Scripture Notes.


Isaiah 27:8.

Generally speaking, this scripture has been understood to teach the tenderness of God in moderating the trials of His people. Taking the "east wind" as a figure of discipline or tribulation, God is represented as "staying" or "holding back His rough wind," in order that, as we read in another scripture, His people might not be tempted beyond endurance. That this expresses a blessed characteristic of God's dealings might be abundantly shown; but it is exceedingly doubtful if it be found in this scripture when rightly translated. Premising, as admitted by all who have carefully examined it, that the passage is not easy to render literally, the following translation may be given as the most approved: "In measure, when Thou sendest her away, Thou dost contend with her. He hath removed her with His rough blast in the day of the east wind." (See the Revised Version, and compare J. N. D.'s French Translation.) Attention to the context will help us to understand the language employed. In v. 6 the declaration is made, that "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." The contemplation of this glorious consummation of God's dealings with Israel leads to a review of the past; and, contrasting the judgments that had fallen upon Israel with those that had fallen upon his enemies, the prophet exclaims, "Hath He smitten him, as He smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him?" The next verse (8) contains the answer to these questions: "In measure, when Thou sendest her away" (the change from "him" to "her" is a reference to v. 2), "Thou dost debate with her." Jehovah undoubtedly had a controversy with His people, and had caused His rod to fall again and again upon them, but it was still "in measure," not for their destruction, but for their restoration for the accomplishment of His counsels of old, which were faithfulness and truth. And then the prophet adds, "He hath removed her with His rough blast in the day of His east wind." Wind is a symbol of judgment (see Rev. 7:1, etc.), in the form of disturbing influences, permitted of God to arise in a providential manner, for the accomplishment of His purposes in the government of this world. We are thus referred, by these words, to the way in which Jehovah dealt with Israel for her sins through the surrounding nations. Through Assyria and Babylon especially He smote His beloved but guilty people, and removed them from the land of their inheritance which He Himself had bestowed upon them. But if He had done this, it was, as we gather from the next verse, that the iniquity of Jacob might be purged. If, therefore, we cannot sustain the usual interpretation of this Scripture, we yet learn the precious lesson from it, that the fruit of all God's ways with His people, whether in discipline or in judgment, is pure and unmingled blessing.


Isaiah 26:19.

Difficult as this passage may be to translate, the sense is tolerably clear. The insertion of the words "together with" in the second clause has only increased the confusion. The term "body" moreover (in the phrase "my dead body"), it is generally agreed, should be rendered "bodies." Taking account of these alterations, the passage will read, "Thy dead men shall live, my dead bodies - they shall arise." The change of pronoun from "thy" in the first clause to "my" in the second is very beautiful. From verse 8 to the end of verse 18 the prophet has been pouring out his soul to the Lord. In verse 19 Jehovah responds, and assures him of the certainty of the future blessing of His people. He says, "Thy dead men shall live," and then, claiming these dead as His own, He adds, "MY dead bodies - they shall arise." A further question arises as to whether the resurrection predicted is literal or figurative. As far as the language is concerned it might be taken as literal; but when other passages, speaking of the same event, are considered, passages which use the same illustration, and in which it is manifest that the resurrection spoken of is symbolical, the conclusion is forced upon us that here also it is figurative. For example, in the vision of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) it is expressly said, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts"; and then in the next verse the promise is made, "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." (vv. 11, 12.) Such language cannot leave a doubt as to its symbolical import. Of the same character is the statement in Daniel 12:2; and likewise the words of the apostle in Romans 11:15. With these instances before us we cannot but believe that the scripture in Isaiah also speaks of the moral resurrection of Israel in connection with their future restoration and blessing.


1 Timothy 4:14.

With regard to the laying on of hands, it would seem to have been of several distinct kinds. In the first place, the Holy Ghost was given, on several occasions, in connection with the apostles laying their hands on believers. (See Acts 8:17, 19:6.) Secondly, persons were in this way designated, or rather set apart, for some special office. In Acts 6, for example, the seven who were selected to "serve tables" were "set before the apostles," who, when they had prayed, laid their hands upon them (v. 6); and Paul directs Timothy not to "lay hands suddenly" on any one; that is, as we understand it, Timothy was not to appoint any one to be an elder or a deacon without first satisfying himself as to the possession of the requisite qualifications. Next we find that gift was bestowed on Timothy through the laying on of the apostle's hands. (2 Tim. 1:6.) In all these cases it will be noticed that the laying on of hands is either by the apostles or by Timothy, who was an apostolic delegate, and who therefore acted under Paul's direction and authority. In none of these instances consequently could it be now practised, unless "apostolic succession" were claimed; for which there is not even the shadow of a proof in the Scriptures, but which rather is easily disproved by them. The contention for it indeed rests upon ecclesiastical pretensions and presumption, and not upon the word of God. There are, however, two other kinds of laying on of hands to be noticed. When the Holy Ghost had said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them," those who were gathered together with them "fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them," and sent them away. (Acts 13:2-3.) This could in no sense be said to be an appointment to an office; for it was not an office they were called upon to fill, but rather service on which they were sent. The Holy Spirit had designated His servants for their mission. The laying on of hands here was rather of the nature of identification, expressive of entire fellowship, with Barnabas and Saul in their work. This significance of laying on of hands is seen in the Old Testament in connection with the sacrifices. By putting their hands upon the head of the ram of consecration, Aaron and his sons were identified before God with all its sweet savour when it was burnt upon the altar. (Exodus 29:15-19, etc.) An instance of the same meaning may be found in 1 Timothy. As we have already seen, gift was bestowed on Timothy through the laying on of Paul's hands. In the first epistle, referring to this, Paul alludes to the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (Chap. 4:14.) But the very words he uses show its character. Here it is not through, as in the second epistle, where he speaks of the laying on of his own hands, but with, teaching plainly that they were but associated with him in the act, and that thus they were identified with what was being done, as well as with Timothy in the service to which he was being called. Such laying on of hands is simply an act of fellowship. The only other kind to be mentioned is in connection with healing the sick. The Lord Himself laid His hands on the sick (Luke 4:40), and He commissioned His disciples, after His resurrection, to do the same thing. (Mark 16:18.) But while "gifts of healing" were found in the assembly at Corinth, there is no sign of the commission entrusted to the disciples being extended beyond themselves. Enough has been written to aid in the investigation of the question; and the reader, by referring to all the cases mentioned, with their context, will be enabled to apprehend the truth involved, and to estimate at their proper value presumptuous ecclesiastical claims.