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CHAPTER V.

MESSIAH PREDICTED BY PROPHETS, FROM THE TIME OF SAMUEL
TO THE CAPTIVITY.

Jonah in the JoNAn was the earliest of the prophets

whale.—Jon. ii. 1 ... Tt v j •

whose writings are preserved. He lived, in the reign of Amaziah, king of Judah, and of Jeroboam, the second king of Israel—more than eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. He was himself the subject of a most wonderful occurrence—being a day and at least a part of two others, in a great fish. This miracle was referred to by the Lord Jesus Christ as an emblem of his own burial; the application he makes of it furnishes an example of the testimony to him, to be found in the most wonderful events recorded in the Old Testament. Itjjwas, no doubt, to foreshadow his lying in the grave that God was pleased to correct the disobedience of his servant in that manner, so that, in a little more than one hundred years after the death of Solomon, the Jewish Church was favoured with a type of the promised Messiah in an aspect differing from all they had before. In the Mediterranean Sea, into which Jonah was cast, whales are sometimes seen; but in it, it is well known that sharks are common, and that whole men have been actually found in their bellies ; although the whale is of such a monstrous size, it has not a swallow large enough for a man to pass; therefore, it is more probable it was a shark that enshrouded Jonah.

The word translated whale is a common name for the larger inhabitants of the deep, and not limited, as at present, to one species of fish. No doubt, there was an adaptation for the design of saving the prophet's life, in order to prevent his being suffocated. How easy it is for him who is the Author of nature, and the maker of its laws, to alter or suspend them at his pleasure, when there is an object of sufficient importance to require it, without which there is never the least deviation from their original appointment! To mark the entombment of Messiah was of such magnitude as to account for any change in these laws.

The fame of this miracle reached Greece, and one of their poets, who lived after Jonah, magnifies his hero by putting him into similar circumstances.

Hosea prophesied for a lengthened period, dur

Israel's conversion.—Hosea ing the reigns of four kings of Judah, and one

of Israel. He foretold many events which took

place soon after; but he is peculiarly distinct and striking

on the more distant ones. He looked through the long

vista of ages, and described Israel when without a king

or prince; without their temple, where alone they were

to offer sacrifices, and also without attempting to worship images, to which their forefathers had been so much addicted. He predicted that this scattered, powerless, yet preserved people among the nations, would return from their state of degradation and unbelief, and "seek the Lord their God, and David their king"—not David who slept in the sepulchre at Jerusalem, but the beloved Son of God, and King of Zion, whom their fathers rejected and crucified.

The time of Amos is not accurately known;

David's king

dom restored, it is supposed to have been whilst Hosea lived.

—Amos ix. 11.

The kingdom of David had been brought very low by the iniquities of the people—his palace had fallen, and his family were reduced. Amos predicts that all the breaches of his tabernacle would be repaired, its ruins rebuilt, and that it should be established in all its former glory. This will be accomplished when Christ rules in the hearts of David's subjects, and thus sits upon his throne, according to the promise of God made to David.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four

The vision in

the temple.— kings of Judah, and as many of Israel. The

Isaiah vi. t

time of his prophetic office extended over a period of nearly sixty years, and was more than seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. Isaiah is sometimes called the fifth Evangelist, his prophecies of Christ are so full and distinct—more like a narration of what he had seen, than predictions of a person who -had not yet appeared on earth. Isaiah had prophesied occasionally before the year of Uzziah's death; but it was in that year he was set apart to the office, on the occasion of one of the most sublime visions ever presented to mortals, and was in accordance with the gifts bestowed on Isaiah, to enable him to foretell Messiah so clearly. Isaiah was engaged in devotion at the temple, when the separating veil was drawn aside, and, high above the mercy-seat, the Lord appeared in human form, seated upon a throne; the loose robes that were upon him filled the temple; in attendance at his throne stood the seraphim, or " burning ones," engaged in adoration: showing us the nature of the worship of heaven—that it is humble, absorbing, and in readiness to render instantaneous obedience to every command. As the words of their threefold adoration resounded from one angelic worshipper to another, the durable, and exquisitely wrought door-posts of the temple were shaken, and the house was filled with ethereal vapour, or cloud. Isaiah was overcome by a sense of his own unholiness and nothingness, and that of his nation amongst whom he lived, and expressed his feelings with deep emotion. On this, one of the seraphim went to the altar of burnt-offering, which stood outside the temple, whereon a sacrifice was always consuming, and with the tongs took a piece of coal from it, and touched Isaiah with it, assuring him he was forgiven and cleansed from his sins— pardoned and sanctified through the atonement. The object of this glorious and awful vision was to announce the universal dominion, over the then recusant earth, of him who sat upon the throne; and also the astonishing fact, that the Jews would persist in rejecting their Messiah, until, in consequence, they were almost extinct; but that the remnant that was left would again shoot forth and flourish in the Church of God.

We never read of the Lord being seen by mortals in any other way than in human shape. It shows his matchless condescension and love, so to accommodate himself to the nature of man, which would be unable to look upon the immaterial Almighty Spirit. When the apostle John was recording the works and the teaching of Christ, and the effect they had upon the Jews of that generation, he quotes Isaiah's words, or rather the words spoken to Isaiah by the Lord at this time, and adds, "These things said Esaias when he saw his glory, and spake of him."

In this place we find the heavenly voices gave threefold adoration to the Lord of hosts. From the beginning of the Scriptures to the end of them, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are revealed concurring and acting in all the works of creation, and in the whole plan of redemption, —" And God said, Let us make man in our image " (Gen. i. 26). The Father gave his beloved Son; the Son delights to do the Father's will; the Holy Spirit enabled men to foretell his coming, and to put his acts on record. The Holy Spirit makes the soul feel its guilt in breaking the Divine law; the Son has obeyed the law, and borne the punishment due to transgression; he makes intercession for the penitent sinner, and prevails with the Father, who pardons and adopts him into his family. So supreme must the reverence be for the Spirit, "that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, except the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost." This

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