Lectures on the Minor Prophets.
The prophecy of Micah, like all the rest, has its own distinctive properties, though falling into the general current of testimony to Israel, and so far with the others different from the prophecy of Jonah, which was last before us. On the surface we can see a strong resemblance between Micah's line of things and that of the prophet Isaiah. On the other hand, there is the obvious difference that, while Isaiah is large and comprehensive, Micah presents his testimony in a brief and therefore compressed if not more distinct form. The various points of truth which he was commissioned to declare are here together in a short compass.
The prophecy is divided into two if not three clearly marked sections. The first two chapters comprise the introduction: Micah 3, 4 and 5 give us the climax of the prophet's testimony; and then Micah 6, 7 are the appropriate conclusion.
In the first portion the prophet summons all people, and the earth itself, and all that exists, to hear Jehovah's testimony, alas! against Samaria and Jerusalem. Adonai from His holy temple, He is "coming forth," as He says, "out of his place." A striking expression it is. The dealings of grace are properly connected with where He is; God is in His place when He is showing His own sovereign mercy. For judgment He comes out of His place. In His own nature God is not a judge, but One who gives and blesses. Judgment is "His strange work," as it is said elsewhere — a work therefore that, if it must be done, He will do shortly. He must make a short work, as says Isaiah. He does not like to dwell on judgment. It is a painful necessity which the wickedness of man compels, and that too because if He declined the judgment of iniquity He must abandon His own moral character. But grace is His normal work, the activities of divine love in spite of evil, not winking at it, but raising out of and above it. Grace suits God and is His delight, as it is the energy of His nature in the face of ruin. Judgment is the provisional guard of His nature, being imperatively that which is rendered necessary by the iniquity of the creature — whether of the fallen angels or of rebellious man. So here the prophet declares that Jehovah comes forth out of His place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. "Jehovah comes forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place" (verses 3, 4).
It is in vain therefore for Israel to build themselves up in the conceit of impunity. This cannot be where Jehovah is the judge. "For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel." Sin is always evil, but never so humiliating as in the people of God. "What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?" Samaria was the chief seat of Israel, as Jerusalem was of Judah, where the house of David reigned; yet they were both high places of iniquity against Jehovah, Samaria completely and Jerusalem growingly. "Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof. And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot. Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. For her wound is incurable; for it is come to Judah; he is come to the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem" (verses 6-9).
Some rationalist commentators for objects of their own are disposed to regard Micah as a very late prophet; but there need be no scruple in rejecting their theories. The prophet himself says it was "in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah." There is not a tittle of evidence against the genuineness of these words, which assert that he was an early prophet. But rationalists have always at hand a summary reason for any conclusion to which their will impels them: another writer, or even so many more as each difficulty can be conceived to call for! For who at bottom is so credulous as the rationalist? It could easily be shown that the wonders which their system obliges them to receive are in their way less reasonable and worthy than the testimony to which faith bows implicitly: but then they are wonders of imposture and bad faith. Men can believe anything that lowers the credit of a prophecy, pretending withal that they honour the writer and in no way question his good faith or holiness. What a singular notion theirs must be of truth and holiness! If a writer assuming to be a man of God pretended to prophesy at a time when he was not born, and gave out as prophecy that which was only written after the fact, is he not a cheat and his writing an imposture?
If their proofs be demanded, it will be found that, under an elaborate heap of details in style and phraseology, the real difficulty is the assumption common to them all, that there is no such thing as prophecy. If the prophet therefore gives himself out as having lived before the events, they imagine that this is only a figure of speech meant to give more poetic effect for the vulgar mind, but in point of fact the writer coolly wrote about facts which had already taken place as if still future. Thus we may see infidelity always has this plague-spot underneath it, that, with the loudest profession of searching after truth, it really denies all the moral grandeur and beauty of God's revelation, destroying too dignity or even decency in man. In its anxiety to leave God out of His own word, it robs the faithful of the great witness to His knowledge of the future and of the grace which communicates that knowledge to them here below. By this degrading pseudo-criticism what is truly divine is ruthlessly explained away and reduced to the level of hypocritical imposture. It may be denied; but such is my judgment of the results of that modern infidelity which gives itself the fine name of the "higher criticism:" a poor but not unsuited conclusion for self-vaunting human learning to arrive at. It is possible that its leaders, still more readily its followers, may not be conscious that in the main it is only a modern furbishing up of the weapons of older Deism. But this it really is, with a gloss suited to the taste of the day. Is it not horrifying to think that the tinge of apostacy deepens manifestly among those who profess to study the Bible? If there be the sad assurance of deceiving men and women going on in Romanism, learned and Protestant Germany not merely plunges living men into the wretched uncertainty to which Popery always reduces those who turn away from Christ to Mary and saints and angels and the church so-called, but denies the holy fire which no fable-love stole, but divine love gave and kept for men in the written word of God, to which under a multitude of sounding words neology imputes a mass of errors of all kinds.
On the other hand to the believer the subject presents no difficulty worth mentioning. He sees that it is as easy for God to speak about the future as about the past; and in fact it is a denial of prophecy to exclude the future from the vision of the seer. Again, it is one of the principal marks of God's love for His people that He acquaints them with the future. So He dealt with Abraham, telling him what concerned not merely himself but the world. This is an immense boon: not alone nor so much the information as the grace which gave it them. That God should reveal what pertains to our own proper portion is simple enough if we are His children; but it is a special sign of His interest and intimacy to let us know of others, and this He does in prophecy. The Christian, the church of God, ought to be thoroughly acquainted by this means with what is coming to pass on the earth. We ought never to be unacquainted with the signs of the times. It is of great value to have the sense of them morally; but we ought also to know the times prophetically, and, if we honour God and His word, be assured that we shall.
There is no presumption in this. It is presumption to speak about the future, unless as far as we have learnt humbly from the prophecies God has left us in His word. It is no presumption to believe any part of His word, but genuine humility of faith. It is all a question of honouring God's word. Now He has spoken, and spoken of the end from the beginning. Take the very first word in Eden, where we have the truth in twofold form. Is there any thing really grander in the Old Testament? On the one hand the serpent was to bruise the heel of the woman's Seed; on the other, the woman's Seed was to bruise the serpent's head. One of these has been accomplished; the other remains to be. That which is the moral foundation of all, namely, what God had wrought when the serpent bruised the heel of the Messiah and He suffered supremely under God's hand on the cross — what God wrought there for His own glory and for the blessing of man is the one ground-work of peace for our souls this day, and for any of God's saints any day. But the other part remains still future. In its full import we may perhaps say it remains for the far future from God; for it is evident that, although at the beginning of the millennium the serpent may receive a considerable bruise on his head, not until the end of the millennium will the bruising be completed. Thus we see the first prophecy of God stretches out to the very last; so far is it from being true that God does not communicate it for the practical good and joy and blessing of the simplest of his children.
Again, it is altogether and plainly false that prophecy is only to be received and studied when fulfilled. The truth is, when fulfilled it takes another shape and acquires another use; but it ceases to be prophecy and becomes history, one use of which then is to stop the mouth of an infidel. But the proper value of prophecy is to give the child of God before it comes to pass the certainty of his peculiar privilege — communion with God, who sees the things that are not as though they were. If that be our place, assuredly we ought to value and use it. This therefore may suffice as a plain and distinct answer, not only to the particular facts of Micah's prophecy, but to the general principles as regards all prophecy.
In the latter part of Micah 1 we have a very animated account of the approach of the great enemy typified by the Assyrian of those days. We know that they were one of the most formidable adversaries that Israel ever had. Whether one looks at Shalmaneser or at Sennacherib, the Assyrian was the enemy that was before the eyes of Israel. Later we find Babylon; but the case then is altogether different from Assyria. We must never confound the two. The uses that God turned Assyria and Babylon to in prophecy are as precise as they are different. They have been very commonly confounded, but there is no ground for it in scripture; and not only historically were Assyria and Babylon wholly distinct, but the future enemies which each of them typifies are just as different; for as Assyria was before Babylon in developing into a great kingdom on the earth, and was the grand head of the combined nations which were allowed to overthrow the ten tribes of Israel as well as to menace Judah, so on the other hand Babylon was that particular power which arose to supremacy not merely as a kind of suzerain head of nations bound up by a compact with each other, but as a supreme head of subject kings. In short an imperial dignity belonged not to Assyria but to Babylon. For the latter power rose up after Israel had been swept away, in order to carry Judah captive when the last hope of the house of David had completely fled, and David's son was the chief instrument of the devil for binding idolatry on Judah and on Jerusalem itself. Then God allowed Babylon to come into its marked supremacy — the golden head of the Gentile image according to the figure which Daniel explained in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. Now this had to do pre-eminently with Judah, and so it will be found in the future. The last head of the Gentile powers typified by that image will rise up and will join in an apostacy with the man of sin: the one being the imperial head of the western powers, or revived Roman empire; the other the religious chief in Jerusalem, accepted as Messiah but really antichrist. When the Lord shall have judged these (Rev. 19), the last Assyrian will come against not the Jews only but Israel, for these will have flocked back to their land then: at any rate representatives of all the tribes will then, as I suppose, be found in the land.
It is of this Assyrian (not of the intermediate Babylonish power which comes in after the first Assyrian and before the last) that Micah speaks; not the past so much as the future Assyrian. This is of immense importance. We must bear in mind that the great image in Daniel is an intercalated system — what may be called a parenthesis which runs its course after the early Assyrian empire and before the Assyrian of the latter day. This may help to explain the case. The four great empires have their place between those two points. Now this intervening system is not taken up in Micah. Isaiah presents us with Babylon and "the king" as well as the Assyrian. Being one of the most comprehensive of all the prophets, he gives us both subjects, and this in their connection or relative order; but then Isaiah shows us exactly the same issue. When the Lord will have completed His whole work in Jerusalem, by putting down the last representative of the powers that began with Babylon, the destined captor of Jerusalem and Judah, what then? He will punish the stout looks of the king of Assyria. The Assyrian, we may see, is the last earthly enemy before the kingdom, as death is the last judicial enemy (1 Cor. 15:26) which remains till its end. But the Assyrian is none the less sternly dealt with at last: such is the positive statement in Isaiah. The ultimate and greatest is he that is described here historically under the Shalmanesers and the Sennacheribs of the past. It would seem too that with this final enemy of Israel may be identified the king of the north in Daniel 11.
Though notoriously the Assyrian is often taken for the Babylonish king or imperial head, this is certainly a mistake of moment. So the king of the north is altogether distinct from "the king" or "man of sin" who will be leagued with the little horn or chief of the Babylonish empire of the last days. The truth is that the man of sin will be the false king of the Jews — the one who will come in his own name and be received of the Gentiles that rejected the true Messiah. He will be in Jerusalem, the apostate power (that began with Babylon) being not in the east but in the west. Rome and Jerusalem are the two great cities of the prophetic word, Jerusalem of all the record, Rome of the intermediate prophecy in its last phase. But when these leaders have been destroyed by the power of God exercised at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, then the king of the north will come forth as the head of the combined nations of the earth outside the image-power of Daniel. This is always to be held fast — Assyria as the head of the confederate nations in opposition to Israel when owned as the people of God, Babylon and the other imperial powers down to the destruction of the beast while the people are disowned by Him. After the beast and the false prophet are consigned to the lake of fire, the king of the north will come forward for a fresh attack with the highest expectations; but he will be dealt with by the Lord in person, who will then have resumed His relationship with Israel and will act in this case through Israel, though there will be evidently divine intervention in the judgment of the Assyrian on the mountains of Israel. Personally however, as the last leader of the power that began with Babylon will be cast alive into the pit, so also will it be with the Assyrian. Their followers will be dealt with in a less distinctly divine manner, though their destruction will be quite beyond an ordinary overthrow. Whatever the means employed as to the kings and their hosts, the Assyrian army will be beaten down by the medium of Israel. God will employ His people as His instruments, though there will not be wanting the fighting as it were from heaven itself against them. Hailstones and fire are described in Ezekiel — lightning and thunder from God — marking that, although He employs Israel, still the defeat is under the direct guidance of Jehovah.
The attack of the nations called Gog and Magog (Rev. 20) is clearly at the close of the millennium, and therefore quite distinct from what we are now describing. But in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39 we hear of a final effort before the millennium properly so-called begins. I am not prepared to say that this will not be the last effort of the king of the north. It seems certainly the same policy. The king of the north is described in a remarkable manner as being mighty, but not by his own power. That is to say, he will be supported by the resources of another power, which I believe can be no other than Russia; but Russia is in the background as the one that will back up the king of the north, or the Assyrian. The king of Assyria will be then the holder of what is now the Sultan's dominions or the Ottoman Porte. This potentate to the north of the Holy Land will acquire considerable strength, and be found in a state totally different from the excessive decrepitude which we see now. It used to be a common saying with politicians that Turkey was dying for want of Turks; but this will not be the case then. I suspect that Greece and Turkey in Europe, with perhaps Asia Minor, will form a sufficiently strong kingdom where the Byzantine kingdom was once known, the Turks proper being probably driven back into their own deserts.
If this be so, those we now know as Turks will be expelled from Pera, and then the renewed Syro-Greek kingdom will really have its head-quarters in Constantinople, will there play its part once more in the great drama of the future, and be, I have no doubt, as thoroughly unprincipled a kingdom under its final shape as ever it has been under its Mohammedan form. The state of the Greeks we all know to be sorry enough now; but I speak solely from what is revealed in Dan. 8 and elsewhere in scripture. If they are morally among the most degraded people in Europe, and none the less for their sharpness and knavery, their meddling with Jewish affairs will precipitate matters and produce awful results. If they have the pride and vanity of the ancient Greeks, what is it with corrupted Christians without the poor moral elements that heathens could have?
Thus the nations which played their part in Old Testament story will assume their final shape ere long, and then come into the earthly judgment of God in the end of this age when the manifested kingdom of the Lord shall bring the earth and all races of mankind into rest and blessing. The coming of the Son of man is not for the judgment of Christendom only, but for the execution of all the purposes of God whether for heaven or earth. This is no doubt of vast importance, though apt to be overlooked where man thinks that there is nothing before us but the divine decision as regards individuals for eternity. What fertile soil for error is the mind where Christ's glory is forgotten and the word of God has not its just authority! The judgment of Christendom then will precede that of the nations, when Israel must come to the front in the ways of God for the world. I speak of the judgment of the quick, not of the dead. Doubtless Christendom has come in as a specially favoured quarter. It has enjoyed the testimony of the truth of God in remarkable ways, though I quite admit that many parts of the earth once enjoyed that testimony which have long become apostate in Mohammedanism, yet more manifestly than the west which has fallen away into Popery; but all nations as such will be judged of God when the day of Jehovah arrives. Those that are real as belonging to Christ will have been taken up to heaven, and thus will not be in the scene of judgment when it comes.
Among the Jews will be those who are to be conspicuous as witnesses on earth in the latter day after the translation of the risen Old Testament saints and the church to meet the Lord above. For the Spirit will begin to work afresh in that nation, and a remnant will be converted in order to be the earthly people of Jehovah, when with His glorified saints Christ comes to reign. A certain number will have been prepared during the awful horrors of the apostacy and the man of sin, some dying for the truth, and others preserved through those days of Satan's power and rage. For the moment earth is to be blessed as a whole, Israel, now compelled to take the ground of mere mercy, will have every promise fulfilled: they, not we Christians, are the chosen people of God for the earth. Their hopes are bound up with the predicted glory of God on the earth. Our hope is altogether different. We look to be with Christ in the Father's house on high; in fact the church of God begins with Christ the Lord ascending to heaven, and sending the Holy Ghost from heaven to unite us with Christ in heaven. There was no such thing as Christianity, in the proper sense of the word, till Christ took His place in heaven as the glorified man after accomplishing redemption. I am not denying the faith of the Old Testament saints, nor the quickening of their souls, nor their expectation of a portion above; but the Christian who knows not of other privileges now beyond these has much to learn.
Thus Christianity is characteristically heavenly. He who is essentially its life and exemplar is Christ, as we know Him, risen and enthroned at the right hand of God; and the Holy Ghost is come down, since Christ was glorified, to be the power and guide of the Christian and the church here below. It was the business of the Christian individually and corporately to maintain this for their testimony both as truth and in practice. Not only have they not maintained it, but they have allowed themselves to become Judaized. What the apostle Paul fought against so energetically during his ministry has taken place, and there has been a most painful compound of heavenly truth with earthly rule, practice, and hope. The consequence is that conglomerate which we commonly now call "Christendom," consisting of Greek church and Roman, Oriental and Protestant bodies of every description, national or dissenting. Where is the witness to the one body animated by the one Spirit? These various and opposed communities may have different measures of light, but in none exhibit an approach to an adequate testimony, either of the Spirit's presence and power, or of the word of God, in subjection to the Lord Jesus. They really testify to the actual state of ruin which pervades the house of God, though doubtless to His infinite patience and grace.
Every serious believer (no matter who he may be, and I have had real communion with many of the children of God, I am happy to say, spite of much which is opposed to my convictions) must own that not a single fragment answers to the Lord's will, still less does the whole. I know some who feel and would confess it, not merely in low-church ranks but among high-churchmen who truly love the Lord. And here let it be said that, much as I deplore their idolatry of forms (forms utterly erroneous too, and an inroad of Judaism if not Paganism), I cannot but avow my preference of a godly high-churchman who enjoys communion with God to a man of less godliness who boasts of liberal feeling and what is called low-churchism and evangelical doctrine. It is the merest illusion and spirit of party to make notions or names supersede what is evidently of God. It is of the greatest consequence at the present time to the children of God to settle and build themselves up in divine truth. Is there anything else worth living for? Is there anything in the present state of Christendom that has a just claim on the spiritual affections of God's children? I speak not of sentiment or of old attachment, but as bound up with Christ. What we want therefore is that we should hold simply to the Lord, and seek to manifest by His grace that our treasure is not on the earth but in the heavens — that we value nought compared with Christ Himself, and that on the earth which is the nearest and best reflection of Him. The only sure way of accomplishing it is by seeing well to it that the eye is fixed on Christ, and so surrendering ourselves to the word and Spirit of God. Be assured that nothing else is worth caring for. How soon the early saints began to seek their own things, not those of Jesus Christ! By degrees the consequence was that utter declension set in, which, when it ripens into apostacy and the man of sin, the Lord will judge at His appearing.
But in that judgment will be the distinction which we have seen. The west, which will be the main scene of the Christian apostacy, with Jerusalem the connected centre of the Jewish lawless one (as we may observe, both the Christian and the Jewish apostate climax), will then be judged; and in that judgment will be the destruction of the beast, the head of the apostate Gentile power, and the man of sin, the head of apostate religious pretension. When this is done, there will follow the great national confederacy headed by the Assyrian and Gog. The latter seems to be the protecting power which stimulates the king of the north, and uses him as an instrument at first and then at length comes up to fall for ever under the hand of Jehovah.
This I believe to be a true sketch of the predicted future. After the destruction of these enemies will come the peaceful reign of the Lord Jesus. Thus it is plain there will be combined in the future two qualities: the Messiah will answer to David, the victorious king, before He shows Himself the anti-type of Solomon, the peaceful king. He will put down the foes, and then reign in peace when there is no one longer to defile, oppose, or destroy.
It follows of course that the extent of the judgment of Christendom will be a much wider area than the simple overthrow of the congregated nations who oppose the Lord near Jerusalem. For instance, the judgment of Babylon will involve in it the humiliation and punishment of all the different parts of professing Christendom, then of course apostate under the seventh vial just before Christ appears. The downfall of Babylon is just before He comes for the judgment of the world. There will remain the lawless beast and false prophet, with all that follow them to be destroyed when He appears in glory. The last providential judgment will be soon followed by the shining forth of Christ's coming. Thus not merely corrupt Christendom will be smitten in the form of Babylon, with Rome its active centre, as it will continue to be to the end; but the final rebellion that the Lord will judge when He comes will arrange itself under the beast and the false prophet, which is not the state of Babylonish corruption, but a condition of open wilful rejection of God and His Christ. This last will comprise the head of the revived Roman empire of that day, who will sustain the antichrist against the king of the north; and the scene of the destruction will be Jerusalem or its neighbourhood.
Thus the judgment of Christendom will be in a certain sense providential judgments before the brightness or appearing of the Lord's coming, when He destroys them by the breath of His mouth. Who can suppose, for example, that America, or Australia, or India, will be unscathed in the judgments of the latter day? The truth is that no place or nation bearing the name of Christ, or having had the gospel preached there, will escape.
It is true that some of these lands, as America, are not expressly named in prophecy. But this in no way hinders the application of general principles. The judgment of the habitable world will take all in. Nor is God mocked by an ocean. His hand will surely deal with those who despise Him, east or west. It is not always understood that, when Babylon is judged, she sits not only on the seven hills but upon many waters. These waters, I suppose, mean all the streams of professedly Christian doctrine that spring from Babylonish principles. They constitute the main corruption of Christianity. The apostacy follows, but is a much more open avowed hostility than any such corruption of Christianity, though apparently its reactionary result. It would seem to be more centralised than Babylon's influence, and to have a more circumscribed place. Then, after the beast's judgment as well as Babylon's, the confederacy of nations will cover again a larger sphere, because this is not necessarily professing Christendom at all. They may be heathen nations or not. I presume that the nations of central Asia will all succumb to Russia, and will perish most signally on the mountains of Israel. It is well known that, even to the Chinese and others, the eastern races are sinking under the control of Russia, not without resistance and checks, but sure in the end to fall under its steady never-abandoned policy. It is not more certain for the Porte than for Persia, or for central India; not all to be absorbed into the empire, but all to accept its leadership. Astonishing is the blindness of men to what is coming. Such will be the part played by the Assyrian, who appears to be the great north-eastern instrument of Russia's designs; but they will all come under the judgment of God. The fact is that in due time all the nations must be judged as such: only there will be different measures of judgment according to differences of privilege. The greater our favour from God, the more strict the account to be rendered. Every one can feel the righteousness of this, and in judgment it is a question of righteousness. But the portion of the Christian is of grace which reigns through righteousness: and hence therefore his place will be with Christ. They will be all taken away from the earth and its varied circumstances of sorrow here to meet the Lord Jesus and dwell with Him in the Father's house. This is not of course revealed in the Old Testament, but only in the New where the proper revelation of Christianity is given.
In Micah 2 we have the conclusion of the first strain of the prophecy. "Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage." Surely all this would be strange as addressed to the Christian. We never find such a style of warning in the New Testament. The reason is plain. The law was the rule of the Jew. Now the law claims in natural righteousness, and deals with the want of it. What therefore they failed in was the practical answer to natural righteousness. But the Christian, even supposing he were ever so righteous in natural duties, is far from rising up to the standard which becomes a Christian. We have to walk according to Christ in spiritual things as well as in natural. Consequently we need the light as it shone in Him, and the truth of the New Testament as the rule and guide of our walk, not merely the moral law that deals with man in the flesh.
Manifestly then our position is not in the flesh before God, as we are carefully told in Romans 8, where walking in the Spirit is insisted on. Of course nobody denies that the flesh is in us; but as Christians we are not in it. Such is the doctrine of the apostle Paul; and only unbelief would think of explaining away or even essaying to correct his language. It is not for believers so richly blessed either to dispute his accuracy or to forsake their own mercies. The apostle Paul says positively of all Christians, "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that God's Spirit dwell in you." Such then is the distinctive standing of every Christian man. What is the meaning of it? Clearly this, that it belongs to me characteristically as a Christian that I am in Christ; that, instead of being defined as part of the race by fallen Adam, I have in Christ a new life and a new place. In short there is a new standing before God in Christ. This is as true now as it ever can be: the better resurrection will not confer but display its blessedness. When we go to heaven, we shall not be simply in Christ, we shall be with Christ; but we are in Christ while we are on earth.
It is needful to heed the distinctions made and given in scripture. Fear not to believe the word. Cavillers may and do say that these are fine-drawn distinctions. If God has so revealed His truth to us (and scripture alone decides that He has), they may be exquisitely fine, but they are according to Him in whose wisdom and goodness we confide. We are bound to distinguish where and as God does; and if we fail to follow, we shall find out too late our loss. The truth is that there is a great deal of latent unbelief in those who cavil at the distinctions of the word of God. For all progress in real knowledge is tested by, as growth in true wisdom largely consists in, distinguishing things that differ. When a man is learning a new language, the sounds seem much alike to his ear; the characters too wear a sort of sameness of appearance which he fails at first properly to discriminate. Thus he who begins to hear the Hebrew language, or who looks at the written words, is struck with their monotony, and sees a set of strange square letters, many of them so similar as to create for his eyes no small embarrassment.
Such is more or less exactly the case with a person reading the Bible at first, and seeking to grow in the truth. The ignorant are apt to fancy that it is all merely the way to be forgiven of God and our duty. Everything is tortured to this, because it is the thought of their own minds. But when justified by faith, we have peace with God. Then we begin to distinguish the truths of scripture, and we learn that some passages treat chiefly of the divine nature, others of redemption; some of priesthood, others of justification; some of the riches of grace, others of the horrors of antichrist; some of salvation, others of the walk, and others again of the hope. The Jews, the Gentiles, the church, all have their place. Then the distinctions begin to crowd upon us, when wants are met, conscience is exercised but cleansed, and the heart set upon Christ. Yet it is plainly not in the nature of things to be spiritually fit for understanding the scriptures with fulness before we have found rest in Christ; but when this is known by the new man, do not yield to the selfishness which would stop there, but let us use the peace and rest of faith to increase by the knowledge of God — to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Thus we shall soon learn the broad distinction, that to the Jew the evil denounced is of a much more external nature — oppression, covetousness, idolatry. These are the great iniquities with which they were charged. These are not our characteristic perils, though of course we may fall into any of them. But in the New Testament we find another class of evil; namely, bad and false doctrine, which destroys communion and undermines and corrupts the walk. Such uncleanness of spirit does not seem spoken of in the Old Testament. Why? Because we stand in a new and peculiar place. We have doubtless all the benefit of the ancient oracles, but we have the special instruction, help, and joy of the New Testament, which those of old had not; and our calling, being a peculiar thing, requires therefore peculiar scriptures to give us the light that is wanted for the glory of God. I make this remark by the way. Hence the upshot of what I am saying is this, that there are certain moral immutable principles, and that they always abide. Consequently what is true from the first of Genesis remains true to the end of Revelation; but then we have our own peculiar words and exhortations given us. We must distinguish between old things and new. The general truths of God which direct the Jew or the Gentile are surely for the Christian, besides that calling of God in Christ Jesus which we now know in His name and by the Spirit of our God.
As Israel has the prominent place in Amos, so the converse is seen in Micah, who does not omit the kingdom of Samaria, but has Judah and Jerusalem as the prime objects of his expostulation. They pre-eminently are warned of those natural offences against the moral ways of God, which the false prophets bore with and even cherished. But they learn that their prophets shall be taken away from them. The prophets had flattered the people, prophesying smooth things and deceits. Of course they were not really servants of God, but from the mere school of prophets. When prophesying became traditional, it soon became corrupt. Those that God raised up extraordinarily dispensed the true light of God on the earth, and "Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of Jehovah. Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame." What they had misused they should lose.
Then comes a most animated appeal in the latter part of this chapter. "O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of Jehovah straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walks uprightly?" So we have a solemn call to them. "Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; it is polluted." Here is a grave and precious principle. The people of God are never to rest in that which does not suit Him. Jehovah decides that the only rest which He can sanction for them is the rest that is worthy of Himself. Hence from the beginning we see, graven even on the time which fleets away, that God, when He sanctified the seventh day as the sabbath of rest, gave a sure pledge that remains for His people to the end of the world. The sabbath consequently has a most important place in the order of God for man on the earth, as we learn from His word. But the Jew was always prone to be premature in looking for his rest. The same fault repeats itself in Christendom. But it is not so. Whatever we may have before God in Christ, we are still in scenes of war and labour. Our rest is not here; nor is it now. What do men flatter themselves they are going to bring about by discoveries and inventions? They hope that they may turn the moral wilderness of the world into a paradise, and thus find a present rest here. Is not this what they yearn after? Unconverted men, as the rule, are full of vaunt and vain glory: and I am afraid that too many of the converted yield to these fleshly dreams of the world. All will come to nought. The truth is that God means to effect rest; yet it will not be the fruit of man's work but of His own. It was after the six days in which He made heaven and earth that God sanctified His rest at first, and, as our Lord, "my Father works hitherto, and I work," He is still active, carrying forward the work of grace, the new creation; and after this is done the true and final rest of God will come, and the people of God shall share it — the heavenly ones above, the earthly below. It is the earthly people who are addressed by Micah, and warned not to look for a rest before the Lord's time.
So no less but more shall Christians rest by and by. Our business is to work meanwhile. Now is the time for labour; now we must be sedulously beware of making a rest of our own. By and by we shall enjoy to the full the rest of God, when the true Captain of salvation shall lead us in, not anticipatively as now, but in actual and complete possession for the body as well as soul and spirit.
In order to bring in this rest the breaker must come up — He who brings to nought every spurious rest. So in prophetic vision Micah sees. "The breaker has come up before them." "I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel." There will be none of the people left out when it is a question of introducing the rest of God. But the breaker must come before them. "They have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and Jehovah on the head of them." It will be the rest of God when He shall have dispelled all substitutes for it, and evidently set aside every hindrance and repaired all breaches, Himself joining His people and bringing them in, whether to the earthly or to the heavenly rest. For long war against God will have closed, and all the universe of God shall rest above and below. Such is the bright millennial day according to scripture.
In Micah 3 we have a still more solemn appeal directed to the heads and princes of the house of Israel. Now we know of course, that while all the people have their responsibility, the chief weight must necessarily be according to the position of individuals. Wickedness in him who holds an office of trust is worse, and justly dealt with as more serious, than the same evil would be in a subordinate person. Iniquity for instance in a judge has a graver character than dishonesty in an ostler or his master. Corruption or tyranny in a king is deeper guilt than delinquencies here or there in any of his subjects. It is granted that this may not suit the doctrinaires of the present day; but I hold to what God has laid down in scripture. People may give it up; but they will prove ere long that there is nothing like the truth of God. Now the word of God explicitly lays down these principles to which faith will adhere; and, whatever the inventions of man meanwhile, God will surely judge according to His own inflexible revelation, so that men will merely suffer the consequences of their own folly in departing from it. Consonant to this the prophet speaks in the opening of this chapter. "Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?" The sin of the people had been exposed in the first two chapters; the sin of the heads comes forward here, and among them the wickedness of the prophets. "Thus says Jehovah concerning the prophets that make my people err." What can be more delusive and fatal? It is bad enough when a man's will makes him err; how much worse when that which ought to be the strongest check on will and the surest guard of holiness impels him head-foremost into everything that is contrary to God.
Hence these false prophets were the mere instruments of the people, and Micah predicts that night shall be to them instead of their pretended light. "Ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark to you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them." Nothing can be more magnificent than his figures; but, what is better, they are true. "Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God." Those who misguided others shall be left to their own delusions. They preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil; and so Jehovah distinctly lets them know by Micah; for it is the prophet who speaks. "Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of Jehovah, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgressions, and to Israel his sin. Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest."
Micah 4. And what next? Glorious news! God takes all into His own hand. As is commonly felt and said, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity;" so it will manifestly be in the latter day. How blessed to have believed before that day! The last day to man has always the sound of death and judgment: to him no funeral note so tremendous. At others he may find fuel for pride: this is a death-knell to himself, with an indescribable dread of eternity. The present day is always what man finds his joy and his activity in. The last day presents ideas confused no doubt, and not without popular error, but so far justly it is to man ominous of divine judgment; and this he dreads, not without reason. The last day to the believer is a prospect of perfect unending joy, blessedness, light, and glory. It is the day when righteousness and truth will have the upper hand; the day when man will be most truly elevated, because God is exalted; for how can there be real order and due honour if God have not His supremacy? Is it not the basis of rights that God should have His? This is exactly what will be vindicated in the last day; and therefore when God has His just place on earth as in heaven, man will have his true dignity secured; for assuredly God's delight is in the blessing of the creature. This is what love always devises, and if able effects; it delights in the good of the object it loves; and such is the feeling of God in respect of His creatures. Consequently when He is glorified, man will have the fulness of His blessing.
Hence therefore we do wait in hope for these last days, — not the fond and baseless vision of man's vaulting presumptuous ambition, but the day when God, having put down corruption and lawlessness, shall establish His own way in the peaceful reign of the once despised but now and for ever exalted man, the Lord Jesus, Jehovah, Messiah of Israel, and Son of man.
This is what the prophet brings in: "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of Jehovah shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it." Instead of merely flowing down, which is the natural course of rivers, the peoples will flow up around the sanctuary of Jehovah, then indeed a house of prayer for all. The change will be supernatural everywhere. Heaven and earth will bear glad witness of the glory and the power of Jehovah, yet withal displayed in the man Christ Jesus, and in those that are His above and below. No room will be left for the idolizing of nature more than any other idol. That day will proclaim the Lord, making a clean sweep of what man prides himself in, and proving that, although man may have done his best, the time is come for God to show His incontestable superiority.
I am persuaded therefore, whatever may be the progress of the age, that not a single shred which gives room to boast of the first man will remain in the day of Jehovah. Take for instance the electric telegraph and the railways. I see no ground to believe that the Lord will condescend to have either used during the millennial reign. Do you suppose that divine power can or will not outdo any invention, let it be ever so prodigious in man's eyes? If they ask how these things can be, a believer need not be concerned to find an answer save that which revelation furnishes as to the fact itself. It is enough for him that he certainly knows God will put down self-exalting man and in that day exalt Himself. Not a single relic shall be left: God will make a tabula rasa of all the busy works of man on the earth for the last six thousand years, or at least since the flood; and He will show that, wherein man has most pride, God will do better. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life must pass away. Even the grandeur of nature as it is must fall, still more the imposing structures of man, petty in comparison: for what are their high towers and fenced walls in presence of lofty hills and sublime mountains? Strong and stately ships shall be broken and pleasant pictures fade into nothingness. Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2, 3 says much but by no means all of the vast changes "that day" will introduce among things small and great. In fact the Lord will set Himself then to do everything here below in a way and to an extent suitable to His own glory. To my mind, there is no ground apparent for drawing the line of exceptions. Jehovah's exaltation to the exclusion of the first Adam has the widest application — all by which man has sought to set himself up, and gain glory and delight — yes, everything.
There is to be the shaking of the heavens and the earth, with the immense accompaniments and consequences of an act so solemn and unique. The day of Jehovah strikingly combines two things: that God will deal with the immense bounds of creation, the heavens and the earth, at the same time that He will stoop to deal with the pettiest fripperies of men and women. We are apt to connect the judgment of God only with things on a great scale, if indeed men think at all of the judgment of the quick. To counteract an impression so opposed to scripture I draw attention to this. Nothing will escape His eye and hand.
But then there will be moral changes of moment and of the highest interest, as here we read that "Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares." Such, according to the Bible, is the reign of peace then, and not before. All attempts of peace societies meanwhile are at best an amiable illusion, at worst an infidel confidence in man, always ignorance of God's word. They may possibly influence in isolated cases, though it may be doubted whether when kings or statesmen or countries have made up their minds to a policy which enlists general sympathy within their own spheres and with means adequate at their disposal, any such theories or sentiments will avail to hinder. It is certain that wars have their roots in the passions and lust of man: to escape the bad fruit you must first make the tree good. But the day of Jehovah will deal with man in righteousness and power, and peace will result according to His mind and glory.
Besides there will be outward plenty. A thought full of comfort it is that the day is coming when the earth with every creature of God shall yield its increase, not now the poor and stunted growth of hill and dale, but teeming harvests and rich fruits and flowers of sweetest odour and varied beauty in form or hue, which, if they show the hand of God now, as they surely do, nevertheless confess the blighting fall and curse in decay and death. Disappointment and sorrow meet one everywhere: scripture is plain as to both the cause and the effects. But it is equally plain that a Deliverer is coming for "that day," when "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts has spoken it."
What is weightier still morally, there will be a cessation of idolatry, "For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God for ever and ever. In that day, says Jehovah, will I assemble her that halts, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted." This is the Jewish people. "And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation; and Jehovah shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever." Such shall be the final restoration of Israel by divine grace and power. "And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, to thee shall it come, even the first dominion." Not merely the first in the sense of being highest on the earth, but first also, it would seem, as renewing what was known in the days of David and Solomon. The first dominion they possessed then, for every Jew looked back wistfully to those bright days. They will return again, and yet more, under a greater than David or Solomon.
Meanwhile they taste sorrow, for Jehovah will surely deal in discipline with His people. He will not take them up and re-establish them without moral exercises and a deep spiritual process in their souls. This is now described. Also many nations shall be gathered. Not only will there be a question of sin raised in the breast of every Israelite then to be saved, but there will be outward distress under the retributive hand of God, when the nations gather with the thought to defile and destroy Zion. But Jehovah says, "They know not the thoughts of Jehovah, neither understand they his counsel; for he shall gather them as sheaves into the floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people [many nations], and I will consecrate their gain to Jehovah, and their substance to Jehovah of the whole earth. Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he has laid siege against us;" that is, against the Jew. It is the Assyrian who will then come up — the last king of the north. "He has laid siege against us." There is to be a future siege of Jerusalem when the Jews return in unbelief to their land and God is beginning to work in some of their hearts. "He has laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek."
Micah 5. The Jews once despised and insulted, rejected and crucified the Lord of glory, their own Messiah; and this is what brings in the wonderful prophecy that follows: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel." This is the judge of Israel already spoken of. Thus the second verse is unequivocally a parenthetic description of who this judge of Israel is. Though there may seem to be remarkable abruptness in the way it is introduced here, it is scarcely possible to doubt that what has been already explained gives the object and accounts for the manner of the prophet, and is the key to the passage. Why is it that the Lord allows the last siege of Jerusalem? He says it is because of their conduct towards their ruler and judge. Who was the judge? He was born in Bethlehem, but not this only, for "his goings forth have been of old from everlasting." He was a divine person. He in grace became a babe in Bethlehem; but He was Jehovah the true God of Israel. Then follows the conclusion of the sentence begun in the first verse. "Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travails has brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel."
It is Zion "which travails." This is a most important statement to understand. When Christ, the judge of Israel, came the first time, they would not have Him, but contumeliously refused Him. The consequence of His death on the cross was that God raised Him from the dead, and He went up in due season to heaven. Christ ascended to the right hand of God, and there He began a new work, namely, the calling out of a heavenly people to share His portion on high. This is what is going on now. If we have Christ at all, we have Christ for heavenly glory; that is, a Christian has: and this is what we are if we have any living portion in Christ. But then He means to have an earthly people by and by, and consequently in the midst of this final siege of Jerusalem the judge of Israel will re-appear. He has given them up for the time because of their unbelief and rejection of Himself; but He does not give up for ever. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." As sure as He chose that people of old, He will renew His links with them by and by. But they are none the less allowed to suffer the consequences of their own mad and wicked rejection of the Messiah meanwhile; and when He comes back again, it will be in the midst of their bitterest sorrows. Under such circumstances she that travails will bring forth.
The end of her pangs will come through His grace, and the morning without clouds shall succeed the long night. Oh, how deep will be the joy when He whom they had rejected of old is once more restored to them, the Judge of Israel! when, instead of taking Jews out of their Israelitish position to bring them into the church of God begun at Pentecost and going on ever since, the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. They go back to their Jewish hopes. Such is the meaning of the third verse. The remnant of His brethren, instead of being taken out of their old associations and made Christians as now, will resume their place as children of Israel. For the earthly blessing, according to prophecy, there is nothing more important. It is impossible for a man to understand the verse, or expound it properly, who does not see the difference between the heavenly calling now and the earthly calling by and by. This is the reason why the Fathers felt such a difficulty, and went so far astray; for not one of them believed in the restoration of Israel; yet some of them had a measure of light; but they all slipped into the groundless conceit that the Gentile has displaced the Jew permanently, and the church and Israel are to be under the glorious reign of Christ on earth, I may say, jumbled strangely together. That is, it was the most incongruous mixture of heavenly and earthly things that can be imagined.
But the revealed truth is that the heavenly people will be on high, and the earthly people on the earth. All is perfect order in the mind of God as usual; and when the Lord will have finished His heavenly work He will come back as Judge of Israel. He is now Head of the church. On earth He will be the Messiah of the Jews, who will then resume their own earthly standing, instead of being absorbed into the church, as believers from among them are now. Next, we are told that "he shall stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God; and they shall abide." Thus the Jews, instead of being swept out of their land, shall be once more settled in it; "for now shall he be great to the ends of the earth." All their strength depends on His greatness. "And this man shall be the peace." He that is our peace in heaven shall be their peace on earth. "This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land." How plain that the Assyrian is to re-appear for the final dealings of Jehovah at the end of this age, and even at the beginning of the new age! It confirms what we saw in Isaiah. Jehovah will have renewed His connection with Israel when the Assyrian comes up to meet his doom — the head of the combined nations in the great confederacy which is broken just before the millennium.
Then we have this description pursued. "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from Jehovah, as the showers upon the grass, that tarries not for man, nor waits for the sons of men." They shall bring fulness of comfort for the earth; but besides that they are to be as a lion. Now the church may and ought to be like dew, but I do not think — nay am sure — they are never called to be like a lion. Assuredly it would be hard for the most sprightly of popular preachers to elicit any tolerable spiritual significance out of the figure so as to suit the church. The truth is, if we take the word of God as He has given it, all is plain; Israel are once more in question, for they will be charged with a judicial task on earth. "And the remnant of Jacob 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 treads down, and tears in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And it shall come to pass in that day, says Jehovah, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots: And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds." Graven images are to be destroyed, and vengeance taken on the heathen, such as they have not heard.
Then comes the conclusion of the prophecy. The first portion of it (Micah 6) is in part a most solemn pleading of Jehovah. "Hear ye now what Jehovah says; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye, O mountains, Jehovah's controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for Jehovah has a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. O my people, what have I done to thee?" Jehovah appeals to their own feelings of what is right. "O my people, what have I done to thee? Wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me. For I have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Had He ever been but the same God?
And then the answer comes. "O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of Jehovah. Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Very far from this was Israel's walk.
But nobody does so until he is brought in as a converted soul and receives the grace of God in Christ. It is impossible to act justly and to be really humble before God, until we have turned to Him in faith, though we may not yet have seen our sins covered by His grace, nor by any means clearly know that He will not impute iniquity to us. There is a real repentance wrought in the soul first; and Israel will be brought into this. It is faith which produces real repentance and true humility; where faith was not, we find to the end of the chapter the solemn proof of evil manifested in both people and king. Then the prophet takes the place of intercession. "Woe is me!" says he, "for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the first-ripe fruit. The good man is perished." It is a plaint of the prophet which passes at length into a prayer. Then he describes in the most striking manner the fearful rupture of all bonds and the treachery prevalent among the Jews. "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lies in thy bosom. For the son dishonours the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house." It is a solemn thought that these are the words that Jesus applies to the effect of His message of the kingdom. What an awful proof of man's evil that the state of things which will bring God's final judgment of the Jew at the end is that which the Lord prepares the disciples to expect as the effect where this gospel is preached now. Nothing brings out the malice of the heart so much as the pressure of God's grace on men; nor does anything else expose a man to so much contempt or hatred; yet it is returning evil and nothing but evil for the greatest good that God ever gave man on the earth. Thus then the Christian ought to know all through his course on earth, as the godly Jew will know in the last day, what Micah shows us here. We anticipate everything as having Christ. We know the good in God and we know the evil in man even now. The Jew will have to learn it by and by, waiting a special time; the Christian knows it at all times, if faithful to Christ and the truth,
Then the prophet breaks out in noble words, warning the enemy not to rejoice, for Jehovah is going to espouse the cause of His people. Grant that they do not deserve it; but Jehovah is going to do it for His own mercy and word's sake. Accordingly we have "The nations shall see and be confounded at all 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 Jehovah our God, and shall fear because of thee." The prophecy ends with the expression of his soul's delight in the forgiving grace of God to His ancient people. All the good He will do in the latter day is but the accomplishment of what He promised from the first: so blessed are the ways of God from beginning to end. He is the unchanging Jehovah spite of all the changes of His people.