We now come to the epoch in the series constituted of a new and marvelous work of God. It is an epoch or dispensation of grace that set in with the Egyptian bondage of the people of Israel, and ended with the Lord’s entering with His people into the typical rest of Canaan. The Lord brings His people into Egypt where it is enslaved by Pharaoh. Humanly speaking, the state of the church is again hopeless, as hopeless as it was before the deluge. But the Lord delivered His church by His outstretched arm through the destruction of the adversary by the waters of the Red Sea. He leads His people to Sinai, where He gave them His covenant. Eventually He entered with His people into the rest of Canaan.
It is plain that we deal here with a new epoch of sacred history.
As to the salvation of the people of Israel from the clutch of Pharaoh, there was a negative and positive side to it. Its negative side was Israel’s deliverance from the oppression of Pharaoh. Its positive side was the Lord’s entering with His people the rest of Canaan. Herewith this epoch closes. The Church is again on the heights, so to speak.
How plainly Christ—the seed of the woman—stands out in this segment of sacred history, first in the blood of the pascal lamb, and second in Moses, the Mediator of the Old Covenant and in this capacity the type of Christ, and third in the entire ritual that was instituted at Mt. Sinai. For the soul of this ritual are the sacrifices by blood all pointing to Christ.
In this third epoch the two seeds and the enmity between them take on a new distinctiveness. Here the seed of the woman is the house of Israel, the twelve tribes according to election. The seed of the serpent is prominent in the persecuting Pharaoh, second in the Canaanite tribes under the ban of God and extirpated by the sword of Joshua, and third in the carnal, reprobated Israel.
The enmity on the side of the serpent is seen in Pharaoh’s oppression of the people of Israel, in the hard bondage to which he subjected them, and especially in his ordering the infant males among the Hebrews to be killed at birth. The seed of the woman had to be destroyed. The serpent was determined. For in the loins of this seed was the Christ. The enmity on the side of the seed of the serpent is seen further in the wars that the coalitions of Canaanite tribes initiated against Joshua. For though Joshua had orders to extirpate the Canaanites, the wars between these races and the people of Israel were always begun by the Canaanites. They would not repent and cast themselves upon the mercies of Israel’s God. For, so the sacred writer remarks, the Lord hardened their hearts as it was his purpose to destroy them. Finally, the enmity on the side of the seed of the serpent is seen in the rebellion and apostasies of the carnal, reprobated Israel.
As to the enmity on the part of the seed of the woman with regard to the seed of the serpent, it is seen in Moses’ bringing over Egypt the ten plagues of God, whereby the deliverance of Israel was effected. It is seen further in the judgments of Christ by which the carnal, reprobated Israel was destroyed during Israel’s wanderings in the desert. It is seen finally in the extirpation of the Canaanites by the sword of Joshua. What we have here are so many triumphings of the seed of the woman over the malice of the serpent, so many initial crushings of the serpent’s head by this seed. All these triumphs at once look ahead to the victory of Christ over all His and His people’s enemies legally through His cross and actually at His appearing at the end of time.
We have now arrived at the fourth epoch in the series, to the fourth dispensation of grace, and constituted of a new and different work of God. It began with the chaos that characterized the age of the judges. And ended with the accession of David and Solomon to the theocratic throne in Israel.
Shortly after the death of Joshua, whose deeds of faith belong not to this epoch but to the preceding, Israel forsook the Lord. In punishment thereof the enemy came, as sent by the Lord, and overran God’s country.
The capture of the ark terminated the services at the sanctuary. At the close of Saul’s reign the whole of Israel groaned under the yoke of the adversary. From the point of view of nature the plight of the church was again hopeless. But the Lord sent deliverance. He anointed David. The rejected and demented Saul tried to kill him. After a number of unsuccessful attempts on David’s life, he died in a war with the Philistines, and David was king. He made war against Israel’s enemies. And the Lord was with him. He finally returned his sword to its scabbard with all Israel’s enemies his footstool. On the ruins of their kingdoms, he built a mighty empire, extending on the east to the Euphrates and on the West to the Mediterranean Sea. David passed to his reward and was succeed by Solomon, the king of glory.
How plain that the series of events of which
Solomon’s accession was the climax constitute a distinct epoch in sacred history, a new dispensation of grace.
In this fourth segment of sacred history Christ is set forth in a new light.
First we see Him, the Christ, in the person of David persecuted by Saul, as the suffering servant of Jehovah, who must pass through suffering to glory; again we see Him, again in the person of David now in the throne, as Israel’s glorified and exalted warrior-king fighting the battles of Jehovah. In the language of Ps. 2, the kings of the earth—Israel’s adversaries—were setting themselves, and the rulers were taking counsel together against the Lord and His anointed, in the first instance King David but in the final instance Christ as typified by David. They said, did these kings, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their cords from us,” in the first instance the bands and cords of David as ruler of the heathen nations that he in his wars of conquest had made his footstool; but in the final instance again the bands and cords of Christ exalted at the Father’s right hand in the highest heavens. So these heathen kings were speaking. So the kings of the earth now at the present time are speaking. But again, in the words of the Psalm, God in heaven laughs, as He had laughed with David in the theocratic throne. And He speaks now as He then had spoken. He says again in the words of the Psalm, “Yet have I set my king”—in the first instance David, but now in this present dispensation of the word, Christ—“upon my holy hill in Zion”—in the first instance the earthy Zion in the land of Canaan but now the Zion above. “I will declare the degree.” And this is the decree that He, the Lord, declares, “The Lord has said unto me”—in the first instance David and in the second instance Christ—“Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” As referring to David it means, “This day have I formed thee and set thee in my throne and sustain thee by my mighty arm and Spirit. But this same language, God is now addressing to Christ. The Psalm continues, “Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen as thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as thy possession.” This, too, has reference in the first instance to David. The Lord gave him the heathen kingdoms included in Israel’s ideal boundaries. So has God given to Christ all the kingdoms of the earth. Thus in the final instance the reference is again to Christ. The Psalm continues, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” David did so with all the heathen kingdoms included within Israel’s ideal boundaries. By his sword he subdued them one and all, and they became the vessels of David. But of this prediction Christ is again the fulfillment in the final instance. The exalted Christ as the Lord of lords and the King of kings breaks the kings of the earth—the anti-Christian power in this world, formed, as it is, of the kings and judges of the earth—with a rod of iron; he dashes them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Think of how these kings through all the ages of the past have been making war against one another. Think of the wars of our day—worldwide in their scope. Think of the war now pending. Men are saying that it will spell the end of our civilization. It will be that ruinous. But it is all the work of the exalted and glorified Christ. Through these wars, through the agency of these very kings, he continually breaks them and their kingdoms with a rod of iron, and dashes them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. And as a result of this work of the exalted Christ the world and all that is of the world is passing away continually before our very eyes, and through it all the kingdom of Christ is coming.
And through this doing of Christ the wrath of God is continually being revealed from heaven over all unrighteousness of these kings and their subjects. But because God has his elect also among the kings of the earth, and in order that the reprobated kings and judges of the earth—our own president and the congress and every judge in our land and the governors of our states, and thus every ruler here and abroad—may be without excuse, the Psalm closes with the admonition, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son (in the first instance David and in the second instance the exalted Christ) lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
David—what a remarkable prophetic type of Christ was David in his capacity of theocratic king. What a remarkable development the promise of the protevangel undergoes in the person of David and the events of sacred history connected with his person.
David and his reign and wars of conquest are the type of the glorified Christ as He is now engaged in breaking with a rod of iron the wicked kings of the earth in whose midst he reins and must reign until they all, without exception, shall have been made his footstool in the final judgment day and when as activated by carnal fear they shall confess that Jesus is the Lord. It will mean that all rebellion against Christ on the part of the reprobated will have ceased.
(to be continued)