Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, (which we read in the 16th chapter of Numbers,) is a remarkable example of the sudden indignation of God against those upon whom the prophet had called down his displeasure.

When Adam had, through transgression, brought death upon his children, God was pleased to assure him, darkly, of the future victory which should be obtained over death, and over his fatal enemy the tempter. “ The seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" that is, Christ, in his human nature, should overcome the power of the Devil.

As the prophetical books of the Old Testament are, from their nature, more difficult to be understood than the historical parts of the sacred volume, and as they contain the evidence of the gracious purposes of the Almighty, in providing the means of salvation for his creatures, so they require our most earnest attention to the foretelling of one great event after another up to the actual appearance of Christ on earth.

To Lamech it was revealed, that Noah should remove the curse upon the ground which God had

successors

pronounced to Adam.* To Noah this assurance was accomplished, and a promise given that the world should no more be destroyed.

The promise made to Adam was newed in clearer terms to Abraham. GOD assured him that in his

“ all the nations of the earth should be blessed,” thus directly referring to the salvation of Christ, who in after-ages was born of one of the lineal descendants of Abraham.

Jacob, when delivering his dying injunctions to his children, prophesied still more clearly the future blessing of Christ; distinctly stating that this promise would be fulfilled in the line of his son Judah.

Moses repeated all those prophecies in the fullest manner; and while he described the nature and office of the Redeemer, he prophesied that Christ would be rejected of the Jews, and foretold with astonishing clearness the heavy punishment of their ingratitude.

From that time forward a succession of prophets appeared in the world, who continued to renew those gracious promises of the coming of Christ, pointing

* Genesis, v. 29.

out more and more exactly the circumstances of his life and ministry. They accompanied these promises with the most earnest exhortations to piety and obedience. They warned the chosen people of God, in the most solemn manner, of the danger of falling away from their duty; recalling them froin error and idolatry by the prospect of the severest temporal punishments, which were threatened to follow their rebellion against the Almighty.

The prophets of the Old Testament are sixteen in number, and have been divided into two classes, the greater and the less; not that the authority of the lesser prophets is in any degree inferior to that of the greater, but they are so called simply. from the shortness of their works.

The four greater prophets are- Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel.

The twelve lesser prophets are — Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Joel, Obadiah, Micah, Habakkuk, Haggai, and Malachi.

I shall mention a few short particulars concerning each.

Isaiah, the most distinguished of the prophets,

began to deliver his predictions in the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, about 760 years before Christ. These prophecies related most particularly to the glorious ministry and salvation of Christ, although many other events were foretold by him. The destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; the captivity of the people in Babylon; the final overthrow of that great empire; the ruin of Egypt, Assyria, and other nations, are foretold in the writings of Isaiah in the most eloquent and impressive language.

The restoration of the Jews, under the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, is most particularly prophesied in the 44th and 45th chapters. Cyrus is therein mentioned by name, nearly 200 years before he was born. The 7th and 9th chapters particularly foretel the circumstances of the birth of Christ. The 53rd (in a most minute and surprising manner) his crucifixion and burial. The 60th chapter points out the extension of the church of Christ to the Gentiles; by which name all other people were distinguished from the Jews, for whom alone the religion of Moses was designed. The 65th chapter pro

phesies the exemplary punishment of the Jews for rejecting the promised Messiah.

Jeremiah began to prophesy 630 years before Christ, in the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. His predictions were directed to most of those events which Isaiah had already foretold ; the captivity and destruction of the Jewish nation, and the future coming of Christ. Towards the end of the book, he minutely relates the accomplishment of many of those events which he had himself previously foretold. He prophesies the return of the Jews to Jerusalem ; their obstinate rejection of Christ ; the heavy judgments which would follow; and their final reception into his kingdom. The last chapter, which relates the death of King Zedekiah, and the captivity of his subjects at Babylon, is supposed to have been added by Ezra. These later prophecies were addressed to the people, during their captivity at Babylon, from the country of Judea, where Jeremiah continued to reside, though he afterwards retired into Egypt. The Lamentations of Jeremiah, which follow the book of his prophecies, are a representation of the miseries which had befallen Jeru

« PreviousContinue »