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FINAL RESTORATION AND CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.
ESCAPE from impending danger, or, relief from protracted suffering, is highly calculated to excite our gratitude to the Supreme Being. Yet the happiness experienced on such occasions is often impaired by further trials, and by the uncertainty of exemption from their frequent recurrence.
Such a consideration will better enable us to conceive how great will be the “ joy and gladness of heart” of the pious Israelites on the certain termination of all their sufferings from the persecution, the oppression, the reproach and contumely of the world. Added to this, will be the repossession of their ancient and long lost possessions.
“ Lo, thy Sun is risen in glory!
God himself appears thy friend ;
All thy warfare now is past;
All thy conflicts
End in everlasting rest!" A wide field," the field of the world,”-is now opened to their energies, universally to announce the glad tidings of salvation ; and that, as it would appear, without any farther political obstructions. Promises and encouragements are vouchsafed them. They will be "clad with the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left;" they will possess “ the spirit and fulness of Christ," and be blessed with extraordinary effusions of his grace. Moreover, the happiest intercourse will be established between them and their converted Gentile brethren; and angels will now rejoice over many repentant sinners.
During the periods to which we have referred in our search after prophetic truth, it will be uniformly perceived " that the wages of sin is death !"-death to whole communities,—to armies,—and almost the entire population of kingdoms! How dreadful to contemplate its murderous nature, which, notwithstanding the triumphant victories of grace, will continue to blind its still numerous and deluded votaries against every demonstration of Heaven's avenging justice, and the brightest displays of Christian example!
God's judgments on his people being wholly accomplished, by the invasion of Gog, it is rendered probable from prophecy that the continuance of peace will cause a very general decay of piety, if not an open relapse into ungodliness amongst the numerous outward professors of religion. This is fully intimated by our Lord: “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?”—For they shall be “as in the days of Noah and Lot, eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage,” &c. “ They bought, they sold, they builded, they planted,” &c.
Some may imagine that a few of the following passages pertain more strictly to the Millennium; but the righteous remnant of Israel, as well as the converted of the Gentiles, will not only remain steadfast and immoveable, but greatly progress in the life of grace; while many of the outward worshippers will relinquish even the profession of piety.
“ It appears from the prediction of our Lord and his apostles, that a remarkable mixture of disquietude and peace, agitation and underground movements, yet with freedom from external warfare, and full engagements in the works of outward tranquillity, shall mark the very time that our Lord shall come. (Compare Luke xvii. 26–31 ; XXI. 25, 27; Matt. xxi. 36—39; 1 Thess. v. 2, 3.) Were it not,' says Mr. Cunningham, that we see both sides of the prophetic picture, exhibited in the events of the very time in which we live, it would be difficult to conceive the possibility of reconciling things apparently so opposite as a state of terror, dismay, and agitation, on the one hand; and on the other, one of peace. But no attentive observer of the signs of these times will deny that we see before our eyes
both these states of mind.""* Let us also observe, (as will hereafter be considered,) that the conflagration of the earth will not obstruct the preservation of the righteous, who will be prepared for their expected change; so that we may warrant the application of the following passages to them at this time. However, it must be allowed to be very difficult to draw the precise line of separation between the prophecies which immediately precede, and those which commence with the Millennial kingdom. We would refrain from expressing any degree of confidence on this subject, and pursue the course which appears to be most natural and consistent.
Joel 11. 21, 22. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice : for the LORD will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the
field : for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
God's elect throughout the land are called on to rejoice ; because he will shortly accomplish that which is worthy of the magnitude of his power and grace.
Ver. 23, 24. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you B the former rain Y moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
Again they are called on to rejoice; for inexhaustible is the source of their joy. More than ordinary graces have been previously vouchsafed them; but now a double portion of the Spirit is communicated; and this at the earliest period of their final deliverance. The Saviour, together with John the Baptist, have declared, that “the wheat” (the righteous) “shall be gathered unto" the Lord's "
'garner;" without doubt, alluding (as in Matt. III. 12, 13, 30) to the above and similar passages of the ancient prophets. We may justly imagine that the floors shall be literally full of wheat, and that the vats shall overflow with wine and oil; but from spiritual analogy, it appears to signify more emphatically that there will be large assemblies of happy worshippers, that their “cup” (of joy) “will run over," (Psalm xxiii. 5,) and that their supreme delight will be, to proclaim the widest possible communications of redeeming love.
Ver. 25. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
B Or, a teacher of righteousness.” Deut. XXXII. 2; Psalm LXXII. 6, 7; Isai. xxx. 21, 23.
7 Heb. “ according to righteousness."
The injuries sustained by their forefathers will thus be repaired by God's abundant mercies; as being so decidedly opposed to the cruelties and injustice which for so many ages have been inflicted by their enemies.
Ver. 26. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Together with abundance and personal comfort, they shall spiritually feed on Christ; adoring the riches of his grace, and confident in his goodness and power. See also Zeph. 111. 11–20; and Isai. xxix. 18—24.
Isaiah iv. 2. In that day shall a the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely, for them that are escaped of Israel.
Christ is “the Branch," (see particularly Zech. III. 8, &c.,) and his people, "the branches,” (John xv. 2,) but the parallel passages beneath (especially that in Ezekiel, more fully expound this passage.
Ver. 3, 4. And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: when the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, bby the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning
We understand by “ the daughters of Zion,” the merely professing churches of the Jews,-and by “the blood of Jerusalem," a distant allusion to the cruelties and murders inflicted on God's prophets by both kings and people, and at length on the Messiah himself: perhaps there is an allu
a Isai. xi. 1 ; LX. 21 ; Jer. XXI. 5; XXXIII. 15 ; Ezek. XVII. 22, 23; Zech. 11. 8; VI. 12.
b Ezek. XXII. 18—22 ; Mal. 11. 2, 3.