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Prior to a short excursion into an often confused area, that of allegorising relative to Israel, and determining the meaning(s) of that term, let us garner a few basic data for ready reference in that impending exercise. For this purpose, we shall have in view chiefly a primary and a background set of Scriptures, which specialise in whole or part, in certain matters pertaining to Israel.
We have in mind ... Chapters: Ezekiel 34-37; Isaiah 42, 44, 48, 49, 52-3; Jeremiah 30-33 and Zechariah 9-14. The reference to Isaiah is the background.
Here we find, concerning Israel, assertions of its sin, almost too numerous even to use for selection, but including: Jeremiah 31:28; 31:30; of sin fatal and terminal - Jeremiah 30:12 - though a miraculous change supervenes in later history (30:17); of sins which lead to the breaking of the covenant (Zechariah 11:10-14)... which cause Israel to be called a blind servant (Isaiah 42:16-19); of sins which constitute Israel an assemblage of the dead, a collation of dead bones (Ezekiel 37:11) which must be operated on by divine dynamic, before they so much as live.
We see that God called the virgin of Israel (Jeremiah 31:3-4) and dispersed her (Jeremiah 32:36-37) and regathered her from exile, alas less than virgin (Jeremiah 32:30-35) that she had become. Divine judgment and wrath stripped Israel of her position, though not her future (Ezekiel 34:17-20) ... indeed, a parallel in Hosea (1:9) cites the condemnation - "Ye are not My people and I will not be your God." That is quite incisive and decisive.
Lamentable as were these strictures, and gross as was the foul sin, there is a pity in which God moves, all human merit apart, to restore His lost nation with tenderness (Jeremiah 31:18-26).
The ultimate mercy however is shut up to a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31 ff.). This of course coincides with the startling new dynamic and total power predicted for the special 'prophet' to come, by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). This season, assigned to the latter days (Jeremiah 30:24) finds Christ the acknowledged head of Israel (the customary metonymy 'David,' himself long before passed on, being employed for that king's famous sovereign descendant). As to the latter, his formal and central place shall be wonderful (Jeremiah 33:14-16). This future phase is revealed to Jeremiah after the coverage of the return from Babylon (Jeremiah 32), which had involved Jeremiah in a costly and symbolic land purchase.
Challenged by God to call upon Him with the offer of being shown "great and mighty things to come," Jeremiah accedes and is shown this era of Christ, the promised saviour (Isaiah 53:6-12) and sin-bearer; who as a sacrifice would be sinless whilst yet man; and who, since God affirms there is no other saviour (Isaiah 43:11), is God as man.
Jeremiah speaks of this both in terms of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) and as follows:
In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely: and this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS ( Jeremiah 33:15-16).This of course is assimilable with Zechariah 4:8-10, where we learn that this Branch, is also designable as a stone on which the sins of the people will be engraved, and Zechariah 6:13-14, where we further find that He will bear the glory, functioning both as prince and priest, a combination of fulness earlier absolutely forbidden, as Uzziah well showed, gaining a non-remitting leprosy for his presumption as king into the priest's office. We have regarded such points elsewhere, in detail, but here merely review them for freshness in the memory.
Having become re-acquainted with some of the basic data, let us now pursue this acquaintance more thoroughly in the necessary respects, before consummating our concern about allegorising.
1. There is a day to come when Christ will be the acknowledged head of Israel (the customary metonymy "David", as noted, being employed for this famous kingly and predicted descendant - Jeremiah 30:9).
2. At that time Israel will be back in its land ( Jeremiah 30:3). It remains to determine whether this led to, or followed after the coming of Christ.
3. The time of the blessed period involved is assigned to the "latter days" - Jeremiah 30:24-31:1 ff. At that time. the governor of Israel (Christ as above) will have remarkable power and propriety to approach to God, despite the fact that nationally this was a formalised function of the priest and not the prince. In this connection, we recall how this was emphasised in the leprosy which struck presuming King Uzziah who betook himself into the function of the priest's office (II Chronicles 26:16-21). Of singular significance is the language used. In Jeremiah 30:21 - which is our reference, we find these words:
And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will CAUSE him TO DRAW NEAR, and he shall approach unto Me; for who is this that engages his heart to approach unto Me ? said the Lord.It goes on to signify in consonance with this the national situation: "And ye shall be My people, and I will be your God."
This same language is used as the form of speech in Numbers 16:5 where not only does it apply to the priestly ministration at the national level: it in fact relates to the very cardinal episode of the rebellion of the sons of Korah who wished to usurp authority specifically from Moses and Aaron. It is as follows:
And he spoke unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even tomorrow the Lord will show who are His, and who is holy, and will CAUSE him TO COME NEAR unto Him; even him whom He hath CHOSEN will He cause to come near unto Him.The procedural point is perfectly clear: the sanctuary had observances and although the Lord is near to those who call upon Him, yet in a distinctive ceremonial sense, the nearness might be as it were visible, when say Moses drew near to the Lord in the tabernacle and departed with glory on his face; or when the Lord's presence was signified by the pillar of cloud or fire which "covered the tabernacle". The selective significance of drawing near, on the part of the high official is its national import, and incorporated is the priestly prerogative; and distinguishing these things from the ordinary, is the identical vocabulary.
The further signalising of this illustrious individual, noted in Jeremiah 30:21, occurs in Jeremiah 50:44: "And who is a CHOSEN man, that I may appoint over her ? For who is like Me ? And who will appoint Me the time ? And who is that shepherd that will stand before Me ?" (cf.49:19).
Here we see both the question and the answer associated with these things. Since the prince could not be priest, how could this man, being governor, also fulfil the customary and habitual occasions of priest, so that he could be so characterised and signalised in this prophetic way ? The answer is that this is one more Messiah vista - as in Isaiah 41:28-42:1 - where none can stand before Him in the substantial sense of salvation so desperately needed, and He sends the Suffering Servant to bear their iniquities... So here, the Prince transcends the Mosaic covenant (and hence relates to Jeremiah 31:31 ff. quite obviously) and is 'like God' in a marvellous sense, His chosen (cf. Isaiah 42:1). Here the interrogative introduces the sense of the astonishing, the thing of wonder, the matter of marvel. Who is this ? Its use as a refrain tends to thrust the concept and the individual before us. (Cf. Isaiah 49:21, 63:1, 66:8-9.)
Not therefore as a potential leper, an Uzziah is this marvellous governor presented, but rather as that 'David' (Jeremiah 30:9) already introduced in the same chapter for our wonder and praise. Christ, the Messiah then, as coming Davidic King, and being priest (presenting indeed Himself) as well as prince (Isaiah 53:6-12) is in focus most distinctly for the period which we are surveying. As Isaiah 55:3-4 shows, He is here in terms of an everlasting covenant, and as Isaiah 65:10-13 shows, this relates to man in a way which transcends a specifically Jewish covenant. Jeremiah 31 shows its internal nature and its illustrious character (cf. Hebrews 8).
4. Until this blessed governorship, God's fierce anger is not cancelled (Jeremiah 30:21-24) for the erring people (Jeremiah 30:3,10-18 - God will "bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents"). This governor is in the integrity of their restoration, evoking wonder, as we saw, at His gracious presence and transformative dealings (Jeremiah 30:21 etc.).
5. In the same vein of futuristic final fulfilment (which by no means excludes preliminary and partial episodes, such as the physical regathering of the people or the blessing of the Gentiles, noted in Chapter 9 infra, in detail), the "newcovenant" which Christ instituted (Matthew 26:28) is contemporary with the blessing of this period relative to Israel (Jeremiah 31:31 ff., 30:7-9). This of course coincides with the startling new dynamic and total power predicted for the special 'prophet' by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18, cf. Matthew 28:18).
The amending (Jeremiah 30:7) of the curse dispensed at the nation's dispersion (30:3) has impending the actual rule of Christ (Jeremiah 30:8-9). "In that day" (Jeremiah 30:8-10) of terrestrial return, the Saviour (cf. Zechariah 12:10) is seen at hand to characterise and to conduct it. The era (of restoration) comes (30:3) and "in that day" (vv. 8-9) Christ rules.
His is the signature on the return, its hallmark, an ineradicable component, indeed His is the sovereignty and He will rule (30:9). That is the point. As in Isaiah (32:1-4,14-17, cf. pp. 782, 791-792, 801-802 supra), this period is characterised by the distinctive designation of justification, to which the New Covenant always points: "The Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 33:16- cf. II Corinthians 5:19-21, II Cor. 1:30) is a critical, characteristic feature "in those days". Never again will this rebuilt city be destroyed (Jeremiah 31:38-40) - the city of those to be cast away from their privileged place and then reclaimed (cf. pp. 776-779, 785 supra- Jeremiah 31:27-28). Such is this epoch and such is its designation.
It is to be engulfed by the personal presence of the Messiah which will come upon it (Zechariah 11:12,14).
6. This future situation is validated and authorised with infinite and dramatic authority (Jeremiah 31:35 ff.). This is correlative, in its astronomical glory, with the fact that God Himself says:
IT SHALL BE TO ME A NAME OF JOY, A PRAISE AND AN HONOUR BEFORE ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH, WHICH WILL HEAR ALL THE GOOD THAT I WILL DO TO THEM: AND THEY SHALL FEAR AND TREMBLE FOR ALL THE GOODNESS... (Jeremiah 33:9).THIS is for the city, "The Lord our Righteousness", and for such a people as this rejected, restored, disciplined, abusers of mercy, finders of mercy, rejected from covenant, accepted in a new covenant: for such a people is such a benediction in the presence of their Prince who draws near.
Breach the running of the universe if you can, and then think of breaching this covenant with the people to whom God is speaking! (Jeremiah 33:5). The point is, shall we say, emphatic. It is unconditional, merciful, a grant of favour with, and before their King. It turns on a contradistinct blessing on restored renegades, vagrants from grace, reclaimed from dispossession, living by grace.
7. God is in fact to restore them from temporary captivity in the nearer times, where the 70 year captivity is in view (Jeremiah. 7-14, 29:1-10).
8. Thereon He expressly and formally prepares Jeremiah's heart for greater things - and defining the matter explicitly, offers to show him "great and mighty things to come which you do not know" - surging forward into history. He does this in just the way the immediate present is covered; and the future is spread for a wider lesson in history (God being non-time-confined) as in Daniel. It will repay us to look at this aspect of Daniel in parallel, in passing. Thus the vast forward reaches of Daniel 9:24 ff. follow 9:2, where the 70 year immediate Babylonian captivity has been in acute focus.
It is thus that God proceeds in a coruscating and integrated display of time coverage, first immediate, then distant, then a long way further off. The sweep and scope of time is explicitly displayed, like a chronological landscape before a pilot at supersonic speed, focusing a finale reminiscent of the antecedent events, yet quite distinct from them. Daniel 9:26-27 display far earlier in phase, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (in fact, around 70 A.D.) and the much later and specifically separated onset of the antichrist epoch... set in an ultimate time segment "until the consummation" as it categorically and emphatically declares (cf. DANIEL FILE, esp. pp. 920 ff. supra). Christ emphasises this 'running time' (Matthew 24:7-8, Acts 1:6-8), both as sovereignly administered and in terms of the sum of a series of sequences. (Cf. Galatians 4:4.)
God's solicitude for the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:21-23 cf. 10:5-12), a personal love and compassion diversely communicated, is rather similar to that shown Jeremiah as this stunning revelation (Jeremiah 33) of "great and mighty things to come" is made known to him. Daniel chapter 8, too, moves swiftly from near to far. It is a matter of various instances, in a sense, an expatiation or spreading out of them, a development of an essence, a feature, in a time line; and time, as a medium of God's creation, makes history in this way almost like a vast audio-visual additive to the lecture... of God's word.
9. This event revealed as we see, to Jeremiah (Ch. 33) is to be of an extraordinarily dramatic and dynamic kind (Jeremiah 33:9) - causing people to tremble at the sheer spectacle of awesome divine might, unsheathed:
And it will be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth which will hear all the good I do to them: and they will fear and tremble for the goodness and for the prosperity I procure... Compare this with Romans 11:33 and 11:25 ff.. The sweep of history is manifestly made to serve God, and He reviews an age as we a day:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! cries Paul, astonished and delighted in the presence of such profundity(*1), such control over history, such patience, such richness of divine mercy and oversight.
10. This grand vision comes to Christ's period of direct sway and sovereignty over the land, to such an extraordinary extent that Jerusalem itself will be called by the name (as we have seen): The Lord our Righteousness (33:16). That Lord is the son of David (Jeremiah 33:15, cf. Isaiah 11). "In those days", judgment will be executed in the land. Righteousness also will be installed, instituted, executed: Christ its crown of meaning, and door of accessibility.
11. The people to whom this promise is addressed are:
i) obviously the nation Israel to whom the prophet is with considerable pith, lamentation and exhortation relaying the remarks of the Lord who sent him;
ii) the seed of Jacob (not the name of promise - Israel - here), and of David: which fact is to be considered in the context of the prophet's notorious and announced address to the national entities of the Jews (Jeremiah 2:4 ff., 33:24-26). Further, even in 33:26, the immediate context, there is the unmistakable resumption of the theme of the historical castigation of an historic people, voiced by an historic prophet - 33:26:
Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob ... for I will cause their captivity to return and have mercy on them.The people is thereby identified as the one to whom judgment has been meted out, after prior presence with the Lord; in union (Jeremiah 32:20-22), disunion (32:23), disruption (32:31), they are traced in their history, with subsequent return from the said judgment (Jeremiah 32:27-40). In the parallel, God similarly says that IF the stars and sun and moon fail - if He changes all that, then perhaps He might change the promise to Israel. It is of course an astronomically intense emphasis.
Why however would He "cast away" (meaning they are first in His name, in order to be cast away) an Israel to whom He happens to be speaking - a circumstance at times forgotten, it seems ?
God tells us: It is "because of all they have done"! (Jeremiah 31:37). As to that, God has been neither obscure, ambiguous nor sphinx-like, but rather has declared it incisively, decisively and at times derisively, with immense and intense emphasis on the specialised character of the national conduct, its recalcitrance, forgetfulness, wry unrealism, recidivism (cf. Hosea Chapters 11-14).
The word here speaks to a renegade nation to whom an unconditional (*2) divine promise in history nevertheless applies. It does not contemplate, at this point, the conversion of those with no historic relationship to God whatsoever, beyond that of generalised unbelief. In its immediate context, it looks at a new covenant for a chastened rebel nation which hitherto has fled from an era of grace. In this application and central essence, the context is incompatible with the mere drafting of those who are simple aliens and strangers from the direct and intimate divine dealings... into the kingdom.
12. When they thus return - or their blessing thus pours - in this latter-day spiritual prodigy of blessing and consummation, what is their future at that time ? Jeremiah 32:40 indicates that this new and everlasting covenant which will impinge upon them is such that:
i) it will indeed be effected relative to them (v.40); and within them(v.40b).
ii) they will not in fact nationally depart thereafter from Him (vv. 39-40).
iii) the covenant involved is yet to be made, and hence is not the Old Covenant of Moses (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-32 with 32:40).
In view of the national Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ, it is superabundantly clear, even if all the rest of the detail of the context were astonishingly ignored, that this prophecy of permanent return of the Jews to the Lord and His blessing, in its spiritual aspect at least, is still not fulfilled; although the preliminaries noted (as we looked at Zechariah) are now being fulfilled.
13. Ezekiel 36:21-38 similarly conducts us to this new covenant era (36:26 relates to Jeremiah 31:31, the period of Christ's sovereign and manifest central rule over this people, already contextually noted above).
It involves a decisively clear sequence:
i) shame and separation from Him spiritually and from the land, geographically.
ii) reflection by other nations on this notorious dispossession of the people of the Lord, from their own land (v.20).
iii) divine sovereign mercy shown signally in their return (v.24).
iv) mercy associated with the sprinkling by water (v.25), divine
removal of the sovereignty of sin and resultant continuation in the land (vv. 25-26).
v) divine regenerative activity of wide scope occurs in their spiritual midst (v.26).
vi) their dwelling thus in this blessing subject to no cessation(37:28).
vii)divine decision to settle them and increase them, sundering the strength of their iniquities and making them peculiarly a purged and purified people (vv. 27-28, 29, 31, 33, 36, 38).
14. Ezekiel 37 specifies that an unconditional continuance is designed by God for them when such purging is effected in the returned people (v.23). It specifically notes a sequence also in the geographical return and the spiritual restoration:
i) geographical reality of a mass of Jews in the land - 37:7-8.
ii) spiritual regeneration - 37:9-11. The interpretations follow in vv. 11-14. God will bring them into the land of Israel, from their graves in which they have abided as dry bones; and then the Lord will (notice the distinct and separate designation of the prophetic drama - in vv. 7 and 9 respectively) put His Spirit in them, as already noted for the new covenant in Jeremiah, which has this further feature. It is for an era to be centrally characterised by the presence in manifest power of the coming prophesied King (v.24); and by the everlasting covenant in His presence (v.26). Certainly they must first be washed: equally surely, they will find the criterion of this phase in the rule in righteousness in their hearts, of their King.
15. Prior to this national awakening, there is to be a vast military challenge and confrontation - indeed, it bears some marks of being repetitive (Zechariah 12:2-4,9)... but when the massive regenerative activity comes upon a mass of the nation (v.10), there will be specific surrounds. God Himself will be especially destructive on the enemies of the nation (Zechariah 12:9, 14:2-12 - note definitive ''you'' for His hearers in historical reference, 14:5: Ezekiel 38-39 shows in more detail that this will be a cataclysm of destruction upon noted enemies). Yet the spiritual awakening which is to follow this action, or its inception (12:10) will be markedly individual (v.10b) in its application. 12:12-14 gives a peculiar stress to this, as if to balance any misconception that the grandeur of the action would minimise the intimately personal character of the spiritual change to come.
16. This must now be correlated with the coming to "DAVID THEIR KING," to Christ, the predicted son of David who was to be also his Lord (Psalm 110:1). Before the manifest glory of this very God (Zechariah 12:10 - 'ME' whom Israel had previously pierced), the nation "shall no more be two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any more of their transgressions."
The Christian is aware, and all Scripture makes it clear that without Christ within, they cannot begin to perform this; and as we have already shown, this inwardness is essential among the ingredients of the new covenant which is correlative with the Kingship of Christ. Never has there been a period of permanent and in any sense national return, let alone in this spiritual distinctness relative to the New Covenant in Christ. Rather to this day have the people of Israel continued their cardinal national departure from the Lord, even the Son (Psalm 2:7-12) in whom they must trust... even this latter time Son of David, their King.
Now however they have been returned to their land as predicted. This we must stress - because it is repetitively stressed in the relevant Scripture - is "not for your sakes" (Ezekiel 36:21-26); but for the sake of the name of the One who despises the pretensions of their godless adversaries (Deuteronomy 32:27-43); and who will punish these assaulting Gentile adversaries, as He has also punished the erring Jewish nation. The latter will He bring back to Himself, according to promise.
Always their dumbness spiritually is protested by the Lord in the very impending point of the blessing (cf. Ezekiel 16:60-63, Deuteronomy as above, Isaiah 42:16-20). Interestingly, in the Isaiah passage, God's servants are called blind; and they are called "Israel." We must hasten to add that, in the sense of mediators of historic prophecy, persons fulfilling divine predictions, even rulers such as Cyrus, may be seen as God's servants; and that we are told that Cyrus did not know God. (Isaiah 44:28-45:4). Indeed, he is designated "my shepherd" by the Lord, relative to his effecting a national and predicted purpose.
To the point in view, however, we return: God's servants in the texts mentioned, are called blind; and they are called "Israel". Now the Christian is told that he shall not walk in darkness, but in Christ shall have the light of life. It would be implicit blasphemy, were the consequences, the implications to be worked out, to refer this passage to the Christian. Those wanting to apply the text here to Christians as a body of believers possessing the marks of a true - i. e. a Christian Church, cannot do so if they will rightly divide the word of God. It is not merely uncontextual, and as we will show, anti-contextual; but it leads to blasphemy however unintended.
The reference is then to unconverted Israel (not symbolic 'Israel' = Christians or a New Testament sound body of Christians, which would be a contradiction in terms: for the 'true' or spiritual Israel by which alone the name could apply, can hardly be blind in the light of the Lord - John 8:12; 12:35! Galatians 6:16, Romans 2:28)... it is to them, that this Scripture is directly addressed.
It is in the context, here or elsewhere, we must be ready to search for the true intent of the author. Gloriously simple and simply glorious is this wonderful act of God, already in vast measure fulfilled, concerning Israel the Nation. This testimony of them pervades the prophetic Scripture. The Gentile Church does not negate it. It complements it. That, Romans 11 tells us with delicious panorama and perspective.
Let us therefore prepare to "rejoice O ye nations with His people," as Moses exhorts (Deuteronomy 32:43). Soon the last phase may be fulfilled; just as the whole of the residue of this momentous and deep prophecy is fulfilled to the Jew.
Similarly, concerted activity of Jew and Gentile before that time, under the Jew-born Messiah is an apt focus for the term 'Israel,' where the criteria of the context will tolerate such an application.
In Amos 9, for example, we have just such a case. Israel the nation is in view; but the scene in due course comes to centre (Amos 9:11, cf. Isaiah 4:6) in the actively present Jesus Christ and in the manifest sweep of His vindicated power (see Messianic exposition of these elements of prophecy here and frequently in this work). Not here, as Keil points out (Commentary On The Minor Prophets, vol. I, at this point) are we viewing the actual return of Israel to the land, but rather a consolidation of Christ-centred power; and of course, it is power starting at Jerusalem. At once (v.12) the prophecy takes us to the broad spectrum of implications for the Gentiles. Since Christ's salutary authority as the promised Messiah liberates whom it captures, we find a spiritual invasion sweeping forth, Gentiles seeking the Lord and being named in Him!
What then ? Since the Gentiles in this context are specifically mentioned in terms of an out-thrust of a kingdom of Him who is to be a light to the Gentiles, though His own nation in its time "abhorred" Him (Isaiah 49:6-7), we know that in the rigour of His rule (Amos 9:11-12) the Gentiles may assuredly find rest (Isaiah 11:10). They are, after all, statedly involved.
This manifestation of the essence of the predicted kingdom at Jerusalem was, then, to transcend national and typical barriers, even those of the Old Covenant - for the period is that of the New. This doubtless was a major part of its relevance for James (Acts 15) in his application of this Amos prophecy in Jerusalem, to the Gentiles' freedom from circumcision requirements.
In due time, starting in Jewish hearts at Jerusalem, there was indeed in essence the kingship of the Christ manifested ("This Jesus whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ" - said Peter)... visited upon the Gentiles, attested in the outpouring of His Spirit upon them.
To that item of history in the book of Acts, the words of the prophets did indeed agree. This James said. Moreover, it gives occasion to wonder here, as so often elsewhere, to worship and rejoice that God gives His prophets (as here James) such eminent reserve in their interpretation - "to this agree the words of the prophets..." There is no attempt to exhaust the prophecies in one application, to compress them to one item in this field; or to contort divergent contexts into homologous straight-jackets.
Amos goes on - v.13, with fresh vision and further application, to disciplined Israel (vv. 9-10, 14-15), with these words: "Behold, the days come..." To this Keil gives interesting thought. Working on the line of the real homology which actually exists between all the members of Christ's New Covenant family, Keil makes strong argument... in this context of international scope, for an extension of the application.
The raising up of the fallen hut of David commenced with the coming of Christ and the founding of the Christian church by the apostles; and the possession of Edom and all the other nations upon whom the Lord reveals His name, took its rise in the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven set up by Christ. The founding and building of this kingdom continue through all the ages of the Christian church, and will be completed when the fullness of the Gentiles shall one day enter into the kingdom of God, and the still unbelieving Israel shall have been converted to Christ... The blessing foretold by the prophet is indeed visible at present in only a very small measure, because Christendom is not yet so pervaded by the Spirit of the Lord, as that it forms a holy people of God. In many respects it still resembles Israel, which the Lord will have to sift by means of judgments. This sifting will be first brought to an end through the judgment upon all nations which will attend the second coming of Christ. Then will the earth become a Canaan, where the Lord will dwell in His glorified kingdom in the midst of His sanctified people.
So Keil in commentary on this passage (emphasis added).Such vigorous use of scripturally based monologues is essentially in order, though of course it needs an exact and careful scrutiny as to detail. It is a practice far removed from the abuse of Scriptural criteria shown in interpretations which contradict the same.
We would note, in the above quotation, some points for discrimination, in passing. Thus 'Christendom' might so be thought of, if by this we mean the whole conglomerate of professing churches taken in bulk, something which includes the liberal, the radical and the mutant, mixed with true (and much less numerous) churches of Jesus Christ which, hidden like leaven and in which the Spirit of the Lord works, continue faithful. Their type is selectively that of Philadelphia in Revelation: "You have a little strength and have not denied My name..." (3:8).
The Lord 'will have to' sift Israel, of course, only in the sense that He has declared in His word that this process is to occur; and it is in His word because He wanted to put it there; so the only REQUIREMENT is that He do what He says; and even that, it is something He has said He will do. There is of course no outward necessity at work on Him; it is just that He does what He says - and the scripture, as Jesus Christ intimated, "MUST BE FULFILLED." God is truth and honourable and does not change.
Even now, there are revivals and pure testimonies and works of the Lord; but in that kingdom to come, the inward will be more outwardly manifest, and what has long been borne, with many that are first last, and the last first, will be made manifest when the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea as the prophet Habakkuk (2:14) declares. It will come; now is the foretaste, and as Peter puts it:
According to His abundant mercy (God) has begotten us again unto a lively hopeEssentially, then, the matter of our discussion has nothing to do with preferences or penchants for metaphorical or literal points of view. Content, as in all 'clear' writing, gives adequate grounds, to say no more, for such understanding (Proverbs 8:8-9,17). It must be created without mere whim or extravaganzas of exegesis that quickly can become effervescences of eisegesis.
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith
to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time:
In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a season if need be,
you are in heaviness through manifold temptations that the trial of your faith,
being much more precious than of gold that perishes ...
might be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN, YOU LOVE:
IN WHOM, THOUGH NOW YOU SEE HIMNOT, YET BELIEVING,
YOU REJOICE WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY ...
of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently,
who prophesied of the grace that should come to you:
searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow (I Peter 1:3-11).
The difficulty faced by many interpreters is simply that they tend to allegorise by desire or caprice, and without warrant; to interpret by contradiction of the Biblical specifics in the context; to extend without due regard to what is not homologous; make application to what is repugnant to the Scriptural essence and principle in view, and ignore the actual ground and basis of utterance given as a datum in the word of God. The 'spirit of liberalism' (not to be confused with a liberal spirit) is not confined to its nominees!
Whatever conceivably laudable aims may command such performances in exegesis, the results relative to the integrity of the word of God must require their forfeiture. We should follow textual exegesis, not '-ism' exegesis.
These preliminaries clarified, we may the more readily proceed.
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