In this article, we will set forth yet another example of a New Testament writer teaching that the restoration of Israel was taking place in the first century, specifically after the cross. In fact, according to the Apostle Paul, it was through the New Covenant that Israel was being called to partake of the “sure blessings (mercies) of David” in Jesus Christ.
When Paul and Barnabas had arrived in Antioch in Pisidia on the Sabbath day, they entered the synagogue of the Jews. After the reading of the Law, they were asked if they had any word of exhortation for the people. Paul did not hesitate to preach to them the good news of the kingdom, and began by telling the Jews that God had fulfilled his promise of bringing to them a Savior from the seed of David (v.23), through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten you.’ As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’…. Therefore, let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Now notice what Paul says. Being led by the Spirit into all truth (John 16:13), Paul tells the Jews that the raising up of Jesus to be their Savior was in fulfillment of Psalm 2.
“God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten you”.
But, Psalm 2 was a prophecy of the enthronement of Israel’s King.
But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
Paul (like Peter in Acts 2), sees the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as the restoration of the kingdom to Israel through the enthronement of God’s King. However, Psalm 2 was not only a prophecy of the enthronement of Jesus. Psalm 2 prophesied the rejection of the Messiah (v.1-3), the victory over those who rejected him (v.8-9), and a warning to all nations to “do homage to the Son” so that they would not suffer the wrath of the Lord that was to come (v.10-12).
This is exactly why Paul warns the Jews to “take heed” to what he has just said concerning Psalm 2 by quoting Habakkuk 1:5 to warn them of the impending judgment upon those who would not accept the Lordship of the risen Son of God. Those who would reject their kingdom-restoration in the Seed of David would be “broken with a rod of iron” in the day of the Lords wrath (Psalm 2:9,12).
Having established that the ascension of Jesus was in fulfillment of Psalm 2 and initiated the restoration of Israel to the kingdom of God in Zion (New Jerusalem), we now move onto the second Old Testament text which Paul interprets as being fulfilled through the resurrection of Jesus.
“…. As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David”.
Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 55, let’s read a few verses which give us the context.
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.
What is interesting about this prophecy is that it was not the Messiah that the Lord promised to make the everlasting covenant with, it was Israel. It was Israel who was bidden to “come to the waters” (the Spirit) and drink, and to buy wine and milk without money and without cost (v.1). It was Israel who was told to “incline your ear” to the Lord that they might live (v.3). It was Israel that would receive the faithful (sure) mercies promised to David through the New Covenant.
The question is, what were the faithful mercies promised to David?
David was promised:
- The throne (dominion/authority)
- The kingdom.
David was promised that his Seed would be “raised up” (resurrected), to sit upon his throne (dominion/authority), and to receive and establish his kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Through the New Covenant which was initiated through the resurrection of Jesus (the Seed of David), Israel was receiving these faithful mercies (promises) given to David. Said another way, through the resurrection of Jesus, Israel was being restored.
Israel had been raised up to sit together with Christ in the heavenly (Ephesians 2:6), they had been given dominion and authority (Mathew 19:28, John 5:24), and they were receiving the kingdom (Hebrews 12:28).
Now, let’s read the text from Acts 13 again and notice that the word “therefore” connects the two statements of Paul…
As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’…. Therefore, let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Do you see it? Because Jesus had been raised from the dead (and had himself received the faithful mercies of David – Acts 2), Israel was likewise receiving those same mercies promised to David… therefore… Israel was receiving the “forgiveness of sins”, and being freed (justified) from all things that the Law of Moses could not free them from.
Paul’s application of Psalm 2 and Isaiah 55 for his first century Jewish audience would have been staggering to hear. By receiving the forgiveness of sins through Jesus and the New Covenant, Israel was receiving the mercies promised to David and being restored to the Davidic kingdom under the reign of the King and Messiah of Israel. God was fulfilling the “good news of the promise made to the fathers” in the first century by raising up for Israel a Savior.
Continued in Part 10