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From Eden to Eden - Contents
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    Jesus was on his way into Galilee, and as he came to Sychar, being weary, he sat down by Jacob’s well. A woman of Samaria came to draw water, and she was surprised when the stranger, whom she perceived to be a Jew, asked her to give him water to drink. The Samaritans were a mixed people, and had introduced the practices of their several nations into their worship. 2 Kings 17:24-41. Therefore the two nations were at variance, and the Jews had “no dealings with the Samaritans.” In her conversation with Jesus, the woman soon discovered that he was no ordinary man; and when he, a Jew, and an entire stranger, showed to her that her life was known to him, she confidently declared that he was a prophet. And then there immediately arose to her mind a question that had long vexed the people, and she said:—FEE 56.1

    “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” John 4:20.FEE 56.2

    This was a declaration intended as a question. The woman had shared in the anxiety of the godly of her nation, to have this question settled. As a question Jesus received it, and in reply he laid down a principle which corrected the erroneous ideas of both parties, both Jews and Samaritans. But in defining this principle he did not set aside any facts which had been developed concerning the plan of salvation. He very distinctly declared that “salvation is of the Jews.” Not that the Jews were better than other people, or that they needed salvation more than other people, or that they of themselves had anything to confer on other people which was necessary to salvation. But it was necessary in the development of God’s promise to Abraham that his posterity should be kept a separate people, for the manifestation of Messiah to the world, and salvation by Abraham’s seed must come through them. Paul, speaking of the Israelites, said:—FEE 56.3

    “To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came.” Romans 9:4, 5.FEE 57.1

    All the things here enumerated were committed to them, and whosoever partakes of these blessings must receive them as coming through that channel. To them were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:1, 2. And not for their own sakes alone were these oracles committed to them. Stephen, in that memorable sermon which cost him his life, said that Moses, who stood in behalf of the people, “received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Acts 7:38. But these facts do not exhaust the subject, nor do they make necessary the perpetuation of the forms and ceremonies which were given to them. As has been seen, the great object of the hope of the people of Israel was the manifestation of the Messiah to the world, and the law of ceremonies was to illustrate his work; but the Messiah having come, the time had arrived when the principle above referred to could be declared. Therefore Jesus answered the woman of Samaria thus:—FEE 57.2

    “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” John 4:21.FEE 57.3

    He certainly did not mean that the Father should not be worshiped in those places; but he did mean that it was not necessary to go to those places to worship the Father, for thus he continued:—FEE 57.4

    “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21, 23.FEE 57.5

    And this was the settlement of the question thus far; the worship of God is no longer to be considered a matter of localities, nor of nationalities. In all places, and by all peoples, he may be worshiped to acceptance, wheresoever and by whomsoever he is worshiped in spirit and in truth.FEE 57.6

    But in the minds of some, the question may arise: How can it be that this is not a question of nationalities, if it remains true that salvation is of the Jews? Now whatever shape this query may assume, we must continue to insist that salvation is of the Jews, for the facts in reference to them can never be set aside. The Messiah came of them, and the new covenant was made with them, according to the promise. But as Jerusalem has ceased to be the special place where the Father must be worshiped, their national system must also of necessity have ceased, for they could present their offerings in no place but Jerusalem. Leviticus 17:1-6.FEE 58.1

    No one who believes the gospel will dispute the fact that that covenant has passed away. But we must always bear in mind that, as the making of that covenant did not annul the covenant with Abraham, so its abolition had no effect upon anything that was peculiar to the Abrahamic covenant. That covenant stands secure.FEE 58.2

    And inasmuch as their covenant has passed away, and their national system of worship is abolished, and Jerusalem is no longer the place where men must go to worship the Father, we cannot possibly believe that any special promises or blessings are in reserve for the Jews as a nation; neither promise nor blessing remains for them, except such as are common to all the children of Abraham by faith in Christ. And they can inherit the promises on the same condition and in the same manner that other children of Abraham shall inherit them, and in no other. We will notice some of the facts which lead us to this conclusion.FEE 58.3

    1. The declaration of Jesus, already referred to, that that arrangement has passed away by which Jerusalem was made a special place of worship, involves the abolition of their national system of worship. To restore this system would be a transgression against the gospel, according to the principle stated by Paul in Galatians 2:18.FEE 58.4

    2. The promise that the new covenant should be made with Judah and Israel, has been fulfilled. The covenant was made and confirmed in the blood of Christ, and by the preaching of Christ and his apostles. But the confirmation of the new covenant was the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles, and it placed all on an equality, making but one body of Jews and Gentiles. See Ephesians 3:6.FEE 58.5

    3. And this leads us to notice that the house of Israel and the house of Judah were in Palestine when the covenant was made. The promises of the restoration of Israel to their own land were twofold: (1.) Those which were made to the tribes of Israel, the children of Abraham according to the flesh, referring to their restoration after the Babylonian captivity. These have been fulfilled. It is nothing to the purpose that they who claim that literal Israel will be restored again to Palestine, quote a great many prophecies; but the truth depends, not in the number of texts quoted, but in the correct application of them. It is of no possible avail to quote scripture unless it is correctly applied. We mean no disrespect to any, but illustrate our remark by referring to the fact that Satan himself quoted the scriptures correctly, but that which he quoted had no reference to that time or occasion. The Saviour repulsed him by quoting texts which had an application then and there. We will briefly notice some of the evidences that the twelve tribes were there when the new covenant was made.FEE 59.1

    a. The prophets, except Malachi, all wrote between the years 534 and 800 b. c. The decree of Cyrus for the return of the children of Israel was made in b. c. 536, and that of Artaxerxes in 457. Hence, there is no chronological necessity for referring to any future time or event, those prophecies which speak of their returning to Palestine. In truth the whole weight of chronology is against that view.FEE 59.2

    b. The decree of Cyrus was liberal, and was proclaimed throughout all his realm.. He said:—FEE 59.3

    “Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem.” “And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts.” Ezra 1:1-4. Artaxerxes, in his decree, said:—FEE 59.4

    “I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.” Ezra 7:13.FEE 60.1

    Further, that the prophecies referred to a restoration from the captivity in Babylon, is proved in the most positive terms:—FEE 60.2

    “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.... I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:10-14.FEE 60.3

    While many declare that ten tribes were lost, and never returned from the captivity of Babylon, the word of God declares that he gathered them from all nations and from all places whither he had scattered them. We cannot reject the word of God, and therefore cannot receive the theory of those who teach that they were not returned. Of the time of their restoration there can be no doubt, for the Lord said it should be after seventy years were accomplished at Babylon.FEE 60.4

    c. It is assumed that only two tribes returned from that captivity, and that ten tribes were dispersed and lost. But that is only an assumption, for which there is no shadow of foundation in fact. The Persian empire, in the days of Ahasuerus, was divided into one hundred and twenty-seven provinces (Esther 1:1); and the Israelites were scattered throughout the empire; and the decree for their defense and deliverance from the malice of Haman went to every province in the empire. Esther 9:17. The decree of Cyrus for their return was proclaimed throughout his whole realm. Artaxerxes, also, addressed his decree to all the people of Israel in all his kingdom. All returned who were willing to return. And they were not hindered by reason of any disability on their own part, for the king commanded the people to assist them with money, goods, and beasts. Thus did the Lord, in his providence, make every provision for the fulfillment of his promise. There is no promise that he would bring them back against their will.FEE 60.5

    d. Although critics mostly discredit the statement of Josephus in regard to the origin of the Septuagint, it seems that his testimony is entitled to more consideration than is generally given to it, inasmuch as their objections are solely of a critical, and not at all of a historical, nature; while he sets it down as a historical fact, even giving the very words of the correspondence between the parties. He says that Ptolemy Philadelphus sent a request to the Jews to send six men out of every tribe for the purpose of translating the law into the Greek. When they were sent, word was returned to Ptolemy thus: “We have chosen six men out of every tribe, whom we have sent, and the law with them.” He says that seventy-two were sent, seventy being engaged in the work, from which number of translators the name of the Version is derived. Thus twelve tribes were represented. See Josephus’ Antiquities, B. 12, chap. 2, sec. 4-7.FEE 60.6

    e. This evidence of the presence of the twelve tribes is corroborated by the Scriptures. That the tribe of Levi was represented in the return from the captivity is evident, for all the priests and servants of the temple were of that tribe. Of the priests alone, of the family of Aaron, Ezra gives the number who returned to Palestine under the decree of Cyrus, 4,289. Ezra 2:36-39. And he further says:—FEE 61.1

    “So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.” Ezra 2:70. “And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in their cities, the people gathered themselves as one man to Jerusalem.” Ezra 3:1; Nehemiah 7:73.FEE 61.2

    And most decisive is the testimony of Ezra concerning the dedication of the temple, built after the return from Babylon.FEE 61.3

    “And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy; and offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin-offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.” Ezra 6:16, 17. “The children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt-offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin-offering.” Ezra 8:35.FEE 61.4

    If ten tribes were absent, it is truly strange that no mention was made of it, when a sin-offering was made for the twelve tribes; for “all Israel” which dwelt in their cities. And is it not strange that people will persist in setting forth the idea that all Israel were not in their cities, when the proof is so strong that they were, and not a hint in all the Scriptures to the contrary?FEE 61.5

    There is also another class of promises concerning the gathering of Israel, but these are not spoken of “Israel after the flesh,” but, of the true Israel, who are the seed of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ. These promises are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Thus spoke the Lord:—FEE 62.1

    “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 27:12, 13.FEE 62.2

    With this compare the words of the Saviour:—FEE 62.3

    “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31.FEE 62.4

    The time of the gathering of the elect of God is fixed by these words of the Saviour; it will take place at his coming. He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet to gather them,—when the great trumpet shall be blown, as Isaiah says. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. With these agree the following words of the apostle:—FEE 62.5

    “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1.FEE 62.6

    But one may inquire, Can the gathering of the elect, the Israel of God by faith, at the coming of Christ, consistently be called the gathering and the return of Israel unto their own land? Most assuredly it can; and it is so called by the express word of the Lord himself. That the resurrection of the just will take place at the coming of Christ, all will admit. Then we read the following:—FEE 62.7

    “Prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:12-14.FEE 63.1

    The opening of the graves of all Israel shall take place “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear.” It is his voice that will raise the dead. When the Son of man comes, the great trumpet will be blown, and the elect of God will be gathered from the four quarters of the earth. This is the only gathering of Israel that remains to be fulfilled. And, all ye saints of God, partakers of the faith of your father Abraham, rejoice, for that day is near to come, and the angels will gather every one who, by living faith, is united to Christ, the heir of the promise.FEE 63.2

    4. The whole nation of Israel broke the covenant made with them at Horeb, by which means they forfeited all blessings promised to them under it. And for this reason that covenant was entirely done away. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-12. It is a manifest absurdity to say that they have any claim to promises under a covenant that was abolished because they had forfeited all rights under it.FEE 63.3

    5. It must be admitted that if the Israelites have any claim to the fulfillment of special promises, or if special blessings remain to be conferred upon them, by virtue of the covenant made at Horeb, then the abolition of that covenant was derogatory to their rights and privileges. If there are unfulfilled promises and national rights still existing under that covenant, then it should not have been abolished until these were honored. That is to say, that they who teach that the Jews have national rights and special privileges by virtue of that covenant, virtually charge God with the injustice of abolishing an instrument in which their rights were vested. But if there was no injustice done to them in abolishing that covenant—if they had no claim under it when it was abolished; if they had forfeited all the promises in that covenant by disobedience,—from what source have they derived the rights and privileges which are now claimed for them? We confidently affirm that the whole Judaizing system is as contrary to the principles of justice as it is to the facts of the Bible; it is as unreasonable as it is unscriptural.FEE 63.4

    6. This conclusion may not be evaded by saying that the promises to be fulfilled to them as a nation, are not matters of rights that they can claim, but of gracious promises which the Lord made to them. But the covenant at Horeb was based solely on obedience, as has been shown; and when they disobeyed, the promises were a nullity, for the covenant itself was made void. See Hebrews 8:8, 9:—FEE 64.1

    “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”FEE 64.2

    God had said that they would be a peculiar treasure above all people and a holy nation, if they would obey. But they did not obey, and he regarded them not. There is no work of grace for any people except in the gospel, and the gospel is not national. But two covenants were made with Judah and Israel—the covenant at Horeb, and the new covenant. But the first is done away, and in the second there is no national work of grace known; and it is by faith alone that the promises of the new covenant may be inherited.FEE 64.3

    7. Nor can it be said that the promises will be fulfilled to the Jews as a nation, by their turning to Christ, and accepting him as the Messiah and their Saviour; for in Christ all are on an equality. When the apostle Paul said: “And if ye are Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” he also said: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.... There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-29. It is in respect to this very point of being Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise, that all national distinctions and privileges are obliterated. For he says in another place: “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” Ephesians 3:6. See also Ephesians 2:11-19; Matthew 3:9; John 8:38-44.FEE 64.4

    In all this it is not denied that there were conditions made to Israel in the covenant at Horeb, and by the mouths of the prophets, which were never fulfilled. But the scriptures herein quoted show that by their transgressions they forfeited the blessings expected, so that their bestowment was impossible. The only promises now remaining to be fulfilled to the children of men are those set forth to Adam, found in Genesis 3, and fully presented in the covenant with Abraham. Not to be fulfilled to any people by reason of their natural descent, but to all of all nations who are Abraham’s seed by faith in Christ.FEE 65.1

    Conditional promises were given to them by Ezekiel, especially in the latter chapters of his book; but the conditions were not regarded, and of course they could no more be fulfilled than those noticed. So the Lord promised to bring the Israelites, who were suffering in Egypt, into the land of Canaan. But the whole generation, with barely two exceptions, fell in the wilderness because of their unbelief and rebellion. For an illustration of God’s method of dealing with the subjects of his promises, take the case of Eli. The Lord sent this message to him:—FEE 65.2

    “I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me forever; but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Samuel 2:30.FEE 65.3

    The principle upon which the Lord acted towards the Jews set forth in Jeremiah 18:7-10.FEE 65.4

    “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”FEE 65.5

    Now to Israel the Lord said he had all the day long stretched out his hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people. And as he spoke by the mouth of Jeremiah, so will he do by Israel, and by all people. The Lord Jesus said directly to the Jews: “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43. The words of the forerunner of Christ to the Jews were: “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:9. It is not accident of birth which finds favor with God, it is not because of honored ancestors that his blessing abides with us. He prizes above all things “the upright heart and pure,” and his blessing abides with those whose characters are forming by faith in Jesus Christ according to his revealed will. And all will find their labor vain who try to make void the word of the Lord.FEE 65.6

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