Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

LECTURE II.

THE LAND OF ISRAEL.

"He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
That he might eat the increase of the fields ;
And he made him to suck honey out of the rock,
And oil out of the flinty rock;
Butter of kine, and milk of sheep,
With fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan,
And goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat;
And thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape." Deut. xxxii. 13, 14.

Interesting Scenes and Objects to be passed in a Voyage to the Land of Promise.--Tyre --Important Transactions connected with the Land.—The Land identified with Eden, in the Language of Prophecy, Ezek. xxviii. and xxxi.--Its Central Position by Land, and also as to Water. The Rivers, or Bodies of Water, adverted to in the Description of Eden, Gen. ii., still found branching out from the Land of Israel. Central Position of the Land in relation to the British Empire, and all Varieties of Mankind. -Description of it from Scripture, and correspondent Human Testimony.—Its Present State.-Its Future Renovation, as described, Zech. xiv., Joel, iii., Ezek. xxxviii.-ix., xlvii., Isaiah, xxx., Ps. xlvi.The Land doubly lost and won.

sea.

In the very centre of the three grand families of mankind, as already described, is placed the land of Israel: whilst, with regard to the nations of Europe, in relation to that land, it may emphatically be said, “ They are at hand to come." They, in general, may reach it either by land or by water. Our course is by the Mediterranean: as we ascend which, what interesting scenes open upon our view! At the very entrance, we are, in Gibraltar, presented with one of the grand positions, which have been given to Britain, for the transmission of truth, and the establishment of righteousness, all over the globe. Alas, that these positions should hitherto have been so feebly occupied, as to the purposes for which they have been designed by the God of Israel. Here, also,--on the one side, Spain, and on the other, Morocco,—we behold the scenes of intense suffering: and of the attempted deep degradation of the Jews; our kinsmen, as we shall see, even accord

ing to the flesh. As we ascend, Rome on the left hand, and Carthage on the right, remind us of most important events, connected both with ancient Heathen story, and with the history of the Christian Church. In the mean time, we may be passing over the treasures rifled from the Temple at Jerusalem; and, since, rifled from Rome: and now lying, with much other treasure, in the bottom of this

And here, again, our nation has, in Malta, been given a most important position, in relation to these interesting portions of the globe; whilst, further to the left, and, as it were, embracing Greece, we have the protectorship of the seven islands, forming the Ionian Republic. We pass Greece, in which so much of an enduring nature was written and acted in the days of old; and unto which, by the Spirit of God, the Apostle Paul was so directly led: he being allowed to diverge to neither the right hand nor the left, until he reached the opposite shore; over from

LEC. 11.]

LAND OF ISRAEL IDENTIFIED WITH EDEN.

25

[ocr errors]

which he was then so miraculously called, in a vision, by a man of Macedonia. As we ascend, we have, on this side, the site of the seven Churches of Asia, towards which, in its first movement north-westward, we have our attention called, by the spirit of prophecy, in the Apocalypse, that closes the volume of inspiration; whilst, on the other hand, we have, emptied into this sea, the Nile, the great river of Egypt, on the banks of which were transacted some of the most remarkable events recorded in the first books of the Bible. And now we have arrived on the coast of the land of Israel. Here was Tyre, the root of that great maritime confederacy, which, in such early ages, connected very distant parts of the globe:—which, even thousands of years ago, brought the British Isles, the isles afar off, the Isles of Tarshish, into commercial alliance with the land of Israel; and which, in the providence of God, was given the greatest facilities for transmitting the escaped of Israel westward: just as Assyria was appointed to carry into captivity the body of the people northward. Each of these, Tyre and Assyria, was the most fitting instrument for the part of that work to which it was appointed, although we may believe that nothing was further from their hearts than to accomplish God's good pleasure to his firstborn Israel; and thereby to the world.

We now enter upon the mountains of Israel, where wandered the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;where ministered Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God;—to which, by the cloud of glory, and the ministry of Moses and Joshua, were conducted God's ancient people;—where was erected the throne of David;where was reared the Temple of Solomon ;where the prophets delivered the counsels of Jehovah;—and where the high priest of the nation was allowed to come into the very presence of the God of Israel;—where the Lord of Glory himself, in our very nature, condescended to tabernacle among men; and where the great atonement was offered ;--and whence the Great High

Priest ascended up into the holiest of all;—and upon which so copiously descended the former rain, when, having ascended up on high, received gifts to give unto men, yea for the rebellious also," (that is, the backsliding house of Israel,)“ that the Lord God might dwell among them."

This land, so distinguished in the word and providence of God, must be, at least, near that which was the most early favoured of God. In this neighbourhood seems to have been situated Eden, where was placed the first family of mankind, in a state of innocence and bliss. It seems worthy of remark, that both the states already adverted to, Tyre and Assyria, are spoken of in Scripture as bordering upon Eden and the Garden of God. And the land which bordered upon these two states, in common, as being situated between them, was the land of Israel;—so marked as the theatre of God's grand manifestations to man. Tyre was on the western coast of the land of Israel; and in Ezek. xxviii. 13, it is said of the Prince or King of Tyrus, "Thou hast been in Eden, the Garden of God."

"Thou wast upon the holy Mountain of God."—(v. 14.) "I will cast

as profane out of the Mountain of God.”—(v.16.) —Tyre, be it remarked, was close upon Mount Lebanon, one of the most distinguished and elevated portions of the land of Israel.

Let us now pass over to the northeastern bound of the land—to Assyria, and we shall find a country, equally with Tyre, spoken of as being in the immediate neighbourhood of Eden, or the Garden of God; and that also, as being connected with Lebanon. Thus in Ezek. xxxi., the Lord, by the prophet, addressing the King of Egypt (which country, be it observed, was at the south-western extremity of tho land of Israel), speaks of Assyria, who dwelt at the north-eastern border:

thee

“ Behold the Assyrian, a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs ; The waters made him great. The deep set

26

CENTRAL POSITION OF THE LAND.

[LEC. 11.

him up on high, with her rivers running round about his plants; and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field.”

(v. 3, 4.) "The cedars in the Garden of God could not hide him. Nor any tree in the Garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches, so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the Garden of God, envied him."—(v. 8, 9.) "I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall. When I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit. And all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth."—(v 16).

And then, speaking of Pharaoh himself, the prophecy concludes—(v. 18). "To whom art thou thus like, in glory and in greatness, among the trees of EDEN ? Yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden; unto the nether parts of the earth : thou Shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that be slain with the sword. This is Pharaoh, and all his multitude, saith the Lord God."

Thus are the trees of Eden, and of Lebanon, spoken of, as if the same thing were meant by either expression: and thus is the case of Assyria illustrated to Egypt, by imagery derived from the Garden of God; which, as we suppose, lay between them, and the advantages of which highly-favoured position, they both of them, in part, enjoyed. Even with regard to that portion of this intermediate space, which is now most remarkably under the curse, it is said, Gen. xii. 10, “ And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar." Even more eastward, in the land of Arabia, Mount Horeb is called the Mountain of God: and the ground there, was said to be holy ground; and there the Lord condescended to speak with man; and there the law was promulgated, and the tabernacle set up; and there it was that the rod of Moses drew water from the rock, to give drink to the hosts of Israel; a pledge, we may regard it, that streams shall yet abundantly

refresh that burning desert, when it shall be claimed by their King, as belonging to the portion of Israel.

The land of Israel, as being situated between Assyria and Egypt, is most centrally placed with regard to all lands: on the side of Egypt, all Africa being stretched out from it to the east and west; and on the side of Assyria, we have the still greater portion of our hemisphere, in Asia and Europe: from all parts of which, it is not too much to suppose, that highways will yet be cast up, whereby an easy conveyance will be prepared, for all to flow unto the land of Israel; to the name of the Lord,—to Jerusalem. It is here these highways can most conveniently converge, supposing them to reach out unto Africa; or supposing them to lead out of Africa, into Europe and Asia.

By the Mediterranean, it has westward not only a connection by sea with the coasts of Africa and Europe, but with the great Atlantic Ocean, and thereby with America, the more distant portion of our globe to the west. South-eastward of the land, we have the Red Sea, that "compasseth the land of Ethiopia;" and by which we reach out to the great Indian Ocean, and thereby gain Australia, the counterpart of South America, as the islands northward of it are of the West India Islands; and as the more eastern part of Asia, if separated from the more westward portion, would be the counterpart of North America. We have, beside these, the Persian Gulf, "which goeth toward the eastward of Assyria," branching out to the coasts of India and China. We must indeed see that the land of Israel is most centrally placed, with regard to land, and the three grand races of mankind. Here, our brethren in America, Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, and India, may most conveniently meet with the inhabitants of Britain. And, further, the land of Israel is

one,

in which the sun-burnt Indian may meet with the inhabitants of Iceland: and the wanderer of the desert, with the children of Erin's green

LEC. 11.]

FORMER BEAUTY AND FERTILITY OF THE LAND.

27

isle. The inhabitants of all countries may here join in sweet fellowship, without any of them feeling as if he went far from his home, to meet with his most distant brother. Here, where the Most High hath appointed, may most appropriately, be placed the throne of universal empire. However widely scattered may be their possessions over the globe, this is most fit to be the common home of the human family. The Mind that appointed this, when the relations of this land to the more distant parts of the globe were to man unknown, must have been that of our Father in heaven, the God of that grace which was hence sent forth, to collect the scattered into one:—the God of that glory which shall be enjoyed, when He shall here reign as described, Ps. xlvii. 8, 9: "God reigneth over the nations ; God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness: The princes of the people are gathered

together; The people of the God of Abraham : For the shields of the earth belong unto God: He is greatly exalted."

The land we are now considering was thus characterized by the God of Israel, when they were about being given the possession of it, under that covenant which they almost immediately and continuously broke. Deut. viii. 7—10: The Lord thy God bringeth thee into a

good land.
A land of brooks of water,

Of fountains and depths
That spring out of valleys and hills;
A land of wheat and barley,
And vines, and fig trees, and pomegra-

nates: A land of oil-olive and honey ; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread

without scarceness; Thou shalt not lack anything in it: A land whose stones are iron. And out of whose hills thou mayest dig

brass. When thou hast eaten and art full, Then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God, For the good land that He hath given

thee. The fecundity of this laud was owing, naturalists have said, to several circumstances: such as, the excellent temperature of the air, which was never subject to excessive heat or

cold; the regularity of the seasons, especially the former and latter rain; and the natural fatness and fertility of the soil, which required no manuring. It was famous for its large and delicious grapes ; for its palm-trees and dates; and for its balsam-shrubs, which produced the celebrated balm of Gilead; for the constant verdure of its fruit-trees,—its citrons, and oranges. Its vines yielded grapes twice, and sometimes thrice, in the year. Its honey was abundant. Its inhabitants cultivated sugar-canes with great assiduity: their cotton, hemp, and flax, were mostly of their own growth, and manufacture. Its vicinity to Lebanon, afforded them an ample supply of cedar, cypresses, and other stately and fragrant trees. They fed large herds of cattle, and flocks of sheep; and their hilly country afforded them, not only variety and plenty of pasture, but also abundance of water, which descended thence into the valleys and lowlands, which it fertilized. They had plenty of fish; and they had suit, which Galen affirms to have been preferable to any other. The fecundity of Palestine has been extolled, even by Julian the apostate; who frequently, in his epistles, mentions the perpetuity, excellence, and abundance, of its fruits and produce."

Such was the land, even after it had lost the bloom of Eden; but now, the visible effects of the divine displeasure have been so long upon that interesting country, that the far greater part of it is reduced to a mere desert; and the author who supplies the foregoing description, concludes by saying, “ If we were to judge by its present appearance, nature itself has rendered it incapable of cultivation." This is exactly correspondent to what was prophesied would be the case, during the scattering of the holy people. Lev. xxvi. 43:“ The land also shall be left of them, And shall enjoy her sabbaths While she lieth desolate without them."

[ocr errors]

Immediately before this, (v. 42) the Lord hath said,

28

FUTURE CHANGES IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL.

[LEC. II.

“Then will I remember my covenant with

Jacob,
And also my covenant with Isaac,
And also my covenant with Abraham will

I remember:
And I will remember the land."

earthquake, although disastrous to the enemy, shall be the cause of blessing to Israel.

The land, it would seem, is to be lifted up, and the valley into which the Mount of Olives had been rent, is to be the bed of the river, which, like that of Eden, is to go forth eastward, to water the Garden of God. Thus it is said (verses 8—10):

Then shall that land, which hath indeed been made utterly desolate, be again, and far more abundantly, found blooming with beauty and teeming with plenty. When the Lord will have mercy upon the laud, one of the principal means of his blessing it, would seem to be his cleaving it with rivers: and these shall be preceded by an earthquake, “ such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." And this shall be upon the approaching restoration of the people to the land,when it has again been carefully cultivated, and rendered fruitful, far beyond what it now is. Then will the King of the North, having gathered to him many nations, come up to make a prey of them. In Zech. xiv. 2—4, we are told that " all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle." To distinguish this siege from the former, when Jerusalem was entirely destroyed, it is added:

one.

"The city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, us when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives." And, that we may be at no loss to ascertain what locality is here meant, it is particularly described, as being that very Mount of Olives

And it shall be in that day, that living (or running waters) shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them towards the former sea: (as flowing in the valley eastward,) and half of them towards the hinder sea; (or Mediterranean; westward) in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth : in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name

All the land shall be turned as a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place." This lifting up will, doubtless, conduce, of itself, to lift the land out of its burning barrenness, into a temperature more conducive to health.

"And there shall be no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safe inhabited."—v.11.

The same matters, which are thus clearly expressed by Zechariah, are also explicitly foretold by Joel, in the end of his prophecy, iii. 9—18:

“ Assemble yourselves, and come all ye
heathen, and gather yourselves together
round about: thither cause thy mighty
ones to come down, О Lord, let the heathen
be wakened, and come up to the valley
of Jehoshaphat, (which means the Lord
shall judge,) for there will I sit to judge all
the heathen round about."—v. 11, 12.
– The valley of Jehoshaphat, it may
be observed, lies between the Mount
of Olives and Jerusalem; and is thus
the more immediate scene of that aw-
ful convulsion intimated in Zechariah,
and in which the Mount of Olives is
to be cleft in twain. Then are the
wicked, as it were, cut down, and
thrown into the great wine-press of
the wrath of God:—(v. 13—18.)
"Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is

ripe:
Come, get you down, for the vats overflow,
For their wickedness is great.

“ Which is before Jerusalem, on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof; towards the east, and towards the west, a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove towards the north, and half of it towards the south."

The cause of this is adverted to, as being a literal earthquake, such as the Jews had previously experienced in the days of King Uzziah. This

« AnteriorContinuar »