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His MEMORIAL UNTO ALL GENERATIONS” (Ex. iii. 15).
The language of prophecy, however, is explicit on the subject. An enemy, and one who lost his life fighting against them, was commissioned thus to speak of them, as he saw them spread in tents under his feet: “Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift himself
up as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink of the blood of the slain” (Num. xxiii. 24): and it is language that has never been rescinded. Although mere politicians will consider there is much more to apprehend from great and well-disciplined armies, than from the apparently harmless Jews, yet, connected with the above prophecy of Balaam, the following predictions are of a terrific and fearful import :—“And the remnant of Judah shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of MANY PEOPLE, as a Lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who, if he go through, both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.... And I will execute my vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard (Micah v. 8, 9, 15). And whereas they appear now to be so destitute of warlike and military talents and spirit, it is further said, “The nations
shall see, and be confounded AT THEIR MIGHT; they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth : they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee” (Micah vii. 16, 17). “The Lord of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his GOODLY HORSE IN THE
Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle-bow, out of him every oppressor together. And they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle : and they shall fight, because the Lord is with them, and the riders on horseback shall be confounded. And I will strengthen the house of JUDAH, and I will save the house of JOSEPH, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them; and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord their God, and will hear them” (Zech. x. 3–6).
This language, it is plain from the last verse quoted, must refer to a yet future period; for the Hebrews have never, since these predictions were uttered, been an united kingdom: and Judah has only been for a short time restored ; and even then not as an independent kingdom; whereas this prophecy refers to the house of Jacob generally, as well as to Judah. Besides, there has been no instance, since the times of Joshua and David, when they have shewn such might and prowess as are here described, if we except, indeed, the noble actions of the Maccabees : but these were of too confined a character—too much for mere self-preservation -had too little influence on the affairs of other nations, at all to comport with the phraseology of these prophecies.
And the truth of this observation will be still more distinctly perceived by another quotation : “ Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war; for with thee will I BREAK IN PIECES THE NATIONS, and with thee will I DESTROY KINGDOMS; and with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider: with thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid: I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.” And, as if identifying this destruction, of which Israel is to be made the instrument, with the Western nations, the next verse goes on to say,
" And I will render UNTO BABYLON, and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea,
all the evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the Lord” (Jer. li. 20—24.) Now the might of the Jews was never shewn against the literal Babylon ; .- Persia, and not Israel, being the Lord's “ battle-axe” when that
power was overthrown. But, as was above observed, there are other nations, unitedly represented under the name of Babylon, yet standing, against which the most fearful judgments are threatened, and whose fall is to be co-existent with the deliverance of the Jews : it is this fall, therefore, to which these prophecies must have a reference.
It is readily admitted, that, speaking after the manner of men, there is no appearance of such predictions as these being speedily accomplished: it is admitted that many objections may be advanced as to their possibility, and many difficulties and improbabilities may be started. But these difficulties and improbabilities, however great they appear, are, after all, not to be compared with those which existed previous to their deliverance from Egypt, and the conquest of Canaan: nor yet in their deliverance from Babylon, exactly at the end of seventy years. The answer, therefore, to all such objections must be this : “ Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?” “ Hath He said, and shall he not do it?”
“ Firm are the words his prophets give--
As to the question- How can these things be ?—we have only to believe that what God has promised, He is able to perform : “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this ” (Isa. ix. 7). He has given the prophecies with all the precision and authority of one who has planned the mighty series of events, and of one who is able to bring them to pass. He has also shewn, in the wonderful accomplishment of so many, that He has indeed all power in heaven and in earth, and that the future is equally present with Him as is the past. We have only therefore to say, “Lord, increase our faith.”
It has been previously observed, that at the period of Israel's restoration a greater deliverance will be experienced than took place when “ the hosts of the Lord” were brought forth out of the land of Egypt, as being fully implied in language used by Jeremiah :-“ Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the