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for it, and these graded according to character. But resurrection can never be a curse. It is the opposite of death— the wages of sin.
Let us now take an instance from the Old Testament Scriptures and see how this principle applies. We shall select the 36th and 37th chapters of Ezekiel. We quote at length from these chapters, but request our readers to read them in full.
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they .defiled it by their way and by their doings: their way before me was as the uncleanness of a woman in her separations. Wherefore I poured out my fury upon them for the blood which they had poured out upon the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols: and I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they came unto the nations whither they went, they profaned my holy name; in that men said of them, these are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel hadjprofaned among the nations whither they went. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God: I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations. And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you hefore their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
There follows in the next chapter the well-known vision of the valley of dry bones, with the following interpretation of it:
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel, behold they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, thus saith the Lord God: behold I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, 0 my people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, O my people. And I will put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land, and ye shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. . . . Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land, and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, neither shall they defile themselves any more, and I will cleanse them. . . . And I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the nations shall know that I, the Lord, do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore.
Of this passage we must make our choice between these interpretations:
1. That which refers it to a future conversion of Israel and their incorporation with the Christian Church.
2. That which requires, besides their conversion, the regathering of the nation to their own land.
3. Or, without deciding with what exactness the literal terms of the description must be taken, we may perceive here under the general features of a national restoration, a promise to rescue them from the deepest captivity to which they were consigned by reason of their sins, namely, captivity to death, and a restoration to God's favor beyond death, and in that better country toward which the faith of godly men, from Abraham down, was directed.
So far as we are concerned, the vital thing to be determined is, whether a subsequent conversion of a remote generation of Jews, or the rehabilitation of such a future generation in the land of Canaan, can satisfy the terms of the promise; or does it cover the case of the dead—even the unjust—as well as the living, and secure a blessing for all the past generations of Israel, as well as for that distant one who may be living on the earth at the coming of Christ?
It is sufficient objection that only a distant generation was in view to say that the promise, like all such prophetic utterances, was intended for the comfort of those to whom it was spoken. In this case the address is to "the whole house of Israel." It is distinctly said that the dry bones represent the whole (vs. 11): and by the whole is meant schismatic Ephraim as well as Judah. Some of the tribes were then lost to view. All should be included in God's regathering. Some seventy generations of Israel have lived and died since these words were spoken. Are these no part of the "whole house"? And was there no more comfort to the men of Ezekiel's day in this promise of cleansing and restoration than the hope that some far-distant generation of their descendants would be thus blessed? Do the words of God, then, which convey so much, mean so little? Is this after the style of His much more abounding grace? Granting that the nation is viewed as a separate entity, and that its continuity has been so preserved that the present race of Israelites represent the whole house, yet if this promise contains no blessing for the generation to whom it was spoken, and for its successors, then does God's word become diluted indeed. Of what avail to me, in bondage and wretchedness, would it be to assure me that some two thousand years hence my very remote descendants will be in a different plight? In this passage Jehovah is represented as magnifying His name by a gracious cleansing and restoration of His people, unworthy in themselves of such grace. The nations who were the instruments of His vengeance upon Israel were to witness their rescue. If the existing generation, who had denied themselves with idols and profaned His name, and who had been scattered among the nations for their sins, were in no sense the subjects of this promise, then, pray, what do the words mean? We desire to make this issue sharp and clear, for upon it our whole system of interpretation depends. If only generations some thousands of years hence are referred to, then the promise dwindles to almost nothing to the men to whom it was spoken. It cannot be replied that the pious of that day would be benefitted by it and so its terms be satisfied: for it was directly made to the impious—the unclean idolaters who had been driven from the land. And the most of them had died in their captivity. But, if after the judgment of God for their sins had been visited upon them there, and after their long captivity in Sheol—the place of their deepest bondage—the mercy of God should visit them and raise them again to life with new opportunities of blessing, then these promises become plain, and the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is seen to be not only the vital feature of the gospel, but necessary to the fulfillment of all Old Testament hopes and promises. And this, we maintain, is the very way which Jehovah points out here for their fulfillment. The people complain to Him, Death has defeated your purposes concerning Israel and robbed us of all the hopes excited by your promises. "Behold," they say, "our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off." The Lord replies by declaring Himself superior to death. "Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O my people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. * * * And I will put my Spirit in you and ye shall live." We have already shown how poor a result to this promise is secured by an interpretation which passes it along to far-distant generations. No wonder that, under such exegesis, all hope of a future life and of the resurrection is taken out of the Old Testament. But, given to the words their plain meaning, we see at once what St. Peter meant when he spoke at Pentecost of "the restitution of all things, of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began," and what St. Paul referred to as "the hope and resurrection of the dead" (Acts xxiii. 6), which should include even the unjust (xxiv. 15), and how Jesus Christ came to confirm the promises given unto the fathers— promises which covered the case of the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Rom. xv. 8-12); and we see how, when he asserts that " all Israel shall be saved" (xi. 26), we have no right to exclude the dead from the all. To do this is to