« ForrigeFortsett »
monstrated from the covenant which God made with Abraham; wherein he promised to Abraham and his seed an everlasting possession of the land of Canaan. These are the terms employed :
" Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward ; for all the land thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and the breadth of it ; for I will give it unto thee.” (Gen. xiii. 14, 15.) Again :
“ Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates.” (Gen. xv. 18.)
And when the Almighty changed the patriarch's name to Abraham, he thus promised: “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, and I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God." Gen. xvii. 7, 8.
This covenant or deed, giving that land to Abraham, was repeated to his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob. To the former Jehovah thus promised :
« Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee and to thy seed I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father.” (Gen. xxvi. 3.) • To Jacob the promise was repeated; “I am the Lord God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." (Gen. xxviii. 13.)
Surely these are explicit terms; and we would here simply propose the question :-Since the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are now not in possession of that land where these patriarchs sojourned with their flocks and herds, how can they possess it for ever unless they return to it? But we pass on to the citation of express, positive predictions that they shall so return, and possess the land.
In that day when the root shoot of Jesse shall stand for an ensign to the peoples, and the nations shall flock to it, in that day it shall come to pass “ that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together : they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall be shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Isa. xi. 11-16.)
To whom can this language apply, if not to Israel—the lineal descend. ants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? And to what period of their past history can'it apply? Not to the return from Babylon; because : 1. It was only Judah that were carried thither; but here both Judah and Ephraim are mentioned no longer living at enmity as rival kingdoms, but in peacefulness and unity. No such return of Ephraim has ever taken place. 2. Again, the return here predicted is from “the four corners of the earth,”—from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the islands of the sea. And 3. No such wonders were wrought for the return of the captives under Ezra and Nehemiah as those predicted here, viz., the tongue of the Egyptian sea destroyed ; the river (Euphrates ?) smitten by the mighty hand of God, that men might go over dryshod, and a highway made for the remnant of the people from Assyria, “ Like as it was to Israel in the day that he came out of Egypt.” Truly, unless the word of the Lord is to return to him void, these predictions shall yet be fulfilled.
Another like prediction is contained in the book of Jeremiah:-“ And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will 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 Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them : and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jer. xxiii. 3-8.)
Is it possible to conceive of language more expressive than this, of the idea that it is God's purpose to restore the people of Israel to the land promised to Abraham ? Most assuredly not. But our proposition affirms a permanent possession of the land to Israel restored; and so it is promised in Jer. xxxi. 27-40 :-"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord. Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah ; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write
it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord : for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name : If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith the Lord. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner, And the measuring-line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields, unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse-gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down, any more for ever."
It is in vain to attempt to apply this language to “ The Church," as is often done. Only to the house of Israel can the language apply. “ Like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down, and to destroy, and to afflict, so will I watch over them to build and to plant." And those topographical descriptions, “The tower of Hananeel," “ The gate of the corner,” 6 The hill of Gareb," “ Goath,” “ The brook Kidron,” and “The horse-gate," offer indubitable evidence that “the city” to be rebuilt is none other than Jerusalem; and who can deny that the language here used concerning it, is still a prophecy? “ It shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down, any more for ever?"
The permanent establishment of the twelve tribes of Israel in the land promised to Abraham is also clearly foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, many times; one extract must suffice :-“ And say unto them, 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 I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all : and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all : neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions : but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them : so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe 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 children's children, for ever : and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them : and I will place them, and multiply
them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezek. xxxvii. 21-28.)
In addition to the remarks already made on the predictions quoted, regarding their inapplicability otherwise than to the restoration of Israel to their own land, there is another to which attention should be called, which applies to this one in Ezekiel, and to that in Jeremiah xxiii. 3-8, viz., that at the time mentioned the people of Israel is to have a king reigning over them, even David's righteous Branch; who shall then be known among Israel as the Lord our Righteousness. “The grand objection,” remarks Dr. David Brown, “ to applying this vision to the return from Babylon is not merely the language in which their resettlement in Palestine, never more to be plucked up, is expressed; and the extent of spiritual renovation ascribed to them, so exceedingly hyperbolical if understood of anything then realised ; but the explicit mention of Messiah as their Shepherd and King, the life of their restored state. To say that this means no more than that the nation restored from Babylon would ultimately give birth to Messiah the King, who even then was over them, the angel of the Covenant, is surely a very tame exposition of the language.”
“ It is the NATION converted to God,-'one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel,' and if any one should ask, whether the restoration here prophesied may not be a figurative representation of their spiritual conversion, the answer is obvious. That is predicted too, and quite distinctly from their restoration, The two together constitute one com. plete picture."* (“Restoration of the Jews,” pp. 171, 172.)
One more citation from the Old Testament must suffice for proof of the matter at present before us, viz., That it is the purpose of God to restore the nation of Israel to a permanent settlement in their own land. (Amos ix. 14, 15.) “ I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them; and I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord.” It is impossible to find words more expressive of the truth of our proposition than these :-" They shall NO MORE be pulled ap out of their land. Either such a destiny is in store for Israel, or the word of God must fail.
We proceed now to the New Testament for confirmation of the truth of the proposition before us. It is no uncommon thing to have a demonstration like the foregoing met with the objection; “ That the proofs are all taken from the Old Testament Scriptures." We might fitly reply, “ What then ? Are they therefore unworthy of credit ?” But underlying the objection there is the idea that the purpose of God revealed in the New Testament supersedes that revealed in the Old, an idea which is not only without foundation ; but also, directly opposed to both the spirit and the letter of the New Testament. Most emphatically did the Lord Jesus Christ affirm, that he came “Not to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them," a statement that would be utterly meaningless if he, in any way set aside those predictions regarding the future of Israel of which we have given a few samples. The objection and its underlying idea are the result of gross misconception of the doctrine of the Lord and his apostles. This statement may be strong, but it is true.
* The Restoration of the Jews : the History, Principles, and Bearings of the Question. By David Brown, D.D. London: Hamilton and Adams.
The whole burden of the teaching of the Christ and his apostles rests on the purposes of God revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures, not only in relation to the sufferings of Christ, but also to the glory that is to follow. Were the Scriptures of the Old Testament unknown to us, the words of Jesus and his apostles would be essentially unintelligible. The force and meaning of the New Testament language rests almost exclusively on the verification of that of the Old. " Its very opening," writes the late Edward Bickersteth,"embodies in the genealogy, all the history and hopes of the Old Testament. Its first words are : The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham ; thus bringing into prominence his direct descent from those to whom the promises were given."
In another department of this argument, we shall have occasion to notice the language of the New Testament in relation to the kingdom of Israel ; but as we are now concerned simply with the restoration of the people to their land, we shall proceed at once to a passage where the future existence of the twelve tribes is explicitly mentioned. In reply to a question by the apostle Peter, “We have forsaken all and followed thee: what shall we have therefore ?” Jesus answered : “Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ve also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. xix. 27, 28.) This promise was repeated to them at the Pascal feast. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you & kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke xxii. 27, 28.) Here we have mention of the existence of the twelve tribes of Israel, at the time when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory; existing collectively, yet distinctly, twelve tribes, and twelve thrones, severally apportioned to the twelve apostles. And, let it be carefully noted that the fulfilment of the Lord's promise to those apostles stands or falls with the restoration of the twelve tribes; for if these are not to be restored, how can the promise be fulfilled ?
Again, we find the apostle Paul, in his defence before Agrippa, making the following remarkable statement; “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come." Is it needful to remind the reader that the promises made of God unto the fathers expressly mention the “everlasting possession" of the land by the numerous progeny of Abraham ? And is it not admitted on all hands, that at the time the apostle spoke, “the hope" of the twelve tribes included the fulfilment of that part of the promise made of God unto the fathers which related to their having all the land of Canaan “ for an everlasting possession ?".