« PreviousContinue »
“law was a shadow of good things to come.” God selected the literal seed of Abraham-Israel-to be his chosen people. To them he delivered the law and all the blessings of his kingdom in figures and shadows. The giving of the law was the ushering in of a day of good things to Israel. In type, “they all drank of that spiritual Rock”— Christ. That dispensation and law had some “glory” (2 Cor. 3:711). Yes, brilliant rays of light from heaven shone upon earth. Through priests and prophets man could converse with his Creator and make his desires known. This was a blessed privilege enjoyed by Israel; a day of preparation for the ushering in of a still more glorious day.
But that people, to whom God delivered the lively oracles, forsook the God of their fathers and, as a nation, drifted into darkness and idolatry. This brought the wrath of God upon them, and he answered them no more through prophets. The last prophet through whom God definitely spoke to Israel was Malachi. Then came an awful night of about four hundred years upon that favored people, in which no prophet's voice was heard. This was foretold by the prophet Micah as follows: “Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets. ... Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.” Micah 3:5-7. Midnight darkness filled the earth. No prophet spoke; there was no answer from God. This was the period from Malachi to the ministry of John the Baptist. Men sought in the darkness of that night to find the word of the Lord, but could not find it. Thus was the prophecy of Amos fulfilled: “They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.” Amos 8:11, 12.
The Gospel Day Foretold.
With prophetic eye the seers of old foresaw a better day-a day of salvation. That which they enjoyed in type and shadow was to reach the substance in Christ, who would usher in the most propitious age of grace and glory the world would ever see. Thus Isaiah foretold it: “In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee.” Isa. 49:8. Paul, after quoting this language of the prophet, makes the application. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 6:2. This great day of salvation was ushered in by the coming of Mes. siah to save the world; and its end will be when Christ is revealed from heaven to judge the world.
Since the beginning of time one long age has followed another, in which God 'at sundry times and in divers manners in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets,” but in these last days” hath “spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2). These days, then, which go to make up the gospel age or day are the “last." This is why Paul denominates the gospel age “the
dispensation of the fulness of times" (Eph. 1:10); that is, the dispensation when time is full. “Little children, it is the last time. We know that it [the present age] is the last time." 1 John 2:18. Time is a measured portion of duration,
The gospel age is frequently in Scripture termed a day. The prophets in speaking of things that were to occur in the current dispensation said, “It shall come to pass in that day.” They foretold the coming of Christ, the setting up of his everlasting kingdom, his glorious reign of peace, and the beauties of his great salvation. Even Abraham foresaw these things. As Jesus expressed it, “your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56.
The Morning Light is Breaking.
While the world was shrouded in darkness, and no prophet's voice could be heard; while Israel, with a few individual exceptions, was engulfed in sin and idolatry, forsaken of God; while the then known world was under the rule of pagan Rome, and heathenism held sway in the hearts of men everywhere-suddenly there appeared “one crying in the wilderness” and saying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” After four hundred long years of silence, a prophet appeared, yea, more than a prophet. John, the looked-for Elias, the harbinger of a new day, was now preparing the way for Messiah to begin his ministry. “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light.” John 1:6, 7. Of John and his work, the angel told Zacharias this: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke