The Times of the Gentiles
The Things Which Are
We have now reached the last part of the chart. In order to get the thought embodied in this before us in a simple and clear way, we would look again at a passage in Matthew 13:51-52. The Lord has just been giving a sketch in the form of seven parables of the various phases of the kingdom of Heaven. These we have been looking at in some detail. He has termed them the “mysteries or secrets of the kingdom,” things never revealed before. The kingdom itself as a purpose of God has been revealed in plain terms in the Old Testament but not in the form the Lord declares it will now assume. The question naturally would arise in the mind, Does this new form set aside for all time the old prophecies of a kingdom in power and glory, set up on this earth?
Now, it is for an answer to this thought that we turn to the passage we quote. It says, “Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto Him, Yea Lord. Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure, things new and old.” Do not pass these words lightly by as if they stated a mere generality as is so often done. They have a specific meaning and direct application to the kingdom of heaven. There are new things about the kingdom and these the Lord has just been declaring, and there are old things about the kingdom and these are found in the Old Testament prophecies. One who is instructed in the things of the kingdom will know the difference between the two and will not mix them or allow the one to set aside the other. He will know there are the two phases and he will give each one its proper place.
Now, as a matter of fact there is nothing in which the lack of “rightly dividing the Word of truth” is so disastrous as in this circle of the truth of God, and there is nothing but gain in the apprehension of the force of the Lord’s words here, gain indeed that bears on the whole body of the revelation God has given to us. There are those who think that God has abandoned all His thoughts as to the recovery of Israel and who turn into spiritual blessing all the promises of future blessing for the earthly people of God. Not only do they change the whole character of the blessings described in the Old Testament but they set aside the Jews wholly as the objects of those blessings. Every curse in the Old Testament belongs to Israel but every blessing belongs to the church. So it is said. Then again there are those who claim all earthly blessings as being the future for the church. A restored earth is to be the home of all the saints and Heaven means nothing but a condition of bliss on the earth. This latter theory is hardly worth noticing, for it does not obtain very largely among intelligent students of the Word.
Now the Word of the Lord we have quoted from Matthew 13, would make us expect that the things He spoke of although new were not meant to set aside those things He would term old. There are many other passages of course that confirm this in the fullest way and some of them we must look at. One of the most specific as to the future of Israel we have in Romans 2. We turn to this because it is sometimes said that the Old Testament promises to Israel have all been forfeited by their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now here is a passage written after they had rejected Him in the fullest way. That is to say, not only had they rejected Him when He presented Himself in person but after the Holy Spirit had appealed to them through Peter and the other apostles definitively and in the most positive terms said as they stoned Stephen, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.”
After all this we find the Apostle Paul saying, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes, but as touching the election they are beloved for the father’s sake. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Could language be plainer? Here is the apostle quoting from the very passage that is appropriated to the Church of God by some, and he uses it to demonstrate the unchangeableness of the promises of God to Israel.
But there is more. The apostle who thus writes was called at a very critical time and in a very remarkable way. He was in his whole being committed to the path of rejection of Jesus of Nazareth. Read what another has written as to this. “The high priests had resisted the Holy Ghost to the uttermost. Paul had joined them in it; but he was not satisfied with that. He desired to be the active enemy of the faith wherever it existed, and to destroy the Name of Jesus. He had done much at Jerusalem, but he wished to satiate his hatred even in foreign cities. We know his history in the Acts. The living expression of Jewish resistance to grace, he was also among men the expression of the most active human enmity to Him Whom God would glorify. Grace was greater than the sin, the patience of God more perfect than the perseverance of man’s hostility. He was pleased to show forth in Paul a pattern of the sovereignty of that grace and perfect goodness—to the Jew hereafter, who as a nation will be in Saul’s condition; to all men as the enemies of God and children of wrath by nature. Peter, guilty of denying a living Saviour, could speak to the Jews of grace that met their case, which was his own; Paul formerly the enemy of a glorified Saviour and the resister of the Holy Ghost, could proclaim grace that rose above even that state of sinfulness, above all that could flow from human nature — grace that opened the door to the Gentiles according to God’s own counsels, when the Jews had rejected everything, substituting the heavenly assembly for them —grace that sufficed for the future admission of that guilty nation to better privileges than they had forfeited.”