The Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained
- Category: Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained
Covenant of the Holy Land
In this most important, yet fundamentally basic work, Brother Thomas expounds the truths concerning Abraham as ‘the federal father’ of the inheritance promised to Christ and the faithful. At the same time he demonstrates the eventual restoration of the nation of Israel to a secure place within the provision of the promises.
According to the law ordained by angels in the hand of Moses, and styled “the word spoken by angels” (Heb. 2:2), mankind are separated into the holy and the unclean. It constituted the twelve tribes of Israel “a holy nation,” a special and peculiar people (Ex. 19:6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2), while it left all other nations mere “sinners of the Gentiles” (Gal. 2:15), as all men were originally constituted by the disobedience of Adam (Rom. 5:18), from whom they derive their descent. The national holiness of Israel was constitutional, not inherent. The nation was composed of a stiff-necked, perverse and intractable people who were more disposed to the wickedness of other nations than to the practice of the law of Jehovah, their King. But the holy seed of Abraham was the substance in the nation’s loins, on account of whom, and the things affirmed respecting him, it was not consumed (Isa. 6:13; 65:8, 9; Rom. 11:16) but carefully preserved, as having a “blessing in it,” even “an inheritor of Jehovah’s mountains,” who shall cause his servants to rejoice, and the nations to shout aloud for joy.
Anything separated by Jehovah from things in general for His own special use is holy, irrespective of the nature or character of the thing. Hence, things animate and inanimate, animal, vegetable and mineral, solid and fluid, etc., have all been constituted holy by the law. Thus there were holy utensils, holy and most holy places of worship, holy mountains and cities, and holy officials, though oftentimes very unrighteous men. The holiness of this kind was the national holiness of the twelve tribes—a holiness conferred by the law of Moses, “which could make nothing perfect.” It bestowed upon things a relative external holiness, a sort of halo of holiness confined to the surface, which left the mind and disposition, or heart of its subject untouched.
Let us look into the matter a little more minutely. A babe, though born of Israelites, was unclean (Job 14:4; 25:4), which is the same thing as unholy, until its circumcision, and after presentation to the Lord. “Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” This was the law, but how great the number so called were wicked men, Israel’s history shows abundantly. Some, however, desired to keep the law. They grew up “blameless” (Phil. 3:6), observing all the precepts of the decalogue, conforming to the temple worship, and abstaining from contact with all legally unclean and interdicted things. This was a man’s own right-eousness acquired by working according to the law (Phil. 3:9). This was the righteousness Israel followed after, which they sought to establish in opposition to the righteousness Paul preached (Rom. 9:31; 10:3), and styled by the prophets “filthy rags.” Many such men were ignorant.
They had the token of the covenant in their flesh, but they were “children in whom was no faith,” and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Thus an Israelite might be legally blameless, but if without faith, his legal righteousness could entitle him to no more than length of days in the land which the Lord had given His people. The twelve tribes inherited the land under the law of Moses, which could confer upon their generations only a temporal life interest in the country. Could it have given them an everlasting inheritance therein, the nation, whatever its misdeeds, would not have been expelled, and its citizens might have attained to everlasting life as a recompense for keeping the law. The transgressions of Israel consummated in their rejection of the gospel of the kingdom, would doubtless have brought down heaven’s judgments upon them, which would have ultimated in the triumph of the truth; but they would not have been punished in the way they have, by an expulsion from their country, if the word spoken by angels in the hand of Moses, could have conferred an everlasting title to it.
Covenants are of no force until purged. “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood.” To purge anything in the Scripture sense, is to cleanse it from legal or from moral defilement; and to impart to it a virtue co-efficient with the detergent or cleansing principle. This is a general definition which may not apply in every case, but it is sufficiently precise for the subject in hand. The covenant made with Abraham was confirmed with Jehovah’s oath, saying, “Know of a surety,” and by the consumption of sacrifices by fire from heaven (Gen. 15). This was confirmation, not purgation. It was not purged until two thousand and eighty-nine years after, when a virtue was imparted to it co-efficient with the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel; that is, the blood of Jesus, which he says is “the blood of New … (Testament) shed for many for the remission of sins.
The history of the death and resurrection of Jesus is that narrative which relates the story of the purging, or the rendering effective of the covenant, testament … through which remission of sins, eternal life, and an everlasting possession of the land, with all its inseparable attributes, may be obtained by every one who believes the things promised therein.
Four hundred and thirty years after the confirmation of the New Covenant (styled new because of its coming into force at a time when that of Moses had waxed old), and sixteen hundred and fifty-nine years before its incipient enforcement, Moses dedicated or initiated “the law ordained by angels.” This he did with blood. “For when he had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined upon you” (Heb. 9:18–20). Here was a solution of blood in water, into which a sprinkler of scarlet wool and hyssop was dipped, and the Book and people sprinkled by the hand of Moses. These materials were purification emblems. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission,” or sending away, as if sin and uncleanness were sent away into a land not inhabited (Lev. 16:21, 22). This is a first principle of God’s religion under both covenants. Blood is therefore regarded as purging, purifying, or cleansing. The only answer that can be given to the question, why is there no expiation without blood-shedding?—is that Jehovah wills it. The blood of the living creature is the life thereof; and as it has come under sentence of death, God wills that life shall make satisfaction for sin (Lev. 17:11, 14). “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Water is also cleansing. Hence, “Wash you, make you clean” (Isa. 1:16). The water and the blood with which Moses sprinkled the Book of the Covenant and the people, find their antitypes in the blood and water that issued from the pierced side of Jesus, with which he sprinkled the new covenant … But the efficacy of a covenant depends on the virtue of the blood with which it is purged. This principle is fatal to the idea of perfectability by the law of Moses; for “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Hence it was weak and unprofitable, and made nothing perfect (Heb. 7:18, 19). This defectiveness of the law, which even faith in the unpurged Abrahamic covenant could not remedy (Heb. 9:15) was referable to the nature of the sacrifices with whose blood it was dedicated; and to the weakness of the flesh (Rom. 8:3), which it could alone sanctify (Heb. 9:13) without reaching the inward man. Calves and goats were as destitute of righteousness as they were devoid of sin. Their blood therefore was a negative principle, and could impart no virtue to a covenant by which those who were sanctified under it could obtain a title or justification to eternal redemption. And furthermore let it be observed, that besides this defect, their blood was unprofitable for everlasting results, as being the blood of the dead, and not of the living. It was therefore ceremonially incommunicative of any kind of vitality. Even the blood of the innocent and righteous Jesus would have been as unprofitable for covenant purposes as the blood of Moses, Abel, or calves, if he had not been raised from the dead. This is the doctrine taught concerning him by David. The thirtieth Psalm is prophetic of Messiah’s death and resurrection. “All things must be fulfilled that are Written concerning me in the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), said Jesus. In the third verse of the Psalm quoted, the spirit which afterwards dwelt in him and spoke by him, says of him and for him, “O Jehovah, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; thou hast kept me alive (or preserved from corruption), that I should not go down into the pit (or be reduced to dust).” In the eighth verse he says he “cried unto the Lord, and made supplication.” This occurred before his soul went down into the grave. In view of its hypothetical continuance in that gloomy place, he inquires in his supplication, “what profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit (or become dust)? Can the dust praise thee? Can it declare thy truth?” This interrogative argument teaches the doctrine of the 15th of I Corinthians, that “if Christ be not raised” from the dead, or in other words, be mere dust in the pit, “faith is in vain;” sins are not remitted; and dead believers are perished; which is equivalent to saying “there is no profit in his blood;” for it was shed for remission of sins, which, however, are not remitted, if he be not raised up, or “healed” of the “evil disease” which laid him in the tomb (Psa. 41:8). An unrisen Christ is an unprofitable sacrifice. His blood could purge nothing; and as to praising God and declaring His truth in heaven and earth, it would be impossible; for “the dead know not anything” (Eccles. 9:5), in the day of their return to the dust their thoughts perish (Psa. 146:4), and therefore the dead cannot praise Jehovah (Psa. 115:17), Jesus was “delivered for our offences;” but if he had not been raised, we should have remained unjustified, and in our sins, and without any title to things everlasting; happily, however, for the faithful, God raised him from the dead; whereupon the apostle adds, “And was raised again for our justification.” Thus, his blood was made profitable, and he is prepared to praise Jehovah, and to declare his truth in the midst of Israel’s congregation (Psa. 22:22, 23, 25) when the time comes.
Now this doctrine being true of the blood of an unresurrected, innocent, and righteous man, it is clear that the blood of dead animals, such as calves and goats, must be utterly worthless for anything else than a shift devised for the exigency of the case. They had no righteousness; therefore their sprinkled blood would constitute no one righteous: they had no life; therefore it could impart no title to eternal life; and not being human they could not expiate humanity’s offence, inasmuch as the wisdom of God determined that sin should be “condemned in the flesh,” not representative of animals only, but literally in that of man (Rom. 8:3). As it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins, and his being the blood of the Mosaic covenant, it was as impossible for that instrument to give the twelve tribes or a single faithful Israelite, even a title to inherit the land for ever. “The wages of sin is death;” hence sins untaken away or transgressions unredeemed, leaves the transgressor under death’s sentence. A man under sentence of death, is as good as dead; he is therefore styled “dead in trespass and sins.” This was the condition of the whole nation under the law. No man thereof could show his title to eternal life in Canaan, or elsewhere. A faithful Israelite might hope that when Messiah came, he would not prove like Adam the first, but be obedient unto death; and by his shed blood, purge the Abrahamic covenant in which he believed, and by thus redeeming the trangressions committed by the faithful under the law (Heb. 9:15), gave them justification unto life eternal, by which they would be enabled to possess the land for ever. No, the only title to the land the Mosaic law could give was conditional and limited to their mortal existence upon it.
The reward for keeping the commandments of Jehovah is affixed to the first of them. Let the reader observe what it is. It is not a promise of the Gentile “heaven beyond the skies,” but of long life in Palestine. Hear the words, “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This, an apostle says, “is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long upon the land” (Epi tees gees, land, not “earth,” according to Moses). Paul quoted this as an exhortation to believers residing in Ephesus. It was a motive to them, because they believed the gospel of the kingdom which promises life upon the land, and, by consequence, upon the earth for ever; but it is no principle of action with the moderns, as they have no faith in the actual or real accomplishment of the covenant promises made to Abraham and his seed.
We see, then, the nature of the Mosaic law purged by inferior or unprecious blood. It could not give a title to eternal life, and was therefore incapable of imparting everlasting righteousness to any (Gal. 3:21), and nothing short of an everlasting righteousness can constitute a man an heir of the kingdom of God in the covenanted land. By obedience to this law no flesh can be justified, for by it comes the knowledge of sin, without the power of deliverance (Rom. 3:20, 28). “It made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.” (Heb. 7:19).
What could this better hope be to a people already living in the land promised to their father Abraham? Could it be that when they became dead men, they should be metamorphosed into ethereal shadows, and having exhaled with the vapours of earth into the aerial regions, waft about on zephyrs, or take a higher flight to odyllic amplitudes beyond the skies? Is this the better hope, the Christian’s hope, brought in by Jesus, “the surety of the better covenant;” O, egregious nonsense! Mere Gentile imbecility and foolishness! Show us, ye “wise!” where such a hope is written. Produce your purged covenant in which it is promised and confirmed by Jehovah’s oath. But why call upon you for proof, when none exists. Supposing that such a crazy fiction could have foundation in the promises of God, all of which are covenanted and purged; it must be written in the covenant confirmed to Abraham. But on studying that instrument we find there nothing of the kind—not the remotest hint of such a hope.
That covenant expanded into the promises made to David, and illustrated by the writings of the prophets, leaves not the reader in a labyrinth of doubt and vague uncertainty about the better hope. These Scriptures bind us down to the better covenant in our enquiries after the better covenant. Now who that studies the Book of the Covenant with an opened understanding, can fail to see that hope that is promised of Jehovah to Israel, which is better than the hope promised to them in the inferior covenant of Moses? Moses set before them such an occupation of the land as is amply illustrated in their turbulent and eventful history. They had possessed the land indeed; but the Mosaic testament gave them no other hope than a prolonged, and prosperous, and peaceful life in it, if they forsook not the covenant. This was a hope, like the hope of the nations, bounded by things seen and temporal. After death Moses promised them nothing in his will, not even resurrection. The better covenant, however, purged by the blood of Jesus, did. It promised them a resurrection from the dead; it promised them incorruptibility and life; it promised them that they should “possess the land, and dwell therein for ever;” it promised them exaltation to the kingdom and the power, and the glory to be manifested there; and to the possession of dominion over all the nations of the earth; it promised them the inheritance of these things when the seed of Abraham and of David should sit upon the throne of his glory; and as the Branch of righteousness, execute judgment and justice in the land. This was the better hope of the better testament and surpassed the Mosaic in desirableness, as infinitely as things unseen and eternal do those that are seen and temporal.
But as “all the people” were sprinkled with the blood by which Moses dedicated the covenant, he enjoined upon them before they could attain to the inferior hope it set before them, so also it is necessary that every one, without exception, should be sprinkled with the precious blood of the better testament, even with that of Jesus, before he can become entitled to the better hope. The blood of the New Covenant speaks better things than the blood of the Mosaic. It speaks of the “good things to come” of which Jesus is the high priest, and not Aaron. It speaks of the good things of the better hope, and of the eternal redemption he hath obtained for his people individually and nationally. It is Israel’s hope emphatically; and no Gentile man or nation can partake of it that is not sprinkled with the blood of the covenant that it sets forth. Even Israel’s own nation will partake of it in no sense until “all the people” are sprinkled by the covenant blood; for it is by virtue of that blood alone, that they possess the land to be expelled no more; and as for the righteous dead, it is “by the blood of thy covenant, O Messiah, that Jehovah sends forth they prisoners out of the pit, in which there is no water” (Zech. 9:11).
But Moses sprinkled the Book and all the people, with a bunch of hyssop and scarlet wool. He had a vessel containing the water and the blood within convenient reach; but where is the blood of the better covenant? How can access be obtained to it? How can it be sprinkled upon all the people from age to age, and generation to generation, who shall inherit the hope when the time of its development shall arrive? These are questions easily replied to from the testimony of God. The blood of the covenant was poured out of Jesus’ side, bathing his body, and dripping on the dust of Palestine. Had anyone caught the blood in a vessel, and with a bunch of hyssop and scarlet wool sprinkled even believing people around, it would have availed them nothing. It would have been presumptive evidence that those upon whom it was found had been engaged in his murder; but it would have been no proof of their interest in the hope of the covenant which it dedicated. It was, when pouring out, the blood of an unrisen Christ; and therefore, of no then present efficacy.
After Jesus had come to life again, and ascended to the Father, the blood which was dried up was nowhere to be found here; nor, if to be found, was it then known to what use it was to be applied. It is evident, therefore, that the existence of, or accessibility to the material blood, is not a question needing to be entertained; and that it was not intended to be used ceremonially, as Moses used the blood of his will. Romish priests pretend to manufacture, or rather, incantate wine into material blood of Christ, which like greedy cannibals they permit none to quaff but their impious selves. But the common use of the covenant blood in sprinkling or drinking was never intended. The blood of the covenant, which sanctifies, is no common or unholy thing. It is too precious to be dispensed indiscriminately in any sense; or to be placed at the disposal of ignorant and fleshly-minded priests. Save the drops that bedewed the dust, Christ took with him his blood to heaven; for “with his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Standing there before the throne, he appeared as a lamb that had been slain, his wool of snowy white, dyed scarlet with his blood. There is the blood of the covenant; not on earth, but in the holiest of all. The blood of the covenant being in heaven, and we upon the earth, there must be some appointed thing as a medium of access to it. The blood is to justify and sanctify, or to cleanse and make holy those who are sprinkled by it, Such are said to stand in the grace of God, rejoicing in hope of His glory. If then we ascertain how access is obtained into this grace, we also learn how access is obtained to the blood of the covenant. Paul says, “We have access by faith”; a saying which agrees with that of the prophet, “the just shall live by his faith.” “God,” says Peter, “put no difference between Jews and Gentiles, purifying their hearts by faith.” “I send thee,” said the Lord Jesus to Paul, to “open the eyes of the Gentiles to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith which is in me.” “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” “There is one God who shall justify the Jews on account of faith, and the Gentiles, through the faith.” Such is the testimony of Scripture on this all-important subject, which summarily amounts to this, that the sons of Adam are purified, sanctified, justified or pardoned, and obtain eternal life by faith; or, in other words, as the apostle says to those who have been delivered from their past sins, “in grace ye are, having been saved (sesosmenoi) through the faith; and this not of (or originating from) yourselves (ex hymon); but the gift of God.” By faith in the faith the great salvation is obtained, when the better hope which is the subject of it is no longer unseen, but an eternal and accomplished reality.
To say that a man is purged, purified, or cleansed, is the same as to affirm that he is justified, or constituted righteous, and sanctified or made holy. It is sin that makes unclean—unclean by nature, because born of sinful flesh; and unclean by practice, because transgressors in the sight of God. The cleansing process is, therefore, intellectual, moral, and physical. The work begins by cleansing the intellect, casting out, as it were, all the devils that have established themselves there through the doctrines of fleshly men. This is done by the truth understood and believed. If the soil be good, the truth sown in the understanding will take root in the heart, or moral sentiments, and bring forth “fruit unto holiness, the end of which is everlasting life.” In this way the whole heart is cleansed by a faith yielding obedience, as the apostle saith, “ye have purified your souls (intellectual and moral faculties) in the obedience of the truth—en tee hypakoee tees aleetheias.” The person so cleansed has no more conscience of past sins, but is able to stand in God’s presence without shame or fear as Adam was before he fell. This is a spiritual cleansing, but no less real and literal for that. “Ye have purified your souls in the obedience of the truth, through the Spirit—dia Pneumatos.” Spirit operating upon soul and spirit. How? By the word of truth evangelised enlightening the mind, and creating a right disposition. It is God’s work, not man’s; for the apostle saith, “Of his own will the Father of Lights begat us by the word of truth;” “and this,” saith another, “is the word which is evangelised unto you.”
But the cleansing of the soul needs to be followed by the cleansing of the body to make the purification of the man complete. If the spiritual cleansing be well done (and if the word of truth have done it, it will), the corporeal cleansing will be sure to follow. Not, however, as a physical effect of the truth diffusing itself over the body as nervous influence from the brain, and so annihilating evil in the flesh; but a corporeal purification effected by the Spirit at the believer’s resurrection, or transformation. as a part of the reward promised to all such who “patiently continue in well-doing.” A man so cleansed is every whit whole; and qualified to receive and enjoy the hope of the better covenant by the blood of which he had been “purged from his old sins.” Justification and sanctification, therefore, are consequent upon cleansing; if a man refuse to be cleansed, or be not cleansed, it is folly for him to talk of being just, or holy, or righteous in the sight of God. He may be what the world calls “good and pious;” he may overflow with the milk of human kindness, be very “wise” and learned. devout of tone, oily in speech, of solemn face, and exuberant in profession of “love” to Christ and all mankind, and may pass before his fellows as a saint too holy for this nether world: but if he have not submitted to the righteousness of God “in the obedience of the truth,” he is but a “pious” sinner, uncleansed, and therefore unholy and profane.
But if it be admitted that access to the blood of the covenant be by faith, the question still returns upon us. By faith of what? What must a man believe that he may be cleansed by the blood of sprinkling? Or to put the same question in another form, what must a man believe with the heart unto righteousness, and what must he confess with his mouth unto salvation? Or to reduce the question to few words. What must a man do to be saved? This question is the most important of any among men. There are few, however, among the living who can answer it aright, the reason of which is not difficult to conceive. The thinking of the flesh (to phronema tees sarkos) educational bias, veneration for mere human authority, love of popularity, lack of independence, fear of persecution and pecuniary loss, a spurious charity, or ignorance, have all more or less to do with the inability of the people’s prophets to give the scriptural answer which is the only true response extant, and the only one admissible by the inquirer to this vital and all-important question. For ourselves, if we saw in the Book of the Covenant an answer written which reduced the number of the saved out of this generation to a second Noahic family; and were convinced that in stating what we saw and professing to believe it, would leave this paper without a single subscriber, and ourselves homeless and without a friend, we would not withold it, but give it utterance as our means might serve. We care not whose “orthodoxy” may be demolished by the word of God. If it convict us of error, we will get quit of the error as soon as possible, and embrace the truth. We have no interests to conserve by garbling or suppressing the testimony of God.
Ye who denounce us for heresy, and before God accuse us day and night, show us if you can what the truth is; and if ye be able, prove it from the book of the blood-sprinkled covenant, and we will joyfully receive it, and co-operate with you to the full extent of our ability in making it known to the ends of the earth. But so long as ye assert everything and prove nothing, but by evil deeds and speeches, and by gospel-nullifying tradition contravene what we not only believe, but prove to be the truth, we will give you no rest, but like Samuel of old time, do our best to hew Agag in pieces.
This question of what a man must do to be saved, is the apple of discord in all the world. It was the great subject-matter of dispute between Luther and the Papists; the former maintaining that man was justified by faith alone, the latter, the necessity, of meritorious works as well. Though much was said on both sides, neither succeeded in developing the truth. Luther was right in maintaining justification by faith, for an apostle says, “we are justified by faith,” and it might be said only through the blood of the covenant. But this is justification from all sins previously to being sprinkled by the covenant-blood. It is the justification of a sinner, or the transformation of him into a saint. Luther rejected the epistle of James because it did not square with his views, and which he found impossible to make agree. That letter teaches that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” This is as true as the saying of Paul, “A man is justified by faith without works of the law,” and between them there is no real contradiction. The works James speaks of are those opposed to “the works of the flesh,” and termed “the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” Now, James teaches that if a justified man’s faith (and he cites Abraham as an example) be unaccompanied with such works as these, he is possessed of a dead faith, and has no means of proving that he has faith at all. Paul says, Abraham was justified by faith; James that he was justified by works; both agree, for they speak of Abraham at different epochs of his life. James refers to the time of his offering up Isaac; and Paul to upwards of twenty years before his son was born. He was then justified from all his past sins by faith, or believing on God; he was afterwards, when proved, justified by works, the fruit of faith; by which works, says James, his faith was perfected. “Ye see, then, how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” The works Paul was opposed to as a ground of justification were the works done in obedience to the law of Moses; but he agreed with James, that where the works of faith were wanting there was spiritual death; and that in such a case, though all past sins had been purged, the man was unfruitful of holiness, and therefore could not inherit the kingdom of God.
Luther and the Papists did not understand this doctrine; and though three centuries of free discussion have since elapsed, the moderns still need to be instructed in the justification of believers by their faith and works. While they repeat the words of Paul, “we conclude a man is justified by faith,” and might perhaps even say, “by faith of the gospel,” few, very few of them indeed, can tell us what the gospel is. We have already done this. We are now looking at the same subject from a different point of view in order to make assurance doubly sure. But before we answer the question before us in connection with our present exposition, we would call the reader’s attention to a few testimonies concerning the covenant purged by the blood of Jesus, on which our replication will be based.
“All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant. Redeem Israel, O Lord, out of all his troubles” (Psa. 25:10, 14, 22). “Unto the wicked God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee” (Psa. 50:16). Not regarding God’s words, even the words of the covenant, is the criterion of wickedness … ” “My covenant shall stand fast with Him.… my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips”.… (Psa. 89:24–29, 34–37). Again, “The Lord will be ever mindful of His covenant.… He hath commanded His covenant for ever: holy and reverend is His name” (Psa. 3:6, 9). Concerning Messiah it is written: “I, Jehovah, have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house” (Isa. 42:6, 7). Christ is “a covenant of the people,” because the blood with which the covenant is dedicated was His life. As Christ is “our life,” so is He the covenant; without Him neither we nor it are anything. The “prison-house” is the grave, and the prisoners in darkness the righteous dead; of whom Jehovah says elsewhere to the King who rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass: “As for Thee, by the blood of Thy covenant I send forth Thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water” (Zech. 9:9, 11). These prisoners are the King’s dead, called “thy dead” and “my dead body,” by the prophet in the song he inscribes to the Lord for Judah, saying “Thy dead shall live (as) my dead body shall they arise.” Then calling to this mystical body of the dead, barred in by the gates of the invisible, he says, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust!” and reverting to the Lord, he adds, “Thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isa. 26:19).
Let us see with what people this covenant so pregnant of wonders is made. “Behold the days come saith Jehovah, that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah; not according to the (Mosaic) 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 Jehovah; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel. After those days, saith Jehovah, 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 Jehovah; for I will forgive them their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31).
Now the Gentile philosophists styled by their disciples “Reverend Divines,” pretend that this prophecy was fulfilled on the Pentecost of the Ascension! They find it twice quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews (8:8; 10:14–18), and as it speaks of remission of sins, they jump to the conclusion that the covenant was made with Israel and Judah at that time! But they mistake the covenant coming into force on that day, consequent upon its dedication fifty days before, as an available instrument for the imparting of a remission to the heirs of the kingdom and future rulers of the two houses then united into one which they could not obtain from the Mosaic; they mistake this anticipative use of the covenant, for the making of it with the twelve tribes. Paul quotes the prophecy not to show that it was fulfilled but to prove that the Mosaic being imperfect, a new covenant was to supersede it; and secondly, to demonstrate that the new one “perfected for ever them that are sanctified” by the blood of it, so that there was no occasion for a repetition of offerings for sin as under the old.
It is strange that men in the face of glaring facts to the contrary can venture to affirm that this prophecy is fulfilled. How could the New Covenant be made with the House of Israel on Pentecost, when instead of being in Palestine, it was beyond Parthia in a scattered condition? There were Israelites there from the Caspian countries; but to admit individuals of a nation to the privileges of a covenant afterwards to be made with a whole body politic, is not making it with that nation. Though many Jews submitted to the faith, and had the laws of God written on their hearts by the Holy Spirit received, the House of Judah positively rejected the covenant, because it was offered to them in the name of Jesus, with whose blood it was testified it had been purged. Then again, the apostolic age was not the time proposed in the prophecy for its national acceptance. “After those days” I will put my laws in them, etc., are the words. After what days? “The days come,” says God that I will do so and so. But when will these coming days in which he is doing the things promised be? After “those days” alluded to in the twenty-ninth verse. Let us produce the testimony. “Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, 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 Jehovah. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every man shall die for his own iniquity.” After those days of building and planting, the New Covenant is to be made with the two houses; when, as Ezekiel testifies, “they shall be two kingdoms no more at all,” but one united nation under the second David, who shall be their King and Prince for ever.
“O,” exclaim the wise men in their own conceit, “Jesus Christ, the Son of David and Son of God, will never return to this cursed and sin-polluted earth, to reign over carnal Jews in old Jerusalem! Israel after the flesh are castaways, and are for ever scattered, and broken down to rise no more.”
Ah! say ye so? Then read this, ye scorners and blasphemers of the Word. “Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the I shall be of Armies is his name; if those ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.” The converse of this hypothesis is that as the said ordinances cannot cease, so it is equally impossible for Israel to become nationally extinct. Then follows another hypothesis of a like kind, saying, “Thus saith Jehovah, 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.”
But heaven cannot be measured, and earth’s foundation cannot be searched out, therefore, it is impossible for Israel to be finally cast off, for whatever they have done. Therefore, “Behold the days come,”—the days of the new covenant aforesaid—“saith Jehovah, that the city (Jerusalem) shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall 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 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.”
But, granting that the New Covenant was made with the two houses on the aforesaid Pentecost, we inquire, do those who contend for this mean to say, that Jehovah then put His laws in their inward parts, and wrote it in their hearts? If they say “Yes,” then we demand the proof, for we have neither experience nor testimony of the fact; and can have none, we add, so long as the twelve tribes reject the claims of Jesus. If, on the other hand, they say, “God hath not placed His law there yet,” then we object that He has not yet made the covenant with them, because when He does, this will be the result according to the word.
But, not to dwell longer on this triumphant testimony, we pass on to the prophecy of Ezekiel. Addressing the house of Israel, he writes, “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you, and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face, like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bonds of the Covenant: and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah” (Ezek. 20:33–38).
This remarkable prophecy can only refer to the future; unless it can be shown that since the days of Ezekiel, Jehovah hath assembled the tribes of Israel into a certain wilderness, and dealt with them there in the same manner as He dealt with them on their leaving Egypt under Moses. But this cannot be shown, for there is no history to that effect extant. They have been scattered in the countries since their deportation by Shalmaneser, in the sixth of Hezekiah, King of Judah, B.C. 725 and nine months. This is their condition still; and not theirs only, but Judah’s likewise. But the prophecy swears by the life of Jehovah, that the Israelites shall not continue always thus; but that the scattering of their power shall have an end (Dan. 12:7), and that when gathered into the people’s wilderness, he will there bring them into “the bonds of the Covenant.” The margin reads “into a delivering of the Covenant,” which Boothroyd renders “the discipline of the Covenant”—bemahsoreth havberith. Masoreth signifies fetters, bonds of in reg.; from the root Ahsar, he tied or bound. Boothroyd seems to have derived the word masoreth from mosar, discipline; from the root yehsar chastised, corrected; the margin, however, assigns it to the root mahsar, to deliver from one to another anything in general; hence, to deliver instruction, or to teach. But whatever the derivation of masoreth, its sense in the passage is not materially affected. To be in bonds, “is to be in discipline,” and to be in either, is the result of a “delivery into,” them. The delivering of the Covenant to Israel must precede their being bound or disciplined by it; and this delivering the prophecy shows is preceded by their being gathered out of the countries into the people’s wilderness. When there, the New Covenant will be “enjoined unto” (Heb. 9:20), or “made with” (Ex. 24:8) them, that is, delivered unto them, as the Mosaic was to their fathers of old.
The Covenant will not be forced upon them against their will; for it is written, “Thy people, Adon, shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psa. 110:3). The period we are considering is the day of David’s son’s power, whom he addresses as Adon, or Lord. They are brought from the countries into the people’s wilderness “with a mighty hand and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out” upon the nations who oppress them and refuse to let them go (Mic. 4:3; 5:15; 7:14–17). This wonderful deliverance from the power of the strong nations which occupy “the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt” (Rev. 11:8) and the congregating of them safely in the people’s wilderness, will superinduce a willingness of the part of Israel to enter into covenant with their Deliverer, the Horn of Salvation raised up for them in the House of David (Luke 1:69). This glorious victory over Israel’s enemies, and all those that hate them, will consummate the second act of the extraordinary tragedy of their engraftment into their own olive again. The first act closes in their being made willing to follow the Leader sent them by Jehovah, through whom He proposes to bring them into the wilderness. Being in the wilderness, then, rejoicing in Moses and the Lamb, the Lord God propounds for their acceptance the New Covenant dedicated by his own blood over eighteen hundred years before. They will accept it; for the prophecy saith, “I will bring them into the bonds of the covenant,” which implies their being in when so brought; and their language on the occasion, after “the representation of the truth in the law,” will be, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.”
They are brought to this confession of willingness to obey as the fruit of faith in “the Everlasting Gospel” preached to them (Rev. 14:6), by which they were first moved to entertain the idea of putting themselves under the command of the Leader sent, who was to bring them into the unseen presence of the Lord God in the people’s wilderness. Thus, believing the gospel of the kingdom then about to be established in the covenanted land, and confessing with their mouth the sovereignty of Jesus as their Lord and Christ, the nation by the act (whatever it may be) of entering the covenant, becomes through faith sprinkled with the blood thereof; for the sprinkling in the Mosaic type follows after the confession (Ex. 24:3–8). The typical order of the whole is—first, the sprinkling of the altar with the sacrificial blood; secondly, the reading of the covenant; thirdly, the confession of the people; and fourthly, the sprinkling of the covenant blood upon them. The national antitype is in strict accordance with the type. Paul styles the body of Jesus “an altar,” which was sprinkled with his own blood; secondly, the covenant is read eighteen centuries after in the wilderness of the people; thirdly, the people confess their willingness to do what it requires; and fourthly, they enter the covenant and are so sprinkled by its blood.
The New Covenant having been made with the nation, the next thing presented to our minds by the prophet, is the probation of the tribes in the people’s wilderness. This is expressed in the words, “I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me.” Like their fathers, though they promised to obey, they will rebel and transgress against their deliverer. Their provocations will become unpardonable; for though a promise will have been made to them in the gospel preached, of a national settlement under Messiah in the covenant land, to be no more expelled for ever, their faith will fail; it will not be made perfect by their works, but will have become dead; so that though a reconciliation be effected between Jehovah and the nation at the delivering of the covenant, and its past offences blotted out as a thick cloud, multitudes of Israelites harden their hearts and become rebellious, and fail of justification by works unto a participation in the national redemption and glory. Concerning these rebels it is written, “I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn.” But though brought out thence, one of two things still remains to them, either to die in the wilderness of the peoples or to enter the covenant land; for it by no means follows that, because they have escaped from “the great city spiritually called Egypt,” they will, therefore, enter the Holy Land. What then saith the testimony respecting the final punishment of these transgressors? The judgment written is, “They shall not enter into the Land of Israel.”
In answer to Micah’s petition that God would “let Israel feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old,” Jehovah saith to the nation, “According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things. The nations shall see and be confounded at all their (Israel’s) might; they shall lay their hand upon their mouth; their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth; they shall be afraid of the Lord, Israel’s God, and shall fear because of Thee. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy (covenanted) to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Mic. 7:14–20). Now the days of coming out of Egypt under Moses were forty years. This is the typical period pointing to the exodus from “the Great City figuratively called Egypt.” Israel’s passing through the people’s wilderness to the Covenant-Land will occupy forty years. During this time the Lord God pleads with them as He did with their fathers in the days of Moses; and with the same result. The carcases of the adult generation fall in the wilderness, as it is written, “And they shall not enter into the land of Israel,” which is equivalent to “They shall not enter into my rest” (Ps. 95:11)—the Messianic Sabbatism in the holy land. “The bonds” or “discipline of the covenant” purges the rebels out and trains up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; so that the second generation of the emancipated nation takes possession of the promised land under the new covenant.
I find in the Mosaic representation of the truth that when Israel arrived in Moab, words were added to what was spoken in Horeb. Moses assembled the second generation there just previous to their invasion of Canaan, and his handing them over to the command of Joshua, another type of Christ. On that occasion he said, “Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; the captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, etc.—that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day: that he may establish thee to-day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Deut. 29:1, 10–13). The covenant with the nation in Horeb was regarded as having been really made with the second generation, not with those who perished in the wilderness. Hence Moses says to the people in the land of Moab, “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Jehovah made not his covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day” (Deut. 5:2, 3). After the same representation, then, we are to understand that when the nation shall hereafter be brought into “the bonds of the covenant,” the covenant will be regarded as being made, not with the rebels who transgress, but with those who shall constitute the nation forty years afterwards, and shall actually enter into the land of Israel.
The terms of the New Covenant show that though made with the nation, it is not made with the generation brought out of “the Great City figuratively called Egypt.” The promise is, “I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.” This is equivalent to giving them “such a heart that they would fear Jehovah, and keep all his commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children for ever” (Deut. 5:29). Such a heart as this the nation has never had, but has ever been “uncircumcised of heart and ears,” as at this day. Moses prophesied, however, that a time would come when they should be brought back from their dispersion, that the Lord would circumcise their heart, and the heart of their seed, to love the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul, that they might live (Deut. 30:6). This promise of heart circumcision belongs especially to the New Covenant, and can only be affirmed in a national sense of the second generation of the coming exodus. A circumcised heart, the covenant-token in every man who inherits under Messiah, is a heart that cannot rebel and transgress wilfully against the Lord. It is a heart renewed by the word of covenant-truth, an example of which is presented in Abraham, “the Friend of God.” Forty years’ discipline will create this heart in the nation, and prepare it for the gift of the Holy Spirit, when “their iniquity will be forgiven, and their sin remembered no more. After that, there will be no more purging out of rebels; for they will all know Jehovah and His King from the least even to the greatest of them, and lovingly obey them.
The reader will by this time perceive that the making of a New Covenant With the two Houses of Israel is not the work of a day, as if on Pentecost, but of forty years. A nation may be politically born in a day, as Israel from the Red Sea; but they can know very little of human nature who suppose a nation of uncircumcised hearts can be intellectually and morally, that is, spiritually regenerated in so short a time. At the end of forty years, then, the “regeneration” of the nation, spiritually, as well as politically, is complete and the following testimonies find their full accomplishment.
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
I do not forget what the Lord Jesus said of John the Baptist, and what Mark and Luke say concerning him. Matthew says that John was he of whom Isaiah spoke; and Luke makes the same reference. Mark quotes both Malachi and Isaiah to prove that a messenger and a proclamation were to precede the appearance or manifestation of the Lord; and having said this he proceeds with his history of events. Speaking of John, the Lord says, “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before they face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” But in Malachi’s prophecies above quoted, “a great and terrible day” is spoken of, even in the day of the Lord’s coming and appearance as a refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap. Now before that day, says the prophet, a messenger shall be sent; and at the close of his prophecy tells us his name in these words, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall restore the heart of the fathers to the children, and (hashiv understood, restore, turn) the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Now the contemporaries of Jesus understood this in its obvious sense, namely, that the identical Elijah who was translated, should return to Palestine on a mission to Israel before their being made to pass through the refining and purifying process on the day of terror.
This appears from the question put by the disciples to Jesus after seeing Elijah on the Mount with Moses, “Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?” This was a reason urged by the scribes for rejecting Jesus. As if they had said, “This Jesus cannot be the Messenger of the Covenant, for Elijah has not yet made his appearance.” The disciples were in a difficulty. They acknowledged Jesus to be Christ, but they had seen him before Elijah, which did not harmonise with Malachi’s testimony. Jesus admitted that the scribes were right about the coming of Elijah; for he said, “Elijah truly shall first come and restore all things. This is a truth that must not be lost sight of. Elijah’s mission is to restore all things when he comes. What things? Not things pertaining to the Gentiles; for there is nothing Gentile worth restoring. Destruction, not restoration, is to come upon the things of the Gentiles both ecclesiastical and civil. The things to be restored are the things of Moses’ law, as far as compatible with faith in the blood of the New Covenant, constituting the amended law. Hence in the verse preceding that about Elijah, the Lord says to Israel, “Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even the statutes and judgments.” These are the civil law of the nation, the law of the state, the existence of which is quite compatible with the new covenant to which it will be accommodated in the time of emendation.
On a former occasion Jesus said to the multitude, “If ye will receive it, John is the Elijah being about to come (Matt. 11:14). I understand Jesus to say in these words that Elijah’s coming is still future. He says, too, “John is Elijah”—but in what sense are they identical? Let the angel of Jehovah who appeared to John’s father, answer the question—“John shall go before the Lord Israel’s God in Elijah’s spirit and power, to restore to posterity the father’s dispositions, and disobedient ones to just persons’ mode of thinking; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Then Elijah’s spirit and power,” like his mantle on Elisha had fallen upon John; and hence the identity, which, however, did not at all affect the proper coming of Elijah at the appointed time. In this sense Jesus said to his disciples, “But I say unto you (though there is truth in what the scribes say) that Elijah once come (elthe 2. aorist) already, and they did not know him, but have done to him whatever they listed” (Matt. 17:12). John said of himself plainly, “I am not Elijah” (John 1:21).
The appearances, then, of the Messenger of the Covenant to the nation are preceded by messengers sent by Jehovah to Israel—messengers, individually two, but officially and spiritually one. The power and spirit of Elijah, viz., one spirit and power through whomsoever manifested, the operation of which in regard to Israel prepares them for the appearance of the Messenger of the Covenant in their midst. This one spirit power is exhibited in the history of Elijah. On comparing it with John’s, their identity evidently consisted in both being possessed of the same spirit of prophecy and a like authority in Israel, which appears to have been “the power”. referred to by the angel. The word of the Lord came to them both while sojourning by the Jordan, and thence their influence was felt among all ranks and classes of the nation. But “John did no miracle” (John 10:41). Elijah performed many of great magnitude: John’s identity in power with Elijah was, therefore, not wonder-working. Christ’s mission to Israel was covenant-confirming, and individually enlightening and converting (Luke 5:32); not political: his political mission pertains to the future (Jer. 23:5). Jehovah’s messengers who precede and introduce his king’s appearing, have each a mission corresponding to Christ’s. Hence John’s mission in Elijah’s spirit-power was confirming and personally enlightening and converting; while Elijah’s, when he comes in his own proper person to Israel, will be nationally enlightening, converting, and political. The combined result of the Elijah-spirit-power mission, is the spiritual and political restoration of all things before Christ’s manifestation to the Twelve Tribes as their king, sitting on David’s throne in Zion. The restoration effected by this power through John, was a spiritual restoration affecting the hearts of many (Luke 1:16) of the people, not of all; a restoration of the Abrahamic mind and disposition in his contemporaries. Beyond this nothing was restored. But, through “Elijah the prophet,” the same spirit-power will “restore all things,” and, among these the tribes of Israel, when its mission will be complete.
Such appears to me to be the Scripture teaching concerning Elijah. He has a work to perform in the midst of Israel, before they are permitted the honour of a personal interview with their Lord and King in His glory. The angel in the bush did not go down into Egypt in person to meet Israel there, and preach to them. On the contrary, he sent Moses to bring them to him in the wilderness, where he would meet them as the representative of the Invisible Majesty. When they arrived in Horeb he met them, but though they had heard his voice, he did not permit them to see his personal glory. This was a privilege accorded only to the nation’s chief men, not to the tribes at large. Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, were alone permitted to ascend Mount Sinai; but of them only Moses and Joshua were allowed to approach the Lord’s glory on the top. The rest were restricted to a lower altitude.
After being with them on this part of the mountain for six days, Moses and Joshua left them, and were absent above towards the top during forty days and nights, leaving Aaron and Hur to attend to matters below. During the six days they saw above them the glory of the God of Israel. The testimony is, “And they saw the God of Israel; and, under his feet as it were, a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven for clearness. But against the nobles of the children of Israel he stretched not forth his hand, though they saw God and they did eat and drink” (Exod. 24:9–11). This arrangement was afterwards represented in the Tabernacle—Moses and Joshua admitted to the Most Holy; the elders, &c., to the Holy Place, and the Tribes in Israel’s Court below. But what we refer to this scene for is to show that the arrangement of things for forty days in Israel after crossing the Red Sea, is a miniature representation of the ordinal relations which will exist for forty years when the tribes of Jacob shall have been brought into the wilderness of the peoples, under the Leader we have hinted at before.
In order to bring the matter out so as to exhibit the ordinal relations then subsisting between Jehovah, the Lord Jesus, Elijah, and the saints, and the twelve tribes in the wilderness of the peoples, we must change our position and survey the subject from a different point of view, “John is Elijah,” as “this bread is my body”; that is, he is the type or representative of Elijah in the discharge of the spiritual part of his future mission to Israel; hence, as John made proclamatiton to Judah, that the messenger of the covenant was then about to appear, so Elijah will make proclamation to all Israel that the same personage is about to manifest Himself to them in great power and glory. In other words, as Moses preached the gospel concerning the covenant-land to be typically and temporally inherited, to Israel in the literal Egypt; so Elijah will proclaim the same gospel to be antitypically and everlastingly realised, and therefore everlasting to the twelve tribes scattered abroad in “the Great City figuratively called Egypt.” That there is to be a proclamation of that kind is a point easily proved; and to save words, we affirm, that it is to be made subsequently to the advent of Jesus, the resurrection of the righteous, and the battle of Armageddon, and before the passing of Israel through the refiner’s fire in the wilderness of the peoples, which is to them and the nations “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” Now for the proof.
In the last chapter of Isaiah it is written, according to Lowth and others, “Behold, the Lord shall come as a fire (to Zion—Isai. 59:20) and his chariots as a whirlwind: to breathe forth his anger in a burning heat, and his rebuke in flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword shall the Lord execute judgment upon all flesh; and the slain by the Lord shall be many..… It shall come, that I will gather all the nations and tongues together; and they shall come and see my glory. And I will place a Wonder among them (Israel), and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, Meshech, Tubal, Javan, to the far distant coasts that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory; among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all nations, for an oblation to Jehovah to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord” (Isa. 66:15, 16, 18, 19, 20).
In view of the above testimony, we would ask, where shall the nations be gathered to in the providence of God? Jehovah replies, “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken.” And what then? “The Lord shall then go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:2, 3; Joel 3:2, 16, 17). How did He fight in the day of battle? Read the History of Joshua, who says, “There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all others they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel to battle, that he (the Lord) might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour.” “The Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And as they fled from before Israel, the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them, and they died; there were more that died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword” (Josh. 11:19, 20; 10:10, 11). This is the way the Lord fought in the day of battle; and so He declares He will fight again (Ezek. 38:21–23; Zech. 14:14; 10:5, 3), for “Judah shall fight at Jerusalem, because the Lord is with them; and they shall be as his goodly horse in battle.” And how will the battle against the gathered armies end? He will leave but the sixth part, for Gog shall fall upon the mountains, and his multitude shall be buried in the valley of Hamon-Gog (Ezek. 39:2, 4, 11).
This is the victory of Armageddon.
Who are those that escape among whom the “Wonder” is placed? The third part of those Jews residing in the land during the war which is consummated by the victory of Armageddon. Of these it is written, “In all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off, and die; but the third part shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I 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, the Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:8, 9). Who is the wonder or sign whom Jehovah wil place in the midst of this refined third part? He who in prophecy says, “I was a wonder to many” (Ps. 71:7), and of whom it is testified “His name shall be called Wonderful” (Isa. 9:6). Joshua, the high priest, and his fellows, who were typical of the branch and his associates are styled “men of wonder,” or sign (anshai mophaith); and the prophet says, in words applied by Paul to Jesus and his brethren, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me, are for Signs and Wonders in Israel, from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in Mount Zion” (Isa. 8:18). The answer then to the question is, that the Lord Jesus is the Wonder, whom Jehovah will place in the midst of the third part; and that He with his refined third and the risen saints, will constitute the little stone-kingdom in Judea, which after a lapse of forty years will by war and conquest have become as a great mountain filling the whole earth.
Now, from this third part, become as gold and silver well refined, the Wonderful will choose men whom He will send as messengers to the nations; as it is written, “I will send those that escape of them to the nations.” Being sent, they are consequently apostles; men, not only sent, but equipped for their work—in the highest sense, ambassadors of Jesus, the King of the Jews, to the nations.
These men are not apostolised to take up their residence at the courts of kings like ordinary ambassadors, but, like Moses and Aaron, sent of Jehovah’s angel to Israel in Egypt, to proclaim the fame of the King, their Master, and the glory of His name, and to invite the aggregation of His people Israel into the wilderness, that they may be thence presented as an offering to Jehovah their God. In doing this they will announce the Gospel of the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus, which, as the little stone, will then be in its incipient state.
And here I would direct the reader’s attention to the symbolisation of these events (Rev. 14:6, 7). In the passage referred to, he will find the symbolography. There this company of messengers, in Greek termed angels, is represented by a single angel or messenger flying in mid-heaven, that is, taking his course between the governments and the peoples. He is sent to “the powers that be;” they are doomed to overthrow without remedy; but “to preach the everlasting Gospel to them that dwell upon the earth,” which is apocalyptically opposed to “them that dwell in the heaven.” Their proclamation is symbolised by “a loud voice,” for, unlike the preaching of the Gospel now, which is “a still small voice” exciting but little attention, it “sounds through every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,” becoming the greatest question of the age. The nations are informed that the Gospel of the Everlasting Age to come, which, thirty-nine centuries before, had been announced to Abraham, is about to become an accomplished fact—that the hour has arrived to bless all the families of the earth in Abraham and his seed (Gal. 3:8). They are not invited to inherit the kingdom with eternal life and glory—the time of that invitation passed away with the battle of Armageddon—but they are called upon to submit to the Stone Kingdom as the inheritance of its king (Ps. 2:8). As it is written, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of his judgment comes (elthe), and do homage to the Maker of heaven and earth.” To accept this invitation would be to renounce all allegiance to the powers that be, which the nations, even if disposed, will not be permitted to do by “the beast and the kings of the earth,” who, to maintain their own ascendancy, prepare for war against Israel’s king (Rev. 19:19, 21).
The proclamation, however, will be believed by the Israelites scattered among the nations. Their king will not permit them to remain there exposed to his judgments upon their oppressors. The proclamation, therefore, has no especial reference to them. “Go,” says he “and proclaim these words towards the north (Meshech, Tubal, and Javan), and say, Return thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and will not keep anger for ever” (Jer. 3:12–18). The result of the proclamation is that “they come together out of the land of the north”; for however unwilling the north will certainly be to give them up, and the south may desire to keep them back (Isa. 43:6, 18–21), they will assuredly be separated from the nations with terrible effect upon them; and marching for forty years through the wilderness of the peoples, “come to the land Jehovah hath given for an inheritance to their fathers”—yea, even “to Zion, with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isa. 35:10). These messengers of the third part, with Elijah the prophet at their head, are not merely preachers of the everlasting gospel: but endued with power to gather Israel together in the face of all the opposition that can be organised by the powers that be to prevent it; as it is written,” “They shall bring all your brethren as an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations”: not direct from the countries into Palestine, but circuitously “by a way they knew not, and in paths they have not known.” (Isa. 42:16).
This will have been a stupendous work, but nothing is too hard for the Lord, reigning in Zion. The good tidings brought by Him publishing peace and salvation to Israel will have been effectually proclaimed by a powerful, if not a very numerous company of Israelites, and the resistance it will have occasioned on the part of the powers will have caused Him to “make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations,” for He comes not with persuading, but “with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him.” The exhortation to Israel amongst the nations is, “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence: touch no polluted thing; go ye out from the midst of her (the great city figuratively called Egypt and Babylon), be ye clean that bring the vessels of the Lord (that is, who lead the Israelites). Verily not in haste shall ye go forth, nor by flight shall ye march along: for Jehovah shall march in your front; and the God of Israel shall bring up the rear” (Isa. 40:10; 52:7, 12). In this particular, the exodus will be unlike that under Moses, for then they fled from Egypt, but in the time to come, they have to give battle to their oppressors, and by victory after victory, to retire valiantly (Numbers 24:18) to the wilderness, where Elijah, in restoring all things, as a second Moses, will prepare them to enter the land of Israel under the Lord Jesus, the Captain of Jehovah’s host (Josh. 5:13–15), who, as another Joshua, will give the nation everlasting rest.
This proclamation by some of the refined third part is subsequently to the resurrection of the righteous, and previously to the fall of Babylon, the great city; for John saw the lamb surrounded by 144,000 before he saw the angelic preacher, who is “followed by another angel,” proclaiming Babylon’s fall. The resurrected, I apprehend, are not comprehended in the preaching symbol, because that is called “another angel flying through mid-heaven.” The 144,000 occupy the “heaven,” “before the throne,” and “follow the Lamb,” or Israel’s king, “withersoever he goes.” This is a more exalted sphere of operation, than that occupied by the agents of the third part. The transformed and risen saints, with the Lord at their head, will be ready “to execute the judgment written” when the proclamation shall have produced its intended effect. Hence they appear in another scene at the strateumata, or staff and body-guard of the Great Captain, ready with him to judge and make war on “the powers that be” in righteousness and truth (Rev. 19:11), for it is their mission at the head of the armies of Israel, “to execute vengeance upon the nations, and punishments upon the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written; this honour have all God’s saints” (Ps. 149:7–9).
It would seem from the Mosaic type, that the eyes of the nations, and of all Israel, save the third part, will be holden; so that while the nations feel the vengeance of the Lamb and his companions, who co-operate with Israel as did the captains of the Lord’s host in the days of Joshua, they see only the hosts of Israel with whom they fight. For an illustration of this arrangement of things read the account of Elisha in Dothan, against which a mighty host of Syrians assembled for the capture of one man (2 Kings 6:8–17). This invisible co-operation is necessary; first, that the governments and their armies may be led on to their destruction; and secondly, that scope may be afforded to Israel for faith; for the grafting of them “into their own olive tree” is to be effected by God “If they abide not still in unbelief.” “And so all Israel shall be saved “from all their enemies, and those that hate them; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion, the Deliverer, who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins” (Romans 11:23–27).
We cannot here forbear the expression of our astonishment at the ignorance and presumption of pious Gentiles who undertake to convert the Jews to the faith of Jesus. God only can accomplish it after the manner we are expounding. Gentile machinery may convert Jews into Gentiles; but it can never turn the seed of Abraham after the flesh into the seed of Abraham after the spirit. They may persuade a few Jews to forsake the little of Moses they still adhere to, and to confess that Jesus is Christ and join a church; but to “turn away ungodliness from Jacob” is a work beyond their knowledge and ability. It is an honour reserved for the Deliverer, who, when he returns, to Zion, will execute his mission as becomes a God.
As the result of the proclamation and its immediate consequents, the Elijah-work of restoring all things will have progressed so far as to restore liberty to the tribes, and the introduction of them to the wilderness of the peoples. The work, however, as we have seen, will not then, as yet, be complete. Elijah has to give them a national organisation there as Moses did when their ancestors arrived at Sinai. This organisation will doubtless be adapted to their forty years sojourn in the people’s wilderness, where, as the House of Israel, they will be preparing for an everlasting union with the House of Judah, already as the little Stone Kingdom, strengthening and enlarging itself under Messiah in the Holy Land. Here, then, we have the ordinal relation of things brought out to view. In the days of Moses, the Holy and Most Holy Places were perpendicularly presented on the mountain side, but in the days of Elijah’s future mission they will exchange the perpendicular for a horizontal extension. The Most Holy, instead of being on the top of Mount Sinai, will be in Zion, of which it is written, “O, thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy battlements of rubies and thy gates of carbuncles, and the whole circuit of thy walls shall be of precious stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be their prosperity” (Isaiah 54:11–13). In Zion, thus beautified, and possessed of the Nazarites, purer than snow, whiter than milk, ruddier than rubies, and of sapphire polishing (Lam. 4:7), exist the Four Cherubim, representative of the 144,000 anti-typical Nazarites, and the intensely dazzling, crystal-like expanse above them, supporting the sapphire throne, on which sits the Son of Man, the bearer of Jehovah’s glory (Ezek. 1:22–28; Zech. 6:13). This glory is Zion’s city when the Lord is there (Ezek. 48:35) reigning before his ancients gloriously (Isa. 24:23).
It may be remarked here that the sapphire is the most precious stone next to the diamond. It is of a fine azure, or like the purest blue of heaven. When highly polished, and reflecting the sun’s dazzling light, it looks very brilliant. As in this state, it is used in Scripture to illustrate the glory of the saints who, under the law, were represented by the Nazarites. “He shall be called a Nazarene,” whose body is as “bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires” (Cant. 5:14). To say of the Nazarites, “a sapphire their polish,” sapphir gizrahshahm, signifies the same thing as to say of “the wise” they shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament” (Dan. 12:3), which is solar light richly blended with the azure of the sky. These things, as they will then exist in Zion, the Most Holy, when “the judgment is set, and the books are opened,” were seen in vision by the prophet, who thus describes them: “I saw, behold, while thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head as the pure wool; his throne as the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A stream of fire flowed and came forth from his presence; a thousand of thousands attended him, and ten thousand ten thousands rose up before Him: the judgment did sit, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10). This represents that from the presence of the Glory-Bearer in Zion, judgment was proceeding against his adversaries, among whom is the beast spoken of by John (Rev. 19:19), which is utterly destroyed. This judgment period and the forty years in the people’s wilderness are coeval, a time during which “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” goes forth against “them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” a time “when he shall be glorified in his saints, and admired by all who believe” (2 Thess. 1:7–10).
But the tribes in the wilderness are not permitted to see this glory of the Most Holy, though they are cognisant of what proceeds from its presence, as their ancestors were. Between it and them is the breadth of the Holy Place, or land, towards which they then look, as the heaven of the covenant with whose blood they have been sprinkled. While they are in the wilderness they are in the court without, the way into the Holy Place not being laid open to them till the end of the forty years. But with Judah, the third part, refined in the fire it is not so. “He rules with God—od rahd im-Ail; and with the holy ones is true” (Hos. 11:12). God having saved Judah’s tents before Ephraim’s (Zech. 12:7), his King possesses Judah, his portion in the Holy Land (Zech. 2:12), while Ephraim, under Elijah, is passing under the rod. This relation of Judah, the little stone-kingdom, in Judea, to the Ten Tribes in the Wilderness, is as the Holy Place to the Court of Israel, the Court of the Gentiles beyond, not being then, as yet, measured (Rev. 11:2), seeking that the war against them is in progress still. These ordinal relations may become more obvious to the reader as exhibited in the following series:
I:—Most Holy Place
The Holy oblation south of the canton of Judah, and north of Benjamin, 25,000 cubits square (Ezek. 48:8–22) about 7 miles, “the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the Children of Israel for ever, saith Jehovah” (Ezek. 43:7).
In this city where David dwelt, the King of Israel, bearing the glory of Jehovah, occupies the sapphire-throne, angels ascending and descending upon him from the Majesty in the heavens.
The Holy ones or saints, whose symbolical number is 144,000, and their representative measurement 144 cubits, belong to the Holy oblation, as joint heirs in the throne.
All the Covenanted Land not included in the Holy Oblation and the Prince’s portion.
The Stone Kingdom
Consisting of Judah, the Third Part, cut out of the Mountains, organised and refined. David’s original kingdom before the submission of the Ten Tribes, when his throne was in Hebron.
III.—Court of Israel
The House of Israel, or Ten Tribes called Ephraim, in the people’s wilderness, where, like a heifer, he is being broken to the yoke by Elijah the Prophet and his companions of the Third Part, the representatives of Israel’s king in restoring all things preparatory to their entering into the land promised to their fathers.
IV.—Court of the Gentiles
The nations under the Beast and False Prophet, and the Kings of the earth, etc., subject to terrible and devastating wars by the sword of Judah and Israel, the Lord’s weapon of war (Jer. 51:19, 20; Isaiah 41:14, 16), which continue until their kingdoms become Jehovah’s and his Christ’s (Rev. 11:15).
V.—The Great Mountain
Peace between Israel and the nations for a thousand years. The Stone-Kingdom, by the reunion of the Twelve Tribes for the first time since the rebellion of the Ten against the house of David under Jeroboam being a period of some 2,894 years, becomes the great mountain “filling the whole land,” and as the everlasting kingdom of Jesus, ruling over the earth (Dan. 2:35; Ps. 103:19).
“The middle wall of partition” between Israel and the Gentiles is “broken down” nationally, as it was spiritually, when Jews and Gentiles became one in Christ as heirs of the kingdom to be established. Henceforth, one court in the Temple of the Branch’s building (Zech. 6:12), serves as the arena of prayer for Israel, and the worshippers who come up to Jerusalem to do homage to Jehovah and his king out of all nations. “Rejoice! O ye nations, with his people,” for there is peace over the earth, and goodwill among men.
At the end of forty years’ sojourn in the people’s wilderness, Elijah conducts the tribes to the borders of the land. I say Elijah does it; because Jesus says, “Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things.” This is not to be lost sight of in the interpretation. He will figure very conspicuously in “the restitution of all the things of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets.” Moses, Elijah, and Jesus are the three whose work consummates the purposes of Jehovah, which ultimate in blessing all nations in Abraham and his seed.
It would seem that the tribes march from the south, towards the Red Sea, and from the west, north, and east, to the Euphrates flood; from which two points they form a junction in the intermediate wilderness. They are to be gathered from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the regions of the Western Sea (Isa. 11:11). These lie at all points of the compass with respect to Palestine. Having to congregate from such opposite directions, they will, no doubt, move towards the wilderness in armies, fighting their way through the countries, and coalescing as occasion may serve, until they arrive at their destination. My reasons for concluding that they will approach the wilderness from the Red Sea and flood of the Euphrates, are first, because it is written, “Jehovah shall make a gathering of his fruit from the flood of the river (shibboleth han-nahhar) to the stream of Egypt; and ye shall be gleaned up one by one, O ye sons of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day the Great Trumpet (the proclamation spoken of before) shall be blown, and those shall come who were perishing in the land of Assyria, and who were dispersed in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord on the Holy Mount at Jerusalem” (Isa. 27:12–13).
Here are a gathering and a gleaning, so that no stragglers may be left behind. Now, between these two extremities, there is to be a highway from Assyria, beyond the Euphrates, styled “the river,” into Egypt, beyond the Red Sea, even to the Nile; and the proof of this contains my second reason. The passage is very variously rendered by Lowth, Boothroyd, and the common version. It is necessary where the doctors differ for disciples to try and help themselves. The English Bible would lead one to infer that the Red Sea and seven-mouthed Nile were to be divided, while Lowth and Boothroyd would intimate that neither were; but looking into the text carefully, I’m satisfied that both are to be affected, as described in the following literal rendering:—
“And Jehovah shall dry them up—the tongue of the sea of Egypt: and He shall shake to and fro His hand over the river by violence of His wind, and He shall cause to smite it in seven streams and make to pass through in shoes.”
From this and the former text, I understand that the flood of the Euphrates, that is, below where the Tigris falls into it, will be made fordable, and the Gulf of Suez entirely destroyed, so as to facilitate the passage of Israel from Pathros, Cush, and Egypt, into the wilderness, to meet their brethren from “beyond the flood.” This accords with what follows: “And there shall be a highway for the remnant of Jehovah’s people, who 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. 11:16). And again, it is written in reference to this way, when the great work is complete:
“In that day there shall be a highway outof Egypt to Assyria; and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria, the work of my hand, and Israel my inheritance” (Isa. 19:23–25).
The condition of the tribes in the people’s wilderness seems to be alluded to in the following testimonies: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and exult even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it; the beauty of Carmel and of Sharon; they shall see the glory of Jehovah, and behold the majesty of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, and confirm the trembling knees. Say ye to the faint-hearted, ‘Be ye strong; but not afraid; behold your God;’ vengeance will come; the Retribution of God. He Himself will come and save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame bound like the hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; for in the desert shall waters burst forth, and streams shall flow in the wilderness; and the glowing sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty soil springs of water; in the haunts of serpents shall spring up grass, with the reed and the bulrush. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness. No unclean person shall pass through it; but God shall be with them, walking in the way, and the foolish shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up thither; neither shall one such be found there; but the redeemed shall walk therein. Yea, the ransomed of Jehovah shall return; they shall come to Zion with triumph, perpetual joy shall crown their heads. Joy and gladness shall they obtain, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35).
Again, “the poor and needy seek for water; but find none; their tongue is parched with thirst: I, Jehovah, will attend to them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open in the high places rivers, and in the midst of the valleys fountains; I will make the desert a waterpool, and the dry land springs of water. In the wilderness I will make the cedar to grow, the acacia, the myrtle, and the wild olive; I will plant in the desert the fir tree and the pine and the box together; that they may see and may know, and consider, and understand at once that the hand of the Lord hath done this. And the Holy One of Israel hath created it” (Isa. 41:17–20)
“Jehovah shall go forth as a mighty man; like a warrior shall he stir up his zeal; he shall cry aloud, yea, he shall shout; he shall exert his strength against his foes. I have a long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself. I will now cry like a woman in travail, I will breathe short, and draw in my breath at once. I will lay waste the mountains and the hills, and burn up all the grass upon them; I will also make the rivers dry deserts, and I will dry up the water pools. I will bring the blind by a way they knew not, and in the paths they knew not will I lead them; I will make darkness light before them, and the rugged ways shall be a smooth plain. These things will I do for them (Israel) and not forsake them” (Isa. 42:13–16).
Referring to the overthrow of Pharoah’s host in the Red Sea as compared with what is yet to happen in Israel’s history, Jehovah says, “Remember no more the former things, and things of ancient times regard not. Behold, I am about to do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, will ye not regard it? Yea, I will make in the wilderness a way; in the desert send forth streams of water. The wild beasts of the field shall glorify me, the dragons and daughters of the ostrich; because I have given waters in the desert, and streams of water in the wilderness, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise” (Isa. 43:18–21).
While the ten tribes were living in their land, Jehovah gave them the name of Lo-Ruhamah, or no mercy, and gave a reason, “I will not have mercy on the house of Israel; but will utterly take them away.” After that, he gave them another name, as Lo-Ammi, or not my people; importing their rejection during their dispersion among the nations; and, in giving the reason for thus naming them, follows it up with a promise of their restoration to His favour. Thus it is written, “Call his name Lo-Ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that in the place, where it was said to them (so said to some of them by God while in the land), Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and shall appoint to themselves One Head, and they shall come up out of the country; for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
In the next chapter of the same book, the House of Israel is spoken of as the harlot mother of Ruhamah, sentenced, and punished. Though she went after other lovers, and forgot Jehovah, he says concerning her, “Notwithstanding this, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And from thence will I give to her her vineyards, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. And it shall be in that day, saith Jehovah, that thou (House of Israel) shalt call me Ishi (my husband), and shalt call me no more Baali (my Lord).… And in that day will I make for them a covenant with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the air, and with the reptiles of the ground; and the bow, and the sword, and war, will I destroy out of the land; and I will make them to lie down safely, and I will betroth thee, O Israel, unto me for ever” (Hos. 1:6, 9, 111; 2:14–19).
This last is a highly important testimony. It shows that the tribes will be allured into the wilderness of the peoples, doubtless by the inducements set before them in the proclamation sounded forth when the great trumpet is blown. It shows, too, that Israel will return to their vineyards from the wilderness, and not direct from the country of the enemy without passing through it. And thirdly, it tells us that they will re-enter the land of Israel west of the Jordan, at the same point their ancestors did under Joshua, that is, north of Jericho, not far from Gilgal. The recovery of the Valley of Achor becomes to them the earnest of inheriting the whole land, the object of their hope. Hence it is styled, “A door of hope,” as well as on account of its being the place through which they enter the land.
It is unnecessary for us now to trace their progress further. After arriving at the door under Elijah’s administration, we may be sure they will not be denied admission to the presence of Judah’s King. It will be a day of happy reunion for all the tribes. For they will sing in the valley of Achor as in the days of their nation’s youth. Judah and Ephraim will be reconciled; for “the jealousy of Ephraim shall cease, and the enmity of Judah shall be no more; Ephraim shall not envy Judah and Judah shall not be at enmity with Ephraim” (Isa. 11:13). The land bequeathed to Abraham, to their king, to his nobles, and to themselves, in the covenant confirmed of Jehovah, and purged by the blood of his Son, will be fully possessed by their distribution over its valleys, plains, and mountains, when they shall have passed from Achor’s delightful and joyous vale. Being settled in it “after their old estates” (Ezek. 36:11), with the assurance of possession and peace for ever, the things of the covenant, no more a matter of hopeful faith, will be the realities of daily life. Though not yet relieved from the necessity of paying nature’s debt, yet as the days of a tree shall their duration be (Isa. 65:22); and though a full end shall be made of all other nations (Jer. 30:11), theirs shall be deathless as their king, and eternal as the years of God. They will be all righteous (Isa. 60:21), and therefore, by eminence, the righteous nation; as it is written, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in” (Isa. 26:2); “and for ever shall they inherit the land for they are the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand; and a small one a strong nation: I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time” (Isa. 60:21–22).
For a thousand years its prosperity will know no interruption; but when these shall have elapsed, the nations outlying the borders of their glorious land, deceived by Satanic lust of rule, will seek the dethronement of their king. The effort will be brief and unavailing. As a summer’s cloud, or the morning dew, shall they vanish, and be no more. Jehovah’s thunderbolts, the artillery of their immortal Prince, will crush the rebels, and stretch out their serpent coils motionless, powerless, lifeless in the dust for ever. “Every curse shall cease;” and “death shall be no more.” All that survive the crisis are merged into the Israel of God, which, not only nationally immortal and individually righteous, attains to deathlessness from the greatest to the least, and not only inherits the land, but the renovated earth for ever. What more can the redeemed of Adam’s race require? What hope for man more glorious or better suited to his necessities than this? It is Israel’s hope covenanted to the fathers, confirmed of God, and consummated by their seed for ever.
The following testimonies find their fulfilment subsequently to the arrival of the tribes in the valley of Achor, the door of hope. “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David (David the Second, or David’s Son). He shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them. I, Jehovah, have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the desert, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them, and the places round about my Hill (Zion), a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in its season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit and the earth shall yield her increase; and they shall be secure in their land, and shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them out of the hands of those that exacted service of them. And they shall be no more a prey to the nations, neither shall the beast of the land devour them, but they shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a Plant of Renown (Messiah), and they shall no more be consumed by famine in the land, neither bear the reproach of the nations any more. Then shall they know, that I, Jehovah, their God, am with them, and that they even the House of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord Jehovah” (Ezek. 34:23–30).
Again, “I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all countries; and I will bring you into your own land (all except the rebels who are purged out). Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you (this is the covenant-sprinkling), and ye shall be cleansed from all your defilements; and from all your idols will I cleanse you.” This is “forgiving their iniquity and remembering their sins no more,” according to the promise of the New Covenant. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And my spirit will I put within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” This is the putting of God’s “law in their inward parts, and writing it in their hearts.” It is then added, “And ye shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your defilements: and I will call for the corn and I will increase it, and will send no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more the reproach of famine among the nations.” Then shall it be said, “This land that was desolate is become as the garden of Eden.” That is, it has become Paradise. “And the cities that were waste and desolate, and ruined, are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the nations, that are left round about you shall know that I, Jehovah, have built the ruined places, and planted the land which was desolate. I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and will do it” (Ezek. 36:24–30, 35–36). This great national deliverance is consequent upon their political resurrection and enlargement from the countries where they are now entombed, devoid to a great extent of the rights both of men and citizens. But they will soon rise from political death, and afterwards enter their land in triumph. When there, under the government of the Immortals and their chief, their condition will exactly answer to the following testimonies: “Behold, I will take the Israelites from among the nations whither they are gone, and will gather them from every side, and bring them into their own land … And I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary (or Temple) in the midst of them for evermore. My Tabernacle (or dwelling-place) also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God and they shall be my people. And the nations shall know, that I, Jehovah, sanctify Israel when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37:21, 26–28).
“When I bring them back again from the peoples, and gather them from the lands of their enemies, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations, then shall they know that I am Jehovah, their God, who caused them to be led into captivity among the nations: and have gathered them into their own land. And none of them will I leave there any more, neither hide my face any more from them, when I have poured my spirit upon the House of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah” (Ezek. 39:27–29).
From the 17th verse of the 65th of Isaiah to the end is also applicable to the same time. The reader can refer to it for himself. I will only add here under this head, that this great national redemption of Israel is regarded by Jehovah as a work of greater magnitude and renown than their exodus from Egypt by the hand of Moses.
For, “Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and 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, Jehovah our righteousness.” Yehowah-tzidkainu, which is represented by Jesous, the Greek transfer of Yeho-shua, contracted Yeshua (in English Jehovah the powerful). “Therefore (because of this King reigning), lo! the days come saith Jehovah, that they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt; but they shall say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and led the seed of the House of Israel from the north country, and from all the countries whither He had driven them; and they shall again dwell in their own land” (Jer. 23:5–8). Great indeed will be the renown of Jehovah, and not less the joy of His People, when the work is done. For, “with joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation, and shall say, Give thanks to Jehovah; call on His name; make known among the people His doings; record ye how high His name is exalted; sing to Jehovah, for He hath done excellent things; this is made manifest in all the earth. Cry out and shout, O inhabitants of Zion; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee” (Isaiah 12:3–6).
Such are in brief some of the things of the new covenant dedicated by the blood of Abraham’s seed, to whom, with Himself, they were made sure (Gal. 3:16). After reading and reflecting upon the testimonies adduced, they must have made some distinct impression upon the reader’s mind. We would, therefore, ask him: Have they taught you that the covenant land is beyond the skies? Have they taught you that the Israel who is to inhabit it for ever are the ghosts of the pious? Have they convinced you that the everlasting kingdom of Jesus Christ exists already somewhere in the sidereal regions? Have they proved to you that the throne of David is at the right hand of the Celestial Majesty above? Have they taught you that (as some allege) “the hope of Israel is all humbug, a mere hallucination,” and that a “Christian has no interest in it?” Have they proved that Israel is a castaway, and that the restoration of the Jews is a delusion, or at best a matter of doubtful disputation? Have they shown you that salvation is of the Gentiles? Have they demonstrated the absurdity of a divine kingdom being established in Palestine under Jesus and the saints? Have they proved the perpetuity of the powers that be? Have they revealed the supersedence of these powers by republican institutions? Do they exalt “the majesty of the people?” Do they preach a spiritual millenium peaceably introduced? Do they teach the burning up of the earth, “a wreck of matter and crash of worlds?” In short, have they taught you these notions, or any of the idols preached by the philosophists of the Gentile superstitions? Triumphantly the reverse! These noted testimonies have reduced to foolishness the wisdom of the wise; and convicted them of the grossest ignorance and unbelief. If the testimony, grammatically and reasonably interpreted, be admitted, no man can be regarded as of sound mind, who at the same time professes to believe that the pulpit gospels are the truth of God. It is perfect imbecility to maintain seriously any such proposition.
If pulpit theology and college divinity, which are indeed the same, be endorsed as true, the testimonies adduced must be rejected as false, for there is, and can be, no harmony between them. The theologies of “Christendom” are no part of the things of the covenant; they are, consequently, unpurged by the covenant-blood; and, therefore, the belief of them can give no one an interest in the blood of sprinkling which speaks of better things of the testimony adduced. This remark contains our negative reply to the question, “What must we do to be saved?” You must purge yourselves of these human dogmas so subversive of the truth of God; for they cannot only not save you, but they corrupt the word, and cause it to throw off an ill and pestilential effluvium, which works death in those that breathe it. If you would be sprinkled by the covenant-blood you must believe the things of the covenant, for the belief of no other things can do it. It is only those who keep Jehovah’s covenant and his testimonies, to whom “he will show his covenant;” for it is only with such that “the Lord’s secret” dwells.
The testimonies we have been quoting are the revelation of the things of the covenant, which in the apostolic writings are summarily termed “the Gospel.” To make known the things of the covenant is to make known the Gospel. Hence, treating of this subject, the apostle says he was separated unto the gospel of God, which he had “promised before by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1–2). The promise of the gospel, then, is exhibited in the testimony of the prophets, which is also called “the testimony of God” (1 Cor. 2:1). This testimony is what we have been looking into and which we have found speaking things utterly subversive of all the systems extant.
What absurd nonsense are the religions and preachings of Gentile Christendom when tested by the word of the living God! It is really astonishing that, with the Bible in everybody’s hand, such utter foolishness can pass current for aught else than a fiction not very ingeniously devised. A few isolated truths are blended with the corrupt mass which serve to give it currency with the piously disposed. That Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for sins, was buried, and rose again, and is ascended into heaven, are truths adopted as a creed of Papist, Protestant, and Mormon; but they are embedded in such a mountain of rubbish, that as matters of faith they are perfectly void and ineffectual. Almost universally they who profess to believe them are ignorant, and consequently faithless of the things of the covenant; and for the most part, too wise in their own conceit to be enlightened. Men in these days have “made void the word of God by their traditions,” as completely as “the learned,” who darkened counsel by words without knowledge in the time of Jesus. Ours is a generation whose Creed is a dogma, or a history, but without faith in the covenanted promises of God.
Reader! If thou would’st inherit the Kingdom, you must cleanse your inward parts of pulpit theosophisms by receiving into your heart the rich testimonies and soul-converting and perfect law of Jehovah.
The woman’s seed are “they who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” They who affirm that Jesus will not return to Mount Olivet to restore the Kingdom again to israel and to re-establish David’s throne in Zion, and himself to sit upon it there, have not the testimony of Jesus Christ. They who teach that Israel will inherit the covenant-land no more make God a liar; for He hath sworn by his own life that they shall. Now we would ask of what value are the “piety,” faith, religions, and teachings which hold not the testimony of Jesus, and resolve God’s “precious promises” into falsehood. They are worse than useless, they are God-dishonouring and insulting.
But one may say, is it to be supposed that the great, the wise, the pious of our age, who are esteemed orthodox, are all mistaken? We reply, no; such a thing is by no means to be supposed. The case is beyond supposition; it is a demonstrable certainty. A thing cannot be at once both true and false. If it be true, that which is contrary to it, is not hypothetically, but positively not true; in other words, it is false. This principle is itself eternal truth. It is absurd to say that black is not white; yet black and white are, or may be, the same colour; it is equally absurd to say, the testimonies we had adduced are unquestionably true, yet “orthodoxy,” which teaches the direct opposite on every point, is, or may be, true also. This is impossible. If it be admitted that the testimonies are true, that admission is equivalent to declaring that the theosophisms of the schools—the opinions of the sects, from Rome, the mother of all sects, down to Campbellism, Millerism, and Mormonism, the latest editions of error, are all mere fallacies of the carnal mind; but admit that these are the truth, one or all, and you reduce the testimony to a nullity, and give the lie to God.
For example, Campbellism teaches that the throne of David exists where Jesus now dwells, and will never exist anywhere else. Jehovah says, “I have chosen Zion for my habitation, and there will I make the Horn of David to bud” (Ps. 132), I set my King on my Holy Hill of Zion; and there shall he reign in the midst of his enemies.” “He shall come to Zion; and build her up, when he shall appear in his glory” (Ps. 2; 110; Isaiah 59:20; Ps. 102:16). “She shall be redeemed with judgment (Isaiah 1:27) though a wilderness, and ploughed as a field” (Isa. 64:10; Jer. 26:18) These testimonies show that the Horn of David who is Jehovah’s king, shall reign in that Zion which for ages past has been in the hands of His enemies.
This is God’s truth; but the Campbellite dogma, which is the popular notion, denies it all; and in so doing, reduces the gospel to a nullity; for if there be hereafter no throne of David in the City of David where he once dwelt, there will be no kingdom in the covenant-land, and that land will never be possessed by Abraham and his seed, who is Christ. Now, as the kingdom to be established there is the Gospel Kingdom, that theory which denies the return of Jesus to earth to set up David’s throne in Zion, that he may reign upon it over Israel and the nations for ever, is an infidel theory which denies the truth of the Gospel exhibited in the prophetic Scriptures. What avails it that its supporters admit that Jesus is God’s Son and David’s Son, while they resolve both God and His prophets into liars by denying the things which they have declared Christ shall inherit: and the belief of which things God has made the condition of acceptance with him? Piety and zeal can save no man while he denies nearly all the truth, except a few facts admitted to be real by even the worst of men. An immersed believer of facts who denies the second appearing of Jesus, and his reign in Zion on David’s throne, is but a religious infidel and enemy of “the Gospel of the Kingdom” in disguise.
Again, there is Millerism, another example of infidelity in the gauze drapery of popular sanctity. This theory contemptuously avers that the twelve tribes of Israel are cast away, that they neither are, nor ever will be, the people of God; and that there are no prophecies to be fulfilled with respect to them, save of their destruction with the rest of the wicked in the burning of the world; and, consequently, that their restoration to Palestine is a mere conceit of a Judaized and carnal mind. This is but another form of Campbellized infidelity. But what saith Jehovah to this? Let the reader consider the testimonies already adduced and then reply. Hear the Word of the Lord! “Thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, thou art my servant; I have chosen thee and not cast thee away” (Isai 41:8, 9). “In the place where it was said to them, ye are not my people, there it shall be said to them, ye are the sons of the living God.” “God hath not cast away his people whom he knew before” (Rom. 11:2). “Blindness in part (only) hath happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in; and so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:25–26).
Now, here are diametrical opposite statements, Millerism affirming one thing, and God and His prophets the contrary! Yet Millerites plume themselves with the conceit of being God’s faithful ones upon earth! But this cannot be, for their theory stultifies the apostles, falsities the prophets, and gives the lie to God, which His saints have never been known to do. If the twelve tribes never obtain everlasting inheritance in the Holy Land, there will be no Kingdom of God; for the twelve tribes are the subjects thereof, and a kingdom without subjects is a thing that ne’er was nor e’er can be. On the hypothesis of no restoration, “the Gospel of the Kingdom” is mere “philosophy and vain deceit.”
But time and space would fail us for the exposure of the anti-scriptural and truth-destroying character of all the forms of infidelity immersed and sprinkled “Christian.” If the reader would behold them in all their hideous deformity, let him view them by the light of the sure prophetic Word. There is not one of them reflected from the “Book of the Covenant,” as at all worthy of the respectful consideration of him who desires the wisdom from above. The truth, like its author, is light. It is not a matter of opinion, or of doubtful disputation. It is clear, certain and demonstrable; and being light, it is not afraid of light, because in it is no darkness at all.
Believe, then, God’s covenant and testimonies. This is the foundation upon which you must be built if you would be sprinkled with the blood of the covenant, without which you cannot be saved. If you believe them you have found the kingdom of God, which Jesus counsels you to seek first. (Matt. 6:33). You cannot fail to have found the Kingdom there, for the Kingdom is the grand theme of them all. Now, the next thing you have to do, is to seek God’s righteousness; that is, to ascertain what is that way appointed of God, in which men who believe His covenant and testimonies may be regarded by Him as righteous and holy; for “without holiness no man can see the Lord,” or enter the Kingdom, which is the same thing. Men have ways of righteousness; but they are none of them God’s way—they are mere corruptions only of His. They tell you to believe in Jesus, and you shall be saved. It is true, you cannot be saved if you do not; but if you believe no more than what is technically termed “believing in Jesus,” this credence will not save you. But why cannot a man be saved who believes only his creed? Because he does not believe the covenant and testimonies, in other words “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” God has set Jesus forth as a blood-sprinkled mercy-seat for them who believe the things of the Kingdom, and of his name as its Christ, and for no one else. Hence, if men reject the things of the Kingdom, they can no more be saved by Jesus than those who reject Jesus, but believe all that is testified concerning the Kingdom.
The belief of the gospel of the kingdom qualifies a man for being saved by the name of Jesus. This qualification must precede the salvation, or salvation is impossible; because it is written, “He that believes not (the gospel) shall be condemned.” Jesus himself preached the gospel upon which he predicates men’s salvation; therefore, it must be something else than his own personality. As the promises pertain to Israelites (Rom. 9:4) Gentiles must become Jews before they can claim them.
Supposing, then, that a man believed the covenant and testimonies, or the gospel, which exhibits Abraham’s seed as the world’s sin-bearer as well as Jehovah’s glory-bearer with whose blood the covenant is purged—if he would be sprinkled by that blood, he must admit with all his heart the claims of Jesus to be that covenant seed. This he can only do by believing the testimony of the apostles, which leaves not a shadow of doubt upon the mind that Jesus is “he of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write.” Now if his faith comprehend these things, it is clear that it is created within him by “the testimony of God;” and what remains is, that he should be built upon them as a foundation, through whom he has come to the understanding and belief of the doctrine concerning the Christ, and the conviction that Jesus is he. This is a necessity which cannot be dispensed with; and which was never omitted in apostolic times. Hence those Gentiles, who then constituted “God’s building,” are thus addressed by an apostle, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow-citizens with the saints (of Israel) and of the household of God: having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner” (Ephes. 2:19–20).
As far, then, as faith is concerned, the qualification of the candidate for justification of faith is unexceptionable. God hath purified his heart by faith (Acts 15:9), and in the words of ancient Israel before Moses sprinkled them with the blood of the covenant, he saith, “All that the Lord hath said will I do, and be obedient” (Exod. 24:7). The reader will please note particularly the order of the type—Moses first read the Book of the Covenant in the audience of the people, which they believed unto righteousness of the law; next, they made confession unto the salvation of the law; then Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant upon them with the sprinkler made of scarlet wool and hyssop; after which, some of them were permitted to see the glory of the God of Israel. Though the altar and the book (Heb. 9:19) were already sprinkled with the blood before them, faith in the words read from the sprinkled covenant, in the blood itself, or in the altar, did not constitute them a sprinkled people; though they believed and confessed, they were still unsprinkled until the sprinkler was brought into operation upon them.
Now the point to be observed in the antitype individually (that is, not nationally) applied is this, that believers, however unexceptionable their faith, are not sprinkled with the blood of the New Testament in simply believing with the heart and confessing with the mouth. Belief and confession are “unto righteousness and unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10), or unto remission of sins and eternal life.
Belief and confession are for righteousness and salvation, in the sense of qualifying a believer for remission to eternal life in the name of Jesus, so that when he puts on this name, he will have attained “unto justification of life”; that is, to a salvation from all his past sins, by which deliverance he has passed, and in being delivered passes, from death unto life; that is, he is no longer under sentence of death, and is therefore under sentence to eternal life, which he attains as part of his reward if he continues a faithful well-doer to the end. A man, then, may be pure-hearted, confess the truth, and promise obedience; nevertheless in none of these things is he sprinkled with the covenant blood. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” this, however, is on the presumption that they will “do and be obedient.” Will any one say that an unsprinkled heart is an acceptable heart to God? The apostle did not think so, for he says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of the hope (homologiatees elpidos, not pisteos) without wavering; for He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:22–23).
If he had considered the heart-sprinkling and body-washing non-essential in drawing near to God, he would probably have said nothing about them. He might have reduced the text to fewer words by saying, “Let us draw near with a true heart, without wavering.” But no; he did not consider a heart true that was unsprinkled; because it had still “a conscience of sins,” or “an evil conscience”; and with such a heart, no man may venture to draw near to God with any well-grounded hope of acceptance.
When it is considered what a pure heart is abstractly considered, its incompleteness will become manifest. The “heart” is constituted of the intellectual faculties, moral sentiments, and propensities. When the intellect and sentiments are under the control of the propensities, the heart is earthly, sensual, and devilish, or impure. To purify such a heart, the intellect must be enlightened by the testimony of God, which is of such a nature that it not only enlightens, but develops a moral disposition in harmony with the divine mind, and compels the propensities to keep within the limits of His law. Such a heart as this believes unto righteousness, and expressing its convictions, confesses unto salvation. But what becomes of that body of sins which had accumulated from the earliest times till its rectification? The impure heart, by which sins had been added to sins, had been crucified and slain, but what had yet happened to relieve the enlightened conscience of the guilt that had been contracted? The rectification of the heart had served only to reveal the evil, and to create a determination to sin no more; but it had imparted no token that its sins were blotted out. Without this token, the pure-hearted do sigh or groan, being burdened.
The impure of heart do not sigh or groan, but rejoice in the pleasures or sin; nor do the pure in heart who have the token, because they can point to that in proof of their being justified from all their past sins, at peace with God, and free to rejoice in hope of His glory. An enlightened, believing, Abrahamically-disposed, or repentant sinner, is the pure-hearted man without the token of the covenant upon the foreskin of his heart. After recounting the goodness of God to Israel, Moses said to them: “Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts, and be no more stiff-necked” (Deut. 10:16); and again: “Circumcise yourself to Jehovah,” says the prophet, “and take away the foreskins of your hearts, ye men of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Jer. 4:4). The circumcision of the heart, then, is a thing to be done by him who owns the heart.
But how is a faithful and repentant sinner to do this? The answer is: “Do, and be obedient,” for, says Peter to such as had obeyed, “Ye have purified your souls in the obedience of the truth.” Is it not obvious, then, that there is something to be done? Clearly so; and it is in the doing of that something that the doer circumcises his heart. The thing to be done has to do with blood, or it cannot be a circumcision. It is not blood-shedding by the knife, however; but the sprinkling of the shed blood of a circumcised man of the heart. It is termed “the circumcision made without hands,” which is said to consist “in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh,” casting it away as the heart’s foreskin. But how can this body of sins be put off? The apostle tells us in these words: “Ye are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ. This is getting a little nearer to the point. But seeing that Christ is in heaven, how is a man upon earth to be circumcised by his circumcision? “In whom, says Paul, ye are circumcised, etc.” Ah, then, it is obvious the believing, repentant sinner, must get into Christ, or “put him on” so that being “in him,” he may be “complete in him.” If a man put on a garment, he is in that article of apparel; and he appears to the eye, not as a natural, but as an artificial man; so, if a believer in the covenant and testimonies of God put on Christ, he is in Christ; and appears in the eye of God as “covered with the robe of righteousness,” in which he appears not as a natural man, but as Christ himself. Having the same faith and hope as Jesus had, being animated with a like spirit, and clothed with him as with a garment, he becomes another Christ in all but his personality; and hence he is called a Christian.
The next point, then, to be ascertained is, how can a believer of the gospel of the kingdom put on Christ? The apostle answers this query by saying: “As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” This is remarkably explicit. Then he says in another place, “Ye are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him (suntaphentes auto) in baptism” (Col. 2:11–12; Gal. 3:27). But how can baptism circumcise a man, or how can immersion sprinkle him? It cannot. If a man believe not the things of the covenant and the name of Jesus, it can do nothing for him. Immersion is just the act by which a believer of the gospel of the kingdom gets at that which can do everything for him. He believes unto righteousness, confesses unto salvation, and is baptised into the name, that in that name, he may obtain righteousness or justification; and salvation, or remission of sins and eternal life. To be “baptised for remission of sins” is for a true believer (not any man who may present himself under excitement, but), for an intelligent believer in the covenant, to be immersed into the name of Jesus for the remission of sins through that name—not through the act, but through the name. Now to put on the name, and to be in it, are the same as to put on Christ, and to be in Him. When a believer presents himself for baptism into the name, he has done all that is required of him, or that he can do in the matter of circumcision and sprinkling. The people under Moses did not sprinkle themselves. It was Moses who sprinkled them. It is so also with the believer. He cannot sprinkle himself, neither can the administrator of the ordinance. It is the function of the High Priest within the veil, that is, of Christ, to report him to the Father, that he may sprinkle the heart of the new member of his Son’s household. How does he do this? On the same principle that he justified his friend Abraham. Abraham believed God, and therefore it was counted to him for righteousness; so, in the act of putting on the name of Jesus does Jehovah count to the believer his faith in the covenant and in the blood of sprinkling for the remission of all past sins. Thus “in the obedience of the truth,” is the believer sprinkled with the blood of the covenant, and circumcised with the circumcision of Christ.
Thus, as circumcision of the flesh was the token of the covenant till it was made of force by the death of its representative testator; so, from and after that event the putting on of Christ, and consequent putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, is the token of the covenant in the hearts of all its children. The children of the covenant have the witness in themselves, God also bearing witness with them. They have peace of mind, not a false peace, but a peace that the world can neither give nor take away, founded upon intelligence, faith and obedience. Jehovah’s representative has said believe the gospel and be baptized; they have believed, and have been baptized; and, therefore, having faith in God, their confidence is that through faith and patience they will inherit the promises. They have not put off their flesh, but they have put off the body of its sins, which before God is to them the token. He, however, who has with the heart believed unto righteousness, but has not obeyed, attains not to that righteousness for which he has believed; for the sprinkling of the heart unto purification is “in the obedience of the truth.”
Human wisdom, or foolishness rather, denies this. It maintains that heart sprinkling is co-etaneous with the truth heartily believed, not with the truth “obeyed from the heart.” Were the Israelites sprinkled in believing in the book and the altar which had been sprinkled, or after they confessed? Were they sprinkled in promising to do and be obedient? No. The covenant was first delivered; the altar was then built; next the sacrifices were slain, and the book and alter sprinkled; afterwards the covenant was read to the people; they believed; confessed willingness to do and be obedient; and were then sprinkled by Moses, the representative of God. After the same order is the antitype. The New Covenant was first delivered; Jesus our altar manifested; he was then slain; in being sprinkled with his own blood, the New Covenant was also sprinkled or dedicated; it was afterwards spoken to the people; they believed; then confessed; and lastly put on the blood-sprinkled name, through which, as with scarlet wool and hyssop, God justified them from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.
This is God’s way of righteousness, from which he never departs since the resurrection of His Son. The type and antitype are as correspondent as the nature of things would admit; and the true believer who submits to the process is “purged with hyssop, and made clean; washed, and made whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). Here then, we suppose, stands before us a man, be he Jew or be he Gentile matters not: he is a man who has been sprinkled by the everliving testator with the blood of his covenant or will; and by this, constituted one of his heirs or legatees. Now, concerning such a man we ask, What is the legacy to him bequeathed? This question will admit of but one answer, and that is, The things promised in that covenant and its testimonies to Abraham and his seed, which is Christ. But then, it may be enquired, How can a thousand other people be entitled to a legacy willed to these two? The explanation of that difficulty is that the covenant testimonies expound the word Seed, as expressive of one person indeed, but of that one also in a federative sense, just as if 144,000 individuals were regarded as one person, and he were called Christ; thus it is written, “If ye be Christ’s (that is by having put him on), then are ye the Seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29), or covenant. This is styled being “one in Christ Jesus.” But this “One” is not restricted to a few thousands; it comprehends the whole Twelve Tribes, who are termed “the children of the covenant” (Acts 3:25), or its Seed. But it might be objected that the Twelve Tribes are not Christ’s, having never put him on; and therefore they cannot on this showing be Abraham’s seed in the covenant sense. True, they are not Christs yet; but when the testimonies we have produced are fulfilled, and the New Covenant is made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, they will be both Ammi and Ruhamah; “fo## will have mercy on them, and they shall be called the sons of the living God.” Will they not be Christ’s then? Clearly so.
To Abraham and the Christ were the promises made, says the apostle. To Abraham, as the federal father, and to Christ, his son, as the federal elder brother of the great family, or nation was the inheritance bequeathed. The will, however, was not to come into full force until “the dispensation of the fulness of the times appointed,” which dispensation, or economy, will be introduced when “the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.” When this administration exists as an accomplished fact, the united Jewish nation will be existent in the covenant land, solely constituted of the sons of Abraham and brethren of Christ by nature and by faith. But the nation inherits only by faith, and not by virtue of the Mosaic law, or its natural descent. If by law and by nature, then all the generations of the nation’s dead would rise, and possess the land under Christ; but the inheritance being by faith, they only will possess it of the dead and the living, who believe the things of the covenant and are sprinkled by its blood. Abraham, Christ, and the Twelve Tribes in the fulness-of-times dispensation, are the legatees under the will, which bequeaths to them the holy land for an everlasting possession. It says to Abraham and to Christ, Ye shall possess the land for ever. This was equivalent to saying, Ye shall live for ever; for without immortality they could not possess the land for ever. Hence this promise of the land is the promise of eternal life; so that if any Jew or Gentile attain to immortality, it will be as a legatee of this will, and of this only. Now, the testimonies of the covenant show us that men become Christ’s in two senses,—in a special, and in a general sense. Individuals, whether Jews or Gentiles, become Christ’s in a special sense in believing the gospel of the covenant and being baptized before “the door is shut” (Matt. 25:10): the twelve tribes become his in a general or national sense when they are grafted into their own olive after the shutting of the door. When the door shuts it closes against all, both Jews and Gentiles, who would inherit the land for ever in a personal sense; that is, as deathless occupants of the land. While the Jewish nation in Abraham and in Christ is immortal, the generations of the nation, though of patriarchal life, are subject unto death until “the end” (1 Cor. 15:24) come. The eternal life, then, of the covenant is first personal, then national; and when the thousand years’ dispensation is superseded by a still more perfect economy, it will be both personal and national to every dweller upon the earth.
But in all this, it may be objected, perhaps, “the Israelites are everything, and the Gentiles nothing.” Well, this is somewhat mortifying to Gentiles, who have been accustomed to think everything of themselves, and contemptuously of the Jews. But remember what the Scripture saith to Gentiles, “Be not wise in your own conceit.” God thinks more of the despised sons of Abraham than of all the world besides; for “they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes,” and His own Son was born a Jew. But His love to Israel, “whom he hath created for himself,” flows from His love to that world which will inhabit the earth for an eternity, which begins when the thousand years of the covenant dispensation shall have passed away; a world, redeemed from Adam’s race, in which all present distinctions, civil, ecclesiastical, and social, will be merged into the “all things new.” “Salvation,” recollect, “is of the Jews;” therefore it is through them that God will save the nations from all the evils that afflict them. Hence it is written: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people.” And again, “God be merciful unto us (Israelites) and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us”—for what reason? “That his way may be known upon earth, his saving health among all nations. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for thou, O god, shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth” (Psa. 67).
But the blessings of the covenant are by no means confined to Israel; for the gospel of the covenant reads, “In thee, Abraham, and in thy seed, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3), and again, “A father, O Abraham, of many nations have I constituted thee. (Gen. 17:5). This shows that the nations as well as Israel will be sons of Abraham, and consequently brethren of Christ their King; for even he is descended from a Gentile, that is, from Abram. From the promises is revealed the purpose of God, which is this, that from the beginning, He has determined at a certain period of the world’s history to organise a confraternity of nations, of which Israel’s should be the first-born, which, of course, would make the father of the Jewish nation the father of all the rest, and the King of Israel and his nobles, the king and princes of the earth. It is to the time when this great work shall have been accomplished, that all those glowing predictions of the prophets concerning human affairs are to be referred; while all the evil denounced happens to the nations in the time antecedent to the era of blessedness. The nations will be Christ’s when they are brought into federal relationship to Abraham, after his resurrection from the dead. Gentile settlers may then inherit the land with the Jews, as it is written:
“Ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, who shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be, that in what tribe the stranger (or Gentile) sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 47:22–23).
How different this to the settlement of the land under Joshua. Then the Gentile was to be exterminated from the country (Exod. 23:33), but under Christ, they will be entitled to all the rights and privileges of native-born citizens. This comes from their becoming sons of the covenant after the door is shut. This is something for the “pious” (if they escape the judgments coming upon the nations) who are so pure hearted, and so full of love to God and man, that they cannot believe it possible that there can exist any necessity for them to believe anything more than that “The eternal sonship,” and “triune deity,” and “infinite satisfaction” of Jesus, whom they regard as especially theirs from all eternity! It is perfectly absurd to suppose that such pious souls as they need baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus that they may be sprinkled with the blood of the covenant!! Very well, it remains with you to do as you please just now; but enter in at the door you cannot. You may cry “Lord, Lord, open to us!” but it will avail you nothing. If you would attain to the honour and glory of the kingdom, you must not only be pious, but faithful and obedient; if, on the contrary, you are content to “take your chance,” and if living at the time, to become an emigrant to Palestine and sojourn there, the new law will sanction the movement; but your eternal life, if you ever attain to it, is deferred for a thousand years.
It was in accordance with this element of the covenant that its gospel was preached to the Gentiles. If the covenant had related only to Israel, Abraham would not have been constituted a father of nations; and the gospel would have been announced only to the Jews. But, one may say, “If the Israelites be the sole legatees of the will, why preach the gospel to them at all? Because, as legatees of the new covenant, they inherit on condition of not continuing in unbelief; and besides, as a kingdom is the subject of the will, the question naturally arose, Who of Israel shall be the associates of the Christ in the government and eternal glory thereof? To determine this, the gospel was preached to them in the name of Jesus. This was the reason for preaching the gospel to the legatees. Then comes another question: Seeing that the nations are eligible to the blessings of the covenant in national association with Israel are the nobles and governors of the Abrahamic World to be of the Jewish nation only? or will Gentiles be admitted to equality and fraternity with them as the immortal associates of the king?
This was a mystery which for several years after the day of Pentecost no man, no, not even the apostles, could solve. The prophets plainly teach Jewish and Gentile national confraternity in the Age to Come; but the fellowship of believing men from all nations with believing Israelites in an everlasting possession of the power, glory, and honour of the kingdom to be set up on the covenant-land through faith in it and the name of its King “was not made known unto the sons of men, as it was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the spirit” in the days of Paul (Eph. 3:5). The gospel of the kingdom, which for the first few years was preached only to the Jew, was announced to the nations by Peter at Cornelius’ house, and thenceforth to the present time, and hereafter until the door is shut at the appearing of Christ for the purpose of taking out from among them a people for the Lord’s name (Acts 15:14), who shall become Jews by adoption, that they might inherit Jehovah’s Israelitish Kingdom, and be associated with the “King of the Jews” in everlasting dominion over the dwellers upon earth. “The flesh profiteth nothing” in the kingdom of God. Although a Jewish kingdom, no man can inherit the things belonging to it, such a glory, honour, eternal life, might, majesty, power, dominion, etc., because he is born a Jew and circumcised in the flesh. Even a Jew must become a son of Abraham by faith, and his circumcision be of the heart, before he can inherit the kingdom; how much more necessary in the case of Gentiles, seeing they have no hereditary claim on Abraham at all.
These things being so, it is not difficult to define the position of Israel and the nations at the present time. Israel is in the Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah relation to God—they are not His people, nor have they yet obtained mercy. They believe that Moses, in whom they trust, is dead; hence they are dead likewise. His law is to them a dead letter, and without spirit, for they neither understand it, nor keep it, nor can they if they would. And for this reason, because they “continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them,” they are “cursed” of Moses; and have therefore not even a righteousness according to the law. They seek another Christ than Jesus, therefore, at present he does nothing for them; as it is written, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips” (Ps. 16:4). Concerning Israel then, until they are grafted into their own olive, there is but one scriptural conclusion, and that is that they are “dead in trespasses and in sins.”
And what can we say of all other nations? “Jews and Gentiles are all under sin,” says the apostle; “and all the world guilty before God” (Rom. 3:9, 19). The nations at present, without a single exception, all belong to Satan, whose high priests are the chiefs of their hierarchies for the time being. “The power and glory of them belong to me,” says he, “and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt fall down before me, all shall be thine.” The condition was an easy one to perform, and the offer quite liberal—Satanically so. But Jesus refused to accept them of him upon any terms; so the power and the glory of the nations belong to Satan unto this day, to keep them until a stronger than he appears to wrest them from his grasp. Aggregately they constitute Satan’s kingdom, lying under sin, and awaiting unconsciously the punishment that is due. Until the vengeance falls upon them, and the judgment written is executed, they have no interest in Christ. The Pope, and the Commander of the Mohammedan faithful, and the Grand Llama, and the Brother of the Sun and Moon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, et id genus omne, are their mediators with heaven; but who, like themselves, are without credit, reputation, or influence there.
Not a single non-Jewish nation was ever constituted a holy nation, and peculiar people to God. The unsprinkled “pious” among them (unsprinkled by the blood of the covenant, I mean) are useful in antagonizing vice and tyranny by their benevolent schemes. For this the faithful may commend them, and be grateful to them too; for the Bible, though not understood by them, has been made a humanizing and civilizing agent in their hands; for without the Bible, earth would have been an orthodox hell, in which the children of the covenant, if permitted to live, would have lived only to endure the malice and tortures of the foe.
All Gentile institutions, then, religious and political, are from beneath, and consequently “earthly, sensual and devilish.” They serve for that sort of “order” which is the admiration of the governments and their peoples. A son of the covenant can have no sympathy with it, though he submits to it for the Lord’s sake, so far as is compatible with his allegiance to the truth; being consoled with the assurance that the time is at hand when it will be overthrown, and the Kingdom of God set up instead thereof to the joy of Israel and the world.
Publisher's Note (Some Details Considered)
This treatise by Bro. Thomas provides a valuable key to a most important section of the Word. However, one or two comments should be made regarding it, particularly in the light of other, and later writings of the Author.
On p. 163, he renders Heb. 9:12, “By his own blood he (Christ) entered in once into the holy place” as “with his own blood” he did so. However, the A.V. is quite correct in its rendition. In this place, the Greek dia is with the Genitive case, and denotes the means whereby something is done. The Lord entered “through his own blood”. His blood was the means by which access to the Most Holy was granted. But be it noted, that Bro. Thomas is not altogether wrong. The statement in Hebrews is based upon the action of the High Priest who entered the Most Holy with blood; and, in a sense, the Lord did so. For blood types life (Lev. 17:11), and the Lord entered heaven not only “by his blood” but also with its antitypical significance, his life. And through that means he is able to intercede on the behalf of those who build their lives on him. Christ gave his life, and hence his blood, unto his Father in such a way that his resurrection and ascension were inevitable (see John 10:17–18; Acts 2:24).
In fairness to the Author, it also should be noted that his use of “Jehovah” instead of “Yahweh” is at variance with his writings elsewhere. In Phanerosis and Eureka he goes at length to show that the Hebrew original demands the use of Yahweh, and that Jehovah is a hybrid combination of two words with the Latin “J” instead of the Hebrew “Y”.
He used the word “Jehovah”, it would appear, as a transitory convenience, because it was the word then in general use, whilst “Yahweh” was then little known. For example, the RV rendered the word Lord as Jehovah, though it was generally acknowledged that it was not the correct form in which the Divine Name should appear.
Today, both in the world, and in the Ecclesia, this fact is accepted, and “Jehovah” should not now be used. For example, Unger’s Bible Dictionary states: “The Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) traditionally pronounced Jehovah is now known to be correctly vocalized Yahweh. New inscriptional evidence from the second and first millennia B.C. point toward this fact.”
Bro. Thomas, elsewhere, clearly shows his preference for the use of Yahweh as expressive of the Name.
On p.183, Bro. Thomas makes reference to the work of regenerated Israel as proclaiming the “everlasting Gospel” to the world, as distinct from the resurrected and glorified saints. But here also, in fairness to him, reference should be made to his later exposition, Eureka, and particularly his comments in relation to Revelation 14, under the heading: The Angel Proclamation In Mid-heaven. There he reverses the opinion expressed in this treatise, and Scripture seems to justify the change.
And, in passing, it could be noted, that figuratively, the “wilderness” in The Apocalypse represents Catholic Europe (see Rev. 17:1–3). Micah’s reference to Israel’s forty years sojourn there (Mic. 7:15–16) seems to require the Apocalyptic treatment of the wilderness, for the people’s might is displayed in the sight of the nations who are greatly astonished thereby.
In this treatise, Bro. Thomas refers to Elijah conducting the tribes to the borders of the land “at the end of forty years’ sojourn in the people’s wilderness” (p. 188). But again, elsewhere, he does not keep to this idea; he suggests that they gradually make their way back under the direction of Elijah and his associates. And, to give access to the land, Egypt is first cleared of the enemy (see Eureka and Elpis Israel).
To this latter thought, the Scriptures agree. “Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel”, declared Isaiah (Isa. 27:12). And Jeremiah adds: “I (Yahweh) will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion; and I will give you shepherds according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:14–15). This work will occupy forty years in all, as Bro. Thomas observes, but it seems to require a gradual return of scattered Israel over that period, so that the tribes are progressively built up in the land, to the point depicted in Ezekiel 48. This would provide for all the work to be completed by the end of the forty years, so that, at that time, the Millennium, or thousand years of peace, will commence. As elsewhere, Judah and Ephraim officered by Immortals, are belligently used against the Gentiles (Zech. 9:12–17), and as this work must be completed by the end of the forty years, some modification of the thought that all of Israel are to remain in the wilderness for that period of time is necessary.
The order of events, as depicted by Malachi 4, seems to require that Elijah and his associates (equivalent to the School of the Prophets presided over by him in the days of his flesh) shall be sent forth to Israel scattered abroad “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh” (Mal. 4:5), but after the judgment on the household; though his work of restoration will take place after Armageddon. In the meantime, he will be busy witnessing to the people scattered abroad, and organising them for their return. The “great and terrible day of Yahweh” relates to Armageddon as Zechariah shows (Zech. 12:2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11; 13:1; 14:1 etc.). Before then, in preparation for what will take place after then, Elijah is sent forth.
This seems to be the pattern that emerges when the subject of this treatise is compared with other, and later, writings of Bro. Thomas, and with the Word itself. Certainly, the type as foreshadowed in the work of John the Baptist who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, suggests it. For he came to the people and witnessed to them before the Judgment of A.D. 70 destroyed the nation. The nation was destroyed because the people rejected the counsel of John the Baptist in regard to the Lamb of God who meantime had appeared in their midst.
This treatise, therefore, should be compared with other, and later writings of Bro. Thomas, but “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”. On the other hand, we are confident that if the exposition presented by Bro. Thomas is objectively considered, the beauty of the theme, the wonder of “the mystery of the covenant of the Holy Land” with which all true believers are connected, will be more completely and interestingly comprehended.
A word about “Millerism” referred to on p.199 and elsewhere. They comprised a sect that claimed to be greatly interested in the Second Coming of the Lord and therefore members of it were at first attracted to the teaching of Bro. Thomas. However, on investigation, it became obvious that they held serious error which negated what Truth they did possess, and controversy followed. The nature of their error will be evident when it is borne in mind that they formed a section of that sect that finally developed into the Seventh Day Adventist organisation. Notice, for example, on p.199, that Bro. Thomas states that their theory contemptuously states that the “twelve tribes of Israel are cast away, that they neither are, nor ever will be, the people of God”. That is the stand of Seventh Day Adventism to this very day. The Hope of Israel, which is such a prominent aspect of the Truth, separates all errorists from the true Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). Bro. Thomas’ recognition of the validity of the “Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land” comprised an outstanding doctrine that not only distinguished his teaching from that of others, but laid the foundation for the purpose of God in the restoration of all things as proclaimed by the prophets (see Acts 3:21–26).