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THE FIRST RESTORATION FROM BABYLON.
BY THE REV. W. W. PYM,
RECTOR OF WILLIAN, HERTS.
JEREMIAH XXIII. 5--8.
“ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I
will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all
countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”
passage of Holy Writ, is one justly valued by those who are interested in the destinies of Israel. It clearly refers to the Divine purposes concerning the seed of Abraham, and will, therefore, form a befitting ground-work for the following meditations.
The subject, which is to be brought before you this evening, is,
The first restoration from Babylon ; and the following question has been raised upon it:Whether the predicted restoration of Israel from his dispersions was fulfilled by that event?
The simplest method of discussing the subject will be,
To consider some chief features of the predicted restoration of Israel: from which it will appear, as we proceed, Whether the deliverance from Babylon answers to them.
I. The first feature described by the prophets, to which I would direct your minds is,
That the children of the dispersion shall be gathered from the four quarters of the globe.
In almost every part of the world with which we are acquainted, we meet with some of the scattered seed of Abraham; and, though they be
removed from each other far as the east is from the west, their gathering together is sure and certain. Of this I conceive, in one sense, the dying patriarch spoke when he said, “ Unto him shall the gathering of the people be,” that is, as members to a head. But of this gathering the Prophet Isaiah predicts: “ But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name: thou art mine. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west: I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back : bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.”* At the time, therefore, of which the prophet speaks, they shall come from the north, and the south, from the east, and the west; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The Prophet Jeremiah confirms the voice of Isaiah, and in that text which has been read you find it, where he says, “ But the Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries, whither I had driven them, and they shall dwell in their own land.” Such, then, will be the extent of the gathering
* Isaiah xliii. 1. 5, 6.
of which we treat, commensurate only with their previous scattering; so that, wheresoever they are found on the face of the whole earth, thence assuredly they shall come up, and return to their own land.
We now ask, Whence did they come after the captivity in Babylon? The people of the kingdom of Israel, or the ten tribes, were carried away captive by Salmaneser, king of Assyria, about 115 years before Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar; and as, upon the subject of their return, there exists a divided opinion, for argument's sake I will suppose, that they did come back with the kingdom of the house of David, after the seventy years' captivity. Whence then did they come ? We look to the south, and look in vain; for we discover no company returning from that quarter. We turn to the west, and turn to no purpose; for thence we none of Abraham's seed hastening homeward. And, if we look to the east, we shall meet with the same result, From the north and the north-east only did they come back at the restoration of which we speak; and that, by allowing the greatest possible latitude to our speculation, by supposing that to be true, which we can by no means allow to be so, namely, that the kingdom of Israel returned with the dispersed of Judah.
In this first feature, then, of the restoration of the seed of Abraham, as spoken by the prophets, we find scarcely any correspondence at all.
II. To the Prophet Ezekiel, who was a prophet of the captivity, it pleased God to reveal much of his future purposes concerning his people. From him we know, that, at the time when he shall visit them in mercy, there shall be a new division of the land by lot, and a building of the temple according to a Divine revelation.
It may here be objected, that, we adduce a very difficult and much questioned part of Holy Writ, upon which to found our expectation. It is sufficient for us, if we are satisfied that this portion of the prophecies of Ezekiel is a part of God's Word; for, if it be so, then not one jot or tittle shall pass till all be fulfilled. But we will shortly examine this testimony. After the prophet had been taught respecting the restoration of the latter day, and the reunion of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah under Christ, he sees in vision, and is informed concerning what he sees, many things respecting the dividing of the land, the building of the temple, and the ordinances of Divine worship. In chapter xly. 1, it is thus written, “ Moreover, when ye shall divide by lot the land for inheritance, ye shall offer an oblation unto the Lord, an holy