DURING the one hundred and fifty-four years that elapsed between the death of Joseph and the returning of the Israelites from Egypt, they multiplied so much as to excite the apprehensions of the Egyptians. "Behold", said Pharaoh, "the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land."
From this it would seem that the idea prevailed in Pharaoh's court that the Israelites contemplated a wholesale emigration to some other country. His policy, however, was to prevent it, and to maintain the numerical superiority of the Egyptians, by exhausting the Israelites by oppressive toil, and destroying their children at birth. But what can the policy of kings effect when they undertake to combat the purposes of God? The cup of Egypt's iniquity was well-nigh running over. They had not retained God in their thoughts, being wholly given up to the basest superstition and idolatry. They had forgotten their obligations to God, who had saved their nation by the hand of Joseph, whose posterity they had enslaved, and cruelly destroyed. What, then, remained, but that God should judge them? That He, the Lord of all the earth, should step in between the profane tyrant and those whom He purposed to be His people, and give to Egypt according to its works? Israel's four hundred years of affliction were accomplished. They had served the oppressor long enough; and the time had at length arrived when the nation which had reduced them to servitude should be judged, and themselves remunerated for their past sufferings and services, by the spoil of their adversaries.
This was a just and equitable decree; the illustration of which is yet to be exhibited on a grander scale, "when God shall set his hand again A SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Khush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And when he shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea (the Red Sea); and with his mighty wind shall shake his hand over the river (Nile), and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men (Israel) go over dry-shod. And there shall be a highway, for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt." (Isa. 11:12,15,16) I quote this passage here by way of a hint to the reader that if he would understand how Jehovah will arbitrate between Israel and the existing nations when He grafts them in again, he must give himself to know the particulars of their deliverance under Moses: for the exodus under him is the type, or representation, of their future exodus under the Lord of Hosts.
But, spiritually dark as were the Egyptians with all their wisdom, the Israelites could boast of little more light than they. The relative condition of these two people was very similar to what it is now in regard to the Jews and papal nations among whom they are scattered. The Jews have a vague idea of the promise made to Abraham, and, therefore, cherish the hope of restoration to Canaan; but of the name of God they are as ignorant as the generation to whom Moses was sent. "Who is Yahweh" said Pharoah, "that I should let Israel go? I know not who the Lord God of Israel is." This is the predicament of existing nations. They are called by the name of Christ, but as to God's character, they are as ignorant of it as of His person. As to Israel of "the fourth generation", we have seen that "they understood not" when Moses supposed they would have recognized in him their deliverer; and, when God was about to send him for that very purpose forty years after, Moses inquired what he should say unto them when the elders of Israel should say to him, "What is his name?" -- the name of Him Whom he styled "the God of their fathers" (Exod. 3:13,16). Thus, without understanding of the promises, ignorant of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and serving the gods of Egypt, they differed only from the Egyptians in being the oppressed instead of the oppressor, and "beloved for the fathers' sake" -- a type of their present condition, preparatory to their everlasting emancipation from the tyranny of nations as ignorant as, but more brutal than, themselves.
Such was the benighted condition into which God's people Israel had fallen "when the time of the promises (the end of the four hundred years) drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham". But though Israel had forgotten them, God had not. They were overwhelmed and absorbed in their personal sufferings which elicited a cry of great distress. This was the crisis of their fate. "Their cry came up to God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and had respect unto them."
He sent an angel to deliver them. Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, in the vicinity of Horeb. Seeing a bush on fire yet not consumed, he drew near to take a closer view of it. As he approached, the angel addressed him in behalf of the Lord, saying, "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrow, and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, etc. Come, now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exod. 3:2,6-10) Thus Moses, whom forty years before "they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush" (Acts 7:35).
Moses being thus called of God, was first sent to the elders of Israel to make proclamation to them of the good news of deliverance from Egypt, and of national independence in the land promised to their fathers. Moses was not only called and sent, but he was also equipped for the work; and prepared to prove that he was Jehovah's ambassador to them and Pharaoh. The Lord knew how incredulous they would reasonably be of the validity of Moses' pretensions to the high office of His plenipotentiary. They had refused Moses forty years before when he was in favour at the court of Egypt; it was not likely, therefore, that they would accept him as a returned exile. Hence, something more was wanting than Moses' bare assertion that he was the ambassador of God. He was, therefore, endued with divine power by the exercise of which his claim to their acceptance might be attested. His staff could be turned into a serpent; his hand could become leprous as snow by putting it into his bosom; and water of the Nile spilled upon the ground converted into blood. By these three signs given him to perform as his credentials, he was assured by the Lord they would recognize him. He was to execute them in their presence "that they might believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, had appeared unto him. And I will be with thy mouth", said God, "and teach thee what thou shalt say." "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet" (Exod. 7:1)
Having received his appointment after this manner, he was commanded to go and introduce himself to the elders of Israel in his new capacity. He was ordered to say to them, "The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. This, the Lord God, hath appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt; and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction in Egypt (Gen. 15:13,14,16) into the land of the Canaanites, etc.; into a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exod. 3:15-17).
In obedience to the voice of God, Moses presented himself before the elders of Israel, accompanied by his prophet. He announced himself as the messenger of God, and laid before them his "memorial unto all generations". As I have shown [in chapter 8, section "The Promise Made to Abraham"], this memorial, which is God's name for ever, reveals the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the last of whom had then been dead two hundred and eight years. This was an important announcement, and amounted to this, "I, Moses, am sent to you by the God of your fathers, who are to rise again". This was a startling declaration for a fugitive from Egyptian vengeance, and a Midianitish shepherd, to make to a whole people. "I am 'called and sent' of Him, who is the God of the living, and hath appeared unto me, to inform you that He hath come down to deliver you by my hand from your grievous bondage in this country of the Nile."
This was as astounding a pretension as that of the "ministers" and "clergy" of this time, who also claim to be "called of God as Aaron was", and to be sent with the word of the Lord to the people as His ambassadors! The important difference, however, in the case is, that God attested the truth of Moses' pretensions, but does not confirm theirs. Clerical and ministerial ambassadorship rests upon their own word, and is predicated upon a feeling which no one can perceive but themselves. It is assertion without proof; and until they can adduce credentials divinely attested as in all other cases of real appointments in scripture, if they are not set down at once as impostors (which would be quite justifiable after waiting for credentials many centuries), mankind are at all events under no obligation to attend to the word they profess to have received.
When Moses received his commission, he objected to go to Israel, for, said he, "They will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee". It was then the Lord empowered him to work the first sign; and if that did not convince them, then the second; but if still incredulous, afterwards the third; which would be irresistible. Now, when through Aaron he had spoken all the words commanded, "he did the signs in the sight of the people". If they had believed his simple word, the signs would not have been given; but as they were all given, it is evident that they did not believe his bare assertion. When they saw the wonders, however, they came to the conclusion of Nicodemus in relation to "the prophet like unto Moses", that he was a person "sent from God, for no man could do the miracles he did except God were with him" (John 3:2); as it is written, "And he did the signs in the sight of the people, and they believed that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction" (Exod. 4:31).
Being accepted as a ruler and a deliverer, he and his prophet, accompanied by the elders of Israel, presented themselves before Pharaoh. Moses announced himself as the bearer of a message to him from the Lord God of Israel, saying, "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness". This demand astonished Pharaoh exceedingly. "Who", said he "is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, hinder the people from their works? Get you to your burdens." The only effect of this application was to double their toil, and to cause the officers of Israel to be beaten, because they were not successful in extorting from their brethren what was impossible. They remonstrated with the tyrant, but to no other purpose than to be spurned from his presence as idle fellows. They perceived that they were in an evil and desperate case; and as their condition was worse since Moses came among them, they looked on him as the cause of all the aggravated evil that had befallen them. Moses, indeed, could not deny it. He had nothing to say in extenuation; but in his extremity returned to expostulate with the Lord. "Wherefore, Lord", said he, "hast thou so evil-entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all" (Exod. 5:22).
After this manner, being made to feel the need of deliverance, Moses was sent again to them with glad tidings of a sure and speedy redemption. In communicating it to Moses, the Lord prefaced the message with a reiteration of the memorial. "I am the Lord", said He: "and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH (He who shall be) (Isa. 42:8,9) was I not known unto them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage: and I have remembered my covenant."
Such was the preamble. The God of Abraham was about to begin the fulfilment of the covenant in that part of it which related to "the fourth generation" of the natural seed. He was therefore in relation to Israel about to become known as the performer of His word. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him as Almighty; but as they had died without receiving the promises covenanted, they knew Him not as Jehovah; yet as Jehovah is now the name of Abraham's God unto all generations, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will know Him as set forth in His memorial, when they rise from the dead. He will then be Jehovah to them.
Because, then, after nearly 430 years from its confirmation, God had remembered His covenant, He said to Moses, "Say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments; and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am Jehovah." According to all these words Moses spoke to them, "but they hearkened not to him, for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage".
After this the judgments of God fell fast and heavy upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, until at length they rose and thrust the Israelites out of Egypt. The record of this event is thus given by Moses. "Now the returning (vemuseb) of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord, for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations." (Exod. 12:40-42) The period here indicated was 430 years from the confirmation of the covenant now remembered of God, which occurred on the 14th of Abib, or Nisan, at even; the month when the Jewish year and calendar begin (Exod. 12:2), answering to the latter half of March and the former part of April.
The terrible display of power by the hand of Moses, while it filled the minds of the Egyptians with dismay, convinced Israel at length that God was able and willing to perform what He had covenanted to do. He had said to Pharaoh, "Israel is my son, even my first-born; therefore, let my son go, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born" (Exod. 4:22,23). This threat had at length been carried into execution; and: "there was not an house in Egypt where there was not one dead". First-born for first-born. If Pharaoh destroyed God's first-born, God would retaliate upon him, and not spare his. Let the reader mark the style here. "Israel is my son, my first-born." What does this import? Did not God tell Abraham, that He had constituted him a father of many nations? Then these nations are in effect his sons; for a father implies sons. But of this family of nation-sons, which of them is the first-born son? The testimony before us declares that Israel is. The nation of Israel then is the heir, and nearest to the throne in the empire of the world. But it is now, and will be for a few more years, as it was in the days of Pharaoh. Israel, God's first-born, is scattered, oppressed, and destroyed, by the tyrants of the nations, and a subject of reproach among the people. But the sentence of God is still unrepealed; and at a coming crisis, he says to the Autocrat, "Let my son, Israel, go, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn." When the events in Egypt shall be re-enacted in the latter day, "a nation," even Israel, "shall be born in a day"; and other nations will soon after follow him in a birth into Christ and the political family of Abraham. When this comes to pass, all the nations of the earth will be Abraham's sons, and rejoice in Israel their elder brother.
But, when Israel was brought to the birth, and stood trembling on the shore of the Red Sea, they were about to be introduced into Moses. They had been begotten of God as His national first-born but were they to be born of water into the everlasting possession of Canaan?; or into a possession in which they were only "strangers and sojourners" in the land? That would depend upon the question of their national baptism into Moses, or into Christ: if into Moses, they could only inherit according to his law; but if into Christ, then they would obtain an everlasting national possession of the land, of which no other nation, or confederacy of nations, could deprive them. But they could not be nationally baptized into Christ, for Christ had not come; and until he came, and as the mediator of the New Covenant, suffered death, neither individual nor nation could have everlasting inheritance in the land; for the covenant was of no force while the mediator was alive.
But there is an end of all question in the case. The apostle, in reference to the passage of the Red Sea, writes, "I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized INTO Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor. 10:1,2). This was the national baptism: an entire obscuration of a whole nation from the view of all beholders on either shore. It was buried, not in the sea only, but in the cloud and in the sea -- a cloud, which was black with darkness to the Egyptians, but light to Israel between the icy walls of the sea. But though buried, the nation rose again to a new life upon the opposite shore, leaving all their tyrant taskmasters, and all their bondage behind them, washed away by the returning waters of the deep. First, then, believing in Moses and in the Lord, they were baptized into Moses, and so "saved that day out of the hands of the Egyptians", who were washed up "dead upon the sea-shore" (Exod. 14:26-31).
In celebration of this great deliverance, they sang the song of Moses. What a thrilling incident was this! Six hundred thousand men, besides women, children, and a mixed multitude, encamped upon the shore, and singing the song of the Lord's victory over their enemies! After magnifying the gloriousness of His power, and the great salvation with which He had delivered them, they rejoiced in the future that awaited their return, when it should realize the possession of the land of Canaan under the sceptre of Shiloh "for ever and ever". "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance; in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in; in the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever" (Exod. 15:17,18).
Let the reader peruse the song of Moses, and bear in mind that it is not only a magnification of the past, but also prophetic of as great, or greater, a deliverance of the nation under Shiloh. Under Moses, they were saved by the angel of God (Exod. 14:19); but when the time of the second exodus from Egypt arrives, they will be saved by the Lamb of God, whose prowess will be applauded by God's harpists of the crystal sea, who will sing the new song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" (Rev. 14:1-5; 15:2-4). The song of Moses, we have seen, celebrated the overthrow of the Egyptians; the song of the Lamb, "the prophet like unto Moses," will celebrate his future triumph over all the nations in his deliverance of the twelve tribes from their tyranny; a redemption which will result in the submission of all nations to his sovereignty, as predicted in the song. And it is to be observed that the Lamb's victory being the accomplishment of the prophecy in Moses' song, and a victory gained on a similar occasion, and in connection with the same nation, the Lamb's song is styled, in the Apocalypse, "the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb".
The generations of Israel's nation are reckoned from Abraham. Between seven of them there is a remarkable relationship in the way of type and antitype. These are the fourth, the fifth, and fourteenth, the fifteenth, the thirty-second, the forty-second, and, possibly, the rising generation of the present time. The events of the fourth occurred under Moses; of the fifth, under Joshua; of the fourteenth, under David; of the fifteenth, under Solomon; of the thirty-second, under Zorobabel; of the forty-second, under Christ; and of the last, the substance of all that have preceded it, and as yet in the undeveloped, but not unrevealed, future. The six generations present so many pictures, as it were, of what will be transacted in the seventh. But want of space forbids more than allusion to the fact. Referring to the remarkable incidents of Jewish history, the apostle says, "All these things happened unto them for types (representative things): and they are written for our instruction upon whom the ends of the ages are come.
Having been baptized into Moses, they looked to him for meat and drink. The angel had brought them out by his hand into a waste and howling wilderness, under a promise to give them a land flowing with milk and honey. But after three days the nation found itself without water; and though soon after they found some, it was so bitter they could not drink it. And they murmured against Moses. The Lord heard them, and healed the waters. A month after their departure from Egypt their provision failed them. Again they murmured against Moses and his prophet; and turned back in their hearts to the land of their affliction. But God heard them, and gave them bread and meat to the full, and continued to them this sustenance for forty years, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.
One would have supposed that having been given bread from heaven all their murmurings would have ceased. But when they came to Rephidim and found no water, they murmured again, and were ready to stone Moses, and tempted God, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?" Though the manna still fell, the rebellious-hearted Israelites questioned the presence of the Lord among them! Though tempted, He still bore with them. He commanded Moses to go to the rock in Horeb, on the top of which He would take his stand. He was then to smite it before their eyes that it might give forth water. And Moses did so; and the place was called Massali, and Meribah (Temptation, and Strife) -- Exod. 17. On a later occasion, at Kadesh (Num. 20), God commanded Moses to speak to the rock. But, having convened the assembly, he addressed them, saying, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And he smote the rock twice; and the water came out abundantly, and they drank" (Exod. 17:6; Num. 20:10,12,24). In this Moses exceeded his commission; therefore the Lord said, "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them".
These incidents had a secondary import which is found in the antitypes of the forty-second generation. Thousands of Israelites and Gentiles believed the gospel of the Kingdom, and were baptized into Christ. As a whole they constituted "a holy nation" -- a nation within the nation -- which fed upon the true bread of heaven, and drank of the water of life by faith in the things of Christ. But they were, and are, still strangers and sojourners in the world, which to them is like the wilderness of Arabia to Israel of the fourth generation. But there have been multitudes in Christ, as there were in Moses, who did run well but were afterwards hindered. They turned back in their hearts to Egypt, loving the present world, and not having faith enough to get the mastery over it. Now, the apostle likens such to those of the fourth generation who were murmurers, and faithless, and whose carcases fell in the wilderness, from which they will never arise to enter the land of Israel under Shiloh. "They did all eat the same spiritual meat", says he; "and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was (or represented) Christ. But with many of them God was not well-pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted" (1 Cor. 10:3-6). Their faith was addressed through sensible objects; ours through written testimony. But for the most part professors look not beyond "the things which are seen and temporal". Whether in Moses, or professedly in Christ, they are mere creatures of sensation, who walk by sight and not by faith. Let us, reader, not be of this number; but let us rejoice in hope of the promise made to the fathers, though at present it seemeth not to the eye of sense to grow." If a man eat of this bread (the spiritual) he shall live for ever"; and, drinking of the blood of Christ, which is the spiritual drink represented by Horeb's stream, the rock of Israel will raise him up at the last day to life in the age to come. But if, after their example, we love the present world, though we may have believed and obeyed the truth in the beginning, we shall come under the sentence of exclusion from "the rest which remains for the people of God".
On the tenth day of Abib, the first month of the year, being 430 from the confirmation of the covenant, the Israelites were commanded to put up a lamb for each house, and to kill it upon the fourteenth day in the evening. They were to take its blood and to sprinkle it upon the door-posts of their houses, and to eat its flesh that same night, roast with fire, with unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Nothing of it was to be left till morning. They were also to eat it in haste, as if about to hurry off upon a journey. The meaning of this was, that God was about to destroy the first-born of every family in Egypt, which would cause them to be thrust out of Egypt with great haste; and that when the destroying angel should see the blood on the door-posts, he would pass over that house, and not destroy the first-born there. For this cause the lamb was termed the Lord's Passover (Exod. 12). Not a bone of it was to be broken. No stranger, foreigner, hired person, or uncircumcised individual, was to eat of it; a servant, however, bought with the money of an Israelite, provided he were circumcised, was permitted to partake of it.
But this institution represented more than the facts upon which it was founded. It pointed to events which would be connected with later generations of Israel. The apostle styles Christ the believers' passover, who was sacrificed for them (1 Cor. 5:7); and exhorts them to "keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". Jesus was the Lamb of the feast whom God had provided. Not a bone of him was broken. His blood was sprinkled, not upon the door-posts of houses, but upon the doors of believers hearts by faith in the blood of sprinkling. None can eat his flesh, if they would, but those who are circumcised in heart; for to eat his flesh is to digest, and make a part of our mental selves, the truth concerning the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. This is the spiritual food upon which the believer's spiritual existence is sustained. As Jehovah's first-born son was saved by the blood of the passover lamb in Egypt; so also is the believer in the kingdom saved by the blood of Christ; so that when the day of retribution comes, and the first-born of all the nations, "who know not God, and obey not the gospel", are destroyed, the angel of death will pass over him, and he shall not be harmed.
But while the passover has this spiritual signification, it also represents facts, or events, which will be made manifest in connection with Israel at the appearing of their king in glory. This is evident, from the saying of Christ while partaking of the Passover with his apostles, the future sovereigns of the tribes. "With desire", said he, "I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God"; and "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come". And, of this kingdom, he said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:15,16,18,29,30; Matt. 19:28). From this, then, it is clear that the passover was prophetic of what is to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Has that kingdom come? If it has, as some very erroneously affirm, then Christ has eaten another passover, and has again drunk of wine with his apostles; for he said he would do so when the kingdom had come. But no man in his senses will affirm this. Another passover could not be celebrated till a year after; so that Jesus could not eat it with his disciples before that. Where is the testimony to his eating it with them then? There is none; but much of a contrary nature every way. The gracious declaration of Jesus is, I will eat of this passover, and drink of the fruit of the vine, with you in the Kingdom of God when it shall be come. He did not say, when you shall go to the kingdom beyond the skies, but when the kingdom shall come, which he had taught them to pray for.
It is perfectly ridiculous to talk about the kingdom having come, and of the apostles being on their thrones. To affirm this proves that the professor is totally ignorant of the gospel. A pretty sitting upon thrones it was, when they were all arraigned at the bar, condenmed, imprisoned, and scourged, for preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the name of Jesus! What havoc the apostasy has made with the truth! The gospel preached no such stuff as this. It treats of a kingdom which the God of heaven shall set up in Judea: which shall never be removed from thence; in which the whole twelve tribes shall rejoice; which the saints of all ages shall possess; and which shall rule over all. Its elements at present are all scattered. It is not a matter of fact; but a thing of hope; in which only they rejoice who believe the promises made of God to the fathers.
The passover must be restored before it can be eaten of by Christ and his apostles in the kingdom of God. This is one of the things to be re-established at "the restitution of all things"; and the law of its restoration is in the following words: "In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall (Messiah) the Prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin-offering" (Ezek. 45:21,22). This was spoken by the prophet to Israel of the fourteenth generation, concerning the observance of the passover by Israel of the generation contemporary with the "restoration of the kingdom again to Israel", when it should be constituted under the Prince. Moses' law said all about the observance of the passover before the Prince appeared; but as Moses ceased to be the law-giver when he came, a New Code is revealed through Ezekiel which will become the law of the kingdom under Shiloh. When Ezekiel's passover is observed at Jerusalem, Christ will be there, the apostles also, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, and many from the four winds of heaven, -- all of them the first-born redeemed from the earth, saved by the sprinkled blood of the true paschal Lamb of God, and who shall find themselves in Canaan as inheritors of its attributes; celebrating their own redemption, and the overthrow of all their enemies by the Lord Jesus at his revelation in flaming fire, attended by the angels of his power.
The bread and wine of "the Lord's supper" are the remains of the passover, which are to be shared by the circumcised of heart and ears, until Christ comes in power and great glory. I am informed by a Jew that when they eat the passover they eat no lamb, but have a dry bone of One on a dish; and that all who celebrate take hold of the lip of the dish, and unitedly offer a petition. This is remarkable. They have slain the true Lamb, which believers of the gospel feed upon: while only a dry bone remains to them, strikingly illustrative of themselves. Faith in the Lamb of God supplies the absence of the lamb in the Lord's Supper. The broken bread and poured-out wine memorialize his sacrifice for believers; and the testimony, "This do in remembrance of me until I come", keeps alive the hope of his appearing in the kingdom of God. When hope becomes a reality, the supper will give place to the passover; for when Christ is come, the memorial of his coming ceases to be prophetic of the event.
The Israelites being born into national existence under Moses as a ruler and a deliverer, he led them from the Red Sea to the foot of Mount Sinai to meet with God. On their arrival there, the Lord commanded Moses to say to them, "Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians; now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be UNTO ME a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod. 19:3-6). This was an offer on the part of God to become their King, predicated upon what He had done for them. If they closed with the proposal, they would henceforth be a kingdom. Hitherto they had been a crowd of slaves subject to the will of the kings of Egypt. But He proposed to organize them; to give them a constitution, religion, and laws; to appoint them a government; to exalt them by His instructions, to the freedom, independence, and moral excellence, which are attainable only by the influence of divine truth; to make them the envy and admiration of surrounding nations; to make them, in short, His kingdom, and His beloved nation. This was a proposal rich with blessings. All God would require of them was obedience, and adhesion to the covenant He had made with their fathers. The terms of the compact were highly eligible. No nation had received such a liberal and honourable proposal before, or since. Would they accept it, and abide by it? Moses was sent to see.
Having arrived at the encampment, he convened the elders of the people, and laid the proposition before them. Having consulted the nation, they returned answer to Moses, saying, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do". Upon this, Moses returned the words of the people to the Lord. In this transaction a formal agreement was entered into between Israel and the Lord. In the word they sent back by Moses, they accepted the Lord as their King, and became His subjects, or "the children of His kingdom". The relation of God to the tribes as their king is undoubted; for when they demanded a visible king like other nations, the Lord told Samuel that they had not rejected him, but the Lord Himself, whose representative among them he was.
By this political compact, Abraham's natural seed became "THE KINGDOM OF GOD". It was the first, and the only kingdom, He has ever had among the sons of men. He will yet have other kingdoms. All the kingdoms of the world will become His; and will yet acknowledge the King He has provided to rule over them (Rev. 11:15). But even then, the kingdom founded at the beginning of the ages, the kingdom of Israel, will be His "peculiar treasure above them all". If, then, we would understand "the things of the kingdom of God," we must never lose sight of Israel in connection with the kingdom. Indeed, without them there is no kingdom of God; and to affirm the contrary is to believe in a kingdom of which there is no nation to rule. No misconduct of Israel can dissolve the covenant entered into between them and God. The rebellion of a nation does not do away with the rights of the king. If they set His laws and government at defiance it becomes a question of might. If the rebellion triumph the king is dethroned; but if the rights of the throne prevail, the rebel nation has no alternative but to submit to whatever terms the conqueror may prescribe.
This is precisely the state of things between God and Israel. The tribes have rebelled against Him. He has anointed Jesus of Nazareth to be King of the Jews. But they say, No good thing ever came out of Nazareth, and they will not have him for their king. They have no other king, they say, but Caesar; hence they crucified Jesus, and have served Caesar ever since. But has God surrendered His rights? Will He allow Himself to be dethroned by rebels, and His Viceroy to be treated as a malefactor? All who deny the restoration of Israel in effect say, "They have rebelled successfully against God and His Christ". But this cannot be. God will restore them "for His name's sake". He will plant them in Canaan; settle them in the land according to their old estates and place Jesus upon David's throne in triumph: for He has sworn that "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). The great rebellion will then be suppressed; God will have recovered His rights; His kingdom will be re-established; and Israel will thenceforth "obey His voice, and keep His covenant", as they originally agreed to do.
The nation being adopted as the kingdom of God, and having received its constitution three days afterwards, which was fifty days from its redemption as Jehovah's first-born of nations; and also having received its religion and civil laws, as related in Exodus and Leviticus -- all things were prepared for transferring the tribes from the wilderness to the land of Canaan. Moses had announced this consummation to them while groaning in Egypt. But they hearkened not for anguish of spirit. When, however, they were "baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea", they came to believe on the Lord, and in him as His servant. But their probation in the wilderness was too much for their faith. They were continually turning back in their hearts to Egypt. The time, however, had now arrived to put this fourth generation to a final test.
Twelve principal men, one for each tribe, were sent from the wilderness in Paran to view the land of Canaan, and to bring back a report to the people. After an absence of forty days they returned. They said the land was all that could be desired, and flowing, indeed, with milk and honey; but as to being able to take possession of the country, that was impossible; for the inhabitants were gigantic and strong, living in well-fortified cities, and could not be overcome by Israel, who were but as grasshoppers when compared to them. But Caleb and Joshua, who believed on God, testified to the contrary; and encouraged the people to go up at once, and possess it; for they were well able to overcome it. "The land", said they, "which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us; their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not" (Num. 14:7-10).
Now, when all the people heard the evil report, they cried and wept all night. They murmured against Moses, and wished they had died in Egypt, or in the wilderness, before they had been brought into this extremity. They proposed, at length, to make a captain, and march back into Egypt. As for Caleb and Joshua, they bade stone them to death.
The reader's attention is particularly requested to this passage of Jewish history. The apostle in commenting upon these incidents, says that the gospel was preached to them on this occasion; and that the land spied out was connected with God's rest. His words are these -- "They could not enter into his rest because of unbelief": then addressing his brethren, he says, "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Heb. 3:18,19; 4:1,2). In the context of this passage the apostle had been speaking of Moses and Christ, the former, as a faithful servant in another's house; and the latter as a son over his house: whose house the believers in the things spoken of the land are, "if they hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end". He then introduces the case of the fourth generation as a warning of the fatal consequences of letting go the hope of the promise. He quotes from a scripture written in the fourteenth generation, in which the Holy Spirit repeats the sentence upon them, and upon all like them, who harden their hearts, saying, "they shall not enter into my rest" (Psa. 95:7-11). What rest is here spoken of? The peaceable possession and enjoyment of the land so highly commended by Caleb. They did not enter in, but were turned back towards the Red Sea, and wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until the carcases of all the rebels above twenty years old fell to their lowest estate. But did not the fifth generation obtain the rest under Joshua when they possessed the land? No, says the apostle, they did not; "for if Joshua had given them rest, then would God not have spoken afterward by David of another day". The rest which Joshua gave the nation was only transitory. When he and his associates of the fifth generation died, the nations which God had not driven out were as thorns in their sides, which gave them but little rest in after years. "There remaineth then", saith he, "a rest for the people of God"; even Canaan in the age to come, under Shiloh, the Prince of Peace, whose "rest shall be glorious" (Psa. 132:11-18), and undisturbed by war's alarms.
Now this rest under Shiloh was preached unto them. The possession under Joshua was the first step to full accomplishment of the covenant. Had the nation continued to obey the Lord's voice and to keep the covenant, and, when Christ came, received him as king on the proclamation of the gospel, they would doubtless have been in Canaan until now; and he might have come ere this, and be now reigning in Jerusalem, King of the Jews and Lord of the nations. But had this been the case we Gentiles would have had no part in the kingdom. We might attain to eternal life at the end of the reign; but in the glory of the kingdom, and in the administration of its affairs, as heirs of the world with Abraham and his seed, we should have had no part; for it was the unbelief of the forty-second generation of Israel that became the riches of the Gentiles.
The fourth generation "could not enter in because of unbelief". Neither can we unless we also believe what they rejected; for the same gospel that was preached to them, was preached by the apostles to the forty-second generation, but cannot be said to be preached to us of this century. I am endeavouring, however, to set it before the people in this book; although I feel it a difficult work, seeing that men's minds are so mystified, and pre-occupied with the jargon of the schools. God's rest in Canaan -- by which is not meant that all his saints will be living there, though all that abide there will be a righteous people: the things which belong to Canaan will overspread the world; and where there are nations to be governed, there will there be saints to rule -- but this rest, I say, is the great theme of the gospel, whether preached by Moses, by Jesus, or by the apostles. The rest and the kingdom are but different terms, though substantially the same. They will both be of Canaan, and are both the subject of the promise made of God to Abraham and his seed for ever.
The covenant made with Abraham promised an immortal inheritor of Canaan; and in Jacob's last prophecy it was plainly revealed that he should be its King, and should descend from Judah. By this it was understood that Judah would be the royal tribe: but it was not known what family of Judah he would be born of. This was a matter which remained in abeyance until the fourteenth generation. The nation had been long settled in Canaan. For four hundred and fifty years the laws of the kingdom had been administered by judges, until at length the people demanded a king who should go in and out before them, as among the neighbour nations. This happened in the days of Samuel the prophet, who laid their request before the Lord. Though He was displeased at the demand, as it was in effect a rejection of Him, He nevertheless granted their request, and gave them Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, until another man upon whom He had set His heart should have been sufficiently trained in the school of adversity to take his place. This was David, the son of Jesse, and of the tribe of Judah. God ordered Samuel to anoint him king over Israel. By this act, David became the Lord's anointed, or Christ; and when he ascended the throne, ruled the nation as Jehovah's king.
In the former part of his reign he was much engaged in war, which was at length terminated by the Lord giving him rest from all his enemies. At this crisis of his history, it came into his heart to build a magnificent temple for the ark and cherubim of glory. Though the Lord highly approved of the feeling which prompted the resolution, He forbade his carrying it into effect. The work was too momentous to be undertaken by one in David's case. Jehovah being the real king of Israel, did not permit a national temple to be erected in His kingdom by a subordinate ruler without His primary direction. David had shed much blood, which was urged as an objection to his doing more than collecting the materials; which his son should put together after his decease.
At this time the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying, "Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in. But the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee a house". What follows is an explanation of what is meant by this. "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I WILL BE HIS FATHER, AND HE SHALL BE MY SON. Even in suffering for iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes due to the children of Adam. But my mercy shall not depart away from him as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever BEFORE THEE: thy throne shall be established for ever" (2 Sam. 7:11-16).
These promises are styled "an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David" (Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34). There can be no doubt to whom they refer, for the apostle has applied them to Christ (Heb. 1:5). In his last words, David thus expresses himself concerning them: "The God of Israel spake to me, saying, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he (the Just One) shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God: yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow" (2 Sam. 23:3-5).
This covenant of the throne and kingdom was David's desire and salvation, because it promised him a resurrection to eternal life, in the assurance that his house, kingdom, and throne, with God's son and his son, one person, sitting upon it, should be established in his presence for ever. "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, saying, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing which has gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall he established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Psa. 89:3,4,19-28,34-37).
After these testimonies there requires no further proof that David's family was constituted by a solemn covenant the Royal House of God's kingdom; and that that one of David's posterity whom God should acknowledge to be His son, should be its everlasting king. The claims of Jesus to be David's seed and God's Son have been fully established by his resurrection from the dead; which is an assurance to all men, both Jews and Gentiles, that God hath appointed him as the Holy One of Israel their king; to rule the world in righteousness, and to establish truth and equity among the nations; as God sware to Moses, saying, "Truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord". Let us then proceed now to some further inquiries about
There are, as we have seen, two everlasting covenants of promise upon which the kingdom of God is based -- the one made with Abraham, and the other with David. The former gives the land of Canaan to their Seed for ever; the latter, the kingdom and throne established upon it, as long as the moon endures. They are called David's because his family alone can possess the kingdom. David's kingdom, however, is also "the kingdom of God and of his Anointed", or Christ; for, whether David, or David's Son of the twenty-eighth generation after him, sit upon the throne, they are both the Lord's Anointed, and ruling as His representatives in His kingdom. The great difference between the two in regard to the anointing is, that David the First was anointed with holy material oil by the hand of Samuel; whereas Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, at his emergence from the Jordan, direct from the excellent glory. Hence, Jesus, who is David the Second as well as the second Adam, is Jehovah's Christ, or Anointed King, in a higher sense than "his father David." The Lord Christ and king David are associated in several prophecies, because the everlasting covenant of promise made with the latter declares its mercies to them both, at one and the same time. David is to witness the fulfilment of its promises; for the record is, "Thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever". But when? "BEFORE THEE." From this it is evident, the everlasting establishinent of his kingdom cannot take place under the circumstances which have obtained since the death of David until this present time; because, if it is to exist perpetually "before", or in the presence of, David, David must be raised to life for immortality; for, if mortal, he could not behold his throne occupied by Christ for ever. But "David is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre", said Peter, "is with us until this day" -- "He is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:29,34). If, then, he "is dead", and not "gone to heaven", as the phrase is, he is alive in no sense; and consequently the covenant promises are not fullilled. David must be alive when they are accomplished. Christ, his divine son, has been manifested and glorified, and God has recognized him as His Son; but in no other particular has the covenant been fulfilled: for he has inherited neither the land of Canaan, nor the kingdom and throne of David once upon it.
But where are the kingdom and throne of David? "In heaven, beyond the skies, where Christ is at the right hand of God, and where precious souls go when they die." Such is the answer given by Gentile theology! Need we wonder at Jews having such a contempt for what is called "Christianity", when they hear its professors gravely affirm such absurd nonsense as this? Have Canaan, Jerusalem, and the twelve tribes been translated beyond the skies? Oh no, say they, these things remain, but then they are types of things which exist where Jesus is! Alas, what sorry stuff, what shilly-shally twaddle is this, to come out of the mouths of "great and good and pious men". It is admitted that David's and Solomon's reigns were typical, or representative, of Christ's reign; not beyond the skies, however; but upon their throne and in their kingdom upon the veritable land promised to Abraham. But, inquires one, if not beyond the skies, where are the kingdom and throne of David? In answer to this question, reader, mark it well -- at present they exist nowhere. They once existed, and while they had a being they were the kingdom and throne of God among men. He has kingdoms and thrones in other orbs; but we have nothing to do with them, and have no more right, had we the power, to go and take possession of them either as "souls" or bodies, than the angels have to come and seize upon all the thrones and kingdoms of earth, which belong to Christ and his brethren by inheritance. But let us leave to the owls and bats the idols of the schools, the worshipful phantasmata of the apostasy, and let us turn to the enlightening testimony of God.
The scripture, foreseeing that God would temporarily abolish the kingdom of David, saith in view of the covenant, "But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. All that pass by the way spoil him; he is a reproach to his neighbours. Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame" (Psa. 89:38-45). This is descriptive of the state of the kingdom of God and of David for twenty-five centuries past. The crown and throne are in the dust, and the territory and people a by-word among the nations. Instead of the covenant being fulfilled, if the present state of things were final, it would be "void", and the promise of God have failed. In view, then, of the promises and things as they are, the scripture inquires, "How long, Lord? Wilt thou hide thyself for ever? Lord, where are thy former loving-kindnesses, which thou swearest unto David in thy truth?" (vv. 46-49). Yes: where are they? In promise still.
In the face of facts, what are we to say to the testimony, that "David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the House of Israel"? Thus saith the Lord, "If ye can break my covenant of the day, that there should not be day in its season; then may also my covenant be broken with David, my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne" (Jer. 33:17,20,21). What shall we say to this? There has been no son of David reigning upon his throne since the dethronement of Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar five hundred and ninety-five years before the birth of Christ. But it is not a question of uninterrupted succession; but of the everlasting occupation of the throne according to the covenant. When the time comes for this to be fulfilled, noted by David's resurrection, from thenceforth shall his son fill the throne of Israel's kingdom for ever. But what saith the scripture?
Just before the fall of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, the sins of Judah and its king had attained the full. Zedekiah was then on the throne wearing the crown of David. Ezekiel was commanded to say to him, "Thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this (Zedekiah) shall not be the same (son of David spoken of in the covenant): exalt him that is low (even Jesus), and abase him that is high" -- that is, dethrone Zedekiah. But then, what is to become of the kingdom of David? Hear the Lord by His prophet -- "I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it; and it shall be no more UNTIL he (Shiloh) shall come whose right it is: and I will give it him" (Ezek. 21:25-27). According to this word so has it been to the letter. The king's eyes were put out; Zion was ploughed as a field; and not a tribe remained in the land. After seventy years' captivity, there was a restoration under Ezra, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and Nehemiah. But until B.C. 165, the Israelites in Canaan were not even a kingdom, but a subject province of the Persian monarchy, and afterwards of the Macedonian. About the year named they became a kingdom again, but not David's. The throne was that of the Asmoneans, who were of the tribe of Levi. Their dynasty was superseded by the Roman senate, which set up Herod's family instead. He was an Idumean, and reigned till after the birth of Jesus, whom he sought to put to death. He was succeeded by Archelaus, who was deposed by the Romans, and Judea reduced into the form of a province under a procurator; thus verifying, as is supposed, that the sceptre should depart from Judah when Shiloh came: and so it came to be when God called His Son Jesus out of Egypt. From that time to this, there has been no kingdom, or throne of Israel, in Canaan. The Hebrew commonwealth was broken up by the Romans about thirty years or so after the crucifixion; and it has been, and will be, no more, until the Lord Jesus come, who is the King of the Jews, and whose sole right it is to reign.
In reference to this good time which is near at hand it is written, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel, and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of Righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:5,6; 33:14-16; Ezek. 48:35; Isa. 24:23). The Kingdom of God, then, has existed once, but, for the present, exists "no more". It existed from the fourth to the twenty-eighth generation, a period of rather more than a thousand years; but it has been extinct upwards of two thousand five hundred years -- a time so long that the promise of its restoration has become a mere fable, or speculation, in the estimation of the world! But the believer in the gospel of this kingdom rejoices in the sure and certain hope of its restitution, and glorious and triumphant existence for a thousand years, at the expiration of which kingdoms on earth will be no more, but God will be all and in all.
The reader, then, will perceive from this exposition that the kingdom of God must be studied in the two periods of its existence -- in the thousand years of the past, and in the thousand years of the Age to come. As God's kingdom of the past, it is the grandest theme of ancient or modern history; but as His kingdom of the future, it is the sublime topic of "the truth as it is in Jesus". In the past, it existed under the law of Moses, which made nothing perfect. Its kings and priests were frail and mortal men, who held the kingdom for a brief space, and then "left it to other people". Its subjects were rebellious, and its realms invaded and wasted by the hands of ruthless and barbarous foes. But how changed will be its fortunes in Messiah's age! The same land and nation will then be under the law of the New Covenant which goes forth from Zion. All things will be perfected. Its king and pontiff will be the King immortal from the right hand of God. The rulers of the tribes will be the fishermen of Galilee, "shining as the stars for ever and ever". The chiefs of its cities, and the possessors of its glory, its honours, and its dominion will be the holy ones of God, "equal to the angels", and subject unto death no more. In short, "the saints of the Most High will take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever" (Dan. 7:18; 2:44), never receding from their position, nor leaving it to be possessed by others.