MESSIAH AWAITING ISRAEL'S CRY FOR HELP
In the days of Isaiah, the latter half of the eighth century B.C.E., the Assyrian monarchs were making one invasion after another against the smaller nations west of them. Hezekiah, the king of Judah, and the leaders of the people were in mortal fear lest their country should he invaded. At the king's court the leaders were divided as to what course they should take. One group wanted to appease the Assyrians by payment of money; the other party wanted to purchase military aid and assistance from Egypt. But Isaiah, the court preacher, opposed both plans, insisting that, if the people would only trust God, He would deliver them from all harm and danger.
Secretly the pro-Egyptian party looted both the royal treasury and that of the Temple of the Lord to obtain the necessary funds for purchasing military aid from Egypt. They sent their ambassadors to Egypt to consummate the deal. At that time caravans of asses and camels, laden with the purchase price of Egyptian military aid, were slowly journeying through the sultry desert on their way to Egypt. The Lord revealed to Isaiah what the leaders had hidden from him. The Prophet, therefore, denounced them and revealed the entire situation to the public.
The Lord then instructed the Prophet to write the message on a tablet and in a book, exposing the corruption of the people and their determined wilfulness to have their way at all costs.
6 The burden of the beasts of the South. Through the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the lioness and the lion, the viper and the fiery flying serpent, they carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that shall not profit them. 7 For Egypt helpeth in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I called her Rahab that sitteth still.
8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever. 9 For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Jehovah; 10 that say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, 11 get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. 12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely thereon; 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly in an instant. 14 And he shall break it as a potter's vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing; so that there shall not be found among the pieces thereof a sherd wherewith to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.
15 For thus said the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. And ye would not: 16 but ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. 17 One thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill (Isa. 30:6-17).
Whenever one becomes involved in something wrong and he sees his mistake, he should turn from it. This thought Isaiah expressed, saying, "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (v. 15).
God made man a free moral agent. He never coerces or forces anyone's will. He does, however, use moral suasion and men and means so far as He can without forcing the will, always stopping before stepping over the threshold of one's personality. The Lord therefore always waits until men voluntarily and in faith turn to Him for the desired blessing:
18 And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for Jehovah is a God of justice; blessed are all they that wait for him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; thou shalt weep no more; he will surely be gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear, he will answer thee (Isa. 30:18,19).
Psalm 72 is a Messianic prediction. In verses 5-11 the writer describes in glowing terms the unquestioned sovereignty of King Messiah over all the nations. But He will never force Himself against anyone's will. He will wait for the people of Israel to call upon Him. When they do, He will come and deliver them out of all their troubles.
13 He will have pity on the poor and needy,
And the souls of the needy he will save.
14 He will redeem their soul from oppression and violence;
And precious will their blood be in his sight:
15 And they shall live; and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba:
And men shall pray for him continually;
They shall bless him all the day long (Ps. 72:13-15)
Humanly speaking, God is disappointed in Israel.
8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee:
O Israel, if thou wouldst hearken unto me!
9 There shall no strange god be in thee;
Neither shalt thou worship any foreign god.
10 I am Jehovah thy God,
Who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt:
Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 But my people hearkened not to my voice;
And Israel would none of me.
12 So I let them go after the stubbornness of their heart,
That they might walk in their own counsels (Ps. 81:8-12).
Notwithstanding God's marvelous deliverance of Israel from Egyptian servitude, and His making provision for their needs and comfort in their trek through the wilderness, they went after the stubbornness of their own hearts (Ps. 81:12). Then, as with a sigh, the psalmist, speaking for God, declares that the Lord would subdue all their enemies if they would only hearken to Him.
13 Oh that my people would hearken unto me,
That Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn my hand against their adversaries.
15 The haters of Jehovah should submit themselves unto him:
But their time should endure for ever.
16 He would feed them also with the finest of the wheat;
And with honey out of the rock would I satisfy thee (Ps. 81:13-16).
Whenever Israel really hearkens to the Lord, He will answer. God is still waiting. It is now Israel's move. In Matthew, chapter 23, is recorded Christ's discourse against the hypocrisy of certain scribes and Pharisees. He concluded His message with the following words :
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matt. 23:37-39).
These words were spoken to official Jerusalem who, at various times in the history of the nation, killed prophets and stoned those that had been sent unto her, the literal Jerusalem.
Very significant is the statement, "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye willed not." According to this statement, the Lord Jesus, who has all power in heaven and on earth, would have gathered the people of Israel and restored them to their land but they willed not. The Lord willed to regather them, but they willed otherwise; He therefore did not force their will. He is still waiting for them to yield their will and call upon Him. Whenever they do so, He will deliver them. Then Israel's problems will be solved, and Israel will become the head of the nations instead of being the tail.
Psalm 24 is a dramatic hymn. It is one of the most thrilling and vivid prophecies of the conversion of Israel and the return of Messiah, the King of Glory. No discussion of Israel's returning to God would be complete without this poem.
24 The earth is Jehovah's, and the fulness thereof;
The world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;
Who hath not lifted up his soul unto falsehood,
And hath not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from Jehovah,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek after him,
That seek thy face, even Jacob. [Selah]
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors:
And the King of glory will come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
Jehovah strong and mighty,
Jehovah mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
Yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors:
And the King of glory will come in,
10 Who is this King of glory?
Jehovah of hosts,
He is the King of glory [Selah]
This Psalm falls into two natural divisions: the first section deals with the citizens of Zion (vv. 1-6); the second calls upon the nation of Israel to welcome the King of Glory into her midst.
The inspired writer calls the reader's attention to the fact that the earth with its fullness and the people living thereon are Jehovah's. The word Jehovah has four different connotations: sometimes it refers to the Holy Trinity (Deut. 6:4); on other occasions it refers to God the Father (Ps. 80:4,8); in still other connections it is the name of God the Son (Isa. 33:17-22); and in other places of the Scripture the name signifies the Holy Spirit (Isa. 61:1). We are told that the earth and its fulness belong to Jehovah "For he hath founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods." In other words, the word Jehovah in this passage refers to God the Son, who created the heavens and the earth (John 1:1-4). The world and all things therein belong, therefore, to God the Son by virtue of His having created them.
The universe belongs to God the Son by virtue of His having purchased all things, paying, as the price thereof, the blood of His Cross (Col. 1:19,20). All things will belong to the Son by virtue of His conquest when He appears in fulfillment of the prediction in Deuteronomy 32:39-43. The last picture of the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is in Revelation 19:11-21. "Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? And who shall stand in his holy place?" (Ps. 24:3). Several passages of Scripture refer to the mountain of Jehovah's house. Isaiah speaks of this mountain in Isaiah 2:1-4. It is described in Ezekiel, chapter 48. In the great Kingdom Age the Holy Land will be like a valley that reaches afar: "As valleys are they spread forth, As gardens by the river-side, As lign-aloes which Jehovah hath planted, As cedar-trees beside the waters" (Num. 24:6).
Who will be granted the privilege of ascending into the hill of Jehovah and standing before the Lordapproved by Him? This question is answered in verse 4: "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; Who hath not lifted up his soul unto falsehood, And hath not sworn deceitfully" (Ps. 24:4). This verse includes the people living at the time which the Psalmist in vision sees, the good moral people whose lives are clean, from an ethical standpoint, and who are living up to the light that they have. I would call these individuals Corneliuses (Acts, chapter 10). A full description of this class of people is found in the following Psalm:
1 Jehovah, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle?
Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness,
And speaketh truth in his heart;
3 He that slandereth not with his tongue,
Nor doeth evil to his friend,
Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor;
4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honoreth them that fear Jehovah;
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not;
5 He that putteth not out his money to interest,
Nor taketh reward against the innocent.
He that doeth these things shall never be moved (Ps. 15).
The people of whom we are studying in these passages shall "receive a blessing from Jehovah, And righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Ps. 24:5). Such a person or persons "receive" a blessing from Jehovah. What is it that they shall receive? The answer is "a blessing from Jehovah." In what form is the blessing? The second line of this verse, which is parallel with the first line, shows of what the blessing consists, namely righteousness from the God of his salvation. Since it is a righteousness from God, it is not something that a man does. Rather, it is imputed righteousness. The righteousness of a mana clean moral life and good deeds performed in his unregenerated stateis as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6) in the sight of God. The righteousness of Psalm 24:5 is the righteousness of God. In Romans 1:16,17 the Apostle Paul speaks of the righteousness of God which is revealed in the gospel. The Apostle enlarges upon this doctrine in Romans 3:21-26:to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; 26 for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.
21 But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God set forth
This is the righteousness of which Paul also speaks in Philipplans 3:2-11:
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision: 3 for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh: 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless. 7 Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea verily and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; 11 if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead.
In Psalm 24:6 the writer speaks of "the generation of them that seek after him. That seek thy face, even Jacob." Speaking of this group, the Psalmist says: "This is the generation ..." Of what generation does he speak? Obviously of the good moral peoplethe ones mentioned in verse 4who receive a blessing from the Lord in the form of being clothed in God's righteousness. Those who are thus acceptable to God are the generation that seek God's favor. Those who seek His faceHis approvalare a certain generation of the Hebrew race, "that seek thy face, even Jacob." In this passage we see a generation of the Hebrews seeking after God in the manner spoken of in Psalm 42:1-3:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
Doubtless this generation of Israel is the last one scattered among the nationsthey are seeking God; for when God's judgments are in the earththe judgments of the Great Tribulationthe inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9). From various passages of Scripture we know that the last generation of Israel, dispersed among the nations, will seek God very earnestly. Zechariah speaks of this penitent remnant, foretelling that "they [the nation of Israel] shall look unto me whom they have pierced ..." (Zech. 12:10). The Lord Jesus Christ told the Jewish leaders of His day, "Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 23:37-39).
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors:
And the King of glory will come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
Jehovah strong and mighty,
Jehovah mighty in battle (Ps. 24:7,8).
Obviously verse 7 cannot be taken literally. The Psalmist thinks of Israel as being in an ancient oriental walled city, the doors and gates of which are closed. He personifies gates and doors, speaking of them as if they had heads that are bowed. By the use of the figure of speech, synecdochea figure which speaks of the whole in terms of a partit is evident that he is thinking, not of literal doors and gates, but of the people who enter and depart through them. Seeing in vision the prostrate remnant of Israel seeking God, as indicated by the bowed heads of the doors, the Psalmist, as the spokesman for the Almighty, calls upon Israel to arise and to welcome into their midst the King of Glory. This King of Glory will not force an entrance into their midst. God never forces anyone's will, but always waits until one voluntarily pleads for Him to act.
Who is this King of Glory? Why is He thus called? When these questions are studied in the light of Psalm 110:1-3, one sees that the Messiah, upon His first coming to earth when He is rejected and executed by the nation, accepts the invitation of God to leave earth and return to glory, where He has been ever since His Ascension:
110 Jehovah saith unto my Lord,
Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people offer themselves willingly
In the day of thy power, in holy array:
Out of the womb of the morning
Thou hast the dew of thy youth (Ps. 110:1-3).
The oracle in Daniel 7:13,14 gives additional light upon this passage. Generally speaking, it is recognized as a Messianic prediction.
13 I saw in the night-visions and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
The Ancient of Days, seated upon the throne, is God the Father. The one like unto a Son of Man is God the Son. Being the second person of the Trinity and having entered the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth, the Son of God became historically the Son of Man, the God-man.
According to the prophetic Word, the Messiah appeared upon the earth on scheduled time and performed the work for which He came. He, as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world (Isaiah, chapter 53), was crucified and buried; but He arose triumphantly over the evil powers of the unseen world. Then, at the invitation of God, He ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High where He has been ever since. When He arose from the dead, all authority in heaven and earth was given to Him (Matt. 28:18-20). Because of these facts He is spoken of as the King of glory.
The penitent remnant of Israel of the end time, thought of as doors having bowed heads, are urged to lift up their heads and to welcome this King of glory. He will not leave glory until the people of Israel plead for Him to return. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors: And the King of glory will come in" (Ps. 24:7). The rhetorical question is asked, "Who is the King of glory?" The writer answers the question saying, "Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle." Jehovah the mighty One fought the battle with Satan and the forces of evil at the time of His Crucifixion and Resurrection. He is ready to go into battle against the Antichrist of the end time and all the forces of evil. But He will not take the field of battle until the nation of Israel penitently call upon Him to come and champion their cause.
Again, penitent Israel are called upon to arise and accept Messiah (Ps. 24:9). Once more the rhetorical question "Who is the King of glory?" is asked. This time the answer is given: "Jehovah of hosts [armies], He is the King of glory." Jehovah of armiesthe Lord Jesus Christis the only one who can conquer the forces of evil and bring salvation to Israel and to the world.
Finally, as we come to Psalm 80, we are, figuratively speaking, treading on holy ground. Through the long vista of centuries opened up by this inspired hymn, the Psalmist sees a penitent Israel prostrate before God, pleading for mercy and deliverancein the most sacred and sublime hour of all Jewish history. Realizing the sacredness and holiness of that hour and occasion, let us enter into the study of the revelation brought by the inspired poet.
This Psalm naturally falls into two divisions: First, a petition addressed to Messiah, the Son of God, found in the following words:
80 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock;
Thou that sittest above the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up thy might,
And come to save us.
3 Turn us again, O God;
And cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved (Ps. 80:1-3).
Since the shepherds of Israelboth the religious and political leaders of Ezekiel's daywere corrupt and were failing to perform their duties of shepherding the flock, God through the Prophet promises to come and fulfill the duties of the shepherd to His flock, the Jewish people.
11 For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the water courses, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture; and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie down in a good fold; and on fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord Jehovah. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and will bring back that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but the fat and the strong I will destroy; I will feed them in justice (Ezek. 34:11-16).
In fulfillment of this promise, Jehovah the Son appeared as the God-man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ more than nineteen hundred years ago and purchased eternal redemption for all who will believe Him and accept His free salvation. Not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God, many of the leaders of Israel rejected Him and were the occasion of His being crucified. Foreseeing this turn of events, the prophet Zechariah, in a most dramatic manner, foretells this tragedy: "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith Jehovah of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn my hand upon the little ones" (Zech. 13:7). After the death of the Son of man, He was buried; but the grave could not hold Him in its grip; the Psalmist David (Ps. 16:8-11) foretold that He would be raised from the dead. At the invitation of God"Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps. 110:1). The risen Shepherd of Israel left earth, ascended to heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God in heaven, where He has been ever since. He is awaiting Israel's call for Him to return and to deliver them from all their enemies. The prayer of Psalm 80:1-3 shows that the entire nation of Israel will know who the Shepherd of the nation is, where He is, and His plan to leave glory and to save them from their enemies.
The second petition is addressed to Jehovah God of Hosts, God the Father:
4 O Jehovah God of hosts,
How long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?
5 Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in large measure.
6 Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbors;
And our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Turn us again, O God of hosts;
And cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.
8 Thou broughtest a vine out of Egypt:
Thou didst drive out the nations, and plantedst it.
9 Thou preparedst room before it,
And it took deep root, and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with the shadow of it,
And the boughs thereof were like cedars of God.
11 It sent out its branches unto the sea,
And its shoots unto the River.
12 Why hast thou broken down its walls,
So that all they that pass by the way do pluck it?
13 The boar out of the wood doth ravage it,
And the wild beasts of the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, we beseech thee, O God of hosts:
Look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine,
15 And the stock which thy right hand planted,
And the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.
16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down:
They perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.
17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,
Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
18 So shall we not go back from thee:
Quicken thou us, and we will call upon thy name.
19 Turn us again, O Jehovah God of hosts;
Cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved (Ps. 80:4-19).
That verses 4-19 are addressed to God the Father is indeed evident from verse 17. Jehovah the Father is implored by the penitent worshipers: "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself." It is clear that the worshipers know the facts concerning the man at God's right hand. In keeping, therefore, with the facts which the people will have learned, they will pray for God the Father to send forth this man, the God-man (Dan. 7:13,14), from glory to earth with His blessing resting upon Him.
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