Israel's Inalienable Possesions - The Gifts and the Calling of God Which are Without Repentance/Chapter 05
THE SHEKINAH GLORY AND THE COVENANTS
"The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night departed not from before the people"
"Nevertheless, I will remember My cove- nant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant "
third of the "gifts" enumerated in our Scrip- ture as constituting part of Israel's high calling of God, is expressed in the words, "and the glory." This, of course, refers to the glory of the personal Presence of Jehovah in their midst, which
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distinguished and separated Israel from all other peoples (Ex. xxxiii. 1 6) that wonderful Shekinah, the visible symbol of which was the cloud of glory and pillar of fire, which went before them in all their wilderness experiences, and which never utterly left them, in spite of all their frowardness and sins ; the glory which in the Tabernacle and in the first Tem- ple dwelt between the cherubim, as the visible demonstration of His covenant relations with that people.
Well may their great lawgiver exclaim, in view of this special relationship of Jehovah to His people, "Happy" (or, "oh, how happy," or "blessed") "art thou, O Israel : who is like unto thee,
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O people saved by Jehovah, the Shield of thy help, and who is the Sword of thy excellence "- "for ask now of the days that are past which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other where hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it ? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as thou hast heard, and live ? or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation by tempta- tions, by signs and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Jehovah your God
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did for you ?" (Deut. xxxiii. 29 ; iv. 32-34).
At present, and ever since the commencement of " the Times of the Gentiles "with the Babylonish captivity, the glory has departed from Israel, and since then the word " Ichabod" is written over their whole history. " Where is the glory ? " their land is laid waste, their Temple destroyed, themselves scattered and tossed about among the nations. But this " Ichabod " period will not last for ever.
The same prophet, Ezekiel, who in the earlier chapters of his prophecy describes the slow, reluctant departure of the glory of Jehovah from the midst of His people, sees also its return from
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the same direction from which he saw it depart a vision, this, of the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, when His blessed " feet " shall " in that day " stand again " upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east."
But when the glory of the personal Presence of Jehovah- Jesus shall thus be revealed so that all flesh may see it together, even as the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken Israel and Jeru- salem will again be the centre of it, and the word will yet go forth : " Cry out and shout, thou in- habitress of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of tkee" (Isa. xii. 6). Not till
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then, not till "out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God doth shine," will the ancient promise be fulfilled, that the glory of Jehovah shall cover this earth even as the waters cover the sea : " For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples, but Jehovah shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and (then) nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isa. Ix. 1-3). Truly great and wonderful is the gift," or privilege, expressed in the words, " theirs is the glory."
" And the Covenants"- This is the fourth item in the summary of the "gifts and calling" which God irrevocably bestowed upon
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the chosen nation ; and at the remembrance of it the Psalmist may well sing :
" Glory ye in His Holy Name ;
Let the heart of them rejoice that seek Jehovah, . . .
He remembers His covenant for ever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations
Which (covenant) He made with Abra- ham.
And His oath unto Isaac ;
And confirmed the same unto Israel for an everlasting covenant ;
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan,
The lot of your inheritance."
(Psa. cv. 3-12.)
Yes, this covenant with Abra- ham still stands, and will " to a thousand generations," for it was absolute and unconditional, and was renewed again and again to Isaac and to Jacob, and confirmed
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by oath by the God who cannot lie, and who pledged His own existence for its certain fulfilment. And one chief item guaranteed in this covenant is Israel's ulti- mate permanent possession of " the land of Canaan as the lot of their inheritance," so that we may confidently look forward to the certain fulfilment of it, in spite of those who, in opposition to God's promise and oath, boldly deny that the Jews ever will be restored, or that there is a na- tional future for Israel at all.
But it is not only that one un- conditional everlasting covenant which He made with Abraham, and which He renewed to Isaac and Jacob, that the Apostle has in his mind. Theirs are the
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covenants" he says for all the covenants which God, in His great condescension, made with man since Abraham, were made with them, and primarily belong to them.
Christians sometimes speak of the Jews as the " people of the Old Covenant," in contradis- tinction to themselves as the people of " the New Covenant"; but we have only to turn up the original records of the new cove- nant to see that, nationally, God did not make this covenant with the English, or French, or Ger- mans, or Russians ; but " the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah : not according
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to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt ; which My covenant they brake, though I was an husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel. After those days, saith Jehovah, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know Je- hovah : for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jeho- vah ; for I will forgive their
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iniquity, and will remember their sin no more" (Jer. xxxi. 31-34).
It is true that, as individuals, men of all nations are, through their union with our Lord Jesus Christ, grafted on to the olive tree of Israel's covenanted mer- cies, and, together with the rem- nant of the nation, even now partake of the root and fatness of the Jewish olive tree thus anticipating the time when "all Israel shall be saved " (Heb. viii.). But this inclusion of Gentile be- lievers who were formerly "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise," in no wise affects the purpose of God in relation to Israel nationally. Theirs are "the covenants"; and as snre
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as there is a God of truth, every item and promise in those cove- nants, from the highest and greatest contained in the words " I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more ; I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts ; I will be their God, and they shall be My people ; they shall all know Me from the least of them unto the greatest of them" down to the minutest promise in reference to the possession of their land, and their future national prosperity in it, shall all be fulfilled in His own good time.