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When the thorn, that had so long goaded the house of Israel, shall be removed ; when the Lord shall have executed judgments upon all those that despised his people: then will he gather them from all the countries of their dispersion, and bring
import of the prophecy. The terms, in which it is expressed, extend it to the restoration of the whole house of Israel, Ephraimn as well as Judah; and it positively asserts, that after the downfall of Tyre, there should be no more a rankling thorn to afflict the ancient people of God. Now, from Babylon Judah alone returned ; and, su far from afterwards enjoying a state of uninterrupted tranquillity, or in the language of the prophet) being freed from the stings of rankling briars and ulcerating thorns, the Jews, after having been subjected to the persecutions of the Syro-Macedonian kings, were at length scattered by the Romans over the face of the whole earth. Formerly they were only chastised with whips ; latterly they have been chastised with scorpions.
Mr. Bicheno I believe to be right in referring this prophecy to the yet future era of the restoration of Judah, but I think him mistaken in supposing that Tyre is the type of some great modern commercial nation. He censures Mr. Fraser for conceiving, like myself, that the prediction relates to the overthrow of papal Rome, merely because Rome is not a commercial city and possesses not any naval power. I have not read Mr. Fraser's work, and therefore know not by what arguments he supports his opinion : but this, which Mr. Bicheno brings against him, is certainly inconclusive. If it prove any thing, it will prove equally that the apocalyptic Babylon cannot be the Papacy; because the apocalyptic Babylon is described, like Tyre, as being a great commercial city, and as having many trading vessels out at sea. But I have already most fully stated my reasons for interpreting the prophecy as I have done. The Teader will find Mr. Bicheno's arguments in favour of his opinion, in his Signs of the Times, part iii. p. 172-176.
them into the land which he gave unto his servant Jacob. There they shall dwell safely, and shall build houses, and shall plant vineyards : they shall dwell with confidence, and shall know that the Lord is their God.
PROPHECY XXV. The dispersion of Israel through the tyranny of
their shepherds-God will require his people at their hands-The restoration of Judah partly in a converted and partly in an unconverted state -The opposition of the unconverted to the con- . verted, a proof that the unconverted will be restored by Antichrist - Downfall of the mystic Edom - The political revival, restoration, and final union, of Israel and Judah _The overthrow of Gog and Magog at the end of the Millennium.
Ezekiel xxxiv. 1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel *-should not the
* The shepherds of Israel.] These shepherds must certainly be, not theological, but political, shepherds. Corrupt as the Jewish priests, scribes, and pharisees, were in the days of our Saviour, I know not with what propriety it can be said, that they scattered the flock upon the face of the whole earth in the dark and cloudy day, and that from their hands the flock will be required
shepherds feed the flock ?-3. But ye feed not the the flock.-5. They are scattered so that they have no shepherd *; and they are become meat to all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6. My sheep wander through all the mountains, and upon every high hill; yea, my flock is scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none
in the day of their restoration : for, that the scattering here spoken of means a literal and not a spiritual dispersion (as that in Isaiah liji. 6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way), is manifest from its being placed in opposition to the literal gathering together and return of the Jews. Those then, who literally scattered the Jews, and from whose hands they will be required at their restoration, must undoubtedly be the shepherds here intended. The shepherds therefore must be the Roman beast under his sixth and last heads. The passage is exactly parallel with two prophecies already considered : Jerem, xii. 9-17; and xxiii. 1-8. Abp. Newcome and Michaelis justly understand the shepherds in a temporal sense ; but suppose them to mean the king, his counsellors, and the heads of the people. These however do not answer to the prophetic character of the shepherds ; because they certainly never scattered the Israelites. The terms of the prediction are such as to make it very unnatural and far-fetched to say, that the Jewish rulers scattered the people, by so provoking God with their sins as to induce him to send nations against them who did literally scatter them. See Mr. Lowth in loc.
* They have no shepherd.] They are under no independent government of their own; but have been long subject to the tyranny of shepherds, who preyed upon them, instead of feeding them. The sceptre is departed from Judah; and they have abode many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice. See. Gen. xlix. 10), and Hosea iii. 4.
searcheth'or seeketh after them.---9. Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord : 10. Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds : and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more : for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
11. Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12. As the shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the dark and cloudy day. 13. And I will bring them out from the peoples *, and will gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord. 16. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment
* I will bring them out from the peoples.] “ This prophecy “ may have been in some degree fulfilled in the return of the .." Jews from the Babylonish captivity; but seems still to look
ac further, even to the general restoration of the whole nation, “ which most of the prophets foretell shall come to pass in the. “ latter days." Mr, Lowth in loc, E %
17. And, as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he-goats. 18. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19. And, as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet, and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.
20. Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them, Behold I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and the lean cattle. 21. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22. Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall be no more a prey, and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David : he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24. And I, the Lord, will be their God; and my servant David shall be