§ 26. Daniel.
Have we clear and conclusive proof from its own internal evidence that the book is marked by special aim on God's part? Who can deny, as he weighs its testimony as a whole, that Daniel is, as no other, the prophet of "the times of the Gentiles"? There is a valuable but curt confirmatory witness in the later book of Zechariah subsequent to the Babylonish captivity. But neither there nor in all could be gleaned from every other prophecy put together any real ground of comparison with the pious captive Jew; who was called in God's providence to the highest position of counselling rule, not only at the Babylonian court under its mightiest monarch, but in the Medo-Persian which succeeded, to the days when Cyrus reigned sole and supreme.
While Israel was thus manifestly "Lo-ammi (not-my-people)," as the book indicates throughout, the striking fact is also disclosed of a provisional state for the Jewish remnant in the land, spiritual intelligence in a few, unbelieving blindness in the mass. This is revealed in Dan. 9:24, etc. as coming into collision with Messiah the Prince, and His being cut off, without having anything (i.e. of His Messianic rights), and its ruinous consequences described thereafter "even unto the consummation," which is not come. But it also recurs in Dan. 11:36 - 12:7, where we read the details of that consummation, when the same unbelieving generation of the Jews, who rejected long ago the true Christ, will receive the Antichrist to his and their shame and everlasting contempt. So the great Prophet Himself warned those of His day in John 5:43, before either of those awful catastrophes immeasurably more momentous, whatever rationalists think or say, than all the "decisive battles" of the world.
The unity of the book is now admitted even by most advanced freethinkers, save a few eccentrics of no weight. In the first half, having the historical form, Daniel is spoken of, and the Gentile chiefs are prominent (especially the first and greatest), though only the prophet could interpret. In the second half the prophet only has the visions as well as interpretations, which refer to "the saints" and "the people of the saints" in a way which the first did not. The best answer to cavilling sceptics is to read and believe "Daniel the prophet," as the Lord of all designated him.
Daniel 1 is a preface, from Jerusalem losing the direct government of God (who set up meanwhile Babylon in a fresh imperial position), down to the first year of Cyrus. Daniel 12 has also a conclusory character in the judgment of the Gentiles up to the deliverance of Israel. From Daniel 2 to 6 Gentiles are prominent in an exoteric way. From Daniel 7 to the end, only the prophet receives and communicates the mind of God intimately on all, with the glory of the Son of man and His saints on high, but His people here below. We may therefore call this half esoteric. What could so immense, as well as intimate, a range of truth have in keeping with Maccabean times? It is true that the Syrian king's furious persecution of the Jews, and his profanation of worship, find a marked place in the course of the book; but where it does, plain indication is given of a greater power and a worse evil typified thereby before "the end of the indignation." What sad belittling of an inspired book to make that king, audacious as he was and cruel, a blind not only to the final actor in that sphere, but to others on an incomparably larger scale, who are all to come under divine dealings at "the time of the end" — a time which assuredly is not yet arrived!
Daniel 2 conveys the interesting and important fact that "the God of the heavens" acted by a dream on the first Gentile head of empire, to show the general course of dominion then begun till its extinction: an image gorgeous and terrible, but gradually deteriorating as it descends, and closing with great strength and marked weakness also. Then He sets up another kingdom — His own, after destroying not only the fourth empire in its last divided condition of the ten toes (which did not exist when Christ suffered or the Holy Spirit came down) but the remains of all from the first — the gold, the silver, the brass, as well as the iron and clay. Only when judgment has been executed does the "little stone" expand into a great mountain and fill the whole earth. It awaits His second advent.
Here, as is well known, the rationalist coalesces with the ritualist in teaching the self-complacent chimera of an "ideal Israel," the church or Christendom. Yet in the church is neither Jew nor Greek, but Christ is all. It is the body of the glorified Head; and its calling is to suffering grace on earth, awaiting glory with Christ at His return. Crushing to powder the image of Gentile empires is in no way or time the church's work. The once rejected but now exalted Stone will do it, as He declared in Matthew 21:44 and in other scriptures. But the literal Israel will be then and there delivered, and become His earthly centre in power and glory. Such is the uniform witness of the prophets. We need not begrudge this to the remnant of Jacob then repentant; for we are called to far brighter glory with Christ in heavenly places. But, whether believed now or not, the first dominion on earth shall surely come to the daughter of Zion in that day, for as long as the earth endures.
The intervening histories in chapters 3-6 are in the fullest accord with the predictions of Daniel, two of them general (3, 4) and two particular (5, 6, as we shall find the prophecies are also); but none of them in fact refers to the peculiar scourge in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. In not one is there a trace of Hellenism imposed on the Jews. Not even in Belshazzar have we the least real likeness to punishing recalcitrants against the gods of Olympus.
The aim of Daniel 3 is to show how the Gentile entrusted with imperial power by God used it, deeply impressed as he had been by the lost secret which none but the Hebrew captive could interpret. Alas! man being in honour abides not; he is like the beasts that perish. So it had been with Israel under law, with Judah, and with David's house. New-fangled idolatry on pain of the most cruel death was the first recorded command of the Gentile world-power: a religious bond to unite by that act the various peoples, nations, and tongues of the one empire, and thus to counteract the divisive influence of gods peculiar to each of these races. But such a universal test gave God, thus ignored, the occasion to prove the nullity of that idol and of every other, the total and manifest defeat of supreme power even by its own captives cast into the fiery furnace, be it ever so heated. How grave the public lesson read to the Gentile empires, were not man as forgetful of God as he is bent on his own will!
The next chapter, Daniel 4, is no less general, and the more impressive as the deepest humiliation was inflicted by God, after His slighted warning, on the same haughty head of imperial power. Nebuchadnezzar had ascribed all his glory to himself, and got debased, as none else ever was, to the bestial state till "seven times" passed over him. After that he "lifted up his eyes to heaven," a repentant and restored man owning the Most High, no longer like the brute but morally intelligent. It is childish to lower or restrain to the Seleucid prince a lesson he never learnt. It is infidel to doubt the facts of this chapter or of the preceding one. It is blind not to recognise that Daniel 3 looks on to the deliverance of faithful ones (not "the many") at the end; as the next does to the day when the Gentile shall have a beast's heart no more, but will bless the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: the character of the divine display when this present evil age terminates. What connection had either with the loathsome foe of the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes? Nothing could be more telling than both displays of God's power during the "head of gold" "till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." It is Satan's work to disbelieve them; and a nominal Christian is far more guilty now than a heathen of old if he help Satan against God and His word.
The special aims of chapters 5, 6 are of no less serious moment. Neither the one nor the other represents or resembles Antiochus Epiphanes. In Daniel 5 we see dissolute profanity eliciting a most solemn token of divine displeasure on the spot, and judged by a providential infliction that very night. Monuments or not, the word of our God shall stand for ever. Nothing more dangerous than to trust any thing or one against scripture; and what can be more sinful? What avail the brave words of men enamoured of Babylonish bricks, cylinders, etc.? Let them beware of the snares of the great enemy; not even resurrection power broke Jewish unbelief. In Daniel 6 man was by craft set up for a while as the sole object of prayer or worship, which brought on its devisers the sudden destruction they had plotted for the faithful. What bearing had this, any more than the chapter before, on the grievous scourge of Antiochus Epiphanes? They evidently prepare the way, for the judgment of the future Babylon in the one (5), and for that of the Beast in the other (6), as given in the Book of Revelation, where both are shown to perish frightfully though with difference.
Next follow the more complicated communications of God's mind about the four "Beasts," the last especially, much fuller and more intimate than in chapter 2. The movement of heaven is disclosed, and God's interest in His people, and particularly in the sufferers for His name specified "as saints," and even as "saints of the high places." The dream of Nebuchadnezzar, condescending as it was to him and awe-inspiring in itself, contained no such vision of glory on high, no such prospects for heaven or earth, no such display of divine purpose in the Son of man.
But as in Daniel 2, so yet more in Daniel 7, the last and most distant empire, the fourth, is much more fully described than the Babylonish then in being, or the Medo-Persian that next followed, or the Greek that succeeded in its due time. For we have a crowd of minute predictions of an unexampled nature, the many horns in the last empire at its close, the audacious presumption and restless ambition of its last chief; who from a small beginning governed the rest, and, not content with trampling down the saints, rose up in blasphemy against God and His rights. But this calls forth summary and final judgment on all, with the action of heaven in establishing the everlasting kingdom of power and glory here below.
Such a revelation fundamentally clashes with the canons of the Higher Criticism, and demonstrates, if believed, their utter futility. Hence we can understand the wild efforts to get rid of the unvarnished truth Daniel sets before us in this vision. The attempt to separate the Median and the Persian elements, so as to make them respectively the second and third empires, is desperate and unworthy. Daniel 5:28 was explicit beforehand as well as Daniel 6:8, 12, 15; and afterwards chapter 8 demolishes such contradiction of scripture. The bear in chapter 7 answers to the ram in chapter 8, which had two horns, the kings of Media and Persia — not two Beasts, but one composite power expressly. The leopard, therefore, with its four heads answers to the goat of Greece, for whose great horn, when broken, four stood up in its stead. The fourth Beast, different from all the Beasts before, is none other than the Roman Empire; which has ten horns in its final shape, after which, when further change comes, divine judgment falls in a form without previous parallel (Dan. 7:11-12).*
If we let in, as we are bound, the further light of the Apocalypse, where we cannot but recognise the same "Beast" which Daniel saw in the fourth place, we gain the fullest certainty from Revelation 17 that the seven heads were successive governing forms, of which the sixth or imperial head was in being when John saw the vision (ver. 10); and that the ten horns were contemporary, for all receive authority as kings for "one hour with the beast." It is preparatory to the last crisis, when they make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them (vers. 12-14). This is also decisively shown in verse 16, "And the ten horns which thou sawest, and [not 'on'] the beast, these shall hate the harlot," etc., as they also give their kingdom to the "Beast" until the words of God shall be fulfilled. This, accordingly and absolutely, disposes of the attempt to make the "ten horns" mean only ten successive kings; so as to apply the list to the Seleucidae, and make it appear that Antiochus was the little horn of Daniel 7, who got rid of the three last of his predecessors. Such a scheme is mere perversion of scripture, wholly dislocates the chapter, and deprives us of the only true interpretation. For this supposes a divine interposition at the end of the age in judgment of the Roman Empire, revived to fulfil its complete destiny and to be judged by the Lord Jesus at His appearing.
*As far as I know, Ephraem Syrus stands alone among the early ecclesiastics in treating Antiochus Epiphanes as the little horn of Daniel 7. An earnest man, extremely attached to monasticism, and vehement against the heterodox, he died in A. D. 378 but one has yet to learn why his differing from all other fathers earlier and later should have weight. Grotius and others, notorious for excluding the future and Christ, and for limiting prophecy to past history, followed in modern times, though early fathers enough led in the same path of unbelief.
The first empire had a simplicity peculiar to itself. The second or Medo-Persian had dual elements; and so has the symbol two horns, of which the higher came up last. The third or Macedonian after its brief rise had four heads, of which two are noticed particularly as having to do with the Jews in the details of Daniel 11. The fourth empire, beyond just doubt, is the Roman, diverse from all before it, and distinguished by the notable form of ten concurrent horns, ere its destructive judgment by a divine kingdom which supersedes all, alone truly both universal and everlasting. Then shall the saints of the high places have their grand portion, surely not to eclipse the Son of man (as these sorry critics would like), but to swell the train of His glory Who is Heir of all things.
None but the Roman Empire corresponds with the feet of iron and clay; none other furnishes an analogy to the ten toes in one case and ten horns in another, the only true force of which is ten kings (subject to the violent change indicated) reigning together. Nor can any power that ever bore sway be so truly compared to "iron breaking and subduing all things," or a most ravenous nondescript brute with great iron teeth, which "devoured and brake in pieces and stamped the residue with the feet of it." The entrance of the Teuton clay indicates the brittleness of independent will (in contrast with the old Roman cohesive centralism); which, as it broke up the empire in the past, will culminate in the tenfold division of the future, on that revival of the empire which is presupposed in Daniel 7 before judgment falls, and is distinctly revealed in Revelation 17. This is a trait wholly absent from all previous empires, as well as from the Syro-Greek kingdom, which never was an empire nor approached it.
As the revival of the Roman Empire is so momentous a fact of the future and for "the time of the end," it may be well here to point out its clear and conclusive evidence in scripture. On the showing of Daniel 2 and 7 the fourth or Roman Empire is in power when the kingdom of God comes, enforced by the Son of man. But the Revelation explains how this can and will be. In Revelation 13:1-10 is seen the "Beast" emerging once more from the sea or revolutionary state of nations, having seven heads and ten horns. These last have been ever held to identify it with Daniel's fourth empire. Again, the seven heads, now appropriately added, can only confirm it; for (explained as it is in Revelation 17:9-10) this description applies to no known empire so significantly as to the Roman. Only we have to observe an absolutely new fact in connection with the healing of that one of his heads (the imperial, as it appears) which had been wounded to death: that the great dragon (who in Revelation 12 is declared to be Satan) gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
Pagan Rome was evil exceedingly, and had its part in the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. The same Roman empire will reappear at the end of the age, energized by Satan in a way neither itself nor any other empire had ever known. This gives the key to its extreme blasphemy and defiance of the Most High, as well as to other enemies; because of which the judgment shall sit and the dominion be taken away by the wrath of God from heaven, when the Beast with its hosts dares to make war against the Lord descending in power and glory. The horns will then act as of one will with the "Beast" that is then present to give imperial unity. For still more clearing the intimations of Revelation 13, Revelation 17:8 is most explicit: "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into perdition." Again, at the close of the verse, "Seeing the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall be present." (See also verse 11.)
The "Beast" without the horns was under the Caesars and their successors. Horns in their varying numbers were without the "Beast" in the middle ages and onward: "The beast was, and is not." But the wonder of the future is that the Beast, before the closing scene, is to arise not only out of the sea but with the far more awful symbol, "out of the abyss," the prelude of perdition. Here, again, the consistency of the truth asserts itself. To none but the Roman Empire can these predictions apply. To Alexander's empire they are irrelevant; how much more to a mere offshoot of it! No, it is the empire that rose up against the Lord in humiliation, which, blinded and filled by Satan's power, will make war with the Lamb when He comes in glory to its appalling ruin.
Daniel 8 is manifestly of a character and scope more circumscribed than the general prophecies of Dan. 2 and 7. Yet it is none the less important for its design, because it takes up only a special part; but all alike conduct us to the catastrophe at the end. As this we have seen to be evidently true of the great general visions of the book, so is it equally of the particulars; which circumstance exposes the fallacy of identifying the objects. All come into collision with divine judgment; but they are distinct in character as in fact. Here, then, we have the second empire of Medo-Persia assailed overwhelmingly by the third or Greek kingdom of Alexander the Great. How any upright mind can fail to apprehend this from the simple reading of the text is hard to account for. The great horn was broken when it became strong, and in its stead came up four notable horns. Out of one of these four kingdoms rose a little horn which became exceeding great, and also meddled peculiarly with the Jews and the sanctuary. It is a deplorable lack of intelligence to confound this oppressor with the little horn of Daniel 7. The one was as manifestly the ruler over a part of the Greek empire in the East, as the other from a small beginning arrives to be the chief of the Western empire. Both are to be excessively impious and wicked, both surely punished by God beyond example. But to confound them is to lose the difference of the actors at the close, even wholly opposed as they are to each other, though both inflict the worst evils on the chosen people. Now there is the less need of many words here, as it is agreed that the vision in its later part from verse 9 does set forth the Seleucid enemy of the Jews and of their religion. And it would appear that verses 13, 14 apply to his defilement of the sanctuary and suppression of the daily offering.
As usual in Daniel and elsewhere in scripture, the interpretation not only explains but adds considerably, and in particular dwells, not on the typical Antiochus Epiphanes, but on the final antitypical enemy in the same quarter at the latter day. It is weak to pretend that the awful end predicted for the infamous personage of the future in this chapter and at the end of Daniel 11 could be fulfilled in the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, terrible as it was in the estimate of Greeks as well as Jews. Thus the real prediction of his history in the preceding verses of the same chapter 11 up to 32 does not dwell on it as comparable with that of him who is found "at the time of the end."
For the prophecy goes on to the consummation, when God interferes in unmistakeable power. Hence the angelic interpreter would make Daniel know "what shall be at the end of the indignation." Who can say with the smallest show of truth that this was in the days of the impious Syrian or of the Maccabean resistance? "The end of the indignation" will only be, when Israel are truly repentant and God has no more controversy with His people. Nor should this surprise any one who reads the scriptures in faith, for all the prophets look on to that happy time. The real person before the mind of the Holy Spirit at the close is one who will "stand up against the Prince of princes," but shall be "broken without hand" in a way far beyond its type in past history. A gap, therefore, necessarily occurs in every one of the prophecies. In no instance is continuity unbroken. Enough is said to make the general bearing plain; but in every case the Holy Spirit dwells on the final scene which connects itself with the subject matter before us; because then only will the judgment of God decide all absolutely and publicly, and introduce the kingdom of power and glory that shall never pass away.
Daniel 9 has its own peculiarities. Those who contrast this book with other prophecies, as lacking the predominantly moral element, only prove their own blindness. In no prophecy is it more conspicuous; and the same chapter which so profoundly tells out to God a heart that identified itself with the sins and iniquities ("we have sinned," etc.) of the men of Judah, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of all Israel near and far off, but with the most earnest intercession, is precisely the one that, as he prayed, received from God a prediction in some respects the most striking and important of any in scripture. Here even rationalism cannot but own that the promised blessings of verse 24 belong to the Messianic hope, when the 490 years really close. Thus it shares, with every other prediction in the book, the mark of going down to the end of the age; when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and God sets up His kingdom in Christ by judgments executed on all lawlessness, Jewish or Gentile. But here, where Jeremiah's seventy years are referred to, with the provisional return of a remnant from Babylon to rebuild the city and the sanctuary, we have not only Jehovah the Lord God of Israel addressed, but also Messiah's first advent and cutting off. This interrupts the thread of the seventy weeks, as it naturally must; and an undated vista of desolation follows. For it clearly includes Messiah's rejection, and leaves nothing but the destruction of the city and temple, and a flood of troubles on the Jews. There evidently comes the break. Messiah's death was "after" the sixty-ninth week = 483 years. Then follows the desolation determined, and to the end war, outside the course of the "weeks" altogether, as it is hardly possible for a serious man to deny.
The last week remains for the close, without fixing any connection or starting-point, save that the Roman "prince" (whose "people" came and destroyed Jerusalem) will, at the time of the end, make covenant with "the many," or mass of faithless Jews, for a week or seven years, and will in the midst of it cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. That is, he will put down the Jewish religion, contrary to his covenant; and "because of the protection" [rather than the overspreading] "of abominations" or idols, which take its place, a desolator shall be, even until the consumption and that which is determined to be poured on the desolate, i.e. Jerusalem. The desolator seems to be the last north-eastern enemy, as the Roman prince is he who is so prominent in Daniel 7, where we saw the times and laws given into his hand for the same last half week, or three and a half times.
Instead of this plain, worthy, and homogeneous interpretation, what do the neo-critics say? "There can be no reasonable doubt that this [the cutting off of Messiah] is a reference to the deposition of the high priest, Onias III., and his murder by Andronicus (B.C. 171)"; while the rest is turned to Antiochus. Of course, all is chaos among these critics. The design is to pervert the prophecy, from Christ's death and the burning of their city and the flood of desolation, to those murderers. The precise scope is clear if the interruption of the series is observed in the text, with the future bearing of the last week. If this be true, it is a death-blow to the "higher critics," and an unanswerable proof that the true Daniel wrote it; who here distinctively brings in the awful truth of Christ's rejection, which has deferred the world-kingdom till His second advent; while the disasters of the poor Jews are shown, not only till the Romans destroyed their city and temple, but at the end of the age when they meet their worst tribulation, before deliverance comes for the godly in that day, as it surely will.
Daniel 10 answers to the earlier portion of Daniel 9 when the power of Babylon was broken, and a new dynasty reigned with favour toward the Jews. Daniel was in no way deceived as to the moral state of the Jews, but led into humiliation and prayer more than ever before. As the vision of chap. 9 was given him, and the violent rejection of Messiah its most notable fact within a measured period, so in chap. 10 Daniel beheld One of surpassing glory, and had an angelic communication (inscribed in the scripture of truth) of what should befall his people at the end of the days. And so we find that a prophecy follows in chaps. 11, 12 remarkable beyond any in scripture for details, especially for the persecution which befell the Jews in the land for their religion. Thence it turns with plain intimation to "the time of the end," when the similar spirit of unbelief among the Jews, which had long before cut off the Messiah, will receive the Antichrist at the end of the age, bringing in the conflicts of Gentile powers, and the unparalleled tribulation that precedes the deliverance of the righteous remnant, and the blessed rest of that day.
The last three chapters are also a particular prophecy, Daniel 11 being exceedingly minute, to the fierce dislike of such as think for God, and would dictate to Him if they could. There is a rich variety in scripture, and not least in the prophetic word. Our place is to bow to God and learn of Him. Unbelief sits in judgment of Him Who is worthy of all trust and adoration. Now chapter 11, peculiar as it may be, demands and deserves our fullest confidence, whatever say the scorners. It was in the third year of Cyrus that the revelation came to Daniel. Three more kings were to arise in Persia — Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspis; then the fourth, richer than them all, Xerxes, who, when waxed strong by his riches, should stir up the whole against the kingdom of Javan or Greece. This gives the fitting gap, which necessarily must be, unless an uninterrupted thread were inserted: a thing unprecedented in such cases, for the gap we have seen to be regular.
The next personage is the Macedonian chief, who repaid the blow intended by Persia. No unprejudiced man can avoid seeing Alexander the Great in verse 3, or his divided kingdom in verse 4, which introduces two of those divisions, the kingdoms of the north and the south, and their conflicts which follow. Again, it is clear and certain that in verses 21-32 we have a full account of him who more than any hated the Jews and their religion. The sceptical theory is, that a patriotic Jew in his day personated Daniel of ancient renown in the exile, and converted the past history into professed prophecy up to that time. But the fact stands opposed that, when Antiochus Epiphanes is dropped, verses 33-35 give a protracted state of trial which ensued long for the Jews, when their old foe had ceased from troubling; and that the text expressly declares their trial was to go on to "the time of the end." Here, therefore, is the great gap implied in accordance with the other predictions of the book, and even with the same principle on a smaller scale between verses 2 and 3 of this very chapter as already pointed out and undeniable.
Then from verse 36 we find ourselves confronted with the last time. We are told, not of a king of the north or of the south as before, but of "the king," that final wicked one whom a prophet so distinguished and early as Isaiah presents in Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 30:33, Isaiah 57:9 under the same ominous phrase. He is the Anointed's personal rival reigning in the land according to his own pleasure, and thus fully contrasted with Him who only did His Father's will. It is an energetic sketch of one exalting himself against every god; whereas Antiochus Epiphanes was devoted to the gods of Greece and Rome. Though speaking impious things against the God of gods, he is to prosper "till the indignation be accomplished" — God's indignation against His guilty people (as Isaiah also spoke), another proof of days still to come. The Palestinian prince (which Antiochus Epiphanes was not, but king of the north) will have no regard for the God of his fathers, namely, Jehovah (for he is an apostate Jew), nor the desire of women (Messiah, the hope of Israel), nor any god (i.e. of the Gentiles); which last it is absurd and false to say of Antiochus Epiphanes. In truth it is the long predicted and then present Antichrist, supplanting Christ, denying the Father and the Son, coming in his own name, and received by those that refused Him who came in the Father's. His and their destruction is shown elsewhere. But here the prophet turns to the old struggle of the kings of the north and of the south, both being as opposed to "the king" as to each other: an incontestable proof of the folly, first of fancying Antiochus Epiphanes here, and next of denying that these events, believed or disbelieved, are set forth as the prophet's prediction of the last future collision
Observe, finally, what accumulation of proofs Daniel 12 affords of these events to come, which of themselves refute the petty scheme of seeing only Antiochus Epiphanes up to the end. For when the last king of the north perishes by divine judgment, a divine intervention on behalf of Israel is assured "at that time." Sorely will the Jews need it, for they will be passing through this their last and severest tribulation. But, unlike their calamitous history for long centuries, "at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." It is no mere policy nor prowess, but mercy for the righteous. Hence the appropriate figure of many of the sleepers in the dust awakening, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. So Isaiah (26) and Ezekiel (37) employed the same figure of resurrection for the uprising of Israel nationally, but with the rejection of the unrighteous, as our prophet plainly indicates.
The result, then, of this brief survey of the book, assailed by neo-critical unbelief, is to show that their scheme is unfounded from first to last; and that it overlooks the grand scope of Gentile empire, both exoteric (2) and esoteric (7). In this so inconsiderable a ruler as Antiochus Epiphanes could have no place, still less be the culmination of all in bringing on the divine extinction of the entire system of Gentile empire, and hence in restoring Israel under conditions of blessing and glory which will change the world's history.
Plainly no such time is arrived. When Christ came, the fourth empire was in power; which will also play its part against Him at His second advent, as the New Testament carefully and clearly reveals. His cross laid the basis for reconciling, not believers only, but all things also in due time. Meanwhile in the world "the times of the Gentiles" proceed, and "the indignation" against faithless Israel. The gospel is indeed sovereign grace toward all, and upon all that believe, and the church is Christ's body for heavenly glory. But the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is not yet come, nor can it come till the seventh trumpet is blown. Even in the particular prophecies of Daniel, where Antiochus Epiphanes is referred to (Dan. 8 and Dan. 11), the book itself teaches us to look on from his evil to a greater and worse antitype expressly bound up with "the time of the end," which in no way applies to the Seleucid king.
§ 27. MINOR PROPHETS. — HOSEA.
Does the group of the so-called Minor Prophets differ from all the other component parts of Holy scripture? or is each of them characterised by its own special aim, and a peculiar contribution to the sum of divine revelation? Let us examine them, however briefly, one by one, though in time they were gathered for convenience into a single volume by the Jews.
The drift of Hosea, though in style terse and abrupt to obscurity, is sufficiently clear in the main to any attentive believer. He announces in Hosea 1 the fall of Jehu's house and of Israel's kingdom under the symbolic children Jezreel and Lo-ruhamah. A still more awful doom was intimated by Lo-Ammi, when the ruin of Judah should leave Jehovah without a recognisable people. Yet the chapter does not conclude without the assurance, (1) that in the place where Lo-Ammi was said, sons of the living God should be said (which Rom. 9 applies to the call of the Gentile and to privileges higher than Jewish); (2) that the two houses of the divided people shall be gathered together with one head (Messiah without doubt in a day yet to come). Is not this so? 1 Peter 2 applies the end of Hosea 2 to the Christian Jews even now. It is plain however that the end of both chapters contemplates as a whole what is not yet in terms fulfilled. Hosea 3 fills up the gap with a graphic sketch of the long interval during which the people abide without privilege, civil or religious, and yet without idolatry, before their blessed restoration at the end of the days. Such is the first section, as sure for the future, as for the present.
The second part is a series of expostulations, entreaties, menaces, and lamentations over the beloved but guilty people, distinguishing the sons of Israel from Judah's in danger; and testifying not only the loss of priestly place as a whole (Hosea 4:6), but priests, people, princes, all objects of divine displeasure and judgment (Hosea 5). Hosea 6 breaks out into a touching appeal, that they might repent; as Hosea 7 has to pronounce woe, because even when they howled, they cried not to Jehovah in heart. Hosea 8 therefore is the trumpet blast of coming destruction on Israel and Judah. Yet in Hosea 9 what tender pleading over Ephraim, about to become a wanderer, wherein the prophet was a snare! It was no new evil, but since Gibeah: what could be but cutting off Israel's king and the Assyrian their king (Hosea 10, Hosea 11)? What a contrast with Jacob, as Hosea 12 draws out! Nevertheless He declares that He will ransom them from the power of Sheol, and redeem them from death (Hosea 13).
Accordingly the last chapter (Hosea 14) provides words of confession, and of return to Jehovah from iniquities and creature help, with His own blessed and blessing promises, which shall be made good as surely as He spoke them through the prophet.
Joel remarkably differs from the general sweep of Hosea; for he concentrates attention, from a then famine (Joel 1), on the northern army in spite of its menaces to perish between the eastern and the western seas. After that will come not only fulness of outward blessing but the divine Spirit poured out upon all flesh, and in Jerusalem shall be, no ruin nor danger more, but deliverance in every sense (Joel 2). For in those days Jehovah will enter into judgment with all the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat on account of Israel (Joel 3). The apostle Peter was beyond controversy justified in vindicating the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost as of this character, and in no wise creaturely excitement (Acts 2:16). But he is far from intimating that it was the fulfilment of the prophecy; which did not contemplate the formation of the church, or the going forth of the gospel to all the creation, but the earthly glories of the Messianic kingdom for Judah and Jerusalem, as shall follow in the due season. So the apostle Paul applies it in Rom. 10 to the salvation of Jew or Gentile now, stopping short of citing the promised deliverance in mount Zion and in Jerusalem.
Who can fail to discriminate the work assigned to the herdman or sheep-master Amos of Tekoa? No competent person can deny the beauty and force of his style, or the fresh originality with which he pronounces Jehovah's punishment on the nations which surround His people, and the surprising fact that Judah and Israel fall under it also (Amos 1, Amos 2). Indeed Amos 3 lets them together learn that, because they were known as none else, therefore He should visit them for their iniquities. But He would do nothing without revealing it to His servants the prophets. Do professing Christians believe either of those words of His? "Hear this word" begins Amos 3, Amos 4, Amos 5, all of them warnings to His guilty people, whose false worship was the mother sin of all other sins. Amos 6 is a woe on their self-security and luxury, like Gentiles who know not God. Now would the Lord Jehovah, who repented of destroying judgments at the prophet's intercession, take the measuring-line in hand and desolate the people and king (Amos 7); as in Amos 8 the end is shown coming on Israel, and the land darkened in the clear day. Amos 9 reveals the Lord standing (not on a wall) but on the altar for judgment still more overwhelming. Yet, while He declares that He will shake the house of Israel to and fro among all the nations, He says not the least grain shall fall. Nay more, He will raise up David's fallen tabernacle, and build it as in days of old to the downfall of their spiteful foes; He will pour on them earthly blessing without stint; and when He plants them in those days on their land, they shall no more be plucked up. These glorious realities await repentant Israel.
Obadiah calls for few words, not only because it is so short, but because its distinctive aim is most unmistakeable. Edom is the object before him, and the judgment which the Lord Jehovah would inflict on its jealous and rancorous hatred of His chosen people. Their pride had deceived them; their fastnesses should not screen them: Jehovah will bring them down. Their boasted wisdom is in vain, as well as their might. Their malice was aggravated, as against "thy brother Jacob," and "in the day of his disaster." But in the day of Jehovah upon all the nations shall be deliverance on mount Zion, and it shall be holy; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. Can any thing be plainer than the speciality of our prophet? or that he looks onward to the triumphs of the last days, when saviours shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be Jehovah's in a form and fulness never yet known on the earth?
He who does not see Jonah's distinctive place must have singularly little perception. Indeed it is the man or what befell him that is the prophetical sign, though the prophetic message, short as it is, must strike us as addressed to the Gentiles in Nineveh. The history is a great and instructive type throughout; and this is no mere idea but truth taught by our Lord.
Jonah 1 tells us of Jonah charged to cry against the great city because of its wickedness. Strange to say, he a true prophet flees west when bidden to go east. But Jehovah sent a mighty tempest on the ship sailing to Tarshish; and Jonah slept below, while the mariners cried each to his god, and vainly struggled on. At length they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah, who, as they knew, fled from Jehovah's presence; and he frankly bade them cast him overboard as their only safety. This reluctantly and with prayer to Jehovah they did; and the sea ceased from raging to their deeper fear, which issued in a sacrifice to Him and vows. But Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, who was in its belly three days and nights, the sign of Christ (Matt. 12).
There he prayed as in Jonah 2 owning salvation to be of Jehovah, Who commanded the fish to vomit out Jonah on the dry land. And the word of Jehovah came to him the second time, bidding him to go and preach to Nineveh what He should say. Jonah both despised the Gentiles, and feared that Jehovah might repent Him of judgment if they sought His mercy; and where then would be the glory of a prophet of Israel, when his Yea became Nay? The figure of death and resurrection opens the door of grace to the lost. If Christ for the time be lost to the Jew who rejected Him, grace works to save Gentiles. Jonah does his errand now (Jonah 3); and they repent at his preaching from the king downward, the very beasts covered with sackcloth being denied food and drink that they might cry out; and God repented of what He threatened.
This even now Jonah resented (Jonah 4) and wished to die rather than his word should fail and Nineveh abide. But here was the truth so needed by Israel as well as Jonah. Hence the gourd (that sprang up under the hand of Jehovah Elohim to shelter the narrow-hearted and self-occupied prophet) withered under the worm He prepared to this end, so that Jonah fainted under the heat, and again wished to die. Then said Jehovah, "Thou hadst pity on the gourd … and I, should not I have pity on Nineveh, the great city, wherein are more than 120,000 persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" Yes, He is the God of all grace, the God not of Jews only but of Gentiles also, whose mercies as the faithful Creator are over all His works. What Jew, what Rabbi, had ever allowed such a book within the sacred canon, if God had not written it for the purpose?
NEXT comes a still more brilliant seer: the word of Jehovah that came to Micah the Morasthite, a contemporary of Isaiah, concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. It is composed of three chief divisions, ushered in by a call to listen, "Hear, ye peoples, all of you; hearken, O earth, and all that is therein" (Micah 1:2); "And I said, Hear, I pray you, ye heads of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel" (Micah 3:1); and "Hear ye now what Jehovah saith," etc. (Micah 6:1). Can the least discerning of believers fail to apprehend its distinctive character?
It opens with the imminent fall of the northern kingdom because of its transgression, but goes on to the punishment of Judah also and Jerusalem. "Of late my people is risen up as an enemy." "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not the rest, because of defilement that destroyeth, even a grievous destruction" (Micah 2:8, 10). The people and their prophets were alike wicked and rebellious. As chap. 1 has a predictive sketch of the Assyrian foe coming against Jerusalem, so does the end of chap. 2 present Him Who will effectuate Jehovah's purpose of deliverance and blessing for the remnant of Israel at the end.
In the next section he appeals to the chiefs, warning them against the prophets that cause Jehovah's people to err. If they cried, Peace, without a vision or light from God, Micah could say that he was filled with power by the Spirit of Jehovah to declare unto Jacob his transgression and unto Israel his sin. Heads, priests, prophets were only building up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with unrighteousness, while veiling iniquity under the privilege of His name. Zion and Jerusalem should come to utter desolation (Micah 3:9-12). But this is followed in Micah 4 by the glowing picture with which Isaiah begins his Isa. 2. Only Micah, instead of going on to the overwhelming judgment of the day of Jehovah as there, predicts the going to Babylon as Isaiah does in his Isa. 39. Thence he turns to the closing scenes where many nations gather against Zion, which is told to arise and thresh many peoples: a judgment awaiting its sure fulfilment, when the first or former dominion shall come to her.
This gives occasion for announcing a still deeper reason for putting off blessing and the giving up His people for a season. Awful to think and say, they should smite the Judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek (Micah 5:1)! And a parenthesis reveals Him born at Bethlehem, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. His rejection was their own rejection, till God's counsel comes to birth; when the residue of His brethren, instead of merging in the church of God as now, shall return unto the children of Israel, and the kingdom be displayed in power and glory before all the world. And the prospect is beautifully described to the end of this part.
The third section is a most affecting call to hear Jehovah's controversy with His people, in spite of His goodness to them from the beginning and through the wilderness into Canaan. It is not offerings but righteousness He values. In the face of iniquity, deceit, and violence, of family bonds turned to enmity all the more evil and destructive, the prophet waits on Jehovah with confidence of deliverance and vindication. And he looks through the desolation that must intervene because of Israel's sins to the restitution of all things in the latter day, when the nations shall be ashamed of all their might, and lick the dust. "Who is a God like Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again and have mercy upon us; He will tread under foot our iniquities. And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the seas. Thou wilt perform truth to Jacob, loving-kindness to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old" (Micah 7:18-20). In denying God's faithfulness to Israel and monopolising the earthly promises, Babylon has shown herself, as in all else, faithless to the true place of His church, in present suffering and future glory with Christ. But we speak not of her that occupied the plain of Shinar, but of the more guilty woman that sits on seven hills, mystery written on her forehead, the corrupt counterpart of the bride, the Lamb's wife.
As Micah on a small scale noticed both Babylon and the Assyrian which Isaiah presented much more fully, Nahum is occupied only with Nineveh and its chief before the world-powers were ordained. For such was the order historically, as prophetically it will be the inverse. (Compare Isa. 13 and Isa. 14 with Micah 4 and Micah 5) For what answers to Babylon, the imperial Beast or fourth empire revived for judgment at the consummation of the age, will meet its doom before the Assyrian comes up with the external nations for final destruction when Israel shall be owned of Jehovah; but the reign of righteousness and peace is not yet fully established. Who can deny the special place designed for Nahum as to Nineveh, any more than the peculiar task given to Obadiah as to Edom?
Nahum was a Galilean like Jonah; and if the latter was sent long before to warn the haughty Gentile, and on repentance to defer the judgment in divine mercy, the former was given, on its raising its head still more proudly, to pronounce Jehovah's indignant vengeance, however slow to anger; for He is as great as He is good. In vain went forth out of Nineveh one that imagined evil against Jehovah, a counsellor of Belial. He will make a full end — trouble shall not rise a second time; as Sennacherib proved, his yoke broken, His people's bonds burst, out of the house of the Assyrian's gods graven and molten images cut off, and his grave prepared. The scourge finally past is followed by the enduring peace of His people (Nahum 1).
What more superb than the lifelike graphic sketch of the dashing in pieces (Nahum 2)? But all ends, not in Jerusalem taken, but in Nineveh and its palace melting away in its own rivers which burst the gates, the converse of Babylon's later fate. The lair of the lions would be an utter ruin, instead of a terror (Nahum 3). Nineveh was no better than Thebes, or No-Amon; there is no healing of her breach.
Habakkuk begins by complaining of the evil in Jehovah's people, when he is reminded of the marvellous work He wrought in using the Chaldeans in their proud self-seeking energy to chastise them. This turns his complaint against the wicked swallowing up one more righteous, and withal sacrificing to his net and burning incense to his drag (Habakkuk 1). Can any hesitate to own distinctive design here?
The prophet waits for His word, and Jehovah's answer comes so plainly that its reader may run. The just shall live by his faith, before public deliverance is given. If God is patient, His people may well be. All the iniquity was seen and felt: retribution would come at an appointed time. The peoples labour for the fire, and the nations weary themselves in vain. For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah (not of the gospel, which appeals to faith now for heaven), as the waters cover the sea. The Babylonian capturing would be to no purpose any more than their famous building; and their intoxication of others for deceit as of themselves would end in shame, like their idolatries: Jehovah is in His holy temple above, whatever the state of His house on earth. Silence! (Habakkuk 2)
His prayer follows in chap. 3 and the power that will make itself seen, heard, and felt, rises for his soul, as he recalls His deliverance of old, though but partial, as He had only Israel in view, not yet Messiah and the new covenant. He anticipates the triumphant lot of Israel, as is already seen, no less than the downfall of their foes; but he ends with the faith that waits, though not a sign meanwhile appears (Habakkuk 3).
Is Zephaniah one whit less distinctive? Is he not beyond mistake occupied from first to last with the day of Jehovah on Jerusalem? But the land and the Jewish remnant are fully in view for that day. The reign of the last pious king did not hinder or defer it; for the general advance in evil revolt would be all the surer when that check vanished. Divine judgment must clear away all offences, that righteousness by grace may flourish. Hardly any truth is more repulsive to haughty and lawless Christendom than the Lord's unexpected dealing with the living, though every one in word confesses that He is coming to judge the quick as well as the dead. Who can wonder that idolatrous Jews decried it? It is the becoming answer of our prophet to all questions. If Jehovah must judge His people, all the world must bow, no nation can escape. What Nebuchadnezzar did was but the earnest of a great and complete judgment; yet Jehovah could not but begin with His land, people, and city, as in Zephaniah 1.
In Zephaniah 2 a remnant is looked for, the meek, that they may be hidden in that day which overtakes the guilty mass. There is indeed and for the same reason the doom of the Philistines, of Moab, and of Ammon. But not the neighbours only; He will famish all the gods of the earth: and Assyria with its great city Nineveh shall fall into desolation.
Zephaniah 3 returns to Jerusalem unsparingly. But from ver. 8 he shows Jehovah rising to pour His indignation upon the nations and kingdoms in all the earth. Then will He turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call on Jehovah's name and serve Him with one consent. And His dispersed shall return, suppliant and accepted, afflicted and poor, but unrighteous and deceitful no more. Assuredly it is a day yet future, when none shall make them afraid. From ver. 14 he calls on the daughter of Zion to exult, Israel to shout. Jehovah is their king and in their midst, having taken away their judgments and cast out their enemy. "He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will exult over thee with singing." Praise and fame He will make in all the lands of their shame when He gathers and turns again their captivity before their eyes. It is wholly distinct from the gospel or the church.
The three prophets that remain were after the Return, and thus differ from all before. The house of God, lowly as it might be, was a great test for their lukewarm state. Haggai was sent to awaken their zeal: not God's providence, however it might work, but Jehovah's word. Difficulties arose; and they left off to build. It was not the time, said they. "Is it time for you to dwell in your wainscotted houses, while this house lieth waste?" replies the prophet, as he points out how their efforts came to failure under His hand Who bade them, "Consider your ways." But there were who heard Zerubbabel and Joshua, and others of opened ear; and Jehovah's messenger declared on His part, I am with you, saith Jehovah; and they came and worked for Jehovah's house (Haggai 1).
Near a month after, the word came to such as had ears to hear, abating any disappointment from comparison with the house in its former glory: Be strong, for I am with you. "For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land]; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith Jehovah of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith Jehovah; and in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts (vers. 6-9)." Could any answer be more assuring or glorious? Some believed it then, we may trust, to their blessing: do men who call themselves Christians believe it now? Whatever measure of application it had when Christ came the first time, Heb. 12 leaves no doubt that its fulfilment awaits His second advent. — It may be observed how carefully the house is viewed as one till then. Render therefore as in the Sept., "the latter glory of this house," not "the glory of this latter house." It has unity in His eyes.
The third message turns on holiness according to the law. Things ordinary are not sanctified by the touch of what is holy; though the holy becomes unclean by contact with defilement. Such the prophet declares this people and every work of theirs — unclean. Yet they are told to consider from this day that, instead of smiting as before, Jehovah would bless them (vers. 10-19).
On the same day came a fourth word, in which Jehovah says, "I will shake the heavens and the earth, and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and I will overthrow the chariots and those that ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother," vers. 21, 22. It is the judgment of the quick, or at least that part which relates to the nations that gather against Israel; it is after the destruction of the Beast and his vassal kings and armies whom the Lord destroys by His appearing. Zerubbabel seems taken as a shadow of great David's greater Son in the verse following. A strange critic would he be who fails to discern Haggai's special place, and a faithless one who questions his divine inspiration.
No less distinctive is the work given to Zechariah, who alone approaches in his earlier visions to the apocalyptic character of Daniel among the four so-called greater prophets. But unlike Daniel he is occupied with Jerusalem, and launches out in his later visions to the open and magnificent scenes of universal glory under Jehovah-Messiah for all the earth. If all peoples and all the nations assemble against Jerusalem even in the day of Jehovah, He will go forth and fight with them and smite all the adversaries; and it shall be that all that are left of all the nations which came up against her shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the day of His manifested supremacy in the midst of Israel, and clearly as yet to be fulfilled. What circumstances among the returned remnant gave the prophet an existing groundwork? Did the book come from God? or is it a human dream? That the writer could begin with prose, and rise later to poetical style when called for is no great marvel.
After aggrieved appeal in the preface of Zech. 1:1-6, the youthful prophet saw (as in the rest of the chapter) the vision of the administering powers of the three empires under the symbol of red, bay, and white horses; for the first empire had passed away and the provisional return to the land had already been a fact for some 18 years. Next he saw four horns, powers which had scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, as well as four smiths to cast out those Gentile horns. Zech. 2 presents a man with a line to measure Jerusalem; for if Jehovah was jealous over the feeble remnant, He also looks on to the time when He would be the glory in their midst; and a song quite as lofty as any afterward follows. In Zech. 3 is solved by grace the question of fitness for His presence, though the high priest represents also their responsibility meanwhile. But the Branch or Sprout is promised, Who will be the true Stone of Israel, when their iniquity shall pass away, and communion shall abound. The vision of order and of holy power in testimony follows in Zech. 4, in its measure of light then, but complete only when He reigns Who combines royalty and priesthood. Zech. 5 gives two visions of judgment which must be: the flying roll against iniquity in Israel toward man and toward Jehovah; and the ephah with the woman (this is wickedness, or demoralising idolatry) carried off to Shinar, its source, for its dwelling-place. After the vision of the four chariots in Zech. 6, representing the external powers in divine providence, comes the word of Jehovah, on the occasion of gifts from those of the captivity, to make crowns, one of which was to be set on Joshua, again looking on to the Branch Who should build the temple of Jehovah emphatically, bearing the glory, sitting and ruling upon His throne, a priest thereon, when the counsel of peace should be between Them both. What believer can mistake the special design of this?
Zech. 7, Zech. 8 seem transitional. Such fasts as those in the captivity would not do: Jehovah claimed righteousness and mercy, not oppression and evil-mindedness, for which He had scattered them. Returned to Zion He would restore and bless to the full, as He will yet. Fasts will yield to feasts; and peoples come to Jerusalem as they never yet have done, whatever the application of intermediate condition then.
Then we have "the burden of the word of Jehovah" in Zech. 9. Not only will He defend His house against surrounding foes, but Zion's King will come in humiliation, notably and to the letter fulfilled, but going on to the day when Ephraim, as well as Jerusalem, shall behold His judgments issuing in peace to the nations and dominion everywhere. How could such a future be before the prophet without kindling the fire of hope so assured? And this is pursued through Zech. 10.
But in Zech. 11 comes a change to pathos and grief, as Christ's rejection passes before his spirit, and the retributive usurpation of Antichrist. Then another "burden" is heard concerning Israel; and beseiged Jerusalem becomes a burdensome stone, as never yet, "to all peoples" (Zech. 12:3); and David's house and Jerusalem's inhabitants shall be objects of grace in true repentance; and a fountain to cleanse those who may look to Him Whom they pierced shall be opened in that day (Zech. 13). Then shall the very names of idols, and prophets with the unclean, pass out of the land; and Christ is again recalled, wounded in the house of His friends, albeit Jehovah's Shepherd, the Man Who is His fellow. Scattering is thence justly predicted, though not without protection for the little ones. But again we are in presence of the final crisis (8, 9), which is too plain in Zech. 14 save for obstinate unbelief. There is a final capture of Jerusalem in part when all the nations join to assail it; but Jehovah then decides all. (Compare Ps. 48. Isa. 29, 66). Subjection of all to Him is the glorious and blessed result.
The brief prophecy of Malachi has its specific moral traits, exactly suited to Jehovah's final call to the Jew in view of His messenger to prepare the way, and of the Lord suddenly coming to His temple. He denounces irreverence, corruption, fraud, and profanity in the returned, but looks for a remnant, and is sure of divine faithfulness to purpose and promise. Jehovah's name shall be great among the nations when His kingdom comes. What is Israel now? What the priests are as in Malachi 2. All hung on Jehovah's coming; but He will judge as well as purge (Malachi 3). Meanwhile those that fear Him have the resource of His name and shall be His peculiar treasure; as He will discern the wicked too. For His day comes as a furnace for the wicked, but with healing for those that are His, who also shall tread down the wicked. It is for Israel in that day, not the heavenly church, though we should profit by all the word (Malachi 4). Thus He recalls the law of Moses, and promises Elijah before that day, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and of the children to their fathers, lest His coming should bring not blessing but curse, as the first man entails.
Here, as all know, closes the great volume of O.T. inspiration. There only is found the authentic account of creation and of early mankind; there of the deluge, and of nations and tongues subsequently, of the promises given to the fathers, and of Israel, their offspring, the people chosen of God, but failing under trial, and worst of all (as the prophets predicted) when they rejected their Messiah. But the prophets as certainly predicted that He will surely restore them penitent and believing in the latter day.