THE HUMANITY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL, OR ONE OF THE DIVINE PERSONALITIES ASSUMING HUMAN FORM
PROPHECIES OF GOD'S COMING TO EARTH
PROPHECIES OF MESSIAH'S APPEARING
THE TIME OF MESSIAH'S APPEARING
OUTLINE OF MESSIAH'S CAREER
PURPOSE OF MESSIAH'S COMING
PROPHECIES OF GOD'S COMING TO EARTH
I. EARLY APPEARANCES OF THE LORD ON EARTH
HAVING seen in the preceding chapters that there is a plurality of Divine Personalities, but that they constitute a divine unity consisting of three personalities, the reader is now requested to advance a step further in this investigation to consider the predictions concerning one of these Divine Persons who is to assume human form in order to bless mankind. An excellent approach to this phase of the subject is the record of the appearance of מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the angel of the Lord," of which occurrence appears the record in Ex. 3:1-4:17. In 3:2 Moses said, "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." It is apparent to all that this fire was not ordinary fire but was a manifestation of supernatural power and glory. Being attracted by this unusual phenomenon, Moses turned aside to investigate the same. As he approached the bush, אֱלֹהִים "God called unto him out of the midst of the bush," to which call Moses responded, "Here am I." He who is called the "angel of the Lord" in verse 2 is called יְהוָה "the Lord" and אֱלֹהִים "God" in verse 4. Having instructed Moses to remove his shoes, this angel of the Lord said to Moses, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." The continuity of thought demands that one understand that the "angel of the Lord" is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Continuing this conversation, according to verse 13, Moses asked the Lord or Angel of the Lord, if the children of Israel should ask concerning who commissioned him and what is God's Name, what reply should he make to them? To the first question God said to tell them "I AM hath sent me unto you." To the second question He said, "I AM that I AM." Giving him further instructions as to what he should say, God said, according to verse 15, that Moses should tell them, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם זֶה־שְּׁמִי לְעֹלָם וְזֶה זִכְרִי לְדֹר דֹּר׃ "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." With all of this data in hand there can be no doubt in the mind of any that this appearance of the angel in the bush amid the supernatural flames was an appearance of one of the Divine Personalities who claimed that he is the one whom Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worshipped.II. APPEARANCE OF DIVINE PRESENCE AT THE EXODUS
When Moses delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light" (Ex. 13:21). These pillars of cloud and of fire are again visible manifestations of the Divine Presence with Israel. This fact becomes more apparent from the language of Ex. 14:19, "And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them." This same "angel of the Lord" in verse 24 is called the Lord Himself: "And it came to pass in the morning watch, that יְהוָה the Lord looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians."III. APPEARANCE OF DIVINE PRESENCE AT MT. SINAI
This "angel of the Lord" who appeared both in the burning bush and at the exodus from Egypt is called by Isaiah the Prophet "the angel of His presence" מַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו Isa. 63:9. "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old." This verse without doubt summarizes God's dealings with Israel from the time of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage onward. These facts being true, "the angel of his פָּנָיו presence" is the Lord Himself. Why, one may ask, is this one called "the angel of his presence" (or, "of his faces")? There can be but one reasonable, plausible answer, namely, he is thus called because He is the only face or personal manifestation of God which man had ever seen up to that time. Furthermore, since it is in the face that character--the real person--is reflected, and since this "Angel of the Lord" is, as seen above, the Lord Himself, He is in a figure called "the face of the Lord."
On another occasion the Lord revealed Himself in a thick cloud of smoke and flames of fire when He descended to the heights of Mount Sinai in order to give the "ten words." From the mountain height thunder pealed, lightning flashed, and there sounded forth the voice of a great trumpet waxing louder and louder.
וְהַר סִינַי עָשַׁן כֻּלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי אֲשֶׁר יָרַד עָלָיו יְהוָה בָּאֵשׁ וַיַּעַל עֲשָׁנוֹ כְּעֶשֶׁן הַכִּבְשָׁן וַיֶּחֱרַד כָּל־הָהָר מְאֹד: וַיְהִי קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר הוֹלֵךְ וְחָזֵק מְאֹד מֹשֶׁה יְדַבֵּר וְהָאֱלֹהִים יַעֲנֶנּוּ בְקוֹל׃
"And mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice" (Ex. 19:18,19).
Now, after Moses returned to the people from his interview with God on the mountain, the Lord spake the "ten words" as is recorded in Ex. 20:1-17. To confirm further the thought that God was in the midst of the cloud which descended upon Mount Sinai and from it spoke the "ten words," note the statement of Moses in Deut. 5:22(19).
אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֶל־כָּל־קְהַלְכֶם בָּהָר מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ הֶעָנָן וְהָעֲרָפֶל קוֹל גָּדוֹל וְלֹא יָסָף וַיִּכְתְּבֵם עַל־שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים וַיִּתְּנֵם אֵלָי׃
"These words (the "ten words") the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tables of stone, and gave them unto me." It was necessary for God to hide His real presence from mortal eyes lest man should die, as is stated in Deut. 5:23-27.IV. APPEARANCE OF DIVINE PRESENCE IN THE TABERNACLE
Another instance of God's veiling Himself with His glory occurred when Moses had set up the tabernacle at Sinai.
וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן אֶת־אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה מָלֵא אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן׃ וְלֹא־יָכֹל מֹשֶׁה לָבוֹא אֶל־אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד כִּי־שָׁכַן עָלָיו הֶעָנָן וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה מָלֵא אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן׃
"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex. 40:34,35).
Thus in the tabernacle appeared the visible manifestation of the Presence of God which is called "the glory of the Lord." That the God of Israel was in the midst of this glory is certain from Lev. 1:1: וַיִּקְרָא אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד "And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tent of meeting ..."
This same outward manifestation of God's Presence is seen at the dedication of Solomon's temple, according to I Kgs. 8:10,11:
וַיְהִי בְּצֵאת הַכֹּהֲנִים מִן־הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְהֶעָנָן מָלֵא אֶת־בֵּית יְהוָה׃ וְלֹא־יָכְלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים לַעֲמֹד לְשָׁרֵת מִפְּנֵי הֶעָנָן כִּי־מָלֵא כְבוֹד־יְהוָה אֶת־בֵּית יְהוָה׃
"And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord."
V. APPEARANCE OF DIVINE PRESENCE IN THE TEMPLE
This divine manifestation of God's presence in the temple remained throughout the days of the monarchy until the Babylonian captivity, at which time, according to Ezekiel, Chapters 9-11, "the glory of the God of Israel" reluctantly left the holy place to tarry a-while over the threshold of the temple; then over the court; next over the doomed city, and finally it departed to the mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, from which eventually it left the nation. Israel's great abominations were the occasion of God's leaving the temple as is seen in Ezek. 8:6; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי בֶּן־אָדָם הֲרֹאֶה אַתָּה מָהֵם עֹשִׂים תּוֹעֵבוֹת גְּדֹלוֹת אֲשֶׁר בֵּית־יִשְׂרָאֵל עֹשִׂים פֹּה לְרָחֳקָה מֵעַל מִקְדָּשִׁי׃ "And he said unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel do commit here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary?" ...
After the return from Babylonian captivity and after Zerubbabel had completed the second temple there is no mention of the Presence of the glory of God. Israel's house was left desolate. Her sin had separated between her and her God. Though He allowed them to remain in the land, God was not in their midst as in former days. "According to Jewish historians themselves there were five things present in the first temple which were lacking in the second: (1) the ark and its contents; (2) the holy fire which descended from heaven to consume the sacrifices in token of God's acceptance; (3) the Urim and Thummin; (4) the spirit of prophecy; (5) the Shekhinah glory. As a matter of fact, we know from Jewish as well as from heathen writers that the Holy of Holies in the second temple through the nearly five centuries of its existence was a vacuum--an empty place--waiting for God to come and take manifest possession of it." Finally, in the year 70 of the common era this second temple was destroyed and the nation was scattered to the four corners of the earth and it remains scattered to the present day. Thus God and His outward manifestation is not with Israel. This long period of dispersion and of being without God has been Israel's long, dark, dreary night which, in the Providence of God, shall be turned into day in the future. Let each reader hope and pray that that day may speedily come.
VI. FUTURE APPEARANCES OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE ON THE EARTH
There appear in the prophetic word numerous promises of the appearance of the glory of God upon this earth again in the midst of Israel. Among these promises is the glorious one in Isa. 40:3-5:
קוֹל קוֹרֵא בַּמִּדְבָּר פַּנּוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה יַשְּׁרוּ בָּעֲרָבָה מְסִלָּה לֵאלֹהֵינוּ׃ כָּל־גֶּיא יִנָּשֵׂא וְכָל־הַר וְגִבְעָה יִשְׁפָּלוּ וְהָיָה הֶעָקֹב לְמִישׁוֹר וְהָרְכָסִים לְבִקְעָה: וְנִגְלָה כְּבוֹד יְהוָה וְרָאוּ כָל־בָּשָׂר יַחְדָּו כִּי פִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּר׃
"The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of the Lord; make level in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
In verses 9-11 below, the prophet with his gaze steadfastly upon the future sees a messenger approaching, a messenger of good tidings for Zion, and shouts to him:
עַל הַר־גָּבֹהַּ עֲלִי־לָךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת צִיּוֹן הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל־תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם׃ הִנֵּה אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה בְּחָזָק יָבוֹא וּזְרֹעוֹ מֹשְׁלָה לוֹ הִנֵּה שְׂכָרוֹ אִתּוֹ וּפְעֻלָּתוֹ לְפָנָיו: כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ יִרְעֶה בִּזְרֹעוֹ יְקַבֵּץ טְלָאִים וּבְחֵיקוֹ יִשָּׂא עָלוֹת יְנַהֵל׃
"O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up on a high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God! Behold, the Lord יְהוָה will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him: Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young." From these verses it is very clear that the prophet sees the time when the Lord God of Israel shall come to Zion in a personal, visible manner as a mighty warrior. Furthermore, they show that He will rule there, dealing out justice and righteousness to all and rendering a recompense to every one. Though He shall be an absolute monarch, He shall have the tenderness of a good shepherd, for He will feed His flock and will gently carry the lambs in His bosom. [In Verse 11 the Lord compares Himself to a shepherd and the house of Israel to His flock which He tends.]
This personal coming of the God of Israel is to be attended by the manifestation of divine glory (verse 5), similar to but more glorious than on former occasions. This personal glorious appearance of God in Zion shall be revealed to all flesh (all nations). Then will be fulfilled the passage which says, "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). At that time everyone shall have a personal knowledge of God because He will be in Zion in person and the nations will go to Jerusalem constantly and will be taught of Him (Isa. 2:1-4).
הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר חָזָה יְשַׁעְיָהוּ בֶּן־אָמוֹץ עַל־יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלִָם׃ וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים נָכוֹן יִהְיֶה הַר בֵּית־יְהוָה בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים וְנִשָּׂא מִגְּבָעוֹת וְנָהֲרוּ אֵלָיו כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם: וְהָלְכוּ עַמִּים רַבִּים וְאָמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַעֲלֶה אֶל־הַר־יְהוָה אֶל־בֵּית אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב וְיֹרֵנוּ מִדְּרָכָיו וְנֵלְכָה בְּאֹרְחֹתָיו כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה וּדְבַר־יְהוָה מִירוּשָׁלִָם׃ וְשָׁפַט בֵּין הַגּוֹיִם וְהוֹכִיחַ לְעַמִּים רַבִּים וְכִתְּתוּ חַרְבוֹתָם לְאִתִּים וַחֲנִיתוֹתֵיהֶם לְמַזְמֵרוֹת לֹא־יִשָּׂא גוֹי אֶל־גּוֹי חֶרֶב וְלֹא־יִלְמְדוּ עוֹד מִלְחָמָה׃
"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples 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. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
In Psa. 50:1-6 appears a wonderful prediction when God shall come to Zion as Judge.
אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה דִּבֶּר וַיִּקְרָא־אָרֶץ מִמִּזְרַח־שֶׁמֶשׁ עַד־מְבֹאוֹ׃ מִצִּיּוֹן מִכְלַל־יֹפִי אֱלֹהִים הוֹפִיעַ׃ יָבֹא אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְאַל־יֶחֱרַשׁ אֵשׁ־לְפָנָיו תֹּאכֵל וּסְבִיבָיו נִשְׂעֲרָה מְאֹד׃ יִקְרָא אֶל־הַשָּׁמַיִם מֵעָל וְאֶל־הָאָרֶץ לָדִין עַמּוֹ׃ אִסְפוּ־לִי חֲסִידָי כֹּרְתֵי בְרִיתִי עֲלֵי־זָבַח׃ וַיַּגִּידוּ שָׁמַיִם צִדְקוֹ כִּי־אֱלֹהִים שֹׁפֵט הוּא סֶלָה׃
"The Mighty One, God, the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth. Our God cometh, and doth not keep silence: A fire devoureth before him, and it is very tempestuous round about him. He calleth to the heavens above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people: Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself."
Though in verse 2 the Psalmist speaks of the fulfillment of this passage as if it had already transpired, the context shows clearly that it is a prediction of the time when God shall come to Mount Zion and shall enter into judgment with the nations.
This use of the perfect tense is known as the prophetic perfect. By the spiritual illumination of the Divine Spirit the prophet saw this coming of the Lord and judgment scene as vividly as if it had already occurred. The word: הוֹפִיעַ "shine forth" in verse 2 is the same one which is used in Deut. 33:2 by Moses to describe God's appearance on Mount Sinai when He delivered the law to him.
The use of this word suggests the scenes at Sinai. It was there that God, to a certain limited extent, "shined forth," thus manifesting His Presence and power. When God shines forth out of Zion there will be a duplication of the scenes of Sinai, but on a vaster and more magnificent scale. Again in Psa.80:1(2) the Psalmist prays: רֹעֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל הַאֲזִינָה נֹהֵג כַּצֹּאן יוֹסֵף יֹשֵׁב הַכְּרוּבִים הוֹפִיעָה׃ "Give ear, 0 Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest above the cherubim, shine forth." The Psalmist before whose mind the throne of judgment and glory stood in vision implored the God of Israel in behalf of the chosen people to fulfill His promises by coming and by leading the Hebrew people like a flock back to their ancestral home. Again in Psa. 94:1-3 the Psalmist pleads: אֵל־נְקָמוֹת יְהוָה אֵל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיעַ: הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל־גֵּאִים: עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יְהוָה עַד־מָתַי רְשָׁעִים יַעֲלֹזוּ׃ "0 Lord, thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, Thou God to whom vengeance belongeth, shine forth. Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: Render to the proud their desert. Lord, how long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph?" It is apparent from this passage that the inspired Psalmist understood that when God does shine forth He will render vengeance and recompense to the wicked. Seeing the prevalence of wickedness he prays earnestly for God to appear in this capacity.
A close study of Psalm 50 which, as stated above, sees the prediction already fulfilled shows the extent of this judgment. Likewise, it gives an indication of the time when it will be fulfilled, namely, after God has kept His silence for a long time (see verse 3). In verse 5 appear those whom God terms "My saints," even "those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" gathered together unto God. Hence they are protected and blessed by Him at this time. In verses 7-15 is a description of how God will deal with the surviving remnant of Israel at the time when He appears in Zion. In verses 16-21 is God's judgment upon the wicked and rebellious of the world. This same appearance of God to judge the world is seen in Joel 3:12-17 (4:12-17) :
יֵעוֹרוּ וְיַעֲלוּ הַגּוֹיִם אֶל־עֵמֶק יְהוֹשָׁפָט כִּי שָׁם אֵשֵׁב לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת־כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם מִסָּבִיב: שִׁלְחוּ מַגָּל כִּי בָשַׁל קָצִיר בֹּאוּ רְדוּ כִּי־מָלְאָה גַּת הֵשִׁיקוּ הַיְקָבִים כִּי רַבָּה רָעָתָם: הֲמוֹנִים הֲמוֹנִים בְּעֵמֶק הֶחָרוּץ כִּי קָרוֹב יוֹם יְהוָה בְּעֵמֶק הֶחָרוּץ׃ שֶׁמֶשׁ וְיָרֵחַ קָדָרוּ וְכוֹכָבִים אָסְפוּ נָגְהָם׃ וַיהוָה מִצִּיּוֹן יִשְׁאָג וּמִירוּשָׁלִַם יִתֵּן קוֹלוֹ וְרָעֲשׁוּ שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ וַיהוָה מַחֲסֶה לְעַמּוֹ וּמָעוֹז לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם שֹׁכֵן בְּצִיּוֹן הַר־קָדְשִׁי וְהָיְתָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם קֹדֶשׁ וְזָרִים לֹא־יַעַבְרוּ־בָהּ עוֹד׃
"Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the nations round about. Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe: come, tread ye; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And the Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be a refuge unto his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more."
Malachi in 3:1-3 describes this same coming of God in judgment when He shall come suddenly to His temple, purge out all wickedness, and purify the remnant of Israel.
הִנְנִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָכִי וּפִנָּה־דֶרֶךְ לְפָנָי וּפִתְאֹם יָבוֹא אֶל־הֵיכָלוֹ הָאָדוֹן אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם מְבַקְשִׁים וּמַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חֲפֵצִים הִנֵּה־בָא אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת׃ וּמִי מְכַלְכֵּל אֶת־יוֹם בּוֹאוֹ וּמִי הָעֹמֵד בְּהֵרָאוֹתוֹ כִּי־הוּא כְּאֵשׁ מְצָרֵף וּכְבֹרִית מְכַבְּסִים׃ וְיָשַׁב מְצָרֵף וּמְטַהֵר כֶּסֶף וְטִהַר אֶת־בְּנֵי־לֵוִי וְזִקַּק אֹתָם כַּזָּהָב וְכַכָּסֶף וְהָיוּ לַיהוָה מַגִּישֵׁי מִנְחָה בִּצְדָקָה׃
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts. But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto the Lord offerings in righteousness."
After God appears in judgment in Zion and has executed His righteous indignation upon all of the wicked, He, as seen in Joel's passage just quoted, will reign in Zion. At that time Zion will be a peaceful, glorious habitation from which God will reign over the earth.
Note the picture of blessedness in Isa. 33:17-24.
מֶלֶךְ בְּיָפְיוֹ תֶּחֱזֶינָה עֵינֶיךָ תִּרְאֶינָה אֶרֶץ מַרְחַקִּים׃ לִבְּךָ יֶהְגֶּה אֵימָה אַיֵּה סֹפֵר אַיֵּה שֹׁקֵל אַיֵּה סֹפֵר אֶת־הַמִּגְדָּלִים: אֶת־עַם נוֹעָז לֹא תִרְאֶה עַם עִמְקֵי שָׂפָה מִשְּׁמוֹעַ נִלְעַג לָשׁוֹן אֵין בִּינָה׃ חֲזֵה צִיּוֹן קִרְיַת מוֹעֲדֵנוּ עֵינֶיךָ תִרְאֶינָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם נָוֶה שַׁאֲנָן אֹהֶל בַּל־יִצְעָן בַּל־יִסַּע יְתֵדֹתָיו לָנֶצַח וְכָל־חֲבָלָיו בַּל־יִנָּתֵקוּ׃ כִּי אִם־שָׁם אַדִּיר יְהוָה לָנוּ מְקוֹם־נְהָרִים יְאֹרִים רַחֲבֵי יָדָיִם בַּל־תֵּלֶךְ בּוֹ אֳנִי־שַׁיִט וְצִי אַדִּיר לֹא יַעַבְרֶנּוּ: כִּי יְהוָה שֹׁפְטֵנוּ יְהוָה מְחֹקְקֵנוּ יְהוָה מַלְכֵּנוּ הוּא יוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ: נִטְּשׁוּ חֲבָלָיִךְ בַּל־יְחַזְּקוּ כֵן־תָּרְנָם בַּל־פָּרְשׂוּ נֵס אָז חֻלַּק עַד־שָׁלָל מַרְבֶּה פִּסְחִים בָּזְזוּ בַז׃ וּבַל־יֹאמַר שָׁכֵן חָלִיתִי הָעָם הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּהּ נְשֻׂא עָוֹן׃
"Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold a land that reacheth afar. Thy heart shall muse on the terror: Where is he that counted, where is he that weighed the tribute? where is he that counted the towers? Thou shalt not see the fierce people, a people of a deep speech that thou canst not comprehend, of a strange tongue that thou canst not understand. Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tent that shall not be removed, the stakes whereof shall never be plucked up, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the Lord will be with us in majesty, a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not strengthen the foot of their mast, they could not spread the sail: then was the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame took the prey. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
VII. THE PERSONAL GLORIOUS APPEARANCE OF MESSIAH IN ZION
From the predictions concerning God's coming both in judgment and glory which have been quoted one would conclude that only one of the Divine Personalities will appear upon the earth and will judge the peoples. In Dan. 7 appears additional light upon this future glorious event. In verses 1-14 appears the record of the series of visions which were shown to Daniel the prophet who was a high official at the court of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, and who was a faithful prophet of God. In verses 15-28 appears the record of the interpretation of the visions, which was made to him by an interpreting angel. After giving an account of the appearance of the four wild animals, namely, a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a nondescript beast, which came up out of the agitated sea in the order enumerated and each of which succeeded his predecessor, Daniel says:
חָזֵה הֲוֵית עַד דִּי כָרְסָוָן רְמִיו וְעַתִּיק יוֹמִין יְתִב לְבוּשֵׁהּ כִּתְלַג חִוָּר וּשְׂעַר רֵאשֵׁהּ כַּעֲמַר נְקֵא כָּרְסְיֵהּ שְׁבִבִין דִּי־נוּר גַּלְגִּלּוֹהִי נוּר דָּלִק׃ נְהַר דִּי־נוּר נָגֵד וְנָפֵק מִן־קֳדָמוֹהִי אֶלֶף אַלְפִים יְשַׁמְּשׁוּנֵּהּ וְרִבּוֹ רִבְוָן קָדָמוֹהִי יְקוּמוּן דִּינָא יְתִב וְסִפְרִין פְּתִיחוּ׃ חָזֵה הֲוֵית בֵּאדַיִן מִן־קָל מִלַּיָּא רַבְרְבָתָא דִּי קַרְנָא מְמַלֱּלָא חָזֵה הֲוֵית עַד דִּי קְטִילַת חֵיוְתָא וְהוּבַד גִּשְׁמַהּ וִיהִיבַת לִיקֵדַת אֶשָּׁא: וּשְׁאָר חֵיוָתָא הֶעְדִּיו שָׁלְטָנְהוֹן וְאַרְכָה בְחַיִּין יְהִיבַת לְהוֹן עַד־זְמַן וְעִדָּן: חָזֵה הֲוֵית בְּחֶזְוֵי לֵילְיָא וַאֲרוּ עִם־עֲנָנֵי שְׁמַיָּא כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ אָתֵה הֲוָא וְעַד־עַתִּיק יוֹמַיָּא מְטָה וּקְדָמוֹהִי הַקְרְבוּהִי: וְלֵהּ יְהִב שָׁלְטָן וִיקָר וּמַלְכוּ וְכֹל עַמְמַיָּא אֻמַּיָּא וְלִשָּׁנַיָּא לֵהּ יִפְלְחוּן שָׁלְטָנֵהּ שָׁלְטָן עָלַם דִּי־לָא יֶעְדֵּה וּמַלְכוּתֵהּ דִּי־לָא תִתְחַבַּל׃
"I beheld till thrones were placed, and one that was ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire. And as for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. 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. 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" (Dan. 7:9-14).
It is generally agreed among Biblical scholars that these beasts are symbols of world empires, which position is supported by verse 17. The kingdoms thus represented by them are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Wild animals were chosen as fit symbols to depict the selfish warring characteristics of human governments.
Verse 9, quoted above, is a description of the throne of judgment and of glory which is held in heaven, as is learned from the other predictions. This one who sits upon the throne is called "ancient of days." That he is a Divine Being is beyond question. That this is a throne of judgment is evident from verse 10. From verse 11 it is evident that this judgment scene is not set until the fourth empire, namely, Rome, is in its last stages; in fact the verse shows that when this throne of judgment is set, the fourth beast is slain. In non-figurative language this statement teaches that the Roman Empire ceases as a government at that time. Verse 12 shows that the three former beasts were not dealt with in the supernatural way in which the fourth one is disposed of.
The question doubtless has arisen in the mind of the reader, "How can such an interpretation be true since Rome as a government has ceased to exist centuries ago?" To this question the answer is very easy. Though the Roman empire has not functioned since the fifth century of the common era, it by no means is dead. In the days of Constantine the Great the empire was divided into the eastern and western divisions, the capital of the latter being Rome, and that of the former, Constantinople. The western half was destroyed by the invasion of the Teutons in 476 but was revived about 800 by Charlemagne and was called "The Holy Roman Empire." About 963 Otto the Great of Germany transferred the seat of government to his dominion and renamed it "The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation." All of the German emperors from that day until Kaiser Wilhelm in 1918 was deposed claimed to be successors of Caesar, the word "Kaiser" being Caesar spelled in German. The very civilization of the western world is that of the old Roman empire.
The seat of the government at Constantinople continued until 1453 when it was captured by the Turks. At that time the government was transferred to Russia. Since then the Russian nation has been the modern successor of the eastern division of the Roman empire. The word "Czar" is but the Russian way of spelling Caesar. In 1917, however, the Russian empire succumbed to the influence of the Bolsheviki. The civilization of Russia was likewise based upon that of old Rome.
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