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nor questions of ceremonies will soon be decided. The sins. specified are those that it seems were most rife, falsehood, perjury, fraud, and injustice. The expression "in your gates," shows that the reference is to judicial procedure, as the gate of the city was the place where such business was transacted. The reason given for avoiding these sins, viz. because God hated them, is instructive, for it brings out the great principle of piety that runs through all revelation that religion consists in loving what God loves, and in hating what God hates, our nature being thus brought into conformity with His. When this is done, the creature has reached the completeness of its development, and hence this is the grand rule of conduct and attainment.
The prophet now at length proceeds to answer the question about fasts, and answers it more fully than it had been asked. The query was only in regard to a single fast, that which commemorated the burning of the city and temple, but the prophet adduces all the fasts, and gives the same rules regarding them all. They were all to be turned into days of rejoicing.
"And the word of Jehovah of Hosts was to me, saying, 19. Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts,
The fast of the fourth (month,) and the fast of the fifth,
Therefore love the truth and peace."
For the fast of the fourth month (Thammurz 17th,) in which Jerusalem was captured, see Jer. 52: 6, 7; for that of the fifth month (Ab. 9th), see 2 Kings 25: 8; for that of the seventh month (Tishri 3d), for the massacre of Gedaliah see Jer. 41 1-10; and for that of the tenth month (Tebeth 10th), the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, see 2 Kings 25: 1, and Jer. 52: 4. So far from the continuance of these days of fasting, they were to be changed into days of festivity, so great would be the blessing on the people. When God makes the sun shine, the tear drops should be dried; and when
his blessing comes upon us, the memory of our sorrows should be used only to enhance our present joy. But the moral condition of this is reiterated, "love truth and peace." God will bless, but not in spite of man's wickedness.
The ground of this joy is then more fully set forth, and shown to be the conversion of the Gentiles, or the enlargement of the church from its narrow Jewish form to its wide and comprehensive universality in the Messianic period.
"Thus saith Jehovah of hosts,
It shall yet be that peoples shall come,
And the inhabitants of many cities.
21. And they shall go, the inhabitants of one (city) to another, Saying, 'Let us go to pray before Jehovah
And to seek Jehovah of Hosts.'
'I will go also.'
22. And they shall come, many peoples and many nations,
To seek Jehovah of Hosts in Jerusalem,
And to pray before Jehovah.
23. Thus saith Jehovah of Hosts,
In those days (it shall be) that they shall seize (viz :)
Ten men from all the tongues of the nations,
They shall seize the skirt of a man (that is) a Jew,
Saying, We will go with you,
For we have heard that God is with you.'"
The form of this prophecy is highly dramatic. The scope of it is to predict the introduction of the Gentiles into the theocracy, and the consequent enlargement of the church. This is described by a bold and beautiful personification. A movement is seen among the nations that have hitherto hated the Jews, a pervading and powerful movement, that stirs them to their remotest extent. The inhabitants of one city run to another in their eagerness, and cry, "let us go to pray before Jehovah, &c." The instant response of each one thus addressed is, "I will go also." The intensity of the feeling is set forth partly by the abruptness of the expressions, and partly by the intensive verbal form nelecha haloch let us go, going, i. e. let us all certainly and speedily go, lest we be too late. Thus they start not by ones and twos, but in crowds to hasten to Jerusalem, that they may secure the favor of God.
As they near the holy city, they run to seize the outer garment of a Jew, ten of the crowding Gentiles eagerly surrounding one of the Jews, to cast in their lot with them, to become one of their number, and to share their privileges because they have heard, that God is with them. The numbers ten and one are used in that definite for an indefinite sense, which we have in English in the expression "ten to one," and which is common in the Bible, see Gen. 31:7, Lev. 26: 26, &c. The phrase "from all the tongues of the nations," is of course an easily understood idiom for nations using all the different languages. To seize the hem of the garment is a gesture of earnestness, importunity, and perseverance, which is emphatic were it done by only a single person, but when done by ten persons, it becomes significant of an intensity of anxiety, and a depth of conviction, of the very highest grade.
When this prediction was uttered nothing seemed more hopelessly improbable than its fulfilment. The Jews were a poor, despised, obscure tribe in the heart of Syria, whose existence was only known to the mighty world by their furnishing a trophy to the victorious arms of Babylon. Greece was . just rising in the firmament of human history, and as she ascended to her brilliant zenith, her track was marked by the sweeping of the phalanxes of Alexander and the legions of Antiochus over the hills and valleys of Judea. And yet this prophecy remained unfulfilled. Rome. was then in the rugged feebleness of her wolf-nursed infancy, and slowly continued to grow until she reached that gigantic stature in which she ruled the earth, and her conquering legions under Pompey again swept over this fated land, and even desecrated the places of her holy solemnities. Five hundred years rolled away, and yet this prophecy remained unfulfilled, indeed seemed further from fulfillment than when it was uttered.
But at length the time arrived, and there came to Jerusalem "men out of every nation under heaven-Parthians, Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in VOL. VII.-22
Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians," all came up to Jerusalem to seek the face of Jehovah, and from the lips of a Jew they heard words that caused them to cry out "Men and brethren what shall I do?" They scattered to their own homes again, and carried with them the strange words that had so deeply moved their souls, and being followed by these wonder working men, there soon began to work a new life among the nations of the earth, and this life took hold in its origin and efficacy upon a Jew. Greece with her polished dialectics, Rome with her mailed mightiness, Asia with her soft voluptuousness, all submitted to the authority of a Savior who was a Jew; all rested their hopes for eternity upon a Jew; and soon received as divinely inspired the words and writings of men who were Jews. And for nearly two thousand years the mightiest intellects and largest hearts of the race, have breathed the spirit and studied the words of men who were Jews, and have sought as the most precious boon of existence the privilege of being covered with a robe of righteousness that was wrought by the divinely incarnated hands of one who, is of the seed of Abraham after the flesh, though as to his higher nature, God over all blessed forever. And at this day there are literally men of all nations, and kindreds and tribes and people, who are laying hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, and casting in their lot with those whom God chose to be a people for himself, and resting their hopes on that crucified Jew, who is the Saviour of the world. Hence thus far, the prophecy has been amply fulfilled, but its grandest fulfilment is yet to come when Jerusalem shall arise from the dust of her degradation, and Moriah be crowned with the symbols of a pure worship, and Olivet echo to the songs of the ransomed of Zion who shall return with joy and everlasting gladness. Then and not until then shall this prophecy have its grandest and fullest fulfilment, in the glory of the latter-day restoration of Israel.
And it is beautiful to remark the diffusive missionary spirit
that must accompany this great enlargement to Israel, showing as it does the identity of all true religion. The inhabitants of one city shall not be content with idly waiting until another city shall hear of these glad tidings, nor shall they merely send by another, but they shall go, and themselves urge this great duty of seeking the Lord, and urge by the powerful suasion of example. "Let us, go," with its loving earnestness shall then meet with the glad response, "I will go also." And as clouds and doves to their windows shall they come, and lay hold, by a faith that will take no denial, of him who is the only name under heaven by which men can be saved. Thus the kingdom of heaven shall suffer violence, and the violent shall take it by storm. How beautifully all this comports with the religion of the New Testament in its living and glowing form, we need not point out; and how exactly the teachings of the prophet in regard to fasts and external ceremonies correspond with the teachings of Christ and Paul, we need not unfold at length, but only refer the thoughtful reader to their coincidences, as instructive proofs that after all, the Religion of the Bible is the same, by whomsoever taught, and the Old and New Testament, but different stages in the growth of the same great tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. May every Christian resort to its balm-breathing leaves more constantly and earnestly, and he shall find them ever rich with angels food that shall give his soul her daily bread.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]