Who Is the Antitypical David?
Who Is the Antitypical David?
The Rod's position that antitypical king David is not Christ personally has drawn a lot of controversy. On the surface, the idea of someone else beside Christ bearing the title of king seems almost blasphemous. The first impression is to think that we are placing the human above the divine. But a thorough study of the Scriptures reveal that it is quite the contrary. In fact, it is biblically based upon Christ's own words.
Now before going any further, it should be made very clear that by and large, this doctrine is not considered vital to salvation. Whether it be Christ personally or someone else does not have direct bearing on our eternal destiny since the kingdom is still future. The most important matter is to get there first, where the whole truth will be made abundantly clear..
The Denomination’s Position
The position of the denomination is that the antitypical David must be Christ because He had been predicted to sit upon the throne of David.
“The testimony of the Bible,” wrote one General Conference publication, “concerning the everlasting kingdom promised to David by the Lord is very clear (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 132:11). The promise of a future king to sit on David’s throne was to meet its fulfillment in Christ, the mighty ‘son of David’(Matt. 1:1; 22:42), the Root and Offspring of that ancient Hebrew monarch (Isa. 7:13, 14; 9:6,7; Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:4 -6; Luke 1:32; 2:4, 11; John 7:42; Rev. 22:16).”
These common passages either speak of Christ’s first advent, his mission, or the fact that as the son of David, will rule upon his throne.
But the key Bible text for supporting Christ as the antitypical David and king is found in Ezekiel.
“Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.” Ezekiel 34:22 -24.
Then there is a Ellen White’s comment on this passage: “Christ applied these prophecies to Himself, and He showed the contrast between His own character and that of the leaders of Israel.”
The Rod’s Position
The Rod’s message does not in anyway disregard the above references, but reveals that we have misunderstood them.
Before going further, however, we should preface our response by making two points very clear:
First of all, Christ will indeed sit upon the throne of David as predicted by the Bible. Second, that we are not referring to antitypical David in heaven or in the New Earth phase of God’s kingdom, but the pre-millennial one only. (See Section 9 for more information on the pre-millennial kingdom or write us for booklets and cassettes studies). Then keep in mind that the subjects of this early phase of the kingdom of God’s glory, are not yet in their immortal state because at that point Christ would not as yet returned visibly.
Furthermore, a human representative as antitypical David does not supercede Christ as the true Sovereign and King. The Shepherd’s Rod takes the position that Christ will be the Potentate of the kingdom, but that He has chosen to reign through the human antitypical David until the second coming when we will finally see our Lord face to face—when there will be no need for a mortal representative. Commenting on Isaiah chapter eleven, this concept was aptly expressed by the author of the Davidian message:
“So though the ‘ensign’ emblematizes the connection of three persons (Jesse, the root,; David, the rod; and Christ, the Branch), yet the power and wisdom of Christ is its underlying and controlling force. Wherefore says Christ: “I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16), bearing out that He is all and in all.
Since therefore from the ‘stem’ of Jesse came the ‘rod’ (David), and from the rod sprang the Branch (Christ), David the visible king and Christ the invisible King of kings. . .
The point is that although a human agent is termed antitypical David or king, Christ will be the controlling power. Thus in this way Christ will be the true ruler and sit upon the throne of David.
( Luke 1:32, 33). But later on, after His second return, he will visibly rule during the millennium and the New Earth forever without a human representative. Now, with this in mind, we can now explore the subject.
Christ is Never Called “David”
The fact is that our Lord is never referred to as David in the Bible, but as the “son of David.”(Matthew 21:15; 22:42). He is said to be the Branch or son of the “rod” (David)—see Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15. He is termed the Root and Offspring of David. (Revelation 22:16). That is, He is the beginning and descendant of David, but never David! None of the passages the denomination refers to, or any passage anywhere in the Scriptures, refer to our Savior as David. Thus the antitypical David has to be someone else personally through whom Christ rules.
Antitypical David and Christ Cannot Be the Same
“But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise unto them.” Jeremiah 30:9
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king: and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4, 5.
“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them: I the Lord have spoken it. Ezekiel 34:23, 24.
Notice that in the first text given us through Jeremiah, the Lord pointed out that we will serve the Lord (Jesus) their God AND David their king. Thus they are two separate persons—the King of kings and the earthly representative—antitypical “David.” The same thought is brought to view through Hosea.
Ezekiel in chapter 34 is more emphatic. To gain more of the lesson we need to look at verse 11: “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.”
This passage clearly refers to Christ. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10: 11 - 16). His shepherd attributes are illustrated in verse 16 of Ezekiel 34: “I will seek that which was lost, and bring that again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong: I will feed them with judgment.”
In The Desires of Ages, p. 477, the reference that was quoted earlier and used by the denomination against the Rod’s position, Ellen White commented on verse 16 (along with 23, 24). She wrote, “Christ applied these prophecies to Himself.”
So what is the point? Obviously, verses 11 - 16 speak of Christ—the one who will seek out His sheep and gather them. Thus He must be the one that will set up the one shepherd. He will set up the antitypical David over His flock. Again, verses 23 and 24 tell us: “And I [Christ] will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David. . . .And I [Christ] the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them . . .” [Brackets added]
Thus there is no contradiction, but a misunderstanding of this passage. These prophecies do refer to Jesus our Lord. But there are two persons brought to view. Our Savior is the Good Shepherd seeking out His people and setting up a shepherd [David] over them. Thus in the pre-millennial phase of God’s kingdom of glory, Christ will be our God and David will be His representative. That is, “David the visible king, Christ the invisible King of kings.”
In case you are thinking that the person who appoints the “David” or “one shepherd,” is the Father, please remember this very crucial point. It has to be Jesus because the one who appoints the “David” is the very same one who previously sought out His sheep (verses 11 - 16) and who pronounced judgment upon the unfaithful in His flock (Verses 17 - 21). So He had to be the very same person speaking in verses 23 and 24. Thus it could not be the Father appointing Jesus as the one shepherd!
Why would God choose to have a king at all? What is the point of all this?
There are a couple of passages that help us to see things from God’s perspective. First of all, we must remember that God always keeps His promises.
Although God did not desire His people to have a king, He permitted Israel to have one and because of David’s faithfulness, He made a solemn promise to him that his throne and his seed would abide forever? (See Psalms 89:1 - 4, 29 - 40; 1 Chronicles 17:7 -18; Jeremiah 33:17 - 26); And we know that when God blesses, He blesses forever (I Chronicles 17:27). So God wants to affirm that there can be an exemplary kingship here in this sinful world and in our mortal flesh. He promised it to David and He wants to give a perfect demonstration of it before his second return.
The second factor is God wants this done in the sight of the unconverted as a last testimony—an incontrovertible witness that God is good, just, and keeps His Word. To effectively demonstrate this, he will fulfil His promise to David. “But I had pity for my holy name,” says the Lord. which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. Therefore, “say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36: 21 -24.
God wants the world at large to see His kingdom and its government before the second coming, demonstrating that mankind, when completely yielded to Christ, can perfectly reflect his character in mortal flesh. Such a testimony, such a witness, is an argument that cannot be gainsaid. And note that He cannot accomplish this after the second advent because the wicked will be in their graves. This can only be done before the plagues fall. Neither could this witness be as effective if Christ would not use a member of this mortal, fallible race. That is, someone beside Himself. Using sinful man but redeemed by grace would perfectly prove God is love, just, and perfect in all His doings. It would prove that He can “condemn sin in the flesh.” (Romans 8:3) in us. That is, Christ would be glorified by His power demonstrated in us rather than simply doing it Himself.
Thus, since we will not see Christ visibly before His return, He will be the Invisible King of kings, but He will choose to have a visible representative to show the world that you can have a kingdom with righteous people and a righteous rulership—something man has never been able to accomplish. No wonder the servant of the Lord wrote:
“That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth today. . . .These witnesses for God are numbered among the spiritual Israel, and to them will be fulfilled all the covenant promises made by Jehovah to His ancient people.”
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