6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Now, from this statement it appears,
1 -- That God had made a certain promise to the fathers of Israel;
2 -- That this promise became the hope of the nation, and was therefore a national question;
3 -- That this promise had been the hope of the twelve tribes in all their generations; was the ground of their worship; and that they hoped to attain to it by rising from the dead.
But we have a still plainer avowal, if possible, of the identity of this national hope with the hope for which the apostle suffered so much. The Lord Jesus had appeared to him after his arraignment before Ananias, and said to him,
"Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
When he arrived at this city, he called the chief of the Jews together, and told them that he had nothing to accuse his nation of, but had sent for them to inform them how matters really stood. He then told them how it was they found him in the custody of a Roman soldier, with fetters upon his person:
"On account of THE HOPE OF ISRAEL," said he, "am I bound with this chain " (Acts 28: 20).
This is conclusive.
The hope of the promise made to the fathers, was, and, indeed, is to this day, the hope of Israel; and for preaching this hope, and inviting the Gentiles to a participation in it without other circumcision than that of the heart, he was denounced as a pestilent fellow, and unfit to live (24:5, 6.; 22:21, 22).
But what was the hope of Israel about? The answer to this question is easy. Having made the chief of the Jews at Rome acquainted with the cause of his appeal to Caesar, they remarked to him, that they should like to hear of him what he thought upon the question of the national hope, as so strenuously contended for by the sect of the Nazarenes. As it was not, however, convenient then, they appointed a future day when they would meet him, and hear what be had to say upon the subject.
Accordingly, at the time appointed they came together at Paul's lodging, and he proceeded to lay before them his thoughts upon the subject of Israel's hope. But I cannot do better than to state what he did in the words of Luke, who says that
"he expounded and testified to them the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23).
Now who can be so dim of vision as not to perceive that the subject-matter of the hope of Israel is the kingdom of God? And observe that, in giving his thoughts of the national hope, the apostle's persuasions turned upon things concerning Jesus. The kingdom of God and Jesus were the subjects of Paul's testimony, when he preached "the hope of Israel," or
"the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers."
Having begun his testimony with the chiefs of the Jews, some of whom received it, he continued to publish it for two years in his own hired house to all that visited him,
"preaching the kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence" (Acts 28:30, 30).
Elpis Israel 2.2.
17 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from Yahweh? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
We are now in the ninth year of Zedekiah. The city has 1½ years left-the final siege has begun which is to end, after terrible hardships, in complete destruction.
Finally Zedekiah again sent for Jeremiah from the dungeon and asked him secretly,
"Is there any word from the Lord?" Jeremiah said. "YES, there is-thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!"
-a faithful, fearless message.
Upon Jeremiah's plea to the king, he was not sent back to the dungeon, but confined in the court of the prison. But this did not satisfy the princes. They demanded his death. And the king said,
"Take him-I have no power to resist."
So they lowered him by ropes into a miry cistern, and left him there to slowly die. Jeremiah would now be about 60 years old.
At this point a new name comes into the story-Ebedmeleck, a servant of Zedekiah, an Ethiopian-a coloured man-one of the very few good men in this book, and one with whom we hope to meet in intimate association in the kingdom of God, if we are found worthy, as he was.
He rescued Jeremiah from the cistern, and he was placed again in the prison court where he stayed through the rest of the siege.
Finally the Babylonians broke into the city, and destroyed it. The Temple of Solomon was demolished and all its ornaments and vessels taken to Babylon. The Temple had had a very sad history, and had never accomplished the holy purpose for which it was erected. The Temple was a failure, through the weakness and evilness of the flesh.
In Jeremiah's day it had become a hypocritical symbol of lip-service and outward sacramentalism; inwardly it was a den of thieves. That which had been ordained to life was found to be unto death, and it had to be swept away.
Like the Temple in Jesus' day, it and everything connected with it were incurably infected with the leprosy of fleshliness and sin, and the Law required that a leprous house must be pulled down and carried forth out of the city into an unclean place (Lev. 14:45). So Israel's leprous house must be broken down and carried away.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.17.
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
The Good News of the Kingdom
To deny Christ's personal reign on Yahweh's Davidian throne... is to deny the kingdom of God, and consequently, the glad tidings or gospel concerning it; for, no personal reign, no kingdom; and no kingdom, no gospel; and no gospel, no faith; and no faith, no justification, sanctification, adoption, or redemption.
The gospel of the kingdom is the glad tidings of Christ's Millennial Reign with the Saints, his immortalized and glorified associates, in and under whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed-glad tidings to Israel and the nations, promising them deliverance from those who now keep them in ignorance and oppress them;
-glad tidings to individuals, promising them glory, honour, incorruptibility, life, possession of the world, and power over the emancipated and enlightened nations, on condition of believing what God has promised concerning this reign, also the things concerning Jesus as his mediatorial testator and anointed monarch of the world; being immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; and patiently continuing in well-doing to the end.
This being the truth, and nothing but the truth, whatever antagonizes or mutilates it, is not only a "serious," but deadly, apostasy from the doctrine of Jesus the anointed king, and him a "crucified one." All of which is dedicated, with due respect, to the editors, pulpit-orators, and presiding oracles of tottering and crazy Christendom, by their well-wisher,
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1854.
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Bring forth fruits meet for repentance
Without this, baptism is null and void. A knowledge of the gospel is not enough. There must be that love of all things to which it pertains, which will cause it to germinate like good seed in the mind, to the production of abundant fruit. If the knowledge of the truth fail to beget the new man in the heart of the sinner, the baptism following his knowledge is not a birth. It is a mere performance of no benefit to him, but rather to his condemnation.
It ought, therefore, to be seriously considered by all who contemplate that step, and by all who are called upon to assist them, whether there is evidence of death to sin before arrangements are made for burial. The burial of a living man is cruelty. It were better for the sinner to leave God's covenant alone than to make a mockery of it. Let him ponder well his state and his ways.
"Let the sinner forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts,"
before he comes in this matter "to the Lord our God, who will abundantly pardon." Let him "repent," before he is baptised for the remission of sins. Then will he be received as a son with blessing, and his days guided unto life eternal-that is, if his circumspection continue.
In Christ he must grow and prosper, "increasing in the knowledge of God," "always abounding in the work of the Lord." He must not be a slothful servant. He must not go to sleep on rising from the watery grave to newness of life. He must not delude himself with the idea that now that his sins are forgiven, and his connection with Christ made sure, he has nothing more to do. A delusion of this sort will be fatal.
23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
This rising here must refer to putting on immortality rather than merely emerging again from death! (There are earlier examples of dead ones restored to mortal life).
With a very few exceptions now existing among the living, the future constituents of the Perfect Man are nothing but incorporeal dust and ashes - dust without form or body. When living in the present state they were men and women, who understood, believed, obeyed, and walked, in the Truth, and thereby obtained registry in the Lamb's Book of Life (Mal. 3.16,17, Dan. 12.1, Exod. 32.32,33, Apoc. 20:15).
In the resurrection epoch, dust is formed into bodies. They are then "the dead who are in the graves". The next thing is, they are caused "to hear the voice of the Son, who has the life in himself". On hearing this they then "come forth" from the graves by the momentum communicated to them by the earth which "casts them out".
After this, their consciousness of a previously developed character being impressed upon them, the angels employed in the service, gather them together from the four winds, from one end of the heaven to the other, unto the Lord Jesus Christ; so that, if I have correctly expounded the testimony of Moses, David, and Habakkuk, the angels will gather them "unto him" in the South in the wilderness of Sinai. At this point the reader will please refer to the following texts (John 5:26-29; Isa. 26:19; Matt. 24:31; 2 Thess. 2:1).
This coming forth of the future constituents of the Perfect Man from the graves, restores them to an equality with the few among the living, who may attain perfection with them. In this co-equality they are intellectually, morally, and materially alike. That which is out of the earth, ek ges, is, and can only be, earthy, choikos. These coequals, who have all come from the earth directly or indirectly, are therefore "earthy;" and therefore also, until subjected to a further operation of Spirit, unfit to enter the kingdom of the Deity.
Furthermore, the grave is regarded in the Divine law as an unclean place, and defiling. Under Moses' law, if a man touched a grave, or a bone, or a corpse, he contracted a defilement, from which he could not be cleansed under a week. This was styled "filth of the flesh" (1 Pet. 3:21) and typified the real nature of all bodies coming forth from the grave. The "flesh" of these is that peculiar constitution of their substance which forms its earthiness. The subject of such a nature, however excellent a character he may be, or may have been, is materially defiled, or unclean.
Therefore, nothing born of a woman is clean, even though it have been begotten in her substance by the power of the Spirit (Job 14:4; 25:4). Now, this is a principle of the knowledge revealed to us, and is of universal application. It obtains in relation to Jesus himself.
In Gal. 4:4, Paul says, the Son of the Deity sent forth, "was made of a woman, made under the law". The body so made and born was therefore unclean materially and Mosaically; and could no more
"enter heaven itself to appear in the presence of Deity for us" (Heb. 9:24)
in that nature, than that flesh and blood should inherit his kingdom (1 Cor. 15:50).
Would any one intelligent in the Word affirm that an unclean body, made yet more unclean by becoming a corpse, and therefore defiling to every one who touched it, becomes clean by being put into an unclean place, and lying there for three days, less or more?
Would the simple fact of that corpse coming to life in a tomb which its presence had Mosaically defiled, and walking out of it, make it a clean body, or nature? If it be replied that it would, why then was not Lazarus, whom Jesus raised, clean of nature? If it be replied, "he was"; then Jesus was not the "first out of a resurrection of dead ones" (Acts 26:23).
But, passing through the grave cleanses no one. They who emerge thence, "come forth" with the same nature they carried into it; and therefore their coming forth is Resurrection. If the same kind of body did not come forth that was buried, it would not be Resurrection, but only surrection, as in the case of the first man.
Jesus "rose AGAIN" (1 Cor. 15:4); his coming forth was therefore resurrection. He rose again the same Jesus that was buried, only that instead of being dead, he was alive again.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Thou art beside thyself
Our meeting this morning has a meaning which is appreciated by those only who understand the truth, and by few of them as it ought to be. By the world without, it is regarded with quiet scorn. They see in it nothing but an idle ceremony-an effete piece of sacerdotalism- the lingering shadow of an ancient superstition.
They may respect those who persevere in it from week to week; they may approvingly regard them as at least persons of sincerity, who act consistently with their professed convictions: but their respect is mixed with pity for what they consider weakness, and regret that honest purpose should be thrown away on what they regard as a bootless enterprise.
Their feelings are also strongly tinctured with a resentful contempt for the implied condemnation of their own position; for of course our being right involves that they are fatally wrong. Indeed, this implied condemnation is at the bottom of all the hostility ever shown by the world towards those who walk in the way of God. "Only admit that we are right also," say they, "and we will agree to differ": but this is just what the believers of the Gospel cannot do; hence the traditional "enmity."
We have to thank God that we live in a day when the world has no power to give practical effect to its hostile feelings against the friends of Christ.
Bro Roberts - Breaking of bread
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
... all Christ's brethren have to suffer from the same ignorance and illogic. They show a bias and pursue a course which are inexplicable on the principles of worldly people, and therefore worldly people, who are nearly all the people, suppose they must be quietly insane. It is a great trial to be the subject of such a misconception. But it is a trial for which Christ expressly prepared his disciples:
"If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household" (Matt. x. 24).
There are, of course, mad folks, who are proveably such on every principle: but this is not the character of those in any degree whose only symptom of madness is the intellectual reception of Bible history from Moses to Christ, on grounds which they can formulate and establish; and a life in logical harmony with that conviction.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 26