|MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED, Chapters 16-19||
MESSIAH: HIS FIRST COMING SCHEDULED
I. GOD'S SUPERVISION OF THE WORLD
"GOD moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform." Hannah by prophetic vision was given insight into God's providential care of the world and His direction of the course of history. Her hymn is such a wonderful presentation of His overruling providence that I wish to quote it in toto:
1 And Hannah
prayed, and said: My heart ext1lteth in Jehovah; My horn is exalted in
Jehovah; My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies: Because I rejoice in thy
salvation. 2 There is none holy as Jehovah; For there is none besides thee,
Neither is there any rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly;
Let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; For Jehovah is a God of knowledge,
And by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty men are broken; And
they that stumbled are girded with strength. 5 They that were full have hired
out themselves for bread; And they that were hungry have ceased to hunger:
Yea, the barren hath borne seven; And she that hath many children languisheth.
6 Jehovah killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth
up. 7 Jehovah maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, he also lifteth
up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, He lifteth up the needy from the
dunghill, To make them sit with princes, And inherit the throne of glory: For
the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's, And he hath set the world upon them. 9
He will keep the feet of his holy ones; But the wicked shall be put to silence
in darkness; For by strength shall no man prevail. 10 They that strive with
Jehovah shall be broken to pieces; Against them will he thunder in heaven:
Jehovah will judge the ends of the earth; And h will give strength unto his
king, And exalt the horn of his anointed.
At the proper time the Lord deals with every individual regardless of who he is or what his position in life is. The fact that He does not summarily call the wicked to account is no evidence that He will not in the due course of time punish them. "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; He bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth up" (verse 6). He by His overruling providence reverses the financial and social conditions of people when their conduct demands such drastic measures.
Eventually He will raise up the poor and oppressed who are trusting Him and make them sit with princes and inherit "the throne of Glory." As He directs the course of events, He will protect and keep the feet of His faithful ones (verse 9). When the world will have filled up its cup of iniquity, He will enter into personal judgment with them, slaying the wicked. At that time He will exalt His King and magnify His Messiah (verse 10).
All one has to do is to watch the course of history and see God working out His problems with the human family. He is directing the course of events toward the great consummation when He will establish His kingdom upon the earth, and His glory will encircle the globe as the waters cover the sea.
If one will study the second chapter of Daniel's prophecy, one will see that the Lord outlined the entire course of world sovereignty and power under the symbolism of a metallic image. Babylon, as we have already seen, was given sovereignty over the entire world as long as she would fit into the plan of God. Finally, according to the prophetic vision, dominion was to be taken from her and delivered to another-Medo-Persia. This thing the Lord did. At the proper time the sovereignty was transferred to the Greek Empire and was entrusted to that nation so long as it would serve His purpose in developing His plan of the ages.
II. ALEXANDER'S CONQUEST
According to the accepted chronology Alexander, the youthful Macedonian, marched with his Greek phalanxes against the might of Persia.
people were in close touch with only two of these divisions into which his
empire split: the Graeco-Syrian kingdom in the North and the government of the
These two realms were in constant conflict. Located in Palestine, Israel was,
as it were, between the upper and the nether millstones. For 150 years they
suffered first at the hands .of one of these and then from the other. This
history is set forth in the prophetic vision which was granted Daniel as
described in Chapter I of this volume.
The greatest persecution of the Graeco-Syrians broke out under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. With fanatical hate he tried to impose upon the Jewish people his type of civilization. To hellenize the entire nation was a task greater than he anticipated.
To do this, he attempted by subtle means to destroy their religious institutions and sacred culture. When it became apparent that they would resist these foreign influences, Antiochus endeavored by force and might to carry out his program. This act of intolerance stirred up the patriotic ones to revolt. The sons of Mattathias, a priest living at Modin, sprang forth to champion the cause of Jewish liberty. The ensuing struggle was gigantic. The sacrifices made by the people were great but the victories won were glorious. Finally, Judas, after approximately six years of warfare, cleansed the Temple from its defilement and dedicated it anew to the service of God. Upon his death his brother, Jonathan, came to power and continued the struggle, waging a glorious war against the oppressors of the Jews. He, in turn, was succeeded by Simon, his brother, who likewise performed exploits in behalf of his people. Following him, John Hyrcanus took up the gauntlet of war against Israel's inveterate enemies, but not with the brilliancy and success of his predecessors.
The struggle which was begun by Mattathias about 168 B.C.E. was continued by his successors until finally all hope for Jewish national independence was quenched by the intervention of the Romans in 63 B.C.E.
V. SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF JEWISH LIFE IN THE PERIOD
As we have just seen, during the Greek period-especially the latter half of it-the political fortunes of Israel were disastrous to her. She suffered, but survived, living to see the downfall of her oppressors. This is what one might expect because the Chosen People are indestructible.
One of the laws of God's great economy is that of compensation. The losses in one realm always appear in the form of gains in another. The God of righteousness sees that this law is always in operation. The spiritual gains which the nation made in this period of crisis more than compensated for the political losses. During this time there was a special outburst of religious feeling and ecstatic vision. These spiritual elements contributed largely to the courage and the faith of the people during their hour of trial.
An intense nationalism developed which was placed upon a strictly religious basis, and which made its great contribution for the future in the days of the first century of the common era. Men may look with scorn and derision at the Pharisees of old and may magnify their shortcomings, nevertheless they were used of God in a providential way
GOD has never relinquished for one second His authority over the earth. His throne is established in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all. When the Greeks could no longer be used to advantage in the unfolding of His redemptive scheme and in preparation for the advent of King Messiah, the Lord withdrew the authority which He had vested in them and turned it over to the Romans. This is in perfect accord with the predictions which outlined Israel's history set forth in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. The Lord fixes the appointed seasons and the bounds for the habitation of all nations. Hence, when the time arrived, He, by guiding providential circumstances, brought Pompey over into the East upon the Jewish political horizon.
I. ROMAN SUPREMACY OVER PALESTINE
The situation in Jerusalem was very critical because there were two brothers contending for the throne-John Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus. The strong Roman general was invited to be an arbiter in the dispute. Very adroitly he manipulated the situation and brought Palestine under the supremacy of the Romans.
With the coming of the Romans a new type of civilization was brought into the East. The special contribution which they made to the civilization of the world was law and order-strong government. The policy of the imperial city was to allow each conquered territory to pursue its own life unmolested as long as it yielded submissively and accepted the Roman domination, paying the taxes. This new element of stability and of order was necessary in the preparation of the world for the coming of the Messiah. It is evident to everyone who travels throughout the Graeco-Roman world that Rome was a mighty power and developed a civilization made ready for the advent of King Messiah with His message of good news for the world. Under the Romans the Jewish people were allowed to continue their life unmolested and to develop a marvelous civilization.
Throughout this volume we have been studying the chronological question and have traced the record of time, embedded in the Sacred Writings, from the creation of Adam through the centuries to the time of the closing of the canon of the Jewish Scriptures. This chronology is so very accurate that it can be neither increased ,nor diminished by any legitimate manipulation of the facts.
We have seen in chapter XIII that the Messiah was to appear .and to be cut off 483 years after the issuing of the proclamation by Cyrus for the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of Jerusalem. Furthermore, we have seen that this decree was issued in the year 3589 A.H. (536 B.C.E.). According to the prophet's utterance, the Messiah would be cut off 483 years subsequent to the issuing of that decree. By simple addition we understand that that "tragic event occurred in the year 4071 A.H.
No one can doubt the accuracy of mathematical calculations in which no mistakes are made. The chronology, embedded in the Scriptures and demonstrated in this volume, proves that He was to be cut off in the year 4071 A.H. and have nothing. Why do we, know that He was to be executed in that very year? God by His infallible Spirit made this revelation. Men may lie, but the Lord always speaks the truth. Since mathematics are accurate, and since God foretold that Messiah would be executed in 4071 A.H., we 'may be absolutely certain that He made His appearance in the world on scheduled time, and that He was executed according to the 'predictions found throughout the Scriptures. From this conclusion there can be no possible escape.
That He did come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is evident to everyone who will, with an unbiased mind, study the predictions foretelling His advent and read the records of His life as they are 'found in the first four books of the New Testament-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He alone of all others is the one who can lay claim to Messianic honors.
He appeared at the time designated; He entered the world in the way foretold; He performed the works foreseen by the prophets; and He met a tragic death as was delineated in the most detailed manner by the inspired men of God.
There can be
no doubt in the mind of those who have studied the 'three former volumes of
this Series that Messiah was to be cut off exactly 483 years after Cyrus
issued his decree. In the next book of this Series-Messiah: His Historical
and positive proof will be presented that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the true Hebrew Messiah.
On account of their not knowing the Scriptures, or, rather on account of their not taking them literally at what they say, the leaders of Israel did not recognize Messiah when He made His first appearance according to the schedule set forth in the Scriptures. May I say in this connection that anyone makes a fatal mistake in not reading the Scriptures, taking them at their face value and believing God?
Moses foretold that God would raise up from among Israel a prophet like unto himself, and that He would place His words in His mouth and warned them that those who would not be obedient to the divine message, which this prophet would utter, should be held personally responsible for rejecting Him and His words. On this point see Deut. 18:15-19. There can be no doubt to the one who makes a thorough and honest investigation of all the facts that Jesus of Nazareth was this prophet, the Hebrew Messiah. Hence Israel, failing to recognize Him, through her leaders rejected Him and His message. God has required this failure of His people and will continue to do so. He did not call them to a reckoning immediately, but waited for forty years, giving them an opportunity full and ample-to consider well the national action.
III. THE COLLAPSE OF THE NATION
"The mills of God grind slowly, But they grind exceedingly fine," as the poet tells us. The Lord fulfils every promise that He makes and carries out every threat and warning which He utters. He, however, waited for the regular time of testing to elapse, namely, forty years-as He did with Israel when she came out of Egyptian bondage. Because the Hebrews did not believe God when they came to Kadesh-barnea and refused to go forward at His command, the Lord made them wander around in the wilderness for forty years and denied them the privilege of entering immediately into the land of promise. Thus it was on this occasion.
From the standpoint of judgment, God kept silent for forty years and, when the period of testing had passed, then permitted, and shaped events to bring about the collapse of the nation. Let us in this connection remember that the nations of the world are in the hands of the Lord but as a drop in the bucket (Isa. 40:12-17). This principle is demonstrated in hundreds of cases throughout Israel's history. Since the Lord had promised to give dominion
"THE friendship of Jehovah is with those who fear Him and love Him" (Ps. 25:14). Since the Lord loves Israel with an everlasting love, and since He has entered into covenant relationship with Abraham and his seed, He has made known His plans and purposes and at the same time has warned her of the consequences of disobedience. He laid before her an outline of the course of her wanderings through the centuries. Thus her world-wide dispersion was not the result of chance or of fortune, but was the carrying out of His afore-announced plan of dealing with the disobedient nation.
In Leviticus 26, verses 3-16, the Lord promised every material and spiritual blessing to Israel if she would only be faithful to Him. Following these promises is a definite warning (vss. 14-16) that, if she should be disobedient, He would spew her out of His mouth and disperse her among the nations.
"14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; 15 and if ye shall reject my statutes, and if your soul abhor mine ordinances, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant; 16 I also will do this unto you: I will appoint terror upon you, even consumption and fever, that shall consume the eyes, and make the soul to pine away; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it,"
In verses 40 and 41 Moses by inspiration told that Israel would confess her iniquity and the iniquity of her fathers in their trespass which they trespassed against Him.
"40 And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they have trespassed against me, and also that, because they walked contrary unto me, 41 I also walked contrary unto them, and brought them into the land of their enemies: if then their uncircumcised heart be humbled and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land."
This passage presupposes that the people of Israel as a race at sometime in their history will commit a national sin, and that the descendants of those guilty of this crime will confess their share in it and that of their forefathers. Furthermore, they will also confess that,
GOD is righteous and will deal with each one on the merits 0:" his conduct. This statement pertains to His judging the works of men but does not apply to salvation, which, as we know, is a matter of His sovereign grace and love. He at the proper time punishes sin and disobedience and rewards one for faithful service. This principle applies to both time and eternity. Punishment for wrongdoing is often sent upon one in order to bring him to his senses and to cause him to turn from sin to God. In fact, every stroke of punishment is designed to bring one back to the Lord.
But since the Almighty is righteous and just, He, of necessity, must punish men for disobedience. Otherwise, He could not maintain His moral government of the universe. These principles apply to both individuals and nations. Especially is this true with regard to Israel, the nation of destiny. God called her to be the channel of blessing to all nations. He never discards any of His plans. He may be delayed in carrying out His program, but He never turns aside from any of His purposes. Sooner or later He turns the course of history so that He may carry out His plan of the ages.
Since Israel has been rebellious against God, as all of her prophets have stated, He must, of necessity, purge her of all sinners and purify her that she may become the channel of blessing to the world. This cleansing period is known as the time of Jacob's trouble. The prophets constantly spoke of it. Since this is a most important matter, I shall call attention to four clear statements relative to it.
I. ACCORDING TO JEREMIAH 30:1-11
"1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, 2 Thus speaketh Jehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write thee an the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. 3 For, 10, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will turn again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith Jehovah; and I wil\ cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shan possess it. "4 And these are the words that Jehovah spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah, 5 For thus saith Jehovah: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child: wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and an faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he
For some time God spoke orally through Jeremiah His word to the people. Then he received a command to write these messages in a book. The Lord wanted to preserve His revelation for future generations. In this particular case He wished to reiterate the promise that He would turn again the captivity of His people Israel and Judah and cause them to inhabit the land of their fathers Palestine. Following this marvelous disclosure, the prophet received another revelation concerning the time of Jacob's trouble during which the people of Israel will suffer as they never have in all their experiences. In vision he saw them in dire distress and great suffering, putting their hands upon their loins as a woman in travail. Their faces will be turned into paleness. Terror and fright will grip every heart because of the terrible judgments which will fall upon them.
Why is this period called especially the time of Jacob's trouble? Doubtless, because at that time God will send His judgments upon His Chosen People to punish them double for their sins. (See Jeremiah 16: 18 and Isaiah 40:1, 2.) The reason He will deal so very drastically with them is that He miraculously created them for His glory and committed unto them His oracles. Such blessings He never conferred upon the Gentiles. 'With superior light and advantages comes increased responsibility. In the light of these facts we can see why the Lord will send judgments in their severest form upon His Chosen People. At the same time He will punish their oppressors with terrific judgments: "I will curse them that curse thee."
By these purging judgments the Lord will cleanse the nation of all wickedness. At the same time He will take care of and protect the meek and humble who are looking to Him alone. This promise of divine favor is seen in Isaiah 33:13-16.
"13 Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling hath seized the godless ones: Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?
who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings? 15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly ;he that' despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from taking a bribe, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from looking upon evil: 16 he shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; his bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."
After Israel has been purged of all sinners, the remnant will return and serve Jehovah their God and David their King whom He will raise up for them. This' one is none other than the Hebrew Messiah. Being delivered, they will enjoy the quiet, peaceful, glorious reign of their King;
II. ACCORDING TO EZEKIEL 20:27-44
"27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith, the Lord Jehovah: In this moreover have your fathers blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me. 28 For when I had brought them into the land, which I sware to give unto them, then they saw every high hill, and every thick tree, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering; there also they made their sweet savor, and they poured out there their drink-offerings. 29 Then I said unto them, What meaneth the high place whereunto ye go? So the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day. 30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Do ye pollute yourselves after the manner of your fathers? and play ye the harlot after their abominations? 31 and when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, do ye pollute yourselves with all your idols unto this day? and shall I be inquired of by you, 0 house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I will not be inquired of by you; 32 and that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, in that ye say, We will be as the nations, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
"33 As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you. 34 And I will bring you out from the peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; 35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 Like as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, saith the Lord Jehovah. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah. 39 As for you, 0 house of Israel, thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Go ye, serve everyone his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me; but my holy name shall ye no more profane with your gifts, and with your idols. "40 For in my holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah, there shall an the house of Israel, an of them, serve me in the land: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first-fruits of your oblations, with an your holy things. 41 As a sweet savor will I accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will, be sanctified in you in the sight of the nations.
In the first twenty-six verses of this chapter we see the prophet's recounting God's deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and His dealing with them in the wilderness during the forty years of wandering. Repeatedly he called attention to the judgment which came upon them during this period of wilderness testing and punishment. In verses 27 to 32 he recounted her disobedience in going into idolatry after she was established in the land. Beginning with verse 33, he foretold the time when the Lord will gather His people out from among the nations and enter into judgment with them, purging out all the wicked. In this prediction He spoke in terms of their having been delivered from bondage and having been brought out into the wilderness. Confirmation of this fact is seen in the study of the nation's history at that time. God purged out all the disobedient and the unbelieving who at Kadesh-barnea refused to enter into the land and take possession of their possessions. Therefore the Lord decreed that that generation should pass away before He would allow the people to enter the land. Under the stroke of divine judgment all the murmurers and unbelievers who rejected the word of the Lord at Kadesh-barnea fell in the wilderness. The prophet, in speaking of their future establishment in the land, said that God would gather them out of the countries and bring them into the wilderness of the people and there enter into judgment with them. In view of all that is said in this special oracle, it is evident that he was speaking of this future purging of the nation in terms of the history at the beginning of their national career.
After the refining judgments have destroyed all the wicked in Israel and those who are not willing to abide by God's will alone, He will establish her in the land. There they shall prosper and be used of Him according to His original purpose.
III. ACCORDING TO ZEPHANIAH 2:1-3
"Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, 0 nation that hath no shame; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of Jehovah come upon you, before the day of Jehovah's anger come upon you.
3 Seek ye Jehovah, an ye meek of the earth, that have kept his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be that ye will be hid in the day of Jehovah's anger," From this passage we can see clearly that Israel is to be gathered, to a certain extent at least, to the land which the Lord gave to Abraham and his descendants. This regathering comes before the great and terrible day of Jehovah, when He pours out His anger upon the world. Verse 3 however is an invitation to those who keep His ordinances and who seek righteousness and meekness. Doubtless this exhortation is addressed to those who are really seeking God and His Word. Attached to this plea is a promise that they will be hidden in the day of the Lord's wrath. When this passage is studied in the light of others, it is seen that it contains a promise to the faithful remnant which will survive the tribulation.
IV. ACCORDING To MALACHI 3:1-6
"1 Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts, 2 But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3 and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness. 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner from his right, and fear not me, saith Jehovah of hosts. 6 For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, 0 sons of Jacob, are not consumed."
prediction will be fulfilled at the second coming of King Messiah, when He
will suddenly come to His temple and purify the nation. Of course, He will do
it by the purging judgments which will precede His coming. After this
will be able to offer her gifts and sacrifices to the Lord in righteousness.
At that time she will be acceptable and will become the channel in blessing
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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