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therefore, preparatory to his prediction concerning the second of these events, directs our attention to the overthrow of the Antichristian confederacy. He declares, that, at the period of the restoration of Judah, the Lord will plead with all flesh by fire and sword; and that great shall be the slaughter of his enemies. The criminality of these his enemies had already been partly described, as consisting in a persecution of the Jews under the pretext of honouring God: it is now further represented to us under images drawn from the ancient history of Israel, and the prohibitions of the Levitical law. Those then, who compose the Antichristian confederacy, will be persons who imitate the idolatry of the Gentiles, worshipping deified saints, and polluting themselves with all manner of abominations **. Such a description perfectly accords with the character of those, of whom we are taught the confederacy will consist. But its members, in the midst of their audacious attempt to oppose the counsels of the Lord, shall be consumed together: and God remarkably declares, that, while they are seeking only to fulfil their own diabolical purposes of ambition and persecution, he so overrules both their works and their thoughts, as to make them instrumental in gathering together all nations and tongues, that they may come, and see a marvellous display of his glory.
Still however, although Judah be now restored, and although Antichrist be overcome, we have to look for the return of Israel, that second grand division of God's people, which is to be brought back by land. Here then the prophet most fully declares to us the manner of their restoration. After the overthrow of Antichrist, such as escape the tremendous slaughter of Megiddo, a number amounting (as we are informed by Zechariaht) to a third
“The prophet mentions only such idolatries as were practised in and about his own time; but yet may comprehend under those heads all other kinds of that sin, just as the idolatries practised by some Christians are called the doctrines of Balaam and Jezabel (Rev. ii. 14, 20.), and the church where they were practised is described by the name of Sodom and Egypt (Rev. xi. 8.). And the Jews at this day acknowledge the compliances of several of their nation with the idolatries practised in those Popish countries where the Inquisition is set up, as one of their national sins. See Limborch's Amica collatio cum Judæo.” * Mr. Lowth's Comment. on Isaiah lxv. 4. to which he refers us from Comment, on Isaiah lxvi. 17.
t Zechar. xii. 8, .
part of his whole host; shall be converted to the pure faith of Christ; and shall be scattered among all nations, in order that they may carry far and wide the astonishing tidings, and declare the glory of God. Some of the Jews may naturally be supposed to have been left behind, at the period of the restoration of Judah, in the distant isles of the sea or the regions of Europe, and even in the territories of the modern Tarshish. These now will hear the joyful news; and will be gathered together along with their brethren the children of Israel from the north, the south, and the east. In Palestine the two kindred nations will coalesce into one : for, although Ephraim will undoubtedly be restored, he will be for ever broken, so that he shall be no more a distinct people*. We further learn from this passage, that Israel will be restored in a converted state, as one of the divisions of Judah had been before him. The great maritime people, as we are else. where taught by Isaiah t, is to bring certain of the sons of Judah, as a present unto the Lord; whence it must be inferred, that both the bringers and the brought are faithful worshippers: the various continental powers throughout the whole world are, in a similar manner, to bring their brethren of the tribes of Israel, by various modes of land conveyance, as an offering to the Lord; whence the same inference must unavoidably be drawn. The pre. sent passage indeed is on the whole more decisive than the other; for it is added, that the offering of the dispersed tribes should be brought by the nations, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. Hence it is plain, since nothing legally. unclean could be offered under the Levitical dispensation, that the tribes, so brought as an offering, must be figuratively clean: and, since the two passages are altogether parallel in point of phraseology, that part of Judah, which is brought by the ships of the modern Tyre, must be figuratively clean likewise,
The prophet concludes with symbolically describing. the glories of the millennium, which will commence so
*Isaiah vii. 8..
t Isaiah xviii, 7. See also lx. 9.
• soon as both Judah and Israel shall have been fully restored *.
The captivity, restoration, conversion, and union of Judah and Israel – The invasion of Palestine from the north by Antichrist -His destruction.
Jeremiah iïi. 1. They say, if a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again ? shall not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord +-6. The Lord also said unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen what backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every mountain, and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. 7. And I said, after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me: but she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8. And I saw, when, for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also
12. Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you : for I. am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever-14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you,
* Mr. Lowth justly observes on this part of the prophecy, “the worship of the new Jerusalem is represented by the practice of the Jewish temple ; as if the prophet had said, that state shall be one continued festival. It is usual with the prophets to describe the Gospel dispensations by the usages of their own times.
+ Return again to me saith the Lord.] In the Levitical law, a man, who had put away his wife, was forbidden to take her again, lest an encouragement should thereby be held out to licentiousness; but God, in the case of his mystical consort, the church of Israel, is here represented as mercifully dispensing with his own law. See Dr. Blayney's Jerem.in loc. and Mr. Lowth in loc.
one out of a city, and two out of a family *, and I will bring you to Zion. 15. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16. And it shall come to pass when ve be multiplied and increased in the land, In those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The 'ark of the covenant of the Lord t: neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it, neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. 17. At that time they shall call Jerusalem, The throne of the Lord: and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. 18. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers
iv. 5. Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem, and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land : cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. 6. Set up the banner toward Zion; retire, stay not; for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. 7. The lion is come up from his thicket, the destroyer of the nations is on his way: he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate, to lay waste thy cities, that they may be desolate without an inhabitant. 8. For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl; for the fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us. 9. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder. 10. Then said I, Ah Lord God ! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people
* I will take you, one out of a city, and two out of a family.) The miracu. lous gathering of the long-lost tribes of Israel seems here to be intended. Sprinkled as they now are through the various cities and families of the east, they shall then all be discovered. Compare Isaiah xxvii. 13. in Prophecy vit.
† They shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord.] Compare Isaiah xxxi. 31-34. and see Mr. Lowth in loc.
# Ah Lord God ! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.] The Jews may imagine, that their restoration to their own country will be unattended by any calamities to themselves; but both this, and many other prophecies, teach us, that they shall be severely scourged for their past iniquities. .
and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace: whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul. l1. At that time it shall be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the plains* in the wilderness approacheth the daughter of my people, not to fan nor to cleanset. 12. A full wind shall come from those places for me: now therefore will I speak judgments with them. 13. Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles. Wo unto us, for we are spoiled! O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved : how long shall thy vain thoughts.lodge within thee? 15. For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth affliction from mount Ephraim f. 16. Make ye mention to the nations, publish against Jerusalem, Besiegers come from a far country 1, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah-19. My bowels, my bowels; I am pained at my very heart: my heart maketh a noise in me: I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, and the alarm of war. 20. Destruction and destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. 21. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? 22. For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
23. I beheld the earth; and, lo! it was without form and void; and the heavens and they had no light. 24. I
from a fons, public phraim
* A dry wind of the plains.] See Dr. Blayney in loc.
† A dry wind---not to fan, nor to cleanse. ] Antichrist shall go forth, not merely to subdue, but utterly to exterminate (Compare Dan. xi. 44.) ; to sweep away, not merely the chaff, but the wheat likewise. For a time he shall be successful, and the whole land shall be desolate : yet (Ver. 27.) will the Lord not make a full end. “ Tempestuous winds, or the motion of clouds," says Sir Isaac Newton, “ are put for wars." Observ. on Dan. C. 2. p. 18. See the same metaphor applied to enemies and destroyers in Isaiah xxvii. 8. Jerem. xlix. 36. li. 1. Ezek. xvii. 10. xix. 12. Hos. xiii. 15.
Dan---mount Ephraim. This passage describes the progress of the Antichristian army from the north, a matter frequently mentioned in the course of the present prophecy. “The rumour of the enemy's approach is heard first from Dan, which being the most northern part of Fudea was first of all invaded. And the evil tidings still increase, as the army marcheth for. ward toward Jerusalem, by the way of mount Ephraim." Mr. Lowth in loc.
1 A far country.] The empire of Antichrist, France and its vassal provinces.