The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew/Chapter 2

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"And the Lord said unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend and an adulteress, even as the Lord loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley : and I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days ; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be any man's wife : so will I also be toward thee.

" For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without an image, and without ephod or teraphim : afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king ; and shall come with fear unto the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days." HOSEA iii.


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r I ^HE short chapter of five verses (Hosea iii.), JL which is to form our first subject, divides itself naturally into two parts, the first three verses being the record of a symbolical transaction, and the last two verses a verbal prophecy. The two parts are, however, vitally connected, for the symbolism of the first verses serves as an illustration of the truth presented in the prophecy, while the prophecy is an explanation of the symbolical transaction. There is, in fact, but one great truth in reference to Israel in this chapter which the Spirit of God wants to teach us in a twofold way ; first by an illustration, and then by a verbal explanation.

If we want to know the meaning of the seemingly strange transaction recorded in the first part of the chapter, we find it in a sentence in the first verse, which says that it is " according to," or " like unto, the love of Jehovah for the children of Israel " ; and being an illustration of so lofty and glorious a theme, it is worthy a careful consideration.

The prophet is told to go again and love a woman *

1 Some have supposed the transaction to have been ideal and that it did not form an actual experience of the prophet's life ; but

3


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who is beloved of her " friend," or her " husband " (as it is rightly rendered in the margin of the Revised Version), but who is an adulteress. There can be little doubt that the " woman " is Corner, of whom we read in the first chapter ; and the " friend " or " husband " is the prophet, who went through this sad experience in his wedded life in order that himself and his family might serve as "signs and wonders in Israel" (Isa. viii. 18), in order to set forth realistically before their very eyes Jehovah's attitude to and dealings with His faithless people.

To begin with, when the prophet first took her into marriage relationship with him there was nothing lovable about Corner ; she was, in fact, a poor fallen woman. It was undeserved favour and great condescension manifested on the part of the prophet which placed her in the position of his wedded wife; but it is just for this very reason that this transaction seems, though imperfectly, to set forth " the love of Jehovah towards the children of Israel." Why did God first choose Israel to be a people unto Himself? Was it because of any- thing good or lovable in them ? Np ; wholly of grace and sovereign was the love of Jehovah towards the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy, after warning them not to think that it was because of anything in them not because of their goodness, or righteousness, for they were a " stiff-necked people " ; not because they were greater or more in number, for they were " fewest of all people," God condescends to give a reason for His choice, and it is a strange and wonderful reason. " I loved you," He says, " because I loved you," because I

while the truth it is meant to illustrate would not be affected, even though it were a figure without actuality in real life, the whole account is so realistic, and even passionate, that it seems to me impossible to regard it as anything but literal history.


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chose to love you, and "because I would keep the oath which I had sworn unto your fathers," which oath and promise was also wholly of grace and not of merit.

But let us proceed to the second stage of the prophet's relation and attitude to this woman.

After she became his wedded wife she forsook him and went to another man, but in spite of the intensity of her guilt and her ingratitude, the prophet did not cease to love her. This is touchingly expressed by the words, " beloved by her mate, yet an adulteress " ; and in this, too, it resembles God's dealings with and attitude to Israel. Wonderful was the relationship into which the stiff-necked nation was brought. Well might Moses in his last words exclaim, " Happy art thou, O Israel, who is a people like unto thee ! " " For thy Maker is thy husband : Jehovah of Sabbaoth is His name." But instead of entering into the blessedness of this relationship with Jehovah, Israel " looked to other gods," and committed spiritual adultery with idols ; and instead of finding all their joy in fellowship with Him, they became sensual, and " loved flagons of wine " or " cakes of raisins." And yet, although the condition of Israel is well illustrated by this poor adulteress, the blessed truth which this transaction is meant to teach, and which Christians are so slow to learn, is that Jehovah still loves Israel. Yes, even now, while righteously given over into the hands of her enemies, a proverb and a byword among the nations, Israel is, and remains, " the dearly beloved of His soul" (Jer. xii. 7), and God narrowly and jealously watches the conduct of the nations toward them (Zech. i. 14, 15) ; for, although fellowship is broken off, and " in a little wrath He has hid His face from them for a moment," the marriage bond between Jehovah and the nation He has betrothed unto Him for ever (Hosea ii. 19) is indissoluble, and His " gifts and


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calling are without repentance." "Jehovah, the God of Israel saith that He hateth putting away " (Mai. ii. 16). This, His wonderful covenant faithfulness, is Jehovah's secret towards them that fear Him. " I am Jehovah," He says, " I change not ; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

And this infinite grace and " love of Jehovah " toward the children of Israel find their parallel also in the experience of the Church.

Why did God call us from among Jew and Gentile during this present dispensation to be "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation"? Was it because we were better or wiser than the rest of the world ? Oh, no, " for ye see your calling, brethren," says the Apostle, echoing the warnings which were given to Israel of old, "how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." Was it for our goodness or righteous- ness ? Oh, no ; " but God commendeth (or displays) His own lovt toward us " (Rom. v. 8) a love inconceivable by man " in that while we were yet sinners," utterly lost and utterly wretched, " Christ died for us."

Israel's history and God's dealings with them is no encouragement to the Christian to think lightly of sin and of backsliding from God, for we see that God is a jealous God, visiting the sins of His people even more than on the sins of the world; but it also displays the marvellous faithfulness of Jehovah and His love towards His redeemed, which all the many waters of their sins and backslidings cannot quench.


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In the second verse we get a glimpse of the innate worthlessness of Israel and all such as are typified by poor Gomer. Sin, in her case, as it always does, im- plied a certain kind of bondage, so that she had to be bought back from the sharer of her guilt. But what is the price she is valued at ? Just half the price of a dead slave (Exod. xxi. 32), 1 with an homer and a half of barley thrown into the bargain. The redemption price which the great God actually pays for those as worth- less as this poor woman is more than tongue can tell. It cannot be estimated by all the precious but corrup- tible things known to man. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx or the sapphire ; the gold and the crystal cannot equal it, and "the exchange of it shall not be for vessels of fine gold." It is nothing less than the precious blood of Christ, " as a lamb without blemish and with- out spot."

We must touch on one more significant item in the symbolism before we proceed with the verbal prophecy.

Having bought Gomer back, the prophet gives her a charge. " And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide (or remain) for me many days ... so will I also be towards thee." There was to be a neutral period. She was no more to follow sin, but she was not yet to enter into her conjugal rights. Meanwhile her husband would be her guardian, and ultimately there would be a full restora- tion of the fellowship implied in the marriage relation- ship. The symbolical significance of this is, I believe, as follows. A remnant of the nation was brought back

1 Keil, in /oc., thinks, however, that the "homer" and "lethech," which together made fifteen baths or ephas of barley, might also be valued at fifteen shekels, so that the silver and barley together may perhaps have been equal to the full price, or rather the full amount of compensation for a slave if gored to death.


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from Babylon after the seventy years' bondage, and then commenced the neutral period during which Israel is neither guilty of their old besetting sin of idolatry which, as already explained, is regarded as spiritual adultery nor are they living in fellowship with Jehovah ; for, although there has been an outward return, there has never yet taken place that national change of heart for which God is waiting before He can return unto them in mercies. Indeed, soon after the commencement of this period Israel, though no longer guilty of idolatry, showed how their heart was still alienated from God by disowning Him who is " the brightness of His glory and an exact representation of His very Being." But there is hope in their end. Israel, though sitting desolate and, to human view, forsaken, abides through these " many days "for God, who will yet fully restore the blessings of the relationship into which He once entered with them, even as He announces through this same prophet : " I will betroth thee unto Me for ever ; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness : and thou shalt know Jehovah " (Hosea ii. 19, 20).

We now come to the verbal message which explains the symbolism of the first part of this chapter. The connection will be seen at a glance if we compare the words addressed to Gomer in verse 3, " Many days shalt thou abide for me," with the first words of verse 4, " For many days shall the children of Israel abide." Israel, then, stands in relation to this woman as anti- type to type, and the many days of the neutral condition of Gomer was but a foreshadowing of the "many days" of the neutral condition of Israel in relation to Jehovah and to idolatry. The fourth verse is, I might say, the great prophecy in the Old Testa-


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ment with regard to the Interregnum, a period covered by the image of Daniel ii. and the New Testament expression, "the times of the Gentiles" the time during which the sceptre is departed from Judah, and representative governmental power is entrusted to the Gentile nations until those times are fulfilled, and Zion becomes the centre of government for the earth, and the place whence God's law will go forth, as never before, to all nations.

It is of interest to observe that the most authoritative Jewish commentators have themselves admitted that the fourth verse of our chapter gives a graphic description of the present condition of the Jewish people. I translate the following passage from one of the greatest of Rabbinic writers. 1 Speaking on the expression " many days," he says : " These are the days of this present captivity, in which we are in the power of the Gentiles, and in the power of their kings and princes, and we are ' without a sacrifice and without an image,' i.e., without a sacrifice to God, and without an image to false gods ; and ' without an ephod, and without teraphim,' t.e., without an ephod to God, by means of which we could foretell the future, as with the Urim and Thummim ; and without teraphim to false gods. And this is the present condition of all the children of Israel in this present captivity."

To this interpretation every critical Bible student, whether Jew or Christian, must subscribe. We shall see presently what this admission on the part of a great non-Christian Jew implies.

1 Kimchi, commonly called by the Jews " Redak," from the initial letters of " Rabbi David Kimchi," was born in Narbonne in 1160, and died about 1235. So great was his fame that the Jews applied to him, by a play of words, a Talmudic saying (Aboth. iii. 17), adapted to mean, " No Kimchi, no understanding of the Scriptures."


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The order of the words in the fourth verse is some- what different in the original from what it is in the A.V. It begins with the expression, " many days :> " Many days shall the children of Israel abide" and then it goes on to describe the special conditions under which they will abide. The words " Yamim rabbim " ("many days") are a Hebrew idiom denoting a long, indefinite period, embracing days, years, centuries, or even millenniums, and the first item in this remarkable prophecy really is, that for a long, unmeasured period the children of Israel would " abide," that is, remain or continue to exist. I have elsewhere dealt fully with the marvel of the continued existence of the Jewish nation, 1 but I would here in passing simply remind my readers that if the Jewish people, in spite of all the forces which have for many centuries been brought to bear against them with terrible severity, still lives, it is to testify to the truth of this and other statements of the Word of God. God has said, " Many days shall the children of Israel abide," and therefore no force in the universe is able to move them. God has called them

1 See my book, "The Jewish Problem." "The world has by this time discovered," said Lord Beaconsfield, " that it is impos- sible to destroy the Jews. The attempt to extirpate them has been made under the most favourable auspices and on the largest scale ; the most considerable means that man could command have been pertinaciously applied to this object for the longest period of recorded time. Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyrian kings, Roman emperors, Scandinavian crusaders, Gothic princes, and holy inquisitors have alike devoted their energies to the fulfilment of this common purpose. Expatria- tion, exile, captivity, confiscation, torture on the most ingenious and massacre on the most extensive scale, a curious system of degrading customs and debasing laws which would have broken the heart of another people, have been tried, and in vain. The Jews, after all this havoc, probably more numerous at this date than they were during the reign of Solomon the wise, are found in all lands, and prospering in most."


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"Am Olam," the "everlasting people" (Isa. xliv. 7, Hebrew), and therefore the Jewish nation has proved indestructible.

But the marvel of Israel's continued existence be- comes intensified if we examine the conditions under which they abide. Apart from the little word trans- lated "without," which in the Hebrew is repeated five times, there are but six words used by the pen of inspi- ration to portray the condition of Israel during the Interregnum, and these six words contain more than a whole volume that could be written by the most eloquent human pen.

The six words are arranged in three couplets, or pairs of contrasts, which graphically describe a neutral state. The three pairs of contrasts, or opposites, are these :

I. " Without a king and without a prince."

II. " Without a sacrifice and without an image."

III. " Without an ephod and without teraphim." Let us examine each one separately.

" Without a king and without a prince" What this means is, without the king of God's appointment, and without a prince of their own choice. When Hosea uttered this prediction he could already almost hear the sound of the steps of the Assyrian army on its way finally to overthrow the kingdom of the ten tribes. Hosea's ministry, which commenced in the reign of Jeroboam II., extended into the reign of Hoshea, the last king who reigned in Israel a period of about sixty years so that the prophet may himself have witnessed the fulfilment of the threatening part of his prophecies, in the overthrow of Samaria, and the captivity of the ten tribes. But the prophecy with which we are dealing is not limited to the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, the term *' the children of


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Israel " being, I believe, used in the proper and larger sense as embracing all the descendants of the one man who by the Divine authority was called " Israel."

The geographical centre of prophecy, except when otherwise stated, is always Jerusalem, and in Divine forecasts of the chief outlines of Jewish history the schism between the ten tribes and the two, which was permitted by God as a punishment on the house of David, and was to be but temporary in its character, is overlooked. We know that Samaria was finally over- thrown in the year 721 B.C., when the history of the ten tribes as a separate kingdom terminated for ever. When the great restoration takes place God says, " I will make them one nation in the land upon the moun- tains of Israel ; and one king shall be king to them all : and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all" (Ezek. xxxvii. 22). The one king who shall be " king to them all " is the true David, " David's greater Son," who will raise up the tabernacle of David, and " close up the breaches thereof," caused by the defection of the ten tribes ; and He is " the Lion of the tribe of Judah."

Judah continued as a kingdom about one hundred and thirty years longer after the captivity of the ten tribes, until the sceptre was finally plucked out of the hands of the house of David by Nebuchadnezzar, that " head of gold " of Daniel's great vision, the first king of the four great world-powers, whose united course makes up " the times of the Gentiles."

Now, there is a point in connection with this subject which is of immense interest, showing also that prophecy does indeed emanate from the omniscient God who alone knows the end from the beginning. About the time of the final overthrow of Judah, in the reign of the last king who sat on the throne of David, another prophet


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was sent by God with the following mysterious and startling message on this subject : " Thus saith the Lord God : Remove the mitre, and take off the crown : this shall not be " (or, " is no more it" I no longer recog- nise it) : " exalt the low, abase the high " (let anarchy and usurpation of the throne of David continue). " I will overturn, overturn, overturn it : this also " (whatever men may put up instead of Davidic rule on Mount Zion) " shall not be " (shall not be permitted to continue long) " until He come whose right it is ; to Him it shall be given " (Ezek. xxi. 25-27). And as God has spoken by the mouth of His prophet so it has been. Centuries elapsed between Ezekiel's prophecy and the coming of our Lord Jesus. Nineteen centuries have elapsed since, but there has been no restoration of the throne of David ; no one of the seed of David reigning over Israel on Mount Zion.

Some might think of the Hasmonean and Herodian kings of Jerusalem as militating against the truth of this assertion, but these were but incidents in the process of the overturning and usurpation foretold in the above prophecy. The Hasmoneans were priests of the tribe of Levi, who, though heroes and martyrs For Israel's faith and worship, had no right to assume royalty, which dignity in Israel God promised and confirmed by oath as an everlasting possession to the house of David ; and as for Herod, he was an Idumaean and Roman vassal. " This also shall not be, until He come whose right it is ; to Him it shall be given." Who is it whose right it is ? Who is the true and lawful King of Israel ? Of course every Christian answers, " Jesus," He was born " King of the Jews " (Matt. ii. 2), and even on the cross on which He died was written " Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." This is truth, but not the whole truth. The rightful King of Israel is Jehovah* for the


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uniqueness of Israel's high calling consisted more par- ticularly in this, that it was destined to be a theocracy that is, a people whose visible head and leader is God. If we want to know what is implied in a theocracy we find it expressed in one verse by the prophet Isaiah when speaking of a future time when it shall be fully realised : " For Jehovah is our judge, Jehovah is our law- giver (or war prince), Jehovah is our King; and He will bring us salvation," or " He also will be our Saviour" (Isa. xxxiii. 22). " Jehovah is our king " : hence at an early period of Israe'ls history when they came to Samuel saying : " Make us a king to judge us like all the nations " ; and Samuel, in not altogether unselfish displeasure, prayed to God about it, the Lord answered him saying, " Hearken to the voice of the people . . . for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them " (i Sam. viii. 7). Well, God " gave them a king in His anger, and took him away in His wrath." Saul, at the time of his election, was just such a one as answered to man's ideal of a leader and king, but although he was granted a fair trial, he proved a failure, and serves as an object-lesson that man's rule is not like God's. Eventually God Himself appointed a royal family in Israel ; but what was God's purpose in the establishment of the Davidic house ? Was it not that from that family there should ultimately spring one in whom the theocratic ideal would be fully realised ; one who, " although of their brethren," and " from the midst of them " (Deut. xviii. 15-18) should yet be Jehovah-Zidkenu the mighty God, whose reign would be the reign of God, and whose kingdom would be " the kingdom of heaven " on earth? In the interval the mere human kings of the house of David were regarded as types, and God's repre- sentatives. Thus we read that when Solomon com-


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menced his rule " he sat on the throne of 'Jehovah as king instead of David his father (i Chron. xxix. 23). The throne was Jehovah's, and Solomon and his successors only occupied it until the real king, Jehovah's true representative should appear. Hence it is that even when Israel had kings they were always pointed onward to another king: " Behold a king shall reign in righteous- ness, and princes shall rule in judgment " ; or, in the words of Jeremiah, " Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch and a king shall reign and prosper." Did they not have kings at the time these prophecies were uttered ? Yes ; but those kings were mere shadows filling up the gap in time until the true king should be manifested, " He who is the blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords." This also is the reason why in the Old Testament the coming of the Messiah is sometimes spoken of as the advent of God : " Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah," and yet He who was thus to come is the sent One, " the man whose name is the Branch."

In the fulness of time one in whom this ideal was fully realised did appear, and before His birth the fol- lowing announcement was made to His mother : " Be- hold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus " (what can be more human ? but it goes on) ; " He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever ; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." Here is that One for whose manifestation the ages were waiting, the " Im- manuel," God in man, "He whose right it is," not merely because through His mother He is the true Son of


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David, but because He is the Son of the Highest ; the irradiated brightness of His glory, and exact representa- tion of the very Being of God, who, as we have seen, is the true King of Israel. Oh, if Israel had known the day of their visitation ! if they had recognised that the child born in such humble circumstances in one of their families was none other than the long-expected Messiah, " the Lord of glory," the long indefinite period of the " many days " would have terminated, and Israel would no longer have been without the longed for king. But Israel did not know, neither did they understand, and instead of hailing Him with acclamation, they said, " Not this man we will not have this man to reign over us." Early in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, impressed by His miracle-working power, they would have taken Him by force and made Him king, but their ideals of the Messianic kingdom were altogether different from His. They wanted a kingdom, but Christ preached the kingdom of heaven, or of God ; and so afterwards, when they saw that their carnal expectations would not be realised, they did indeed put a crown on His head, but it was of thorns. They handed Him over to Pilate, and when that weak Roman functionary ironically remon- strated with them, saying, " Shall I crucify your king ? " they replied, " We have no king but Caesar " ; and having thus deliberately put themselves afresh under the yoke of Gentile rule, they are permitted to have a good long taste of it, in order that they may learn the differ- ence between the rule of God and the yoke of the Gentiles. This is why the children of Israel still " abide without a king," and until they bow their knee in lowly homage before Him whom in ignorance they once despised and scorned, they will continue so to remain. Anyhow, this is an indisputable fact, that the Lord Jesus of Nazareth is the last in Jewish history whose descent


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from the royal line of David can now be established by sufficiently authentic proof. There are Jews and Gentiles at the present day who cavil at the New Testament genealogies, overlooking the fact that there is ample proof in the New Testament of the Davidic descent of our Lord, apart even from the genealogical records. But the difficulties in the genealogies arise not from inaccuracies, but from obscurities, which could, I believe, easily be cleared up if the national and tribal records from which they were compiled were still extant to appeal to. But since the destruction of the second Temple all these national genealogical records have perished, and apart from a few worthless traditions there is nothing that any Jew now on the face of the earth can appeal to to prove even from which tribe, not to say from which family, he springs. There is neither a tribe of Judah nor a separate Davidic family now existing, and yet the true king of Israel must prove Himself a son of David ! 1

There is also this fact to be remembered, that when the claims of our Lord Jesus to Davidic descent were first asserted, they could easily have been disproved had it been possible to do so. Now, the Scribes and Phari- sees among whom Christ moved were not at all slow to bring up anything they could possibly adduce which they thought would disprove His claims. Wilfully ignorant, for instance, that He was born in Bethlehem, they stigmatised Him as a " Nazarene," and said, " Search and see, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet " ; yet although he was universally addressed as " Son of David" even by the beggars who sat by the wayside, and by a poor Gentile woman on the borders of Tyre and Sidon, His enemies never even ventured to whisper

1 See for an examination of this subject, " Die Worte Jesu," by Professor Gustaf Dalman, pp. 260-266.

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that He was not of the house of David. Afterwards^ when Paul and the other apostles went everywhere pro- claiming " Jesus Christ of the seed of David " as the very foundation of the gospel which they preached (2 Tim. ii. 8), if the Pharisees could have proved this one statement to be untrue, it would for ever have closed the mouths of these men, whom they regarded as a trouble and danger to the nation. They had serious consultations as to what could be done to put a stop to the wonderful movement in favour of Jesus of Nazareth. They threatened the apostles, they beat them, they again and again cast them into prison, but they never once dared say that He whom they preached as the seed of David and heir to His throne (Acts ii. 25-30) was not of the house of David at all. On the other hand we find that down to the sixth century, when the Talmud Babylon was compiled, the fact that Christ was of the Royal Davidic house was written deep on the conscious- ness of the Jewish nation, and shines out even from beneath the blasphemous legends which the Rabbis in- vented about Him in self-justification. 1 And not only

1 The following passage from Talmud, Sanhedrin, fol. 43, a., is most striking. " There is a tradition : On the eve of the Sabbath and the Passover they hung Jesus. And the herald went forth before him for forty days crying, ' Jesus goeth to be executed, because he has practised sorcery and seduced Israel and estranged them from God. Let any one who can bring forward any justifying plea for him come and give information concerning it,' but no justifying plea was found for him, and so he was hung on the eve of Sabbath and the Passover. Ulla said, 'But doest thou think that he belongs to those for whom a justifying plea is to be sought ? He was a very seducer, and the Allmerciful has said, " Thou shalt not spare him, nor conceal him." ' But the case of Jesus stood differently because he stood near to the kingdom."

Laible, in " Jesus Christ in the Talmud," renders the last words, "for his place was near those in power," but this is unsatisfactory.

The name actually used in the original in this passage just


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is Israel " without a king " (or the king of God's appoint- ment) ; they are also without a prince of their own choice, the Dispersion having made it an impossibility for them to have one head to rule and guide them ; and it is an interesting fact that although since the modern emancipation of the Jews they have a large share in the government of all civilised nations a share altogether out of proportion to their actual numbers, and men of Jewish birth have been successful leaders of great parties, and even prime ministers they themselves are under Gentile rule, and cannot be governed by one of their own nation.

quoted is W " Yeshu/' which is an abbreviation of " Yemakh Shemoh vezikhroh," " Let his name and his memory be blotted out." This blasphemous substitution of " Yeshu " for the precious name "Jesus" often occurs in Rabbinic literature, but Christian friends will remember that it is not our Lord Jesus as we know Him that poor Israel in ignorance thus blasphemes, but the cari- cature of Him as presented to them by apostate, persecuting Christendom in the dark ages. Often the only way left to the Jews to avenge their terrible sufferings and massacres was to write blasphemously of Him in whose name they were ignorantly perpetrated. Over against poor Israel's ignorant blasphemy of " Yemakh Shemoh vezikhroh " God has uttered His decree that the name of Jesus " shall endure for ever ; His name shall be con- tinued as long as the sun ; and men shall be blessed in Him ; all nations shall call Him blessed" (Psa. Ixxii. 17).

That the legend refers to a well-known custom in the procedure of the Sanhedrim in trials for life, there is I think, no doubt, be- cause one of their great maxims was, that "they sat to justify and not to condemn." That this humane custom of calling on those who had anything to bring forward in favour of the accused to come and declare it, was not observed in the trial of Jesus of Nazareth, for reasons well known to readers of the Gospel, is certain, but, as I have already stated, from beneath the blas- phemous legend invented as a justification for poor Israel's blind leaders in reference to their conduct to the Holy One, there shines out this truth, that up to the sixth century, when the Talmud was compiled, it was admitted by His enemies that He was not only of the Davidic house, but that " he stood near to the kingdom."


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II. " Without a sacrifice and without an image" " Without a sacrifice to God," as Kimchi well para- phrases it, " and without an image to false gods."

There is a striking fact which we may notice, by the way, in connection with this pair of contrasts, and that is, that the prophet Hosea, in search for one word by which to characterise the true religion of Israel in contrast to idolatry, lays his finger on the word "zebbach" (" sacrifice"). There are men at the present day, both Jews and Christians, and some who are even occupying the position of teachers, who represent that the Old Testament Scriptures, instead of being a coherent, harmonious, though progressive, 1 and (apart from the

1 The following is from an excellent booklet, " Bible Study," by Rev. David M. Mclntyre, Glasgow : " An immense amount of research has been expended during recent years in deter- mining the personal element which is apparent in all the Sacred Writings. One thought which has been persistently worked out is the progress of doctrine. That progress is not a development from barbarism, for the first Word of Scripture is an utterance of God, the first promise has in it the anticipation of completed redemption, the first act of worship looks steadfastly to Calvary. We acknowledge that there is in the earlier Scriptures imma- turity, but it is such as is seen in the sprouting seed, the up- springing blade, the unripe ear immaturity which contains ' the promise and potency' of perfected life. We frankly confess that the doctrine moves forward into fuller light and more measured statement, but it moves along the high level of inspira- tion from the first. The progress of doctrine of which we speak is a progress that is sensible neither of conflict nor of reconcilia- tion. The promise of the end is in the opening chapters ; the resonance of the first word vibrates in the last. It is a progress presided over by one mind and that the mind of Christ. The two elements in this progress are, a fuller content of truth, and a closer relation to the Person of the Redeemer. We may realise its character by placing together the first utterance addressed to faith, and the last ' In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' ' He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly.' "


THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD" 21

New Testament) relatively incomplete, revelation from God, consist of a patchwork of " codes," not one of them of so early a date as was believed for millenniums by both Jews and Christians, until these very modern gentlemen, possessed of a powerful intuitive faculty for discernment, were raised up to detect the fraud. Thus they have asserted that while, in the writings attributed to Moses (which according to them consist for the most part of clumsily forged documents in the Exilic and post-Exilic periods), stress is laid on sacrifice as a divinely appointed institution, the prophets utterly repudiate the idea of a Divine appointment, or a Divine regulation of sacrifice. The reasoning upon which this theory has been based I will not stop here to examine, but this I will solemnly state, that those who would put Moses against the prophets, and the prophets against Moses, are equally ignorant of the spirit of both. There are grand underlying harmonies in the Scrip- tures where " the natural man " professes to see only contradictions.

Here is a prophet, and a pre-Exilic prophet too, who characterises the true religion of Israel by the one word " sacrifice " ; and truly there is no other word that could so well summarise the Divine system as unfolded in Moses and the prophets as the word "zebbach," which here and elsewhere (see Isa. i. 11) stands for slain sacrifices in general, and not for the "peace- offering," in which sense it is sometimes used. 1

There are Jews and Christians at the present day

1 " rQ1[ (zebbach), a sacrifice (whether the act of sacrificing, &c.), an offering, a victim ; opposed both to nn?p (mincha), a bloodless offering when so contrasted (i Sam. ii. 29 ; Psa. xl. 7) ; and to n^iJ? (ohloh) a burnt-offering, holocaust ; so that POT (zebbach) denotes sacrifices of which but part were consumed, such as expiatory or eucharistic offerings " (Gesenius).


22 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

who boast that they no longer believe in the necessity of sacrifice and that which sacrifices prefigured ; but such Jews have as little in common with the teaching of the Old Testament as this kind of Christians have with the doctrines of the New Testament. Let any honest-minded man turn over the pages of the Old Testament, and I can confidently declare that from Genesis to Malachi he will meet in every part one prominently outstanding object, and that object is an altar, with which of course is bound up both priest and sacrifice. On that altar there is an inscription which explains the meaning of the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament, and it reads thus : " The life of the flesh is in the blood : and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls : for it is the blood whic'i by reason of the life maketh atone- ment " (Levit. xvii. 1 1, Hebrew) that is, life covereth life; the life of the innocent offering in the blood poured out on this altar " covereth " J the life forfeited by the guilty offerer. And turning from the Old to the New Testament there still meets us on almost every page one prominent outstanding object ; and the most prominent object on the pages of the New Testament is a cross. And what is the cross ? It is an altar, on which the most stupendous of all sacrifices was offered the one sacrifice to which all the sacrifices of the Mosaic economy pointed even Christ, "who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God," so that in Him we might find "redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace." And on the New Testament altar, too, there is an inscription. I do not refer to the actual inscription placed upon the cross by Pilate, perhaps in mockery, which nevertheless describes the 1 The primary idea of the Hebrew " khapare."


THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD" 23

royal character of the victim, but to His own, and to the Apostle's statements which explain the terrible necessity and true significance of Calvary ; and this is how it reads : " The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." " He who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf that we might be made the righteous- ness of God in Him." "And without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Matt. xx. 28 ; 2 Cor. v. 21 ; Heb. ix. 22). On this, as on every other essential doctrine, there is perfect accord between the teaching of the Old and the New Testament.

And Israel now is " without a sacrifice." Ever since the destruction of the second Temple, soon after the coming of Christ, they have not been permitted to offer any kind of bloody sacrifice. There is no morning or evening lamb of burnt-offering; they still observe the " Day of Atonement," but where is the blood of atone- ment, and where the priest who on that day was to make an atonement for them to cleanse them, that they may be clean from their sins before the Lord? (Lev. xvi. 30). The Jews still keep the feast of Unleavened Bread, but where is the " Zebbach Pesach " (Exod. xii. 27), " the sacrifice of the Passover," the blood of which sprinkled on the doorposts sheltered Israel's firstborn in Egypt ? On the Passover evening when gathered around the " Saider " the solemn family ritual in commemoration of the deliverance of the nation from Egyptian bondage a piece of half-burnt shankbone is all that lies on the table to remind them of the lamb appointed by God, which they once used to offer and feed on. There is perhaps no more striking com- mentary on this item of Hosea's prophecy, and no more pathetic picture of Israel's present condition, than is presented by their liturgies. In that lying before


24 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

me, which is in daily use among millions of Jews in Russia, Galicia, and throughout Eastern Europe, after prescribing certain portions dealing with the sacrificial regulations in Leviticus, and in the Mishna to be recited, there follows this prayer, which I translate : " Lord of the universe, Thou hast commanded us to offer a continual sacrifice in its appointed season, and that the priests should stand in their service, and the Levites in their ministry, and Israel in their ap- pointed place. But now, through our iniquity, the Temple is destroyed, and the continual sacrifice has ceased, and we have neither priest in his service or Levite in his ministry. . . . Therefore let it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that the words of our lips (by which is meant the repetition of the portions of Scripture where sacrifices are commanded), may be esteemed and received and acceptable before Thee, as if we had offered the con- tinual sacrifice, and as if we stood in our appointed position." After reading the Mishna connected with the pouring and sprinkling of the blood of the different sin-offerings, there follows this prayer : " May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that if I am guilty of (a sin for which I ought to bring) a sin-offering, that this ritual may be acceptable before Thee as if I had brought a sin-offering."

The same prayer follows after the recital of the portion dealing with the trespass-offering, the peace- offering, and the other offerings.

From this, as well as from some other customs, we see that deep down in the consciousness of the Jewish nation the belief is rooted that sacrifices are a necessity as the ground of fellowship with the " Holy One of Israel," and at the same time there is the liturgic solemn confession of the patent fact that for these


THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD" 25

" many days " they are " without a sacrifice." As to the prayer that the mere recital of the command may be acceptable as if the offering was actually presented, as well might we believe that the mere reading over of a creditor's account is equal to the paying of it !

And not only is the present condition of Israel characterised as " without a sacrifice," they are also " without an image." x In the past, and until the " many days " of the Interregnum period set in, it was either the one or the other, for whenever they forsook Jehovah they always turned to idols, but now

1 The marginal reading and reference to Isa. xix. 19, 19 in the A.V. is misleading, for it leads unlearned readers to think the "image" is an emblem associated with the worship of Jehovah. S"Q!D (Mazehvah), which is from 3.2 (Nozab), is used thirty-one times in the Old Testament, and means (i) a pillar or monument; (2) a standing image or pillar devoted to idolatrous uses. In Genesis, where it is found nine times, it is used exclusively in the first sense (Gen. xxviii. 18-22, xxxi. 13, 45, 51, 52, xxxv. 14, 20) ; but from Exodus onward, from the time of the Divine appoint- ment of one sanctuary when the putting up of a Mazehvah was strictly forbidden (Lev. xxvi. i), and in all the other books of the Old Testament, excepting Isa. xix. 19, 19, where it is used in the first sense of a pillar or monument which Egypt will erect to the true God, and Exod. xxiv. 4 (where it is used of the twelve pillars of the altar which Moses built at the foot of Mount Sinai, as representing the twelve tribes of Israel), the word is always used to describe an idolatrous object or the image of an idol ; and in the prophets it is used as the emblem of Baal worship. It was for raising Mazehboth that Israel was finally carried into captivity " and they set them up Mazehboth (" images," A.V.), and Asherim upon every high hill, and under every green tree, and they burnt incense in all high places as did the nations whom the Lord carried away before them : and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger . . . therefore the Lord was angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight" (2 Kings xvii. 10, u, 18). That Hosea used Mazehvah as a symbol of idolatry may be seen from the only other passage in his prophecy where this word is used, namely, in chap. x. i, 2.


26 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

it is neither the one nor the other. In Babylon Israel was finally purged of all idolatrous tendencies, and since then they have manifested the greatest abhor- rence of everything bearing the remotest resemblance to idolatry. Of course there is another kind of idolatry : there are the " idols of the heart " (Ezek. xiv. 4), which are quite as hateful in the sight of God as images of wood and stone, but with this our passage does not deal.

As a matter of fact, as far as the gross forms of idolatry are concerned, the Jews now are entirely free from it, and have been for these "many days" since the Babylonian Captivity ; and even their prejudice against Christianity is partly due to the fact that the outward aspect of it, especially in countries where the Latin and Greek Churches prevail, has led them to regard it as idolatrous an estimation which is, alas ! to a large extent justified.

III. " Without an ephod and teraphim" This is the last of the three couplets, and on this point, too, we can have no better explanation than the words of the great Jewish commentator : " Without an ephod to God, by means of which we could foretell the future as with the Urim and Thummim, and without teraphim to false gods."

In the ephod, as already stated, were set the Urim and Thummim, through which, in some mysterious way not at present fully known to us, 1 God revealed His will to Israel. At the consecration of Joshua as the suc- cessor of Moses, God commanded that he should stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of Urim before the Lord (Numb, xxvii. 21). Later on, in times of perplexity, David, for instance, had

1 See Appendix I., " Urim and Thummim," at the end of the book.


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only to say to Abiathar the priest, " Bring hither the ephod," and by its means he inquired of the Lord God of Israel, who condescended in this manner to make known His will to His servant (i Sam. xxiii. 9-12, xxx. 7, 8).

From this we see that though the ephod formed part of the high priest's outfit, it was a phase of the priesthood which reminds us of the prophetic office inasmuch as through it God spoke a prefigurement in this respect of the time when both offices shall meet in one glorious Person, through whom God was to speak His last words, and who, though the great prophet, shall also be "a priest upon His throne." In fact, on carefully analysing this remarkable prophecy, we find each of the three great Messianic offices referred to in the three pairs of contrasts which we are considering. The first speaks plainly of the " King " ; the second of " sacrifice," with which of course is bound up the idea of priesthood; and in this last we have a reference to the revealing of the mind of God, which is more properly connected with the prophetic office.

Is it accidental that just these three great offices which man needs for his relations with God are those which Israel is now " without," but which on the other hand have always been associated by the Church with Jesus Christ ? Oh, no ; it is for the very reason that they are all merged and fulfilled in Christ, that poor Christless Israel, so long as they reject Him, is deprived of the blessings which flow from them.

But at any rate, thus much even a Jew does not deny, that this prophetic word in the last couplet brings before us another patent fact. Israel now is " without an ephod." As they are without a king and a priest, so it is also the time of God's long silence, and in ignorance of the cause they continue to cry out, " Why withdrawest


28 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

Thou Thy hand ? O God, how long shall the adversary reproach ? . . . We see not our signs ; there is no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how long" (Psa. Ixxiv. 9-11). Yes, there is neither sound nor hearing, nor is there one among them who can tell what Israel ought to do.

But not only are they " without an ephod," but as in the other pairs of contrasts, so here too, they are also without that which is the direct antithesis to it, namely, the " teraphim? or speaking oracles of the heathen. 1

Apart from our passage there are only seven other scriptures in the Hebrew Bible where the teraphim are introduced, but these suffice to show that they were not only idols, the use of which is classed together by God with "witchcraft, stubbornness, and iniquity" (i Sam. xv. 23), but that they were a peculiar kind of idols, namely, those used for oracular responses. The first mention of the teraphim is in connection with Jacob's flight from Laban, in Gen. xxxi., and in the light of the other passages there seems probability in the explanation of Aben Ezra 2 that Rachel stole them in order that her father might not discover the direction of their flight by means of these oracles.

The second place where we find them is in that strange narrative about the Ephraimite Micah, and the Danite expedition to Laish in Judg. xvii. and xviii., where we get a sad and characteristic glimpse of the condition of some among the tribes in those days, " when there was no king in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes." This narrative supplies an illustration of the fact that not only is

1 See Appendix II., " Dean Farrar on the Teraphim," at the end of the book.

  • See Aben Ezra in loc. Gesenius traces " Teraphim " to the

unused root " Toraph," which in the Syriac has the significance of " to inquire."


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man incapable of himself to find God, but that, left to himself, he is incapable of retaining the know- ledge of God in its original purity even when once divinely communicated; and that even the things revealed, apart from the continued teaching of God's Spirit, are liable to become corrupted and distorted in his mind. Here we have a sad instance of a certain knowledge of Jehovah mixed up with the worship of "a graven image and a molten image," which were abomination in His sight, and the illegitimate use of the divinely instituted ephod, which was only to be borne by the high priest, joined together with the pagan teraphim. But the point to be noted is that here also these teraphim were used for oracular consulta- tions, for it was of them that the apostate Levite of Bethlehem asked for counsel for the idolatrous Danites (Judg. xviii. 5, 6).

In Ezek. xxi. 21 we find the exact antithesis to David's consulting the ephod in the pagan king of Babylon " consulting with images " (literally, " tera- phim ") in reference to his projected invasion of Palestine. 1 Now it is clear that in olden times, when- ever by apostasy and disobedience fellowship with Jehovah was interrupted, and when in consequence there was no revelation from Him, " neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets," Israel turned to the pagan teraphim, or like poor Saul they " sought unto

1 The only other instances where teraphim are mentioned are i Sam. xix. 13-16, from which we gather, first, the sad fact that idolatry was practised by Michal, the daughter of Saul, and, secondly, that the teraphim must have had some resemblance to the human form since the idol could be mistaken for the body of David. There were no doubt larger ones in the temples, and smaller ones of all sizes, and for idolatrous purposes in the houses. The last mention of these is in Zech. x. 2, which is referred to below.


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such as had familiar spirits, and wizards that peep and that mutter." But ever since the Babylonish Captivity Israel has been free from this, as from the other forms of gross and outward idolatry.

A parallelism, in its spiritual significance, is to be found in Christendom. What the ephod or the prophet was in olden times, Holy Scripture is now. It is even " a more sure word " than voices from heaven, or answers by Urim and Thummim. The Scriptures, first spoken by holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, are now " the oracles of God" themselves speaking with voices which carry their own conviction to hearts honestly seeking for truth, and ever confirming them- selves in the world's history and in the Christian's experience ; but men in the present day, even in Christendom, stumbling at the supernatural element in them, as if there could be a revelation of the Infinite and Everlasting One without such element, turn away from these oracles often on the flimsiest grounds, and instead are giving heed on the one hand to the specula- tions of a " science falsely so called," and on the other hand " to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," and are thus in a measure already supplying an illustration of the solemn words of the apostle, that if men receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved, " God shall for this cause send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. ii. n, 12). For of the modern Christian teraphim it is as true as of the ancient pagan ; to adopt the language where they are last mentioned in Scripture, " they speak vanity," or " wickedness " ; and as for their " diviners," or false prophets representing them, "they see a lie, and tell false dreams ; they comfort in vain " (Zech. x. 2) ; for it is a comfort not well founded, and will not stand the test of death or of a judgment to come.


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" AFTERWARDS."

But the prophecy does not stop with describing the present it goes on to the future. " Afterwards," it says, after the " many days " of the Interregnum when the " times of the Gentiles " shall be fulfilled, and the period for the treading down of Jerusalem accomplished, " shall the children of Israel," that is, " all Israel," as the great apostle to the Gentiles assures us, in contrast to the remnant who seek and find God now "return, and seek Jehovah their God and David their king." They shall " return " to their land, but, better still, to their God.

The word translated here " return " is the Hebrew for repentance. It is the word the prophets so often used when they cried, " Turn ye ; turn ye, for why will ye die O house of Israel ? " but they have never yet as a nation returned to God, neither will they return until the Spirit is poured upon them from on high, and the work of grace begins in their hearts. Then " a voice will be heard upon the high places, even the weeping and supplication of the children of Israel, because they have perverted their way and have forgotten Jehovah their God." And in the midst of this weeping and supplication the voice of God will finally break in saying, " Return, ye backsliding children ; I will heal your backslidings," and then will come the immediate glad response, " Behold we come unto Thee, for Thou art Jehovah our God"(Jer. iii. 21,22; see also Zech. chaps, xii. to xiv.). And not only will they " return," but they will seek " Jehovah their God." Now and for a long season Israel hath been " without the true God," and without a priest to teach them the true meaning of the law. These words from 2 Chron. xv. 3 proclaim a present as well as an historic fact, and por- tray perhaps the saddest feature in connection with the present condition of Israel. In spite of religiousness


32 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD '

and great zeal, Israel is now "without the true God," and if we inquire for the reason it is found in the words of our Lord, " I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me " ; and again, " This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." " No man hath seen God at any time," nor can we see or truly know Him except the only-begotten of the Father declare Him unto us ; and by rejecting Him even the revelation in the scriptures of Moses and the prophets has become obscured to Israel, for that too was a revelation of God in Christ. Therefore the prophet says that they will not only seek Jehovah their God, but also " David their King."

Now it is unnecessary to prove that " David " here stands for David's greater son, or Messiah. The Jews themselves have so understood it. Even the Rabbis, in commenting on the parallel passage in Jer. xxx., where we read that " In that day . . . they shall serve Jehovah their God and David their king whom I will raise up unto them," have said, "David their king whom I will raise up unto them," and not "whom I have raised up unto them " showing that it is not King David who reigned in Jerusalem some four hundred years before who is meant, but the Messiah who is to be of David's seed, as it is written in Jer. xxiii. 5, 6, and other scriptures. In truth, He is the true David, the " Beloved," the King and Man after God's own heart, in whom the promises of the kingdom are centred. There are a number of passages where the name David is applied to Messiah the king in the prophecies, but those in our passage in Hosea iii. and in Jer. xxx. 9 are especially remarkable : " They shall seek Jehovah their God and David their king " ; " They shall serve Jehovah their God and David their king," showing that there is


THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD" 33

neither true seeking nor true serving of Jehovah God if we do not also seek and serve David (Messiah) the king, notwithstanding all that poor Israel now thinks to the contrary.

Now let us return for a moment to the first of the three pairs of contrasts in the fourth verse of our chapter " Without a king and without a prince " and by com- paring that statement with another prophecy of Israel's future, observe a most beautiful truth about the Lord Jesus in relation to that nation. 1 In Ezek. xxxvii. 21-25 we read, " Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel : and one king shall be king to them all : and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions ; but I will save them out cf all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them ; so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. And David, My servant, shall be king over them, and they all shall have one shepherd ; they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant wherein your fathers have dwelt ; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever : and My servant David shall be their prince for ever " (Ezek. xxxvii. 21-25).

And David My servant shall be King over them . . .

1 This section is transferred here from my book, "The Jewish Problem," as it is important to the context and a full understanding of this prophecy.

4


34 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

and My servant David shall be their Prince for ever Here is both Israel's King and Prince in the same person.

But, you say, do not the two terms substantially mean the same thing ? No ; the word in the original trans- lated " prince " in this passage does not mean prince in an hereditary sense of the word. " Nassi," the term used, signifies one exalted^ or elected by the freewill of the people. What a glimpse we get here of the change that will come over Israel at the appearing of Jesus Christ ! At His first coming Israel as a nation deliberately rejected Him. "Not this man, but Barabbas ! " they said ; and as to Christ, " Crucify Him ! Crucify Him ! We will not have this man to reign over us!" was their cry.

But the national verdict with regard to Jesus Christ will be revoked ; the grand mistake of the Jewish people shall yet be acknowledged and repented of. Instead of " Crucify Him ! " they will cry " Hosannah ! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord ! " They will recognise His claims, not only as " the King," the One whose right it is to reign over them ; but they will deliberately declare Him their " Nassi," their elected, or exalted one.

This simply means that Israel will ratify God's choice. David himself, whose name Messiah bears, is a beautiful type of Christ in this, as in many other respects. In i Sam. xvi. we read of his being chosen and anointed king over Israel by the command of God. But what followed ? Did he at once commence his reign ? For fifteen years he was a fugitive ; his claims were un- recognised ; his home was the cave of Adullam or the wilderness of Judah. There was another king who hated David and disputed his sovereignty. Meanwhile, instead of a throne on Mount Zion and the hosts of Israel, his court was outside the camp, and his following


THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD" 35

consisted of his brethren and all his father's house : " And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented " a strange, typical lot, not at first numbering altogether more than about "four hundred men." But at last, after years of rejection, the people's heart turned to- ward him, " and the men of Judah came, and " as if he had never been anointed king before " there (in Hebron) they anointed David king over the house of Judah " (2 Sam. ii. 4).

Thus it is with Christ. From His incarnation He was designated King of the Jews. Jehovah Himself has anointed Him as His king on the holy hill of Zion ; and it was even then announced that " the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever ; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." But my people knew not the day of their visitation ; and for all these centuries have resolutely, as a nation, refused to acknow- ledge His claims. Meanwhile, also, the god of this world, " the prince of the power of the air," is permitted in the infinite wisdom of God to usurp Christ's sovereignty over the nations ; and the followers of our blessed, glorious Master are a mere handful of individuals from all nations, who spiritually are like that motley crowd in the cave of Adullam, " in distress, in debt, and discontented, or bitter of soul," because of a sense of sin and sorrow. These are painfully conscious that Jesus Christ is not yet accepted king over the earth ; for instead of a crown, which will come by and by, we have to take up His cross and follow Him "without the camp, bearing His reproach." But as sure as there was a cross planted for Him on that Golgotha, outside the walls of Jerusalem, so surely, if the word and oath of our God stand for anything, is there yet to be a glorious


36 THE INTERREGNUM AND "AFTERWARD"

throne for our Redeemer and Master on Mount Zion. " The stone which the builders have rejected has become the headstone of the corner ; " and, however marvellous and improbable in our eyes, Israel shall yet "serve Jehovah their God and David their king," and delibe- rately elect Him, whom during centuries of unbelief they have despised and rejected, as their " Nassi " their freely chosen ruler and Prince.

Another beautiful glimpse into the time and circum- stances of Israel's seeking and finding Christ, is to be found in the words of the same prophet at the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth chapters : " I will go and return to My place till they declare them- selves guilty, and seek My face ; in their affliction they will seek Me early." In their fulness these words can only be understood in the light of New Testament history. It is our Lord Jesus who, by His spirit, speaks through the mouth of the prophet. He was the Lamb of God, but by reason of their unbelief and the judgments which have befallen them in consequence of His rejection, His first coming to them, as depicted in the preceding verse, has been " as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah : He has torn and gone away." Whither has He gone ? The answer is : " to My place " to " the glory which He had with the Father J before the world was " (John xvii. 5). Having come from God He went, when His mission of suffering and death was accomplished, to God (John xiii. 3), and there, at His Father's right hand, He will remain " till they declare themselves guilty." The word here is the same, and seems to me to be designedly taken by the prophet from Gen. xlii., where we read the confession of Joseph's brethren in the midst of their trouble in Egypt. " We are verily guilty" they said one to another, " concerning our brother, in that we saw the


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anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear ; therefore is this tribulation come upon us. ... Behold, also his blood is required" (Gen. xlii. 21, 22). So it will be with Israel in relation to the Messiah, the Beloved of the Father, whom also they sold for thirty pieces of silver, and whom they have believed all this time to be dead. The day is drawing nigh when this greater than Joseph, who meanwhile has been exalted a Prince and a Saviour, will reveal Himself to His own brethren, but not until, by the aid of the " spirit of grace and supplications which will be poured out upon them," "they declare themselves guilty" of the most terrible crime in their national history, even the rejection and crucifixion of the Son of God, and their own brother according to the flesh.

And it was in the time of trouble that this heart- searching among Joseph's brethren took place, and the confession was wrung from them. So it will be with Israel. " In their affliction," in their tribulation (the word being the same as is used to describe " Jacob's trouble " in Jer. xxx. 7, and other scriptures) " they will seek Me early." Then the prophet, reaching out to- wards these promises from afar, and eager to hasten that longed-for time, says : " Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us, in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight."

" One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." For nearly two such millennial days since the Dayspring from on high has visited us, has the national history of Israel been sus- pended, and the nation itself been as dead, but the third is the resurrection day, when the Lord will quicken and help Israel "at the breaking in of the morning" (Psa.


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xlvi. 5, Hebrew). " Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning, and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."

And when once Israel learns to know God in the face of Jesus Christ, and has unveiled to them His absolute truth and righteousness, as well as His infinite love, " they shall fear toward Jehovah and His good- ness in the latter days." His love and forgiveness which they will experience on the ground of re- demption will not make them think lightly of sin, or to have low views of God's holiness. A filial fear will take possession of their hearts in relation to Him, in whom alone they will find, even as we do now, all their blessedness ; in the loss of whose fellowship they will have discovered the cause of all their misery. Yes, this is the effect which the grace of God has on the regenerate heart : " With Thee there is forgiveness that Thou mayest be feared." This is not the terror of the ungodly, but a fear springing from a sense of forgive- ness and acceptance a fear which dreads to offend against love so wonderful, and which cannot bear to think even of the possibility of being once again excluded from the fellowship of Him whose loving- kindness is better than life.

And all this will take place in the " latter days." This brings us to the same landmark of time as indi- cated in the inspired forecast of the history of Israel given by Moses at the very beginning of their national career (Deut iv. 30).

" In the latter," or " last days," " the days of Messiah," as Jewish commentators themselves explain, which to them will not begin until they shall say : " Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah ! " Israel's sin and sorrow shall end ; the yoke of Gentile rule shall


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be broken ; men shall no more serve themselves of him, but "they shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their king, whom God will raise up unto them."

For thus said Jehovah : " Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them."