“Prophecies of His Divine Descent”
2 Samuel 7:14
December 18, 2016
In prophecy and in fulfillment, Jesus is revealed as the Son of God.
I. The Father and the Son (2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:1-12)
II. You Will Bear the Son (Luke 1:26-38)
III. The Supremacy of the Son (Hebrews 1:1-5)
I’ve had occasion, recently, to think about the creeds of the early church, the Apostles Creed, the Chalcedonian Confession and especially the Nicene Creed as forming clear and hard won summaries of the faith. In the first several hundred years of Christianity the church struggled in the face of numerous heresies to capture the truths of the Bible especially concerning the Trinity and the person of Jesus, the cornerstone and foundation of our faith.
Last week we looked at Jesus’ human descent, his genealogy and the prophecies that revealed not only his coming, but whose descendant he would be. We ended with Romans 1: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” That’s kind of a creed in itself, and this week we want to look at the second assertion, not Jesus’ human genealogy from David, but his divine genealogy as the Son of God. We’ll look at some of the most frequently used prophecies of the Old Testament and at the New Testament’s insights. We’ll see that in prophecy and fulfillment, Jesus is revealed as the Son of God.
The Nicene Creed responds to several heresies about the nature of the Trinity and of Jesus. It was begun the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and completed in 381 in Constantinople. Over half the creed concerns the Son of God. “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from his Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. Through whom all things were made. Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was made flesh from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” There’s a lot of Christmas in the Nicene Creed.
But what I want to focus on this morning are the phrases that start with “the only Son of God, begotten from his Father before all ages,” or in many translations, “eternally begotten.” What does that mean? Before we turn to the Scriptures I want to try to illustrate what that means. It’s very dangerous to attempt a physical illustration of Trinitarian truth, but I’m going to try, and I ask to be forgiven of the shortcomings of this illustration.
What I thought of was Niagara Falls. It could have been any waterfall really, but Niagara Falls is well known to be awesome. The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario and the State of New York. And halfway between the two lakes, the water roars over a geological feature called the Niagara escarpment. The river is trying to drain Lake Erie, an effectively impossible task. The falls never run dry, summer or winter. The average flow rate is four million cubic feet per minute, enough to fill 150 backyard pools every minute. The falls are also famous for a mist that rises as this huge volume of water thunders down. If you’ve been there you’ve probably ridden the boat “Maid of the Mist.”
How is this like Jesus? The analogy is that the Father is like Lake Erie, inexhaustible, and since eternity past the Son of God, Jesus has been pouring out of the Father’s abundance, of the same essence, the same stuff as the Father. And the mist, if you want to stretch this already stretched analogy further, is the Spirit, who continually rises out of the Father, or the Father and the Son. The point that appeals to me is the image of the Son continually pouring, from and for all eternity. I think that’s what the writers of the Creed had in mind with the phrase ‘eternally begotten of the Father’ and ‘begotten, not made.” So the divine genealogy of Jesus has one link: eternal Son of God.
And this is evident in Scripture, in some of the most quoted prophecies of Jesus. The first is 2nd Samuel 7, and this is the fourth time we’ve been in this Scripture since we began our series on “God’s Big Story.” If you want to review the context and Big Story implications of this passage, I urge you to go back and check out those messages. But I want to read verses 12-14 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.
That phrase, the first half of verse 14 is where I want to focus. God promises a king who will reign on David’s throne. But in an almost shocking turn of phrase for the Old Testament God says “I will be his father, and he will be my Son.” This isn’t the only place God is identified as a father in the Old Testament, but they are not very frequent. A few times he promises to be a Father to his people. Jeremiah 31:9 “With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Jeremiah 3 “I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful of all nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father, and would not turn from following me.”
But of course they did turn away. David Jackson’s song “If I be a Father” is based in part on Malachi 1:6 “Oh, if I be a Father, tell me where is my honor? If I be a master, where is my fear?” Yet despite our turning away, God promises to parent as a loving Father. Psalm 103 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” Proverbs 3:12 “For the Lord reproves whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
God is revealed as a Father in the Old Testament, but 2nd Samuel 7 is the only place I could find where God promises to be a father to a specific individual, to the king. Of course, this included the kings of David’s line, but as we’ve said, this text is soon seen as a promise of an eternal king on an eternal throne, and it is of that king that God says “I will be his father, and he will be my Son.” We’ve looked at how David and Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah expand on this truth. Isaiah, in particular, sees this king who will reign on David’s throne as the child who will be born to us and the Son who will be given to us and as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. In those phrases Jesus is seen in his Godness, more than just his humanness.
Another place this happens is Psalm 2, which we haven’t talked about yet in this series. Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
There are four voices speaking in Psalm 2. Verse 1-3 are a report of the voice of the nations, of foolish rebellion, kings and rulers taking counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed. When Peter quotes this verse in prayer in Acts 4 he makes it clear that Psalm 2 is talking “your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.” This is the Messiah, in Greek the Christ. When Jesus asked Peter “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” When Jesus asked Martha “Do you believe?” she said “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
But the nations say “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” The world’s nations and peoples have always been in foolish rebellion, clinging to the conceit that they are greater than God and know better than God. Yet God remains sovereign. The second voice is that of God the Father in verses 4 to 6: He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
What is God’s response? He laughs. He scoffs. Does that sound harsh? It isn’t when you consider the situation. Here are these little ‘kings of the nations’ banding together against the sovereign God. What can we compare it to? The mice deciding to bell the cat? No, more extreme: The ants deciding to rule the kingdom. The people of Tiki Island deciding to stop the world from spinning. The tiny micro-organisms on the back of the flea on the back of the dog deciding to drive the dog’s master’s truck. Isaiah 40:15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” When I was first a believer, many years ago, Richard Nixon was president, and we had the Watergate scandal, but Nixon refused to acknowledge it, clung to the presidency. But the pastor who led me to the Lord, Pete Fosberg, had a saying he repeated often: “Richard Nixon does not have the last word.” God does. God laughs. It’s ridiculous for these little creatures to set themselves up so proudly against their creator.
Yet their rebellion is not funny. It’s sad. Because by rebelling against God all men - all men and women - all rulers, all peoples have earned his wrath. God is just, and those who shake their fists in defiance of him will get what they want - his absence. Since God is the best good thing in this universe, everything that is away from Him is horribly bad. When he judges rebellion, he exiles the rebels, separates them from himself - a fate more horrible than we can imagine. We call it hell. So God’s anger is a rebuke to the foolishness of the nations. His wrath rightly terrifies. They have set themselves up against him: but he has effortlessly established his own sovereign king. “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” It is clear that David in writing this Psalm, is not talking about himself, but about someone greater, a kingship more wonderful than his. God’s king, installed in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, is one who dwarfs the petty rebellious leaders of nations. David, though great, never had that stature. It is only the promised King who rules over the nations.
The third voice in this Psalm is his, the voice of this anointed one, who he tells us he is more than merely a man chosen by God. He is in fact the divine Son. “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’”
Much of the Psalm could be read as celebrating the coronation of any of David’s descendants. But verse 7 is prophetic of the Messiah and the uniqueness of his relationship to God. It’s not enough to be called God’s Son, but God adds “Today I have begotten you.” God never said this to the kings of Israel and Judah. It is only said of Jesus, using this Hebrew word in the Old Testament and a Greek word of similar meaning in the New Testament. Both words mean more than physical begetting. They speak of the exalted position and absolute uniqueness of the Son. The Greek word, the one also used in John 3:16, is ‘monogenes,’ God’s one and only’ Son, but in the King James ‘God’s only begotten Son.’ In Hebrew the verb is in a continuous tense. ‘I am continuously your Father, continually bringing you forth. That’s what the Nicene Creed, using the same Greek word, is saying: eternally begotten, not made..
So the conclusion of studying this sentence is that God speaks to this anointed one and declares him to be something truly remarkable, the Son of God. Not just a son as we are sons of our Father in heaven, not just a son as the other kings were, but a son in a unique and ongoing relationship to God his Father. He is the Son promised to Mary in today’s Christmas text, Luke 1:26-35 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
His name is Jesus, God saves. He will sit on throne of his father David. That’s the human genealogy of Jesus. And his kingdom will never end. He will reign forever. Sometimes we stop there, but this week it’s what the angel says next that should knock us over. Mary says “how can this be, I’m a virgin,” and the angel says “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” This is his divine descent: directly and eternally the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, in a miracle we can’t wrap our minds around causes the human egg of Mary to become an embryo with somehow, divine DNA.
Max Lucado says it was a moment like no other. “For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. The Omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.”
A hundred years after the Nicene Council theologians were still wrestling with the incarnation. How can one person be God and man? They couldn’t fully explain it, but they wrote the Chaledonian Confession to outline what it was safe to say about it: “We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you think that’s a mouthful, it is, and we can’t explore it all today. But walk outside those boundaries and you no longer have a Savior. Stay within those bounds and you have an outline for both Bible study and worship, for head and heart. You have Christmas and Easter. You have 2nd Samuel 7 and Psalm 2. His human descent and his devine descent, are both essential. That’s why Psalm 2 is quoted so often in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, Paul uses Psalm 2 to prove the resurrection and divinity of Christ. Acts 13:32 "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' There is no doubt that Paul sees the fulfilment in Jesus. He sees in Jesus both the anointed Messiah and the Divine Son of God. His divinity is even more clear at the beginning of Hebrews, in which Psalm 2:7 is the very first Old Testament text quoted.
Hebrews 1:1-5 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?
This Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the imprint of His nature. He is God the Son. The anointed one against whom the nations rage is more than an earthly king. He is the divine Son of God. He alone provides purification for sins. He alone is seated at the Father’s right hand. He alone is superior to angels. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” We saw earlier how unique Psalm 2 is, as the Psalmist identified this King of David’s line as the begotten Son of God. The author of Hebrews takes it a step further and says “He’s not just greater than kings. There has never been an angel of whom ‘today I have begotten you’ could be said.” Angels are called sons of God a couple times in Scripture. But not only begotten sons of God. Prophecy recognizes Jesus as unique, and those who walked with him recognized him as unique, and those wrote of him after the resurrection recognize that he was uniquely the Son of God.
So it’s no real surprise that the author of Hebrews finally looks all the way back to 2nd Samuel 7: “I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son.” He’s telling us that that prophecy, made to David, doesn’t lead to a normal human king, but to the Son of God, who, again, is “heir of all things. Through whom he, God, created the world. Who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of His nature. Who upholds the universe by the word of his power. Who made purification for sins, through his death on the Cross, and who then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
You’d almost think these guys who wrote the Nicene Creed had been reading their Bibles. After the Christmas section I read at the beginning it says this: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” The divine genealogy of Jesus leads to our salvation. The human genealogy of Jesus leads to our salvation. Jesus is our salvation.