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475 joined them in his hand as one stick, signifying that the two branches of the nation should again become united in one. “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all.—David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall have one Shepherd,” (vs. 16—24). They were "one nation” after their return to their land, and continued so till Christ came, and they rejected him, and were themselves rejected in return. In the last expres. sions, reference is particularly made to Christ. But where prophecy thus runs into the present dispensation,-a spiritual dispensation,-is it not to be, in general, interpreted spiritually, according to the nature of the dispensation to which it refers? The dress may
be ancient; but the truth relates to these latter times. Again in this prophet it is said, “ Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Is. rael, and will be jealous for my holy name.—Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen ; but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord,” (39: 25– 29). Here is manifestly the early restoration, glancing, possibly, at the further blessings to which it was to lead.
From the xl. chapter of this prophet to the xlviii., inclusive, there is a vision of a city, and a temple and its appartenances, and the allotment of the land of Palestine among the tribes of the people. We cannot go into any detail on this subject. The general picture is before every reader of the Bible; and each, who wishes it, can revive the impression by a fresh perusal.
Some will have this to be a prediction of what is yet literally to occur. But what is the necessity for such a view of the case ? Was not the vision exactly suited to the condition of things then existing when the prophet wrote? It was “ in the five and twentieth year of their captivity,” that the vision was granted, (40: 1). The people were depressed and needed encouragement; and God gave them, by the prophet, a glowing picture of their rising city, and restored temple, and the land divided among their tribes. What can surpass the appropriateness and beauty of this representation, in this view of it? It was just what was needed. Why now shall we take it away, and apply it to a literal city, and literal temple, and literal allotment of the land, yet to be? Let it stand where the prophet put it, and it is glorious. But put to
the Christian dispensation, as a prediction to be yet literally fulfilled, it is out of place. This dispensation, by its spirituality, “excelleth in glory," so that such externals are not needed.
Does it not appear, then, that even Ezekiel, rightly and carefully viewed, leaves the doctrine of a literal restoration of the Jews from their present dispersions, unsustained? He lived amidst the scenes of the captivity. He spoke of a restoration ; but it was a restoration then to take place. He glanced occasion. ally, as others had done, to the Messiah's time; but his utterances of the Messiah's time, are to be understood according to the nature of the Messiah's dispensation, to which they relate. Whatever be the dress of his thought, it is a grand and glorious spiritual reality into which the germ is to unfold. This we believe to be the economy of ancient prophecy, in relation to these latter times.
Daniel. Daniel has little in relation to the subject before us; though he flourished at the very time of the captivity; was himself one of the early captives at Babylon; and lived, at least, till the restoration was in progress, (fl. B. C. 607—534). He speaks of the literal restoration, the time of which, as it approached, he “understood by books" (9:2), i.e. by Jeremiah's prophecy, (25: 12. 29: 10). He was employed in the public affairs of the empire; gave some of the grandest views extant, of the destiny of nations; and intermingled instruction respecting the kingdom which the God of heaven should set up (2:44), and respecting the Messiah, who should be cut off, but not for himself (9: 26), with the troubles and commotions by which his dominion in the earth should be established.
Hosea flourished about twenty-four years earlier than Isaiah, (B. C. 784—723). He predicted especially the captivity of Israel Yet a little while, and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. - I will utterly take them away," (1:4, 6). "Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke," (5:9). He speaks also of restoration. “ Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint them. selves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel,” (1: 11). This comports with the
Predictions of Hosea and Joel.
actual facts of the restoration under Zerubbabel, at the end of the captivity.
Again : "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim : afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king: and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days," (3:4, 5). A general view of their subsequent prosperity seems here to be given; first, their return from captivity, during which all the ordinances of religion had been suspended; and, then, the goodness of the latter days, or of the Messiah's reign, if any please; but a goodness that can be enjoyed in any other place, as well as in Palestine. The blessing was, doubtless, substantially possessed, by restoration from the captivity, to the enjoyment of the ordinances of the true religion, and the Messiah's appearance among them at the appointed time.
"I will heal their backsliding,” says God; “I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon," (14: 4—7). The former restoration, we believe, was the fulfilment of this beautiful promise. The restored nation, both parts united in one, was shortly raised to a good measure of prosperity; and, with some interruptions, so continued to the coming of Christ. This, it seems to us, was the event which the prophet had in his mind. The passage, like all others, may be applied to other events, and other cases, by way of accommodation. But used as proof of a literal restoration of the Jews, yet to come, it is, we cannot resist the impression, eminently out of place.
Joel. Joel flourished about sixty-four years after Hosea-about forty years after Isaiah, (B. C. 720). He predicts judgments in the
, form of drought, and famine, and locusts, and calls on the people for repentance, (1: 2: 1–17). He promises subsequent prosperity, and especially an outpouring of the Spirit from on high (2: 1832), which can scarcely be interpreted of anything less than the gospel dispensation, (see Acts 2: 16–21). He notices also particularly the literal restoration, of which he gives a vivid description, when he “shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem," and judge the nations which had afflicted them, (chap. iii).
Amos flourished a little before Joel, (fl
. B. C. 795—784). He also was chiefly a prophet of Israel, on whom he pronounced judgments, in connection with the surrounding nations, alluding occasionally to Judah. “I will cause you to go into captivity be. yond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is, The God of hosts,” (5:27). "I will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
. like as corn is sifted in a sieve,” (9:9). Yet, "in that day, (afterwards), will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. - And I will bring again the captivity of my people of 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 thy God,” (9: 11, 14, 15). Here is the early literal restoration. Some think that more is meant; particularly from the expression, "shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given then.” But this expression may be used in a sense somewhat below its highest possible import. It does not surely mean that the Jews will inhabit Palestine to absolute eternity. A limit must be fixed somewhere; at least, if the present economy of the world is ever to have an end. Why may it not be a strong expression, to signify that the condition of che people should be more permanent than before,—that they should not be again removed out of their land, while the dispensation that gave them being should endure? As interpreted by the continuators of Poole: “ Which promise,” say they,...“was on God's part with admirably constancy and patience to that sinful nation performed through 600 years, perhaps the longest time of freedom from captivity they ever knew," (Annot. in loc.). Henry attributes to the passage a spiritual import: “ That the kingdom of the Mes. siah shall take such deep rooting in the world, as never to be rooted out of it,” (Expos. in loc.). The former is the view we
479 prefer. We see in the passage no solid ground on which to rest belief in a yet future literal restoration.
OBADIAH. Obadiah was 200 years after Amos (B. C. 587), and was contemporary with Jeremiah. He denounced judgments upon Edom, who had helped on the distress of Judah in their dispersions, and says still : "But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall
possessions," (v. 17). The literal restoration then shortly to take place.
Jonah seems to have been the most ancient of all the prophets, whose writings are now extant, having flourished about B. C. 840. He has nothing relating either to the captivity or restoration.
Micah. Micah seems to have been a contemporary with Isaiah, (fl. B. C. 743—700). He predicts approaching judgments, mingled with reproofs; and adds assurances of returning mercies. “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel,” (2: 12). According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt, will I show unto him marvellous things," (7:15).
NAHUM. Nahum prophesied about the same time (B. C. 710); but says nothing of the Chaldean captivity, or the subsequent deliverance.
HABAKKUK. Habakkuk prophesied about a century later, (B. C. 609). He threatens invasions by the Chaldeans (1: 5–11); declares that the Chaldeans shall, in their turn be judged, and better days succeed (2: 4-14); but gives of them no particular description.
ZEPHANIAH. Zephaniah flourished about the time the captivity was commencing, (B. C. 612). His opening sentence was: " I will utterly