Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Kingdoms

"The northern kingdom, with its non-Davidic dynasties, provides a foil for the southern kingdom. There are twenty northern kings in about 200 years, and twenty-one kings in the south in a period almost twice as long. More importantly, there are ten dynastic changes in the north and none in the south. It is not just that geographical and political factors account for the northern lack of stability, or that there is a different understanding of kingship; for instance, charismatic instead of dynastic. Although these factors probably exerted some influence, the decisive cause lies elsewhere. By contrasting the south with the north and highlighting the name of ‘David’ in the south, the instability of the northern dynasties accentuates the Davidic dynasty and its foundational promise. The name ‘David’ shines in the text as a lamp in the darkness. For example, despite Abjiah’s sins, ‘because of David Yahweh his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.’ Notwithstanding Jehoram’s idolatry, ‘Yahweh would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he had promised him to give him always a lamp for his sons’."

-Stephen G. Dempster, from his book Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible.

I just read this paragraph and I couldn’t help thinking of the parallels to the Catholic Church and Protestants.

The Catholic Church is the southern kingdom. The Protestants are the northern kingdom.
The Protestants, like the northern kingdom, go through many splits and changes in their short history. Yet like the southern kingdom, the Catholic Church possesses no dynastic changes. The popes go all the way back in an unbroken succession to the first pope, Peter, who is appointed by Christ. The See of Peter is unshakeable just like the line of David which was established by God. In a sense one could say that the See of Peter is a continuation of the line of David by virtue of Christ granting his reign of the Church to Peter and his successors. We as the Church are grafted into the Davidic kingdom/family covenant.

By contrasting the Catholic Church with Protestants and highlighting the name of ‘Peter’ in the Catholic Church, the instability of Protestantism accentuates the Catholic Church and its foundational promise: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

The name of ‘Peter’ shines in history as a lamp in the darkness. Despite some bad popes in the Church’s history just as there were some bad kings in the line of David, God has promised that the Catholic Church shall not be overcome just as He has promised that the line of David would not be overcome! God holds fast to His promise with both David and Peter.

Yet the northern kingdom did not have that same promise and neither do Protestants.

(The irony is that Dempster is a Protestant.)

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