The Sure Word of Prophecy
Compiled and Edited by
JOHN W. BRADBURY, D.D.
Editor, The Watchman-Examiner, National Baptist Weekly
NEW YORK CONGRESS ON PROPHECY AN AFFIRMATION 7
I. THE SOVEREIGN CLAIMS OF GOD IN RELATION TO DIVINE PROPHECY W. H. Rogers, D.D. 10
II. HOW SHALL WE INTERPRET THE BIBLE? Charles H. Stevens, D.D. 21
III. WHAT IT HAS COST THE CHURCH TO NEGLECT THE BIBLES PROPHETIC MESSAGE William Ward Ayer, D.D. 30
IV. CHRIST ABOVE ALL IN PROPHECY I.L. Yearby, D.D. 39
V. HAVE THE GENTILES FAILED? John W. Bradbury, D.D. 46
VI. WHAT WILL GOD DO WITH THE COSMOS? Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D., Litt.D. 59
VII. WHAT ARE THE JEWS SEEKING? Rev. H. B. Centz 64
VIII. PROPHECIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT B. B. Sutcliffe, D.D. 73
IX. THE UNFINISHED PROGRAM OF THE SON OF MAN C. Gordon Brownville, D.D. 80
X. GOD’S NEW TESTAMENT ECCLESIA John W. Bradbury, D.D. 90
XI. A SHOUT, A VOICE AND A TRUMP W. H. Rogers, D.D. 102
XII. WHY THE CHURCH WILL NOT GO THROUGH THE GREAT TRIBULATION Harry A. Ironside, Litt.D., D.D. 110
XIII. THE CHURCH ON FOUR FRONTS Albert G. Johnson, D.D. 122
XIV. IS THE CHURCH EVER CALLED ISRAEL? Howard W. Ferrin, D.D. 130
XV. THE SEVENTY WEEKS OF DANIEL NINE Harry A. Ironside, Litt.D., D.D. 143
XVI. IS THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON IN JOHN’S VISION ON THE ISLE OF PATMOS THE SAME AS THE BATTLE OF EZEKIEL 38 AND 39? Louis S. Bauman, D.D. 151
XVII. PROPHECY AND THE DETERIORATION OF NATIONS John F. Walvoord, Th.D. 166
XVIII. GOD’S PURPOSE IN THE GENTILES Rev. Henry E. Burke 177
XIX. PROPHECY CONCERNING EVIL AND ITS END Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D., Litt.D. 185
XX. IS GOD THROUGH WITH THE JEWS? Joseph Hoffman Cohn, D.D. 189
XXI. THE JEW IN HISTORY AND DESTINY J. Palmer Muntz, D.D. 200
XXII. WHAT ISRAEL MEANS TO GOD Charles Lee Feinberg, Th.D. 210
XXIII. THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS Rev. W. M. Robertson, D.D. 218
XXIV. THE JEW AFTER THE RAPTURE W. E. Pietsch, D.D. 224
XXV. TWO PHASES OF CHRIST’S RETURN, THE PAROUSIA AND THE EPIPHANY Rev. Albert Lindsey 228
XXVI. THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM A MEDIATORIAL KINGDOM Harris H. Gregg, D.D. 232
XXVII. THE LORD’S SUPPER IN THE LIGHT OF THE PASSOVER By A. B. Machlin, D.D. 237
XXVIII. THE RETURN OF OUR LORD AN INCENTIVE TO SOUL-WINNING Rev. Dean S. Bedford 243
XXIX. CHRIST, THE LORD OF HISTORY R. L. Powell, D.D. 250
XXX. EFFECT OF THE DOCTRINE OF OUR LORD’S RETURN Rev. Adam B. Hunter 256
XXXI. CHRIST THE ETERNAL KING Albert G. Johnson, D.D. 259
XXXII. WATCHING FOR THE MORNING Rev. Donald James MacKay 269
By John W. Bradbury
Christian eschatology and prophecy are interwoven in the teachings of the Bible to such an extent that the knowledge of the first is limited to the extent that we comprehend the second. Every doctrine of the Christian faith has its conclusion or culmination in that future which is the burden of Biblical prophecy. An ignorance of this prophecy, or any perversion of it, seriously affects one’s concept of the pure faith. It is for this reason, therefore, that a clear Biblical expression concerning prophecy is necessary. Especially is it needed because confusion is increasing among Christians with regard to trustworthy teaching of prophecy, leading, as is usual in such cases, to lessened certainty in testimony and to decreased evangelistic zeal in winning the lost to Christ.
With a view to rendering service to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, a group of believers, assisted or counselled by many well-known and trusted Bible teachers, decided to call a conference on the Christian faith in its relation to prophecy. Because of its wide capacity organizationally, its peculiar fitness to promote such a conference, and its ability to distribute benefits derived therefrom, the sponsorship rested with the American Board of Missions to the Jews. Under the direction of its energetic and capable secretary, Dr. Joseph Hoffman Cohn, the program for a Congress on Prophecy was carefully arranged and it was carried out in the Calvary Baptist Church, New York City, November 1-8, 1942.
The Congress was so successful that all the high expectations held regarding its possibilities were surpassed. For eight glorious days great audiences assembled from ten o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night, with interim periods only for meals. While much of the attendance was drawn from the Metropolitan Area, a great number came from all parts of the United States and Canada. The attenders truly represented a broad cross-section of the Christian Church. Interest never flagged. The presence of the Spirit of God was truly manifested. Hearts glowed with appreciation as the speakers expounded the Scriptures. Truly the Word of God was glorified. Throughout the meetings there was ever deepening devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ as He was set forth as the “blessed hope” not only of the Church but also of our troubled, brokenhearted, sinning, disillusioned world.
It has fallen to me to put into permanent form the report of the addresses delivered at the Congress. This has been no easy task. It has had to be done in such time and manner as an already exceedingly busy life allows. Considerably more than 150,000 words were in the written messages submitted. To bring the book within reasonable limits it was necessary to reduce it to approximately 100,000 words. As far as possible, the condensation was achieved by the elimination of repetitive or irrelevant material, although the result, under the circumstances, cannot be as successful as desired. On the whole, however, this collection of addresses on prophetic truth is a remarkable one and, as editor, apart from my own modest contributions, I am filled with admiration and deep, sincere affection for those who prepared and delivered them. It was good to hear them. May God grant it shall be found just as good to read them. May this testimony do much to clarify the understanding of God’s people regarding Biblical prophecy, thus producing greater unity and harmony among us concerning things to come.
I am sure those who attended the Congress on Prophecy would have me express their appreciation to the American Board of Missions to the Jews for the gracious, talented initiative and leadership of its General Secretary, Dr. Joseph Hoffman Cohn and his efficient staff of helpers. Likewise we owe a debt of gratitude to the Calvary Baptist Church of New York and to its pastor, Dr. William Ward Ayer, for the generous hospitality accorded the Congress.
In this second edition, two chapters of the first edition containing addresses by Dr. L. Sale Harrison, have not been reissued because of copyright difficulties with Dr. Harrison’s London publishers. In their places we have inserted an admirable address delivered at the Congress by Rev. H. B. Centz, of the American Board of Missions to the Jews. The other pages released are employed to furnish topical and textual indexes.
Now this undertaking is history. The great company that assembled in those glorious eight days is scattered, but the truth abides. Our fellowship is unbroken. To this fellowship and to all who love and look for our Lord’s appearing, I send greetings. Maranatha!
Alarming catastrophe has overtaken the world. Nations are in confusion. The age-old hatred against the Jews has again been revived, and has shocked civilization with its revolting manifestations overseas; even in our own land of historic freedom and tolerance it has been given encouragement to the extent that some elements of the Christian Church have been disturbed thereby. Within the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ there has seemed an indifference to God’s prophetic Word for these days; and in places where such prophetic Word is being presented to the people, it is too often used ignorantly, or for exploitation.
It has seemed good, therefore, and indeed imperative, in this critical world situation, that a gathering of trusted Bible teachers, pastors and other Christian workers should be called together to consider these matters. Accordingly, in the Lord’s providence, the American Board of Missions to the Jews undertook to assemble a national Congress on Prophecy, which met in Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, from November 1st to 8th, 1942.
As a result of these days of heart searching and the earnest seeking of God’s mind, we are led now humbly to affirm and declare to the Church of God, and to all the saints before whom these writings will come, the following solemn convictions:
- As to the Church: We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, verbally inspired, infallible and inerrant in the original writings; that God’s final and complete revelation of Himself is in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who by His substitutionary death on Calvary, purchased our redemption, as attested by His bodily resurrection; that the Church is the elect body of all regenerated believers, and is the herald of divine truth. We reaffirm our belief that the true hope of the Church is to meet the Lord in the air at His coming for the saints, and that this coming is imminent, and will occur before the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks; that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Israel’s Messiah) with His saints, to establish His kingdom on the earth, will occur immediately after the fulfillment of the events included in the above-mentioned 70th week. We believe that this 70th week is identical with the seven years known as The Tribulation. Concerning antichrist, we believe that he will not be revealed until after the rapture of the Church.
- As to the World: We believe that the kingdom reign of Christ on earth will be a period of a thousand years of righteous government, during which period Jerusalem will be the governmental center of the earth. After the rapture of the Church there will arise, within the 70th week of Daniel, the ten-kingdom confederation of Gentile powers, that this confederacy will gain control of Palestine in a combined political and ecclesiastical domination; and that this confederacy will then be destroyed by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish the kingdom reign. We believe that the invasion of Palestine by Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38 and 39) which is commonly designated as the great Northern Confederacy, will take place before the millennium; and that the Gog and Magog battle of Revelation 20 is distinctly an event following the millennial age. The Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 and 39, being names of territories and peoples, are limited by geographical boundaries; while the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 are descriptive names which designate the world-wide extent of Satan’s final rebellion against God, and warfare against His chosen people.
- As to Israel: We believe, as stated by the sainted Bishop Ryle, “that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ.” We believe that God has used Israel as His channel of revelation, and that He purposes that in the age to come redeemed Israel shall be His agency through whom will flow plenary blessings of the Messiah’s reign to the nations of the world. We believe that even though Israel nationally rejected the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah, she is still bound to God nationally by covenant ties, but that individually, any Jew has the same right and privilege now, as does any Gentile, to salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Church has a supreme obligation to press upon the hearts of individual Jews the message of the gospel. We regard the need for such ministry as imperative because of Israel’s special suffering.
- As to anti-Semitism: We believe that anti-Semitism in its present vicious world-wide manifestation, is incompatible with both the letter and the spirit of the gospel, and is to be shunned and guarded against by all who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ; that to do kindness and to show mercy to the seed of Abraham is a direct Christian obligation.
NOW, THEREFORE, we, in solemn gathering assembled, express our united adoration for the Saviour Whose testimony is the spirit of prophecy. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” We also exhort our fellow believers in Christ to holy living and consecrated Christian service, holding both to be obligatory to the faith we here affirm, and believing that the teaching of prophetic truth is valueless unless it produces in the lives of the Lord’s people new and increasing devotion to Him and to His cause.
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
William Ward Ayer, Charles G. Bauer, Louis S. Bauman, R. S. Beal, Frank Ernest Beatty, Dean S. Bedford, John W. Bradbury, Keith L. Brooks, Arthur I. Brown, C. Gordon Brownville, Henry E. Burke, Herman B. Centz, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Joseph Hoffman Cohn, Charles M. Cramer, V. Raymond Edman, Charles Lee Feinberg, Howard H. Ferrin, David Otis Fuller, Harris H. Gregg, Harry J. Hager, Joseph W. Hakes, Adam B. Hunter, Harry A. Ironside, Paul S. James, Millard A. Jenkens, Harry E. Jessop, Albert G. Johnson, William Jones, Albert J. Lindsey, Herbert J. Lockyer, A. B. Machlin, Donald J MacKay, Clarence E. Mason, J. Palmer Muntz, W. E. Pietsch, R. L. Powell, W. M. Robertson, W. H. Rogers, L. Sale-Harrison, Coulson Shepherd, John Bunyan Smith, H. Framer Smith, Charles H. Stevens, B. B. Sutcliffe, Louis T. Talbot, W. Theodore Taylor, Frank H. Throop, John F. Walvoord, I. L. Yearby.
NOTE: On behalf of the signers, the above Manifesto was read by Dr. John W. Bradbury to the massed Congress at the Thursday evening meeting, with unanimous assent thereto.
Author and Bible Teacher, New York, N. Y.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:
I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory. (Isa. 46: 9-13)
No statement like this has ever appeared in the books of mortal man. It is burdened with super natural claims, and therefore, in the very nature of the case, could only be found in the infallible Book of God, in which God declares Himself to be the self-existent, uncaused, uncreated and incomparable One, standing alone in the solitary grandeur of His eternal being. Through it He reveals Himself in the wisdom of His omniscience, in the strength of His omnipotence and in the imminence of His omnipresence.
He announces “He knoweth the end from the beginning” and has declared it as His counsel and purpose, the records of which are given in the pages of sacred Scripture. That is to say, He voices in the prophetic Word history beforehand. He predetermines history to run in the mould of prophecy. Hence the prophets of God, by the help of inspiration, have anticipated all world events of momentous importance and spiritual relationships. They have convincingly demonstrated to every thoughtful person that they wrote under the supervising mind of the Holy Spirit and the directing will of God.
They have given indisputable corroboration to the words of the troubled King Nebuchadnezzar to the prophet Daniel, who interpreted the King’s dream, which swept across the whole course of Gentile world rule to its end:
Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldst reveal this secret. (Dan. 2: 47)
They have justified the challenge raised in Isaiah 41: 21-23:
Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.
Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
No one has ever successfully met the divine challenge. When anyone has attempted to assume the role of a prophet to foretell events, time has betrayed his folly and given evidence of his delusions or deceptive practices.
The prerogatives of divine prophecy belong to the omniscient God, and to Him alone, who moved holy men of old to speak and write by the divine Spirit and to give us the Old and the New Testaments.
Scripture to be Believed and Trusted
For that reason the Scriptures breathe the Spirit of eternal truths and everlasting things. For that reason all the Biblical writers recognize Jehovah reigning on the throne of His universe, overruling everything according to His unerring will.
They proclaim the sovereignty of God, whose counsels stand and who will bring to pass what He has purposed. They affirm the denunciation of transgression, which they say will bring its nemesis of suffering and shame upon men and nations, and they declare the ultimate triumph of God through the promised Redeemer, Saviour, Messiah and King.
The march of events has proven beyond question the prophetic declarations of the Scriptures to be positively and unalterably true, so that the Bible is not only up to date, but far ahead of dates, and it has enabled man to know things long before they came to pass. There is not a movement of world importance which has happened or is happening or will happen, but what God has made it known beforehand through His prophets and apostles and through His only begotten Son.
They predicted our scientific knowledge, our systems of rapid transportation and modern luxuries, and warned us against the dangers involved. They prophesied the present world-wide antagonisms and hatred against God, His Son, His Church, His people Israel and the kings of the earth. They proclaimed a spiritual declension and an increasing apostasy within the organized church as the days wore on to the end of Gentile rule. They foretold the decline of democracy, the rise of dictatorships, and the people becoming pawns of the State. They told of wars and rumors of wars; of distress of nations, apprehensions and fears lurking in the souls of men.
All this convincingly validates the claims of the Bible to inspiration, and justifies this Congress of Prophecy. We do have a “more sure word of prophecy” (made more sure because so much of it has been fulfilled), and we –
… do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (II Pet. 1: 19)
The world is not like a helpless iceberg drifting as the changing currents and contrary winds determine. It is more like a majestic ship with chart, compass and rudder, with the great Captain on the bridge, and taking its determined course by His providence, whatever winds may blow or currents flow. “He worketh all things after the counsel of His will, and maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.”
Man rules for a time independently of God; hence his rule is characterized by wars and rumors of wars, tumult and commotion, confusion and chaos. But God overrules by His sovereign might and will bring order out of chaos and establish His kingdom of peace and righteousness in the earth, when – “…every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2: 11)
The hand of God is in history, determining the ultimate outcome, and for that reason prophecy is history pre-written. Man has the privilege of choice, and works out his own destiny, but God does not permit him to overthrow His sovereign decrees and eternal purposes.
Claims to Creation
The text affirms God’s exclusive claims in regard to creation:
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
This is God’s appeal to history. Look back, says God, across the pathway of life; look back and remember; look back and behold how everything of importance has been marked by the wisdom, power and providence of God. Remember His work in creation, when He constructed the universe out of nothing.
He spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
That is the brief but divine story of creation, and it is perfect in its entirety. God created it not a waste nor in vain. A perfect God could not create an imperfect thing. His works were as perfect as Himself, and they became imperfect only when handled by the devil or man.
The second verse in Genesis would never have been written but for the fall of Satan from pride into condemnation. The “Eden of God” became a wrecked and ruined world through the rebellion of Lucifer, son of the morning, and the angels that fell with him.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God brooded over the chaos. (Gen. 1: 2)
That was not the end of the story, for the eternal God said: “Let there be light,” and of course there was light. “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the heavens,” let there be this, and that; and it was so, according to His sovereign omnipotence, until the wrecked earth was made the Garden of Eden. Then God created man in His own image, and after His own likeness, and gave him rule and authority over every living thing. God commanded him to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. He bade him till the soil and delve into the mysteries of Mother Earth and find God’s manifold provisions for him, made long before his needs occurred.
Man can extract the gold from the earth, and form it into beautiful designs, but only God can provide the gold. Man can dig for precious stones and gems, and set them in rings and pins of beauty, but only God can provide the stones. Man can make or reproduce, but God alone holds the claim to creation.
The evolutionists have attempted to banish God from the universe of His creation. The rationalists have tried to relegate Him into the background of their lives. The materialists have undertaken to make God the prisoner of His own laws, but the voice of God is still heard reverberating through the world, saying: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else.”
There is one God and only one, and He refuses to be crowded out of history by the raging hate of man.
After he had put the broken world together again and man came forth fresh from His hand, as a creation and not an evolution, in the form of His image and not in the form of an amoeba, His creative work was done and He rested on the seventh day and hallowed it. We are familiar with the sad and sordid story of man’s fall into sin and shame. Immediately God’s rest was broken and He began to work receptively in behalf of the fallen race, and has worked hitherto. The whole history of the human race has been marked by the redeeming energies of the triune God; and He is now actively engaged in the work of the new creation. “Remember me as the Creator and Reconstructor, and as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob;” by which He means to signify that He is the God of different individuals and the God of differing individuals, and the God of successive generations. Every dispensation in the life of man has been characterized by the out-putting of the compassion of God, and every dispensation has been featured by the failure of man. Each age has affirmed and reaffirmed the marvelous claims of God as voiced in the premise of our theme.
Claims to Omniscience
The text also affirms God’s exclusive claims to omniscience.
I am God …declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.
He not only knows them, but He declares them, and the record of the declarations is given to us in His prophetic Word. That is why we have met in this Congress of Prophecy. We are not here to foretell. We have not the wit, wisdom, ability or inclination to do that. We are here to forthtell that which God has foretold in relation to the Church, Israel and the nations of the earth.
Divine prophecy is the fruit of His omniscience, which is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures and is chiefly seen in God’s ability to foretell events centuries and millenniums before they happen. Many of the prophecies have been fulfilled with literal exactness and remarkable accuracy, so as to silence the shout of the scoffer and the sneer of the sceptic.
The predictions pertaining to Moab, Edom, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, Nineveh and Sodom and Gomorrah have been so minutely fulfilled as to drive the critics into the corners of embarrassment. The prophecies concerning Christ, which were given in such marvelous detail, have been so accurately fulfilled, as far as His first advent is concerned, as to provide us with a record unequalled and unparalleled in the literature of the world.
Read the prophecies referring to Israel and then take an authentic history of that people and you will have an indisputable confirmation of the claims of God to omniscience.
Consider the predictions of the end time of Gentile nations, and compare them with national and international conditions today, and you will be overawed with a sense of God’s omniscience, and impressed with the fact of His hand in the affairs of mankind, and have no fears as to the ultimate outcome.
His omniscience provides a sufficient explanation of the “difficult” doctrines of foreordination, predestination and election. It also justifies our unfaltering faith in the affirmation of Paul:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8: 28)
Claims to Providence
The text also affirms the exclusive claims of God to providence.
“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:… I have spoken it and I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”
God is sovereign in creation; omniscient in government and purposeful in providence. The hands on the clock of His providence seem to move exceedingly slowly at times, but they move, and they move in the right direction; and they strike the hour of His appointment. He is never behind time nor ahead of time. He, like the stars and sun of His own creation, is always exactly on time.
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophet…
That provocative statement is found several times in the first three chapters of the first Gospel. “In due time”… “In the fullness of time” – not a moment too soon or too late, but precisely on time – “God sent forth His Son.” Why? Because He had declared “It shall come to pass.”
God in His sovereignty speaks as though the fact were already accomplished, so sure is He that it will be done. The sun stood still for Joshua at the command of the Lord. The stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The cyclonic winds shattered the proud Armada of Spain. The bitter winds and snow conquered the battalions of Napoleon on the plains of Russia, and compelled him to say through his gnashing teeth: “God Almighty has been too much for me.”
Answered prayer saved the British forces at the Marne, when they were helpless and impotent to save themselves. A dense fog covered the British soldiers in their desperate flight from Dunkirk, and an unusual calm prevailed in the English Channel which made it possible for small boats to carry the escaping forces safely to the shores of England.
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice.”
“The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble.”
God put the machinery of the Roman Empire into operation for the birth of His Son, and it is my firm conviction that He has put the machinery of the nations of the earth into motion for the coming of the Messiah and the re-birth of Israel. I am not so much concerned with what Hitler or any of his dictators is going to do next. I am more concerned – much more – with what God is going to do next, for that is vastly more important. “He has spoken; he will also bring it to pass.”
Claims to Instruments
The text also affirms God’s exclusive claims in the choice of His agents to do His will and fulfil His word.
My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country.
I believe the reference here is to the predicted, coming anti-Christ, the “mystery of iniquity,” the “man of sin,” and the “masterpiece of Satan,” whose personal manifestation at the present moment is hindered by the restraining power of the Holy Spirit through the body and bride of Christ, the Church. This “ravenous bird” will come from the east of Palestine, and will run along the tracks of God’s prophetic Word into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. He will be man’s last dictator, the beast of Revelation 13. Even he will run the gamut of fulfilment of prophecy. He will do his devilish deeds, not because they have been prophesied in the Word of God, but they have been predicted because God knew he would do them, and there is no escape from that determined course.
God is sovereign in the choice of instruments to do His will; hence He chose Judas to carry the bag, and Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver, which was the fulfilment of prophecy. But Christ made Judas responsible for his act, and said, “It were better for that man if he had never been born.”
God is sovereign; hence Caesar Augustus sent forth the decree that all the world should be taxed. At the back of the decree was the eternal purpose of Almighty God concerning His Son. The Emperor was perfectly free in making his decree; God was absolutely sovereign in putting the thought of it into his mind.
God is sovereign; hence we read
God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence. (I Cor. 1: 27-29)
God chose Joseph, a slave, to prepare a place for the preservation of the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. He chose a helpless babe from the waters of the Nile to deliver His people from Egypt and to guide them to the promised land. He chose twelve humble fishermen, publicans and tax-gatherers, and a few despised Jews, to give Christianity to the world.
He chose His Man – the God-Man – to bring the Christian Church into existence and to give the Gospel of Christ to the nations of the world.
He chose Israel to transmit and preserve the sacred Scriptures and to hand them down to us, which have been “a light to lighten the Gentiles.”
And He will choose Israel again to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom during the tribulation period at the end of which the Prince of Peace will come to establish His kingdom of righteousness in the earth. God has not forgotten Israel; He has not cast them aside forever. Man has pronounced his doom upon the Jew, but God is about to lift it from him. Man has tried to get rid of him and to cast him into oblivion, but God is showing He has not.
Claims to Salvation
The text affirms God’s exclusive claims in regard to the salvation of man.
I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
His reference is to the final regathering of Israel, when the King shall return. In Isaiah 43:10-13 we read:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.
Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
God has but one Saviour, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin maiden, buried, risen and ascended, and who has promised to return to judge the living and the dead.
God has but one way of salvation, and that is the way of the cross on which Christ the sin-bearer died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to Him.
God has but one gospel, and that is the power and wisdom of God unto salvation to all who believe.
God has but one scheme of transformation, and that is effected by the new birth, by which man is made a member of the new creation and a partaker of the divine nature. Man may not believe it, but his unbelief does not alter the facts. To such a man we say, in the inspired language of the Apostle Paul:
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. (Rom. 3: 3-4)
Man may have changed his mind about Christ and the gospel, but he can be certain they have not changed their mind about him. Man may think the way of salvation is not what it used to be, but salvation by faith is an everlasting and unchanging way.
No modern thought can alter God’s changeless decree that eternal life is received only by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. He has urged us to make our calling and election sure. His plea comes out of the past, into the present: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.”
All the patriarchs, prophets and apostles, and Christ, give witness to these exclusive claims and sovereign facts. They are absolute in the attributes of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. They are absolute in the choice of the instruments of His will and word. They are absolute in the subjects of salvation and the fulfilment of the prophetic Word.
Men may make their daring and presumptuous attacks against God if they will, but they will prove themselves to be like birds beating themselves to death against the bars of their imprisonment. The nations may rage and the people imagine a vain thing, but God will set His King upon the holy hill of Zion. We stand on these emphatic declarations of God’s Word, and wait confidently for the vindication of His Son and people, and for the glorious appearing of the Saviour and His reign and rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, before whom all nations and men shall bow and with tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the honor and glory of God the Father.
We trust Him. We wait for Him. He will come and He will reign forever.