The Jewish Problem - Its Solution or, Israel's Present and Future/Chapter 04
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III. Israel's Conversion
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THE third item with regard to Israel's future, as given in this chapter, is Israel's Conversion and the establishment of the throne of David.
"I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him; but they shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them."
It is unnecessary to prove that by "David their King," is here meant their Messiah. Even the Talmud says, " 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." In truth, He is the true David, the Beloved; the King after God's own heart, in whom the promises of God centre.
There are a number of passages where the name David is applied to the King Messiah in the Old Testament; but two are especially remarkable. In Hosea iii., after that wonderful prophecy delivered nearly eight hundred years before Christ, and which answers exactly to the present state of Israel, it is stated, "afterward"—that is, when their present condition of banishment from their land and apostasy from God shall come to an end—
"shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king, and shall fear Jehovah and His goodness in the latter days."
"They shall seek Jehovah their God, and David their King." "They shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their King": so that there is 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.
And note the more than human character and dignity of this great David. He claims equal allegiance with God; for whatever is implied by "they shall serve Jehovah their God," must be meant also in the words "and they shall serve David their King." But there is a glorious truth wrapped up in these two passages, which must not be overlooked. In foretelling their state during the time when Israel shall neither serve God nor yet fall into idolatry, the prophet says that "the children of Israel shall abide many days"—the Hebrew idiomatic expression meaning a long, indefinite period—"without a king and without a prince." How wonderfully true has this proved; and with what wonderful accuracy has the inspired announcement been fulfilled!
Just about the time of Zedekiah, the last prince who ever sat on the throne of David, the prophet Ezekiel came with this startling announcement : " Remove the mitre and take off the crown ; it shall not be (or, this is no more it): exalt the low, abase the high (or, let anarchy and usurpation of the throne of David continue). I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; this shall be no more until He come whose right it is; to Him it shall be given." And so it has proved. For all those centuries before Christ, and for all these nearly nineteen centuries since Christ—a fact which only inspiration could have foreseen—in spite of every effort and Jewish ambition, there has been no re-establishment of the throne of David.
It is true that in the second century b.c. a kingdom existed for a short time in Judea; but the kings were not of the house of David, nor even of the tribe of Judah, and are not recognised as kings by God, who by oath appointed David and his seed to be the only legitimate kings in Zion.
"Until He come, whose right it is: to Him it shall be given."
Who is this but Jesus of Nazareth?—"the King of the Jews," concerning whom it was announced at His birth: "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." According to the commonly-received view, there is indeed no importance in the title "Son of David" as belonging to Christ; except, perhaps, as proving that He descended from David, and enabling us to trace His genealogy. But it is evident that the announcement of the angel attaches to it far greater importance than this, inasmuch as it asserts for Him, as Son of David, "the throne of His father David." "And what throne is that? Not the throne of heaven, nor yet the throne of God's spiritual kingdom; for neither of these was, or could have been, occupied by David, or could be inherited by Christ as ' Son of David.' The throne intended, then, must be the throne of the kingdom of Israel, and that it is so, the words of the angel testify; for having said, 'The Lord God shall give to Him the throne of His father David,' he adds: 'And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.'"
The idea now generally entertained is that the throne on which Christ now sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high is that meant by the angel in this announcement to Mary; but this view is. not based on a comprehensive and mature study of the Word of God. Take, for instance, Rev. iii. 21:
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne."
Here the Lord Himself tells us that the throne over which He now sits is not His, but the Father's, who invited Him to share it with Him as a token of His perfect satisfaction with the finished work of His beloved Son; and that He only occupies this place until He takes possession of His own throne, on which He will grant the privilege of sitting with Him to all those who have been faithful to Him in this rebellious world. When Christ appeared for the first time, had Israel but known the day of His visitation, the kingdom might have at that time been restored to them; but "His own received Him not." They rejected Him, and sent a messenger after Him, saying: "We will not have this man to reign over us."
But did Israel's unbelief and rejection of their King frustrate the purposes of God? Did it for ever rob Christ of that to which He has a right as the Son of David, and which is pre-eminently the reward of His humiliation and pouring out His soul unto death? "Yet have I anointed My king on the holy hill of Zion." Man's unbelief and disobedience may defer, to his own hurt, the accomplishment of the purposes of God; but man's unbelief and the very gates of hell cannot frustrate them.
"There is an old saying which Bengel was very fond of: 'Deus habet horas et moras'—God has His own times and ways. There are pauses in history; but during those pauses, which are occasioned by the unbelief, the ignorance, and the disobedience of His own people, and are made subservient to the wisdom of God, the great Musician does not forget the melody, and at the proper time it is continued."
The King whom Israel insulted and delivered over to the cross, departed for a season with the awful words:
"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew xxiii. 38, 39).
Or, as we have it in Hosea v. 1 5:
"I will go and return unto My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face; in their affliction they shall seek Me early."
Meanwhile, another underlying parallel purpose of God, even the mystery of the Church, has been revealed, which more than ever makes manifest the manifold wisdom of God. But what about the "Tabernacle of David"? What about Christ's relation to Israel? Did He renounce? Did He say to Israel, "I have done with you? Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth—and for ever." Oh, no! Behold here too the glorious star of hope suspended right in the midst of the gloom of impending judgment and desolation.
The King's departure, however long its duration, is but for a limited time: "Until ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." Till they acknowledge their offence and seek My face; and then, corresponding with what was said above, it is added: "In their affliction—in the time of Jacob's trouble (the same word in the original being used in both places)—they shall seek Me early." And when once they seek Him, that face, which "in a little wrath has been hid from them for a moment," I will be lifted upon them in full splendour. "I will return and build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up;" "and the Lord shall yet reign in Mount Zion, and before His ancients gloriously." Till then, and for these many days, "the children of Israel abide without a king and without a prince." Note that they are not only without a king, but also without a prince.
Now, compare this with Ezekiel xxxvii., and see a most beautiful truth about the Lord Jesus in relation to Israel's future.
"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, 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 of 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 " (Ezekiel xxxvii. 21-25).
"And David My servant shall be king over them; . . . 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 translated "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 free will 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 of Nazareth will be revoked; the grand mistake of the Jewish people shall yet be acknowledged and repented of Instead of "Crucify Him!" they will cry "Hosanna! 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 Samuel xvi. we read of his being chosen and anointed as 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 unrecognised; 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 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 numbering altogether more than about "four hundred men." But at last, after those years of rejection, the people's heart turned toward 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."
The rest of the tribes of Israel still opposed David, and ranged themselves under the banner of Ishbosheth; until about seven years later the heart of all the people turned toward him, and "all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and king David made a league with them in Hebron before Jehovah, and they anointed David king over Israel."
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 acknowledge 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 debts, and discon- tented, 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 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 deliberately elect Him, whom during centuries of unbelief they have despised and rejected, as their "Nassi" their freely chosen ruler and prince.
- Jeremiah xxiii. 5, 6.
- Lit. Hebrew, Ezek. xxi.
- Dr. A. Saphir.
- Isa. liv. 8.
- Amos ix. 11, 12.
- Isa. xxiv. 23.
- Hosea iii. 4.
- I Samuel xxii. i, 2.
- 2 Samuel ii. 4.
- 2 Samuel v. 3.
- Hebrews xiii. 13.