Jer. 14:8; Acts 28:20
Amidst the fearful and unprecedented oppression to which the faithful remnant of Israel shall be subjected by antichrist and his worshippers, their only hope shall be the appearing for their deliverance of the Lord Jesus, their own rejected but faithful Messiah. For Him they shall “mourn and be in bitterness “(Zech. 12:9, 10); for Him they shall wait, and long, “more than they that watch for the morning.” (Ps. 130:6.)
We have already seen how suddenly, and with vengeance upon their enemies, He will redeem them— “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” (Isa. 1:27, 28.)
Knowing as they undoubtedly will, being taught by the Spirit to understand the Scriptures (Dan. 11:33), that such shall be the manner of their deliverance, their prayers and groans shall be of corresponding character.
Much of their souls’ experience shall find expression in the language of the Psalms, many of which are indeed the prophetic utterance of the Spirit of Christ in anticipation of that period. And this accounts most simply for the imprecatory tone that pervades such Psalms—the burden of their cry not being as with the Lord Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them,” or with Stephen, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”—but a constant pleading with God to avenge them of their adversaries, by the speedy execution of judgment.
Such also is the character of the cry of the souls seen under the altar, in Rev. 6:9, 10. They had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, and then with a loud voice they call on the Lord to avenge their blood.
Such dispensational distinctions it is most important to apprehend. When James and John, jealous of their Master’s honour, would have avenged the insult done to the Lord Jesus by the Samaritans—asking leave to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them as Elias did—the Lord rebuked them, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” (Luke 9:54, 55.)
It was according to the mind of the Spirit that Elias should do so in his day; but that did not justify such a course, when the testimony was that of the Son from the bosom of the Father, full of grace and truth—the Prince of Peace proclaiming peace—the purchase of His blood.
Equally discordant would it have been for Stephen to have called upon God to avenge his blood, though righteousness might well have claimed it; but Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, was in perfect sympathy with the purpose for that time occupying the mind and heart of God; viz., the display of the riches of His grace. Hence, instead of judgment there is salvation; for Saul, at whose feet the witnesses laid their garments, is saved in answer to that very prayer, that in him first Jesus Christ might show forth a pattern of all long-suffering.
And still such is the mind of God. If it be asked why so many years have passed since it was written, “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” No answer can be furnished but one, “God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish.” He lingers over the testimony of grace—stretching out the acceptable year—the day of salvation, and postponing, if we may so speak, to the very last, His strange work of judgment.
But this shall end when the saints, whose home and portion are in heaven and not on earth, are caught up to be for ever with the Lord.
God’s testimony then will be in connection with a people whose very hope is the destruction of their oppressors. As we by the Spirit are taught to have fellowship with the Lord in His thoughts of grace now, so they by the same Spirit will be taught to have fellowship in His thoughts of judgment then. Thus we find that the two witnesses in Rev. 11:3 have power to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will, but we read not of their having power to heal, as the heralds of grace were wont to have. In that day “judgment shall return to the line, and righteousness to the plummet;” the acceptable year shall give place to the day of vengeance, and the spirit of the witnesses will be in keeping therewith.
All this stamps with a character foreign to the present dispensation the whole book of Revelation, from chap. 6 to 20. The Church is not seen in those chapters on the earth, but seated in heaven, and finally following the Lamb, when, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, He comes to destroy the foes and fulfil the hopes of Israel.
The Old Testament is full of songs prophetic of that great deliverance which the Lord shall work for His people in the latter day.
It shall be said in that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him.” (Isa. 25:9.) “Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Ps. 118:26; Matt, 23:39.) “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory. The Lord hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Ps. 98:1-3.) “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolation He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire.” (Ps. 46:6-9.) “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the water had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124)
These and many other such Scriptures celebrate the deliverance of that day; to Israel it will be “the morning without clouds” (2 Sam. 23:4); the morning when the upright shall have dominion over the wicked (Ps. 49:14), when the meek shall inherit the earth, when they that mourn shall be comforted, and the pure in heart shall see God. (Matt. 5:4, 5, 8.)
Then shall they that come of Jacob take root: Israel, like Aaron’s rod cut off from nature’s stem, shall blossom and bud, by the quickening power of grace (Isa. 27:6; Num. 17:8), and fill the face of the world with fruit. “There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.” (Ps. 72:16.)
Meantime their eyes are blinded, the veil of unbelief is upon the face of Israel, and they know not that He whom they crucified is their only Hope. Nevertheless the veil shall be taken away, and some out of every tribe, elect of God, shall see that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.