The Subject About Which Peter Wrote
By John Thomas
We come now to consider more particularly the subject about which Peter wrote, of special interest to the faithful, who were suffering under the oppression of the Jews, infidel, apostate, and perverted.
When Paul reasoned with Felix, who had been for many years a judge in the Jewish nation, he urged upon him among other things the judgment being about to happen. In writing to the Christian Jews in Rome on this subject, he said,
To them who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there shall be indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, OF THE JEW FIRST, then of the Greek Ch. 2:8-10.
According to God's arrangement, the Jew takes the lead in the rewards and punishments of his administration. SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS, said Jesus: therefore Paul teaches, glory, honour, and peace, TO the JEW FIRST, then to the Greek. Hence, there is no salvation for the Greek, or Gentile, till the Jew is saved; and as God has been so good and bountiful to Israel, and they have repaid Him with such monstrous and base ingratitude, their punishment is necessitated before the development of salvation; and consequently, before the punishment and salvation of the Gentiles, which salvation comes to these through Abraham and his seed. This, then is the order of the judgment, which, when Paul pleaded before Felix and wrote to Rome, was all in the future.
The subject in hand, then, has to do with judgment upon the Jew first. Peter, in the temple court of Israel, told all the Jews assembled there, that Moses and all the prophets from Samuel had foretold of these days (Acts 3:21-24): that is, of these days in which the Holy Spirit in Jesus and the apostles would speak of sin, righteousness, and judgment; in which Messiah would be manifested as a suffering person, and in which that terrible work should begin of destroying every soul from among the Jewish people, that would not hear him.
Moses speaks of the judgment upon Israel in Deut. 28:15 to the end. The punishment threatened is tremendous, and may be resolved into the following general points.
1. Agricultural, domestic and public calamities, while resident in the Holy Land verses 15-24.
2. A REMOVAL, as of the Ten Tribes, into all the kingdoms of the earth, with all its attendant evils and consequents verses 25-35.
3. The BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY in which the King of Judah is involved verse 36.
4. Subjection to the Gentiles subsequent to restoration from that captivity verses 37-47.
5. Subjection to the Gentiles to continue to the Age; that is, of Messiah's Administration verse 46.
6. CONQUEST BY the Greco-Latin Horn of the Goat, commonly styled, THE ROMAN POWER verses 48-52.
7. The siege and DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM verses 53-57.
8. Expulsion from the Holy Land after destruction of the Capital and the Temple verses 58-64.
9. General condition and distress of the nation while in dispersion in the lands of its enemies verses 28, 29, 64-68.
10. The reason of so terrible a judgment befalling the nation verses 15, 58, 62; 29:25-28.
11. The condition of the land while the nation is in dispersion verses 22-23.
Under these points are comprehended the calamities that constitute the judgment upon the Jew first. The punishment of the nation extends over the period of its history from the death of the Elders who outlived Joshua, or the eleventh generation from Abraham, to the apocalypse of Jesus in power and great glory; that is, ad-olahm: a period of about 3,350 years, as far as it has already progressed.
Moses' prediction of the Babylonish captivity as distinguished from the Roman is discerned by the declaration, that Jehovah should bring the nation and its king unto a nation and its king unto a nation unknown to Moses and his generation and their fathers verse 36. At the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem they had no other king than Caesar, according to their own saying; their rightful king, whom they had crucified, being at the right hand of power, where no enemy could reach him. But, in the days of Babylon, they had kings of the house of David on the throne of Judah, the last three of whom, namely: Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah, were all carried off to Babylon, with the princes and nobles of the state. This conquering and destroying nation was unknown to Moses and his contemporaries; for although Babylon existed in his day, it was not then a nation or power nationally organised; and Israel, consequently, had not known it as one nation knows another in commerce and war.
As to the Roman Power, Moses treats of that as a Yoke of Iron ; a nation far off from Palestine, and at the end of the earth not of the globe; but at the end of the Oriental System of Powers of which the Holy Land would then be a part; a nation, whose ensign would be THE EAGLE, speaking a language not of Hebrew relationship, and of great fierceness. This was one of those Fowls of the air and Beasts of the Earth that Moses predicted should devour Israel's carcase. Thy carcase, says he to the Tribes, shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away verse 26. This has been notably fulfilled in the blood-stained history of the Commonwealth of Israel to this day. The body politic, or carcase, of the people has been devoured by the most ferocious beasts. In the words of Jeremiah,
Israel is a scattered sheep; the Lions have driven him away; first the King of Assyria hath devoured him; and last, this Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, hath broken his bones Ch. 50:17:
And since then, the Bear, the Leopard, and the Eagle, have ravened upon the lifeless carcase of the nation a corpse, destitute of spiritual, ecclesiastical, and civil existence in Moses or in Christ dead in trespasses and sins; and cursed by the law: not because they do not continue in all things written in its book, but because they violate it in all its points.
The Spirit in Moses declared he would put a Yoke of Iron upon Israel's neck until he had destroyed their power. The same Spirit a thousand years afterwards, in Dan. 2:40, explains that that Iron Power was a fourth kingdom strong as iron, because that iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that breaketh all, it shall break in pieces and shatter these the three dominions preceding it to which Israel was subject. History has proved this Iron-Power incorporated in Nebuchadnezzar's Image, the Band around the stump of the Babylonian tree, and the Fourth Beast with Great Iron Teeth, to be the Italian Power, whose legions bore aloft the Eagle as their military ensign. As Moses and Daniel agree, it was dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet; which had Claws of Brass Dan. 7:7 & 19.
This Ferro-Brazen, or Iron-and-Brass Power is introduced by the Spirit into the prophecy of the Ram and Rough-Goat in Dan. 8: as the Little Horn of the latter. This Little Horn represents that power known in history as that of the combined Italian and Greek; having Rome for its capital, and afterwards, Constantinople, originally styled Byzantium, and hence the origin of its designation as the Byzantine Empire. This Greco-Italian Little Horn is introduced into this prophecy, because of the part it was destined to enact in relation to the cutting off of Messiah, the Prince of the host of Israel; the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple; the taking away of the Daily Sacrifice; the abolition of the Mosaic Commonwealth; the destruction of the Jewish power; and its still future contest with the Prince it crucified, for the possession of Jerusalem, and the Holy Land; when it shall be utterly broken upon the mountains of Israel, by the crucified Michael, without the possibility of recovery from its fatal and terrible defeat. This Little Horn, the prophet says, waxed exceeding great toward the south (or Egypt), and toward the east (or Euphrates), and toward the pleasant land (or Judea). And it waxed great (or powerful) against the host of the heavens; and it cast down of the host and of the stars (or nobles) to the ground, and stamped upon them (for the Little Horn wielded all the power of the Goat). Yea, he magnified himself against the Prince of the Host (Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,) and by him the Daily (Sacrifice) was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary (the Temple) was cast down. And an army was appointed against the Daily BECAUSE OF SIN, and it cast down the Truth ( the form of the knowledge and of the truth in the Law') to the ground: and it practised and prospered. Dan.8: 9 & 12.
In the prophetic interpretation of this, the Spirit's words are very analogous to those in Moses. Speaking of the time when this Iron Power should invade the Holy Land, to cause Judah to pass under the yoke, the Spirit says, it should be in the latter time of the Greek kingdoms of Egypt and Syria. He styles the power a King of fierce countenance and causing to understand an obscure speech ; who he says, shall stand up. And his power shall become strong, but not through his own prowess; and shall cause to destroy wonderfully; and he shall cause to prosper and execute, and to destroy multitudes, and the people of the Holy Ones. And through his policy he shall cause fraud to prosper by his power; and in his heart he shall make himself great; and in prosperity shall cause to destroy many; and he shall stand up against the Prince of princes; but without hand he shall be broken in pieces. Dan. 8:23 & 25.
This same Iron and Brass Power is further particularised in Dan. 11:36 &39. In this place it is written concerning it, that The King shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every power, and concerning a Power of powers he will speak marvellous things; and he shall cause to prosper until the indignation (against Israel) be accomplished; (for the determined upon the Desolator of their land shall be done) v. 37. And he shall not regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of wives; nor shall he defer to any power; for he shall magnify himself above all v. 38. And in his estate he shall do honour to a God of guardians, ( Guardian Saints and Angels') even to a god which his fathers knew not shall he do honour with gold, and with silver, and with precious stones, and with desirable things v. 39. Thus shall he do to the Bazaars of the Guardians (churches dedicated to Saints where the clergy do their trading) with a god of a foreign land, which shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over multitudes; and he shall partition the land for a price.
In the days of the apostles, this power of the Iron Yoke was employed by the Eternal Spirit to execute judgment upon Judah to destroy the ruling of the Commonwealth of Israel, which had been condemned of heaven.
Thou shalt serve thine enemies, says Moses, which Yahweh shall send against thee; and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
Yahweh shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand: a nation of fierce countenance, who shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young.
From this, it is evident, that when the BODY POLITIC OF ISRAEL should be destroyed, it would be the act and deed of the Eternal Spirit, self-styled YAHWEH or Jehovah. He sent the Assyrians to destroy the kingdom of Israel, or of the Ten Tribes; and the king of Babylon to overturn the throne of David. Hence it is written,
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation: I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give them a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets Isaiah 10:5.
After the Babylonish captivity, He sent the Romans to execute the vengeance which John the Baptist warned his generation was impending hanging over Judah as a cloud full of lightning, tempest and hail. As the Assyrian was the rod of Jehovah's anger, so also was the Little Horn of the Goat, or power of the Greek and Latin peoples. These all were Jehovah's executioners upon a wicked and adulterous generation ; and therefore, in this sense, his armies and his people. The Assyrians and Romans did his work upon Israel although they neither knew Jehovah, nor the true import of their own military operations against them. After telling us what he intended to do with the Assyrian, as already quoted, the Eternal Spirit proceeds to inform us, that all the time the Assyrians were acting for him, they were doing it blindly, and imagining that they were only carrying out their own policy.
I will give them a charge ; saith the Spirit; howbeit the Assyrian meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it shall come to pass when Jehovah hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem (which has not yet been consummated) I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my power, have I done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. Isa. 10:7-13.
Upon this principle, the host or army given to the little horn of the goat against the Daily Sacrifice is styled in Dan. 9:26, the people of the Prince. The words are, the City and the Temple, the people of the Prince that came shall destroy. The Nahghid, or prince royal, in this place is the same as is styled in the twenty-fifth verse, Masshiah ah Naghid, the ANOINTED PRINCE ROYAL; or, in the English version, Messiah the prince, who was to be cut off, or made a covenant of. From the text in v. 26, it is evident, that Messiah was to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Little Horn of the Goat; for if he had not come before that event, the Goat-people could not have been the people of the Prince Royal of Israel; for them to be His people destroying the city and Temple, he must have preceded the destruction, and sent them. This is a testimony for Jesus the Jews cannot destroy.
Jesus taught, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be effected by the armies of the King of Israel, because his subjects would not accept his invitation to the nuptials of his Son, whom they had murdered, and whose servants also they had slain. This teaching is illustrated in the parables of Matt. 21:33; and 22:2-10. In the first, the Eternal Spirit is represented as a Householder, who planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and then retired into a far country. David, referring to this says,
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the Gentiles, and planted . . . thou didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
And concerning the same, the prophet saith,
The vineyard of Jehovah of armies is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for justice, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry Isa. 5:7.
The husbandmen of this estate were the Chief Priests and Pharisees: who constituted the Ruling of the State, the power and authority being in their hands. Their holding, however, was only a leasehold; and could not continue longer than the legal existence of the lease under which they held. That lease was the Mosaic Covenant, which expressly states that
If they would not obey the voice of the Eternal Spirit their Mighty Ones, they should be plucked from off the land, and scattered among all people
Thus, the national rebellion in the time of the Prophet like unto Moses, was to extinguish their holding the Law was added until the seed should come to whom the promise of the vineyard was made Gal. 3:19.
The leasehold occupants of God's kingdom were a rebellious tenantry. He sent many servants to them, called prophets, to persuade them to render him His dues; but they beat one, killed another, and stoned others. At last he sent his Son Jesus to them. When they saw him, they said among themselves, This is the Heir to the vineyard we have rented of Jehovah! Let us kill him, and retain it for ourselves! This was the counsel; so they captured him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him they cut off the anointed Prince Royal in order to secure for themselves the ruling of the kingdom of God. But their conspiracy was doomed to a miserable defeat. They had determined to break asunder the bands of the Spirit and his Son, and to cast their cords from them; but that incarnated Spirit in the heavens laughed at, and derided them! Psalm 2:1-4. When the Eternal Spirit in the Son was speaking the parable he turned to his hearers, and asked them, what the Lord of the vineyard would do to those husbandmen WHEN HE CAME? This question in Matt. 21:40 indicates a coming of the Lord at the destruction of the power of the rulers who put him to death. The bystanders replied, that when he came,
He would miserably destroy those wicked men, and let out his vineyard to other husbandmen.
In this they gave sentence against themselves; and Jesus ratified it, saying,
Therefore, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you (Chief Priests and Pharisees) and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall upon this stone (quoted from Psalm 118:22) shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
In this parable, the vineyard, the inheritance, and the kingdom of God are all phrases expressive of one and the same thing; and that thing was then in the possession of the Chief Priests and Pharisees. They knew that Jesus of Nazareth, as Son of David, was the true and rightful heir of the land and government; and they knew also that if he got possession of the kingdom he would send them empty away. Hence, they put him to death to perpetuate themselves in place and power. But Jesus said, that the kingdom should be taken from them; and that this should be done at his coming for that purpose.
Now in what way this was to be accomplished, is exhibited in the second parable before us. The kingdom of God was not to be taken from the chief Priests and Sanhedrin of Judah, as soon as they should kill the Heir Apparent. The parable in Matt. 22:4-10, shows that there was to be
1. A slaying of oxen and fatlings, and a making ready of all things;
2. A sending forth of servants to certain bidden guests to invite them to come to the nuptials of the King's Son;
3. A persecution of those servants unto death:
4. The destruction of the murderers and their city.
This was the order of things. The oxen and fatlings were slain in the sacrifice of Him who was typified by them; and all things were made ready in converting his slain body into HOLY SPIRIT after its resurrection, by its reception into glory at the right hand of Power; and the anointing of the apostles on Pentecost. After this servants were sent forth to the rulers, and elders, and scribes, to Annas the High Priest and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the High Priests (Acts 4:5). These servants were the Twelve Apostles, who boldly declared to them the resurrection of the Heir whom they had killed, and testified, that he was the Stone of Israel, who, said they, has been set at nought by you builders, but which is become the Chief of the corner; and announced salvation to them by his name. Several times the message came to them, but without avail. They entreated them spitefully, and finally slew them.
The work of inviting the Jews and their rulers to the nuptials of the King's Son, consumed many years subsequent to the ascension. From the commencement of the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom by Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, was a period of forty years. The founding of the Mosaic Kosmos occupied forty years; at least it was that length of time from Moses' presentation of himself to Israel as their Saviour from Egypt to his death; so it was 40 years from the public appearance of the Prophet like unto Moses to the same people, to the death, or abolition of the Mosaic Institutions. This was done according to the parable verified by history by the King sending forth his armies, and destroying those murderers, and burning up their city. This accomplished, and the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled. The burning up of the city and temple was of necessity the burning up of the Mosaic World, or Kosmos. Jehovah had chosen the place of the Daily, Mount Moriah, as the place of his name; so that to burn up the temple, and to prevent its restoration, was to destroy the office and power of the Aaronic Priesthood and to take away the kingdom of God from Israel.
The coming of the Little Horn of the Goat's army against Jerusalem to destroy it and the temple, and so take away the Daily Sacrifice, was the coming of the Anointed Prince Royal to take away the Kingdom of God from the Chief Priests and Pharisees. We have already suggested this in our previous remarks on Matt. 21:40. It is necessary, however, to urge this proposition more particularly upon the reader's attention. In the next referred to, Jesus says,
When the Lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They answered unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men he will take from them the Kingdom of God.
This was what he would, and did, do to the ungodly and cruel rulers of Judah belonging to the forty-second generation from Abraham. In some sense, therefore, the Anointed Prince Royal of Judah came at the time of the Stone falling upon the Mosaic Commonwealth, and grinding it to powder. But, upon what principle was the coming of the people of the Prince Royal against the city and the temple, the coming of the Prince Royal himself? Upon the universally established principle of law, that qui facit per alios, facit per se ; or, he who works through others, works by himself. The Prince Royal is the Lord of the Holy Land, and the sovereign proprietor of Jerusalem, which is therefore styled the City of the Great King. He told the murderers of himself and servants, that that same Lord and King would send his armies, and come himself against them and their stronghold. The Roman armies were the military embodiment of the power of Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews, for the destruction of the Mosaic Commonwealth: so that where the Roman Power was, there was the Anointed Prince Royal of Judah, whether he were visible to mortal eyes or not. He worked by the Roman army, and came in their coming; but as to his visible personal presence, there is no testimony of eye-witnesses extant to prove it, though of his invisible personal presence at the siege, the testimony is ample and sufficient.
In the sense, then, of being near the scene of action, Jesus taught his apostles to expect him before they would have finished the work he gave them to do. This was to preach the gospel of the kingdom as his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the land (Acts 1:8), but he said to them, nevertheless,
Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, TILL THE SON OF MAN BE COME Matthew 10:23.
In this he plainly taught that he would come in the lifetime of the apostles, of some or all of them. Not of all; for he plainly told Peter that he should die by crucifixion before that coming. Upon hearing this, Peter inquired how it would be with John? To which Jesus replied, that John should remain till he came. Some of the brethren understood this, that John should not die; but John himself corrects this notion by telling his readers, that in so speaking, Jesus did not say that he should not die. The only interpretation therefore, that can be given is that John should not die before the Lord of the vineyard should come with his Roman army to take the Kingdom of God from the Chief Priests, Scribes, and chief of the people, who put him and his servants to death; and that that would be before the survivors of the Twelve should have preached in all the cities of Israel. In coming thus, the Son of Man came to his kingdom. He invaded it with the host given to the Little Horn: and when the apostles who remained saw Jerusalem encompassed thereby, they saw the coming of the Lord to wrest the kingdom from his enemies John 21:22; Matt. 16:28. But they did not see his coming to give that kingdom to other husbandmen. The time has not even yet come for that.
With the exception of John, the apostleship of the circumcision did not treat so much in detail of the coming of the Lord, as Paul did. They confined themselves principally to his coming to execute judgment upon Judah. Peter seems to admit, that more wisdom was granted to Paul upon this subject than to himself. In all his epistles, he says, Paul wrote of these things; but that some of the things he wrote were hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction 2 Pet. 3:16. We see that from Paul's own account, for he wrote his second Epistle to the Saints in Thessalonica to correct their errors about the coming of the Lord and the gathering unto him. Jesus said to the Apostleship of the Circumcision, of which Paul was not one,
It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power;
While to Paul certain times and seasons were revealed; for to Gentile believers in Thessalonica he says,
Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write to you. For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night . . . But ye are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief 1 Thess. 5:1-4.
Some, however, misunderstood him, and supposed it was coming immediately. They found it hard to understand him upon this point. But he wrote again, and told them, that the full, personal, and glorious manifestation of the Lord and Christ would not be until the powerful and complete development of a Satanic Apostasy, which he will destroy. So that the coming of the Prince Royal of Judah is resolved into
1. The coming of the Son of Man with the Little Horn's army to destroy the city and the temple.
2. The rise, progress, and consummation of a Satanic Apostasy, which should deceive all nations.
3. The coming of the Lord Jesus with the angels of his power, to destroy said Apostasy; and to restore the kingdom again to Israel.
Here are two comings, and an interval between each. Those apostles from whom the times and seasons were hid by the Father, would not discern the interval, so that the two comings would seem to be but one. Their point of observation was Jerusalem. (Acts 8:1; 15:2). In looking forward to the appearing of the Son of Man in great glory they had to penetrate the dark storm-clouds that impended over the city and temple. Had there been no judgment for the Jew first no destruction of the already condemned ruling of the Mosaic State in looking forward they would have seen only the glorious apocalypse of the Lord Jesus to destroy the Satanic organization of the Judaisers and Gnostics who were troubling the Christian community of their day. This idea may be illustrated by reference to three poles exactly in line. If the observer occupy the position of a fourth pole on looking forward he will see only the pole nearest him, because the second and third from him are covered from view by the first. But if he step off to the right or the left so as to see the third pole in its entirety, he will perceive that there are three poles instead of one; and that there are two inter-spaces between them. Now this illustrates not only the case of the twelve apostles, but that of Daniel and the other prophets also. They looked forward to the breaking of the Assyrian upon the mountains of Israel, by the Bethlehemite Prince Royal of Judah; when, as the Great Commander of their hosts, he should stand up for them, and raise the dead Isaiah 14:25; Mic. 5:1-7; Dan. 12:1-2. This was to them the coming of the Lord. They did not see that this was resolvable into three epochs, each having its own particular coming; yet we know that this was the fact. These three comings were
1. His coming through John's baptism Acts 13:24; Isaiah 40:3.
2. His coming to take away the Daily Sacrifice: and the kingdom from the Chief Priests etc;
3. His coming to abolish Christendom, and to restore the kingdom to Israel.
Now these three comings, which have already in their events and influences overspread more than eighteen centuries, are all foretold in Isaiah 40:1-5. In the second verse of this passage, the termination of Jerusalem's punishment, and her reception into Jehovah's favour again, are announced;
Speak ye, saith the Spirit, comfortably to Jerusalem, and proclaim unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins.
This period of punishment is the interval, lying between the second and third comings above specified; beginning with the second and ending with the third. Nevertheless, no such distinction is expressed in the prophecy.
The first coming is indicated in the words,
The voice of Him (John the Baptist) that proclaimeth in the wilderness, saying, Prepare ye the way of Yahweh, (the Eternal Spirit), make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim (the Eternal Spirit and his Son).
The second coming, in the words,
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth.
Mountains and hills in prophetic style, signify empires, and other states of whatever constitution. To make them low is to reduce them to subjection, or to abolish them. This work began with the levelling of the Mosaic Commonwealth, and will not end until the kingdoms of the Gentiles become Jehovah's and his Christ's Rev. 11:15.
The third coming is indicated by the words,
And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed and all flesh (Jew and Gentile) shall see it together.
When this glory is seen of all, it will be the revelation of the Son of Man in his glory, accompanied by the holy angels, to punish the disobedient; and to perform the good things he has promised to Israel and Judah Jer. 33:14; Matt. 24:31; 2 Thess. 1:7-8.
When the prophet penned the words before us, he saw the general result the poles of illustration all in line. The apostleship of the circumcision occupying a stand point after the first coming and the ascension, could see an interval between that and the second; but beyond this, the wisdom given did not enable the Twelve to see that there would be an interval between the second and third. John living till the Lord came to destroy the Commonwealth of Israel, and, according to tradition, for many years after, could see the second interval, a long intervening period between the second and third. Paul being a teacher of the Gentiles, wisdom was given to him, having special reference to their time. When he alluded to these in his epistles, the unlearned and unstable could not understand him. Like Millerites, and the hosts of Sentimentalists that darken Christendom, they confounded things that differ, and jumbled them all into one theological hodge-podge, in which they put a right thing in a wrong place, and provided a right place for a wrong thing; fulfilled prophecies that had no existence, denied those that do exist, and burned up all promises incompatible with their crotchety imaginings in an universal conflagration of the earth and world! Thus, they wrest Peter, Paul, and other writers, to their own destruction. Being intoxicated with their own foolishness, they are impatient of all teaching that does not justify them in their folly. Too conceited to learn, they speak evil of the things they do not understand; and will certainly, if they do not repent, utterly perish in their own deceivings.
Now from these explanations, it will not be difficult to understand, that the coming of the armies of the Little Horn of the Goat with their Eagles to destroy the City and Temple, was coming of the Son of Man, after the illustration of the unjust judge, to avenge his own elect upon the Jewish Power, which delivered them up to the councils, scourged them in the synagogues, spoiled them of their goods, imprisoned them, and put them to death. He had chosen the Twelve, and sent them on their errand to the government and people of Judea, and this was the treatment they and their associates received. They very naturally, cried day and night for God to avenge them of their adversaries. But he would not for a while forty years, because, as Peter says,
He is long suffering, unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of mind 2 Peter 3:9.
At length, he said
I will avenge this widow (the community of His elect ones, his little flock' in Judah, widowed by his absence) lest she weary me.
Judah's case had become hopeless till the time when Jerusalem's warfare should be accomplished at the revelation of the glory of Jehovah in our future. He determined, therefore, to cut them off as a sapless branch of the national Olive Tree (Rom. 11:17-27). When Jesus spoke this parable concerning the avengement of his elect, he said,
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, will he find belief in the land? Luke 18:8.
In this, Jesus evidently taught, that the Son of man's coming to avenge his servants would be soon; certainly not eighteen hundred years off; for this could not be termed, speedily. History shows it was within forty years; yet, though so soon as this, when his presence was revealed by the encampment of the armies of the Little Horn around Jerusalem, few believed in that appearing; so faithless and apostate had Christian Jews become in the very country where the labours of the Son of Man himself, and of all his apostles, has been so abundant.
As with the ninth, so with the forty-second generation of Israel from Abraham. Moses belonged to the ninth; Jesus, the prophet like unto him, to the forty-second. When Moses preached the gospel of the kingdom to Israel in Egypt, they received it gladly; and were baptised into him, as their prophet, priest and king their redeemer and lawgiver in the cloud and in the Red Sea; and walked in him in the wilderness of probation. But though they ran well for a short time, they turned back in their hearts to Egypt. They proved themselves to be a froward generation, children in whom is no faith Deut. 32:20. Ten times they provoked the Eternal Spirit, until at length, he sware in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest. Ps. 95:8-11. Accordingly their carcasses were caused to fall in the wilderness; and, Joshua and Caleb excepted, they did not attain salvation in the promised land.
This was allegorical of the fate of those who drew back unto perdition in the last days. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom to Judah, multitudes of whom were baptised into him. For a while they ran well and rejoiced in the light. They walked in a state of probation during forty years, in which
After they were illuminated, they endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst they were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst they became companions of them that were so used.
But the great majority became weary and faint in their minds though they had not resisted as yet unto blood, striving against the sin of apostasy. Iniquity abounding among them, the love of the greater number had waxed cold. Contentions and strifes prevailed among them, with every evil work. It is evident from Peter, James and Jude, that a perfectly antediluvian condition of things prevailed among them; and that, therefore, the fate of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrha awaited them. They had been the salt of the forty-second generation; but they had lost their savour; so that nothing now remained, but that they and it should be cast out, and trodden under foot of the Gentiles. The coming of the Son of Man to take the Kingdom from the evil husbandmen, and to avenge the death of his servants from Abel to the Son of Barachias; was a matter of laughter and scorn.
Where said they, is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from creation's beginning.
This was the faithless objection of professed Christians who were willingly ignorant of the great example of the Eternal Spirit's long suffering, and sudden and unexpected overthrow of human society in the catastrophe of the Flood and the cities of the plain. Hebrew Christians of the first century in the very presence of the apostles themselves, like Gentile professors and Jews of the nineteenth, had become scoffers, and vain, and light, frivolous, worldly, and treacherous, people. The point of the question was this We, whom ye apostles style unruly and vain talkers, and deceivers of the circumcision, or JUDAISERS; and professors of profane, vain babblings, and oppositions of Gnosis falsely so called, or GNOSTICS; We have heard you preaching for the past thirty years about the coming of the Son of Man to overturn the Commonwealth of Israel; to suppress the sacrifices; to abolish the Mosaic Law; to set aside the ruling of the State; to take away the kingdom of God from Aaron's family and the Pharisees; to avenge your sufferings by the Jewish Power; to punish us for differing from you; to burn up Jerusalem and the Temple; and to scatter the Jews from the Holy Land into all the lands of their enemies: you have been incessantly telling us of this judgment to come' for all this long time; and also that Jesus, and Daniel the prophet, have spoken of these things; and that the former has predicted that in those days there shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, neither shall be.' And except that the Lord had shortened those days no flesh (of Judah) should be saved; but that for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen (those of your apostolic party in the country) he will shorten the days': all these things, and much more, we have heard from you apostles; but, Where, we would like to know, is the fulfilment of this promise of the coming of the Son of Man?' We see no signs of the disturbance of the usual course of things. In short, we do not believe in this coming of the Son of Man, which is merely a cunningly devised fable' to terrify the weakminded, and to deter them from becoming, what you very impertinently term, Judaisers and Gnostics Mark 13:14, 19-20; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 Tim. 6:20; Titus 1:10. (CONTINUED, NEXT PAGE)