By Pastor Kelly Sensenig
Is Christ ruling today on David’s throne which is presently in Heaven? I know that this sounds like standard Reformed Theology but this teaching is actually being promoted by what some have labeled Progressive Dispensationalism or the new revised dispensationalism. Let’s investigate the alleged claim that Christ is sitting on David’s throne today and is ruling over the Church in partial fulfillment of David’s covenant. Is there any Biblical evidence to substantiate this view?
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne (the earthly messianic throne), even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (God’s heavenly throne).”
The distinction between Christ’s throne (“my throne”) and the Father’s throne (“his throne”) is not merely rhetorical or repetitive in nature. The distinction in these thrones provides different aspects of God’s rule, one which is on earth and another in Heaven. Christ rules in Heaven today with the Father (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). Christ presently occupies the throne with the Father in Heaven (Rev. 4:2) but in the future He will return to planet earth and occupy the throne of David (Ps. 122:5; Ezek. 43:7; Luke 1:32-33). Christ’s occupancy of the throne of David is a major emphasis of the book of Revelation from its very beginning to its end (Rev. 1:5, 7; 22:16). God has promised through the prophets that the throne or political rule of David would be restored at the Second Coming of Christ after long centuries of non-existence (Lk.1:31-33; Act.15:14-17; Amos 9:1,12).
You will notice that Christ mentions two distinct thrones in Heaven (not one throne). I’ll stick with what Christ says and teaches on this subject! Progressive dispensationalists (PD’s) purposely confuse the throne of God in Heaven with the throne of David making it one and the same. They teach that God’s kingdom/covenant program is “progressively” being revealed to us today, as Christ rules over the Church, while sitting on David’s throne in Heaven. They come to this conclusion in order to get closer to the position of Reformed Theology which seems scholarly and accepted by so many people today. But strict Reformed Theology spiritualizes/allegorizes the kingdom and cancels out a future for the nation of Israel. Allegorization is the trademark of Reformed Theology – not Dispensationalism. A Biblical and consistent dispensationalist should not promote the allegorical interpretation of eschatology.
Places like Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Seminary are teaching Progressive Dispensationalism today as a possible alternative to traditional Dispensationalism. According to the progressive dispensationalist Jesus is now sitting on the throne of David in Heaven and we are enjoying the beginning of God’s kingdom/covenant program at this present time. Although PD’s do not reject a future, literal kingdom over the earth, or a future for national Israel, they take a compromised position on Dispensationalism by claiming the kingdom promises have in one sense “already-but-not-yet” been fulfilled (partially but not fully inaugurated). This sounds like “eschatological doubletalk!”
The Scriptures in no way allow Christ to be seated on the throne of David today. The covenant promises are in no way being fulfilled by Christ today in Heaven. There are clearly two thrones, the throne of God Almighty in glory and a future promised Davidic throne upon which Jesus, as the Son of Man, will occupy (Revelation 3:21). There is no teaching presented in the Bible that Christ is already occupying the throne of David today while He (as the King) reigns over the Church in a spiritual kingdom. This is false and wishful thinking on the part of progressive dispensationalists. It is a breach of Biblical and traditional Dispensationalism.
It’s good to revise something that needs revision but changing the foundational premise of Dispensationalism by abandoning a strict, literal hermeneutic of the earthly theocracy (David’s throne) is a travesty of Dispensational teaching. Progressive dispensationalism (a progressive and continual fulfillment of God’s covenant kingdom program for today) is NOT revisionist Dispensationalism but Reformed Theology in disguise.
There is a clear distinction between the two thrones mentioned in Revelation 3:21. First, this throne in Heaven is never called David’s throne. Second, the throne in Heaven is said to belong to God the Father (Lam 5:19; Matt. 5:34; 23:22; Acts 7:49) – not Christ the Son. Christ is presently sharing the Father’s throne but it’s not His throne (Rev. 3:21; Heb. 1:3). Third, the Bible says that God the Father’s throne is located in Heaven (Ps. 11:4; 103:19; Heb. 8:1) whereas David’s throne is always said to be on earth (Luke 1:32-33; Isa. 9:6-7; Acts 1:6; Matt. 19:28). Fourth, God’s throne was eternal (Lam. 5:19) and established long before David’s throne (Ps. 93:1-2). David’s throne was established at a certain point of time (2 Sam. 7:16). Fifth, the Father always called David’s throne as “thy throne” (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:4; 132:12) and not His throne. God always said it was “David’s throne” (Jer. 13:13) and “the throne of David” (Jer. 17:25; 22:2; 4, 30). God the Father never said that it was linked to His throne in Heaven. Instead, God distinguished between David’s throne which Christ was going to one day inherit (Luke 1:32-33) and His own throne (Rev. 3:21).
For these reasons, Christ in Revelation 3:21 is drawing a distinction between the Father’s throne in Heaven and His own throne (“my throne”), which is going to be established on planet earth in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Since Christ’s Davidic throne is not seen to be in Heaven with the Father it can only mean that His throne is going to be established on earth and it’s on earth where the promises connected with David’s throne are fulfilled (not Heaven).
Matthew 19:28 is an earthly scene:
Christ’s throne is identified with the earth in fulfillment of the earthly Davidic covenant. Therefore, when Christ speaks of “my throne” (Rev. 3:21) He is referencing His earthly throne in Jerusalem that He will one day sit upon when He returns to earth. It will be during the Millennium or 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-3) that Christ will sit on His throne (“my throne”) in Jerusalem. The literal throne of David is going to be reestablished in Jerusalem during the earthly 1,000 year reign of Christ or millennium.
Matthew 25:31 is another earthly scene:
The Bible says, “Then” (not now in Heaven) will the Son sit upon His throne. The fact that Christ’s throne is different than the Father’s and is in the future tense is confirmed by the words of Jesus. In this verse, Jesus speaks in the future tense regarding His coming to reign as He sits on His “glorious throne” on earth which will be established in the city of Jerusalem! The whole idea that Christ is presently sitting on the throne of David in Heaven is erroneous. There is not one shred of Biblical evidence to support this alleged theory. PD’s should stop muddying the waters of the glorious and Biblical truth of David’s earthly throne. David’s throne is NOT in Heaven but will be on earth in the future. The kingdom/covenant program is future. It is not being fulfilled spiritually or allegorically today through Christ’s presence in Heaven.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall (future) give unto him the throne of his father David.”
David’s throne has NOT been given to Christ in any capacity today but will be granted to Him in the future. Progressive Dispensationalism is tried and found wanting in its attempt to mix the heavenly throne with David’s earthly throne. This theory invalidates Biblical Dispensationalism which makes a clear distinction between the heavenly and earthly thrones. I am aware that men of renowned scholarship promote “revised dispensationalism” but I also know that brilliant men sometimes confuse things brilliantly!