"The prophetic word" means the communication of things to come which God has been pleased to make in scripture. The apostle Peter, in so using the expression, compares it to "a lamp that shineth in a squalid place." It makes manifest man's evil, which God declares He will judge and supersede by His kingdom in Christ (2Pe_1:19). Those addressed did well to heed it, though he desired for them still better light, and this for the heart - "till day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts." He had of course this heavenly hope bright in his own heart, and he desired it for all of them. But the saints of the circumcision were slow in apprehending what was new and heavenly: so we see over a larger area in the Epistle to the Hebrews. They were content with the elements of the doctrine of Christ, and had to be exhorted to go on to perfection, or that full age in Christ which is proper to the Christian, based on accomplished redemption and the gift of the Holy Spirit, as well as occupied with Christ's glory on high. Here they were dull, as 2 Peter shows them, about the Christian hope.
But the apostle encouraged them to heed the lamp of prophecy till they seized the brighter light that the gospel brings of the hope of which Christ Himself is the one personal object - Christ about to receive us and present us in the Father's house, that where He is, there we also may be. Useful as a lamp is for guiding us in darkness or guarding us from the defilements around, far better is the light of Christ fully revealed, and the accompanying hope for our hearts even now, before He gives us the Morning Star, that is, association with Himself at His coming. It is the coming again of Him Whose love we know, Who suffered once for all for our sins, Who will then consummate in heaven the love He proved for us on earth. When the day of Jehovah comes for the world, according to prophecy, it will burn as a furnace for the proud and wicked, but to those that fear His name, as Israel thus will here below, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings. Our hope is much higher, whether for our hearts now, or when it is fulfilled at His coming. It is not associated with judgement on adversaries, but founded on His own bearing our judgement on the cross, and taking us to heaven to be with Himself, apart from all thought of the earth or of man upon it.
Meanwhile, and from the earliest days, God has given prophecy in this sin-darkened world; and He took care, when human life was shortened to its present span (Psa_90:10), to embody it in scripture as "the prophetic word." In it lay, when Adam transgressed, the warrant of faith. Man fell and paradise was lost through sin. All hope turned on the woman's Seed, Who would with bitten heel bruise the Serpent's head. Whatever else might be intimated and learnt from God's sayings and doings in those sad circumstances of ruin, a Deliverer was revealed in the future, Himself deeply to suffer, but to crush the enemy who had so soon and completely misled man. This Deliverer somehow must be man, the woman's Seed, itself a fact absolutely unique, and a phrase of mysterious moment and ineffable grace; yet must He also be immeasurably above man, not only to resist and beat off the old Serpent, the devil, but to deal him destruction beyond remedy.
The word translated "prophet" in the O.T. is derived from "bubbling or pouring forth," alluding to God's action in inspiring him; "Seer" points to the vision which distinguished such. Its scriptural meaning transcends the classical usage as the living and true God rises above the demons, who acted behind the idols that were adored by the heathen and interpreted by their prophets.
In the New Testament, as well as in the Old, the term prophet or prophecy is applied when God's mind was communicated, as in Gen_20:7, Psa_105:15, Joh_4:19, 1Co_14:24-25; but its strict and appropriated sense of unveiling the future, which belongs to God only, is unquestionable. When idolatry prevailed, and God separated Abraham and the line of promise, He made known clearly and severally His design to bless the chosen family, and in a specified land assured to them. He disclosed also a still larger and more wondrous purpose, bound up with their Seed to bless all the families in the earth (Gen_12:3, Gen_22:18, Gen_26:4, Gen_28:14). While prophecy thus embraced the laying bare of facts or persons at any time (1Sa_9:20, 2Ki_5:26), so as to put conscience in God's presence, none the less did the revelation of the future characterise the prophet, as we see throughout the range of scripture.
Nay, more, while the five books of Moses are distinctly called the Law, as in a vague way are the Psalms and the Prophets, yet every part of the Pentateuch is brimful of prophecy. Adam is authoritatively declared to be figure of the Coming One; this in righteousness and life, as that in sin and death. Cain presages the way of woe in walk and worship, as righteous Abel's blood witnesses that which speaketh better. And if we omit not a few, Noah foreshadows Him Who will unfailingly govern the world after it is again judged as a whole for its iniquities. The Messiah underlies every promise and every office of special dignity, Godward and manward; covenant; sacrifice, and offering, point to His work. Holy and suffering witnesses give glimpses of Him, as the wicked manifest their awful antagonism. The past public dealings of God typify greater things to come. The first battle in Genesis is vividly impressed with signs of the last; especially when we read at its close Abram's meeting the royal priest, who blessed the conqueror on the part of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed God Most High, Who had delivered the enemies into his hand: the clear prefiguration of Jehovah's day, with its issue of blessedness, above and below, in righteousness and peace.
One might dwell ever so long on broad outlines and minute details alike, each and all telling the same tale of the bright future that gilds to the instructed eye the humbling lessons of the history, pointing to Christ's day, which made Abraham glad, when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory. But one must forbear even as to Genesis, rich as it is in furnishing the germs of what is developed now, or what is to be in another and more blessed way during days to come. A similar character pervades in some form every one of the other books of Moses, nay, of every book of the Old Testament. Thus Exodus points to a better redemption of God's people, and by power as well as blood; and to His subsequent deigning to dwell in the midst of the redeemed, as He will for ever. Leviticus again, and Numbers, are no less predictive; and Deuteronomy, besides its more veiled intimations in its course and close, has more open prophecies of Christ and His coming triumphs than its predecessors. As the historical books that follow are said by the Jews to be written by "the earlier prophets," so all are stamped inwardly to the intelligent Christian with shadows of good things to come, which centre in Him Whom in their blindness they rejected. So more evidently are the Psalms full of Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ in His people. It ought to be needless to say this of the "later" avowed prophets. But we live in days of rebuke and blasphemy, when in Christendom even professing servants of His are eagerly encouraging one another to obliterate from the Old Testament Him Who, if seen therein, shakes of itself the new critical system to atoms, and convicts its adherents of shameless incredulity.
The New Testament is the manifestation of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ come in flesh; and it declares redemption accomplished in Him, rejected by men, notably by the Jews, but risen from the dead and glorified Head over all things to the church His body. Consequently the kingdom, pledged in the Old Testament, assumes, while Christ is on high, a character of "mystery" (Mat_13:11; Mar_4:11), or the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens; till He, having caught up the risen saints to the Father's house, returns in displayed power to enforce the rights of God, and bring in the long expected times of refreshing for Israel, the nations, and all creation. The cross of Christ, being as it was the rejection of God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, gave occasion to Christian blessing in the gospel, and in the church united to its exalted Head; which is wholly distinct from the things to come. Yet the apostle, in Rom_16:26, designates the divine word which reveals this new and heavenly secret, "prophetic scriptures." From everlasting, silence had been kept about that mystery; a statement inapplicable to "the prophets," and yet more evidently to their scriptures in the Old Testament. But now it was manifested, and by prophetic scriptures, according to the eternal God's commandment, made known for obedience of faith unto all the nations. In thus making it known, the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, with those to the Corinthians and others, have a primary place. And thus the saints are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone. The instruments of this special teaching are hence shown to be exclusively the New Testament apostles and prophets, as a joint class for this inspired work. But the New Testament in no way lacks the richest testimony on things to come, as the Lord promised (Joh_16:13). Witness Matt. 24; 25; Mark 13; Luke 21; to speak only of the fuller predictions in the Synoptic Gospels, and in 2 Peter and Jude, but especially 2 Thess. 2; 1 Tim. 4; 2 Tim. 3; with the Revelation, the most abundant, systematic, and profound of all prophecies.
In the Old Testament, as in the New, the greatest variety of moral appeal accompanies prediction almost everywhere, and in volume commonly exceeds it, as being of the utmost importance. But specific predictions are given throughout to be fulfilled in due time. Apply this test to Christ's first advent, incomparably the most momentous of all facts here below, so declared to be by both the Old and the New Testaments; and what can be more decisive? From Moses to Malachi the grand testimony was to the coming Messiah. Even Genesis narrowed the limits down from the first woman to Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, successively; as the Psalms did to One Who should be David's son, yet David's Lord, sitting at Jehovah's right hand before He strike through kings in His wrath (Ps. 110) Who is set on the holy hill of Zion, and sways the universal sceptre as Son of man over all nations (Ps. 8; Dan. 7). The time was fixed by Daniel, the place by Micah, the birth from a virgin by Isaiah, even the strange land (where Israel was a bondman) to the Messiah a shelter from the Edomite king of Judæa, as the Spirit showed by Hosea. (Hos_11:1-3). So we have in Isaiah and Malachi His herald, "A voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah"; for indeed He was Immanuel and Jehovah. By the same prophet His servant-character, so hateful to man's pride and rebelliousness, was fully made known. It told the tale of the world's state, His utter rejection by man, though Jehovah's chosen, in Whom His soul delighted, Whom man despised, Whom the nation abhorred. There, too, the ministry of His life, the atonement of His death, are with equal clearness revealed. So long before, David wrote in Psalm 22. what was immeasurably beyond his own sufferings, and any kingly power of his - indeed, what He alone of all men knew. He is on the one hand the Holy One of God, abandoned by His God, as He must be to make expiation of sins, and on the other raised and glorified in virtue of it, so as to praise "in the midst of the congregation" or church (v. 22) now, as He will ere long "in the great congregation," i.e. "all Israel" then saved (v. 25); when all the ends of the earth shall remember, and all the kingdoms of the nations worship. So it is to be, when the kingdom becomes de facto, as it is de jure, Jehovah's, and He is the ruler over the nations.
When the dread scene of the cross drew near, was the prophetic word in vain? or did it utter generalities, or easy guesses, or dubious oracles? Was it only within the space of man's life or observation that one predicted the treachery of a disciple (Psa_41:9), as another did the goodly price He was prized at by them - the thirty pieces of silver (Zec_11:12-13)? Was it within the compass of man's mind to say centuries before that He, over Whom Jehovah watched with delight and loving care without parallel, should, in His obedience, be surrendered to the basest smiting and the cruellest contumely (Isa. 1), because His vindication was to be by resurrection (Ps. 16) and heavenly glory (Ps. 8, 110) that grace might reign through righteousness unto life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord? Was it the prognostic of a mortal to say of Messiah (for of Him only Psalm 22 treats), "They pierced My hands and My feet," and again, "They part My garments among them, and upon My venture they do cast lots"? anticipatively to provide the very words the Lord Jesus appropriated when suffering once for all for sins, Just for unjust? Was it a mere conjecture to lay down that not a bone of Him should be broken (Exo_12:46; Psa_34:20) when the legs of the others were? or that only He should be pierced (Zec_12:10), whereas they were not? Was it fortuitous that even in such circumstances He should be with the rich in His death, whilst His grave would naturally be made with the wicked? (Isa_53:9).
No good man's fancy more unreliable than Dr. T. Arnold's (Sermons, 1. on the Interpretation of Prophecy, 377) that history deals with particular facts, prophecy with general principles, so as to make it conditional because of evil in the creature. It was blindness to both history and prophecy, as God has given them in the scriptures; and outside His word we need not concern ourselves. In all the Old Testament, avowedly historical, or ostensibly prophetic, there are deep moral principles as surely as the facts which embody them or draw out the word that conveyed them. In all too one still grander Object of faith arose before such as believed.
This hope of a Deliverer acted with such power that the mass of Jews were found as a whole pervaded by it everywhere; so were the Samaritans down to the woman at Sychar. Never was it more general than at the time the Lord was in their midst, though their unbelief was really at its lowest, as they proved, when to their eyes He had no beauty that they should desire Him. Indeed their soul loathed Him, because He did not then take His world-kingdom, exalt the Jew, and destroy the Roman. Even His own followers had to bear His reproof, "O foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to suffer these things [their stumbling block], and enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luk_24:25-27).
It may be urged that the minute circumstances, of which we have had but a selection as they occurred to one's memory, are peculiar to Christ, but that outside His person prophecy takes into account broad maxims, which can only apply in a measure, because of the mixed condition of man, and are not adequately fulfilled save in Him. But the fact is that the theory is true nowhere; and its effect is to destroy the truth, as far as men strive to carry it out. Prophecy often launches out, even at an early day, into the magnificent and solemn display of the Lord coming in judgement of the quick, the habitable world, as we read in the Epistle of Jude, who was enabled by the inspiring Spirit (whatever the means) to give us the testimony of Enoch; not as in the spurious Ethiopic book, which betrayed its source by its inability even to make a correct use of scripture. Enoch "prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with myriads of his saints to execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodlily wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (vv. 14, 15). At a later epoch Moses spoke all the words of his wondrous song, as given in Deut. 32, which testify to the same consummation, when Jehovah shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants; and the nations shall rejoice with His people, and He will make expiation for His land, for His people (vv. 36-43).
Take another instance, which in a brief compass illustrates the nature of prophecy in symbol as well as in simple language; as elsewhere figures are employed to give vividness. In Hosea 3 (where we are spared the usual insinuations against the alleged early date) under the prophet's purchase of a woman beloved yet an adulteress, Jehovah set forth the relation of guilty Israel, no longer to be idolatrous, yet not properly wife. The words that follow are plain and terse. "For the sons of Israel shall abide many days without king and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod and teraphim. Afterward shall the sons of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God and David their king, and shall come with fear unto Jehovah and unto his goodness at the end of the days." Here we have a description of the most surprising facts which no human mind could have divined beforehand, and conveyed in the most precise terms: verse 4 in course of fulfilment to this day, verse 5 awaiting it in that auspicious day which all the prophets hailed, and all saints of Old Testament or New ought surely to expect.
Who before Hosea distinctly conceived for Israel's history a state of things "without a king, without a prince"? One, if godly, might well have thought of national disaster and humiliation; but what of the pledges to David and his posterity? But even if he had discerned in Psa_89:30-32 the probability and danger of royal eclipse, what more opposed to his feelings and stranger to his mind than a religious anomaly without parallel among his brethren, and so hard for the few to conciliate with a divine ritual from the ever living and true God? Alas! he knew already how prone the chosen people were to lapse into idolatry, and how grace had as often intervened to recall from false gods. But here is announced a condition altogether unique, a religion neither divine nor idolatrous, but a wretched negation, "without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod and teraphim." Even D. Kimchi interprets this justly enough if not fully, saying, "Without sacrifice refers to God, without pillar refers to idols, without ephod refers to God Who declares the future by Urim and Thummim, without teraphim refers to idols who declare the future according to the opinions of those who believe in them."
Beyond controversy sacrifice is and has ever been the foundation of all true worship since sin came in. It had an authoritatively spiritual place in Judaism. Christianity has it perfectly and for ever in Christ. And as the ephod points to the ministry of the high priest in Israel, so we have now Christ High Priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek, the Son of God passed through the heavens (Heb. 5-7) But the Jew has nothing! neither sacrifice to purge sins, nor high priest to intercede for them: the astonishing spectacle before all eyes and for long centuries of a people that hate the idols they once loved, yet without the divine worship and service which their law demands imperatively. Never did such a state enter the imagination of Israel before Hosea, nor did it come to pass till long after him. Yet here it is predicted beyond a doubt as a lasting state; and so it has been and is. But the last verse (Hos_3:5) is equally clear and conclusive to faith that they shall as a people return, not to their land merely (though this is certain from all scripture), but to Jehovah their God and to David their king, Who can be none other as the context demonstrates than the Messiah. "And so," says the great apostle, "all Israel shall be saved" (Rom_11:26). None can deny the national and unparalleled religious ruin of Israel according to prophecy: why should any stop there and entirely disbelieve their restoration, not only as a nation, but to be the earthly centre of all the nations for the word of Jehovah in Zion? But how, we may ask, were either of these stupendous changes, in ruin or in blessing, within man's horizon when Hosea wrote with such startling plainness of speech?
Ps. 22 is just as striking as Isa. 53 for its first half sets out prophetically, as if a fact before us, the Messiah rejected, suffering, crucified, starting with that most wondrous of truths from His own lips to which atonement alone gives meaning - His God abandoning Him when in the deepest abyss of need and shame. But so it must be when God for us, as for the Jew, made to be sin, Him Who knew no sin (2Co_5:21). For if sinners are to be forgiven righteously, or justified, it must be on the righteous basis of sin judged as it deserves, and of God then glorified about it in an adequate sacrifice; so that He can be righteous in blotting every sin of the believer from before Him. And as the sufferings were unfathomable, so is the glory in divine answer to them; as our Lord said in a still deeper way looking on to both, "If God be glorified in Him (the Son of man), God will glorify Him in Himself, and will straightway glorify Him" (Joh_12:32). Righteousness set the risen Christ, the Second man, at God's right hand on high, as He declared His Father's name to His brethren. Blessing unbounded flows through His atoning death. In the midst of the congregation He praises, as in Joh_20:19-22, Heb_2:12. By-and-by the "great congregation," when all Israel is saved, will re-echo His praise. Nor this only, but all the ends of the earth follow. For the day will then have come, not for gospel testimony as the church is now, but when the kingdom is Jehovah's, and He is the ruler of the nations as an actual fact. All mortals shall bow before Him, from those most at ease to the utterly destitute hitherto, and that not of the then generation but of those to be born, to whom it shall be declared that Jehovah hath done this - His infinite work transcending all before and after.
Neither David is here, nor any that ever lived or died, but only the Messiah Who once for all suffered for sins, Just for unjust, that He might bring us to God; Who is glorified on high while the church is being gathered, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Who, after receiving them to Himself changed into His glory, will come to make good the kingdom according to the prophets, to the joy of heaven and earth. Who but God could have conveyed these anticipations, wondrous beyond all comparison? It is an eminently feeble effort to ascribe such a psalm to the exile or later, in the desire of taking it from the greatest of the psalmists; but put it where you will, you cannot silence the voice of God in His word, sounding across the ages, and still witnessing of glories to come in Christ the Lord. Fully owning the true and sound application of the principle to the gospel (as in Rom_15:10), one is bound to look for the fulfilment at the end of the age, when Jehovah will no longer hide His face from Israel, and they are not only reduced to the utmost extremity, but turn in repentance to Messiah Whom they slew, saying, "Blessed be He that cometh in the name of Jehovah."
Indeed, it is upon this coming age that the prophetic word converges; so much so that 2Pe_1:20 pronounces, as a thing we ought to know, that no prophecy of scripture is of its own interpretation. Far from being thus isolated, as it must have been if it emanated from the human mind or will, it forms part of the great scheme which, as the Father counselled it for the glory of His beloved Son, so the Spirit reveals in the prophetic word which centres in His coming kingdom. So, in contrast with His action in the Christian, and in the church, the Holy Spirit in Rev_19:10 is designated "the spirit of prophecy," and said to be the "testimony of Jesus." In the Acts and the Epistles He acts as the power of communion on the ground of known redemption.
The truth is that the earliest book of scripture completely refutes the assumption of such contemporary interests as blind to the future of God, and illustrates what the last book of scripture proves as matter of fact, that prophecy exhibits the greatest variety of form according to God's wisdom. The first intimation (Gen_3:15) is worthy alike of Him Who spoke, and of Him Who was spoken of, as it disclosed the end from the beginning, the judgement of the subtle foe, the suffering grace and overwhelming power of Him Who would deign to be the woman's Seed. It was sovereign grace, Satan's irremediable overthrow and punishment; while it was conveyed in terms adapted to an earthly people, and in view of divine government with present results, like the law as a whole. On the other hand, Noah (Gen_6:7; Gen_6:13) is divinely warned of things not seen as yet, both on the ground of special relationship and on that of His nature; while Gen_7:4 follows up the general intimation with precise details, and as it was predicted, so was it punctually fulfilled, as scripture expressly affirms. No history could be more precise or circumstantial in few words. Gen_9:25-27 is a luminous prophetic sketch of the world, with both divine names, and each in its requisite place as ever: no sketch more opposed to appearances for centuries; none more verified as time rolled on; yet to be proved absolutely true in the day of Jehovah, as later prophets declared to the ear of faith. This, however, may be said to be only a vast outline.
But to take only one instance more, what of Gen. 15 when "the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision"? Can any prediction be conceived plainer or surer? Yet it stretched over more than four centuries, and defined the relative position of the chosen race and of the nation they were to serve in affliction, but at length to triumph over by a judgement unequivocally divine. Nay more, it maps out the limits of another land - the land wherein the father of the faithful was a pilgrim, which was by Jehovah's covenant to be given long after, when the usurpers of the inheritance (enumerated in full detail) should be judged, as the old oppressor of the heirs had been. Who can say that these predictions have been answered only in Christ's person? Who can deny that they are particular facts, yet accomplished to the letter in the Egyptians, in the Amorites, in the Jewish people, and in their land?
But a more advanced and unscrupulous school of unbelief have now the popular ear, who to get rid of God's inspiration plead that the prophets were shrewd politicians that observed closely the movements of history, and saw in the rise and fall of nations the exhibition of a divine purpose (Canon Driver's Lit Old Testament, 200). Is any man bold enough to think thus of Abram, or of Gen. 15? Is the situation, presupposed by this prophecy, that of the patriarch's age? Is it the fraud of a human book or the revealed truth of God? The circumstances foreshown are wholly different from Abram's then, and they change from a quasi-exile in sorrowful bondage to a coming out therefrom with great substance, and to a subsequent conquest, not one of which conditions were yet existent. Yet beyond dispute here in this brief and clear prophecy all is of its essence and substance, instead of being alien to its spirit. How did any one of these vast changes arise out of the circumstances of the time? The system, calmly stated at home, and violently abroad, is nothing but a distressing libel on scripture, and rank rebellion against God, under the show of a critical investigation of the record that leaves untouched the divine inspiration and authority of scripture. But he is a simpleton who trusts these smiling augurs, who, in their own imagined processes of literary composition, lure one another and their followers on to the deadly sin of undermining God's history and denying prophecy in any genuine sense.
How strong the contrast of His word by Isaiah in his great continuous discourse! All flesh is grass. The word of our God stands for ever. And He it is Who is coming, Who is a tender Shepherd to His people, though the Maker and the Master of all the universe. Who will teach Him? What are the nations, or the idols they have made? To Israel speaks He Who knows the end from the beginning, and He it is Who acts above the powers He employs to chasten or deliver.
"Produce your cause, saith Jehovah; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and declare unto us what shall happen let them show the former things what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare unto us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter that we may know that ye are gods, yea, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of naught: an abomination is he that chooseth you" (Isa_41:21-24).
"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them" (Isa_42:9). True prophecy is His claim; and it is an abiding one.
"Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am Jehovah that maketh all things; that alone stretcheth forth the heavens, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself (or, who is with me?); that frustrateth the tokens of the liars (or boasters), and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backwards, and maketh their knowledge foolish; that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited, and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof; that saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid" (Isa_44:24-28).
"Declare ye, and bring it forth, yea, let them take counsel together: who hath showed this from ancient time? Who hath declared it of old? Have not I, Jehovah? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me" (Isa_45:21). "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; 1 am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. Yea, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it" (Isa_46:9-11). "I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass, I have even from the beginning declared it to thee, before it came to pass, I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them. Thou hast heard, see all this and will ye not declare it? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things; and thou didst not know them. They are created now, and not from the beginning; and before this day thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them" (Isa_48:3-7)
These citations from a single prophet suffice to prove what stress God lays on that communication of the future which modern criticism seeks to belittle or deny; and Christians beguiled by its assurance are willing, yea, anxious to throw it into the background, so as to render prophecy indistinct and powerless. No believer need shrink from the demand of a notable sceptic in his Creed of Christendom: - to mark (1) What the event was to which the alleged prediction was intended to refer; (2) That the prediction was uttered in specific, not vague, language before the event; (3) That the event took place specifically, not loosely, as predicted; (4) That it could not have been foreseen by human sagacity. Take the following predictions of Christ as they are given in the Revised Version:
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isa_7:14). "Bind thou up the testimony seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait for the LORD that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion" (Isa. 8: 16 18). "In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time hath he made it glorious by the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isa_9:1-2). "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit; and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD," etc. (Isa_11:1-3). "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone of sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste" (Isa_28:16).
Let us turn now to the later testimonies briefly.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgement in truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgement in the earth and the isles shall wait for his law" (Isa_42:1-4). "And he said unto me Thou art my servant; Israel, in whom I will be glorified. But I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for naught and vanity: yet surely my judgement is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God. And now, saith the LORD, that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob to him, and that Israel be gathered with him: (for I am honourable in the eyes of the LORD, and my God is become my strength:) yea, He saith, It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth. Thus saith the LORD the Redeemer of Israel, [and] his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, whom the nation abhorreth," etc. (Isa_49:3-7).
"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of them that are taught, that I should know how to sustain with words him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore have I not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand up together: who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me: who is he that shall condemn me?" (Isa_50:4-9).
"Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. Like as many were astonied at thee, (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men,) so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider" (Isa_52:13-15).
"Who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, yea, he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death: and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa_53:1-12).
"Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee" (Isa_55:3-5).
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD," etc. (Isa_61:1-2). "I am inquired of by them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people," etc. (Isa_65:1-2).
Comment is almost needless. The passages speak for themselves, and can apply to none but the Lord Jesus: to His birth as unique as His ministry in the least likely sphere; to His followers associated with Him during Israel's non-recognition by Jehovah; to the lineage of which He was born no less than the power of the Holy Spirit that rested on Him beyond any of the sons of men; to His person, peculiarly put to the proof, and a foundation for the believer as none other was or could be to the delight of Jehovah, the meekest in Israel, yet righteously blessing the Gentiles in the face of all opposition; nor this only, but when owning His apparent failure through Jewish unbelief and rejection, to His having the promise from Jehovah to be a light of the nations. And what can incredulity do, but gnash its teeth at Isaiah 50; Isa_52:13- Isaiah 53? The suffering Messiah alone answers to the prophetic picture. Here there can be no possible pretence for imagining, as in the case of Cyrus, a sign on the horizon. For as the prophet wrote indisputably many centuries before His advent, so the events intended are unmistakably, specifically, and exclusively verified in the Lord Jesus, and this from His birth to the grave, yea, beyond it, to His resurrection and the work that occupies Him now in heaven, His intercession, as well as that which He carries on by His servants on earth, even to the call of the Gentiles and the rebellion of the Jews. Hence the notion of human sagacity foreseeing all, or most, or any from first to last, is unreasonable in the highest degree. Even the blindness of Israel that withstood the light in Him Who has blessed, Who is blessing, once besotted heathen, is a distinct trait of the prophecy; as it has its counterpart now in Christendom where men receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved. Nay, more, part remains to be fulfilled in His earthly exaltation, which is incompatible with His present work, both in executing judgement, and in establishing His glory in power over all the earth.
It is allowed that there is One Who is the true object of prophecy, being man in His sufferings and temptations, God in His holiness no less than His strength and power. We see says one, how His resurrection and ascension into heaven are its entire fulfilment. All the promises of God in Him are yea, and through Him, Amen. But as to all others the language could not be literally accomplished: firstly, because it was not properly applicable to any earthly nation from the imperfection of all human things; and secondly, because even that character of imperfect good or evil, which made certain nations the representatives of the principles of good or evil themselves, was not and could not be perpetual. As every people changes for better or worse in time, the prophecy could not be fulfilled at all, as in the case of Jonah's prophecy of Nineveh's destruction. In all cases the fulfilment will fall short of the full strength of the language, because in its proper scope and force it was aimed at a more unmixed good and evil than have ever been exhibited in the character of any earthly people. Hence is deduced as the general principle of interpretation, a uniform historical or lower sense, and also a spiritual or higher, almost involved necessarily in the very idea of prophecy.
It is striking to find how such a false start exposes souls to perilous delusion. In this case the effect is to discard openly the latter part of Daniel. And no wonder. Prophecy, as was assumed, has to do with general principle, history with particular facts. Now it is plain that Daniel 11, on the face of it, is as minute as a history, so far as it speaks. There are evident gaps, not by error but by design, in its course; one brief after verse 3, the other very great after the Maccabean era till "the time of the end," as verse 33 itself points out. This scripture should have arrested Dr. A.'s steps. Instead of judging himself and his fallacious principle, he fell into the sin of rejecting God's word the root of infidelity. Inspired history is as suggestive of general principle as prophecy; and prophecy is occupied alike in the Hebrew and the Greek scriptures with distinct places, fixed times, definite persons, and particular facts. Even in the symbolic forms of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and the Revelation this holds good: how much more from Genesis throughout the entire range of discursive prophecy! The general difference is one of degree only. Prophecy is anticipated history, though it is much more; and its language is occasionally no less explicit, though we can understand that in divine wisdom it is often veiled, so as to exclude human intention from its fulfilment. Thus it becomes all the more impressive when surprisingly accomplished. Scripture whether historical or prophetic, is full of anticipations of Christ in contrast with the first man led of Satan. It abounds in particular facts and precise dates, which no wit of man could have anticipated. God divulged the future to act on souls there and then according to spiritual zeal and intelligence, whilst not a little might remain only to be cleared up later. No maxim, however, is more erroneous than the assumption that it is only the event which explains. This is to deny the proper value of prophecy, till, becoming history in effect, it ceases to be prophecy. Not so did Noah, Abraham, Daniel, Simeon, Anna, or those that looked for the redemption of Jerusalem. Doubtless it yields evidence when accomplished to convince unbelievers; but its proper function is to cheer, guide, and edify believers beforehand. "Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do?"
The exceptional cases of Jonah with Nineveh, and of Isaiah with Hezekiah's sickness, were indeed admonitory; but they are perverted to overthrow the rule: when prophecy is made conditional, its true character is annulled. In an exceptional instance, conditions may be either expressed or understood; but to take advantage of this fact, which no one disputes, in order to deny the general current of absolute prediction, is deplorably evil. Is God to be shut out of prophecy? Can He not, does He not, know the end from the beginning? Man changes, no doubt; but God in prophecy reveals the future with absolute certainty and precision, and this is a mark of favour to His own. Nor is it merely as to their own circumstances; for God disclosed to Abraham the destruction which, concerning Lot far more than himself, fell with unmitigated severity on the guilty cities of the plain. Earlier still God had revealed the long affliction of the chosen race in a land not theirs, but their coming out with great substance, and the divine judgement of their oppressors, and their entrance into Canaan in the fourth generation. There was ample evil in Israel; but it did not hinder the punctual fulfilment of the prophecy. Ishmael too had his lot foretold both to Hagar generally, and to Abraham with yet more particularity, and independently of moral conduct. And what shall we say of the flood predicted with its defined space of warning for 120 years, to say nothing of the seven days that preceded the actual deluge (Gen_7:4; Gen_7:10)? And Noah's curse on Canaan, as distinguished from the blessing of Shem and the enlargement of Japheth, what has conditionality to do with it? The word of the Lord endureth for ever. One might dwell on Joseph's dreams and interpretations, as well as on Jacob's blessings on his sons; but enough is said to demonstrate the error, its grave character, and its consequences.
The fact is that scripture everywhere rises up to break the theory that prophecy is uniformly conditional. The assumption would really annul the largest part, if not the whole, of proper prophecy. Its author felt surer of its harmlessness than of its truth; but he lived to point the moral for others, if not for himself, that an error in principle about God's word is an unmitigated evil, which may injure ordinary men yet more, because in his own case the poison found an antidote in the ardent homage his soul paid to Christ and in unfeigned faith in His atoning work. But in itself falsehood defiles and severs from God's mind, as the truth gives communion and sanctification. Evil communications corrupt good manners.
2. Its Object
Scripture itself lays down, in a text already referred to, the criterion of its object so clearly as to preclude argument when it is understood. "And we have the prophetic word more sure whereunto ye do well to take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a squalid place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of its own interpretation. For not by man's will was ever prophecy brought, but men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pe_1:19-21).
Here we learn that the prophetic word was confirmed by the vision on the holy mount, where the King was seen transfigured, the Old Testament saints represented, the chosen witnesses of Israel in their natural bodies; and the Father's voice was heard from the excellent glory pronouncing His complacency in His Son, the centre of the whole scene. The apostle, in his making known the transcendent blessings of the gospel, admits the value of taking heed to prophecy. It is like a lamp for those that need one where all is dark wretchedness, till the heart appreciates evangelic daylight, and, further, the heavenly hope of Christ coming to receive us to Himself, a light higher than the luminaries of heaven exceed a candle. How slow the Christian is to make good practically (and this the apostle urged) his own peculiar privileges! If it is so with us now, it was perhaps more so with those who then laboured under Jewish prejudice and were unwilling to admit aught superior to that which Daniel or David, Moses or Abraham, enjoyed. Vain thought! which none would have reproved more sternly than those saints of old. Did not the prophets (and such they were) seek and search diligently, who prophesied of the grace toward us, searching to what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them did point, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ (literally Christward), and the glories after them? To whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they ministered those things which were now announced to us by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into ( 1Pe_1:10-12). Can any words more explicitly assert the peculiar blessing attached to this day of, not promise only, but accomplishment enjoyed in the power of a present Spirit? Among other results is the heavenly light so far surpassing the lamp of prophecy, good as this is. The hope is as much enhanced as the faith; and love proved, tasted, and shed forth as it could not be before, whatever be the reasoning or traditions of men.
But further, we have it laid down as a known first principle, that no prophecy is of its own (i.e. isolated) solution (2Pe_1:19). Local and temporal circumstances give occasion; but it forms part of a great whole, of which Christ the King is the centre. Taking it by itself is like severing a bough from a majestic tree, of which it is an integral part. All points to Him in that day. Hence the way in which both advents are connected habitually in the Old Testament, whilst the second is set forth prominently in the New. Hence the habit of the Spirit, when predicting the fall of Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Egypt, etc., of ever linking them with the day of Jehovah, when the Lord will in personal presence inflict vengeance on ungodly Jews and Gentiles. Making these prophecies of their own solution is when men stop short with present fact, and even misuse this to the deeper unbelief of effacing the great unravelling of that day when Jehovah alone shall be exalted, and every word verified indisputably by divine judgement.
Such is the genuine unforced meaning of this scriptural canon. It is not "our," viz. the readers', any more than "of one's own," viz. the prophet's, solution; for neither is here in question. Not the prophet but the prophecy had as yet been before us. Nor again does ἐπίλυσις mean γένεσις production, but "interpretation." The verb γίνεται here translated "is," does not warrant any such thought. Even if we plead for its primitive force of becoming or coming, the meaning is that no prophecy of scripture becomes a matter of its own solution. It is by its nature such as to exclude isolated interpretation. It belongs to a vast system which has Christ and His kingdom for its object. For though the prophets were men, they "spoke from God" under the power of the Holy Spirit. He Who used them to write is the only source of sound interpretation; and this views each prophecy of scripture as a component part of God's testimony to Christ, in and by Whom only His glory is secured and yet to be displayed.
This, it ought to be evident, excludes the notion that history interprets prophecy. Of course, man's history, as far as it is true, must coincide with prophecy, as far as it is accomplished; but what of the great mass of prophecy which bears on the day of Jehovah? Will it not be too late to get its interpretation then? The very text itself disproves the thought: prophecy was given as a lamp for the dark place all through; and now that Christ is come, a better light - the True Light - shines, at last for the sons of light and day, indeed for all who truly bow to Him. Plainly one must understand or interpret aright the prophecy, before it can be applied save by guess-work to any event of history; but even so, if this be made all, prophecy is made of private solution. In fact it would be truer to say the converse - that prophecy interprets history; for God's mind is given in prophecy, which ever looks to Christ s glory, anything short of which is at best partial and misleading. The only effectual interpreter of prophecy, as of all scripture, is His Spirit, Who deigns to work in the believer.
It is only then, as we seize the association of Christ with each subject coming before us in the prophetic word, that we really understand it as a whole or in detail. For the divine purpose is to display His glory on the earth, not only in a people called to the knowledge of Jehovah as His own, but with all nations yet to be blessed when His own people are blessed (Ps: 67; Isa. 60). It is Israel that have the earthly call and purpose of God, the nations then subordinately.
But there is blessing for none apart from Christ, the object, centre, and security of all the promises of God. And this, in varied form and fullness, the Old Testament demonstrates. Of old a curse came, not the blessing, as the law was violated, God's witnesses were despised, and idolatry more and more prevailed, first in Ephraim, then in Judah, "till there was no remedy." God's people not only vanished from the land of promise, but were pronounced Lo-ammi (not-My-people). The return from Babylon, important as it may be, was but provisional, and in no way the restoration of God's people according to patriarchal promises or early and later prophets. It was only a remnant of Judah and Benjamin, with individuals of other tribes especially of Levi, who were in time appointed to have their King, Messiah, presented to them, and, alas! rejected disdainfully to death but in that death glorifying God and atoning for sin, as He had already glorified the Father in a life that bespoke the Word made flesh,. full of grace and truth. When the Jew rejected the testimony of the Spirit to the Messiah exalted in heaven, Whom they had crucified on earth by the hand of lawless men, it was all over with the returned remnant, as before with the nation. The same evil heart of unbelief, which gave up Jehovah for idols, rejected Jehovah-Messiah in Jesus, as well as the gospel through His blood; and "wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." The King was wroth; and He sent His armies, and destroyed those murderers and burned their city, as the rejected Messiah forewarned (Mat_22:7).
Then God began a new call above, believers from among Jews and Gentiles united to Christ on high, as the one body wherein is neither Jew nor Greek: all the old distinctions are blotted out; Christ is all and in all. They are not of the world, as Christ is not, they are heavenly, as He is heavenly, though they be on the earth for the little while that God is calling them out. This explains why the church of God is not properly an object of prophecy; for prophecy regards the earth and living man upon it. But the members of Christ have died with Him, and belong to Him for heaven, being warned against "all that is in the world," and exhorted to set their minds on things above: a state not at all contemplated by the prophetic word, which is, we saw, as a lamp shining in a squalid place. This lamp we can use, and do well to heed; but we have by grace already a better light in our hearts, and are waiting for Him to take us where He is, the constant hope of the church, wholly independent of prophecy with its earthly times and seasons, its judgements and blessings under Messiah's government here below.
But has God cast away His people? This the apostle has answered elaborately in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 11). To the saints in the metropolitan city of the world that then was, the Holy Spirit has declared on the contrary that the day is coming when "all Israel shall be saved" (Rom_11:26), that is all Israel who survive the tremendous judgements of that day. He, Paul, was himself a pledge of it: as in Elijah's time there was a remnant, so there was in the apostle's day. No doubt, the mass now, yet more than then, are blinded, and salvation is for the Gentiles, not to cast off the Jews but to provoke them to jealousy, as Moses predicted (Deut. 32). Now, if their fall be the world's wealth, what will be their future rise? Life from the dead. After all, the Gentile was but a wild olive grafted into the olive tree of promise, and is warned not to be high-minded but to fear, seeing how God spared not the natural branches. It is only Gentile pride and delusion that Israel are gone for ever to make themselves "the Israel of God,"* and abide till time melts into eternity. Not so! Assuredly if the Gentile abide not in God's goodness (and who will dare to affirm this?) he will be cut off, and the Jews will be grafted into their own olive tree. Then the apostle drops argument and figure, declaring in plain terms that a hardening in part (it has never been complete) has befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in; "and so all Israel shall be saved," according to the prophet (Isa_49:20). This will be the true restoration of Israel in the day of Jehovah, when the Gentiles meet with condign judgement at His hand. It is only fleshly Israel that can be said to be "enemies for your sake as touching the gospel." It is only they who are "beloved for the fathers' sake, as touching the election." What theologians call "the spiritual people," "the Israel of God," or believers, cannot answer to this language. It is the same people, enemies as regards the gospel yet beloved as regards election, who shall be saved. For, adds the apostle, the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance - they are subject to no change of mind on His part. God will assuredly restore His people yet.
*The reader In weighing Gal_6:16 may satisfy himself how little the phrase sanctions the use commonly made of it. For the apostle distinguishes "as many as walk by this rule" i.e., of the new creation, from "the Israel of God," Instead of confounding them as tie popular error does. He means by the phrase such Jews as were so in deed and in truth. This indicates the propriety of his language. The error assumes that the apostle wrote incorrectly.
Thus does the great prophet join the great apostle. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In overflowing wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith Jehovah thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, saith Jehovah that hath mercy on thee" (Isa_54:7-10). So perfectly coincides the teaching of Paul with the prophecy of Isaiah; as both are set aside by the figment that it is henceforth only a question of the church, in which merge all that believe, whether Jew or Gentile: as if God had cast away His people according to Gentile conceit!
Without full credit to God's purpose in this respect, the prophets are unintelligible. Given the restoration of Israel not only to their land, but to Jehovah their God, Whom they will own and see in their manifested Messiah; the field of prophecy begins to be truly discerned. Jerusalem is the city of the great King. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced." More than carnage may open "that day," when the garments, rolled in blood, shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire. But how blessed when they say, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given! And the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon the kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with judgement and with righteousness henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this" (Isa_9:6-7).
Nor is this all. As grace called Gentiles when the Jews rejected the Messiah, so prophecy shows us Him in glory the Head of Israel and the Gentiles here below. "And it shall come to pass in that day [not in this], that the root of Jesse which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek, and his resting-place shall be glorious" (Isa_11:10). "And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him [the Son of man]; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan_7:14). And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one" (Zec_14:9).
The key of all is Christ seen in His various glory: not alone Only-begotten Son of God in personal right, but Christ Jesus a Man, dead, risen, and glorified in virtue of His work as well as person; Son of David, Son of man, and, withal Head over all things to His church, the body of Him Who filleth all in all. It is this fact which emerges with heavenly brightness in Ephesians and Colossians, as well as partially elsewhere. It is the omission of it (the mystery, hid in God from the ages, now revealed), which enfeebles alike Fathers, Greeks,