From of old, from everlasting
How did Israel understand its Messiah?
That’s a question Jesus himself asks in Mark chapter 12. Jesus directs his hearers to Psalm 110 and asks the question:
35 How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? 36For David himself said by the Holy Ghost,
“The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” [Psalm 110:1]
37David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? (Mark 12:35-37)
Here is the argument: ‘The Christ’ must be far more than a descendant of David. ‘The Christ’ is David’s “Lord”. So there is no excuse for an Israelite to think of the Christ in such miniature, earth-bound terms. The Christ is Cosmic and He is Ancient. He was present to the Old Testament saints and was consciously known and loved by the faithful.
It’s true that David looked forward to the time his Seed would sit on his throne to rule the world (2 Samuel 7:12-16). But David also knew that his Seed was his Lord!
In the words of Revelation 22:16, Christ is both the “root” and the “offspring” of David. Christ produces David as his Lord, yet He is also produced by David as his Seed.
All of this means that the child born in the town of David was old. He was an ancient baby. Micah, the prophet, spoke of this in words made famous by Christmas readings:
2But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting… 4And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. 5And this man shall be the peace
Just imagine it: ‘goings forth’ from everlasting. This is the nature of the Messiah. He is the Light of the world, eternally radiant. He is the Word of God, eternally communicative. He is the Sent One of the Father, eternally outgoing. When we see Christ in the Gospels, we are not witnessing a limited and local saving concern. In Jesus we see the eternal nature of Israel’s Ruler. From of old, from everlasting He has been the Mighty Shepherd. He always goes forth to feed us, to give us a home and an unshakeable peace.
Today we can rejoice. If we have laid hold of Jesus, we have laid hold of the eternal love of God