How to Believe the Gospel--Part 2
Jul 20, 2009
The Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom. One may speak of other gospels such as the Gospel of Salvation, but these are all subsets of the Gospel of the Kingdom. To understand the complete message, one must know the Gospel of the Kingdom. Christians know enough of this Gospel to qualify as citizens of the Kingdom, but many do not know enough to really understand the big picture.
As I have shown already, the New Testament conflict between Jesus and the political/religious leaders of the day was a replay of the story of David and Absalom. Words fail to express the importance of understanding this connection. I myself did not see it until the mid-1990's, because of the thousands of books that I have read, not one of them even mentioned this connection.
I finally read Acts 1:20, which quotes Psalm 69:25 and 109:8, and decided to look up those verses to see why the disciples had applied them to Judas. Psalm 69 is a prophecy of the crucifixion of Christ at the hands of his "enemies" (vs. 18), and verse 25 applied first Ahithophel and later to Judas.
Psalm 109 is likewise prophetic of this NT conflict. Verse 3 says that they, "fought against me without a cause." It is quoted in John 15:25. Verse 5 says that "they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love," which Jesus quoted in John 13:27. In that same context, the disciples understood verse 8 to apply to Judas, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office."
For this reason, they drew lots to see who would replace Judas. Matthias drew the lot, but it is plain to me that he was only a temporary stand-in, holding the office until the Apostle Paul was ready. Seeing that Paul replaced Judas adds a whole new backdrop to Paul's ministry. It explains also the differences between his outlook and that of most of the other apostles.
Paul understood most clearly, not only by prophecy but also by personal experience, the opposition coming from the synagogue and the temple in Jerusalem. Paul seemed determined not to become just another Judas. He had no intention of betraying Jesus afresh by colluding with the temple priests, or by retaining parts of the Old Covenant along with the New.
The biggest clash with his fellow apostles came over the issue of fleshly circumcision, which was the primary sign of the Old Covenant. Paul wanted nothing to do with forcing Greek converts to be circumcised. When the issue came to a head with "no small dissension and disputation" (Acts 15:2), the decision was made to call for the first Church Council in Jerusalem to decide the matter. There Paul won his case and was able to "get it on paper" (vs. 23). Paul was then able to take this with him to prove his case authoritatively to all who might disagree.
Paul's biggest "thorn in the flesh" came from the synagogues in Asia and Europe. So Paul tells the believers in 1 Thess. 2:14-16,
(14) For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, (15) who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, (16) hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath [divine judgment] has come upon them to the utmost.
Paul understood the conflict and knew that it was the fulfillment of the story of David and Absalom. He also knew the final outcome of both Absalom and Ahithophel. Ahithophel hanged himself, and Absalom was killed at the second coming of David. Absalom was NOT destined for the throne. He never was, and knowing this, he usurped the position unlawfully. David did not fight back at the time, but walked "weeping and barefoot" to the top of the Mount of Olives, where he made a sacrifice (2 Sam. 15:30-32).
So did Jesus a thousand years later. The "summit" or "top" of the mount is from the Hebrew word rosh, which means head/skull. Jesus' sacrifice was made at Golgotha, the place of the skull (Matt. 27:33). It is not the traditional hill, which now looks like a skull because of erosion a mere thousand years ago. Jesus was crucified on the top of the Mount of Olives, where David made his prophetic sacrifice.
When we understand the role of each player in this conflict over the throne, it is not hard to see that Absalom was an anti-David, one who rules in place of David--that is, a usurper. Ahithophel was the betrayer, who sided with Absalom in the revolt, but he was also a disciple and friend. Enemies can kill you, but only a friend can betray you.
In the New Testament fulfillment, the Jewish religious leaders were the anti-Christs who usurped the throne, saying, "This is the Heir; come, let us kill him and seize His inheritance" (Matt. 21:38). Their followers, in general, are represented by the army that followed Absalom, or by those who delighted to see David overthrown (as in the case of Shimei). Hence, those who remained in Judaism (the evil figs of Jeremiah), those who rejected the true Messiah-King for being a "good fig," are those who form Absalom and his supporters and come under the category of anti-Christ.
Judas was the "son of perdition." In John 17:12 Jesus prayed in regard to His disciples,
"While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished [apolleto, "was lost"] but the son of perdition[apoleia, "loss"].
Judas represented the disciple that was "lost," having had to play the role of Ahithophel, the betrayer. The "sign of perdition" is found in Phil. 1:27, 28,
(27) Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel; so that . . . I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel; (28) in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of perdition for them, but of salvation for you, and too, from God.
Paul's letter was meant to counter preaching from other Christians that opposed him, no doubt the usual Judaizers. They usually won the day prior to 70 A.D., when God clarified many things in the destruction of Jerusalem and the old temple.
Finally, in 2 Thess. 2:3 we read,
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition."
In other words, the Ahithophel-Judas "son of perdition" must be manifested a third time before the day of the Lord comes to pass. If we do not have a clear understanding that Absalom was the anti-David and the chief priests were the collective anti-Christ, then we will not understand how the son of perdition fits into the story.
Whereas in the first coming of Christ, the primary issue was the THRONE, or scepter of Judah, today the primary issue is the BIRTHRIGHT of Joseph. When the Jewish leaders in 1948 decided to usurp the name "Israel," it was the major sign of usurping the Birthright of Joseph. In doing so, they claimed the right to be called "the sons of God" apart from Jesus Christ.
Jewish leaders have always understood that the tribes of Joseph (holders of the Birthright) were the Israelites that were dispersed in 721 B.C. They were not the tribe of Judah ("Jews"). But with those tribes "lost," they found opportunity to usurp Joseph's Birthright as well as David's Throne.
Shall we help them?
This is the final part of a series titled "How to Believe the Gospel." To view all parts, click the link below.