THE LAW GOING FORTH FROM ZION
In most beautiful poetic strains of prophecy and with the richest metaphors the Holy Spirit shows us the distant, future glory of the church of the New Testament era, as well as the church in glory in the ages to come, in Isaiah 23-5 and Micah 42-5. No distinction or separation is made here between the Messianic Kingdom, conceived of as belonging to the time before the final return of Christ, and the so-called Kingdom in the ages to come. There is not a bit of this Postmillennialism in these texts. Both the Post- and the Premillennials appeal to these passages as teaching their Millennium views. But the prophetic perspectivesees both comings of Christ in one revelation. The prophets see both the New Testament Dispensation, as the time when all things are being united under one Head, and the final great and glorious perfection of this uniting of heaven and earth, in the new heaven and the new earth, when the tabernacle of God shall be with men. That will be the one, grand, holy, temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:22).
Hence, the future spoken of in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 is not the Postmillennial kingdom, when the whole world shall be “christianized” before the glorious return of Christ upon the clouds of heaven. It is true that Postmillennial writers point to many passages of Scripture which speak of the vastness of the redeemed multitude; they point to evidence which in their mind indicates that the world is growing steadily and slowly and constantly better; they rather exultantly point to what they consider the material prosperity of the Postmillennial kingdom on the horizon like a man’s hand; yet, even so, they admit that in this “golden state” the men who join the kingdom will not be sinless. This kingdom will not reach the perfection of heaven ever in this age!
We must surely notice that Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 speak of a perfect kingdom, be it then in Old Testament terminology. All the imperfections of the Old Testament Zion and Jerusalem shall be no more. Jerusalem shall never again be a mere lodge in a cucumber patch, a besieged city. It will be a city where the gates are never closed; there shall be no night there. Thus it shall be in the “last days” in the dispensation of the fullness of time, times which are really the beginning of heaven on earth, where the church is raised with Christ from the dead and set with Him in heavenly places, from which all her blessings flow (Eph. 2:4-6; Eph. 1:3ff). She is the “one new man” in Christ, as we showed from Scripture in our former chapter. In that kingdom there will be perfect peace, and there shall not enter therein “any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). Here in this Kingdom will be the perfect peace which has been made by the great Prince of peace in the blood of the Cross, the blood of reconciliation and of propitiation (Rom. 5:1; Col. 1:20).
We are confident that good, solid exegesis of these texts will indicate that the Kingdom of peace here is not an earthly “Messianic Kingdom” but is the Messianic Kingdom which is truly heavenly, even now in this present Dispensation. And principally it is also comprised of citizens who are, according to the calling of grace, a holy people, who, as far as the life of regeneration is concerned, cannot sin. It is a kingdom composed of elect saints, born again unto a lively hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (I John 3:9; I peter 1:2-5).
The texts speak of the “law going forth from Zion.” And they both add “and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Is. 2:3b and Micah 4:2b). It is quite evident that the Scripture here gives the efficacious reason why multitudes will flow to Zion to serve the LORD in spirit and in truth, when that “hour cometh” (John 4:21), when men shall neither worship on the hill of Samaria, nor in the earthly mountain of Jerusalem. Then it shall be seen that the Father seeketh in sovereign grace such that they may worship Him in heavenly Zion above. And now in the New Testament Dispensation such are born in Zion and sing: all my fountains are in Thee (Psalm 87).
What is this “law” which shall go forth from Zion?
According to the Hebrew parallelism this “law” is the “word of Jehovah” which goes forth from Jerusalem. Now this is very instructive. Negatively this means that it does not go forth from Mount Sinai. Really, in all the Old Testament the law went forth from Sinai, where the law was given to Moses by the angels whom God did send (Gal. 3:20, 21). This is a structural Gospel-truth which is not always understood. And, yet, shall we really lay low the claims of the Postmillennialists, we shall need to notice this fine point in the text. It is really a teaching which is blazoned across the pages of Scripture. And we must wield the sword of the Spirit here and rightly divide the Word of truth, lest we be a workman that falls on the sword of the erroneous interpreter of the Scripture. For only the word of truth can lay low and “bring in captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5). For if “law” goes out from Sinai, then the world must be made a better place by adhering to certain laws. That is what all modernism wants to maintain, to achieve the goal of making this world a better place to live in. And a Christianized world does not fall under the preaching of the law from Zion, as the key-power of the Kingdom of heaven. Hence, it is vain to think that a world will be christianized in every sphere by the preaching of the Gospel. The true preaching of the Gospel goes forth from Zion, and is a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death! (II Cor. 2:16, 17).
How could the law in Isaiah go forth from Mount Sinai in the “last days”? Have we not come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than Abel? (Heb. 12:18-21).
It is from this heavenly Mount Zion that the “law goes forth” into all the world; it proceeds from the throne of grace. It is the Gospel which Christ came to preach to those who are far and near. Yes, this is the word which “first began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him, God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3, 4). It is the preaching of faith and repentance in the blood of Christ, beginning from Jerusalem. Howbeit, the starting point of this gospel-preaching, its power and glory do not proceed from earthly Jerusalem. When earthly Jerusalem is a “house left desolate,” after the rending of the vail, the preaching has its historical starting point here. But the disciples receive the “empowering by the Spirit” from on high, from the risen and glorified Christ, so that in this power they can go forth from earthly Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, even unto the uttermost parts of the world. When earthly Zion is really still a lodge in a cucumber patch, a besieged city to be destroyed (Matt. 24:15 ff; Luke 21:20, 21), then the Gospel shall go forth from heavenly Zion, the law shall go forth, the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
How does this Word of the Lord go forth?
It goes forth as the “law” from Zion, that is, it goes forth as the law which shall be written upon the tables of the hearts of all the elect of God, out of every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. That the law goes forth to be truly and really and indelibly written upon the hearts of the elect in distinction from the reprobate is a truth which is silenced by every writer of Postmillennial persuasion. Such cannot understand that there can be a preaching of power if the entire world is not laid before Christ in true obedience. It is really not teaching that the “elect have obtained it and the rest were hardened” as this is also true in the New Testament Dispensation (Rom. 11:7). Postmillennialism takes the position, at least some of its most outspoken representatives, that such a distinction was true in the Old Testament times, especially in the times of Jesus, but that really toward the end of time, in the “golden age,” this shall no longer be true. But the truth is that, even in the New Testament, only as many as were ordained believed, even among the Gentiles. The Spirit is given to the New Testament church also as the fulfillment of the promise only to those who are called. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, even as we were elected in Christ from before the foundations of the earth (Eph. 1:3, 4).
When the law goes forth from Zion, as the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem which is above, it is ever with the upward calling; it is ever a high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14), and is indeed such that it makes those called partakers of the heavenly calling. This could never be the case if the law went forth from Sinai once more. That would be the death-knell of all coming of the nations to Zion. The people come with joy and gladness in their soul to Jerusalem because the Word of the Lord, the Gospel of reconciliation, comes to them in the blessed ministry of grace. The waters of grace flow from the temple and from the throne of God for the healing of the nations (Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 13:1; Rev. 22:1-2). These are the waters of grace which the glorified Christ gives, and unto which He calls the nations, and assures them that rivers of waters shall flow from their bowels (John 7:38). This is for everyone that believes in Jesus with a true faith, which is the gift of God.
Small wonder that these called say to one another, “come ye, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths,” as our text teaches.
No more then shall Jerusalem be in desolation again, nor surrounded by the armies and hordes of the heathen who rage against the LORD and against His anointed Son. For then we shall see the Kingdom of glory established in His church glorified. And Zion shall indeed be exalted above the mountains, and God shall be all in all, when the tabernacle of God is with man (Rev. 21:1-4).