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This, so far, is in itself consistent. Let us examine, then, how it will bear comparison with the language of the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of the Prophet. First, the land in the prophecy is here understood to mean Judea literally; that is to say, the whole distiict of country lying between the Nile and the Euphrates, as marked out in the promise of God to Father Abraham. With this interpretation, every thing that the Prophet has written concerning the land, its restored fertility and beauty, and the multiplication upon it of both men and beasts, will naturally and obviously accord. This interpretation, therefore, so far seems undeniable. Secondly, the children of Israel, in the prophecy, are here understood to mean the Jewish people. With this, every thing that the Prophet has mitten concerning the children of Israel, their division and dispersion, their re-gathering and re-union, will most naturally accord. This branch, also, therefore, of the interpretation before us, appears to be conclusive. Thirdly, the restoration in the prophecy is here understood to mean the return of Judah from Babylon; and in order to maintain this consistently, the two kingdoms in the prophecy are understood to mean Judah, and some companions of Judah from the other tribes: also, the one king in the prophecy, is understood to mean the rulers of the kingdom of Judah, subsequent to the return from Babylon. With this view of the subject, much that the Prophet has written, will not. and cannot be made to accord. The return of Judah from her captivity in Babylon, was doubtless the fulfilment of the restoration promised in some prophecies, as Jeremiah xxv. 11, and xxix. 10— 14; but does it therefore follow, that the same event was the fulfilment of this prophecy of Ezekiel? Surely not. That must be examined, by comparing the prophecy itself with the event.
The two kingdoms are thus described in the prophecy, (v. 16, 17, 18, 19;) the one consisting of Judah, and some of the other tribes his companions; the other consisting of the tohole body of the ten tribes of Israel. These two are said to become one. The two kingdoms of the alleged event, according to the interpretation now before us, consist, the one of Judah, the other of Judah's companions from the other tribes. Thus in the prophecy, Judah's companions are combined with Judah, and made in the aggregate one of the kingdoms; but in the interpretation, Judah's companions are separated from Judah, and made another distinct kingdom; therefore, the interpretation does not agree with the prophecy. In the prophecy, the whole body of the ten tribes is specified as one of the two kingdoms: in the interpretation, no mention is made of that whole body; therefore, the interpretation does not agree with the prophecy.
Again, the one king in the prophecy is thus described (v. 24, 25): "David, my servant, shall be king over them; and they all shall have one
shepherd, and my servant David shall
be their prince for ever. These words point out either king David himself, raised from the dead, in order to reign again in Jerusalem over all the twelve tribes, as he did before: or some individual descendant of David, called after his illustrious ancestor; or at least a line of kings of the family of David, thus designated in honour of the great conqueror of Israel's enemies, as the Roman emperors were from Caesar.
The one king of the alleged event, according to the interpretation now before us, was neither David, nor any individual descendant of David, nor a line of kings of the family of David; but a series of governors, the most remarkable of whom we know to have been of other families. The Maccabees were Levites, concerning whose tribe neither Moses nor any of the prophets spake any thing of royalty. The king, therefore, of the prophecy does not correspond with the king of the event, which is proposed as the fulfilment; and, consequently, the interpretation grounded there
upon cannot be maintained as the meaning of the prophecy.
On this subject a celebrated commentator, after advocating this interpretation, makes the following acknowledgment: "This prophecy was fulfilled very imperfectly in the persons of the Jews after the captivity; both because neither the tribe of Judah nor the other tribes returned entire, and because they were not governed by kings of the family of David/'* In all fairness, then, the interpretation which makes the return from Babylon to be the fulfilment of the restoration here predicted by Ezekiel, must be relinquished.
II. Another interpretation of this prophecy, is that which makes the land to mean the Christian church; the children of Israel to mean the elect people of God, the true, the spritual Israel, gathered from all nations; the restoration to mean the conversion of sinners; the two kingdoms to mean Jews and Gentiles in one church; and the one king to mean Jesus Christ, of the house and lineage of David, now exercising spiritual dominion over all believers.
I am not conscious of any unfairness in thus stating it; but to remove all doubt, I will repeat it in the wrords of one of its advocates: "This * Calmet, apud Mailt and D'Oyly in loco.
prophecy certainly looks further to the kingdom of Christ. He is that one King, in allegiance to whom all God's spiritual Israel shall cheerfully unite, and under whose protection they shall all be gathered. All believers unite in one Lord, one faith, one baptism; and the uniting of Jews and Gentiles in the Gospel church, their becoming one fold under Christ, the one great Shepherd, js doubtless the union that is chiefly looked at in this prophecy."* The prophecy describes Judah and Ephraim united in the land. This is interpreted to mean the union of Jews and Gentiles in the Gospel church. To be consistent with itself, therefore, the interpretation must maintain, that by the land in the prophecy, is meant what this popular commentator calls the Gospel church.
Now, let us examine it. The general statement of doctrine contained in it is, that all the people of God (denominated the true Israel, because that Israel, the chosen nation, was a type of the church chosen out of all nations) shall be converted to the faith of Christ, and form one glorious spiritual kingdom, in which there exists no longer any distinction between Jew or Greek, male or female, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but all are one in Christ Jesus: the middle
* Matthew Henry, in loco.