Salvation in Zion/The Sure Mercies of David

The hope of the gospel is for those, whether Jews by nature or Gentiles, whom God has delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear, Son (Colossians 1:12–23); for the gospel brings a glorious hope even to those who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope (Ephesians 2:12). And briefly that hope is the promised kingdom, whereof God had spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began (for God had promised that gospel afore by His prophets in the holy Scriptures, Romans 1:2); the kingdom concerning which the King Himself in that coming day will say to those on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, whereof it is written, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him (James 2:5); the kingdom whereof it is also written, Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).

These passages refer, of course, to that future aspect of the kingdom, for which all creation waits (Romans 8:19–21), when the kingdom of God, into which those who are saved by grace are immediately translated (Colossians 1:12), will be manifested in power and glory. It is for this our Lord taught His disciples to pray, Thy kingdom come.

In all the above passages, and in all others, so far as I can find, where the same subject is referred to, it is always one hope (not two), one kingdom, one gospel, one salvation, that is spoken of. I deem it of much importance to establish this; and therefore the main object of the present inquiry is to ascertain whether there be any ground in the Old Testament prophecies for the idea that there is another “hope of Israel”, another kingdom of God (one of earthly character, as some teach) which will be hereafter given to the Jewish nation en masse, which has rejected the kingdom of God, that was preached to the Jew first. It is true indeed that in the Old Testament Scriptures the kingdom was promised to Israel only, and the hope was for Israel only. What God said again and again, in one form of words and another, is just what He expressed by the mouth of Isaiah, I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory (Isaiah 46:13); and it is expressly reaffirmed in the New Testament that to them (Israelites) pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants and the promises (Rom 9:4–5).

But while this is the truth concerning the promised kingdom, it is not all the truth. For when Christ came, the natural Israel parted in twain. It divided itself into two parts, one of which (a small remnant) accepted Christ, and the other rejected Him. The latter part embraced the mass of the nation; whereas the former was a very small remnant indeed, as it is written, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God (i.e., children of God, and if children then heirs, John 1:11–12; Romans 8:17).

Now the apostle, in the passage quoted above, declares expressly that the unbelieving part of the nation is not the true Israel (Romans 9:6); and he goes on to say that Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election (the believing part) hath obtained it (Romans 11:7). And furthermore, in the very same passage, he declares that this election, which is the true Israel, and which has obtained the promises, embraces believing Gentiles along with believing Jews (Romans 9:24–31;10:19–20; 11:11–27). And now we have the whole truth concerning the Israel of God, as revealed in the Scriptures.

It is hard to conceive how there could be a plainer statement of facts than has been given us in the above quoted Scriptures concerning the kingdom promised to Israel. How extraordinary then, and how subversive of the truth concerning the hope of Israel (for the preaching of which Paul was accused and made a prisoner by the Jews), is the teaching of those in our day who take the unbelieving part of the Jewish nation to be the true Israel, and apply to them the blessings promised by God through His prophets! This doctrine reverses completely that of the Bible, which teaches plainly that they are not all Israel which are of Israel; that they which are of the flesh are not the children of God (and hence not the heirs of God’s promises, or any of them) but that the children of the promise are counted for the seed (Romans 9:6–8; Galatians 3:16).

Not only does this new teaching (new among the people of God, though it was the very core of the teaching of apostate Judaism) destroy the unity of the one kingdom of God, the one Israel of God, the one hope of the gospel, the one everlasting covenant, but it also deranges the whole scheme of prophecy. For it necessitates that time and place be made in the future for another (an earthly) kingdom and another people of God (an earthly people.)

The Sure Mercies of David

In a preceding chapter it was pointed out that Moses, the founder of the Jewish nation, clearly foretold its apostasy and its complete extermination; even describing the characteristics of the people (the Romans) whom God would use as the instruments of His vengeance.

The next prophet of note after Moses, who has written concerning the kingdom of God, the hope of Israel, is Israel’s great King, David. His prophecies, however, are so numerous that it would not be possible within the limit of this volume to examine them. Moreover, the greater part of them are couched in language so poetical and figurative, so abounding in imagery which is obscure to us, as to require much patient investigation in order to establish the character of their fulfillment. But it is only their general purport that we need to ascertain at present; and happily that has been given to us in a single, comprehensive utterance, from the lips of the apostle Paul, spoken in a Jewish synagogue: “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm … And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead … He said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:32–34).

These words plainly declare that the promise, which God had made to the fathers of Israel, He had fulfilled by raising up Jesus Christ from the dead; and specifically that His promises to and concerning David — among which the kingdom was prominent — implied and depended upon, and that it was accomplished in, the resurrection of Christ. Hence; when a servant of Christ proclaims the gospel of His resurrection, he is preaching (whether he be aware of it or not) the sure mercies of David.

The original passage from which the apostle took the phrase, “the sure mercies of David”, connects those mercies with the everlasting covenant; and it most unmistakably locates the fulfillment of this great promise in this present era of the gospel. I quote the prophetic passage: Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David (Isaiah 55:1–3).

Here we have the Spirit of Christ in the prophet (1 Peter 1:11) giving utterance beforehand to the gospel invitation, Come unto Me; hear and your soul shall live; — Come ye to the waters; Come, buy, without money, and without price. And we have also the plain declaration that the everlasting covenant and the sure mercies of David are one and the same thing. As we have been at pains to show in the foregoing pages, the everlasting covenant is the only covenant of God that now subsists. For the temporary covenant with the Jewish nation was but a fleeting shadow, being likened in Scripture to the light that shined for a little while in the face of Moses, and then quickly faded away (2 Corinthians 3:13–15).

True the teachers and leaders of the Jews were, and still are, blinded to the fact that that covenant is done away in Christ. But that is no wonder; for both David (Psalm 69:23) and Isaiah (6:9) foretold that they should be blinded to the passing away of the old covenant. Moreover, Paul points this out in Romans 11:8–10; and in 2 Corinthians 3:13–15 he explains that the veil which Moses put over his face was a prophetic sign that the Jewish nation would be blinded to the passing away of the old covenant and its promises. So that even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

But the wonder is that any of the present day teachers of the word of God, who are legitimate successors of Paul and Timothy, whom God had made able ministers of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6) should be likewise blinded to a truth so plainly declared, and should in consequence be driven to the exercise of their ingenuity in the devising of schemes of unfulfilled prophecy, illustrated perhaps by elaborate charts and diagrams; wherein provision is made for a reviving of the promises and other incidents of the old covenant, which the Jewish nation forfeited by its flagrant rebellion and apostasy, and which God has long ago abolished (2 Corinthians 3:13; Hebrews 8:13).

It is of the very essence of the truth of the gospel that the resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the dividing line between that which is natural and that which is spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46); for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the gospel, insomuch that if Christ be not risen, the preaching of His apostles is vain, and our faith also is vain, we are yet in our sins, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished, and we who hope in Him are of all men the most miserable (idem verses 13–19).

Before the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God recognized as His people a nation of men in the flesh, the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and with them He made covenants concerning earthly things, and gave them the promise of earthly blessings. Also He recognized an earthly Zion and an earthly Jerusalem; and He appointed an earthly temple, an earthly priesthood and earthly sacrifices. But that system in its entirety was but a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience (Hebrews 9:9). Moreover, its ordinances were imposed only until the time of reformation (verse 10).

Here is a fact to which we wish to direct special attention; namely, that the whole Jewish system, nation and all, had a status in God’s plan only until the fixed time of reformation; and the next succeeding verses (11–15) make it plain that the time of reformation began when Christ — not in virtue of the blood of goats and calves, but in virtue of His own blood — entered in, once for all, into the true holy of holies, as the High Priest of the good things that were to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle than that ordained by Moses and administered by Aaron, a tabernacle not made with men’s hands, and not of this creation.

Here indeed is dispensational truth; for the time then present was the dispensation of the law, and it was to be (and now has been) followed by the dispensation of the gospel; for when the Fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son (Galatians 4:4).

With the sacrificial death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the old system of natural things passed away completely and forever; and the new system of things spiritual and eternal came into being — the heavenly Zion, the Jerusalem which is above which is the mother of us all, the heavenly sanctuary, and a people — not blessed with all natural blessings in earthly places through Moses and Joshua, but — blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places through Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

The two systems cannot coexist; for they are mutually exclusive of each other. That which had to do with an earthly people and earthly localities, was imposed only until the time of reformation. But Christ being come … and having through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, and having assumed the office of Mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:11–15), the former has completely served its purpose and has been wholly abolished.

Those who attentively consider what is written for our learning in Hebrews 8–10 can hardly fail to realize the utter impossibility, in the working out of the revealed purposes of God, of a restoration of the earthly nation of Israel and the other abolished shadows of the old covenant.

P. Mauro

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See also
The Hope of the Gospel

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