THE AMAZING JEW
THE Jew is absolutely amazing. Proud Empires - the
Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, the Roman - have come, lived their
little day, disappeared, and have left scarce a trace behind. The Jew, more
ancient than they all, remains more vigorous than ever.
It has been well said that,
"The inhabitants of Babylon and Memphis would have found it hard to believe that out of their imperial pomp the only living relics would be the utterances of an obscure tribe upon their frontiers; that Nebuchadnezzar's name would be lost to all expert archaologists, but for its mention in the Hebrew Scriptures; that such as Jeremiah would live eternally, when fortresses and hanging gardens were unidentifiable dust."
The past of the Jew is known as no other nation's is known. Their history is found in the Bible, far and away the oldest history book in the world, whose beginnings were recorded by Moses some three thousand four hundred years ago, and preserved miraculously for us to this day. We only hear of Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, because of their connections with the children of Israel. Nor is the future of any nation known but that of the Jewish, and those nations, which have to do with them in the last days. And as for the present of the Jew it is astounding, developing before our very eyes most dramatically.
The Jew constitutes a very small proportion of the human race. To-day it is estimated there are i6,ooo,ooo Jews in the world.( Since writing the above considerably reduced as the result of Hitler's savage persecution of God's ancient people.) Roughly speaking the population of the world is 2,000,000,000. The Jew constitutes, therefore, less than one per cent. of the whole. A celebrated author - Mark Twain - draws attention to this in a striking way :
If the statistics are right the Jews constitute but one per cent, of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, is always heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagant and out of all proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's lists of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, abstruse learning, are also out of all proportion to the smallness of his bulk. He has made a marvellous fight in this world in all the ages, and he has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
"The Egyptian, the Babylonian and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream stuff and passed away; the Greek and Roman followed, and made a vast noise and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.
"The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind.
"All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?'
This brilliant author may well ask, What is the secret of the Jews' persistence? But he will get no answer save that which the Bible furnishes. The history of the Jew is the finger of God.
Mr. Madison Peters writes :
The Jew has given to the world the knowledge of the only true and living God. He has given Moses, who, in the twelve United States of Israel, gave to the world the first republic, and whose laws still form the basis of the civilised world's jurisprudence; Jesus, the ideal of the race . . . of whom Strauss said, ' He remains the highest model of religion within our thoughts,' of whom Renan declared, 'Whatever will be the surprise of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed,' . . . this Jesus was a Jew. Dr. Wat Nordau voices many when he says, 'Who then could think of excluding Him from the people of Israel . . . This Man is ours, He honours our race, and we claim Him as we claim the Gospels- flowers of Jewish literature, and only Jewish!' Our Bible, the Old as well as the New Testament, was written by Jews. . . . Liberty, charity and brotherhood find their one place of abode in Bible countries . . . for this Book we are indebted to the Jews."
(The Jew as a Patriot.)
There is a well-known story told of King Frederick the Great, of Prussia. He was an infidel, the friend of the notorious Frenchman, Voltaire, who shared his views, and in his day was their most brilliant exponent. At the Prussian court was a General Von Ziethen. The King knowing him to be a Christian in more than name, one day said to him, "Defend your Christianity, if you can, in one word, General."
The General bowed low before his monarch, and replied, "Sire, ISRAEL."
That was enough, and the reply is so striking that it has been kept fresh in the memory of Christian people to this day.
Why, then, has the Jew such a preponderating place on the pages of the Holy Writ? Why should far more powerful nations only be mentioned because of their relation to Israel? Why are we told what is to happen to the Jew in the future? To answer these questions is now our task. Scripture itself gives us the answer in a few words. We are told of the Jews that they are "Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption and o the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
"Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 9: 4, 5).
We must first take a bird's-eye view of the whole before we seek to fill in the details,
The Scripture, just quoted, shows how, in view of the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus Christ, God chose the Jews-"to whom pertaineth the adoption." But for God's purposes in Christ there would have been no children of Israel, no Bible, no revelation of Himself, no blessing for mankind. And note, how careful the Spirit of God is to indicate that Christ came into this world as a true man "concerning the flesh Christ came" -but equally careful to assert that He was God-"God blessed for ever" God, with no diminution of Deity, though He stooped so low, and came in the lowly guise of manhood.
To Israel pertaineth "the glory," glory which will be seen in its fulness when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be her King, and Jerusalem the Metropolis of the whole earth.
God made "covenants" with Israel, but what had they in view? One verse tells us. God had a long look-out down the centuries. It is not a question of Abraham and his individual blessing, though that is, perforce, secured, but of the blessing of mankind, We read:
"And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [the Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Galatians 3: 8).
That blessing could only be secured by Christ. The same epistle emphasises this:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is CHRIST." (Galatians 3: i6).
God gave "the law" to Israel, but why? Was it to educate Israel? Or was it to prove to them that there was no blessing that way? Surely, but there was a far wider implication than that. We read:
"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law [Israel]; that every mouth may be stopped [yours and mine], and all THE WORLD may become guilty before God." (Roinans 3 19).
In that way God would prepare the Jew, and, through him, all the world, for the Gospel through Christ, by which alone blessing can come.
"The service of God," specially given to Israel, refers to the ritual connected with the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in the land. That again was not complete in itself, It was at best but a "shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8: 5) awaiting the glorious Substance. "The Tabernacle and all the vessels of the Ministry, purified by blood, were but patterns of things to come.
They pointed on to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Deity, His Manhood, His great efficacious atoning sacrifice on the cross, when all the types should be fulfilled in Him, the glorious Antitype.
Finally, there were "the promises," the prophecies that went far beyond the narrow boundaries of Judaism, prophecies that will be seen in the full light and glory of their fulfilment when "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk z: 24).
Having clearly, then, in mind that we are following, however briefly, the unfolding of a great scheme worthy of God, leading to the revelation of Himself in Christ, to the great work of redemption without which man could not enter into blessing, to the grand finish of all Gods ways in His government on the earth, we may now come to a few details. Where shall we begin?
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
We have just read, "To whom pertaineth the adoption." How then did God choose a nation, through whom He would work out His plans for the blessing of mankind? He chose an individual. His choice fell on Abraham. This choice was His sovereign pleasure.
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a place of high culture, as recent excavations have proved. He was a worshipper of stocks and stones, when the great crisis in his life occurred. We read:
Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotarnia, before he dwelt in Charran." (Acts 6: 2).
That vision altered the whole life of Abraham, Its effects can be seen in his descendants in every part of the world to-day. He was bidden to leave his country, and kindred, and fathers house, and get into a land that God would tell him of. He went forth, "not knowing whither he went." (Hebrews ii: 8).
In the eyes of the world it was a step of the most absolute folly. But Abraham had got a sight of the invisible and eternal. He had an inward urge that responded to the call of God.
"By faith Abraham . . . obeyed." (Hebrews II: 8).
The importance of this is seen in the full account that is given in the Scriptures of the life of Abraham. No less than thirteen and a half chapters in the book of Genesis are devoted to the life of this wonderful man. Ten words,
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis I: )suffice to introduce us to the creation of the universe. Five words-
He made the stars also." (Genesis I: i6)- suffice to tell us about the millions of the heavenly bodies, many of them larger by far than the sun of our solar system. Yet thirteen and a half chapters are devoted to Abraham. What does this teach us? Surely that Gods ways in blessing man are infinitely more important than the creation of material things, surpassingly wonderful as they are.
In view then of the vast scheme God had in mind, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve sons of Jacob, and their families, till finally a mighty nation came into existence.
There is no nation in the world that is able to trace its origin to one man as the special choice of God, save the Jewish nation. Moreover God has taken care to stamp the whole thing with the miraculous. It is HIS particular doing. It did not happen in the ordinary course of nature.
The birth of Isaac was a miracle. Abraham was one hundred years old when this event took place. Sarah, his wife, was ninety years old, long past the age for bearing children. We are told that it was by faith that she received strength to conceive seed." (Hebrews Ii: it).
Jacobs birth was a miracle, for we are told that Rebekah, his mother, was barren, and that it was in answer to Isaacs prayer that the Sons - Esau and Jacob - were born. Then came the sons of Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, and finally we have
A CHOSEN NATION.
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be A SPECIAL PEOPLE UNTO HIMSELF, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."
"The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hansl of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 7: 6-8).
Naturally, if God chose a nation, beginning with a single individual, it must necessarily be a people without a country at first. Hence it follows that the time would come when a chosen people must possess a country, likewise chosen of God, even as the people were chosen.
Let us see how this is worked out. Abraham dwelt in the land of Canaan as an alien from another land, though Canaan was the land that God had promised he should possess. But as his descendants increased there would come a point when it would be impossible for them to continue as aliens. Their very number would render their presence a menace to a country in which they sojourned. To bestow on them a land of their own possession would become an absolute necessity. Let us follow this out step by step.
THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH
Little did Joseph, a lad of seventeen, imagine when he dreamed of his future eminence, as indicated by the sheaves of the field making obeisance to his sheaf, and the sun, moon and stars making obeisance to him, that it was a part of a plan, stretching out for centuries, which God was working out in connection with Christ and the blessing of man.
We may follow Josephs history as being connected with him individually, and learn many salutary lessons therefrom, but we shall miss the great point of it all, if we do not see Gods hand at work in connection with His own vast plan.
For thirteen long years Joseph knew what bitter bondage meant. Sold into Egypt by his envious brethren, flung into prison unjustly because he rightly resisted the blandishments of Potiphars wife, his was a truly fearful experience. The dreams of the chief butler and baker, and Josephs interpretations of them, were no accident, but all incidents in a scheme dovetailed with exactitude in all its parts. They were all links in the chain that went to fulfil Josephs dreams as a lad of seventeen, and, what is of far more importance, necessary parts of the great plan that God had in view, the end of which is not reached yet.
When the chief butler left the prison to be reinstated in his former position with Pharaoh, no doubt Josephs heart beat high with the hope of his own release as the result of the chief butler, in gratitude, bringing his case before the notice of Pharaoh. Bitter indeed must have been his disappointment as two long weary years went by, and no signs of his release were given. He might have lived and died in prison, but for the incident we are about to relate. Pharaoh dreamed two dreams, both pointing in the same direction, and of such a nature as to make him most anxious to know what they presaged. The magicians and wise men could find no interpretation. Then the chief butler remembered Joseph as having interpreted his dream, and mentioned his experience to the king. It will be thus seen that the dreams of Pharaoh came in their right order. If the dream of the chief butler, with the interpretation that Joseph gave of it, had not preceded Pharaohs dreams, nothing would have happened. They would have been unrelated incidents, not affecting each other. Then further, bitter as Josephs experience was, it was designed to test his character, form and strengthen it, to fit him for the task that lay before him. Just as steel is tempered by being subjected to fierce heat again and again, so he was being prepared in the furnace of affliction for the wonderful position that awaited him.
Brought into Pharaohs presence, interpreting his dreams, foretelling the years of great plenty to be followed by the years of biting famine, he made such an impression on the mind of that mighty monarch, that, with no previous knowledge of him, he appointed this young man of only thirty years of age to the amazing position of food controller of Egypt, giving him a position only second to his own.
Nay, further, it might not enter Josephs mind that the years of famine would be used of God to bring his brethren into his presence, and in the end to settle them in the best part of Egypt, the land of Goshen.
Most unexpectedly and dramatically were Josephs dreams fulfilled as his brethren made obeisance to the great lord of Egypt. Yet so it was. The very famine that brought all this about was part of Gods plan.
THE TRAINING OF MOSES
We must hasten on with the story. Joseph died and all his brethren. Generations came and went. The children of Israel increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them." (Exodus i: 7),
The time had come when the increasing number of the Israelites became a menace to the country where they sojourned. Pharaoh was alarmed. He oppressed and afflicted the children of Israel, and gave orders that the male children should be put to death. Was Gods hand in all this? What object had He before Him in it?
Just as God raised up Joseph to bring the children of Israel into Egypt, so he raised up Moses to take them out. God used the daughter of the very monarch, who ordered the destruction of the male children of the people of Israel, to protect the infant Moses. A more powerful patron could not have been found. She adopted him, and trained him in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.
"Moses ... was mighty in words and in deeds." (Acts 6 :22).
But we must hasten on with the story. We all know how he espoused the cause of his down-trodden fellow-countrymen. He fled from Egypt, and for forty years kept the sheep of his Midianitish father-in-law at the backside of the desert. In this way, doubtless, God prepared him for the great task that lay before him. Spoken to by God out of the burning bush, he was commissioned to the task of taking the children of Israel out of the bondage under which they groaned. We remember how he stood before Pharaoh. The plagues of Egypt smote that land again and again at the bidding of Moses, until at last Pharaoh let the people go.
We recall the passover night, destined to be a constant reminder to the Israelites of the coming of One, who is now so well known to us as "Christ our Passover ... sacrificed for us." (i Corinthians 5: )
For forty years the Israelites were miraculously sustained in the wilderness, a place of no natural resources. Their journey through the desert was one vast moving miracle. Such an immense body of people has not crossed the desert before nor since. Psalm 105 gives us the inspired record of THE DIVINELY ORDERED SEQUENCE OF EVENTS in connection with Gods plan for Israel.
Verse 9 speaks of Abraham and Isaac; verse io of Jacob; verses 12-15 how God protected the weak handful of His people, strangers in the land that was the lot of their inheritance. Apart from His protection they would have been destroyed again and again.
Verse i6 assures us that the terrible famine in Egypt and Canaan was not merely a providential happening, but GOD "called for a famine upon the land" to carry out His purpose. It was one ordered item in the great sequence of events.
Verse 17 tells us that Joseph was sent ON PURPOSE into Egypt. A lurid light here shines upon the cruel rigour of his dungeon. His feet were hurt with fetters, the iron entered into his soul. Thus was he prepared for the mighty role he was to fulfil. GOD sent the famine: GOD sent Joseph. Verses 20-22 describe his exaltation and power. Still the story moves on.
Verse 26 carries us on to the time when GOD sent Moses, His servant. Verses 27-36 graphically describe the plagues that fell on Egypt, bringing Pharaoh to the point of being glad when the children of Israel departed.
Verses 39-45 describe their miraculous support in the wilderness and entrance into the land.
A truly notable Psalm, showing God moving behind every event in connection with His chosen people and their destiny.
GOD CHOSE THE LAND
The time drew near when God would plant them in the land of His choice. We read:
When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32: 8).
Here is stated a second amazing fact. We have seen how God chose the people. We now see that God chose the land in which they were to dwell. Centuries before, God told Abraham to go into a land that He would show him. When in the land God said to him:
"Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever." (Genesis 13: 14, 15).
End of this extract
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