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Nothing, therefore, can be more discordant with the assurance that “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
Surely, such Scripture evidences should supersede every preconceived opinion, and all the influences of education and habitual feeling, prejudicial to the belief of a premillenial advent. This will, we trust, appear in the clearest point of view, when we come to consider the actual condition of mankind during the Millennium, or“ reign" of " righteousness," as it is revealed.
The burial of Gog's army takes place at this time, occupying a space of seven years; previous to which period, in whatever manner the Israelites may have worshipped, we read nothing of their having rebuilt the temple or city, though they may commence this work after “ the land" has been “ cleansed.” That a ritual worship should continue for some years, or till the coming of Elijah, is not improbable; at which time we may consider it to cease. It may be imagined that nothing short of his appearance would be calculated to effect this among the mass of the people. After which, instead of ceremonial rites, will be the pure and spiritual service of God, to which purpose the temple may then be converted. But as to what will or will not take place at this period, or, in what manner, especially as it regards exterior worship, and whether it be before or after the advent of our Lord, we believe to be too mysteriously veiled to admit, as yet, of any satisfactory solution.
COMING OF ELIJAH, AND PREPARATION FOR THE SECOND ADVENT
OF OUR LORD.
In such a day of spiritual excitement and extraordinary manifestation of divine power, as that which the subject of the last chapter discloses,-a day of such unprecedented interest and holy zeal, it cannot be irrational to expect that a prophet of more than ordinary inspiration should appear, to perfect and regulate the due worship of God; and thus to prepare the hearts and understandings of his people, for the “glorious appearing” of their Lord and Saviour. There is nothing contrary to reason that the Lord should send the actual prophet of old, and embody him miraculously in the flesh at such a season: but we think it is more probable that he will raise up another prophet, (such as was John,) who will possess the same ardent, zealous spirit, for the worship and service of God, as Elijah did, and which would supersede the necessity of his again appearing in the flesh. The Lord calls John, Elias, merely for the above reason,—the similarity of his spirit to that of Elijah,-and, therefore, no inconsistency can arise from this appellation being repeated in the person of another. Accordingly, “ the coming of John in the spirit and power of Elijah," may be “a pledge of some other great forerunner as the herald of Christ's Second Advent."
Isaiah xl. 1, 2. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God; speak ye B comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her 7 warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
God shows us here, as elsewhere, that his love is ever the most prominent of his attributes; he gives an impressive, and thrice repeated charge, to the prophet to comfort his people ; from the assurance that the appointed time of their rejection is over-past, that their iniquity is pardoned; and that their happiness is now to be as double, compared with the miseries which they endured while living in their sins. Sin is here emphatically substituted for the misery it produces.
Ver. 3, 4. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
Thus the same language as that which John addressed to his hearers, will be addressed to the regenerated church of God. And it is obvious, that both duty and conviction will induce the disciples to send brethren throughout the remotest regions of the earth, which may have still continued ignorant of their Redeemer. This will prepare the elect more effectually for that happy period, when all those painful obstructions which are now so crowded in their paths, shall be entirely romoved,—for “ the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
Ver. 6,7. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I
B Heb. “ to the heart." Gen. xxxiv. 3; 2 Chron. xxx. 22; Hos. Il. 14.–Marg.
9 Or, "appointed time."
cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field : the grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it. Surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
The prophet is not able to comprehend beyond the wondrous changes he was inspired to predict, what he should farther cry or announce. The answer to his inquiry is calculated to humble our pride; which is to assure mankind that their spiritual renovation will not be through their own might or power, seeing that they are cut down by death, as grass, the blossoms whereof wither and fade ; but because the Spirit bloweth upon, or, kindleth within them the flame of repentance, love, and zeal for the glory. of God. This assurance of man's insufficiency is repeated, and contrasted with “ the word of our God which shall stand for ever.” It is to convince him that there is no effectual remedy for his sin and suffering, independent of the “sufficiency of God.”
Ver. 9—11. BO Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain : go Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength ; lift it up, be not afraid ; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him : Behold, his reward is with him, and n'his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd : he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that o are with young.
These last apostles of the Lord, are commanded to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation, as from a high hill or
B Or, “ O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion." Isai. XLI. 27. ? Or, “O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem.” Isai. xxv. 9. • Or, “ against the strong." Isai. XLIX. 24, 25; LIII. 12; Heb. 11. 14; 1 John 111. 8.
in Or, “ recompence for his work.” Isai. xlix. 4.
0 Or, “ give suck.”
mountain. See Judges ix. 9; 1 Sam. XXVI. 13, 14; 2 Chron. xIII. 4; see also Isa. XII.
After this, the immediate and mighty coming of the Lord appears to be intimated, together with the display of his sovereign power and dominion; and what should exite our deepest interest, the recompence of a righteous judgment shall be with him; i. e., that he “will give unto every man according as his work shall be.” But what can more fully express the tender regards of Christ for his people, than the beautiful metaphors which are used on this occasion ? See also Isą. LXI. 10–12.
It would be a deviation from the design of this volume, to give any historical account of Elijah; but we think it right to advert to his appearance at the transfiguration of
our Lord, which may be considered as a type of the future · coming of both.
Matthew xvi. 1-8. Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Thus answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles ; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes they saw no man,"save Jesus only. See also Luke ix. 26–31.
"It is thought that this transfiguration happened in the night; and from thence proceeded the sleep with which the apostles were oppressed. Moreover, St. Luke observes,