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Babylonish captivity, though they possessed a leader, Zerubbabel, one of their own nation, yet remained in a state of the most servile dependance upon the Persian monarchy. At no subsequent period had they any descendant of David as their governor, much less a king of that tribe, so exalted in character, and illustrious in his reign as predictions describe. It remains, therefore, to be hereafter accomplished during the reign of the Messiah, emphatically distinguished by the name of David.
6th. The uninterrupted safety, liberty, happiness, and glory, which are repeatedly promised to the Jews on their restoration to Judea, confessedly were not enjoyed by them on their return from Babylon. It is a matter of history, that the Jewish people at the period of that deliverance from captivity, were exposed to numerous enemies; they paid tribute to the Persians; they were subsequently oppressed by the Greeks, and on being delivered from them, fell under the Roman yoke, which remained upon their necks so long as they continued in their land. At the period of their dispersion they endured greater sufferings than the history of the human race have on record, and for nearly two thousand years since, have been an outcast, despised, and persecuted people.
7th. The spiritual conversion of the whole Jewish nation. subsequently to their restoration, which is in many passages predicted, did not occur on their previous return :— "Therefore, as I live saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee."-Ezek. xxxv. 11. "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness
for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."Zech. xii. 10. Nothing of this kind occurred when God brought back his ancient people from the Babylonish captivity; in fact, the sin especially mentioned as the source of that godly sorrow they experience, that of crucifying the Lord of glory,-(Zech. xii. 10), then had not been committed. The whole prophecy, therefore, is yet future.
8th. The fact of their national pre-eminence in the earth, and of proving a blessing to the rest of mankind during the continuance of the world, has never yet met with the smallest approach to a fulfilment :-"I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”—Isaiah, chap. lx. & lxi. The second particular enumerated, that the restored Jews shall prove a blessing to the earth, is declared by all the prophets,-" And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.' Micah v. 7. "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and winter shall it be."-Zech. xiv. 8. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim." Joel iii. 18. "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities."-Zech. viii. 20. In accordance with these passages, the Apostle Paul clearly implies, that the Jews are
to be the only finally successful missionaries in the earth, in that remarkable passage, Rom. xi. 12, 15.
II. Many expositors, convinced of the fact, that the strong and glowing predictions of a restoration of the Jews, cannot with any truth, be applied to that which took place at the close of the Babylonish captivity, have attempted to spiritualize these promises, by referring them to the propagation and triumph of Christianity. Such a system of interpretation, however, cannot be maintained for the following reasons:
1st. The fact that, in many of these prophecies, the land to which the individuals are restored is described as being desolate, shews that it does not denote, as these writers affirm, the Church of God, into which sinners when converted are brought. The desolate condition of the Church, if it mean anything, must signify its spiritual barrenness, its being as distinguished from other places, morally unfruitful and waste. Unfortunately for this theory, however, the Church of Christ is the sole part of the earth in which spiritual fruit is found. Without its wide circle, all is dearth and barren
2nd. The express statement that the restoration referred to, whether that be literal or figurative, is a resettlement in a land from which either the individuals or their ancestors had been ejected, shews that it cannot denote the progress of Christianity: "Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that seattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 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."-Jer. xxxi. 10, 28. "I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong;
I will feed them with judgment."-Ezek. xxxiv. 16. "And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them."-Zech. x. 6. If the language be figurative, and refers to the triumph of the Gospel and the conversion of sinners, how can sinners be represented as having been ejected from the Christian Church, when neither they nor their forefathers ever possessed a place in it? The interpretation which, to be consistent with itself, implies a falsehood, must clearly be itself incorrect.
3rd. Many instances occur in prophecies, which are acknowledged to be still unfulfilled, in which the conversion of the restored Jews is promised as an additional blessing, by no means involved in their restoration, or synonymous and explanatory of that event:- "At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 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."-Jer. xxxi. 1, 33. "Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD."-Ezek. xxxiv. 30. "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."-Ezek. xxxvi. 25; and Ezek. xxxix. 22, 28. But the theory supposes that the restoration itself is the conversion of sinners; hence they experience two conversions, which is impossible. The interpretation, therefore, which involves this is untrue.
4th. In proof of the position that something more than a
mere figurative restoration to the Church of Christ is noted here, I refer to the fact, that the prophecies of the Old Testament repeatedly explain it in such terms as the following, being no more a prey to the heathen," and " being delivered of the hand of those that served them." But the entrance of converted sinners into the Church of God, has nothing to do with servitude to the Heathen; in fact, the very theory itself goes upon the supposition, that they were of the number of the Heathen themselves previous to their conversion; and that event, instead of rendering them no more a prey to the Heathen, might be expected to produce the very opposite, and expose them to insult, degradation, and hostility.
5th. The difficulty, in fact impossibility, of explaining upon this theory, the minute particulars, described at so much length in many passages, of restored cities, building of palaces, planting vineyards, increase of flocks, &c., renders it most improbable that anything short of an actual restoration to the Holy land,—a land at present barren and desolate, can be meant. The following passages especially contain the strongest proof in support of the present position :-Isaiah lxv. 21; chap. lxi. 4; Jer. xxx. 18, 21; chap. xxxi. 38-40.
In reference to these and similar prophecies, Dr. Henderson remarks:-"There is such an obvious description of the desolation of Palestine, and such express mention of a restored land, mountains, vineyards, fields, houses, flocks, &c., which cannot be figuratively understood, that with no hermeneutical propriety can the scene be placed in the Gentile world, or regarded as exhibiting the state of Gentile Christianity."—(Preface to Com. on Isaiah).
The above arguments apply with equal force to a still different interpretation of the prediction of a Jewish restoration, adopted by some expositors,-that which refers them to the conversion of that nation to Christianity. The theory is