IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK, OR PREDICTED AND FULFILLED.
MESSIAH AS PRIEST AND KING
THE BRANCH, OR FOUR ASPECTS OF MESSIAHS CHARACTER
THE BRANCH AND THE BRANCHES, OR A SYMBOL OF CHRIST
AND HIS CHURCH
FOUR PRECIOUS TITLES OF THE MESSIAH
MOSES AND CHRIST: AN ANALOGY AND CONTRAST
ISAIAH 53: MESSIANIC OR NOT?
NOTE 1. THE SEED OF THE WOMAN (GEN. 3: 15)
NOTE 2. UNTIL
NOTE 3. THEY PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET (PS. 22.)
NOTE 4. THE BRANCH (NOTE TO PAGE 72)
NOTE 5. IN DEFENCE, OR MORE ON ISAIAH 53.
* * *
PREFACE [Pages 7-10]
Much need not be said by way of preface to a work of this kind. The title and contents alone sufficiently indicate its character and scope. Neither will I enter into an argument, or even statement, on the importance of a more close and systematic study of the Old Testament Scriptures - that scroll of the Book wherein it is written of Jesus.
What is needed with regard to this is, not argument or persuasion, but relish and appetite - the symptoms of a vigorous spiritual health which, alas! as far as the majority of professing Christians are concerned, is sadly wanting. It is only a shallow and sentimental piety that will pick and choose from the Word of God and declare itself satisfied with certain portions of it only, to the neglect and depreciation of the rest; and if Christians will thus insist on abstaining from partaking of the variety of food which God has graciously, in His infinite wisdom, provided for the sustenance of their spiritual life, of course they have only themselves to blame for their loss of spiritual vigour and the setting in of moral decrepitude, which in time makes not only service, but even the partaking of the fat things which are provided for them in the Word of God, at best a wearisome duty instead of a privilege and pleasure.
I have tried in the following chapters to concentrate some of the Rays of Messiahs Glory which stream from the pages of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, with which I have been familiar from my childhood, but the meaning of which was hidden from me until some nine years ago, when suddenly a new light from Calvarys cross shone into my heart, and at the same time illumined the pages of that sacred volume, so that I could for the first time see that from its beginning to its end, it is written of Him - Jesus Christ, the Light of the Gentiles and the Glory of Israel - the Son of David and the Son of God.
The first chapter, which formed no part of my original plan of this work, but which I have written at the suggestion of one for whose judgment I have the greatest deference, and whose name is well known to the Christian Church, and also the chapter on Isaiah 53. and the many critical footnotes, together with the Appendix - in all which I have more particularly kept the Jewish controversy in view - will, I trust, form not the least acceptable portion of this volume. But, on the whole, the following pages were not written with any controversial aim in view, but entirely for Christians, to whom - especially to the British Christians - I dedicate it as a token of gratitude for having on their shores first heard of Him, faith in Whom has ever since filled me with joy unspeakable and full of glory; and also as a token of appreciation of their endeavours to bring those to a knowledge of Christ, through whom in the first place their salvation came (John 4: 22), and whose are the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose also are the fathers, and of whom is Christ., as concerning the flesh, Who is over all, God blessed for ever.
The greatest difficulty in writing a work of this kind is to make it what is expressively called it popular, or generally interesting; but I have endeavoured to make it so, and how far I have succeeded I must leave to the judgment of the reader.
I am conscious of many imperfections both in the plan and composition, but such as I have I give, and beg the readers indulgence on two grounds: first, on account of my imperfect acquaintance with the language, and secondly, on account of its being the work of spare moments, done mostly when away from home on itinerant missions.* Were it not for the faithful and industrious pen of my dear wife, who has transcribed it all from hasty and almost unintelligible pencil-scribbling, it would be very long before the following pages would see the light in print.
* In connection with the Mildmay Mission to the Jews.
One more remark I have to make here by way of explanation, which is this, that what follows, with the exception of the first chapter and the chapter on Isaiah 53., was written before the Revised Version of the Old Testament came out, as is well known to two or three of my honoured friends, to whose criticism these pages have been submitted; so that the corrected renderings, where they agree with that version, are not adopted from it, but are made from the original Hebrew.
It is my prayer that, at least in some little way, these pages may conduce to the glory of the God of Israel and His Messiah.
* * *
CHAPTER 1 [Pages 11-51]
IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK,
OR PREDICTED AND FULFILLED
IN THF SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME,
OR PREDICTED AND FULFILLED.
The most wonderful thing about Christianity, which makes it absolutely unique among the religions of the earth, is, that it has what one may call a reflex history - a history before its actual history commenced - a life before its birth.
Its history is composed of two separate periods, each of which is written in a separate volume, but not only do the two make one complete whole, but they stand in such relation to each other that the truth of the one is attested and demonstrated by the testimony of the other. Without the first, the second would be without foundation and un-intelligible; without the second, the first would have no corner-stone to keep its sides together, and no headstone, which it absolutely needs to give it a finished and perfect appearance, and so seal it as the workmanship of Him Who is perfect in all His ways.
I have said that Christianity had a life before its birth. That life which it had did not cease, but still pervades its present existence. The child of promise is still nourished from the breasts of the mother of hope, who in turn is revived and quickened with the new life which she receives back from her own offspring. The Christ of history is merely the fruit of the tree of prophecy, and Christianity is only the realisation of a plan the first outlines of which were sketched more than a thousand years before. Now if the tree be good, the fruit, if it really be the produce of that tree, must be good also; and if once the plan be acknowledged to be drawn by the Divine Architect, all that we have to do, in order to ascertain whether the building raised by Jesus of Nazareth be of God, is to compare and see if it corresponds in every particular with that plan.
Of course there are some who deny the Divinity of the Old Testament prophecies, but we may be allowed to tell them that a mere denial is not sufficient, and that their judgment can scarcely be received before they have accounted, not only for Christianity and its Founder as facts, but for the origin of the ideas and hopes which were in existence long before the facts, and with which they are so intimately connected.
The historical bulwark of Christian defence has two sides, and I venture to think that the most impregnable side of that bulwark, which the enemy too often ignores, from a consciousness, perhaps, that it is too strong for attack, is that which commences in the garden of Eden, where, shortly after the creation of man, one of the corner-stones of its foundation was laid (Gen. 3: 15*), and which extends to the time of Christs advent.
* See Appendix, Note 1.
That side of the bulwark on which is engraven as with a pen of iron, first, and most prominently, the records of the life, death, and resurrection of Him Who was and is Wonderful; the early spread of the faith He has founded, triumphing as it did in spite of principalities and powers and the opposition, not only of men collectively, but of man individually (for it had to contend not only with artificial institutions, but natural propensities, and thus had to conquer enemies in every bosom as well as in every state*); the continuance of the Christian religion unaltered in its essentials by the changes of realm and the chances of time; and the incalculable benefits it has bestowed on the human race, - this side is marvellous and firm as a rock; but the other side, on which was clearly and unmistakably inscribed hundreds and thousands of years before the events happened that so it should be, is even more marvellous and firm still - it is as firm as the Word of the living God which cannot be broken, though heaven and earth may pass away.
* Christianity, while it coalesced with all that is pure in humanity, had to struggle as decidedly with all that is ungodly in mans nature, and with whatever issued from it and was connected with it. It announced itself as a power aiming at the renovation of the world; but the world sought to maintain its old ungodly ways. Though Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil, yet He came not to bring peace upon earth, but a sword. Hence a collision with the prevailing modes of thinking and manners was inevitable. - NEANDER.
I am aware also that in recent times many intelligent Jews, backed by rationalistic, so-called Christians, who, in this respect, are even less conscientious and consistent than their Israelitish champions, deny that there is the hope of a Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, and assert that the prophecies on which Christians ground such a belief contain only vague anticipations and general hopes, but no definite predictions of a personal Messiah, and that consequently the alleged agreement of the gospel history with prophecy is imaginary.* But on this I may be permitted to ask, first of all, How is it that it is only within very recent years, since special efforts were beginning to be made on the part of Christians to show that in Jesus of Nazareth the predictions have received their fulfilment, that attempts are made on the part of some representatives of the synagogue to eliminate the Messianic meaning from those predictions? Does it not appear very much as if this new mode of interpretation was adverted to as a convenience and for arguments sake rather than from a desire to arrive at the truth or from a sincere belief that it is more in accordance with facts?
* The first trace of veiled scepticism on the subject is to be
found in the mystic saying of Hillel the first, who lived in the first century
of the Christian era. He said, There is no Messiah for
The famous Joseph Albo, of the fifteenth century, author of the Hikrim, quotes Hillel as an authority when he reproves Maimonides for laying down the belief in a Messiah as a fundamental doctrine of Judaism, and goes on to say, And there is neither in the law or in the prophets any prediction that must necessarily indicate the appearance of a Messiah (Sepher Ikarim Oratio IV c. 42). A rather bold assertion this! and as for Hillel, had Maimonides lived he might have replied that his (Hillels) view was an isolated one in the Talmud. Since Albo there have been such isolated cases as Slavador and others of the rationalistic school who have held the same views, but their numbers have increased at the present day to legion, and in many cases they have been driven to it out of a feeling of despair and of hope deferred.
The latest attempt to eliminate the doctrine of a personal Messiah from the Old Testament Scriptures is made by Professor Marks in a volume to which my attention has been drawn since writing these pages, and which I have noticed in the Appendix. See Appendix, Note 5.
That it is a novel mode of dealing with Messianic predictions is easily seen from Jewish sentiment on the subject as depicted in the New Testament, which, I suppose, our enemies even would agree, is at least valuable, inasmuch as it pictures to us the Jewish life and thought of the period; and from the Talmud, which declares that all the prophets have only prophesied concerning the days of the Messiah (Sanhedrin XXXIV. col. 2).
We hear much in these days of the Jewish interpretation; and to so-called Christians, who are as unacquainted with Jewish literature as they are ignorant of the spirit of Scripture, it too often serves as the thirty pieces of silver for which they betray their Lord. But what do they mean by the Jewish interpretation? Do they mean Talmudic interpretation? Its resume of the subject is given in one sentence which I have just quoted. Do they mean the Targums? As a matter of fact, they are intensely Messianic, and many a passage is, in their versions, applied to the Messiah in which even Christians fail to see the reference.* Even Maimonides, the great antagonist of Christianity, composed that article of the Jewish creed which unto the present day is repeated daily by every true Jew: I believe with a perfect faith that the Messiah will come, and although His coming be delayed, I will await His daily appearance. Aben Ezra,** Rashi,*** Kirrichi,**** Abarbanel,***** and almost every other respectable and authoritative Jewish commentator, although not recognising Jesus as the Messiah, are yet unanimous that a personal Messiah is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures. And, as for the Judaism of this latter end of the nineteenth century, let those who would resort to it as an authority for Scripture interpretation be careful how they embark on a vessel which, having once broken from its ancient mooring, is now tossed about on a troubled sea, and driven by contrary winds, and from whose topmast we can already descry the gigantic rock of infidelity on which, except the breath of Jesus calm the storm, it is destined to wreck, to the destruction of many. But only an insignificant minority of the Jews even have ventured as yet on this storm-tossed boat, and with joy we behold the nation, as such, still clinging to the anchor which has been the mainstay of their national existence for so many ages - the hope of a personal Messiah, which is the essence of the Old Testament Scriptures.
* There are no less than seventy-two passages in the Old Testament in the translation of which the Targumim have distinctly mentioned the Messiah by name.
** Aben Ezra, Abraham B. Mcier, also called by the
Jews Rabe, from the initials of Rabbi Abraham ben Ezra, one of the greatest of
Jewish commentators and grammarians, born in
Rabbi Solomon Izaaki, born in
commonly called by the Jews Redak,
from the initial letters of Rabbi David
Kimchi, born in
(Abravanel), Rabbi Don Isaac Ben Jehudah, a
celebrated Jewish statesman, philosopher, theologian, and commentator, born in
Now we will open the sacred volume itself, and compare the circumstances of the life of Christ as described in the Gospels and Epistles with the prophecies it contains, the very latest of which, according even to the admission of all intelligent opposers of Christianity, were delivered hundreds of years before His advent; and if they agree, it surely follows, that not only are these predictions the revelations of the Eternal, Who alone knows the end from the beginning, but that Jesus of Nazareth, Who fulfilled them, must be the Messiah.
Now, without laying special emphasis on the more vague and
general prophecies, such, for instance, as that promise that the Seed of the
woman should bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3: 15), and that in Abrahams seed all the families of the
earth should be blessed, which, however, become definite and particular enough
when compared with more subsequent and clearer revelations on the subject, we
are met at the outset, in the very first book of the Old Testament Scriptures,
with a very clear and definite prophecy by dying Jacob concerning the last days, which term in the Old Testament
Scriptures refers invariably to the Messiahs time,* embracing
the whole period from His first advent to suffer and die to His second advent
to sit on the throne of His father David (Isa. 2: 2; Mic. 4: 1; Hos. 3: 5, Heb.). The prophecy is to this effect: The sceptre shall not depart from
* So even Kimchi admits, for in his comments on Isaiah 2: 2, he says, Wherever it is said in the last days, it means the days of the Messiah (Kimchi in loc.).
** See Appendix, Note 2.
We may well hesitate to follow a system which, for its
justification, is obliged to depart from the plain and obvious sense of the
passage and resort to imagination rather than to translation. The passage taken literally contains a
prediction to the following effect; namely, that the tribal staff,* signifying
authority and tribal independence, should not depart from Judah, nor a
lawgiver,** or magistrate, until One came Who is, as His name signifies, Peace, or the
One to Whom everything belongs; and that to Him the peoples,*** - the
Gentiles, - should come with reverence, or in the act of paying homage. Nearly seventeen centuries have rolled by
since the delivery of that prophecy, during which time the twelve families, the
heads of which Jacob was addressing, developed into twelve tribes, which
together formed first one, and subsequently two, independent nations. One of the nations, consisting of ten out of
the twelve tribes, after a history of two hundred and fifty years, during the
whole of which time, instead of attracting the nations around it, it was too
often attracted by them and fell away to the worship of idols, was finally, and
for ever, swept away as a nation, and even lost its identity as a people. Scarcely one hundred and forty years passed,
when the other nation, consisting of two and a half tribes, amongst them Judah
to whom the promise was given, after a history not much brighter than that of
Israel, also passed into captivity, with the same prospect as far as human
knowledge could go of passing into oblivion like the ten tribes. The sceptic of that day, who of course would
not believe in the prophecies relating to the restoration from Babylon, which
might have told him that Judahs tribal independence was not abolished, but
merely suspended for a given time, might well have grown more defiant of the
authority of Scripture, and held the prophecies up to ridicule as mere human
inventions, for where, he might have said, is that Shiloh, or Peace-giver, of the tribe of Judah, to
Whom the nations were to gather, and Who was to come before the sceptre
departed from Judah or a lawgiver from his feet? Tell me not that
* This is how [the Hebrew word ] may be more accurately rendered. See Appendix, Note 2,
** Isaiah 23: 22 is explanatory of this passage: The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, where Gesenius translates [The Hebrew word ] - our Law-giver, by our Commander.
is in the plural, and is generally applied to the Gentiles in contradistinction
to or, the people -
But the Word of God standeth sure, though the infidel may not live to see its fulfilment. he foretold seventy years of exile passed, and Judah, with its tribal traditions and genealogies intact, returned, and after its restoration was privileged with three prophets, one of whom shortly after delivered a prediction concerning One in Whom we can without difficulty trace the identity with Jacobs Shiloh, for he speaks of Him as the Desire of all nations, Whose glory should be even greater than the Shechinah which dwelt between the cherubim of the first temple, and through Whom should come peace (Hag. 2: 7- 9).
For the coming of that One Whom he styled the Desire of all nations, or of Whom Jacob prophesied some thirteen centuries before that to Him shall be the homage of the peoples, he fixes a more definite period still. It was to be not only before the tribal independence of Judah passed away, but in the very temple they were then building, the identity of which, to prevent the mistake of referring it to another temple, he emphasises with the words the house, this one (Hag. 2: 9, Heb).
This declaration of Haggai was endorsed by Malachi, after whom the voice of prophecy was to be silent for centuries, who announced that the Divine Lord (Heb.) for Whom they were seeking and the Messenger of the covenant for Whom they were longing (Heb.) was suddenly to come to His Temple.
But, again, four hundred years rolled by even after this latest prophecy of Malachi, and in the interval Judahs tribal independence and the safety of the Temple, for the preservation of which the truthfulness of Haggais prophecy was now at stake, were several times threatened, and only preserved by extraordinary providences, until finally Judea was turned into a Roman province, and Judah, instead of commanding the homage of the nations, had himself to pay homage to Caesar. But just then a spirit of intense expectation came over Israel, and to some extent over the Gentile world, and suddenly, two years before the death of Herod - the last king that ever reigned over Palestine, and very shortly before the destruction of the second Temple, while yet genealogies were extant, and Judah as a tribe exercising tribal functions, and governed by magistrates of its own - One, Who is in the New Testament styled the Lion of the tribe of Judah, appeared, and since then millions have testified that this Man is their Shiloh, their Peace (Mic. 5: 5), and to Him, although at first He had as His followers only twelve illiterate persons, who, like Himself, were Jews, the peoples, the Gentiles, by hundreds of millions, are rendering homage, so that there is scarcely a place under heaven where the mention of His Name does not produce a throb of affectionate and reverential adoration in at least the breasts of some. Now mark, since His advent, and unto the present day, there is no more such a thing as a tribe of Judah, for genealogies are all extinct now, and no Jew can say for certain to which tribe he belongs, so that there can be no talk of a yet future fulfilment of this prophecy; for suppose Messiah came to-day, how could His claims be tested by the touchstone of genealogies, or how could He come to the second Temple, of which there has not been one stone left upon another for nearly nineteen centuries?
But, as far as the time of Messiahs first advent is concerned, we have one of the plainest prophecies on record, and the fact that it was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth can be proved to demonstration. The prophet Daniel not only foretold that from the decree issued by Artaxerxes in the twentieth year of his reign for the rebuilding of the city and walls of Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince should be seventy sevens (of years), within which time, as a matter of history, Jesus appeared, but he gave us even, if possible, a more unmistakable landmark than figures by indicating certain events which were to follow close upon Messiahs advent. After threescore and two weeks, he says, shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself, and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Let Jerusalem, which lies on its heaps of ruins, and the sanctuary or Temple which is burned with fire and laid waste, proclaim aloud, if the voices of men be silent, that Jesus of Nazareth, Who came just before the destruction of the city and sanctuary, and was cut off, but not for Himself for He had done no violence, neither was deceit found in His mouth - is the true Messiah, and that Daniel was a prophet inspired by the Spirit of God.
Thus far we have dealt only with certain definite and remarkable prophecies relating to the time of Messiahs advent, concerning which there can be no shadow of doubt that they were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth; but we will now examine another class of predictions which proclaim even more loudly and clearly a personal Messiah, and are still more important as touchstones by which to test the Messiahship of Jesus, for they identify not merely the circumstances, but the Person. We have seen how the first rather vague and general promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpents head was centralised in the seed of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. Now, if this promise stood alone, there might have been some reason for the assertion of those so-called Christians, who of necessity cannot have much in common with New Testament Christianity, and their Jewish allies, who have as little in common with the Judaism of the Old Testament, or the belief of their nation - that the Old Testament Scriptures contain only general hopes of a redemption which is to be brought about by the active or passive instrumentality of the Jewish nation, and nothing more; although we may well ask, Where is the realisation of those hopes? What are the blessings which the families of the earth have received through the Jewish nation which have not been handed to them by the pierced hand of the crucified Nazarene? Yea, and if Jesus be not the promised Redeemer, but an impostor, and His followers build their eternal prospects not on the words of the Son of God, but on cunningly devised fables of men, then the Jewish nation has been, instead of a blessing, the greatest curse to all the families of the earth, for it is with them that the imposture originated; one of their nation it was who perpetrated it, and thousands of their people were in the first instance its active propagators.*
*Neither judging from the present is
But in truth Scripture warrants no such assertion that the Jewish nation, independently of the Messiah, is to be a blessing to the world.
The promised Seed of the woman was indeed particularised into the Seed of Abraham in Whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed, but this still general promise was to run through a narrower channel yet, and become more specifically marked as it rolled on.
After Abraham the Seed of promise was successively defined as
the Seed of Isaac and the Seed of Jacob. Then out of the twelve tribes
descended from Jacob only one
* The prophecy (Gen. 49: 10,
in the sense in which all understood it until in the last century it was in the
interest of unbelief not to see it) fixed at the new
era of the people the promise to Abraham.
The promise In thy seed shall all the families
of the earth be blessed was expanded in both
But still the circle contracted, and out of the particular
tribe only one particular family was chosen, and finally every promise and
prediction revolved for centuries round one Individual of that favoured family, Whose identity we can, without
difficulty, trace in the various announcements of all the different prophets,
and Whose career and character is described with such minuteness of detail that
wilful blindness alone can deny that a personal Messiah is loudly and
unequivocally proclaimed in the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus the prophets, who lived at different
periods of time, foretold that the promised Deliverer should be a Son of David; and that the original promise to
Abraham that in him and in his seed should all the families of the earth be
blessed shall be fulfilled in Him. The
first plain declarations to this effect were made by the son of Jesse, the sweet singer of
The promise of eternal duration, and the ascription to Him of Divine titles, such, for instance, as are found in the forty-fifth Psalm, where He, Who is called fairer than the children of men, Whom God hath blessed for ever, the One Whom God anoints to be King, is thus solemnly addressed: Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre, and in Psalm 110., where He, concerning Whom God hath sworn, saying, Thou art a Priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek, is addressed as (Adonai, which is a Divine title, compare ver. 1 with ver. 8), Who sitteth at the right hand of Jehovah, puts an end to any plea that may be made that the Psalmist described, not one individual, but a line of kings who should descend from David, for the description is not only definite, but incommunicable.
Three hundred years later, Isaiah, the son of Amoz, still proclaims that One of the family of David shall stand as an ensign to the peoples,* and to Him the Gentiles will seek (Isa. 11: 10); and he goes on to describe Him in such a manner that, without any effort, we at once recognise the very Individual Whom the Psalmist proclaimed as the coming Deliverer. Thus, in the ninth chapter of his prophecy, where he announces His birth, showing that only one Individual is meant, he says: And the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon His kingdom, to rule it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. Here we can distinctly identify the family from which He was to spring; the throne on which He is to reign; the extent of His government and the peace thereof, which are to have no end; its duration, which is to be for ever; and, lastly, His twofold nature and Divine titles, which make the description so specific as to make it absolutely impossible of an application to any one else. Micah, Isaiahs contemporary, expresses a hope quite as definite, and gives an exactly similar description of the coming Redeemer: And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, he says, out of thee shall One come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, even from the days of eternity. ... And He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of Jehovah His God, ... for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth (Mic. 5: 2-4). Here we again have One Who is to be born in a certain particular place, but Who, at the same time, was from all eternity, and Whose rule, which is to be in the majesty of Jehovah, was to extend, not only over Israel, but unto the ends of the earth, showing that the prophet had the same Individual in mind, for it would be nothing less than blasphemy for such a description to be applied to any mere man.
* Here again the
word is plural, and used in contradistinction to the
Nearly two hundred years later Jeremiah still proclaimed that the King who is to reign and prosper and execute judgment and justice in the earth shall be a Branch of David, and that His name, descriptive of His character, shall be Jehovah our Righteousness (Jer. 23: 5, 6; 30: 9; 33: 15-17). And the same was announced by the prophet Hosea (3: 5); Ezekiel (34: 23; 37: 25); and, nearly three hundred years later still, by Zechariah (12: 8). It is quite true, therefore, that David, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, not now to mention others, all looked for salvation in one particular family, identify the Redeemer by incommunicable attributes, so as to prove beyond all controversy that their hope of redemption was not a mere vague and undefined imagination natural to all in distress, but an idea well defined and fully developed as to the family, character, and dignity of Him by Whom it was to be effected.*
* McCauls Lectures on the Messiahship of Jesus.
But the identity becomes even more striking and unmistakable by a seeming contradiction which runs through all the prophecies which set forth the coming Messiah; for while, on the one hand, He is represented as most exalted and commanding the homage of all nations, they, on the other hand, speak of Him as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, Whose face should be more marred than that of any other man, and from Whom men should hide their faces as with disgust and abhorrence, and that He should be cut off by a violent death.
Thus in the twenty-second Psalm it is He Who says of Himself, I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and despised of the people. ... My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue cleaveth to my jaws, and Thou hast brought me into the dust of death the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me; they pierced My hands and MY feet* - Whose righteousness should be declared unto a people that should be born, and Whom a seed should serve! And in Psalm 118. it is the Stone which the builders rejected that is to become the headstone of the corner, and even in Psalm 110., where He is called by a Divine title and represented as sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, He is spoken of as having enemies and as being reduced to such an humble state that He is obliged to drink of the brook by the way to refresh Himself. Isaiah announces that the Servant of Jehovah, Whom God formed from the womb to restore the preserved of Israel, and raise up the tribes of Jacob, and also to be a light to the Gentiles and the salvation of God unto the end of the earth; Whom kings shall see and arise, and princes also shall worship - shall be One Whom man despiseth and Whom the nations abhorreth (Isa. 49: 5-7). And in that prophecy of his (Isa. 52: 13 - 53: 12), which, in the light of the Gospels, reads more like history than prophecy, but for which even enemies of Christianity dare not fix a later date than B.C. about 550,** and for the application of which to the Messiah we have the authority, not only of the Talmud, but of the Jewish liturgy used at the present day,- he announces that the Servant of the Lord, Who is exalted, and extolled, and very high, on which the Rabbins say, more exalted than Abraham, and extolled above Moses, and higher than the angels,*** shall be despised and rejected, wounded, bruised, led as a lamb to the slaughter, and cut off from the land of the living. Daniel says that the Prince Messiah, the Anointed of God, shall be cut off; and Zechariah speaks of the King Who should bring salvation to Zion as poor and riding upon an ass (Zech. 9: 9); of the Shepherd of the flock as sold for thirty pieces of silver (11: 18); of the One Who will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem as pierced+ (12: 10); and of Him Who is the Fellow of Jehovah as smitten with the sword of justice (13: 7) - so that we can trace His identity in all the predictions of the various prophets with regard to His humiliation and death as well as in those which speak of His exaltation and glory, proving the definiteness and identity of the prophets expectations, and that they all speak of one and the same Individual.
* See Appendix, Note 3.
** See Appendix, Note 3
*** That is, assuming for one moment the theory, which has been manufactured to the order of unbelief, of The Great Unknowns authorship of the later prophecies of Isaiah (40.- 46.), which, however, as has been satisfactorily proved by Hengstenberg (Christology) and Havernich (Einleitung ins Alte Testament), is entirely without foundation. The real date of the delivery of this remarkable prediction is about B.C. 713.
**** Abarbanel quotes
this from Midrash Tanchuma, and says,
The Rabbis do not, in saying this, intend to refer to
+ See note to Page 40.
But if the prediction be real and definite, the fulfilment is no less real and evident. The Messiah was to be of the seed of Abraham and the family of David. The first verse of the New Testament runs thus, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham, and even in the Talmud it is admitted that Jesus of Nazareth was of the family of David.*
* In Sanhedrin, folio 43, Jesus is spoken of as One that is akin to the kingdom That He was of the family of David was never questioned at the time of His appearing - a very important fact, for could His opponents, who were never slow to avail themselves of any weapon to use against Him, bring forward this objection to His Messiahship, that would have put an end to His claims once and for ever. That information on this point was within their reach there is no doubt, seeing genealogies were yet extant. On the other hand, He was at the time universally acknowledged and known by the multitudes as the Son of David, who in their distress continually addressed Him in the words, Son of David, have mercy on us! If any additional evidence is required, we can point to an historical fact, that the relations of Mary were the persons brought before Domitian when, afraid of a great king to arise from the family of David, he sought for all the members of it to destroy them. The modern plea, therefore, of some Jews that Jesus is not of the family A David is groundless.
Micah foretold that in Bethlehem Ephratah Messiah would be born, and there, according to the second chapter of Luke, which records the whole circumstances, Jesus was born.
Isaiah proclaimed that a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be Immanuel. The New Testament tells us how the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin named Mary, with the news, Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus.* He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David.
* An objection has been raised why
Jesus, if Isaiah 7: 14 was really a prophecy
of Him, was not called Immanuel. But the
truth is Immanuel was to be no more the actual name of Messiah than Wonderful,
Prince of peace, Desire of all nations,
The prophets foretold that Messiah should be brought up in humiliation and poverty, and be persecuted and rejected by His own people. The Gospels describe Jesus as being so poor that He had not a place where to lay His head; and how, when He manifested Himself to His own, His own received Him not, but the priests, Pharisees, and scribes, the leaders of the Jewish nation, went about to kill Him.
Zechariah foretold that Messiah should be betrayed for thirty pieces of
silver, and that the money
should be cast unto the potter, and, in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Gospel
of Matthew, we read that one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will
deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty
pieces of silver,
which afterwards, in despair and anguish, he cast down in the
Isaiah introduces Him as saying, I gave My back to the smiters and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not My face from shame and spitting. And in the New Testament we read how Pilate caused Jesus to be scourged, and how the Jews did spit in His face and buffet Him and smote Him with the palms of their hands.
Not only did the prophets announce that Messiah should be cut off from the land of the living, but David predicted the very manner of His death, which was to be non-Jewish. He was not to be stoned, which was the Jewish way of inflicting death, but to have His hands and feet pierced.* In the providence of God, and in fulfilment of this prediction, which was delivered hundreds of years before Rome existed, at the time of Christ the power to administer death was taken out of the Jewish hands by the Roman governors, and Jesus was crucified.
* See Appendix, Note 3.
Zechariah prophesied of a time when
*[NOTE Page 40] This passage is taken from Alshech, I will do yet a third thing, and that is that they shall look unto Me, for they shall lift up their eyes unto Me in perfect repentance when they see Him Whom they have pierced, that is Messiah the Son of Joseph; for our rabbis of blessed memory have said that He will take upon Himself all the guilt of Israel, and shall then be slain in the war to make an atonement, in such a manner, that it shall be accounted as if Israel had pierced Him, for on account of their sin He has died, and therefore, in order that it may be reckoned to them as a perfect atonement, they will repent, and look to the blessed One, saying that there is none beside Him to forgive those that mourn on account of Him Who died for their sin; this is the meaning of They shall look upon Me. That this passage (Zech. 12: 10) refers to Messiah is admitted by Aben Ezra and Abarbanel, and also by Rashi in his commentary on the Talmud Succah, fol. 52, Col. I.), although, strange to say, he denies it in his commentary on the Bible. Of course they apply it to their invention Messiah ben joseph, but on this see P. 44.
Isaiah foretold that He should be numbered with transgressors. Jesus was crucified in the midst of two malefactors.
In the Old Testament Messiah is represented as saying, All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot
out the lip; they shake the head, saying,
He trusted in the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing
He delighted in Him. In the New Testament we read, And they that passed by
reviled Him, wagging their heads and saying, Thou that destroyest the
Again, in Psalm 22. we read a prophecy that Messiahs garments should be parted, and lots cast for His vesture. The apostles relate how the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and parted them among themselves, but of the vesture, which was without seam wrought from the top throughout, they said, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.
Isaiah said that His grave should be appointed with the wicked, but that He should be with the rich after His death. Jesus, being crucified as a malefactor, was virtually appointed by the Jewish council to be buried in the usual place for felons, but after His death there came a rich man of Arimathea named Joseph ... and begged the body of Jesus of Pilate, who commanded it to be delivered to him, ... and when he had taken it and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock.
The prophets announced without any uncertainty that Messiah would rise from the dead; thus the Psalmist represents Him as saying, Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption, and Isaiah says that after He will be made a trespass offering, which implies death, He shall see His seed, and prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand (Isa. 53: 10*).
* Even if we had no distinct prophecy of Messiahs resurrection, which we have, as, for instance, those quoted above, we could yet easily infer that this was the belief of the prophets from the fact that they speak of two advents of the same Messiah at two utterly distinct periods. Once He was to be born in Bethlehem Ephratah (Mic. 6: 1, Heb.), and be manifested during the time of the second temple (Hag. 2: 6-9; Mal. 3: 1), when He should be cut off, but not for Himself, after which dreadful judgments were to befall Israel as a nation, so that their city and temple should be destroyed (Dan. 9: 26); but again He should appear in the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, not to die, but to reign for ever, after which not judgment, but blessing, should descend on Israel. Now if He is to die after His first advent, how could He come a second time in the clouds of heaven if He did not rise from the dead and ascend into heaven first?
In the New Testament we are told by those who sealed their testimony with their lives that the Jesus Who died for our sins, and was buried, rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and the fact of Christs resurrection from the dead is as certain - for it rests upon the same kind of evidence - as that Israel went out free from Egyptian bondage and crossed the Red Sea, or that a battle of Waterloo was ever fought.
According to the Old Testament, Messiah, after His resurrection, was to ascend on high, leading captivity captive, and taking with Him gifts for men, and should sit down at the right hand of God until His enemies be made His footstool (Ps. 68: 18; 24: 7-10; 110: 1). In the New Testament we are told that on the Mount of Olivet, near Bethany, after Jesus had given His disciples the commission to be His witnesses in Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth, a cloud received Him out of their sight, which took Him up into heaven, where He is now exalted at the right hand of God, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and the forgiveness of sin (Acts 1: 9; 2: 32, 33; 5: 31).
The prophets teach two advents of the same Messiah - not two Messiahs, a theory in which the Rabbins have taken refuge from their perplexity in not being able to reconcile the prophecies which speak of Messiahs suffering and humiliation with those which speak of His kingdom and glory, and under the cloke of which we detect a partial acknowledgment of the claims of Jesus of Nazareth,* but one Messiah, the first time born in Bethlehem Ephratah, to be brought up in humiliation, and finally to be led as a lamb to the slaughter for the sin of the world, and then the second time to come in power and glory in the clouds of heaven to reign in Mount Zion and over all the earth. Jesus, before He ascended into heaven, Himself solemnly announced that hereafter He would return to this earth in the clouds of heaven; and after His ascension two heavenly messengers were sent to the sorrowful and longing disciples with the joyous tidings that the same Jesus, Who was received up into heaven, shall so come and in the like manner as they had seen Him go up into heaven (Matt. 26: 64; Acts 1: 11).
*[NOTE ON PAGE 44] It is well known that the doctrine of two Messiahs, of whom Ben Joseph, or Ephraim, is to suffer and die, and the other, Ben David, is to reign in glory and power, is held by Rabbinical Jews. Of this we find no trace whatever in the Old Testament or in the New, nor, again, in the dialogue between Justin Martyr and the Jew Trypho, which brings us down to the latter part of the second century. The utmost antiquity that can be ascribed to this notion of a duplicate Messiah is the third or fourth century. But whom did the Rabbis mean by the epithet Messiah, Son of Joseph, or Ephraim? We do not hesitate to answer, None other person than Jesus, Whom, after their great disappointment in the revolution of Bar-Cochba, they tacitly acknowledged as the suffering Messiah, and denominated Him by the name that He was commonly called in Galilee, in order perhaps to screen themselves against the hatred and persecution of their own followers, or of their Roman masters. This idea has been hinted at by the Rev. M. Wolkenberg in his translation of The Pentateuch according to the Talmud, p. 156, and broadly asserted by Dr. Biesenthal in his Hebrew commentary on St. Luke (chap. 23: 48). This accounts for the remarkable fact that on the Feast of Trumpets, before the blowing of the rams horn, Gods mercy is besought through Jesus, the Prince of the presence of God, the Metatron, or the One Who shares the throne of God. At this same service, verses, mostly from Psalm 119., are repeated whose first letters form the name of Christon, but so ingeniously chosen, that they should at the same time read , the Bruiser of Satan. This name also is written on amulets, and in Jewish houses when a child is born, as well as the name of the Angel, , which is mentioned in the said service, with alteration only of one accountable letter, and which stands for the King our Righteousness, the King our Righteousness, Jesus the Messiah. To this Metatron is again applied in the Talmud (Sanhed, P. 256), the passage Exodus 23: 20, and it is added that His name is the name of His Master. And in the liturgy of the Feast of Tabernacles reference is made to the glorious and dread Metatron, who was transformed from flesh to fire.
Who cannot see in these mysterious hints a purposely covered belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, and that in a most orthodox manner? - Jewish Intelligence, June, 1885.
All the prophets announce that Messiah shall not only be the
glory of His own people
More than forty false Messiahs appeared in the history of the Jewish nation, all of whom were followed by multitudes, and a few of them were in turn proclaimed to be the true Messiah by some of the greatest Rabbis, the only recommendation of their claims being promises of revenge and flatteries which gratified the national vanity; but at the present day, except to a few students of history, the remembrance of their names has perished from off the earth, while Jesus of Nazareth, Who was despised by His own nation and crucified, is worshipped by hundreds of millions, some of whom have in the past, and would now, count it the greatest honour to endure the rack or the stake for His Names sake; and the religion He has founded is admittedly the only one suited for all climes and classes, and is destined ere long to cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.*
*[NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 46] It has been objected by Jews and infidels that the spread, prevalence, and permanence of Christianity have their parallel in the history of Mohammedanism, which notwithstanding all agree to be an imposture. To this we reply
(1) That we are here dealing with one aspect of Christianity to which Mohammedanism certainly presents no parallel, viz., as the subject and fulfilment of prophecy.
(2) To point to Mohammedanism as parallel to Christianity, and as an argument against it, is simply absurd, and shows on the part of those who bring it forward a deplorable ignorance of the origin, history, and future of both religions alike. As to the origin, beside the fact that Christianity is the fulfilment of predictions uttered hundreds and thousands of years before the advent of its Founder, let us look for a moment at the obstacles against which the two creeds had in the first instance to contend, which will bring out the distinctive characteristics of each.
Christianity had to contend, as has been already said, not only with men collectively, but with man individually, and had to fight not simply against the artificial institutions of every state, but also against the natural propensities of every human heart. It was opposed, as Neander has well expressed it, to the rudeness no less than the civilisation of the world, and proclaimed aloud to all men alike to crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts.
But far different was it with Mohammedanism, which had no such obstacles in its path, promising as it did ample indulgences of the passions of the natural man.
Then we ought to take into consideration the intellectual character of the nations in which the two religions originated and at the present day prevail, and also the means taken in the first instance for the propagation of the two creeds. Mohammedanism spread and triumphs amid barbarism, and was forced upon its followers by the sword; Christianity always ruled in the centre of civilisation, and was received from conviction.
With armies for its missionaries and parks of artillery for its apostles, an irrational and false creed may be imposed upon nations; but there is not so tangible a means of accounting for the success of a religion whose soldiers were humble unarmed preachers, and whose only weapons were arguments and persuasions.
Then as to the permanence of the two creeds. Mussulmans themselves confess that their faith is in a rapid process of decay, having never recovered from the corruption it engendered within and scarcely from the shocks it sustained from without; but, on the other hand, there is scarcely anything more remarkable in the history of Christianity than its recuperative energies; there were times when it became corrupt, but it contained the principles of renovation within itself, and it came forth from the struggle with new vigour and untarnished lustre.
But the complete answer to the infidel and Jew is that Mohammedanism is really an imitation of Christianity, and that its history will clearly prove that its success was due to the truths, and not to the falsehoods it contained, that its triumphs were obtained through the portion of the Christian system which it borrowed, and that, therefore, so far as the prevalence and permanence o Mohammedanism is concerned, it is, if anything, rather an argument in favour of the Gospel than against it.
That Islamism was an imitation of Christianity was the boast of Mohammed, who declared that he only preached what had been originally revealed by God to the Old Testament prophets and what the Incarnate Word (Jesus Christ) had taught in Judea.
In the Koran belief in Jesus as the Sent of God is taught as
essential, and a curse is pronounced on those who will not believe on Him. See
(I have in this note made free use of the introduction to the excellent history of Mohammedanism by W. C. Taylor.)
It is not necessary indefinitely to multiply points of agreement, as those given suffice for the purpose of our inquiry.
We have sketched, not from dark enigmas or mysterious symbols, but from clear and unmistakable declarations of Moses and the prophets, taken in their plain and grammatical sense, and acknowledged to be of Messianic import by Jews themselves when not engaged in controversy, the history, character, and mission of the Messiah of the Old Testament; including not only the tribe, but the family from which He should spring; the time of His advent; the place of His birth; the political situation of His people and land at the time of His appearing; the manner of His reception by His own people; not only the fact of His death, but the very manner of it; His resurrection; ascension; exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty on high and return in power and glory. If any therefore insist on the assertion that the Old Testament Scriptures do not contain the hope of a personal Messiah, he does so either from ignorance of the contents of that sacred volume or from wilful blindness.
We have next seen how the picture we have drawn corresponds in every particular to Jesus of Nazareth, proving not only that He is verily the Messiah promised to the fathers, but also that the prophets, who hundreds of years before delivered predictions concerning Him which have been minutely fulfilled, spake not by the will of men, but were moved by the Holy Spirit.
This introductory chapter has already been extended much beyond the limits originally intended, but this much I must add, first, that the agreement between prophecy and the history of Jesus is not a forced one, but so obvious that it lies on the very surface, and is perceivable even by the simplest; and that, if the exercise of any ingenuity be required, it is altogether on the part of those who try to conceal it.
Secondly, it need scarcely be pointed out, that the chief prophecies with regard to the Messiah being those which deal with His miraculous birth, death, and resurrection, they are such as no enthusiast could, and which no impostor would, fulfil. Only the Almighty, Who brought the universe into existence, could cause Jesus to be born of a virgin or raise Him from the dead. There have been many enthusiasts and impostors, and there may be many more, but none of them pretended to rest their claims on the ground of vicarious suffering, death, and resurrection, which could alone satisfy the unequivocal declarations of the prophets. If any of them did suffer a violent death, it only proved the falsity of their pretensions, and that death was not voluntary, neither was there any release from its bonds.
Finally, the number and minuteness of the predictions, and their fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth, exclude the idea, which one or two leading infidels, who must have been possessed with extraordinarily large capacity of credulity, have suggested, that the agreement is only accidental. Never in the past or in the present, or until the end of the world, will accident either conjecture or minutely fulfil such a number of circumstances.
Oh! that men would heed the voice of fulfilled prophecy, which is the echo of the prescient God, Who knows the end from the beginning - more reliable than would be the voice of one risen from the dead. Oh! that they would learn, among others this lesson also, that since these prophecies which relate to Christs first advent to suffer and die for the sin of the world were literally and minutely fulfilled, those also concerning His second coming as the worlds King and judge will be as literally fulfilled, for the Word of the living God cannot be broken, though heaven and earth may pass away.
* * *
CHAPTER 2 [Pages 53-70]
MESSIAH AS PRIEST AND KING
And their Illustrious One* (their Glorions One) shall be of themselves, and their Ruler shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause Him to draw near, and He shall approach unto Me: for Who is this that pledged (literally mixed up) His heart to approach unto Me? Saith Jehovah. - Jer. 30: 21.
* The word is
(Adirow), which is third person singular
(Odar). From this comes doubtless
the Greek, which means great, rich, strong, and adorea in the Latin,
which means glory, praise, renown, and probably also the English adore. There is a month in the Jewish calendar
This word is several times used in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the might (1 Sam. 4: 8), the excellence (Ps. 8: 1, 10), and glory, (Exod. 15: 6, 11; Isa. 33: 21) of the God of Israel; and in Isaiah 42: 21, this is the word (in Hiphil) which is used to describe the new glory which was to be thrown over the law on account of the Messiahs perfect obedience to it. It pleased Jehovah for His righteousness sake to magnify the law and make it honourable.
The Targurn renders kings, but it has no more reason for putting it in the plural than had the translators of the Authorised Version. The word it renders Messiah, showing that the ancient Jews viewed this passage as Messianic. Among Jewish commentators. even Kimchi interprets the passage of the King Messiah.
THE MESSIAH AS KING AND PRIEST
In the chapter whence this passage is taken, the Messiah is already introduced (ver. 9) under the title David. whose seed according to the flesh He was to be (Jer. 33: 5, 6); and already we get a glimpse) of His Divine character, for He claims equal allegiance and service with Jehovah; but when Jeremiah comes to the end of the prophecy which he was Divinely appointed to write down in a book (ver. 2), he recurs to the Person on Whose glory he, in common with all the prophets, loved to dwell, and shows how the rays of blessing which are here promised to Israel emanate from Him Who is the source and cause of them all, and stops to note several aspects of His character, each of which is pregnant with blessing and consolation to Israel and to all those whose eyes have been opened to see the King in His beauty.
THE ILLUSTRIOUS ONE
Jesus Christ is the central figure in the history of the universe, and wherever, and at whatever period, we cast our glance, He is the most prominent object among all which present themselves to our view. Nineteen centuries before His advent, Abraham, gazing into the future through the telescope of faith, beheld Him as the brightest star, whose rays not only gladdened his own heart (John 8: 56), but were to rejoice the hearts of all the families of the earth (Gen. 12: 3).
Nearly two thousand years later the seer of Patmos, still gazing into the future, but from a more favourable point of observation, beheld this bright and morning star as the centre round Whom the ages revolve, in Whose light the favoured of all times and nations walk and shine, even after this heaven and earth have passed away (Rev. 21.). Then, looking the other way, in the depths of the fathomless past, Paul saw Him as the One by Whom God made the worlds (Heb. 1.); and Solomon, who directed his vision to the time before creation, beholds Him still as the central figure in the bosom of the everlasting Father and exclaims, Jehovah possessed Him in the beginning of His way before His work of old. He was poured out (or begotten) from everlasting, from the beginning before the earth was. When there were no depths He was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was He brought forth, while yet He had not made the earth nor the plains nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens He was there, when He fixed a circle to the face of the deep. When He established the clouds above; when He strengthened the fountains of the deep; when He gave to the sea His decree that the waters should not pass His commandment; when He appointed the foundations of the earth. Then was He by Him as One brought up with Him; and He was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him! A modern historian, not gifted with inspiration, who with his keen eye also pierces through the past, but the more immediate past compared with that to which Solomon directed his gaze, still does not fail to behold Jesus of Nazareth as the most glorious Person of all who come within the compass of his vision and exclaims, The great and central event in all history is the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The centuries circle round the cross. Hundreds of stately figures - some in dazzling lustre, some in deepest gloom - crowd upon our gaze as the story of the world unrolls before us; but infinitely nobler than the grandest of those is the pale form of Jesus hanging on the rough and reddened wood at Calvary - dead, but victorious even in dying - stronger in that marble sleep than the mightiest of the worlds living actors, or than all the marshalled hosts of sin and death. Not the greatest sight only, but the strongest ever seen; for there, at the foot of the cross, lie Death, slain with his own dart, and Hell, vanquished at his very gate. All that have ever lived, all now living, all who shall come after us till time shall be no more, must feel the power of the cross!* Group Jesus with Moses, Buddhah, Confucius, Mohammed, and all the distinguished of all ages; and who is the brightest star in that constellation? Why, it is Jesus, from Whom proceed the brightest rays which diffuse love, light, life, peace, and joy in the midst of misery-stricken humanity. Nor does the lustre of His name fade with time, but is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day; ever increasing, until that light, which only at first appeared as rays of starlight (Num. 24: 17), shall be transformed to the gaze of a regenerate and God-fearing world into the rays of a Sun the Sun of righteousness, Who shall arise with healing in His wings (Mal. 4: 2). His name shall endure for ever; His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed.
* W. F. Colliers Great Events of History.
This is the second title Jeremiah gives the Messiah in our text.
This word (Mowshel), translated in the Authorised Version Governor, and which I have rendered Ruler, is frequently used to describe one into whose hands the reins of government have been entrusted by some one else, either as a token of special favour or from a conviction that the person thus honoured is best fitted to manage affairs. Thus Pharaoh made Joseph (Mowshel = ruler) of all his substance (Ps. 105: 21; see also Gen. 45: 8).
That this is a title of the Messiah is clear also from another and undisputed Messianic prophecy in Micah, where the prophet applies this very name to Him Who was to be born in Bethlehem Ephratah and was to be appointed by Jehovah Ruler in Israel (Mic. 5: 2). Now what does this title applied to the Messiah imply? Why, that God made Him Lord over all His house and Ruler of all His possessions - that He hath given to Him the key of David, so that He can open and no man shut, and shut and no man open! Especially is this the case with everything that concerns the salvation of our souls. Having mentioned Joseph as a type in this respect of the Messiah, I recollect that the bread, the means to keep the people from physical death, was more especially in his keeping; so the bread of heaven, the only means to prevent spiritual and eternal death, is in the sole keeping of the crucified Jesus - the greater than Joseph. There seems to have been some amount of prejudice against Joseph on the part of some of the Egyptians, for, when they were famished, instead of going direct to him in whose hands they knew the corn was, they went and cried to Pharaoh for bread, but Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go to Joseph, and what he saith unto you, do (Gen. 41: 5). So there are many now who when they feel the pangs of soul-hunger either ignore or deny that God hath exalted Jesus Christ to be the Prince and Saviour, to dispense repentance and the forgiveness of sins to Israel and unto all nations; and desire to approach God by any way whatever except by the only one which He has Himself appointed; but God says, No one cometh unto Me but by Christ (John 14: 6); He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 6); I am only able to save unto the uttermost all those who come unto Me by Him (Heb. 7: 25).
Jesus is the Mowshel; into His hands I have committed all things; and surely you may learn this lesson, that, since I, the infinitely wise God, have entrusted all things to His hands, you cannot do better than entrust your affairs, especially the affairs of your soul, to Him.
Now, I want to compare again our text with Micah 5: 2, where the same
title is applied to the Messiah; and His twofold nature - the human and the
Divine - will be easily seen. In our
text it says, Their Ruler shall proceed from the midst of them, but in Micah it says, 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 are from of old, even from the days of eternity. That these two passages speak of the same
Person there is no doubt, and yet one says that He proceeds from the midst of
But now let us for a moment direct our gaze to another aspect of Messiah, and consider Him as the
Who for us drew near to God in the attitude of Representative and Intercessor; for this is how the Spirit of God represents Him to us in the latter part of the passage we are considering, the words used being exactly the same as those describing the attitude of the priests drawing nigh to God to minister on behalf of the people (Exod. 19: 22; Lev. 21: 17, etc.).
At first sight it may seem a difficulty to understand how the regal and priestly functions could be vested in the same person, for the Lord Messiah was, according to the flesh, to spring out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood; but it is clear if we remember that the Messiah was to be the second Adam to the human race - the great Patriarch Who was to resume the privileges enjoyed by the patriarchs before the introduction of the law, and act for His own family, not only as Head and Leader, but also as Priest.
In the person of Christ, especially in His official capacity as Priest, all tribal and national distinctions are lost. He is not only the Seed of David and King of Israel, but also the Son of man - Chief and Father of all His redeemed family. Anyhow it is distinctly prophesied of Him that He shall be a Priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zech. 6: 13); and again in Psalm 110., He that is to rule in the midst of His enemies (ver. 2) is spoken of in this wise, Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek!
The fact that Messiah so unites different functions in His person does but prove His more than human character.
I do not wish to dwell long on this point here, as I have elsewhere spoken of Christ in His capacity of Priest; but I merely point out briefly the relation of sacrifice and priest and the special Order of Christs priesthood.
1. In the Levitical economy, priest and sacrifice were inseparable; without priest, sacrifice could not be offered, and without sacrifice priest had no place. Both systems were to go on side by side until they finally met and were perfected in one centre. For be it remembered, that not only were the sacrifices typical, pointing to Him Who was to be led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. 53) - the Lamb of God Which taketh away the sin of the world - but the system of priesthood, too, was merely serving unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, pointing to Him Who was to come and be a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
How unscriptural and inconsistent therefore are the ideas of those people who, while they admit that in this dispensation there remaineth no more sacrifice on account of the fulfilment all have received in Christ, still hold to a system of priesthood, as if it had not received a fulfilment in Christ too, so that there remaineth no more priest as well as no more sacrifice!
Who is this, asks the Almighty, that engageth His heart to approach unto Me? For mere man, except the children of Aaron, who ministered by Divine commission in the Temple at Jerusalem, it is sacrilege and presumption to set himself up as priest and approach God as mediator; but there is One Who is qualified to do so on account of being God-man - Divine as well as human; and being unique in this respect, He calls forth the admiration of Jehovah. Then, too, He can be called a Priest, because He had a sacrifice to offer - the body which God hath prepared Him (Ps. 40: 6; Heb. 10: 5).*
* [NOTE BEGINNING PAGE 64] There is, indeed, a priesthood in the New Testament, but the dignity is the common possession of all Christians. An holy priesthood. For the worship and ceremonies of the Jewish Church were all shadows of Jesus Christ, and have their accomplishment in Him, not only after a singular manner in His own person, but in a derived way in His mystical body, His Church. The priesthood of the law represented Him as the great High-priest, Who offered up Himself for our sins, and that is a priesthood altogether incommunicable; neither is there any peculiar office of priesthood for offering sacrifice in the Christian Church but His alone Who is Head of it. But this dignity that is here mentioned of a spiritual priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices is common to all those who are in Christ. As they are living stones built on Him into a spiritual temple, so they are priests of that same temple made by Him (Rev. 1: 6). As He was, in a transcendent manner, temple and Priest and sacrifice, so, in their kind, are Christians all these three through Him; and by His Spirit that is in them their offerings through Him are made acceptable. ... Whereas the dignity of their priesthood (the Levitical) staid in a few persons, all those who believe are now this dignified to be priests unto God the Father. And this was signified by the rending of the veil of the Temple at His death, not only that those ceremonies and sacrifices were to cease, as being all fulfilled in Him, but that the people of God, who were before by that veil held out in the outer court, were to be admitted into the holy place as being all of them priests, and fitted to offer sacrifices. There is here the service of this office, namely, to offer. There is no priesthood without sacrifice, for these terms are correlative, and offering sacrifices was the chief employment of the legal priests. Now, because the priesthood here spoken of is altogether spiritual, therefore the sacrifices must be so too, as the apostle here expresses it. - ARCHBISHOP LEIGHTONS note on 1 Pet. 2: 5.
2. Now as to the special order of Christs priesthood.
His priesthood is not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek, the superiority of which over the former is seen in the fact that Melchizedek received tithes from, and blessed the Aaronic in Abraham (Heb. 7: 4, 10); and without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
The main points of difference between the two systems, which differences, indeed, are the special characteristics of the two covenants to which they variously belong, as is shown in Hebrews 7., are these:‑
1. The Aaronic priesthood was merely shadowy and changeable, and, on that account, as Paul points out, it was not confirmed by an oath, but Messiah, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood, which was confirmed by an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
2. The Aaronic priesthood was imperfect, both in itself, which is seen from the fact that the members of it needed daily to offer up sacrifices first for their own sins, and in its efficacy, since it required an endless repetition of offerings which did not accomplish, but merely typify, the work of atonement, on the necessity of which they were founded; but Christs priesthood is perfect, both in itself, because He is perfect, and in its efficacy, because the offering He brought for sin was of such infinite value, and its blood so precious, as to effect atonement and reconciliation once and for all.
The priesthood of Christ now does not therefore, like the
Aaronic priesthood, consist in the offering of sacrifices for sins, there being
no more necessity for it; but like Melchizedek, who received from Abraham, as
Gods representative, offerings of his services, so Christ receives from His
people the offering of their services, which, together with their praises and
prayers, He offers up mixed with His own merits and intercessions. It is true that to His own family He is now
the Mediator, Who, in case of estrangement through sin, makes reconciliation,
but He does so on the ground of the blood once shed on
Like Melchisedek, too (Gen. 14: 18, 19), our great High-priest comes out from time to time to meet us with bread and wine, by which He reminds us that not only was He the Lamb of sacrifice, by becoming which He satisfied the demands of a just God; but that He is also the Lamb of food, and that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we too shall be satisfied (John 7: 48-58).
I would conclude the exposition of our text by remarking on the special manner
in which it describes the Messiah as identified with His people in the presence
of God. Who is this that has mixed up
His heart to approach unto Me, saith Jehovah?* We know
that for any one to mix himself up in anything is to identify himself with it,
and with whom but man could Messiah thus mix Himself up? Have not His delights always been with the
children of men? Yes, He has - blessed be
His name! - mixed Himself up with our nature and all its infirmities by becoming
man; He has mixed Himself up with our sins by becoming Surety for us and
answering for us the demands of Divine justice; He has mixed Himself up with
all the trials and temptations incident to our pilgrimage through this moral
wilderness on our way to the glory in His own presence, so that He may
mercifully be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and be ready to grant us grace and
help in every time of need. He has also
mixed Himself up in our sorrows and afflictions, so that in all our
afflictions He is afflicted and Himself carries our sorrows and bears our burdens; and now in the
heavenly sanctuary, in the immediate presence of Jehovah, in a far more
glorious sense than Aaron, in the earthly sanctuary, represented Israel, by
bearing their names on his breast (Exod. 28: 12, 29 ; 39: 6, 7), does our glorious great High-priest
represent us. Our names are not on His
heart, but in His heart, and the oneness of Christ with His people is not
merely a legal oneness, as that between Aaron and
* [NOTE BEGINNING PAGE 67] A similar exclamation of surprise and admiration with regard to the person of the Messiah is to be found in Isaiah 43: 1. Who is this? exclaims the prophet, inspired by the Spirit of God, and there the answer comes that it is the Judge Who comes in vengeance to tread His enemies in His anger and to trample them in His fury, so that their lifeblood shall sprinkle His garments and stain all His raiment.
Who so fit to be our great High-priest as Jesus, Who is full of compassion and can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities? And again who has such a right, and is in every way adapted, to ascend the throne of judgment as He, Who has ascended the cross and to redeem this godless, ungrateful world did thereon shed His own blood?
But let us remember that in our text it is more especially in relation to Israel that Messiah is thus represented as Priest; and not only will He exercise this function, together with His kingship on the throne of David, after He returns to build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; but even now, at the Fathers right hand, He is exalted, a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins; and, for my part, I cannot bring myself to believe that the concern Christ manifested for His brethren according to the flesh when on earth and His intercession for them on the cross ceased with His ascension to glory. No; the same One Who ever lives to make intercession for us says also that for Zions sake He will not hold His peace, and for Jerusalems sake will He not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
If I look at Christ as, Priest in relation to Israel, I see Him now, as it were, within the veil, and Israel without, anxiously waiting, not knowing whether the work of atonement has been completed; but soon their great Day of Atonement will be ended, and Israels great High-priest come forth again from within the veil, with lifted hands, to pronounce upon them again the benediction of Jehovah as a sign of acceptance and favour.* Then indeed shall all Israel be justified, and shall glory!
* [NOTE ON PAGE 70] On the Day of Atonement (see Lev.
16.), Aaron first entered into the holy of holies with the blood of the
bullock to make an atonement for himself and his house, then came forth again and re-entered
with the blood of the goat, to make an atonement for Israel. In either case, his reappearing from within
the veil was the assurance to the expectant throng without that the work of
atonement had been accomplished. Now
Christ has, as it were, accomplished atonement for the priestly house which
represented the Christian Church as united with Him; but, as far as
* * *
CHAPTER 3 [Pages 71-150]
In that day shall the Branch* of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. - Isa. 4: 2.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I
shall raise unto David a righteous Branch,* and
a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the
earth. In His days
Hear now, 0 Joshua the high-priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men wondered at, for, behold, I will bring forth MY Servant the Branch. - Zech. 3: 8.
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the Man Whose name is the Branch*; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. - Zech. 6: 12, 13.
* These, with the exception of Jeremiah 33: 15, which in a repetition of Jeremiah 23: 5, 6, are the only four instances in the Hebrew Scriptures where the Messiah is designated by the title (Branch), and in the connections which will be pointed out farther on. (See Appendix, Note 4.)
THE BRANCH, OR FOUR ASPECTS OF MESSIAHS CHARACTER.
There are four different aspects in which the Messiah is introduced to us under the above title in the Old Testament Scriptures, answering to what are generally believed to be the four different aspects in which the Lord Jesus is presented to us in the four Gospels.*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 73] Just as a gifted painter, who wished to immortalise for a family the complete likeness of the father who had been its glory, would avoid any attempt at combining in a single portrait the insignia of all the various offices he had filled - at representing him in the same picture as general and as magistrate, as man of science and as father of a family - but would prefer to paint four distinct portraits, each of which should represent him in one of these characters, so has the Holy Spirit, in order to preserve for mankind the perfect likeness of Him Who was its chosen Representative, God in man, used means to impress upon the minds of the writers whom He has made His organs four different images - the King of Israel (Matthew); the Saviour of the world (Luke); the Son Who, as man, mounts the steps of the Divine throne (Mark); and the Son Who descends into humanity to sanctify the world (John). - GODETS BIBLICAL STUDIES.
In Jeremiah 23: 5, 6, He is called the Branch of David, answering to the description given of Him in the Gospel of Matthew, which was written for Jews, and where our blessed Lord is represented to them as the Son of David, the Messiah promised to the fathers. For this reason the genealogies in this Gospel are only traced to Abraham.
In Zechariah 3: 8, He is represented to us as the Branch Who is Jehovahs Servant, answering to the Gospel of Mark, wherein, in a particular manner, is sketched the career of Him Who, although He was God, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant. This Gospel is a record, not so much of the words of Jesus as of His acts; hence it follows more minutely than do the others the services of Jehovahs righteous Servant, of Whom it was written in the volume of the book, I come to do Thy will, 0 God (Ps. 40: 7, 8). Mark gives no genealogies of Jesus because a servant needs not such recommendations, he being judged by his work alone.
In the Gospel of Luke the most prominent feature of our Lords character is that of the Son of man, which in the Scriptures means the Man par excellence, the true Man, both the ideal and Representative of the race, the second Adam and the Saviour of men. The chief characteristic of this Gospel is its universality. It is a message which ignores all differences of race and class, and appeals to all the children of Adam, who are embraced in the one fallen family of man, to whom it proclaims a common Saviour Who should arise from their midst; and hence the Lord Jesus is presented here, not, as in Matthew, as the Son of David, the Messiah of Israel merely, but as the long-looked-for Seed of the woman, Who, by conquering Satan, should redeem from his power men of all nations, and become the Light of the Gentiles as well as the glory of His people Israel (Luke 2: 32). This is the reason why the Evangelist took upon him the laborious task of tracing the genealogies of Jesus to Adam. In this Gospel behold the Man Whose name is the Branch, spoken of in Zechariah 6: 12.
But just as in Matthew the most prominent feature of our Lord is His descent from David and Messiahship, and in Mark that of Jehovahs righteous Servant, and in Luke that of the Son of man, so, in the Gospel of John, the light that shines most transcendently throughout is His Divine Sonship, that glory which He had with the Father from all eternity; hence His genealogy is not, as in Matthew, taken back to Abraham, for He of Whom it speaks was before Abraham (John 8: 58), nor yet, as in Luke, to Adam, because John deals not here with the Son of Adam, but with the Son of God in Whose image Adam was created. He therefore traces not His human, but Divine pedigree, and shows us that, although He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1: 14), He that did thus tabernacle with the children of men was none other than the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; and that, although the Light had only then just shone upon the darkness of this world, He that in grace and mercy had thus become the Light and Life of this dark and dead world was none other than He Whose goings forth have been from of old, even from the days of eternity (Mic. 5: 2), Who in the very beginning was with God and Himself was God (John 1: 1). Here then is the Branch of Jehovah,* Whose glory and beauty Isaiah sang (Isa. 4: 2), and Whose Divine fruit has since refreshed and satisfied many hungry and thirsty souls from John until now.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 76] It is universally admitted that the word (branch) in Jeremiah 23: 15 means son in its literal and natural sense; in fact, this is the verse most generally quoted by Jews as a proof that the Messiah is to be the Son of David. This interpretation is just, but, on the same ground, is there any reason why the word in Isaiah 4: 2 should not be interpreted in the same way? And if we admit that means the Son of David, why not also admit that means the Son of God? See my little book , What think ye of Christ? P. 24.
But just as in each of the Gospels, though one feature of our Lords character is brought more prominently to the fore, His twofold nature is always steadily kept in view, so it is also in each of the four different prophecies to which we have referred. Jeremiah, in this passage, speaks of Him as the Son of David, thus dwelling more particularly on His human nature; but he also declares Him to be God, by applying to Him, the Divine title of Jehovah, for this is His name whereby He shall be called, he Lord our Righteousness; and, though Isaiah, in this instance, speaks of Him more particularly as the Son of God, he also by designating Him (Fruit of the earth) declares Him to be an offspring of this earth - human. He is styled Servant in Zechariah 3: 8, but it is the Branch Who is introduced as the Servant, and by this title we at once recognise, not only the Son of David, but the Son of God. Lastly, in Zechariah 6: 12, 13, we are told to behold the Man, but it goes on to tell us that this Man shall not only rule and be Counsellor of peace, but that He shall be a Priest upon His throne. He must, therefore, to say the least, be a most extraordinary man, yea something more even than mere priest or king, to have combined both these functions, which belonged not only to two different persons, but to two utterly distinct tribes, in Himself.* Now we will turn back successively to each one of the four passages referred to; and, with our Bibles before us, let us see how sublimely appropriate to the context is that particular feature of our Lords character which is emphasised variously in each case.
* [NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 77] Perhaps
in no other single book in the Old Testament Scriptures is Messiahs Divinity
so clearly taught as in Zechariah. In
the second chapter (8-11) the prophet calls
Him Who is to come and dwell in the midst of the daughter of
THE BRANCH OF DAVID.
Let us look then first at Jeremiah 23: 5, 6.* And why does the prophet here introduce Messiah as the
Son of David? It is because he speaks of
Him as the King Who shall reign in
* [NOTE ON PAGE 78] There is scarcely any contrary opinion among ancient and also modem Jews but that this is a Messianic prophecy. Even Kimchi says, - By the righteous Branch is meant Messiah, and Jonathan has introduced Messiah by name in this passage.
** [NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 79] The title root and offspring of David as well as that of Son of David refers to the Kingdom of which Christ is Heir, as we learn from the words of the angel to Mary He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David. According to the commonly received view, there is indeed no importance in the title Son of David as belonging to Christ, except perhaps as proving that He was descended from David and enabling us to trace His genealogy. But it is evident that the announcement of the angel attaches to it far greater importance than this, inasmuch as it asserts for Him as Son of David the throne of His father David. And what throne is that? Not the throne of heaven, nor yet the throne of Gods spiritual kingdom, for neither of these ever was or could have been occupied by David or could be inherited by Christ as Son of David. The throne intended, then, must be the throne of the kingdom of Israel, and that it is so, the words of the angel testify; for having said, The Lord God shall give to Him the throne of His father David, he adds, And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.‑ REV. W. BURGH.
But have not these statements already
been fulfilled? for does not the throne of David
mean the throne on which Jesus now sits exalted at the right hand of the
Father, and the daughter of
Zion the Church, in each particular member of which
Jesus dwells? No, I do not so understand it.
After careful and prayerful examination I can only find one throne of
David, and that was in Jerusalem, not in heaven; and on this throne Jesus the
Son of David never yet sat; and believing that the word of the living God
cannot be broken, I verily believe that He will yet sit upon it.* And as for Zion
being the Church, I have, among others, this objection against it. I am told here that Jehovah shall again
* [NOTE ON PAGE 81] The Jews object that many prophecies, and those such as especially concern themselves, have not been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, and that therefore He cannot be the Messiah promised by the prophets. To this many Christian writers have replied, that such declarations are figurative, and that under earthly emblems, heavenly things are intended - that the Jews are never to be restored to their own land, nor the Messiah to have a kingdom over Israel; that the only blessings which they have to expect are adoption into the Christian family here and admission into the heavenly Canaan hereafter. But to this the Jew objects, that a mode of interpretation which is based upon two contradictory principles is necessarily false. You prove that Jesus is the Messiah, he says, by the grammatical principle - you evade difficulties by the adoption of the figurative. Choose one of the two. Carry through the figurative exposition, and then there is no suffering Messiah; carry through the literal, and a large portion of the prophecies are not yet fulfilled. The Jews demand is reasonable, and his objection to this expository inconsistency valid; ... to receive those prophecies which foretell Messiahs humiliation and atoning death in their plain and literal sense, and seek to allegorise those which deal with His glorious reign on the earth and over restored and blessed Israel, is to place an insurmountable stumbling-block before every Jew of common sense, and to hold up prophecy to the scorn of the infidel. - DR. ALEXANDER MCCAUL.
I cannot find one single passage in the whole Scriptures from which I could even infer that the Lord Jesus is now in the possession of His throne* - that one which is peculiarly His by right, not only as the Son of David, but as the promised reward of His suffering and death; but, on the contrary, it would not be difficult to adduce many passages to prove that He is only now waiting to take possession of that throne.
* [NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 82] The only passage in which it would on the surface appear that Jesus is now exalted on the throne of David is Acts 2: 29-36, where Peter quotes a prophecy of David concerning two events, viz., that the Messiah should be raised from the dead and sit on his (Davids) throne, and then goes on to show that this Jesus hath God raised up (ver. 32), and that He is ascended into heaven and exalted to the right hand of God, by which exaltation some have thought that Peter meant to prove that the second part of Davids prophecy received its fulfilment, but, on a careful examination of the passage and a comparison of it with others, it is, I think, clear, that Peter does not mean to imply anything of the kind. He uses here the prophecy that the Messiah shall reign on the throne of David merely as an argument that He must rise from the dead after He is cut off, but not for Himself. If Christ had not risen from the dead, He could neither immediately nor ultimately take possession of the throne of David. That He is now in possession of that throne is another thing, and Peter himself tells us that He is now at the right hand of God waiting for it until His enemies be made His footstool (ver. 35). That Christs exaltation to the right hand of God is only temporary, until He takes possession of His throne, is proved further on.
Take, for instance, Revelation 3: 21, and these are the words of the blessed Saviour Himself, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne! Now here we are told that the throne on which He now sits is not His, but the Fathers, Who invited Him to share it with Him as a token of His perfect satisfaction with the finished work of His beloved Son; and that He only occupies this place until He takes possession of His own throne, on which He will grant the glorious privilege of sitting to all those who have been faithful to Him when all the world was in rebellion against Him, and who, although persecuted and tried, would still own no other king but Him. Then, in Hebrews 10: 12, 13, we have it stated, But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. Here again we are expressly told that the place Christ now occupies at the right hand of God is not a permanent one, but only until His expectation - that of His enemies becoming His footstool - be fulfilled, and then, as the apostle tells us in the last verse of the preceding chapter, He will appear the second time without sin unto salvation to, and for, those whom, in His condescending grace, He is pleased to call, not His servants, or even subjects, but friends, Whom He is going to honour by making them share His government. Then, if Christs throne is now established, who are they over whom He rules? It cannot be the Church, for we are distinctly told that when Christs throne is established the Church, instead of being reigned over, shall then reign; and if, as is the opinion of some, before Christs return all men, Israel included (2 Tim. 2: 12; Rev. 5: 10, 20: 6, 22: 5), will be brought to acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour, they, of course, all consequently become members of the Church, whether Jews or Gentiles; then who, I ask, will be those over whom the Church, together with Christ, will reign? Then again, it would be easy to prove from Scripture, that Christs reign on the throne of David does not commence until after He leaves His Fathers right hand, and until after the Church, whatever may be understood by that term, is complete; how then can that reign on the throne of David mean His present exaltation at the right hand of the Majesty on high and His heavenly ministrations over the Church on earth?
In Christs parable of the nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return (Luke 19: 12-27), we have at once the reason of His present absence and a declaration that He only commences the actual administration of that kingdom after He returns to the earth. He tells us there that the object of His journey into the far country, His ascension into heaven, was in order to be invested with the Kingdom; and of this investiture we get a glimpse in Daniel 7: 13, where the prophet finishes the picture which the few favoured disciples who witnessed the ascension commenced, and tells us how this Jesus, the glorified Son of man,* after that He disappeared on a cloud from the longing gaze of those who watched Him in Bethany, continued His journey until, attended by hosts of heaven, He reached the Eternal One, the Ancient of days, Who invested Him with dominion and glory and a kingdom that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. This glimpse of what was going on in heaven was a glorious sight to the prophet, but when he turned his gaze back to the earth the vision that he got there was quite different, and such that grieved his spirit and troubled his head! He beheld that while the King, Whom he had just seen invested with the Kingdom, tarried in heaven, usurpation was going on on the earth, and the subjects of the Prince of princes were prevailed against by the usurper, who was exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails brass, and who devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped with his feet the saints of the Most High. But the prophet looked on, and presently he saw Him Whom he had before seen in heaven come back to the earth, to take possession of that kingdom with which he saw Him before invested. We see then, from these and other passages, that, first, the object of Christs ascension into heaven was not to remain there, but merely to be invested with the Kingdom and to return. He tarries there, but it is not because, being occupied with the joys of heaven, He is insensible to the suffering of this groaning earth, but because He is longsuffering and willing to give the opportunity to as many as possible of those who rebelled against Him to make their peace with Him, ere yet He is obliged to assume the character of judge and destroy all those who would not be saved; but when the time of grace shall be accomplished, when even the longsuffering of God shall be exhausted, He will descend again in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1: 8). Then world-power shall be at an end, and the government of the beast, which well describes the character of the rule of the various monarchies that have succeeded each other, will be superseded by the government of the Son of man, Whose reign will be in justice, righteousness, and abundance of peace.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 85] The title Son of man is always associated with His coming again, because the Kingdom that then awaits Him is that which belongs to Him as the Saviour of man, the Restorer of the lost inheritance. Son of man expresses His visible state, formerly in His humiliation, hereafter in His exaltation. He comes to the Ancient of days to be invested with the Kingdom (Ps. 110: 2). This investiture was at His ascension with the clouds of heaven (Acts 1: 9), which is a pledge of His return in like manner in the clouds (Acts 1: 11; Matt. 26: 64) and with the clouds (Rev. 1: 7). The Kingdom then was given Him in title and invisible exercise; at His second coming it shall be in visible administration. - A. R. FAUSSET.
Secondly - to turn back to our original starting-point, from which we have strayed somewhat in order to clear the way before us - when Christ will so return, He will, in a special and peculiar sense, bless Israel as a nation, and reign over them in Mount Zion, and through them over the whole earth, from the throne of His father David. The present state of the Jews is pictured by the prophet Hosea in the third chapter of his prophecy, where they are described principally as abiding many days without a king and without a prince, but they will not continue so much longer, for thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land; ... and David My Servant shall be King over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My statutes and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children and their childrens children, for ever, and My Servant David shall be their Prince for ever (Ezek. 37: 21-25). It is exceedingly interesting to note the two different terms applied to the Messiah in this passage, answering exactly to the third of Hosea. He is not only the King, but the Prince.
Now the Hebrew word for Prince here is (nossi), which is generally applied, more particularly, not to an hereditary prince, but to one who is exalted, or borne up,* by the free choice of the people; and this leads our thoughts to the time when, on Christs manifestation to Israel as a nation, He will not only be recognised as Him Whose right it is to reign (Ezek. 21: 27), as the hereditary Heir to the throne of David, but He will, of the free-will of the people, be elected their Chief. Instead of Crucify Him! Crucify Him! We will not have this Man to reign over us! they will cry, Hosanna! Blessed be He that cometh in the name of Jehovah! (Ps. 118: 26). This is our God; we have waited for Him: we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation (Isa. 25: 9). Thus the stone which some builders refused will by others be made the chief stone of the corner. Even this shall be the Lords doing, although it is marvellous in our eyes.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 88] The word also means to bear, to take
away, and thus it is used in Psalm 32: 1,
where the verse may rather be rendered, Blessed is he
whose transgression is carried away, whose sin is covered. The reference is no doubt, to the figure in
the Psalmists mind of the scape-goat who was to bear, or carry away, upon him
all the iniquities of the congregation of
Finally, we notice, in concluding these remarks, that Israels
King will be Israels Shepherd too; and because He will keep them as a
shepherd keepeth his flock, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and the
promise of God to Israel will be fulfilled, And He will set up one Shepherd over
them, and He shall feed them, even My Servant David; He shall feed them, and He
shall be their Shepherd, and I the Lord will be their God, and My Servant David
a Prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.
Here again we observe the Divine character of Israels Messiah as taught
in the Old Testament Scriptures, for we are distinctly told that the Shepherd
for Whom Israel is waiting, and Who will save them (compare Ps. 80: 1, 2, with Jer. 23: 6, Heb.), is none other than He Who of old dwelt between
the cherubim and spoke to Moses from off the mercy-seat (Ps. 80:
1; Exod. 25: 20-22). Sing, 0 daughter of
THE BRANCH OF JEHOVAH.
We next come to Isaiah 4.*
And why does the prophet here particularly speak of Messiah as the Branch of
Jehovah? It is because he speaks of the
time when Israel shall not only be restored to Palestine, but when, after being
purged and washed from their sin, which made them
appear filthy** in sight of Jehovah, Who is of purer eyes than to behold
iniquity, so that He had to remove them from Him as an unclean woman (Ezek. 36:
17), they shall
again be remarried*** to Jehovah, and shall have even greater favours
lavished upon them than they had before; and to accomplish this He must be the
Branch of Jehovah, for though the Son of David may be sufficient to reign in
Mount Zion on the throne of David, the Son of God can alone forgive sin. Just now the Jews object to the doctrine of
the Messiahs Divinity, but it is mostly because they have not yet learned the
real object of the Messiahs mission on the earth. When once they are brought by the Spirit of God fully to learn and believe that
Messiahs work on earth is nothing less than the deliverance of mankind from
the bondage of sin and Satan they will be convinced that if He is to be the
Redeemer at all, He must needs be Divine; for if He were mere man, He could not
possibly turn away ungodliness from
Jacob (Isa. 49: 20), or redeem Israel from all his
iniquities (Ps. 130: 8), seeing every man, even the
righteous, appears sinful in the sight of God, so that He would Himself need
redemption. Has not God Himself declared
30: 15), that,
because of the multitude of his iniquity, and because his sins are increased,
* [NOTES ON PAGE 90] The passage commences properly with verse 2.
Here again there is scarcely any controversy as to the Messianic
application of this prophecy. Rashi, indeed, says that by the Branch
of Jehovah is signified the righteous that
are left in
** The word used here is the strongest in the Hebrew language to describe filth, and it suggests to us how horribly filthy sin is in Gods sight.
*** [NOTE ON PAGE 91] This idea that Israel shall be
remarried to Jehovah is beautifully brought out in this chapter, where, in the
fifth verse, the prophet says
, which, to
translate literally, is, not, as rendered in the English version, upon all the glory shall be a defence, but upon all the glory, or beyond
all this glory, shall be the marriage canopy. Under the
(marriage canopy) every Jewish
wedding is solemnised even at the present day.
This leads our minds to Isaiah 62., where God is represented as remarrying
The prophet Hosea declares that
Hitherto I have ventured upon ground that is undisputed, for most who receive the Scriptures as the inspired Word of the living God, believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, is also the Son of God and Davids Lord; they believe also that Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and that in Him shall all Israel be saved and shall glory (Isa. 45: 17, 25; Rom. 11: 26); but now we come to the question, When will the Son of God, this Divine Branch of Jehovah, thus manifest Himself for the national salvation of Israel?
To this question a great many different answers are
given. There are some Christian teachers
who teach that
Now, without comparing and dwelling on any or all of these and many other notions on this subject held by different classes of Christians, I ask permission to produce a few passages of the Word of God, both in the Old and New Testaments, which, if taken in their obvious sense, will set us right on this subject if our hearts be open to receive the truth.
The Holy Spirit, through the prophet Ezekiel, says (36: 24),
I will take you from among all the heathen, and gather
you out of all countries, and I will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,
and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I
cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put
within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will
give you an heart of flesh, and 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 ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to
your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Now here the order of events in connection with
* [NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 95] I know I shall be met with the objection that the judgment
Whatever view, however, be taken of Ezekiel
36: 25 - and I would not
dogmatically say that the application I have made of it is the right one,
though I believe it is - there can be no doubt that the immediate prospect of
Yes, Israel has a baptism of suffering to undergo such as even
they have never yet experienced in
all the long catalogue of the inexpressible sufferings they have endured for
ages, for hitherto the furnace in which they have been has been heated by the
wrath of man, but what is this compared to the furnace, seven times heated by
the wrath of the Almighty, which yet awaits them in Zion? Hear what Ezekiel says in another place (22: 18):
Thus saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become
dross, behold therefore I will gather you into the midst of
But along with Israels national deliverance comes also their eternal
salvation; hence the next thing we read of in the chapter to which we have
referred (Ezek. 36.) is, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put
within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will
give you an heart of flesh. And I will
put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and do them. And
ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be My
people, and I will be your God. Their national
* [NOTE FROM PAGE 102] The word in Jeremiah 30: 19, translated thanksgiving, should more properly be rendered confession.
Now I turn to the New Testament
Scriptures to see if we can confirm the principle which we have laid down on
the authority of the Old. I go to that
epistle first of all which is perhaps more than any other book a compendium of
Christian doctrines - I refer to the Epistle to the Romans - and what do I find
taught there concerning the time of
Then the second landmark is the Redeemers return unto
THE SERVANT THE BRANCH.*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 107] Kimchi and Rashi interpret, My Servant the Branch, of Zerubbabel, but they themselves acknowledge that the older interpretation among the Jews was of the Messiah, and they give no good reason for departing from the received interpretation. Here again the Targum Yonathan introduces Messiah by name.
To apply the title Branch to any other person but Messiah would contradict the analogy of the prophetic language, for in Isaiah 4: 2 and Jeremiah 23: 6, Kimchi himself acknowledges that Branch means the Messiah.
Moreover, the words do not agree with the character or circumstances of Zerubbabel. God says, I will bring My Servant the Branch; but Zerubbabel had come long before, and was already a prince among them, and, as Abarbanel says (see note to p. 116), after this prophecy Zerubbabel attained to neither royalty, dominion, or other dignity more than he already possessed.
Now we are to consider Zechariah 3. and contemplate our adorable Lord in the character of Servant: Behold, I will bring forth My Servant the Branch.
Here we have the picture of the high-priest Joshua, who
* [NOTE BEGINNING ON PAGE 108] It is believed by some that the reference in Jude 9 is to this passage, the body of Moses being the Jewish Church, for which Satan was contending by reason of its sins, just as the body of Christ is the Christian Church. However, Jude 9 plainly speaks of the literal body of Moses, the resurrection of which, at the Transfiguration, Satan seems to have opposed, on the ground of Moses error at Meribah. The Lord rebuke thee checked Satan in contending for judgment against Moses body, as also it checked him when demanding judgment against the Jewish Church, to which Moses body corresponds. ‑See AUSSET on Zech. 3.
Then again, where can we go for a full manifestation of Gods
tenderness, sympathy, and love? Come
with me to
In this connection how precious is that statement in Isaiah 53: 11, By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant make many righteous
By His perfect obedience to the Father even unto death, Christ acquired so much righteousness that it is sufficient to make many - as many as will appropriate it by faith - righteous in the presence of God, just as the pouring out of His one soul unto death is sufficient for the propitiation of the sin of the whole world. , I have said before that there is no possibility for man to lay any claim to merit, because, to speak of merit, he must be on equal terms with Him from Whom he claims it, for something which he conferred which the other had no right to expect, but the Messiah was on equal terms with God, for He Who becomes our Righteousness is none other than Jehovah, Who, instead of being a creature, is the Creator of all things (Zech. 12: 1-10; John 1: 1 - 3). The law of God was for servants, not for His own Son, but the Son voluntarily took upon Himself the form of a servant and perfectly obeyed it. Gods justice only denounced death on the sinner, but here is the Holy One, Who stoops to a death the most ignominious; He can therefore speak of merit, and, on account of His exalted character and the magnitude of the work accomplished by Him, can claim so much of it as is sufficient for all who are united to Him by faith.
Church of the firstborn, elect of God! to thee no less than to
After beholding Him, Paul, too, could sing, What things were gain to me, those I count loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Phil. 3: 7-9).
Behold Him, then, even though as yet the vision may be as through a glass dimly; contemplate Him as He humbles Himself for thy sake and takes upon Him the form of a servant; direct thy gaze upwards and behold Him Who is thy Righteousness now exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high as an assurance that Jehovah is well pleased with thee for His righteousness sake (Rom. 4: 25; Isa. 42: 21); and exclaim, Blessed indeed am I, unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity (2 Cor. 5: 19), and in whose spirit He finds no guile!
THE MAN THE BRANCH.*
We finally come to consider the Messiah as He is represented to us in Zechariah 6., in the character of Man Behold the Man Whose name is the Branch!
* [NOTE ON PAGES 116 and 117] Here again Rashi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi, assert that the Man the Branch
is Zerubbabel, but again they have, for obvious controversial reasons, departed
from the older received interpretation, as is seen from Targum Yonathan, where the passage (ver.
12) is paraphrased thus Behold the Man; Messiah
is His Name. He will be revealed, and He will become
great and build the
But, if this be the case, it would
be better to repeat the words three or four times, for then the confirmation
would have been greater still. I should
farther ask them how they can interpret of Zerubbabel those words He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His
throne? for he (Zerubbabel) never ruled in
Dr. Alexander McCaul says on this passage, The prophecy promises these particulars: first, He shall be a Priest upon His throne; secondly, He shall build the Temple of the Lord; thirdly, He shall bear the glory ( the majesty, Hengstenberg), and shall sit and rule upon His throne, and they that are far off shall come and build the Temple of the Lord. It is not necessary to point out the well-known passages which prove that these four particulars are all features of Messiahs character and in that of no one else. It is also easy to identify these features in the character of Jesus of Nazareth. He is represented in the New Testament as a High-priest, as a King; and it is certain that the Gentiles, who were then afar off, have acknowledged His dignity; and, as for building a temple, He did this also (see John 2: 19; Eph. 2: 22).
That the Messiah was to be man I need not stay to prove. It is implied by His birth, which, though
miraculous, was yet of a Jewish virgin* (Isa. 9: 6).
He Who should gather scattered
* [NOTE ON PAGE 118] According to our Gospel narrations, Jesus was not born in the ordinary course of nature. Have we not here then at the very outset of our undertaking a rock upon which the thesis we have to maintain comes to shipwreck? If Jesus Christ is truly man, must He not have been born in the same manner as every other man? This objection, however, it is easy to see, proves too much, for it would oblige us to deny true humanity to the first man, upon the ground that he came into existence by a different process from that of ordinary human filiation. Now, would it not be a strange proceeding to deny real humanity to that being from whom all that bears the name of man has sprung? This instance proves that the quality of manhood does not depend upon the manner in which the individual being came into existence, but upon the possession of certain attributes which constitute humanity. GODETS New Testament Series, Biblical Studies.
** [NOTE ON PAGE 119] Gen. 18: 2, 13; Josh. 5: 14, 15; Judges 6: 11, 12-22. A remarkable proof that the Angel of Jehovah (or Jehovah-Angel) that appeared in the Old Testament dispensation in the form of man is the same as He Who in fulness of time became real man, and tabernacled among us, is to be found in verses 17, 18, of this same chapter (Judges 13.), where we read thus, And Manoah said unto the Angel of Jehovah, What is Thy Name, that when Thy words come to pass we may do Thee honour? And the Angel of Jehovah said unto him, Wherefore askest thou after My Name? It is (Pele), Wonderful (not Secret, as in the Authorised Version). Now read Isaiah 9: 6, which is indisputably Messianic, Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called (Pele), Wonderful (the very word used in Judges 13: 19), Counsellor, the Mighty God, Father of eternity, Prince of peace. The Jehovah-Angel then is none other than the Messiah of the Old Testament. And who is the Jesus of the New Testament but the Messiah of the Old Testament?
Again, it was necessary for the Messiah to be man, else He could not, as our Advocate and Mediator, efficiently represent mans case before God. It behoved Him, says the apostle, in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High-priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For we have not an High-priest which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but (One Who was) in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 2: 17; 4: 17). Then also both the Old and New Testament Scriptures represent the Messiah as the Head of mankind and of all creation; the Progenitor (Isa. 53: 10; Ps. 22: 30) of all those who are born into the Kingdom of God; the second Man (1 Cor. 15: 47), Who should have all things put under His feet and resume the supremacy over all creation which Adam had lost by the fall, but, inasmuch as those who become His children are partakers of flesh and blood (Heb. 2: 13, 14), and supremacy over creation was originally promised by God to man (Gen. 1: 27, 31; Heb. 1: 6), it was necessary that He too should partake of flesh and blood and become real man. This, and the fact that the promise of God to Abraham was, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed (Gen. 12: 3), is the reason why the Messiah took not on Him the nature of angels or of any other being, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2: 16).
But in the text before us (Zech. 6: 12, 13) the Man Christ Jesus (1
Tim. 2: 5) is
introduced in another connection from those I have already mentioned. He, we are told, shall grow up out of His place (or shall branch up from under Him,
And He shall build the
Thou art Peter were the words of Jesus on one
occasion, and upon this rock (i.e., the
confession, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God) I will build My Church, and the
gates of hell [Hades] shall not prevail against
it, and what is
the Church but the
But there are still two other temples to one or other of which
some may think the words in our text may rather apply. One is that which Daniel predicts in the
ninth chapter of his prophecy and the twenty-fourth verse. Speaking of the time
of Messiahs advent, he states that one of the things that will accompany that
event shall be the anointing of a most
holy place.* Now, I believe
of this we have an explanation and fulfilment in the fourth chapter of Johns
Gospel. There, in the recorded
conversation of our Saviour with the woman of
* [NOTE ON PAGE 124] The expression Kodesh Kodoshim is exactly the same term always applied to the holy of holies in the tabernacle and Temple.
** [NOTE ON PAGE 125] The Life and Words of Christ, by Cunningham Geikie, vol. i., P. 529.
The other is the
Is it Messiahs person which is meant? The Seed of David is also the Seed of the
woman, and He from Whom emanates the glory of
* [NOTE ON PAGES 126 AND 127] There is no fear in these days of any one thinking that the Church is exclusively Jewish in its composition; but there is danger lest it should be thought that it is entirely Gentile. The Gentiles have not been called to monopolise, but to partake (share) with the Jews the root and fatness of the olive tree, and they were not grafted by the power of God into the vine to the exclusion of the Jews, but among them (Rom. 11: 17). Let not then the wild olive branches boast against the natural branches, but let them together enjoy the fat things which have been provided in abundance by the grace and mercy of God and be thankful. For He is our peace, Who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone ‑ in Whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2: 14-22).
Blessed be God, there has always been a Jewish element in the
* * *
CHAPTER 4 [Pages 129-150]
THE BRANCH AND THE BRANCHES; OR,
A SYMBOL OF CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH.
In that day shall the Branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. - Isa. 4: 2.
I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. - John 15: 5.
Having in the preceding chapter spoken of the Messiah in four different aspects as the Branch, I will here endeavour, briefly, to set forth a few reasons for the appropriateness of this title as applied to Messiah, and then, also briefly, to present Him to our view in an entirely different aspect of His character, which is more particularly given of Him in the New Testament, namely, as the Vine, I beg permission to present my thoughts in this short chapter in a somewhat parabolical, or rather illustrative manner, and trust that I shall not be misunderstood as advocating speculation on sacred things which belong only to the Lord our God. If my figure is not quite sound, I trust the lessons drawn from it are sound enough; and if the former is necessary to the minds eye, I trust the latter only will be engraven on our hearts. But to commence.
Walking with a friend through a
private park near
* [NOTE ON PAGE 132] The tree mentioned above was most probably a banyan tree, common in the East. The vegetation of the banyan tree seldom begins on the ground. The seeds are deposited by birds in the crowns of palms, and send down roots, which embrace and eventually kill the palm. The wood of the banyan is light, porous, and of no value, but the bark is regarded by the Hindoo physicians as a powerful tonic, and is administered in dietetics. Its white, glutinous juice is used to relieve toothache, and also as an application to the soles of the feet when inflamed. The branches send shoots downwards, which, when they have rooted, become stems, the tree in this manner spreading over a great surface and enduring for many ages. One has been described as having no fewer than three hundred and fifty stems equal to large oaks and more than three thousand smaller ones, covering a space sufficient to contain seven thousand persons. CHAMBERSS Cyclopxdia.
My mind at once recurred to the above passage in the Word of God (Isa. 4: 2), where Messiah is called the Branch of Jehovah, and I was reminded of a still greater marvel, of which the one before me may serve as an imperfect illustration.
Out of the infinite, eternally self-existent God, the Tree of Life and Knowledge and Wisdom and Power and Love and Holiness, shot forth a Branch Whose goings forth have been from of old, even from the days of eternity (Mic. 5: 2), Which was the admiration of Heaven, upon Whose fruit angels fed with thanksgiving, and under Whose shade all the celestial beings sang their praises. This Branch, however, instead of rising upwards in the regions of light and blessedness, stooped downward until He reached our earth, where He took root, and thus united heaven and earth and restored the intercourse between the two regions by Himself becoming the bridge - a far more glorious and safe bridge than the one which existed before, and which man was himself able to break. Behold, my soul, Jacobs wonderful dream literally fulfilled! (Gen. 28: 12, 13).
What was the object of this Divine Branch in stooping down until it reached the earth? In the case of the branch of the banyan tree, the first object it has in seeking contact with the earth is, no doubt, to accomplish its innate law of self-development and aggrandisement; and, if it be lawful to compare natural things with spiritual, I should say that this, too, was the first purpose of the Divine Branch in seeking contact with man, namely, to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3: 10). So that He may be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe (2 Thess. 1: 10) - in other words, it was to glorify Himself. We are treading on sacred ground, and are face to face with a fact which in its fulness is unutterable; but can it be that, in some mysterious sense, the human can minister to the Divine? Even so, it would seem. Anyhow, this much we know for certain, that in Gods dealings with men, His relative perfections are made manifest. Thus God, in order to show that He is Light, requires man upon whom He might shine, in order that he might reflect His light, and in order to show that He is Love, He requires man to love; for we can only think of love as existing relatively and in proportion as it is expressed, positively or negatively, for the salvation of others. In order also to make manifest that He is the Fountain of life, He takes hold of man, who is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, and quickens him, and so demonstrates to all who will but see, that He lives, and that there is a spiritual and Divine.
Weak and trembling Christian, you who see no reason in yourself why the infinite and all-glorious God should have revealed Himself to and in you, in you God will be admired by all the universe. Are you very sinful? Then in you He can make His grace more apparent. Are you very weak? Then in you can the perfectness of His strength be more seen. In short, are you altogether empty? Then you can contain more of the fulness of Him Who filleth all in all, to the admiration of principalities and powers and all things that are. Be silent before Him, then, and hear Him with wonder and adoration saying, It is more blessed to give than to receive!
But, in the second place, natural scientists would tell us that in the case of the branch of the banyan tree stooping down to the earth, that part of earth which comes into vital contact with the branch is quickened by it, and is thereby transferred into a higher kingdom; for, by the process of assimilation which goes on, the branch makes the earth a part of itself. The accuracy of this statement, as far as the vegetable and mineral kingdoms are concerned, may be questioned, but there is certainly no question but that the first thing which the visitation of the Divine Branch has brought to us is life. He (the second Adam) was a quickening Spirit (1 Cor. 15: 45). I came, He said Himself, to bring life; and again, Even so the Son quickeneth whom He will; and again, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 10: 10, 5: 21, 24; 1 John 5: 12); I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die (John 11: 25, 26). And that He brought the only chance for mans restoration into the higher state is equally clear. Since the fall there has been as impenetrable a gulf between the human and Divine as there is between the inorganic and organic. Two or three years before Strauss died, we are told, a gelatinous substance was dredged up from the sea depths, which certain English naturalists pronounced to be an organic plasm, from which life was being gradually developed. This vaunted discovery, of which infidelity failed not to make the most, freed Strauss from the belief in God which he had hitherto been constrained to avow, as otherwise he could not account for the origin of life. Since his death, however, the so-called organic plasm has been proved to be produced by a chemical blunder, and disavowed even by its discoverers; but poor Strauss did not live long enough to discover the fatal error he made and to find out that the bridge between the lifeless and the living is still wanting. There are many now who think that they have discovered something in the heart of man quite apart from the agency of the Spirit of God, which, when developed, will bridge over the gap between the human and Divine. All that I can say is, that I wish them at least to live long enough to find out their mistake, so that they may be brought to seek entrance into the kingdom of heaven by another door. With all improvements, and civilisation, and progress, it is impossible for man to progress beyond the boundary of the human. He may come up to the very edge of the boundary, but then he will only see the clearer the infinity of that gulf which separates him from the Divine.
The mineral may as well try by its own powers to jump into the vegetable kingdom as man into the Divine. In both cases the door of progress into the higher kingdom is scaled by the awful seal of death, and in both cases that seal can only be broken by supernatural power. I might appeal to the experience of man, and it will also testify to the truth of this solemn fact. Has man ever by his own exertions come nearer to God? Has not, alas! mans so-called progress been a progress of retrogression? There is a very touching Arabian story of a certain wicked city which was punished by God with continuous drought. At length the inhabitants of the place, pressed by famine, sent seventy of their number to the prophet of God that he might supplicate rain for them, but all the time the city and deputation remained impenitent in their hearts. At length they arrived in the place where the prophet lived, and begged him to consult God on their behalf. The prophet did so, when three clouds of different colours, white, red, and black, appeared above the horizon, and a voice pronounced, Choose which ye will. They chose the black cloud, which followed them on their homeward journey. When they approached their city the inhabitants came out to meet them, and, on beholding the dark cloud, they shouted and danced for joy, crying, Rain and plenty! But lo! as the cloud came just over the city, it burst into a raging pestilential wind, and, instead of rain and plenty, there was desolation and death! Let us not be too sanguine as to the influence of our so-called progress and civilisation as a means to bring man nearer to God. That which appears at first sight as a cloud of healthful showers may burst upon us as a whirlwind of destruction. Alas! has not the study of science falsely so called only confirmed man in his proud defiance of God? The world may become ever so polished, but its beauty will be an artificial and dead one. It needs quickening, not polishing.
But let us go a step farther. The purpose which the Branch of Jehovah had in visiting man was not only to quicken him and thus to restore to him the life he had lost, but by stooping down and taking root, as it were, in human soil, He thereby united Himself for ever with man. Thus we are told in the New Testament that those who have come into vital contact with Him have actually become members of His body. They have no more a separate existence, for their life is hid with Christ in God. They live, but it is no longer they who live, but Christ Who liveth in them; and it is this which distinguishes the Christian Church from every other religious body. Islamism, for instance, can exist without Mahomet, because it is Mohammedanism which makes a Mohammedan, and not Mahomet; but the Christian Church without Christ - never! for in this case the relation is not to a doctrine, but to a Person, from Whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God (Col. 2: 19). But take away the fountain of nourishment, and it not only ceases to increase, but to exist. It withers; it dies. This glorious relationship between Christ and His people is beautifully described by Himself in the fifteenth of John, where He says, I am the Vine, and ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for apart from Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. Notice here, He is no longer the Branch, but the Vine. The Branch has already taken root in the earth, and as He did so He developed into a Tree with branches, the fruit of which shall be for the healing of the nations. It is true, that just as is the case with the branch of the banyan tree, which, even after it is developed into a tree, is still vitally united to the father stem, and rightly spoken of as a branch of the old tree, so Christ was one with the Father, and was never separated from Him; yet, in another sense, it is equally true, that He became a Tree, from Whose roots emanated innumerable fresh branches. In relation to God the Messiah is the Branch, because He is the Revealer of God, and it is by the fruit which the branch bears that we know the tree from which it grows. Here let me say, that, if the world knows not God, it is because it has not come and tasted of the fruit from off this Branch. Men, for the most part, stand afar off, and admire the glorious fruits of self-sacrificing love, gentleness, patience, longsuffering, graciousness, holiness, goodness, and truth, all hanging in resplendent beauty on this Branch; but oh! when will they learn that which the A B C of the science of botany teaches, viz., that the fruit is a revelation of the root, and, in a sense, identical with the seed, and take to heart, first, that the phenomenon of the more than human fruit which was on this Branch can only be explained by the fact that it developed from more than human roots, and, secondly, that this Divine, fruitful Branch must be the effulgence of the glory and the very image of the substance of the Divine Tree from Which it sprang? Let the world, then, heed the gracious words that proceeded out of the mouth of Christ, and learn that God is gracious; let it look upon Him Whom it must acknowledge to be the very embodiment of love and compassion, and learn that God, from Whom He proceeded, is love, and full of compassion; let it behold the moral light with which this Branch has illumined as many as have come under His shadow, and the new life with which He quickened them, and learn that God is light and life; but let it also learn from the spectacle of Gethsemane and Calvary that God is holy and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and that, if He spared not Him, Whom the world must pronounce perfectly innocent, as soon as He came into contact with sin by voluntarily taking it all upon Himself as our Substitute, how dreadful and sharp will be the vials of His wrath which He will pour upon a guilty, godless, Christ-denying, Christ-rejecting world!
Again, Messiah is the Branch, because on Him is the fruit to satisfy the hunger and thirst prevalent in the heart of every man after the unseen and the perfect, or, more properly, after God. That there is such a hunger, or, in other words, that man has a soul - a capacity to know God - a capacity which remains empty and unsatisfied until it knows Him and is filled with Him, I need not stay to prove. We, indeed, hear sometimes of individuals who declare that they have never experienced such hunger and thirst; but their individual experience no more proves that it is the experience of mankind, than would one scorched leaf on an oak in May prove that all the leaves on that oak are scorched and dead. Some catastrophe may have befallen that one leaf, but its deadness only the more forcibly proves the others to be alive. Such an assertion can only be made on two grounds, viz., experience and observation. As to the first, my experience must as much be taken into account as that of the one who declares the absence of this hunger. Now, as for me, I have quite a different tale to tell. In my heart there was, and is, a something which will not be satisfied with anything finite, because in some mysterious way it is an offspring of the Infinite - a void place which cried to be filled and yet would not be filled with anything of this world. And thus this chamber remained in emptiness and desolation until He came, even He, Who had fitted it up, and took up His abode there. Then it at once recognised its Owner and Maker, and at once the yearning ceased, and it is satisfied. Against the experience of the few moral sleepers I place my experience and the experience of the generality of mankind. Then as to observation. Come and let us use all the ages since man has been on the stage as an observatory, and what do we find? It matters not whither our glance is cast; the same answer comes to us, whether written upon an altar which has crumbled to dust with age, or mysteriously chanted by Druids in groves in the solemn stillness of the night, or whether even in shrieks of poor men and women as they cast themselves before the chariot of juggernaut. The words are the same, and they are these, There is a God upon Whom we are dependent, and we want to know Him.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, ropanteth my soul after Thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Ps. 42: 1, 2).
But where is the bread to satisfy this hunger? and where can we find the living water to quench this burning thirst? Not by the study of God in nature; for nature is only a revelation of His almighty power and wisdom, but not of His being. It is, as it were, His garment, but not Himself; and although we may infer by the glory of those skirts of His garments that are visible to us in creation that He must be glorious and full of majesty, yet Himself we see not, for the Creator and creation are not the same. The Messiah alone can give us such a soul-satisfying knowledge of God; for not only is He Himself as much a revelation of the very being of God as the branch is of the tree, but He came as the Sent One for the very purpose of satisfying this hunger and thirst in the heart of man. God sent forth His Branch, in Whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead as really as in the branch dwells the fulness of the tree, in order that those who seek Him may find Him there; for, in a sense, the Messiah and God are identical, the same as the branch of a tree may be said to be identical with the tree. Thus God answered the universal prayer of man, Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us (John 14: 8), by saying, The only-begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1: 18).
Hither then gather all ye who hunger, and eat of the fruit from off this Branch, and let your souls be satisfied. Do you want to know God? Come and see His glory in the face of Jesus Christ, Who is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1: 15).
But if, in relation to God, Christ is the Branch, it is equally true, that, in relation to the Church, He is the Vine. The Christian Church literally sprang forth from the side of Christ, and each individual member is a branch begotten of God in Him. Deny this, and the birth and growth of the Christian Church is inexplicable. Christ is, as it were, the germ from which the Church developed, and as truly as Christ was the revelation of God, so truly is the Church the revelation of Christ. This is a truth we would scarcely dare enunciate as we look around and behold the awful caricature of Christ which is presented by those who call themselves by His Name; but we remember with gratitude that professed Christendom is not the Church, and that there is as sharp a line of distinction between the two as there is between the field and the tree that grows in it; in both cases the difference is that between life and death.
With this figure before me, if I were to be asked, What is it that constitutes a member of the Christian Church? I should answer that the principal condition
is being born again by the Spirit of God.
Every branch of a tree is born, not made. As truly as the real Christ was begotten of
God, so must the real Christian be begotten of Him, else he has not the life of
God in him, nor is he at all one with Christ in the sense that the hand is one
with the head, or the branch one with the tree, both of which relationships to
Christ are assigned to the believer in the New Testament. Verily, verily, be it known to you on the authority
of the Son of God Himself, that, except a man be born again,* he cannot see
* [NOTE ON PAGE 145] If any one ask, How can I tell if I am born again? I can easily answer him by another question: Do you believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ? Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him (1 John 5: 1).
Then if I were asked, What is it which characterises a [Spirit indwelt] Christian? I should answer, Fruitfulness. The proof that Christ was really the Branch of Jehovah was the fruit He bore; and this is exactly the test which the world will apply to us, and be it said that it is a fair test, for as sure as every good seed must bear fruit, so sure is it that every one who has Christ in his heart, every one who is a branch of the Vine, will bear fruit which will at once reveal whether the Divine life be in him or not. Fruitfulness, abundant fruitfulness, is the only thing which will demonstrate to the world that we are the disciples of Christ (John 15: 8), but remember also that it is the only thing which will reveal Christ to the world; for just as sunlight is not seen except as it is reflected from some object, so the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ is not visible to the outside world except as it is reflected by His Church.
Oh! the marvellous; condescending grace of our blessed Lord that He should have made Himself thus dependent upon His people! for as truly as the branches cannot do without the stem, so the stem cannot do without the branches. Without the branches the stem can bear no fruit, and without fruit the perfection of the stem is not attained. In this light how glorious does the position of every follower of Christ, however humble, appear! He contains within him that only light which can dispel the darkness of this world. Within his breast dwells the Infinite One, Whose fulness he shows forth, and in a sense he is the perfection of the Perfect One. It is by observing our good works that men will glorify our Father Who is in heaven. With this figure still before me, if I were asked, What is Christian fruitfulness? I should answer that, firstly, it is a doing or being that which will not only be showing forth the perfection or glory of its Divine Stem, but which will be for the refreshment of the weary and hungry and the thirsty. Fruit is not for the branch, nor is it for the stem, but it is for food and refreshment for man; so Christian fruitfulness means giving of ourselves for the good of others, even as Christ gave Himself for us and to us. The fruit of the Spirit in the Christian is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5: 22, 23). Love to self? Verily, no! Selfishness is the fruitfulness of Satan. Love to God? Yes; but remember that if a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4: 20). Oh, Christian, refresh this hatred-stricken world with the love of God that is in thee! Love thy neighbour as thyself, and upon this is conditioned thy joy and thy peace. Let us examine every one of these Divinely beautiful clusters of fruit, and we shall find them all to possess healing or refreshing qualities for man. To whom, for instance, may we be longsuffering? To God? No; verily this would be blasphemous. It is man who, on account of weakness and sin, demands from us a long-suffering spirit. Then gentleness: the fact that we are gentle will show that we have the Gentle One in us, but gentleness we can only practise to our fellow-man.
Let us not confound fruitfulness with growth in grace. The two, though going hand in hand, and proportioned one to another, are yet quite distinct. As the tree bears fruit before it is yet fully grown, though of course it is not quite perfect as to quality, nor, compared with the full-grown tree, is it abundant as to quantity, but still it bears fruit while yet it grows, and no one can mistake what kind of fruit it is, so the Christian, although he is yet growing, must at the same time bear fruit. It is true that when he is full-grown, when the germ which is in him shall fully develop into Christs own image, then - oh blessed thought! - his fruit shall be perfect and abundant, sweet not only to the taste of heavenly beings, but to God Himself, but still he must begin bearing fruit on earth and refresh man with those fruits, which, when they are perfect, will refresh Gods own heart. But, secondly, in the spiritual world just the same as in the vegetable or animal world, fruitfulness means a producing of the like. Scientifically speaking, fruit is seed; and as seed produces fruit, so fruit produces seed, which in its turn again develops into fruit. Be fruitful, and multiply (Gen. 1: 20-22), is a law which holds good in the spiritual world as well as in the natural, and in both cases the penalty of disobedience to this law is death. As soon as the plant leaves off to seed it commences to wither and die, and so it is with the animal. Even so is it with the Christian Church. Her own life and health is to some extent dependent upon her fruitfulness; and, as a practical illustration of this truth, I would point to the fact, that those periods of the Churchs history which are characterised by missionary effort are also characterised by abundant spiritual life. Was it not so the first two or three centuries of her existence? And is it not so since the commencement of this century? Hitherto, blessed be God! the Church of Christ has fulfilled the command, Be fruitful, and multiply, and many are the sons and daughters whom she has begotten and nursed, so many that they form such a multitude, which no man can number; but still there are many for whom she must travail in birth, many from Jews and Gentiles; and still the voice of her God reaches her with the command, Be fruitful, and multiply. Do it quickly, for remember that when the days of thy child-bearing are accomplished, when there are no more to be born into the Kingdom of heaven by thee, then the days of thy sojourn on earth will be ended.
I conclude with one other thought, a scriptural truth, which, like the figure of the vine and the branch, also illustrates the mutual relationship and dependence of Christ and His Church.
We are told that Christ is the second Adam, the Progenitor of a new race, to whom He communicates His own Divine life and character (1 Cor. 15: 45-50). But for Adam, in order to accomplish Gods purpose of fruitfulness, Eve was indispensable. Even so is it with the second Adam. The Church, which is His body, is also His bride:* Married to Him Who is raised from the dead, that she should bring forth fruit, (Rom. 7: 4).
[* Note. Nowhere in Scripture is the Church said to be the Bride? Surely the Bride
consists of those who are taken out from the members of His Body i.e.,
out from amongst the true, regenerate members of the
See then, Christian, how all-important it is that we should abide in Christ if we want to be fruitful. If we live near Him, through His mighty power which shall work in us, we shall be used to bring others into the Kingdom of God.
Again we come back to the parable of the vine and the branches and proclaim the Divine words of Christ, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.
* * *
CHAPTER 5 [Pages 151-178]
FOUR PRECIOUS TITLES OF THE MESSIAH
Out of him (Judah) the Corner, out of him the Nail, out of him the Battle Bow, out of him shall come forth He that will rule all together (the absolute Ruler*). - Zech. 10: 4.
* On the rendering of the text Yonathan, in his Targum, has introduced Messiah by name in his paraphrase of this passage. He says, Out of him his King, out of him his Messiah.
Names in Scripture, especially those given by Divine authority, describe, as a rule, the character of the things or beings who bear them, and particularly is this the case with the names of God and the Messiah. Hence the Psalmists exclamation, They that know Thy Name shall put their trust in Thee (Ps. 9: 10). Hence also when Moses prayed, Show me Thy way, that I may know Thee! God put him in the cleft of a rock and proclaimed to him the Name of the Lord Jehovah, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty (Exod. 33: 16-19; 34: 5, 7).
Why is He called (Jehovah) but because He is from everlasting to everlasting the same - infinite, eternally unchangeable and faithful? Why is He called (Elohim) but because He, the glorious Triune God, is alone to be worshipped and adored? He is called (Shaddai), because He is the Almighty and Omnipotent One; (Jehovah Jireh), because He hath Himself provided a ransom for the sin of the whole world; (Jehovah Shalom), because He is the Peace-giver; and so in every one of His names there is contained for us some revelation of His relative perfections and attributes. And this is the case also with the Messiah. Why is He at all called by the title (Messiah: Dan. 9: 26; Ps. 2: 2) but because that in a special manner the Spirit of God was to be upon Him, anointing Him to preach good tidings unto the meek, and that He is the Sent One to accomplish a special, and a most glorious mission upon the earth, viz., to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of Jehovah, and the day of vengeance of our God; and to cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations ? (Isa. 61).
Why, for instance, is He called
But here in our text (Zech. 10: 4) we have a glorious constellation of four of the most precious titles of Christ, only one less in number than, but shining quite as brilliantly and as full of meaning and comfort as that other and largest in Isaiah 9: 6. We shall take each one of them separately in order to a better understanding of them, and may He, Who is the Bright and Morning Star, shine into our hearts and souls, so that in His light we may see light*!
That this is one of Messiahs titles there can, I think, be no doubt, for in Isaiah 28: 16, which is acknowledged to be a Messianic passage even by Jews, we read, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste, and in the New Testament it is applied to Christ both by Himself (Matt. 21: 42), and His apostles (Acts 4: 11; 1 Pet. 2: 4-8); but the question is, What does this title signify?
Now, in the first instance, I believe that the Spirit of God, in presenting Christ to us as the Corner, wants us to understand that He is the sure foundation upon Whom rests the spiritual superstructure which is now in process of completion, and which is raised for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
For the stability and safety of a building everything depends on the foundation. The plan and materials of it may be ever so perfect in themselves, but if the foundation be sand, the house will not abide the storm and flood; while, on the other hand, the plan and materials of a house may not be so good, but if its foundation be sound, the winds may blow and the tempests may beat upon it, it cannot fall, for it is founded on a rock. Even so the Divine Architect, in designing that glorious Temple for His own presence which in the ages to come is to make known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places His manifold wisdom (Eph. 3: 10), in order to ensure its safety against the attacks of the devil and his hosts, and to make it proof against storm and tempest and even time itself, laid as its foundation His own Son, Who abideth ever (John 8: 35), and is as firm as a rock, against Whom even the gates of hell [Hades] shall not prevail. Thus we are told that the living stones who are prepared by the Spirit of God to become parts in that Temple are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,* Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2: 20, 21).
* [NOTE ON PAGE 157] When it is
said, to be built upon the foundation of the
prophets and apostles (Eph. 2: 20), it only
refers to their doctrine concerning Christ; and therefore it is added, that He,
as being the subject of their doctrine, is the chief
The foundation then of the Church lies not in
This solves the problem of the continuance and immovableness of the Christian Church in spite of the many storms and tempests she has encountered from men and devils. Let the tempests rage, let infidelity assail, the foundation which God laid in Zion will still remain unshaken, for it is a sure foundation, and, as long as the foundation is safe, the building on it, if it be only properly secured to its foundation, is also safe; therefore they that believe shall not make haste to flee in alarm, but will still abide safe in the Rock of ages and eternal refuge.
But, in the second place, the (corner stone) is that stone which unites the two walls of the corner,* and the Spirit of God, in presenting the Messiah to us by this figure, may have intended to foreshadow Him as the link between Jew and Gentile, who are both made one in Him: For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace.
* [NOTES ON PAGE 158 AND 159] Among the ancient Jews the foundation corner stone of their sanctuary on Moriah was regarded as the emblem of moral and spiritual truths. It had two functions to perform: first, like the other foundation stones, it was a support for the masonry above, but it had also to face both ways, and was thus a bond of union between two walls.
* * * * * * *
The engineers, in order to ascertain
the dimensions of this foundation stone, worked round it, and report that it is
three feet eight inches high and fourteen feet in length. At the angle it is let down into the rock to
a depth of fourteen inches; but, as the rock rises towards the north, the depth
of four feet north of the angle is increased to thirty-two inches, while the
northern end seems entirely embedded in the rock. The block is further described as squared and
polished, with a finely dressed face. It
does not appear to have any marginal draft at the bottom, and indeed, this was
not necessary, as the lower part, being sunk in the rock, would always be
hidden from view; but the absence of the lower draft indicates that the block
was dressed in the quarry in a somewhat peculiar style, with a view to its
being the foundation corner stone. The
draft on the upper margin of the stone is four inches wide. Fixed in its abiding position three thousand
years ago, it still stands sure and steadfast, a fitting emblem of the Rock of ages, that cannot be
removed, but abideth fast for ever.‑Recent Discoveries on the Temple Hill at
Indeed, this is, I believe, the connection in which Paul introduces the Lord Jesus by the figure of the chief corner stone in this passage (Eph. 2: 20). He speaks in this chapter to the Gentiles, who were once afar off, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, and tells them that now, in Christ Jesus, they are made nigh, and, together with the Jews, have access by one Spirit unto the Father, and then goes on to say, Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. In spite of mutual prejudice and hatred and the otherwise impassable legal and ceremonial gulf that separated the Jew from the Gentile, Christ is the angle at which both meet and are united into one building, which is the habitation of God through the Spirit; for in Him there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Then, thirdly, Christ is also styled (the Head of the corner, Ps. 118: 23; Matt. 21: 42; , which is also the Septuagint translation of Ps. 118: 23, an appellation which is distinguished from the corner stone, , in Isa. 28: 16, Eph. 2: 20, and 1 Pet. 2: 6), which implies, I believe, that just as He is the foundation of the spiritual Temple and the projecting corner stone that unites in Himself the two walls or the two elements (Jewish and Gentile) of which it consists, so He is also the top stone or coping.
The head of the corner was often also a costly or precious stone, placed, not at the top of the wall, but in the most important and conspicuous position, to give the building a finished and perfect look, - it was, as it were, the crown and glory of the building. Hence, as a secondary application, the word (corner) is used to designate a governor, or the most conspicuous person in a community (1 Sam. 14: 38; Isa. 19: 13).
Now, all these are relationships in which Christ stands to His Church. He is her immovable foundation; her bond of union between all her members; and also her top stone, or cover, and the crown of her glory.
I have spoken of the Church corporately, but all I have said is true also of every individual Christian. It is because I rest on the sure foundation which God has laid in Zion that I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord. I am vitally united to Christ Jesus my foundation, and Christ is vitally united to God, and who can snatch me out of the hand of the Almighty? And besides, the stone which I take as my foundation is a tried stone. God tested Him before He finally made Him manifest as the only foundation for His peoples salvation and eternal happiness, and He has declared that in every respect He was well pleased with Him; and what better assurance can I have than the testimony of the living God, Who cannot mistake and cannot lie? Millions also who have accepted the testimony of God have put Him to the test, and they have not found Him wanting, but, in every respect, solid enough to bear the superstructure of their redemption.
Then again, Christ is my head stone of the corner, and He is a precious corner stone, or, more literally, as in the Hebrew (Isa. 28: 16) and Greek (1 Pet. 2: 7), He is a Corner of preciousness. In me there is no spiritual beauty or comeliness, but my blessed Saviour is altogether lovely, and fairer than the children of men, and in Gods sight that which is most conspicuous is, not myself, as I am, but Christ, Who dwelleth in me.
But the figure of the corner stone teaches us, I believe, a special
truth in connection with the past and future of
This is the application which the Lord Jesus Himself made of this figure in Matthew 21: 42-44, where, speaking to the Jews, He said, -
Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner: this is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? ... And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on Whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Eighteen hundred years ago Christ crucified became a stumbling-block to the
Jewish nation, and the stone which God intended as a sure foundation became, on
account of their disobedience, a stone of stumbling and a rock of
offence to both the houses of Israel (Isa.
8: 14; Rom. 9: 33). They fell on it, and were broken, and fragments of the dispersed nation
are to be found to the present day in all parts of the world as a testimony to
the justice and judgment of the righteous God.
But the judgment which befell
Oh that many more may now, while there is yet time, taste that the Lord is gracious, and in faith come to Christ as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, that they also, as lively stones, may be built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ!
Wherefore also it is contained in the Scriptures, Behold, I lay
But now we shall apply our telescope to the second star in this bright constellation and consider Christ as
and first I must explain that there is more implied in the word than we commonly understand by a nail. (yathed), rendered in the Septuagint , is applied, first, to a tent pin which is driven into the earth, and to which the tent is tied (Exod. 27: 19, 35: 18; Judges 4: 21, 22), and, secondly, to a strong peg, or pin, built into the wall of the Eastern building (Ezek. 15: 3; Isa. 22: 22, 23). In either case it denotes strength (see marginal reading of Ezra 9: 8) and equal firmness with the building itself.
That this is a Messianic title appears clear from Isaiah 22: 21-25, which, though in the first instance addressed to Eliakim, doubtless refers in its fulness to none other than the Messiah, of Whom Isaiah uses the same language (chap. 9: 6) as here in the former clause (ver. 22); and, in fact, the Lord Jesus actually applied it to Himself (compare Rev. 3: 7 with Isa. 22: 22). Now in this passage we read, And the key of the house of David will I lay upon His shoulder; so He shall open, and none shall shut; and He shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten Him as a nail (, ) in a sure place; and He shall be for a glorious throne to His Fathers house. And they shall hang upon Him all the glory of His Fathers house, the offspring and the issue, all the vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
Here the figure is not that of a pin, or stake, to which the ropes of a tent are fastened, but of the strong peg which is built into the wall, and the same is, I believe, the meaning of this figure in our text.
The peg or nail when thus fastened in a sure place served a double purpose: first, its use was to bear burdens*; and in this light we easily understand the signification and importance of this figure as a symbol of the Messiah. He is not only the foundation of the Christian Church, but, to those who are in it, He is the Nail in a sure place, upon Whom they can hang all their burdens and cares and anxieties. Ah! how many there are of Gods children who know Jesus as the foundation of their hopes for eternity, but little as their Burden-bearer, Who bears their griefs and carries their sorrows! Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee. Cast it upon Him, for you are not able to bear it yourself, but He is the Nail in a sure place - almighty, and that which is more than enough to overwhelm you, even though you may be one of the mightiest of the Lords host, is as nothing to Him Who upholds all things by the word of His power. Cast thy burden upon Him, and leave it with Him. Take it not unto thyself again.
* [NOTE IN PAGE 167] This seems clear from Isaiah 22: 25, where, speaking of the overthrow of Shebria, who was supposed to be as firmly fixed as a nail in a sure place, he says, And the burden on it shall be cut off.
What a blessed relationship of Christ to His people is this as represented by the figure before us! What should we do in the dark and cloudy day, when our hearts are overwhelmed on account of the trials and burdens of life, if we had not Christ near us as a present help in time of trouble? But let us remember, that if we would know Christ as our (Nail), we must first know Him as the foundation on Whom we build our hopes for eternity, for His first title, according to the ordering of the Spirit of God, is, (Corner Stone). The nail or peg is only for the use of those who are inside the Eastern building, and so Christ is only known in this special relationship to those who are inside His fold and who trust Him and cast themselves upon Him with all their joys and sorrows.
The second purpose for which the nail is fastened in a sure place is, that upon it may hang all the glory of the house, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of goblets, to all the vessels and flagons (Isa. 22: 24).
A great portion of the wealth of the ancients, especially those of the East, consisted in gold and silver vessels and in changes of raiment. These, as well as the shields, swords, and suits of armour taken in battle, of which they were very proud, and their other finest ornaments, they used, with Eastern ostentation and parade, to hang on the peg which was generally built into the wall in the most conspicuous position for display, and to the admiration of those who entered the building (1 Kings 10: 10, 17, 21; Cant. 4: 4).
Does not this teach us a precious lesson as to what we are to do with Jesus? God wants us to hang that in which consists our glory upon Christ - all our possessions; our talents; our affections and our love - all our best belong to our blessed Lord, Who has purchased us, and all we have, by His own precious blood, and must be consecrated to His service. Nor can any single Christian say that he has nothing to present to Christ. He may not have as much as others, but that he has nothing he cannot say, for has he not at least a loving heart and an adoring spirit to offer, which is most to be esteemed? There was a place on the nail for the cup as well as for the flagon, or large bottle, and perhaps in some cases the vessel of small quantity looked quite as beautiful when hung on the peg as the vessel of large quantity. And so what man calls it small offerings of either substance or service, from those who have little, is perhaps more acceptable to God, Who weighs, not the gift, but the motive, than what we call large offerings from those who have much. But whether it is the ten talents or the one talent, Christ is He to Whom it must be consecrated, and if it is applied to any other use, it is misspent, and when we shall be made manifest before His judgment throne we shall have to own it to our shame and confusion of face. Alas! how little are Christs claims recognised in this regard, even by His own redeemed. people! And if this be a test, which I believe it to be, and a fair one, of our spiritual life and the extent of our consecration to God, we have much cause to humble ourselves in dust and ashes and earnestly to cry for mercy. Let us ask, for instance, as to what portion of their wealth Christians consecrate to their Lord, Who has given Himself for them.
From what I have known of Christians during my extensive travels, my full conviction is, says the veteran man of faith George Muller, that if Christians were to enter into what is contained in that word (giving), at least twenty times more would be done by the Church of God for missions, for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures and tracts, for the spread of the truth throughout the world, for all kind of Christian work, and for the poor, than is now accomplished.* But this is not in accordance with the mind of God, Whose will is that we should glorify His Son by giving Him the first place in our hearts, and by consecrating to Him and His service our best. For this purpose God fastened Him as a nail in a sure place, that He may be for a glorious throne to His Fathers house, and that upon Him may hang all the glory of His Fathers house, the offspring and the issue, all the vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, to all the vessels of flagons.
* [NOTE ON PAGES 170, 171]
- Regions Beyond, July, 1884.
This title doubtless describes the character of Christ as given in Isaiah 53., Psalm 110: 5, 6, Revelation 19., etc., when, at His second coming, He will be as a sharp sword in the hand of the Almighty, that with it He should smite the nations who have filled up to the brim the cup of their iniquity, and rule them with the rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potters vessel.
This is an aspect of the character of Jesus on which our minds do not like to dwell. Neither does He Himself delight in judgment and vengeance, but it is absolutely necessary to vindicate the justice and power of God, Who is the moral Governor of the universe as well as Father and Refuge to all who have put their trust in Him. Anyhow, let us never forget that Isaiah not only describes the Messiah as One Who was not to cause His voice to be heard in the streets nor to break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax, but also as One Who treads the peoples in His anger and tramples them in His fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon His garments and stain all His raiment. The apostle John, who loves to represent his glorious Master by the harmless and inoffensive lamb, tells us that he saw heaven opened, and, behold, a white horse, and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war; His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns, and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself, and He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, ... and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
But perhaps under the figure of the battle bow we have described the ammunition, or weapons of war, rather than the agent; and, if so, we may look at this title in another light, which more directly concerns us as followers of Christ. We have many battles to fight with Satan, the world, and that dreadful enemy - self. What is the best and surest way to gain the victory? Only if we have the almighty Christ as our Battle Bow shall we come off more than conquerors. He will be as a sharp arrow in the hearts of our enemies, whereby they will be made to fall under us. To illustrate what I mean, I may be permitted to relate a piece of experience of one, who is now in the presence of his Divine Master, who when on earth was a faithful witness to the truth. I heard this servant of God relate that as he was walking along the streets of one of the northern towns one day, bemoaning in his heart his want of success in his struggles against sin and the devil, he suddenly came across a group of boys who were playing marbles, and while he was looking on for a few minutes, a quarrel ensued between two boys, one of whom was much bigger than the other. The bigger boy, sure of success, offered to fight; and, as a commencement, gave the smaller boy a blow. The little fellow hesitated for some moments and burst out crying, but at last he said, You wait a little, and I will go and call my big brother, and he will show you, and off he ran in haste to fetch his brother.
The bigger boy, who was quite ready to fight with one who he
knew was not so strong as himself, was not quite willing to encounter one of
equal or superior strength, and so he took to his heels and fled. Ah! said
the depressed Christian, who witnessed all that took place, this is just what I have to do. When Satan comes to fight
with me, instead of fighting with him in my own strength, as hitherto, I will
henceforth tell him to wait till I fetch Christ, my Elder Brother, and I know
he will not wait, for he has been already vanquished, and he dare not meet his
Conqueror, Who has for ever banished him from His presence. That day marked an epoch in his religious
experience. Let us ever realise that
Christ has already overcome the devil, and when he comes to us to tempt us, let
us call on the Name of the Lord; that is the strongest resistance we can offer
him, and he will flee from us. Christ
has also overcome the world (John 16: 33), and He can easily give us the victory over it too. And He will also give us the victory over our
own selves if we only know Him as the
THE ABSOLUTE RULER.*
* [NOTE ON PAGES 174, 175] The construction of the last clause of our text is rather peculiar in the
original, and has led to conflicting translations and interpretations. In rendering it as I have done, I have been
guided more by the context and obvious sense, than by strict principles of
Hebrew grammar, and I admit that it is capable also of the following rendering:
Out of him (Judah) shall
come forth every ruler together, or every
ruler united. But even if this
be the most correct reading, it would still apply to the Messiah, inasmuch as
He embraces in Himself a variety of different functions. Thus, for instance, He is represented by the
prophets as being a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6.); and not only as
The Messiah was to be like unto Moses (Deut. 18: 15), who in himself united the different offices of prophet, priest, and king, so that the plural term is quite applicable to Him on that account. Just as His atoning death can be spoken of in the plural (see Hebrew of Isa. 53: 9), on account of the various sacrifices receiving their fulfilment in His own body, which He offered once and for all, so, in a sense, He is many also in His reign, because all authority will meet in Him as the centre.
Aaron Pick, formerly Hebrew Professor at the
That is here used in a good sense, I have not only the authority of Parkhurst, Gesenius, Lowth, and others, but also that of the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi.
In a preceding chapter we have spoken of Messiah as the Mowshel ( ), or as the One Who is, as it were, Gods Viceroy or deputy Ruler. Again, elsewhere, we have viewed Him as the (King) on the throne of David, but here we advance a step further, for the special word (Nowgaish), by which He is here called, literally signifies exactor or absolute ruler,* and describes Him as what He will be on His second advent - the most absolute and autocratic Monarch the world has yet seen.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 176] This is the meaning of the kindred Ethiopic term, and is doubtless the sense in which it is used in Isaiah 3: 12, 14: 2, 60: 17, and in our text. See Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon on this word.
Being infinite in wisdom, He will require no senate or councillors to assist Him in the administration of His kingdom, and being infinite in goodness and love, there will be no danger in His possession of absolute power. Could He, Who is the Righteous and Holy One, exercise His prerogatives in any other way but righteousness and holiness? Christ will represent on earth the sovereignty of God. Do our minds shrink from the thought of the almighty power wielded by the Being Who holds us in His hands, and Who works His own will in heaven and on earth? Listen! There is a truth we should never disconnect from the fact of the sovereignty of God, a truth which presents it in an aspect which attracts us; we should never separate from the thought of the sovereignty of God the character of the Being to Whom this sovereignty belongs. I want you to realise a truth which has done good to my own soul many a time, and has sent relief to my heart, as I have thought about the sovereignty of God. It is this: that the sovereignty of God is the sovereignty of good. There is one God, and He is good. The rule of God is the rule of goodness; it is not merely power and wisdom, but the rule of goodness itself, and the government of God is the government of love; for God is love; from everlasting to everlasting, God is love.* Anyhow this title is applicable to Christ, for the reason that when He comes to reign He will exact from the nations, with the rod of iron, homage and an acknowledgment of His claims which they now refuse. Be wise now therefore, oh ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 176] From an address at Mildmay Conference Hall by the Rev. H Grattan Guinness.
But what lesson does this title of Christ teach Christians now? Does it not proclaim aloud that it we would
know and follow Him, we must acknowledge Him, not only as Lord and Master in a
general way, but as the One Who has all rule over us - as the autocratic
Governor, Whose word is law in every detail of life? Bunyan
tells us that when Prince Emmanuel came to take possession of the town of
No, there is no compromise between God and mammon, Christ and the devil.
Christ will have all rule in our hearts or none at all; and, as a test of our loyalty, He will have us put entirely under His control our will, our purses, and our time - yea, all that we are and have. And oh! the blessedness of thus entirely acquiescing in the will of Him Whose thoughts to us are thoughts of peace and not of evil! Only in proportion to the measure of rule that we allow Christ to exercise over us is the measure, of the fulness of blessing and joy that we experience; and if He take absolute control over us, it is only in order to give us absolute rest unto our souls and to assure for us the greater amount of present and eternal good.
* * *
CHAPTER 6 [Pages 179-221]
MOSES AND CHRIST: AN ANALOGY AND CONTRAST
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet front the midst of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire anymore, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.
- Deut. 18: 15-19.
The first question which naturally occurs to my mind, on reading
the above passage, is, Who is this Prophet, like unto Moses, Whom God promised
to raise up unto
* [NOTE ON PAGES 181, 182, 183] The Rabbis and Jewish commentators are divided in their application of this passage, which shows that they have no authoritative interpretation, but that each one utters only his own private opinion.
Abarbanel suggests that Yeremiah was the prophet like unto
Moses, and gives fourteen points of resemblance, which, however, are not at all
distinctive. He says, for instance, Moses often reproved
Aben Ezra, and Bechai, and others, apply this passage to Joshua, but Joshua was not mediator, he was not the revealer of the will of God, neither had he any direct vision of the Almighty.
Rashi, Kimchi, and Alshech say that the prophet like unto Moses implies a succession of prophets, one after the other. They acknowledge, therefore, that they could not find any individual to whom similarity to Moses could be ascribed. But against this interpretation we have, first, the fact that (prophet) is singular - God says not prophets, but a Prophet - secondly, that this word is never taken collectively, nor are the prophets elsewhere spoken of collectively; thirdly, that sacred history points out no such succession of one prophet; and fourthly, this and the preceding interpretations are all contrary to two plain passages of Scripture: Numbers 12: 6-8 asserts distinctly that Moses was a prophet unlike the generality of prophets, and Deuteronomy 34: 10-12, a passage inserted probably by Ezra, asserts that there arose no prophet like unto Moses.
‑ DR. ALEXANDER MCCAULS Lectures on the Messiahship of Jesus, Appendix of Interpretation.
More than eighteen centuries ago there appeared in Judea a wonderful Person, and the testimony of the multitudes who were attracted to Him, when they saw the miracles He did, was, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world (John 6: 14. See also John 3: 18, 22, 23).
He to Whom the multitudes thus testified was none other than Jesus of Nazareth, of Whom it was not only written in that single passage, but in all the scroll of the Book (Ps. 40: 7, Heb.), and to Whom not only Moses, but all the other prophets, from Samuel and those who follow after, have borne record. I am speaking here more particularly to those who, nominally at least, receive Jesus as the Prophet of the new covenant, that Prophet that should come into the world, so that all I have to do is to remind them, first, that whatever Moses was to Israel, that, and more than that, is the blessed Lord Jesus to us, and, secondly, that if we desire to be fully acquainted with Christs different relationships to us, we must be thoroughly acquainted with the different relationships in which Moses stood to the Jews. To obtain this knowledge we must bestow more study on the Old Testament Scriptures than is commonly done by most Christians.
Now it is not my purpose to enter here minutely into the life of Moses and to show in each detail a parallel in the history of Jesus, but I shall endeavour merely to give a brief outline of the most prominent features of the character of Moses in his different relations to Israel, especially those features in which he may fairly be taken as a type of Christ; and first, of course, we notice that Moses was a
and one superior in rank to any other (Num. 12: 1) who subsequently held that office in Judah or Israel,* inasmuch as the revelation communicated by God through him is the immutable basis of all Gods revelation to man, not one jot or tittle of which shall remain unfulfilled (Matt. 5: 18), and his description (Deut. 13.; 18: 22) the criterion which throughout all the future was to decide between the true prophet and the false.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 184, 185] Jehovah distinctly maintains the supremacy of Moses, and traces that to His own sovereign appointment. It was true that the prophets among them spake as the Lord hath instructed them, but there were particularly three things in which the pre-eminence of Moses was conspicuous. That which was exceptional and ecstatic with them was ordinary and on the level of his common experience with him. The prophets needed a special preparation for the reception of Gods communications. They needed, as Kurtz has expressed it, to pass out of the sphere of the senses, and that of intelligent consciousness, into a state of super-sensual perception. The Lord made Himself known to them in visions and dreams. But He spoke to Moses in his ordinary every-day condition. The great lawgiver received the Divine communications, not when he was in a trance, or when he was asleep, but in his usual intelligent consciousness; and so it came to pass that the partial obscurity which was necessarily connected with the revelations that came through others was conspicuously absent in those which were made by Moses. Again, Moses saw the similitude of Jehovah; and although this cannot mean that he beheld the unveiled glory of the Lord, it must denote that there was before him some visible and objective reality, which symbolised for him the presence of Jehovah, and from which, as from the mouth of a confidential friend, he received, not in dark and mysterious utterances, but in plain and unmistakable terms, the messages which he was to convey to his fellow-men. There was thus a difference, if not in the kind of inspiration which he enjoyed, at least in the nature of the revelations which were made to him; for as the mind of a man takes clearly in that which is only as a wonder or a dream to a child, so Moses distinctly perceived that which to other prophets was little better than a vague and incoherent vision.‑ Moses the Lawgiver, by W. M. TAYLOR.
A prophet is one who is filled with the Spirit of God, and by Him commissioned for a special mission - he is, as it were, Gods representative to the people to whom he is sent.
Under the term prophet are included three different functions, all of which were exercised by Moses. First, that of a teacher (Deut. 4: 5, 31: 22; 2 Kings 4: 22, 23), who was not only to communicate to the people the will of God, but to teach them how to bring their lives into harmony with His revealed will. Secondly, that of foretelling future events, for which in a special sense they had to be possessed with, and inspired by, the Spirit of God (Deut. 18: 1; 28.; 29.; 30.). Thirdly, that of a judge, who, in the place of God, was arbitrator, particularly in points of dispute between man and his neighbour (Exod. 18: 13; Judges 4: 4, 5).
Now, according to the Old Testament Scriptures, the Messiah
too was to be a Teacher, Who, in an extraordinary manner, was to possess the spirit of
wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and counsel, and Who, with the tongue of
the learned, and in parables, was to teach all nations the fear of
God and His purpose in and through them (Isa. 11: 1, 2; 2: 3, 42: 4; Ps.
78: 2; Matt. 13: 35); and how abundantly has this anticipation been realised in the person of
Jesus of Nazareth! Has there ever been a
man who spake as this Man? Have not even
His enemies, those who are unwilling to submit their hearts to Him, at all times been constrained
to submit their intellects to His teaching and exclaim, like the Pharisees and
Herodians, Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of
God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man, for Thou regardest not the
person of man? And what a glorious Teacher is Jesus to those
who have circumcised ears and hearts, His followers, who, like Mary, sit at
their Masters feet, drinking in the gracious utterances that proceed out of
His mouth! How incomparable and Divine
are those wonderful words as they fall from His lips teaching us about our
Father Who is in heaven, and how we may live to His glory and for the good of
our fellow-men! How forcible and sublime
are the lessons which He engraves on our hearts from the imagery of nature! -
lessons of trust and confidence in the ever-living and ever-present God, Who,
in whatsoever circumstances we are, knoweth the things we are in need of, and
without Whose knowledge and consent nothing can happen to us (Matt. 6:
25-34). Like a mighty river have the precious sayings
and doctrines of the greater than Solomon been flowing on in this desert-world
for more than eighteen centuries, and still the waters are full of life and
refreshment to those who come and drink of it.
Still it has quickening virtue, as it had at the commencement to the son
of the widow of Nain; and convicting power, as it had to the scribes and
Pharisees when they brought to Him the woman taken in adultery; and comfort, as
it had to the sad hearts at
And, as to foretelling future events,
I would merely like to point out the fact, that, for the most part, there is a
striking similarity in this respect between the prophecies of Christ and the
prophecies of Moses. Moses predicted Israels dispersion and spiritual
degradation, and spoke of the dreadful calamities that should come upon them
during the time that they should be subservient to the Gentiles (Deut.
28.; 29.); and the
song containing these predictions (Deut. 31: 19), which he composed for them, is
cherished, even with superstitious reverence, by the Jews unto this day, proving
both as a witness against them that they have wandered from their God and rebelled
against His holy law, and also that God did indeed speak to Moses. But the present state of the Jews and their
land, which proves the claims of Moses as a prophet of God, also testifies to
the Divine commission of Jesus of Nazareth; for He too predicted Israels
scattering and oppression by the Gentiles, and the desolation of Jerusalem, and
that not one stone should be left upon another of their magnificent national structure
- the Temple (Matt. 21: 28-45; 23: 37-39; 24: 2).
The Jews say often, Give us evidences from the five books of Moses to the Messiahship of Jesus, and we
will believe in Him. Here is one
point. According to Moses any one claiming to be a prophet was to be tested by
this touchstone: When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing
follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken;
the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously (Deut.
naturally infer, that, if the thing he foretells do literally come to pass,
that is a thing which the Lord hath spoken, and the prophet is a true one. Now the
things which were prophesied by Jesus did come to pass; then, according to the
test laid down by Moses, He is proved to be a true Prophet of God. Take, for instance, His prediction with
regard to the utter destruction of the
* [NOTE ON PAGES 189, 190] TheJews understood well the meaning of the above passage (Hag. 2: 1-9), as also Malachi 3: 1, where it is said that the Lord Messiah, for Whom they were looking, was to come to His Temple, and acknowledging that it was a vain thing to look for the appearance of Messiah when there was no temple, they actually attempted several times to rebuild their temple in the reigns of Adrian, of Constantine, and especially in that of Julian, who, out of hatred to the Christians, himself offered to pay the expenses of it, and the heathen, for the same reason, with great zeal assisted them, but God Himself interposed and frustrated their purpose by terrible earthquakes, which threw up stones and globes of fire out of the very foundations of the Temple, destroying both the workmen and spectators and devouring the stones. This is recorded not only by heathen and Christian writers, but also by our own Rabbis (Shalsheteth Hakkaba, P. 102; Tzemach David, p. 20). - Page 18 of my little book What think ye of Christ?
This is recorded in Socrat. Hist. Eccle., L. iii. C. xx. and in Sosorn, L. v. C. xxii., who appeals to several witnesses of it then living. Chrysostom (Orat. 2, contra Yud.) says, We are all witnesses of this thing. But, beside these testimonies of Christians, this is likewise told by Ammianus Marcellinus (L. xxiii. C. i.), who was not a Christian. LESLIES Short and Easy Method with the Jews.
Take another and perhaps more striking prophecy of His. And I, if I be lifted up, He said, meaning His crucifixion, will draw all men unto Me, and with the Christian Church before us and the rapid progress Christianity is making before our very eyes, has it not already received - and is it not still increasingly receiving - a wonderful fulfilment?
But Moses not only foretold Israels scattering and curse, but also their restoration to their land and to Gods favour, and their future blessing (Deut. 30.); and so Christ: He, too, spoke of the time when the now withered fig tree shall again bud and flower (Matt. 24: 32, 33), the time when Jerusalem shall no more be trodden down of the Gentiles, and when all the Jewish nation shall cry, Hosannah! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!*
* [NOTE ON PAGES 190, 191]
And these prophecies, too, will be as literally fulfilled as
were those predicting their scattering and desolation. Already a ray of light is visible on the
horizon, which may be the precursor of the light of Jehovah which is to arise and
once more shine on
Then, lastly, Christ is like unto Moses in that He too is a judge: For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. This feature of our Lords character will doubtless assume greater prominence at His second coming, when He will occupy the judgment seat on several most solemn occasions (1 Cor. 3: 11; 2 Cor. 5: 10; Matt. 25.; Dan. 12.; Rev. 22: 5). But even now Christ is judge in a sense; for just as the head is judge and arbitrator in everything concerning the body, so Christ, being in the same relationship to the Church, also exercises the same functions to her. Would that Christians realised more the fact, that He Who is always with them as their Saviour and Guide is He Whose eyes are as a flame of fire, too pure and holy to behold iniquity, except to condemn it, as it would doubtless exercise a wholesome influence in heightening their moral tone!
But, secondly, the prophet Moses was commissioned by God to be
God, in His infinite wisdom, permitted the children of
He called Moses, saying, Come now, and I will send thee unto
Pharaoh, that thou mayest
bring forth the children of
This achievement stands out most prominently in the life of
Moses, and has immortalised him for ever as the Divinely appointed emancipator
This is no more than saying that the Seed of the woman, Who was to come as the Emancipator of the whole human race from the power of sin and the devil, must be Divine, as well as human.
As mere man He could not be exempt from sin, for there is no
man that sinneth not and there is not a righteous man upon the earth, that
doeth good, and sinneth not (Eccles. 7: 20, Heb.).
How then could He
be the Redeemer of the world? Oh! ye who
tell us that Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind in the sense merely that He
taught us by His example how to
live perfectly in this world, do ye not blow to the winds even the one grain of
truth contained in your assertion if you reject His Divinity? If He were mere man, He would Himself be
imperfect, and how could the imperfect be the type of perfection? And, if ye answer me, that Jesus was perfect
though mere man, I challenge you to produce me one other instance in the whole
history of the human race as an example.
Until you do so, I shall not believe in the possibility of it; and will
ever, as long as God gives me grace and strength, lift up my voice like a
trumpet, and proclaim aloud your inconsistency in that you hold up Jesus as a
type of perfection, and yet put Him down as mere man. No, it was His own Son, made of a
woman and under the law, Whom God sent forth, when the fulness of time was
come, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4: 4, 5). Here then is one other point of
analogy between Moses and Jesus. Moses was
If the salvation, or deliverance, ascribed as the Messiahs mission to the world, was in its nature merely national restoration, that would not affect the Gentiles, for many of them do not need such a salvation at all. The deliverance associated with Messiahs advent must be such as will alike meet the need of both Jew and Gentile, of man universally. It must therefore be spiritual in its character - a revelation of life and immortality through the knowledge of God. All men are not nationally dispersed and in bondage as the Jews have been, and in a sense still are, but all men are the servants of sin and Satan, and to redeem men from this state Messiah was to appear. The Son of man on His first advent came not to set up an earthly kingdom and to he ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
And that this, namely, giving His life a ransom, was to be the means by which the Messiah was to effect the redemption of the world, was first typified for long ages by the Divinely appointed system of sacrifices. Look at yonder poor innocent lamb led along by the Jew to the altar, there to propitiate by its blood for the sin he had committed, and by its death to restore to him the life he had forfeited. Does it not graphically picture to you Him Who was to be led as a lamb to the slaughter, the Lamb of God Which taketh away the sin of the world? Then, secondly, the same truth was clearly proclaimed by the prophets. Thus Daniel (9: 26) says, The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself, and Isaiah in his fifty-third chapter* says, He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement with a view to our peace was laid on Him; and with His stripes we are healed. ... Jehovah made the iniquity of us all to meet on Him. ... It pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief, when He was made a trespass offering He hath poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
* [NOTE ON PAGE 197] See charter on Isaiah 53.
According to this prophecy (Isa. 53. ; see also Ps. 22.), the Messiah, Who is perfectly innocent (ver. 9) in Himself, suffers for the guilty; the perfectly righteous is represented as having all our sins laid upon Him, and, as a natural consequence, the wrath of God, that should fall upon us, falls upon Him, and Divine justice demands the penalty of the law, which is death, at His hands; and so, for us, He is cut off from the land of the living. Thus, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. And this redemption is not for the body merely, from a state of bondage or captivity, but eternal (Heb. 9: 12), for body and soul, from Satan, sin, and death (Heb. 2: 14, 15; Titus 2: 14); and it is not for one nation only, for listen to the chorus of those who from among men (Rev. 14: 4) have been brought, by the grace of God, to partake of the benefits of Christs finished work. Thou art worthy, they cry, to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation!
But, thirdly, Moses was the
As an evidence of the necessity of a mediator between God
and man, I might point to the universal consciousness of mankind as betrayed in
the different religious systems; for there has never been a form of religion
known even among the savages and heathen nations, without the idea of mediation
forming a part of that religion. The
sense of Gods incomparable holiness and supremacy, and the consciousness of
both his own unworthiness and of having offended the Most High, has always
prevailed with man (Josh. 24: 19; Amos 3: 3), which has made him long for a
daysman (Job. 9: 33) who should be the medium of reconciliation between God and
him, or for a man who should make up the hedge and stand in the gap
(Ezek. 22: 30) between the ineffable and holy Jehovah
and finite, sinful man. Behold yon
solemn assembly round Mount Sinai. The
people, after careful preparation and cleansing, seek to draw nigh to their
God. Here they are, brought forth
by Moses out of the camp to meet with God, and here, at the nether part of the
mount, they await with fear and trembling an interview with the God Who had
brought them out, by His almighty power, from the bondage of
But let me next remind you that Moses
In this connection please read Exodus 33: 7-14, 32, 33; Numbers 14:
11-20. On the occasions mentioned in those passages,
you will find, that God was specially displeased with Israel on account of
their sins and the hardness of their hearts, and threatened to utterly destroy
them; and, if not for the intercession of Moses, this might actually have taken
place; but Moses laid hold on Gods promises, and pleaded on their behalf: Remember, he prayed, Abraham,
Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom thou swarest by Thine own self. And now, I beseech
Thee, let the power of the Lord be great, according as Thou hast spoken,
saying, The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and
transgression, though by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of
the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this
people, according unto the greatness of Thy mercy, and as Thou hast forgiven
this people from
But what the children of
for before they could enter Canaan and take possession of their promised land, they had a great and terrible wilderness to traverse, and many foes to encounter; and, moreover, the way was altogether strange to them, neither had they the necessaries to sustain life during their wanderings; what would they have done without the leadership of Moses? But God anticipated even this need, and made him who redeemed them to be also their leader, for though it was His own glorious arm that led them, it was none the less by the right hand of Moses (Isa. 63: 12); thus again and again we hear Gods command to Moses, Go, lead this people (Exod. 32: 34); and he himself, in one of his touching parting addresses to the children of Israel in the plains of Moab, reminded them that he led them forty years in the wilderness.
Now the Messiah, too, was to be the Leader of His people, for
God said of Him, Behold, I have given Him for a Witness to the people, a Leader
and Commander to the people (Isa.
55: 4); and in the
tenth chapter of Johns Gospel our blessed Lord Jesus represents Himself not
only as the Good Shepherd who layeth down His life for the sheep (our
Redeemer), but also as the Leader of the sheep.
Thus He says, He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And
when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the
sheep follow Him: for they
know His voice (John 10: 3, 4).
Moses is represented as carrying the children of
But what Christ is to His Church as a whole He is also to
every one of its members individually. Lo, I am with
you alway, has
been a blessed realisation in the experience of each one true Christian, who has only sought His
presence and looked up to Him for direction.
With you alway. Oh! glorious all-sufficient
promise! With you when you pass through the waters of
affliction, just as Moses was with Israel when they passed through the Red Sea;
you when you walk
through the fires of persecution, just as He was with Hananiah, Mishael, and
Azariah in the burning fiery furnace (Dan. 3: 25); and still with you even when the road through which you
pass is utterly dark, without even the faint light of human counsel
or sympathy to guide your trembling footsteps (Isa.
50: 10); yes, with you alway,
even unto the end. We sometimes are apt to think that
those forty years which Moses spent in tending the flocks of his father-in-law
in the wilderness of Horeb, and in the solitude of Midian, were lost time, but
no: the eternal and wise God had a
purpose in it, which, beside the opportunities it afforded him of communing
with God and his own heart (an
indispensable preparation for the undertaking of such a stupendous task as lay
before him), was to acquaint him with the district through which he was to
lead Israel in their future wanderings.*
He was acquainted with the coasts of the Red Sea long before
* [NOTE ON PAGES 207, 208] Moses fled from the face of
Pharaoh and dwelt in the
In this sanctuary of the hills, awaiting the time
when the advancing purposes of God had ripened
Berthean (Geschichte, P.
242) thinks that Moses in Midian would come in contact with a form of faith of
Abraham, preserved in Jethros tribe, purer than survived among the Jews in
Even so Jesus, in order that He may be the more fitted to be the Leader of His followers in this world, was sent down to this earth by the Father in order that He might first Himself learn the way by which He was to bring many sons into glory (Heb. 2: 10); and so perfectly has He learnt it that there is not one single step throughout the pilgrimage of our lives which He is not acquainted with, and knows the dangers, difficulties, and trials, by which it is beset. Has He not Himself had to pass through the sea of troubles, so that He had to cry, All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over Me (Ps. 42: 7), experienced what it is to be without a home, hungry, thirsty, and weary? (Matt. 4: 2; John 4: 6; Matt. 8: 20). Does He not know what it is to endure reproach, to be forsaken and despised of men, and to be tempted as we are? Yea, has He not Himself endured dreadful agonies and pains, and tasted death, and even experienced the most awful and dense darkness, occasioned by the withdrawal of Gods presence, when standing as our Substitute to answer to the call of Divine justice? Oh! then, what more reliable or more sympathising Leader can you have, Christian? And remember that He has trodden the rough and thorny path in order that He may now be able to lead you to your promised land by a more pleasant one. He does not necessarily lead those who follow Him now through the path of poverty, suffering, and pain, which He had to tread, except it be to teach them some specially precious lessons of His tender care and love; nor is it possible that those whom He leads can ever walk in the dense darkness occasioned by the hiding of Gods face from them; for He Himself has said, I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Rather the experience of those to whom He stands in the relationship of a Shepherd or Leader* has generally been that they have everything that can conduce to their comfort, and that goodness and mercy follow them all their days, for He maketh them to lie down in pastures of tender grass, and leads them by the waters of quietness. He restoreth their souls: He leadeth them in the paths of righteousness for His Names sake! And when they have to walk through trouble or the valley of the shadow of death, He is still with them, and with His rod and His staff He comforts them. Yes, this is what our blessed Saviour is to us; He leads us all through life; He leads us through, or carries us over**death, and even in heaven He still retains the character of Leader; for we read that there the redeemed follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Rev. 7: 17).
* [NOTES ON PAGE 210] In the Hebrew [the word] means both Shepherd and Leader; in fact, the two terms become almost synonymous if we bear in mind that in the East the shepherd does not, as in Western lands, drive the sheep before, but he leadeth them out, and goeth before them, and the sheep do follow him.
** This is a justifiable rendering of [the Hebrew words] in Psalm 48: 15.
As a last point of analogy between Moses and Christ, I point to the fact that Moses was a
as it is written, He was king
in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of
He was born King (Matt. 2: 2),
and Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, was inscribed on
the cross on which He poured out His soul unto death, and now in heaven He is exalted
Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto
Israel and the forgiveness of sins; and when He returns
it will be as King, to sit on the throne
of His father David and reign in Mount Zion and before His ancients
gloriously. It is true that, like Moses, He is as yet an uncrowned King, but soon He will return in power
and glory; and then on His head there shall be many crowns (Rev. 19: 12); and perhaps the one that will sparkle most gloriously on
that head that was once in derision crowned with a crown of thorns will be that
which will be put on it by repentant
Israel - the crown of David, which
is peculiarly His by right as the Son of David. It was not always that Moses was
thus recognised as
And just as Moses combined in his own person both the dignity of priest and king (Ps. 99: 6; Deut. 33: 5), so of the Messiah too we read, that He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (Zech. 6: 13).
These are the most prominent points of analogy between Moses and Christ*; there are many more parallels which we might draw from minute details, but only those given are, I think, of sufficient general interest and striking enough to be noticed in a chapter of this kind. I rather hasten to the conclusion now by briefly referring to a few points of
which will demonstrate the pre-eminence of
our Redeemer, Leader, Prophet, Priest, and King, over him who stood in all
these different relationships to
* [NOTE ON PAGES 213, 214, 215, 216] H. L. Hastings, editor of the American Christian, in an excellent pamphlet on The Mistakes of Moses, which is a reply to the infidel attacks against the Pentateuch and the inspiration of Moses, gives no fewer than twenty-four points of analogy between Moses and Christ. For the sake of those interested, I produce them here in an abridged form.
1. Moses was born of poor parents, under the reign of Pharaoh, who was an oppressive tyrant; Christ was born in poverty, and under the reign of the cruel Herod.
2. Moses was persecuted and doomed to death in infancy; so Christ.
Moses was wonderfully preserved in his infancy in
Moses spent forty years of his life in humble circumstances; Christ up
to His manhood toiled as a Carpenter in
Moses was revealed to
Moses fasted forty days in the wilderness of Sinai; Christ fasted forty
days in the wilderness of
7. Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaohs daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Christ spurned the offer of the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and chose rather for His people to become a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
8. Moses was faithful as a servant; Christs meat and drink was to do His Fathers will.
10. The sea obeyed Moses, and divided at his command; Christ rebuked the winds and waves, saying, Peace, be still! and there was a great calm.
11. Moses was the founder of a state, the first republic the world ever knew; Christ was the Founder of a vast community of equal brethren, which has since spread into all parts of the world.
12. Moses was permitted to talk with God face to face Christ also had direct and personal communion with the Father as no prophet has ever had.
13. Moses face shone with glory as the result of communion with God; Christ was transfigured in the presence of His disciples also while praying on a mountain.
14. Moses predicted future events which have been fulfilled, and are being fulfilled; so Christ.
15. Those whom Moses led were fed miraculously in the wilderness; Christ fed thousands miraculously in the wilderness, and now He Himself is the Bread of heaven.
17. Moses was mediator of a covenant; Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant.
18. Moses was very meek; Christ was meek and lowly of heart.
Moses died on account of
21. Moses seems to have been raised up from death by Michael the archangel, since he appeared on the mount of transfiguration; Christ died and was buried, but He rose from the grave and entered into glory, and now sitteth at the right hand of God.
22. Moses greatest works were accomplished after his death, his law leaving its impress on the world for more than thirty centuries, and marking him as the most influential man that ever lived on the globe; Christs real work also only commenced when His earthly career was finished, and in its ever-widening influence through eighteen centuries, shows Him to be the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, the mightiest Being Who ever wore the human form.
23. Of Moses it is said, There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do (Deut. 34: 10-12); of Christ it is written that He did the works which none other man did (John 15: 24; Luke 24: 10).
Moses was the first and only man whom the Lord ever authorised to give
1. The first and greatest point of the superiority of Christ to Moses consists in this, that while Moses was mere man and the servant of God, Christ is Divine and the Son of God. For He, says Paul, hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as he that built the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some one; but He that built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterwards to be spoken; but Christ as a Son over His house; Whose house are we, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end (Heb. 3: 3-7, R.V.).
2. Then if we contrast the redemption
accomplished by Moses with that which was accomplished by Christ, we must also
assign the superiority to Christ. The
redemption which Moses accomplished was temporal in its character,
and that only for one nation, while the redemption accomplished by Christ is,
as I have already shown, spiritual and eternal in its character, and for the whole world. Oh! that
I could bring this truth home to the heart and conscience of every member of
3. Moses was, as I have shown, a priest, but, like his brother Aaron, with whom he is classed (Ps. 99: 6), and all the Aaronic family, his ministry was imperfect, both in itself and in its efficacy, and changeable, serving unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, but Christ, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood, and His priesthood is also perfect and perfecting, because He Himself is perfect. For such an High-priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, like those high-priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people: for this He did once for all, when He offered up Himself. For the law appointed men high-priests having infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was after the law, appointed a Son, perfected for evermore (Heb. 7., R.V.).
4. By Moses was given the law, which made nothing perfect (Heb. 7: 19), for the object of it is only to show up mans imperfection, by showing him what he ought to be and is not (Rom. 7); but by Jesus Christ came grace and truth (John 1: 17), and a revelation of what God is to us, and His righteousness, which finds us just where the law of Moses has left us - in a state of imperfection - and makes us complete in Him (Col. 2: 10). This really is the principal point of difference between the old covenant which God made through Moses and the new covenant (Jer. 31: 31-34) which He made through Christ. The first was conditioned on the righteousness of man; the second is conditioned only on the righteousness of God. The first, instead of making man perfect, required him to be perfect before he could enjoy the privileges attached to it; and, as man could not fulfil this condition, the covenant was broken (Jer. 31: 32); but in the second man is recognised as a sinner, who still is not disqualified from sharing in its blessings on account of his sin, for along with it comes the blessed promise, I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jer. 31: 34); and being conditioned on the righteousness of God, it can never be broken, for His righteousness endureth for ever (Ps. 111: 3).
5. Moses was Israels leader; and he led them forty years in the wilderness, but he never led them across the Jordan, nor brought them into their promised land; but Jesus, our Leader, leads His followers right to glory, for, as I have already shown, He not only leads us all through life, but He also leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, and even in heaven He still retains the character of Leader, for there He leads His own unto the living fountains of water (Rev. 7: 17).
6. Moses gave Israel twice water out of a smitten rock, which typified Christ (1 Cor. 10: 4), but the water he gave them did not even satisfy their physical thirst, for, throughout their wanderings, their most frequent cause of complaint was that they were thirsty; but Christ says, Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life (John 4: 14).
7. Moses was very meek (Num. 12: 3), and in this respect a type of Him Who was meek and lowly (Matt. 11: 29), but when severely tried, his meekness and patience gave way, for when they provoked his spirit he spake unadvisedly with his lips (Ps. 106: 33); but Christ endured the contradiction of sinners, and when He was reviled, reviled not again, and when He suffered He threatened not (1 Pet. 2: 23), but always, even under the greatest provocations, manifested a more than human spirit of long-suffering and forgiveness; thus on the very cross He could pray to His Father to forgive His enemies (Luke 23: 34).
8. The real glory of the ministry of Moses, that is, its typical reference to the Messiah and His mission, was hidden, as was typified by his putting on the veil to hide the shining of his countenance, which signified that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end (i.e., Christ, the end of the law) of that which was abolished (2 Cor. 3: 12-18); but now God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And this glory is not hidden, for we all, with unveiled face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit (2 Cor. 3: 18, 4: 6, R.V.).
9. Then there is also a glorious contrast between the miracles of Moses and the miracles of Christ. The miracles of Moses were all destructive in their character, while those of Christ were healing. The first miracle of Moses was turning water into blood, but the first miracle of Christ was turning water into wine.
And, lastly, Moses was king in Jeshurun; but Christ is King of kings and Lord
of lords (Rev. 14: 16), and when He returns, He shall have dominion from sea to
sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. ... The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents:
the kings of
And I saw as it were a glassy sea mingled with fire: and them that come victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing by the glassy sea, having harps of gold. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are Thy works, 0 Lord God the Almighty; righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the ages. Who shall not fear Thee, 0 Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all the nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy righteous acts have been made manifest (Rev. 15: 2-4, R.V.).
* * *
CHAPTER 7 [Pages 223-251]
ISAIAH 53: MESSIANIC OR NOT?
Behold, My Servant shall deal wisely, He shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. Like as many were astonished at Thee (His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men), so shall He sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Hint as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, yet He humbled Himself and opened not His mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, yea, He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away: and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of My people was He stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shall make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He poured out His soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Modern Jews, in common with a number of rationalistic so-called Christians, are trying hard in these days to weaken the Messianic application of this remarkable prophecy, and no wonder, for the doctrine of a suffering Messiah, Who is a Saviour from sin, which is so clearly taught in this chapter, is repugnant alike to Jew and Gentile who do not possess that which alone makes this doctrine acceptable, namely, the knowledge of sin and the consciousness of the need of salvation, because, not knowing the holiness of God and being ignorant of the import of the law, they imagine that through their own strength, by the works of the law, they can be justified before God.*
Their objections to the Messianic interpretation, and the interpretation they would have us substitute instead we shall consider further on, but first I shall endeavour to show that the weight of Jewish authority preponderates in favour of the Messianic interpretation of this chapter; and I would point out that on this particular subject the authority of tradition is of so much the greater importance since the picture of the Messiah we have here drawn is utterly opposed to the disposition and the fancied hopes of the Jewish nation.
That until recent times this prophecy has been almost
universally received by Jews as referring to Messiah is evident* from Targum Yonathan, who introduces Messiah
by name in chapter 52: 13; from the Talmud
(Sanhedrin, fol. 98, b); and from the Zohar, a book which the Jews as a rule
do not mention without the epithet holy, and
which contains the following passage in its comments on Exodus:- The souls which are in the
garden of Eden below go to and fro every new moon and sabbath in order to
ascend to the place that is called the Walls of Jerusalem. ... After that
they journey on and contemplate all those that are possessed of pains and
sicknesses and those that are martyrs for the unity of their Lord, and then
return and announce it to the Messiah.
And as they tell Him of the misery of Israel in their captivity, and of
those wicked ones among them who are not attentive to know their Lord, He lifts
up His voice and weeps for their wickedness; and so it is written, He was wounded for our transgression, etc. Then those souls return and abide in
their own place. There is in the garden of Eden a palace called the Palace of the sons of
sickness: this palace the Messiah then enters, and summons every sickness,
every pain, and every chastisement of
* See Appendix, Note 5.
It is also admitted by Abarbanel, who commences his comments by saying, The first question is to ascertain to whom it refers; for the learned among the Nazarenes expound it of the man who was crucified at Jerusalem at the end of the second Temple, and who, according to them, was the Son of God and took flesh in the virgins womb, as is stated in their writings. But Yonathan ben Uzziel interprets it in the Targurn of the future Messiah, and this also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midiashim.
In fact, until Rashi, who applied it to the Jewish nation, the Messianic interpretation of this chapter was almost universally adopted by Jews, and his view, which we shall examine presently, although received by Aben Ezra,* Kimchi,** and others, was rejected as unsatisfactory by Maimonides, who is regarded by the Jews as of highest authority, by Alshech, and many others, one of whom*** says that the interpretation adopted by Rashi distorts the passage from its natural meaning, and that in truth it was given of God as a description of the Messiah, whereby, when any should claim to be the Messiah, to judge by the resemblance or non-resemblance to it whether he were the Messiah or no. And another**** says, The meaning of He was wounded for our transgression. ... bruised for our iniquities, is, that since the Messiah bears our iniquities, which produce the effect of His being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities must endure and suffer for them himself.
* [NOTES ON PAGES 227, 228, 229] Aben Ezra, however, betrays some doubt, for he begins his comments with the acknowledgment This Parashah is an extremely difficult one.
** Kimchi admits that he wrote controversially in answer to the heretics.
*** R. Mosheh Kohen Iben Crispin, of Cordova, and
**** R. Eliyyah de Vidas.
Before entering into controversy, I add two more testimonies
from a Jewish source in favour of the Messianic interpretation of this
prophecy. The first passage is from the
prayers for the Day of Atonement used by the Jews at the present time, and the
second is from the very ancient Pesikta
cited in the Abkath Rochel (
). Here, as also in the foregoing quotations, I
give the translations made by Driver
and Neubauer in their most valuable
collection of Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 53.* The passages
are as follows: We are shrunk up in our misery even
until now! Our Rock hath not come nigh
to us; Messiah, our Righteousness hath turned from us; we are in terror, and
there is none to justify us! Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions
He will bear, for He was wounded for our transgressions; He will carry our sins
upon His shoulder, that we may find forgiveness for
our iniquities; and by His stripes we are healed. O Eternal One, the time is come to make a
new creation; from the vault of heaven bring Him up, out of Seir draw Him
forth, that He may make His voice heard to us in
* [NOTE ON PAGE 230] The Jewish Interpreters of Isaiah 53., with Introduction by Pusey.
Now to apply ourselves to an examination of the prophecy itself; and first we notice that it is universally agreed that it properly commences with the thirteenth verse of the fifty-second chapter Behold My Servant! so that if we can ascertain who this Servant is, we shall, of course, discover the subject of the whole passage; for that the whole chapter speaks of the same Person (or of the same body, as our opponents would have it) cannot be denied, seeing that towards the end the same name again occurs, where it is said, By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant make many righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities!
We shall not dwell on critical examination of words, as next to nothing turns upon renderings of the Hebrew, and almost any Jewish literal translation would serve our purpose. The three or four words the meaning of which Jews who write controversially dispute, and which they render in such a manner as to make them inapplicable to Jesus, we shall consider further on, when we reply to Jewish objections.
Rashi, who certainly has the largest following among Jews and rationalists at the present day, says, that by the Servant is meant Israel, or the righteous among them; and this theory we think the only one worth while to refute, for all the other interpretations, whether of Jeremiah, Isaiah himself, Hezekiah, or Job, which have been variously attempted, have been exploded by Jewish commentators and critics themselves.*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 231] Another theory has been started, and for the most part advocated by Gentile opposers of Christianity, viz., that, under the designation of Servant, in the singular, the body of the prophets is here personified, but to this Dr. Alexander McCaul has rightly replied, first, that the subject is spoken of throughout in the singular, and that not only in the third, but in the first person (49: 1-6; 1. 4-9); secondly, the whole body of the prophets were not sufferers, and least of all vicarious sufferers for the sins of others; thirdly, the prophets did not restore Israel, or convert the Gentiles; fourthly, neither did the prophets attain to the exaltation and glory described of the Servant of Jehovah, Who was to be exalted and extolled and to be very high (Isa. 49: 7; 52: 13-15).
Not so, however, with this one, and for the simple reason, perhaps, that it is too flattering to the national feeling and rather plausible on a mere artificial acquaintance with the passage and context.
But, first, while we admit that
2. We have direct and positive proof from the context that the Servant here cannot mean Israel, for in chapter 49., in verse 7 of which this Servant is introduced, and described in a manner which leaves not a shadow of doubt as to His identity with the subject of chapter 53., He is spoken of thus: And now, saith the Lord that formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob again to Him, and that Israel be gathered unto Him ... Yea, He saith, It is too light a thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give Thee for a Light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.
Now if this Servant is to raise up
the tribes of Jacob and restore
In chapter 42. we read, Behold My Servant, Whom I uphold; My
chosen, in Whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall
bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. ... I the
Lord have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep
Thee, and will give Thee for a Covenant to the people, and for a Light to the
, people, standing here in opposition to
, Gentiles, must mean Israel. This Servant., then,
is to be the new Covenant to
To this may be added the fact that the
subject of this prophecy is the same Who is
3. To assert that the Servant here describes
In fact, it is an enlargement of the promise made to Abraham
and the prophecy delivered by Jacob; and if the Deliverer is not Messiah, but
But I have already shown the falsity of the assertion that
4. The description of the Servant in 52: 13- 53. does not agree with the character of Israel as given, not only in other parts of Scripture, but by the same prophet; for He is described as perfectly innocent, but suffering for the sin and guilt of others - yea, more, He is represented as being not only righteous Himself, but as possessing the prerogative of constituting others righteous. By His knowledge, it says, shall My righteous Servant make many righteous; and He shall bear their iniquities! And in verse 10 we read, Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin (or trespass offering, ), He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand. Now if we go to Leviticus, we shall find that an offering for sin, whether lamb or bullock, had itself to be perfect, without one fault or blemish, which typified that He Who in this fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was to be led as a lamb to the slaughter for our sin and iniquities must Himself be without one stain of sin - without one moral blemish; and this is only what our common sense dictates, for what would we think if a criminal, himself by law condemned to death, should come forth and offer himself to die for another criminal guilty of exactly the same crime as himself? It is not in his power to lay down his life, which he has forfeited, or thereby to save another. And so the Servant in this chapter, even if it did not say that He hath done no violence, nor was deceit found in His mouth, we should expect to be perfect, since He is represented as an offering for the sin of others.
Now this cannot be true of any nation or of any individual if
mere man; for the Bible and our experience tell us that there is no man that
sinneth not; and
that there is not even a righteous man upon the earth, who doeth good, and
sinneth not. And beside of
And as for making others righteous, Isaiah (64: 6) represents even the God-fearing portion in Israel - those who wait for the salvation of God as unclean, and all their righteousnesses as a polluted garment, not sufficient to make themselves fit to appear in the presence of God.
Indeed, the only righteous in
Then as to the Jews suffering for the sins of others, as some of the Jewish commentators on this chapter would have us believe, it is not true. They have been suffering, and are suffering, but entirely for their own sin.
Read the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus, where all the dispersions, the sufferings, and afflictions which the Jews have experienced, and will yet experience until they turn and seek the Lord their God and David their King, are minutely described by their great lawgiver and prophet many hundreds of years before their accomplishment; and what cause does he assign for it all? Does Moses say that these sufferings will be vicarious for the sin of the other nations on the earth? No, he says that if they suffer, it will be entirely on account of their own sin. And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. ... And I will make your cities waste, and will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And you will I scatter among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you. ... And as for them that are left of you, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a driven leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee ... when no one pursueth. ... And ye shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you (shall by their sufferings atone for the sins of the other nations? No, they) shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away. And this is to continue till they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, when, as a sign of their acceptance, they will be brought back from all the lands of their dispersion to their own land, and there enjoy the favour of God.
But to this state of mind, alas! the Jews, as a nation, have not yet been brought, and one proof of this is that they can dare coolly to arrogate to themselves a state of perfection and stainless innocence, which belongs to none but to the Messiah - the Holy One of Israel.
But in truth the Jews themselves contradict in principle the theory on which their interpretation is based; for while, for controversial reasons, they interpret Isaiah 53. of themselves, and thus make themselves out as perfectly innocent and righteous, they at other times, when other prophecies are pressed home to them - those predicting the time of Messiahs advent, which they acknowledge to be past - make themselves out as most guilty, for they turn round on the Christians and say, You are not right in your conclusions; the time when Messiah was to come according to the prophets is indeed past, but it does not prove that Jesus was the Messiah because He came at the right time; for the fulfilment of the prophecies is postponed, and the reason of the delay is our sin and great wickedness.
An example of this inconsistency we have in Rashi himself, who was the first one who interpreted Isaiah 53. of the Jewish nation; for while he here makes Israel out so righteous, in his commentary on the Talmud (Sanhedrin Chelek, fol. 97, col. i), he says, on a passage which tries to account for the fact that Messiah came not at the right time - i.e., at the end of four thousand years after creation For our iniquities the Messiah came not at the end of out thousand years.*
* [NOTE ON PAGES 240, 241] In fact, the contradiction is still more striking and direct, for in his commentary on the Talmud Rashi actually interprets Isaiah 53. of the Messiah (Sanhedrin, fol. 93, c. i). A similar case of Rashi contradicting himself is to be seen in the double manner in which he deals with Zechariah 12: 10, They shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced and mourn. for, while in his commentary on the Bible he says on this passage, They shall look back to mourn, because the Gentiles had pierced some amongst them, he says in his commentary on theTalmud (Succah, fol. 52, col. 1), The words The land shall mourn are found in the prophecy of Zechariah, and he prophesies of the future, that they shall mourn on account of Messiah, the son of Joseph, who shall be slain in the war of Gog and Magog. (On the doctrine of two Messiahs see P. 44) The reason of this double-dealing will be seen in his comments on Psalm 21., where he says, Our Rabbis have expounded it of the King Messiah, but it is better to expound it further of David himself in order to answer heretics.
There is yet one more point to which
we must refer, which also proves beyond doubt that the prophecy is not
The subject in Isaiah 53. is not only Himself innocent and suffering for the guilt of others but He is also a voluntary and unresisting Sufferer and His sufferings end in death. He was oppressed, it says, yet He humbled Himself and opened not His mouth: as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, yea, He opened not His mouth. ... Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He poured out His soul unto death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bare the sin of many, and maketh intercession for the transgressors.
Many and bitter have been the sufferings and afflictions
Israel has experienced at the hands of the Gentiles; and these persecutions,
for which the perpetrators will yet have to settle their account with the
righteous God, are not quite at an end yet; but who shall say that these
sufferings have been borne voluntarily on the part of the Jews? And as to their sufferings ending in death,
let the miraculous preservation of
Then as to the Jewish nation suffering without any resistance, we need only point to history, which speaks for itself in this matter. How brave! - some would say how desperate! - was their resistance to the Roman power at the final great struggle for their national independence. Then after their temple was burned and their land laid waste the lion did not entirely change into a lamb; for we read of them at one time rebelling and massacring 220,000 Libyans (A.D. I15); at another time as engaged in a sanguinary war under the leadership of the great impostor Bar Cochab (A.D. 132); then, in the time of Constantine, as inciting, out of revenge, a furious persecution against the Christians in Persia, in consequence of which many, including Ustasades, one of the chief eunuchs of Lapor the Second, suffered horrible martyrdoms, and which ended in the destruction of the Churches throughout Persia; and then, also out of revenge, as putting thousands to death in Jerusalem, when (A.D. 613), by their assistance, Chosros made himself master of that city. It is not my object to incite prejudice or ill-feeling against the Jews by mentioning these facts, which can be multiplied, for too often the Jews have been driven to madness and desperation by the enormous wrongs they had to bear, but they show that the Jew is but human, and that when he only had the power, he could become quite as cruel a persecutor, as the Gentile, and hence the Jewish nation cannot be the Righteous Servant of Jehovah - the subject of Isaiah 53., Who is represented as being perfectly innocent, but voluntarily and without resistance suffering for the guilt of others.
These points are sufficient, I believe, to convince any candid reader that Israel cannot be the subject of this prophecy, and that the only satisfactory interpretation is the Messianic one which is not only adopted in the New Testament, but also, on the testimony of the famous Jewish Alshech, received by tradition and confirmed by the Rabbis with one mouth. And to this may be added that it is the only interpretation that agrees not only with the context, but with the description given of the Messiah in other parts of Scripture, for this is not the only prophecy of Messiahs death and vicarious sufferings. Daniel says distinctly, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself (Dan. 9: 26); and David and Zechariah not only foretell that Messiah shall be brought up in humility, and die for no sin of His own, but they describe even the very manner of His death, as I have elsewhere shown.* Then as to the glory with which the prophecy commences and ends, it, too, answereth to the glory of Messiah, and belongeth to none other. It is He Who is exalted and extolled to the right hand of Jehovah of hosts (Ps. 110.); it is He Who is a Priest upon His throne (Zech. 6.), which answers to the priestly character of the subject of this prophecy, Who bears the sins of others, not only in a sacrificial sense, but in a priestly sense (compare Isa. 53: 12 with Num. 18: 1, Heb.), and of Whom it is said, He maketh intercession for the transgressors; and it is only the Messiah Who was to sprinkle many nations, at Whom kings were to shut their mouths, and Who was to be the Light of the Gentiles and the salvation of God to the end of the earth.
* See Appendix Note 3
But now we come to another and distinct question, namely, Has this prophecy received its fulfilment in Jesus of Nazareth? for it is not sufficient merely to prove that the image and superscription this prophecy bears is that of the Messiah, but we must also prove that the image or likeness answers to Jesus. That there is a marked resemblance between the subject of this prophecy and the Christ of the Gospels and Epistles is admitted even by a Jewish polemical commentator, who says, In this Parasha (chapter) there seem to be considerable resemblances and allusions to the work of the Christian Messiah and to the events which are asserted to have happened to Him, so that no other prophecy is to be found the gist and subject of which can be so immediately applied to Him!*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 245] Abraham Farissol,
This also is for the most part admitted by intelligent Jews who are acquainted with the facts of Christs history, and many of the seed of Abraham have had their eyes opened by this portion of the Word of God to see in Jesus their long-expected Messiah and Saviour. But many raise the following objections against its application to Jesus, which we shall consider one by one.
1. The subject of the prophecy, they say, is to prolong His days (by which they understand that He is to live long on the earth), but Jesus was put to death at the age of thirty-three.*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 246] All these objections, which are often brought forward by Jews, are originally taken from the Chizzuk Amunah by Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham, of the sixteenth century, which is the most bitter and formidable attack on Christianity ever made by Jews. I have in my possession the new edition of this work in Hebrew and German, published in Leipsic in 1873.
The passage reads thus, When (or if) Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin (or trespass offering), He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hands.
To become an , sin offering, plainly implies death (see Lev. 6.), and since, as is plainly indicated, He was to prolong His days after and to some extent on condition of becoming a sin offering, it surely refers to life after death, and implies that Messiah must rise from the dead and then live.
The passage in fact is parallel to the fifth verse (English, fourth) of the twenty-first Psalm, which is admittedly Messianic: He asked of Thee life: Thou gavest Him length of days ( ) for ever and ever, with regard to which even Kimchi admits, Length of days means the life of the world to come, and in fact it must be so, since it is for ever and ever.
It is true that Jesus died a violent death at the age of thirty-three, but it is just as true that on the third day He rose again, to which every true Christian is a witness, and is seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110.), from whence His voice comes to us saying, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev. 1: 18).
2. Of the subject of Isaiah 53. it is written, He shall see His seed, but Jesus had no children; therefore He cannot be the one spoken of.
His seeing His seed was also, as well as His prolonging His days, to follow, and to some extent be conditioned on, His becoming a sin offering (dying) first; therefore it cannot refer to natural seed, which are begotten of man during his lifetime on earth.
And besides, the assertion on which this objection is founded, namely, that , seed, cannot be applied to any except natural offspring, is false. , seed, is used figuratively in Isaiah 57: 4, where it is said, Are ye not children of transgression, a seed ( ) of falsehood? In the same sense also it is used in Malachi 2: 15. In Psalm 22: 31, also referring to the Messiah, and parallel to the verse in Isaiah 53. on which the objection is founded, the word , seed, again occurs; but there it is admitted even by Aben Ezra, that it is used in the sense, not of natural issue, but of disciples or followers. The passage referred to in Psalm 22. reads thus, A seed shall serve Him ( ) ; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation, and there also the seed serving Him is to follow His being despised and brought to the dust of death by having His hands and feet pierced. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed childless as far as natural issue is concerned, but of this the passage in question does not speak. And as to a spiritual seed which was to be the reward and outcome of His being made a sin offering, there are at the present day millions; and in every age since the era commenced with Calvarys cross, there have been innumerable multitudes of those who have been begotten of God through the Spirit by Jesus Christ; and in every place truly a seed doth serve Him, every one of whom can testify that from Him they have received the power or right to become the sons of God (John 1: 12).
3. Many Jews, led by Kinichi and Aben Ezra, say that ought to be translated, not For Me sin of My people was He stricken, but For the sin of My people were they stricken, , as they assert, being equivalent to and plural. This of course would lend colour to the suggestion that the subject is a collective one, and might be applied to Israel.*
* [NOTE ON PAGE 249] The fact that the word , rendered in the ninth verse in His death, is in the plural, has also been made to serve as an argument that the subject is a collective and not an individual one. But this plural is used in the same way to denote the singular in Ezekiel 28: 10, Thou shalt die the deaths ( ) of the uncircumcised by the hands of strangers, The singular pronoun his should, however, decide the question that the subject is an individual, especially when we remember that the whole context speaks of this subject in the singular.
In the first instance let Kimchi
answer to himself, for, although in his challenge
to the Nazarenes he uses this as an argument against the application of
this prophecy to Jesus, he says in his grammar
occurs as the
affix of the third person singular, as in Job 20: 23, 22: 2. ...
and is therefore used both of many and of one.*
is used as a singular pronoun in Genesis 9: 26, And he said, Blessed be the God of
Shem; and Canaan shall be a servant to him (
); and again,
in verse 27 of the same chapter, God shall
enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and
* [NOTE ON PAGE 249] Pusey quotes this passage from Kimchis Grammar. See his introduction to Jewish Interpreters on Isaiah 53.
These objections are really the only ones worthy of serious consideration; others are brought forward in the work referred to (Chizzuk Amunah) and by modern Jews, such, for instance, as, How can Jesus be called a Servant, since He is asserted by Christians to be Divine? overlooking that Messiah is called Servant in Zechariah 3: 8, as admitted by almost all Jewish commentators; and again it says, He made intercession for the transgressors; but if Jesus be God, to whom did He pray? ignoring the humanity of Jesus altogether and the fact that as Son, Jesus was subject to the Father (see Phil. 2: 5); but we have neither the required time or space to waste in refuting them.
All that I can say is that people must be very hard up for a reason why they should reject Christ if they are driven to such trifles as these. Oh ! that men would cease from trifling away their souls salvation and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who for them was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and on Calvarys cross was numbered with transgressors, and poured out His soul unto death in order that they might by the knowledge of Him be reckoned with the righteous and have eternal life! Oh! that they may, while there is yet time, seek Him, Who, after He was offered up as a trespass offering, rose again on the third day and is now exalted and extolled to the right hand of the Majesty on high, where He ever liveth to make intercession for us! for ere long He Who has ascended will also descend again, but no more in humility as the worlds Sacrifice, but as the Judge in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those that know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord bath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53: 6).
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him (Ps. 2: 12).
* * *
APPENDIX [Pages 255-274]
I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel. - GEN. 3: 15.
Several references are made in this work to the above passage, and I now give one or two reasons for believing that this promise contains the germs of Messianic prediction and of universal blessing the Bible in embryo, the sum of all history and prophecy in a germ.*
* H. Grattan Guinness in The Approaching End of the Age.
In this chapter, we have related the dreadful catastrophe of the fall, when our first parents, in consequence of it, passed from a state of immortality to physical mortality, and from a state of perfect innocence to a consciousness of sin and guilt. The narrative must be treated in the same way as the call of Abraham; the deluge; the wickedness of the Antediluvians; the birth of Seth; the murder of Abel, etc., all which are related as and admitted to be real historical occurrences. There is no more reason for making an allegory of this narrative than of any other one related in the Book of Genesis, of which the fall of man forms an indispensable part. But there ought to be no questioning on the subject on the part of those who are followers of Christ and believe in the inspiration of Paul, for the temptation and fall, and even the creation of Eve, are spoken of in the New Testament in such a manner as to preclude the possibility of allegorical interpretation (Matt. 19: 5, 6; Rom. 5: 12; 2 Cor. 11: 3; 1 Tim. 2: 13, 14).
To this it may be added that most Jews and, with isolated exceptions, all Jewish commentators receive what is narrated in Genesis 3. as real history. But supposing for one minute that the account is merely allegorical of the fall of man and the introduction of evil into the world, if the allegory mean anything at all, it still pictures the serpent as a tempter by whom our first parents were deceived, and in consequence brought on themselves a great calamity; therefore the promise that the serpent shall be overcome and have his head bruised must signify deliverance from the evil which he was the means of bringing on Adams race. The promise, it is true, was general and obscure, but no doubt clear enough so far as it spoke of a Deliverer and deliverance. That it was well understood by Adam and Eve as a promise of a Redeemer, we have remarkable evidence in the first verse of Genesis 4., where we read that, at the birth of the first child, Eve, in an ecstacy, [ecstasy i.e., a feeling of intense delight] exclaimed, I have obtained the Man, even the Lord [See Hebrew]. What does it mean except that Eve believed that the promised Deliverer had already arrived?
It may be pointed out that the deliverance promised is universal in its character; is of a moral and spiritual nature; that the Deliverer must of necessity be some one more than mere man, since every son of Adam is among the fallen and unable to help himself, much less to save others; and also that from the very first we have it more than hinted that Messiah shall suffer; for He was to have His heel bruised when bruising the serpents head.
* * *
The sceptre shall
not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until
- GEN. 49: 10.
With regard to this prophecy, the first thing I want to point out is that all antiquity agrees in interpreting it of a personal Messiah. This is the view of the LXX. version; the Targumim of Onkelos, Yonathan, and Jerusalem; the Talmud; the Sohar; the ancient book of Bereshith Rabba; and, among modern Jewish commentators, even of Rashi, who says, Until Shiloh come, that is King Messiah, Whose is the kingdom.
The [Heb. word ,] as already said, means more accurately the Tribal Staff, denoting tribal independence. Thus it is used in the sixteenth verse of this same chapter, in Judges 5: 14 (Heb. ), and in many other places in the Scriptures. Some modern Jews attempt to render it rod of correction, in order to manufacture for themselves an argument against the claims of Jesus, for, say they, does not the rod of correction still lay heavily upon us? how can the Messiah have come? But they entirely overlook that sceptre, must be parallel to , Lawgiver, and must therefore imply a rod of authority and not of correction. This is endorsed by the Targum of Onkelos, and by almost every Jewish commentator and modern Jewish translations of the Old Testament.
Lawgiver from between his feet, until
Some Jews divide the passage and translate
, until, for ever,
rendering it thus, Nor a Law giver from between
his feet for ever, for Messiah (
Some modern Jews, in common with rationalists, translate thus, The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, or a Lawgiver from between his feet, until he come to Shiloh; but first, as already said, there is not a shred of evidence that the town of that name existed at all in the days of Jacob. It is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, and occurs first in Joshua 18: 1, where the circumstances suggest that it was then, or subsequently, named Shiloh because the ark and the children of Israel rested there (compare Ps. 132: 8).
Secondly, it is contrary to fact, for this rendering
would imply that the leadership would devolve upon
Thirdly, it ignores wilfully that the prophecy was delivered by one who himself waited for the salvation of Jehovah (Gen. 48: 18), and was distinctly announced by him as having reference to the [See Hebrew Heb. translated] last days (ver. 1), which, as already said, signifies the time of Messiah (see Dan. 2: 28; Isa. 2: 2; Mic. 1: 1; Hos. 3: 5). * See note to p. 21.
Fourthly, it makes the whole passage unintelligible, for who
is he, if
Did the nations pay homage to
I purposely abstain from theorising upon the real or most likely
significance and derivation of the word
* * *
Are Christians right in interpreting this psalm as a prediction of Christ? to which I venture to reply that, beside New Testament authority for doing so (Matt. 27: 46; John 19: 24; Heb. 2: 12), it is the only interpretation which accords with common sense.
In substance, the contents of this psalm are the same as in that other remarkable prediction (Isa. 52: 13 - [ch.] 53) delivered by Isaiah some three hundred years later. In both cases we have the perfectly innocent suffering. Isaiah tells distinctly, He had done no violence, nor was deceit found in His mouth; and in this psalm, the only charge laid against Him is, He trusted in the Lord. In both cases also the sufferings of this innocent One bring salvation to others - the guilty. Isaiah says, By His sufferings shall the many be made righteous; and here in our psalm the remembrance of them will cause the ends of the earth to turn unto the Lord, and the hearts of those who seek Him to live. As in Isaiah 53., so also here, the Sufferer is brought to the dust of death, but subsequent to it (which surely implies that He must rise from the dead), He attains to high honour and glory, and has a numerous seed,* or followers, who serve Him. All this can only apply to Christ.
* See latter part of chapter on Isaiah 53.
The most plausible interpretation of this psalm offered by our
opponents is that it refers too the whole
The subject is despised by the people (ver. 6, Heb. 7); [See
translated], people, is used here in opposition to [Heb.
and must mean
2. Verses 10 and 11 (Heb. 11 and 12), and the minuteness of detail concerning this subject throughout the Psalm, extending even to his garment and vesture, can only refer to an individual.
3. Verse 23 reads, I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren in the midst of the congregation; verse 26, Of Thee is my praise in the great congregation. The subject of this psalm cannot, therefore, be the congregation itself.
4. The subject of this psalm is not only a sufferer, but his sufferings end in death, the very manner of which is described. He was not only to be brought to the dust of death, but he was to be brought so by having his hands and feet pierced, which well describes crucifixion. Now this is certainly not true of the Jewish nation, as I have shown in my remarks on Isaiah 53.
5. On account of the subject of this psalm, the ends of the earth are to turn unto the Lord; and this, as I have already shown, was only to be brought about by the Messiah, Whom the peoples or nations should obey.
Jesus of Nazareth is the only individual in the history of the Jewish nation in Whom all these characteristics are to be found.
Modern Jews, in order to get rid of this remarkable prediction of a crucified Messiah, which is not exactly according to their taste, attempt to translate verse 16 (Heb. 17), As a lion my hands and my feet, instead of They pierced my hands and my feet, which is the rendering, not only in the English versions, but of the Septuagint (a translation made by Jews long before its alleged fulfilment), also the Vulgate and Syriac; or, instead of another rendering on the authority of Gesenius and others, who make [the Heb. word ] a participle either from or to , to dig, to pierce, which would make the whole verse read thus, The assembly of evil-doers surrounded me, digging or pierceing my hands and my feet. Our reply is that supposing the word , as here punctuated, could by effort be made to signify, as a lion, this could not be its signification here, for the simple reason that it would give a senseless reading to the whole passage, and would not be in harmony with the context. The word, according to this rendering, would be either in the nominative or accusative. One would read, The assembly of the wicked doers like a lion have surrounded me, my hands and my feet; and the other, The assembly of wicked doers have surrounded me like a lion, my hands and my feet. The figure employed in both would be equally absurd, for what could be meant by a lion surrounding a man, or an assembly surrounding a mans hands and feet?
But we have proof that the ancient Jews did not favour the rendering of [the Heb. word ] in this passage, as a lion; for the little Massora says that the word , occurs twice in the Bible with Karnetz under the in different senses.* As the only other place where it occurs is Isaiah 36: 13, and there it must mean, as a lion, it must (herefore have another meaning in our passage, and this on the authority of the Jewish Massora.
* On this point see Delitzschs Commentary on the Psalms, English translation, vol. i. P. 317.
* * *
NOTE 4 (Note to page 72.)
As has been said, Isaiah 4: 2; Jeremiah 23: 5, 6 Zechariah 3: 8; and Zechariah 6: 12, 13, with the exception of Jeremiah 33: 15, which is a repetition of Jeremiah 23: 5, 6, are the only four instances in the Hebrew Scriptures where the Messiah is designated by the title (Branch), and in the connections pointed out. English readers may be surprised at this statement and inclined to doubt its accuracy as Psalm 80: 15, Isaiah 11: 1, etc., are brought to their minds; but I must explain that I have only to do with the original.
The word rendered Branch in Psalm 80: 15 is
, and literally means son, so that that sentence ought to be
rendered, And the Son Whom Thou hast made strong for Thyself. In Isaiah 11: 1, the word rendered Branch is
literally means twig, sprout, or sucker. It has also the idea
of concealment or secrecy, something hidden, so that the prophet may have
intended to describe the insignificance and unobtrusiveness of the Messiah on
His first advent; hence some think that the words of Matthew 2: 23, That it
might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a
Nazarene, were in
reference to this verse, i.e., they
trace Nazarene to
The little town
I might mention that on comparing the Hebrew with the English text I found no fewer than thirteen different Hebrew words all rendered by the word Branch in the English, and in several instances incorrectly so, but as none of these passages are of any Messianic import, I do not dwell on them.
* * *
IN DEFENCE; OR, MORE ON ISAIAH 53.
Since writing these pages, my attention has been drawn to a volume of Lectures and Sermons, recently published (1884), by Professor Marks, Rabbi of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, in which several of the said lectures are devoted to refute the Christian, or Messianic, interpretation of certain prophecies, and among them Isaiah 53. I mention it here, not with a view to pass criticism upon it; indeed, the only criticism necessary is to state that not only the conclusions, but also the premises from which are drawn the conclusions at which the author arrives, are those which have been advanced by Jews scores of times, and have as often been refuted; thus the stale arguments of Abarbanel and the author of the Chizzuk Ammunah are again made to serve the purpose of establishing the theory that Israel is the subject of this prophecy, though Professor Marks, like all the rest of those who seek to avoid Him Who is the Door by which alone we can enter into the true meaning of this prophecy, seems rather uncertain after all, or else why does he, in the first instance, recount all the reasons for its applicability to the prophet Jeremiah - an interpretation concerning which even Abarbanel says, What may be the goodness or excellence that they see in it I do not understand? Professor Marks, however, makes one rather serious statement - a statement as cruel as it is false - to this effect, Whatever be the errors into which conversionists in general fall by reason of ignorance, they are completely outstripped by Jewish converts who deliberately and designedly falsify facts, and put words into the mouths of Hebrew authors which they never uttered, and attribute to them motives of conduct of which they never dreamed. For an exemplification of this patent fact, he takes leave to refer to a work of the late Rev. Moses Margoliouth and to strictures passed upon it in several numbers of the Jewish Chronicle in 1847 by Professor Theodores. In that work, which I have not the pleasure of knowing, the position that I have taken up in these pages is asserted, viz., that the oldest, and, till Rashi, the commonest received interpretation of this prophecy, was that which made it apply to the Messiah. This is denied by Professor Marks and his patron saint, Professor Theodores, under whose banner he is fighting. Of course, they are quite welcome to deny anything they please, but they have no right to accuse Hebrew Christians of falsifying facts, and misrepresenting Jewish authors, because they declare that the originally received interpretation of Isaiah 53. among the Jews was the Messianic one; for it is not merely converted Jews who assert this, but unconverted Jewish rabbis of great reputation. Thus Alsech (Alsheich), who was chief rabbi in Safet, Upper Galilee, in the sixteenth century, in his Commentaries on the Earlier Prophets says of this chapter: Our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view. And Abarbanel, who wrote so bitterly against Christianity, is also obliged to admit this fact, for he says, This (that it refers to Messiah) is also the opinion of our own learned men in the majority of their Midrashim (Abarbanel in loc.). Why, I may ask here, if Jewish opinion did not preponderate in favour of the Messianic interpretation, has it been made to apply to the Messiah in the Jewish liturgy which is used by Jews in the present day on the most solemn day of the year? Why also is the reading of this prophecy omitted at the synagogue but because of a tacit acknowledgment that it favours the claims of the crucified Nazarene? I have purposely, in the selection of passages from Jewish sources which favour the Messianic interpretation, given the translations made by Dr. Driver and Professor Neubauer, the latter of whom, being an unconverted Jew, could certainly not be accused of falsifying facts, or putting words into the mouth of Hebrew authors which they never uttered.* Christian Jews might with more reason reply that such an accusation applies to modern Jewish prophets, who not only wrest the Scriptures of God to their own destruction, but who have also departed from the one grain of truth which was left in Rabbinism, and are trying to set up for themselves another system, even more at variance with Moses and the prophets. But they have learned of One, Who, when He was reviled reviled not again, and Who said, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
* To whom the charge of falsifying facts and putting words into the mouths of authors which they never uttered more justly applies may be judged from the following passage in Professor Marks Lectures (p. 167), and a comparison of it with Dr. McCauls work to which he refers. He says: Every Hebrew scholar knows well that in the whole volume of the Scriptures [the Heb. ] has but one meaning, and that it is never used to denote anything other but bodily offspring. The late Dr. McCaul admitted the correctness of, the assertion, but he argued that this was no reason why the word might not be used in a figurative sense. Can any substantial reason, he asks, be assigned why it should not be used figuratively? The mightiest and most substantial of all reasons is that it is nowhere so used.
Now, this is what Dr. McCaul does say, Let us for a moment suppose that Rabbi Isaacs assertion is correct -
that in no passage the word
(seed) occurs in a
figurative sense; will it therefore follow that it, cannot occur in a
figurative sense? Can any substantial
reason be assigned why it should not be used figuratively as well as
? The expression, children of the prophets
) confessedly means the disciples of the prophets. The Israelites are
called children of the living God (
, Hos. 2: 1, in the English 1: 10). To Ephraim the
(child), is applied in
Jeremiah 31: 20: Is
Ephraim My dear son? (
); is he a pleasant child?
But, secondly, the assertion that (seed) must mean the natural offspring is not true. It is used of the firstborn of the husbands brother, when the husband had died without issue (see Gen. 38: 8 and Deut. 25: 6). Here it cannot be contended that the child is the natural offspring of the deceased. In Isaiah 57: 4, it is used figuratively Are ye not children of transgressors, a seed of falsehood? ( ). And again, Malachi 2: 15, a godly seed ( ). In the thirty-first verse of the twenty-second psalm, which verse is not controversial, Aben Ezra himself takes (seed) figuratively, A seed shall serve him; it shall be counted to the Lord, etc. Aben Ezra renders these words, A seed which shall serve Him, etc., and adds, as if that was a seed which serveth Him ( ). Again, in that famous verse Genesis 3: 15, 11 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, we cannot understand the natural offspring of the tempter, but those who do his works, and are actuated by his spirit (Doctrine and Interpretation of the Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah, by Dr McCaul, pp. 29 and 30).
If the learned Professor as accurately represents the views and statements of Oxlee, Gesenius, and Schleiermacher, whom he quotes so profusely, he has but little reason for sheltering himself behind their opinions.