1. But has
Some say, Yes, assuredly; a grand future: it is the
Others say, No; certainly not:
For a century there has been accepted a scheme which
asserts that the Lord, when here, at first offered to Israel that He would then
and there set up the kingdom of God in power and glory, giving fulfilment to
the ancient promises concerning supremacy of Israel over the nations. But when
Against the former part of
this scheme there has come of late a strong and needed reaction. The theories of the postponed
kingdom, the interim dispensation
between Pentecost and Paul being rejected by the Jews at Rome; the Jewish character of the Synoptic Gospels; that only
Pauls prison epistles are properly church
scriptures - these features, most of which have been so widely spread by the
Scofield Bible, have been properly attacked and demolished. But, most unfortunately, some vigorous
writers, in their unbalanced zeal to drive Scolield over one precipice have
themselves toppled over another and have maintained the equally indefensible theory
outlined above, that there is no national future for
Upon this important question certain determining factors and scriptures have been neglected or unrecognized.
1. Gen. 1: 1. The first statement of the Word of God has decisive bearing upon many questions. In fact, it is the prologue to the whole Book of God. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Therefore there was a point when the universe had a beginning - it is not eternal. But God was already there at the beginning or He could not have created what had a beginning - He is eternal. The universe is neither self-existent, nor did it evolve of itself, or emanate from God - it is a creation. This universal creation was brought into existence in two stages. The heavens were created first and then their inhabitants; then the earth and its inhabitants. This is shown by the Creators statement to Job that heavenly beings exulted when the foundations of the earth were laid (Job 38: 4-7).
Thus from Gods point of view the universe is divided into two chief sections, the heavens and the earth, which fact is a key to the development of His universal plans.
2. The arrangements in the prior region, the heavens, are the standard or type, and of these the arrangements on earth are a copy or replica. This must be illustrated.
(1) From its beginning the Son of God has been the Sovereign of the universe and also the Mediator between God and His creatures. His statement to Thomas (John 14: 6), No one cometh unto the Father but through me, declares what had always been the situation, as well in heaven as on earth, of angels as much as of men. (The A.V. no man is an unwarranted limiting of the statement.)
Thus in the heavens there ruled a Priest-King, which
feature was duly reproduced on earth.
Noah, the head of the human family after the Flood, offered sacrifice to
God, being essentially a priest-king. So
acted Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as head of their clan. At that same time Melchizedek, in
This institution was general, if not universal, in
the ancient world. The sovereign was
also the high priest of his people. It
It is to be noted that the earthly was copied from the heavenly. Melchizedek was made like unto the Son of God (Heb. 7: 3). Nor was he made like unto what the Son of God was to become in resurrection, but unto what He already was before Melchizedek was born, and which office as Priest-King He resumed, as He did His other glories (John 17: 5), as the ascended Son of man.
Moreover, under the Divine Sovereign and Priest in that heavenly realm there are angelic rulers and priests. Daniel saw thrones associated with the judgment session of the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7: 9). Paul divides that invisible government into thrones, dominions, princedoms, and authorities (Col. 1: 16). John saw those thrones around that of God (Rev. 4: 2, 4), and the sitters upon them had crowns and priestly robes. These rulers, in conjunction with the four Living Ones, lead the worship of the universe, and so are priestly in office (Rev. 5). Another angel is shown in priestly service adding incense before God to the prayers of saints of the earth (Rev. 8: 3). The elders were in office before the Lamb was formally invested with sovereign power, and therefore they cannot be His church, for the Bride may not be installed before the royal Bridegroom. This subject is opened at length in chs. 4 and 5 of my book The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
(2) In that heavenly world there was created the sanctuary, the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. In it is the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8: 1, 2), and there the Son of man sat down at His ascension, resuming His priestly office and interceding for His people.
This sanctuary is within the created heavens, itself
a created spot, for it was pitched and is not
eternal. When the infinite God, the
triune, Father, Son, and Spirit, alone existed there was no need of a local
place of communion ; but when localized and finite beings had been created it required that there should
be a local manifestation of Deity before which they could appear and where they
could worship and serve. This is the
centre of government and worship for the universe. As
Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed,
And post oer land and ocean without rest.
They also serve who only stand and wait.
The statement (Gen. 4:
16) that Cain went out from the presence of Jehovah may hint that in
that earliest time there was a spot on earth where God could be met and from
which Cain was banished. Be that as it
may, when God had separated one race of men,
(3) Even as in that upper world there is a ruling angelic company having dominion over the angelic hosts and the earth, so was Israel as a people designed by God to be a race of royal-priests to rule the peoples of the earth: Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation (Ex. 19: 5, 6). This was implied in the two-fold promise to their ancestor, Abraham: thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies - political supremacy; and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed - priestly service (Gen. 22: 17, 18; 12: 2, 3).
(4) Again, in that heavenly world there is not only
a sanctuary but a royal city,
And the highest point in that city, distinguished
from the city itself, is
Corresponding to this God chose to dwell on earth at Jerusalem in Canaan; and in Jerusalem the highest point was mount Zion, where was king Davids royal palace and where stood the thrones of government (2 Sam. 5: 7, 11; Psa. 122: 5); and in that city, on mount Moriah, stood the temple, in all essential respects a continuation of the tabernacle, and the holy dwelling of God to be the centre of worship for all peoples (Isa. 56: 7; Zech. 14: 16-21).
These particulars suffice to illustrate the feature of duality instituted by God; heavens and earth, and the earth to follow and correspond to the heavens. But the most momentous instance of it is as follows:
(5) God is the most sublime of all Beings; He is the Majesty in the heights (Heb. 1: 3), dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor is able to see (1 Tim. 6: 16). In this divine Majesty the Son of God shared; He was existing originally in the form of God (Phil. 2: 6, R.V., mgn.), and in Him all the Fulness was pleased to dwell (Col. 1: 19).
It was the plan of God that there should be a lord of the earth corresponding to the Lord of the heavens, and therefore God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion (Gen. 1: 26, 27). This was toward a further design, even that the Lord of heaven should in the fulness of time assume the human form which was a copy of Himself, dwell awhile as a man on earth, take the human nature back to the heavens, and later remove thither others of the human race and associate these with Himself in His heavenly glory and dominion. Thus should the heavens and the earth be most intimately associated, and Man, in Christ and His church, have universal dominion. And thus on earth, where God has been dishonoured by rebellion, it shall be said, O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth (Psa. 8; Heb. 2; Rev. 5).
CHAPTER 2 ABRAHAM
1. There arose in the heavens
a revolt which cut across this Divine plan.
Lucifer resolved to usurp the throne of God and assume the sovereignty
of heaven and earth (Isa. 14: 12-14; Ezk. 28: 11
ff; etc.). First angels and later man
were seduced by him. Both before and
after the Flood almost the whole human race followed him, and a point was
reached where, as far as we can learn, only Melchizedek stood for the rights of
God Most High. At that time, in
pursuance of His purpose, and to recover the situation on earth, God made
overtures to Abram, a heathen idolator in
In the covenant of God with this man of faith the
feature of duality is prominent. He was
guaranteed mighty blessings upon earth but also mightier prospects in the
heavens. His faith embraced both
regions, especially the heavenly. He desired a better country, that is, a heavenly (Heb. 11: 8-16).
It will be necessary to look shortly at some details of this covenant:
for the moment it is enough to note carefully the determining fact that Abrahams
acceptance of the heavenly portion in no wise cancelled the promises of God as
to the earthly portion. Among other proofs this fact establishes
the point, that for centuries Abrahams seed possessed the
2. (1) From that time Gods covenant with Abraham has been the basis of all spiritual blessings which have reached mankind, and he and his seed [which is firstly Christ (Gal. 3: 16), and then those associated with Christ by faith] have been the channel of those benefits. A chief blessing promised is that through Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed, the whole human race shall be recovered from Satan and blessed in Christ, Gentile as well as Jew (Gal. 3: 13, 14).
(2) From that time the human race has been divided into
two classes; those who have come into true relations with God by faith, as
Abraham did, and those who have not done so.
This line cuts across the natural descendants of Abraham, as across
are not all
(3) But the line cuts still closer, and divides into two classes even those who have a real faith in God. Of those some have been content with the earthly portion promised to Abraham, whereas others, like him, have embraced the heavenly prospects as their chief good. The distinguishing sign is definite. Those who lay hold of the heavenly hope feel themselves aliens among men of the earth, friendly aliens indeed, but aliens, belonging in heart to another land, and they are content with the little that the pilgrim needs as he journeys to his own country and home.
This distinction has always displayed itself among the pious. Abraham was satisfied to live the wandering life of a tent-dweller: Lot, though revdrencing Abrahams God and being and acting as a righteous man (2 Pet. 2: 7, 8), preferred the settled, comfortable life of a great and luxurious city. He went there as a sojourner, but lost that character and became a resident, and toiled, though vainly, to make the world better (Gen. 19: 9). By contrast, Abraham could say to the men of the world, I am a stranger and sojourner with you (Gen. 23: 4), and he was ready to pay a good price for a field which was already his in title by grant from God. Isaac and Jacob were in this one with Abraham, and in the like spirit David recognized the vanity of human life on earth and could say to God, I am a stranger with thee, a sojourner (Ps. 39: 5, 6, 12; 1 Chron. 29: 15).
This vital distinction continues in this Christian age. We who have faith in God are likewise called to be sojoumers and pilgrims and to live accordingly (1 Pet. 2: 11, 12). We are exhorted to set our mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth (Col. 3: 1-4); to live for the future, and therefore to set our hope perfectly [undividedly] on the favour that is being brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1: 13). The believers addressed in Heb. 10: 34 had been so minded, for of them it could be said, ye accepted with joy the plunder of your goods, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better substance, and an abiding one (Darby). The heavenly was so substantial to their faith that they held the earthly of little account. Their danger lay in relaxing that grip on the heavenly and tightening their grasp on the earthly. Demas, once a fellow-worker of Paul (Philem. 24), had succumbed to this deadly danger and had forsaken the apostle in his extremity, having loved this present age, but Luke had stuck faithfully to the aged prisoner of Christ (2 Tim. 4: 10, 11).
And in the final adjudication and adjustment each [regenerate] believer shall be dealt with acdording to the inflexible rule announced repeatedly by the judge, according to your faith be it done unto you (Matt. 9: 29; etc.). Therefore the Intercessor prayed for one follower that his faith might not collapse utterly (Luke 22: 32); therefore the apostle rejoiced over some that their faith was growing exceedingly (2 Thes. 1: 3), and warned others that their reaching the full heavenly prospects, of being presented by the Son unto the Father in the realm of light above, was contingent if so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col. 1: 2 3).
This distinction and its consequences will illuminate some difficult aspects of our theme. It is in line with the principle of duality, even the existence, the correspondence, the difference of the heavens and the earth.
4. The Abrahamic Covenant
His covenant with Abraham was regarded by God as so fundamental, and so permanent, that He declared it ten times, six times to Abraham, and twice each to Isaac and Jacob.* [* See Gen. 12: 14; 13: 14-17; 15; 17: 1-21; 18: 9-19; 22: 16-18; 26: 24; 26: 24; 28: 13-15; 35: 9-12.] It was solemnized by sacrifice (Gen. 15) and ratified by oath (Gen. 22). It guaranteed notable privileges, of which these are prominent
1. Abrahams descendants should become a great nation, indeed nations, comparable in number to dust, sand, and stars.
2. The attitude of men to him would determine the attitude of God to them (Gen. 12: 3).
3. In him and his posterity blessing should reach all the families of the earth. This was specified five times. It has already had some, though only very partial, fulfilment, as through
(1) God-fearing natural descendants of Abraham. Joseph was a blessing to
(2) In this Christian age spiritual descendants of Abraham, Jewish and Gentile, have dispensed the blessings of the gospel among all races. The distinctive message of God in this age is not the forgiveness of sins through atoning sacrifice: this was known from Abels time onwards, though the scope of forgiveness has, indeed, been widened by the cross of Christ as contrasted with the law of Moses (Acts 13: 38, 39). The characteristic dominant in the Christian message is that it stresses the call to heavenly privileges, even more than earthly. Thus Christ early taught His disciples that great is your reward in the heavens, (Matt. 5: 10, 12); and so Peter teaches Christians that we are begotten again unto an inheritance reserved in heaven (1 Pet. 1: 3-5); and so Paul said that we should walk worthily of God Who calleth you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thes. 2: 12), and that the Lord would preserve him unto His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4: 18).
Thus the emphasis now is upon the heavenly prospects
opened to Abraham, and fully revealed in apostolic teaching, and only to be
obtained by faith, faith of the type that animated Abraham. Yet here again the embracing of the heavenly
does not forfeit the earthly. The Son of God owns the earth as well as
the heavens; He has redeemed the earth,
He will yet take possession of it (Psa. 2: 8, 9),
and His heavenly associates shall rule
it with Him: The meek shall inherit the earth
(Matt. 5: 5); all things
are yours ... the world (1 Cor. 3: 21-23).
To the apostles Christ has guaranteed that they shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of
Yet hitherto this wide-reaching promise concerning all mankind has received no adequate fulfilment, neither in the former age nor in this. At the most only a very small minority of mankind have been blessed through Jew or Christian; the vast majority have always remained uninfluenced by Moses or Christ. As families, races, or nations humanity has continued as in Abrahams time, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart (Eph. 4: 18). When, therefore, is this promise to be fulfilled, and how?
4. The covenant guaranteed to Abraham everlasting possession of the
(2) Gen. 12: 7: And Jehovah appeared unto Abraham, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land.
(3) Gen. 13: 14, 15:
And Jehovah said unto Abraham, after that
(4) Gen. 13: 17 : Arise, walk through the land ... for unto thee will I give it.
(5) Gen. 15: 7: I am Jehovah that brought thee out of
(6) Gen. 15: 18-21:
In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying,
Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river [brook, Wady el Arish] of
(7) Gen. 17: 7, 8
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee
throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed
after thee, the land of thy sojournings,
Thus both the covenant and the possession of the land are guaranteed as everlasting.
(8) Gen. 26 : 2, 3. To Isaac God said Go
not down into
(9) Gen. 28: 13. To Jacob God said : I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed and this He repeated, saying,
(10) Gen. 35: 12: and the land which I gave unto Abraham and Isaac to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
This oft reiterated guarantee by God that that land belongs to Abraham and his descendants for ever is emphatic and unambiguous. It admits of only one meaning, and when some tell us that it will never again be fulfilled we reply, you have made void the word of God on account of your tradition (Matt. 15: 6).
5. The Covenant is Conditional
1. Some have created and
pressed a sharp contrast between the covenant of God with Abraham and that made
2. As regards Abrahams natural seed, their sharing in the covenant individually was dependent upon each male being circumcized. If this was not done he lost all benefit under the covenant (Gen. 17: 14).
3. The actual situation is
shown distinctly in Gods soliloquy before He destroyed
Thus Gods covenant followed His foreknowledge (comp. Rom. 8: 29, 30) that Abraham would fulfil the moral conditions necessary for serving the moral ends God had in view.
4. Again, after the sacrifice of Isaac God said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing ... that in blessing 1 will bless thee, etc. (Gen. 22: 16, 17).
5. This element of the transaction between God and Abraham was made clear beyond cavil when God renewed the covenant to Isaac and said: I will establish the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father ... because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws (Gen. 26: 2-5).
It is evident that God made to Abraham a much fuller
communication of His commandments, statutes, and laws than the history
records. At that time Hammurabi, the
chief ruler of
The full import of this conditional element will appear as we proceed.
6. The Covenant and the Land
The covenant with Abraham being basic the further dealings of God rest upon it and confirm it.
1. Another salient feature of
the covenant, as regards its earthly side, was that the blessings guaranteed were to be fulfilled in the land described in
the covenant. Thus God told Abraham
that his seed should be oppressed in a land that is
not theirs. ... And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again (Gen.
15: 13-16). And again God said to
Jacob, fear not to go down into
2. When the time had arrived for this return to Canaan God said unto Moses, I am come down to ... bring them up out of that land [Egypt] unto a good land and then the land was defined by mentioning the races then occupying it, as it had been before defined to Abraham (Ex. 3: 7, 8, 16, 17; Gen. 15: 19, 20).
Covenant Renewed to
After the people had left Egypt and were on the resurrection side of the Red Sea, committed to a walk with God by faith, His word to them was, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Ex. 19: 3-6).
It is to be noted that (1) this has to do with Israels place as a nation, (2) on [this] earth, (3) in contradistinction to other nations and in superior relationship to God, and (4) the royal priesthood was to be their dignity as a kingdom; but (5) these privileges were declared to be conditional upon obedience and faithfulness to their side of Gods covenant. (6) This was before the covenant enacted at Sinai and therefore not subordinate to or co-ordinate with it. It was a confirmation to them as a nation of the covenant with their father Abrabam and like it was expressly conditional.
With accompaniments of terrifying splendour God promulgated
His holy law for human life. That law
was holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7: 12),
and capable of assuring life to the obedient (Lev.
Yet all these provisions of grace proved
unavailing. The law was weak through the
flesh and could not serve its purpose. They that are in the flesh are not able
to please God, and with the vast majority of Israel God was not well pleased,
which was shown by their death in the wilderness (
Did this complete national breakdown and the abrogation of the covenant make void the purposes of God and His guarantees to Abraham that the land should belong in perpetuity to him and his seed and that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed? or is its effect only a postponement of fulfilment? Let the Old Testament answer.
1. Deut 32. After forty years of failure and perversity Moses recited the song that God Himself had indited (Deut. 31: 19). It was to be Gods permanent witness against their then present and their future obstinate rebellion. It recounted their sorry past and warned of judgment to come yet concluded by re-affirming the Abrahamic covenant, saying, Rejoice, O ye nations with his people: For he will avenge the blood of his servants, And will render vengeance to his adversaries, And will make expiation for his land, for his people (Deut. 32: 43). This prospect of the Gentile peoples being blessed continued to animate instructed Israelites. David expressed it (Psa. 18: 49), so did a later psalmist (117: 1). In an extended prophecy most clearly pointing to the days of Messiah, Isaiah, by the Spirit of God, re-affirmed it (Isa. 11: 10, and see also chs. 55 and 56: 1-8).
The cogent arguments of Paul, in Romans, will be
examined in their place. We notice now
that the words of Moses include matters which have no fulfilment in this gospel
age and are even contrary to its spirit, namely, vengeance upon Gods
adversaries for having shed the blood of His servants; and we observe that he
states distinctly that the land, Gods land, that is Canaan, shall come again into favour,
together with Gods people [Israel]. In this
gospel age no particular land is in question nor is Gods land. As the words then meant they could have no
other sense to Moses and his hearers than Canaan and
Did this general declension and religious break-up disturb the purposes of God? Not at all. As soon as David had brought the ark to Jerusalem, and had restored in measure the national worship, his prophetic song of thanksgiving (in 1 Chron. 16) returned at once to celebrate the covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, declaring it to be an everlasting covenant commanded to a thousand generations (vv. 15-17), and quoting the Divine promise as to the land of Canaan. Looking to the promise that all the families of the earth shall be blessed the singer calls upon all the peoples to worship Jehovah, and speaks of an era when Jehovah reigns [in the land] and judges, the world is established immovably, and concludes with a prayer that Israel shall be gathered together and delivered from the nations (vv. 28-36). These last conditions have never yet obtained. Are they yet to do so? or is this inspired prayer and prophecy to fail of fulfilment?
3. 1 Chron. 17. The answer of God to that prayer is given in the next chapter. David had planned to erect a grand temple, to take the place of the tabernacle. God approved the purpose but said that a son of David should carry it out. But to David He said that He would build him a house, that is, a family line, and make him great. As for Davids people, this significant promise was added: And I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the first ... (vv. 9, 10).
These features are renewed from the Abrahamic
It is obvious that neither David, nor Solomon, nor their kingdom continued for ever. Yet God calls it My kingdom. Is this promise to be fulfilled or not?
10. Psalms and Prophets
4. Psa. 89. The covenant was confirmed by the oath of God and its terms were public property. Ethan the Ezrahite recited them in his psalm (vv. 19-37), and emphasized (1) the supremacy promised to David over all kings; (2) the certainty and everlastingness of the covenant; (3) the chastisements for failure and disobedience; (4) but My covenant will I not break. Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by My holiness; I will not lie unto David; his seed shall endure for ever, And his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, And as the faithful witness in the sky (i.e., the rainbow) (v. 34-37).
Yet in spite of these solemn unequivocal
declarations by Jehovah some ask us
to believe that He has altered the thing that has gone out of His mouth, and that
the notion of the throne of David being established for ever is now wholly
ruled out, and that
19. But this is the exact reverse
of how Isaiah was enlightened by the Spirit of Christ and inspired to describe
the future of
The future of
In that day shall
It is untenable and fanciful to refer these particulars to the Great
Pyramid. That is neither an altar nor a
pillar, nor is it at the border of
It is certain that these three peoples never yet
have had such a triple alliance and been jointly a blessing at the world,s
centre. Never yet has
But this will involve similar mangling of the many other prophecies concerning the other lands of the Middle East, for they are all associated with these three both geographically, politically, and in the Divine forecasts of the End Days.
would turn the literal
To the speakers, hearers, and readers of the
prophecies the names used had definite, well-known significance.
We will consider further statements of God through Isaiah.
51 foretells a time when Jehovah hath comforted
What people is meant is shown in the continuation of
the prophecy in ch. 52: 4: My people went down at first into
7. In ch. 60
it is said to
8. The Royal Priesthood. Isa. 60 further shows that
9. Isa. 61. 4. It is said of
65. The subject of
Those who would make this mean the church and heaven must be bold and assert that wolves and lions and serpents are found in heaven. But if they say that these are figures of Satan and his angels, the answer is simple and conclusive, even that when the era of this prophecy comes, and the heavenly seed of Abraham are removed to that heavenly realm, Satan and his angels will have been previously expelled from heaven, and the prophecy cannot apply. Rev. 12 : 7 ff.
It must be observed that in that Millennial period the fact of the original duality continues, both the heavens and the earth being mentioned as gloriously renewed. This had been before intimated by Isaiah at 24: 21: And it shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah shall punish the host of the height, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
11. Jeremiah confirms Isaiah.
It is immediately added that Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that the city shall be
built to Jehovah from the
The tower of Hananel, the corner gate, the hill
Gareb, Goah, the valley of dead bodies and ashes, the brook Kidron, the horse
gate, all these seven were well-known points in the literal Jerusalem and its
suburbs, and can be so again. Will our brethren tell us equally simply
what are the features of the heavenly Jerusalem to which these terms apply
after a spiritual manner, and especially what corresponds in that upper world
to the valley of dead bodies and ashes?
But as this cannot be done, and if in addition there is to be no literal
fulfilment at the earthly
12. Jeremiah 32 and 33. The prophet was in prison in
Thus the covenant with David is reaffirmed, and the solemn assurance is added that God can no more break that covenant than man can break the ordinahees of day and night and heaven and earth (vv. 20-26). Thus is it certain beyond doubt that Davids seed shall be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (verse 26). This cannot be a reference to Christ as head of the church because it speaks of rulers, and it specifies the ruled by their connexion with the three patriarchs. Christians are spiritual children of Abraham, but are not the seed of Isaac and Jacob.
his predecessor Isaiah and his contemporary Jeremiah. In ch. 16
Here is a contrast between an earlier covenant and a
later. This can have no application to
14. In ch.
36, of Ezekiel, God addresses the mountains of
(1) For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land. But some say, This no longer means what it seems to mean, and did at first mean; your own land now means heaven.
(2) And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean, which refers back to the cleansing of the leper (Lev. 14) and the ashes of the heifer (Num. 19), which typified how, by means of living water, blood or ashes, both visible tokens of atoning death, were applied to the defiled for his public cleansing.
(3) A new heart also will I give you, and (4) a new spirit will I put within you, and (5) I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and (6) I will give you a heart of flesh. And (7) I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.
And now follows immediately a further reference to
their land. They being thus cleansed and
renewed, God says: And ye shall dwell in the land that
I gave unto your fathers, to which are added rich promises as regards
corn and fruits, and that the cities shall be inhabited and the waste places
rebuilt, so that travellers shall say, This land that
was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and this is all
distinctly to apply to the earthly land, for it is added that the nations that are left round about you shall know that I
Jehovah have built the ruined places.
There will be no rebuilding of
waste cities in the heavens, nor nations round about to watch the
15. Ch. 37 of Ezekiel follows with a picture to illuminate what has just been promised. A valley is full of dry bones: these are revitalized, and are the whole house of Israel, of whom God says, I will cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. ... And I will put my spirit in you, and I will place you in your own land (vv. 11-14).
The whole programme is thus stated in a straightforward manner and is simple to understand. And that the literal fulfilment is meant is now shown by a prophecy that the division of the nation into southern and northern kingdoms shall cease. It existed in Ezekiels day, but he was to take two sticks, and write upon one the name of Judah and the children of Israel his companions, and on the other the name of Ephraim and all the house of Israel his companions; then he was to join them to-gether into one stick, to teach that the two kingdoms should be again one in the hand of God. It were but trifling to suggest that this can have any application to the heavenly church.
And this one nation shall be in the land, upon the mountains of
40-48. The City and Sanctuary. The renewal of the nation having been
thus set forth, chs. 38 and 39 describe the final invasion of
Sundry details show that a literal fulfilment of the vision is intended.
(1) 43: 7. He said unto me, Son of man, this is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, that is, this house is to be the renewal, continuation, and perfecting of the former dwelling place of God on that same spot.
(2) 43: 10, 11. Thou, son of man, show the house to the house of
(3) 43: 12. This is the law of the house: upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. The ceremonial sanctity of a literal house on a literal mountain is intended because a boundary limit is defined.
(4) The very name of the family of priests that are to officiate is given four times, namely, Zadok, a family well-known among the sons of Aaron (chs. 40: 46; 43: 19; 44: 15; 48: 11; 1 Chron. 6: 8). And the reason for that family resuming office is that they were faithful to Jehovah when other priests succumbed in the apostasy (44: 15).
(5) 47: 1-12. The river that flows from the sanctuary is a reality, for the stretch of it where fishermen shall fish is defined by the names of two places, En-gedi and En-eglaim (the former being well-known in the history of Israel), and the region into which the river shall run is given its regular name of the Arabah. Hence the sanctuary from which the river issues must be literal.
(6) 47: 13-23. The boundaries of the land are defined and
some fourteen towns or districts are mentioned by name, commencing from the
(7) 48: 1-7; 23-29. The names of the tribes that are to inherit
are mentioned, the relative location for each is specified, it being laid down
that This is the land which ye shall divide by lot
unto the tribes of
(8) 45: 1-8; 48: 8-22. The portion of the land to be dedicated unto
Jehovah, in which the sanctuary is to stand, is specified as to its
measurements, its divisions, and its relation to the land of the tribe of
No difficulty exists in taking literally all this
mass of detail. It almost all existed as
part of the life of
Whether the reinstituting of sacrifices would be contrary to Hebrews will be examined when we reach that epistle in these studies. At present some relative considerations are stated.
prospect depicted by the vision has never had any sort of fulfilment, and
therefore, if it is to be fulfilled, it must be Millennial, especially as God
is to dwell in this temple in glory (ch. 43). Conversely, if the vision is never to be
realized, why was it given? God must
have known that it would be idle to give it.
But in the fact He foreknew that
(b) If the resumption of sacrifices will be contrary to the teaching of Hebrews, why did God give an elaborate forecast of what He knew would be contrary to His ways in salvation? The position forced by the alleged contradiction comes pretty near to a challenge of the Divine inspiration of either Ezekiel or the Hebrews.
(c) The prophecy of the renewal of the temple at
(1) Psalms 66, 67, 68
are millennial. They look onward to a
time when all the earth shall praise and worship the God of Israel
(66: 1, 4).
(2) Psa. 96 is millennial. Sing unto Jehovah all the earth. The nations and all the peoples, the kindreds of the peoples, are to hear and worship. Say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth; the world also is established that it cannot be moved. Heaven and earth are to rejoice because He shall judge the peoples with equity, for which purpose He cometh [or, is come]; for He cometh to judge the earth (10-13).
In the midst of this exultation there sounds the
call, Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. ...
Bring an offering, and come into his courts (6-8). This cannot be a forecast of heaven or of the
(3) Isa. 19: 21. This millennial prophecy (as we have already shown it to be) refers to Egyptians worshipping Jehovah with sacrifice and oblation.
(4) Isa. 27: 13. This prophecy points to a time when Jehovah cometh forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for
their iniquity (26: 21). In that
(5) Isa. 66. Verse 10
says Rejoice ye with
The peoples shall then bring all your brethren out
of all the nations for an offering unto Jehovah, and of
them also will I take for priests, for Levites, saith
Jehovah. For as the new heavens and the
new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, so shall your seed and
your name remain (20-22). The permanent status of
This new earth is millennial. There is to be a centre of worship, and all
mankind will resort there; the sabbath is to be observed, as also monthly
festivals; and priests and Levites officiate.
That the scene is on earth at
(6) Jer. 33: 17, 18. As noted above this prophecy concerns the time
of Messiah as the Branch of righteousness (15), and
(7) Ezek. 37: 26, 27. Therefore when God gave to Ezekiel the vision
of the city and sanctuary He was not displaying something unknown, new, or
exceptional, but was confirming and elaborating what He had declared through
earlier inspired psalmists and prophets.
Indeed, the vision was but the full exhibition of what He had before
said to Ezekiel. I will make a covenant of peace with
them ... and will set my
sanctuary in the midst of
tabernacle also shall be with them. ... And the nations shall know that I am
Jehovah that sanctify
Thus (1) that sanctuary is designed as a means of instruction to the heathen nations of the time, and (2) it is to exist for evermore.
(8) Dan. 8 1-13.
. This is the prophecy which our Lord (Matt. 24 :
15) bids us to understand concerning the abomination of desolation which
shall stand in the holy place, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet. The angel said that the vision belongeth to
the appointed time of the end (19), and will be fulfilled in the latter time of Gentile authority, when the transgressors are come to the full (23). In
that time the little horn, (Antichrist, the Beast of Rev.
13) shall take away from the Prince of the host the continual burnt offering, and the place of his sanctuary was cast
down. And the host was given over to it,
together with the continual burnt offering, through transgression ... the
transgression that maketh desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the host to
be trodden under foot. This is indeed not the temple foretold by
Ezekiel, but one to be erected by
The prophets who followed Ezekiel were Divinely instructed to the same effect.
(9) Haggai 2: 6-9. For thus saith Jehovah. of hosts: yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desirable things of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. The silver is mine and the gold is mine, saith Jehovah of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith Jehovah of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts.
This shaking of heaven and earth was future when Heb. 12: 26-28 was written, and is still
future. So therefore is the house of God
(10) Zechariah 6 : 12-15. The last of the earliest series of glowing
millennial visions given to this prophet said, Thus
speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch.
(This title of Messiah is found at Isa. 4: 2 Jer.
23: 5; 33: 15, and Zech. 3: 8.) The prophecy continues He shall grow up out of his
place [comp. Isa. 53: 2: For he - the arm of Jehovah - grew
up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of dry ground], and he shall build the temple of Jehovah, even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne.
... And they
that are far off shall come and build in the
Here is the great Priest-King both ruling and leading worship, sitting upon a throne and building a temple. The two are so interlocked with the one Person that if the temple is not to be actual neither can the throne be; Messiah is, then, to be neither King nor Priest, as far as the earth, with Israel and the nations, is concerned, and the feature of duality basic in the plans and ways of God is annulled. Christ may be King of heaven, but will not be King of Israel or the earth. But this would be in flat and irreconcilable contradiction of what was further revealed to Zechariah.
(2) Zechariah 14: 16-21. This prophecy, beginning with ch. 12, has to do with the day when all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together
The destruction of the nations gatherd against
Jerusalem is then described, and it shall come to pass
that every one that is left of all the
nations which came against Jerusalem shall
go up from year to year to worship the king, Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the
feast of tabernacles (14-16). Judgments are next denounced against any who
do not attend this annual festival, the feast of
tabernacles being again twice specified; and the prophecy concludes by
saying that the pots in Jehovahs house shall be like
[that is, equally as sacred as] the bowls before the
altar. Yea, every pot in
All this sets forth, as realities to be expected, the coming of the Lord to the earth, Jerusalem as His city, His throne to be there, that He will build the house of God as the centre of worship for the world, and that there is to be a resumption of festivals and sacrifices.
(12) Malachi. The final prophet of the Old Testament speaks
emphatically to the same effect. The Lord shall
come suddenly to his
temple ... He
shall purify the sons of Levi ... and they
shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness. Then
shall the offering of
prophets speak with one voice to the effect that
This whole body of weighty prediction is the culmination of the early statements of God, made twice, through Micah (4: 1-4) and Isaiah (2: 2, 3):
(13) Micah 4: 1-4: But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the Lords house, shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and (all‑Isa.) peoples shall flow into it. And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, 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 out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge between many peoples, and shall reprove strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.
Without the literal fulfilment of this scripture all prophecy is rendered chaotic and unintelligible: with it as a clue all is simple and consistent. Without it there is no light as to the future of the nations, of Israel, of the earth; but by its means Divine light is thrown upon the plans of God and they are seen to be consistent with the past and worthy of Himself.
The New Testament is wholly harmonious with the Old, as will be now shown.
11. The Gospels
18. The Annunciation. The holy angels have been instructed by God to expect a literal fulfilment of the promises concerning Messiah and Israel, as said Gabriel to Mary regarding Jesus: He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and 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).
David is promised no throne to reign over the
choice of the name Jacob forbids application
to the church. The name
(c) This kingdom of the Messiah over the house of Jacob is to endure for ever, which is not at all the same idea as that it will lapse and be merged into another, a heavenly condition, very different to itself in state and place. The everlasting duration of his kingdom was guaranteed to David, and was confirmed to Daniel (Dan. 2: 44; 7 : 14, 27), in which prophecies it is stated specifically that this kingdom is to be on the [this present] earth the stone became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth; the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High (Dan. 2: 35; 7: 27).
(2) The godly expected such a fulfilment. Mary said: He hath
given help to
(3) It was thus with Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1: 67-79). Filled with the Holy Spirit he declared that the horn of salvation would come in the house of David, and would be through remembrance by God of the oath which he sware unto Abraham our father.
(4) Simeon, Divinely taught, knew that in Jesus had
come Thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before
the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory
of thy people
(5) Who taught the Magi from the East that Jesus was born king of the Jews? (Matt. 2: 2). And why were they so taught if in fact there is to be no Jewish kingdom?
(6) (a) In The Gospel of the Kingdom (now out of print) I declared my full agreement with those who repudiate the notion that John the Baptist and Jesus offered to Israel that the kingdom would at that time be set up in glory if the people would receive Jesus as the Messiah. As to John, he most distinctly declared that Jesus was the lamb of God who should bear away the sin of the world, implying that therefore He must die (John 1: 29, 35). As to Jesus, in the very first pronouncement by Him that is recorded He told Nicodemus that the Son of man must be lifted up (John 3: 14, 15). Neither had the impossible idea that Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22 need not be fulfilled. All the prophets had said that Messiah must suffer before He could enter into His glory (Luke 24: 25-27; 1 Pet. 1: 10, 11).
Many have insisted that the years described in the
Gospels belonged to the Old Dispensation and that therefore the teaching of
Christ was Jewish in character and outlook,
being addressed to His hearers as still on that ground. This ignores His own explicit statement that
The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the good news of the
What John and Jesus announced was not that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (which wrong translation has furthered a wrong idea), but that the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near, that is, in the sense in which a kingdom is embodied and exhibited in its King, and has drawn near to a land when its king visits there (Matt. 12: 28).
(b) But from the early days of His ministry the Lord sought to draw the minds and hearts of His hearers towards the heavenly prospects, which Abraham had embraced and which were now even more important, seeing that the earthly prospects would fall into abeyance when He Himself should be rejected and driven from the earth. After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father who are in the heavens ... Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth but lay up for yourselves treasures in the heavens. ... Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness sake [the Old Testament saints]; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you and persecute you ... for great is your reward in the heavens (Matt. 6: 9, 19, 20; 5: 10-12). This line of teaching the Lord continued until just at the end of His course He said to the faithful and persevering of His disciples, I go to prepare a place for you [in My Fathers house] ... and I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am ye may be also, and then to His Father He said, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory (John14: 1-3; 17: 24).
(c) Thus did the Lord inaugurate the age of the gathering of His then
scattered sheep and church, which work the apostles continued and which is
still in progress. But did this with
Christ and the apostles He taught imply that
If this had been the purport of Christs teaching
during three and a half years it seems remarkable that those who listened to
Him the longest and the most attentively completely failed to gain even an
inkling of it, for had they done so they never would have asked, after His
resurrection, the question, Lord, dost
thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? Moreover, if the Lord had wished to disabuse
their minds of the idea as being erroneous, surely this was the occasion to have
made clear to them that the kingdom never would be restored to
(7) It has been noted above that the closing
statement of Old Testament prophecy was a call to Israel to remember the law of
Moses and a promise that Elijah the prophet should come before the great day of
the Lord, and should turn the hearts of the fathers and children, lest a curse
should smite the earth (or the land, i.e. of
(8) When Peter asked what they should have who had
left all to follow Christ, the Lord might have used this as an opportunity to
turn away their minds from earthly prospects, as not to be available, and have
repeated His instruction that the reward is in heaven. This He did not do, but showed that the earthly will exist as well as the
heavenly, In the regeneration [when all
things shall be born anew], when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Thus does the earthly prospect of Christ and His people abide, not being swallowed up in the heavenly.
(9) At the entry into
(10) During the discussions of these days the Lord spoke the parable of the wicked husbandmen (Matt. 21: 33-46), and said: Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
1. Considered strictly this does not touch the
question of a possible future for
2. But the depriving of the leaders of their position did in fact involve that the nation would be set aside, and the church would be entrusted with the task of caring for Gods affairs and rendering to Him His expected portion from the earth. Doubtless the church is that nation to whom Christ referred (comp. 1 Pet. 2: 9).
3. It has been said that our Lords words in this
place do not lend any support to the view that the setting aside of
Christ was not at that time imparting instruction as to the full plans of God for the future, but confined His remarks to the point in hand, the warning of the official leaders of the judgment that would overtake them.
(2) The Olivet Prophecy (Matt. 24 and 25). Having thus abandoned the temple and nation
the Lord at once instructed His followers as to the future, answering their
inquiry as to His coming and the heading up of the age. It is to be noted to what event and what
point their minds had gone forward. In a
few sentences the Lord sketched the period which would end with the universal
preaching of the gospel (24: 14). If that had been the whole message and
outlook, if the merging into the church of the elect remnant of
Daniels prophecy as to the abomination of desolation standing in the holy
place, which has nothing to do with the heavenly prospects but much to do with
(b) He pictured Himself as coming visibly to the earth, to the alarm of the tribes of the earth (verse 30).
(c) He described the moral condition of mankind at that period, as similar to the days of Noah (vv. 37‑39).
(d) He confirmed various prophecies by saying that the Son of man shall come in his glory (Dan. 7: 13, 14), and all the angels with Him (Joe13: 11-17), then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory (Zech. 6: 13), and before Him shall be gathered all the nations for judgment (Joel 3: 11-13). Matt. 25: 31, 32.
All this implies that the distinctions between Israel
and the nations will continue down to this session of judgment at Jerusalem
when the Lord has returned to the earth; and this will be after the church shall have been
completed and removed from
the earth at the first outshining of the parousia of Christ (Matt. 24: 31; 1 Thes. 4: 13 - 5: 11). Thus the spared of
The passages in the other Gospels parallel to those quoted from Matthew are to the same effect and do not need detail mention.
1. The bearing on our subject of the question of the
disciples Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom
2. Acts 15: 12-18. In due course an occasion came which enabled
a leader to intimate clearly how they understood the work in which they were
engaged in relation to the whole programme of God. An important gathering was held of the
apostles, the elders of the church at
Symeon hath rehearsed how first God did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After these things I will return, and I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.
The speaker indicated four successive stages of the plans and works of God.
(1) The present stage : God is visiting the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. This is the gathering out of the church.
(2) The next event. After these things - that is, as the immediately preceding context requires, after the taking out of that people for Gods name I will return: the personal return of the Lord prophesied and promised.
(3) The rebuilding of the house of David. The church of this age is not the house of David. According to James the return of the Lord and the setting up of the house of David are events to take place after the outgathering of the people for Gods name. Not the most violent forcing could make James mean that the outgathering and the rebuilding are one and the same. The one precedes, the other follows; and the Return comes between, being at once the completion of the one and the commencement of the other.
(4) The Residue of Men. This setting up of the ruins of the house
of David, this re-instating of the Davidic throne over the house of
The gathering of the church, the return of Christ,
the re-establishing of Israel, the conversion to God of the rest of mankind - these
are the four stages of the Divine programme contemplated by James and accepted nemine
contradicente by the rest
present. James says that this is the
teaching of the prophets, and we trust these pages have shown that this is
indeed what the prophets teach as regards
It is surely clear that James had no such notion as
that the prophetic statements had now changed their meaning to something quite
other than they say. If James had held
the view that David,
(1) Ch. 2: 6-16, shows that in the final judgment day Jew and Gentile will be judged by the same test, the attitude taken to what light as to the will of God each had received.
(2) Ch, 2 . 17-29 teaches that outward position by circumcision is not enough: the vital matter is that of the state of the heart shown by obedience to the will of God, in which respect a Gentile may be superior to a Jew.
(3) Ch. 3 : 1, 2. Nevertheless the Jew had real advantage and privilege beyond the Gentile in being entrusted with the oracles of God.
(7) Ch. 4 shows that the faith which saves is such a faith as that of Abraham, who is the father of all the justified.
Having thus laid down the general moral situation as between Jew and Gentile, in
(8) Chs. 9-11 Paul enlarges upon their particular and dispensational relationships. He lifts into relief
1. in 9: 1-5 the
splendid superior privileges of
2. 9: 6-13, There
is a Divine sovereignty behind human affairs, directing and determining events,
and displaying the mercy and the wrath of God.
He takes up Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob not Esau; and deals with Pharaoh
as He thinks right. Similarly, as He
thinks fit, He treats
3. But in no degree is there to be imputed to the
Divine sovereignty an element of caprice, arbitrariness, or fatalism. God is not mere will but is also moral, and He acts on moral
grounds, He called Abraham knowing that he would train his family to
further the will of God. He foreknew
that Jacob would value privileges which Esau would despise. He did not harden Pharaoh till Pharaoh had
several times hardened his own heart till it was beyond change, as the history
takes pains to show.
Therefore the question as to the future which now arises is, Will Israel corporately ever return unto the Lord with repentance and faith, or will there never be any but individuals from among them who thus seek God?
But is the salvation of a remnant, a small minority,
at this present time remnant (verse 5)
a certain event and then - all
now, a hardening in part, the unhardened remnant being saved and incorporated into the church;
then all (that is, all then living) being grafted in to their own olive tree.
The event to which the until reaches is that the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, that is, until that people for Gods name, of which James spoke, has been taken out from all nations; and then shall all Israel be saved. But this shows that after the completion of the church a general restoration of Israel will follow, that is, a restoration of that other and later very small remnant (Isa. 1: 8, 9) who will be all that will survive the judgments at the end of this age.
As to the hardening in part Paul (verse 8) refers to Isaiahs prophecy. God told the prophet (ch. 6) that
Thus the prophet and the apostle agree that the
This maintains the original principle of
duality. In that Millennial era Abraham
will have a dual seed, the church in the heavenly places,
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice (Ps. 96: 10, 11).
The Corinthian epistles are limited to matters
connected with the
2. Galatians, ch. 6: 15, 16
For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and upon the Israel of God
These verses are used, but without warrant, to teach
that the term
What he teaches is that they who are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham (3: 7). These include Gentiles as well as Jews who alike have faith in Christ (3: 8-14), they are all blessed with the faithful Abraham.; therefore, if ye are of Christ, then are ye Abrahams seed, heirs according to promise (3: 29).
He then shows (ch. 4)
that these sons of promise are not in bondage to Sinai, nor citizens of the
Clinching the argument in the closing paragraph before us, Paul extends it beyond Sinai to the prior rite of circumcision; for essential as this ordinance was to the natural seed of Abraham. participating in the privileges of the covenant made with him, it could be no necessity beyond that natural seed, for Gentiles are neither born in his house nor bought with his money (Gen. 17: 9-14). In any case an external rite can be no necessary condition for enjoying spiritual and heavenly prospects, since these are apprehended by the spirit, not by bodily senses. Therefore in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of consequence; what matters is faith working through love (5: 6), for to be in Christ Jesus is to be associated with Him by faith in the place where He now is, where obviously circumcision does not count.
Such as are in the good of this truth glory only in that cross which delivers from the bondage of earth and introduces the soul into that new creation where Christ is; And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God, that is, the Israel of God are those who walk by this rule, even as Isaac did in his day and the heavenly-minded sons of Abraham have ever done.
But by no sound reason does this heavenly
Moreover, when the heavenly portion shall have been removed to their sphere, and the earthly people shall have repented and been regenerated and restored to their sphere (Canaan), they too will walk by this rule; they will mourn over the former rejection of their Messiah (Zech. 12: 10), they will glory in Him and His cross and will have no further confidence in the flesh, and being thus sharers in that new creation they likewise win be of the Israel of God, they shall find mercy and peace shall be upon them.
Thus the title Israel of God is not exclusive, but inclusive; the new creation includes all born of God in every age, both those in heaven and those on earth.
3. Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians need not detain us, for it is agreed that in this present age Jew and Gentile alike lose before God their characteristic standings as of earth, and are joined in the new and heavenly man where the distinctions of earth cannot obtain.
The succeeding epistles as far as Philemon do not
bear upon the subject of the future status of
4. Hebrews. Those brethren who deny to
(1) The main position of the Writer is based on the fact that Jesus is the Man in heaven, crowned there with glory and honour (2: 9); and then that God is conducting many others of His sons to join His Son in the glory (2: 10). Therefore these sons are addressed specifically as partakers of a heavenly calling (3: 1). His arguments and appeals are addressed to them in this character as a heavenly people. They had exercised the same faith as Abraham by embracing the heavenly prospects set before him, and like him they had relaxed their hold on even legitimate earthly possessions (10: 32-35). Their peril lay in relaxing that grip on the heavenly and renewing their attachment to the earthly.
(2) For denizens of heaven such arrangements as an earthly sanctuary and sacrifices and ceremonies are of course both needless and harmful, being but shadows of the realities of the heavenly. It were wrong and hurtful to surrender the substance for the shadow. The latter was in itself ineffective: the law made nothing perfect, for the blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin (7: 19; 9: 9; 10: 1, 4), whereas by one offering Christ hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (10: 14). Let them not therefore forgo the better heavenly privileges to return to the earthly, even though these had been good.
(3) The Annulled Covenant. But it is urged now that the whole
covenant under which the tabernacle, with its priesthood and sacrifices, was
established has been denounced by God and that consequently no re-establishment
thereof such as was foretold by Ezekiel can possibly take place. And that as the setting up of that temple
cannot be taken literally, neither can the city in which it is shown be
literal, nor the land and its tribal divisions.
If this is correct then Hebrews is evidently in a direct, head-on conflict with the whole mass of the preceding Scriptures, the plain consensus of which, as has been here shown, is to precisely the opposite effect.
How shall this conflict, if real, be reconciled? It cannot be. But in fact it is not real.
(4) What Covenant has been cancelled
? The answer is crucial and plain. It is the covenant made at Sinai. God describes it distinctly as the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I
took them by the hand to lead them out of the
[* The Sinaitic covenant was not strictly the first God had made with men, for those with Noah and Abraham preceded it; but it is the first which God made with Israel as a people. The new covenant is the second viewed in relation to that other, though it is the fourth reckoning from that with Noah.]
(5) It further follows that only those features lapsed which belonged to the Sinaitic covenant alone, whereas any features in it which had been repeated from the earlier covenants did not lapse. Among these features of the Abrahamic covenant these are prominent :
1. The heavenly prospects offered to faith.
2. The earfhly guarantees to Abraharn and his seed of national continuance, and pre-eminence.
The everlasting possession of the land of promise -
4. The confirmation of the covenant by animal sacrifices and the regular offering of such sacrifices in worship, as when the patriarchs built altars and sacrificed animals on them, as, indeed, Abel and Noah had done before the patriarchs.
It will not be contended that item 1, the heavenly
calling, has ceased because the covenant at Sinai has lapsed, nor is there
warrant for regarding the other pre-Sinaitic features as annulled. Therefore, whatever changes that annulment
involved does not alter the permanence and pre-eminence of the national seed of
Abraham, or their proprietorship of
The questions therefore are: Can patterns and pictures be again beneficial? and has God said they shall be employed?
(6) It is fully admitted, indeed strongly asserted, that for such believers as are contemplated in Hebrews, persons who have enjoyed the heavenly benefits, no return to shadows can be helpful but only, and necessarily, hurtful. And it is to be regarded as logical that such as entertain the notion that the gospel now preached is to convert all mankind, and bring the human race entire into the church of God and to heaven, can find no room in their scheme for Israel and the nations on earth. But this is in flat contradiction of the Word of God as to the character of this age and its end.
(7) Of the End of this Age, the Lord
foretold that iniquity will be multiplied and the love of the many (i.e., the
majority) who had loved Him shall wax cold (Matt. 24: 12).
The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in later
times some shall apostatize from the
faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4: 1; 2 Thess. 2: 3). There shall be bitter and universal hatred of
the followers of Christ and the slaughter of many (Luke21:
16, 17; Rev. 17: 6; 12: 13-17; 13: 7, 15), as well as a determined
effort to exterminate
The effect will be a revival of the spiritual and
moral conditions obtaining when God brought
Seeing, therefore, that in a period of spiritual ignorance and infancy God saw good to teach men by external types and ordinances, and so to enlighten them as to the Saviour Who was to come, it does not appear difficult to believe that at that coming period of ignorance and infancy He will teach men again by external ordinances which will be pictures of the past, of the Saviour Who had already been and died. And with that once crucified and now glorified Redeemer present among them, with the weals of His wounds visible to their eyes (Matt. 26: 64; Rev. 1: 7) there will be no danger of men regarding the sacrifices as anything more than memorials of His sacrifice,which alone makes propitiation for sins.
(8) The Ten Commandments. The situation here examined is well exhibited in the matter of the Ten Commandments. These laws were not first imposed at Sinai. From Adams creation it had been the duty of man to worship God only and to revere His name. Indeed, this had before been the duty of the angels from their creation. It never had been nor could be right for man to commit adultery, to steal, or to covet.
But the addition made at Sinai, and characteristic
of that covenant, was that justification before God became dependent upon the keeping of
the law. For
Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby (
With the annulment of the Sinaitic covenant, relationship with God reverted to the ground upon which Abraham had been accounted righteous, and Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth, to each that has an Abrahamic faith in the promise of God (Rom. 10: 4; 4: 19-25). Yet Christ is not the end of the law absolutely, but only for the one purpose of the sinner being reckoned righteous; for other purposes the ten commandments retain their pre-Sinaitic claim. Thus in several practical matters of the Christian life Paul, the decided apostle of grace, appeals to the law for guidance (1 Cor. 14: 34, as also saith the law; 1 Cor. 9: 8, saith not also the law the same?; etc.). Thus while under Sinai the law was the ground of life (and therefore life was unattainable because man could not keep the law; Rom. 8: 3 ; Gal. 3: 10), before Sinai, and since its covenant lapsed, the moral law is the guide of life, and its commands are as obligatory as ever.
The law of the sabbath is an illustration. It was pre-Sinaitic, having been imposed on
man at his creation, and it was observed in
These details lapsed with the covenant in which they were enacted, but the law of the sabbath did not lapse, even though in this present age it is not formally enforced; and, as to the Millennial age, Isa. 56: 1-8 shows that it will then obtain and its observance be a condition for enjoying the blessing of God.
(9) The Resulting Position is that
1. The pre-Sinaitic situation, grounded on the covenant with Abraham, retains its everlasting validity, and the terms upon which man and God have relations are those of that covenant, not those of the Sinaitic covenant. Therefore Abraham will always have two classes of descendants, a heavenly and an earthly, and these will have their respective spheres, heaven and earth. The one will enjoy the dignity and benefit of that true tabernacle in the heavens and the other the advantages of its earthly copy; the one being the citizens of the heavenly country and its capital Jerusalem that is above, the other of Canaan and the Jerusalem that is there, the city of the great King on earth, as its King Himself described it (Matt. 5: 35).
2. The New Covenant fits exactly into
this view. It is already in force, for
the sacrifice that seals it has been offered and the Mediator Who dispenses its
blessings is before God. Thus Christ
said of the cup of blessing, This cup is the new
covenant in my blood, and so it is declared that it hath been enacted (Heb. 8: 6).
Already Abrahams spiritual children are in the good of it. But here a point of importance is to be
noted. Though it is true that the heavenly seed are even now blessed under this
new covenant, yet the Writer, when quoting from Jeremiah the prophecy which
foretold it, twice repeats that it will be made with
the house of Israel and with the house of Judah even with the house of Israel (Heb.
8: 8, 10). Against Anglo‑Israel
views it is seen in the second occurrence (verse 10)
that the name
3. It is to be observed that this new covenant promises blessing that had been already enjoyed by Abraham and his spiritual children. Gods law had evidently been written in their hearts and minds, which is the essential superiority of the new covenant over the Sinaitic. Under the latter the law had been written on tables of stone external to man, but not in his heart. The law of Moses was something additional, not primary, it was added because of transgressions (Gal. 3: 19); it was supplemental, it came in besides, that the trespass might abound (Rom. 5: 20). Its purpose was to compel man to recognize his inability by nature to secure the favour of God by works and so to drive him to the way of faith, the principle upon which Abraham had walked with God. Thus the law, the covenant of works, was supplemental to the existing covenant with Abraham, and in effect the new covenant is the means of bringing into the Abrahamic covenant those who had failed under the law to reach righteousness by works of law. It is new in relation to the Sinaitic covenant, but essentially it is a making operative of the prior Abrahamic covenant.
Abraham must have had Gods law in heart and mind or
he could not have so walked as to be called the friend of God (2 Chron. 20: 7; Jas. 2: 23). The carnal mind cannot so walk (
Into this inward and spiritual blessing the true sons of Abraham are brought to-day by the Spirit, they inherit under Abraham. Perhaps in strict application we do not enter the new covenant, for we were never under the old, the Sinaitic covenant. We pass to-day directly into the Abrahamic covenant. But Israel as a people has been under the old, so that when as a people they enter hereafter in relations with their God it will be to them a new covenant, and hence the statement that the new covenant will be made with Israel and Judah. Yet it will be only the extension to them of the benefits of the promises to their father Abraham.
This was declared in advance by God through Moses (Lev. 26). God assured them that if they should break the Sinaitic covenant (vv. 14, 15) ever severer punishments should overtake them, including expulsion from their land; but that when they should be humbled and accept the punishment of their iniquity, then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land (vv. 40-42).
4. It is
sound reasoning that the whole scheme falls or stands together, for all its
features are parts of one whole picture.
If, therefore, there is to be a manifestation of the
On the other hand, if there cannot be such a palace-temple and worship, then the scheme will be very decidedly imperfect, wanting in a truly salient feature, and it must be set aside entirely. In this case the whole future described in the whole Old Testament is disintegrated and falsified; for its terms very distinctly require an earthly, literal fulfilment and cannot be distorted to mean anything else. It is truly lamentable that godly men should have furthered this distortion of the Word of God and on no firmer basis than their own conceptions of a few passages in the New Testament. Their sincerity is allowed; but not having discerned the principle of duality in the plans and works of God, and the limit imposed by the fact that the Sinaitic covenant alone is done away, while the Abrahamic covenant abides, they missed the key to the promises of God and His ways for their fulfilment. By this key the temple of prophecy can be opened and is seen to be a Divine, harmonious, perfectly proportioned structure. The epistle of James does not touch directly on our subject.
5. Peter. Arguing that the church
Peter is as explicit on this matter as
language can allow. He declares that the
privileges of the old
The opening statement is wholly unwarranted. Peter does not so much as mention an old
In Greek such passages without the article denote
that the qualities stated characterize the persons in view, and they assert no more than this. Thus Paul said to the Christians in
It is equally unjustified to make Peter mean that Israel of old held the status in question, and that now Israel has lost it and the church alone holds it. The argument amounts to this: William Smith owned a blue coat; John Jones owns a blue coat; therefore William Smith has been merged into John Jones, and henceforth no one but John Jones will own a blue coat. Quid est absurdum as to its logic.
The absence of the article in Gods first statement meant that the status in question was open to Israel; they would be an elect race, a kingdom of priests, a people of God, distinct in this from the other nations: but this left room for others to be granted that status, for God was looking to that heavenly seed of Abraham, of which His church should later be an exhibition.
Likewise, the absence of the article by Peter allows
that Christians have been granted this status, but it in no wise asserts that
This passage illustrates the accuracy with which Scripture was written and the necessity for exactness in translating it. It is also a good test case of the theory here refuted. For this theory requires the unwarranted insertion of the definite article, the use of titles not given in Scripture, and the importing of a sense not in the words or the argument. No idea is true which requires such dealing with the Word of God.
The remaining epistles do not touch our subject.
Moreover, these children of Israel stand in obvious distinction from the company next mentioned for (1) The great multitude come out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues (verse 9); (2) A number (whether literal or figurative does not here matter) is given for Israel (verse 4), but the multitude is so great as to be innumerable (verse 9) ;
(3) The children of
(4) The Israelites are to be preserved from judgments about to come (verse 3), while the multitude have already passed through their tribulation and gone where there is none (verse 14).
Interpret this as you will, it was future to Johns
day, and it shows the continued existence of
2. Rev. 11 is a
vision of happenings in a city which spiritually is
All this therefore intimates the existence of
Also a temple is standing in the city, with altar
and worshippers, and the exterior court is distinguished from the temple,
another detail without rational counterpart in the
The whole scene corresponds in detail with all other prophecies, and this one being future and literal so must those be. Again the inexorable alternative is to make the Divine prophecies meaningless and a nullity, forcing upon them a sense which deprives them of sense.
3. Rev. 21. New Heaven and New Earth. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away. ... And He that sitteth upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new (vv. 1, 5). These statements declare that the duality with which the universe began is to continue for ever. So far from the earthly being swallowed up in the heavenly they both abide for ever; even as Peter had said: But, according to His promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3: 13).
As has been noted above, the forecast of this in Isa. 65 was primarily Millennial, for sin and death were still present; the sense which deprives them real fulfilment will be eternal, for where there is only righteousness there shall be no curse any more (Rev. 22: 3).
At the commencement of human history God used to visit the earth personally and talk awhile with man (Gen. 3: 8). Sin largely interrupted this familiar intercourse; but Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and John saw in vision that God will come down to abide with men on earth; so that the communion of God and men, of heaven and earth, shall be closer and richer than at first.
But the manner in which God will dwell among men
will be other than at the first. He will
inhabit the bodies of Abrahams heavenly seed in such glory that it is said, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell
with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them,
their God (verse 3). This is
pictured by a double figure of speech. The
heavenly saints are the bride, the wife of the Lamb
(verse 9). But when John is to be shown this bride she is seen under the similitude of a city, the holy city
In Preliminary Dissertation 1 to my book The Revelation of Jesus Christ it is shown that the Bible conforms to the constant feature of human speech that the literal and the symbolic are interwoven. This must be remembered in the present chapter. As the bride is actually a company of persons, and as the city exhibits the bride, the city must represent a company of persons, unless by some spiritualizing process it can be shown that things which are equal to the same things are not equal to one another.
But heaven is actual and earth is real enough. The heavenly company are literal beings and so are the people that dwell on the earth. Notice that there are to be peoples on the new earth (verse 3), not merely one people; and they are to be nations, so national life is to continue, for the nations will be ruled by kings (vv. 24, 26).
The figure employed being a city, naturally the city has foundations. On them are written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, even as it is said in Eph. 2: 20, that the saints are built upon the foilndation of the apostles and prophets, that is, upon the teaching concerning God and His Son set forth, laid down by the first messengers of Christ. Paul, for example, could say, I laid a foundation (1 Cor. 3: 10). The apostles were real men, and by the Spirit they did work eternal in character and results.
But naturally the city
has gates, into which the nations may enter
and honour God as dwelling there (vv. 25, 26).
Now upon these twelve gates are the names of the
twelve tribes of the children of
In the light of earlier Scriptures the meaning of
all this is clear. The
But of old
The angels of God also will have their place; they stand
in dignity at the gates of the city. They
watch and serve the church, and
All the facts and all the figures of speech of the
Bible teach consistently. In patriarchal
times the father of the family or clan owned and ruled all, but he exercised
his authority, and dispensed ncessities and rewards, very largely through his
firstborn son. In the national realm
Jehoyah announced that
Moreover it robs the
When it is thus seen that
With God there is only forethought, but no
afterthought. He does not modify His
purposes or change His plans; but, on the contrary, He makes His foes to serve
Him and their very wrath to praise Him. The
individual, whether Jew, Gentile, or Christian, may by rebellion forfeit his
share in this or that part of the privileges made available by the grace of
God, but the purpose as a whole will be accomplished. The line upon which God commenced to work out
His thoughts He follows till His goal is reached: the end shall answer to the
beginning. Jew, Gentile, and the
0 the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His
ways past tracing out! For who hath
known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? or who hath first
given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are
all things. To Him be the glory for
ever. Amen. (
This study has been confined to a consideration of the actual meaning of Scripture, irrespective of whether there is or is not sign of fulfilment. Abrahamic faith expects the fulfilment though there is no sign thereof.
But, in closing, it is pertinent to mention obvious facts which confirm the obvious meaning of the Word of God.
(1) Three thousand three hundred years ago, at the
Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone,
And shall not be reckoned among the nations. (Num. 23: 9).
Pharaoh attempted to merge them into his people by killing the boys. The girls would have been married to Egyptians. The plan failed, and all later attempts have failed, even though in seasons of persecution not a few Jews have professed to be Christians.
Why has God preserved them from racial extinction if He has no racial future for them?
(2) The singular providence of God has confirmed the
specific promise of God that Abrahams seed shall never be destroyed utterly (Lev. 26: 44;
Deut. 4: 30, 31; Jer. 30: 11). The
most violent efforts and most fearful desolations have signally failed of the
Why has God thus preserved them as a people if He has no future for them as a people?
(3) The present attempt to resuscitate the notion
Not that this is that regathering and establishing
of them by God which prophecy foretells (Isa. 11:
11; Ezk. 36: 24; etc.): it is rather an example of Dan. 11: 14, the violent
among thy people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision. But evidently it works toward a future for the
nation, and it corresponds with the prophecies which picture
The Providence of God has permitted the recent notable events which favour the exposition and expectation of a national future for this indestructible people, and are so far a confirmation of the plain literal sense of His promises and predictions.
The late Samuel Wilkinson wrote a striking and convincing treatise entitled THE ISRAEL PROMISES AND THEIR FULFILMENT, An examination of the Pronouncements found in the Book entitled The Hope of Israel: What is It? by Philip Mauro.
It is to be obtained from The Mildmay Mission to the
The exposition is sound, the argument irrefutable.