Last Days of Judah's Commonwealth
By John Thomas
Some Things Concerning Peter
First, then we shall treat of some things concerning Peter. And a very important consideration under this head is Paul's testimony, that the Spirit wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision; and that the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews was committed to him and the other members of that apostleship, of whom he mentions John, and James the Lord's brother (Gal. 2:7-9; 1:19). James, Cephas, and John, says he, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship; that we should go to the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision, or the Jews.
From this time, doubtless, the Twelve Apostles confined their labours, principally, to their own nation in Judea; while Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, and so forth, ran to and fro among the idolaters of the nations. There was wisdom in this arrangement. The Jews resident in the Holy Land, had an intense disrelish for anything like fellowship with men of other nations. Even those of them who became christians very reluctantly admitted Gentile believers to equality with themselves. Many instances can be adduced of this: Nay, the old prejudice, of which we read in the New Testament, still exists. The Jews of our time always express themselves with more bitterness against Paul, than they do against Peter, though both were ring-leaders of the same obnoxious sect. They regard Peter as a more respectable citizen than Paul; because Paul taught that Jews and Gentiles were under one common condemnation, and obtained mercy in one and the same way; whereas Peter, although he believed the same thing, yet his operations being confined to circumcised persons (and there were many circumcised Gentiles in Judea) did not bear down upon their prejudices with the same force, having less to say and do with idolaters from the circumstances of the case.
The Apostleship of the Circumcision consisted of the Twelve Apostles. Peter was the Foreman, so to speak, of the jury, having been constituted such when the Lord and Master, the King of the Jews, committed to him the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens ; by which he was authorised to bind and loose upon the earth, with the assurance that it shall be ratified in the heavens to which the kingdom belongs.
Now, as Peter was specially sent to circumcised persons, though occasionally found among the uncircumcised, he would treat of things specially interesting to them. When speaking and writing to these children of the prophets and of the covenant made with Abraham, he treated of things concerning Israel; and referred them to what Moses and Samuel, and all the prophets had testified concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment. This was the mission of the Apostleship of the Circumcision, when it should be guided unto all the truth by holy spirit from the Eternal Power, or Father. That coming, as on the day of Pentecost, Jesus said should convince the world (kosmos) respecting sin, and respecting righteousness, and respecting judgment. He then stated the ground upon which this should be done respecting sin, because they believe not on me; respecting righteousness, because I go away to my Father, and ye behold me no longer; and respecting judgment, because the ruling (ho archon the ruling power) of this world (kosmos) has been condemned. (John 16:7-11)
Our conclusion then, concerning Peter, as constituted of the Apostleship of the Jews, is, that holy spirit in him had specially to do in the matter of judgment with those calamities which were then soon to be poured out upon the ruling power of the then existing kosmos.
Who Did Peter Write To
By John Thomas
In regard to those to whom Peter wrote, we remark that they were Christian Hebrews residing in certain provinces of Anatolia, and therefore styled, Chosen sojourners of a dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. They were Jews residing in these countries, who had been ecclesiastically separated from their countrymen by a separation, or sanctification (which is the same thing) of spirit. Many of them had, doubtless, heard Peter on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit descended upon the Apostleship of the Circumcision so copiously and visibly. We have reason to believe this, because Luke, in Acts 2:9, says that there were Jews in Jerusalem who witnessed the outpouring of spirit and power, from Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia. Peter and the rest of the apostles, filled with the spirit, spoke to them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and urged them to save themselves from the last. The result of this Spirit-manifestation in word and gifts, was the separation of them from the sacrificial worship of the temple into a submissive hearkening to, or obedience ; and unto a sprinkling of Jesus Christ's blood, in their doing what is prescribed in Acts 2:38
Be ye mentally changed; and let every one of you be baptised to (in the sense of being added to) the name of the Anointed Jesus into remission of sins.
This was the separation of spirit they were subject of. The spirit-discourse which issued from Peter's mouth, opened the eyes of their understandings; dispelled the darkness which overshadowed them; and disposed them to child-like submission to the law of faith, expressed in the words before us. This work of spirit was evinced in what followed; for they that gladly received the word were baptised, verse 41. They were baptised unto the name of the Father, and the son, and the Holy Spirit ; and so were added to the name of the Anointed Jesus; by which addition they henceforth constituted a part of that name, or of the One Body ONE in God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ ; one as the Father and Jesus are (John 17:11).
Having thus become Jews in Christ, or Israelites indeed, they did not therefore lose all interest in their nation and country. When they returned to Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, they would diffuse the knowledge they acquired among the Jews who had not gone up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Pentecost; and in doing so, would tell them of the vengeance that was impending over the Commonwealth of Judah. Though they had ceased from offering sacrifices for themselves, they would still go to Jerusalem to celebrate the national festivals of Pentecost and Tabernacles (Acts 20:16). Being now in Christ, their Passover and Sin-covering, they did not keep the Mosaic Passover and Atonement (verse 5); nevertheless, they were Jewish patriots, and loved their country; and desired its prosperity as their own good.
But, though patriotic in the truest sense, their patriotism did not preserve them from persecution by those Jews who did not believe; whose conduct, received by tradition from their Fathers, was vain; and who spoke evil of them as a strange people, who, though previously fond of what the world calls good-fellow-ship, would no longer, since they had identified themselves with the Nazarenes, run with them to the old excess of riot. These profligates spoke evil of Christ; and having the power of all hostile to the truth on their side, whether Jew or Gentile, they subjected their Christian fellow-countrymen to a fiery trial. Collectively, the unbelieving Jews were then a formidable and dangerous power; for though they were but foreigners in Anatolia, yet they were ever ready to excite the idolatrous Greeks against those of their own nation who acknowledged the Messiahship of Jesus (Acts 17:5-8, 13). Peter refers to these in the activity of their enmity against Christian Jews, as their diabolos, or opponent-at-law, the seducer, as a roaring lion, who walks about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). A conspiracy of one class of Jews against another, is styled by Ezekiel, a roaring lion. In Ch. 22:25, Jehovah says to him, Son of man, say unto Jerusalem, there is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls. So in Peter's day, the prophets and princes, or chiefs, of Israel, both in the Holy Land and in all other parts of the Goat-Dominion, conspired against the Nazarenes, like a roaring lion ravening the prey.
Many of these conspirators were apostates from Christianity dogs, who had returned to their vomit; washed hogs, who had gone back to their wallowing in the mire (2 Peter 2:22). These were they who, says Peter, cannot see afar off, and have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins (Ch. 1:9).
But besides apostates, there were Jews who still maintained a profession of Christianity, and even set up for teachers in the churches of Anatolia. These teachers, who would pervert the gospel of Christ, as Paul says (Gal. 1:7), are styled by Peter in 2 Peter 2:1, false teachers. These false teachers were the Judaizers, who sought to blend the Mosaic Law and the Gospel for the justification of Jews and Gentiles. They first appear upon the page of gospel history in Acts 15:1-5. Of these perverters of the gospel, fabricators of another gospel, Paul writes to the Galatians, saying,
As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh (6:12).
These teachers wished to be popular with both parties; with disobedient Israelites on the one hand, and the Christian Jews and Gentiles on the other. But Paul put a logical extinguisher upon their teaching, by telling those who were bewitched by them, that
If they were circumcised, Christ would profit them nothing. For I testify again, says he, to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Ch. 5:2).
These false teachers in the churches of christian Hebrews were rapidly becoming a power, even in the lifetime of the Apostles, which was designed to subvert the gospel they taught, and to set up instead thereof, the superstitions of the Apostasy. They were corrupters of the brethren from the simplicity which is in Christ. They claimed to be Hebrews, Israelites, the Seed of Abraham, and the ministers of Christ (2 Cor. 11:22); and as much to be deferred to as Peter, Paul, or any others of the apostles. But Paul declared they were false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. Ministers of Satan under the garb of ministers of righteousness (ver. 13-15). Let the reader mark this well, that in the days of Peter and Paul, an order of men had arisen in the christian community, composed of christian Jews, who appeared as sheep, or ministers of righteousness; but who were really wolves in sheep's clothing, or ministers of Satan, or the adversary to the faith. They were very pious, very zealous for God, and great lovers of the souls of men; but notwithstanding all their appearances, they were deceitful workers. Their zeal, piety, and love, were their stock in the trade of making merchandise of souls; and all reacted to the present, or temporal advantage of themselves and their spiritual order. Their doctrine was as the poison of serpents, undoing all the apostles did, wherever it was inserted; and inflicting death upon all who received it. Paul was intolerant of it; and pronounced its teachers, though an angel from heaven might be of their number, accursed (Gal. 1:7-9).
Of these Achans, the accursed patrons of the Babylonish Garment, and worshippers of the Golden Wedge (Josh. 6:21). Peter says in 2 Peter 2:1,
There were false prophets among the people (Israel after the flesh); as also there will be false teachers among you (the Israel of God), who will craftily introduce heresies of destruction; and denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction, on account of whom the Way of the Truth will be blasphemed.
Now these words of Peter did not refer exclusively to what would happen at some remote period of ecclesiastical history; they referred also to what was in actual and baneful operation in the heritages of the circumcision, or Christian Hebrew societies, at the time he wrote. Still speaking of these false teachers in the ecclesias, he goes on to say,
And through an inordinate desire of gain, they will make merchandise of you with deceitful words. As irrational natural animals who have been appointed to capture and corruption, these, blaspheming in things which they understand not, shall be caused to perish in their own corruption; who are going to be recompensed with (fut. Part. pass.) a reward of unrighteousness, as taking the lead in sensuality, the luxury of the day. They were spots and blemishes, revelling in their own deceivings, while they feast with you, having eyes filled with an adulteress, and cannot cease from sin; deluding unstable souls; having a heart that has been trained to inordinate desires; cursed children, having forsaken the right way, they have gone astray, having followed in the way of Balaam, son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. These are wells without water, clouds driven by a hurricane, for whom the gloom of the dark place for the aion, or cycle, has been reserved. For, sounding forth pompous words of foolishness, they entice through lusts of the flesh and lewdness, those truly escaping from them who live in error; promising them liberty, while they are themselves slaves of the corruption; for by whom any one has been overcome, to this same also he has been enslaved. For, if escaping the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, being entangled by these again, they are overcome, the last things have become to them worse than the first. For it was better for them not to have known the way of justification, than, having known, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
These false teachers were children, who once walked in the way of truth, into which they had been introduced by obedience to the holy commandment, or law of faith, delivered to them on the Day of Pentecost. They knew the way of justification, and had been purged from their old sins. How came it then, that so great a change was wrought in the heritages while the apostles were yet living? All things had had a fair beginning; the holy commandment was delivered by inspiration, and all learned the faith from infallible teachers; how, then, came things into so sad a case in all the churches of the circumcision, whether out of Palestine or not? These questions are answered in the parable of the Tares. Jesus, styled the Son of Man, came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to them only Matt. 15:24. They, in their Mosaical organization, constituted the field, or kosmos in which he sowed the seed, or gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 13:18-23), which, received into honest and good hearts, became the good seed of verse 38. The good seed are (or represent) the children of the kingdom. There are two classes of children of the kingdom Israel after the flesh, who reject Jesus (see Matt. 8:12); and Israel, native and adopted, who receive him, and his teaching, styled by Paul, the Israel of God. The tares are the children of the evil thing those cursed children of whom Peter speaks. The enemy that sowed them is the seducer ; or, as Peter and James define it, the lusts of the flesh, by, or through which men are enticed (2 Peter 2:18; James 1:14-15). The flesh, which is Sin's flesh, is the enemy, or enmity against God and His law (Rom. 8:7), and the Seducer which causes men to transgress, or put themselves across the line, or on the wrong side of things forbidden. When Jesus said to the Jews, in the words of the English version, Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do, it was equivalent to saying, Ye are born of the flesh, and the lusts of the flesh ye will do. The flesh is the evil thing, in the English version of the parable of the tares, styled the wicked one. It is that by which all offences come; as is clear from the world's history, and the words of Jesus, who exclaimed
Woe to the world because of the enticements: for necessity is that enticements arise; but woe to that man by whom the enticement (or scandal) is introduced!
The false teachers Peter so severely, but justly denounces, were those who placed stumbling-blocks in the way of the saints, being thus the scandalisers of the apostolic age, who walked after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and laid their enticements before their brethren, many of whom, being unstable, were ensnared. They were the tares the development of the flesh; and therefore, contrary to, or impatient of, the truth.
From the premises before us, it is evident that the Christian Church, in apostolic times, was not all gold, and silver, and precious stones. There was much wood, hay, and stubble, mixed up with these. The false teachers and their unstable followers were of the combustible sort. They were unable to endure to the end. The Jewish power was persecuting the heritages in Judea with great inveteracy; and the Jews in Anatolia were doing the same to the full extent of their ability (1 Peter 5:9): yet the predicted deliverance in the manifestation of the end had not come, and no signs were discerned by unstable souls of its approach.
It was a trying time in Israel to all who loved the truth. The crisis was favourable to the growth of tares. As Jesus had predicted, many were caused to fall, and betrayed one another, and hated one another. Many false prophets had shown themselves in the church, and had deceived many; and because iniquity abounded, the love of many had become cold (Matt. 24:10-12).
The false teachers, styled by Jesus and John false prophets, seemed for a time to have the advantage of the situation. Evil servants that they were, they said in their hearts, Our Lord delayeth to come; and came practically to the conclusion that he would not come. Having relieved themselves of this apprehension, they commenced the merchandise of souls, and smote those of their fellow-servants who would not be sold to work iniquity. Thus they became lords of the heritages, and devoted themselves to eating and drinking with the drunken, in all the luxury of the day. But, though they found it convenient to ignore all but their own imaginations, their Divine Master was not unobservant of their abominations. Still he bore with them for a time, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of mind. As he waited in the days of Noah, so he waited with them. But his long suffering and forbearance were ineffectual; so he came upon them in a day and hour they were not aware of, and cut them off, appointing them a portion with the hypocrites, where was weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:48-51).
The Subject About Which Peter Wrote
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.
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The Times to which Peter Referred
Seeing then, that part of the mission of the apostleship of the circumcision was to convince the Mosaic order of men, (kosmos as applied to thinkers) of coming judgment, because their administration of the Mosaic order of things (kosmos as applied to things ordained) had been condemned, we find Peter and the rest quoting the words of Joel concerning what was to come to pass in the last days. Having referred to the Pentecostian rain of the spirit; the prophet says by the same spirit,
I will give wonders in the heaven above, and signs upon the earth beneath, blood and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall be that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:19-21
The heaven was the aggregate of Judah's high or official places ; the wonders, the casting down of the host and of the stars to the ground, the taking away of the daily and so forth, by the little horn of the goat; the signs upon the land, those already enumerated by Jesus in Matt. 24; blood, slaughter by the sword; fire, the burning of the towns, villages, homesteads, mansions of Judah, with its metropolis and temple; and vapour of smoke, the symbol of utter and complete destruction; the sun turned into darkness was the putting out of the supreme power of the state in the abolition of its principalities and powers; and the turning of the moon into blood, expressed by the words of Amos, saying,
The songs of the Temple shall be howlings in that day, saith Yahweh Elohim; there shall be many dead bodies in every place, and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations, and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head, and I will make it as the mourning for an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day Ch. 8:3, 9-10.
All these things were to come upon Judah before that the great and terrible day of the Lord come. The Jews had slain, or rather the chief priests and Pharisees had moved the little horn of the goat's procurator, Pontius Pilate, to crucify in their presence AN ONLY SON ; and the people by drawing back after they had acknowledged him, and by turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, had crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame; so that when wrath came upon them at length, the Son of Man, or Yahveh Elohim made their howling and lamentation as the mourning for him they had crucified and put to shame. He made their sun to go down at noon, and darkened their land in the clear day; that is, the Mosaic order was dissolved by judgment in the midst of meridian brightness of holy spirit, shining in all the land from the seven branched lampstand, pillar and support of the truth, which had been planted therein to enlighten the house. This was an evil and perverse generation, therefore with many other words than those reported did Peter testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation. Acts 2:40.
After this, Peter renewed the subject of what John the baptiser termed the wrath to come, in his address in the temple court of the Israelites. He told the assembled Jews, that Moses had predicted the appearance of a prophet like himself, and that Jesus was he; and that he had also said, that every soul who shall not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. He taught them that Jesus had ascended to the right hand of God, as David had predicted Messiah, his son and Lord, would do, and that he must remain there until the time appointed of the Father for the restitution of all things pertaining to the kingdom and throne of David, spoken of in the writings of all the prophets from the time of Moses. That in that era of Israel's regeneration the nation would be blessed in Abraham and his seed; but also that no son of Abraham according to the flesh, should partake in that blessedness, if he did not acknowledge Jesus, and receive the gospel he had preached, and had commanded his apostles still to announce to the people.
In his first address on Pentecost, he had announced the dissolution of all things on the authority of Joel; but in this second, he proclaimed the restitution of all things. The former of necessity was to precede the latter first dissolution, and then restitution, but between the two, a long interval, by Peter undefined. He taught them, however, plainly enough, that restitution and the appearing of Jesus Christ from heaven were to be contemporary events, and that consequently, the one would not take place without the other.
Now, in his two epistles, he stirs up the pure minds of the faithful among the circumcision by way of remembrance, that they might be mindful of what the apostles had spoken, as well as of the words of the prophets. He tells them in the first epistle, Ch. 4:7, that THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND; or, more literally, the end of all things has approached; perfect indicative. Now these words will not admit of any other construction than that the end referred to was contemporary with Peter. He had lived to see the beginning of the end; but the Lord had shown him that he was not to see its consummation, for in the second epistle he says,
I know that shortly there is the putting away of my tabernacle, as also our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me Ch. 1:14.
The supposition is altogether inadmissible that Peter meant the end of the times of the Gentiles; or the end of the world a thousand years after those times had terminated or the end of the great globe itself dissolved into the baseless fabric of a vision with not a wreck behind. This was a dissolving view that never waned into nothingness before the apostle's mind. The end has approached is a phrase which, when uttered by Peter, cannot by any sound scriptural reasoning be made to refer to two or three thousand years after. No other construction can be put upon it, than that the end of all Mosaic institutions had approached. This was the fact, and not to be ignored in the interpretation of the literature of the times. Peter wrote of things pertaining to the circumcision of the dissolution of the Jewish heavens in church and in state; and of the restitution in the creation of the new heavens and new earth, wherein righteousness should dwell, as predicted by Isaiah 65:17; 51:3-16; 54:11-13, 16.
Now while Peter testified that the end had approached, James taught that that end was the period of the son of man's presence or parousia. He wrote to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, and his letter goes to show, that Jesus had been generally acknowledged, but that there was at the time of his writing, a very general apostasy in faith and practice. Still some continued faithful, and to these who were persecuted by the others, he said:
Be patient, brethren, even to the Lord's parousia, establish your hearts, for the Lord's parousia hath approached: behold, the Judge hath stood (perfect indicative) before the doors Ch. 5:7-9.
From this, we learn, that the Lord Jesus had recently visited Palestine; that is to say, that he had made examination into the spiritual condition of Israel dwelling in that country, as the Elohim did into that of the builders of Babel before they confounded the speech of all the earth Gen. 11:7-8.
The Judge hath stood before the doors.
He stood and measured the earth, and found that Israel in the Holy Land had filled up the measure of their fathers that their rebellion was perfected in the abounding iniquity and the refrigeration of love among the Christians, who were carousing with the drunken, marrying, and giving in marriage, oppressing one another, devoted to money-making, seeking the friendship of the world, scoffing and denying the parousia of the son of man; in short, that it was the days of Noah and the works of Sodom, reproduced in the forty-second generation of Abraham's posterity, and that nothing remained but that the judgment of Hinnom's vale should be brought upon them with the suddenness of the flood, and the completeness of that of the cities of the plain. This being the conclusion of the matter resulting from the survey of the Judge, James testified in accordance with Peter, his colleague in the apostleship of the circumcision, that the Lord's parousia had approached, and that, consequently, the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, would soon appear with its eagles from the east, indicative of the proximity of the Son of Man.
The apostle John also in his first epistle Ch. 2:18, says little children, it is the last hour. This saying of John corrects the chronology assigned to his epistle in the English version. The date given there is after A.D. 90 . But this is incorrect. This year was no part of the last hour. This hour ran out A.D. 72, when Judah's sun was darkened, and the Mosaic moon ensanguined by the vengeance of the Lord. Hence John's epistle was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and not eighteen years after as generally supposed. He also wrote to Christians of the circumcision, as indicated in 2 John 7.
Jude likewise refers to the same as Peter, James and John. In all his epistles he is treating of the kosmos, or order of men, who were living ungodly among Christians of the circumcision, whom he styles
Certain men crept in unawares, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Despot Power (the eternal spirit) and our Lord Jesus anointed.
These men paid no regard to the words before spoken of the apostles concerning his coming; but rather ridiculed the idea. Jude therefore points the faithful to them as a fulfilment of their prediction, that there would be such in the last time.
Beloved, says he, remember ye the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that they told you there would be mockers in the last time, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, destitute of spirit, verses 17-19.
Hence, Jude was living in the last time, which cannot possibly refer to our future; but can only have been the last chronos, or period, of the Mosaic Aion the ending of the course.
Now, the last hour of John, the last time of Jude, and the ending of the Aion of Jesus, are the last of the days referred to in 2 Peter 3:3. In the English version, these words are rendered in the last days. This is incorrect, and should be as we have translated them. The last of the days is a different idea from the last days. The latter phrase is used by Paul in Heb. 1:2, and answers to what he terms in Heb. 9:26 the ending of the Aions. He says in the former text,
In these last days God had spoken to us in a son;
And of this son he says in the latter, that
He appeared once in the ending of the Aions for a putting away of sin through the sacrificing of himself.
The teaching and sacrifice of Jesus were in the last days; but not in the last of the last days. The first days were from the sending of Moses to his death; and the last days from the sending of Jesus to the abolition of the Mosaic order of things; both first days and last being of forty years' continuance. Jesus began to teach in the first of the last days; and the mockers of his teaching, who had forsaken the right way, appeared in the last of the last days, as Peter saith.
Paul speaks of the last days without specifying the beginning or ending of them in 2 Tim. 3:1, saying,
This know thou that in last days perilous times shall impend.
Then follows a description of men professing Christianity, whose wickedness would be the cause of the impending of the vengeance. These are they of whom he warned Timothy in his former epistle, saying,
The spirit speaketh expressly that in latter times some of the faith will apostatise, giving heed to seducing spirits, and to teachings of Demons speaking lies in hypocrisy, their own conscience having been cauterised; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats 1 Tim. 4:1-3.
THE LATTER DAYS
One cause of error in the interpretation of the apostles has been the confounding of the latter days with the last days. These are two distinct or separate, and very remote, periods of time. A course of centuries intervenes which keeps them as distinct as the north and south poles of earth. Nearly eighteen hundred years elapsed since the termination of the last days; and we await only the further lapse of about five or six years till we arrive at the beginning of the latter days. The phrase in the original (O.T.) is beacharith hayyahmim, in the end of the days. That is, there are certain days appointed, such as, a time, times, and a half time, 42 months or 1260 days, and 1335 days Dan. 12:7, 12; 7:25; Rev. 11:2. These days are concurrent with the times of the Gentiles, during which the twelve tribes of Israel, and those adopted into Israel's commonwealth through Jesus, are prevailed against by the little horn power of the East and West. Until these days are expended, there is no redemption for Israel and the saints. But when those days are expired, an end will have been attained, which is styled the end of the days, but in the English version the latter days. The last days were the days of vengeance upon the Jewish people and rulers of the forty-second generation; but the latter days are the days of the restitution of all things pertaining to Israel and the saints, as all the prophets from Moses have foreshown.
We shall conclude our remarks upon this point by enumerating some of the events which are to come to pass in the latter days, or in the end of the days.
1. Israel shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink of the blood of the slain.
His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
He shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the princes of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth, And Edom shall be a possession, . . . and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city. Numbers 23:24; 24:7&8, & 17-19.
All this is to happen in the end of the days verse 14.
2. Son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, thus saith Adonai Yahweh: In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company and a mighty army; and thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be IN THE LATTER DAYS, and I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes
3. There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be IN THE LATTER DAYS.
The great Metallic Image is then described; and when brought out entire and erect before the king's mind, its fall was predicted by a stone smiting it upon the feet; and the destruction of its fragments, by their being afterwards broken to pieces together; and the stone, or destroying power having entirely abolished them, becomes a great Mountain, and fills the whole earth. This comes to pass in the latter days, and is interpreted to signify that in those days,
The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and a dominion that shall not be left to another people. It shall grind to powder and bring to an end all these kingdoms (represented by the Ten Toes), and itself shall stand for the ages.
Hence, this is emphatically the kingdom of the end of the days the kingdom of which the Gospel treats, and of which Messiah is the king, and his saints the princes Dan. 2:28-45; 12:1-2.
4. After the children of Israel shall have abided many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an erection, and so forth, they shall return to seek eth-Yahveh their Elohim and eth-David their king, and revere Jehovah and his goodness in the end of the days.
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and shall come up out of the earth; for great is the day of Jezreel.
And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee, O Israel, unto me for Olahm Hosea 3:4-5; 1:11; 2:18-19.
5. And it shall come to pass in the latter day, that the mountain of the house of Jehovah shall be established as the head of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths;' for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and he shall chastise many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:2-4.
6. Behold a whirlwind of Jehovah is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind; it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of Jehovah shall not return until he have executed, and until he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall understand it perfectly. Jer. 23:19-20.
7. I will bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith Jehovah. Jeremiah 48:47.
8. It shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam (or Persia) saith Jehovah Jeremiah 49:39.
Such are the events of the end of the days specified in Daniel and other prophets
The time of Jacob's trouble out of which he is to be saved.
It is a great day, so that none is like it Jer. 30:7: the great and terrible day of Jehovah upon the Gentiles, as the last days were upon the Jews. These last days were what Peter styles the day of God, which his brethren in Christ were looking for, and earnestly desiring the presence of 2 Peter 3:12; a day of days that needed to be shortened, or no flesh of Israel in the land would have escaped Mark 13:20. But the latter days are the year of the redeemed of Jehovah the day of Jehovah's vengeance, the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion Isaiah 34:8; 63:4. It is the time when Michael, the great commander, shall stand up, who standeth for the posterity of Daniel's people, in which there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation to that same time; and at that time Daniel's people will be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake Dan. 12:1-2. In the last days there was no deliverance for Judah; but in the latter days, the power of their enemies shall be broken, and they shall be delivered; in the last days, the heavens and the earth which are now that is, are contemporaneously existing with you of the circumcision, to whom I, Peter, am now writing; were dissolved, and all their elements scattered or destroyed; but, in the latter days, new heavens and a new earth shall be established in which righteousness shall dwell. This will be the restitution of all things in the regeneration; in other words, the restoration of the kingdom again to Israel, in which the thrones of the house of David will be re-established, and occupied by Jesus and his brethren, as kings of Israel and the nations, then all blessed in Abraham and his seed.
The heavens and the earth of the last days do not now exist. They were in being when Peter wrote; but having decayed and waxed old, they vanished away with the days to which they belonged. This is a very important consideration in the premises; for Peter was writing about their destruction, not about the destruction of a system that might be in existence some eighteen hundred years after his time. But it is thought that Peter must have referred to the great globe itself as the earth ; and to the sun, moon, stars, and constellations around it, as the heavens which are now, because he refers to the earth which perished by the flood. But this supposition is based upon a careless reading of what Peter wrote. He does not say that the earth perished; neither could he; for he was living upon the same earth the antediluvians occupied as well as we. The earth, though overflowed, did not perish; nor were the heavenly bodies in the least affected. What he said was, that the kosmos, or world, then existing, being overflowed by water, perished. Now this kosmos that perished was the order of things that constituted the civil, ecclesiastical, and social organization of mankind before the flood. It was this order in its heavens and earth that perished, and nothing else. It is clear from Gen. 6:11-13, that the earth signifies all flesh. He there says
The earth was corrupt before the Elohim, and the earth was filled with violence. And Elohim viewed the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted HIS WAY upon the earth. And Elohim said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them (the mighty ones of renown,' in verse 4); and behold, I will destroy them from the earth.
The mighty ones of renown were the giants of the heavens; the world-rulers before the flood. These and the earth, or all flesh, they ruled the world of the ungodly were overflowed by water, and perished from the earth, leaving an example unto those that after should live ungodly 2 Peter 2:5-6.
The heavens and the earth which are now, that is, the Mosaic, which had not been dissolved when Peter wrote, consisted of certain elements. These elements were not the physical elements of which the ancients imagined all nature was composed, namely, fire, air, earth, and water; which modern science has proved to be no elements at all. The word used by Peter was the diminutive of a row, order, from to go, proceed in order, and signifies elements, elementary parts, e.g. of discourse, i.e. an elementary sound, letter of the alphabet; elementary instruction, the first principles, or lowest rudiments of any knowledge, science. Paul uses the word in Heb. 5:12, as
The stoicheia or principles of the beginning of the oracles of God:
And in Gal. 4:3-9, as,
When we were in bondage under the stoicheia, or elements of the kosmos, or order; and, how turn ye back to the weak and beggarly stoicheia or elements to which again, as before, ye desire to be enslaved? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, and so forth: tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 5:21.
And again, in Col. 2:8-20 as,
Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the stoicheia or rudiments of the kosmos, or order, and not after Christ.
Wherefore, if ye be dead with the Christ from the stoicheia or rudiments of the kosmos, or order, why, as if living in the order, do ye subject yourselves to the ordinances, Touch not, taste not, handle not,' which is all to corruption in the using after the commandments and teachings of men?
Now, from these quotations showing the New Testament meaning of the word elements, it must be evident to all that they are the elements of which the Mosaic order of things was composed, styled by Paul in Heb. 8:26, the heavens; the principalities and authorities which Jesus spoiled, when, in being crucified, he nailed the handwriting which constituted them to his cross, took it thereby out of the way; and, rising from the dead, exposed them with boldness of speech, triumphing over them Col. 2:14-15. Jesus, Paul says, was made higher than the heavens than these heavens over which he triumphed. The temple, and its ordinances of service, and its priesthood, and all other things constituted by the law, or handwriting of Moses, were elements which, collectively, made up the Mosaic order, or kosmos.
The heavens, the example and shadow of heavenly things, these pattern-heavens shall pass away, says Peter, with a great noise, and the elements, being burned, shall be abolished.
The great noise was the tumult of battle without, and of strife within the city, during the siege. There was blood and fire enough to satisfy the most insatiable craving for the horrible. The temple and city were reduced to smoking ruins; and the blood of the priests and people poured out like water by mutual massacre, and the Roman sword. But the destroying fire was not confined to Jerusalem and the temple; the land in general, and the works in it, were burned up. Its crops, and towns, cities, villages, synagogues, homesteads, and other improvements, all partook in the fiery destruction brought upon them by the hosts of the Little Horn. This was the judgment and fiery indignation that devoured the adversaries of the truth in the last days; the furnace of fire into which apostates and hypocrites were cast; and where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:51; 13:42; Isaiah 31:9).
Such was the day of the Lord which came upon Judah's commonwealth as a thief in the night. The vengeance was terrible and complete. Everything Mosaic that existed contemporary with the apostles, vanished away, as they and the prophets had foretold. The Jews either rejected or perverted the Gospel of the Kingdom in the glorious and fearful name, JEHOVAH Elohim; therefore, they were broken off by terrible judgment and subjected to the Mosaic curses of Mount Ebal for a long and bitter day of eighteen hundred years. Their power was broken by the Little Horn of the Goat; so that they could no longer persecute, and be contrary to all. They have had practical experience of the import and truth of Paul's words, that
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; who is a consuming fire. (Heb. 10:31; 12:29)
He has consumed their land with intense desolation: scattered them abroad to the utmost heaven; and, as Moses predicted, made them an astonishment, a proverb and a byword, among all nations. Moses, in whom they boast, has nothing for them but curses, until they confess the iniquity that has entailed upon them the punishment they endure; and Jesus, the prophet after his type, will not take up their names into his lips, so long as they hasten after another Messiah (Psalm 16:4) so that, abandoned for a time by Moses and Jesus, they have no refuge, nor covering from sin! How completely have the eagles devoured the carcase! Not a piece of tendon, skin, or garbage has escaped their voracity; but, as Ezekiel represents, they are the bones of a disintegrated skeleton, bleaching in the valley, and very dry. When the prophet saw them in vision, Lords Jehovah (Adonai Yahweh) said to him, Can these dry bones live? But, Ezekiel, dismayed at the charnal-house appearance, could only exclaim, Adonai Yahweh, thou knowest! Their power is gone, and nothing is retained and set free. They have no heavens, and are utterly destroyed from the land. These things to us are all accomplished facts; but to Peter and his brethren in Judea, they were the promise of the Lord, who was slack in its performance in the opinion of some. But Peter repudiated the idea. He said that the alleged delay was not slackness, but longsuffering; and mark, not longsuffering to a generation unborn, but to us-ward says Peter; to those of Judah who had confessed Jesus, but were being victimised by false teachers and seducing spirits: he was unwilling that any of them should perish in the Crisis of Gehenna ; but that all should come to a change of mind and disposition. To those who were steadfast, he said,
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless . . . . Seeing, therefore, YE know these things before, beware, lest YE also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and in the Day of the Aion. Amen.