The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew/Chapter 3
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THE "ICHABOD" PERIOD AND THE RETURN OF THE GLORY OF JEHOVAH
WITH the fortieth chapter begins the second half of the Book of Isaiah, the last twenty-seven chapters forming a separate and continuous prophecy by itself. This grand prophetic Messianic epic of the Old Testament, the centre and heart of which is Christ, forms one of the very richest portions of God's self- revelation. Sublimely grand is its very style and language. " There is in fact no more Johannic book in the whole of the Old Testament than this book of consolation," says a great German Bible student. 1 " It is like the product of an Old Testament gift of tongues. The fleshly body of speech has become changed into a glorified body, and we hear, as it were, spiritual voices from the world beyond, or world of glory."
It is remarkable and masterly in its structure, for as we proceed we find the one larger cycle of twenty-seven chapters divided into three smaller cycles of nine chapters, each interlinked with the other, and ending with the same refrain of peace and blessedness to the righteous, and "no peace to the wicked." 2
2 See Appendix III. on the structure of the second half of Isaiah at the end of the book.
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Wonderful also is its comprehensiveness, the whole order of the New Testament being anticipated in it. It begins where the New Testament begins with the ministry of John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness, and it ends where the New Testament ends, with the new heavens and the new earth, wherein shall dwell righteousness. A certain school of modern criticism, of some of the representations of which I am bold to say that they apply to the study of Scripture a wisdom which is certainly not from above, claim most positively to have discovered another author for these last twenty-seven chapters ; or to speak more accurately, being positive only in putting aside the claims of the Son of Amoz under whose name they stand, and who was believed to be the writer by the compilers of the Old Testament canon, and by the Apostles of the New Testament, these gentlemen are at a loss to find the real author, and not unfrequently call their pseudo Isaiah by the significant name of the "Great Unknown." 1 On my shelf yonder there stands a book on Messianic prophecy by a clever writer, and in the section devoted to the second half of Isaiah I was greatly struck when reading it with the frequent repetition of the phrase the " Great Unknown." The words impressed me as of solemn significance. Prophecy is not of man's origina- tion, but emanates from the Great Omniscient God. " Holy men," Scripture assures us, " spake as they were moved (or borne along) by the Holy Ghost." Now God forbid that I should characterise alike all who have been entrapped by the novelties and the daring
1 " Great " the writer of these chapters certainly was, but for that very reason we may doubt his being unknown, or that there was any necessity of a work which bears on its very face the true prophetic stamp being smuggled in under another name to give it authority.
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of this school, but of many of them I must utter the sad conviction that it is the Holy Spirit, the real author of prophecy, who is the "Great Unknown," or they would not speak and write of Scripture as they do. Once granted that prophecy is supernatural in its essence, and that there is nothing improbable in the fact that one speaking from the mouth of God could definitely foretell things to come, and speak of things and persons which as yet were not, as though they were and most of the arguments in favour of a later date and different author for these chapters fall to the ground. As to the supposed differences in language and style, I can only state that to one dissimilarity it would be easy to point out many marked features both of style and language which are peculiar alike to both parts of the Book of Isaiah. One little link which binds together the two halves of this prophecy shines out in connection with the subject we are about to consider, namely, the Revelation of the glory of Jehovah.
Isaiah's earlier prophecies terminate with the thirty- fifth chapter, that wonderfully sublime paragraph which contains, in germ, most of the leading thoughts of the last twenty-seven chapters. 1 Following that, we have four chapters of contemporary history, containing the account
1 Delitzsch, who to the grief of many, finally gave way in a measure, to the rationalistic pressure around him, and accepted the theory of a later authorship of the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah, says in his commentary on the thirty-fifth chapter that it is "like a mosaic" from passages in the second half of the book, and continues : " We have intentionally avoided crowding together the parallel passages from chapters xl.-lxvi. The whole chapter is, in every part, both in thought and language, a prelude of that book of consolation for the exiles in their captivity. Not only in its spiritual New Testament thoughts, but also in its ethereal language, soaring high as it does in majestic softness and light, the prophecy has now reached the highest point of its development."
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of Sennacherib's invasion ; the destruction of his army ; Hezekiah's sickness and recovery ; and of the embassy sent by Merodach-baladan, ostensibly to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery, but in reality, as we know also from 2 Chron. xxxii. 31, to "inquire of the wonder that was done in the land," in the great reverse which befell the arms of Assyria, whom Babylon, till then a subject power, was before long to supersede. In that thirty-ninth chapter we have a most striking definite an- nouncement to Hezekiah of the seventy years' captivity among the very people whose ambassadors he had tried to impress with the importance of his kingdom, and the riches of his treasures. " Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of Jehovah of Hosts. Behold the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon : nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away ; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon."
This announcement forms at once the threshold and the standpoint of the last great prophecy written at a later period of the prophet's life.
The captivity has become ideally a present fact to the prophet, and in vision he already beholds the land desolate, the Temple destroyed, the people pining in Chaldean bondage ; and it is just like God, to open up in advance, a stream of consolation, to accompany the faithful remnant all through the weary wilderness march of the shorter, and of the present much longer captivity. But to return from the short digression. What is the climax to which we are gradually led up in the earlier prophecies of Isaiah? It is found in the second verse of the thirty-fifth chapter, " They shall see the glory of
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Jehovah, the excellency" (or "the majesty") "of our God." And what is the great theme of the last twenty- seven chapters ? It is the same. The central thought of the prologue, or introduction, consisting of the first eleven verses of chapter forty is : " And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together," which is explained in the last of the brief four sections into which the introduction is divided, by the words : " Behold the Lord God will come with strength and His own arm shall rule for Him ; behold His reward is with Him and His work before Him." It is from this blessed announcement that the streams of comfort flow ; it is for this glorious culmination that the way is to be prepared, and all the twenty-seven chapters but unfold the process by which this grand consumma- tion will finally be brought about.
" The glory of Jehovah shall be revealed." I wonder if we all understand what is meant by the expression, " The glory of Jehovah." I fear that some expressions that are much on our lips, are but little understood by us. Let me then state at the outset that the words, " Khebod Jehovah " (the glory of Jehovah), in the Hebrew scriptures, always mean the glory of the personal presence of Jehovah ; the glory surrounding and attendant on the visible manifestations of Jehovah on the earth. In order to elucidate this important subject, let me draw your attention to several different scriptures.
No sooner did God bring Israel out of Egypt than, in keeping with His purpose of a theocracy, He Himself came, and took His place at the head of that nation, and the visible symbol of His as yet invisible presence was the pillar of cloud, which at night turned into a pillar of fire. The first mention of this symbolical cloud is in Exod. xiii. 21, 22, where we read: "And Jehovah
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went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way ; and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light ; to go by day and by night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night from before the people." In verse 19 of the following chapter we have this pillar of cloud associated with the Angel of Jehovah, for we read : " And the angel of God which went before the camp of Israel removed and went behind them ; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face and stood behind them."
Now I need only point out in passing that there is only one Being in the Old Testament who bears the name of the " Angel of Jehovah," and that is Messiah, the Son of God, the second Person in the Blessed Trinity. The word angel, either in the Hebrew or Greek, does not in itself denote the nature or quality of the messenger. It may be one of the heavenly messengers or spiritual intelligences whom we usually call by this name. It may be a man, or it may be He who pre-eminently is the Messenger of God to man, of whom we read " last of all He sent His Son." It was this Divine Angel or Messenger of Jehovah, who, when the time arrived for the bringing Israel out of Egypt, appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and said of Himself, " I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," so that Moses, recognising Him to be God, was afraid and hid his face (Exod. iii. 2-6). And it was He also who " in His love and in His pity redeemed them, and bare them, and carried them " all the days of old, and went before them in His pillar of cloud all through their wilderness journeys.
He is called the " Angel of God's Presence " (or " of His face," Isa. Ixiii. 9), because He is the only face or
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personal manifestation of God which man has ever seen, or can see, and who, after His incarnation, could there- fore say in answer to the yearning desire of man, " Show us the Father and it sufficeth us," " He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father " ; and He is " the Angel of the Covenant," even the Divine Lord who was suddenly to come to His Temple to inaugurate the new dispensa- tion. When once the Tabernacle was built for His dwelling-place, the symbol of His special presence in the midst of His redeemed people was always asso- ciated with the sanctuary. Thus we read of its dedica- tion in Exod. xl. 33-35: "Moses finished the work" (that is, of putting the Tabernacle together). " Then a cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Tabernacle." " So it was always ; the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night " (Numb, ix. 16).
When in process of time, after the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, the permanent " House " or " Palace " l of Israel's true King took the place of the movable tent, we read the same thing in connection with the consecration of the Temple as we do of the Tabernacle.
"And it came to pass when the priests were come out of the holy place that the cloud filled the house of Jehovah so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud ; for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of Jehovah" (i Kings viii. 10-11). " So it was always." I would not assert that all through the frequent lapses into apostacy, and in the latter evil
1 During the time of the Theocracy there was only one word for Temple and Palace.
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days of the history of the kingdom, the people could always see the symbol of God's presence with them, but so long as the first Temple stood He did not finally withdraw from the people He was pleased to call His inheritance ; and Israel's high priests on entering once a year into the Holy of Holies were conscious that there, " between the Cherubim," God dwelt as in no other nation, although His presence fills the universe. Thus it continued until a particular point in the history of Israel, recorded in the Book of Ezekiel. The prophecy of Ezekiel forms a very important link in the progress of Old Testament revelation, but it is specially im- portant for the light it throws on two great events in Jewish history. One of these events is the de- parture of governmental power from Judah. This is announced in the remarkable passage in chapter xxi. 26, 27, and was explained in a preceding section of this work. 1
But secondly, simultaneous with the removal of governmental power the prophet saw the departure of the glory of Jehovah from Israel. The connection is most significant. The true King of Israel, as already explained, was Jehovah, and the removal of crown and mitre, and the departure of the sceptre from Judah therefore really meant the withdrawal of God from them. We all remember the touching account the prophet gives of the departure of the glory in three earlier chapters. 2
First he sees it in its wonted place between the Cherubim in the Holy of Holies then he sees it lift itself from off the cherub and move to the threshold, where it evidently remained for awhile. Then he sees it move again, this time mounted on the Cherubim, the
- See " Without a King and without a Prince," page 13.
Ezek. ix, x., xi.
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symbols of God's executive power on the earth, and passing out by the east gate it " stood," or remained hovering, over the court, " So that the court was full of the brightness of the glory of Jehovah." Again he sees it depart from the court of the temple and stand over the city. Have you ever asked yourself the reason of this slow and deliberate departure of the glory from Israel ? Why not depart from them at one bound ? Oh, my dear friends, in symbolical language God the Father thus spoke to His rebellious but beloved people the very words that Jesus spoke to Israel centuries later : " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not." He did not want to leave them. Oh, if they had but repented and cleansed their way, then would He not have taken His presence from among them. " For the space of three years and a half, said Rabbi Youchanan, the Shekhinah was sitting upon the Mount of Olives thinking peradventure Israel might repent ; " T but instead of repenting they only grew bolder in their sins, and, as God Himself pathetically complains to the prophet, they literally drove Him from their midst by their wickedness. " Son of man," he says, " seest thou what they do, even the great abomina- tions that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary " (Ezek. viii. 6). So that the prophet again sees the glory of Jehovah going
' Quoted by M. Margoliouth in his " Lord's Prayer," from the Preface to the Kabbalistic commentary on the Book of Lamen- tations, Aychah Rabatha. He also points out "that this was just the time that our Saviour laboured personally to bring His own to repentance and while on the Mount of Olives wept over the holy city."
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up from the midst of the city to the Mount of Olives (chap. xi. 23), and after it " stood " there for some time it finally departed.
Since that event there is one word written across Jewish history, and that one word is " I-chabod " where is the glory? For the Lord has withdrawn Himself, and the glory of Jehovah has departed from His land, and from His people.
They then went to Babylon, and when the seventy years were expired the comparative handful who returned commenced to build a Temple, and while they were engaged in that task the first of that great trio of post-Exilic prophets, " Haggai, the messenger of Jehovah, in Jehovah's message " (chap. i. 13), was commissioned to make to them the following announcement : " Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory ? and how do ye see it now ? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing ? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord ; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest ; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work : for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts : according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you : fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea and the dry land ; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come : and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts ; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts " (Haggai ii. 3-9).
Now it is certainly true that in its fulness this, like
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every other prophecy in the Old Testament which announces Messiah's advent, looks on to the second coming and to a time yet future.
There is truth even in the rendering of the ninth verse of this passage adopted in the margin of the Revised Version, which, instead of "the glory of this latter house," translates it " the latter glory of this house," which is more literal, and corresponds with the third verse of the same chapter, though the inference drawn from it by some, that the primary reference of the " latter " or " last " glory of " this house " is to the Temple yet to be built in the future, is very doubtful. The Temple of Solomon and the one they were then building was, in a sense, the same house, because there was a living link connecting the two, in the lives of some of the old men, who had returned from the seventy years' exile, to whom the prophet was speaking, who had seen " this house " (Solomon's Temple) in its first glory, before it was destroyed by the Chaldeans, and were now eye-witnesses of its restoration, though on a much smaller scale. But there is no such link between the second Temple and a temple yet to be built more than nineteen centuries later. Anyhow, the fact remains that it was to encourage them in the task in which they were then engaged that Haggai was sent, and when the prophet spoke of " the house, this one," those who heard it could only have understood it as referring primarily to the Temple they were then building. But then there are two important questions which naturally suggest themselves to every intelligent student. First, What is the glory promised in Haggai's prophecy? Second, Where was the glory ? As to the first point a great deal of learned trash has been written, the under- lying fallacy of which is the assumption that it is an outward or material glory that the prophet is here
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speaking about, overlooking the fact that the expression Khebod Jehovah ("the glory of Jehovah"), when used in connection with Beth Jehovah ("the House of Jehovah"), has a technical meaning, and signifies the glory of the manifestation, or personal presence of Jehovah, which filled the Temple, which was His dwelling-place.
But then comes the second question. Where was the glory ? When the Tabernacle was finished we read of its consecration. " A cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the Tabernacle." This, by the way, shows us what true consecration means. Any thing or place or person of which God takes pos- session becomes consecrated and holy. The Tabernacle was planned and made under Divine superintendence. When all was finished Moses put it together, but it was not yet holy to the Lord until the symbolical cloud of His presence came and covered it and His glory filled it Thus it became consecrated and holy and no Israelite dared enter it, and even Israel's high priest only once a year, and that on the ground of shed blood. But this is a digression. When Solomon's Temple was finished we again read of its consecration, the symbolical cloud and the glory of Jehovah filled the house, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud. But when the second Temple was built we never read of any such occurrence in connection with it, and as a matter of fact it never was after this manner formally taken possession of by God, nor was it in this sense ever consecrated. Where was the glory? According to Jewish historians themselves there were five things present in the first Temple which were lacking in the second Temple. I. The ark and its contents. II. The holy fire which descended from heaven to consume the sacrifices in token of God's acceptance. III. The Urim
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and Thummim. IV. The spirit of prophecy. 1 V. The Shekhina glory. As a matter of fact we know from Jewish as well as from heathen writers that the Holy of Holies in the second Temple, through the nearly five centuries of its existence, was a vacuum an empty place, waiting for God to come and take manifest pos- session of it. Where, we ask again, was the glory? Nearly five centuries elapsed, and in the interval Herod, to gain favour with the Jews, was, at the cost of great labour and expense, completing considerable alterations and enlargement of the Temple ; but Josephus, who is our authority on this subject, and who gives us the full account of the alterations carried out by Herod, is careful to emphasise that it was still the same house, and that in the history of the Jews hitherto there have been only two Temples the one built by Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians, and the other built by Zerubbabel and afterwards enlarged and beautified by Herod. 2 One day to "this house" a poor young woman
1 The canon of the Old Testament being closed with Malachi, who prophesied soon after the completion of the second Temple, the subsequent silent centuries of its existence may well, from their standpoint, be characterised by the absence of " the spirit of prophecy."
8 This is what Josephus says, speaking of the destruction of the second Temple : " Now, although any one would justly lament the destruction of such a work as this was, since it was the most admirable of all the works that we have seen or heard of, both for its curious structure and its magnitude, and also for the vast wealth bestowed upon it, as well as for the glorious reputation it had for its holiness, yet might such a one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it so to be, which is inevitable, both as to living creatures and as to works and places also. However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto relating ; for the same month and day were now observed, as I said before, wherein the holy house was burnt formerly by the Babylonians. Now the number of years that passed from its first foundation, which was laid by King Solomon,
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of the House of David brought her first-born child to be presented to the Lord " and to offer a sacrifice accord- ing to that which is said in the Word of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons." At the very same time an aged man, to whom it was revealed by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ, was led by the Spirit into the Temple, and seeing the Child Jesus, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said : " Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel" The central promise in Haggai's prophecy in relation to " this house " had to wait long for its fulfil- ment, but here at last was the greater glory ; here was the real Presence. Later, after His entry on the Mes- sianic office, when Christ, with a scourge of cords, drove before Him out of the Temple the money-changers and sellers of doves saying, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise " that was its consecration.
But there were not many, alas, whose eyes were opened to recognise the Divine glory of this holy Child. There was an aged Simeon ; there was " Anna, a prophetess " ; there were those " that looked for re- demption in Jerusalem," to whom this holy woman probably prophesied the near approach of the Saviour. After His entrance on His public work there was a Nathaniel, a Peter, a John, and the company of other
till this its destruction, which happened in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, are collected to be one thousand one hundred and thirty, besides seven months and fifteen days ; and from the second building of it, which was done by Haggai, in the second year of Cyrus the king, till its destruction under Vespasian, there were six hundred and thirty-nine years and forty-five days" (" Wars," vi. 6-8).
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apostles and disciples to whom it was given " to be- hold His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth " ; but as to the nation, they saw in Him no form nor comeliness, and when they beheld Him they saw no beauty in Him to desire Him, and what was foretold by Isaiah came to pass : " He was despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and there was, as it were, the hiding of the face from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not."
In the end, after He had for three and a half years with outstretched arms continued to call Israel to Himself, but without response that which was symbolised by the departure of the Glory from the Mount of Olives, received a second, personal, and more striking fulfilment, when Jesus, also slowly and reluctantly, after shedding tears of sorrow for Jerusalem, and from the same spot whence the prophet saw the Glory depart, finally ascended out of sight. He led His disciples out as far as Bethany (on the Mount of Olives), and He lifted up His hands and blessed them, " And it came to pass while He blessed them He was parted from them and carried up into heaven." And since that event since the departure of Jesus from Israel and the world, the word I have already quoted is written more legibly and in letters of fire across the eighteen or nineteen centuries of Jewish history : " Icha- bod." Where is the glory ? The Temple destroyed ; the land a continual desolation ; the people given over to be tossed to and fro among the nations. But will the present state of things continue for ever? Will man on earth no more behold the visible display of God's glory ? For answer we take up the words of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah with which we started : " And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh
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shall see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."
Ezekiel, who saw the departure of the glory of Jehovah, also, in his visions of the future, beheld its return ; and from the same direction whence it departed. " Afterwards," we read, " He brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east, and behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east, and His voice was like the noise of many waters, and the earth shined with His glory. . . . And the glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court ; and behold the glory of Jehovah filled the house." And what is this but the same announcement in symbolical language made to the "men of Galilee," just as the Lord was departing from them, that "this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen Him go into heaven " ? As man in the glorified body He ascended, and " this same Jesus," as the "Son of Man," bodily, He shall return. Visibly, with a cloud He was received out of their sight, and "in like manner," visibly, "with the clouds of heaven," He will descend again. It was from the Mount of Olives they saw Him finally depart ; and on the same spot, " upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east," His blessed feet "shall stand in that day " (Zech. xiv. 4).
Then, and not till then, will Isaiah's prophecy be ful- filled. " And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."
But let us for a moment touch on the difference between the past and the future.
I. In the past Israel saw the glory of the personal
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presence of Jehovah only in symbol, and then the glory was always associated with the cloud, which while re- vealing also concealed ; for man was not yet able to bear the full unveiling of His majesty, and even Israel's prophets, who heard His voice, and were borne along by His power, had wonderingly to cry : " Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour ! " And even when in the fulness of time He came, in whom all the attributes of Jehovah were em- bodied, who was " the effulgence of His glory and an exact representation of His very being," we still observe the same principle at work of concealing while revealing Himself; for there was the "emptying of Himself"; there was the veiling of His glory; there was "the hiding of His power." How else could man have approached Him and lived ? How else could He have patiently endured the contradiction of sinners, and the dulness and frowardness of His own disciples, during those years of suffering as the Lamb of God ? But by and by, " the glory of Jehovah shall be unveiled? and will be no longer in symbol, but in bodily presence. There will be no longer a cloud to hide His glory from our eyes ; no longer as in a glass darkly, but face to face, for " He shall be manifested and we shall see Him as He is."
II. In the past it was only men of Israel who beheld even the symbolical or veiled glory of God, but by and by " all flesh shall see it together? for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. "Behold He cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see Him ; and they also which pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of Him. Even so. Amen."
We shall behold the unveiled glory of that face once so marred for us, and beholding it shall be finally and everlastingly conformed to that same image to be for
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ever "like Him" (i John iii. 2); the escaped of Israel " shall look upon Him whom they have pierced," now manifested in His true glory and power, and shall " mourn " and be saved (Zech. xii.) ; while a Christ- rejecting world will behold Him too, and seek to hide themselves in the caves and the rocks of the moun- tains ; and say to the mountains and to the rocks, " Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb " " at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with the angels of His power, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus . . . when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be marvelled at in all them that believe ... in that day " (2 Thess. i. 6-10, R.V.).
This is the hope of Israel and of this sin-burdened earth. Not till then will the world be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea ; not till then will the inhabitants of the earth learn righteousness, or the dream of universal peace be realised.
And it is the hope of the Church. " For the grace of God, bringing salvation," says the apostle (Titus ii. 11-15), "hath appeared to all men." This is a terse summary of all that is implied in the first Advent. It was a marvellous display of the grace or undeserved favour of God to man ; a glorious Epiphany, as the word is in the original, on the darkness and hopeless- ness of the world. But no sooner does grace bring salvation to us than it becomes our school of discipline, and the great Teacher in that school is the Holy Spirit. And these are the lessons which we have to learn, by means and processes often very trying to flesh and
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blood, namely, that " denying ourselves in reference to ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly." This sums up the whole of Christian character and conduct both from the negative and positive side in relation " to this present age." But what is our attitude and expectation in relation to the future ? Here it is : " Looking for " (or " awaiting with expectation ") " the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" Here is the same blessed hope of the appearing of the glory of the personal presence of the great God and our Saviour brought over from the Old Testament into the pages of the New, and all those who have become subjects of grace are pointed to it as the goal and consummation of their blessedness, and are told eagerly to look for it. Two Epiphanies are spoken of in this comprehensive scripture.
One is already past, and that was the Epiphany of Grace, which shone forth at the incarnation and cul- minated on Calvary ; but the other, to which both apostles and prophets bear witness, is yet future, and is the Epiphany of the Glory, when Christ shall come to claim His own, and when our eyes shall behold the King in His beauty.
" And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He shall be manifested we may have confidence, and not be shamed away from Him at His coming."