2 Sam. 23:1-7; Ps. 72.
Behold the Bridegroom!
Ten lectures on the second coming and kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
by W. T. P. Wolston, M.D.
Third Edition. Ninth Thousand. 1895.
One is in no sense surprised that the last words of David should be true, to life, of Him, who is David's Son, and David's Heir, although He was also the Root of David, and David's Lord. I think no person can have the slightest difficulty in seeing, that the One of whom David speaks, in the third verse of the 23rd Of 2nd Samuel — although the principle, of course, ought to apply to every ruler — in truth can be none but Jesus, and Jesus in that blessed moment of which the 72nd Psalm has already spoken to us this evening — when He shall rule and reign over this earth. In no part of Scripture can I put my hand upon a passage, which brings out more beautifully, and sweetly, what will be the character of that day, than that which we have read — "He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God: and he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain."
Now turn to Isaiah 32, where we get a remarkable expression with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, which I desire to point out to you, — "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken" (verses 1-3). Then lower down in the same chapter we read, "Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest" (ver. 15). That is the change, in the external aspect of the world, at that moment — the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and what men had, till then, counted a fruitful field, in that day, will be thought a forest — the character of things will be so changed. Reading on, you further find what marks the moment: "Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace: and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (verses 16-18). Thus you see the Lord distinctly unfolds to His people, by the pen of Isaiah, what will mark that day when the King shall reign in righteousness.
Now, beloved friends, it is very important for us to see, distinctly, the relationship, in which we, as Christians, stand to the Lord, as compared with that of the people, Isaiah writes about here. I know perfectly well, it is a very common thing, for people to speak, poets to write, and preachers to preach about the Lord Jesus, as our King. Scripture, however, is quite silent upon this term, used in relation to the saints of the present dispensation — Christians. In fact, I daresay, it may a little interest you, if I say, that the Lord Jesus, in the whole of His earthly pathway, never spoke of Himself as a king, save once. That once was in Matthew 25, where He is speaking of the future day, of which this 32nd of Isaiah speaks also, when, as King, He will sit upon the throne of His glory, and "then shall the king say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." It is surely not without interest to us, to see, that the Saviour never speaks of Himself as a King, in the whole of His pathway here, save in that passage, and the reason is very simple. It is not as King that the believer knows Him now. It is not, of course, but that the Lord has authority over him, but the moment of the manifestation of the kingship of Christ has not yet come. The expression "King of saints" (Rev. 15:3) should be "King of nations," as the margin rightly gives it. When the Lord was upon the earth, He was a prophet, and now interceding before God, He is the great High-priest, but, in the day to come, He is to be a King.
What, then, is our relationship to the Lord Jesus? It is one of a much deeper, and far more blessed nature, than that of a subject to a king. Do not we, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, stand in a wonderfully nearer relationship to Him, than that of subjects to a king? There is, of necessity, no love between a subject and a king. It is merely a relationship of authority and subjection — exaltation on the part of the king, and subjection on the part of a subject. But the blessed truth of Christianity is this, that if you and I are brought, through grace, to know the Lord Jesus Christ now, as our Saviour, we are washed in His blood, and redeemed to God, through the work that He accomplished on the cross. We stand in the same relationship to God, as He does, as Man. He is now set down as the risen Man, the exalted Man in glory, and then, and never till then, did He become what Scripture asserts that He is, viz., "the head of the body — the Church." But now that He is in glory, the Holy Ghost comes down from Him there, and believers, Jew and Gentile, are first of all born of the Spirit, and then indwelt of the Spirit, and are so "baptized by one Spirit into one body," of which the Lord Jesus, in glory, is the living head. We are thus made members of Christ, and members one of another.
It is not by faith, nor by possessing life, but by having the Holy Ghost, that we become united to Christ. But what has that to do with the Lord's coming? A great deal. Another night I hope to show you, that they who are in union with Christ, as members of His body — hence composing the Bride — will have a wonderful place, by-and-by, in the millennial day. I do not purpose this evening taking up that side of the truth, but I will say this, that those who belong to Jesus now, who are united to Him, as Head of the Church, will have a marvellous place in the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find all this fully unfolded in Revelation 21 and 22, where the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Lamb's wife, is depicted, and portrayed, and her relation to a delivered earth fully brought out. The importance of knowing the Saviour now, and our relationship with that Saviour, is very far reaching, because it is of that day, that the Lord Himself speaks, when He says, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:22-23). And by-and-by, when the world sees the blessed Lord, and owns Him, it will be a wonderful thing for you and me, to find ourselves in association with Christ, not as subjects merely, but as sharers of the glory, which he inaugurates, and will maintain for a thousand years, over the delivered earth. It is a happy thing to be a Christian, there is nothing brighter or better, if one thinks of it now, or for the time to come.
Here, then, we get plainly enough the divine statement that a King shall reign in righteousness. Now turn to a scripture which definitely states what the period of the reign will be — Revelation 20:4-6. On a previous occasion we looked at Revelation 19, and saw how the Lord comes as King of kings, and Lord of lords, from heaven, and how the beast and the false prophet will be put down by Him, when, as a warrior judge, He comes again to the earth. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years."
The very first thing the true King does, before He commences His reign of peace upon the earth, is to bind the usurper of God's rights, and place, in this world, from the Garden of Eden downwards. Satan is "bound for a thousand years." He is called here the dragon, but also the old serpent. He was the source of all the evil, and sorrow, in the morning of man's day on earth (Gen. 3), and every name, that Scripture gives him elsewhere, is introduced here, that there might be no mistake whatever as to his personality. The angel "cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season" (ver. 3). The time of his incarceration in the bottomless pit endures then for one thousand years.
Then John says, "I saw thrones, and they" (the heavenly saints, who came out with the Lord in chapter 19, the Church, I have no doubt, but more than the Church, all the heavenly saints) sat upon them, and judgment was given to them and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God" (the early martyrs of the book of Revelation, see Rev. 6), "and those which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in, their hands" (that is the later company of martyrs, spoken of in Rev.13, and Rev. 15); "and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." They have full association with the Lord in the day of His earthly glory. "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison" (verses 4-7).
I speak not now of Satan's release, but you see that for a thousand years — the millennium — the prime mover of all evil is cast out of the scene. Some person might say, Why a thousand years? Well, Scripture distinctly says it shall be a thousand years, and, I have little doubt in my mind that, the thousand years is connected very beautifully with the faithfulness of God. Do you not remember what God said, when He re-formed this earth, and put man upon it? Turn back to the first of Genesis, and you will at once see another instance of how all Scripture hangs together most wonderfully. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Then we read, "the earth was without form and void." Do you think that is the way God made the earth? Do you think God turned this earth out, a rude, shapeless mass, like that? Impossible, no! There is no mistake about that. just turn to Isaiah, 45:18, and you will find a remarkable statement as to this point. There the Spirit of God says, "Thus says the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth, and made it; he has established it, he created it not in vain; he formed it to be inhabited."
What does "in vain" mean? It is the very same Hebrew word rendered "without form, and void" in Genesis 1:2. So you see that you have here, a great sidelight flung on Genesis 1. In the beginning God created the earth. When thus created, it was not created "without form, and void." How it became "without form, and void," is not told us in Scripture. We are only told, that God did not so create it, but that eventually it was reduced to that condition, and therefore, I have little doubt, that between the 1st and 2nd verses of Genesis 1, in other words, between "the beginning," when God created the earth, and the time when it is seen to be" without form, and void," we have that necessarily vast period, during which all the varied strata of the earth's crust were formed, of which the geologists instruct us, and, for the deposition of which, they demand such unlimited ages. In the interval between these two verses you have space for all that geology demands. Let me say, in passing, you had better believe Scripture before geology. Geology sometimes speaks a little bit widely. Science, and geology especially, is rather like a noisy baby, it is very apt to make a great noise when it first appears, but as it gets older it gets quieter. We had better listen to God than to geologists, if they state what is counter to Scripture. We have lived long enough, some of us, to know that the theories of fifty years ago have all been exploded today, but the Word of God abides. Geologists tell us that there were at least twenty-nine epochs, and twenty-nine immense convulsions of the earth's crust. Well, be it so, and what do you find? We discover the granite, which was formed at the bottom, brought to the top, and you build your houses thereof, and the coal, that you are glad to warm yourselves with in winter, though formed infinitely lower than where it is found today by your miners, was, by the very influence, that rendered the earth "without form, and void," brought near the surface, or they could never get at it at all.
Let me repeat, then, that there is room, for all that geology wants, between verses 1 and 2, and then we can take the six days to be, as I believe them to be, days of twenty-four hours, in which God prepared the earth for man. It might have taken one hundred years for an oak tree to grow, but it would not take a carpenter one day to cut that tree, and make it into some useful article. That is what is meant, I take it, when it is said of the earth, that God "formed it to be inhabited." He put to His hand, and formed the earth for man, and then "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Then we read, "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made; and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Gen. 2:2-3).
We have, then, God working six days, and He appoints the seventh as the day of rest. That is the second of Genesis, and you know what took place in the third. I do not know that the fall of man took place on the very day that God did rest, but He had made man, and put a helpmeet by his side — a lovely type of Christ and His Church. Then the next thing we find is, that the serpent enters, and this happy scene is defiled by the enemy's power. Man falls, and the rest of God is broken, and from that day till this, the earth has been marked by the trail of the serpent, the sin of man, and the absence of rest. That has gone on for nearly six thousand years. About four thousand years elapsed before Christ was born, and we are now in A.D. 1891, which makes 5891. We are not, however, quite sure of our chronology, and I am thankful for that too, for we may be rather nearer the end of the six thousand years, than people are aware of. Earth has been robbed of her Sabbaths for six thousand years, but God is faithful, and will give them to her, all in a lump, by-and-by, and so, I have little doubt, that the seventh thousand, will be the thousand years of which Revelation 20 speaks; for, as six days of labour, are to one of rest, so are six thousand years of sin, and sorrow, under the rule of the devil, to the thousand years, of rest, and peace, under the blessed Lord Jesus.
The next thing before us is the rapture of the saints, the Church is taken to glory, and then the Lord appears, Satan is cast into the bottomless pit, and the reign of the righteous King begins. The 72nd Psalm, to which I will turn you, is exceedingly beautiful, as unfolding what will be the character of that reign. All the Lord's enemies are judged, and He gathers out of His kingdom all things that offend, and then He rules, and reigns over the earth, in absolute righteousness. In this Psalm you will see one particular feature of the Lord's reign, that is exceedingly beautiful. He thinks of the poor especially. In the 4th verse we find, "He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and him that has no helper" (Ps. 72:4-12).
Every kind of injustice will be remedied, by His blessed hand, immediately, for He reigns in righteousness. There are three spheres where righteousness is found. In the present moment, if I think of God's dealings with men, I learn this, that grace reigns through righteousness — it is divine grace upon a righteous basis that saves men today. But from another point of view, now is the day when righteousness suffers. From the day of the rejection of the Lord Jesus, in fact from Abel downwards, righteousness has always suffered. You just try to be practically a righteous person, and you will suffer. I do not deny at all that in the long run "Honesty is the best policy," but nevertheless the honest one will have to suffer. You may suffer for "conscience toward God" (1 Peter 2:19); or, "for righteousness sake" (1 Peter 3:14); or, "as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:16). In the millennial day righteousness reigns; and as regards eternity we read of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). It is perfectly at home, so to speak, there. In the day when righteousness reigns upon the earth, it does not appear that everybody will be converted. The millennial reign of the Lord Jesus does not, necessarily, involve the absolute conversion to God, of every soul upon earth, although, thank God, the mass will be converted. There may be, even in that day, when the Lord is manifesting His glory so wonderfully, those, who may break out in opposition to Him. When the Lord appears by-and-by, in power, and majesty, with every attribute of glory connected with Him, it will be a magnificent, marvellous, and appalling sight for the world. Sinners will think then, that they had better bow down to Him, but whether they all will do so, in reality, is a question.
In proof of this, I ask you to turn to the 18th Psalm. It describes the moment when the Lord is made "the head of the heathen." "Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me. As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me: the sons of the stranger [see margin] shall yield feigned obedience [margin] to me" (Ps. 18:43-44). This is not a very remarkable thing; the fathers will be all right, but the sons unchanged; just, as today, you will find a godly father, and, alas! an ungodly son. Again, in Psalm 66: we read — "How terrible art thou in thy works; through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves to thee," or as in the margin, "lie, or yield feigned obedience" (ver. 3). That is, in the presence of the unmistakable power, and divine authority of the Lord Jesus, in that day, there will be an apparent subjection to Him, that may not be real, and that being so, one is prepared for that which the 20th of Revelation gives us, — namely, that after the thousand years, there is found Gog, and Magog — a large company, who yield themselves to Satan, when, being loosed, he emerges from the bottomless pit.
I would now like you to look at some of the salient features of the millennium.
(1.) Death will be a rare thing. Turn to Isaiah 65 "Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth! and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people, a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old, shall be accursed" (verses 17-20). You see from this passage that death will be a rare thing. Today death is the rule; "death reigned from Adam to Moses," and right onward too; but in that day it will be the exception. We, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are looking for the return of the Bridegroom, and we look to go to heaven, without death, and, thank God, some of us will — I do not say you and I will — but, certainly, some of the Lord's saints will be alive when He comes. You remember Methuselah, whose life was nine hundred and sixty-nine years. That was not very much short of the thousand; but in the thousand years of the peaceful reign of Jesus, man will live out the full limit, which God has designed for him. What is meant then by saying that "the child shall die an hundred years old"? Well, supposing you had a little one of seven, and it died, you say it died a child. Supposing next week the grandfather dies, and his age is seventy, you say he was an "old man." He was only seventy, and as seven is to seventy, so is an hundred to a thousand. Seven is the child's age in our day, while it will be an hundred in that day. In our day seventy is the old man's age, while in that day one thousand years will many an old man see. I take it that death will only be, as the result of the governmental dealing of God, upon some open, and distinct act of sin, against the Lord.
But I hear an objector saying, If people are not going to die, how will you get them fed; the population of the earth will overstep the possibility of its supplying food for its inhabitants?
(2.) The curse will be removed from the earth. In that day God will change the very aspect of things upon the earth. I wonder if you have ever observed another verse in our chapter. "They shall build houses, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them" (ver. 21). Man is in the most happy, and blessed relations with God possible, in that day, and God will blessedly undertake for him then. We have looked already this evening at Genesis 3, where the curse came in. The head of creation, Adam, fell, and, for his sake, the ground was cursed. It did not yield its increase. It is by the sweat of the brow that man has had to earn his bread since, and I suppose there never was a day, when people, in this land, felt more the pressure of the curse than now, when agriculture has so failed, and competition is so keen. Every year comes out the cry that the land cannot be made to bring forth food, to feed the people thereof; and it is a question of importing from all quarters, to keep people alive, at least where you and I live.
Now observe what is going to happen in that day? The curse is to be removed entirely. It was partially alleviated in the day of Noah, but it will be completely abrogated in Messiah's day. This is plainly stated in Isaiah 35: "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. … in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in. the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land, springs of water; in the habitation of dragons where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes. … And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (verses 1, 2, 6, 7, 10). The Lord puts His hand upon the face of creation in that day.
Look at Amos 9: "Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. — And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, says the Lord thy God" (verses 13-15). In Isaiah 32, the same testimony comes out, when "the wilderness shall be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest" (ver. 15). The sweet Psalmist of Israel also anticipates this moment when he says, "Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us" (Ps. 67:6). Very wonderful will be the change over the face of creation, and all a testimony to Christ.
(3.) The animal creation will undergo a radical change. Turn for a little again to Isaiah 65, "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, says the Lord" (ver. 25). The only creature, from which God does not remove the curse, is the serpent. Even in that day the recollection will be in Jehovah's mind, of the part the serpent played, in producing the ruin He is now remedying, and therefore we have that sentence, "dust shall be the serpent's meat."
Then in Isaiah 11 we have a glowing picture of the reign of the Messiah. He comes forth as a rod out of the stem of Jesse — a branch growing out. Then we get the character of His reign. "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (verses 4-9). A marvellous day for the earth, and the, at present, groaning creation, will it be. It will be the fulfilment of the statement, "The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groans and travails in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:21-22). We shall then have the curse removed, and the brute creation — at least as far as "my holy mountain" extends — brought into touch with the mind of God, and all will be equally fitting, and beautiful.
(4.) Jerusalem, in more than pristine glory, will be the world's metropolis. Jerusalem, which was so trodden down of the Gentiles, will occupy a wonderful place in that day, and, her recovered glory, as much eclipse the past, as the glory of Christ as King, will surpass that of Solomon. I refer you to the closing verses of Isaiah 59: "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord" (verses 19, 20). Then (Isa. 60) there is the beautiful call, to a long down-trodden nation, to wake up to their glory. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Who is the light? It is Christ.* When He did come as the light of Israel, they refused Him, but when He appears again, they will own Him, and acknowledge Him, and now the Spirit of God calls upon them to wake up and see what God is going to give them. "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted to thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come to thee. … And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister to thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring to thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come to thee" — the Jew knew what that meant — "the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. … Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders: but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates ]Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light to thee: but the Lord shall be to thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 60:1-5, 10-13, 18-20).
*Possibly here, Christ, and the Church, are indicated. (See Lecture 9, The New Jerusalem).
Then let us go to the 62nd chapter: "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah (i.e., my delight is in her), and thy land Beulah (i.e., married): for the Lord delights in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (Isa. 62:1-7). Nothing could be more clear than these statements of God's faithful word to His people.
Look now at Zephaniah 3, "In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not; and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee; and I will save her that halts, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, says the Lord" (verses 16-20). That has nothing in the world to do with the Church, it is Israel's blessing, and Israel's day of glory.
(5.) The Temple will be rebuilt, and its services restored with great magnificence. This we get unfolded in Ezekiel, (Ezek. 40 to 46), which I am, from lack of time, unable to touch tonight, and you can peruse at your leisure. You will find this comes out, that Jerusalem is not only the joy of all the earth, but God owns that place as the spot where His temple is, and you have the temple rebuilt, in more than pristine glory, while the sacrifices are renewed, and the veil of the temple again exists in that day. That might seem to some of us a little retrograde, but I think you will find this, that, as the Old Testament sacrifices were anticipatory, the sacrifices of that day will be commemorative, because Israel's salvation, like our own, is based on the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(6.) Jerusalem becomes the centre of earthly worship — all nations flow to it. Israel will have their temple rebuilt, and its services re-instituted, we have seen, but not only will Jehovah have their worship, but the whole earth will turn to Jerusalem, as its centre of worship. In proof of this, I shall quote here but two scriptures — "The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God 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 the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:1-3). Nothing could be plainer. Then in Zech. 14, which, in its early verses, states, "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle," and then, that the Lord has come to the Mount of Olives, fought against them, and delivered her, we read, "And every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles; and it shall be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain, there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16- 19).
The Feast of Tabernacles is the Old Testament feast, in Israel, which was typical of the millennial day of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had three great feasts, the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles; and it is very striking to see, that, while the Passover, which has its fulfilment in the death of Christ, and the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a figure of the coming glory of Christ, will be kept, Ezekiel is most careful to omit the Feast of Weeks, because that feast has found its antitype in Pentecost — the coming down of the Holy Ghost, and the forming of the Church. Israel will not keep it in that day, because the Church, so to speak, absorbed into herself what the Feast of Weeks meant. In that day Israel will keep the Passover (Ezek. 45:21), and the Feast of Tabernacles, and all the nations of the earth will come up, and join them, at least in the latter, and worship the Lord. A happy and blessed day for the earth will that be. A wonderful day indeed will it be for this poor sin-stained earth. Well may we pray, Lord, hasten that day.