Matthew 17:1-13 Part 10

“He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.  They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him, and His enemies shall lick the dust.  His Name shall endure forever, and all nations shall call Him blessed; and blessed be His glorious Name forever and forever, and let the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen.”  (Psalm seventy-two)


We’re nearing the end of the preaching of these first thirteen verses of Matthew seventeen.  And as the Ekklesia gathers in public, all over the world, to give honor and glory to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, it is somewhat vexing and distressing to witness the departure, in many circles, from the acknowledgment of the glory of Christ the King.

In just my lifetime there have been five wars in which our country has been involved.  And that’s not counting the dozens, and even hundreds, of conflicts in other sections of the globe… and in all of them men and women and children are simply disposed of as animals.

Our own society has seen humanity devalued to a great extent in its moral relativism and loss of liberties.  And we fear for the safety and stability of our own system; for the nations that abandon God’s Law for their own have no “ground” for continuity.

If it were not for our understanding of Christ’s rule over the nations and the events of history, we might even be discouraged about our long-term prospects!

But He has risen; and He has ascended!  And, as promised by the Father, He has been given glory, and all power, and a Kingdom.  He has been given all power in Heaven and Earth.  Therefore all individuals, families, governments and Churches are duty-bound to give Him love, and honor, and obedience.  The Day-star has arisen, and the New Heavens and the New Earth have come to pass; “Behold, all things are become new.”  The Spirit of Christ now tabernacles with men in all the nations of the earth, and all His enemies are being subdued and put under His feet – “that every knee should bow to Him whether of things in heaven or of things on earth.”  (Philippians two, ten)


“Awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; Let the mountain of the Lord’s house be established upon the tops of the mountains!  Yes, Lord, Thou has passed the decree.  The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  All kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.”  (Isaiah two, nine; Micah four, one; Revelation two, fifteen; and Psalm seventy-two, eleven)


Even in times of rebellion such as these; and even with the frailties of the human condition – sin, sickness and death – the promises of God stand true and eternal.  They are not subject to the temporary vanities and rebellions of rulers and nations.  Life nor death; principalities nor powers can tear us away from the love of God.  Christ has definitively defeated the great enemy – death; and the kingdoms of earth can’t stand before the power of His mighty sword!

Therefore, in the light of these things, fear and faintheartedness become despicable.  This whole series of sermons concerns the glory of Jesus Christ the Lord!  He has been crowned with glory over all the nations of the earth, and He is Lawgiver and Savior!  So how could we be afraid?  How could we be anxious?

The nation of Jews wanted a material – physical – king to sit in Jerusalem and bring back the glory of David and Solomon; so they rejected God’s Anointed One (Christ) Who was promised in all of the prophets from Genesis to Malachi!  And even though the Glory-Cloud/Throne-Room of God appeared to these disciples and confirmed that Jesus was the “voice” of God made flesh, these men did not understand; they still echoed false, Jewish, kingdom-concepts; they conceived false eschatology; and they would not accept the necessity of Jesus’ going into Jerusalem and placing Himself in the hands of the elders and priests and Scribes – to suffer many things; and to be killed; and on the third day to be raised!  They were “apistos” – faithless – according to Jesus.

The whole nation (with the exception of the remnant of the House of Israel promised by God) had perverted, rewritten, and hypocritically disobeyed the Law of God; and, now, it had corporately rejected that Word of God made flesh when He appeared.  They publicly, practically, and explicitly declared that Jesus should not rule over them!  (And they would soon suffer the extremities of the Covenantal Law-suit promised by God in the Scriptures.)

We must not suffer the same delusions.  We must not be full of fear and cowardice as the nation around us attempts to tear off the Crown of the King of Kings.  The rage against the Lord and His Anointed King is only apparent and temporary.  And the suffering of human frailty and weakness is only temporary.  Fight the good fight of faith; contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; expose impiety and hypocrisy.  For the Honor of Christ, for the love of His Divine Law, for the establishing of His Kingdom of peace and order, follow the Savior among those who are called, chosen and faithful until He overturns the godless kingdoms of the earth.  “As you go, make disciples of the nations, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”  Be obedient, vigilant, vigorous and diligent until Christ the King brings in the fullness of the Jews and the Gentiles, and reigns in the New Jerusalem (the Church, the New Temple) over all the nations of the earth!

We have preached the Glory of Christ from this passage for ten weeks.  In the most explicit prophetic imagery, Christ was transformed, on the “high mountain” of Israel, from the form of man to the form of Glory.  And it is imperative that the nation “behold His glory” and submit to Him and His Divine Law.  Then the mouths of the blasphemers will be shut; idolaters will be banished from public sight; and the virtuous will, again, bear testimony to the righteousness of God!

Jahwey has placed the glory of the crown of the nations upon the head of Jesus Christ; and you must walk, unabashedly, under the banner of the Captain of your salvation.  Don’t despair, and don’t be discouraged by your circumstances – and by what you see and hear and feel.  The Prophet, Priest and King now tabernacles with men – to the honor of God the Father.  And His victory is sealed by the Word of God – to the end that the earth is cleansed, and Paradise restored!


The time was fast approaching.  It was only a few short months away when Jesus was to accomplish His intent to go into Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and priests and scribes, and to be killed, and on the third day to be raised.  And the time was fast approaching when these three disciples would be proclaiming to the world the appearance of Moses and Elijah and the Glory of Jesus the Messiah.  The first six months of that apostolic proclamation can be read in the first nine chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.

But that time was not yet.  The time had not yet come for the “kerygma”, the Voice of Christ, the proclamation, to be heard in Jerusalem, in Samaria and all the nations to the ends of the earth.  The time had not quite come for Jesus to suffer and be killed, and to be raised the Son of God with Power.  The time had not yet come for the “Son of Man” to be raised and be given all Power over Heaven and Earth as He was promised.  And the time had not yet come for the effusion of His Spirit as He came to Tabernacle with men – and as He executed swift and righteous judgment upon the apostate nation of Israel!

That’s why Jesus charged them, verse nine, saying,


“you should tell the appearance to no one until the Son of Man be raised from the dead.”


Now, here is one of those critical instances where Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man”.  Let me just take a few moments to go over this once again – it’s very important to our understanding of Jesus’ ascension to Kingship as promised by His Father.

The Scripture says that the Word of God was made flesh.  God sent His Son to be born of a woman and to be the Savior of the world.  He is God’s Son.  And in this respect He is often referred to as the “Son of God”.  But when Jesus refers to Himself in connection with His resurrection and ascension-to-the-Father, it is in terms of the “Son of Man”!  In the flesh of man He was put to death; but He rose up out of that realm of the dead in order that death could no longer be victorious over the flesh of men!  And the Arisen God-Man then received His inheritance – a Kingdom and all power in heaven and earth.

Now the only place in the Old Testament Scriptures where that term “Son of Man” is used in this manner is in Daniel chapter seven.  That’s the chapter in which Daniel is shown the four great Kingdoms of history:  Babylon, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire.  But then Daniel sees another, much greater, empire established.  A fifth one!  And this is what it says in chapter seven, verses thirteen and fourteen:


“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.  And there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and tongues should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed.”


So the event in which Jesus Christ ascends to the Father to receive His Kingdom is the definitive event of the term “Son of man”!  His is the fifth and everlasting Kingdom of the prophecy of Daniel, and it is the God-Man Who is the everlasting King!

Therefore, when Jesus forbade His disciples to speak of His transformation on the “High Mountain” of Israel until the Son of Man be raised from the dead, it is with direct reference to this prophecy of His finishing the work and receiving dominion and a Kingdom as His inheritance!  The disciples are not to participate in proclamation until the work is complete and Jesus has been given all power in Heaven and Earth!

Now, the disciples, still not understanding the full eschatological import of what they were seeing and hearing, ask Jesus, verse ten,


“Why then do the scribes say that it is necessary that Elias is to come first?” 


And that question reflects the prevailing, false expectations of the Pharisees (and Jesus’ disciples)!  And that expectation was that Elijah would be reincarnated and come in from the wilderness (remember that Elijah was translated into heaven without dying) to preach repentance in advance of the Messiah; and that the nation would be at peace when the man whom God had chosen, and who was superior to any of the scribal doctors of law, came into Jerusalem to receive the acclaim of the world!

Remember also that when Jesus was on the Cross and cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” the Jews thought He was screaming for Elijah to come and show himself so that Jesus could be saved from death at the last minute!

But apparently the Pharisees had completely misinterpreted the last verses of the prophecy of Malachi, which reads like this:


“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”


So, in their hope of the revival of the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, the Pharisees twisted the meaning of the prophecy of Malachi to fit their own desires!  And in their blindness, the Jews who have gathered in the city of Jerusalem today are still trying to do the same thing!  They’re trying to find a man with superior wisdom and intellect to install as the Messiah!  I just read another article about it the other day.

And, strangely enough, dispensationalism, which has invaded the Christian Church, is attempting to do the same thing!  They’re praying for, and doing all they can to advance the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple in order to be ready for the Messiah coming and ruling over the world as a material king!  And, in substance, it is exactly the same error as that of the Pharisees!

But now let’s go to Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question about Elijah coming first, and then see if we can shed some light on it.  The disciples had asked Him: 


“Why then do the scribes say that it is necessary that Elias is to come first?’  But He, answering, said, ‘Elias indeed comes and all shall be restored.  But I say to you that Elias has already come, and they did not recognize him but accomplished as they willed in his case.  Thus also the Son of Man is about to suffer under them.’  Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.”


The New Testament gives us a sufficient explanation of the fullness of the Malachi prophecy.  The prophet Elijah, whom the Lord would send before His Own coming was sent in the person of John the Baptist.  Even before his birth he was announced to his father by the angel Gabriel as the promised Elijah.  Gabriel said that he would


“turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the unbelieving to the wisdom of the just.”  (Luke one, verses sixteen and seventeen) 


And even by his appearance and his dress John announced himself as the prophet Elijah, who by the preaching of repentance and baptism was preparing the way of the Lord.  And you remember, Elijah was the prophet who favored the Gentiles over the widows of Israel!

And we also have to remember what the “Day of the Lord” is all about!  John was the forerunner of the One Who would come with winnowing shovel to winnow His floor, and gather the wheat into His granary, and who would burn up the alien chaff with unquenchable fire!  That was the “way of the Lord”.

John the Baptist was Elijah, who prepared the way of the Lord, Who, in turn, came to find the lost sheep of the House of Israel, to destroy the apostate nation, and to bring salvation and a Kingdom to the Gentile nations of the earth!  John came to prepare that way!  The hills and valleys of the earth were made straight for the Lord.

And the nation of Israel, as was the case with the Messiah, did not recognize him, but put him to death!  The forerunner of Christ prepared His way by suffering persecution, humiliation and death before Him!  As Jesus said to him, “it is necessary for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  John had already come, and they killed him!

And, lastly, it is for us to remember that the prophets of the Old Testament throughout make no mention of any second coming of the Lord to His people.  The “Day of the Lord”, which they announce as the day of judgment, commenced with the birth of the Messiah – the Logos incarnate (in the flesh).  And Jesus Himself declared that He had come into the world for judgment – to separate the believing from the ungodly, to give eternal life to those who believe on His Name, and to bring death and condemnation to unbelievers.  And that judgment “Day of the Lord” burst upon the Jewish nation only thirty years after His ascension.  Israel rejected God’s Anointed Prophet, Priest and King as it had the prophet Elijah before Him.  And it was smitten with the “ban” when the Roman legions completely destroyed the city and the nation.  And both people and land lie under the “ban” until this very day.  That was the “way” of the Lord which John prepared.

There on the “High mountain” of Israel, at the “transformation” of Christ, there appeared both Moses and Elijah.  Moses gave the Law; and Elijah preached repentance and obedience.  They spoke with Jesus about His death in Jerusalem – His Exodus – for He was the “fullness” of the Law and the prophets.  And it is this Jesus Who laid down His life for His people, to bear our sin and redeem us from the curse of the Law.  He is the beloved Son of the Father, Whom we are to hear.  He is the “Voice” of God made flesh.  And we who hear Him and believe on His Name are children of God and heirs, with Him, of eternal life.  So Jesus answered His disciples, and they now understood that John had been the voice crying in the wilderness.

And now, lastly, as we complete the preaching of Matthew chapter seventeen, let me just introduce the second hour this morning.

Since our Lord, in all His wisdom and sovereignty, has yet to complete the “putting down of all His enemies” in this world, there are many in the world order who would still wish to dethrone the King of Kings.  It has been that way since Eve conspired with Satan.

Conspiracies are clearly revealed all through the Scripture.  And they had one fundamental goal:  to terminate the future ultimate rule of God’s Anointed King.  “Any king but Jesus.”

And now that our Lord has been raised from death and ascended to power over every thing in the Heavens and the Earth, things are no different.  Well, maybe a little different – in that conspiracies no longer wish to interrupt the sequences of events leading up to His resurrection and ascension to Kingship.  Now the world order conspires to deny that He’s done it!

The plans and goals of fallen mankind include anything and everything except submission to the King of Kings.  The schemes and plans of man seem to be limitless (although they’re not); and we’ll hear an article about some of these in the next hour.

Last Lord’s Day during the second hour, we were all encouraged by the fact that the Gentile nations now have over two billion adherents to the Name of Christ (in whatever form).  We started out in 33 AD with none.  And God laughs at every conspiracy against His King.  He will have His “way” among the nations of men.  And we are assured that every nation and every tribe and every tongue will submit to Him.  That’s the Gospel.  And therein lies our hope for the world.

As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, Jesus is “the Blessed and only Potentate, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

And now, having finished chapter seventeen, verses one through thirteen, and since we’re fast approaching the celebration of Christ’s birthday, I want to spend just a minute or two on that subject, because, on the one hand, there are many who wish to dethrone God’s King and remove any religion from the holiday; and, on the other hand, there are some who wish to observe nothing at all with regard to the festivities.

But the first to celebrate the birth of the King were the magi from the Gentile east!  It was a legal requirement in the Greco-Roman empire to celebrate the birthday of the emperor/ruler, for he was the law-giver, ruler and savior of the people.  And as did the magi, the early Church considered it a statement of faith to celebrate the birthday of God’s King.  And it wasn’t a mindless day of festivities, either.  It was a statement that the only true King of the nations was Jesus Christ the Lord.  Celebration of the King’s Birthday!

It is neither a pagan winter-festival, nor something to be discarded as idolatrous.  And neither is it to be something just for the children.  For true Christians it ought to be a festival of joy, not required by Scripture, but allowed by Scripture.  It is a legal celebration of the birth of our Sovereign.  It is a festival that acknowledges that Jesus is, in the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy, “the blessed and only Potentate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”  As the writer of the hymn says, “Joy to the world!  The Lord is come; let earth receive her King!”