The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew/Chapter 8
|This work may need to be standardized using Wikisource's style guidelines.
If you'd like to help, please review the help pages.
IV THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
O praise the Lord, all ye nations :
Laud Him, all ye peoples.
For His mercy is great toward us ;
And the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Praise ye the Lord.
O give thanks unto the Lord ; for He is good :
For His mercy endureth for ever.
Let Israel now say,
That His mercy endureth for ever.
Let the house of Aaron now say,
That His mercy endureth for ever.
Let them now that fear the Lord say,
That His mercy endureth for ever.
Out of my distress I called upon the Lord :
The Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
The Lord is on my side ; I will not fear :
What can man do unto me ?
The Lord is on my side among them that help me :
Therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.
All nations compassed me about :
In the name of the Lord I will out them off.
They compassed me about ; yea, they compassed me about
In the name of the Lord I will cut them off.
They compassed me about like bees ;
They are quenched as the fire of thorns :
In the name of the Lord I will cut them off.
Thou didst thrust sore at me that I might fall :
But the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and song ;
And He is become my salvation.
The voice of re j oicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous :
The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
The right hand of the Lord is exalted :
The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
The Lord hath chastened me sore :
But he hath not given me over unto death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness :
I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord ;
The righteous shall enter into it.
I will give thanks unto Thee, for Thou hast answered me,
And art become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Is become the head of the corner.
This is the Lord's doing ;
It is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord hath made ;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, we beseech Thee, O Lord :
O Lord, we beseech Thee, send now prosperity.
Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord :
We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God, and He hath given us light :
Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
Thou art my God, and I will give thanks unto Thee :
Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee.
O give thanks unto the Lord ; for He is good :
For His mercy endureth for ever. PSALMS cxvii. and cxviii.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL A Prophetic Drama of the End of the Age
THE series of six psalms beginning with the H3th and ending with the n8th constituted "the Hallel." x Hallel means praise, and although the whole collection of Psalms abounds in praise, this series was particularly so-called, because they formed the special praise, sung in the Temple courts in circumstances of great joy and solemnity, on the three great " feasts of the Lord " Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. But it was with the Paschal feast that the Hallel was more especially associated, and even to this day it forms the chief feature in the Haggadah 2 used in every pious Jewish home on the evening of the Passover, when they meet to " show " or " tell forth " the wonders of the Exodus from Egypt, and to express their hopes of another greater national redemption yet to come. In connection with that feast the Hallel used to be divided into two parts : the first part, consisting of Psalms 113 and 114, being usually sung at an early part of the
1 See my articles on "The Commencement of the Hallel" in Nos. 21 and 22 of The Scattered Nation.
- Special liturgy. The word literally means the "telling," or
loa THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
supper, and the second part, consisting of the last four psalms of this series, was sung at the end.
On the night on which our Lord was betrayed, when He turned the service in commemoration of deliverance from Egyptian bondage into the blessed ordinance which should henceforth "show" or "tell forth" the greater spiritual redemption accomplished by the breaking of His own body and the shedding of His own blood this was doubtless the " hymn " or " psalm " (Matt. xxvi. 30) which they sang before He went forth to Gethsemane and Golgotha.
The 1 1 ;th forms a fit and solemn introduction to the 1 1 8th Psalm, which is the climax of the Hallel. It will not be without profit if we briefly study the introduction first. Though it is the shortest psalm in the collection, it is most comprehensive. It is a psalm for Israel, yet it is universal and cosmopolitan, embracing in its scope " all nations and peoples," so that in the Epistle to the Romans it forms part of the Apostle's argument that Gentiles too are called upon to glorify God for His mercy. It is a thoroughly evangelical psalm, for it sings of grace and truth ; it is a beautiful psalm of praise, for it begins with a Hallelujah and ends with a Hallelujah, and there is a third fervent call to praise in between.
But above all it is a prophetic psalm. The speaker is Israel, or that godly remnant of Israel who on that day will be made subject to God's grace. It is Israel, I say, who is here calling on the other nations, and in the lan- guage of David saying :
"O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name
together . . . "O praise Jehovah, all ye nations ; laud Him ye peoples."
The ground on which they are to praise Him is given
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 103
in the second verse : " For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of Jehovah endureth for ever."
The expression " merciful kindness," is, I think, the solitary instance in the Authorised Version of such a rendering of the word " hessed," which I prefer to trans- late by the word " grace." There is also an idiom in this verse which brings out a beautiful truth.
The words rendered " great toward us " are literally " prevailed over us " or " overcome us." The figure which the idiom brings to my mind is that of a man who has been resisting some one who has been trying to overpower him, but is finally overcome and is thankful for it.
I am always reminded by this verse of the solemn transaction in Jacob's history recorded in Gen. xxxii. On " that night," we read, " Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh ; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except Thou bless me. And He said, What is thy name ? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel : for as a prince hast thou power with God and with man, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked Him and said, Tell me, I pray Thee, Thy name. And He said, Wherefore dost thou ask after my name?" (which was not yet to be revealed). "And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel ; for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Peniel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh."
This symbolical transaction is a parable of the history and experience of the Jewish nation. Now is the "night"
104 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
period of Israel's history, and a long, dark and dreary night it has proved. And it is the " Jacob " period of Israel's history. Not yet have they become a nation of "Israelites" "princes in all the earth " (Psa. xlv. 16), " having power with God and with man, and pre- vailing."
There are, indeed, and ever have been from among them, those to whom the Lord already bears witness saying, " Behold Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile," but as far as the majority of them is concerned the name " Jacob " as yet describes them.
And there is a man wrestling with them. Oh, although in the darkness of the night they see Him not, it is the Divine Angel of the Covenant (Hosea xii. 3, 5), " the man Christ Jesus." What are all His dealings with them, what are all their sorrows and sufferings, but His wrestlings with them in order to deliver them from their stubbornness, so that " their uncircumcised hearts be humbled," and they acquiesce in the justice and love of God in all His ways with them ?
But so far they are resisting and cannot be prevailed over, until in the darkest hour of their night, in " the time of Jacob's trouble," their thigh will be put out of joint. Then all their self-strength and resisting power will be gone, and all that they will be able to do will be to cling to Him and cry, " We will not let Thee go except Thou bless us." Then Jacob will become " Israel," and the " wonderful " name of the Divine Angel, which to them is still "secret," will be revealed to them as "Jesus."
Looking upon Him, Israel will cry also " Peniel " "the face of God"; for the "little moment" during which He has hid His face from them in anger will be at an end, and they shall behold " the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ,"
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 105
It is at this prophetic point of time that Israel calls on all nations and peoples to praise Jehovah because His grace, which they have so long withstood, has finally " overcome " them, and they see as never before, that His " truth " or " faithfulness " endureth for ever. Israel will then be brought into the same frame of mind as the Apostle Paul, whose history and conversion is typical of that of His people, in reference to whom he speaks of himself as "one born out of due time," and who gloried in the fact that his mighty Conqueror, whom he had so long resisted, was now leading him about in triumph * as a trophy of His victorious power, so that after the manner of the captives chosen to follow the triumphal procession, he might chant the praises of the Victor in all the cities of the Greek and Roman world ; for he learned the secret which we too must learn, that " our only true triumphs are God's triumphs over us ; that His defeats of us are our only true victories."
How grace finally prevails we see in the next psalm. The 1 1 8th is not merely a " general " psalm of praise and prayer ; it is a prophetic drama, with many tragical points in it, which will be literally enacted in the future history of Israel, immediately before, and at, the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus.
If we want rightly to understand this psalm and its chronological relation to the " things to come," we must be lifted by the hand of God into the future, and pre- suppose several events which are most clearly revealed in other parts of Scripture.
I will remind the reader here of only one or two, with regard to which there can be no controversy. One of these events is the restoration of the Jews to Palestine in
1 This is the true sense of 2 Cor. ii. 14.
io6 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
a condition of unbelief. 1 Not a complete restoration of the whole nation, which will not take place until after their conversion, but of a representative and influential section.
It seems from Scripture that in relation to Israel and the land, there will be a restoration, before the Second Advent of our Lord, of the state of things as they existed at the time of His First Advent, when the threads of God's dealings with them nationally were finally dropped, not to be taken up again "until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled."
There was at that time a number of Jews in Palestine representative of the nation, but compared with the number of their brethren, who were already a diaspora among the nations, they were a mere minority, and those not in a politically independent condition.
So it will be again. There will be at first, as compared with the whole nation, only a representative minority in Palestine, and a Jewish state will be formed probably under Turkish suzerainty. The nucleus of this politi- cally dependent Jewish state is already to be seen in the 120,000 Jews who have wandered back from all regions of the earth to the land of their fathers. Already Jerusalem is almost a Jewish city, while the thirty and more Jewish colonies 2 which dot the land "are so many milestones marking the advance which Israel is making toward national rehabilitation." And in no other country in the world do the Jews to the same extent represent the nation.
If any one wants to see the whole Jewish people in miniature, let him go to Jerusalem and to the other Jewish settlements in Palestine. There you can see them from East and West, from India and from the
1 Those who need or desire proofs for such a restoration will find it in my small book, " The Jewish Problem," 3 See Appendix iv.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 107
burning plains of Southern Arabia ; from the extreme North of Siberia and the Caucasus ; there you can hear them speaking nearly all languages under heaven. Around this nucleus, a large number more, from all parts of the world, will be gathered, and there is no doubt that before long this part of the Zionist pro- gramme will be realised, and Palestine will become the " openly recognised, legally assured home " of the Jews.
But what follows ? After a brief interval of outward prosperity there comes a night of anguish. " These are the words that Jehovah spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah," just after commanding the prophet to " write in a book " the fact that He would bring again the captivity of His people, and cause them to return to the land that He gave to their fathers : " We have heard a cry of terror, fear, and no peace. Ask now and see. Is it a man travailing with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in childbirth and every face turned to paleness ? Alas ! for that day is great, so that none is like it ; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble ; but he shall be saved out of it " (Jer. xxx. 4-7).
The cause and occasion of the night of sorrow for Jacob is the yet future siege and final gathering of the nations against Jerusalem. In some of the prophecies this solemn event is set forth with such clearness that it reads like history. " Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling unto all the peoples round about . . . and in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples ; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut to pieces, and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered against it. ... Behold the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee, for I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle : and the city shall be taken and the houses
io8 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
rifled and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go into captivity" (Zech. xii. 2, 3 ; xiv. I, 2).
And not only will this be the case with Jerusalem, but it " shall come to pass that in all the land, saith Jehovah, two parts therein shall be cut off, ... and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will try them as gold is tried." It is the time of Jacob's greatest trouble the very darkest hour of Israel's long night of sorrow.
The enemy thinks his end almost accomplished ; he has but to lift his hand for one final blow, and Israel will be no more when suddenly in the clouds of heaven, attended by His angelic hosts and " all the saints with Him," Israel's true Messiah and Deliverer appears, "and His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the East." The enemies' hand stretched out to give the final blow becomes suddenly withered : " And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her stronghold, and that distress her, shall be as a dream, a vision of the night. And it shall be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty : or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite : so shall the multitude of all nations be that fight against mount Zion " (Isa. xxix. 7, 8). But simultaneous with their outward deliverance there takes place also Israel's spiritual redemption : " And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication ; and they shall look unto Me whom they have pierced : and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. ... In that day there
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 109
shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for unclean- ness."
Now, imagine Israel, at that time overwhelmed with the sense of God's marvellous grace in their deliverance, joining together in this glorious song of praise and triumph :
" O give thanks (or literally ' confess ') unto Jehovah ; for He is
For His mercy endureth for ever. Let Israel now say, That His mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, That His mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear Jehovah say, That His mercy endureth for ever."
The ground of this universal call to the entire nation solemnly to confess " the ever gracious goodness of God " is given in the narrative of praise which follows : " Out of my distress (or 'Out of the straitness,' or ' siege ' z ) I called upon Jah 2 ; Jah answered me in (or ' with ') a large place " by breaking the enemies lines which pressed me on every side:
" Jehovah is on my side I will not fear, What can man do unto me ? Jehovah is for me as my help,
Therefore I shall see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust (or ' to hide one's self ') in Jehovah Than to put confidence in man."
This 8th verse is said to be the middle verse of the Bible, and if so, there is no grander truth which could be more appropriately enshrined in this central position.
1 The Hebrew word can also be properly so rendered.
2 An abbreviation of nifP "Jehovah."
no THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
It is the lesson above all others, which God desires to teach us through all His dealings with us : it is the truth which Israel will learn when they are at last brought to an end of themselves, and experience to the full the bitter disappointment of misplaced confidence in man.
In times past they always sought an arm of flesh to lean on, and when national danger threatened "they called to Egypt, they went to Assyria" (Hosea vii. n) and trusted in their own strength, or in human alliances ; but in that day Israel will say : " Assur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon (or put our confidence in) horses (which come from Egypt) ; neither shall we say to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods : for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy " :
" It is better to trust in Jehovah than to put confidence in man
Yea, it is better to trust in Jehovah than to put con- fidence in princes.
Put not your trust in princes,
Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth ;
In that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God :
Which made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that in them is :
Which keepeth truth for ever " (Psa. cxlvi. 3-6).
The verses now following must seem hyperbole to those not seeing the solemn prophetic import of this psalm, but they are plain enough in the light of the other scriptures already indicated. We regard the con- clusion of the Hallel as " the prophetic expression by the Spirit of Christ, of that exultant strain of anticipative triumph wherein the virgin daughter of Israel will laugh to scorn the congregated armies " of the final Gentile confederacy.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL m
" All nations compassed me about ; yea, they com- passed me about :
"In the name of Jehovah I will destroy them " (or, literally, " cut them off.")
"They compassed me about ; yea, they compassed me about. But verily in the name of Jehovah I will cut them off. They compassed me about like bees" completely, persistently, full of hatred like the Amorites who, " as bees " (Deut i. 44), chased and beat down our fathers in Seir but suddenly "they are quenched as the fire of thorns. In the name of Jehovah I will verily cut them off."
Then, turning to the leader of this confederacy the future king of the united armies of the apostate nations, or, it may be, addressing Gentile power as personified Israel says :
" Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, But Jehovah helped me. My strength and song is Jah, And He is become my salvation."
This last verse is here transferred bodily frpm " the song of Moses and the children of Israel " (Exod. xv.) which they sang at the overthrow of their enemies in the waters of the Red Sea, and which is typical of the final overthrow of the nations which shall be confederate against Jehovah and against His anointed.
It is also incorporated a third time by Isaiah at the end of that section of his prophecy called " the Book of Immanuel," which closes with that beautiful little millennial song of confidence and triumph (Isa. xii. 2) which Israel shall sing " in that day," the last words of which are : " Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion ; for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee."
112 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
The day when Jehovah will become Israel's " salva- tion " is that in which they will recognise their " Jeschua " their Jesus, whose very name in Hebrew is here used, and which, being interpreted, means " God's salvation." Then also, and as a blessed con- sequence, there will be
" The voice of rejoicing and salvation in the tents of the righteous (because)
" The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly. The right hand of Jehovah is exalted : The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly."
The " right hand," which is a figure for energetic interposition, united to the almighty " arm," which in Scripture is the emblem of effectual power that carries through the thing designed, may well be used as a title of the Messiah, who is God's visible executive power in delivering His people, and in executing vengeance on the nations.
This, again, has for its basis the " Song of Moses " in Exod. xv., where we read
" Thy right hand, O Jehovah, is glorious in power, Thy right hand dasheth in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of Thine excellency Thou overthrowest them that rise up against Thee "
which overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, forms but the historical foreground of the final overthrow of the con- federated anti-Christian world powers, at the time of the end.
The next verse brings us to Israel's final shout of triumph, even as it has been their defiant answer to the nations all through the ages, who sought their exter- mination.
" I shall not die ~but live, And declare the works of Jah."
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 113
The cries of "Down with the Jews!" "Death to the Jews!" now raised by anti-Semitic mobs in the streets of Paris, Berlin, or Vienna, have been reverberating from age to age among the Gentile nations who have been brought in contact with this " Peculiar People."
" Many a time (or ' O how greatly ! ') have they afflicted me
from my youth up, Let Israel now say :
O how greatly have they afflicted me from my youth up : Yet they have not prevailed against me ! "
is the similar song of Israel in the i2Qth Psalm.
Israel's national youth or childhood was in Egypt, and already there " the plowers plowed on his back, and made long their furrows." Pharaoh cried, " Death to the Jews !" and brought out an edict for their extermination. " But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew," and Israel passed through the baptism of suffering in Egypt with the defiant shout, " I shall not die but live, and declare the works of Jehovah."-
Then, not to mention Canaanites, Philistines, Midianites, and the other small powers who were ever ready to afflict and harass them, there commenced the march of the great world powers Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and savage Rome, who each in turn took up the cry, " Death to the Jews ! " But where are all these powers ? They have crumbled away and died, but Israel lives, and, they have not " prevailed over him."
Then came the centuries of Dispersion, when it might be supposed that a comparative handful of men scattered on the great ocean of humanity would soon be swallowed up of the multitude. As a matter of fact, every force was brought to bear against them with terrible severity. Their
ii 4 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
enemies were united, and seemed confident of success. The crusaders went from west to east with the cry, " Hierosolyma est perdita ! " I and perpetrated wholesale massacres of the Jews as a commencement of their " holy " wars. Again and again apostate Christendom in the dark ages showed its zeal for the Jewish Messiah, who teaches His followers to love even their enemies, by burning whole communities of Jews, numbering some- times thousands of souls, on one huge scaffold. But in spite of it all, Israel lives ; " they have not prevailed over him " ; for there are more Jews in the world after all the centuries of banishments, massacres, and untold sufferings, than there have been at any previous point of the world's history, and the Jews at the present day, as is proved from official statistics, in some parts of the world increase in proportion to their Gentile neighbours at the ratio of three to one. Well might the eloquent Michael Beers, in his "Appeal to the Justice of Kings," make use of the following language :
" Braving all kinds of torments the pangs of death, and still more terrible pangs of life we have with- stood the impetuous storm of time, sweeping indiscri- minately in its course, nations, religions, and countries. What has become of those celebrated empires whose very name still excites our admiration by the idea of splendid greatness attached to them, and whose power embraced the whole surface of the known globe ? They are only remembered as monuments of the vanity of human greatness. Rome and Greece are no more ; their descendants, mixed with other nations, have lost even the traces of their origin ; while a population of a few millions of men so often subjugated, stands the test
'Or "Hep I Hep!" which is an abbreviation formed from the three initial letters of this Latin phrase. The English corrup- tion of it is " Hip ! Hip !"
of revolving ages, and the fiery ordeal of eighteen centuries of persecution. We still preserve laws that were given to us in the first days of the world, in the infancy of nature. The last followers of a religion which had embraced the universe have disappeared these eighteen centuries, and our temples are still stand- ing. We alone have been spared by the indiscriminating hand of time, like a column left standing amid the wreck of worlds and the ruins of nature. The history of our people connects present times with the first ages of the world, by the testimony it bears to the existence of those early periods. It begins at the cradle of man- kind; it is likely to be preserved to the very day of universal destruction." *
The sorrows of Israel and the hatred of the nations is yet, as we have already seen, to reach a climax, when the cry of the confederated armies under the leadership of anti-Christ, will be : " Come, let us destroy them from being a nation, that the name of Israel be no more in remembrance " one more blow and the Jewish nation will be no more ; but even then the answer of the saved remnant, the nucleus of the blessed nation, will be : " I shall not die but live, and declare the works of Jehovah." Israel is indestructible. The bush may burn but can never be consumed, because the Angel of God's Presence is in it.
And if we ask why this miraculous preservation ? the answer is given in the words, " And declare the works of Jehovah." This was the purpose of God from the very beginning in the call and election of Israel.
"This people," He says, "have I formed for Myself;
1 These remarks are here transferred from my notes on the ngth Psalm which appeared in The Scattered Nation, October, 1899.
n6 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
they shall show forth (or ' declare ') My praise " (Isa. xliii. 21). In a measure this has been fulfilled in the past, for it is through the lips of Jewish prophets and apostles that the wonderful "works" and the "praises" of Jehovah have been " declared " to the world ; but in its fulness this prophecy will only be realised in the future, after the final deliverance and conversion of the nation.
Now poor Israel is "dumb," and the Church has taken his place as God's witness to the world, with the result that, after an opportunity of two millenniums in which to evangelise the nations, about two-thirds of the human race have never heard of the precious name of our Redeemer.
But wait till "the eyes" of blind Israel "shall be opened " to behold their glorious Messiah, and the tongue of the nationally dumb man is unloosed to sing His praises (Isa. xxxv. 5, 6) then it will not be long before the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea. Not as though the Word of God has proved of none effect, for the number of God's elect are being gathered, but it is reserved for repentant Israel in the future to " declare the works of Jehovah " on a scale and in a manner such as the world has not known before. " Beautiful upon the mountains " will be the feet of Jewish evangelists, with souls fired with love to the once despised Jesus, bringing " good tidings," publishing peace to the nations, who will name them " priests of Jehovah and ministers of our God " (Isa. Ixi. 6), and the result will be that " many peoples shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, the house of the God of Jacob ; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths ; for out of Zion 1 The word is the same as in our psalm.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 117
shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem."
Continuing the retrospect of his national history, Israel says :
" Jah hath chastened me sore, But hath not given me over unto death."
This is in agreement with the word of the Lord to them in Jeremiah xxx. 1 1 : " For I am with thee, saith Jehovah, to save thee ; for I will make an end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee ; but I will correct thee in measure, and not leave thee altogether unpunished."
"Sore" indeed have been the chastisements which God has sent upon Israel, and terrible the corrections, but He never has and never will give them over " unto death," because He has sworn that as long as the sun and the moon endure, and the seasons continue, so long shall Israel abide " a nation before Him for ever " (Jer. xxxi. 35-37); and therefore, whenever they are in special danger, and it seems as if there were no more help or deliverance, the covenant - keeping Jehovah appears on their behalf, and the mighty God of Jacob becomes their Refuge.
The next three verses follow in beautiful sequence. It is the custom in Israel to this day for any man or community who has escaped some terrible danger to go in solemn procession to the synagogue, to recite a special form of thanksgiving to God ; and this, in the day of their marvellous deliverance, will be done by the whole nation :
" Open to me the gates of righteousness : I will enter into them that I may give thanks unto Jah : "
ii8 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
And the response of those who receive the solemn pro- cession (probably the Levites) will be
" This is the gate of Jehovah,"
" The righteous (or ' the righteous nation,' Isa. xxvi. 2) may enter there, which having done," "all Israel" as one man will say
" I give thanks unto Thee, for Thou hast answered me, And art become my salvation."
A faint idea of what will then take place may be gathered from the following graphic and pathetic picture given by Motley of the thanksgiving service after one of the most famous sieges and wonderful deliverances in profane history.
It was in 1574. For one hundred and thirty-one days the citizens of Leyden " had literally been living in the jaws of death." Thousands and thousands of the popula- tion of the devoted city had died of famine and pestilence, and yet the survivors, with their noble Burgomaster Van der Werf, held out against the Spanish tyrant. At last, on an October morning, when there seemed no more hope of their holding out, the relieving flotilla which had been so wearisomely long in coming overland, flooded by the breaking of the dykes, at last arrived, helped on by a providential storm, which sent a panic among the besiegers, causing them to flee at the very moment when an extraordinary accident had laid bare a whole side of the city for their entrance. This is what followed after the starving crowd, looking more like ghosts than men, had eagerly snatched at the bread which was thrown to them on to the quays from the ships. "The Admiral, stepping ashore, was welcomed by the magistracy, and a solemn procession was immediately
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 119
formed. Magistrates and citizens, wild Zealanders, emaciated burgher guards, sailors, soldiers, women, children nearly every living person within the walls all repaired without delay to the great church, stout Admiral Boisot leading the way. The starving and heroic city, which had been so firm in its resistance to an earthly king, now bent itself in humble gratitude before the King of kings. After prayers, the whole vast congregation joined in the thanksgiving hymn. Thousands of voices raised the song, but few were able to carry it to its conclusion, for the universal emotion, deepened by the music, became too full for utterance. The hymn was abruptly suspended, while the multitude wept like children."
So it will be with the spared remnant of Israel in the day of their final national deliverance, when in solemn procession they enter through "the gates of righteousness " to " give thanks unto Jah." They too will mingle weeping and " confessions " with their thanksgiving, for " in that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the whole land shall mourn . . . every family apart and their wives apart" (Zech. xii.).
But the great comforter will be in their midst, and " as him whom his mother comforteth, so will He com- fort them, and they shall be comforted in Jerusalem," so that the note of praise will predominate, and the Hallel will then be sung as never before in their whole history.
We now come to the passage in this psalm which is the most familiar and most often quoted, but the full significance of which can never be fully understood if taken away from its context. It is, indeed, a most pre- cious jewel in itself, but it is the striking setting of
I 2 o THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
it which enhances its beauty and manifests its full brilliancy.
" The stone which the builders refused Is become the head stone of the corner : This is the Lord's doing, It is marvellous in our eyes."
That it is a glorious Messianic prophecy, of the suffer- ings of Christ and the glory that should follow, no one to whom the authority of our Saviour is worth anything can doubt, for He more than once uses and applies it to Himself.
During the last three or four days before His cruci- fixion, His mind seemed specially to dwell on this climax of the Hallel, as we may judge from the solemn way in which he uses it in His last prophetic words to the Jewish nation (Matt. xxi. 42 ; xxiii. 39) ; and on the night on which He was betrayed, as He led His disciples in singing this " hymn " or psalm (Matt. xxvi. 30) in the upper room where He celebrated the Passover with them for the last time, we may be permitted reverently to imagine the thrill that went through His human soul on reaching these words, just as He was girding Himself to go forth to Gethsemane and Calvary for the joy that was set before Him, to endure the cross, despising the shame.
But, I repeat, it is only in the light of the full context of the prophetic drama unfolded in this psalm that this passage can be understood. It is one of Israel's thank- ful " confessions " summing up their whole attitude to their Messiah from His first appearance in humiliation, to His second advent in glory
According to a tradition, the figure employed in this ode, the groundwork of this short but comprehensive parable, was an actual occurrence, a real historical trans-
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 121
action, which was well known to them at that time. In connection with the building of the Temple by Solomon, we read in I Kings vL 7 : " And the house when it was in building was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither ; so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." For a long time it was generally supposed that the huge blocks of stone as well as the timber for the Temple were brought from Phenicia, until the discovery in 1852 of the vast sub- terranean quarries, which in one direction alone stretch 213 yards in a straight line beneath the city of Jerusalem.
I shall never forget my rambles there one night* accompanied by a small party of friends well provided with torches. On the sides are still seen niches for the lamps of the quarry men, and traces of their work look- ing almost as fresh as if they had been done yesterday, though the hands that made them have crumbled to dust probably three thousand years ago. Here and there the rocky ground on which Jerusalem stands above is supported by huge pillars. The process of quarrying in those days was by water power, the blocks being separated from the rock by means of wooden wedges which were driven in, and wetted so as to cause them to swell.
We came to one place which we named the workshop a huge hall strewn with chips and rock-dust. Here, most probably, in this subterranean place, every stone of the Temple " was made ready before it was brought thither," and prepared and marked for the position it was to occupy in the building above. The object lesson learned in those midnight hours is still fresh in my heart. I thought that it beautifully illustrated the process in connection with the spiritual Temple which is now being
122 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
built "for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Now is the quarrying time the breaking away of the " living stones " from the hard rock of " this present evil world." Then there is the blow of the hammer, and the cutting of the sharp " tool of iron," which sometimes enters our very soul ; and the unpleasant painful gratings of the polishing instrument. But we may be sure that the great Master Worker, who has us in hand, gives not one unnecessary blow with the hammer, or one needless cut with the chisel, " for He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." *
In view of the fact that " the sufferings of this present time " are designed by Him to fit us for the position we are to occupy in that Temple of which it is written that " every wit of it uttereth His glory," 2 we would rather, by His grace, not forego any part of the necessary preparation however painful the process, remembering that our "light affliction which (compared with the eternity of blessedness) is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
But to return to the tradition in reference to the Headstone of the corner, which is as follows. In planning and preparing the stones in this subter- ranean workshop, one was marked to occupy this crowning position, but " the builders," when they were actually putting the structure of the Temple together on Mount Moriah, and came to the point when the crowning stone should be put on which should give the building the look of finish and completion, looked upon it, and regarding it as too insignificant for this place of honour, " refused " or literally " despised " it. They took up one stone after another which they thought more worthy of this commanding position, but they did not fit. At last driven by necessity, or by Divine inter- 1 Lam. iii. 33, margin. * Psa. xxix. 9.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 123
position, they after all took up the stone with the mark on, and placed it there, and lo ! it fitted beautifully, and they sang : " The stone which the builders rejected is after all become the Headstone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing ; it is marvellous in our eyes."
Now this probable actual occurrence in connection with the building of the Temple, the Spirit of God makes use of in this prophetic drama as emblematic of Israel's attitude in relation to their Messiah. Already from "the days of eternity," our Lord Jesus was ap- pointed to be Israel's head and crown of glory, and " Him hath God the Father sealed," as the rightful King of Zion, from the day of His birth in time.
But when He was manifested to Israel, and when they should have welcomed Him with shouts of joyous acclamation, the " builders " those pharisaic and sadducean priests and lawyers who looked for earthly pomp and grandeur of which they saw none in Christ " despised " Him, and said, " We will not have this man to rule over us," and the words of Isaiah have been literally fulfilled : "He was despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief ; and as one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."
Since then Israel has tried to substitute others in His place, and has been innumerable times deceived by false messiahs and prophets ; but just as in the individual heart there is a place which only He can fill, so also does the Jewish " House" (Matt, xxiii. 38) remain "deso- late" and forsaken ever since they rejected Him.
But this terrible unnatural antagonism to Christ on the part of " His own " nation, will not last for ever. Oh, there is a day coming when the eyes of " the blind shall be opened," and Israel shall recognise that He is just the very One whom they have needed, and for
I2 4 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
whom they have been waiting through the ages, and with lowly and contrite hearts will hail Him as their King and Redeemer. Then, in a sense more glorious than in connection with the building of the Temple, they will sing :
" The stone which the builders despised, Is become the Headstone of the corner ; This is Jehovah's doing, It is marvellous in our eyes."
Yes, then the mystery of Israel will at last be solved, and it will be seen that the whole thing was of Jehovah that even their guilty unbelief and rejection of Him was overruled to the enrichment of the Gentiles, and the consequent temporary " casting away of them " to the " reconciling of the world." Then the great Joseph will say to His brethren : " But as for you, ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive." The joyous song continues :
"This is the day which Jehovah hath made ; We will rejoice and be glad in it."
Not the Sabbath, or Lord's Day, is here meant, in which sense the passage is sometimes quoted, but the great Day of Israel's national deliverance and conversion so full of momentous issues to the world the day of joy which will succeed their present long night of dark- ness and sorrow the day appointed by Jehovah, in which the nation " shall be born " into true spiritual life, and rejoice and be glad in their long rejected Messiah, " with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
The drama is drawing to a close, amid the shouts of " Hosanna " to the Son of David on the part of the saved remnant of Israel, and their reverent salutation to the long absent King.
" Save now, we beseech Thee, O Jehovah (or " Hosanna," which is a contraction of the two Hebrew words used) : O Jehovah, we beseech Thee send now prosperity. Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of Jehovah." The meaning of which prayer is : Oh, let Thy people " now " at last enter into the spiritual " salvation," and the whole land into the outward " prosperity " which Thou hast long promised to charac- terise the blessed reign of Messiah over His people Israel.
That the Jews generally at the time of Christ regarded this part of the Hallel as Messianic, is proved by the spontaneous manner in which they used it at His Triumphal entry into the city, when "the multi- tudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David !
" Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord : Hosanna in the highest ! "
But, alas ! the true glory and spiritual significance of Messiah's person and work were then "hid" from the mass of Israel. It is probable that only three or four days later, when their expectations that He would now at last reveal Himself in His true character as Deliverer from the Roman yoke, and establish an outward visible kingdom were finally dashed to the ground, by His arrest and mock trials before the Jewish and Roman tribunals, some of the very crowds who thus hailed Him as the Son of David, cried with the priests and lawyers, " Let Him be crucified ! "
Christ Himself, although it was necessary to allow this public homage as a sign and pledge of the time when He shall appear in His glory as Israel's true King, knew that He was going up to Jerusalem this time, not
126 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
to be received and acclaimed as the expected Deliverer, but to be officially rejected. Three times over on His last journey He had warned His disciples as to what was awaiting Him :
" Behold, we go up to Jerusalem ; and the Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death ; and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him ; and the third day He shall rise again."
Therefore it was, that during this so-called triumphal entry, as the procession was descending the western brow of the Mount of Olives, that as " He beheld the city He wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong unto peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes " (Luke xix. 41-44).
The people might cry " Hosanna ! Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David that cometh in the Name of the Lord ! Hosanna in the highest ! " (Mark xi. 9-10) ; but He knew full well that " the Kingdom " they were expecting was not like the one He then came to inaugurate, and that before that part of the Hallel could be fulfilled the stone must first be despised by the " builders," and Israel must in consequence be left for a long time in desolation and sorrow, until, in brokenness of heart, they return and " seek Jehovah their God and David their King."
Anyhow, it is clear that our Lord applied the words used by the triumphal procession from this part of the Hallel to a time yet future, for in His solemn words of farewell to the Jewish nation, uttered subsequently to His public entrance, after pouring out His heart's pity in the memorable lamentation "O Jerusalem, Jeru- salem, . . . how often would I have gathered thy
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 127
children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate " He adds, " For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth until ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord " (Matt, xxiii. 37-39).
It is noteworthy that while the Hallel as a whole was the great song of praise at all the three great festivals, the Hosanna verses were especially associated not with the Passover, but with the Feast of Tabernacles. On the seventh day called " Hoshanna-rabba," the great Hosanna " that great " and most solemn day in this festival, a procession of priests was formed to the pool of Siloah, to draw water in a golden pitcher to be poured as a sacred libation on the altar the vessel containing it being borne aloft to be seen by all. 1 The joyous crowds of worshippers on that day, seen from one of the flat roofs of Jerusalem overlooking the Temple area, would resemble a forest in motion, for all carried palm branches in their hands which were more than a man's height in length. Willow branches also surrounded the high altar and drooped their green ends over the smoking surface of the fire which had been kindled for the morning sacrifice. Great silence would fall on the assembled throng as the choir of Levites commenced to sing the Hallel, to each line of which the people had to respond with " Hallelujah." Soon the whole crowd fell into order, and, led by the priests, marched in procession round the altar. Seven times they encompassed it. As the singers reached these verses and joined in the words, " Ana Adonai Hoschio-na ! " (" Hosanna ! make Thy salvation now manifest, O Lord "), " Ana Adonai Hatzlicha-na ! "
1 See " Israel's Hosannah," by Professor Gustaf Dalman, in No. 14 of The Scattered Nation.
i 2 8 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
(" O Lord, send now prosperity ! "), the people waved their palm branches and accompanied the song with loud exclamations of joy. And as they reached the words, " Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of Jehovah," the godly and spiritual among them would in their hearts greet the coming Messiah and King to whom they well knew that these words applied.
Now of the sacred calendar of the history of redemp- tion prefigured in the " Feasts of the Lord," which Israel was called to celebrate, the Passover has been fulfilled, the Feast of Pentecost is fulfilling itself throughout this dispensation, but the Feast of Taber- nacles, the last in the cycle, which celebrated the completion of the harvest and the ingathering of the vintage, will not be fulfilled until after Israel's great national Day of Atonement, which will take place when they look upon Him who was pierced and mourn, is passed.
Then when the number of God's elect from all the nations in this dispensation is complete, when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, when the long-absent Master shall return to the now "desolate" house of Israel, when Israel's unbelief and consequent sorrows shall be ended, and the " Stone " once despised shall at last be exalted by them to be the " Head stone of the corner" it is then that the Hosanna will at last be sung to the Blessed One who cometh in the name of Jehovah, and that " salvation " and " prosperity " shall at last come to Israel and to the world.
After the joyous and solemn acclamation of their King by the multitude, a voice proceeds from the Temple, " We have blessed you out of the house of Jehovah." This is supposed to be the voice of the priests or Levites from within the Temple, uttering benediction on the assembled multitudes without; which is pro-
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 129
bable, but in its fullest sense it may be regarded as the voice of saved Israel, who, immediately they them- selves enter into blessing, will begin to bless the nations, by whom they shall be called " the priests of Jehovah ; ministers of our God."
Yet once again, before the curtain finally falls on this prophetic drama, we hear the shout of happy Israel, and this time they acclaim their Deliverer not only as coming " in the name of Jehovah," but as Jehovah Himself.
The twenty-seventh verse reads literally thus :
" El (the Mighty One) is Jehovah, And He hath shined upon us !
" Great is the mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh!" "The Son of David," in whose Epiphany or "shining forth" (compare Titus ii. n) the nation now rejoices, is " the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His Person, and overwhelmed with the visible display of His Divine power and glory, long doubting Israel bow their knees at last before Him, crying like Thomas of old, My Lord and my God " Thou art my God, and I will give thanks unto Thee ; Thou art my God, and I will exalt Thee ! "
I have left out part of the twenty-seventh verse, which needs explanation. They are the words :
" Bind the sacrifice with cords, Even up to the horns of the altar."
The word " chag," primarily meaning " feast," and here translated "sacrifice," describes the special sac- rificial offerings at the great feasts, and the word in the original translated " unto " cannot mean " on " or "to," but " up to " or " until," " the horns of the altar" ;
i 3 o THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
the explanation of the idiom being that there was so vast a number of sacrificial offerings on those festivals, that " the whole space of the court of the priests was full of them, and the binding of them consequently had to go on as far as to the horns of the altar." *
But it may be asked, How does this fit in with the sequence of events in connection with Israel's future ? Is there to be a restoration of a sacrificial ritual after the one great offering on Calvary and after the glorious Epiphany of Christ ?
The answer must be that there is no other consistent or satisfactory explanation of the last eight chapters of Ezekiel, and many passages in the other prophets and the Psalms, except on the supposition that some of the divinely appointed feasts and a modified form of the sacrificial ritual will, for a time at any rate, be restored in the millennial dispensation as ordinances of com- memoration. It is a difficult subject, I admit, one on which even the most spiritual must speak with dif- fidence and pray for more light, but the following considerations may be suggested :
1 Dr. Andrew Bonar, in " Christ and the Church in the Book of Psalms," has a very ingenious rendering and explanation of this verse. He translates :
" Bind the sacrifice with strong cords ! Let us away to the horns of the altar ! "
And adds, "The last line is peculiar, for 'to the horns' can scarcely be connected with the verb to bind in the sense of hold fast the victim till you reach the horns of the altar.
"The word 'ad' (up to, or until) is rather a particle of locality. In Lam. iii. 40 it occurs thus, ' Let us search and try our ways ; and let us return (let us go) to the Lord ! ' And so we take it here. The restored and grateful people are hastening to bring their offerings of praise to their God and King, stimulating one another's zeal ; ' Sursum Corda ! ' to the altar ! to the altar ! whose horns hold up to view the blood of sacrifice."
THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL 131
I. The sacrifices and all the divinely appointed ob- servances were types, that is pictures of Christ and His one perfect offering ; but is it not possible for a type to point backward as well as onward ? The ordinance of the Lord's Supper points backward to the cross, and onward to His coming in glory.
II. Israel as a nation has never yet understood the typical character of the sacrificial ritual, and "to this day when Moses is read this veil is on their hearts." Nevertheless, when as a nation " they shall turn to the Lord " the veil shall be taken away, and in the light of the full knowledge of Christ they will go back to these types in order to keep before them the all-sufficiency and perfection of the great Antitype, who will not be always present with them on earth, but with the Church in the heavenly Jerusalem.
III. Jerusalem during the millennium will be the school where representatives from all the nations will go up to be taught in the ways of the Lord ; and it is beautiful to contemplate how by means of a divinely appointed ritual and sacrificial system converted Israel will realistically set forth to the whole world the atoning work of their glorious Messiah. That a sacrificial ritual has no place in the present dispensation is clear from the Epistle to the Hebrews and other New Testament scriptures. Those who endeavour to introduce into the Church a sacrificial ritual and a priesthood distinct from the great assembly of God's redeemed people, are either going back to the " weak and beggarly elements " of the law, and are two thousand years behind time, or they anticipate the millennium, when such a priesthood will again be introduced. In either case the system is out of time and out of place, for even the millennium can present no parallel to the Church of this dispensation. Then God will deal with nations as nations, but the
I 3 2 THE CONCLUSION OF THE HALLEL
Church of this dispensation is an election of individuals from all peoples. Among the millennial nations there will be differences and distinctions even as regard their relationship to God ; thus not only will Israel be the priests of the Lord to the other nations, but even Egypt and Assyria, &c., are to occupy positions different from the rest of mankind (Isa. xix. 24, 25), while it is the peculiar glory of the Church that in that holy congrega- tion, composed of individuals of every nationality, "there is no difference," for there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Rom. x. 12; Gal. iii. 28 ; I Cor. xii. 13). The home, calling, and blessings of Israel and the other nations in the mil- lennium will be earthly, and there will be a priesthood to correspond with such a state of things ; but ours is a heavenly calling, and our peculiar blessings are spiritual in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. i. 3, ii. 6 ; Phil. iii. 20 ; Col. iii. 1-6). But to return to the last two lines of the Hallel. It ends as it began, forming a complete circle of praise, and it leaves happy Israel calling upon the nations to magnify Jehovah with them and to exalt His name together :
" O give thanks unto Jehovah for He is good ; For His mercy endureth for ever ! "