31.—The Deliverance of Israel out of the Hand of their Enemies
“At that time thy people, Daniel, shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
The name Israel deserves our attention briefly in speaking of their deliverance. Israel signifies a Prince of God. It was the name conferred on the grandson of Abraham, who was called Jacob, or supplanter by his parents, in allusion to his posterity, who, though the descendants of the younger brother, should have the lordship over Edom, the country of Esau the elder.
When this new and divinely-bestowed name was confirmed to Jacob at Bethel, in the Holy Land, the messenger of the God of Abraham said to him, “Thy name is Jacob; thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And Elohim said unto him, A nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it, and to thy Seed after thee will I give the land” (Gen. 35:10–12). Jacob, now called Israel, as Abraham and Isaac had before him, died without realizing any of these promised blessings; nevertheless in the terminus of his mortal career he still looked for the enjoyment of them. An Israelitish Royalty in the land of Canaan, when it should be in his own possession and in that of his Seed, had been promised him of Elohim; and he believed it with full assurance of hope, “being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform”. The unpropitious circumstances by which he was surrounded in the Egyptian province of Goshen did not dim the brightness of his expectation for a moment. On his dying-bed, by his twelve sons surrounded, he directed their attention to the events that should happen to their posterity at a period far remote, “in the uttermost part of the days”, the prophetic formula for the latter days. He predicted that Levi’s posterity should be “divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel”, because “in their anger they slew a man” (that is, Messiah). But in Judah he saw “the Seed” who should as king of the nation rule the land; therefore he said, “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, for that Shiloh shall come, and to him (the Lawgiver) the peoples shall gather. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: his eyes (fountains) shall be red with wine, and his teeth (rocks) white with milk”.
But while he saw the Royalty in conquering Judah, he beheld in the life of his son Joseph a striking illustration of him who should be the strength and glory of their nation; for as Joseph was sold by his brethren, and a long time separate from them, such also should be the fate of him upon whose head the crown of Joseph’s royalty should rest, before he should obtain the kingdom in the latter days. As Jacob predicted, “the archers have sorely grieved, shot at, and hated the posterity of Joseph”, yet “his bow abides in strength”, though long unstrung: but when the King of the North shall be broken, “the arms of Joseph’s hands shall be made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob; proceeding forth from whom is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel”; and therefore Son of God as well as Judah’s son.
The name Israel by inheritance has descended to this Royal Nation, to which all the good things, called “the goodness of Yahweh”, fore-shadowed in their law, and predicted by their prophets, belong. “To Israel”, says Paul, “pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4). Hence, it is manifest, that one of another nation must become the subject of that “adoption” before he can become an heir of those “covenants” and “promises”. He must therefore put off his Gentilism, and become an adopted citizen of Israel’s Commonwealth: which places him upon an equal footing with the most favoured of the nation.
But “they are not all Israel who are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children”. The natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, numerous as the sand of the sea, who have gone down to the grave, are not the Israel—the generations of the nation—that shall inhabit the Holy Land when Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Christ, their Seed, and all in him, shall possess it for ever. It is only “a remnant shall be saved” of them—a remnant “who walked in the steps of that faith of their father Abraham which he had when yet uncircumcised”. This is also true of all Israelites according to the flesh, living contemporary with the overthrow of the king of the north—“a remnant will be saved”; all of them that “abide not in unbelief shall be grafted in: for the Deity is able to graft them in again”; and only He. This latter-day remnant will be saved, however, in a different sense from that in which the remnant in the grave will experience salvation. These “awake for living ones of the aiōn” to possess the kingdom and glory for ever; whereas the others continuing subject to death individually are saved nationally from their down-trodden condition among the nations; and established as an independent and powerful nation in the Holy Land, under the sceptre of Jacob’s Star, whose dominion shall be acknowledged throughout the earth. Their salvation is a restoration to Canaan, and a national regeneration to newness of intellectual, moral, civil, and religious life.
All Gentiles who believe the good message concerning this kingdom and obey it, before “Michael the great prince” stands up to overthrow the King of the North, by that obedience of faith become Israelites in the higher sense. Whether dead or living, they are numbered with the remnant of the obedient “who sleep in the dust of the earth”. Believing the promises to Israel, and therefore being baptized, gives an Israelite, or one of another nation, introduction into Christ; “in whom being, they are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11). Such are then Israelites in a sense in which the natural descendants of Abraham are not; still these do not cease to be Israelites in an inferior sense, and the subjects of deliverance from existing national degradation.
When Michael the great prince stands up for the overthrow of Israel’s enemies, he finds them and Israel shut up in unbelief—the Gentiles without faith in the kingdom; and the Jews without faith in its king; both conditions being equally fatal to a participation with Christ in the glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life, which are the special attributes of the princes of regenerated Israel. He will also find a multitude of Jews in the Holy Land as faithless in Jesus as the generation that crucified him; for it is to make a spoil of these that Gog invades the land (Ezek. 38:8). The calamities of war, however, greatly reduce their numbers. Whatever the whole number may be, it is diminished two-thirds. “In all the lànd, saith Yahweh, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my Elohim” (Zech. 13:8, 9).
With this third part as a nucleus the kingdom of God begins under Michael and his associates. It is then as a grain of mustard-seed, but destined to become a great tree whose branches shall overshadow the earth. The third part refined are they of Israel belonging to the tents of Judah, of whom it is written, “Yahweh shall save the tents of Judah first”, and then Jerusalem, as appears from the reason given, “that the glory of the house of David, and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, do not magnify themselves against Judah”. It is this third part that will “look upon him whom they have pierced, and 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”. They will find that Michael, the Deliverer, is Yahweh the Saviour (Jesus in Greek) whom their fathers nailed to the accursed tree; for, “one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends”.
But, while this third part is delivered consequent on the overthrow of the Gentile armies throughout the land, the deliverance of the nation still remains to be effected. Having fulfilled the prediction of Gog’s destruction, by which the Holy is avenged, Yahweh proceeds to say, “Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name”. Hence, the order of events is, first, the avenging of the holy land in the overthrow of the Gentile armies upon the mountains of Israel; secondly, the saving of the tents of Judah; thirdly, the deliverance of Jerusalem; fourthly, the bringing of the whole house of Israel not in the land at the saving of Judah’s tents into the “Wilderness of the People” to bear their shame there for forty years; and fifthly, the bringing of them thence, “after they have borne their shame”, into the land of Israel; and making them one nation with Judah under the New Covenant, by which Yahweh’s Servant, David II., becomes their High Priest and King for a season and a time. The whole house of Israel thus united under One Head into one nation and kingdom, for the first time since the revolt of the Ten Tribes from the house of David in the third year of Solomon’s successor, is that kingdom represented by the Stone in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, of which it is written, “In the days of these kings (of Gog’s confederacy) the Eloah of the Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never perish; and a dominion that shall not be left to another people. It shall grind to powder and bring to an end all these kingdoms; and itself shall stand for ever”. Now when this work is perfected, it is manifest that Israel will be delivered from all their enemies, and the power of the holy people no longer scattered. Yahweh says, that not one of them shall be left in their enemies’ lands, such a thorough gleaning will be made of them from among the nations. This grafting in again of Israel into their own olive tree is the horizon that bounds the view of Daniel’s telescope. There are no events beyond it revealed in his prophecy. It is the terminus of all his visions—the vanishing-point upon which all his groups of symbols terminate: so that in the seventh verse of the last chapter it is written, that the revealing angel, in answer to the question, “How long to the end of these wonders?” held up his hands to heaven, and “sware by Him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these wonders shall be finished”.
With these premises before us it will not be difficult to answer the inquiry, Who are Daniel’s people, and their children, for whom Michael standeth up? They are the righteous dead of Israel, both native-born and adopted; secondly, the contemporary living believers who have obeyed the gospel of the kingdom; and thirdly, Judah’s third part, and the rising generation of the rest of Israel disciplined in the Wilderness of the People subsequently to the fall of Gog on Yahweh’s mountains. These all in the aggregate constitute the Saints, and the people of the Saints, for whose deliverance Michael stands up in the time of trouble. Abel and Noah; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Moses and all the prophets; the apostles and an innumerable company redeemed from among men, will then awake from their long sleep to show forth the praises of him who will have caused them to exist incorruptible, and exalted them to reign with him upon the earth: while some others who would not that he should rule Yahweh’s people, and govern the nations, will leave the dust to wail and gnash their teeth in shame and contempt among the papal or goat nations of the west. There beyond the great gulf in exile from the Holy Land, they will be tormented among the worshippers of the Beast and his Image with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.
The phrase in Daniel, “every one that is found written in the book”, has a two-fold signification; the first in regard to the righteous, both alive and dead; and the second, to Judah’s third part. Malachi affords us the interpretation in the first sense, and Isaiah in the last. Thus: “They that feared Yahweh spake often one to another; and Yahweh hearkened, and heard it; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Yahweh, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith Yahweh Tzvaoth, in that day when I make up my jewels” (Mal. 3:16; Exod. 32:32; Rev. 21:27)—the day when Michael stands up for them.
Speaking of the day in which Yahweh alone shall be exalted, Isaiah says: “In that day shall the Branch of Yahweh (Judah) be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the land excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall be that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem, when Yahweh shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Isa. 4:2–4). These will be delivered by destroying the enemy out of the Holy City; the others, by resurrection from the dead; for, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake for living ones of the Olahm—and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars in the Olahm and beyond”.