John T. Willis

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The People of God--God's Kingdom--III

The Bible is very careful to maintain unconditionally and consistently that GOD ALONE is the KING, ruler, leader, etc. of his people. When speaking of the earthly king of Israel, the Bible uses several terms to emphasize that the earthly king is not really the king or ruler or leader of God's people at all--God is! The earthly king is merely one instrument God uses on earth to accomplish his purposes. Let us examine some of these terms briefly.

1. "Messiah." The English word "messiah" is not a translation, but a transliteration of the Hebrew word "meshiach." The translation of this word is "anointed [one]," because "meshiach" is an adjective, and if it is not used in a sentence with a noun, the translator must supply the noun, which here is "one." The Greek word that translates the Hebrew "meshiach" is "christos," which means "anointed [one]," and from which we get the English word "Christ," which obviously is a transliteration [not a translation] of the Greek word "christos."
The way God made kings of Israel is by "anointing" a person. Thus, EVERY KING OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH was the Lord's "anointed [one]." God usually sent a prophet to perform this "anointing." So God tells the prophet Samuel on the day before Saul came to him in 1 Samuel 9:15-16 to anoint him prince over Israel:
"Now the day before Saul came, the Lord revealed this to Samuel: 'About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. ANOINT him PRINCE over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.'"
When Saul arrived, Samuel and Saul conversed and shared a sacrifice; then the next morning Samuel anointed Saul prince over Israel, as the Lord has instructed him. The account of this is in 1 Samuel 10:1:
"Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, 'HAS NOT THE LORD ANOINTED YOU PRINCE over his people Israel?'"
When Saul and David became enemies, David refused to kill Saul when he had the opportunity "because he [Saul] was the Lord's anointed one [messiah]" (1 Samuel 24:6; 26:9-11).
The Lord sent a prophet to anoint David (1 Samuel 16:1, 13; 2 Samuel 12:7), Solomon (1 Kings 1:34), Jehu (2 Kings 9:3, 6), and all other Israelite and Judean monarchs as prince over God's people. But all the while, God alone was KING. Throughout the Psalms and the Prophetic Books, "messiah," "anointed one," is the common term for the earthly representative of God--see e. g., Psalms 2:1-2, 6-8; 18:50; 20:6; 45:7; and very often.
A major problem God faced when he sent Jesus to earth is to explain to people who he was. In order to do this, he used terminology familiar to them--terminology that had existed for centuries in their culture. One of these terms was "messiah." God anointed Jesus as his representative over his spiritual kingdom (see e. g., Luke 2:11; 9:18-20; Acts 2:36; Hebrews 1:5-9; etc.). Jesus says repeatedly:
"I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (John 6:38; see 4:34; 5:19; 7:16, 28-29; 8:28-29; etc.).
Thus, Jesus' purpose is to point humanity beyond himself "to his heavenly Father" (see John 14:6).

John Willis