Palestine Re-Peopled; or Scattered Israel's Gathering. By the Rev. J. Neil, B.A., formerly Incumbent of Christ Church, Jerusalem. Third [now Fifth] Edition, revised.

1877 303 This little book, which is running rapidly through several editions, consists of four chapters, with more than twice as many appendices, a general Index, and one of Texts. The chapters are entitled, I., "The Gathering of the Flock;" II., "The Way Prepared;" III. "The Shepherd's Purpose in the Gathering;" and IV. "The Fold Complete." The appendices are, A., "Signs of 'the Time of the End;'" B., "Farming in Palestine;" C., "The Scenery of Palestine;" D., "The Seven-hilled City;" E., "War against the Witnesses;" F., "The Greek 'Little Horn;'" G., "A Papal Railway in Palestine;" H., "The State of Europe;" and I, "The Russian 'Scourge.'"

Our readers may gather, even from this brief sketch of its 200 pages, that there is some interesting information, a little truth not generally known, with which they themselves are familiar, but also too much speculation that has involved the author in mistakes, which, if seen to be such, may be rectified in future.

Thus, in the very first chapter, Mr. N. assumes that Revelation vii. 9–17 answers Luke xiii. 23, and that Revelation xi., xii. answers Acts i. 6. More light would show him that the first is certainly an error, and the second far from certainly a truth. As to the first, be ought to know that in the twenty-four elders is seen the symbol of the heavenly redeemed (comprising both Old Testament saints, and the church, distinctively so called), while Revelation vii. shows us two contrasted companies preserved by grace from the destructive deceits and judgments of the Apocalyptic crisis — one out of Israel, the other out of the Gentiles, the latter countless, but expressly coming out of the great tribulation (ver. 14, ek tes thl. tes m. Aleph, B P and every known cursive, etc., A alone reading apo thl m.). No doubt, then, these many Gentiles* will be saved, but they are a special class, limited carefully in time and circumstances, and contra-distinguished from the sealed of Israel specified just before them. The popular notion, therefore, that they are all the saved is an error. So, again, as to the second, it is impossible to allow on any scheme that the 1260 days of Revelation xi. can be viewed as an intended answer to the disciples' question before our Lord ascended. They were not ignorant that the substantially same period had been revealed in Daniel vii., xii. Some of them had heard quite recently the Lord's great prophecy drawing attention to that special season of affliction, and all of them had their understandings opened to understand the scriptures. Yet this did not hinder their asking, Lord, is it at this time that Thou restorest the kingdom to Israel? What is in Daniel is still more fully elucidated in the Revelation; but one may fairly rest satisfied that the true answer still is, It is not yours to know times and seasons which the Father placed in His own authority.

[*The careful reader will learn hence that a symbolic book is not all symbol, and admits of literal language; as here Israel and the Gentiles must be so taken, as they are in definite contradistinction, which is clear if literal, nonsense if taken figuratively.]

Nevertheless it is of interest to learn from the author's testimony that the Hebrew population is now probably double what it was some ten years ago, their true numbers over the land far exceeding what appears; that they are fast increasing, even in Galilee, besides in Syria; that they are recently acquiring land in Palestine, and that they are no longer confined to their old and worst quarter of Jerusalem, but building and dwelling all over it. Hence land in the neighbourhood of several towns is enormously increasing in value. And as the doomed Turk has been relaxing since 1867 so as to allow conditions of tenure much more favourable to the Jew, on the other hand the Russian, in view of his aggressive policy, presses with increasing severity his Jewish population for military service. Mr. N. adds to these providential steps a vast body of what may be called civilizing influences, chiefly from the West, which conduce to the same end of facilitating the return of the Jews, while still unbelieving, to their own land. He rightly holds that a terrible, but final, judgment is to be inflicted in the land, but that they are to be converted as a nation, and completely and gloriously restored to the land of promise. But while thus vindicating the word of prophecy, he is in error when he supposes that St. Peter means prophecy to be a confirmation stronger oven than the vision of the transfiguration. The apostle really means that that word is more firm, or confirmed by the vision, which was a bright, but a partial, display of the kingdom whereof prophecy is full.

He correctly states that the last week of Daniel's seventy remains to be fulfilled with Israel, or rather the Jews, in the land, when they return by political influence, before their divine deliverance. Only there is no need for confounding "the prince that shall come" with the Roman empire, or "beast," although he will be, no doubt, its last head. Mr. N. is more seriously wrong when he says that this same power will be "Antichrist," who is really "the king" (Dan. xi. 36–89; 2 Thess. ii. 4), in the land, the object of attack to "the king of the north" (Dan. xi. 40–45), as of defence to the beast, or revived Roman empire. It is not doubted that "the woman" of Revelation xvii. is Rome, but therefore not "the beast" which, with the ten horns, will destroy her. It is mere prejudice surely which can identify "the woman" and "the beast," for the plain reason that, however closely associated once, not the horns only but "the beast," according to the true critical reading of verse 16, must in the end be her destruction. Romanism is heterodox, unholy, and idolatrous, but can scarcely be said with truth to deny the Father and the Son, or Jesus Christ come in the flesh, as daringly as the Gnostics, Unitarians, or others. No! the future Antichrist will outstrip the many anti-christs, and will have his seat in the temple of Jerusalem. It will be "the second beast" or false prophet there, in league (Rev. xiii., xix.), but not identical, with "the beast" of Rome, the revived Western empire.

Failure in seeing this involves our author in no small confusion. and wrong expectation in pages 51–90. Thus who, without a system unconsciously blinding him, could take Revelation xii. 3–17 as a just picture of undivided imperialism? Seven heads and ten horns scarcely convey that. Still less could one allow that Revelation xiii. 1, 2 depicts the same empire emerging from the Gothic waves. And to intercalate Daniel vii. 7–27 as the Papacy is hard of digestion, save for the most intrepid of controversialists, gifted with an uncurbed fancy, and without subjection to scripture. Equally strange is the resumption of Revelation xiii. 3–8, as if it could be thus dislocated from its early verses 1 and 2, and apply to a new and thoroughly democratic form, in which the commonwealths of Europe will be again ten, and will be remarkably united, probably under two emperors or presidents of the East and West. On the contrary, the chapter shows us the revived empire of the West only, with its wounded imperial head healed, and its horns crowned, not democratic, the power of all directed by one, to the astonishment of all the world, and this for forty-two months, evidently the same term of 1260 days, and as evidently the future crisis, whatever may be the analogy during the protracted history of the past.

But our author further imagines that the "second beast" of the same chapter means a future ecclesiastical power, that will include the Papacy and the Greek church, under its two horns, oddly dating it from the Council of Florence in 1436-9, and conceiving that they will make an "image of the beast," that is, summon an Ecumenical Council! to be held at Jerusalem, and last for three and a half days or years, during which evangelicalism will die, and the last and worst persecution proceed, after which will be a revival, but also the fall of England (="the tenth part of the city"), and the second woe, or Turkey, cease. No argument is needed for the readers of our pages to disprove a scheme so purely imaginative, and entirely apart from the true scope of these scriptures. It is certain that Babylon is destroyed under the seventh vial, and that the beast (or emperor of the West), and the false prophet (or Antichrist of Judea), are cast together into the lake of fire, after which a similar doom befalls the Assyrian, or king of the North. (Isa. xxx. 27–33; Dan. viii. 25; xi. 45.) The little horn of Daniel viii. is distinct from that of chapter vii., but it is a king to arise where the Turk now rules, not the Greek church, but a king of the North, supported by Russia. It is not true that the little horn of Daniel vii. will be destroyed by man, any more than he of Daniel viii. It is to confound the Roman emperor with the great whore, Babylon; nor will the Roman beast be destroyed before, but by Christ's appearing (Rev. xix.), though no doubt the king of the North will be dealt with subsequently.

Another thing we may notice in the author is, the idea that the fearful tribulation of the last days is to fall on the church (pages 86, 87); whereas Revelation iv. is plain that the heavenly saints now on earth will have been translated ere the last crisis begins, and that in this will be involved godly Jews and blessed Gentiles, but no longer the members of that body which differs essentially from both. (1 Cor. x. 32.) Hence, throughout the Apocalyptic visions, we nevermore hear of churches, but of Jews or Gentiles only. Compare also Jeremiah xxx. 7 (Jacob's trouble); Daniel xii. 1 (Daniel's people), with Matthew xxiv. 21, and Mark xiii. 19 (Jerusalem, its temple, sabbath, etc.); as, on the other hand, Revelation vii. 9–17 (Gentiles expressly, not the church, but an object of explanation by one of the elders who represent those translated to heaven before the great tribulation). There will be "elect" on earth after the Lord takes us to heaven, and Luke xxi. 36 refers to those on earth, not caught up. The tribulation of those days is a judicial infliction, and the Lord expressly instructs His own then on earth to escape. It is a mistake about the martyr's crown, though those who may be slain in that day will not be denied it. But the trouble then is quite distinct from that which is truly an honour now, which the true-hearted are the last to wish to escape. The truth is, that some talk, others suffer now. But the tribulation at the end will be penal.