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the great prominence here given to it. First, at the beginning of this extract, is the animated Divine entreaty to Abram to look to the four points of the compass, as if a Divine finger were directing the beholder's eye ; but this is not nearly enough, for then at the close of this address to the sojourner is the remarkable injunction which directs him to make a special tour of inspection through the land- to perambulate it, in fact, with the one object of viewing it, as if to take it all in and lay clearly and brightly to his heart the dimensions, form and aspects of the land of promise. It is as if the Giver were deeply interested in the gift and wished the receiver to be so too.
And this is the next thing observable—that the promise to “show" is now again deepened into the promise to "give : " 15, “ to thee and to thy seed; verse 17, “ to thee.”
Further : we now notice for the first time a word expressive of the duration of the gift—"to thee and to thy seed FOR EVER,” says the “Authorised ” English Version ;
" TO OLAM, Hebrew, which for the present we transfer, quite content to judge and not at all anxious to prejudge the question as to what extent of duration is thereby intended. To olam : that is literally, according to the derivation of the word, to concealed duration, which is as good as to say—indefinitely. How long ? No limit is made. One would naturally say (having no ends to serve) as long as the land is a land and the people are a people. For it really would appear to be just a little flippant to pick out a few cases of seemingly circumscribed duration, in which the word olam stands, and in the strength of them to intimate that nothing at all can be gathered from its occurrence in this promise of the land of Canaan to Abram. That is not a fair handling of the word. The Hebrew phrase, standing by itself, would never suggest an ending. Man was banished from the tree of life, lest he should put forth his hand and eat and so live to olam (the first instance of the word in the Bible). God's throne stands firm to olam. David's “Lord” is to be priest to olam. And so on : it is the most common way of saying " FOR EVER," from Genesis to Malachi. It follows that he who affirms a limit should make good his affirmation. E the Hebrew servant, offered his freedom but electing to remain in servitude to a much-loved master, and who accordingly had his ear bored with the significance that he was to continue his present master's servant " for ever"—to olam, -furnishes no exception to the principle on which the word is used. He was to remain his servant to concealed duration ; indefinitely; as long as the conditions should exist which made such service possible. As long as the master could be a master and the bondman could be a bondman, so long was the service to continue. And so—as we have a right to assume-just as long as Abram's seed should be
capable of dwelling in a land and the land of Canaan should remain a land for men to dwell in, for so long was the land promised
as an inheritance. We pursue this topic no further at present, save to point out that the gift of the land to olam is promised to Abram as well as to his seed-if to him FOR THEM, then it is " to him for them; and to the question will and must recur, has ABRAHAM done to forfeit the inheritance ?"
Here again, in this passage, a connection between the land and the seed is observable. The first passage said,
" Come to the land, that I may make of thee a great nation ;” and the idea is repeated in this place,—"I will give thee the land, &c., so will I make thy seed to be innumerable." And it seems to be so all along, though not without penal intermission, until the consummation is sighted (say) from the loftiest summit of Moses' Song, and portrayed in the profoundly significant words : “Rejoice, ye nations with His people : for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and (rather, so or THEN) will (he) be merciful to His land and to His people “then will He put a propitiatory covering over His land, His people !” (Deut. xxxii. 43).
Lastly, we are struck by an important note of time as to when the showing of the land to Abram was vouchsafed. To arrest every reader's attention it comes at the very outset of the passage. Abram received this Divine invitation to perambulate and survey his inheritance, “after the separation of Lot from him.” How significant! Abram must realise that God has called him alone" (Is. li. 2); for Terah is dead, and now Lot has left him. There must be no trusting in an arm of flesh, no thought of propping up the promise or anxiously trying to help the Almighty. Moreover, Abram has just been acting a noble, because a peace-loving, generous, trustful part, by leaving it for his nephew to choose to the right hand or to the left hand of the country, himself accepting what Lot has declined. He does not care to choose. He will not grasp at the best of the land for the pasturing of his flocks. No, he is in the hands of his Divine Guide, and there he will leave himself. For this noble conduct God at once rewards him, inviting him now to make a sort of royal progress through the land of which his quiet confidence has made him the spiritual conqueror. We thus see how disciplinary Yehweh's dealings with Abram are becoming. God is already blessing Abram and fitting him to be a blessing, The faith and the patience of the patriarch are under loving and gentle and generous cultivation. And still
the discipline proceeds, as chapter xiv. forcibly reminds us. For Lot getting into sore trouble through his choice of the well-watered plain of the Jordan and being carried away captive by the marauding kings, thereupon Abram displays his family affection and his heroism, as before he has shown his peaceful disinterestedness. And duty bravely done brings further blessing. Abram returning from the slaughter of the kings is met by the mysterious Melchizedek, who brings forth to him bread and wine and publicly heaps blessings on his head.
JOSEPH B. ROTHERHAM.
THE BLESSED HOPE. W ALKING the chequered pathway where human life is past, Now glad and bright with sunshine, and now with cloud
o'ercast; In joys that I have hoped for, in griefs that I have feared, One promise has sustained me, one blessed hope has cheered.
It is a hope of glory, of peace, and joy, and light;
And would you take it from me—this hope so dear, so blest ?
This blessed hope has cheered me beside the open tomb,
Go, cloud the morning radiance, and veil the crimson west;
Yea, take the best and noblest of nature's costly dower;
For sometimes feet grow weary, when hard and rough the way;
Then would you take it from me? Nay, turn and seek again,
Oh! blegsed hope of seeing Thy coming, glorious King!
THE 144,000 SEALED FOR CHARACTER,
NOT FOR NATIONALITY,
(Revised with addition from the PROPHETIC News for January.)
cision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit," and has been ever since the Apostle thus wrote to the Churches of his day. “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham,' and "the children of the promise are counted for the seed,” for, “ if yo be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” And only in the light of these New Testament Scriptures can we understand who are o the tribes of the children of Israel” in Rov. vii. 4.
It has been well said by a modern writer of considerable penetration, and the truth so expressed should be well pondered by every earnest and devout student of God's Word, that “ the letter of Scripture, like the flesh of Christ, is a veil quite as much as it is a revelation, hiding while it reveals and yet revealing while it hides. The Bible resembles yet differs from other books, exactly as the filesh of Christ resembled yet differed from the flesh of other men. The Bishop of Natal has dissected the letter of Scripture till it is to him as the flesh of Christ would have been to the mere anatomist. His flesh was stripped and mocked. But those who are stripping and dissecting know not what they do (Jukes on Restitution, S. 1).
Now, there is no part of Scripture to which this may be more truly applied than to that called “The Revelation.” Had it been called "The Mystery,” the treatment it receives from most Bible readers would be more accountable and excusable, but seing it is called “ The Revelation," and a blessing is pronounced "on those who read, and who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein,” neglect is most culpable. It is, however, for the most
, part, a book of symbols, and although fact and figure, the literal and the metaphorical seem sometimes closely allied, it is just there that we require the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the promised Guide into all truth. Nor will He fail to whisper to those who are quiet enough to hear His own still small voice, for,“ to understand a proverb and the interpretation, the words of the wise and their dark sayings, a wise man will hear." We are about, then, in the light of Scripture to read Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, that we may come to a true understanding of the 144,000 sealed ones spoken of in Rev. vii.
First, then, we notice that they are not children of Jacob the supplanter, but children of Israel, “ the prince who had power with God and with men, and prevailed,” which shows them to be overcomers. This brings us at once to see that the names employed here as expressive of tribe are expressive of character, and therefore we propose to consider the signification of the several names here enumerated.
So, then, we observe that Judah signifies the praise of the Lord. And well fitting it is that this should be the first named, seeing that out of it
sprang " the Lion of the tribe of Judah," Jehovah's chief praise. But the twelve thousand are Jehovah's praise too, if they are disciples indeed of their one Master, a people formed for Himself to show forth His praise. These are they to whom He said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples,” and of whom He said, “ All mine are thine and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." These shall be counted overcomers, and hence sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
In like manner, seeing that Reuben has for its meaning, One who sees the Son, we are not surprised to find twelve thousand of such a tribe sealed; for every one who sees the Son and believes on Him hath overlasting life. And those who by faith are looking unto Jesus are sure to see Him, not only the Author but the Completer of their salvation, that as He came to commence it so He is coming to complete it in raising the dead and changing the living; and thus they continue hoping to the end for the grace that is to be br ught unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And this habit of seeing the Son as He came, a sufferer, as He continues, an indweller, and as He is coming, a bridegroom, has changed them into His likeness from glory into glory, so that their Father sees His Son in them, and most surely will they be found overcomers, and hence sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Then again, seeing that Gad reminds us of A happy band armed and prepared, it is just such a tribe as we should expect to see among the sealed ones : for, “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners ? Armed and prepared for the conflict, and ever engaged with the foe in aggressive or defensive warfare, giving no truce to the enemy in the presence and under command of her Leader and Commander, “The Word of God,” who is presently to lead forth in triumph the armies of heaven
upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean. These are they who have “ endured hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” and although accounted sheep for slaughter, have in all these things come off far more than conquerors through Him that hath loved them. Therefore we are not surprised to find twelve thousand of such a tribe numbered among the overcomers, and hence sealed as the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Nor shall Naphtali be missed, seeing that he is One who in comparison bears the likeness, for they are all predestinated to become conformed to the image of His Son; and that He might bring the many sons to glory He became likened to them in suffering and death that they might become likened to Him in resurrection life, and glory. And the Father, of whom they have been all begotten, looks upon them that He may see them in comparison with His Son, bearing somewhat of His image. For only can He look on them with complacency as seeing the likeness that He approves, He can say, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and only as they wear the likeness of their Beloved, can He say, “Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee."
" Defiled and loathsome as they are,
He makes them white and calls them fair ;