About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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King Of Israel


"The First Noel" is a Christmas carol classic.   We sing, "born is the King of Israel", but do we understand what we sing, or do we simply mouth the words to create a warm fuzzy feeling?     


The phrase "born is the King of Israel" could have been inspired from the angel's visit with Mary.  The angel told Mary that she would give birth to a son without the assistance of a husband.  If that wasn't hard enough for her to understand, the fact that her Son would be given "the throne of His father David"; would "reign over the house of Jacob forever; and, His Kingdom would never end", would be equally as hard to understand. (Luke 1:32 and 33)  These words make Jesus "King of Israel'.   


In the denominational church I grew up in, I recall this passage being read every Christmas.  I don't recall any explanation to its meaning.  Maybe no one had an explanation.  Maybe this passage was too hard to understand.  Or, maybe no one believed Jesus would be a literal king over a literal Israel , so in order not to spoil the mood, no one mentioned that Jesus would really be "King of the church" instead of "King of Israel".  


What the angel told Mary was the continuation of a prophetic message that is seen throughout the Old Testament.  It is good hermeneutics for us to understand these prophetic words as Mary was expected to understand them.  To create a new understanding that Mary would not have been expected to understand is bad Biblical interpretation.  So, when the angel told Mary that Jesus would be "King of Israel", (my paraphrase) even though there was no national Israel at the time, she would have understood that Jesus would be a real King over a real nation of Israel.  That should be our understanding as well.       


Has Jesus ever been a literal King of a literal Israel?  Not yet, but as countless Old Testament prophecies have predicted, He will.  He will rule from a place of authority where King David once had His throne, as the angel told Mary.  From a literal Jerusalem , within the borders of a literal Israel, Jesus will rule Israel forever.  Clearly, the words of this angel tell us that Israel has not been replaced by the church.  She will have national significance, not only for a while, but forever.  "The First Noel", not only speaks to Jesus' birth, but also to His return, and His rule over the eternal nation of Israel. 


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