Our Lord (Christ) has three grand offices assigned Him in the Scriptures in the work of human redemption. When He was upon our earth at His first advent, He was that prophet of whom Moses spake, in Deuteronomy 18:15–19. See also Acts 3:22–26. When He ascended up to heaven, He became a great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110: Hebrews 8:1–6. But when He comes again, He is in possession of His kingly authority, as promised in the second psalm. It is by virtue of this office of king that He judges mankind. Matthew 25:34–40. The transition from our Lord’s priesthood to His kingly office precedes His Second Advent. Luke 19:11, 12, 15. It takes place when His Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7:9–14.
- The nature of the words addressed by the Father to the Son when He crowns Him king, shows that coronation to be at the close of His priestly office.
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:6–9.
It is manifest that the giving of the heathen to the Son by the Father is not for their salvation but for their destruction. It could not, therefore, take place at the ascension of Christ, when He entered upon His priesthood, but must be when the work of that priesthood is finished. Daniel has placed the coronation of Christ at the Father’s judgment-seat. And to this fact the words of the second psalm perfectly agree. The priesthood of Christ is closed when the scepter of iron is placed in His hands. The number of His people is made up, the work for their sins is finished, and their salvation rendered certain, when all the rest of mankind are delivered into His hands to be broken by the scepter of His justice. But this cannot be till our Lord, as priest, has blotted out our sins, at the tribunal of His Father; for when the wicked are given into the hands of Christ to be destroyed, it is plain that there is no further salvation for sinners. When our Lord accepts the iron scepter of justice, He can no longer fill the office of priest, to make atonement for sins. His whole priestly office is finished when He is thus crowned by His Father. But this coronation, which is described in Daniel 7:9–14, is simply the transition from the priesthood of Christ to His kingly office. It is plain that our Lord’s priesthood is brought to a conclusion at the time when the Ancient of Days sits in judgment. We need Him as priest to confess our names at that tribunal, and to show from the record of our past lives that we have perfected the work of overcoming, so that our sins may, by the decision of the Father, be blotted out, and our names retained in the book of life. But when the people of God have thus passed the decision of the investigative judgment, their probation is closed forever, and their names being found in the book of life, when all that have failed to overcome are stricken there from, they are prepared for the standing up of Michael to deliver His people and to destroy all others with the scepter of His justice.
- The priesthood of Christ continues till His enemies are given Him to be destroyed.
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning; thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The LORD at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up the head.” Psalm 110:1–7.
The words of verse 1, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool,” and of verse 4, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” are addressed by God the Father of Christ, when He enters upon His priestly office, and are equivalent to saying that in due time He should have His enemies given Him to destroy, viz., at the close of His work of intercession. For this reason it is that Paul represents Him as sitting at the Father’s right hand, in a state of expectancy. Hebrews 10:13. But the words of the second psalm, bidding Him ask for the heathen, to destroy them, cannot be uttered till He finished His work of intercession. It appears that our Lord announces the close of His intercession by saying, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11. In response to His declaration of the Intercessor, announcing to His Father the close of His work, the Father bids the Son ask of Him the heathen that He may devote them to utter destruction. And in fulfillment of the Son’s request, the Father crowns Him king, as described in Daniel 7:9–14, as He sits in judgment, and commits the judgment into His hands.
Christ’s Position Invariable
- Christ, as our high priest, or intercessor, sits at the right hand of the Father’s throne, i.e., He occupies the place of honor in the presence of one greater, till He is Himself crowned king, when He takes His own throne.
The position of the Saviour as high priest cannot be one invariable, fixed posture of sitting. Indeed, although Mark says (Chapter 16:19) concerning our Lord that “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God,” yet it is said of Stephen that “he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55, 56. Some time after this, Saul of Tarsus had an actual interview with Christ, that, like the other apostles, he might be a witness in person to the fact of his resurrection. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8; Acts 9:3–15, 17, 27; 22:6–8, 14; 26:15, 16.
The fact that Stephen saw our Lord standing at his Father’s right hand, and that after this Jesus did personally appear to Saul to constitute him a witness of his resurrection, which, in order to be an apostle, he must be, is not inconsistent with the mandate of the Father, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
The Hebrew word yahshav, rendered sit in Psalm 110:1, is used an immense number of times in the Old Testament, and is in a very large proportion of these cases rendered dwell. Thus (Genesis 13:12), “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain.” Again (Genesis 45:10), “And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen.” Also, “David dwelt in the country of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 27:7. These examples could be extended to a great length, and kindred uses of the word are very numerous. But it is to be observed that Abraham, and Lot, and Jacob, and David, the persons spoken of in the texts, who dwelled or, as rendered in Psalm 110:1, who sat in the places named, were not, during the time in which they acted thus, immovably fixed to those several places, but were capable of going and returning during the very time in question. And the Greek word kathizo, used in the New Testament for Christ’s act of sitting at the Father’s right hand, though more generally used in the sense of sitting, is also used precisely like yahshav in the texts above.
When our Lord went away, it was not simply that He should act as intercessor for His people, He also had another work to do. He says: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2, 3. We cannot doubt that this work is wrought under our Lord’s personal inspection; and it is performed during the period that He is at the Father’s right hand.
The expression, “right hand,” is especially worthy of attention. In defining the Hebrew word yahmeen, i.e. right hand, Gesenius says: “To sit on the right hand of the king, as the highest place of honor, e.g., spoken of the queen (1 Kings 2:19; Psalm 14:9); of one beloved of the king and vicegerent of the kingdom. Psalm 110:1.”
When our Lord spoke of going away to intercede for His people, he said: “I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I.” John 14:26–28. In fulfilling His office of intercessor, or high priest, He has assigned to Him the highest place of honor in the presence of a greater; for He sits on the right hand of His Father’s throne. He is not, however, to sustain this relation always. It lasts while He pleads for sinful men. When it ceases, the impenitent are to be made His footstool, and the dominion, and glory, and kingdom being given Him, He sits down upon His own throne. Revelation 3:21. This gift of the heathen to Christ is when the Father sits in judgment, as we have seen from Daniel 7:9–14. We can well understand that at this tribunal the question is determined with His iron scepter. The determination of the cases of the righteous in showing that they have perfected the work of overcoming, and that they are worthy to have their sins blotted out is the final work of our Lord as high priest. When this is accomplished, His priesthood is closed forever, and He assumes His kingly throne to judge His enemies and to deliver and reward His saints.
- The Saviour, being crowned king at the close of His priestly office, begins the exercise of His kingly power by delivering His people, and by bringing to trial, and pronouncing judgment upon, and executing, His enemies.
The one hundred and tenth psalm, though it speaks very distinctly of the priesthood of Christ, enters even more largely into the exercise of His kingly office. It very clearly reveals the fact that our Lord acts as judge by virtue of His kingly authority. Thus verse 1 assigns to him, as priest, the place of honor at His Father’s right hand, limiting His priesthood, however, by an event which changes His office from priest to king. Verse 2 states the very act of making Christ king, and makes His enemies His footstool. Thus it says: “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” The first clause of this verse is parallel to Psalm 2:6, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” The heavenly Zion (See Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1) is the place of Christ’s coronation. The last clause is the very words of the Father to the Son, when He crowns Him king. This is sufficiently obvious from our common English version. But it is made still more evident from the French translation of Davie Martin, in which the two clauses are connected by the words, “in saying.” Thus: “The Lord shall transmit out of Zion the scepter of thy strength, in saying: Rule in the midst of thy enemies.”
All the Holy Angels Attend Christ
Our Lord being thus inducted into His kingly office, and proceeding to the exercise of His power against His enemies, the next verse states the sympathy of His people with this work: “Thy people shall be willing in the days of thy power; in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Instead of “the day of thy power,” Martin’s French Bible reads, “The day that thou shalt assemble thy army in holy pomp.” This is the time when the Son of man descends in power and great glory, and the armies of Heaven, i.e.; all the holy angels attend and surround Him. Matthew 24:30, 31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18; Revelation 19:11–21. The people of God are to unite with Christ in His rule over the nations of wicked men. Revelation 2:26, 27; Psalm 2:6–9. The morning of this verse must be the morning of the day, which it mentions. One of the earliest events of that day is the resurrection of the just, when, like their Lord, they are born from the dead to life immortal. Revelation 20:4–6; Luke 20:35, 36; Colossians 1:18; Hosea 13:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 15:42–44, 51–54.
The fourth verse of Psalm 110 confirms with an oath the priesthood of Christ. His prophetic office is the subject of solemn promise. Deuteronomy 18:15–18. His priesthood is established by an oath. Psalm 110:4. His kingly office is the subject of a fixed decree. Psalm 2:6, 7. But the forever of His priesthood, as expressed by this verse, is limited by the fact that at a certain point of time He is to cease to plead for sinful men, and they are to be made His footstool.
It is important to observe that there are in this psalm two Lords, the Father and the Son. One in the original is called Jehovah; the other is called Adonai. The word “LORD” in small capitals is used for Jehovah. But the Lord at His right hand (verse 1) is Adonai, the Son. So we read of the Son in verse 5. “The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath.” This will evidently be in the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Revelation 6:15–17; 19:11–21; Isaiah 24:21–23.
Our Lord does not thus destroy His enemies by virtue of His kingly office until He has first judged them, for one of the first acts of His kingly power is to proceed to the judgment of His enemies. He represents Himself as judging by reason of His kingly office. Matthew 25:34, 40. It is in the exercise of this power that He judges His enemies. So Psalm 110:6 reads thus: “He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.” This is the work in the day of His power, and to this work His people shall consent. Verse 3. This is indeed the great day of His wrath, and none shall be able to stand except those whose sins are blotted out. The wicked kings of the earth shall fall before Him when He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Instead of saying, as does our version, “He shall wound the heads over many countries,” Martin’s Bible uses the singular number, and says, “The chief who rules over a great country.” This is a plain allusion to Satan. The Hebrew word rendered wound in this text is by Gesenius defined thus: “To smite through and through; to dash in pieces, to crush.” And such will be the punishment of Satan when the God of peace shall bruise the prince of darkness under the feet of his people. Romans 16:20; Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14.
These passages clearly mark the transition from the priesthood of Christ to His kingly office. Human probation closes with the priesthood of Christ. Those who are found in their sins after our Lord has taken His kingly power, must be destroyed as His enemies. His priesthood terminates when He has obtained the acquittal of His people, and secured the blotting out of their sins at the tribunal of His Father. Then and there He is crowned king; and from that coronation scene He comes as king to our earth to deliver all who at that examination of the books are accounted worthy to have part in the world to come, and in the resurrection of the just. Daniel 7:9, 10; 12:1; Luke 20:35, 35; 21:36.
The righteous dead are “accounted worthy” of a part in the resurrection to immortal life before they are raised from among the dead. Luke 20:35, 36; Philippians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 21:4–6. They awake with the likeness of Christ. Psalm 17:15. We may be certain, therefore, that the investigation and decision of their cases is an accomplished fact prior to their resurrection; for that event is declarative of their final justification in the judgment.
But Luke 21:36 uses the same expression both in Greek and in English respecting those that are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, that Luke 20:35, 36 uses respecting those who are asleep. As the latter, before the resurrection, are “accounted worthy” to be made like the angels, so the former are “accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” The things that shall come to pass before the deliverance of the saints, are the events of the time of trouble such as never was. Daniel 12:1. And those who are accounted worthy to escape these things are also worthy to stand before the Son of man at His appearing.
Accounted Worthy of Salvation
This act of accounting worthy does, therefore, relate to their eternal salvation, and is performed before they enter that great time of trouble at which they are to be delivered; for that does not commence until the standing up of Michael, which is but another term for the coronation of Christ, or the beginning of His reign upon His own throne. But Michael, or Christ, does not take His throne till He has finished His work as priest at the tribunal of His Father. It is at that tribunal that the righteous dead are accounted worthy of the resurrection to immortality, and the righteous living are accounted worthy to escape the anguish of the time of trouble, and to stand before the Son of man. Those only can be accounted worthy of this whose record in the book of God’s remembrance shows them to have been perfect overcomers. The Saviour, while yet high priest, confesses the names of such before His Father and the holy angels, and secures the blotting out of their sins. Those who shall be raised to immortality, and those who shall escape the things coming upon the earth and stand before the Son of man, are severally counted worthy of this before the priesthood of Christ is closed. We cannot therefore doubt that with both these classes the investigation and decision of the judgment is passed before the Saviour takes the throne of His glory and begins the destruction of His enemies. The righteous dead come first in the order of the investigative judgment; and while their cases are being examined and decided, probation continues to the living.
It is certainly most natural that the cases of the righteous dead should be the first to come up in the investigative judgment for their names stand first in the book of God’s remembrance. Reason would therefore teach us that these cases must earliest come into account before God. But we are not left simply to the reasonableness of this order of events. We have direct proof that probation to the living continues after the judgment hour has actually arrived: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” Revelation 14:6–14.
The first angel ushers in the hour of God’s judgment by a solemn announcement to all the inhabitants of the earth that it has actually commenced. But the second and third angels, who unite with this proclamation, deliver their messages in the judgment hour itself, and they address themselves to men still in probation. We have already learned that God the Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7, before the advent of our Lord to this earth. And in Revelation 14 the fact that the hour of God’s judgment has come is announced to the inhabitants of the earth by a mighty proclamation. The judgment scene of Daniel 7 is closed by the coronation of Christ. And the judgment hour of Revelation 14 is followed by our Lord’s being seen upon the white cloud with a crown upon His head, a proof that His priesthood has then given place to His kingly office. Each of these pertains to the closing events of this dispensation. There can be, therefore, no doubt that the hour of God’s judgment announced in Revelation 14 is the time when God the Father sits in judgment, as described in Daniel 7:9–14.