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He who, till within a while, filled that throne of glory had quitted it. Nebuchadnezzar might take possession of the temple as of a corpse. The God of heaven had entrusted him with a kingdom. The glory of the Lord had forsaken His throne upon the earth. " Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (Eze. xi. 22, 23).
The Lord had quitted Jerusalem; the throne on earth is given to the Gentiles. Has the Lord returned to Jerusalem to hold His throne in subjection to that of a Persian or a Greek? We have seen that, whatever may have been His compassion for His people, His presence has not returned to fill with His glory the new building. If God is not there, what meaning in the title, “ The people of God”? And when is it that this poor, but ever-loved, people will find again its blessedness? When will “ Lo Ammi" be for ever effaced from its forehead, to make way for that precious title “ Ammi.” God had already accomplished His Word: “And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies." (2 Kings xxi. 13, 14). As it is said in Jer. xii. 7, “ I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies." Already, at the moment of quitting Jerusalem, as He did before driving our first parents from Eden, he announced the deliverance and the blessing. “ I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Eze. xi. 17).
But one sees at once that it is not of the return from Babylon that the prophet speaks, for it is added, “ And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh" (ver. 19).
Now, we know, with the most perfect certainty, that this cid not take place at the return from Babylon, nor, certainly, since the first coming of Jesus. The prophet passes to the latest days, in order that the people may be blessed. Let us again turn to Jeremiah, who announced and saw the taking of Jerusalem, of which we speak. He declares in chap. xxx., that God will bring back the captives of Israel and of Judah, and that they shall possess the land given to their fathers. David their king shall be raised up," and their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them" (ver. 21); and, adds the Lord, “ You shall be my people, and I will be your God” (ver. 22). In chap. xxxi. 31, we have the New Covenant: there is also the question of Israel and Judah, verse 27.
In chap. xxxii. Judah is again restored by an everlasting covenant; they shall no more draw back from God, they shall be İlis people, and the Lord will be their God (see ver. 38, 39, 40). Again, in chap.xxxii.7, God will bring back again Israel and Judah. " In those days, and at that time, will I cause the branch of righteousness to grow up unto David” (ver. 15). In Ezekiel
, xxxiv. David shall be prince (ver. 24). They shall be my people”, saith the Lord God (ver.30). In chap. xxxvi. we have the remarkable promise to which above all others the Lord Jesus made allusion in His conversation with Nicodemus, and which declares the necessity of that work in order that Israel may enjoy its privilege even in the land, and that it may be at the same time “Amii,” the people of God, and that God may be its God. We have also here the proof that this work (which shows that the people was not recognized as the people of God) is applicable to the people, such as it was at the return from Babylon, since the Lord so applies it, and that the promise of being the people of God cannot be fulfilled without this work of grace being made good; a work which was not made good in the days of the Lord, and which is not yet either, as to the restoration of the nation. In chap. xxxvii., we see Judah and Israel reunited in a striking manner--the people of God“Ammi," and God their God—twice repeated and David king over them. They shall walk in the judgments and statutes of
the Lord, David being their prince, in their own land for
Upon these points chapters xxxviii. and xxxix. may
also be consulted. These passages show, in a way not to be disputed, that the epoch at which Israel should become “ Ammi” (that is to say should no longer be " Lo Ammi,” for “ Lo” is but a negation) were not to be realized until the last days, when Christ will be their king; that this was to have its accomplishment by that grace which will write the law in their hearts, when God gives them a new heart according to the new covenant, and all Israel will be there. Judah and the ten tribes will form but one nation, which will never be divided nor driven from the land, over which Christ will reign for ever. And all this is said on the occasion of the captivity of Babylon, in which God rejected Judah as he had rejected Israel ; as also that the promise of the return from the captivity which would cause Ammi" to be named
upon Israel should be when all these things therein recited should be accomplished; so that the period during which “ Lo Ammi” is the name of Israel was to last from the captivity of Babylon until the return of the Lord.
Lastly, to remove all possibility of question, I add, that the judgment of“ Lo Ammi” was not executed before the captivity of Judah, for in the second chapter of Jeremiah, God still calls them His people; and to show that this was not because the term “ Lo Ammi” could not apply but to Israel, I quote the fourth verse
the word of the Lord, house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.” On the other hand, the new Testament shows us, that then also all Israel was thought of, and that God considered it as not his people, making an allusion to Hosea. We have seen the Lord showing that the kingdom of God, under which the people would be the people of God, could not come but by the fulfilment of the promises of the new covenant. And the Apostle Paul says (Acts xxvi.) “ Unto which [promise] our twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night;" so also James, 66 To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”
We have already seen that (Rom. xi.) St. Paul only distinguishes between the Election and Israel; the latter, in the last days, when a Deliverer should come out of
Zion. And the distinction was so lost at that time, that (in Acts xxvi.) the expression of the twelve tribes is a neuter in the singular (to dwdexadulov). So, in citing
(το . the passage which speaks of“ Lo Ammi," Paul applies it to the state of the Jews, before being called by the revelation of Jesus as Saviour without distinguishing Ruhamah” and “ Lo Ammi.” Peter is still more positive in his manner of expressing himself, and tells us in just so many words, that the term “ Lo Ammi” applies to the state of the people before the Revelation of Christ, while those who received him quitted that position. I say
people,” for it is without controversy that the expression
strangers scattered abroad” (παρεπιδημους διασποράς) belongs to Israel, while at the same time it restricts itself to such among them as believed. So that we have a direct revelation that the state of the people, after Babylon, was the state of “Lo Ammi” (see 1 Peter ii. 10).
I believed it might be useful to present this point clearly for brethren who are interested in it. It treats not of the question of the Church, save so far as all truths are linked together; but it treats of an epoch, singularly important, as to the government of God, because God ceased to dwell upon the throne of the earth between the Cherubim, and entrusted sovereign power to a chief raised up among the Gentiles—a state of things which is to continue under one form or other until the judgment of the world.
“ BEHOLD, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”-Jeremiah xxxi. 31-34.
THE habits of a vast number of Christians, and the moral atmosphere in which they are placed, have tended to produce the very vague notions they have as to worship. Having passed from formalism and superstitious views (which left the care of their religion to others) under the influence of the feeling of the need in which they stood of the truth, they have found in the recognition of the truth, in owning and hearing it—the sum total of their ordinary religious exercises. But, surely, heaven should have some place in our religion while here below. In heaven, doubtless, the truth will be known in all its perfectness; but truth formerly received into the heart will be actually realised there in the glory of God and of the Saviour, about whom this truth treats. There will be no longer any need to hear the truth, nor to recognise it,—we shall live in it. The power of it in our hearts will be expressed in adoration. Such is the characteristic of heaven. But, surely, this should be realised, in some measure, while on earth, among those at least who have received the truth, and who, by it, have the knowledge of the God who has communicated it to us—of the Saviour who came to accomplish his work of love and of righteousness on our behalf;--among those who have received not only the truth, but even the very Spirit who gave to the truth its place in their hearts, and to them the desire of glorifying Him whom it has revealed to them. When the Holy Spirit communicates heavenly truth to the renewed heart, it always re-ascends in thanksgiving and praise. True worship is but the return to God which is made by the heart, when filled with the deep feeling of that which has been communicated from on high. The Holy Spirit, who makes the communication to us, causes the feelings