 through 8 in this article match the chapter titles and ordering of their respective chapters in Dr. Belcher's book. This chapter overlays chapter 7, pages 97 through 114 in the book.
- Simple body text looks like this, this and this, and like this, this and this.
- A quote from Scripture looks like this.
- A quote from Dr. Belcher’s book “looks like this” [ch X, pg Y[, emphasis mine]]
- An inline comment [looks like this.]
“The Davidic Covenant is a high point of Old Testament theology because it advances to a new stage prior Old Testament concepts apart from which the hope of the coming King cannot be fully understood.” [ch 7, pg 97, emphasis mine]
Well stated–based on what is to follow in this chapter it is too bad that the CT theologian misses many of the truths around that coming King. See below Appendix: The Current and Future Kingdom of the Lord Christ.
God’s Promises to David (2 Samuel 7) [page 98]
Background and Setting [page 98]
“David has time to reflect on the accomplishments of his kingdom and what this period of rest means for the future. He wants to honor God and proposes that a house of Cedar be built for Him wherein the ark of God will dwell. This suggestion makes sense in the Old Testament context where it is the duty of the king to build a temple for the gods who have given him victory. Anything less would be considered ingratitude to God.” [ch 7, pg 98]
The Scripture does not give David's reasoning for his desire to build the LORD a temple; it is always dangerous and unwise to speculate (something Dr. Belcher does frequently). Moreover, I am sure that King David cared ‘not one whit’ about what the nations around him did for their gods! Neither should any so-called 'Bible commentator'.
[The remainder of the paragraph is more of the same useless speculation.]
“In chapter 5 David was made King over all Israel and moved his capital to Jerusalem after conquering the Jebusites. This location was more centrally located in Israel than Hebron, the previous capital. In chapter 6 David brought the ark of God to Jerusalem, a relocation that left no doubt as to the divine designation of the city.” [ch 7, pg 98, emphasis mine]
The context of 2 Sam 6 makes it plain that David moved the Ark to Jerusalem because that's where he had decided to live. (2 Sam 5.6-7) That the LORD in sovereign wisdom directed this is certain; that it was also David's decision is also certain. (This is frequently the sovereign manner in which the LORD works.)
During the time of Moses, the LORD made it clear that He would choose the city wherein He would place His name:
When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord.
It would not be until the time of Solomon, though, before the LORD made it clear that He had chosen Jerusalem:
1 Kin 8.27-29
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place.
Therefore, it is clear that while David did choose to live in Jerusalem, the choice of Jerusalem as “a relocation that left no doubt as to the divine designation of the city” was a selection which was not David's to make. This is yet another example of how Dr. Belcher distorts Scripture with his useless speculation.
“Although 2 Samuel 7 does not use the term covenant (bᵊrîṯ) to describe the relationship established there, other passages identify it as a covenant (2 Sam 23.5; Psa 89.3,28,34; 132.12). These passages confirm that God gave to David an enduring, unconditional promise, sworn on divine oath.” [ch 7, pg 99, emphasis mine]
Here, Dr. Belcher treats the Scripture responsibly. However, as we’ll see in later clips below, Dr. Belcher equivocates about the unconditional nature of the covenant, referring to it as both a conditional and an unconditional covenant (as we'll see below).
[He’ll also play some literary games with the extraordinarily clear and direct Psa 89!]
The Dynastic Oracle [page 99]
“In fact, the tent structure of the tabernacle allowed God's presence to travel with his people, a tremendous benefit throughout Israel's history.” [ch 7, pg 99]
Whether the “tent structure” is a “tremendous benefit throughout Israel's history” is irrelevant! It is the method and implementation the LORD chose to be with His people prior to the construction of the temple. This is another example of speculation by Dr. Belcher.
There is also the attendant issue that if the (mobile) tent structure was a benefit, does it then imply the opposite when the LORD chose a permanent place for His presence with His people? Would a permanent (non-mobile) location for His ark be a disadvantage for national Israel in the same way the mobile structure was an advantage? Dr. Belcher's logic is ridiculous.
“There is debate concerning whether the verbs in these verses should be translated as past or future. The form of the verbs would normally be translated as future. However, some argue against a future translation on grammatical grounds, but also because the blessings mentioned in these verses have already been provided for David at the beginning of the chapter (a great name, a place for Israel to dwell securely, and rest).” [ch 7, pg 100-101, emphasis mine]
Dr. Belcher is, apparently, leaving the door open to treating the verbs in some tense other than future. To treat them as future leads to the understanding of the literal Millennial rule of the Lord Christ (the last son of David) sitting on the throne of Israel–physical, literal Israel. This is something that the CT cannot do under any circumstances because of their failed view of amillennial eschatology.
While it is true that many of the blessings which the LORD promised did take place during the reign of David, this does not rule out the future fulfillment! This, specifically, deals with David’s sons, the royal line.
Consider this to reinforce the fact that these are future verbs:
2 Sam 7.10
I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly…
Dr. Belcher's equivocation might be possible were it not for that last phrase: “nor will the wicked afflict them …”. The history of Israel from the time of Rehoboam forward has been one nearly unbroken affliction of Israel by its neighbors (the result of its continual obstinance toward the LORD). Even today, Israel is the target of open hatred from nearly every corner of the globe. Unless the LORD's promise in v7.10 is for a still future time, then the LORD's word to David has failed!
“Hertzberg thinks the statements refer to the past but translates them as present because of the possibility that they have been left intentionally ambivalent.” [ch 7, pg 101, emphasis mine]
I dare Dr. Belcher (or any other CT) to demonstrate anything that is undecided in 2 Sam 7.8-17! If that spectacularly stupid charge should be true–even in the least amount–then the last statement in that section demonstrates that the LORD's Word is pretty much useless!
[Random comments by commentators quoting from some ancient, non-inspired history text are of no authoritative use!]
Look closely at the end of this amazing passage:
2 Sam 7.16-17
“Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
[Does this sound “ambivalent” in any way!? Did Nathan say “King David, the LORD left me with the impression that He might be making a great promise to you. At least it sounded pretty important, but I can’t be absolutely sure.” Or did David respond with “I know that Nathan told me what the LORD said, but I’m not sure that I heard him correctly. Perhaps, also, Nathan misunderstood the LORD”.]
“The last blessing mentioned in these verses is the key blessing God will build David a house, a dynasty that will endure forever. Part of the history of Israel shows that without a stable kingship, the other blessings are in jeopardy. (Jdg 17.6; 21.25).” [ch 7, pg 101, emphasis mine]
First, where did the “ambivalence” Dr. Belcher spoke of in the previous clip go?
Next, let’s consider the texts Dr. Belcher uses to establish his case:
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
In typical fashion Dr. Belcher draws an unwarranted conclusion from verses used out-of-context (or, just simply ignored!). These passages from the Judges (many years before Saul was made the first king) say nothing about the LORD's blessings upon Israel being “in jeopardy”–because there was no king.
[During the time of the judges, the LORD's blessings/curses fell upon Israel in parallel with their faithfulness/unfaithfulness, respectively. Remember, the LORD was their King. When Israel insisted upon a king, the LORD gave them Saul, a truly unpleasant and unstable man, for forty years (a theologically significant period of judgment).
Where is your argument now for a "stable" kingship, Dr. Belcher? did you forget about Saul?]
The Scripture tells us what happened:
2 Sam 8.4-5
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”
However, the LORD was displeased with the nation's desires:
2 Sam 6-7
But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them."
These passages teach us plainly that the LORD considered Himself Israel's king. The nation's desire to have a king “like all the nations” (v5) was nothing less than national disobedience. So, when Dr. Belcher foolishly makes the claim that “without a stable kingship” during the period of the judges, for example, the LORD's national blessings upon Israel are “in jeopardy”. He therefore implies that the LORD Himself was unfit to be King over Israel! This is a very dangerous position to hold!
“David, the man-of-war, was not allowed to build the temple which was reserved for his son, Solomon, the man of peace. The early reign of Solomon reflected this peace (rest from enemies) which was the proper setting for the building of the temple because the temple, as a symbolical representation of the kingdom, was to correspond to the nature of that kingdom. God grants this by His grace in first establishing David's dynasty and then allowing that dynasty to establish the Lord's temple. This binds David's rule to God's rule and vice-versa. God will maintain his permanent dwelling place as king in Israel through the kingship of the Davidic line.” [ch 7, pg 101-102, emphasis mine]
It seems that Dr. Belcher’s comment about the “the temple, as a symbolical representation of the kingdom” can be taken in 1 of 2 ways:
- The temple was real and physical, but represented some spiritual (symbolical) truth; or
- Though the temple was real and physical, the kingdom is itself spiritual (symbolical) rather than physical.
Choice #2 would be consistent with typical CT eschatology: that is, (from our vantage point in time) the Lord Christ has returned and established His Millennial Kingdom. But we can’t see it because is it “spiritual” (symbolical).
It’s not clear from the context of the clip above which Dr. Belcher meant (if he meant either of these).
Continuing, ancient King David was a remarkable exception to the systemically disobedient Israel. Remember this from just before the death of Moses, a stunning and terrifying revelation of Israel’s character:
Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.
This was followed by an even greater condemnation of national Israel:
For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them and spurn Me and break My covenant. Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.”
Most of the history of OT Israel reflects this appalling truth. So, when Dr. Belcher says regarding the Davidic kingdom that “God will maintain his permanent dwelling place …”, one is forced to wonder just how “permanent” that kingdom is based on what we’ve observed from our vantage point in time. (Or maybe this is due to the fact that that Kingdom is spiritual rather than physical/temporal as the CT claims.)
We’ve seen only a constant persecution against Israel because of their wretched rebellion against the One who came to them.
[If Israel is currently the "spiritual" (Millennial) kingdom of the Lord Christ, as the CT maintains, then how is it that physical Israel is under such intense persecution?]
Dr. Belcher is correct to reason from a “permanent dwelling place …” stance because that will, in fact, happen in the future. But the King who will rule them (and the earth) is the Lord Christ, the (last) Son of David according to the great promise of the LORD to David in 2 Sam 7.
“The king's relationship to God as a son, along with his responsibilities to keep the covenant, raises the issue of the discipline of the king and what happens to God's promise of a continuing dynasty if the king breaks the covenant. God specifically states that when the son commits iniquity, God will discipline him with the rod of men, but his steadfast love (ḥeseḏ) will not be taken from him as it was taken away from Saul (7.14-15). The covenant has a conditional aspect that relates to each individual king. Each king must keep the Covenant, and if the king does not keep it, God may use other nations to bring judgment against him and the people.” [ch 7, pg 102, emphasis mine]
Let's review what vv. 14-15 actually say:
2 Sam 7.14-15
I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
Certainly, Solomon was in the primary view here; he was the first to break faith with the LORD by his considerable idolatry when he “was old” (1 Kin 11.4). It was not another nation which afflicted Solomon, as Dr. Belcher states, but 10 of the 12 tribes rebelled and fractured the kingdom during the time of Rehoboam. It would be later during the time of the Davidic succession that other nations would begin to etch away at the Southern Kingdom.
But Dr. Belcher maintains a more serious error when he states that the “covenant has a conditional aspect.” He appears unable to understand that the LORD can hold each and every king in the Davidic line accountable for faithfulness, and be willing to punish all unfaithfulness, without making the covenant conditional.
Note again a key phrase:
“… but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him…”
This is not the language of a “conditional covenant”; it is the opposite!
Unless Dr. Belcher presents the utterly ridiculous claim that the LORD does not remove His lovingkindness from a disobedient king while at the same time terminating His covenant with Him, it would be legitimate to view his claim as nonsense.
The Davidic covenant was unconditional! No conditions of any kind were attached to it! Why is this so difficult to understand, especially in view of Psa 89.30-37 (below).
Dr. Belcher's near silence regarding Psa 89.30-37 is also telling, because we would have expected him to make use of it when dealing with the Davidic Covenant (expected, that is, from the perspective of biblical exposition). Note how it speaks volumes to this very point:
“If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
If they violate My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
Then I will punish their transgression with the rod
And their iniquity with stripes.
“But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him,
Nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.
“My covenant I will not violate,
Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
“Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David.
“His descendants shall endure forever
And his throne as the sun before Me.
“It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful.”
There is no greater, stronger statement of the unconditional nature of the covenant with David and his sons than this! Note also that the Psalmist attributes the words to the Almighty!
From what he wrote in his book Dr. Belcher interprets the lament at the end of the Psalm as an apparent repudiation of the claims of vv. 30-37.
[Exactly what this assertion does to the unity of the Scripture and the reliability of the LORD’s Word is never handled.
Surprisingly, Dr. Belcher handles Psalm 89 in chapter 8, the New Covenant, rather than chapter 7, the Davidic Covenant. (There is only a single passing reference in chapter 7.) I can only assume that if he expounded Psalm 89.30-37 in chapter 7 it would place too closely together the apparent contradictions between the "real" unconditional nature of the Davidic Covenant and his ridiculous "conditional aspects" theory.]
[There are a number of Psalms (many by David himself) which express disappointment and doubt; they are accurate historical representations by the authors at those times. Usually, the Psalms end with a note of victory; others end on a note of defeat or uncertainty. Psa 89 is an example of the latter.
I wrote an appendix to study this very point, since Dr. Belcher appears to abuse the Psalm with his irresponsible interpretation. See Appendix: Psalms that End with its Author Uncertain.]
The important, unchanging and unchangeable point is this: regardless of the situation national Israel finds itself in, the LORD is keeping His covenant with David even to our day!
National Israel will once again have a Son of David as its King. This will take place (only) during the Millennial rule of the Lord Christ, since the promise of a king can be fulfilled only by the presence of the King over national Israel first, and over the entire world second. From what I’ve read of CT eschatology, this view is rejected because it doesn’t fit into the grand amillennial scheme of a 'spiritual kingdom'.
“The ultimate realization of the promises made to David are assured because the Davidic Covenant fits into God's purpose to redeem a people for Himself. God's plan to establish a kingdom among redeemed sinners will come to pass.” [ch 7, pg 102-103]
Yes, the LORD has a plan to redeem sinners, but that is not the topic of 2 Sam 7! 2 Sam 7 is about the LORD establishing national Israel as the primary kingdom of the earth and over which one of David's sons–the Lord Christ–will reign. This is also the topic of Psa 110 and Psa 89. It is the foundation of 1 Cor 15.23-25 when the Father will put all enemies under the feet of the Lord Christ:
1 Cor 15.23-25
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
That last phrase is especially important: the reign of the Lord Christ on and over the earth (during the Millennium) will be over a hostile planet! He will reign until His enemies are vanquished; only after that point is that Kingdom to be handed over to the Father by the Son.
I’ve only ever encountered that the CT eschatologist ignore this text in their unbiblical and superficial views of the Kingdom of the Lord Christ.
[In Anthony Hoekema's well-known book The Bible and the Future, he doesn't even list Psalm 110-1.3 in the Index. This is an odd omission for a book about the future.]
The Implications of the Davidic Covenant [page 102]
Dr. Belcher enters into a discussion of the phrase “this is instruction for mankind” (2 Sam 7.19). He also discusses the similarities and differences in the parallel verses of 1 Chron 17.
Differences between 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 [page 106]
“Second, the statement that when the son commits iniquity he will be disciplined in 2 Samuel 7.14b is omitted in 1 Chronicles 17.13. This omission causes some to think that the unconditional nature of God's promise is not retained in 1 Chronicles 17. The issue is not whether one text is unconditional and the other text is conditional because both elements are present in the overall presentation of both books.” [ch 7, pg 107, emphasis mine]
When Dr. Belcher states that the “This omission causes some to think …”, he creates a contradiction. This is theological double-speak: the covenant can't be unconditional and conditional at the same time or from different viewpoints. As pointed out earlier, there is nothing in the LORD's words to David that make the covenant conditional. Yes, obedience was expected, but disobedience does not lead to the abrogation of the Davidic covenant; this is the great truth of and foundation for Psa 89.
This is a good example of the equivocation so typical of modern theologians. They seem inclined to go out of their way to find the unusual, the unexpected, the controversial–even when those elements are not present.
[In the online web world, this would be the equivalent of click-bait.]
How is this different from the many parallels in the gospels? Their accounts are uniform but may differ in what details are included or omitted, or even how some details are described. But, when the potential discipline of Solomon is included in the account in 2 Sam 7 but not in 1 Chr 17, suddenly the Davidic covenant changes from unconditional to conditional!? What kind of irresponsible theological speculation is this?? Why was this "controversy" even brought up by Dr. Belcher? What possible value does it provide?
“Third, there is an explicit connection made in 1 Chronicles 7.14 between the human throne of Israel and God's throne. … The kingdom is God's kingdom with His rule manifested through the reign of his son David who sits on the throne. The kingdom of God on earth is established through the Davidic Covenant.” [ch 7, pg 107-108]
Let’s look at the language of both texts:
First of all, please notice the tense of the critical verbs: future! When Dr. Belcher states that during the reign of David:
“The kingdom is God's kingdom with His rule manifested through the reign of his son David who sits on the throne.”
he uses the present tense. Now there is a sense in which David’s ‘real’ kingdom is a manifestation of the LORD’s kingdom, of course, because the LORD set up that kingdom. But that is not what the text says: David’s throne “shall be established forever”.
The text in 1 Chr 17 refers to Solomon, not David! So, is this a mistake, just another controversy, something upon which the modern ‘theologian’ just waits to pounce?
No! Both texts are correct and consistent with each other. The text in 1 Chr 17 merely shows the first installment (my term) of the truth that LORD “shall” (future tense!) establish David’s throne forever.
Moreover, the LORD does not use the terminology of “kingdom” when He describes what it is that He has promised: He promised to establish David’s throne.
Is there a difference? Yes. Both 2 Sam 7 and 1 Chr 17 use the word "throne" to emphasize that the LORD made a promise to David, not to Israel. When the prophesies are fulfilled (in a day yet to come), it will be manifested with a Son of David upon that throne, namely the Lord Christ. Will that establish a national kingdom in Israel? Yes, of course! But the fact is, it will be the exact fulfillment of the LORD’s covenant with David. The fact that it will be the national kingdom in Israel is a wonderful side-effect; it will be the LORD’s kingdom. There will be no other political power on the earth during that time. It will be a theocratic kingdom in every sense of the word, the first time any such kingdom has been established as the single, world-wide power on the planet.
So, when Dr. Belcher asserts, “The kingdom of God on earth is established through the Davidic Covenant.”, he is correct (though, I believe, accidentally so).
“One of the major things lacking in the post-exilic period was the establishment of a king which caused this hope to shift to the future. These ideas provide essential background for the teaching of the New Testament that the kingdom of God is established in Jesus, Son of David (Mat 12.28; Luk 17.20-21), who sits on David's throne (Act 2.22-36).” [ch 7, pg 108, emphasis mine]
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
[This section quotes from Psa 16.8-11 and Psa 110.]
The passages in Matthew and Luke teach us clearly that there is a "now" aspect of the Kingdom of God; these, however, do not eliminate the fact that there is also a "not yet" aspect of the Kingdom of God as well. It is this latter aspect which is consistently ignored and/or distorted by the CT since to hold to the biblical view of the "not yet" view of the kingdom destroys their notion of a current "Millennial" rule of the Lord Christ.
Dr. Belcher's treatment of the amazing passage in Act 2 shows just how much he distorts the narrative of “David's throne” by implying that the Lord Christ sits now on David's throne! The very text from Act 2 shows that this isn't the case. Consider this phrase from the quotation from Psa 110:
For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’
The key word here is “until”: its definition is: "up to the time of; before".
This text makes it crystal clear that the Lord Christ does not currently sit upon David's throne: rather, He currently is seated at the right hand of the Father (that is, with the Father on His throne!) until the Father makes the enemies of His Son a footstool for His (the Lord Christ's) feet. When will this be? The only answer given by the Scripture is the Millennial rule of the Lord Christ during a time yet future. We certainly don’t see the Lord Christ upon the ‘throne of David’ in Jerusalem, and we certainly don’t see His enemies being made His footstool (that is, being conquered). The CT ignores deliberately (I believe) that vital preposition "until".
These texts state unequivocally that the Lord Christ is currently seated at the right hand of the Father:
Psa 110.1 (quoted by Peter in Act 2 above)
The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
This text clearly tells us the current position of the Lord Christ: He is seated at the right hand of the Father until such time as the Father delivers over to Him the Kingdom of the earth.
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
This is such a simple point, but the CT uniformly misses (or distorts) it. The Lord Christ does not now “sit on David’s throne” as Dr. Belcher and CTs typically assert. He is currently seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
[Perhaps Dr. Belcher will post additional exposition of the verses above and their effect on the defective notion that the Lord Christ “sits on David’s throne”!]
Carefully consider the prophecy by Gabriel to Mary, the mother of the Lord Christ:
[Gabriel] said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
The promise was future, but not future in the sense that "the Lord Christ yet not yet been born and therefore the promise is future." No! Look at the prophecy: He will reign over the house of Jacob and His kingdom will have no end.
CT! When has either of these states of the prophecies been fulfilled!? Again I ask, “Where is the throne of David in Jerusalem?” NOW?
These promises remain unfulfilled from the day that it was given to Mary until the present day. They will, and can only be, fulfilled during the Millennial reign of the Lord Christ on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
In a following portion of Scripture, a section clearly Messianic, there is once again the prominent mention of the “throne of David”:
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Dr. Belcher and CTs, please tell me how any of the above signs of the active rule of the Lord Christ on the throne of David have been fulfilled–even spiritually? Where is the world-wide peace? Where is the universal standard of justice and righteousness? Where can I see these things in our current world? To even attempt to hold that the Lord Christ currently rules on the throne of David as predicted centuries ago by Isaiah is one of the most spectacular examples of "theological gaslighting" to be found on the planet. What is more amazing is that CTs have been doing this for centuries! Truly, Covenant Theology is the “theology of the willingly ignorant” or the "theology of the willingly disobedient"!
[Seminary student: I implore you to carefully consider these truths! If you currently attend a covenant seminary–and can’t therefore be true to the Word and do your work there with a clear conscience–then maybe it’s time to consider finding somewhere else to complete your education. Or, perhaps, you don't belong in ministry in the first place.
Young Pastor, are you covenant? Can you with clear conscience teach the errors of CT to your congregation week after week? If so, then shame on you! Moreover, you should read The Biblical Requirements for Elders. Perhaps you should step down for about 10 years to learn the Bible anew.]
It is extraordinary that the CT consistently denies the Lord Christ in clear disobedience to those abundant texts which teach us that He will sit on the throne of David to rule the nation Israel in favor of a silly, insipid, watered-down "spiritual rule" which can be neither seen nor heard in any appreciable way, a rule that from all appearance has failed spectacularly in every way.
[See my article The Day of the Lord. This is an especially valuable article to those caught in the failed eschatology of amillennialism.]
The Culmination of God’s Covenant Promises [page 108]
The Development of the Idea of Kingship [page 108]
“One will come with royal power from the tribe of Judah whose dominion is demonstrated in the unleashing of abundant blessings in creation (Gen 49.8-12).” [ch 7, pg 109, emphasis mine]
The context from which Dr. Belcher pulls his statement is the blessing of Jacob upon his sons at the end of his (Jacob's) life. In this section, it is particularly the blessing that is to be upon the family of Judah, not the creation generally:
“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
“He ties his foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
“His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.
It is not obvious from where Dr. Belcher pulls the assertion of “the unleashing of abundant blessings in creation” from the cited text. (#SARC; it is from his imagination only.)
I checked Keil &Delitzsch (as a safety for a different set of eyes); they asserted nothing which was compatible with Dr. Belcher's claim of “the unleashing of abundant blessings in creation”. (I know that I certainly didn’t see anything like that in the text.)
Here is a summary statement from K&D regarding the use of the term Shiloh (K&D ppg 256+):
“Thus, the personal interpretation of Shiloh stands in the most beautiful harmony with the constant progress of the same revelation. To Shiloh will the nations belong. … These will render willing obedience to Shiloh, because as a man of rest He brings them rest and peace.
But this first imperfect fulfillment furnished a pledge of the complete fulfillment in the future, so that Solomon himself, discerning in spirit the typical character of this peaceful reign, sang of the King's Son who should have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, before whom all kings should bow, and whom all nations should serve (Psa 72); and the prophets after Solomon prophesied of the Prince of Peace, who should increase government and peace without end upon the throne of David, and of the sprout out of the rod of Jesse, whom the nations should seek (Isa 9. 6-7; 11.1-10); and lastly, Ezekiel, when predicting the downfall of the Davidic kingdom prophesied that this overthrow would last until He should come to whom the right belonged, and to whom Jehovah would give it (Eze 21.27).”
Psa 72.1-5: A Psalm of Solomon
Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s son.
May he judge Your people with righteousness
And Your afflicted with justice.
Let the mountains bring peace to the people,
And the hills, in righteousness.
May he vindicate the afflicted of the people,
Save the children of the needy
And crush the oppressor.
Let them fear You while the sun endures,
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.
A ruin, a ruin, a ruin, I will make it. This also will be no more until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.’
The context of all these is Messianic, specifically the fulfillment of the rule of One upon the throne of David, in direct fulfillment of the prophecies.
Further, K&D ppg 257-258:
“Since Ezekiel in his words, "till He come to whom the right belongs", takes up, and is generally admitted, our prophecy 'till Shiloh come,' and expands it still further in harmony with the purpose of this announcement, more especially from Psa 72.1-5, where righteousness and judgment are mentioned as the foundation of the peace which the King's Son would bring; he not only confirms the correctness of the personal and Messianic explanation of the word Shiloh, but shows that Jacob's prophecy of the scepter not passing from Judah till Shiloh came, did not preclude a temporary loss of power.”
and K&D pg 258:
“And thus did the kingdom of Judah arise from its temporary overthrow to a new and imperishable glory in Jesus Christ (Heb 7.14), who conquers all foes as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev 5.5), and reigns as the true Prince of Peace, as 'our peace' (Eph 1.14), for ever and ever.”
Regarding Dr. Belcher's silly claim, “the unleashing of abundant blessings in creation (Gen 49.8-12)”,
and finally K&D disagrees, pg 258:
“The subject is not Shiloh, but Judah, to whom the whole blessing applies.”
Remember, Jacob is addressing Judah, not Shiloh and not the creation generally. Once again, Dr. Belcher uses a text completely out of context.
“Deuteronomy 17 sets forth how this King shall rule ‘when you come to the land’ and desire a king ‘like all the nations’. God will grant them their desire for a king, but he must be the king ‘whom the Lord your God shall choose’. [ch 7, pg 109]
As I pointed out above, the nation's desire for a king was borne from disobedience; they were (at that time) unwilling to wait on the LORD. Yes, the LORD did choose a king, but told Samuel that this meant that the nation had rejected the LORD as their king. (1 Sam 8.7) As a result, Israel would lose local jurisdiction over the Ark for seven months. (1 Sam 6.1)
“God told Samuel to give them a king because they had rejected God as their King (1 Sam 8.7,22). Although Deuteronomy 17 had mentioned the future appointment of a king, the people's request for a king had the wrong motivations.” [ch 7, pg 110]
[Dr. Belcher cites 1 Sam 15 for proof that Saul was a disobedient king who did not obey the Word of the LORD.]
Better late than never…
1 Sam 15.28
So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.
1 Sam 15.35b
And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
“David was God's choice and through the promises of the Davidic Covenant the kingdom of God reached its zenith in the early reign of Solomon.” [ch 7, pg 110-111, emphasis mine]
No, Dr. Belcher has it wrong (again!).
It would be true to say that the Davidic kingdom reached its zenith in the early reign of Solomon. Above, Dr. Belcher claimed that the kingdom of God arrived with the Lord Christ as its Ruler. One would assume that that time was the zenith, since the Lord Christ (the King!) was present with it! But here he claims that the early years of Solomon was the zenith.
Fulfillment of Earlier Covenant Principles [page 111]
“The Davidic Covenant stands in an organic relationship with the other covenants so that the Davidic Covenant builds on and assumes the promises of the other covenants but does not replace them.” [ch 7, pg 111, emphasis mine]
Regarding the term “organic”, I suppose that Dr. Belcher means that each of the real covenants made by the LORD are uniform in nature and purpose. This much is true. However, as I point out in Appendix: The Real Covenants in the Old Testament, their parties and promises are very different.
“the Davidic Covenant builds on and assumes the promises of the other covenants but does not replace them”.
I find this language both simplistic and confused; that is, you can concoct flimsy relationships between the covenants. But, for example, how would the Davidic Covenant “build on and assume the promises” of the Noahic Covenant? I suppose you could say that the Davidic Covenant can’t be fulfilled unless the world is saved from future, global floods. But his statement borders on the asinine.
There is more of a case regarding the Abrahamic Covenant: the Davidic Covenant could “build on and assume the promises” of the Abrahamic Covenant since Israel must exist for the terms of the Davidic Covenant to be fulfilled. But again, this is very silly and merely restating the obvious.
I challenge the CT to present a meaningful “build[ing] on and assum[ing] the promises” of the Covenant of Circumcision by the Davidic Covenant.
This leaves only the New Covenant. There seems to me to be no “build[ing] on and assum[ing] the promises” of the New Covenant from the Davidic Covenant. By definition, the New Covenant changes the cold, dead, stone, legalistic hearts of the “house of Israel and the house of Judah” into new, living hearts that fear, love, and revere the LORD genuinely. Where is the overlap, the “build[ing] on and assum[ing] the promises”? There is none!
Dr. Belcher’s comment above falls flat.
“The Davidic dynasty is fully integrated into the religious and social dimensions of the Mosaic Covenant so that the covenant is administered by the Davidic king who takes on a prominent role in leadership of the nation.” [ch 7, pg 112]
What does the phrase “fully integrated into the religious and social dimensions …” even mean? What would be the "... social dimensions of the Mosaic Covenant ..."? Or, how about "...administered by the Davidic king ..."? Does this imply that King David, for example, would post several times a day to the royal Twitter or Facebook accounts, or perhaps the official YouTube channel?
[I'm being ridiculous, of course, but no more ridiculous than the statement above! It sounds like something a seminary professor would write on the whiteboard, then give a 60-minute period essay question as an unscheduled exam.]
Dr. Belcher does not add any ‘meat to the bones’ of the expression.
Then we have “by the Davidic king”; it finds fulfillment in King David, and only King David. Yes, King David was an amazing and faithful leader, a “man after the LORD's own heart”. (1 Sam 13.14, Act 13.22) And, yes, the promises were to be applied to David’s descendants, but the covenant was with King David and no one else.
As OT accounts abundantly show us, faithfulness to the LORD would fail relatively rapidly under Solomon.
The King as Mediator of God’s People [page 112]
“Up to this point, Israel was God's firstborn son (Exo 4.23), but now the king of Israel is the son with God as his Father.” [ch 7, pg 112]
This statement does find support in Psa 89 (though Dr. Belcher does not cite it):
“He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’”
This is a statement of David, but there is support that Solomon also was named as a son. (2 Sam 7.14; 1 Chr 22.10) The purpose of this curious statement appears to be the following citation.
“This special relationship of sonship means that he serves as a covenant mediator. As son he shares the throne with God his Father and has access to the Father. He represents God to the people, but he also represents the people to God.” [ch 7, pg 112]
Dr. Belcher would probably be hard-pressed to declare the difference between Moses and David, at least relative to the aspects of mediator. However, as just pointed out, Solomon was also elevated to the status of "son" but would hardly qualify as a "mediator" (though his prayer in 1 Kin 8 at the dedication of the temple was mediatorial). It would qualify as even less for most of the remaining kings Judah (which are included in the LORD’s covenant with David).
[There is scant OT evidence that Solomon was a man of prayer like his father David. There are only two of the Psalms which are attributed to Solomon, while there are about 75 known to have been written by David.]
Dr. Belcher's describing the “sharing of the throne with God his Father” is troubling. The LORD Himself said:
Thus says the Lord,
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?”
Based on the text above, it would appear that Dr. Belcher has grossly overstated his case because the Throne of the LORD has no equal. I dare Dr. Belcher to name even one or two texts in which the LORD shares with a man His right to rule over His creation. There are none!
[This is seen especially in the Millennial rule of the Lord Christ.]
Regarding Dr. Belcher's claim that David was a "mediator", David did pray for Israel at several points. David’s official position was that he was the king of Israel, not mediator to the LORD for Israel.
[Remember, the LORD typically used Nathan the prophet to communicate with David when needed (for example, when David expressed to Nathan that he wanted to build the temple) for the LORD.]
What about the LORD's power and wisdom? What man can "help" the LORD rule?
“Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
The LORD takes counsel from no man before He acts. He has never, is not now, and will never co-rule with anyone outside the Godhead. Without a co-rule privilege in effect, how can Dr. Belcher claim that David's throne on earth is a “sharing” of the LORD's throne in heaven? This is a wild, irresponsible claim.
One of the reasons that the LORD's rule is absolute is because he knows the “end from the beginning” (Isa 46.10). No man can claim this ability; moreover, there is nothing that man can bring to the LORD's power to rule to further it. The LORD is the King; man is the servant; the LORD is the Creator, man in the creature.
What about the lesson learned "the hard way" by Nebuchadnezzar regarding the greatness and power of the LORD, the Almighty:
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
What about this?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
If the nations are regarded "as a speck", how is it that Dr. Belcher can claim such authority to a single man, even ancient King David?
We could appeal to many other texts which would show that Dr. Belcher has made yet another foolish and biblically irresponsible claim.
“It also became the geographical location for the fulfillment of Israel's mission to the nations to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. As king and people lived in obedience to God, the nations would see the abundant blessings that God would pour out on His people and they would come to learn about the great God who Israel worshipped and the wonderful law that he had given his people (Deu 4.5-8).” [ch 7, pg 113]
The text that Dr. Belcher cites does indeed state this lofty goal–assuming the obedience of the king and nation. Yes, there was a time when individuals like Hiram (king of Tyre, during the time of David) and the queen of Sheba (during the time of Solomon) marveled at the majesty of Israel. But, overall, Israel's luster dimmed steadily and rapidly as the number of Israel's enemies grew with their national obstinance to the LORD. By the time of the end of the Southern Kingdom, national Israel had essentially been destroyed; only a remnant remained through a lengthy exile in Babylon. And even when the exile ended, it was still a disobedient Israel that returned and began intermarrying with the idolatrous nations around - something clearly forbidden in the Law. And in just a few generations later, that rescued nation would crucify the Lord Christ.
[See also comments on the relationship of other nations to Israel.]
[Even during the Millennial rule of the Lord Christ, a time when national Israel will be obedient from the heart, the other nations of the world still fear and reject Israel and feign subservience to it.
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
As I’ve mentioned before in this article, when the Lord Christ returns to sit upon the throne of David, it will be a return to a hostile planet. Then, He will rule until He has vanquished His enemies. (1 Cor 15.23-28)]
“But the promises of the Davidic Covenant kept the hope alive that one from the throne of David would come to rule over God's people. Christ established a kingdom that will never end and even today he rules over this world at the right hand of the Father for the sake of his people (Eph 1.22-23). The promises of the Davidic Covenant should bring great comfort to God's people for we live in a world that does not recognize the rule of our King. We can be assured that one day he will return as the King of Kings to defeat all his enemies. God made a promise to David that he has already begun to fulfill and there is no doubt he will bring it to completion for our good and His glory.” [ch 7, pg 114, emphasis mine]
I’ve already refuted much of the error in the clip above in earlier parts of this article and in my comment above.
There are hints here of the CT’s fantasy of their "Amillennial" kingdom. Eph 1 is a powerful text, but its context of the current rule of the Lord Christ is over the church, not Israel and not the world generally.
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Remember, the position of the Lord Christ at the right hand of the Father is temporary:
It should be evident, even to the CT, that the Lord Christ is not actively ruling the kingdom of Israel at this time because He is currently “placed as Head over all things to the church”!
[I suppose, with the CT’s disposition to use ‘Israel’ and ‘the Church’ interchangeably, that they would make the ridiculous claim that the Lord Christ rules now over Israel upon the throne of David.]
We certainly don't see His “strong scepter” active. Instead, we see a nation of Israel that has been persecuted as no other nation on the earth, since the end of the rule of Solomon.
Moreover, notice that phrase "Rule in the midst of Your enemies." (as I’ve pointed out many times). When the Lord Christ begins His rule over the united nation of Israel, it will be within a hostile world environment. The people of the earth will mourn:
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
[See Appendix: The Current and Future Rule of the Lord Christ.]