MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED, Chapter 11  


 

MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED

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CHAPTER XI
MESSIAH'S COMING ACCORDING TO THE PROPHETS OF THE ASSYRIAN PERIOD

USING the political situation and the impending calamity of their day as a background, the prophets of the Assyrian period painted the future of the kingdom of Israel and foretold the calamities that would overtake their people in the near and the remote future. Those to whose writings I wish, in this chapter, to call special attention are Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. From several of their predictions we can gather the condition of Israel at the time of Messiah's first appearance.

I. THE MESSAGE OF AMOS

Amos was commissioned of the Lord especially to deliver his messages to the northern kingdom. At the same time he gave some attention to Judah. This fact becomes evident from a casual perusal of his nine short chapters-in fact, a hasty reading of chapters 1 and 2 shows that he delivered oracles concerning the nations surrounding Israel and then concluded his messages by predicting the judgment of the Almighty upon both Judah and Israel. In 2:5 we read the following statement: "But I will send a fire upon Judah. and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem." This prediction in connection with others, shows conclusively that he also engaged in a ministry pertaining to Judah.

According to the best chronological data obtainable we learn that Amos' life and labors fell largely in the second quarter of the eighth century before the common era. During the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Samaria these rival kingdoms enjoyed prosperity such as they had not experienced since the clays of Solomon. A period of peace and plenty, prosperity and luxury, is a hotbed in which the deadly germs of moral and spiritual decadence and national disintegration breed prolifically. The truthfulness of this statement is verified by a casual glance at history.

In chapter 9 of his prophecy, Amos recorded a vision in which he saw the Lord standing beside the altar. The fact that he prefixes the article to the word altar is evidence that this one stood out preeminently above all other altars of the time. To anyone who is

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familiar with the history of the day, it is certain that the one here referred to was the brazen altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. All of the altars in the northern kingdom were set up in rebellion against the true God, but the one at
Jerusalem was that which was authorized by Him; hence we can be absolutely certain that this reference was to the one in Jerusalem.

The Lord reproved the nation for disloyalty and revealed the fact that, because of the people's exceeding sinfulness, no condition could arise in which they would be secure. There was no place to which they could flee for protection from His wrath. This is the lesson that men and women everywhere need to learn. In this connection may I suggest the reading of Psalm 139 which declares that God knows everything, and that He will punish all wickedness?

In Amos 9:5,6 the Lord, who appeared to the prophet, declared that He is the one who has His chambers in the heavens, and who is controlling the universe. In these verses we have a sublime declaration of the omnipotence of God. For similar and more detailed statements concerning Him see chapters 4:12, 13 and 5:6-9 of our prophet. In 9:7 Amos declared the overruling providential control of the nations by the Lord Almighty. He grants to man the power of choice, but at the same time overrules everything that comes into the life of the individual or the group for the advancement of His plans and purposes. In this verse the prophet reaffirmed, in the form of a rhetorical question, that God was the one who controlled the migration of the Ethiopians and also that of the Philistines. This statement, doubtless, was a revelation to many of his auditors. Though God is not present personally here upon earth in a physical body, yet He is overruling everything and is making all events contribute to the advancement of His Plan of the Ages. The inference which they could draw was that God not only overruled the movements of these heathen nations, but also everything that pertains to the nation of Israel.

"8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah. 9 For 10, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth. 10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us" (Amos 9:8-10).

In verse 8 appears the prediction that the Lord was against the sinful kingdom, and that He would destroy it from the face of the earth. The prophecy doe$ not say that He would destroy the

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Israelitish people, but rather that He would bring to a termination the northern kingdom of Israel-in fact, the last clause shows that, though the national life was to be taken away, the people would remain.

In verse 9 Amos showed how the people will be kept in a state of preservation, not in the Holy Land, but rather dispersed among the nations. Thus he declared: "For, 10, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth." Though this passage has specific reference to the ten northern tribes, the kingdom of Israel, yet in this setting we see that it includes the two tribes of the southern kingdom, for the altar mentioned in verse 1 of this chapter refers to the one at Jerusalem, and in verse 11 the tabernacle of David is in view. From these considerations we can be certain that Judah is included in this prediction. When we look at the historic fulfillment, we see that the northern kingdom was brought to an end in the year 719 B.C.E., the citizens being carried off into Assyrian captivity. In the fateful years ff>5-586 B.C.E. the government of the southern kingdom collapsed and the royalty with the nobility was carried into Babylonian captivity. These two exiles, while included in Amos' prediction, do not fill out the entire picture, for the dispersion here foretold is world-wide and culminates only with the time when all of the sinners of Israel are purged from the nation. In striking contrast with this prediction, those of Israel and Judah who, at the end of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, desired to return to their native land had the privilege of doing so under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest. At that time the sinners were not purged from the nation. Hence the Babylonian exile was brought to a close by the restoration under Zerubbabel. From these and other facts we know that the dispersion here foretold reached far greater proportions than either of the two captivities just mentioned.

When one studies this passage and is willing to accept each word at its usual, literal meaning in the light of the context, he arrives at the conclusion that this prediction was a forecast of the Roman occupation and domination of the Holy Land and the dispersion of Israel which occurred in the year 70 C.E. At that time the national life was destroyed and the people were scattered to the four winds. From that day until the present she has resided among the peoples of the earth. This international situation will be terminated, as

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suggested above, only with the purging of the nation during the time of "Jacob's trouble."

That this world-wide dispersion of Israel is brought to a conclusion at the end of Jacob's trouble is evident from verse 10: "All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us." From this verse we see that the sinners in Israel, who are confident that evil will never overtake them, will all be purged from the nation by the sword. There will be, according to other predictions on this point, a time when the nations shall be gathered against Israel, restored to the homeland, to exterminate her from the face of the globe. In the terrible war that follows all the sinners among the Jews will be slain by the sword. On the contrary those who fear God, and who yearn for His worship and service (see Zephaniah 3: 18-20) will be preserved and will be permitted to enter that glorious kingdom era which is described in our passage.

"11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; 12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations that are called by my name, saith Jehovah that doeth this" (Amos 9:11, 12).

Note the fact that verse 11 begins with the statement "In that day." What is the significance of this phrase? In the light of the context it can refer to no time other than that of the period when the sinners are purged by the sword from Israel at the termination of Israel's age-long dispersion. Therefore the "day" here referred to is the time of Jacob's trouble. When we study the passages referring to this time of disaster, we see that at the conclusion of this day of the Lord, He will set up the throne of David; hence we may correctly conclude from this connection that verse 11 is talking about the end of the time of Jacob's trouble, or the day of the Lord.

The Lord declares that at the end of the Tribulation He will "raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen." What is the meaning of the statement "raise up the tabernacle of David"? According to II Samuel 5:11, 12 David built a royal palace for himself which is called a bayith -house. That this word refers to the official residence of the Davidic dynasty is clear from the context. In the prophecy of Amos, however, the word, succah is used and is translated "the tabernacle." Why is there a change in the use of the words referring to the royal palace? In the answer to this question will be found the information for which we are in search.

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"Sukkah, a hut, indicates, by way of contrast to bayith, the house or palace which David built for himself upon Zion (2 Sam. v. 11) a degenerate condition of the royal house of David. This is placed beyond all doubt by the predicate, nopheleth, fallen down. As the stately palace supplies a figurative representation of the greatness and might of the kingdom, so does the fallen hut, which is full of rents and near to destruction, symbolize the utter ruin of the kingdom. If the family of David no longer dwells in a palace, but in a miserable fallen hut, its regal sway must have come to an end" (Commentary on the Minor Prophets by Keil and Delitzsch, Vol. I, page 329).

In the imagery of this verse the period during which the Davidic dynasty reigned in Jerusalem is symbolized by the regal palace which was erected on Ophel by David, but the period following the Babylonian siege and captivity to the time of the national collapse under Titus, the Roman general, is most significantly represented by a miserably torn tabernacle sukkah. Thus in this representation we can see that Amos the prophet looked out into the future and saw clearly the period during which Israel would be in her own land and at the same time would be denied the privilege of an autonomous government under the Davidic dynasty.

"The kingdom of David first became a hut when the kingdom of Judah was overcome by the Chaldeans,-an event which is included in the prediction contained in vers., 1 sqq., and hinted at even in ch. ii. 5."

This quotation from a noted exegete is a correct interpretation of the facts set forth in this passage. The chapter to which he refers (Amos 2:5), and which foretold the destruction of the palaces of Jerusalem was completely fulfilled at the time of the national overthrow by the Romans in 70 C.E. During this period, symbolized by "the tabernacle," the Davidic dynasty is no longer wielding the sceptre in regal splendor, but rather has lost its authority and is living in a dilapidated and miserable hut. The promise contained in verse 11 was by the ancient synagogue recognized as a Messianic prediction. On this point I wish to quote from Hengstenberg's Christology, Vol. I, pp. 391, 392:

"It is from the passage under review that the Messiah received the name, bar nphlym, filius cadentium-He who springs forth from the fallen family of David; compare Sanhedrin, fol. 96, 2; R. Nachman said to R. Isaac. Hast thou heard when bar nphlym is to come? The latter answered; Who is he? R. Nachman said; The Messiah. R. Isaac: But is the Messiah thus named? R. Nachman: Certainly, in Amos ix. 11: 'In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.' In Breshith Rabbah, sec. 88, we read: 'Who would have expected that God should raise up again the fallen tabernacle of David? And yet we read in Amos ix. 11, 'In that day,' etc. And who could have hoped that the whole world could yet become one flock? And yet, such is declared in Zeph. iii. 9: 'Then will I turn to the people in pure lips, that they all may call upon the name of the Lord, and serve Him with one lip.' But all that is prophesied only in reference to the Messiah."

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I feel that the facts of the context justify the ancient synagogal interpretation of this passage. In the llght of the prediction of Amos concerning the raising up of the fallen tabernacle of David, the ancient rabbis spoke of Messiah as bar nphlym, son of the fallen ones. It is evident that those teachers interpreted Amos 9:11 as a reference to King Messiah, but they spoke of Him in terms of the fallen tabernacle. But why should He thus be thought of unless He had some connection with the "fallen tabernacle"? There can be but one answer to this question; namely, they understood that He would be born during the days when the. house of David would be dethroned and would be living in private obscurity; hence they called Him "the son of the fallen ones." It was impossible, however, for them to have arrived at this conclusion from Amos' statement alone, but, when they studied it in connection with other passages, they could interpret it in no other way.

An examination of this passage in the light of other predictions shows why the Talmudical authorities spoke of the period of the Second Temple in terms "of those who had fallen." According to their understanding, the Messiah then was to be born in this "tabernacle of David," or "hut." Speaking apart from a figure, one would say this: These rabbis understood that Messiah would be born during this period of national humiliation when Israel would be under foreign domination and the dynasty of David no longer would be functioning as the ruling house of the nation, but would be living in virtual obscurity.

Inasmuch as the nation of Israel went down under the sledgehammer blows of the Romans in the year 70 C.E., the autonomous government collapsed, and the people were scattered among the nations, we would say, in the language of this verse, that the tabernacle here referred to was completely demolished. Since the government of the Davidic dynasty is represented as a tabernacle or hut, since it was destroyed in 70 C.E., and since Messiah is called by the Talmudical authorities "the son of the fallen ones," it is obvious that the evidence of the sacred Scriptures led these ancient rabbis to conclude that Messiah would be born during the existence of the Second Temple and before the collapse of the kingdom.

In making this prediction, Amos declared that God would raise up this fallen tabernacle and build it as in the days of old. The words, days of old, undoubtedly refer to the glorious days of David and Solomon when the kingdom of Israel reached the zenith of its power in the historic past. When, therefore, this tabernacle

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of David is rebuilt, those living at that time will look back to the ancient glory of David's time and will speak of its being as "in the days of old." The use of this expression, therefore, indicates that the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David was, from the standpoint of Amos, in the distant future.

When this house is re-erected, the entire house of Israel-both Judah and Israel-will be united and will live under the one banner of King Immanuel. This was foretold by Ezekiel the prophet: "and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all" (37:22). When this prediction is fulfilled the curse will be lifted from the earth and the glory of the Lord shall encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea.

In this ninth chapter of Amos we see the four different periods into which Israel's national life is divided: first, the monarchical period during which Amos lived and the Davidic dynasty was reigning in Jerusalem; secondly, the time commonly known as "the era of the Second Temple," during which the nation of Israel was under foreign domination, but was still enjoying its life in the land of the fathers, and which terminated with the collapse of Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E.; thirdly, the period during which all twelve tribes of Israel are scattered among the nations, and there is no visible evidence of the continuance of the Davidic dynasty; and fourthly, the great golden era of the future when Messiah, "the son of the fallen ones," will rebuild the tabernacle of David and reign in splendor, not only over Israel, but over the entire world. The facts therefore presented in this passage, read in the light of other predictions, show that Messiah's first coming was during the era of the Second Temple when the Davidic dynasty was degraded from its position of supreme authority in the nation to one of humiliation in private obscurity. We may conclude, therefore, from this angle that Messiah was scheduled to come prior to the collapse of the Jewish nation which occurred in the year 70 C.E.

II. THE MESSAGE OF ISAIAH

The ministry of Amos and that of Isaiah overlapped somewhat. The latter's labors fell within the third and fourth quarters of the eighth century before the common era. His predictions are in perfect harmony with those of his immediate predecessor in the

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prophetic office. These two spoke of the degradation and humiliation of the Davidic dynasty and house.

A. In the Call of the Prophet

 According to chapter 6, Isaiah received his call and commission in the year that king Uzziah died. At that time he was granted a vision of the glory of the Lord when He shall reign in the restored temple at Jerusalem, and when the earth shall be full of the glory of the Lord. Being overwhelmed by the sight of the holiness of God, the prophet fell prostrate, making this confession: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts" (Isaiah 6: 5). When the prophet thus confessed his own sinful condition, one of the seraphim came with a live coal from the altar, touched his lips, and cleansed his soul. Then the Lord called for a volunteer. With a heart thrilling and overflowing with love and gratitude, he offered his services. That he might not entertain any false hopes or misapprehensions, but that he might understand the situation with which he would be confronted, the Lord gave him an exact statement of the results which his preaching would produce. The outlook to the prophet was indeed discouraging. In view of these facts he asked the Lord, "how long?", i. e., how long would he have to speak to such ungrateful and non-responsive people whose hearts would become as hard as adamant? To this query the Lord answered,

"Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land" (Vss. 11, 12).

In this reply there is the forecast of the desolation of the land and the removal of the people far hence. According to 5:13, this removal was called a "captivity." Here appears, in the writings of Isaiah, the first hint of the exile of the people of Israel. When one studies the conditions of the Babylonian captivity, he sees that it did not fill out the picture here presented, but that it was only a partial and limited fulfillment of this prediction. Since God will make good every statement that He has uttered, we may be confident that this prediction which looked beyond the Babylonian captivity to the world-wide dispersion of Israel will likewise be fulfilled literally. At the time of the collapse of the kingdom under the siege by the Chaldeans, the desolation wrought by them does not fill out the picture here presented. On the other hand, the

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conditions in
Palestine during Israel's dispersion among the nations correspond exactly to this given by Isaiah. While all that has been said is true, we must not forget that the calamity which was immediately before the prophet's mind was that which was wrought in the invasion of the country by Sennacherib of Assyria. History always repeats itself, but we may be certain that Isaiah viewed the various sieges and desolations that would come to the land. At the same time he saw in the distant future Israel's world-wide dispersion and the Palestinian devastation of the centuries.

The doctrine of a remnant first appears in Isaiah's writings in 5:13: "Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst." In this prediction he declared that, if the population should be reduced to one-tenth, it should be eaten up but not completely, for in the following sentence he showed that there is to be a remnant of the godly ones. He illustrated this truth by the stump or stock of a tree which had been hewn down, and out of which there would spring forth a shoot. In Job 14:7-9 this same figure is used:

For there is hope of a tree,
If it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,
And the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud,
And put forth boughs like a plant.

The tree, through the invigorating power of water, will send forth a shoot that will bear fruit later. In Isaiah's prophecy "the holy seed" is that stock which remains in the soil and which later sends forth its shoot. Though his statement does not declare this truth, such is the implication. His auditors doubtless concluded that there would be a calamity which would sweep away the major portion of the nation into eternity, leaving only a small remnant of godly, consecrated ones to perpetuate the race.

B. In the Book of Immanuel

 In order that we may understand the full significance of the predictions of the Book of Immanuel, it becomes necessary to look at the political situation of Isaiah's day. These prophecies (Isaiah 7-12) fall in the period of the crisis between 734 and 732 B.C.E. At that time there was a threatened invasion of the westland by Assyria under the powerful monarch, Tiglath-pileser III. As the
 
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storm clouds were gathering on the eastern political horizon, the smaller countries in western Asia were thrown into consternation and dread. It is assumed by some that only chapters 7:1-9: 7 were spoken at this time, and that the oracle beginning with 9:8 was uttered after the fall of Samaria in 719 B.C.E. It is altogether possible that this analysis may be correct; on the other hand, it is just as likely that the entire book of Immanuel was spoken at the same time, prior to the fall of Damascus in 732. By the Spirit all the future was opened to the prophet's view. He saw the overthrow of Samaria and the stubborn reaction of its people, their determination to rebuild their homes, after the devastation, upon a greater and a more substantial order. This great overflowing flood of the waters of the River (as the Assyrian invasion was called) would sweep away, not only the northern kingdom, but would also reach unto Judah and all but inundate the entire country. This prediction is set forth vividly in chapter 10:5-34.

According to 10:5-7, the Lord intended to use the Assyrian to accomplish His purposes in chastening His disobedient people, Israel, although this stout-hearted monarch had no conception of his being used by divine providence to accomplish His holy purposes.

In the pride of his stubborn heart he boasted that he would do to Jerusalem and her temple as he had done to the different cities and kingdoms which he had conquered, and whose gods he had destroyed. His mad ravings are set forth in verses 8-11. In the following paragraph (verses 12-14) God showed that He would accomplish His purposes with the Assyrian (Sennacherib) and then punish him. In the next paragraph (verses 15-19) He made a further revelation concerning the punishment which He would bring upon this stout-hearted monarch. In this paragraph He compared the Assyrian army and nation to that of a forest which would be hewn down, and which would be burned with fire.

Beginning with 10:5 he foretold the invasion of the country by the Assyrians. The immediate fulfillment of this prediction was accomplished either by Sargon or by his son Sennacherib. Charles Boutflower thinks that the former did so in the year 720 B.C. and presents many arguments in favor of this position. I cannot, however, accept this view. For close study of this chapter reveals the fact that the vision went far beyond any military operations and the consequent desolations that were wrought by either Sargon or

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Sennacherib and reaches into the end time when a full end "wi11 the Lord, Jehovah of hosts make in the midst of all the earth."

In 10:18 the Assyrian forces were compared to a forest which would be consumed and destroyed by "the light of Israel" so that the "remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them" (10:19). This figure is resumed in verses 33 and 34. In this passage the king and the leaders of his army are compared to the highest boughs of a forest: "and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low." Following this statement the prophet declared that the Lord would "cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one." This language shows that Isaiah compared the Assyrian army with its outstanding mighty leaders to the cedars of Lebanon and declared that the Lord God would, by miraculous intervention, slay the Assyrian king. Weare not, however, to conclude that the prediction foretold the Lord's slaying the king when he was in the land of Palestine. The forecast simply declares that this great human forest will fall by "a mighty one." This mighty one can be none other than the Lord God Himself. This prediction found its immediate fulfilment in the destruction of Sennacherib's army by the Angel of the Lord as recorded in chapter 37:36-38. Since the vision of chapter 10 sweeps on into the end time, it is certain that the destruction of the major part of the Assyrian army by this Angel of the Lord was but a partial and limited fulfilment, which foreshadows the complete destruction of the great Assyrian army in the time of the end, i. e., in the day of the Lord.

Having used the figure of the hewing down of a forest in order to set forth the destruction of the Assyrian army, the prophet very easily and most naturally extended this figure to the house of Judah and the Davidic king. In 11:1 the house of Jesse is compared to a mighty tree which has been hewn down, and whose stump remains in the ground. "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit." This figure was a favorite one in the ancient orient. For instance. Croesus once threatened the men of Lampsecus that he would destroy them like a fir. This threat threw the men into great consternation until one of the elders guessed the meaning of it and told them that "the fir when cut down never grows again but dies outright." Unlike the fir will the tree of Jesse be. It is to be

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hewn down; the stump is to remain in the ground, but it will send forth the shoot out of its roots that shall bear fruit.

What does the hewing down of this tree of Jesse signify? The figure can naturally suggest nothing but the removal of the Davidic dynasty from its royal function of reigning over the house of Judah. Like a tree it is hewn down and dies officially and no longer bears any fruit. Nevertheless the stump, the family of Jesse, continues to remain in the soil and eventually sends forth a sprig or shoot that bears fruit.

When was this regal tree of Jesse hewn down? The answer is : When the Babylonians overthrew the government and took the leaders of the people into captivity. Zedekiah was the last one of the kings of the Davidic line that reigned in Jerusalem. Thus the royal tree was completely hewn down in the year 586 before the common era, but the stump remained in Palestinian soil in the form of the royal house that was demoted or degraded to private life.

According to the prediction, a shoot is to come forth out of this stump while it remains in the ground. Certain trees, when they are hewn down, naturally send forth shoots out of their stump. Thus shall it be with the stump of Jesse. If, however, the stump is torn up and pulled out of the ground, it too will die and will be unable to send forth the shoot. In the year 70 of the common era the entire Jewish nation, including the royal house of Jesse, was torn ruthlessly from Palestinian soil and scattered throughout the countries of the world. Bearing this figure in mind we would say that the root of Jesse was torn from the soil at the time of that calamity, and that after that event it was impossible for a shoot to come forth out of the stump of Jesse. The conclusion to which we are inevitably driven is that this shoot must come forth out of the stump of Jesse before it was torn up and cast forth from Palestinian soil. This is the only logical deduction which we can draw when we bear in mind the figure used.

The conclusion reached in the last paragraph is confirmed by the peculiar use of the word, Jesse, in this prediction. Jesse was the father of David who lived in private life. David, by the choice of God, was called forth from obscurity to the position of kingship over the nation. If the prophet had had a vision of some calamity that would overtake the reigning house of David, still functioning as the sovereign of the nation, he would have used the expression stump of David rather than of Jesse. The choice, therefore, of the name, Jesse, in preference to that of David is quite significant and evi

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dently indicates that the Davidic dynasty would be dethroned and would simply live as Jesse did in private life. While thus living in obscurity the stump of the royal house would send forth the shoot that would bear fruit.

This shoot would of necessity have to come forth from the stump of Jesse prior to the uprooting of every family from the native soil, which occurred in the year 70 of the common era, for at the time of that calamity all of the national archives were destroyed together with the genealogical records.

"It is assumed that under Herod I all genealogical rolls kept in the temple were destroyed (Sacas, 'Beitrage,' II. 157). The loss of the official genealogies was deeply deplored as a calamity, more especially because of their importance for the understanding of the books of Chronicles (Pes. 62b; B.B.1O9.)" Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. V, 597, column 1.

Since the official genealogical records have all been destroyed or lost, as the writer in the Jewish Encyclopedia of the article just quoted states, no man can prove that he is of the lineage of Jesse and David. Since the fall of Jerusalem and the Roman occupation of Palestine completely destroyed Jewish civilization with all the sacred archives, the memory and the tradition concerning the Davidic house naturally faded from the minds of the people. Hence no one during these centuries could prove that he was of the Davidic dynasty.*

Since the prophets foretold that the Messiah was to come of the house of Judah and of the family of David, and since God was very specific in giving the qualifications and the data concerning Him in order that the people might recognize Him when He did appear, and since all of the genealogical records were destroyed at the demolition of the Second Temple, it is only reasonable to suppose that God would cause the Messiah to appear while the genealogical records were intact so that the people of Israel might make no mistake and might be able to identify Him as the long-promised One. Any other hypothesis is unsatisfactory. From this point of view, therefore, we would logically conclude that Messiah would come before the destruction of all public records. This deduction is in perfect harmony with the figure used by Isaiah. The royal stump was pulled from the ground and cast out upon the land of the na
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* There are those today who claim that they are of the priestly tribe, especially many of those who have the name Cohen. It is true that many Jewish families have genealogical records that extend back through several centuries, but it is extremely doubtful whether these records can be relied upon and whether they have preserved the genealogy accurately from the days of old.

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tions. The genealogical records and means of identification were then destroyed; therefore Messiah must of necessity have appeared before the calamity of 70 CE.

III. THE MESSAGE OF MICAH

  1.  The Pronouncement of Judgment

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. It seemed that he labored in the rural districts, whereas the latter was the court preacher in Jerusalem. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Micah bear upon the question of the time of Messiah's first appearance. It becomes necessary to review this section in order to evaluate his specific prediction. In 3:1 he addressed the "heads of Jacob, and the rulers of the house of Israel" and pointed out their sinfulness; in verses 5-8 he called attention to the sins of the spiritual leaders, the prophets, and took a definite stand against their lack of spiritual life and wickedness. In the following paragraph, verses 9-12, he pronounced a curse and judgment upon all the leaders, both temporal and spiritual, because of their sins.

"Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, that abhor justice, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet they lean upon Jehovah and say, Is not Jehovah in the midst of us? no evil shall come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest" (Micah 3:9-12).

Both the ecclesiastical and political leaders were guilty of every form of sin and vice. Especially were they corrupt in matters of finances. All would take bribes; in fact, no one would render any service to the people unless money were placed in his hands.

The divine punishment for such wickedness is threatened in verse 12: "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."

The Lord is long-suffering; yet there is a time when patience with Him ceases to be a virtue and nothing but chastisement and judgment will satisfy His holiness and righteousness. These leaders were trusting in the fact that they were worshipers of the true God, and that His temple was in their midst, where they observed a formal ritualistic worship. Holding to a form of godliness while, at the same time, the life is corrupt is no guarantee of divine favorin fact, such hypocrisy is abominable in the sight of a holy God.

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B. The Fulfillment of the Warning

When was this threatened judgment executed? Without question this prediction was partially fulfilled in the Chaldean siege and consequent exile, but a careful study of this verse and of the events connected with the Babylonian exile reveals the fact that that calamity, though far-reaching in its consequences, did not fill out the picture that is here presented. When Jerusalem fell before the Chaldean conquerors, the city wall was thrown down, many of the buildings were wrecked, and the holy temple was burned with fire. The leading citizens were taken into captivity. According to the Babylonian account, found upon the monuments, there were approximately 200,000 citizens carried into exile. Nothing in the records is said of the destruction of the royal palace.

The devastation wrought by Nebuchadnezzar does not fill out the picture of the prophetic forecast of verse 12. At the conclusion of the exile those who desired to do so came back under Zerubbabel and began the rehabilitation of the land. Since the Word of God is to be taken at its face value, we are forced to believe that the Babylonian siege was partial and limited, and that it awaited a further and complete fulfillment thereafter. When, however, we study the conditions that resulted from the overthrow of the Jewish nation by the Romans and its dispersion throughout the earth 70 C.E., we see that the picture was complete. The city walls were thrown down, and the palaces and the holy temple were burned. Jerusalem presented a picture of wreckage and waste. Tens of thousands of lives were lost, blood flowed in rivers, and the suffering during the siege was indescribable. The temple mount was neglected after that time and became as a high place of a forest; i. e., trees grew upon the sacred enclosure.


C. Period of Desolation

As seen in the last section, the life of Israel as a political entity became extinct, Jerusalem lay in heaps and wreckage, and the temple mount became as the high place of a forest. The prediction does not tell us how long this situation would exist, but, when we read 4:1, which refers to the condition obtaining in the latter days, we see that there is an indefinite period of desolation passed over by this prophecy. That it is a long one is to be inferred from the expression, "in the latter days." Moses in his outline of Israel's checkered history described this period very graphically (Leviticus 26:33-39). According to this prediction, the Holy Land is left

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desolate and barren while the people of Israel are scattered throughout the nations. The prophets and the psalmists in vision saw this long period of exile and repeatedly asked the question, How long? To their anxious inquiries God did not give definite information, but, on certain occasions, told us the conditions upon which this time of Israel's dispersion would terminate.

D. Earth's Golden Era

In chapter 4:1-8 the prophet was transported into the distant future (from his own day) and described the conditions that shall exist in the world, especially in Palestine, in the latter days.

"But in the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it. And many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem; and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it. For all the peoples walk everyone in the name of his god; and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever."

"In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted; and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast off a strong nation: and Jehovah will reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever. And thou, 0 tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, yea, the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem" (4:1-8).

From this forecast we see that in the latter days there will be a great transformation in the topography of Palestine. At the present time Jerusalem embracing within its walls the four hills of the ancient city, which is located upon the high mountain range constituting the backbone of Palestine, is surrounded by hills. But when this vision is fulfilled Palestine will not be the same rough, rugged country as it is now, but will be as valleys spread abroad, according to the vision foreseen by Balaam in Numbers 24:3ff. The mountains will be thrown down and the valleys filled. At that time Jerusalem shall be built upon a hill which will be lifted above the surrounding country, and the nations of the earth will go there from year to year to worship the Lord of hosts. At that time the great temple together with the city and land described by Ezekiel (chapters 40-48) will be the center of attraction for all the inhabi

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tants of the earth. Then the Lord will be present in person and will teach the pilgrims from all quarters of the earth who go there from year to year.

At that time the Lord will have put down all wars, the curse will have been lifted, and the glory of God will encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea. Everyone will dwell in peace and security, and the earth shall bring forth its full strength to the vast population that will then inhabit it.

According to Micah 4:6 the Lord will regather Israel that has been scattered among the nations, and that has suffered untold misery at the hands of the anti-Semitic Gentile nations. The Lord Himself will reign over them in Mount Zion. Let me pause to emphasize the fact that the prediction is to be taken literally. Mount Zion is one of the poetical names for Jerusalem. Since the prediction says that He will reign in Mount Zion, we must take it at its face value unless there is some indication in the context pointing otherwise. In view of the fact that there is no one, we must take the language literally, at what it says. This teaching is in perfect accord with the oracles appearing throughout the writings of all the prophets of Israel. For instance, Zephaniah saw that golden era. In the third chapter of his prediction, verses 14, 15, he foretold that the Lord God of hosts would reign personally in Zion.

Micah, in an apostrophe, addressed the reigning sovereign in Jerusalem, saying,

"And thou, 0 tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, yea, the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem" (4:8).

The expression, "tower of the flock," was probably suggested by the fact that there was a tower on the regal palace which had been built by David. Since it stood out prominently above the rest of the edifice, the prophet spoke to it. Of course, this method of speech is known as metonymy; the king who reigned in the tower was addressed in terms of the tower to which he doubtless often resorted. Thus the prophet spoke to the reigning monarch of his time and told him that the former dominion should return to the daughter of Zion. This statement implies that it will pass from the Davidic house, but in the distant future it will be restored. This message, of course, was one of great comfort to the people.

E. The Two Mountain Peaks of the National Distress

"9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? Is there no king in thee, is thy counsellor perished, that pangs have taken hold of thee as of a woman in

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travail? 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, 0 daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail; for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and shalt dwell in the field, and shalt come even unto Babylon: there shalt thou be rescued; there will Jehovah redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. 11 And now many nations are assembled against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye see our desire upon Zion. 12 But they know not the thoughts of Jehovah, neither understand they his counsel; for he hath gathered them as the sheaves to the threshing-floor. 13 Arise and thresh, 0 daughter of Zion; for I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass; and thou shalt beat in pieces many peoples: and I will devote their gain unto Jehovah, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth" (Micah 4:9-13).

Verses 9 and 10, referring to Zion's being in travail, foretold the Chaldean siege of Jerusalem and the consequent exile in Babylon, which occurred in the years 605-536 B.C.E., for it is definitely stated that the captives would be taken to Babylon; the prophet promised, however, that they would be redeemed from that exile. Verses 11-13 describe a siege of Jerusalem which is on a far greater scale than the one by the Chaldeans. The investment here described occurs when Israel is again in her own land, because the last statement of verse 10 tells of the captives being redeemed from Babylonian captivity and being brought back to their own land. Thus between verses 10 and 11 there is, as we learn by comparing this passage with others and by glancing at history, a long interval of time. The siege described in the latter verse is one in which many nations participate. The statement, "Let her be defiled, and let our eyes see our desire upon Zion," indicates that those nations investing Jerusalem and the Jewish groups in Palestine at this future time will be driven on by an intense spirit of anti-Semitism in order to blot Israel's name from the face of the globe.*

They are animated by their own carnal, fleshly desires and impulses; nevertheless they do not realize that the overruling providential hand of God is directing their movements and actions. This thought is brought out in verses 12 and 13, which compare Palestine to the summer threshing-floor and the nations gathered there to battle against the Jews as the sheaves. In this passage, according to verse 13, Israel is the ox that pulls the threshing instrument for
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* Just such an effort to exterminate Israel was made by the surrounding nations in the days of Asaph, who was one of the chief musicians appointed by David for the temple services. This is seen in one of his psalms, 83. In the first section of it, verses 1-8, we see the plot of Satanic hatred against
Israel as the Chosen People of God. In the second division, verses 9-18, is an earnest prayer that God will deal with these enemies, who are in reality opposed to Him; but the spirit of the entire petition is that the Almighty might deal with them in such a way as to show them that He alone is God and must be recognized and worshiped as such.

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beating out the grain. The promise that the Lord makes to Israel is that her horn shall be iron and her hoofs brass. Of course, these words are the carrying out of the figure comparing the nation to an ox. In Isaiah 41:14-16 the same figure of a threshing-floor is used; but in this latter instance Israel is not the ox drawing the threshing implement but the instrument itself. When we study the context of each passage we see that the same thought is presented. In these promises is contained the prediction that Israel in the final combat with the nations will be victorious. Of course, she cannot do it in her own strength; but being energized by the Almighty she will be triumphant, and by the miraculous intervention of her Messiah she will thresh the peoples.

That verses 11-13 foretell the final distress of Israel when all the nations will be gathered against her to battle in the day of Jehovah (d. Zechariah 14:1ff) is evident from the fact that, when the nations are threshed, their substance will be devoted to the Lord of all the earth. All their possessions will become the spoil of King Messiah, who will reestablish the throne of David, mount it, and reign over the world. At that time all the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of the Almighty (Ps. 22:27, 28). These facts show that this siege of the Jews in Palestine by the nations is the final one preceding the glorious era of Messiah's reign.

Thus in Micah 4:9-13 the picture of the Babylonian siege of Palestine blends with that of the final investment of the Jewish remnant restored to the land of the fathers in the last days. The fading of one of these pictures into the other may, as has already been stated, well be illustrated by the use of the stereopticon which throws one picture upon the screen and which presently fades it into another. At the same time the dim outlines of a second picture appear. By the time the first one has vanished, the second one is in full view. Thus a description of the overthrow of Judah by Babylon blends imperceptibly with that of the final overthrow of the nations at the end of this age. In this representation time is annihilated. The reader will permit me to use another illustration which will bring out another aspect of the truth presented in these verses. Frequently an observer looks out toward a great mountain range. In the foreground are the low-lying foothills, but towering above them in the distance are the mightier and more majestic peaks. Between these ranges lies a vast valley which, from the observer's point of view, is not visible. To him all of the mountains appear as one range. Should he, however, climb the nearer moun

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tain in the foreground, upon reaching the summit he would see this vast valley separating him from the more distant peaks. The Babylonian catastrophe would be represented by the nearer foothills or lower mountains, whereas the final siege of Jerusalem and her deliverance is represented by the more distant and mightier range. This method of representation was common to the Hebrew prophets. Speaking in modern phraseology, I would say that they did not have the modern perspective, with which we of the present day are acquainted; therefore the immediate prospect constantly blended with the events of the more distant future.

F. The Intervening Valley

"1 Now shalt thou gather thyself in troops, 0 daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us; they shall. smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. "2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. 3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel" (Micah 5:1-3).

In 5: 1 we observe a siege of Jerusalem and her fall under the mighty blows of a conqueror. The question immediately arises, What siege is here foretold? Is it either the Babylonian occupation under Nebuchadnezzar or does it refer to one future to that time, the final conflict at Jerusalem? My reply is that it is neither. One reason for this statement is that at the time of the Babylonian siege Israel had a king who was dwelling in her midst, whereas in this one, mentioned in 5: 1, there is no king but rather a judge. This fact implies that the Davidic dynasty is not functioning at the time of this siege. Neither can it be the final catastrophe referred to in 4:11-13, because the Lord foretells that, when Zion falls and her judge is smitten by the enemy, He will give her up until the time that "she who travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return with the children of IsraeL" But in the final investment of Zion by the nations, the Jews by the power of the Almighty become the strong ox that treads them down as sheaves of the threshing-floor. Then all of their spoils will be devoted to Jehovah, for He then becomes King over the entire earth. Hence the conflict of 5:1 is neither the Babylonian, nor the final siege of Jerusalem.

The figure of a travailing woman was constantly used by the prophets to refer to a time of siege and of distress, carnage and

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bloodshed, especially as it involved Israel. As noted above, the Babylonian siege is represented under that figure in
4:10. Since in this verse Micah employed this metaphor in referring to the suffering of the Babylonian siege, it is only reasonable to suppose that he used the same figure in 5:3 with a like significance. Does this verse also refer to the Babylonian catastrophe mentioned in 4:1O? My answer is, No; for at the end of the Babylonian captivity the Lord did not give them up, but instead of doing that He brought them back into favor with Himself and restored them to their own land; therefore the travail of which Micah spoke in 5:3 is different from that mentioned in 4:10.

Isaiah 66:7-9 compared the final distress of Israel to a travailing woman. Jeremiah, in speaking of the last siege and deliverance of Jerusalem, used the same figure, as is seen by a close study of Jeremiah 4:23-31. As the reader studies this latter passage, let him notice especially the conjunction, "for," introducing verse 27. Thus the oracle, beginning with this verse and ending with 31, is explanatory of the mel>sage in verses 23-26. The wreckage, therefore, of this vision and the judgment coming upon the people of the earth are compared to childbirth (see verse 31). Hosea the prophet used this same figure in speaking of Israel's final distress and deliverance (13:13, 14).

Since we see that Micah 5:3 refers to a period of travail, at the conclusion of which the twelve tribes of Israel return to God, we can be certain that this passage refers to the time of Jacob's trouble at the end of this age.

The siege of Jerusalem depicted in 5:1 is one at the conclusion of which Israel is delivered into the hands of her enemies and is abandoned by the Lord until the final siege set forth in verse 3. In view of all these facts we cannot identify the siege of 5:1 either as the Babylonian catastrophe or the one at the end of this age, but one which comes between them. Under Section E, I compared the two crises to mountains separated by a great valley. Using this figure I would say that the siege mentioned in 5:1 is located somewhere in the valley separating these two mountains, the two major catastrophes befalling Israel. Speaking without a figure, I would say that the investment of 5:1 occurs in the interval of time separating the Babylonian siege from the final conquest of Israel in the end of the age.

The next problem for us to solve is to identify some major calamity coming upon Israel that brought about the collapse of

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the nation and her being abandoned by the Lord, which giving up will continue until the end of the age. The answer which comes to everyone immediately is that this prediction evidently refers to the Roman siege and occupation of Palestine, which occurred in the year 70 CE. At that time Jerusalem fell, as is described by Josephus, and the inhabitants suffered untold sorrow and distress. When the city finally capitulated, the Jewish people were scattered among the nations. Since then they have been the people of the wandering foot. By the leaders of Israel, as is seen in their writings, both ancient and modern, Israel is represented as being in exile and being abandoned of the Lord. This interpretation of her status is correct. From the signs of the times we can see that the season is very close at hand for her to be regathered to her land and to be, after her great sorrow, reinstated into fellowship with her God. In the light of all the facts we may be confident that the siege depicted in 5:1 was a graphic portrayal of the catastrophe which overtook the nation in 70 CE. Thus speaking in terms af the imagery just used I would say that in this great valley lying between the two mountain sieges of Israel is another one, which symbolized the Roman occupation of Palestine.

G. The Birth of King Messiah

In the preceding section we arrived at the conclusion that the calamity mentioned in 5:1 was none other than the Roman occupation of Palestine. In the imagery of the passage we also saw that this event was symbolized by a mountain in the great plain separating the two towering ranges.
A close study of 5:1-3 shows that these three verses point to this one major catastrophe with its antecedents and its consequences. The fall of Jerusalem is set forth in verse 1. But in the next one the prophet looks southward from Jerusalem to the city of Bethlehem and addressing it foretells the coming forth from it of the future Ruler in Israel. He then makes the significant statement, "Therefore will he (God) give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth." The word Therefore introducing this sentence shows that the giving up of Judah is the result of what is just stated in the preceding verses. Stating the case differently, I would say that these verses give the reason for the Lord's giving up Judah for a definite time. I might illustrate the force of the argument by calling attention to the regular usage of language. We today frequently state several facts and then introduce our reaction to what has been said by therefore.

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Certain things, we say, exist; therefore we shall have to pursue a definite course of action. Such is the reasoning of the prophet. Because af the fact, with its antecedents and consequences, foretold in 5:2, the Lord is forced to give
Israel up until the time of the end.

What, if any, is the connection between verses 1 and 2? As seen above, the former faretells the destruction of the national life of Israel, which occurred in the year 70 C.E.; the latter is an apostrophe to Bethlehem concerning the birth of the great future Ruler of Israel. The ancient synagogue interpreted it as a prediction of the birth of King Messiah. This fact is seen in the Chaldean paraphrase of this verse. Mnk qdmy ypq mshytha, "from thee messiah shall go out before me." Without doubt this verse is a prediction of the birth of King Messiah in Bethlehem of Judah. (For a full discussion of this point see my book Messiah: His Nature and Person, pp. 194-201.) It is difficult to see any connection between these two verses. They briefly state two facts: one, the collapse of the Jewish nation; the other, the birth of King Messiah in Bethlehem of Judah. Verse 3 simply declares that as a consequence of Messiah's birth God gives up the children of Judah until the end time. The connection must be sought from some other passage. It is evident that Micah assumes a knowledge an the part of his hearers, of that which is told by other prophets. Can we ascertain the connecting link?

Let us keep clearly in mind that the birth of Messiah, as we have already seen in different predictions, occurred before the age-long dispersion of Israel, which will eventually terminate in the time of Jacob's trouble. Since Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah, we will turn to his pages tOo glean the facts which are presupposed by Micah. In 7: 14 of his writings he foretells that the Messiah will be born of a virgin:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

For the proof that this verse foretells the miraculous conception and the virgin birth of King Messiah, see pp. 121-169 of my book, Messiah: His Nature and Person. In Isaiah 9: 6, 7 we are informed that this child, born of the virgin, shall be recognized as "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah in his famous "servant" passage (52:13-53:12) spoke of Him as "the arm of Jehovah." That this arm of Jehovah is none other than the Lord Himself is evident from a casual study of Isaiah 51:9-11. Here this "arm of Jehovah" is the one who

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pierced the monster, Rahab. This is an evident reference to the conflict with Satan whose downfall is referred to in Ezekiel 28. Thus the name, "the arm of Jehovah," is used personally and refers to King Messiah. Isaiah 53:1-9 is the confession which the last generation of Israel scattered among the nations will make. According to it King Messiah, like a plant out of dry ground, grows up in the midst of Israel. This forecast shows that the spiritual condition of Israel at the. time of His birth and during His life is indeed at a very low ebb. Furthermore, the prediction shows that Israel does not recognize Him, but, on the contrary, rejects Him. Moreover it reveals the facts that the stroke due Israel falls upon Him, and that by His stripes healing is brought to the nation. That Isaiah 53 refers to the suffering of King Messiah in behalf of Israel and the world is evident from a thorough study of this passage. (See chapter XVIII of The Eternal God Revealing Himself to Suffering Israel and to Lost Humanity.)

Isaiah 53:1-9, therefore, is the confession of Israel which she will make in the year 1938+. The plus sign indicates a certain definite year, for no one can determine the exact date. The divine explanation of the purpose of Messiah's suffering appears in 53:10-12, namely, for the sins of His people. Chapter 54 is a continuation of the prophecy and shows that, after Israel has confessed the national sin of the execution of King Messiah, God will reestablish her in the Holy Land and take her into fellowship with Himself. In view oŁ these facts, and others which could be mentioned, it is evident that God abandoned Israel when she rejected King Messiah and permitted the Romans to destroy the nation, and to scatter her throughout the world. These facts, gathered from Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, give the connecting link between Micah 5:1 and 3. We may conclude, therefore, that Micah 5:1 is a forecast of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., and that verse 2 is a prediction of the birth of King Messiah in Bethlehem of Judah. Because the nation rejected Him, God abandoned her to her own fate and permitted the Romans to blot out her national existence. Then he gave her up until the time of the end-the time of Jacob's trouble, at which season Israel will acknowledge this national sin of age-long standing. Then she will be forgiven and reinstated into the favor of God.

The travailing mentioned in verse 3, when viewed in the light of parallel passages, is seen to be the final distress through which Israel shall pass. This time of Jacob's trouble, as has been sug

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gested above, terminates the period during which she has been abandoned by her God. The word Therefore, which introduces verse 3, shows absolutely that this statement is the conclusion drawn from the data given in verses 1 and 2. We know without a doubt from this fact that the birth of Messiah precedes the Lord's rejection of Israel, and that the siege of verse 1, fulfilled in the Roman occupation of Palestine in 70, was the Almighty's judgment upon her because of her execution of King Messiah.*

Therefore, without a doubt, King Messiah made His appearance before that epochal event in Jewish history.

In the investigation of Isaiah's prediction we learned that the house of David would cease to rule the nation, but that, on the contrary, it would sink into private life. This same condition is set forth by Micah. According to the covenant which God made with David (II Sam. 7), the Messiah comes of his house. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish monarchy. In the days of Micah the Davidic dynasty flourished there. At that time, therefore, the people had a right to believe that Messiah would be born in the royal palace at the capital. To the contrary, Micah said that He would be born in the little city of Bethlehem, which was so very insignificant that it could not be reckoned among the thousands of the families of Judah. This prediction shows conclusively that our prophet foresaw the fallen condition of the Davidic dynasty-when it could no longer perform the governmental functions, but would have retired to private life, dwelling in obscurity. Since the Davidic dynasty lost its power at the Babylonian siege (606-586 B.CE.), and since the Jewish national life became extinct in the year 70 CE., we know positively from this and other Scriptures that Messiah
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* God created man with the power of choice. He never forces the human will. Always He uses moral suasion to induce man to do the right thing. If, however, he refuses to choose the noble and the good, He permits him to go ahead in the way of his preferences, but He always overrules conditions and circumstances and works out that which will bring the greatest good and blessing to the largest number concerned. Sennacherib, the Assyrian monarch, chose to persecute Israel and to plunder the land, but in following his natural inclinations he did not know that the Lord Almighty was overruling his actions and was working out His plans concerning Israel (Isa. 10:5-14). Peter declared that Jesus Christ was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and that the leaders of Israel of the time, though exercising their own wills in the matter, simply carried out the divine program (Acts 2:22-24). God uses men and means to carry out His plan of blessing the world. His heart is centered upon His creatures, and He is seeking to bless each of them. It is impossible now for us to conceive of His great solicitation for each one of us (Ps. 139:17, 18).

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was to make His first appearance during this period, which, as has been suggested, is known as the era of the Second Temple.

From authentic history we learn that the Jewish nation fell in 70 CE. and that the people were then scattered to the four corners of the earth. Quite a number of Jewish people gathered back into Palestine and instituted a revolt against the Roman authorities in the year 132 CE. This rebellion was suppressed by Hadrian in 135 CE. From that time forward the Jews were not permitted to live in Palestine, nor to own any property there. According to information which has come to me, and which I think is quite accurate, no Jew was permitted to own any real estate in Palestine until around the year 1860 CE. Since that time there has been a slow and gradual change in the policy of the civil powers having control. Finally, after the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, the Jews have been purchasing extensive tracts and have been making most wonderful progress in the reclamation of the soil and of introducing modern civilization. In the Spring of 1937 I visited many of the colonies and settlements and was amazed at the progress. Since they were driven out of the country in the years 70 and 135 CE. and have not lived there during these 1900 years, and since Messiah, according to Micah's prediction, was to be born in Bethlehem, it is absolutely certain His birth occurred prior to the calamity of 70 CE.

But one might ask: Since they are regathering, as is evident from the Zionistic movement, could He not yet be born in Bethlehem of Judah at this time? This is a fair question. My reply is No; for this age-long dispersion of Israel among the nations is one of the consequences of her actions and attitude toward Him after His birth in Bethlehem. In a preceding paragraph I have shown that the Roman siege of Palestine and the collapse of the nation (Micah 5:1) were in a most intimate manner connected with the birth of Messiah (Micah 5:2), and that verse 3, which foretells her age-long dispersion, is the outgrowth of those two events; therefore of necessity Messiah was born and executed prior to the Roman occupation and the consequent age-long dispersion.

H. The Messianic Kingdom

"And he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God: and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:4). According to verse 3 the people of Israel are to be given up until she who travaileth bringeth forth. Zion is this one (Micah 4:10 12

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and Isa. 66:7-9). This statement refers to the time of Jacob's trouble. When it is over, the children of Israel with the residue of Messiah's brethren (the tribe of Judah) will return to God. A prediction similar to this one appears in Hosea 3:4, 5. At that time the old animosity which dates back to early history will be wiped out and all the tribes will, in a new spirit, come together and return to the Mighty God (Isa. 10:21).

The Messiah will stand in the strength of the Lord and in the majesty of the name of His God and will tend His flock-the whole house of Israel. His fame will encircle the globe: "for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth." According to other predictions we know that the glory of the Lord will encircle the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). That the babe of Bethlehem mentioned in 5:2 is King Messiah and the one who administers this world-wide reign of righteousness is evident from the similarity of the prophecy in 5:2 with the one in 4:8. In this latter verse the prophet addressed the reigning monarch at Jerusalem in the following words: "And thou, 0 tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion." In 5:2, looking toward the little village of Bethlehem, he spoke in the following language: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah." The similarity of address is not accidental but intentional. Another mark of identification is found in the word memeshalah,  the dominion of 4:8 and ~rqi7.) ruler of 5:2. These two words are from the same root and, of course, have the same fundamental literal meaning. The first looks at the sovereignty that shall be exercised by Him who is the King; the second refers to the King Himself. This former dominion that is to return to the daughter of Zion is the reign of peace that shall extend throughout the world, "for of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David," etc. (Isa. 9:7). No one could administer such a government unless he is such a one as is described in 5:2; namely, He "whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." This one is none other than God in human form who enters the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14) and is born at Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2). In our investigation of the predictions coming from the Assyrian period we have learned that the Messiah, God in human form, would be born at the little village of Bethlehem and not in the royal city of Jerusalem. This fact shows that the Davidic house at the time

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of His birth had sunk into private life, residing as it were in a mere hut. The facts of the different contexts also have led us to the conclusion that His birth would be prior to the final overthrow of the nation in 70 C.E. Furthermore, we also have learned that the treatment which is accorded Him at His first coming is the cause of the overthrow, world-wide dispersion, and rejection of Israel during this period of her long suffering. When she sees her mistake at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, she will confess the national sin and welcome Messiah's return. Instantly He will rend the heavens, return, deliver her, and make her the head of the nations. For this grand and glorious event our hearts yearn.

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