Monday, April 23, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 15, Part 1

    
Chapter XV
    
AND THE REST WERE BLINDED
     
Part 1
    
Pharisaic Judaism
    
     In any discussion of the relation of the Jew to the gospel of Jesus Christ one must recognize the twofold division of this people as found in Romans 11:7; namely, those chosen unto salvation and those left in their sins to perish because of unbelief. Romans 11:7 -- "What then? Israel· hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." These latter ones together with the Gentiles were gathered together against Christ, for to do whatsoever God's hand and His counsel determined before to be done (Acts 4:27, 28). The apostle Paul wrote of the Jews of his day, that they "both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them ·to the uttermost" (1 Thess. 2:15,16). The apostle personally instructed the Thessal­onians that before Christ returned from glory there would be a "great falling away" and the "man of sin be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming"
(2 Thess. 2:3,4,8). Second Thessalonians chapter two foretells a Parousia (coming) of Christ, and a Parousia of the Antichrist, representing two broadly antithetic events, or series of events in the future of the kingdom of God. If the prediction of the Advent of Christ em­braces both earlier and later fulfillment," the same may be found true in the prediction of the Advent of Antichrist. It is undeniable that our Lord's teaching concerning His own Advent was truly -- though by no means finally, as we believe -- fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish Commonwealth in 70 A.D. That this latter was itself a type and prediction of His final Coming at the end of the world's history is held by many of the ablest exegetes. Thus, there is in this remarkable prophecy of 2 Thessal­onians 2 a near view and a far view; something existing in Paul's day which typified something on a far greater scale in the last days. It will not be surprising then, if we find that in announcing the Parousia of the Man of Sin there is vision of a near future as well as one far more distant. Thus the primary interpretation of this chapter refers to a situation existing in the first century which foreshadowed a situation that would exist in the last century immediately preceding the return of our Lord from glory. This view of the chapter (2 Thess. 2) is set forth by William Arnold Stevens in The American Commentary.
    
     "The primal type of the Man of Sin is to be found in the
     Judaism which was then opposing the gospel. If the history
     of the Judaistic crusade against the apostolic church were
     known to us in its de­tails, instead of in its barest outlines,
     we should better understand, no doubt, the peculiar
     significance of this and other expressions in 2 Thess. 2:9,10,
     by which this crusade is charac­terized. In its secrecy, its vast
     'underground' power, it might well be called mysterious,
     perhaps also from the subtly-blended truth and falsehood,
     honest zeal and malignant, satanic hate, that rendered
     Pharisaism in its later developments one of the profoundest
     moral enigmas of history. It is to be observed that at this
     point, where Paul comes to speak more particularly of the
     existing agency of the Lawless One, and of its results, he
     uses the general term 'mystery', and below, in verse 11, a
     'working' (energy) of error. This suggests at once, and the
     impression becomes stronger on reflection, that he is not
     describing any historical personage, and also that his
     pro­phetic vision into the future outlines a vaster figure than
     any single Nimrod or Napoleon of sin."
    
     Dr. Stevens further writes: "Assuming that it is the Jewish enmity to the Gospel, to which the apostle has alluded as the mystery of lawlessness which is already active, it is not difficult to see the historical basis for this part of the description. See the account of Simon Magus in Acts 8:9,10, 'who used sorcery and amazed the people of Samaria, giving out that he himself was some great one'; also Acts 13:6-12, concerning Bar-jesus the 'sorcerer and false prophet', 'full of all guile and all villany' (A.S.V.) As Israel turned away from God and His law, it became the dupe of false prophets and pretended miracle workers. One of the qualifications to a seat in the Sanhedrin, it is stated on the authority of Jewish writers, was to be skilled in magic. A considerable body of modern scholars, among them exegetes with the vast learning of John Lightfoot, and with the sympathetic penetration of Godet, while differing widely on minor points, and in their application of the details of the passage, have, nevertheless, been at one in that general conclusion that the proper counterpart of the Man of Sin is rather to be sought within the sphere of Jewish his­tory."
    
     Lightfoot (Harmony of the New Testament, 1654) says:
     "The s:everal characters that the apostle gives of the Man
     of Sin agree most thoroughly to that gener­ation and nation."
    
     Whitby supports this view, with abundant citation from
     historical sources, in his Paraphrase and Commentary upon
     all the Epistles of the New Testa­ment, London, 1700. "No
     nation under heaven more deserved to be styled the Man of
     Sin than did the Jewish nation, after the spirit of slumber and
     blindness was come upon them."
    
     "To be more definite," Stevens in his commentary says, "the principle denounced by the apostle is that of Phar­isaic Judaism; its historic embodiment we are to find in the Jewish Hierarchy and religious leaders of the century following the crucifixion. The Judaism that rejected Christ; that persecuted the early church; that hounded the apostle Paul to the death; that endeavoured to prevent the salvation of the Gentiles, neither itself entering into the kingdom nor suffering others to enter; that crept into the apostolic church to undermine and destroy it; that called forth Paul's righteous indignation, when he pointed out the 'wrath to the uttermost' impending over its guilty head; and that called forth the still more awful invective of our Lord Jesus near the close of his ministry, -- this was the one conspicuous and deadly enemy 0£ the church, at the time when the· Epistle was written, ·and for many years to come. No other historic embodiment of sin, I am con­vinced, so fully and accurately answers to the terms of the prophetic description." In further confirmation of this view of the apostle Paul's prophecy of 2 Thessalonians 2 I quote excerpts £rom Dr. Dods and Godet respectively.
    
     Dr. Dods (in Popular Commentary on the New Testament edited
     by Dr. Schaff says: "It seems 1dle to speculate in what precise
     form the Man or Sin will appear. It is possible that, as in Paul's
     day, the Jews were the most bitter antagonists of the gospel, so it
     is re­served for them to exhibit wickedness and opposition to the
     truth in the most aggravated form possible to man."
    
     More confidently Godet wrote: "Whence is such a being most
     likely to come? Evidently from the midst of the same people
     among whom the Messiah himself appeared. It therefore seems
     to me probable that the false Messiah will be an outcome of
     degen­erate Judaism, and that the Jewish nation, putting itself at
     the head of the great falling away, or apostasy, of Christian
     humanity toward the close of its existence, will then give birth to
     its false Messiah, the very ideal of man's natural heart, which has
     rejected the true Christ. With a daring impiety, such as can only
     belong to him who has turned his back on a holy destination, a
     Jew wonderfully gifted, will, by raising the standard of atheistic
     pantheism proclaim himself the Incarnation of the Absolute, and
     draw after him the great mass of mankind by prom­ising a golden
     age."
    
     Godet is not without scripture for his conviction, for our Lord taught in John 5:43 -- "1 am come in my father's name, and ye receive me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." Christ was speaking to Jews when He spoke the solemn words of John 5:16-47. We quote an amazing excerpt from the pen of Sir Winston Churchill in the Illustrated Sunday Herald of February 3, 1920:
    
     "It would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel
     of antichrist were destined to originate among the same people;
     and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for
     the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical
     ... From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx,
     and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa
     Luxembourg (Germany) and Emma Goldman (U.S.) , the world-
     wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the
     recon­struction of society on the basis of arrested develop­ment,
     of envious malevolence and impossible equality, has been
     steadily growing. It has been the main­spring of every subversive
     movement during the 19th century; and now, at last, this band of
     extra­ordinary personalities from the underworld of Europe and
     America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their
     heads... There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the
     creation of Bolshevism by these international and, for the most
     part, atheistic Jews."
    
     Talmudic Professor Louis Finkelstein ( the same who aught "Jewish Law' to Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, U.S.A.) wrote in 1he Pharisees, published in Philadelphia, Pa., by the Jewish Publication Society of America, in 1946:
    
     "Pharisaism Became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval
     Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism.
     But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaption of
     custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee
     survives unaltered."
    
     Another Jewish authority declaring that ancient Pharisaism survives unaltered today is the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia under the article Pharisees, 1943:
    
     "The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a
     break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees ... The
     Talmud is the largest and most important single member or
     (their) literature ... and the study of it is essential for any real
     under­standing of Pharisaism.''
    
     Our Lord Jesus Christ warned the people, "Beware ye of the leaven o:f the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). Against no other group did He ever utter such scathing denunciations, telling the Pharisees that they are worshippers of the Devil, and are liars and murderers.
    
     "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father
     ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode
     not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he
     speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the
     father of it" ( John 8: 44) .
    
     The most devasting damnation of the Pharisees ever recorded is found in Matthew 23, where Christ reached a thunderous climax in verse 33: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" Yet despite their enmity and hatred, Christ cried: "0 Jerusalem , Jerusalem, thou that stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37). Upon His resurrection from the dead , Christ commanded that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47), What marvelous grace! Like the apostle Paul our heart's desire for Israel must be that they might be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. Therefore, let us evangelize the Jews, preach the gospel unto them, and earnestly pray for their salva­tion, for without Christ they are perishing even as others, and as Dr. Dods suggests it may be reserved for them as blinded by the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4) to exhibit wickedness and opposition to the truth in the most aggravated form possible to man.

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