Studies in the Scriptures
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ISRAEL’S NEW COVENANT
"The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His
Temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye
delight in. Behold He shall come, saith Jehovah of Hosts; but who may abide the day of His coming?"
Six thousand years ago in Eden our Maker, in justly sentencing His disobedient children to death, intimated that ultimately the Seed of the woman would bruise the Serpent’s head. This hidden promise was the first intimation of the Divine mercy which our gracious Creator had purposed in Himself from before the foundation of the world. Ever noble, kind and gracious our Creator restrained His mercy for the good of His creatures—that they might learn to appreciate the exceeding sinfulness of sin. For the good of the angels also—that they might fully know of His justice, as well as of His Wisdom and Power—God insisted upon dealing with His creatures from the standpoint of exact justice. They had sinned, and thereby had forfeited all claim upon the eternal life which He had given them conditionally.
Eternal torment, as we have already seen, did not in any sense or degree enter into the Divine purpose. His sentence upon man, plainly stated, was, "Dying thou shalt die," not, Living thou shalt live in torment. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." (
.) God purposed to exemplify in His dealings with our race a principle of Divine government to be made operative everywhere ultimately—amongst all His creatures on the spirit plane, as well as upon the earthly.
Long centuries after, in the seventh generation of Adam’s children, God spoke prophetically through one of these, Enoch, saying, "The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute justice in the earth" —to establish righteousness amongst men. Time passed
on; but sin prevailed, and the coming of the Great Deliverer was still future.—Jude 14.
Next God spoke to Abraham, after first having tested his faith and loyalty. To him He mentioned the same great Deliverer who would bruise the Serpent’s head and who would come in great glory with ten thousands of His holy ones. To Abraham He gave assurance that this One would, in some way, be identified with his posterity, so that He might properly be called the Seed of Abraham.
God said, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."—
The Divine Program was not changed, but more explicit statements were given respecting it. Thereafter all taught of God would know to look for the Messianic blessing through Abraham’s Seed. Besides, the Covenant was afterward confirmed with an Oath to Abraham; later to Isaac; later to Jacob. That Covenant Promise became the basis of God’s adoption of the entire nation of Israel—all of Jacob’s children. They were heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant—the Oath-Bound Covenant. If so great an honor from the Almighty God has made some of the Jewish people at times to appear arrogant and proud, let us not forget that to err is human—to forgive, Divine.
Perhaps if we were in their stead our imperfections would similarly display themselves.
GOD’S COVENANT OF THE LAW
Israel’s experiences of tribulation and bondage in Egypt were probably necessary to prepare them for God’s great proposition—that they should keep the Law and as a reward have life everlasting. As it is written, "He that doeth these things shall live by them." (
.) Israel greatly rejoiced in this manifestation of Divine preference for them more than for all others of humanity. The Law Covenant was mediated. The sacrifice of bulls and of goats made a typical atonement for them for a year, so that they might enter into this covenant
relationship with God. But when they attempted to keep the Law they were disappointed. They failed.
The Law of God is the full measure of a perfect man’s ability; and the Jews, being imperfect like other men, found that they had undertaken an impossibility.
Not a Jew kept the Law perfectly. Not a Jew, therefore, gained eternal life during the first year. But foreknowing this, God had made preparation for a repetition of the Atonement Day every year, so that the people might continue striving to attain eternal life. Year after year, century after century, they failed, and discouragement took the place of hope. God was teaching them a great lesson respecting the need of
than those of bulls and of goats, and also teaching them that there is no other means of justification in His sight. They had blessings under this Covenant—educational blessings, but not the blessing hoped for, not
Hence they were not in a position to become, as they had hoped, a national Messiah, a national Seed of Abraham, for the blessing of all the nations.
NEW COVENANT AND BETTER MEDIATOR
For a time God gave them kings, but these were unable to accomplish the great things hoped for. But the promise of a personal Messiah was made, who should be of the lineage of David, a great King, far superior to the great, wise and rich Solomon, Messiah would be David’s Son and yet David’s Lord. (
Here, as God designed, Israel began to get the thought of a personal Messiah, a King of Glory, who would use their nation as His instrumentality for the conquering of the world, when every knee should bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God.
The next lesson for Israel to learn was that a change of dispensation must come—that, as Moses had mediated the Law Covenant, so an antitypical Moses, a greater than Moses, would induct them into the blessings and
privileges of a still better covenant, a covenant more favorable to them, one under which they could gain eternal life. This New Covenant was particularly set before them through Jeremiah’s prophecy (31:31-34). And this, combined with the statement of Moses respecting a greater Mediator, helped their faith to take a fresh hold upon the Oath-Bound Abrahamic Promise—"In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
If a great enough Mediator should come as the promised Messenger of God, and should establish a better covenant, under which Israel could have eternal life, and if He, as the offspring of David, should become their King, then indeed Abraham’s Seed, the nation of Israel under that great Mediator-King, would be fully qualified to bless all the families of the earth. The thought of this glory to their nation became a fresh inspiration, and around it gathered the fifty odd thousand of Jews, out of all the tribes of Israel, who returned from Babylonian captivity under the edict of Cyrus.
Through the Prophet Ezekiel the Lord again made mention of the fact that their Law Covenant made at Sinai must, before their great blessing of
give place to a New Covenant, a better covenant. Speaking of the time when He would regather them out of all lands and would fulfil to them the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and make them a great nation, and use them for the blessing of other nations, the Lord declares, "Not for your sakes do I this, O House of Israel, but for My name’s sake." He then proceeds to tell them that at the time He would receive them back into His love and favor He would also humble their pride by restoring the Samaritans and the Sodomites—peoples whom Israel detested as inferiors and sinners.—
God declares that neither of these peoples had ever committed as serious sins against Divine goodness as had Israel, and that when He would again bless Israel He would bless also these other peoples in their midst. Let
me quote His words: "When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their
and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their
then thou and thy daughters shall return to your
...Nevertheless I will remember My
with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting Covenant, ... and I will give them [Sodomites and Samaritans] unto thee for daughters, but not by
Covenant [not under the Old Law Covenant; but under the New Law Covenant of the future], and I will establish My Covenant with thee; ...[in order that] thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God."—
"ABIDE THE DAY OF HIS COMING"
This new and better Covenant is to be mediated through a personal Messiah—a still more glorious Mediator than Moses, a still more glorious King than David—this One whom Israel began to look for and to long for.
Can we wonder that they failed to identify Him in the lowly Nazarene who died at Calvary? We cannot! Nothing but a special assistance of the Holy Spirit would enable any one to trace the connection between the glorious pictures of the prophecies and the humble appearance of Him who came to fulfil those prophecies. We do see, however, that the great Messiah of Glory, Jesus, in His Second Advent as King of kings and Lord of lords, fills absolutely every demand of Jewish expectation and of prophetic outline. Some can see, but others cannot as yet, that He who was pierced is the same One who, as the Son of God, in great glory is shortly to bless Israel—and all the families of the earth through Israel.
Our text is from another prophecy speaking of this same great Messiah, the Mediator of the New Covenant, King of kings and Lord of lords, who, as the Representative
of the great Jehovah, His Father, is to reign until all enemies shall be put down—until Satan shall be bound and, ultimately, shall be crushed; until Adam and his race, released from Divine sentence, under the New Covenant provisions shall be uplifted from sin, degradation and death to perfection and everlasting life—the unwilling and disobedient being destroyed in the Second Death.
The Prophet Malachi points out that the Messiah of the New Covenant, whom he announces, is the glorious Mediator and antitypical King for whom they had waited long and of whom they delighted to think. He would come to the Temple—thus implying that He would be not only an antitypical Prophet, an antitypical King, but also an antitypical Priest—"after the order of Melchizedek."
But after this joyful proclamation that their long-expected and gloried-in Mediator of the New Covenant should be looked for, they were warned that His Day would be one of trial, one of special testing and proving, that the Lord might find the antitypical Priests and antitypical Levites to serve in the antitypical Temple. He would be like a refiner of fire to take away the dross and to leave only the pure metal—fiery trials and testings being implied. He would "be like fuller’s soap," in the sense that a great washing would take place to make for the Kingdom the called, chosen and faithful.—
At that time the consecration of Judah and Jerusalem unto the Lord will be accepted as in olden times. We may understand that this spirit of devotion is now reviving amongst the Jews, particularly amongst those who are identified with Jerusalem and the Zionist movement.
Hitherto this has been a political movement in the interest of Jewish nationalization and a home for exiles. Now, however, the due time has come for a real movement of those who have the faith to draw near to God and to show that faith by helping forward in the restoration of earthly Jerusalem and her interests.
WHY MESSIAH’S COMING DELAYED
The First-begotten of the Father, as His glorious Agent in the great work of creation, had the honor granted Him of becoming the great Messenger of the Covenant, the great Prophet, Priest and King of Israel, the great Michael of
. But there were tests connected with His attainment of this high position: (1) By faith He must lay aside His Heavenly glory, in obedience to the Father’s will, to become a man—not a sinful man, but a perfect man—holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. (2) Thus prepared to become the Redeemer it was His privilege to make full consecration of His earthly interest, and the Father’s pleasure to beget Him of the Holy Spirit at Jordan to the spirit nature on the highest plane. For three and a half years His sacrifice burned upon the altar. It was indeed better than the sacrifice of bulls and goats; for it was a corresponding price for Adam—an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a man’s life for a man’s life. (3) When Jesus had thus sacrificially parted with His earthly life He experienced a resurrection change from human nature to spiritual, like what He was originally, only higher and more glorious. Thus He was at once both a sacrifice and the spirit-begotten priest who offered that sacrifice.
When He arose from the dead His personal sacrifice had ended, and His personal perfection as a spirit being was completed.—
#Heb 10:1-14; 13:11-13
Then why did He not at once begin His great work as Prophet, Priest, King and New Covenant Mediator for Israel and through Israel for the world? It was because there was to be more than one sacrifice in the Divine Plan on the Day of Atonement. Throughout this Gospel Age this risen, glorified High Priest, Mediator, Prophet and King has been waiting to inaugurate His glorious Kingdom of blessing—waiting while a little handful of saints should be selected from the world,
tested and found worthy and glorified with Himself—a "little flock" out of all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles.
When this Bride class shall have completed her sacrifice in and under the merit of the great Priest, then every arrangement for the blessing of Israel as Abraham’s seed, and of all nations through Israel, will have forthwith commenced. Thus seen, the revelation of Israel’s great Messenger of the New Covenant is very important not only to the Jew, but also to the world of mankind, who must receive their blessings under Israel by a compliance with the same New Law Covenant.
Moreover, the elect handful of saints drawn, called and gathered during the parenthesis period are also deeply interested in God’s glorious Kingdom; for the Divine promise is that they shall be then changed to be like their Master and share His glory.
JUDGMENTS WILL BE OF THE LORD
Notice the further message of the Lord through the Prophet, "I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right."—
Ah, do we not see here plainly stated that the Messianic Kingdom means not only glory and honor to those whom He will accept as servants, but also requirements of faithfulness to the principles of truth, of purity, of harmony with God? And this lesson for the Jew, under his New Covenant arrangement, will ultimately apply to all nations. Under that new arrangement, under Israel’s New Covenant, all the families of the earth will be privileged to become "Israelites indeed" through faithfulness to the great Prophet, Priest, King and Mediator of Israel and of all the families of the earth.