There are two unshakable pillars upon which the Church of God can place her trust for time and eternity. The first of these is: it is written. This is the Word of God as recorded in Holy Writ. The second is: it has come to pass. These two are pillars which have stood and shall stand the test of the ages. No vain philosophy and no assault of the powers of darkness can nullify and overthrow these truths.
Both are the Word of God. And they are very closely interrelated. What has come to pass can never be ought else, but the fulfilment of the Word of God. This is true of all history. There is not one detail in all the innumerable hosts of events of time, that is not taken up in the scope of the search-light of the prophetic utterances. For God sees the end of all things in the beginning; yea, He has made all things in the beginning in view of the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He therefore controls, directs and predicts the things “that must speedily come to pass.”
In the center of all the historical happenings lies the Covenant of God, His covenant people. In the midst of this people historically we see the spiritual antithesis of light and darkness, faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience to the gospel of the promise. Here man is placed before the supreme question in His judgment-hall: What think ye of the Christ? Here the supreme ethical question is so powerfully and unavoidably thrust before the face of man, that he cannot but respond to the law of God. It is at this point that the drama of history unfolds before God and man.
Powerfully the Word of God had been spoken in Israel during the time of the prophets, when they searched out what manner of time the Christ should come, and make known the sufferings that would come upon the Man of Sorrows, and of the glory that should follow. Brightly had the light of Divine utterance by Seers of old shown in the night of sin and sorrow. Isaiah might see the throne of God attended by the Seraph angels, who covered their faces from His glory, and who cried day and night: Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory.
But never had the light of God’s revelation shown more brightly in Israel, than when the Son of God dwelt on earth in our flesh and blood. Of this the apostle John speaks in the “Prologue” when he cries: And we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. And again: No one has ever seen God, the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He had declared (exegeted) Him unto us.
True, there was no essential difference in the glory which Isaiah might behold, and the glory of which John here speaks. Both are the radiation of the Divine perfections of grace and truth. Only the glory of which John speaks stands in bolder relief, because the Word had indeed become flesh, and dwelt among the children of Israel.
And having thus come, he called the weary and heavy laden to rest, the thirsty to drink of the Water of Life freely, and to follow Him as the Light of the world, and thus have the Light of Life. All that the Father had given Him must come to Him, and they that come to Him should never be cast out, but should be raised unto glory in the last day. For He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world and thus redeem the obedient, those who kiss His rod, for His peculiar bride and treasure.
That is one side of His work.
But there is also another side. For there are certain irrevocable prophetic utterances that cry for fulfilment. Not one of these shall fall to the earth. Every last jot and tittle shall come to its realization.
Only when this is kept in mind can we understand the historical phenomena of Israel’s unbelief; will we see our own adoption unto sons in its scriptural perspective.
Of this the apostle John speaks in the 12th chapter of the Gospel. This chapter is the last in the book of John dealing with the tracing of the spiritual development of Israel’s unbelief and of their rejecting Him, and raising Him up high, nailing Him to the cross. The apostle here pauses to cast a retrospective glance upon the phenomena of Israel’s unbelief. And in so doing he shows us that this is not in contradiction with the intention of God. The Word of God had not fallen out. To the contrary it had been sealed and fulfilled.
Israel could not believe!
They could not and they did not believe because Isaiah had prophesied in his day! The Holy Ghost had testified through Isaiah unto the unbelieving, disobedient and lawless fathers. And what had been predicted unto “these fathers” shall also come to pass over “their children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate Me”. That is the fundamental principle in the Law of God, and it is interwoven in the prophetic utterance of which the apostle John is here speaking.
“To the law and the prophets” is the constant cry of the prophets. And indeed it was necessary at the time in which Isaiah received the vision of which is here spoken. What a picture of bold godlessness, the prophet paints in the first chapter of Isaiah! To what depths had Israel sunken!
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah! sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! They have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward. And the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah!
And to Israel who is busy with the service of the lips and not the heart, who have their fore-skins circumcised, but not their inward parts, God has the following to say: Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary of bearing them. And when ye spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: Your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil! Learn to do well! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow!
With bold strokes the sin of Israel is here depicted, and the only cure within the walls of covenant Zion announced. For God has promised His blessing to those who remember His covenant and precepts, and that from generation to generation! But His curse is the Covenant counterpart of those who transgress His law, and who will not heed His judgments.
And it is of this latter that the apostle John speaks when he speaks of the unbelief of Israel in spite of all the miracles and signs that Christ had performed before their very eyes. Christ also had cried to return to the law and the prophets. That he stood for all that the prophets had said. He had come to fulfill the law and not to destroy it. And if they would not believe that He were the great Prophet which was to come for His words, then they should believe for His work’s sake. For the blind received their sight, and the lame walked, and the deaf hear, and the poor had the gospel preached unto them. Indeed the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth had been seen by the people. It was not due to lack of concrete evidence concerning Christ’s Messiahship that caused them to disbelieve. It was solely to be attributed to the hardness of their hearts! For it was because of their covenant infidelity that God had brought upon them all the curses contained in the Book of the Law.
And now God in His righteousness will not that they shall ever repent and be healed with salvation. Once they have stood in His covenant as a people. They were branches on the noble vine that God had planted in the land of Canaan. But they were the unfruitful branches that were about to be cut off in the justice of God.
This is historically the case in the days of Isaiah the prophet. At that time he is to preach to Israel.
And His preaching Is twofold. On the one hand he preaches: A remnant shall be saved. On the other his preaching is to be to the fattening of the hearts of Israel, and the blinding of their eyes, in the deadening of their ears, so that they should forevermore be willing to repent. Placed before the light they would hate it, and love the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. And then they would be condemned and God would bring upon them His righteous judgments and remove them from the promised land and from His dwelling place forever!
Israel was carried into captivity!
Lord who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed! Thus the prophets cried in the Old Testament. Think of Elijah when he laments: They have stoned thy prophets and killed thy servants, and I alone am escaped, and they seek my soul!
But what saith the divine answer? I still have seven thousand whose knee hath not bowed to Baal. This is the remnant that is saved!
But the rest could not believe because they had received a spirit of blindness, and God had given them over unto their own chosen ways.
With this all in mind the apostle John is now ready to explain the unbelief of the Jews in the days of Jesus. It would seem that they should have believed when Jesus had performed so many miracles and signs—signs of the bringing forth of the kingdom of God in the broken and bruised servant of the Lord. Thus there is the sign of the breaking of bread. The sign of the raising of the dead, and the healing of the sick.
But no faith in the Son of God is the result. Why? Because the covenant judgments of God were operating in Israel at this very time. Now was indeed the judgment of the world. But now was the judgment of the world as it began at the house of God. And terrible it is for that “house of God” to fall into the hands of the living God. For it is the ordinance of God amongst His people.
And thus God removed in the days of Jesus the rest of the historic branch from the vine of His covenant that He had planted. He was to take the kingdom from the evil servants, and was to kill them and give the vineyard to those that are worthy.
Of this John the Baptist spoke when he preached the baptism of repentance and cried, that the axe was already laid at the root of the tree. And that the threshing floor was to be cleaned, and the chaff to be separated from the wheat!
Thus Israel would not be healed, would not be cleansed from her sins. Her whole head was full of boils and -had not received the ointment of God’s healing mercy. And so the old leaven of sin worked on like a cancer and gangrene, and it became imperative for God to amputate the dead Old Testament tree.
For Zion is only redeemed through righteousness and her converts through justice.
To this end Christ speaks In parables. The babes must know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and it must be hid from the wise and the prudent. And this He does because the saying of Isaiah must be fulfilled.
And when Paul reasons with the chief of the Jews in Rome from Moses and all the Prophets concerning Jesus, and when they disbelieve he tells them: Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers, saying, Go thou unto this people and say, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them.”
Therefore the apostle Paul concludes: Be it known therefore unto you, that this salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles; they will also hear!
And thus we see the unbelief of Israel to be according to the prophetic prediction.
Two unshakable, trustworthy cornerstones in the church once more appear:
“It Is written,” and:
“It shall come to pass.”