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INVITATION TO RETURN-ZECHARIAH.
receiving back the outcasts of Israel to the blessing promised,—seeing it is so secured to them in Him, who hath for us endured the curse, and fulfilled all righteousness.
God hath given assured evidence that He means what He says; and they who in this persuasion lay hold upon his word, and treat it as a reality, being led forth thereby into the manifestation of his truth in the land, shall find his promise sure, whatever trials they may in the first instance be called upon to endure. Not one good thing of all that God hath spoken, will be found awanting to the children of promise, the numerous offspring of outcast Israel, who, by adoption, through grace, in the Son of God, will be constituted sons of God. As assuredly as the One Seed of the tribe of Judah hath come, to be the glory of his people Israel, so truly shall be brought forth unto Zion the multitudinous seed, who will glory in his name, and be regarded as his glory.
Let it be again remarked that the Lord remonstrates with Israel on account of her backwardness in obeying his voice, as to the promised return, which seems to imply, that, after the time she might have returned, she is still found absent from her own proper home. Her Lord invites her into his land. True, she hath forsaken the Lord, and forfeited all right to the possession of the inheritance promised to the fathers. But it is not in her own right that she is invited to the cities of Israel as hers. It is in the name of the rightful Heir, the Mighty to save. It is in the right of Him in whom the promises are all secured to Israel. In giving this new and marvellous thing in the land, God hath given us the assurance that all the promises of God, however great, and however difficult of accomplishment, He will most assuredly fulfil. If He could make the virgin's womb to compass the Man, who is the Mighty One, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, then can there be no doubt that the land of Israel will be rendered capable of sustaining
the multitudes of its promised inhabitants.
Let us be induced to have really, and in all things, our faith and hope in God.
It seems to he with regard to this promised return of Israel to her own cities, that we have the assurance given, Zech. i. 17. Cry yet," that is in addition to the re-peopling of the land by the Jews after their threescore-and-ten years' captivity in Babylon, referred to, v. 12—16. Cry yet, saying, My cities, through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem again." The invitation is earnestly given, ch. ii. 6, 7, "Ho, ho, and flee from the laud of the north, saith the Lord." And then the occasion for the double call," Ho, ho" is given "For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven, saith the Lord." And the need of fleeing from the land of the north is intimated: judgment is to be executed upon Babylon there, "Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest the daughter of Babylon." And then is intimated the cause of the message being so especially sent to the north country: It was after backsliding Israel, who yet are to prove his glory. "For thus saith the Lord of hosts, After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations that spoiled you; for he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye. For behold I will shake mine hand upon them: and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me." Others may have the worldly spoil, but Israel are to seize upon the true riches, the knowledge of Christ as the Sent of the Father, the good part which shall not be taken from them. "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo! I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord." This restoration will not be merely of the remnant of a nation: "Many nations will be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people (Ammi), and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know
RESTORED ISRAEL SUPPLICATING FOR JUDAH.
that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee."
The many nations to come of outcast Israel, having been recognised as the Lord's people, it follows, " And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again." Now will the Lord be exalted, "Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord, for He is raised up out of his Holy Habitation."Then when the prayers of our High Priest, for the unity of his body shall have been answered, will the world be indeed called upon to believe that He is the Sent of the Father. See John xvii. 20, 21.
That the people who are to be the glory of the house of David, and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, might not magnify themselves against Judah, the Lord, Zech. xii. 7, did save the tents of Judah first, or at the beginning: The Gospel was first proclaimed to the shepherds of Bethlehem, to the fishermen of Galilee, and thereafter also, for some time, the gospel was preached first to the poor of the flock of Judah. But the first shall he last, and the last first. Judah, although too willing to exchange his expectation of blessing in the land for the certainty of a mess of pottage out of it, may not yet altogether have relinquished his claim to exclusive possession and haughty pre-eminence.He may at first be angry, and refuse to come in; but let those who have been made wise unto salvation carry forth to him the Father's message, and invite him also, to a full participation of the blessing. The Lord will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,upon the children she is to have after
having lost the other,—upon them, even upon the restored children of Joseph, He will pour the spirit of grace and of supplication; and, saith the Redeemer of Israel, "They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him," for Judah,—for the brethren according to the flesh of Him whom our sins have pierced.Jerusalem shall be in bitterness for Judah, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born; and the Lord will hear and answer. Our God hath not only appointed that Israel should be blessed in the One Seed, Christ,—He hath also appointed that Ephraim should especially be active in the reception of the blessing, and likewise in the distribution thereof among his brethren, yea, to all the families of mankind, but especially to the Jews. 'The Jews shall yet rejoice to be found under the protection of their outcast brethren, not only out of the land, but also when the Lord shall bring again their captivity. Jerusalem, as we learn from Is. xlix. 18—21, is, in the restoration, to be chiefly inhabited by the children of Joseph—the same who before complained of the straitness of their portion, Josh. xvii. 14—18. These are appointed to be unto her for a clothing of beauty and glory. They will not only ask to obtain blessing for themselves, but especially for Judah. They will pray over his state, and long for his conversion, and labour that the remnant of the brethren of Him in whom they are themselves blessed, may have a full participation in the blessings of the first-born. They will labour, not with cruelty or craft, but in the patient persevering manifestation of kindness and of truth; and they shall not labour in vain.
THE TIME OF JUDAH'S GREAT SALVATION.
When the Lord shall have mustered hie Hosts, and shall fully manifest Himself as the God of Israel, then is the Time when Judah shall bless Jerusalem, as inhabited by Ephraim. In Judah itself there shall be Peace. The wearied Soul, and the Soul that was sorrowful, shall be abundantly refreshed and comforted. Then it is, that those who sleep in Jesus shall awake, and behold the Prophetic Word in full accom plishment.
Ephraim, having been recognised, as in the Fifth Thunder, and having prepared the way for All Israel to return, as invited in the Sixth,—now more particularly comes into consideration the case of Judah.
The Lord will restore to Zion her judges as at the first, and her counsellors as at the beginning; after which she is to be called "the City of righteousness, the faithful City;"and this Judah himself will acknowledge. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, as yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah, and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity, The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness."
The Lord will have manifested himself to be the Lord of hosts; God will have shown himself to be the God of
Israel, when Judah shall thus acknowledge the purity of the justice administered in Zion, and the truth of the worship celebrated upon the Lord's holy mountain.
Israel shall have been blessed; they shall have been settled after their old estates, and the Lord will have done for them better than at their beginnings; and in all this blessing Judah will at length acquiesce. "And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen." No longer wanderers of the weary foot, they shall have found a peaceful home in their own portion of the land, under the guardianship of the good Shepherd, through rejecting whom they had been cast out of it.He hath been a Shepherd to Israel: He that scattered Israel will then have gathered them, as a shepherd
THE RE-UNION OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH.
doth his flock. "On the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be."They will have been given to feed on Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. And now also as to the Jews: "They go forth with the flocks; " and they are all gathered into the one fold, under the one Shepherd; and the Lord will give them pastors like David,—pastors according to his heart, which shall feed them with knowledge and understanding. He will have satiated the soul of the priests with fatness; and his people shall be satisfied with his goodness. The blessing, both temporal and spiritual, will have been bestowed upon them. The promised blessing will have come upon the land, so that the needful corn, and wine, and oil, will not be denied them; and he will have revealed unto them the abundance of goodness and truth.And this sudden and entire change in the land, and upon the people, will, in the sight of all nations, be as a sign that cannot be spoken against.
The resurrection of the dry bones of All Israel, and the change which shall have passed upon Judah, the Remnant of Israel; and the re-union in the land of those that were lost and those that remain, as being now made the Lord's one people, whereby the coming of their King will in power be heralded unto all the ends of the earth, will indeed be a sign—a sign of the speedy resurrection of the saints, who have fallen asleep in Jesus—a sign of the change that shall pass upon those of the Lord's people who shall remain unto the coming of the Lord. These together will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall be ever with the Lord: when the Lord, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, will gather together in one, both the things which are in heaven, and the things which are on earth, even in Him.—In the breaking down the middle wall of partition, which stood between those that were cast afar off, and the remnant left nigh,in making both one upon earth, He hath given a sign of the union which shall thereafter speedily and visibly
In Micah, chap. i., ii., iii., is most strongly portrayed the injustice that inhabited the capitals both of Israel and of Judah; and the utter want of holiness upon that which should have been to the Lord a holy mountain, and the word has been fulfilled, ch. i. 6, "Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field; as plantings of the vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof." And, as to Zion, it is said, ch. iii. 11, "The heads thereof judge for reward; and the priests thereof teach for hire; and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us." And equally has the word been fulfilled upon her: "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field; and Jerusalem shall become heaps;
THE SEVENTH THUNDER, ILLUSTRATED FROM MICAH.
and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."
The desolations of Zion have been accomplished; and as truly will be fulfilled this word, ch. iv., " But in the last days it shall come to pass, the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains; and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it." Yea, many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and submitting to the law which shall go forth of Zion, they shall live in peace, and be given the enjoyment of blessing, ver. 2-4. They shall take the Lord to be their God for ever and ever; and he shall gather them into oneness as his people, and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever, ver. 5—7. How very expressive is the word with regard to Zion and Jerusalem in ver. 8: "And thou, 0 tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem."
The Lord had said, ver. 7, that he would make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off, a strong nation. Judah, the remnant, returned from Babylon, after the seventy years' captivity. After Israel had become decided on backsliding, and so had been cast far off among the heathen, Judah still halted between two opinions; but at length, upon the remnant's return from Babylon, there seemed to be more of a taking the Lord to be their God. It was, however, more in profession than in reality. Zion was still surrounded by straits; the promised peace was not yet come.
It is said, "Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion." But God will overrule all their strivings and machinations for the accomplishment of good for those whose hearts are sincere before him. "They know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as
the sheaves into the floor." It is not for nothing that so many different nations, both in the east and the west, Mahommedan and professedly Christian,—so many opposite parties, all over the world, have so remarkable an interest in the case of Jerusalem. It may yet be the occasion of gaining for Jerusalem peculiar advantages with regard to all nations, free from the thraldom of any one earthly power. There is the floor which the Lord will thoroughly purge; and whereto avenues will be opened up from all the ends of the earth; that thereunto the sheaves may be brought. And it shall be said "Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass; and thou shalt beat in pieces many people;"—powerfully convincing of the truth multitudes of those who, from all nations, shall resort to Jerusalemseparating the wheat from the chaff; and appropriating each precious grain to the Lord's peculiar service, for the dissemination of the word, for the spreading of the witness among all nations over the wide world. So it is said, "And I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord; and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." This is the time when the strong nation will have been brought forth of the desolate woman—she that was given a bill of divorce, and sent afar off.
Now (ch. v. 1—5) is the invitation to her who hath been sown over the earth; who hath been sending forth her children in colonizing troops into all the ends of the earth. Hitherto she hath been spreading herself; but now it is said unto her," Now gather thyself in troops, 0 daughter of troops." It is as the strong nation, to prepare for the reception of that King who was previously rejected by the remnant of his brethren, that Israel is invited to return. Most earnestly were the Jews forewarned of the evils of that siege, which, at the predicted period, came upon them; and since which, they have so remained under the threatened destruction. And why did