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The contents of this book consist of a series of messages given at the monthly meetings of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony in London during 1995.  The reader will therefore appreciate that these are not papers given with the intention of their being printed.  All the messages were recorded and cassettes may be obtained from the S.G.A.T.



The Council of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony received a request from amongst those hearing the messages to print them in a book.  It was decided that it would be a useful collection of addresses to have in print.



The Books commonly known as the ‘Minor Prophets’ seem to be a very much neglected section of God’s Holy Word, and the S.G.A.T. Council would be thankful to God if He used this publication to the deepening of interest amongst His people, and to awaken many to the relevance of the things spoken so long ago by these prophets.



The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony adheres to the Authorised Version of the Bible, and quotes in this book are from that God-honoured translation.



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An Introduction to the Minor Prophets



By David McMillan



The subject we are considering is ‘An Introduction to the Minor Prophets



I would direct your attention to Acts 3: 21, which says, ‘Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began



A careful examination of the contents of those books of Scripture known to us as ‘the Minor Prophets’ will reveal that the message of each one of those prophets falls into three categories.  There are three clear aspects that we must distinguish in the contents of each of these books.  There is a three-fold manner in which their message should be considered.



There is, first of all, the Personal aspect of their message.  The Prophets, under God, wrote and preached to deal with the need of their own personal times and circumstances.  Their message had relevance to the sins, conditions, and attitude of the people to whom they personally ministered.  So their message met a personal need in the lives of God’s people in their own immediate times.



Another aspect of their message is the Practical aspect.  The sins of the nations at the prophets’ time are to be found in our day.  God’s people in our generation are guilty of the same sins as God’s people were in the days of each one of the Minor Prophets.  Therefore the utterances that the prophets made when they described and denounced those sins, are relevant to our own day.  Their pronouncements are up to date for the times in which we live.  These pronouncements can and should be taken and applied personally and pointedly to the lives of God’s people today.



The tragedy is this, that when dealing with the Minor Prophets, there are many who only go as far as that. Those are the only two aspects of the prophets’ message that they consider - the personal and the practical.


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But there is another much neglected and very important aspect of their message and that is the Prophetical or Predictive aspect of their message.  That is the aspect of their message when they foretold what would take place in the future - not just the immediate future but also the very distant future, up to Christ’s second coming and the events that would follow His coming.  It is this aspect (the prophetical) that we are now to consider and it is this aspect that we will continue to consider in this series.  As we consider the prophetical aspect of the message of the Minor Prophets, there are certain introductory questions that we need to answer because there are certain objections raised against the ‘pre-millennial’ view.



Do the Minor Prophets have a Definite Prophetical Message?



The first question is, ‘Do the Scriptures in general and the Minor Prophets in particular, have a definite prophetical message  There are people, and more tragically, there are preachers, who, when you speak to them, say, ‘I do not know what to believe about Christ’s second coming  They are completely lost and confused with regard to the whole subject.  But there are others, and this is an even more serious error, who say, ‘the Bible does not have a definite prophetical message beyond the fact that Jesus Christ will personally return to this earth  They tell us that the Bible does not really say what else will happen.  They want us to believe that we cannot be sure about the events that will precede and the events that will follow the second coming of Jesus Christ.  When we say to them that the Bible teaches that certain events will definitely take place, we meet with the response, ‘You cannot be sure about that  They tell us the Bible is not specific; that it is not clear on the subject of prophecy.



Whether they want to admit it or not, those of the ‘a-millennial’ school fall into the category of those who tell us the Scriptures do not teach a definite message about the end-time.  It seems to me that those who are a-millennial can never tell what a passage of Scripture does mean, especially a passage from the prophets.  An a-millennialist can only say what the passage does not mean.  To the a-millennialist, the Bible is not definite on the end-time; the Bible does not have a definite prophetical message.  He will say, ‘I do not know what this passage means.’  He will tell you, ‘You cannot be sure what it means, but one thing of which I am sure, it does not mean what you say it means  He can never [Page 4] tell you what it does mean; he can only tell you what he thinks it does not mean.  A-millennialists and others like them do not have a sure message regarding the end-time and they want us to believe that the Bible does not have a sure message about the end-time.  Be in no doubt, that is a very serious error.  The Bible does not allow for that kind of position.



The Word of God itself says about the prophetical Scriptures, ‘We have also a more SURE word of prophecy’ (2 Peter 1: 19).  The prophetical message of the Scriptures is sure.  It is a very definite message. And the prophetical message of the Minor Prophets, as a substantial part of the prophetic Scriptures, is a sure message.  It is something definite, certain, and beyond dispute.  Be in no doubt about it, the Minor Prophets have a definite prophetical message.  It is ridiculous to hold that the Scriptures are definite in their message on every subject except for that of Christ’s second coming.  And that is what these people want to tell us; that the Bible has a definite message on every subject except for the return of Jesus Christ.  That is a ridiculous position to hold.  The Minor Prophets have a definite prophetical message.



Should the Prophetical Scriptures be Studied?



The second question I want us to consider is, ‘Should the prophetical Scriptures be studied?  Does God expect or encourage us to find out what the Scriptures have to say about the last days?  Is it right for the Christian to take time to study Bible prophecy?  Is it right for the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony to hold meetings, to study the prophetic message of the Minor Prophets  There are those who declare that we ought not to study the prophetical Scriptures.  They tell us that we should not study these passages.  They say to us that the Minor Prophets are a dark place and we would do well to stay away from them.  Another statement they make is, ‘You put too much emphasis on prophecy.  You would do well if you put the time that you spend studying these things to other uses  I am sure that we have all faced statements such as these.  That is the voice that men raise to us.



There is a whole host of voices raised against studying the prophetic Scriptures, but be in no doubt that God’s voice leads in a different direction altogether.  If you stop and think about it, these people are actually saying to us that there are parts of the Bible that we should not study.  God intends His [Page 5] children to study every page, every chapter, every verse and every line of the Book that He has given us.  The Lord does not intend any to stay away from certain books and passages of the Bible.  Let me quote again from 2 Peter 1: 19.  Peter teaches us about the Scriptures in general in these words, but especially the prophetic Scriptures, and he said, ‘We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed  God directs us to study the prophetic Scriptures and that means that God is encouraging us to have these studies, emphasising the prophetical aspect of the message of the Minor Prophets.  It is good that this series of studies has been arranged because there is no doubt that the Minor Prophets are a much neglected portion of God’s Word.



Many people, and sadly, there are preachers, who pay little or no attention to these twelve books of the Bible. For many this is an uncharted part of the Scriptures.  It is a part of the Bible that they do not take time to read, let alone study.  So we can take great encouragement from those words of the apostle Peter.  God’s stamp of approval is upon what is taking place in this series of meetings, because Peter teaches us that it will be pleasing to the Lord to have these studies of the ‘more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed  God encourages us to study the prophetical Scriptures.



Have the Minor Prophets been Entirely Fulfilled?



The third question to consider is the main thought that I want to emphasise.  The question is ‘Have the prophecies contained in the Minor Prophets been entirely fulfilled in past events As I said, this is the main question that I want to emphasise by way of introduction to this series of messages.  The answer to that question is a definite and unmistakable ‘no  They have not been fulfilled.  Those of the a-millennia] school tell us that when Matthew 24 speaks of the great tribulation, that tribulation took place shortly after our Lord’s ministry.  Some of them tell us that the tribulation that the Jews endured took place at the fall of Jerusalem.  If you consider what took place in the Jewish death camps in Nazi Germany, what happened to the Jews in A.D. 70 would not even compare with it, so that A.D. 70 could not have been the fulfilment of the great tribulation. That is something still to be future even to our day.  And when that great tribulation does come, as the Bible says, ‘such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be even the holocaust will pale into insignificance beside the tribulation that will come upon Israel* at that time.  There can be no question; these prophecies have not yet been fulfilled.



Now there are prophecies in the Minor Prophets concerning the Person of Christ that were fulfilled completely with His birth and incarnation.  We believe and accept that, but we want to emphasise and to stress that the prophetical message of those books goes much further than that.  Their prophetical ministry was a great deal more far reaching with regard to the time element than the birth, life and earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is much of these prophecies which has yet to be fulfilled and my main purpose is to establish that fact in your mind clearly and unmistakably.  I do not want anyone to be in any doubt that a lot of what the Minor Prophets wrote has not yet taken place.  It is still unfulfilled, contrary to what those of other schools of thought want to tell us.



They say that these books have little or no prophetical significance for today.  They tell us that these prophecies were all fulfilled, some of them under the Hebrew kings, some of them at our Lord’s first coming or at the siege of Jerusalem that took place in A.D. 70.  That is the message that they give us - the prophecies are fulfilled.  But that is not so.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These twelve books are mainly unfulfilled prophecy relating to the last days.



If you look again at Acts 3: 21, that text proves beyond all question that most of what the prophets wrote has not yet been fulfilled.  Reading it with verse 20, it says, ‘And He shall send Jesus Christ, Which before was preached unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began  Here are words that emphasise the fact that, in the main, that of which the prophets spoke has not yet taken place.  Peter speaks here of ‘the restitution of all things  There are things in this earth that are going to be changed, that are going to be restored to the condition that existed in Eden before the fall.  And Peter leaves us in no doubt that these changes have not yet taken place.  They are yet future to our day and generation.


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The verse speaks of Christ being received up into heaven.  That is a reference to His ascension.  So it is clear that the things of which Peter speaks, the restitution of all things, had not taken place at Christ’s ascension. And all the while our Saviour is in heaven, these things will be unfulfilled.  The heavens must receive Him ‘until  That ‘until’ marks His second coming, and it is only then, when He leaves heaven and returns physically and personally to this earth, that these prophecies will be fulfilled, and these times of restitution take place.  Notice carefully in Acts 3: 21 that God has spoken of all these future things by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  Every prophet of God includes the twelve Minor Prophets.  Every one of them has spoken about these things which are yet future, which are yet unfulfilled, things that will only take place when Jesus Christ comes again.  The books of the Minor Prophets are mainly unfulfilled prophecy relating to the last days.



I want to give some principles that we need to keep before us in our study of these books of the Bible, principles that we glean from a careful study of the Scriptures, and principles that prove the fact that these prophecies have not been fulfilled as yet.  I want to state and prove these principles from examples in the Minor Prophets themselves.



A Partial Fulfilment in the Past.  A Complete Fulfilment in the Future.



The first principle I want to emphasise is this, that some prophecies have had partial fulfilment in the past, but their complete fulfilment is something is yet future.  Many make the mistake of taking a limited fulfilment of a Scripture portion as the complete fulfilment of it.  We need to understand that of the prophecies have a dual fulfilment.  They have had a limited fulfilment in the past, but that has not been the complete fulfilment of that massage because the complete fulfilment is something which is still future.



In 2 Samuel 7: 12-14, where God is speaking to David, He says, ‘And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for My Name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.  I will be his Father, and he shall be My son  Many [Page 8] apply those words solely to Solomon.  Now there is no doubt that they were partially fulfilled in Solomon.  But if you turn to Hebrews 1: 5, you will see that those words are a reference to Jesus Christ, and they will have their complete fulfilment in Him.  It tells us, ‘For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?  And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son  Those words will have their complete fulfilment, not in Solomon but in the Person of Jesus Christ.



Another example of that principle is found in the Minor Prophets themselves.  In Zechariah 12: 10, the Scriptures tell us, ‘They shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced  Now in John 19: 37, these words are quoted in connection with Christ’s first coming.  So there are those who tell us that these words had their complete fulfilment then.  But that is not so.  It was only a partial fulfilment.  For this same man who wrote the Gospel of John, when writing the Book of the Revelation many years later was still expecting that Scripture to be fulfilled at Jesus Christ’s second coming.  In Revelation 1: 7, it says, ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him  John was still expecting this prophecy to be fulfilled when Christ returns.



Think also of the prophecy of Malachi 4: 5 concerning Elijah.  That prophecy had a partial fulfilment in John the Baptist but the complete fulfilment of those words is yet future.  Elijah the prophet himself still has a future ministry and a future work to fulfil.  The prophecy was only partially fulfilled in John the Baptist.



There are other examples I could give but I trust that these will suffice to illustrate the principle that many prophecies have a partial fulfilment in the past but their complete fulfilment is something which is yet future.



Application is Not Interpretation



Another principle is the fact that application is not interpretation.  Because a passage is applied in the New Testament to certain circumstances it does not mean that that is the interpretation of the passage.  It does not mean that the [Page 9] events in the New Testament were the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy.



For example, in Acts 2: 16-21, Peter quotes the words that were spoken by the prophet in Joel 2: 28-32. Therefore we meet with comments such as ‘Peter says Joel’s words were fulfilled at Pentecost  Peter said nothing of the kind.  If Joel’s words were fulfilled at Pentecost, then the events of Pentecost could never be repeated.  But Pentecost was repeated - in the days of the New Testament.  The Spirit of God was poured out at a later date exactly as on that very day.  And Peter himself tells us so.  In Acts 11: 15 when relating to the church at Jerusalem what took place in the house of Cornelius, Peter said, ‘And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning  Was that not a repeat of the events that took place at Pentecost?  He says, ‘As on us at the beginning  Joel’s words were not fulfilled at Pentecost, but were only applied to Pentecost by the apostle Peter.  The truth that was found in Joel’s prophecy was applied to the events that took place on that day.  Nothing more.  And they could, just as easily, have applied to what took place in the house of Cornelius.  That was a further example of the same truth.  So, we need understand that Peter was not interpreting Pentecost as the fulfilment of Joel’s words.  He was only applying Joel’s words to the circumstances.  Thus application is not interpretation.



The Bible Means what It says



One final important principle is this, the Bible means what it says.  It is a very simple principle but it is the one where people mostly go wrong.  Do read the Minor Prophets.  Read over each book in turn, but when doing so, remember that Israel means Israel, Jerusalem means Jerusalem, Zion means Zion (not the church), and Babylon means Babylon (not Rome), and so on.  Take the words literally when you can.



Look at one final Scripture.  It is a well-known, very familiar verse, and it proves that names must be taken literally, and that most of the prophecies are yet unfulfilled.  It is Micah 5: 2.  ‘But 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  This is a verse that is usually preached upon when dealing with Christ’s first coming.  But it is a vital verse in dealing with the second [Page 10] coming of Christ.  This is a key verse in all the prophetic Scriptures.  This verse proves the point that we are making, that of which the Minor Prophets wrote is mainly unfulfilled. You see, the verse speaks of Christ as the One Who is to be Ruler in Israel.  And I emphasise that Israel means Israel, the land of Israel.  This is a clear reference to Christ’s literal millennial reign upon the earth.



The a-millennialists will say to us, ‘But Christ is reigning now in Israel.  Israel here means the church and Christ is now reigning in the church  So they think the prophecy has been fulfilled.  That view of Micah 5: 2 is totally and absolutely wrong.  That is not what the prophet is teaching.  It is a very serious error to say that that is what this verse teaches, because if the only way to interpret this verse is to spiritualise it, then that means that there never was a person called Jesus Christ; that He was not literally born in a place called Bethlehem.  Such views are error of the worst kind and are akin to the thinking of liberalism and modernism.



If you spiritualise the second part of that verse which says, ‘Ruler in Israel you ought to be consistent and spiritualise the whole verse, and also spiritualise Bethlehem and Judah.  And that is making an attack upon the literal birth of Jesus Christ in literal Bethlehem.  But even the a-millennialist admits that the opening words of this verse are literal.  If the opening words are literal, the whole verse is literal because there is no dividing line, no marker to say where to stop treating the verse literally and start reading it spiritually.



When you read these prophecies, read them literally, and you will see that the event of which Micah 5: 2 speaks is yet future, yet unfulfilled.  Jesus Christ is yet to rule in the land of Israel.  Accept at face value what the Bible says.  Take the words literally.



And if you read the Minor Prophets in that way, then you will understand that much of which they wrote has not yet taken place.  Remember as you study these twelve books, that the contents of them is mainly unfulfilled prophecy.  Ask God to write that truth upon your heart.  Keep that before you as you read and meditate upon these words.  Most of their message is unfulfilled prophecy relating to the last days.  ‘Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began



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Israel – Jehovah’s Bride




By J A Green



Hosea is not an easy book by any means.  When I was a young man I used to he amazed at what I knew, whereas nowadays I am amazed how little I know!  So I have given this Book great meditation and concentration.  The Lord has blessed it to my soul and I trust He will bless the message of this wonderful prophet to us all.



I would like first of all, very briefly, to sketch a little of the background against which Hosea prophesied. Because David, in his past, had been a man of war, he had not accomplished his desire to build the house to Jehovah.  But he left a blueprint of it for his wise son; and Solomon carried out the counsels and wishes of his father, and built a glorious house, exceedingly magnificent to Jehovah.  And Solomon’s reign was wonderful for in all the borders round about he had rest and neither evil nor adversary occurred.



With the passing of Solomon, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, returned from exile in Egypt whence he had fled from Solomon.  The kingdom of Israel was then divided between Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, and Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.  This was a punishment upon the house of Judah.



Ahab, according to the word of the prophet of the Lord, was slain with a Syrian bow drawn at a venture.  It came to the point where the house of Jehu came to the throne but that house was about to fall; the northern kingdom was about to cease because of the idolatry that had set in.  Jeroboam, the son of Nebat had set up at Bethel and Dan, two golden calves and inculcated a foreign system of worship to Jehovah.  He tolerated idolatry and it says in this Book that Ephraim (and remember when you read Ephraim in this prophecy it is synonymous with Israel), had willingly followed the commandment of Jeroboam, who brought idolatry, albeit gradually, into the northern kingdom [Page 12] and caused Israel to sin.  He brought in a prostituted priesthood of persons who were creatures of the king.  He established a foreign kind of worship in the north and neglected Jerusalem where the Lord had put His Name.



It is against that background that Hosea gave his word, in the divided kingdom that God had tolerated for a season. Israel (the northern kingdom) was about to be done away, but, as Amos said, the house of Jacob was not to fall totally.  God was going to shake them about hither and thither among the nations as a man shakes corn in a sieve but they were not to be totally abolished.  God’s eyes were upon that evil kingdom and it was about to fall but it would not be the complete end of Israel.  What we shall see is that God’s intention was to return them to one headship and to the perpetuity of the Davidic dynasty.  So that is the background against which Hosea prophesied.



Now I would like to bring out a little of the character of the book.  Hosea stands at the head of the 12 minor prophets.  They were ‘minor’ in point of bulk or content, not ‘minor’ in inspiration.  He stands worthily at the head of those 12 minor prophets.  He was a man of experimental godliness.  He was a man with a deep knowledge of God.  As the book reveals, he was a man of prayer.  He was a rustic, but a deeply cultured man as the metaphors he used through the book indicate to us.  But he had a deep and penetrating knowledge of the requirements of God as revealed by the statement that the Lord requires ‘mercy and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God (an experimental knowledge of God) more than burnt offerings’ (6: 6).



Throughout this book, as Spurgeon confided to William Williams, there are many excellent gospel texts and Spurgeon preached on many of them.  But in their primary application, those gospel texts apply to Israel.  It is to the nation and to the people of Israel that those glorious evangelical truths belong.  And in virtue of those evangelical truths, Israel is to be brought into a living relationship with Jehovah and they shall become, as we have for our title, ‘The Bride of Jehovah



If Isaiah was the evangelical prophet, then Hosea was in his succession.  Our Lord Jesus preached that marvellous sermon of the prodigal son that returned [Page 13] from the far country and received the blessing.  So does Hosea preach about a prodigal wife and in symbol, his family and his marriage would teach us how the unfaithful of Israel shall yet be sought out by the Lord in His loving heart, brought back to Himself, made close to His bosom and blessed for ever.



There are moral difficulties in connection with his taking a fallen woman and rescuing her from her ways when she became estranged from him and buying and taking her back into the home, then reinstating her into all the privileges of a happy marriage relationship.  I do not want to get intricately involved in those delicate matters but for anyone that is troubled by them, there are several explanations consistent with inspiration and with evangelical truth and with the great truth of the gospel.  However we decide to explain this, we must preserve the great truth that God is not the author of sin.  It is my judgment that the prophet took a pure woman, that she became estranged, that she went to another and that, in his loving obedience to God and his love for Gomer, he went out and brought her back and restored her to the full, happy marriage relationship.  This gives to us, as well as to those members of his family that were born to the marriage, a picture of what God is going to do with Israel in a coming day.



His name reveals that he is applying salvation to Israel.  It means ‘salvation’ or ‘deliverance’ and we shall see how that salvation works out with God alluring and wooing Israel into the wilderness to their ultimate restoration when they shall enjoy all the blessings which flow from the cross; and they shall know the sealing of the Spirit; and they shall raise their songs, the fruit of the lips, giving thanks unto His Name; and they shall walk in those ways of the Lord that are right; and God shall be their King and they shall know the ultimate in rule, which is the theocracy, the divine rule of God.



If we look at chapter 1, we see something of the scope of the book in the birth of the three children who were born to Hosea and Gomer.  The first child was a son and was to be called Jezreel because God was going to break the bow, i.e. the military strength of Ephraim and of Israel in the valley of Jezreel and He was going to avenge the blood of Jezreel.  The second child was a daughter and was to be called Lo-ruhamah, which means ‘not mercy  The third child was a son who was to be called Lo-ammi, which means ‘not my people [Page 14] because God was going to judge that northern kingdom; it was to cease.  He was going to visit the blood of Jezreel upon the northern kingdom and break their military power.  He was saying that they were not to have mercy at that time.  He was telling them that they were not His people.



You remember that it was to Jezreel that Ahab, when he had been slain, was returned and it was there that his blood was washed out from the chariot, according to the word of the Lord’s prophet.  You remember it was there that Jehu set out on that pathway to a bloodbath that established him and his family upon the throne with the very cruel slaying of Jezebel, the painted lady, who was thrown down from the window of the palace and was eaten by the dogs - skull, hands and feet only remained.  It was there that Jehu set out to exceed the commandments of the Lord; he was obedient in visiting upon the iniquity that Ahab and Jezebel had committed in Naboth’s vineyard.  He was right to do that because the Lord commanded it.  But he exceeded his blood guiltiness to the princes of Judah.



God said that for his obedience, four generations of his family would be on the throne, but that would be the limit.  Now it was at the fourth generation when Hosea was prophesying, and this kingdom was about to fall. We reiterate what Amos says, that God’s eyes were upon the evil kingdom and that He was going to destroy it from off the face of the earth (9: 8).  Here God says, it is going to cease.  He also says that there is not going to be mercy and He pronounces over them that dreadful sentence ‘not My people  But yet, towards the end of the chapter, almost amazingly, God says that they will not be cast away for ever, for it is said there that the time is coming when in the very place where He had said, ‘Ye are not My people; there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the Living God’ (1: 10).



It will be a marvellous time of blessing when they shall gather all Israel together under one Headship, the Davidic dynasty.  Amos corroborates that the tabernacle of David, which was broken down, is going to be raised up again and Israel is going to be made an instrument of blessing to the Gentile nations.  The perpetuity of the Davidic throne is going to be secured and millennial blessing in the realm of nature is going to be brought in.  That is what Amos [Page 15] said as he went on to show that God is not going to utterly destroy the house of Jacob.  So, likewise, Hosea said that in the very place where it was said that they were not the people of God He would draw them to Himself and they would become the sons of the Living God.  So there was judgment but there would be future mercy.



It is the way with Hosea that the truth is not declared in the exact sequence in which it works out historically. Towards the end of chapter 2, after saying in the middle verses that God will allure Israel into the wilderness and speak comfortably to their hearts, he went on to say that He will betroth Israel to Him for ever.  A situation will arise where they will no more worship Baal; where the name of Baalim shall be taken away and Israel shall respond to Jehovah by saying, ‘Ishi, my husband  Indeed, He says, ‘I will betroth thee unto Me for ever in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness



God will set up a wonderful chain of blessing.  He Himself is at the top of the chain of prayer in that millennial day.  God says that He will hear the prayers of the heavens and supply what is necessary to the heavens, and the heavens will hear the prayer of the earth, and the earth will hear the prayer of the corn, of the wine, and of the oil, and all shall hear the prayer of Jezreel, Israel (2: 21-22).  Jezreel means ‘sown again  Israel will be in that Jezreel setting, sown by the hand of Jehovah and the whole millennial scene of blessing will hear the prayers of Israel in that wonderful, coming day.  Those three names that were mentioned in judgment in chapter 1 reappear as names of blessing.  For God says that they will be His people and they will know the full tide of mercy in that day.  So we read, ‘great shall be the day of Jezreel  All three names appear now in blessing, which is very wonderful.



In chapter 3 there is the truth that the great converted Hebrew, David Baron, called ‘the interregnum At the beginning of the chapter, Gomer returned to her own husband.  There was a payment made for her and she came home and abode many days in a position of neutrality till faithfulness was established; till troth was known again in the home and normal relationships resumed.  That is a parable of what God is going to do with Israel.  You notice that when he went [Page 16] and fetched her, he did the seeking; be did the bringing; and he did the forgiving.  He paid a price - fifteen shekels and a homer and a half homer of barley, which was worth fifteen shekels.  So in money and in kind he paid the price of thirty shekels.  This was the price of a slave (Exodus 21: 32).  It is very significant that the Hebrew word there for ‘purchase’ has another meaning.  It is the word that is used in Psalm 40: 6, which could be read, ‘Mine ears dost Thou dig  This phrase is rendered in Hebrews 10: 5, ‘A body hast Thou prepared (for) Me  But it really goes back to the slave, who, when he did not want to go out free, was taken to the post of the door and was bored through the ear with an awl, having said ‘I love my master ... I will not go out free’ (Exodus 21: 5).  So here is the thought that Gomer had been bought back with the significant price of thirty shekels that secured her for ever to the home of Hosea and to the restoration of the marriage.  It is certainly a wonderful picture of what will happen with Israel in a coming day when they come into all the good that the Lord Jesus has wrought for them on Calvary, and have a living relationship with Jehovah through the work of the Holy Spirit.



Then we read in chapter 3 that ‘Israel shall abide many days without a king (of their own appointment, or rather, of divine appointment), and without a prince (of their own confirmation and choice), and without a sacrifice, and without an image (pillar), and without an ephod, and without teraphim’ (3: 4).  What does it mean to be without a king of divine appointment?  Have you ever noticed that the Lord Jesus was different from any other king that has ever been born?  All others that have been born into this world who have occupied a royal throne have been born TO BE king.  This Blessed One, Who is unique in all the annals of history, was BORN King of the Jews.



In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah there were those that could not establish their genealogy.  They were lacking the Urim and Thummin, the use of the ephod, the miraculous direction from God.  Well, there is going to be a priest Who is going to stand up and He will be priest upon His throne.  It will not be the type of the Urim and the Thummin, the lights and the perfections, the divine communication.  It will be the fulfilment of it.  The Lord Jesus will stand up and establish genealogy in that day.  He has the right to the Throne of David.


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In the first chapter of the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus Christ is given.  He is the son of Abraham - that gives Him the title to the land; and He, the son of David - that gives Him the title to the throne.  All this time, from Hosea to the present, Israel has been without a king and without a prince of their own confirmation, one that they willingly accepted and received.  They have also been without a sacrifice.  The Hebrew word there is ‘zebach’ - the word that is used for the blood offering.  It is not ‘olah the word that is used for the ascending offering or the burnt offering.  It is not ‘minchah the gift or the thank offering; it is not the ‘shelem the peace offering, but it is the blood offering.  That has characterised Israel from that day to this.  All their ceremonies and all their rites today are bloodless but there is a day coming when they will no longer be without sacrifice.  They shall be brought into all the good of what Christ has wrought on Calvary’s cross.



Another fact is that they have been without a pillar and without idolatry.  The word there is used in a bad sense as the tenth chapter shows.  Hosea was speaking of the idolatrous pillar.  There were other pillars that were raised.  Jacob raised a pillar and it was approved of God; it was a pillar of worship and testimony.  Isaiah 19: 19 tells us that in Egypt, in a coming day, there will be a worshipful pillar to Jehovah at its border and there will be an altar to Jehovah its centre, and three nations shall each form a third in a triad of blessing and God shall say, ‘Egypt (is) My people, and Assyria (is) the work of My hands, and Israel (is) Mine inheritance’ (Isaiah 19: 25).  But at present, the most we can say is that since they were carried away into captivity, they have been without idolatry.



There are some terrible descriptions in the prophecy about their idolatrous dealings at the time Hosea was speaking.  He wrote of Ephraim being ‘joined to idols: let him alone’ (4: 17).  He wrote of the gray hairs of decadence and backsliding (7: 9).  He described Ephraim as a backsliding heifer that is unwilling and unused to the yoke of Jehovah (10: 11).  He spoke of them, in their burning lust and in their blood-guiltiness, as being like a baker’s oven when it is heated to white heat and to full pitch (7: 6).  He spoke of the priests eating up the sin of God’s people (4: 8), feeding upon the offerings and multiplying sin by their altars which were originally designed to take away sin [Page 18] (8: 11).  And he said because of this they should be carried away and become ‘wanderers among the nations’ (9: 17); hence the term ‘the wandering Jew  He said that the time has come when a powerful enemy shall carry them away; they shall be locked in the wings of the wind and carried away (4: 19).  He said that ‘they have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind’ (8: 7).  He said also that judgment is going to grow up like ‘hemlock in the furrows’(10: 4), and they are going to taste the bitterness of the days of the Baalim and their idolatry (2: 13).  They, indeed, were trafficking like Canaanites, with balances of deceit in their hand in their lust for gold (12: 7).  They were committing all kinds of sins; there was ‘no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God’ (4: 1).  They were ‘destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (4: 6). There was swearing, lying, and murder; also stealing, and adultery (4: 2), all being practised; but the crowning thing was idolatry.



The captivity that would be theirs and the bitterness that they would reap would be that which would cure them for ever of their idolatry.  For those many days, from the days of the captivity to the present time they have been without the idolatrous pillar.  Yes, they have been without the communication of the ephod, without the Urim and the Thummin, without light from God, without a voice from heaven but they have also been without the idolatrous teraphim that were formed like humans and inhabited by demons and from which they obtained voices and communications, speaking lies and vanities (Zechariah 10: 2).  That has been the peculiar position of Israel in this interregnum era - not idolatrous, but not fully brought back to Jehovah as they will be in that coming day.



In the parable of the seeking of the prodigal wife by Hosea, we find a beautiful picture in that she was made to tarry until faithfulness and troth be established and there could be a resumption of married life and the enjoyment of that wonderful relationship.  So it will be with Israel.  They may be purged of idolatry, but they have not yet been brought back.  We have said Hosea’s name means salvation, and it is the salvation of God as applied to Israel that the prophet brings out in a remarkable way.


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In Isaiah 62, the prophet is used to sound forth the intercession of the Lord Jesus.  This wonderful chapter tells us that He Who ever liveth to make intercession for the transgression for His people is on high now interceding for the Israel nation and for their salvation.  He says that, for the sake of Zion, He will not hold His peace, nor, for the sake of Jerusalem, rest, until their righteousness goes forth as the light and their salvation as a lamp that burneth; till all nations see their righteousness and all kings see their glory; and until that nation is called by a new name that only the mouth of Jehovah shall proclaim; till they are no more forsaken and their land desolate, but they are Hephzibah, because the delight of the Lord is in them, and Beulah because they are married to Jehovah.  He also says that the Lord has watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, to give Him no rest until He has established and made Jerusalem a praise in the earth; until that nation whose new name shall be the righteous people, the redeemed of the Lord, shall go through the gates of Jerusalem, and see that their salvation has come.  That is the desire of the Lord Jesus for the nation of Israel and we should pray for that salvation which Hosea shows will be applied to them in that coming day.



What is the source of their salvation?  Well, in Hosea 13: 9, there is what Spurgeon called the sum of all theology – ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help  He who has grasped this, says C. H. Spurgeon, has a complete body of divinity, a complete compendium of theology.  Salvation begins in the heart of God.  In chapter 14, God says, ‘I will love them freely  In chapter 11, He says ‘Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings (compassions, or repentances) are kindled together  O Ephraim, ‘how shall I give thee up  All salvation begins in the heart of God.  I do not know why men kick against the sovereign grace of God, for the truth is that, because of the nature of fallen man, it is his only hope.  Man is enslaved by sin. ‘There is none that seeketh after God’ (Romans 3: 11).  If there is to be any salvation whatsoever, God must take the initiative.  As it was in creation, and as it is in providence, so it is in salvation – ‘In the beginning GOD  And so God will begin that salvation.  The source of it is in His Own heart.  If we are the saved of the Lord, there was nothing else outside the heart of God that influenced Him to save us.  It is all because He wooed.  ‘He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can [Page 20] stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?’ (Daniel 4: 35).  ‘He is in one mind, and who can turn Him’ (Job 23: 13).  ‘Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased’ (Psalm 115: 3). The hymnwriter wrote, ‘He sits on no precarious throne nor borrows leave to be  He is a God Who purposes and acts; and He intervenes in history and in the circumstances of men.  It was so in our case.  ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13: 48).  Those that were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world were called of the Lord, and can now say ‘In Whom we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 1:7), and it will not be otherwise with Israel in that coming day.  So the source of their salvation lies with God. God will take the initiative, and when the time comes, He will take away the veil from the heart of the nation and He will turn Israel to Himself.  ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of waters  As it was with Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, so shall it be with Israel in that coming day, and not otherwise.  The Lord does these things for His Own Glory.



The basis of their salvation will be precisely the same as ours.  It will be the work accomplished on the cross.  What does it promise them?  ‘I will ransom them from the power of the grave (grip of Sheol), I will redeem them from death: 0 death, I will be thy plagues; 0 grave, I will be thy destruction’ (13: 14). They are without sacrifice now, but they will not be in that coming day.  How otherwise could they say, ‘Take away all (our) iniquity and receive us graciously’ (14: 2)?  How could the Lord Jehovah, the Infinite, the High and Holy One, say, ‘Mine anger is turned away’ (14: 4)?  There is that sacrifice which has propitiated God, which has averted His wrath, and which will bring blessing to Israel in that coming day.  There is a teaching that the Lord does not turn away His anger and that God is not propitiated, but we believe that there is a work that is done by the Lord Jesus that lays a foundation for God righteously to deal with the sinner.



Zechariah 13 marks the time element for it says, ‘In that day, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness  This was effectually accomplished at Calvary two thousand years ago, but efficaciously it will open to Israel when they turn to the Lord.


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The Old Testament saints looked down the ages with eyes of faith undimmed and they saw the One that should come.  We look back to Calvary because we stand in the meridian light of the New Testament, in the days of effected and accomplished redemption, with a man in the glory of God to show that God has accepted the sacrifice of Calvary; and we know the witness of the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts which is the witness to the ascended glory of Jesus.  When Israel comes into blessing in that coming day, God’s anger will be turned away, He will love freely, they will know the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith by His Blood, to declare at this time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of him which is faith in Jesus.  They will come into all the blessing of that.  That will be the basis of their salvation.



They will also have the dew of the Spirit.  He says ‘I will be as the dew unto Israel’ (14: 5).  There are three outpourings of the Spirit 1 see. Firstly, the outpouring of the [Holy] Spirit on the Day of Pentecost from the Throne of the Father.  Secondly, the outpouring of the [Holy] Spirit upon the repentant remnant of Israel when the Lord Jesus comes back again to the Mount of Olives - the Spirit of grace and of supplication by which they will seek Him.  Then thirdly, as stated at the end of Ezekiel, the [Holy] Spirit will be poured out eventually upon the whole house of Israel from the throne of David, until they are all blessed and the full millennial blessing sets in.  We have the Holy Spirit in a unique way today.  That is not to say that the Old Testament saints did not have the Holy Spirit.  They had the Holy Spirit, as Romans 8 tells us.  God has not given us the Spirit as a servantship but the Spirit of sonship, so that we cry in our hearts, Abba, Father.  When we confess to be a child of God, the [Holy] Spirit is witness, a divine Spirit operating upon a human spirit, corroborating, ‘Thou art a child of God  And the witness will burn brightly in the hearts of the Israel people and when the Lord says, ‘I will be as the dew unto IsraelPsalm 133 comes to mind.  The sacred oil that went down Aaron’s beard to the fringes of his garment, and that glorious dew of Hermon which refreshed the land, are both emblems of the blessed Holy Spirit, and in that day they will have the [Holy] Spirit.  We are all one redeemed family; the family of faith is one.  The millennial glory and the glory of the eternal new heavens and the new earth will not be a transcript of the limitations of the dispensations of time.  We are all one family chosen by God, [Page 22] redeemed by one Christ, inhabited by one [Holy] Spirit, predestinated to one [eternal] glory, and we are all [if ‘accounted worthy’]* going to unite together in that glorious coming day and to rejoice in the blessings of our redemption.


[* Luke 20: 35; Heb. 11; 35b; Rev. 3: 21, etc.]



They will be a praising people.  They will take with them words of reality to confess, ‘take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously When they taste and see that the Lord is good, they ‘will render the calves (bulls) of our lips’ (14: 2).  That is rendered in Hebrews as the fruit of the lips, the going ‘forth unto Him without (outside) the camp ... let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name’ (13:13-15).  In the Christian priesthood, there is the presentation of our praise, the presentation of our possessions, and Romans 12 refers to the presentation of our persons.  Israel will render the fruit and the calves of the lips, the very, best for God in that coming day.  They will be the priests of Jehovah and the ministers of God (Isaiah 61: 6) and recognised as such when they become a praising people, who enter into the glorious liberty of salvation.  The long years of bondage and idolatry will be behind them, the interregnum period will be over and they will be turned to the fear of Jehovah, and to the Davidic dynasty of the Davidic throne occupied by great David’s greater Son, and to the Lord’s goodness, and to His fear in the latter days.



I have been asked why I still address the Lord in archaic English!  My reply was that we have a full range of pronouns in the reverent approach of the Old English.  It is a much richer and purer address to the Lord.  I prefer to speak to the Lord in the purest English.  That is really the thought here.  Only the very best is good enough for God.  ‘So will we render the calves of our lips, giving thanks to His Name  After all those centuries during which Israel has been estranged from the Lord, they will come back and that brilliant nation will produce the masterminds who are the illustrious of the Lord.  They will be so numerous in that coming day, they will be like a congregation of people, Baron renders Genesis 35: 11, ‘a congregation of peoples, or nations,’ they will be so numerous, so brilliant, so illustrious, so gifted, and in that day, they will give the very best to God.  They will render to Him as the priests of Jehovah and as the ministers of God that which is His due.


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Then, they will grow as the lily for purity; they will send down their roots as the cedars of Lebanon for strength and for endurance (14: 5).  Psalm 80: 18 tells us that they will never go back from Him again.  The deeper the roots of the tree, the higher the tree grows towards heaven.  Thus, we ought to be rooted and grounded in Him so that we shall never be moved.  There is much slipping and sliding today.  We have to guard our hearts.  We rejoice in eternal security, that the sheep of Christ can never perish, and that none can pluck them out of His hand.  But the Scripture also says, they ‘hear My voice ... and they follow Me.’  ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His, and let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity’ (2 Timothy 2: 19). ‘The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and  stronger’ (Job 17: 9).  To those who make their calling and election sure, shall be ministered an abundant entrance, like a ship in full sail, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1: 10). It is a glorious thought in Psalm 80 and in other prophetic Scriptures, that this nation, who had backslidden and gone such a long way from God, and will continue to do so, will come into this glorious blessing prepared for them.  Once they have tasted of that blessing, they will send down their roots for firmness, and be like the lily for purity before the Lord, and will never again go back from the Lord.  They will say ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’ (14: 8). They will never again say to the work of their hands, ‘Ye are our gods’ (14: 3).



Hosea concludes, ‘Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein  As we think of this great [future] salvation shall we not join with that One on high, Who as the great intercessor, is praying for their salvation?  Shall we not join in giving Him no rest until He establish and make Jerusalem a praise; until we see that righteous nation, the redeemed of the Lord, go in through the gates to make Jerusalem a city that is sought out of the Lord?



May the Lord bless these thoughts, wide in scope and issue, but ever leading on with one increasing purpose - the culmination of that moment when the Lord Jesus shall have that which is upon His heart as the great Intercessor in the glory, when He shall have the whole heart of the whole nation by His wondrous redeeming work and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.



*       *       *


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Israel in Judgment and Blessing




By J H Laver



Joel is the name of several men of whom mention is made in the Bible.  It is made up of two divine names - Jehovah and EI - and it means ‘Jehovah is God and there is none other



It is generally accepted that the Joel who wrote the book named after him prophesied at about 800BC in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah.  As we read this book, the first impression made upon the mind is that of the steadfast throne of God, and of God’s unceasing activity in government.  The second truth illustrated is that grace is at the heart of divine government.



Grace is the inspiration of that government.  It is seen acting as a restraint upon judgment, so that the plague of locusts was the occasion of the appeal of the prophet to his people to repent.  This opened up the way for the people to return to God and rend their hearts rather than their garments.



When we arrive at the ultimate triumph, it is not that of a conqueror rejoicing over that which is broken and crushed, but that of a conqueror who rejoices that he gives peace, honour and deliverance.  So the Lord granted in His mercy some measure of peace and a considerable amount of prosperity under the reign of Uzziah who was a very prosperous ruler.  ‘He was marvellously helped, till he was strong’ (2 Chronicles 26: 15).  There was during this time of natural prosperity, widespread corruption.



When Jotham, Uzziah’s son came to the throne, we read that although he himself did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, ‘the people did yet corruptly  During the early days of Joash, while he came under the influence of Jehoiada the priest, there had been a great revival of the worship of God and the ordinances of the temple.


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The old men of Joel’s day would have remembered this, and it may be the reason why Joel addresses his prophecy to the old men of his generation (1: 2).  They would recall days of spiritual blessing and prosperity, but because of the prevalent moral and spiritual declension, he is about to announce such judgments as neither they nor their fathers had known, and they are to tell it to the generation following.



The judgments are for several successive generations.  In this particular aspect, Joel’s message is relevant for this day and age.  Many of us sometimes reflect upon the past when we were favoured with a measure of spiritual blessing and revival; when the Holy Spirit was convicting of sin and leading to Christ; when sinners were born again and the Church of God established.  Those were days of spiritual prosperity in contrast to the present-day situation.



In chapter 1: 19, we see Joel in prayer to God, ‘O LORD to Thee will I cry It is clear to this man of God that Israel’s persistence in her God-forgetting ways can have but one end.  Israel has known something of God’s displeasure but as yet His wrath has not been outpoured.  Yet this too must come upon them unless they repent.  If they will not seek the throne of grace, God will set up in their midst the throne of judgment.



Yet ‘now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for He is gracious and merciful (full of compassion), slow to anger, and of great kindness (plenteous in mercy), and repenteth Him of the evil’ (2: 12-13).



He is ‘slow to anger As one commentator puts it, ‘He halts the march of His wrath in order that men may repent  Joel, in his prophecy, makes mention of the day of the LORD no less than five times.



The phrasing of chapter 1: 15 is almost identical with the reference in Isaiah 13: 6, ‘Howl ye: for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty  It will be terrible, there is no escaping it.  There is no resisting it.  As a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.


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They saw themselves under the tokens of His displeasure.  It is the time to fast and to pray for their distress was very great.  There is not the plenty which there used to be in their homes.  ‘Is not the meat cut off before our eyes’ (Joel 1: 16).



Joy and gladness were also cut off from the house of God.  Joel also speaks of judgments in the form of four successive devourers - the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm and the caterpillar.  All these insects are various species of locust, and the word translated ‘caterpillar’ simply means ‘devourer  So, in chapter 2: 25 the LORD refers to ‘the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm and’ the others.



Joel now calls upon the drunkards to arouse themselves, but ‘the new wine ... is cut off from your mouth’ (1: 5).  Having in mind the great material prosperity of Joel’s day, he warns those that indulge in these things that the time will come when the situation will be reversed, and that the pleasures of sin are only for a season.



Our divine Lord’s teaching is relevant here as He charged His disciples ‘Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth’ (Luke 21: 34-35).



We have a similar warning by John in the Book of the Revelation when the time will come when it will be said of Babylon ‘All things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all’ (Revelation 18: 34).  It may be observed that although the Lord uses unrighteous and ungodly nations to chastise them, He does not disown them.  They are still His Own possession.



Furthermore, the Lord, through Joel, calls for lamentation, and the central theme of this lamentation is the forsaking of the house of the Lord, which is mentioned four times in the passage.  Through the judgments of God, famine conditions prevail, and the meat and drink offering is withheld from the house of the Lord with the result that ‘Joy is withered away from the sons of men [Page 27] and ‘joy and gladness (are cut off) from the house of our God’ (l: 12, 16).  It reminds us of the situation in Nehemiah’s day when he cast forth the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.  ‘Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense ... Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken?’ (Nehemiah 13: 9, 11).



Notice further the call to prayer.  The withdrawal of natural provisions was often endured by the Lord’s faithful people when His judgments were abroad in the earth, yet their joy did not cease.  The prophet Habakkuk had seen Israel spoiled by the Chaldeans in his day, yet we have the note of triumph in God, which is the result of living by faith.  ‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail ... yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation’ (Habakkuk 3:17- 18). 



There is also here in Joel a call for a fast and for mourning and prayer in view of the impending judgments. ‘Sanctify yea fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God and cry unto the LORD ... O LORD, to Thee will I cry’ (1: 14, 19).  This is our only hope and refuge in a day of spiritual declension and departure from God.  In chapter 22, the day of the LORD is described as ‘a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness and the attackers of Israel are called ‘a great people and a strong  In that day ‘the sun and moon are dark’ (2: 10).  For behold, the day of the LORD cometh.  ‘For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine’ (Isaiah 13: 10).



Following the solemn call to mourning and supplication on the part of the leaders and the people, Joel declares that the Lord will respond and be jealous for His land and pity His people.  ‘Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen (nations)’ (2: 19).  So the answer to the prayers of the people is the reversal of [Page 28] the famine conditions and Israel is to be delivered from reproach, that is to say, there will be ultimate deliverance, for the Lord Himself declared ‘Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ (Luke 21: 24).  So we read in Joel 2: 21, ‘Fear not, 0 land, be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things and deliver His people from the malice of their enemies.  Then will come to pass the prediction in Psalm 126: 1-2, ‘When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.  Then ... said they among the heathen, the LORD hath done great things for them  In their adversity their enemies said ‘Where is their God but when He brings about their deliverance and destroys their enemies, the nations will say ‘the LORD hath done great things for them and Israel will reply and say, ‘The LORD hath done great things for us whereof we are glad’ (Psalm 126: 3).



Then we have in chapter 2 that beautiful little phrase repeated, ‘and My people shall never be ashamed’ for they shall no more be a reproach.  See how ready God is to succour and relieve His people; how He waits to be gracious as they humble themselves under His hand, and pray and seek His face, He immediately meets them with His blessing.  God’s promises are real answers to the prayers of faith.  God will be jealous for His land and pity His people.  He will have respect to His Own honour and the reputation of His covenant with Israel, by which He had conveyed to them that good land.  In their distress He will pity His people and thus restore their forfeited comforts.



The destroying army shall be dispersed and defeated (verse 20).  ‘I will remove far from you the northern army, and drive him into a land barren and desolate  They shall perish for want of sustenance.  They had made the land barren and desolate, and now God will cast them into a land barren and desolate.  Thus, those whom God employs for the correction of His people come eventually to be reckoned with.  ‘Ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel (the Holy One in the midst of thee), and that I am the LORD your God, and none else  He is the Lord God Almighty and there is no other.  He wounds and He heals.  He forms light and darkness.  He is the Sovereign Controller of the universe, so we have the promise here, ‘ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied’ (2: 26) and rejoice and thus ‘ye shall know ... that I am the LORD’ (2: 27).


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In verses 28-32, we have a prophecy of how the kingdom of grace will be introduced by a plentiful effusion of the Spirit.  ‘And it shall come to pass Afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh  We are not at a loss or the meaning of this promise, neither can there be the slightest doubt as to what the prophet is referring.  The apostle Peter, in Acts 2, gives an infallible explanation of it, ‘this is that The [Holy] Spirit was abundantly poured out upon the apostles of our Lord on the day of Pentecost.  That Pentecostal anointing was the very thing which was spoken of here by the prophet Joel.  (The complete fulfilment of this prophecy will, of course, be at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ ‑ Ed.).  We have reference to this in Isaiah 44: 3.  ‘I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed  But the promise is to all flesh, not upon Israel (the Jews) only but upon Gentiles too, for in Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Greek.  The same Lord is rich unto all that call upon Him.  All flesh shall see the glory of God (Isaiah 40: 5) and shall come and worship before Him (Isaiah 66: 23).



We often read in the Old Testament of the Spirit of the LORD coming upon the judges and prophets whom God raised up for special service, but now shall the [Holy] Spirit be poured out plentifully in a full stream.  The Lord says by the prophet Ezekiel, ‘When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of the nations; then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen; but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.  Neither will I hide My face any more from them; for I have poured out My Spirit upon house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD’ (Ezekiel 39: 27-29).



There is a third reference made by Joel in chapter 2 ‘to the great and terrible day of the LORD’ with a reminder that before that day comes, there will come the signs in the sun, moon and stars spoken of so frequently by our Lord Himself in Matthew 24.  Yet ‘in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance’ from the terror of it (2: 32).  Who are they that shall be delivered in that day?  Those who sincerely call upon God.  ‘Whosoever shall call on the of the LORD (whether Jew of Gentile) shall be delivered



The deliverance is sure to the remnant whom the Lord our God shall call, such [Page 30] as are predestined unto eternal glory.  ‘If ye be Christ’s says Paul, ‘then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3: 29).  As the chosen of God, we -[if we suffer with Him]- are joint heirs with Jesus (Israel’s Messiah) and therefore, co-heirs of all the blessings of Israel.  By Christ Jesus ‘we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God’ (Romans 5: 2).



In the third chapter of Joel’s prophecy we have the prediction of Israel’s emancipation, and this is two-fold. God will deliver His people from Gentile bondage, where they have been in servitude for centuries, and God will also deliver His people from the bondage of sin, when they acknowledge Jesus as their Saviour and Messiah.  The physical emancipation of chapter 3: 1 is viewed as a national deliverance.  ‘I will bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem  In verse 2 the Jews are ‘scattered among the nations  In verses 3-6, they are seen abused by their oppressors, but, says the Lord in verse 7, ‘I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them  The emancipation of Israel on the day of the LORD will be the fulfilment of the Divine purpose.  It is the inevitable outcome of all world affairs - the great event to which all events are leading.  The Lord says, ‘I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem  The Divine purpose for this age is not only to call out a people from all nations for His Name, and so to redeem His Church for presentation to Christ in perfection.  ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5: 25-27).



The Divine purpose is also to divide the nations and set their ‘bounds according to the number of the children of Israel  God has not cast away His people and their physical and spiritual deliverance will be the fulfilment of the Divine plan for Israel.  ‘When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.  For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance’ (Deuteronomy 32: 8-9).  It follows also that Israel’s deliverance will be a demonstration of the Divine sovereignty.  God says emphatically ‘I will do it


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Here in chapter 3, the Almighty is seen gathering the nations together in the valley of Jehoshaphat.  It would appear that they assemble to carry out their own evil purpose, i.e. to destroy Jerusalem.  Compare Zechariah 12: 2, ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem  It is God who brings them there for judgment.  Joel 3: 12, ‘For there will I sit to judge the heathen round about  In verses 16-17 we read, ‘The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.  So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more



Further, there is to be a revelation of matchless grace.  The Jewish nation is a sinful and rebellious people in need of the mercy of God.  Despite the continued calls to repentance they have persisted in rebellion and sin. They rejected the prophets who were sent unto them.  Our divine Lord was crucified and the apostles persecuted.  Their attitude still is ‘we will not have this man to reign over us  Yet the Lord says of them, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’ (Jeremiah 31: 3).  God has hitherto, in a measure, protected His ancient people but in the day of their deliverance, He will bless them profusely and make them a blessing, and the source of this blessing will be ‘The LORD dwelleth in Zion’ (verse 21).



Blessings now longed for will be realised when Christ comes again.  They hear voice of God.  The LORD shall utter His voice from Jerusalem.  At the present time there is no prophet in Israel; no voice of divine authority.  What a blessing when Psalm 50: 3 is fulfilled, ‘Our God shall come, and not keep silence  The final word in the prophecy is the promise of cleansing.  They shall be cleansed by the Blood of Christ. Unrepented sin for which no atonement was provided will now be at an end.  Christ acknowledged and sin repented of, means sin forgiven.  What a glorious day that will be!



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Judgment of Assyria and Edom

‘Nahum’ and ‘Obadiah’



By Ian Shaw




The Books of Nahum and Obadiah tell of the judgment of Assyria and Edom (the end of the Assyrian and the Edomite nations).  The theme is God’s temporal judgments and interventions, and my purpose is to show how extensive God’s judgments are.  The Scriptures graphically reveal the wrath and judgment of God upon sinful nations for sinful practices and sinful beliefs, that is, they show we have a God Who is a God of judgment. This is a very sombre and a very serious theme, not only as we remember the past, but as we think of the present.  It must be part of our gospel witness that there is a judgment coming, a theme which has almost left pulpits today, but of which we must remind people.  We must all be judged: believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the lost at the Great White Throne,* a fearful thing for those who are outside of the Lord Jesus Christ.


[*NOTE.  The author assumes that none of the regenerate are to be left in the Underworld of Hades until the Great White Throne judgment!  If this is true, and I believe it is not – then, what is the meaning of the words: “If any was not found written on the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20: 15): and if the “First Resurrection” is one of reward - which it evidently is (Rev 20: 6. cf. Rev. 3: 21; Luke 20: 35) - then what is the meaning of the words: “The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished” (verse 5)?  There is an ongoing judgment of Christians before the time of death; and there is a pre-resurrection judgment after the time of death, (Before: Acts 5: 1-11; 1 Cor. 6: 1-8; Rev. 2: 22; 3: 19.  After: Heb. 9: 27; Rev. 11: 18).]



This judgment is a pertinent part of God’s economy for the future, that is, it is not something that is limited to the Old Testament.  The Church in the New Testament was born out of such judgment when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, and temporal judgment came in upon the church immediately to the view of all that were there on that terrible day.  Our God is a just God, a holy God, a righteous God, a God Who hates sin.  Sin must be dealt with, often in time, but always in eternity, and my hope and trust is that we have had our sins dealt with at the cross of Calvary.  For those who do not believe, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10: 31).  David, when he had sinned, said, ‘Let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for His mercies are great’ (2 Samuel 24: 14), but it is only believers who have that great promise.



Nahum and Obadiah are two of the smallest books of Scripture.  Indeed, Obadiah is the smallest book in the Old Testament.  Looking at two books of Scripture is not easy, but I plan to treat the subjects together, rather than deal [Page 33] with the two books individually.  Picture in your mind Assyria on the one hand, Edom on the other, and we will compare and contrast them.



The Essential Features of the Two Nations



1. Their Origination: The nation of Assyria was founded by Asshur and Nimrod (Genesis 10), who established the nation on two principles – idolatry and immorality.  As it was thousands of years ago, so it is today.  When religion goes wrong, it is usually always associated with immorality, that is, idolatry and immorality are twins; they go hand in hand.  Assyria was born with these two evil things - a religious practice against the True and Living God, and a moral practice against the True and Living God.  Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrians at the time when Nahum received his prophecy and the founder of that place as capital city was Sennacherib, the son of Sargon.  Sennacherib was murdered by two of his sons after he came back from the campaign against Judah, and another son, Esarhaddon, brought the city to the prominence that is described in the book of Nahum (2 Kings 19: 36-37).



Edom originated with Esau, the brother of Jacob.  Places that are associated with Edom include Mount Seir, Mount Hor, Sela, Joktheel and Petra.  In the newspaper, ‘The Times,’ recently, there was an offer of a tourist trip to Petra and it referred to the city as being ‘half as old as time,’ a visible remainder of times, which still exists in the southern part of Jordan.



What type of nation was Assyria?  It was a world empire, aggressive towards its neighbours.  By comparison of size, it was the Russia or America of today.  It was an empire of the then known world seeking to extend its borders, which reached as far as Egypt in the west, and as far as the Persian Gulf in the east, taking in the Middle East, and the Caspian and Mediterranean Seas.  It was extensive.



Conversely, Edom was a very small nation which neighboured on Israel.



2. Their Location: The location of Nineveh was to the north-east of Israel, between the Tigris and the Euphrates in what is now Iraq.


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Edom on the other hand was south of the Dead Sea.  The area that received temporal judgment at the time of Abraham and Lot, is where Esau made his home, built his capital, and which his heirs inhabited.  One archaeologist of the last century, when he reached there, said that it was ‘the place of the purple mountains with cliffs, chasms, rocky shelves and strips of valleys



3. Their Economics: The Assyrians were aggressors. They were the bank robbers of those days, the vandals, those that took that which was not theirs. They stole, fought, killed. They were marauders.



On the other hand, the Edomites were more of a commercial nation.  In fact, the great trade route went through and stopped in Edom.  The caravans would stop there for a few days selling their wears.  The Edomites, who had a great deal of money sense, were able to gain the maximum from these caravan trips.



The pinnacle of success for Nineveh was about 612 B.C. whereas the pinnacle of success for Edom was about 586 B.C.  Both of these two nations were warned by God of their impending judgment, as God never brings down judgment without warning, without preparation.



In fact, Assyria had been warned almost a hundred years earlier by the prophet Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh.  He was reluctant to go at first, but eventually the Lord took him on his journey and the result of it was that the citizens of Nineveh repented with an extensive change of heart and mind.  But revival is no guarantee of future success.  Any church is only ever one generation away from failure, compromise, and extinction, and so it graphically proved to be with Nineveh.  One hundred years after Jonah, the people had turned from the Lord.



Over the whole of the Old Testament period, Edom had received various prophets giving their uncompromising message of warning, but Edom also decided to ignore this.



So these two nations were vastly different in size and in outlook, but they were similar in practice.  The human heart is always the same, be it in Scotland, [Page 35] England, or in Australia, the hearts of the people are hard towards God.  And these two nations were no different.  They were similar in that their hearts were against the Lord, in opposition to the truth and to the Lord’s people.



The Profiles of the Two Nations



1. The Political Profile: Although Nahum is the larger of the two books, it has the briefest political description.  From Nahum 1: 1 we find the Assyrians called their capital by a very grand name - ‘Nineveh but in verse 8, the Lord calls it ‘the place  Remember how the disciples spoke to the Lord about the grand edifice of the temple and the wonderful stones!  In London there are vast, tremendous buildings.  All these stones, all these edifices.  The Ninevites and  the Assyrians also had their grand capital, but God called it only ‘the place



By contrast, the political description given of Edom by Obadiah is more extensive.  Verse 1 states the name given to the land where the descendants of Esau settled.  It is given a colloquial name in verse 18, where it is called, ‘the house of Esau  We are told their dwelling place: they dwelt ‘in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high ... though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars’ (verses 3-4).  These were troglodyte dwellers; they lived in rocks, in caves, in those red purplish stone built edifices within the clefts and the rocks, vastly different from Nineveh with its sophisticated hand tooled bricks - the bricks which can be seen in the British Museum, proudly bearing the name of Nebuchadnezzar. The Assyrians would probably have looked upon the Edomites as primitive and backward and the Edomites perhaps wished that they lived among the opulence and the grandeur of Nineveh.



Obadiah also speaks of a confederacy, ‘The men in thy confederacy.... the men at peace with thee’ (verse 7).  They have an alliance of nations to offer some degree of protection and care.  Edom has elder statesmen, who have great understanding and wisdom, but surely it is only worldly understanding, for they will be destroyed (verse 8).  They have mighty men, warriors, men of renown (verse 9).  Verses 8, 9 and 19 refer to the Mount of Esau reminding us that this political area was a rocky area.  It was renowned, for verse 9 says, ‘O Teman  The name was brought out because it was a name that was known [Page 36] (Amos 1: 12).  They were prosperous, for verse 6 speaks about the hidden treasures that were found there - treasures gained either legally or illegally.  Probably the most single poignant point about the whole political nature of Edom is the blood relationship with Judah.  Verses 10 and 12 mention, ‘the brother Jacob  This is an important point of distinction when considering the contrast between the two nations.



2. The Moral Prorile: Let us take an excursion into the heart, the motivations, the lives of these people. There is a moral profile of the Ninevites in Nahum 1.  Notice their relationship to the Lord.  They were Gods adversaries (12), and His enemies (1: 8).  The Lord God did not make them so, but they have made themselves so, by their practices.  They are against the Lord.  These are passive statements.  The general nature of these people is given as wicked, evil, and vile (1: 3,11,14).  This is the nature children inherited from their parents, and the parents from their parents, generation after generation.  But the single most telling point, which is not passive but active, is the particular nature of the Assyrians.  They conspired against the LORD (1: 9). This is the same as many people - politicians, ecumenists - are doing today.  But also, there was a particularly wicked counsellor there (1: 11), and it was he who plotted evil against the Lord.  A wicked counsellor, who is diametrically opposed to the Lord and His truth is of the ‘spirit’ of Antichrist.



Their other works mentioned are that they put bonds and yokes upon people (1: 13).  Surely that was opposed to the Lord.  He takes away the yoke and the bondage, but these people put others in yokes and bonds.  Verse 14 tells us they had a reputation, being known for their idolatry.  Reference is also made in verse 14 to their polytheism, for it speaks of the house of their gods.  This is what Assyria was built upon.  Nimrod and those who built the tower of Babel opposed the Lord and embraced polytheism, many gods.  And notice they had both wooden idols (carved images) and metal idols (moulded and cast images) (1: 14).  In their relationship with other nations, they were the wicked, sinful nation (1: 15).


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In Obadiah, we have the moral profile of the Edomites.  Are they any different?  Verse 3 tells us that they had pride in their heart.  No mention is made of a physical idol but pride causes self to be uppermost, and number one becomes the priority in the heart.  Then an idol is set there, one that is very difficult to remove.  Notice that they say in their hearts ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’ (verse 3).  It is like the pride of a big bully in the school playground challenging others to knock him down.  Phrases like ‘Though thou exalt thyself’ (verse 4), and ‘neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly’ (verse 12) show that in the hearts of the Edomites, not too different from [some of the Lord’s redeemed people today and] the Assyrians, there was pride.  They took great pride in their location.  Petra, for example, was a very inaccessible place.  Even the article in ‘The Times’ warns it is ‘a very perilous one hour journey on a donkey down the narrow slopes of a hillside to reach this once proud city  That is the tourist guide description today.



At that time, it must have been equally impregnable, and this is the reason these people took comfort, trusting they had a safe location.  But they were deceived.  ‘The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee’ (verse 3); ‘the men that were at peace with thee (that confederacy mentioned earlier) have deceived thee’ (verse 7). According to verse 10, these were people of violence – violence specially reserved for God’s people.  They were also an indifferent people.  ‘In the day that thou stoodest on the other side’ (verse 11) they gazed upon their brother with a fixed air during his affliction (verses 12-13).  They were a nation born out of hatred.  Esau hated his brother Jacob (Genesis 27: 41), and that hatred continued in every generation; it festered like a canker in their society.  That hatred was revealed in Obadiah 14.  When Israel was eventually taken into captivity, the Edomites stood at the cross roads and watched, and even gathered people from Israel who were attempting to escape, and delivered them with joy to the aggressors.  They had perverted rejoicing.  They ‘rejoiced over   the children of Judah in the day of their destruction’ (verse 12).  Verse 13 tells of their theft as they laid hands on Judah’s substance in the day of their calamity.


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So, we have contrasted and compared a political profile and a moral profile of these two nations.  Politically, they were vastly different, but morally very similar.  We have also seen that Assyria’s main sin was against the Lord, whereas Edom’s main sin was against [his ‘brother’ -] the Lord’s people - against the Lord, but indirectly so through His people.



The Reasons Why the Two Nations are to be Judged



This leads us on to the reason why these two nations will be judged.  God is a loving God, but He is also a just God, and He will give account to those who will be judged at the Great White Throne, stating the reasons for their judgment and destruction.  And it is no different with Edom and Assyria.  He gives to these two nations the reasons for their judgment.



For Assyria, the reason is twofold.  First of all, they directly opposed the True and Living God.  As we have seen already in Nahum 1, they had a wicked counsellor, motivating, guiding, leading, putting suggestions into the hearts and minds of those who already had a wicked nature.  In a sense, this wicked counsellor had an easy job.  It is not difficult to get wicked people to perform wicked acts, and this man used this advantage.  He had in his heart, just as the Antichrist will have in the latter day, a hatred of God, and wished to disseminate that hatred amongst others.  And, like the Antichrist in that yet future day, he had a relatively easy job.



The Lord’s opposition to the Assyrians was stated in eight charges against them (3: 1-4).  (1) It was a bloody city.  (2) It was a city full of lies.  (3) It was full of robbery.  (4) Its victims, that it took away in captivity, were never released.  (5) The multitude of harlotries and seductive witchcrafts never departed.  (6) It was the mistress of witchcraft.  (7) It sold nations through harlotries.  (8) It sold families through sorceries.



Thus the Lord’s indictment against Assyria was firstly, that they were evil people plotting against the Lord. But it was also that Assyria, the last of the Semitic empires before the Gentile empires came in, were giving an example.  What example were they of truth, righteousness, goodness, holiness?  They were the bloody city. The bricks of each of the buildings were bought with the lives of the people that they killed or from whom they stole. What an example!  [Page 39]  Then there were still the essential ingredients that Nimrod and Asshur had established, these twin principles, idolatry and immorality.  This they also :,disseminated among the nations.  It is much the same today as many moral evils are not only being allowed in this country by our councils and local governments and national government, but even being promoted by them, there being money given to finance such evil practices.  So that, as the young grow up, this is the example that is being given to them by their elders.  This indictment against Assyria, was the terrible, sinful, heinous example that they were setting to the rest of the world.  Take the time yourself to look at these passages and you will see that the Lord had a righteous indictment against them.



Edom was slightly different.  The reason why God was to judge and finally destroy them is because of their opposition to their brother, Jacob.  I never had a brother.  I had a sister, but always wished that I had had a brother so that we could have grown up together.  I always thought it was terrible when, in a story, a person was set against his brother.  I felt that I would never have treated a brother in that way.  Here the descendants of Esau were treating the descendants of Jacob with apathy, hatred, and venom.  There were nine crimes with which God charged Edom.



First of all, their violence against their brother Jacob (Obadiah 10).  The Edmites were not known for their aggression.  They were more like vultures, which go in after the prey has been killed.  A vulture waits at the side for the fierce animal to go away and leave the carcass, and it then goes for the pickings.  A vulture is a very scraggy and scrawny creature.  This is a reflection of its nature, and that is what the Edomites were like. They did not attack their brother.  They waited till the aggressor did it, and then they went in to pick and pillage, take and steal anything of use, and to kill those that were still left.  That was their violence.  They were vicious in that way, especially against the Lord’s people.



The second indictment was that they stood and watched as their brothers were taken away into captivity.  That is the crime of inactivity and is very pertinent today.  It says in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything under [Page 40] the heaven.  ‘There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak’ (17).  Often, we are passive, inactive, inaudible.  Maybe we watch and see the sins that are happening, and we do not speak as we should. Daniel Webster, the American commentator, said that there is nothing worse than when a righteous man does nothing.  We ought to be active people.



The Edomites stood and watched; they probably laughed and clapped their hands, for they rejoiced when Judah was taken into captivity (verse 12). This was a perverted sense of justice.  Are we happy when a good man, a righteous man, falls?  It may be that we have had a difference of opinion with him or feel that he has wronged us, and there is that tendency within us to have a perverted sense of delight.  Well, this is what these people were feeling.  But the Lord knows the heart.  Even though they were not behaving like football supporters in the terraces jumping up and down, God knows they were jumping up and down in their hearts.



Another indictment against them is that they spoke proudly (verse 12).  Beware of pride, and speaking proudly.  Then there were four other things.  They entered into Jerusalem and helped themselves.  They laid their hands on the substance of the Lord’s people.  They cut off the means of escape of the Lord’s people (verse 14).  They delivered those that they had captured into the hands of the aggressors (verse 14).  We should not have any problem now seeing the reasons why these two nations must be judged.  The core of their sin went very deep.  The overall reason for the judgment and the destruction of these two nations is that they opposed God, by opposing His truth and His people.



What God will do Against the Two Nations



If these are the indictments against these two nations, what will God do to them?  In Nahum 1: 3-10, we have the Lord’s control and use of nature for His purposes.  God put this passage in the Scripture to show His control over all the earth.  He is not merely the God of Israel.  When Joshua took the people of God over Jordan, he said, ‘The LORD of all the earth’ would go with them.  God is not a localised deity, but is the God of the whole earth.  Our God was not just the designer, creator, and maker of all things.  That is past tense.


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But now, He is the Governor, the Upholder, and the Sustainer of all things.  The atoms are being upheld and sustained by the very power that it took to create the world.  If God took away His sustaining power, even for a fraction of a second, everything we see before us would be destroyed in a moment of time.  But the Lord is gracious, and merciful, and long-suffering, especially to the elect.



In these verses (1: 3-10), we are told that the Lord is in the whirlwind; He is in the storm; the clouds are the dust of His feet; He rebukes the sea; He dries up the rivers; the mountains, Bashan and Carmel, wither; the mountains quake before Him; the flowers of Lebanon wilt; the hills melt; the earth heaves at His presence; the world’s inhabitants are moved at the presence of the LORD; His fury is poured out like fire; the rocks are thrown down by Him; with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end; darkness shall pursue His enemies; tangled thorns shall be devoured like the stubble fully dried.  There is an apt description of this in verse 10 of what the Assyrians were like.  They were folded like thorns and drunken like drunkards (i.e. twisted and disorderly).  That was God’s holy estimation of them.



If that is the Lord’s control of the lower creation, what is His control over the higher creation?  What will God do against Assyria?  Well, the Lord tells us first of all prospectively in Nahum 3: 14-15.  He warned the Assyrians, telling them to prepare for the defence of Nineveh.  But these preparations are futile.  He says, ‘Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln’ (3: 14).  But how vain all this was.  He continues, ‘There shall the fire devour thee, the sword shall cut thee off it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm (locust)’ (1: 15).  So, all preparations were useless because it was the Lord that was the adversary of Nineveh.



He used the word, ‘Behold thus saying to the readers of Scripture, gaze, look ponder, consider what I am about to do.  Notice the ‘I am’ and ‘I will  He said, ‘Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her  chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no [Page 42] more be heard’ (2: 13).  The Lord does not mince words here.  Ultimately, He says, this was what He would do because He was against them.



Also, we have what the Lord would do against these people in a particular manner.  In Nahum 1: 2-3, ‘The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies.  The LORD ... will not at all acquit the wicked*


[*NOTE. Always keep in mind the fact that the word ‘wicked’ is used throughout the scriptures to describe some of the Lord’s own redeemed people!  “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men…” (Num. 17: 26).  “I write unto you not to keep company, if a man is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one do not even eat.  For what have I to do with judging them that are without [outside of the church of God]?  Do not ye judge them that are within … Put away the wicked man from among yourselves. … Know ye not that the unrighteous [i.e., the ‘wicked’ servants] shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 5: 11, 13; 6: 9, R.V.).]]



When on door-to-door visitation we meet men and women, the thing most prevalent nowadays is that people will admit that they are sinners.  A generation ago it may have been different, but many today agree to being sinners.  But then they take the terrible refuge saying that we are all sinners.  That is right, of course, but they are taking their comfort from the fact that they feel to be no better and no worse than their neighbours.  Have you ever heard anyone judge him or herself against another person and find that other superior?  Their pretended superiority will not stand in the judgment day.  God will deal with them as individuals (Psalm 1: 5-6).  But the Lord says, ‘I will not acquit



There is going to be no acquittal for these Assyrians.  Verse 8 states, ‘but with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof’ - Nineveh, the place of glory for them, but for God, ‘the place  He will make an utter end of it, ‘and darkness shall pursue His enemies  God will pursue them.  Then verse 9 tells us there will be a total destruction.  ‘Affliction shall not rise up the second time  That means that they will not be the nation that they once were.  There will be a remnant but they will never again attain to the dizzy height, they had in the time of Nahum.  They are going to be devoured like fire devours stubble, fully dried up (verse 10).  They are going to be cut down (verse 12).  The Lord will pass through them and cut them down. They are to be afflicted.  God is going to break off the yoke.  He is going to burst their bonds asunder.  There is going to be no perpetuation of their fame and glory.



And that is true today.  We sometimes hear the proverb, ‘that person is like a Philistine,’ but we never hear the word Assyria being used today.  In the modern day the country is known as Iraq, and we know that the present ruler that nation has a great respect for these evil leaders of whom we read in the Bible, even modelling himself on Nebuchadnezzar.  But they are going to be cut off.  God says, ‘I will cut off the graven image and the molten image.  I will make (dig) thy grave’ (verse 14). The Lord’s action in judgment was against the place itself, and that is found in Nahum 2: 6-10.



The Lord says that He is going to open the gates of the river; that the palace, that glorious palace of which we see evidence in the British Museum, will be dissolved.  The inhabitants of that city will not enjoy it any more. They will be taken captive.  They will have fear.  The city is empty, void (desolate), and waste (verse 10).  The Lord speaks here in the prophetic perfect - desolate, empty, waste.  Verse 9 states that they are going to be despoiled.  Here is the ironic statement.  As they ransacked other nations, so they are going to be sacked.  The silver, the gold, and the treasures, of which there seemed to be no end will be taken away.  The wealth of every desirable prize taken away.



There is also a post-mortem judgment upon them found in chapter 3, what God will do after the destruction of Nineveh.  ‘I will discover (lift) thy skirts upon thy face, I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.  And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile; and will set thee as a gazingstock (spectacle (3: 5-6).  The reason that is stated is they were the example to the world, and now God is going to make them the true example to the world.  This is the way God deals with those who are against Him.  They will be an example of judgment, such as Sodom and Gomorrah have been to the whole world.



What will the nations do afterward?  We are told that they will come and look, and see that ‘Nineveh is laid waste’ (3: 7).  And the Lord asked who would bemoan her and from whence would comforters come for her. After the destruction of Nineveh, the people will be drunk; they will hide seeking refuge from their enemies (3: 11, 13).  The place where they are will be not known.  The judgment upon Assyria is quite extensive.



The testimony concerning the judgment of Edom is much briefer, yet just as pervasive and inclusive, as against Nineveh.  There will be two things against [Page 44] them - the human element and the divine element.  The Lord says that He will bring against them the human element, the nations.  A messenger has been sent amongst the nations, saying, Arise and let us rise up against them in battle (Obadiah 1). The confederacy, that we heard about earlier, will fall apart. The men of peace with them will then be enemies, those that eat bread with them (one of the closest relationships anyone could have in a Middle Eastern society, is bringing someone into their tent to share food) will lay a trap (verse 7).



Those of the south will come and possess the mountains of Esau. There are actual aggressors and hypothetical aggressors, thieves and robbers, grape gatherers.  Jehovah said, ‘If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night ... would they not have stolen till they had enough?  If the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?’ (verse 5).



The destruction of these two nations, as mentioned in the introduction, was temporary.  Temporal judgments come, in time.  God intervenes in time and deals with peoples, with individuals.  These two nations are struck a death blow.  It is as if God cuts at the root of these two nations and they are destroyed.  They will survive, but in few numbers.  They will not have the glory they had.



The End of the Two Nations



The end of Assyria has a very telling obituary in Nahum 3:19.  It is in three tenses - past, present, and future. In the past tense, ‘for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually  In the present tense, ‘there is no healing of thy bruise: thy wound is grievous In the future tense ‘all that hear the bruit (news) of thee shall clap the hands over thee  Now that is God’s record of the temporal intervention in time.  He came and He judged this nation of Assyria.  Assyria still remains today, not so much as a nation of Assyria, but as Iraq, and the latter are the progeny of the former.  There is still a future reckoning for these nations, so that what we read of in the Book of Nahum is a foretaste of the ultimate.  It is the temporal before the permanent.



It is the same with Edom.  Edom’s end is not found so much in the Book of Obadiah, but more in the Book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel 35 gives the final end, and the most telling part of it is that they will become desolate, wasted.  But in verse 14 there is a telling statement, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the [Page 45] whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate  So, God will bless the whole earth with millennial glories for ‘the whole earth rejoiceth  We have not yet seen that; we are not seeing that today; and there is no prospect of seeing that until the divine intervention of the Lord in His second advent. Then, when the whole earth rejoices, Edom will be made desolate.  Right through the corridors of time the Lord remembers the sins of this people against Him, His truth, and people.



The Future Aspects Found in the Two Books



There are a number of wonderful teachings in these two books.  We conclude with happier thoughts by looking at some of the prophetic future events.  ‘Thus saith the LORD ... Though I have afflicted thee (speaking of Israel), I will afflict thee no more’ (Nahum 1: 12).  Israel is still in affliction today, but there is a time coming when she will be afflicted no more.  In the same chapter there is a very familiar statement, and it is a Scripture that is preached on many times in gospel and missionary meetings, ‘O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off’ (Nahum 1: 15).  So, again, we see a wonderful prospect of the restoration of Israel as a nation.  Nahum 2: 2 comes as an oasis.  In the Minor prophets and also in the Major prophets there is a common characteristic, that when the Lord is dealing with the local - and we have been centring upon Nineveh, Edom, Assyria - He suddenly blossoms out into the universal.  We see that in 2: 2.  God will restore Jacob, and Jacob will receive the excellence like the excellence of Israel - as it was in the past.  The emptiers had emptied them, and they had been ruined, but the Lord will restore them.



The book of Obadiah is most fruitful in the coming future events.  Edom and the nations will be judged in the latter time (verses 15-16).  The house of Jacob will be saved (verses 17-20).  The millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ will    be established (verse 21).  So, we have seen that in judgment there is mercy; that even amongst those verses where the Lord reveals the darker side in which He must deal with sin, there are glorious verses that bring the Lord’s people with joy to think of greater, better, and happier prospective times ahead.  The judgments of God are terrible.  It does not give any preacher joy to speak of judgment other than the fact that it is God’s word, and it is the truth, and it [Page 46] is the revealed will of the mind of God.  But it uplifts the glory of God, and God’s glory must always be satisfied.  And in the temporal judgment of those two nations, and then again in the future judgment of them, God’s glory is vindicated.



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Israel’s Deliverance from the Chaldeans




By Ian Shaw



Our subject is Israel’s Deliverance from the Chaldeans.  We notice their temporal deliverance and see that God’s deliverance is always in a time of need.  I propose to show the manner of Israel’s deliverance.



The Book of Habakkuk comes within the twelve books of the minor prophets.  It is a good exercise to read through these twelve books in one sitting/reading, which can be done in about two and a half hours, and it is very worthwhile because of the rich variety.  Because they are small, so much may be gained from them in a short period of time.



Habakkuk was a man of faith, and he was very troubled by what he saw around him.  But he made his trouble known unto the Lord.  He was a man of prayer.  It is good to be a man or woman of faith but we must also be people of prayer.  Habakkuk took his problems to the Lord.  He set himself on his watch tower and waited, as we must always wait, for the Lord’s reply.



Habakkuk was unique amongst the twelve minor prophets for two reasons.  Firstly, while he was upon his watch, waiting, he received, if I understand chapter 3 correctly, what we call a Christophany, that is, he experienced the appearance of God in the form of Jesus Christ, the pre-incarnate Christ.  He saw the Lord coming to him in a marvellous way similar to others of the Lord’s people in Old Testament times, who experienced these direct, personal appearances of the Lord.  Sometimes in these experiences, the Lord is called ‘the Angel of the Covenant or ‘the Messenger of the Covenant  Habakkuk is unique in that none of the other minor prophets experienced the Lord in quite this way or manner.



But the prophet is also unique because of the rich variety of ways in which he reveals the Word to us.  In chapter 1: 1 we see that the form of revelation given [Page 48] to him was a ‘burden or, weight.  He had this weight which was revealed through his experience.  He saw, as a man of faith, the things round about him and he was given the burden.  That is the first form of God’s revelation that we find in the book.



Then four times it is mentioned that he had a vision, once in 1: 1, then in 2: 1. 2, and 3.  The prophet, Habakkuk, saw and watched ‘to see what He will say unto me’ (11).  Then, ‘Write the vision’ (22).  ‘For the vision is yet for an appointed time’ (13).  So he had a burden but he also had a vision.



A third form of God’s revelation that is found in this book is the written revelation.  He is told to ‘write the vision’ (22).  To make sure that it is recorded, Habakkuk was bidden to write it on tables, or, tablets, and make it plain and clear.  God’s Word is not obscure.  People, sometimes ministers, and certainly unbelievers, make God’s Word obscure.  But God’s Word has to be clear, so that he that readeth can run.



A fourth form of revelation that is found in this book is prayer.  Chapter 3: 1-16 is called ‘a prayer of Habakkuk  Verse 1 indicates that it is also a psalm, and verse 19, where we find it given ‘to the chief singer (musician) on my stringed instruments shows that it is a hymn.



So, the second unique aspect of this book is the four forms of revelation by which this prophet received the Word of God, and has transmitted it to us.  And God, in His marvellous providence, has preserved it for us.



The first verse says, ‘The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see and I want us to keep that uppermost in our minds, the fact that he saw what he was about to write.  It is very similar to John the apostle on the Isle of Patmos and the Book of the Revelation.  He saw.



There are six visions at which I want us to look.  Firstly, the vision that Habakkuk saw of his people. Secondly, the vision of the Chaldeans.  Thirdly, the vision of the Lord.  Fourthly, the vision of what will happen to his people.  Fifthly, the vision that Habakkuk had of himself.  And sixthly, the vision of the future. Through these six visions there is the theme of deliverance.



The Vision of His People



These people were those that he lived amongst, who were his ethnic blood group.  Judah, Israel, the people of God, the people of the covenants, the people of the adoption, the people of the glory, the people of the Word of God, those that had received the law.



This first vision of Habakkuk which he saw was not so much a direct revelation.  It is found in 1: 2-4.  This vision that he had was what he saw as a man of deep faith in the Lord and in the glory of the Lord, so much so, that he looked around and was unhappy to the core of his heart because of that which he saw.  He was not unhappy for himself.  He was unhappy because what he saw fell far short of the glory of God.



Habakkuk, as a man of faith, knew God’s standards.  He had them written in his heart and mind, and in this first vision, the vision of his people, he saw that the people fell far short of the glory of God.  He was like those ‘children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do’ (1 Chronicles 12: 32).  There were very few people who knew and understood the times, but Habakkuk was such a man.  He knew and understood the times in which he lived.



Do we understand the times in which we live?  Like Habakkuk, we are personal observers of all things around us.  Do they concern us?  Do we mourn because of sin?  Do we mourn because of the wickedness of the nation and the western world, and because we see men falling short of the standards of God?  Are we, like Habakkuk, concerned?  Have we a vision of the people amongst whom we live?



With his knowledge of the word and will of God, Habakkuk had this burden.  He saw that they were not just his people, but they were also God’s people.  It evoked from him a series of questions and statements which he directed inquiringly at the Lord.  In verses 2-4 he made eight statements and questions and gives six complaints.


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The first question was, ‘O LORD, how long shall I cry?’ (verse 2).  Here was a man with the burden of God’s glory and the burden of this sinful people on his heart and he has been crying, ‘How long shall I cry  There is also this complaint, ‘Thou wilt not hear’ (verse 2).  He felt that the heavens were as brass.  A second question was, ‘How long shall I ... cry out unto Thee of violence  There was violence amongst the people with whom he lived. Then, ‘Thou wilt not save is the complaint.



And then he made other questions and statements.  ‘Why dost Thou shew me iniquity?’  ‘Why dost Thou ... cause me to behold grievance (see trouble)? for spoiling (plundering) and violence are before me; and there are that raise up strife and contention  All this, and his complaint therefore was that the law, the divine standard by which his nation should have lived, was powerless.  Thus ‘judgment (justice) doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about (surround) the righteous; therefore wrong (perverse) judgment proceedeth  There was not a lack of the law nor of judgment.  It was there, but it was perverted, twisted, mangled, and pulverised.



Just like the higher critics have been doing to our Bible for about two hundred years, trying to pulverise, squeeze, and ruin it so that they twist God’s Word in such a manner to try and make it say something that it was never intended to say.



Here the prophet with the vision of his people, had terrible burning questions upon his mind and he vocalised them and directed them unto the Lord.  His complaints are not blasphemous.  It is not being too familiar with the Lord.  It is a man who is deeply concerned, and one who really knows what God’s standard is and knows that it has been openly flouted.



The sum total of this is, that when he looked at his people in this first vision, he did not look for the deliverance of Israel from the Chaldeans.  At this particular time, he was looking for God to come and intervene.  He looked for chastisement.  He saw the people ripe for chastisement, a people whom, if they were the Lord’s then the Lord would chasten them as a father doth his son.


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Now let me just interject a contemporary application for us before we go any further.  We are [or should be] today’s Habakkuks.  The name means ‘embracing’ or ‘clasping,’ and we are to embrace the whole of God’s divine revelation, and make it our own.  Let us make the Word of God part of the fabric of our thoughts.  Let all the Word of God permeate our lives, guide our thoughts, so that when we make the decisions of life, whether small or large, they are based upon Biblical principles.  As Habakkuks today, we should be applying the revelation of God’s Word practically, so that it might be said of us that we have understanding of the times, to know what we ought to do and say.



The Vision of The Chaldeans



Habakkuk’s second vision is found in 1: 5-17 and 2: 5-13, 15-29.  It is the largest vision in the book and was given by direct revelation.  There is no possibility that Habakkuk could have seen this by personal observation, as he had the first vision.  This second vision required a direct personal intervention by God coming to one of His servants with the word of truth, and, indeed, this extensive answer was the response to Habakkuk’s questions and complaints.



The Lord is truly marvellous.  We take to Him in prayer the things that are upon our heart and He answers every believing prayer of His people.  His answer may be ‘Yes,’ or it may be ‘No  Or it could be ‘Wait  It is marvellous to see that Habakkuk had taken these things to God and the Lord came with the divine answer. Admittedly, it was not the answer that he was expecting, and we, when we pray, often have in our minds the answer we expect to our prayer!



Gentile world powers had come and had extended so successfully.  Everything was going their way, so they gave the credit to their gods.  That was human error.  The truth is in verse 6, where God says, ‘For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans  Human error gives credit to men, whereas it was God Who raised up these Chaldeans.  He allowed them to have, in part, some of their human desires.


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But to the Babylonians, like other nations and all the wicked people that have ever been, the Lord says, ‘Thus far, and no further  All nations are under the divine control of the Lord.  Habakkuk’s desire for God’s intervention and for the chastisement of Israel was now answered in this vision of the Chaldeans.  Men have worldly ambitions for a god-like dominion.  The aim of the Chaldeans is found in 1: 6.  It was to ‘march through the breadth of the land (earth).’  This was a proud big ambition to possess the dwelling places that were not theirs; they came for violence; their faces were set like the east wind; they gathered captives like sand (1: 9).



That was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear.  And oftentimes the Word of God, when it comes to us, is not what we want to hear.  But this was God’s Word and it came to Habakkuk, and was the direct answer to Habakkuk’s questions, statements and complaints.  In my imagination, I can visualise Habakkuk in his room or on that watch tower, and the Lord gave this marvellous vision of the Chaldeans.  I can see him beginning to feel weak and utterly inadequate to receive this message.  The army is described in verse 8.  Their horses were swifter than leopards and more fierce than the evening wolves.  Their chargers were to charge ahead.  Their cavalry was to come from afar.  They would fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.  They would have sieges, for they heap up mounds (verse 10).  This is something of what they will do, and it is terrible for Habakkuk to see.



Of course, we look back now with hindsight and thus have the advantage over Habakkuk.  When we look back with retrospect, we see that these things were necessary.  But if we put ourselves in Habakkuk’s situation we would recognise this as the coming of a bitter and a hasty nation, and it was terrible, dreadful.  We can imagine Habakkuk saying, ‘Who is sufficient for these things  The Chaldean desire was for dominion of the world. They wanted to be masters of everything, to have dominion over everyone, to control the lives of all.



We may remember what the Lord did in His providence, when He allowed Hitler, who had this similar ambition, to go so far and no further.



Then, Habakkuk was given a dreadful description of the terrible treatment to which these Chaldeans subjected people that they gathered together like sand.  Look at 1: 14-17.  In these verses, men are viewed under two figures - fishes and creeping things.  These metaphors show how extensive these Chaldeans were in dealing with individual people, not numbers.



In these days, many of us belong to big multi-national companies that simply use a number to identify their employees.  But these were real people, like us, who had hearts that pumped blood around their bodies, people that had memories, loved ones, children, grandparents.  They were real people.  Look what the Chaldeans did to them.  ‘They take up all of them with the angle (hook), they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag (dragnet)’ (verse 15).



I live not far from a coast and oftentimes go down to the harbour.  I see the large nets hanging out to dry after they have been to sea.  I am told that some of these nets are miles long.  It staggers me to comprehend that, but they put these nets into the water.  The weights take the furthest end down and they can grab them back again with a rope.  The small fish go through the net and the others are caught.  This is a picture of the Chaldeans gathering together all these people.  That was their first inhumanity.  ‘Therefore they rejoice and are glad’ (verse 15).  They were happy doing this, as I suppose many Nazi jackboots were in pursuing their exploits.



The second inhumanity is recorded in verse 16.  Because by them their share was sumptuous, for they stole from the dead bodies of the people, they burned incense to their dragnet.  That was going back to verse 11, they imputed it unto their gods and burned incense to a net of rope, just as the Assyrians worshipped metal covered wood and gold covered metal.  They were doing the same.



The third inhumanity is found in verse 17, ‘Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations  There was no pity with these Chaldeans.  They were very ruthless.  They seem to have been insatiable, emptying the net of capture, just to refill and replenish.  Their lust for the souls of men, their constant drive to conquer, the attendant reward of treasure [Page 54] consumed culture after culture.  Their idolatry is described in verse 16, ‘Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and bum incense unto their drag  Then the metaphor of the ‘creeping things that have no ruler over them.’  These Chaldeans, it would seem, had generals and they had a king but many of the individuals within the army were a law unto themselves.  Their mandate was worldly dominion, and that was easy when an army are like minded with the principles of their leaders.



That is what they were going to do, but what were they like?  Well, Habakkuk was then given quite an extensive profile of this evil and avaricious nation, teaching us that it is only when we have gathered all the facts together, we can truly pray in an informed and intelligent manner.  You see, while Habakkuk received this vision of the Chaldeans, after he had seen the vision of his people, then was he able to set himself on his watch tower and wait and pray.  He could do it more informed and more intelligently: in Habakkuk’s case, to pray fervently, not for chastisement, as in the initial vision, but for deliverance.  It was prayer for the temporal deliverance of Israel.  This was now his consuming passion, to pray for deliverance.



Now this revelation of what these Chaldeans were like, falls into two parts.  There is a general description and a particular description.



The general description covers everyone within that nation.  They were a ‘bitter and hasty nation’ (1: 6), and they were ‘terrible and dreadful’ (1: 7).  That is what they were like as a group, an army, a people, a civilisation.



Then the particular description is given in 2: 5-20, and we see that everything was motivated by a particular aspect that is not too far from us today.  Verse 5 says, ‘Also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell [‘Sheol’]  It would seem that wine or drink was the consuming passion of this nation.  This is what motivated and controlled these people.  They were drunkards physically with wine, but they were drunk with their own pride and passions and with the feeling of their own self importance, and also of their own destiny (1: 11).  Remember that this is the first of the Gentile nations.


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In the passage that follows, different groups of people are mentioned - the thief (2: 6-8), the liar (2: 6-8), the covetous (2: 9-11), the unscrupulous (2:12-14), the licentious (2: 15-17), the idolatrous (2: 18-19).  All these things made up this nation.  This was the particular description of the hearts and minds of these people.  Our present society is very like them.  There are so many things about these Chaldeans which indicate they were worse than the Assyrians.  They had learned from the Assyrians, the last of the Semitic empires, and they were worse.  There was no restraint.  But in this graphic description of the personality of these people, we also have the proof that God will deliver.  Chapter 2: 6 speaks of ‘a taunting proverb  So that which is in the rest of that chapter is God’s taunting proverb of what would happen to these people.



Sudden destruction was to come upon the thieves (verses 6-8).  You know the account in Daniel 5.  Belshazzar was given the message written by a hand on the wall.  He saw the writing but could not understand it, and Daniel was bidden to go in and interpret this.  The message was one of judgment upon Belshazzar.  The Medes and the Persians had been camping outside those walls of Babylon and could not find a way in.  That night, they dammed and diverted the river that went through the city, and went in up the river bed as Belshazzar was receiving his final interpretation.  Suddenly, destruction fell upon Babylon in such a way that the city was kept almost intact, and the people offered very little resistance, so sudden was the shock.  That is what the Lord said here - sudden destruction would come upon them.  ‘Thick clay’ speaks of sudden destruction.



Verses 9-11 have a message for the covetous.  ‘The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it’ (verse 11).  These two inanimate objects, in a sense, are given voices, so that if all else were destroyed, the wood and the stone would witness against this covetous people.  God knows the heart, and Psalm 139 teaches us that He also knows the motives which control our hearts.  He Who knows the word before it has fallen upon the tongue, knew these people and He said that these things would witness against them.


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In verses 12-14, there is a word for the unscrupulous.  We read that the unrighteous ambitions will be replaced with righteousness.  I like that. God’s righteousness is going to replace this wickedness.  Now, of course, it was not to be at that time because it speaks of a future time, and these things will yet come to pass.



For the licentious in verses 15-17, destruction, both divine (verse 16), and human (verse 17) would come upon them.



For the idolatrous, dead religion will be replaced by the true, because ‘The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him’ (2: 20).  The reference to the wood and stone is found again for they overlaid their wood and their stone with gold and silver (2: 19).  Many times we read in the Scriptures, that idols have eyes but cannot see, noses but they cannot smell, mouths but they cannot speak.  They cannot use the senses and yet that is what men bow down before and worship.  If we compare that verse with the earlier one we notice that their very idols to which they bowed down, will speak against them in that day which is yet to come.



The Vision of The Lord



In this third vision there is a wonderful picture.  For, although Habakkuk was given a personality profile in chapter 2, it seems that initially he did not understand God’s judgments upon these individual groups, because he set himself on the watch tower still concerned and praying for temporal deliverance.  We are like that.  It sometimes takes good spiritual, Biblical meditation.  That is not the meditation of the eastern cults which empty their minds and allow them to be filled with whatever goes in, because we are told in the gospels that that will be demonic impressions.  No, we take the Scripture and meditate upon it and, like a spiritual ruminator, chew it over in our mind until we receive understanding.  It seems that Habakkuk had not yet experienced that.



The vision had come quickly, and the powerful impressions had laid upon his mind.  It is just like us.  When we are sitting under preaching, at the end of the message we usually remember some points and it may be, if we have [Page 57] opportunity later, we meditate and remember other points which may have been equally as important but which may not have impressed us initially. That is what happened to Habakkuk.  He had received the large impressions but the smaller ones were still to filter through.  In this third vision, Habakkuk was given a wonderful vision of the Lord, what and where He is and what He will do.  This revelation outlined in this vision gave Habakkuk the confidence and the assurance for the deliverance of God.



First of all, attributes of God are mentioned (1: 12-13).  God is eternal. ‘Art Thou not from everlasting’ (1: 12). That is confirmed by ‘His ways are everlasting’ (3: 6).  God’s holy, ‘Mine Holy One’ (1: 12).  God is also the Judge, ‘Thou hast ordained (appointed) them for judgment ... Thou hast established (marked) them for correction’ (1: 12).  That is, the Chaldeans, not Israel.  Also 1: 12, the term ‘mighty God’ is a ‘Rock  There is nothing firmer than rock.  We are putting rocks at our coasts just now to prevent coastal erosion.  Rocks are firm.  Then also, God is pure, ‘Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity (wickedness)’ (1: 13).



Here the Lord came to Habakkuk in this tremendous vision of Who and what He is.  In a sense, it was not bringing anything to Habakkuk that was new, otherwise it would be futile for us to sit under preaching week after week.  We have to be reminded of truth, which, from time to time, has to be emphasised and explained and clearly brought out so that our hearts can be warmed by things.



So this vision of the Lord, as it came to Habakkuk here in 1: 12-13, was a marvellous confirmation to him.  It is as if the Lord went into Habakkuk’s mind and brought that which was already there.  We can do that with a tape recorder.  We listen to a message and there is something we have not quite taken in.  We cannot stop the preacher and ask him to explain that point again, but on a recording machine we can press the pause button, rewind and play again to get the salient facts.



It is as if Habakkuk had experienced this.  The Lord had brought things to Habakkuk’s mind, and he responded ‘Thou art from everlasting  He [Page 58] remembered that Jehovah is the God of the eternal covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he knew that Cod is a holy and righteous God, that sin must be dealt with, and that God is a judge, Who has appointed these Chaldeans for judgment and for correction, and that God is unmovable in all His ways.  He is the unchangeable God.  It is an inference from the ‘rock’ that He is for ever the same, and it was upon this truth that Habakkuk could rest.  And of course, he knew that God is pure in all His ways.



On the day that Isaiah ‘saw the Lord high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple’ (Isaiah 6), what did he do?  If he had been a present day charismatic, he would have jumped up onto the pews clapping his hands, uttering words unspeakable.  But not Isaiah.  He said, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips’ (though a prophet!).  When a person has a vision of the Lord, it shows the true wickedness of the human heart.  It does not exalt, it humbles.  Having a vision of God puts us in our proper place.



This is what happened to Habakkuk.  These things were being impressed upon his mind.  A further confirmation of this is the position of God in the universe, ‘The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him’ (2: 20).  All the earth silent before Him!  There are times when we, as the Lord’s people, speak a little too much, and there are times when we ought to keep silent, to listen, and wait as Elijah did for that still, small voice.



That gave Habakkuk confirmation, but surely the greatest of all is that appearance of the Lord, that Christophany.  ‘God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise’ (3: 3). Habakkuk not only saw that, but experienced it. And it is an experience yet to come.  Habakkuk saw something similar to that which John did in the Revelation, for he saw the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That gave the prophet great confidence in the everlasting God, Who is holy and pure, Who is in His heaven, and before Whom the earth must keep silent. That was a marvellous and wonderful experience.


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The Vision of What Will Happen to His People



This fourth vision is found in Habakkuk 1: 12-13.  It is very closely connected to the vision of the Lord.  The Lord was very near to His people then, and is to us even now.  He inhabits the hearts of His people.



Habakkuk in his perplexity directed another seven questions to the Lord found in verses 12, 13, 14 and 17.  (1) ‘Art Thou not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One  Remember, he was taking these things into the fabric of his mind and being at this time.  (2) ‘Wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously  (3) Why ‘holdest Thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man who is more righteous than he  (4) Why ‘makest men as the fishes of the sea  (5) Why ‘makest men ... as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them  (6) ‘Shall they therefore empty their net (7) ‘Shall they ... continually to slay the nationsThese were the questions burning in his mind.  But also in verses 12-13 we find Habakkuk’s confidence.  First of all, confidence concerning God’s people, ‘We shall not die’ (verse 12).



Initially, he prayed or desired chastisement, but he was brought to pray for deliverance, and this prayer was based upon the nature of God.  So must our prayers be.  We must pray in faith, believing that the Lord is, and that He is the diligent rewarder of His people.  Our prayers must be based on the nature and character and being of God, otherwise we ask amiss (see James 4: 3).



The confidence was beginning to creep into Habakkuk.  ‘We shall not die  We have an everlasting God with an everlasting covenant.  If the everlasting covenant is broken, then there is no everlasting God.  That was the implication, and he realised that that could not be so.  His confidence increased.



His second confidence was concerning the Chaldeans, ‘O LORD, Thou hast ordained them for judgment; and O mighty God (Rock), Thou hast established (marked) them for correction’ (verse 12). Yes, the Lord was going to deal with this wicked and fierce nation.  Possibly after he had seen the vision of his people and was then given a vision of the Chaldeans, maybe his faith faltered slightly, but then his confidence in his God was gained, ‘Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity (wickedness)’ (verse 13).


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His great problem was how could God use an unclean nation to chastise His people, but then he realised they were destined for correction themselves.



Now this temporal deliverance at this period of time was a preparation, or foretaste of a greater future deliverance of Israel at the second advent of the Lord.  The things here in Habakkuk were literally fulfilled at that time but they also speak of the yet future day for the Lord will deliver His people in a marvellous way. This was only a temporal intervention of the Lord.  It speaks of an eternal deliverance when there will be the restoration of Israel, when the nation shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced, and there will be mourning with their change of heart.



The Vision That Habakkuk Had of Himself



Habakkuk’s fifth vision is of himself, found in 2: 1-3 and 3: 6-19.  This vision, like the first vision, that of his people, was born out of faith, experience and a resolve based upon Scriptural revelation.  There is nothing better that we can do than to follow these eight principles.  First of all, he watched (2: 1).  He was God’s watcher.  We are God’s watchers.  He watched from his watch tower.  A watch tower had to be a prominent place.  We are not to be hidden.  We are not to cloister ourselves away in nunneries or monasteries.  These are so unbiblical.  We are in the world and not of the world, but we are to be the light of the world and salt of the earth.



Also, he waited (2: 1).  We are to be watching and waiting also.  There are a lot of things around us which are wrong and evil.  We do not like them.  We speak against them when we have opportunity.  We do not engage in them because we know that ultimately, as Habakkuk knew, the Lord’s people and the Lord will have the victory.  Righteousness will be established, so we are to wait also.



Thirdly, we should be people of prayer (3: 1), in season and out of season, and, as Paul said, to ‘pray without ceasing  When Paul wrote that, he spoke not so much of the act of prayer as the attitude.  As believers we are to live and breathe a life of prayer.


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Fourthly, part of the believing experience is a vast answer (2: 4 - 3: 19).  It is the answer of the Lord, with nearly two whole chapters given to the question and statement of Habakkuk.  And here are answers by the Lord to those four forms of revelation that we saw earlier, and by this marvellous appearance of the Lord which the prophet experienced.



Fifthly, we cannot leave this book without looking at the verse which so helped Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation under the Lord’s hand, ‘Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith’ (2: 4).  That verse states the whole doctrine of justification by faith alone without works.  We are to be people of faith, exercising faith continuously.  Our lives are built on faith, something that the people of this world, our neighbours, friends, colleagues, acquaintances neglect completely. We have faith that the Lord will bring these things to pass.  Although the Lord has seemed to have tarried, we are not like the scorners mentioned by Peter.  We wait because we believe the Lord will fulfil His Word.



Sixthly, the physical effects are mentioned in 3: 16, ‘When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops  Habakkuk was saying he was affected when he saw the Lord.  This is something that he physically experienced, his belly was unsettled, his lips quivered, rottenness entered his bones, he trembled within himself at the presence of the Lord.  There are times in our lives when we have experienced such things.  But our confidence is in Lord.



The book finishes with ‘Yet’ (3: 18).  We would not have guessed when we started the prophecy that it would have finished in such a way.  We would never think that this was the same man.  He concluded, ‘I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation  If at the beginning, he was the unhappy man, at the end of this book, he was the happy man.  Habakkuk rejoiced in the Lord, and I think there is cause for true rejoicing in the Lord.  It is not limited to an extrovert section of Christendom.  It is for all God’s people to be happy in the revelation of the Lord as we see it exemplified wonderfully here in the closing words of Habakkuk.


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Finally, the eighth aspect of living was his resolving ‘The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.  To the chief singer on my stringed instruments’ (3: 19).  Here was a completely different man.  He was a man with a lightness of foot, joy in his heart, the Lord had given him back his strength.



I think of the latter verses of that hymn by John Newton, ‘Amazing Grace speaking of when we shall put off this mortality and this corruption, this weakness, this feebleness, and be changed into that wonderful glory yet to be.  ‘When I’ve been there a thousand years, bright shining as the sun; I’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when I first begun  We may be weak now, but we shall be strong.



The Vision of the Future



In closing, let us consider the sixth and final vision because Habakkuk saw the future also.  In 2: 14 he spoke about the universal dominion of the Lord in the millennial period, ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea  Does that not give you hinds’ feet?  Does that not give you rejoicing?  To see that there is this glorious prospect before us in this marvellous revelation.



We may wonder why the Lord injected these little verses in the most unusual places, but we see that it is not so unusual because, in verses 12-14, we read.  ‘Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!  Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity  Here is human effort.



It is the Chaldeans exemplified because as we know from exhibits in the British Museum, the Chaldeans or Babylonians were tremendous builders and they tried to build their paradises upon earth.  But their paradises failed and became bywords of sinfulness, whereas we find here the spiritual act is that ‘the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea  And that is marvellous.


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Then there is that whole portion (3: 3-16), where we find the marvellous truth of the second advent of our Lord Jesus and His coming to judge the nations.  We read of the events upon the earth (verse 10), and of the astral events (verse 11), and marvellous glory (verse 13) coming to a people.  ‘Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, even for salvation with Thine Anointed; Thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck



So we see in this marvellous book the temporal deliverance of Israel from the Chaldeans at that time, which was full.  There was temporal chastisement upon Judah but that passed because they were delivered.  The prayer of the righteous man, Habakkuk, was instrumental in that whole scene.  We find in all this a foretaste of that which is yet to come, the greater than this, the restoration of Israel, the second advent of our Lord, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, when in the words of 2: 14, ‘the whole earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD We shall never see that resulting from human instruments, the peace-makers in this world, no matter how blessed they be, but it will be brought about by the personal intervention of the Lord.



*       *       *


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Judgment of the Nations and the

Restoration of Israel




By David Park



The Prophecy of Amos teaches how God treats sin, and how He views, apostasy.  It shows that the Lord has not finished with the nation of Israel, His ancient people, as many would have us believe.  It reminds us there is going to be a greater day when Jesus Christ comes back again.  And it shows us that God will make good His promises.  No promise that God has made to His people, will fall to the ground.  Each one will be fulfilled.



1. The Prophet’s Background and Character



The opening two verses of the Book introduce us to the prophecy ‑ to the prophet, and to the book.  The scene is set.  The details of the prophet’s background and character are briefly stated.



(A) Occupation



These opening words tell us about his work.  Amos followed a lowly occupation.  He may be called ‘the herdsman prophet  We have his own testimony recorded for us in chapter 7, as he speaks about the call of God in his life.  In verses 14 and 15, Amos said to Amaziah, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: and the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me.  Go, prophesy unto My people Israel So, he was an herdsmen and a grower of sycamore fruit, and one day he heard the sovereign call of God as he was engaged in his ordinary occupation, and like the apostles of the New Testament, he left all to follow the Lord.  ‘The LORD took me he says.  He was called by the Lord to an extremely difficult work.



Although a native of Judah, he prophesied against Israel.  So Amos was a Southerner bringing a message to the Northern kingdom, and a prophet of doom to an age which felt comfortable and secure in materialism.



(B) Home Town


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We not only see his occupation in these opening words, but we see his home town.  It was a town called ‘Tekoa a little place situated in highlands about 12 miles south of Jerusalem or 6 miles south of Bethlehem. This area is described in 2 Chronicles 20: 20 as ‘wilderness a place of barrenness.  And so it may be assumed that he had a tough and hard life and would not have found it easy to obtain a living.  He learned to endure hardness in God’s training school.



Amos never had any formal education in the schools of the prophets of his day as those who had gathered round Elijah and Elisha.  But he was by no means untutored or ignorant.  He was taught of the Lord.  He possessed a deep knowledge of history and a deep understanding of the problems of his day.



(C) Period



We also see in these opening verses the period of time in which he prophesied.  He ministered during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel.  There was peace in these kingdoms at that time. There was prosperity, stability, ease, commercial wealth and presumptuous security.  In the South, Uzziah had strengthened his fortifications and built up his army.  He had recaptured the important port of Elath on the Red Sea from the Edomites.  In the North, Jeroboam had checked the growing Syrian power and had even occupied the Syrian capital, the city of Damascus, his most dangerous enemy.  Considerable wealth had accumulated from the spoils of war taken in battle, from the taxes and tolls which were extracted from the eastern trade routes, and from the oppression of the poor classes.



However, prosperity had corrupted the people, sin was widespread, and Amos very difficult task in challenging the abounding godlessness of this particular period of complacency, materialism, and hardness of heart.  They were a difficult people.  They did not want to hear his message.  They only wanted to ridicule what he preached.  That was the kind of period in which he ministered.



(D) Message



We also discover the message that he was to bring!  This is indicated in these [Page 66] opening verses.  It was a message of doom.  The tone of the prophet’s message is set at the opening of the book where the earthquake is mentioned.  You will see in verse 1 that he was called by God to minister ‘two years before the earthquake This earthquake must have been of exceptional severity, for Zechariah speaks of it nearly 300 years later as an event well remembered (Zechariah 14: 5).  The earthquake seems to illustrate how God would shake the nations - divine judgment would fall.  The whole book, except for a brief passage at the end, is a message of doom.



Furthermore, his native town, ‘Tekoa,’ comes from the root meaning ‘to blow the trumpet  The prophecy may be viewed as a trumpet blast.  You will notice that in chapter 3: 6 the question is asked, ‘Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid  The trumpet was used to sound the alarm and even in the name of ‘Tekoa’ we see the sounding of the alarm, the very calling of the prophet to blast the trumpet and so warn the people of his day.



The Lord is not to be thought of as an excuser of sin, but as an executioner of judgment against sin.  The burden of Amos concerned punishment.  He had a stern message for that complacent, self-indulgent age.  He was the prophet of woe!  God does not overlook or dismiss [wilful] sin.  Hence the solemn warning from the Lord is pronounced to this people, ‘Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark and no brightness in it?’ (5: 18-20).  The Hebrews tended to look to the day of the Lord as the day of their glory and power, but Amos reminds them that in their unrepentant state it will be a day of darkness, a day when sin will be called to account.



2. Outline of the Book



Perhaps at this stage I could give a summary or brief outline of the Book.



Chapter 1 - 2: 3 - Judgment of Surrounding Nations



Amos begins his prophecy of woe by crying against the surrounding nations who were occupying territory given to Israel by God.  He announces the [Page 67] coming of certain judgment upon six heathen nations - Syria, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab.  Israel is shown that God is no respecter of persons where sin is concerned.  A notable expression is used in chapter 1: 3, ‘Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Damascus, and for four  This is a prophetic formula.  It is used in these opening chapters.  It represents a multiplicity of sins, to show us that many sins were involved here.  This prophetic formula represents the commission of many sins.



Chapter 2: 4-16 - Judgment of Judah and Israel



The thunder-storm of God’s wrath destined for the neighbouring kingdoms, now spills over into Judah and at length falls with crashing effect upon Israel.



Chapter 3 - Judgment according to Privilege



I want you to notice in particular verse 2.  ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities



Privilege brings responsibility.  Israel was uniquely blessed of the Lord, brought into a special relationship of intimacy with God.  The word ‘known’ is often used to describe the relationship between husband and wife. God brought Israel into a covenant.  He had chosen them.  He had called them.  He had set them apart in a way that no other nation had been set apart.



In the words in Deuteronomy 7: 6-8, speaking of this unique relationship that they enjoyed with the Lord, it says, ‘For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth  And the next verse shows us that it was through the elective purposes of God.  It was not because there was any good thing dwelling in Israel.  We are told ‘The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn onto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king if Egypt


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The Lord remembers the oath He had made.  God has a special love for the Jew.  No one can deny that if they study the Scriptures.  God had giver prophets and revealed His secrets to them.  Israel had light, understanding, blessing and privilege that no other nation possessed.  And in the New Testament, Jesus Christ said, ‘Unto whomsoever much is given, of him be much required’ (Luke 12: 48).  In the day of Amos, much was being required because of the privilege that God had given to them.  But the nation was rebellious before the Lord. Their cup of iniquity was rising and Israel was ripe for judgment.



Chapter 4 - Judgment by Chastening



The rod of correction had been applied already to call this nation to repent before it was too late.  As you go down the 4th chapter, you will find that God had sent famine, drought, pestilence, defeat in battle, and providential disaster but to no avail.  For again and again we read, ‘Yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the LORD  God had chastened His people.  He acted to bring them into the way again, to bring them to the place of repentance by applying the corrective rod.  But the people of Israel had turned away from the Lord.  And the Lord therefore said, ‘Prepare to meet thy God’ (verse 12).  He was to come in judgment.  Judgment was to fall.



Chapter 5 & 6 - Judgment of the Careless and Complacent



Israel would be utterly sifted and go into captivity.  Despite their apparent indifference, pride and worldly comfort, this was going to happen.  Note chapter 5: 11, ‘Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them  They were going on with life.  They were prospering, but the Lord was reminding them that even though they had built the houses they would not dwell in them.  They had planted the vineyards but they were not going to drink the wine from them.  In verse 16, ‘Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailingVerse 22.  ‘Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts


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And from chapter 6, we are reminded again of the complacency of the people, and how the judgment was to come to those who had taken their ease.  ‘Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came  In verses 3-7, ‘Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near: that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed These verses indicate that these people [people of God] were complacent.  They were apathetic.  They were indifferent, but the judgment of God was to come upon them nevertheless.



Chapter 7 - 9: 10 - Judgment Symbolised by Visions



In these chapters, we have the vision of grasshoppers, the vision of fire, the vision of plumbline, the vision of summer fruit, and the vision of the Lord standing on the altar.



Israel is proscribed for judgment. Practically the whole book is given over to this theme.  The sinful kingdom must be brought to an end.  Only a remnant would survive.  In chapter 9: 8, 9, ‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth  They would be scattered among the nations as corn is shaken through a sieve.  But Israel would be preserved, and though the wicked among them would perish and the royal house of David brought into a low condition, the Lord would gather a people unto Himself and restore that same royal house.



Chapter 9: 11-15 - A Joyful Restoration



The last verses of the prophecy anticipate a day of joyful restoration.  After all the warnings, after all the threatenings, after all the judgments, after all the woes, after all the doom, there is a message of hope.  The restoration of Israel is an ever recurring theme in all the prophets.  Amos is no exception.


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3. God’s Unfulfilled Purpose for the Nation of Israel

(chapter 9)



The passage is full of the ‘I will’s’ of God.  The ‘I will’s’ of God are always a blessing to me when I read them. God has revealed what He will do, and this portion of His Word speaks of these things.  ‘I will command’ (verse 9).  ‘I will sift’ (verse 9).  ‘In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David’ (verse 11). ‘I will raise up his ruins’ (verse 11).  ‘I will build it as in the days of old’ (verse 11).  ‘The plowman shall over-take the reaper’ (verse 13).  These things are definite and plain.  ‘The mountains shall drop sweet wine’ (verse 13).  ‘The hill, shall melt’ (verse 13).  ‘I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel’ (verse 14).  ‘They shall build the waste cities’ (verse 14).  ‘They shall plant vineyards’ (verse 14).  ‘They shall also make gardens’ (verse 14).  ‘I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God’ (verse 15).  These things are going to take place [during the millennium].  God has promised it so.  There is no doubt.  The things impossible with men are possible with God.



A) Prospect of Israel (verse 11)



God says, ‘In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old  ‘As in the days of old tells us that God is going to raise up again that which was in a previous time.  ‘That Day’ is a reference to the second coming of Jesus Christ.  It is the day of the Lord, about which the Scriptures speak so often.  This dreadful day of Judgment will also be a day of Grace!  In this day there will be a restoration of the kingdom.



The ‘tabernacle’ referred to is not the tabernacle of Moses.  The prophecy does not concern a re-establishment of the Levitical economy.  The word employed for ‘tabernacle’ bears no relation to that which stood in the wilderness.  It is the Hebrew word ‘sukkah’ which means ‘booth’ or ‘covert  It was a word used as far back as Job’s day, long before the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness.  Amos is pointing to the dwelling place of David.  One day it will be set up again.  Verse 11 concerns the reintroduction of the kingdom.  In this restored kingdom, north and south are reunited.  They are unified.  Both sections of the nation are made one under the royal banner of David.  This will be fulfilled to the letter.  ‘The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and* of His kingdom there shall be no end’ (Luke 1: 32-33).


[* NOTE. The “and” above should be seen as a disjunction - separating Christ’s millennial kingdom on this earth, from His eternal kingdom in ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21: 1).]



Time and time again through the Scriptures we are reminded of the re-establishment of the kingdom.  The apostles, right up until the day that Jesus Christ was taken from them into glory, were still looking for the reestablishment of the kingdom.  As they had studied the prophetic word, they realised that this was to be.  As they had spent time in the presence of Jesus Christ [Messiah] during that three and a half year period, they were all the more convinced that such a day which was yet to be.  On the day that the Lord was taken up into glory, they asked the question, ‘Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel(Acts 1: 6).  They were looking for the restoration of the kingdom.  The Lord would have had a good opportunity to tell them that the kingdom was not going to be restored.  People would like us to believe that.  That would have been the opportune moment for the Lord to say, ‘I am not going to restore the kingdom to Israel again  But the Lord simply said, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His power’ (Acts 1: 7).  And so He affirmed that such a day would take place, but we do not know the timing of that particular day.  So this is a wonderful prospect for Israel, that there will be the restoration of the kingdom.



B) Possession of Israel (verse 12)



The verse says, ‘That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by My Name, saith the LORD that doeth this  There will be victory over all the heathen.  This victory will have a spiritual application since those who are thus brought under Israel’s influence are said called by the Name of the Lord.  So that the victory here is a wonderful victory.  It is a spiritual victory.  As these people turn to the Lord, they will be called by His Name.  This will become their possession.



C) Productiveness of Israel (verse 13)



You will notice again and again in the prophetic word that we have the phrase, ‘saith the LORD  The Lord has spoken these things.  ‘Behold, the days come, [Page 72] saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt



The restoration will bring unbelievable abundance.  There will be no more curse or failing crops.  The land will be rich and productive.  The harvest lasts until the vintage, and the vintage continues to the seed-time.  There is one continuous produce, one perpetual round of toil and success.  The very mountains usually associated with barrenness and difficulty of cultivation are fertile and productive.



There is a parallel reference in Joel 3: 18, where we are told, ‘It shall come to pass in that day (that day - the coming of the Lord - [the day of ‘a thousand years’]) that the mountains drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim  This points to the productive day [of the LORD] that will occur in the land of Israel.



D) Prosperity of Israel (verse 14)



‘I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them  The nation will be re-established.  The restoration is twofold - first, the people, and secondly, the land.  It will be a full restoration.



E) Promise of Israel (verse 15)



What a wonderful verse this is!  ‘And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God  The return of Jesus Christ will make this fulfilment possible.  In the day of His coming, Israel will be planted to be rooted up no more.  These words have never had anything like a literal fulfilment in the time that is past.  In every period since the northern captivity, the nation of Israel has been subject to oppression and dispersion.  Evidence of that dispersion still remains to this day.  But a day is approaching when Israel shall be securely established in ‘their land It is Israel’s land.  It is the land which God by covenant has given to them, and they will be established there, never to be dispossessed.


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The prophecy of Amos will see its fulfilment in that day. What he foretells of 1srael’s restoration has not yet come to pass, nor can it till that day.  There are those who tell us that this prophecy is past, that these concluding verses of Amos are over, fulfilled in Acts 15, when the Apostle James quoted from part of this portion.  But James only drew a statement from the prophetic word by of illustration in regard to the salvation of the Gentiles.  He was merely applying a principle.  He simply said, ‘To this agree the words of the prophets’ (15: 15).  He never once suggested that the prophecy of Amos was fulfilled.  Oft times when a prophecy has been fulfilled, we have in the Scriptures the words, ‘That it might be fulfilled  Then we have an indication that it is in fulfilment of what has been written aforetime.  But there is none of that in Acts 15.  He could not have made the suggestion that the prophecy was fulfilled, because this prophecy belongs to a future time.  These final verses of Amos have never seen their accomplishment by any stretch of the imagination.  But in that day they will.  For the Lord will bring about the restoration of Israel, as He has said.



‘Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning, Thee, my own beloved Lord!  Every tongue Thy name confessing; Worship, honour, glory, blessing brought to Thee with one accord: Thee, my Master and my Friend, vindicated and enthroned, unto remotest end glorified, adored, and owned



One day the Lord and all that He has said will be vindicated, and we will see the fulfilment of these very words.  May the Lord hasten that day for Jesus’ sake.



*       *       *


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Israel’s Remnant Exalted

Among the Nations




By H J Gamston



As we consider the Prophecy of Micah, I want, first of all, to explain that he is called in Hebrew, ‘Mika-yahu ‘Yahu’ being the ancient Name of the God of Israel, his name means, ‘Who is like Yahweh (Jehovah)?’ Like that of Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah and others, Micah’s name is import.  Such names coupled with that of God, or Yahweh, signified the person’s attitude and allegiance to the One True God.  In the case of Micah, it was a particular challenge to the false prophets as well as a general challenge sinners.



A verse on which to focus our attention as we consider this prophecy is found in Micah 7: 18, where we read, ‘Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy  Our attention focuses immediately on the glorious truth that none can be ‘so just’ as the ‘God of Israel None can be ‘so merciful’ as He Who pardons ‘the remnant of His heritage



Let us remind ourselves at the outset of our message, that God’s justice and mercy are only extended to those who truly repent of their sin and believe the Gospel that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Timothy 1: 15).  He died upon the cross at Calvary, shedding His precious Blood for the sins of His elect people.  There is no salvation other than this.  It is God’s ‘justice and mercy’ to a repentant people which sums up this prophecy of Micah, a repentance which includes Israel’s remnant being exalted among the nations.


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Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah.  Both prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  Isaiah was of noble origin, and a highly esteemed citizen of Jerusalem.  He prophesied in the Court of the kings and was a trusted advisor of King Hezekiah.  Micah, on the other hand, was of humble origin.  He came from the plain of Judah, from a little town called Moresheth-Gath.  He prophesied in the Common places of the people.



God spoke through His two faithful prophets at a time when both Israel and Judah were passing through a period of utter darkness.  This was due to their idolatry, and also to the evil plans and devices of the grasping, extortionate princes, prophets and priests.



John Calvin, commenting upon these two prophets, said, ‘It was indeed enough that one man was sent by God to bear witness to the truth; but it pleased God that Isaiah and Micah should deliver their message at the same time, as it were, with one mouth, and avow their consent, that all the disobedient might be proved guilty



Both came with ‘words of condemnation  But let us also note that both came with ‘words of consolation Both speak of a future blessing and restoration of Israel as a nation.  Micah (in 4: 1-5) uses similar words to those of Isaiah (in 2: 2-5) in speaking of true peace and prosperity in ‘the last days  These are verses which prophesy of One Who is yet to come and bring about an end to all warfare on earth.



We have in this prophecy of Micah, three prophetic addresses or messages.  Chapters 1 and 2 make up the first address.  Chapters 3 to 5 make up the second.  And chapters 6 and 7 make up the third.  All three addresses commence with the words ‘Hear ... ye



They are not three separate prophecies delivered to the people at three different times, as some have suggested. A closer look at them will prove that they are merely portions or sections of a single whole.  There is a clearly marked and carefully planned progressive movement which is apparent in their contents. 


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The first speaks of a threatening judgment.  The second of the announcement of the Messianic salvation.  And the third, the admonition to repentance and humiliation under the chastening hand of the Lord, in order to participate in the promised [future] salvation.



God’s Warning to an Ungodly Populace



In the first address, we see something of God’s warning to an ungodly populace (chapters 1 & 2).  Micah, having introduced himself in the first verse, then proceeds, in verses 2-4 with the introduction to his message. He starts with an appeal, ‘Hear, all ye people (nations); hearken, O earth, and all that therein (the fullness thereof).’



The Hebrew word for ‘hear’ is the word ‘shaw-mah  It means to ‘hear with attention’ or ‘hear with obedience  It means also that they ‘give undivided listening attention  We have a similar appeal to the earth and its fullness Isaiah 1: 2, and in Deuteronomy 32: 1.  It is an appeal for the people to be attentive while the message is being proclaimed.



Because his message was to be of a threatening and punitive (inflicting) character, a message of judgment upon Israel, or rather to the capitals, Samaria and Jerusalem mentioned in verse 1, and it would affect the whole earth, Micah calls all the nations of the earth and her fullness, to be witnesses to his message.  He calls upon the nations to be, not judges of Israel, which they have been and still are today, but, witnesses of God’s judgment.



We see from verses 3-4, that what the prophet is about to announce in word the Lord will confirm by deed. God’s faithful prophet announces and describes the terrible coming of the Lord Jehovah in judgment.  Micah describes Him as coming forth from ‘His Holy Temple’ (1: 2), that is, from heaven, ‘the Temple of His Holiness,’ where He sits enthroned.



This description by Micah of this ‘theophany’ or ‘manifestation’ is founded upon the idea of a terrible storm, and the action of earthquakes and of volcanoes. Judges 5: 4 - ‘LORD, when Thou wentest out of Seir, when Thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, The earth trembled, and the heaven, [Page 77] dropped, the clouds also dropped water  Psalm 18: 7-10 speaks of the earth shaking and trembling, of the foundations also of the hills moving and shaking, ‘because He was wrothPsalm 68: 8 says, ‘The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel  There are similar references in Isaiah 64: 1-2; and 3: 5.



We need always to be aware that the Lord’s active holiness goes forth day by into all the earth.  It goes forth either in salvation or in judgment.  It is for this reason that, as the Lord’s people today, we need to stand firm in our condemnation of all that which is unholy.



I want us to note five things in this first message concerning ‘God’s warning to an ungodly populace



a) The Destruction of Samaria (1: 5-8).



Micah teaches in the opening statement of verse 5, that God is not angry for nothing.  It was because of ‘the transgression of Jacob’ or as it means in the original, ‘the falling away,’ ‘the rebellion,’ and also, ‘the apostasy  This apostasy, which had led to idolatry, had spread everywhere.  It had become ‘the sins of the house of Israel  The Northern Kingdom had broken away from Jehovah.  They had rebelled against His righteous requirements.  No part of the nation was untainted.



It would seem that ‘all the graven images,’ were obtained by making use 'of the hire or rewards of an harlot,’ namely, through gifts given by idolaters.  Dear friends, let us always bear in mind, that God will be the avenger of all idolatry in whatever shape or form it is presented.  The Psalmist reminds us that, ‘Jehovah is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works’ (Psalm 145: 17).  Because this apostasy and idolatry had commenced in the kingdom of the ten tribes, God’s punishment was to begin with them.  Samaria was to be utterly destroyed.  It would be like a ploughed field or plain.



This prophecy has been literally fulfilled.  Today, all that can be seen ‘of the hire is heaps of stones (verse 6), not only on the hill summit but also in the fields below.  Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of what was once the place of kings Omri and Ahab.


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The Devastation of Judah.



Micah goes on to inform the people that this judgment would not stop at Samaria.  Because God’s judgment will also spread over the kingdom of Judah, the prophet explains how this will affect him personally. ‘Therefore I will wail and howl,’ he says in verse 8. Walling like jackals and ostriches is a loud, strong, mournful cry.  His sadness is such so as to cause him to lament greatly, and to go about ‘stripped and naked that is, without an upper garment.  Such action in Old Testament times was a sign of mourning.  Micah’s intention is to set forth in symbolical form the fate which awaits Judah.



This punishment is likened to ‘an incurable wound’ (verse 9).  Its malignancy would reach the very heart of the nation, ‘even to Jerusalem’ itself where the Temple of Jehovah stood.  Nothing would save the people.



The Lord Jehovah ‘will come down,’ says the prophet in verse 3, ‘and tread upon the high places of the earth  The ‘coming forth’ and the ‘coming down’ in this verse, expresses the thought of a repeated act.  God still intends to cleanse the land from every idol.  He will accomplish that which He has purposed to do.  If God has said He will do a thing, then we can be certain that He will do it (see Zechariah 13: 1-2).



Note the concern felt by Micah.  ‘Declare (or, publish) ye it not at Gath’ (1: 10).  He did not want the inhabitants of the Philistine city of Gath to hear the dreadful news.  Such news could only bring vengeful rejoicing to the enemies of God’s people.  Furthermore, to God’s people, it would bring dishonour.  John Calvin once said, ‘Dishonour is often harder to be borne, and wounds us more grievously, than any other evil



(c) The Doom of Many Cities (1: 10-16).



God’s judgment was to penetrate other areas also.  Ten cities are mentioned in these next verses.  The Hebrew name of each place depicts the type of judgment which was about to happen within them.  I was interested to discover that five of the cities lay to the north of Jerusalem, and the other five lay to the south, or south-west. This would indicate that the judgment would proceed from north to south.  It is also interesting to note that the number 10 in Scripture speaks of completeness.  So [Page 79] the judgment of God would be a complete one, spreading as were, over the whole kingdom.



d) The Deeds of the Oppressors (2: 1-11).



Chapter 1 has denounced the sins the nation against God.  Chapter 2 denounces the sins of the leaders or rulers against man.  It would seem that Samaria and Jerusalem were inhabited by the wealthiest and most privileged classes of society, the consequences of which led to inhumanity being committed against the less fortunate.  They coveted the fields and the properties of others.  They took them by acts of violence.  Might was right in the minds of these rulers.  Their evil deeds were worked out in the secret of their own homes.  It was at night ‘upon their beds’ that their evil devices were planned.



But their evil deeds were known to the prophet.  ‘For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it evil’ (Ecclesiastes 12: 14).  ‘For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known’ (Luke 12: 2).



All this evil was accompanied by a hardness of heart so as not to hear the message from God’s prophet, the end of which resulted in God’s judgment in giving them over to their evil desires.  When man is given his desire, a desire not born of the Lord, then leanness of soul always accompanies it (see Psalm 106: 15).



Because of the nation’s ungodliness, under the influence and evil deeds of the men, and the lying statements of the false prophets, the threat of banishment from the land eventually took place.  God’s purpose for the land of Canaan was that it should be a place of rest, not a place of rebellion.  It was to be a place of blissful delight, not a place of burdensome duty. 



We need to be aware that there is a day which is yet to come, when, God’s final judgment will rest upon all ungodliness.  We have in these verses a picture of that final ‘day of the Lord’ when the judgment of the Lord Jehovah will reduce the earth to chaos.


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(e) The Deliverance of the Remnant (2: 12-13).



Some believe these last two verses to be an announcement of judgment by the false prophets; that Jehovah was going to gather the remnant and cast them into one heap into the sheepfolds ‘of Bozrah,’ those who were left, following the slaughters in wars and other calamities that they too might be destroyed.  It is my conviction, with that of Delitzsch and others, that Micah is indeed not a prophet ‘prophesying lies of wine and strong drink’ (verse 11).  He has salvation to proclaim, only not for the morally corrupt people of his own time.  They will be banished out of the land; but the captivity and dispersion are not at an end.



For the ‘Remnant of Israel’ as well as the ‘Nation of Israel,’ when sifted and refined by judgments, the time will come when the Lord Jehovah will assemble them again, miraculously multiply them, and redeem them as their King, and lead them home.  These are not the words of some false prophet speaking in the Name of the God of Israel, and saying, ‘I will gather  Rather, we would expect a false prophet to say, ‘Jehovah will gather  The fact that ‘Jehovah will gather them’ is more in keeping with the remainder of the prophecy.



The reference to ‘The Breaker’ in verse 13, which literally means ‘One Who breaks open,’ is a reference to Israel’s promised Messiah.  When Jesus comes again, He will clear the way, and to this end, that Israel will be set free from her enemies and from her idols.  No longer will they be as ‘sheep without a Shepherd’ to lead them.  The Messiah of Israel, even our Blessed Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ, is yet to go before them in a coming day breaking down every obstacle in their pathway.



God’s Way to His Unfulfilled Promises



In this prophecy of Micah, I want you to notice in the second address God’s way to His unfulfilled promises (chapters 3-5).  I want us to notice three things of which these chapters speak.  They speak of:-



(a) Troubled Times.  The first thing spoken of is troubled times (chapter 3). Micah continues to expand on the judgment already seen in 2: 1-2.  It begins with the same charge, ‘Hear, I pray you’ only this time it is to the leaders of Israel.  God’s threatening of punishment in this chapter is firstly directed [Page 81] against the Princes of the house of Israel (verses 1-4).  They were responsible for turning right into wrong and of ill-treating the people.  As heads of their households they should have known the difference between loving good and hating all that is evil.  Instead of this they did the reverse.  They hated the good, loved the evil (verse 2). They treated the poor as cannibals dealt with their victims (verse 3).  Little wonder ‘the LORD ... will not hear them:  He will even hide His face’ (verse 4).



Secondly, it is directed against the Prophets of Israel (verses 5-8).   These were no better.  They are seen as liars in chapter 2.  Here in chapter 3, Micah further describes them as lulling the people into a false sense of peace and prosperity: this in order to protect the wealthy rulers.  The great God of Israel would see to it (verses 6-7) that they will not have any further visions, but only divinations out of their own hearts.



Thirdly, it is directed against all three classes of the leaders of the nation, the princes, the priests and the prophets (verses 9-12).  Because of their evil and lying practices, Zion, that part of the city which contained the royal palace, would be turned into a ploughed field.  Jerusalem, that is, the remainder of the city, was to become a heap of stones, and the Temple Mount, because it would no longer be the ‘dwelling place of the Most High,’ the Shekinah having departed before the Babylonians had destroyed it (Ezekie1 10 and 11), and which is still the case today, would be turned into a deserted forest of trees.  Hence the troubled times.



But we ask, when did these things happen, and at what point in Israel’s history did they occur?  The prophet Micah, does not give any dates as to when these things would happen.  It is for this reason, that these things have been on-going.  They have been happening down through the annals of time.  Israel’ disobedience has always brought with it many troubled times.  It is even happening in this our own day.  They are still despised and rejected by the nations as predicted by the prophet in 4: 11, ‘Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion


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All their peace seeking today will not bring with it the blessings of the Lord God, which are predicted in the remaining chapters of our prophecy, as well as in the other Books of the Minor Prophets, and also in many other Scriptures.  Nor will it happen, until Israel acknowledges their sin, until they acknowledge their true Messiah, Jesus, and turn in true repentance to Him.  ‘But even unto this day, when Moses is read, a veil (not, the veil) is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when Israel (not, it) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away’ (2 Corinthians 3: 15-16).



(b) Tranquil Times.  The Lord would have us notice in this second address that it not only speaks of troubled times, but it also speaks of tranquil times (chapter 4).  Note with what little word this chapter starts – ‘But.’ How reassuring are the Bible ‘buts.’  Troubled times for Israel now, ‘But’ better times are to follow.  Here we have recorded events which are as yet, unfulfilled promises.  They speak of the Lord’s ruling over the affairs of the nations from the very place which had (end of chapter 3), come under the judgment of God - Zion, Jerusalem and Mount Moriah.  Zion and Jerusalem will become desolate, and the Temple as in the past, so also any future Temple will be destroyed ‘But’ after these events, ‘in the last days it shall come to pass,’ says Micah.



When the Bible speaks of ‘the last days,’ it denotes the ‘Messianic era  When you come across the phrase, ‘in that day’ it refers to the immediate. Here Micah refers quite clearly to some other time, to ‘the last’ or literally, ‘the after days,’ that is, after the judgments which Micah has predicted will happen.  The Jewish Nation is yet to experience a time of real peace.



‘In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears [Page 83] into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.  But they shall sit down every man under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it’ (4: 1-4).



Israel, throughout all her history, has never yet known such a tranquil time as this.  Neither have the nations ever beaten their instruments of war into instruments of agriculture, to the end that they will no longer exercise themselves in the use of weapons of war.  It is a clear reference to the time of Messiah’s reign over restored and gathered Israel.  Verses 6-7 tell us that it will be ‘in that day pointing back to verses 1-4, at the time when many nations shall go up to Jerusalem, that Israel’s remnant shall be exalted among the nations.



Jehovah has said, I will ‘assemble her that halteth (that is, which limps), and I will gather her that is driven out, (or scattered abroad), and her that I have afflicted’ (4: 6).   Limping signifies a miserable condition.  This misery has been inflicted upon them by Jehovah Himself.  They are the ones whom Jehovah has punished for their sins.



The gathering of the nation, as we saw in chapter 2: 12-13, has already been promised.  Here in verses 6-7, it is promised to ‘the remnant  This remnant will then become ‘a strong nation  Such a promise is as yet still unfulfilled.  Many Jewish people, as individuals, have already come to saving faith in their Mesiah Yeshua. These have already found peace within the Church, but the re-gathering into ‘a strong nation’ is yet to be fulfilled.  The events which follow in the remaining verses of the chapter, are events which will precede the tranquil times.



(c) Triumphant Times.  The third thing we notice in this second address is that it speaks not only of troubled times and of tranquil times; but it also speaks of triumphant times (chapter 5).  Many preachers over the years have made use of verse  2, to proclaim the first coming of our Lord at His Incarnation.  They give little or no thought whatsoever that this verse speaks also of His second coming in His glorification.  This is one of those Bible verses which has only found a partial fulfilment so far.


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Yes, we do have in this verse the Prophecy of His Birth, ‘He shall come  Yes, we do have in this verse the Place of His Birth, ‘Bethlehem.’ Yes, we do have in this verse the Purpose of His Birth, but it is at this point where we only have half the story.  We all agree that the purpose of His coming was primarily to pay the penalty for the sins of His people by the shedding of His Precious Blood upon the Cross at Calvary, without which no one can be redeemed.



The rest of the story is found in the words, ‘to be Ruler in Israel  We must understand this to be literal Israel, that is, land and people.  It is not the Church as we understand it, that is, the Church made up of Gentiles and Messianic Jews.  As He literally came into the world; and as He was born in literal Bethlehem, so we must take the rest of the verse literally.



To allegorise the last part of the verse and call Israel the Church, you must also allegorise the first part if you are to be consistent.  If you do this, then you will be in great difficulty.  You will be in danger of denying some of the fundamentals of the Word of God.  You will certainly be guilty of denying the Deity of Christ.



His first coming was literal, He was literally born in Bethlehem, and He will literally ‘Come forth ... to be Ruler in Israel  Such a trust brings with it the glorious truth of the triumphant times which started with our Lord’s first advent, and continued with His triumph over sin and Satan on the cross at Calvary, and through His triumphant victory over death and His glorious resurrection and ascension back to heaven.



But this is not the end.  He is coming again to be Ruler in Israel.  How desperately this sad world is in need of a [just] Ruler!  Have you stopped to consider the state of many of the nations?  The governments are finding it increasingly impossible to rule.  They meet so often to discuss peace, but all we hear of is ‘wars and rumours of wars ... nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom ... famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes’ (Matthew 24: 6-7).  These are not only ‘the beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24: 8), but they are the continuing sorrows in this our day.  It is through such sorrows that the governments of the world will look for a ruler among the nations, one, which they hope will bring peace.


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Such an one will arise.  He is called in Scripture, the Antichrist (1 John 2: 18; 4: 3; 2 John 7).  The apostle Paul calls him ‘that man of sin’ (2 Thessalonians 2:  3), ‘who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God’ (2 Thessalonians 2: 4).  He will come bringing in a false peace.  I say false, because this will ultimately lead to the last great conflict, and the final overthrow of Satan and his Antichrist.  ‘And then shall that Wicked (lawless one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming’ (2 Thessalonians 2: 8).



This is an event which the world has yet to experience.  It will take place prior to the restoration of the glory of Zion (Micah 4: 1-7), and will include (4: 8-13) the redemption of the nation of Israel out of Babel, and its victorious battle with the nations of the world.  They will be triumphant because King Jesus, ‘shall come forth to be Ruler in (over) Israel’ (Micah 5: 2).



Then in the remainder of chapter 5: 3-9 we have described, Israel’s vindication at the end of the great tribulation, or, as it is called, ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jeremiah 30:7).  The nation of Assyria was the enemy in Micah’s day, and was representative or a type of the Antichrist, the Assyrian, mentioned in verses 5-6, who, in the great tribulation period will seek to blot out God’s plan and purpose for His chosen people, Israel.



Anti-Semitism, from Pharaoh’s time to our day and beyond is leading this colossal attack.  But the Messiah will be the Champion of the cause of Israel in that hour.  He will raise a sufficient bulwark, referred to here as seven shepherds and eight princes among men (5: 5), against the onslaughts of the enemy.  They will effectively stem the attack of the enemy.  Then the battle will be carried into enemy territory.  As the foe invaded the territory of Israel, so would their own borders be entered.  The deliverance will come through the Messiah, Who will use His own to ‘waste’ (literally, ‘to eat up’) the enemy’s land (5: 6).


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The revelation of the Messiah in this portion is indeed full.  He is first seen as Babe born in Bethlehem.  He is indicated as the Everlasting One Whose activities have been from eternity. His Shepherd rule is set forth next. His character as Peace-bringer is next before us.  And finally, He is disclosed as the Great Deliverer of His people.  No one was ever as humble as He, and no one ever so majestic.  How satisfying a portion He is continually for His own.  The sad thing today is that His chosen nation have not recognised this.  The veil, which still covers their eyes, has yet to be removed.



God’s Word to an Ungrateful People



This leads us to consider finally the third address, God’s Word to an Ungrateful People (chapters 6-7).  Micah having declared in his first address the judgment which has fallen upon the nation because of its sins; having declared in his second address the salvation awaiting the remnant saved and purified through judgment, now proceeds to point out the way of salvation, by telling them that they have brought the judgment upon themselves by their ingratitude and resistance to His commandments.



In this third address He tells them through His prophet that it is only through sincere repentance that they can participate in His covenant mercies.  He rebukes them and contends with them for their unkindness (verses 3-5).  God is not unkind to them, for notice, they are addressed with the words ‘O My people  This emphasises their relationship to Him despite their sin.  He reminds them of all the way in which He had cared for them.  He rebukes the them and contends with them for their ignorance (verses 6-9).  He rebukes them and contends with them because of their injustice (verses 10-15).  Finally, He rebukes them and contends with them because of their idolatry (verse 16).



Today, God is still exhorting His wayward people to remember His mercies of old.  He anticipates the day when they will know His greatest mercy of all: that is, eternal life through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son, Israel’s Messiah.  Let us see to it that we pray for them and reach out to them as co-workers with God in His purposes for Israel.  It is a good work, for God has promised grace to them, as we have already seen.  In the last chapter there is a confession which will take place on the part of Israel.  A restoration will follow, and [Page 87] verse 16 says, ‘The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf



We close with the words of Micah (7: 18-20), ‘Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy.  He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.  Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from days of old



Blessed day when He comes to reign from His Holy Hill of Zion, when faith shall give way to sight, and we shall see our glorious King.  He is coming again, and in that day, ‘The LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one LORD, and His Name one’ (Zechariah 14: 9).



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Israel and the Nations in the

Day of the Lord




By C A Monk



Our subject is the Book of Zephaniah - its three chapters about Israel and the nations in the day of the Lord.  To me, it is interesting that as in the New Testament, there is testimony to Divine inspiration by the Spirit of God by the unity in the gospels and epistles, so in the Old Testament, we have that very same feature.  In the New Testament there were diverse servants, yet they all had one theme, the glory of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament too, and especially in these prophetic books, diverse as were the servants of God who were called to write them, yet there was one great purpose given them each and this unifies the whole.  It is the revealing of the glory of the Lord.



The prophetic books vary from sixty-six chapters down to one chapter.  Zephaniah is one of those lovely sort of cameos of that whole section of the Word of God from Isaiah to Malachi.  A cameo is a small but complete picture of a vast whole.  Thus in Zephaniah, it is quite remarkable how the Spirit of God led this man to prophesy that which we have in these three chapters.  To him it was one continual revelation.  Men have divided it into chapters and verses in later years.



This book has four parts.  In chapter 1: 1-13, there is the chastening of the Jews by the Lord.  Then in 2: 4-15, there is the punishing of the nations by the Lord.  Then in 3: 1-13, we have the restoring of the nation by the Lord.  And concluding, in 3: 14-20, is the blessing of the nation by the Lord.



The Chastening of The Jews



We read in chapter 1: 1-7, ‘The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah ... in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.  I will [Page 89] utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.  I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.  I will also stretch out Mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; and them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; and them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for Him.  Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests



Zephaniah, a prophet to Judah at this particular juncture, was speaking on behalf of the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit to that nation which had so sadly departed from the truth.  ‘I will stretch also out Mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the ... name of the Chemarims with the priests  They were false priests.



Can you imagine it?  Here was that nation called by God, blessed with the divine blessings that were made in covenant with Abraham, and here they are worshipping in Jerusalem the hosts of heaven!  ‘Them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham  There were double tongued priests.  How sad that such a situation should arise in Judah.  The remnant of Baal would be taken out of his place.  You find as you read in Scripture the history of this nation, that nations around infiltrated into this people of God and brought their pagan idolatry with them.



I spoke of Zephaniah as a cameo.  Going beyond Judah, into our own day, because it is as relevant now as ever it was, do we not find the same thing happening in a so-called Christian land as ours?  These very things are occurring today.  It is no wonder that the Lord is withholding His blessing very largely from us as a nation. Over the centuries, great blessings have rested upon us and God used us to be a blessing to many, not only in our own land but to lands across the sea.  And we can look back in our history and see how [Page 90] sovereignly and mercifully God delivered us from our enemies.  But how little is said in thanksgiving to our Almighty God for the way that He has delivered us in our dire trouble.



Surely this is because our land is worshipping the stars of heaven.  I do not suppose that there is a secular publication, that is, newspaper or magazine, where there is no horoscope.  It is not included to fill a page, but because it helps to sell what is wanted.  And even in religious circles, how many are swearing by the Lord and then by Malcham - confusing God and mammon, God and the devil!  It is sad.  Yet it was happening in those days.



‘Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand  This was a great warning by Zephaniah to those people - ‘the day of the LORD is at hand  Indeed, the hand of the Lord was coming in judgment upon that land.  And we need to realise that many centuries after Zephaniah’s time, in the day in which we live, we have to declare that the day of the LORD is at hand, the day of judgment.  Many may not listen.  Many may scorn.



Peter tells us that people will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ (2 Peter 3: 4).  This is the world’s attitude, with no thought of judgment to come.  And even to this blessed nation of Israel and Judah, there was a judgment to come.



Verse 8 says, ‘It shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel  Judgment was to start in high places, amongst the royalty.  Zephaniah prophesied in Josiah’s reign.  Looking back into the nation’s history, Josiah’s father, Amon, was an idolater, and an evil man.  Long before Solomon had departed from walking in the ways of the Lord.  Even today, our royal house is in complete turmoil.  There was a time when our royal house would have stood for the truth of God.  Sadly, that does not appear to be so now.



‘In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit.  And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish [Page 91] gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off’ (1: 9-11).



It seems to me that in those days when Zephaniah was testifying to those people, it was a commercial world which he was addressing.  The Maktesh was the place of the market where all the buying and selling would be. That was a central feature of their lives.  Commerce had overtaken this people and they were trusting in trade rather than in God.  Is that not so today?  ‘All those that leap on the threshold’ (verse 9).  People were taking advantage of others.  There nothing new under the sun.  The situation today that we see is pictured before by us by Zephaniah.



And says, ‘It shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will He do evil’ (1: 12).  Therefore they infer that He does nothing.  Do we not hear that today so often and so blatantly?



‘Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof.  The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.  That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.  And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung.  Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in day of the LORD’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His Jealousy: for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land’ (1: 13-18).


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What an awful declaration of God’s anger even against that nation.  He says that the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy.  He was jealous for His Own glorious Name.  Because the people had departed from Him, He comes as a consuming fire.



Really this section continues to 2: 3.  ‘Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired (or, a nation not desiring to worship the Lord); before the decree bring forth; before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger’ (2: 1-3).



In the remainder of chapter 2 there is a complete parallel between the departure and the wickedness amongst the nation of the Jews and of the same thing among the nations round about them.  But the wonder of God’s grace is that although He declares His anger against these peoples, He brings too the message of His divine grace and mercy.  I think it is most lovely that He brings it to them because they are His covenant people.  He had made a covenant will them.  He had made a covenant with Abraham, with David, and they were His covenant people.  They had departed from Him.  They had broken the covenant.  But God is so mercifully blessed in this that He does not break His part of the covenant with them.  They are still His people.



So in 1: 1-2: 3 there is this great declaration of God’s anger, but it is the anger of chastening.  He gives blessing to His people when they seek Him.  ‘Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.’  It had been so at the time of leaving Egypt and journeying to the promised land.  There were unbelieving [, disobedient and regenerate*] people amongst the Jews who murmured against the Lord.  They never set foot in the Promised Land, but the following generation did.  So it is in this testimony of Zephaniah, that this great truth is brought before us.


[* See 1 Cor. 10: 6, 11. cf. Num. chapter14; 16: 24, 33-35.]



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The Punishing of The Nations



‘For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Aslikelon a desolation; they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up’ (2: 4).  This is the judgment and punishment of the nations which had infiltrated Israel, and brought godlessness among the people.  It was their solemn responsibility, and Zephaniah declares it.  ‘Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the Word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.  And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks’ (2: 5-6).



Here is a complete contrast.  The Lord’s hand will come upon Philistia, of which Gaza is still the capital.  We have it before us in our modern parlance as the Gaza strip, which is causing all that trouble down in the southern part of the Mediterranean coast.  Notice that instead of being an industrial area, it is going be a sea coast with dwellings and cottages for shepherds and for folds for the flock.



‘And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity’ (2: 7).  Thus God will deal with the enemies of the Lord’s people, Philistia, from whence came Goliath, whom David overcame triumphantly with one stone.  Zephaniah’s testimony is of a day which indeed shall come to pass.



I believe that God is revealing His hand at the present time because Israel lay today is really far worse than ever it was in the days of Zephaniah.  But they are still a covenant nation.  The Gaza strip is like a thorn in their side.  It is because the Jews today now are like those described who swear by the Lord and swear by Malcham.  They profess to be the people of God and yet they are compromising with the very enemies of God’s people.  They are seeking to make peace with those who are their sworn enemies, and it will not succeed.  ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked’ (Isaiah 48: 22; 57: 21).  So today there is this turmoil going on.


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But he says that ‘the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah  That gives an indication of what the outcome will be, even with regard to the present international situation in Israel.  The Word of God definitely says that the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah.  So, when you read in your papers, or listen to the newscasts of what is going on in the Middle East, remember what the Lord says.  Yes, the nation will be chastened through their enemies, yet these enemies themselves will be destroyed.



The Bible says of the Assyrian that he was the rod of God’s anger (Isaiah 10: 5).  Assyria boasted that there were no empires that could ever stand up against their might.  And then God says that Assyria shall be accounted for their action against My people.  This is so remarkable that in the sovereignty of God, He purposes to bring His people out of all their difficulties.  And the enemies of God are responsible for what they do.  The judgment will fall upon them.  This is Zephaniah’s message.



Then he continues, ‘I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon (down through history, Moab and Ammon, had been the antagonists of God’s chosen people) they have reproached My people, and magnified themselves against their border.  Therefore, as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall he as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of My people shall spoil them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them’ (2: 8-9).  Ammon and Moab are on the eastern border of Israel and are now part of Jordan.



This was highlighted recently when Mr Saddam Hussein of Iraq had two sons-in-law leave him and go to Jordan.  During the Gulf war, the king of Jordan took sides with Iraq yet he has now received these two defectors.  All the States surrounding Israel are being permeated by the evil of Islam with its terrorism.  It is developing rapidly, but the judgment of God will fall upon the nations involved.  We have it here before us. The people of Moab and Ammon cannot be trusted.  They go from one side to another, and the government of Israel is being duped by them.


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Then the prophet goes on, ‘This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts’ (2: 10).  That is the secret.  They oppose the people of the Lord of hosts.  ‘The LORD will be terrible unto them: for He will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen.  Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by My sword.  And he shall stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness’ (2: 11-13).



Here the prophet speaks of that very nation which had plundered and taken the inhabitants of Israel and of Judah to be captives to Babylon for that 70 years of which Jeremiah spoke.  It was the purpose of the Lord, and when the time of that purpose was complete - 70 years exactly - that was the time of their release.  What a worldwide convulsion there must have been at that time when God’s purposes were fulfilled.  All nations feared Assyria and their army.  They had conquered a great part of the Middle East, and yet at a certain day at a certain time, Cyrus gathered his army and went out to conquer Assyria.  Why?  Because God’s purpose is that His people shall go back to Jerusalem.



The nations of the world do what they think they like, but they are not aware that they are under the great purpose of Jehovah.  And Zephaniah says that Assria and Nineveh will be a desolation.  ‘And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nation: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it  What is going to happen to the great nation?  ‘The cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work.  This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss and wag his hand’ (2: 14-15).  And the reason is because of God’s covenant relationship of old with Israel.



Seeing all that picture, we might ask, who has the blame?  God is destroying the nations around Israel because they have brought evil into the midst of that nation.  The nation of Israel will receive the correcting judgment or chastening [Page 96] of the Lord which endures for a moment but nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness (see Hebrews 12: 11).  They will indeed be brought to the experience of that faithful remnant described in chapter 3.



The Restoring of The Nation



Chapter 3 turns back to Jerusalem.  ‘Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!  She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.  Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law’ (3: 1-4).



But in spite of that, the prophet says, ‘The just LORD is in the midst thereof  What a blessed statement! However this nation had acted in the sight of God, He had not left or deserted them.



‘The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He falleth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame  And God says, ‘I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.  I said, Sure thou wilt fear Me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings’ (3: 5-7).  And even under the hand of God bringing this punishment to them, yet they had not really learned the lesson.



‘Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy’ (3: 8). This is a reference of the days yet to come, for He says, ‘For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent’ (3: 9).  Yes, that day is coming and this is the testimony of Zephaniah concerning those things that will happen.


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‘From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My suppliants, even the daughter of My dispersed, shall bring Mine offering.  In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against Me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of My holy mountain.  I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the Name of the LORD’ (3: 10-12).  And in every generation, God has a remnant saved by grace.



It is remarkable to think of those Old Testament people.  What was their faith resting on?  It was resting on the promise of God’s Word and resting in the same Precious Person as our faith is resting in.



Lately, I have been thinking about the lack of rain and my mind has gone to Elijah.  Elijah was a man who stood before the Lord.  And there is only one standing of any person who stands before the Lord.  It is the standing in the Precious Person and merit of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some may say that Elijah did not even see the day of the Lord.  He did see it, by faith, for when he was on the mount of transfiguration he spake with Moses and with the Lord about ‘His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem’ (Luke 9:31). Elijah had the revelation of [‘the Son of man coming in his kingdom’ (Matt. 16: 28, 17: 3) and] the Spirit of God and his faith was centred in that Precious Person of our Saviour.



And the prophet says here, ‘I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people  They were not ranked as kings and the affluent of the nation, but were an afflicted and poor people, a remnant according to the election of grace.  ‘The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid’ (3: 13).  Verse 9 states why this is. ‘For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name the LORD, to serve Him with one consent



We have been reading of a sad situation which the people of other nations had upon them.  But now, God says of them that He will turn to them a pure language, the pure language of God’s grace and mercy, the pure language [Page 98] of His revealed salvation.  The Jews had this great evidence before them that their salvation as individuals and as a nation rested upon the shed Blood of a Substitute.  Individually, as they brought their sacrifices to the priest, and as a nation, as on that great day of atonement their God’s mercy and blessing was evident because of blood that was shed.  This is the pure language of the people of God, this remnant of a people that God had formed for Himself.



God’s divine grace is manifested in the precious Blood of Jesus that cleanseth from all sin. That is the glory of it.  This believing remnant of Israel were as guilty as the others, but their faith rested in their Redeemer, and the Blood of Jesus Christ cleansed them from sin, as much as for us.  Oh, the wonder of a pure language of divine grace and mercy.



The Blessing of The Nation



Then finally, in the latter part of chapter 3, we have, it seems to me, the time of that restoration when the blessing comes.  ‘Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.  The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, He hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee’ (3: 14-15).  The Lord in the midst is their King Who will have returned - the King Who was ‘despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53: 3)  The Messiah ‘came unto His own and His own received Him not’ (John 1: 11).  But He is coming and will be in the midst of Zion, Jerusalem.  This is the testimony of Zephaniah.



Zechariah tells us of the exact place to which He is coming.  Olivet will be the place of His return as surely as it was the place from where He ascended.  And we read of the great occurrences which will happen physically when He does come.



‘The LORD ... hath cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the LORD is in the midst of thee  He will come as the Mighty Conqueror.  The forces of the evil one will have their final fling at this nation, but the Lord is there.  He will overthrow the evil forces.  ‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.  The LORD thy God in the [Page 99] midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing’ (3: 16-17).  This is a lovely thought.  He comes as the King of Israel, their Mighty Lord; and it says, ‘The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty  He is the captain of their salvation.  He will overthrow the enemies of His people.



Then it comes to a sacred, loving bond of relationship.  ‘He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.’ The mighty King and Captain is the Husband.  The loving relationship between the bride and the bridegroom is referred to here, because, at that day, the whole election of grace, both of Jews and Gentiles, shall be that glorious body [‘bride’]* of Christ.  As John in the Revelation, reveals to us, the bride is the Lamb’s wife.  ‘He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.’ What a sacred revelation this is!


[* NOTE. Keep in mind the fact that the ‘Bride’ will be taken out of the ‘Body’ – the ‘Church’.  An undisclosed standard of personal righteousness is what our righteous Judge is looking for as qualification! (Rev. 19: 8; Matt. 5; 20). cf. Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11, etc.  Christ’s judgment is presently on-going! (1 Cor. 6: 1-10; Gal. 6: 6, 7; Eph. 5: 14-18).]



By God’s matchless grace, we have this great anticipation as we look forward to the day of His coming.  There are many of that Jewish nation today still in bondage, still in darkness, but one day their eyes shall be opened, their burdens shall be lifted.  Yes, they shall wail because of Him, because of what they have done to Him, but when they see the King they shall fall down before Him.  Great is His grace and mercy.



How we should therefore ever seek, especially I feel amongst the Jewish people today where we have the opportunity, to help to bring the Word of God to them, that even before that glorious day comes there shall be Jews saved by grace to see the Redeemer and call Him blessed.  Jews and Gentiles have earned and are worthy of the punishment of God as much as those evil nations but in His mercy He corrects us and chastens us and He gives us that divine promise, ‘Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the of the LORD’s anger’ (2: 3).



Yes, ‘Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.  Let the water the Blood from Thy wounded side which flowed be of sin the double cure  It is, ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4: 5).


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Peter was delighted that Cornelius, a Gentile, was saved.  And Paul had the great and urgent desire that his brethren, the Jews, should be brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord.  May we feel it too, looking for that glorious [millennial] day when we shall be together.  As Paul tells us in Ephesians, ‘the middle wall of partition broken down’ (see Ephesians 2: 14), Jews and Gentiles are one on that glorious foundation of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.



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Israel’s Temple and Triumph




By John Douglas



The Book of Ezra is the inspired history of the time when Haggai the prophet ministered.  The two books therefore, the prophecy (Haggai) and the history (Ezra) should be brought together in the context of time.



It is left to Haggai the prophet to tell us to consider our ways.  Haggai is the one who points us to the mountain.  We understand the reference to be to the Mount of Olives and to the Mount Moriah, in particular. These mountains are close proximity to one another.  They represent the two great pivotal points history. Mount Moriah reminds us of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus on the cross.  The hill of Calvary is the northernmost summit of Mount Moriah.  The Mount of Olives must surely speak to us of the Saviour’s return.  I am certain that when the prophet in Haggai 1: 8 instructs the people who are to take part the building of Zerubbabel’s temple, to go to the mountain, these are the mountains which he has in mind.  At any rate, let us keep the cross of Christ and the coming of the Lord in view.  Let us go to this Mountain.



Haggai and Ezra



Haggai has his problems, as we detect.  He has problems on the inside and problems on the outside.  The strange thing is, that the prophecy, that is, the Book of Haggai, reveals the difficulties that Haggai had on the inside with the people of God, but there is no mention of the difficulties he had with the adversaries who were on the outside.  We would know nothing of these adversaries unless we had the inspired history in the Book of Ezra.  When we examine that history, it makes mention of the difficulties Haggai and others had with the adversaries on the outside.  But in Ezra there is no reference to difficulty of any kind with the people of God.  We would know nothing of the difficulties Haggai had with the people of God unless we had the prophecy.


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You will see then how essential it is, if we are to have a right view of the times, to bring together these two books from the inspired canon.  The history on the one hand, the Book of Ezra, and the prophecy on the other hand, setting forth in detail the substance of the ministry of Haggai. These two books then complement each other.



The history shows us the battle on the outside.  There, the Lord’s enemies in a most insidious and threatening manner have set themselves to stop the work of God.  For example the history informs us that they weakened the hand hands of workers, they troubled the leaders, they hired counsellors, they wrote letters engaging not only in the threats of violence but also in assiduous political activity.



Then the prophecy shows us a battle of a more agreeable nature, for Haggai certainly found that he had to stir up the Lord’s people, and they were resolutely set in their own ways.  Consequently we may refer to his ministry to Israel as a battle with the Lord’s people.  In this battle, described in the prophecy, the prophet has a struggle on his hands with lethargy.  The people for one thing did not feel that the time was right for the building of the house the Lord although God’s word showed differently.  There was discouragement also, for the labours of the people had come to nothing, their expectations had been dashed, the fields had not yielded the crop that was expected of them, and they had to be instructed too to set their hearts on the things of God.



Now there is nothing introduced in Scripture that is coincidental.  I take these truths which are set forth in the prophecy to be instructive and to be prophetic in their nature; because if we allow that, in the book of Haggai, there are foreshadowings of the time to come, we can say the scene that existed then in the days of Haggai is being reproduced in our time.  The enemies of Israel are as determined as ever and as united as ever in their efforts to do away with Israel.  On the other hand Israel is a people whose reliance is wholly placed on their own efforts and initiative which must come to nothing all the while they labour without the Lord Jesus.


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A New Testament Key



Let us think of the prophecy of Haggai as a platform, on which is built, line by line, portion by portion, God’s prophetic truth.  There is a foreshadowing in his prophecy not only of things to come, but of glorious things to come.  There is a very positive message in the prophecy of Haggai.  The key to the right understanding of this little prophecy is in the New Testament.  The prophecy of Haggai is quoted only once in the New Testament. The quotation from the Book of Haggai which is entered into the New Testament is such that the average person would never have chosen, if the selection had been left to his discretion.  Haggai 2: 6 happens to be the portion emphasised in the New Testament.



We turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the key to a right understanding of Haggai’s prophecy lies in the quotation found in this letter.  Hebrews 12: 26-27 says, ‘Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain  ‘Yet once’ is the quotation from the Book of Haggai and the average person would hardly have made this selection if the discretion had been given to him.



When we think of the quotation itself we might well say we are mystified as to the significance of it, but there must be some significance in these two words.  Remember the apostle Paul is writing with instruction from on high and he carries the breath of God upon him.  This quotation is made by the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit.  Consequently the Lord definitely has a purpose in choosing these words from the prophecy of Haggai.



Only Two Words



The verse says, ‘For thus saith the LORD of Hosts; Yet once’ (Haggai 2: 6).  And those are the words that most of us, if not all of us, would have passed by as being of little or no significance, and yet these are the two words quoted by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews.  These are the two words on which the argument of the apostle stands.  So I must press upon your attention that there is a lesson in interpretation taught to us in Hebrews that we should not miss at any time.  [Page 104] I want you to grasp the lesson, to lay hold upon it in such a way as never to forget it.



We know that the Scriptures are inspired.  We believe in plenary, verbal inspiration.  We know that when the Holy Spirit singles out two words like these for our attention there must be something very meaningful here, and I have suggested that this is the key to the right understanding of the prophecy of Haggai.  Who would have thought of singling out these two words, ‘yet once leaving out others, like Haggai 2: 7, which refers to the Desire of all nations and the filling of God’s house with divine glory, and Haggai 2: 22, where God announces that He will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms, and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, among whom are the Gentiles who dominate the earth?



But these two words ‘yet once’ provide the key to everything in the prophecy.  We should ponder the two words.  They are simple enough.  What do you make of them?  Some may be prepared to admit they could read the words twenty times or more and still be as mystified as ever.  Well, we want to find out what the lesson is, because it is a lesson taught by the Holy Spirit of God Himself.



Haggai’s Prophecy for the Future



This prophecy in Haggai, to which illusion is made in Hebrews 12, is still for a future time.  The apostle takes up the quotation from the Book of Haggai long after the temple of Zerubbabel had been erected and indeed long after the temple of Herod had been constructed.  He says, in effect, that there is a reference to things which must yet occur.  You will bear in mind also when Paul was taking his quotation from Haggai and applying it to the hearts of the people of God, that Paul himself is writing at a time subsequent to the sufferings of our Saviour on the tree, and subsequent to His glorious resurrection from the dead.  Hence the apostle is labouring with gospel truth firmly fixed in his mind.



There is an understanding of the redemptive work of God in the hearts of the people to whom Paul writes, but he is still saying ‘yet once more  There is s signification in these words taken from the Book of Haggai, a signification which appears to be lost on many of God’s people nowadays.  The shaking of [Page 105] heaven and earth is still future.  That is the first thought.  The use of these two words, ‘Yet once,’ in the Bible by the Holy Spirit the second time, that is, the New Testament as well as in the Old Testament, tells us of a prophecy most dramatic in its fulfilment.  This is an annunciation of the shaking of heaven and earth.



There are some people who have a wonderful imagination for spiritualising things that are to be understood plainly.  I would never deny that there is a spiritual interpretation in Scripture.  In fact, I would be enthusiastic about supporting a spiritual interpretation of Scripture providing that anything there that should be understood literally, is still taken literally.



If, for example, we take Genesis 1, the history given there of creation is undoubtedly inspired of God and we are to understand the chapter literally.  But it also wonderfully true, that Genesis 1 has a spiritual, or even a mystical interpretation, an interpretation alluded to in the New Testament, for Paul tells of ‘God, Who commanded light to shine out of darkness’ (2 Corinthians 4: 6).  He is giving a spiritual application to an historical passage.  But that spiritual treatment does not in the least take away from the literal understanding of the chapter.



The same is true of the prophetic passages.  There is a uniformity all the way through the Bible.  We can see the striking similarity in the operations of God unto salvation all the way through the passages of time.  God’s ways do not change.  The message of redemption is still the same.  The prophets who pointed to Christ were just forerunners of the apostles and others who later held up Christ the Mighty to save.  This symmetrical form to Scripture should be apparent to us all.  There is a literal value as well as a spiritual value.  When God speaks about the shaking of the heaven and the earth, we have to say that this event has not yet occurred.  The earth has gone on.  This is the so-called argument of Uniformitarianism that the earth has gone on as it was from the beginning.  And the earth and the heavens have not yet been shaken in the way that Haggai 2 and Hebrews 12 describe.  The event is still future.


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The second thing I want you to notice in Hebrews 12: 26 is that the shaking of heaven and earth is intimated by a promise from God.  It is therefore certain of fulfilment.  ‘Whose voice then shook the earth.’ We ask the question, Was that literal?  Was there a physical shaking of the earth?  Or are we understand this reference to be solely spiritual?  The reference here is to that which is physical, ‘Whose voice then shook the earth  The earth really did shake.  ‘But now He hath promised (the word ‘promised’ is the certification of the prophecy and it indicates the certainty of the fulfilment), saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only (the way that I did then), but also heaven



We have learned then two things from the argument of ‘yet once more  First of all, that the shaking of heaven and earth is still future; and secondly, that this prophecy is certain as to its fulfilment for it is guaranteed by the promise of the unchanging God.



And thirdly, this momentous and cataclysmic event, still future, is to b compared to an occurrence of ancient time.  I refer you to the words ‘then’ and ‘now’ in the verse 26.  There is a contrast opening up very obviously between a period called ‘then’ and a period called ‘now  Let me suggest to you that when we have the reference to the past indicated by ‘then’ we may consider the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, that moment when Israel in a formal and recognisable way became a nation.  They became God’s people and God became their God.  That is most significant.  The period referred to ‘then’ is the period we know as the period for the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.  The reference to ‘now,’ takes us on to a future time and the coming of the Lord Jesus is in view.  The shaking of heaven and earth, the violent upheaval, the phenomenal changes which will occur at the coming of the Lord, are very much in mind as we regard that future time for the shaking of heaven and of earth.



These things then must come to mind as we look at the two words, the powerful argument and the memorable lesson and interpretation the Holy Spirit gives us through the pen of the apostle Paul, in Hebrews 12.  The shaking of heaven and earth is still future.  The prophecy itself is guaranteed inasmuch as we have a statement made that God has promised to bring this about.  And in [Page 107] the third place, as we have indicated, the illustration for the event is to be taken from a very important occurrence in the time past, and that important occurrence is the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.  I am sure there is no difficulty in demonstrating that this is the case for if you look at the earlier part of Hebrews 12: 18, the apostle says, ‘Ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more  The view here is of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.  It is a type of the end of this age and of the Lord’s coming.  The picture is set forth with infallible authority.



The Shaking of the Earth at Mount Sinai

Paralleled with the Lord’s Coming



We may light on some types here and there through the Bible, that have come our attention because of our own study.  But in this case the Holy Spirit of God Himself is making the reference.  The sad thing is that multitudes of Christians have missed it.  People have gone through the prophecy of Haggai time after time and have never seen the connection, and some have gone through the chapters of the letter to the Hebrews and yet have not lifted at all the significance of the apostle’s argument.  Is there not a type here taken from ancient time, a picture which is being redrawn, which first of all we can begin understand as we go to Mount Sinai? This is another mountain to go to.  There are things there that, as we gaze on them and think about them, will tell us of the time to come.



For example, this shaking of the heaven and the earth.  Will the heavens and the earth be shaken when the Lord Jesus returns?  I go to Revelation 6 in the interest of saying that when the Lord comes back there will be a tremendous cataclysmic upheaval in the heavens and in this earth.  ‘And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo (the word ‘beheld’ and the word ‘lo’ here are equivalents employed in Scripture, with the very intention of focusing our thoughts, getting our attention, and saying, look at this), there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree [Page 108] casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places’ (6: 12-14).  If these words do not describe a cataclysmic upheaval in the universe, I do not know what they do tell us.  It is significant that when the Lord returns, the entire universe, in other words, God’s creation, will pay testimony to the event.



In Revelation 11: 15, ‘And the seventh angel sounded, (this is the last trump which is to sound at the coming of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ); and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ  That is still future.  The kingdoms of this world are not yet the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.  The kingdoms of this world are opposed to His truth.  In the sense of omnipotence, of course, the Lord is still on the throne, and the things that we see in the world will never get out of hand.  The Lord will never lose His omnipotence, but as to an allegiance to God in the hearts of men or recognition for the Bible in these nations, these kingdoms do not belong to the Lord.  Britain does not follow the Lord.  The nations of Europe do not follow the Lord, and the nations elsewhere on the earth are no better.  The kingdoms of this world are anything but the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.



But when the last trumpet sounds a great transformation is to occur, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.  Anyone knows that the last trump heralds the coming of the Saviour, and even though people disagree about prophetic events, all Christians are agreed that the last trump heralds the coming again of the Lord Jesus.  Well, the Bible tells us that precisely at that moment, when the last trumpet sounds, a great and radical change will occur in the kingdoms of this world.  They will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign for ever and ever.



The Temple of God Opened to let the Ark be Seen



Then in verse 19 of the same chapter, ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament  This in itself prompts three lines of thought (a) Does it appear that the ark of the [Page 109] covenant being made manifest in the heavenlies signifies that the Shekinah Glory of the Lord is about to be manifested again among men?  (b) Since the ark of the covenant, which has to do with the mercy seat is seen, does it indicate that the time has come for the prayers of God’s people through the centuries to be answered, and that the deliverance of God’s people is now at hand?  (c) The temple of God is opened to make way for communion to be re-established between heaven and earth.  The sanctuary is opened to make way for the Shekinah Glory to return to the world.



Now, at this time, ‘there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail’ (Revelation 11: 19).  These words surely cannot be accidental.  They have to mean something, and I suggest that since we are talking about the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, that is, the time our Lord’s return, these statements are to be taken at full value.  The entire universe will tremble in the presence of the great God.  The hour of the Saviour’s return has come.  There is the trumpet sounding.  There are the lightnings, there are the voices, the thunderings, the earthquake, the great hail.  Of course there is a convulsion in the heavenlies and a convulsion on this earth.  We cannot overlook these things.



Revelation 16: 16-18 says, ‘And He gathered them together unto a place called the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great  It is, therefore, perfectly to expect such things.  This is an ungodly world.  We are talking about the conclusion of an age of utter heathendom.  Men have no thought for God; no time for God, they have cast away His law long since.  Here is a world which has forgotten God, and these men are to understand that God is, that Jesus Christ is His dear Son.  The Saviour is coming again.  So the earth trembles in the presence of its Maker.  There is such a great earthquake, the Scripture says in this place, that there never was the like since men were upon the earth.  Given that this earthquake is so mighty and so great, pay attention to the detail of Scripture.


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Verse 19 of the same chapter adds, ‘And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found  What a Scripture this is!  Lest someone should say, Ah, but that is Revelation, I would ask, Well, is Revelation not inspired?  Do we not have the same inspirational authority for the last book of the Bible as for any other book of Holy Scripture? We certainly do.



Repeated Reference to the Shaking of Heaven and Earth



But just to indicate there are other references to the same event in Scripture, let us understand that Luke 21: 25-26 contains the words, ‘And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken Mark the word ‘shaken  We have seen it in the Revelation.  We have seen it in the prophecy of Haggai.  We have seen the thought taken up in the letter to the Hebrews, and these things are to be understood of events yet future.  There is no getting away from it.  We have the words of the Lord Jesus.  Nothing could be plainer or more explicit.  Here on the earth, ‘distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring,’ and there in the heavenlies, ‘the powers of heaven shall be shaken  It is on the highest authority that the universe will tremble in the presence of its Maker, when the Saviour comes.  We have moved away from the Revelation, not that we feel like deserting it, but we have gone to the gospels and have listened to the words of the Saviour, and the same thing is being taught.  Mark the uniformity of the teaching which runs all the way through the Bible.  There is nothing disjointed or out of place.  We do not have to work feverishly to try and create a harmony for the harmony is already there.



In Matthew 24: 29-30, ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken  There is that word ‘shaken’ again.  Do you remember the words in Revelation that there would be so mighty and so great an earthquake such as the world had never [Page 111] seen?  This is still future.  But someone may say, ‘As a Christian, I have been taught a style of prophetic teaching which moves me to deny all this  We would have to say in the first place that we have drawn your attention to the actual words of the Lord and we have not forced any interpretation on anyone.



The Logical Way of Understanding Scripture



We have to say in the second place, that to announce a literal fulfilment of these very prophecies does not put a strain on anybody’s intelligence.  It is a possible interpretation of these Scriptures that these things could be fulfilled exactly as the Saviour says they will.  Of course, I have to go further than that for I do not only believe this is a possible interpretation, but that really and truly it is the only way of understanding it.  No one can cast aside these prophecies as if they were words of no or little account, because they are such as could be fulfilled.  And I put it to you that your faith in Christ and in the Scriptures demands that you accept the fulfilment of them.



So we see there is a cataclysmic upheaval in the heavens and in the earth, plainly announced in Scripture: in Haggai, through the gospels and Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, and onwards to the last book in the Bible.  And there is this striking uniformity all the way through.  We cannot and must not run away from that.  We may not close our eyes to that glaring truth in the Scriptures.  There the truth stands and truth is a bold thing.  Truth really cannot be evaded.



A View of the Mount from Exodus



As already stated, there is a type, there is a very interesting picture.  We turn to Exodus 19 to take in the picture in full colour in all its dimensions.  I think we have demonstrated that the lesson taught in Hebrews 12, originally drawn from Haggai 2, is based on an incident in history, the giving of the law, the appearing of the Lord on Mount Sinai.  There is a picture of end time events at Mount Sinai.  It is not that Exodus 19 merely records something that is ~wonderfully historic.  It is absolutely historic.  It is an authentic history, but history is prophecy.  Undoubtedly, for the Holy Spirit is the interpreter, there is a prophetic view to be taken of the details of Exodus 19.  It is clear from the reading of Exodus 19 that the coming of the Lord was prefigured then.


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Five Ways to View the Coming of the Lord at Mount Sinai



There are at least five ways in which the coming of the Lord is set forth Exodus 19.  First of all, in verse 9, ‘And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud  Here is the coming of the Lord. We have that word ‘lo’ or ‘behold’ again.  And some will have in mind the New Testament quotation, ‘Behold, I come quickly  There is an annunciation of the coming of the Lord.  There is no doubt in my mind but that it is intended we are to look at the chapter prophetically as well as historically.  ‘Lo, I come  We should ask ourselves the question, how is the coming of the Lord viewed if there is a type, if there is a picture in Exodus 19 of a forthcoming event, when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken?  What are we to learn about the Lord’s coming?



(1) A Coming in the Cloud.  Well, firstly, in verse 9, there is a coming of the Lord in the cloud.  When you read in Thessalonians of the coming of the Lord in the clouds and of believers going up to meet the Lord in the air, do not think of those clouds as being the clouds that we normally discern in the heavens from day to day.  No, those are not the clouds that are in mind.* When the Saviour comes in the clouds, He will come in the clouds of divine Glory.  We have to talk about the manifestation of the presence of God in a way similar to that which was noted in Old Testament times.  I am talking about the Shekinah Glory of the Lord.  The cloud covered the tabernacle.  The cloud in a way pictured the Saviour in His role as the Messiah.  The cloud is like the mediator, the cloud is between the blinding brightness of the Glory and the people who are called to worship.  Without the cloud in between, the people would have perished.  So in a way the coming of the Lord in the clouds, as far as His people are concerned, intimates the mercy of God.  Acceptance in the person of the mediator.


[* On the contrary: “He [Jesus] was taken up; and a CLOUD received him out of their sight” … “Why stand ye looking into HEAVEN” … “Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER as ye beheld him going into heaven” (Acts 1: 9-11, R.V.).  Are there no clouds in heaven?  How else can this passage be correctly interpreted?]


The Lord came down to Sinai in the clouds and His coming in the clouds was to be a means of faith particularly on the part of Israel.  ‘That the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever’ (verse 9).  What powerful statement that is [for those who will be ‘left’ (1 Thess. 4: 17)]!  Is there a foreshadowing of things to come?  I said that at the giving of the law Israel was formally recognised as the people of God.  Israel in a recognisable way became a nation at that time.  God became [Page 113] their God and they became His people.  They ‘believed  There is in this a foreshadowing of that greater and more glorious day.  A foreshadowing of that greater and more glorious day when God again will be the God of the house of Israel and they shall be in a peculiar way His people and they will believe for ever.  You will agree I am sure that the purpose of God for Israel did not find full fulfilment at that time.  Suffice to say that the stage was merely set at Mount Sinai for a greater and more glorious event which was to occur way down through the ages of time.  An event reserved for the coming of the Saviour.  I am talking about the restoration of Israel to the Lord.



(2) A Visible and Glorious Coming.  Secondly, in verse 11, ‘And be ready (we are to be ready for the Lord’s coming), against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai  Is it not obvious that here is a personal visible glorious coming of the Lord at Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people?  All the nations of the earth will see the Saviour when He comes. All Christians are agreed on that.  There no dispute about this point.  All the nations of the earth will see the Saviour when He appears in the clouds of Glory.  Those who are in Israel particularly will see Him.  Zechariah 12: 10 and Revelation 1: 7 inform us that those who pierced Him will look upon Him in that hour.  Israel will see Him when He comes again.  The Lord descended in a thick cloud, Yes, but He came in the sight of all the people.



(3) ‘To Meet the Lord  Thirdly, in verse 17, ‘And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God  The coming of the Lord in verse 17 is such that Israel might meet with Him. Oh! all men in some sense will meet with God when the Lord Jesus comes the second time, but Israel will meet with Him. That will be a wonderful occasion, they will meet with God. That signification cannot be lost on us.  This is a type, a picture drawn for us quite deliberately by the pen of inspiration, a picture to which the Holy Spirit Himself directs us, and we cannot lose our way when we follow divine guidance.



(4) The Lord Descends in Fire.  Fourthly, in verse 18, ‘And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire  Let [Page 114] me say, ‘in flaming fire  Does not the apostle tell us of the coming of the Saviour, in flaming fire taking vengeance on ‘them who know not God, and obey not the gospel’?  The event is foreshadowed at Sinai.  He came ‘in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly  This is why Haggai firstly and Paul secondly draws an argument from this event.  God is saying, Yet once more, I will shake not the earth only as I did at Sinai.  God shook the earth only at that time.  Exodus 19:18 happens to be one reference, just one out of a number, where we learn the mount was shaken.  The Psalms tell us that the earth was shaken at that time when the Lord descended on Mount Sinai.  This was a powerful event.  Even though there are some Christians who wish to disagree with us when it comes to the interpretation of prophetic events, we still have to say, unitedly, there are some things here so powerfully stated, they cannot be overlooked or set aside.  They are most significant.  The earth shook at the presence of God when the Lord descended on Mount Sinai.  This again is a foreshadowing of the Lord’s return.



(5) His Coming to the Top of the Mount.  Fifthly, verse 20, ‘And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the Mount  When the Lord comes the second time, it will not be the same mount.  This time it will be the Mount of Olives, but His feet will stand on the summit, He will descend to the top of the Mount.  Put all these things together.  He will come in the clouds.  He will come that Israel might hear His voice, and indeed all men will hear His voice and the elect remnant in Israel will believe in the Lord for ever and ever.  He will come down in the sight of all the people.  He will come down that Israel might meet with God and that all men might meet with God, either for salvation or for judgment.  He will come in flaming fire. He will come to the top of the Mount.



With the Sound of the Trumpet



Verse 19 reads, ‘When the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spakeHebrews 12 with its inspired commentary or this shows that neither Moses nor the people could endure the sight nor the sound.  Both the sight and the sound proved to be too much for them.  Such was the sight, the awesome view of the holiness of God and the glory of God [Page 115] that men’s hearts quaked with fear. Even Moses, who was experienced in meeting with God, said, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake  Moses trembled and the people could not endure the sight of what they saw nor could they take the sound of the trumpet, and the sound of God’s voice any more.



When the Lord comes back, these things that are foreshadowed here will all be fulfilled.  Some have spoken about the shout of the Lord when He returns, and have indicated that the shout is silent, heard only by those who believe.  Well, the shout of the Lord, the voice of the Lord at Mount Sinai, was heard by all the people. There was an unbelieving portion of the nation. The mixed multitude was present.  Those who did not know the Lord were among the tents of Israel but they heard the voice.  The Lord spoke audibly.  Make no mistake about it.  And they heard the trumpet, and all men will hear the voice of the Lord when He returns.  They will hear the sound of the trumpet.  These things can be stated as fact.



Some Results of the Lord’s Coming for Israel



Look at verse 16, and notice the mention of ‘thunders and lightnings’ as well as the sound of ‘the trumpet.’ There is a striking parallel here.  I think that you should study the parallel more fully in time to come.  I said just now and I want to make reference to it before I come to the end of the service, that the divine purpose declared for Israel at Sinai did not find its fullest fulfilment then.  But that purpose will not go by the board. The purpose of the Lord for Israel is certain of fulfilment.



When you look at Exodus 19: 4, some things may be suggested concerning the purpose of God for Israel.



(1) It says at the end of the verse, and let me supply the personal pronoun for this is understood in the passage, And I ‘brought you unto Myself  In a greater and more wonderful way, the Lord is to bring Israel to Himself.  That is what the prophecy of Haggai is all about.  That is why there is the reference to the temple, the reference to the greater glory.  There are more wonderful things to come and God in that day will bring Israel to Himself in a manner never equalled at any time previously.


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(2) In verse 5, reference is made to obedience to the divine voice, obedience to God’s Holy Word and to His covenant.  That is another mark, a characteristic in itself, of the new Israel, obedience to God’s Word.



(3) And thirdly, verse 5 shows Israel will be a peculiar treasure to the LORD above all people, in a way that history has never shown us yet, a peculiar treasure to the Lord.



(4) God’s Word cannot fail.  The covenant of God cannot go by the board.  If we are Calvinists at all in theology, if we have any sense of the immutability of the covenant and the certainly of God’s divine purpose, then we have to say this word must stand, and God will keep His covenant.  He certainty will, with His ancient people.  Surely we are not going to advocate now acceptance by works as if Israel’s place in that covenant could only be earned if she was worthy of it.  Oh no.  God will keep His covenant.  His people will be willing in the day of His power.



(5) And look at verse 6.  This is something never fulfilled in the past.  But will find its full realisation in the future, ‘Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom priests, and an holy nation  What is a priest in the Biblical sense?  He is one who is near to God.  One who is anointed to intercede.  He is called to teach the word and certainly exhibit the holiness of God to others.  Well, here is a kingdom of priests.  Israel, by that argument then, is to be specially near to God, as a kingdom of priests for the nations of the earth.  And Israel as a kingdom of priests must be seen as a people anointed to intercede, called to teach the word and exhibiting the holiness of God.



Postscript: The Downfall of the Antichrist



In Haggai 2: 21-22 there is a follow-on to the shaking of the heavens and the earth.  We have established that the shaking of the heavens and the earth is certain.  Here is a prophecy still awaiting fulfilment.  We are looking into the future.  A prophecy guaranteed in itself by the statement that it is a promise from God.  We have drawn on the picture given by inspiration of the scene at mount Sinai, and we have learned from Hebrews 12 that this is a picture of the end time, that glorious day when the Glory of the Lord will return to this world: the coming of Christ.  Hebrews tells us that.


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Haggai 2: 21-22 adds this, ‘I will shake the heavens and the earth’ and it is Paul who says He has not done that yet, ‘I will shake the heavens and the earth: and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms’ - not the thrones, but the throne suggesting the confederacy of the nations; that coming together of the kingdoms of the Gentiles. There is one throne among the wicked that the Book of the Revelation and other prophecies speak about, and that is the throne and the power of the antichrist.  The nations have pledged themselves in this unholy confederacy, to give their power to him, and Satan also, by intention has given his power to him, but the Lord is saying, mark the words, ‘I will destroy the strength (or the power).’  Let me read the verse that way, ‘I will destroy the power of the kingdoms of the heathen



Do not imagine because the word heathen is used here that it is different from the word elsewhere translated ‘Gentiles  No.  The word in every place is the same.  We can with entitlement use the word Gentiles here, ‘I will destroy the power of the kingdoms of the Gentiles  The day of the Gentiles is at an end when the Saviour returns.  That is a powerful statement.  The power of this unholy confederacy is to be crushed and broken when the Lord comes back, and this is the time set for Israel’s restoration, when Israel will become a [holy] people, even the people of God, universally taken up and used by Him.



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Israel’s Trial and Transformation




By John Douglas



Let us turn to the Book of Zechariah and read from chapters 1 and 2.  ‘And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words’ (1: 13).  Then another angel said, ‘Run, speak to this young man’ (14).  We learn from this that Zechariah the prophet, who was contemporary with Haggai, was a young man.  It may be that Haggai was an older and revered servant of the Lord.  Be that as it may, Zechariah plainly was a young man and presumably had many years yet to spend in the ministry.  There is a great deal in that verse alone.



You can see the importance that the angels place on every word of Christ.  Now the servants of the Lord ought to follow the example of those angels.  We should fix the utmost importance upon every word spoken by the Saviour.



The Ready Attention of the Angels to the Word of the LORD



Notice too, the alacrity with which the angels seek to carry out the Lord’s command.  Not only their interest in what He says, but their immediate response, indicated by the word ‘run  In the vision of Ezekiel 1, the angels ran to and fro like a shaft of lightning, so diligent were they in doing the King’s business.  I am certain that there are no accidental inclusions in Scripture and these things are ‘for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come’ (1 Corinthians 10: 11).  Consequently, God’s people too should see that the King’s business requireth haste (see 1 Samuel 21: 8).  We should run and not drag up ‘the heavenly hill with weary feet and slow  We should run in so far as we are able.  Some may not be very good at running, but at least they should have the desire in their hearts to run with diligence at the Lord’s commands.


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And, of course, the angels are interested in communicating the Word of the Lord, and this is of primary significance in the verse - ‘Run, speak  They communicate the Lord’s Word, and again, this is a sterling example for the Christian.



The message in this verse to be communicated is, ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein  Like towns, for multitude.  Without walls, to signify the security of the city at that period.  These things have never occurred.  Jerusalem has never been a safe place.  It has never stood in security, especially when God’s ancient people have been in residence there.  It needs the walls (if we use walls as the figure of security) and surveillance.  The city needs walls now.  Security is of the utmost importance.



But the day is coming when those walls will not be required.  There is a glorious time coming when the wall of defence is none other than the Saviour’s immediate presence.  ‘For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her’ (verse 5).  So externally, as well as internally, there is a display of glory.  There is the enjoyment of that same glory signifying the immediate presence of the Lord.  The walls are there, but these walls are far better than those that man could construct or ever did construct.  And this verse 5 shows the return of the Shekinah glory.



The Coming of the LORD to Dwell in Jerusalem



Verse 10 reads, ‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for lo (or, behold), I come  The participle is used here which signifies the continuous sense - ‘I am coming  The Lord is coming.  What a triumphant message! That note of triumph is not only struck, it is sung forth by the prophet in these beautiful verses.  If you think of Israel wilting in that terrible hour of affliction, if you think of many giving up hope and fainting by the way, here is a trumpet blast that sounds from glory.  ‘Be of good comfort; lo, I am coming  We can take fresh heart and inspiration from such a message.  There is a great uplift in this communication, ‘Lo, I am coming.’ We can stay at the post.  We can face the fire of the enemy, so long as we know the Lord has us in mind and He has this message, ‘Lo, I am coming


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Then, better still, ‘I will dwell  The Lord promises to come as the Shekinah. The word ‘Shekinah’ comes from the Hebrew verb ‘to dwell  There are a number of verbs which signify a dwelling, but the word is used here which gives us Shekinah.  He will come to dwell in the fullness of glory associated with the Shekinah - ‘I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD  It does not seem necessary to preach at all after reading words like these, but we will say some things about this marvellous book of the Old Testament, this intriguing prophecy bearing the name of ‘Zechariah



The Whole Prophecy in a Single Verse



The very briefest synopsis we could have of the Book of Zechariah occurs in chapter 1: 13.  When it comes to definition, we all like something simple yet comprehensive.  There must be many young Christians, as yet untaught and inexperienced, who on coming to a book like Zechariah will profess themselves at an utter loss to understand the visions and the prophecies.  They are likely to ask for something which will at once show the scope of the book, and show perspectives in view in Zechariah.  Here, the prophecy of Zechariah is condensed into a single verse, ‘And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words



There are three things to think about in relation to this verse.  Firstly, the message is described as ‘good words and comfortable words  Secondly, there is the angel who talked.  That is very important.  And thirdly, there is the answer.  ‘The LORD answered  These three thoughts together sum up the prophecy of Zechariah very simply and comprehensively.



For one thing, this prophecy is an answer from God.  We need not be in any dilemma as to our circumstances in life, much less with respect to the future when we have an answer from God.  In this prophecy, the message of Zechariah is, in its entirety, an answer from God to the voice of His Son.  I have already asked you to give attention to the words found in this verse 13, words that relate to the Angel who talked with the prophet.  This Angel, as He is described, is the communicator.  He is the One Who relays the Word of the Most High.  He delivers the message of the Eternal to Zechariah.  He is the Word of the Father.  He is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  He is mentioned in one way or another eleven times in the first six chapters of Zechariah.


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There are similar words, the exact equivalent with the same Hebrew word in the original, in 1: 14.  ‘So the angel that communed with me  It is the same thing.  The word ‘communed’ does not indicate any thing more than the ‘talking’ of verse 13.  Just as we can say too, the ‘talking’ in verse 13 is to be equated with the ‘communion’ of verse 14.  The Lord talks to you.  That is communion.  When you speak to Him, that is communion.  We are looking then at the Angel who talked with him.  In verse 11, the title is enlarged to ‘the Angel of the LORD



The forces that are sent forth by the Most High with the role of taking a superintending view of the nations of the earth, that is, the Roman earth, instead of helping Israel have rather used their power and influence to crush and to oppress Israel.  And they answered because they must give account to the Saviour.  They answered the Angel of the Lord.



‘The Angel of the LORD’ an O.T. Title of the Saviour



In the Old Testament Scriptures, this unique title ‘The Angel of the Lord’ belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. Thus I can say, the Angel Who talks with the prophet is very clearly identified.  He is the Angel of the covenant.  He is our Saviour, Jesus Christ.



Do not be put off by the term ‘angel  I think most Christians suffer from preconceived ideas about the word ‘angel  They dream up some kind of celestial creature, perhaps complete with wings, but shining in heavenly glory.  No doubt the word ‘angel’ can describe one of those celestial creatures who stand in the presence of God, but the word is not by any means confined to the created beings who serve the Lord in heaven.



We are helped to a clearer understanding of the title ‘The Angel of the Lord’ when we consider the word ‘angel’ as it is rightly construed as ‘the messenger  Take the word ‘evangelist’ - or ‘evangel  In spelling these words, we find the word ‘angel’ in the structure.  ‘Angel’ means ‘a messager  Evangelist means a good messenger.  Evangel is used as an equivalent of the gospel.  The Evangel Christ means the good news, the good message, and consequently an angel the messenger of the Lord.


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In Revelation 2 or 3, you will read about the angel of the church at Ephesus, at Sardis, etc.  We are not to imagine that every church on this earth has a celestial being in attendance and that he is entrusted with the superintendence of the work.  The angel is the messenger of the church.  He who delivers the Lord’s message is responsible to put things right in the church together with the other Christian workers who share with him the oversight of the house of God.  There the word ‘angel’ is used of an ordinary person -a minister of the Gospel.



This Book of Zechariah the Word of Christ



Suffice to say one of the titles of Christ in the Old Testament is ‘The Angel the LORD  He is the Angel Who did the talking, Who communicated the message.  Hence the Book of Zechariah is the Word of Christ.  It is not just the word of the prophet.  It is rather the word the prophet received from the lips of the Saviour.  Now that is wonderfully uplifting.  I am glad when I look at the Person I find Him first as the Man seen by night in verse 8 standing among the myrtle trees that were down in the bottom of the valley and behind Him there are these forces about which we have talked, represented by the red horses, the speckled, and the white.  He is the One then, the Man Christ Jesus, the Angel of the Lord, the Messenger of the Covenant Who does the communicating throughout the Book of Zechariah.  He is the Christ of God.  He is the Coming One.  He is the Blessed Redeemer and we rejoice in the proclamation of H name.



And He is the One Who cries in verse 12 the cry of the Saviour.  What is this but the mediation of Christ?  He is still fulfilling that role.  He is exalted to the right hand of the Father where He continues to make intercession for us ‘seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for us’ (Hebrews 7: 25).  ‘He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him  So the Father is listening to the intercession of the Son.  In verse 12, ‘Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem



When I take my synopsis, as I have supposed it to be, verse 13; when I have said this prophecy of Zechariah is an answer from God, it is an answer from God in a very striking and unique fashion.  It is the answer from God the Father [Page 123] to the voice of His Son.  ‘And the LORD answered the Angel that talked with 'lie with good words and comfortable words  The Lord Jesus never offered a prayer but it was answered.  And when He engages in intercession for the fulfilment of the covenant promised to Israel, you can be absolutely sure of the fulfilment of that covenant.  ‘The LORD answered the Angel that talked with me  If we put it into everyday gospel language, the Lord Jesus cried to the Father ‘how long  His Heavenly Father gives the answer with good words and with comfortable words.



This prophecy is also an answer from God to the cry of His ancient people, because the Lord Jesus is speaking vicariously.  Everything He does as our Saviour is done vicariously.  He takes our place now in the heavenlies.  He took my place on the tree.  He took my place when He went down into death for me and He took my place when He rose again from the dead.  He took my place when He ascended into heaven. Everything the Saviour does in the work of our salvation is done vicariously for His Own people.  And here he speaks for Israel.



The Seven Occurrences of ‘Yet’ in This Prophecy



We may see in a secondary way, looking at verses 14 and 17, how Zechariah is urged to cry aloud.  Verse 14, ‘So the Angel (even the Saviour) that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying,’ and verse 17 ‘Cry yet  This little word ‘yet’ which comes four times in verse 17 has to be given emphasis.  One could go through the verse without seeing that this little word has much significance, but the equivalent of the word ‘yet’ is ‘still  So it could be, ‘Thus saith the LORD of Hosts; My cities (the cities of Israel) through prosperity shall still be spread abroad



All that we see at the moment would forbid such a thing.  The situation may be most discouraging, even appalling, but ‘My cities’ will still, for all that, be spread abroad.  ‘The LORD shall still comfort Zion, and shall still choose Jerusalem  No matter what men may think and no matter if all the nations on the earth be stirred up to vent their wrath against Jerusalem, the Lord will still comfort Zion and He shall still choose Jerusalem.  I am saying that ‘still’ is an equivalent for ‘yet,’ but there are times, as here, when ‘yet’ expresses the thought much more readily or clearly than ‘still’ does.  But we can take the [Page 124] verse either way, and it projects for us the future for Israel.  And it shows the note of certainty.



It may interest you to know that, as far as I could find, this word ‘yet’ or its translation in the English is used seven times in the prophecy in relation to fulfilment of the covenant for Israel.  It is four times in 1: 17; once in 2: 12, where the word is translated ‘again’ at the end of the verse.  But you could use ‘yet’ in the verse.  ‘And the LORD shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall yet choose Jerusalem  This is how we would be entitled to read that verse.



Again, ‘There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets Jerusalem’ (8: 4).  Then the seventh time is, ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts: It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities’ (8: 20) and these, as verse 21 shows, intend to ‘go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts.’  And men are saying one by one, ‘I will go also  There is a kind of unanimity, a kind of spontaneity where people are saying on all sides, ‘I will go  And yet another is saying, ‘let me go,’ and multitudes are flowing, like a river, unto Zion.  The use of this little word seven times in relation to the restoration of Israel is very interesting and moving and we cannot omit it in any sense.  So the repetition of ‘yet’ through these chapters of the prophecy is instructive.  And it certainly is intentional.



Then if we go back to the key verse, to Zechariah 1: 13 ‘The LORD answered the Angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words  Here is an answer from God to the enigma of the centuries.  In the analogy of the branches of the olive tree, as shown in Romans 11, these branches which have been plucked away in judgment, are to be grafted in again to the parent stock.  This is a picture of Israel, as a nation, being restored to redemptive union and fellowship with God, and these branches, once they are re-implanted on the parent stock, will flourish and bring forth fruit.  Paul says in Romans 11: 25 that this is a mystery.  Why a mystery?  Because men left to themselves (and we have to include some Christian people in this) cannot see how such a wonderful work can ever be done.


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Why Good and Comfortable Words?



Well, the answer is, there are good words and there are comfortable words for Israel.  Why good words and why comfortable words?  What does this verse 13 mean to us?  If you think about the good words and comfortable words that the Lord Jesus delivers throughout the prophecy of Zechariah, they must mean something to us.  What do they mean?  Well, good words and comfortable words have to be true.  We can rest with implicit faith on everything the Saviour has said.  These are good words and comfortable words.  They are altogether reliable.



In the second place they are good words and comfortable words because they are immensely beneficial.  Think of the word ‘good  Consider too, the word ‘comfortable  We could enlarge on them but any words that are good, especially the words of the Lord Jesus - and this in the context of all the suffering through the ages of those who belong to the tribes of Israel - if there are good words and comfortable words, any who belong to the stock of Jacob cannot lose by turning to the Lord.  It is a matter of grave difficulty for a Jew who hears the gospel to step into the arms of Christ.  He fears he may lose his Jewishness.  He may also live in terror of persecution.  He may consider all that he stands to lose.  But remember, these are good words and comfortable words.  They can do nothing but good.  They are immensely beneficial.



Thirdly, they are called good and comfortable words because of their power to spiritually transform the people who are in view here, the elect remnant of Israel.  They are good words and comfortable words.  There is a transforming power in the Word of God and throughout certain parts of the prophecy of Zechariah we can see a marvellous transformation beginning to take place.  Thaat is why we have good words and comfortable words.



Zechariah a Most Appropriate Name



I think too, we can see the promise of good in the name of the prophet.  Zechariah is not only a name for a very young and useful servant of the Lord.  The name means ‘the Lord even Jehovah will remember,’ the thought being, He will remember His people, He will remember His covenant, He will remember the cry of His Own Dear Son.  The Lord will remember.  I say, the name of the prophet, as it stands here heading up these memorable prophecies, [Page 126] tells us plainly the Lord will never forget His covenant.  The Lord will never forget Jerusalem.  He is revealed in His prophecy as the Lord Who has chosen Jerusalem.



Now the background to the prophetical contents of Zechariah is in the return of the remnant after 70 years exile in Babylon and adjacent lands.  Chapter 1: 12 mentions ‘these threescore and ten years  In the days of Zechariah as well in the days of Haggai, the remnant had returned from far off Babylon and there is a projection here, a kind of promise if you like, as this return occurs, so in the future there will be a grander and more glorious return for Israel, when the Saviour appears in the clouds of glory.  The two returns are contrasted especially in the earlier part of the book.



Let us identify that for simplicity’s sake.  The first return taking place under Zerubbabel, if you like, in Zechariah’s day, and the second, the great return which is to take place as an event coinciding with the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The second return then, as we look at some of these contrasts belongs to the period of our Lord’s return, to the true and full restoration of Israel, to their being joined with Christ.



The Two Returns Contrasted



The first return occurs in Zechariah’s lifetime when it was a day of small things (4: 10).  The return under Zechariah or Zerubbabel was really a day of small things.  But the second return, which we associate with the appearing Jesus Christ, will be a day of great things (8: 6).  The first return occurs when Israel as a nation still lies in subjection to the Gentile powers (1: 19). I refer to those four horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.  But the second return pertains to a day when Israel, instead of being trodden beneath the feet of the cruel oppressor, has the ascendancy over the nations.  Consequently in chapter 12: 3 (just to take one verse out of a number), ‘In that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it  So the first return was a day of small things, but the second return, the ultimate fulfilment of these prophecies, will be a day of great things.



The first return occurs in a period when Israel lies in subjection to the Gentile powers, but the second return, as the prophecy shows, pertains to the day when [Page 127] Israel will have the ascendancy over these nations.  The first return belongs to a time when Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentile powers for in chapter 14: 2 we read, ‘For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle  The words describe the culmination of this age.  These nations have gathered themselves against Jerusalem that they might destroy it, so there is Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles, something that is characteristic of Jerusalem all own through the centuries that have spun out their history from the days of Nebuchadnezzar, right on through our time and beyond it, stretching on until the trumpet sounds and the Saviour is seen descending the stairway of the skies in His matchless glory.  But the second return belongs to that time when, as the Lord Jesus appears according to the words of Zechariah 14: 11, ‘Men shall dwell in it (that is, shall dwell in Jerusalem), and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited



That first return occurs at a time (this is important too) when God is largely hidden from the view of His people.  This is so today.  God is largely hidden from the view of Israel, but at the second return, every eye will see Him, also they who pierced Him.  There are interesting words in chapter 9: 14.  There we read, ‘The LORD shall be seen  With the first return under Zerubbabel and Zechariah the Lord has been largely hidden from view.  The Shekinah Glory did not come as in days of old, but when the trumpet sounds, when the Lord returns, the Lord shall be seen over them, a visible manifestation of His divine glory, a personal coming.  Oh yes, every eye shall see Him and also they who pierced Him.  All this then is held forth in those good words and comfortable words delivered by the Angel Who spoke unto Zechariah.



The Climatic Fulfilment of the Good and Comfortable Words



And these good and comfortable words are expanded throughout the remainder of the prophecy.  These good and comfortable words will take on the highest relevance when we reach the point described in Zechariah 9: 17, and the explanation there is striking, ‘How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty  This is the day of our Lord’s return.  This is the day, in relation to His millennial kingdom, of His coronation, His enthronement on this earth, when men shall say, ‘How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty  [Page 128] When the Lord returns and the trumpet sounds, when we shine in His likeness it will be said, ‘the beauty of the Saviour will dazzle every eye in the crowning day that is coming by and by



We were also asking, why comfortable?  It is because, at the height of their fulfilment, they set forth Christ. They magnify His beauty.  They make Christ the Treasure of His saints; that men will say, ‘How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty  This is the picture of Christ in the prophecy - the picture of Christ at His return.  Make no mistake about it, the return in Zechariah’s day is a symbol in the prophecy of a greater return.  This future restoration for Israel will exceed by far anything that men have seen or could have seen in Zechariah’s time.  There is no comparison.  So, while in the return under Zerubbabel, after 70 years exile, there was comfort given to Israel, that return was a mere adumbration of the greater and grander event that belongs to the coming again of the Lord Jesus.  And there is something marvellous in what God has done.



In chapter 8 we discern the marvellous character of this redemptive work, the visitation of grace, this powerful revelation of the Saviour’s person and His divine glory.  ‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts: If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in Mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts’ (8: 6).  That which is a great thing in the eyes of man is not considered by the Lord to be a great thing.  In other words, it not hard for the Lord to do.  We have that question in Genesis 18: 14, ‘Is any thing too hard for the LORD  Praise His name, there is not.



Is it Marvellous in Your Eyes?



In relation to the fulfilment of all the covenant prophecies, if God has to change this earth, if God has to turn the Mount of Olives into two distinct parts, is this marvellous in God’s eyes?  Is this a hard thing for the King of kings?  That is the sense of the passage here.  If this is too hard for you, if it is so marvellous that you can scarcely take it in, the Lord is reasoning here, do not think it is a hard thing for Me.  It is not.  But we may say for ourselves, and we may certainly say in relation to Israel, it is a marvellous thing from the standpoint of humanity.  From the standpoint of our time, it certainly is a delightful thing and a marvellous thing such as man by himself could not have contemplated.


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Thus we spoke about the mystery as something so wonderful man could never see it coming to pass.  And there are Christians today, many good people who love the Lord, who just cannot see these things in the Bible. I would lend them my glasses any day!  I do not know why they cannot see these things.  But maybe, it is because it is too marvellous.  But is anything too hard for the Lord?  Listen.  Any of this is nothing to God.



It is nothing for the Lord to transform the likes of me into the image of Christ.  I cannot understand that, and I do not know why the Lord would ever do such thing for me.  And you will say the same for yourself.  Is not that a marvellous thing?  It certainly is.  And when you stand redeemed by Blood and transformed into His image, you will certainly feel what a wonderful thing it is to be like the Saviour, to be wholly like Him and to shine with His resplendent glory as you reflect it.  That is a wonderful thing.



When it comes to the opening of the graves, gathering together the scattered dust of God’s saints, that is not a hard thing for the Lord.  It may be counted an almost impossible thing by many who like to think they have rational minds, but it’s not too hard for the Lord to do it, and when the time comes for Him to split wide open the Mount of Olives, that is not an incredible thing.  And it is not a hard thing for the Lord to change the nature of the Dead Sea and make it a place for fishers to stand.  That is not a hard thing.  It does not stretch my faith in the least.



The God Who spoke the worlds into existence is the God Who says He will do such a thing and if God can turn out such a vast display of His omnipotence and omniscience in this creation He can certainly change the Dead Sea.  That is nothing.  This is the argument here, but it remains with us a marvellous thing, and rightly so, for we ought to exalt the Lord when we consider such a thing.


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The Restoration of Israel a Truly Marvellous Thing



And the passage parallels to portions like Psalm 126: 1-3. ‘When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion’ - a subject which is in view nearly all the way through Zechariah.  This is the subject in Zechariah, the Lord turning again the captivity of Zion.  And what response is given to this return from captivity in Psalm 126?  Why, ‘we were like them that dream  It was nearly too marvellous to take in.  That is from the human standpoint.  We were like them that dreamed and we could imagine one saying, ‘Do I have to nip myself and prove to myself that I am really awake, that the Lord is doing such a wonderful thing  We are like them that dream.  It is really so marvellous that we can scarcely take it in.



I like those Scriptures that encourage us to have a great view of God.  We are not discouraged.  This is not a despondent theology.  It is rather an uplifting theology, and it gives a grand view of God and a great view of the Bible.   It exalts Scripture.  It does not diminish it in any way.



‘Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen (the Gentiles), The LORD hath done great things for them’ (verse 2). Great things, we may suggest, marvellous things, and verse 3 gives the answer back to that suggestion.  Yes, that is right.  Israel responds, ‘The LORD hath done great things for us  He has.  It has been marvellous in our eyes.  ‘O how wonderful! 0 how marvellous is my Saviour’s love for me!’ we can sing.  And Israel, in that day, will be able to sing it too.



Isaiah 66: 8 is likewise a very significant parallel passage.  ‘Who hath heard such a thing  The sense of it is, who could have believed such a thing?  Who could take it in?  Who could accept it?  I have to admit there are thousands of Christians who cannot take it in.  There are thousands of good people who belong to the Lord and certainly love the Gospel who just cannot take it in.  ‘Who hath heard such a thing?  Who hath seen such things?  Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once  Is such a thing possible or likely?  Is it too marvellous for words?  Well, the Lord says it may be marvellous to men but it is not to Him.  This is the restoration Israel.  It is truly wonderful.  It is such a thing that man could not have believed [Page 131] possible back in the days of Zechariah.  Man that is left to himself could have deemed it possible, and even in our time, man left to himself cannot deem it to be possible.



The Gathering of the Nations



I want you to notice that the Lord’s answer in the prophecy of Zechariah with good words and comfortable words also means that Israel’s restoration will be preceded by the gathering of the nations against Jerusalem.  In Zechariah 12: 2.  ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem  Mark the word ‘against’ occurring twice as it does in verse 2.  These nations are viewed as nations in confederacy, in unholy confederacy, but certainly in antagonism against Jerusalem.



There are three figures here in chapter 12 used of Jerusalem - (1) ‘a cup of trembling’ (verse 2), (2) ‘a burdensome stone’ (verse 3), and (3) ‘a torch of fire’ (verse 6).  Those who handle this torch will be severely burned.  Those who lift the cup of trembling will find themselves smitten with judgment.  And those who lift the stone will discover that that stone will cut them in pieces.  How significant this is!  The nations who gather against Jerusalem will do so to their own everlasting ruin.  Fearful judgment is pronounced against those who seek to come up against Jerusalem to destroy it.  Is this too marvellous for words?



Can we see the direction in which the European Economic Community is going?  It must eventually envelope certain of the nations of the Middle East.  Then these nations will come together.  They can only use their power and influence in oppression against Israel.  They are together represented by the four horns in Zechariah 1.  By Zechariah’s time the second of the four universal kingdoms (compare Daniel 2), if we may use that term to describe them, has appeared and the other two are still future.  The final manifestation of the fourth is future also to us.  Are these things too marvellous?



The Necessity for a Literal Understanding of Scripture



Charles Hodge was a beloved, highly esteemed theologian.  He genuinely loved the Saviour.  The Lord Jesus was dear to him, and he did a wonderful [Page 132] work.  But he was not impressed with pre-millennial teaching, and in theology he decided to set about debunking a belief in the literal fulfilment of God’s prophetic word.  At one point, the eminent professor said that there cannot be a literal antichrist sitting in a temple in Jerusalem.  He argued that was, in the highest sense, improbable.  Let the professor put up his strong arguments and you can imagine the awe stricken bunch of students listening to him - and most of the time he was worth listening to.  But in this case, he was saying, I would suppose with the same sort of authority that he would have used in teaching the atonement, that this could never be.  I am not quoting verbatim, but I am giving you the gist of what he said, and of course I have a segment in his theology to back up what I am saying.



He suggested that if this were to take place it would mean three things. (1) It would mean that Israel would have to come back to her own land again, and how ridiculous that is!  Nobody could believe that would ever happen, that Israel would go back to her own land again.  So that is the strong proof that these prophecies cannot be literal.  (2) He said that it would also mean that not only would Israel come back to her own land, it must require Israel to return in unbelief, and that is even more improbable.  Then (3) He said it would entail that the people of Thessalonica to whom Paul wrote about these prophetic matters would have to be enlightened about all this, and he said that he could not possibly believe that.  Some time, read 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-2, where the apostle would disagree with the eminent professor, for Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, ‘Yourselves know perfectly’ about these things.  You do not need that any man should tell you.  Were they informed?  They certainly were.  I could wish that some Christians nowadays could be equally informed.  There it was, altogether too marvellous and too wonderful, but God says He will d it.



Look at Zechariah 12: 10, maybe one of the key verses in all the Bible, well worthy of contemplation.  ‘And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me.’  The hour pictured here is that of the coming of the Lord Jesus. We would want to view the coming of the Lord Jesus through the Book of Zechariah, first of all in relation to Israel, those people who belong to the stock of Jacob.


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Zechariah 12: 10 - The Trinity



Here notice that, as we speak about the salvation of the elect remnant, the operation of the Members of the divine Trinity is brought into view.  ‘They shall look upon Me.’  That is the Saviour.  ‘I will pour upon the house of David  These are the words of the Father.  ‘The Spirit of grace and of supplications  This reference being to the Holy Spirit.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together in providing salvation for Israel.



Zechariah 12: 10 - Looking Away Unto Jesus



This Salvation of the elect in Israel requires a looking to Jesus.  This is the old gospel being spelled out.  There is life for a look at the crucified One.  They will look upon Me. The word for ‘look’ in the original is one that warrants us to say that this is a steadfast look, the look of one who is altogether fixed and entranced by what he sees.  It is the look of the heart and the look of the soul.  A marvellous study!  The occurrence of it here is part of a lovely sequence of events.  They shall look with steadfast gaze.  This would be the paraphrase of the verse. Maybe like the hymn writer puts it, ‘lost in wonder, love, and praise  Can you think of such a look?



Zechariah 12: 10 - The Special Work of the Holy Spirit



See too, by verse 10, that this revelation of Christ is the direct work of the Holy Spirit.  ‘I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look  It is always the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Lord Jesus as Christ the Messiah, to reveal Him as the Redeemer, to reveal Him in all His divine splendour and majesty.  And I see that this text with its teaching uniformly fits in with everything else that the Bible says.



Zechariah 12: 10 - The Salvation of Israel by Grace



I see too that this salvation is wrought on the grounds of grace, by the Spirit of grace.  Do Israel deserve to be saved?  No.  Israel do not deserve to be saved.  Are Israel to be saved on the grounds of merit, or the works of their own hands, or by the observances of their faith?  No, in no way.  They are just saved as you and I are saved, finding to their joy that there is life for a look at the crucified One, and they are given the look of faith by the Spirit of God.


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Zechariah 12: 10 - The Holy Spirit in the World

During the Tribulation



Far from having the Holy Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is away out the world at that time, I suppose there is no subject in the Bible that is really more identified with the work of the Holy Spirit than the work of the re-gathering of Israel and their restoration to the Lord.  Here is the Holy Spirit, plainly mentioned, directing them to Christ, taking the things of Christ and revealing them unto those who are to turn to the Lord in repentance.  And they will turn to the Lord with a cry that is found in chapter 13.



Zechariah 12: 10 - Supplication in the Spirit



But we will stay with chapter 12: 10.  Do you see the word ‘supplications’?  ‘The spirit of grace and of supplications  The cry that will be heard in heaven and answered in heaven.  The cry of His saints in that terrible hour of affliction that is coming upon this earth is generated by the Spirit.  Consequently it is absolutely certain to be answered.  ‘The Spirit of grace and of supplications’  What does the word ‘supplication’ mean?  Supplication is one of those terms frequently on the lips of God’s people at church prayer meetings.  I would say whatever fellowship you belong to, you have heard numerous people use the word ‘supplication  Probably if I descended the steps of this pulpit and made my way down the aisle and if I were to say ‘Could you tell me what  supplication is?’ you might say, ‘Supplication is prayer



But then the word ‘prayer’ is used about prayer, so why use an extra word?  Is it merely a synonym with no special meaning?  Do you not think supplication must mean something additional to prayer?  In the Old Testament, to take the thought in the Hebrew, the word ‘supplication,’ in every place means ‘to entreat the mercy of God  ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner  Here is the elect remnant of Israel casting themselves on the mercy of God, and that mercy is available through the Blood of the Lamb.  That is free grace.  That is the sovereign, unchangeable purpose of God fulfilling His covenant.  That acceptance in the Well-Beloved, our Saviour Jesus Christ.



Zechariah 12: 10 - The Coming Again of the Lord Jesus



In relation to Israel, the coming of the Lord will bring about a marvellous [Page 135]  transformation.  The voice of repentance is echoed and re-echoed in the words that follow.  The families of Israel mourning apart; the coming of the Lord in relation to the Mount of Olives.  Chapter 14: 4, ‘His feet (the feet of Christ) shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives ... and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof  It will cleave asunder.  The mountain will not only, tremble when the feet of the Creator rest on it, the mountain will fall apart.  And ungodly people will tremble also when they stand before the Lord the King of glory.  But there is the mountain divided. Someone has said to me, ‘Do you actually believe that the mountain will fall apart  I said, ‘Of course I do  I do not have any problems with it.  God says it.  I believe it.  It is not too hard for the Lord.



The LORD Shall be King



What about the world?  Chapter 14: 9, ‘The LORD shall be King over all the earth  Well, there is the coming of the Lord, not only in relation to Israel, not only in relation to the Mount of Olives, but the coming of the Lord in relation to the world.  ‘The LORD shall be King and this means King in a sense in which He has not been King before, otherwise the words would be meaningless.  In that day, He will manifest His kingly power.  He will appear as the King.  He will be recognised over all the world as the King.  And the period begins with His return.  Men just do not work their way along gradually until they have brought in a kingdom without the king.  There is no such thing the kingdom without the king.



When it says there shall ‘be one LORD and His Name one,’ the meaning is, that there will be no false teaching.  Here, there, and yonder, men will see eye to eye.  The truth of God will be clearly established in such a fashion that no man will abide in confusion about any of the things of God, and instead of having some separated here, and some who are different yonder, they are all under the one banner, united in Christ.  And that is true ecumenism.



Lastly, there are beautiful portions about Jerusalem.  Chapter 2: 8, ‘He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye  And verse 10 contains the words, ‘Lo, I come (I am coming).’  He is coming to dwell in Jerusalem.  He is coming [Page 136] in that day to reveal Himself as the Messiah and King.  The land of Israel, verse 12, is going to be dramatically changed, radically changed.  For the first time the land of Israel will be the holy Land.



Israel Will be The Holy Land



I have travelled quite a number of times to Israel, having been privileged to lead a number of tours there.  One time we had a fairly wealthy person with us.  Some were going to bathe, and he was among them.  He left his watch and some other valuables in the tent that was available to him, a tent wide open to the public.  When he came back from his bathing in the sea, he was appalled to find all his belongings were stolen.  He came to me aghast and said, ‘I thought this was the holy land  I replied, ‘It is not yet  It is not going to be the holy land until the Lord comes back.  That is when the land will be changed.  This true.  It is not the holy land now.



Certainly the name appears here in Scripture (2: 12).  Thus we may use it if we wish, ‘the holy land,’ as long as we know what it means.  The land will be radically changed when the King comes, and for the first time in all of history the land of Israel will be the holy Land.  God says it, and you see in verse 13, there is a holy awe felt among men everywhere.  ‘Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD  This will be true when the King comes back, ‘for he is raised up (or awakened.  That word ‘raised’ means awakened) out of His holy habitation  And it means that men will be awakened to the glory and majesty of God.



Comfortable Words from Zechariah



In closing, I read some lovely words from one or two places in Zechariah.  Look at chapter 8: 8, ‘And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness  Chapter 8: 13, ‘And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, 0 house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing  ‘Just as ye were a curse among the heathen (all the nations) ... so ... ye will be a blessing  How do you like that for prophecy?  If we had one of those very expert fellows here who can spiritualise away all the prophecies, I would just love him to set about this one, for you [Page 137] could not very well get the church squeezed into verse 13.  ‘As ye were a curse among the heathen  No, they would not wear that too well.  ‘0 house of Judah, and house of Israel  Nothing could be plainer.  What a strong word that is!



And look at chapter 8: 20-21, ‘There shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities,’ those who will say ‘Let us go speedily (and the margin shows that the word ‘speedily,’ while it is necessary, is just one way of putting it. You could say let us come assuredly with equal entitlement or you could say let us come continually) to pray before the LORD  These thoughts all belong to the passage.  Naturally only one English word can be used.  Let us come speedily, let us come assuredly, let us come continually to pray.  ‘Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD’ (verse 22).  ‘In those days ... ten men ... shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you’ (verse 23).  That has never happened.  If ten men belonging to Gentile nations have ever laid hold on a Jew, they have done so to do him harm, and they have never thought that God was with him.  Anything but that!



We are awaiting the day when the trumpet shall sound.  Is it a marvellous thing?  Is it too marvellous?  Has the Lord answered you with good words and comfortable words concerning Jerusalem?  He most certainly has.  I am encouraged.  Read chapter 9: 1 which speaks of a day ‘when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD  Has that ever occurred?  No, it has not, and cannot until the Lord returns. Verse 10, through His word, ‘He shall speak peace unto the heathen (to the Gentiles): and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river (that is, in the land of Israel) even to the ends of the earth.’ That is the millennial reign of Christ without a doubt.



Chapter 10: 6, ‘I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them (they are saved by grace, through the Blood): and they shall be as though I had not cast them off  I think those are marvellous words.  ‘They shall be as though I had not cast them off  There are the branches that were plucked out of the olive tree and they are being put back into place.  And when those [Page 138] branches are re-implanted into the parent stock, they will flourish and they will bring forth fruit abundantly.  ‘They shall be as though I had not cast them off  Men and women, this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes!



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Jehovah’s Rebuking,

Refining and Renewal of Israel




By Wesley Irwin



Malachi was the last of the writing prophets.  After him there was what is known as ‘the 400 silent years.’ These were four hundred years when the voices of God’s prophets were silent.  The prophecy of Malachi records the last words that God gave to the writing prophets until Divine Inspiration compelled them to take up their pen 400 years later.  There is a finality attached to these words of Malachi.



The last words of men quite often are weighty, carrying considerable significance.  The words of dying men often register and abide with us because they were their last words.  In fact, the Bible illustrates this.  How weighty and significant are the last seven utterances or cries of Christ from the cross.  How powerful is our Lord’s last word to His disciples before His ascension, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16: 15).  It was after that saying, that our Saviour ascended into heaven.  How significant, how powerful, how weighty are last words!



This is the last word of prophecy in the Old Testament and I would have you know that it is significant, not merely because it is the last prophecy of the Old Testament, but it is important because in this very short book of fifty-five verses, we have twenty references to ‘Thus saith the LORD  Here is a book, where a considerable portion of it is the direct words of God.  This is a book where we have not merely the words of the prophet, but where we have a book that is full of the words of Jehovah Himself.  How important, then, it is that we give attention to that which God Himself has said.



Malachi was one of the post-exilic prophets, i.e. he ministered after the people of Israel had returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon.  [Page 140] That was the period of his ministry.  Not only had the Jews returned from the captivity, but the temple had been rebuilt and the worship of God had again been set up in Jerusalem.  God was worshipped once more within the precincts of the temple.  You might think everything was well.  But when we come to Book of Malachi we find that all was not well.



Though the people of Israel were back again in their own land, and the temple was rebuilt, and the worship of God was again implemented to some degree, we find that, despite the initial enthusiasm and the restoration work that had already been done up until this point in time, Israel were not worshipping or following the Lord as they ought.  Their religion had become dead and formal.  They had their ceremonies and performed the rituals, but God was left out.  Israel, back in their land with the temple again reconstructed, had fallen into formality and deadness and spiritual barrenness.  Israel had become backslidden people.  I want to look at the prophecy of Malachi in the light of that context, and deal with the subject that has been given to Me.



Jehovah’s Rebuking of Israel



Malachi 1: 1 makes it clear who is being addressed in this book.  ‘The burden of the Word of the LORD to Israel  There are some who would suggest that after the captivity, Israel could not be identified, that they had lost their identity.  They speak of the ten lost tribes.  Well, Malachi had no difficulty in identifying Israel because he sent his prophecy to them.  ‘The burden of the Word of the LORD to Israel



How sad, however, that, in bringing this prophecy to Israel, it is a word rebuke, because, as already stated, Israel, back in their land, had sunk into formalism and ritualism.  They had not advanced nor prospered.  They had not used the opportunity and the privileges as they should have used them.



You may have noted as you have read through the Book of Malachi that seven times Israel uses the word ‘wherein  For example, in chapter 1: 2, we read ‘Wherein hast Thou loved us  In verse 6, we have, ‘Wherein have we despised Thy name  We have that word ‘wherein’ occurring in 1: 2; 1: 6; 1; 1:17; 2: 17; 3: 7; 3: 8; and there is a slight variation in 2: 14, where there is the word [Page 141] ‘wherefore’ used in a similar sense.  Now these uses of the word ‘wherein’ single out for us, to some extent, some of the sins for which the Lord Himself was rebuking Israel.  What were the rebukes that came to Israel?


1. Rebuked for Despising God’s Love.  In Malachi 1: 2, it says, ‘I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us  The phrase ‘I have loved you’ is only two words in the original, but much meaning and significance is to be found in these words.  And, let me state that He still loves Israel. Some would tell us that He no longer loves them because of their sin.  But I would ask each Christian, ‘Why does He love you and me  It is not because of our goodness, or anything worthy in us.  He loves us in spite of our sin.  And He loved Israel, and still loves them in spite of their sin.  Hear the words of the apostle in Romans 11: 28-29, ‘As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance



Why did God love Israel?  We learn the reason from Deuteronomy 7: 7-8.  It says, ‘The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt  So, He loved them because He loved them.  Thus He loves you because He loves you, not because of your goodness.  He loved Israel in spite of their sin.  And Israel’s sin against God has not disannulled the love of God toward them.



That is what Paul tells me and I believe Paul.  Paul asks the question in Romans 11: 1, ‘Hath God cast away His people  And remember Paul was writing after Calvary, after Christ had been crucified, after the Jews had handed Him up to be delivered.  He gives the answer, ‘God forbid,’ or, we might say, ‘Definitely not  He still has a love toward Israel, and that love that God has for us or for the Jews is not based upon our goodness or their goodness, but upon the unchangeable purpose of God.


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In Malachi 3: 6, God says, ‘For I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed  Why has God not cast away His people despite their sin?  Why has He love toward them still?  It is because Jehovah’s purpose towards His people never changes.  He is the unchangeable God and He has an unchangeable purpose, and my sin, or the Jews’ sin, will not change that purpose of God.



Yes, Israel had despised God’s love.  They said, ‘Wherein hast Thou loved us  And that is a picture of Israel today.  They are still despising the love God.  How few of them recognise the love of God that is demonstrated or displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And the same accusation or rebuke can be laid against them today as it was laid against them in Malachi’s day.  They despised the wonderful love of God.



2. Rebuked for Despising God’s Name.  In Malachi 1: 6, Israel was rebuked again.  It says, ‘A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is Mine honour? and if I be a master: where is My fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise My Name.  And ye say Wherein have we despised Thy name  The priests in Israel, are rebuked for despising the Name of God. They despised the Lord Himself.  They failed give Him the honour and the reverence due unto Him because of His relationship to them.  The prophet says that in the human sphere, a son gives honour to his earthly father and the servant gives honour and respect to his employer, master, or lord, but Israel did not give that reverence to Jehovah that was due unto Him.



Because of their relationship to Him, Isaiah could say, ‘Doubtless Thou art our Father’ (63: 16), but Israel did not honour Him as such.  They did not give Him their allegiance neither did they obey Him.  He was their Father by creation and redemption, for Israel was a redeemed people, but they did not give the honour that was due unto Him.  Israel was rebuked for despising the Name of God.



Let us not point the finger at Israel.  Let us ensure that we are not guilty of the same sin and that we do not fail to give to the Lord the honour that is due [Page 143] unto His Name.  Let us, as the people of God see to it that we walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.  Let us see to it that we do not despise the Name of God by living in such a manner as dishonours our heavenly Father.  We have an obligation to honour our Father in heaven.



3. Rebuked for Corrupting God’s Worship.  In verse 7, there is another ‘wherein,’ and Israel was further rebuked.  It says, ‘Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted Thee?  In that ye say.  The table of the LORD is contemptible  God charged them with corrupting His worship, but they could not see it.  Israel were insensitive to their great sin against God.  That is a terrible state for any person or people to be in - to be insensible of their sin.  And that is exactly the state in which Israel was.  They were insensible of their sin in corrupting the worship of God.



Verse 8 tells how they profaned and corrupted the worship of God.  ‘And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts  The Lord was looking for the best of the sacrifices.  They were commanded to come to God with the best of their flocks, because God deserves the best, and of course there was also typical significance in bringing the best.



Deuteronomy 15: 21 states the kind of sacrifice that they were to bring.  ‘And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God  They were not to bring anything with a blemish.  They were to bring that which was perfect.  And here was Israel, back in the land, the temple reconstructed, and they had their religion and were making their sacrifices, but they came with sacrifices that were unacceptable to God.  All that goes under the name of worship is not acceptable to God, and we need to learn that lesson in these days.



Malachi tells us that what they were offering to God they would not dare offer unto the governor. They would not dare offer it unto a man but were prepared to give it to God.  Verse 8 says, ‘Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person  If you were to give to a man what [Page 144] you give to God, Malachi says (or the Lord says), do you think he would accept it?  Yet you expect God to accept it!



I have to say that even to this day, the Jewish people are offering unacceptable worship to God.  They are still rebuked today.  Let us not forget that.  They are corrupting the worship of God.  And let us apply it to our own hearts.  Let us ensure that as we come before God, our worship and that which we offer Jehovah is acceptable.



It is a very serious thing to worship God.  Men ought to worship God, but it is a serious thing, and I am often challenged by what I read in Ecclesiastes 5.  The Lord certainly would not in any way want to hinder us from worshipping Him, but He gives us this caution, ‘Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few’ (Ecclesiastes 5: 1-2).



4. Rebuked for Divorcing Their Wives.  The next rebuke is in Malachi 2: 14.  It is a different word but the sense is essentially the same.  ‘Yet ye say, Wherefore?  Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant  Here they are rebuked for divorcing their wives.  It is appropriate that we mention this at a time when our government is trying to make it even easier to get a divorce.  Here were the people of God, and they were rebuked because they were divorcing their wives.  This is something that God hates, ‘For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away’ (2: 16).  How tragic that in our own land we are told that half of the marriages are ending in divorce.  God undoubtedly rebukes our nation.  And He rebuked Israel because that very thing was taking place amongst them, this putting away of their wives.



5. Rebuked for Calling Evil Good.  In Malachi 2: 17, we read ‘Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him?  When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, [Page 145] and He delighteth in them  They are rebuked for calling evil good, and good evil.  Isaiah tells us, ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil’ (5: 20).  What a terrible state this nation had degenerated to!  They were so mixed up in their views that what was evil they called good, and what was good they called evil.  And God rebuked them.



6. Rebuked for Not Keeping God’s Ordinances.  Malachi 3: 7 says. ‘Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them.  Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.  But ye said, Wherein shall we return  They were rebuked for failing to honour God with their substance.  They had gone away from Him.  That which rightly belonged unto Him, that which God had given to them, they kept back, and God rebuked them.



Thus Jehovah rebuked Israel, and if we apply these things to ourselves and to our nation, the same rebukes can be laid against us.



Jehovah’s Refining of Israel



Our God is a jealous God, Who is jealous for His Own glory, for the honour of His Own Name, and He is a God Who will take steps to make His glory known.  He will not permit those who ought to be showing forth His glory to continue in that way whereby His Name is dishonoured and shamed.  The Jews who returned from Babylon thought they could continue in their lax living and that God would not judge them.  They said, ‘Where is the God of judgment?’ (2: 17).  But when we look at 3: 2 we find Jehovah coming and refining them, dealing with them.  I see this work of refining in a two-fold way.



1. It is a separating work.  The Bible teaches that when the Lord returns, He will do a work of separation. Malachi 3: 2 describes God as ‘the refiner  ‘He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap,’ and one of the tasks of the refiner is to separate.  You will know the illustration of the smelter, where the metal is heated to an exceeding heat so that the impurities are taken away until only the pure is left.  That is a separating work. When the Lord Jesus comes to this earth again that is the kind of work He is going to do.


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In Matthew 3: 12, John the Baptist was speaking.  He said, talking of the Lord Jesus, ‘Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the gamer; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire  John the Baptist was saying that the fan is a winnowing fan.  In Israel, after they had brought in the corn, after they had threshed it, it was put in a bundle, but there was still some chaff or impurities among the grain.  So, they had a shovel or a winnowing fan and they threw the grain up into the air, and as the grain fell down, the wind carried away the impurities the chaff, until they had the pure grain in one place.  John the Baptist was saying that that is the work Jesus Christ is going to do.  He was speaking of the second coming of Christ, because he said He will gather the wheat into His garner but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.  The wheat gathered in but the chaff burned is a work of separation.



We also have this teaching of separation in Matthew 25: 31-34, where the context is definitely the second coming of Christ.  ‘When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left, Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world  Here is the Lord doing a work of separation, as the refiner.  Israel certainly, and others will be sifted, they will be separated from the mass of the ungodly.



2. It will be a saving work.  The Babylonian captivity may have purged Israel from her idolatry but it did not cure or cleanse her from her sin.  We read in Malachi 3: 2 that the Lord is going to come as ‘the fuller. ‘He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap  What does the fuller do?  He cleanses.  And when the Lord Jesus comes back to this earth, He is going to cleanse Israel for ever from her sin.  He is going to save her, because that is the only way that any car be cleansed from sin.  It is through the saving work of Christ.  The people of Israel are going to be cleansed and saved.  Malachi alludes to this healing when he says, ‘But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings’ (4: 2).  Israel will be saved from their sin and iniquities for ever.


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In Zechariah 12: 9-10, it says, ‘And it shall come to pass in that day (and that is a reference to the coming of the Lord), that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn  When the Lord comes He will cleanse Israel for ever from their sin, for He will save them.  Zechariah 13: 1 continues, ‘In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness  When Christ comes, Israel will be converted unto the Lord.



We read in Isaiah of a nation being born in a day, converted to the Lord.  That is how Israel will be refined. They will be separated and they will be saved by the Lord - regenerated by the Spirit of God, saved through the Blood of Christ, as they look upon [Jesus] Christ and recognise in Him their promised Messiah.  It will happen when Christ comes.  Look at the evidence in the chapter.  Malachi 3: 2 says it is the day of His coming.  ‘Who may abide the day of His coming  Chapter 4: 1 speaks of the day coming ‘that shall burn as an oven  Chapter 4: 3 says, ‘Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts  Verse 5 continues, ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD  That is when Christ comes. The language causes me to believe that this is none other than when our Saviour comes.  It is the great and dreadful day of the Lord.



In Joel 2: 31 you will find similar language, ‘the great and the terrible day of the LORD,’ and that is when our Lord comes.  That is when Israel will be saved - at His second coming.  In 1 Thessalonians 5: 2-3, Paul is writing to believers and he says, ‘For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord (this day of the Lord is when Christ comes) so cometh as a thief in the night  Malachi spoke of the Lord suddenly coming to His temple (see 3: 1), and all the language that is used - the suddenness, the day of the Lord, great and dreadful, the terrible day of the Lord - points to only one day.  It points to the day when my Saviour will come back.


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Who is coming?  Malachi describes Him as the Messenger of the covenant and that points to one person, even Jesus Christ.  That is Who is coming.



Jehovah’s Renewal of Israel



When our Lord returns to this earth, and Israel, as a people, recognise Him their promised Messiah, there is yet much blessing in store for Israel.  Then will many of the promises made to them, as a nation, receive their ultimate fulfilment.  I cannot read my Bible in any other way, because many of the promises made to Israel have not yet had a complete fulfilment.  What will happen to Israel when the Lord comes?



1. Israel will have a Position of Pre-eminence.  Malachi 3: 12 says, ‘And all nations shall call you blessed  That is not true today.  If there is a nation upon the face of this earth that is despised, it is Israel. Practically every nation against Israel. The nations of this world are not calling Israel blessed, but that day, Israel will be pre-eminent among the nations.  Chapter 4: 3 says, ‘And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in that day  There is a day coming when Israel will be able to trample upon all her enemies.  Today her enemies seek to trample upon her but a day is coming when Israel will be pre-eminent.  Zechariah 8: 13 says, ‘And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, 0 house of Judah, and house of Israel (that is Israel reunited); so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong  That is still future because Israel are not yet in a position of pre-eminence.



2. Israel will be a Place of Prosperity.  We read in Malachi 3: 11 that the Lord says, ‘And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts  I have to take that literally, otherwise all sorts of difficulties arise trying to explain what the fruits are, or what the vine is, or what the field is.  The Lord is speaking literally here.  Israel will be place of prosperity.



In Ezekiel 34: 25-27, the Lord says, ‘And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall [Page 149] dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.  And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing: and the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD.’ The land of Israel will be a place of prosperity.



3. Israel will be a People of Purity.  We read in this prophecy that Israel would worship the Lord as at the first.  We read that Israel would worship the Lord again with purity.  And that will come to pass.  It has not yet.  It certainly is not so at this time, but it will certainly come.  Thus in 3: 4, ‘Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years  Their worship then will be holy, acceptable unto God.  What a day!  I cannot read this book, in fact, I cannot read my Bible and conclude that God is finished with Israel.  God still has a glorious purpose for Israel.  Read the Book, and you will see that this is so.



*       *       *

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God’s Mercy on the Nations




By  S J Clarke



Whereas with the majority of the prophets, both ‘Major’ or ‘Minor,’ the Holy Spirit has indicated the period when the prophecies were given, the Book of Jonah is silent on this point.  We know, of course, that the book of Jonah is an historical record. The Lord Jesus spoke of it as history (see Matthew 12:'‑,‑­41).



Then in 2 Kings 14: 24-27, we are told of an actual prophecy spoken by Jonah.  It is the only other occasion in which Jonah is mentioned in the Old Testament.  ‘He (that is, Jeroboam II) did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.  He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the Word of the LORD God of Israel, which He spake by the hand of His servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher’ (verses 24-25).  Gath-hepher is in Galilee.



When the Jews were discussing the Person of the Lord Jesus, there were those opposed to Him, who said, ‘Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet’ (John 7: 52).  Perhaps they were glad to forget Jonah, but he certainly was a prophet who came from that area of Israel.



Is there any indication when Jonah prophesied?  Well, 2 Kings 14 records events in the reign of Jeroboam II, so evidently it was before that time.  In the previous chapter, we are told ‘the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.  And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.  And the LORD gave Israel a saviour’ (2 Kings 13: 3-5).  From that Scripture we find that Syria was a constant threat to Israel at the time but the Lord gave them a saviour.  And from [Page 151] chapters 13 to 15, we discover that both Assyria and Syria remained a danger for the people of Israel.



About this time, as we are told in Hosea 1: 1, ‘The Word of the LORD came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel  While we cannot be specific as to when Jonah prophesied it was certainly earlier than this point of time in the reign of Jeroboam.  It would appear, therefore, that Hosea prophesied for a period, at least, contemporaneously with Jonah himself.



Then we look at the very first ‘words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel  So we find that Amos and Hosea were contemporary, and it seems to be a fair deduction that it was not far from the time of the prophesying of Jonah.  When we read through these prophecies of Hosea and Amos, we find some rather significant statements.  For example, if we look at Amos 5: 27, God says, ‘Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus  If you look at a map, you will find that ‘beyond Damascus’ could reach to Nineveh.  Nineveh was indeed beyond Damascus.  In fact, when it is quoted in Acts 7: 43, instead of saying ‘beyond Damascus,’ the Holy Spirit has said ‘beyond Babylon



In Amos 6:14, God says, ‘Behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness  So here is a prophecy through Amos that they would have problems, not only with Syria, which, as we have seen, was a constant threat to them, but also from Assyria - because Damascus was the capital of Syria, and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.



Now look again at Hosea.  We have said that these two prophets were, at least for a time, contemporaneous. We find in Hosea, ‘They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land ... they shall eat unclean things in Assyria’ (9: 3).  And we are told, ‘He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king’ (11: 5). And, ‘They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria’ (11: 11 ).


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It can, therefore, be safely assumed that during the prophesying of the days of Jonah, Assyria and Syria were indeed a constant threat in the light of these predictions that God had given, that one day Israel would even be taken into captivity in Assyria, which of course, came to pass.  So this is the background of this particular book of four little chapters in which Jonah is involved.  When it is said in 2 Kings 14 that God ‘restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the Word of the LORD God of Israel, which He spake by the hand of His servant Jonah,’ we can appreciate that a prophecy like that was quite palatable to this man.  He raised up a saviour.



So now, though God has told him that he should, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh ... and cry against it’ (1: 2), that is, his message was to be one against Nineveh, yet he says in chapter 4: 2 to the Lord, ‘I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and merciful  He could not bear the thought that this Gentile nation, who had been at enmity against his people, Israel, should come to repentance as a consequence of his preaching.  As a result Jonah fled from the presence of the LORD.



Now, here was a man who knew God.  I do not question that.  The death of Elisha is recorded in 2 Kings 13. As he lay dying, Elisha told Joash the king to smite with his arrows.  As he only smote three times, Elisha was angry with him saying, ‘Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times ... now thou shalt only smite Syria but thrice  Well, this man Jonah apparently followed Elisha, so Elisha’s message from the Lord had just preceded the ministry of Jonah.  And as we have already seen, he had seen God’s mercy extended to Israel in accordance with the prophecy that God had given him.



On three occasions at least the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah.  We have it twice in Jonah’s prophecy itself - in the very first verse of the prophecy, and in the first verse of chapter 3, ‘the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time.’  And we know from 2 Kings 14 that the Word of the LORD had come to Jonah on that occasion.  I have no doubt that the Word of the LORD had come to him at other times.


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Here was a man therefore whose heart was open to God. God had raised him up as a prophet.  I know there is a Baalam earlier in the Scripture but Jonah cannot be equated with a man like Baalam, who had no interest in the people of Israel but whose whole object was personal gain and honour.



When during the storm, the shipmaster said to him, ‘Call upon thy God’ (1: 6) he replied, ‘I fear the LORD’ (1: 9). Those were his precise words.  And I would not doubt that that was the case.  Here, then, was a man who said he feared the LORD, and yet was prepared to seek to flee from His presence.  But in reading through the whole of this book, we are confronted with a man who, in his measure, was in touch with God, albeit, temporarily, through national bigotry, he was found outside God’s will and pleasure.



It is a very vain thing for anybody to seek to flee from the presence of the LORD.  Psalm 139: 7-8 says, ‘Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol - the place of the dead], behold Thou art there



In chapter 2: 2, Jonah equates his experience outwardly, as being in ‘the belly of hell*,’ and well we might understand in the crisis of his life that he should speak of his experience in that way.  ‘If I make my bed in hell [Sheol], behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me’ (Psalm 139: 8-10).  The Psalmist is here saying that a man might dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.  Well, this is something that Jonah was trying to do in getting away from God, and on making this journey on the Mediterranean in a ship that was going to Tarshish.  No, he could not, and you and I cannot, flee from the presence of the Lord.



It is like that in the experience of the people of God.  If we are truly His, I believe the Spirit of God will bear witness, perhaps in a negative way, that we are away from Him, and a barrier is created between our souls [in ‘Sheol’ = ‘Hades’] and Himself [in Heaven].



Why was Jonah seeking to flee from the presence of the Lord?  What was he trying to do?  Well, as I understand his motives at the time, Jonah was trying to place himself in a position where his responsibility could not be expected to [Page 154] be fulfilled.  Now, I think there is a message in that for each one of us.  You see, it is so easy to want to be in a position where we are bereft of responsibility before God and man.  I feel personally, that there is quite a lot of that in the Church today.  I have sometimes thought that a perfect Church, if such there be, is a Church where every gift that God has given to His people, and that includes every believer, has the opportunity to find expression.  But sadly, so often the responsibilities in connection with the corporate life of the people of God are such that those responsibilities fall on a minority.



Here, then, is a lesson that we can learn from Jonah.  Jonah wanted to place himself in a position where his responsibility of preaching to the Ninevite, would not be expected of him.  But the Word of the LORD came to Jonah and he found that it was not as easy as that.  And God had to bring Jonah back to the place where he had to face up to his responsibility.



In Jonah 2: 7, the prophet says, when in the belly of the great fish, ‘When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple  We know that in the history of Israel, the holy temple, so far as its earthly expression was concerned, was found in Jerusalem. Remember how, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon beseeched God, that, if any of His people Israel prayed ‘toward this place’ He would hear in heaven His dwelling place (1 Kings 8: 30).  Daniel, when he was in Babylon, opened his windows toward Jerusalem, the place where God had put His Name (Daniel 6: 10). Jonah sadly, though he recognised the presence of God was associated with the temple, yet he had been going in the very opposite direction.  It all seems so inconsistent.



Now, we have already answered the question, at least in part, why did Jonah flee?  But it certainly was not through the fear of man.  Read all that is said about Jonah in this book.  When they had this tremendous storm, the vehement wind and the waves being lashed against the ship, even the experienced mariners were afraid, and they did not know what to do.  They were crying unto their gods, and when they told Jonah to cry unto his God, he told them to cast him overboard.  He knew that it was through his disobedience that this trouble had come upon the ship.  The troublous conditions were directed by God against Jonah himself and he knew it.


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I referred previously of God’s Spirit bearing a witness with our spirit, as there do come those times, when, in our own heart of hearts, we are made aware why certain circumstances may come upon us.  Hence, we see the utter bravery of this man.  Place yourself in his position when he told the these people to cast him overboard.  It seemed absolutely impossible for him to survive and it must have taken a man of bravery to be prepared to offer himself in this way.



Another thing that impresses me is that when he was in the belly of the fish, he kept his mind.  In that situation, I am sure that I would have fainted.  Yes, it was a miracle.  I do not doubt that.  But nevertheless we must not take away the natural element for here was a man in the belly of this great fish that God had prepared, who prayed to God under those conditions.  It is marvellous how under any condition in which we may find ourselves, we can pray to God and He has promised to hear us.  And even Jonah, a man who had sought to flee from God’s presence and now realised he must return, could pray.



Another thing about this man is that he does, eventually, go to Nineveh.  In the book of Nahum, which is a prophecy that is all about Nineveh at a later date, we are told that it was a den of lions (Nahum 2: 11).  That was the kind of people to which Jonah went, and he went alone.  You know, it is possible to have more courage when you are with another than to take a stand by yourself.  Here is an occasion when Jonah went to Nineveh all by himself to this place which a later prophet would call a den of lions.



Furthermore, in Jonah 1-3: 8, the king decrees, ‘Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands  It must have been a violent community for the king to make such a specific reference to it.  And yet, Jonah, in response to the Word of the Lord the second time was prepared to go.  So, it is evident that the reason why Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the Lord was as a patriot.  Though he recognised Israel’s sin, he did not like the idea of this Gentile nation being used by God in chastisement against his people.


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In fleeing initially, all went well for Jonah.  Sometimes, it happens like that We have to be very careful lest we make too much of favourable circumstance, in interpreting the will of God.  I believe there should be some importance attached to them, but not too much.  The reverse may be the case, to test our faith and obedience. And the other way round, unfavourable circumstances do not necessarily mean we are out of the will of God.



Think of Abraham.  He was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance and when he arrived, he found a famine (Genesis 12: 1-10).  So with Jonah, when seeking to flee from God’s presence, he found a ship waiting for him.  ‘Just right,’ we may say.  This reminded me of those words in Hebrews 11: 14-15, ‘They that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned  Well, here in the case of Jonah, the opportunity seemed to be there to flee from the presence of God, and consequently, I repeat, we need to be very careful how we interpret, whether negatively or positively, the providential circumstances of our lives.



Another impressive aspect about Jonah in this terrible storm is that he was down in the sides of the ship fast asleep.  It would seem that here was a man with a warped conscience.  It is a sad thing if, outside the will of God, we can go to sleep.  I think of the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25).  Everyone would acknowledge, that that conveys our minds to the days just prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and to the midnight cry, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh  Every one of those virgins, the wise ones as well as the foolish, ‘slumbered and slept



We are told in the previous chapter (Matthew 24: 12), that the last days would be characterised by increasing iniquity, and the love of the majority as a result would wax cold.  Such statements should be challenging to us. When we think of the condition of the world, of this country in which we find ourselves, who would deny that there is abounding iniquity on every hand?  Is it causing our love to the Lord to wax cold?  Well, here we find a man, who, away from God in his own heart, was fast asleep.


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What a contrast to the Lord Jesus in that boat after He had said, ‘Let us pass over unto the other side’ (Mark 4: 35), and a storm arose, but the Word of the Lord was sufficient.  At least, we say that now as we are on ‘dry ground,’ in peaceful circumstances, but those disciples, had had experience of the Sea of Galilee, and were themselves very much afraid.  They cried, ‘Master, carest Thou not that we perish?’ (Mark 4: 38) because the Lord was fast asleep, in the will of God.  That is the best place to find ourselves.



This experience of Jonah was costly.  It seemed all right initially.  He had to pay the fare.  That was a cost, but what a cost he had to pay later.  Thus we are reminded of some of the possible consequences of acts of disobedience in which we may find ourselves.



Another matter that is fascinating in this first chapter is that Jonah, by his act of disobedience, found himself in a contradictory position.  Now, what do I mean by that?  Well, he was fleeing from ministering to the Gentiles and here he is getting on a ship that was controlled by Gentiles.  In other words, he flees from ministering to them in Nineveh and yet now he finds himself, apparently, a lone Israelite in this company of Gentiles.  And this must have been, or should have been, a lesson to Jonah.



We read in verse 6, ‘So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, 0 sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not  Here is the man of God, a man who claimed afterwards to ‘fear the LORD,’ and yet he is having a Gentile tell him to call upon his God. It is such a contradictory position.  Is it not possible that at times the Lord orders our circumstances in a way that we are humbled before God because a rebuke may come from a non-believer.  Here, instead of Jonah being a witness to these people, in a sense, the shipmaster was ministering to him.



Another remarkable thing is, as illustrating his contradictory position, he was intended to go to the Ninevites and to denounce their sin, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown’ (3: 4), but Jonah found himself confessing his sins before this man.  That is what happened.  ‘They said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots ... and the lot fell upon Jonah.  Then said they [Page 158] unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation  He had already told them that he was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah.  Apparently he had not told them much more, and perhaps, as Gentile sinners, it did not mean much to them.



He was a Jew.  He had his God and here he was running away from Him.  We are distinctly told ‘the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD because he had told them’ (verse 10).  But now, in this passage they are asking him, ‘What is thine occupation  What a question to ask a prophet of the Lord!  Here is a man who purports to be a messenger of God; God gives him message and he flees from the responsibility because he does not like it!



The previous prophecy, of which we know (2 Kings 14: 25), was quite palatable, but this one was not.  ‘What is thine occupation  This could come to us, could it not?  If we were to answer this question in all honesty, there might be times when we felt challenged and searched in heart.  And what does he say?  ‘I fear the LORD



Because Jonah now realised the critical nature of the circumstances in which they found themselves, he was being brought to his senses.  ‘I fear the LORD,’ he said.  He knew why the storm was there.  It was because of his disobedience and in saying, ‘I fear the LORD,’ how does he describe Him?  ‘The God of heaven’ (verse 9).  The God Who had provoked the tempestuous winds and storm; the God of heaven is responsible for this.  ‘Which hath made the sea.’  Yes, the sea, which was raging all around them, and threatening, as they thought, their very lives.  And this is my God.  He made this sea.  And He hath made the dry land.  And he was to be vomited out from the belly of the great fish onto dry land.  In effect, he is saying, Jehovah, Whom I fear, is responsible for the conditions in which we now find ourselves.  The only way in which you are going to be saved in this calamity is to cast me forth into the sea.



The response of the Gentiles is interesting.  They show a care for Jonah more than he showed for the Gentiles. He did not want the Gentiles to receive a message to which they would respond by repentance, and yet, when they receive his reply to cast him into the sea, we are told, ‘Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land They rowed hard; they toiled.  This people [Page 159] had a heart, and they were concerned for Jonah.  They knew he was responsible for their perilous situation.  But they showed this care, a care which he lacked for them.



I give now a quote from the Gospel by Luke, a Gentile.  It does not occur in Matthew.  Matthew and Luke are the two New Testament passages that refer to Jonah and to this experience, and it is described as ‘a sign unto the Ninevites’ (Luke 11: 30).  I think this is very important.  Jonah ultimately, of course, was vomited onto the dry land, and he made his journey to Nineveh.  Now, we may not know how news was transmitted in those days, but the fact that he was a sign to the Ninevites indicates that they were quite acquainted with what had happened.  They knew Jonah had had this experience, had offered to be cast into the sea, had been swallowed by this great fish, and then vomited upon dry land.  In other words, Jonah became the embodiment of his message.  I think that is an important principle.



There were other prophets who were similar.  We think of Hosea, Isaiah and Ezekiel.  These men had to go through experiences in a way that they became identified with the message that they had.



So the Word of the LORD came to him the second time and he reached Nineveh as one who had gone through a most traumatic experience.  It may be this very fact became one of the reasons why they listened to him. There seems little doubt about that.  It is a remarkable response, with the king responding to what Jonah had to proclaim.



You see, here was Jonah offering himself for the salvation of these Gentile mariners, the sea having become, in a way, the place of death for him.  He says in chapter 2, ‘All Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me’ (verse 3); Thou hast ‘brought up my life from corruption’ (verse 6); and ‘Out of the belly of hell [‘Sheol,’ the place of the dead in the underworld, (Matt. 12: 40. cf. 16: 18.)]’ (verse 2).  These are all expressions of a death experience, used typically by the Lord Jesus as anticipating His Own death and resurrection.  There is the picture here of Jonah going down into hell (sheol) after experiencing all God’s waves and billows passing over him.


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So, the vomiting onto dry land was a picture of resurrection.  It was very much as good as that.  Jonah had, indeed experienced a miracle.  How many people would have survived it?  God preserved him so that he did not see corruption.  Indeed, he said, ‘Yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God’ (verse 6).  It was a situation which could be described as one that was liable to corruption, but God enabled him, in His Own way, to be cast forth onto this land.  So the whole experience became an essential part of his message, and a powerful factor by which he gave it.



This is like the Lord.  We all fall, but it is a fact that God often uses even our failures as contributory to our qualifications for ministry.  God is able to overrule the very failures of our lives.  I believe that if we went through the Scriptures, we would find many occasions where God has sovereignly overruled failures and adverse events for them to be steps in the unfolding of His purpose.



God was not only merciful to the Ninevites but He was also merciful to Jonah.  ‘The Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time We are reminded of Abram.  We recall, because of the famine in the promised land, he went down into Egypt (Genesis 12: 10), where it seems there was failure on his part but God brought him back to the place where he ‘had been at the beginning’ (Genesis 13: 3).  God is like that.  He does not discard us.  He does not take the attitude, I will have no more to do with you now you have failed Me so miserably.  So with Jonah.  Jonah had made a very sad mistake.  He sinned very seriously, but ‘the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time



Not only was Jonah a sign to the Ninevites but he was a sign to the Israelites.  This is interesting.  Israel, in a very real sense, had fled from the presence of the Lord.  As stated earlier, the presence of the Lord was associated with the temple.  That was the sin of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin, because God had specifically said, ‘there will I place My Name*  Because of expedience however, Jeroboam had exploited alternative places of worship.  And what alternatives they were!  So we find that throughout the history of Israel, even under Jehu (in many ways possessing traits that we would admire), every single one of the kings of Israel departed not from the sin of Jeroboam.


[* A-millennialists take note!]


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Now, in the prophecy of Hosea, which, as has already been seen, could have been contemporary with this, or very soon afterwards, God says, ‘I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.  Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.  After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight’ (5: 15-6: 2).



It is rather interesting that in Hosea 7: 11, the prophet says, ‘Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart.’ That word ‘dove’ is exactly the same word as ‘Jonah That is what Jonah means - a dove.  So we might translate this.  ‘Ephraim is like a silly Jonah Thus Jonah became a type of Israel.  Of course, the time is coming, when, as Hosea said, ‘in their affliction, they will seek Me early’ and when they return to the Lord they will look upon Him Whom they pierced and mourn with repentance.  They then will become a messenger, like Jonah was.  The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time and in a sense, it will come unto Israel a second time.  And in that day they will be the messengers of God.



‘I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory.  And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations (various names are mentioned) that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles’ (Isaiah 66:18-19).



You see, Israel is situated in the very centre of the land mass of the world, where Asia and Europe and Africa meet, ideally placed for this people to be a messenger to the nations.  In evangelising the Jews, one sometimes gets the taunt, We do not come to you and try to convert you, why do you come to us?  Well, that has been their failure - the fact that they had not come to us to declare the glory of the true God.



But the time will come when they [‘the dead in Christ’] will declare the glory of the Lord after this [first] resurrection experience.  They have been buried amongst the nations, as Jonah [Page 162] was buried in the heart of a great fish.  Then, on the repentance of the preserved remnant, God will use them.  They will be used by Him in such way that Isaiah could speak of Israel as ‘My glory’ (46: 13).



In this book of Jonah, there shines out a Divine principle that has been true throughout the ages, the principle of resurrection.  Adam was sent into a deep sleep for the formation of Eve.  Joseph, to all intents and purposes, was a man who was dead.  Jacob thought he was, and even the brethren of Joseph thought he was dead, or at least, gone and ‘forgotten,’ although not actually forgotten, because when Joseph was made known to them eventually, their consciences were quickened.



We can go through Scripture and see how this principle of resurrection found consistently in the Word of God. You see, God does not use the energy of the flesh.  God, to use us, will need to humble us so that we can say, ‘Not I but Christ Compare John 12: 24, ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit We know that is a principle of nature.  Paul said, ‘Death worketh in us, but life in you’ (2 Corinthians 4: 12).  This is the principle or the basis of spiritual fruitfulness.  And this is what Jonah had to learn.



Another lesson we learn from this is that God does not deal with us on the basis of His knowledge of our future.  I believe God deals with us as we are at present.  We may fail some time in the future.  It does not appear, generally speaking, that God withholds blessing now because He knows that one day shall fail again.



Here is the case of Jonah.  God would have His way.  I think that is lovely.  He spoke to Jonah the second time, and Jonah, in effect, had no option but to go.  In chapter 1: 2, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh Jonah, we are told, ‘went down He was told to arise and, he went down to Joppa and he went down into the ship.  Again, in chapter 2, ‘I went down to the bottoms of the mountains’ (verse 6).  But in chapter 3, ‘The Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, Arise, go And the next verse says, ‘So Jonah arose and went


[Page 163]

In the first chapter, God prepared a great fish.  In the last chapter, He prepared a worm.  God prepares worms as well as great fishes.  And God can use the great fish and God can use what we might call, the worthless worm. God knew that Jonah would fail, but that did not withhold the blessing from him.



God has given us these lessons, and no doubt there are others that can be learned from this book.  God has given this extract from Jonah’s history in order to be an encouragement for us today.



There is one further very important thought to be mentioned.  If, as has been said, Jonah prophesied just after Elisha, then he must have been the first of the minor prophets.  That is significant in that, as the first of the prophets, God showed Israel that He had also the Gentiles in view.



As Paul says, ‘Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also’ (Romans 3: 29).  And we who belong to Him can say, ‘Amen,’ because He is our God as well.  So we find how God’s vision, God’s purpose is not only for the Jew (a very important aspect of His purpose), but it is universal in that it is not confined to one nation, but worldwide in its embrace.



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Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony Manifesto



(This manifesto was drawn up at the commencement of the S. G.A. T and first published in 1919.  It has not been altered in any way during subsequent years).



The conveners of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony Meetings desire to make a clear statement of their position in relation to PROPHETIC TRUTH, in the spirit of love and humility, recognising that we only ‘know in part



We adhere to the principle of receiving the Word of God, in its literal sense, except where obviously figurative, and in so receiving Prophetic Truth, emphasise the fact that this enhances, and does not diminish, experimental enjoyment of the Doctrine of Grace, also so learned.



We, therefore, affectionately lay before you the points on which our testimony is, and will be, united, and invite our readers prayerfully to consider these things, in subjection to the Word of God, and in dependence upon God the Holy Spirit.



1. We receive the doctrine of the FREE AND SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD, viz:



(a) The Co-Eternity and Co-Equality of the Three Persons in the One Godhead.


(b) The Full Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures.


(c) The Incarnation, Sinlessness, Atonement, Resurrection and Ascension of God the Son.


(d) The Substitutional Obedience and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.


(e) The Election, Redemption, Regeneration, Justification, Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to, Sanctification, and Final Preservation of all the Saints.


(f) The Total Depravity of all Mankind, and Entire Perversity from God of the Natural Will.


(g) The Eternal Life of the Righteous, and Eternal Punishment of the Wicked.



2.  The NEAR APPROACH of the RETURN of the LORD is our confident HOPE.



3.  His RETURN we expect as PRE-MILLENNIAL, and following:



(a) The Apostasy of Israel and Christendom.


(b) The Ten Kingdom Confederacy.


(c) The Revival of Babylon and Babylonianism.


(d) The Reign of Antichrist.


(e) The Great Tribulation.



4.  The PURPOSES of the Lord’s Coming we believe to include:



(a) The Resurrection of all departed Saints, and the Glorification with them of the living Saints.


(b) The Destruction of the Antichrist - the Man of Sin - the Lawless One.


(c) The Conversion and Restoration of Israel.


(d) The Gathering Out of His Kingdom of ‘All things that offend


(e)The Reign over the Earth, and Manifestation of the Kingdom in Righteousness - Satan being bound and the Earth’s groan hushed.


(f) The Judgment of the Great White Throne, at the End of the Millennial Kingdom.


(g) The Creation of the New Heavens and New Earth after the Millennium.



5.  The SIGNS which we Discern of His Near Approach are:



(a) The rapidly increasing Apostasy of Christendom, with Lawlessness.


(b) Worldwide Testimony of the Gospel, in order to complete the taking out from the Gentiles a People for His Name (Acts 15: 14).


(c) The Promotion of Federations, Unions, Leagues, and Alliances, both Ecclesiastical, Social, Commercial, Industrial, National, and International APART FROM God, His Christ and His Truth.


(d) The Reorganisation of the Roman Empire, leading to the Ten Kingdoms.


(e) The Reopening of the East, especially of Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, with the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine as their ‘National Home,’ in their continued unbelief.


(f) The Fall of Absolute Monarchies, and Spread of Constitutional Government.  The Rise of Democracy, with Social and Industrial Unrest.



6. SPIRITUAL APPREHENSION of these things, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we deem to be ESSENTIAL to a COMPLETE TESTIMONY OF TRUTH,


which will lead to practical separation from worldly principles, policies, and pleasures, and to more loyal devotion to the Lord’s service.








seeks to make known the Word of God.



‘Watching and Waiting’ is the magazine regularly published expounding Doctrinal and Prophetic Truth.

For your free specimen copy(ies) apply to the S.G.A.T. Secretary:



Stephen A Toms

1 Donald Way






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