« PreviousContinue »
"And so all Israel shall be saved ; as it is written, There shall come
out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Rom. xi. 26.
This word occurs in ten instances, but is applied to the Saviour only in this passage, which in the main is taken from Isa. lix. 20.; for in the quotations from the Old Testament by the Saviour and the Apostles, the precise words are not always employed.*
We will prepare the way by some general remarks before we consider Jesus in the character ascribed to him in the motto. Almost every person knows the duty of a deliverer. He is one sent by a superior power, or one who voluntarily assumes the duties and responsibilities of the office. Sometimes, objects are embraced of very wide extent, and of difficult accomplishment. Sometimes, the object is merely to rescue an individual, either from some imminent peril or danger to which he is exposed, or sufferings which he is actually enduring. Sometimes, a hero starts on the great errand of freeing an entire nation from the yoke of religious tyranny or political bondage. Washington was the great deliverer of America from political evils. Howard was the deliverer of men from physical suffering and mental degradation. Luther, Calvin, and
* For some just remarks on this point, see Dr. Taylor as quoted by Clarke, at the close of Rom. x.
a host of others, have aimed to deliver men from superstition and religious oppression. But while the great and the good have striven for universal emancipation, their means have been limited; for although it may be painful to a benevolent mind to realize that the Creator has so constituted man, that he can conceive of more than he can accomplish, yet it is a pure and blessed thought when considered in its proper connection.
But when we view Jesus, we are not pained with the thought that he can conceive more than can be accomplished. His large soul contemplated the happiness of a world, and he will carry such an object into effect. To contemplate him in any other light is derogatory to his character.
Hunian deliverers may effect a temporary relief, but Jesus came to secure a permanent salvation. God has imparted to him sufficient wisdom and power.
In the motto, it will be seen that the deliverance of Israel from sin only is contemplated, but the connection contemplates also the fulness of the Gentiles. A certain order is pursued in the grand scheme of a world's redemption; for God has assigned laws to the moral world as well as to the physical world. That order is well expressed in a phrase employed by the Saviour: 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first. This is finely illustrated by the parable of the Laborers in the vineyard. The greatest good that can be conferred on man is to turn him away from his iniquity. The bestowment of wealth is supposed by many to be the greatest blessing. But he who turns another from the practice of a single vice, confers a greater good than the riches of a world. This
doctrine is recognised by an apostle: 'Brethren, if any you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.'* Here is a great work in which all may engage.
In the moral world, we need not seasons, as in the natural world, but we may labor at all seasons. We need not say “four months, and then cometh the harvest.' We
may thrust in our sickle, and work at all times. Let us then be faithful laborers in the vineyard of our Lord and Master, and we shall hear his voice cheering us onward—Well done, good and profitable servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'
Without enlarging farther on the great object for which this Deliverer was sent, which appears so frequently as we progress, we anticipate an objection that may be raised from the following passage: * *
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.'t On this phrase, Dr. Clarke says, “The desolation which was about to fall on the Jewish nation for their wickedness, and threatened in the last words of their own Scriptures, “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Mal. iv. 6. This wrath or curse was coming: they did not prevent it by turning to God and receiving the Messiah, and therefore, the wrath of God came upon them to the uttermost.' From this wrath those were saved who trusted in Jesus.
* James v.
t 1 Thes, 1. 10.
XXIII. DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS.
'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.
Hag. ii. 6, 7.
COMMENTATORS generally refer this prophecy to Christ. The words were originally addressed to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the residue of Israel who were engaged in rebuilding the temple after the Babylonish captivity. The strong language employed here, is in accordance with the metaphoric style of the prophets throughout the Old Testament. They represent important changes in the religious and political world, by commotions in the heavens and in the earth. Isaiah, in his prediction concerning the overthrow of the Jewish state, says, "They go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.'*
The passage evidently refers to the coming of Jesus and the glories of his reign. It can with no propriety refer to any other being than Jesus, for it will be seen, as we proceed, that there was revealed through him the very truths which all nations desire. The apostle Paul quotes the passage, though with a little different phraseology, and points out the permanency of the
* Isa. ii. 21. See Ezek. xxviii. 20. Matt. xxiv. 29. 34.
kingdom that would be established by Jesus: "Whose voice then shook the earth : but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.'*
Several particulars seem to crowd on the mind in viewing this passage. We shall endeavor to present the whole under two heads.
I. In what sense is Christ the Desire of all nations?
II. What was the nature of the glory alluded to in the prophecy?
I. In what sense is Christ the Desire of all nations? It is evident that there was nothing in the mere personal appearance of Jesus that could cause the world to desire him above any other being. It was, therefore, because there were certain blessings to flow from his reign that the world had not yet enjoyed. "There is a desire, inseparable, it should seem, from the very essence of an immortal spirit, after something, which it feels necessary to its happiness, and which eludes its search, wherever that search is directed. This desire, debased by the fall, seeks, but never finds, satisfaction in earthly and polluted things; and, though it cannot reach the full possession of its object--for
Our very wishes give us not our wish ;yet, until the soul is taught from above, it turns with
* Heb. xii. 26-28.