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be otherwise than profitable to ask what they mean, and what they should lead us to expect?
An answer is to be found in Luke xxi. 31, When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” This is a reply which will readily present itself to the minds of all who are looking for those things which are coming on the earth; but we would now wish to draw attention to the question of what is meant by the "kingdom of God," and how and in what form we may expect it to
We think it may briefly be stated that the "kingdom of God" of the New Testament is identical with the "kingdom of Israel" of Old Testament prophecy; and this is a point, we believe, much lost sight of by the Christian world in general. The Jews rejected the Messiah because His appearance did not coincide with their expectations, and they were disappointed in His not at once establishing the kingdom of Israel. Christians of the present day are apt to run into the opposite extreme of error, and refuse to believe in a kingdom of Israel at all.
After our Saviour's resurrection His disciples put to Him the question, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" And our Lord, so far from discouraging the belief in the possible existence of any such kingdom, in His. reply distinctly implies its futurity. (Acts i. 6, 7.)
Old Testament evidence on this subject is so copious that our chief difficulty is to choose that most applicable. We will, however, take Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Dan. ii., as establishing our point; at the same time, to all who are inclined to a disbelief in the literal fulfilment of the prophecies made to Israel, we would recommend a perusal of Jer. xxxiii.; Ezek. xxxiv. 20-31; xxxvi., and remaining chapters.
In the last phase of the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream we have ten kingdoms and a stone, the particular function of which "stone" is to break in pieces the ten kingdoms, after which it becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. This stone, we hold, typifies the "kingdom of God" and its earthly dual the "kingdom of Israel." In Daniel's interpretation of the dream, and in reference to the stone, we find, verse 44,
"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." This is evidently identical with Dan. vii. 14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion . and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." So far, the kingdom of God.
The "stone," then, is co-existent with the ten kingdoms; it is set up in their days, and it evidently also means a nation and a kingdom, but which, to keep up the distinction made in Numb. xxiii. 9, is foretold under an emblem distinct from the others.
It breaks in pieces the ten nations, who become like "the chaff of the summer threshing floors," which the wind carries away. But this is precisely the mission foretold of Israel. Israel, in the last days, is to be an instrument in God's hands for the punishment of the apostate nations of the world. See and compare Isaiah xli. 14-16; Jer. li. 19, 20; Ezek. xxxix.; Micah iv. 11-13; and Zech. ix. 13-15.
ISA. XLI. 14-16.
"14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
“15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.
“16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel."
JER. LI. 19, 20.
"19 The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his
"20 Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms."
MICAH IV. 11—13.
"11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
"12 But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
"13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass and thou shalt beat in pieces many people and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth."
ZECH. IX, 13-15,
"13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
"14 And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
"15 The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar."
Here we have the stone typifying the kingdom of Israel.
Assuming this identity as established, we shall find, on further examination, that many of the difficulties which beset the question of the events of the last days disappear.
In a clear understanding of the subject it is well to divest ourselves of all preconceived ideas; to examine the Word of God impartially, and to bear in mind that the kingdom of God may be established in a manner not at all coincident with the particular views we may have held. Our Lord told the Pharisees "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation," or, as the marginal reading has it, "with outward show," Luke xvii. 20. And we believe the kingdom of God will be established without the world at large recognizing it as such.
As at our Saviour's birth the world was ignorant of the occurrence of an event which marked the commencement of a new era, so we believe will it be with the Kingdom of God. It has small beginnings: "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed," Matt. xiii. 31. It is subject to growth: "the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."
We cannot say what may be the precise event which will usher in the new dispensation, but we may expect it to be one which, while not regarded as important by the world in general, yet will be sufficiently so to stand out hereafter as marking the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Such an event might be the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, the discovery of proofs. establishing the identity of lost Israel, or the amalgamation of these with Judah; but whatever it may be, the re-establishment
of the Hebrews as a political power on the earth is inseparable from the kingdom of the future.
The Jews have yet a mission to fulfil: "out of Zion shall go forth the law," Isa. ii. 23; Micah iv. 1, 2. To Israel is entrusted the publication of the Gospel, "the Word of the Lord," and to Judah the promulgation of the law. Nor on reflection is there anything very astonishing in this, notwithstanding the popular idea that the law is a thing of the past. To enter upon the future of the law would be to travel off into another subject, but we may here give a few reasons for the opinion put forward. The Mosaic law was not merely a liturgy for conducting the services of the tabernacle, sacrificial offerings, and so on, but a code of laws and regulations affecting everything connected with the existence of a people, civil, criminal, judicial, moral, social, sanitary, and these, it should be remembered, were given under direct inspiration.
To seek" the greatest good of the greatest number" is one of the pet theories of the day with a large class of persons, who have each their own remedy for all the evils they see around them, but a code Divinely given 3,000 and odd hundred years ago is recalled by few.
In Leviticus xxvi. and in Deut. xxviii. we have the consequences, not merely of the lapsing into idolatry, be it remarked, but of the non-observance of these laws by Israel, and the early Scriptures abound with other references of a like nature; the Psalms teem with allusions to the "laws and statutes," especially the cxix., while the prophetical books indicate their future re-establishment, particularly Ezek. xl. to end, and also Malachi, "Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But ye said, wherein shall we return?" Further on we find the reply, "Remember ye the law of Moses the statutes and judgments." For making known these laws to the world, what fitter instrument could be found than the Jews? Further proof that Palestine is again to be occupied by Isaiah nationally is to be found in Ezek. xxxvi."; "the desolate land shall be tilled," and is to "become like the Garden of Eden," v. 34, 35.
The re-establishment f the kingdom of ISRAEL, however, will
not be allowed without opposition from the powers of evil, and then comes that period of tribulation, the reign of the personal Antichrist, the gathering together of the nations; his and their destruction and overthrow, and the Advent of the Lord Jesus, followed by the universal establishment of His kingdom, to be found in Isa. ii. 10-22, Ezek. xxxviii. and xxxix., Dan. ii. 35-44, vii., viii., xi., xii., Joel ii., iii., Micah iv. 11-13, Zech. xii., xiii., xiv., Mal. iv., Rev. xix. 17-21, and other passages. Having discussed the manner of the end, we will conclude with a few words on the time. "When ye see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh," Mark xiii. 29. "These things" being wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilences. The world has been somewhat familiarized with each of these calamities at different times during the last twenty years, but at the close of the present dispensation they may be expected to occur, both collectively and in greater intensity than at any previous period. "These are the beginnings of sorrows." This is the reading to be found in St. Matthew's Gospel, for which reason it appears to have been adopted by the translators into St. Mark's version, but the more correct reading of the latter is given in a marginal note-"the pains of a woman in travail.”
St. Peter was one of the four disciples to whom our Lord confided the events of the last days; it is probable, therefore, that this simile was actually used by our Saviour and must be allowed its full significance.
St. Paul makes use of a similar figure of speech when he says "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth." Briefly, therefore, the kingdom of God must follow a period when the four calamities indicative of its approach are universally impressed on men's minds.
During the past year war and famine have been prominently before the notice of the world, and, latterly, typhus fever and other maladies have followed in the track of the war, pestilence in a lesser degree, while earthquakes have been felt in various places, though the shocks have been so far mild that they have not attracted attention beyond the localities of their immediate occurrence. Still it would appear that the time is
nigh, even at the doors.