Theme: Looking to Jesus
In this week’s lessons, we see what God will do for those who, as pilgrims in this life, look to him in faith and obedience.
Scripture: Psalm 132:1-18
We made the point in yesterday’s study that many Old Testament prophetic passages were understood to be about the Messiah until the claims of Christians that they had been fulfilled by Jesus caused the rabbis to view them differently. This greater future fulfillment involves three things. Yesterday, we looked at the first item, which is the establishment of God’s throne in Jerusalem. Today we look at the other two.
2. God’s blessing on the people, both physically and spiritually (vv. 15, 16). The second part of this future fulfillment of God’s oath to David and his descendants is God’s blessing on the people. It involves material prosperity, ample provisions for the poor, salvation for the priests, and joy for all the people—in other words, an idyllic future state.
For centuries political leaders have dreamed of a Golden Age and have promised to establish it if only they are elected to or are retained in power. Plato wrote about a perfect age in his Republic. Virgil popularized the theme for the Romans in his Fourth Eclogue. In more recent history, the dream of a utopia has been voiced by Thomas More, Samuel Butler and Edward Ballamy, as well as by Henry David Thoreau, Robert Owen and Leo Tolstoy, who actually tried to create one. In more recent time, the same vision was enlarged by communists who saw it as a “classless society” and by Western governments who think of it as a system of infinitely expanding prosperity.
The difficulty is that no culture has ever achieved this ideal, and even the future, which has always been the bright hope of dreamers, does not look promising. One observer wrote:
The rule of man … has been characterized with irreconcilable ambitions and conflicts of interests. The brains of man have been dedicated to the production of military machines and accouterments for the scattering of death and desolation among the inhabitants of the earth…. Man has looked for peace and found war. He has talked of brotherhood and love and has seen hatred and persecution. He has boasted of his civilization, enlightenment, and progress, and the so-called heathen have upbraided him for his godless practices…. He has spent billions of dollars for war; millions for pleasure; and only a few paltry thousands for the spreading of the gospel of Christ … It … gives no promise of improvement. As it was, so it is, and will be until the King comes back. There has not been a period since the fall of man in which the race has enjoyed or witnessed the condition which prophecy declares shall obtain in the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.1
Those words are not too harsh. In fact, they are truer now than they were when they were first written, in 1938. We dream of a Golden Age, but if there is ever to be such an age, it is certain that it is God himself, and not man, who must establish it.
3. The coming of the Messiah and the establishment of his kingdom (vv. 17, 18). But that is exactly what God promises to do and what the last two verses of Psalm 132 describe. Here God says that he will cause “a horn” to grow for David, that is, a powerful ruler who will achieve all that God has promised. His crown and his alone will be resplendent (v. 18).
We live in an age when people look to the government to solve their problems. But even a freely elected, benign government like ours will never solve our problems, and to trust that it will is statism, a worship of the state in place of God. At a meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals in the 1980s, after President Ronald Reagan had spoken and the audience was applauding wildly, Charles Colson stepped to the rostrum and reminded everyone that “the Kingdom of God does not arrive on Air Force One.”
But it will arrive with Jesus, and because it will, we who are on the pilgrimage of the Christian life must keep our eyes on him. The author of Hebrews noted that although God has left nothing that is not subject to Jesus, “at present we do not see everything subject to him.” But he added, “We [do] see Jesus” (Heb. 2:8, 9). That is enough! For as we look to Jesus we move on toward the goal that is set before us, “to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
1W. H. Rogers, The End from the Beginning (New York: Arno C. Gaebelein, 1938), pp. 262, 263.
What was to be God’s blessing on the people?
List the characteristics of the rule of man. How does secular culture conceive of a Golden Age?
How are Christians to view the idea of a Golden Age?
Reflection: Do you steadfastly keep your eyes on Jesus?
Prayer: Ask God to keep you mindful of things eternal over this temporal world.
Key Point: As we look to Jesus we move on toward the goal that is set before us, “to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).