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disguise of allegory or parable. But as the light from the opening clouds, when it sweeps along to reveal the distant landscape to our plainer view, is wont to illumine, as it passes them, some prominent objects in its course; and we see these objects in a new line of connexion with others far severed from them: so the prophetic vision, as it passes on in its course down the intervening ages, to show to us the glorious consummation of redemption, touches, as it were, with a mere glance, some of the more important changes and revolutions in the state of the visible church—changes and revolutions which must be passed, and must exercise her faith, before she reaches the happy Canaan of Messiah's kingdom. The forty-third chapter begins: —
1. AND now thus hath Jehovah spoken,
Fear not, for I have redeemed thee;
I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. 2. When thou passest through the waters, I am with thee;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm thee:
When thou walkest in the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
3. For I, Jehovah, am thy Elohim;
I have given Egypt for thy ransom,
4. Because thou wast precious in my sight,
And I will give men in thy stead,
The people of God are here addressed in the character of a new creation. For this must be the idea we are to
attach to creation in this and similar passages; since in no other sense is there any force or moment in Jehovah's calling himself, as he so often does, the “Creator,” * Former,” “ Framer,” “ Institutor,” or “Founder” of Israel. We remark, too, that the character of Redeemer* is assumed, for the encouragement of the protected relative. This chapter opens with a general exhortation to the church, that God will be with her in all dangers and difficulties. This imports, as it respects the spiritual seed, that not a grain of it shall be lost; as it respects the children after the flesh – Israel as a nation, that it shall never, in all the fiery trials and overwhelming desolations it shall experience, be destroyed; but, with the highest destinies, be preserved until the last days. The declaration in the third verse, “I have given Egypt,” &c. may be differently understood. Egypt, and the nations in its neighbourhood, were in some sort sacrificed for the sake of Israel on several occasions. At the Exodus; when Sennacherib was diverted from executing his threats against Jerusalem, by marching to attack the AEthiopians, or Cushites, under Tirhakah, at that time masters of Egypt: and as somet have supposed, on an- . other occasion previous to that, in the time of Shalmaneser. But there is a similar event in the womb of time, not yet recorded on the page of history, several times foretold in the Scripture prophecies; the consequences of which will be more important than any catastrophe which has happened to these nations in the wars of Israel. This
event is, doubtless, comprehended in the view of the Spirit.f
* 5x). + Vitringa. ! See chap. xix. 17, &c.; and Psalm loviii.
The following verses most clearly refer to the general restoration in the last days; for certainly nothing corresponding took place at the termination of the Babylonian captivity. Israel, in general, still remained in a state of dispersion: and the small remnant that did return, returned but in one direction. How different the language that we now read!—
5. Fear not, for I am with thee.
From the east will I bring thy seed,
6. I will say to the north, Give up;
Bring my sons from far,
7. Every one that is called by my name,
This cannot but remind us of the language of St. Paul: “The vessels of mercy, whom he hath afore prepared unto glory;” and, doubtless, we may add, as to the consummation of these mercies: “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” With respect to the natural descendants of Abraham, we have already been taught, that when the “consumption decreed” shall be “finished,” what is left will be a holy seed. Such will be the end of the troubles of the last days to them. The remnant among the Gentiles, how they escape, we must learn from other Scriptures.
The next verse will remind us of the character already given to that Israel whom the immediate hand of God restores : —
8. Bring forth the people ‘ that are blind, though they have eyes; And “that are deaf, though they have ears.
This language, as we have remarked above, seems to indicate, that it is at a very late period the veil will be generally removed from Israel– not till after, or towards the end of their grand final restoration. The gathering of all nations, as follows in the next verse, whatever be the nature of its fulfilment, is an event ever connected in prophecy with the final restitution of Israel:—
9. Let all the nations be gathered together, And let all the peoples be assembled.
The language of the remainder of the ninth verse, and of the four following, seems generally to amount to this: that the sure word of prophecy, which “makes known beforehand the power and coming of the great Redeemer,” is intended to form one of the greatest demonstrations to mankind of the being and attributes of Jehovah; and more especially towards that era when these things shall begin to come to pass. It has also been already stated, that an ignorance concerning these prophecies and their fulfilment, will be a notorious proof of the falsehood of the religion of Israel's last opponent, the “nations assembled,” probably, of the last verse : —
Who among them can declare this,
Let them produce their witnesses, that they may be justified;
10. Ye are my witnesses, hath Jehovah said, And my servant whom I have chosen.
* Or, “the first events that come to pass.”
Of the prophecies, as of the other oracles of God, Israel was the keeper and the depositary. The Jewish church is the great witness to mankind: and among the Jewish prophets, our Lord himself must be reckoned. The title of the last and most luminous prophecy is, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.”
That ye might know and believe me,
Before me no God was formed,
11. I, even I, am Jehovah,
12. I declared, and I saved, and I made known, And among you was no strange ‘God:'
And ye ‘shall be my witnesses, saith Jehovah, that I am God; 13. Ay, even from this day, that I am He; And that there is none that can deliver out of my hand; I will work, and who will counteract it?
Even from that day the church of Israel, to whom were committed the oracles of God, the true word of prophecy, should begin to be witnesses that Jehovah alone was God. Their deliverance out of Babylon, which is again foretold, would be a proof of this, and would prepare the way for greater things hereafter : —
14. Thus hath Jehovah said,
For your sakes I have sent to Babylon;