« AnteriorContinuar »
tom, was paid to them.” (Ezra iv. 20.) And it is with the deepest interest that the church of Christ, in all ages, has studied and contemplated the amazing providences and miracles which, during this period of their varying prosperity, both under their judges and kings, were wrought for them. Being the only instance of a people living under a Theocracy, or the immediate government of God, which the world ever saw, the events of their nation must of necessity be of a character corresponding to this high distinction; and the mind is prepared, after being acquainted with what the Almighty did for them in the period already considered, up to their conquest of Canaan, to expect something out of the ordinary course of things in their history. It could not be, that that gracious God who performed so many miracles for their deliverance from Egypt—who afterwards fed them with manna for so many years in the wilderness -who guided them in all their journeyings by a fiery cloudy pillar—who caused water out of the Ainty rock to follow them wherever they went-who caused the great luminaries of heaven to “ stand still” for a whole day, until they had avenged themselves of their enemies; it could not be that the bright promise of this, their early day, could fail them. And it did not fail them. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Hebrews, says: “ Time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah ; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets; who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance ; that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Heb. xi. 32.-35.) Blot out this period of the Jewish history from the annals of the human race, and what a chasm would be left! In uninspired histories of nations, and in histories unconnected with the Lord's people, we see only the ordinary operations of Providence; but in these bright pages we read of numerous instances where Jehovah, the Almighty and Eternal God, hath condescended in an especial and extraordinary manner to honour his fallen creatures, by visible displays of his love, and the clearest manifestations of his mercy.
In the Book of Revelation the Jewish church is compared to the moon, which, when the Sun of Righteousness arose on a benighted world, the church is represented as having under her feet; and this period of its history was when she might be said to be at the full. At the time of Solomon especially, which was about the middle point between the calling of Abraham and the coming of Christ, the Jewish church in a remarkable manner shadowed forth, though but faintly, the kingdom of Christ in its state of glory, as it shall be in the latter ages of the world. It had indeed no glory of its own, irrespective of Him, to whose life, death, atonement, and resurrection, all its institutions, all its types, ceremonies, and observances, pointed. But it pleased God, in the reign of Solomon, to shew to the world what a glory was even a reflected glory, when it beamed from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. It is said that “ King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom: and all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” “ And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones; and cedars made he to be as the sycamore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.” (1 Kings x. 23, 24, 27.) But the Jews had not only the greatest and wisest king in the world reigning over them, by whom all their institutions were perfected, and under whom their temple—the most costly and magnificent building in the universe-was erected; but they had continued standing memorials of the Divine presence. They had the Urim and Thummim, by which the high priest inquired of God, and received communications from him ; they had the Shekinah, or cloud of
glory, over the mercy-seat; and they had the fire from heaven on the altar continually burning.
This external glory was, however, of short duration. From this time the Jewish church began to wane; “and as the moon, from the time of its full, is approaching nearer and nearer her conjunction with the sun, so her light is more and more decreasing, till at length, when the conjunction comes, it is wholly swallowed up in the light of
so did it gradually decline, making way for the more glorious dispensation of the Gospel.
As soon as her troubles came upon her, and the threatenings left on record by Moses began to be put into effect, then did the Lord have recourse to what has ever been a support to the church under all her sufferings—to prophetical dates. And although the one now under consideration appears, on a casual reading, to be barren and uninteresting, and seems to have little direct reference to any age beyond its own; yet it will be seen, in the after part of this work, that it bears with distinguished importance on the age in which we live ; and sheds a flood of light on one of the most difficult questions that occupies the thoughts of all inquirers on these subjects, and deeply affects the interests of the present generation. But for this apparently insignificant prophetical date, the destruction of the kingdom of Israel would have been, as it generally is, considered to have happened on the invasion of Shalmanezer, king of Assyria : whereas it is certain, that, according to this date, it did not take place till forty or fifty years afterwards.
And that the country was not wholly stripped of its inhabitants by Shalmanezer, appears likewise from many passages of the history of Josiah, who lived a number of years after, where Israelites are mentioned as still remaining there : for when he began to purge the land from idols, it is said (2 Chron. xxxiv. 6, 7), “And so did he in the cities of Manasseh and Ephraim and Simeon, even unto Naphthali, with their mattocks round about.” “And when he had broken down the altars and groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.” (ver. 33; also xxxv. 18, and 2 Kings xxiii. 19.) There must therefore have been inhabitants in the cities of Israel after the time of Shalmanezer -a few at least, who lived according to their own laws-until the invasion of Esarhaddon; and it was then, at the expiration of this prophetical date of sixty-five years, that the land was utterly despoiled, and the irrecoverable ruin of the Ten Tribes took place. For Esarhaddon carried all the remnant of the people into Assyria; and then, to prevent the land from being desolate, he brought others from Cutha, and