Philologos Religious Online Books
TEN SERMONS on the SECOND ADVENT
We have before us in these words a large and important subject. So large, that volumes have been written upon it without exhausting it; and so important, that it forms the very warp and woof of this blessed Book.
It is impossible to do more than glance at its outlines in one brief address. But no consideration of the subject can be satisfactory that does not go back to the beginning, and lay its foundations deep in the "everlasting covenant" referred to so pointedly in our text, "This is My covenant."
All God's dealings with Israel, past, present, and future, spring from this covenant. All are based upon it. Israel is beloved "for the fathers' sakes;" for what God has given He does not take back, and "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (R.V. margin, "Gr. not repented of"). A pre-ordained plan lies at the foundation of the history of Israel.
Immediately before Abram received these "gifts and calling of God," in Gen. xi., God had divided the nations, and had given them their inheritance in the earth, with special reference to Israel. We read in Deut. xxxii. 8, 9. "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is His people; Israel is the lot of His inheritance."
The judgment of the Flood was unheeded by the nations, and the people soon gave themselves over to idolatry. Abram's family formed no exception as we learn from Joshua xxiv. 2, where Joshua reminds the people of the fact, saying "Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods." Well may the Spirit lay such stress on the grace that called Abraham, and the promise that was freely given to him; for surely it was all of pure and free grace, when "the God of glory appeared" to him, put his idols to confusion, and called him to Himself, saying "I have severed you from the other people, that ye should be mine" (Lev. xx. 26). The seven-fold promise in Gen. xii. 2, 3 tells us that when Abram was called, it was not merely from idolatry but to blessing, God was the performer of all things for him (Ps. lvii. 2).
1 "I will make of thee a great nation, and
You have the same from of seven-fold, or perfect blessing when God "established" His covenant in Exodus vi. 4-8.
1 "I will bring you out...
And this it is solemnly signed, "I, Jehovah!"
But now let us look at the significant scene, when this wondrous covenant was first made. It is most important and full of the deepest instruction.
We all know that a Covenant is usually made between two parties, with certain conditions to be observed on each side. When both parties are human these conditions may or may not be kept, and when they are broken by either side the Covenant is null and void.
Now, all such conditional Covenants which man has ever made with God, have been shamefully broken. Whenever he who is "conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity" has entered into covenant with the Eternal and Holy God, he has "turned aside like a broken bow," and the Covenant has failed.
But there is such a thing as an Unconditional Covenant, which is really a free-grace promise, but formally made by the one contracting party. And when this one is Jehovah Himself, then it cannot fail, and it must stand for ever "ordered in all things and sure."
There are three such unconditional Covenants in the Bible. One with NOAH concerning the earth, in virtue of which we to-day enjoy "seed-time and harvest and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night" and immunity from a flood of waters. This Covenant is seven times mentioned in Gen. ix. 8-17. The second, with ABRAHAM concerning the Land (Gen. xv. 8-21). And the third, with DAVID concerning the Throne. (2 Sam. vii. 4-29. xxiii. 5; Ps. lxxxix.)
The Covenant that was made with Israel at Sinai was a conditional Covenant. God covenanted to give them life and blessing, and peace and prosperity in the Land, and Israel covenanted to obey the Law. "All the people answered and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.... And Moses took the book of the Covenant, and read in the audience of all the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the Covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." (Exod. xxiv. 3, 7, 8. Heb. ix. 18-20). In contrast with all this, it is expressly recorded that when God re-instates Israel in the blessing it will be on the ground of grace and not of Law; on the ground of a "new" and unconditional Covenant and not on the conditional Covenant of Sinai. Jer. xxxi. 31, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my Covenant they brake"!
Now let us turn to Genesis xv. and see how this original, unconditional, covenant was made by Jehovah with Abraham. Abraham was fully instructed how he was to proceed, and what preparations he was to make (verses 9, 10): and he divided the heifer, the goat, and the ram, and "laid each piece one against the other," that when the time came he might pass between the pieces. For this was, or became, the manner of making a Covenant, as we learn from Jer. xxxiv. 18, 19, where Jehovah says, "I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain and passed between the parts thereof. The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the Eunuchs and the priests, and all the people of the land which passed between the parts of the calf."
But here, in this case, just at the critical moment, when Abram was ready to pass between the parts of the victims, and be a party to the Covenant, God put him to sleep! for "when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him" (verse 12), and he saw " a smoking furnace and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (verse 17, 18). Here then we have the great unconditional Covenant, because made by only ONE contracting party, and that one the Lord God Himself.
In this fact we have the simple explanation of that difficult verse (Gal. iii. 20), of which a University Professor recently stated he had counted 430 interpretations! The apostle is speaking of two things, the Covenant, or "Promise" made with Abraham, and the Covenant, or the "Law," made with Israel; and he says (verse 17) that "the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the Law which was 430 years after, cannot disannul that it should make the promise of none effect." The Law was given he says "in the hand of the mediator." That shows there were two contracting parties. But when there is only one covenanting party there is no mediator; and when the Covenant was made with Abram there was only one, and that one God! "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one," i.e. when He gave Abram the promise. Hence the covenant was unconditional, and cannot be disannulled by a conditional covenant made 430 years after by Israel with God. "Wherefore then serveth the Law? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made" (verse 19). For the Covenant ran "Unto thy seed" (Gen. xv. 18) "which is Christ" (Gal. iii. 16).
We all know, however, that Abraham never possessed the land. Then this covenant was ratified in Isaac "Unto thee and unto thy seed" (Gen. xxvi. 3), but he possessed it not! for "Isaac gave up the ghost and died.... and Jacob buried him" (Gen. xxxv. 29). And then it was ratified in Jacob "to thee will I give it and to thy seed" (Gen. xxviii. 13), but he possessed it not, for "Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger" (Gen. xxxvii. 1), he died in Egypt (xlix. 33) and all the he possessed in the land was a burying place!
Nevertheless, the covenant is "sure." All blessing is based upon it, and referred to it. When God heard the groaning of Israel in Egypt, it was because "God remembered His covenant" (Ex. ii. 24). When He came down to deliver them, we read "I have established my Covenant with them" (Ex. vi. 4). When He would comfort them, He says, "He will not forget the Covenant of thy fathers which He made with them" (Deut. iv. 31). When, again and again, He had compassion on them in their rebellion and foolishness, we read "he remembered His holy promise and Abraham His servant" (Ps. cv. 42). "They remembered not ... they soon forgat... they forgat God their Saviour... Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry; and He remembered for them His covenant" (Ps. cvi. 7, 13, 21, 44, 45). Hence David sings "He will ever be mindful of His Covenant" (Ps. cxi. 5), and Jehovah declares "My Covenant will I not break, neither alter the thing that is gone out of my lips" (Ps. lxxxix. 34).
But besides this Covenant with Abram to give him the Land, there was that other Covenant (also unconditional) that was made with David, concerning the Throne (2 Sam. vii), which is also to be confirmed and fulfilled only in David's seed. The promises of this Covenant are referred to in the expression "the sure mercies of David."* "Sure" because they rest on God's faithfulness and holiness. See Ps. lxxxix. 28, "Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David." It is interesting to note, that both these unconditional Covenants are linked with the first to Noah, in one Scripture. Jeremiah xxxiii. "Thus saith the Lord, If ye can break my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant... Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return and have mercy upon them" (verses 20, 21, 26). It is on the strength of this Everlasting Covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that Jesus based His proof of the Resurrection. For if the blessing and glory in the land was made to the individual Patriarch as well as to the nation, saying "to thee and to thy seed" in the case of each Patriarch, then there must be a Resurrection. The Patriarchs never had any possession in the land except "a Sepulchre," for which they paid the Canaanites. Hence when the question about Resurrection was put to Jesus, He refers to this very fact which depends on, and arises out of, the Covenant. The Lord's answer to the Sadducees is generally interpreted as referring to a condition of things, which renders a Resurrection unnecessary, and makes the whole argument meaningless. Notice the words. Matt. xxii. 31, "But as touching the Resurrection of the dead, have ye not read," etc.; Mark xii. 26, "And as touching the dead that they rise, have ye not read," etc; and Luke xx. 37, "Now that the dead are raised even Moses showed at the Bush, when He calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," etc. The whole point is concerning Resurrection, and the argument is contained in the fact that as this unconditional Covenant was made with the Patriarchs and cannot be broken, so likewise it cannot be fulfilled unless they rise from the dead.
We are all aware however of the present sad and scattered condition of the nation of Israel. But all their sufferings without a country, without a king, without the knowledge of the saving truth all is the consequence of their own conditional Covenant at Sinai.
God gave them a law, holy just, and good. He gave it to prove to them their own impotence, and to lead them to the omnipotence of the Saviour He had provided.
The prophets spake of His glory, but they also predicted his rejection. He became the "Hope" of those who believed in Him; "the consolation of Israel" to those who waited for Him; and "Redemption" to those who looked for Him.
At length He came to His own inheritance, as the seed of Abraham; and to His own Throne, as the seed of David; but His own people received Him not. (John i. 11). He was despised, rejected, and crucified. "This is the heir," they said. Yes, the heir of the Land, and the heir of the Crown! But they said, "let us kill Him," and "in ignorance" they did it (Acts ii. 17). They "knew Him not" (Acts xiii. 27). "They knew not what they did" (Luke xxiii. 34). And yet they were guilty, for though they did it in ignorance as to His person, they did it not in innocence as to His blood. They had full proof of Jesus' innocence. One of the malefactors said, "This man hath done nothing amiss (Luke xxiii. 41). His judge said, "I find no fault in Him" (Luke xxiii. 4). Pilate's wife said, "that just man" (Matt. xxvii. 19); the heathen soldier when he saw Him expire, said, "This was a righteous man" (Luke xxiii. 47); and when he saw the signs that followed, he cried out "Truly this was the Son of God" (Mark xv. 39). In spite of all this testimony they bribed false-witnesses and put Him to death.
They did not "believe ALL that the prophets had spoken" (Luke xxiv. 25), and thus a portion of truth separated from the rest, blinded them to their ruin. But according to the typical illustration in 2 Kings xi., the King has been rescued from among the slain; He is hid in the heavenly Temple above. The king has "sat down" because His redemption work is done, but He is "expecting" because the years have not yet run their course. Here comes in the "mystery" of the Church. Like Jehosheba her "life is hid with Christ in God" (verse 2, Col. iii. 3), like Jehoiada she goes out in testimony for the king whom all else think to be dead. She can have no sympathy, part, or lot, with Athaliah the usurper. Here and there some are let into the secret of the covenant and the oath (verse 4) and many a loyal heart beats for the rejected king, and longs for the day of His manifestation.
But meantime the usurper holds the rule, and "Jerusalem is trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." There can be no hope for Jerusalem and no hope for Israel except as based on the everlasting Covenant. And the claims of the Heir can be met only in and by Christ's coming again in virtue of that covenant, to receive "the throne of His father David," and to "reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Luke i. 33). Here is the secret of all future blessing for Israel.
All this was foreshown in Ps. lxxxix. 30-37. Speaking of David it was written, "If his children forsake my law; and walk not in my judgments; it they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindess will I not utterly take from Him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon and as a faithful witness in Heaven. Selah"!
Part of this has literally come to pass. David's children did forsake God's law. Their transgression has been visited with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. Then the rest of this prophecy shall also literally be fulfilled, and God will not break His covenant, though Israel brake His statutes. For though "the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince and without a sacrifice... afterward, shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days" (Hosea iii. 4, 5). In Amos ix. we have another powerful description of this. "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, YET shall not the least grain fall to the ground"! (verse 9). Why? For what purpose are they preserved? See verses 14, 15, "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them: and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; and they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord."
But before they can rejoice in the blessings of the glorious and peaceful reign of "David their King" the Lord Jesus Christ, they will experience the tribulation under the Anti-Christ. This is spoken of in many of the Prophets, but at greater length in Daniel and Revelation. It appears from many prophecies that the nation is not to be gathered all at once, or all at one and the same time. The first thing that transpires is that before the appearing of Christ in glory and before the great ingathering of Israel, which will then take place, a smaller, and partial, and informal assembling, such as we see, it may be, the beginnings of, at the present moment, will take place. We read Zech. xiv. 2-4, "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle: and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled... THEN shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle, and His feet shall stand in the day upon the Mount of Olives." Thus, it is against Israel that this battle shall be waged, and it is in connection with this battle that the Lord comes. When He thus comes, Israel, in part at least, are already in Jerusalem. The Tribes of Judah and Levi are mentioned by name in Zech. xii., where the same events are spoken of. "Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all people round about, when they shall be in the siege, both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people," etc. (Zech. xii. 2, 3, etc.). Joel also speaks of the same siege. "For behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat," etc. (Joel iii). Ezekiel describes the Land as at this time partially and sparsely inhabited. Speaking to the Anti-Christ Jehovah says, "And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of the dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land... and thou shalt come up against my people of Israel as a cloud to cover the land: it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes" (Ezek. xxxviii. 11, 12, 16).
From Zech. xii. 9, 10 it is also clear that repentance is then bestowed upon Israel by the true Joseph who then makes himself known to his brethren. "And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem, and I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son," etc.
From Matt. xxiv. 15 and 2 Thess. ii. 4 it also appears that the Temple will be, in some measure at least, rebuilt; for "the abomination of desolation* spoken of by Daniel the prophet" in connection with this time of "Jacob's trouble," when his (Daniel's) people shall be delivered, is seen, set up and standing in the holy place. (Dan. xii. 11, R.V.)
This preliminary, and partial gathering, if we may so speak of it, seems designed for the great purpose of chastisement (Jer. xxx. 7-9), ending in Israel's repentance and conversion. "Thus saith the Lord God, because ye are all become dross, behold therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather, silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace, to blow fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger, and in my fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yea I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you" (Ezek. xxii. 19-22). Zechariah also speaks of this "elect remnant" when God says "And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: and they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; and I will say, it is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God" (Zech. xiii. 9).
This "elect remnant"* is doubtless the 144,000 of Rev. vii. sealed, and preserved through, the great Tribulation; thus refined, and purified.
Thus while this first instalment of the Restoration of Israel is in anger and judgment; there is another, stage a larger and final gathering spoken of, after the Lord has appeared in glory. Isaiah xi. seems to clearly point to this when he calls it the "second": "And it shall come to pass in that day." What day? The day when, according to verse 4, He has destroyed Anti-christ with the breath of His lips and the glory of His coming. (2 Thess. ii. 8). "And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time, to recover the remnant of His people which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the Islands of the Sea. And He shall set up up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the Earth... And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea; and with His mighty wind shall He shake His hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams and make men go over dryshod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt" (Isaiah xi. 11-16).
Again "and they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, (margin coaches), and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord," (Isaiah lxvi. 20). When shall this gathering be? After the judgment and war already referred to, for verses 15, 16, says: "Behold the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many." And then, after verse 19 shall have been fulfilled (where the Lord says: "and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow to Tubal and Javan, to the Isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory among the Gentiles") THEN we come to the gathering described in verse 20.
The means employed in this gathering will be partly instrumental, as we learn from this Scripture (Is. lxvi. 19, 20, and from others, such as Is. xlix, 22, 23), "Thus saith the Lord God, behold I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders, and kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers, &c." But we have just seen that the means shall be also miraculous; God's own act (Is. xi. 15, 16). It is in this respect, that this second part of the ingathering, differs from the first, of which nothing is said about the means beyond ordinary natural causes such as we now see going on around us.
Further we learn from Ezekiel that when the nation is thus fully gathered, it will be in an unconverted state. "For I will take you from among the heathen and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. THEN will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you" (see Ezek. xxxiv. 24-38). Jeremiah likewise shows that this conversion and cleansing will follow immediately upon this restoration (Jer. xxxi. 27-34).
And now only a few references which speak (1) of the Physical blessings which will be experienced by the land; blessings which can never be produced by any increase of holiness in the Church, but only by the miraculous acts of God himself. Isa. xi. 6-9. xxv. 1, 2, 6. lv. 13. Amos ix. 13. (2) of the Spiritual blessings which will be enjoyed by the people. Hosea i. 10. Jer. xxx. 31. xxiii.6, and (3) of the Millenial blessing experienced by the whole earth. Micah iv. 8. Isa. ii. 1-3. xxvii. 6. lx. 20-22. lxii. 3. lxv. 12. Jer. iii. 17. Ps. xlv. 16, 17. lxxii. When we think of these circles of blessing, may we not ask with the Apostle, "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing (margin, decay or loss) of them, the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
If the twelve Apostles and one hundred and twenty Disciples have sent the "message of reconciliation" to the uttermost parts of the earth, what will not "all Israel" do when saved and filled with this "fulness" of blessing and power from on high?
The Spirit's answer is that it will be like "life from the dead," nothing less than like a Resurrection for Israel, the World and the Creation! The analogy is most wonderful, the comparison is divine; and it is given and revealed to us by Him, who alone knows what it will be.
Dear brethren, when we think of God's wondrous purposes concerning Israel, and the blessing that is bound up in Israel, and the blessing that is bound up in Israel for the whole world, Well may we "pray for the peace of Jerusalem": Well may we heed the words of the Prophet: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth... ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (Is. lxii. 1, 6, 7).
Well might David end the seventy-second Psalm, which sets forth the glory, when in Israel "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed," "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things, and blessed be His glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen." And well might he add, "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended," for when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory, prayer will indeed be turned to praise!