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ward the south two hundred thereof shall be for food unto and fifty, and toward the east two them that serve the city. hundred and fifty, and toward 19 And they that serve the the west two hundred and fifty. city shall serve it out of all the
18 And the residue in length tribes of Israel. over against the oblation of the 20 All the oblation shall be holy portion shall be ten thou- five and twenty thousand by sand eastward, and ten thou- five and twenty thousand : ye sand westward : and it shall be shall offer the holy oblation over against the oblation of the foursquare, with the possession holy portion ; and the increase of the city.
LECTURE 1361. The good things provided for the Christian church. The division of the land among the tribes, as here enjoined, proceeds in a very different order from that which had taken place when they were put in possession of it at first. The portion of each tribe, according to this division, extends all across the country from east to west. Seven tribes lie in order from north to south, until they reach to the portions previously assigned to the sanctuary, the Levites, the city, and the prince. The measurements of these portions are stated over again, as if to ensure exactness in allotting them. To the south of these lie the portions of the remaining tribes. See ver. 23—27. And the whole division is concluded with these words : “ This is the land which
shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their portions, saith the Lord God.” Ver. 29.
We have no history to shew that any such fresh division of the land of Israel took place. We have rather reason to think that it never did. And we may justly suppose, that this was because so few of the tribes returned to take possession of the country. Some think that this allotment of the land, together with all the other things represented in these visions, are yet to be fulfilled literally on earth; and they expect that the dispersed of Israel and Judah will for this purpose be gathered together from the four quarters of the earth. This reassembling of the Jews in Judea may take place, and yet these prophecies not refer to it. Or it may be that they will be then fulfilled, and yet have a further fulfilment in a sense more properly spiritual. In the uncertainty as to the right view to take of the restoration of the Jews, we may do better to apply these words to that which cannot be doubted of, the wide extension, and firm establishment, of Christ's church, its order, its excellency, and the plenty, and the peace, which will yet as we hope prevail on earth, throughout its length and breadth, and which nothing can rob it of in heaven. God be praised for shewing us in his word what happiness is in store for his people ! To God be all the glory in the Church, whether in this world, or in that which is to come, through Christ Jesus !
The apportionment of the land. The gates and name of the city. 21 And the residue shall be for at the south side southward, the prince, on the one side and the border shall be even from on the other of the holy obla- Tamar unto the waters of strife tion, and of the possession of in Kadesh, and to the river tothe city, over against the five ward the great sea. and twenty thousand of the 29 This is the land which ye oblation toward the east border, shall divide by lot unto the and westward over against the tribes of Israel for inheritance, five and twenty thousand toward and these are their portions, the west border, over against saith the Lord God. the portions for the prince: 30 And these are the goings and it shall be the holy oblation; out of the city on the north side, and the sanctuary of the house four thousand and five hundred shall be in the midst thereof.
measures. 22 Moreover from the posses- 31 And the gates of the city sion of the Levites, and from shall be after the namesofthetribes the possession of the city, being of Israel: three gates northward; in the midst of that which is the one gate of Reuben, one gate prince's, between the border of of Judah, one gate of Levi. Judah and the border of Ben- 32 And at the east side four jamin, shall be for the prince. thousand and five hundred : and
23 As for the rest of the tribes, three gates; and one gate of from the east side unto the west Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, side Benjamin shall havea portion. one gate of Dan.
24 And by the border of Ben- 33 And at the south side four jamin, from the east side unto thousand and five hundred meathe west side, Simeon shall have sures : and three gates ; one a portion.
gate of Simeon, one gate of Is. 25 And by the border of Sime- sachar, one gate of Zebulun. on, from the east side unto the 34 At the west side four thouwest side, Issachar a portion. sand and five hundred, with
26 And by the border of Issa- their three gates; one gate of char, from the east side unto the Gad, one gate of Asher, one west side, Zebulun a portion. gate of Naphtali.
27 And by the border of Zebu- 35 It was round about eighlun, from the east side unto the teen thousand measures : and west side, Gad a portion. the name of the city from that 28 And by the border of Gad, day shall be, The Lord is there.
LECTURE 1362. How much we lose for lack of faith and devotion. There is a considerable resemblance between passages in these visions, and certain parts of the Revelation of St. John. Hence some have supposed that this distribution of the land, for instance, refers to the same event as the sealing of the tribes ; see Rev. 7. 4-8; or again, that this city and its temple are the same as the new Jerusalem, which the apostle saw " descending out of heaven from God.” Rev. 21. 10. But not to mention other
important points of difference, St. John expressly testifies of the heavenly Jerusalem, " I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” And as for the sealing of the tribes, that takes place just before the destruction of the earth ; see Rev. 7. 1; whereas this allotment of the land must of necessity be conceived to have respect to a period of possession and enjoyment. Whilst therefore we hold, that all these visions have a final reference to Gospel times, we doubt whether they can be explained of the very same events as the passages which resemble them in the book of Revelation. Rather it appears probable, that St. John was guided to use images and language taken from the former dispensation, as most fit to represent generally the great things which he foretels, particularly as about to happen in the kingdom of Christ.
On the whole then there appears no insuperable difficulty in supposing, that these concluding chapters of Ezekiel contain a vision of things which might have been realized, and were intended to be realized, in the Jewish church and state after the Babylonish captivity. That church and state were themselves also intended for types of better things to come. And therefore also the visions in which they were set forth, foreshew both the type and antitype; both the establishment to be set up in Judea, and the spiritual community which should afterwards arise, consisting of believers in all the nations of the earth. Thus viewed this prophecy is well worthy of our study, as revealing principles of divine wisdom applicable to the regulation and improvement of human society. For though we are certainly not bound to adopt to the letter, either in church or state, any of the rules here laid down for the direction of the Jews, we do foolishly in wholly overlooking these rules; we are unthankful as well as foolish, if we profit not gladly by the many hints which might hence be gathered, for the better ordering of all our institutions. Here both princes and people might learn valuable lessons of moderation and mutual forbearance. Lawgivers might here be instructed as to what are the first points to be secured in promoting the well being of a nation; not wealth, not military strength, but piety towards God, and justice between man and man. The rich, instead of coveting to join house to house, and to add field to field, until there be no place left for the poor, might here be taught to forward the day when every one might have an inheritance in the land, and be interested in its fruitfulness, prosperity,
peace. The poor too might here see that they are never forgotten in the word of God, never overlooked in the provision which He makes for the welfare of his people. And they might hence profitably reflect, that whatever be their portion in this life, it must be their own fault if they are not made partakers of an everlasting inl:eritance in the life which is to come.
And if it was for lack of faith and devotion in the multitude of the captive Israelites, that this scene of order, plenty, peace, and
piety, was not realized as it might have been in Judea, to the full extent of the divine ordinances, or to any thing approaching thereunto, does it not behove us to enquire, whose fault it is, that these things, and better things than these, are not now altogether ours? If the Jewish community might have been in these respects a type of heaven, much more ought a Christian church and state. "Plainly we are assured, that if we hunger and thirst after righteousness we “shall be filled.” Matt. 5. 6. Plainly we are taught, that if we seek “first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," we need not to enquire “ What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed ?" For “ all these things shall be added” unto us. Matt. 6. 31, 33. Whence then the distress of which thousands around us are complaining? Whence that extremity of want which drives some to acts of fraud and violence, and brings others, in silent anguish of heart, to an untimely grave? Surely these things could not be, in a land teeming with an amount of wealth hitherto unheard of in the world, unless it were that many, or perhaps most amongst us, walk not according to the laws given us in the Gospel. Honesty, industry, sobriety, frugality, these are the means whereby godliness usually receives the promise of the life that now is. How can there be true godliness where these are not? Where these are, how few can come to want! And how few even of those whose wants arise from their own fault could ever be left to perish in distress, if they that have riches were to spend them, not in vain show and selfish luxury, but in doing good to the souls and bodies of the poor !
True piety towards God is the thing we chiefly need, for securing the well being of man. The great defect in all our social institutions is, that they are not sufficiently stamped with this character, • The Lord is there.” In name indeed all purport to be Christian. We are a Christian nation, and a Christian church; and we have a Christian government, and legislature, and laws; Christian habits, and customs, and observances. But when tried by the standard of the Gospel, in how many points are these for the most part short of Christianity! How notorious is the gross sinfulness of multitudes! How open to suspicion of ungodliness are many who avoid such excesses of iniquity! How few are the individuals amongst us, much less the cities, towns, or parishes, whose holiness and happiness could suggest to the beholder that their name is this, " The Lord is there !” May a title so excellent be more and more justly applicable to our church and to our state, and also to every member thereof! May the divine Presence be more and more acknowledged amongst us, and manifested in the increase both of piety and of charity, both of reverent devotion towards God, and of active good will towards each other !
The taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. 1 In the third year of the reign land, with part of the vessels of Jehoiakim king of Judah came of the house of God: which he Nebuchadnezzarking of Babylon carried into the land of Shinar unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. to the house of his god; and he
2 And the Lord gave Jehoia- brought the vessels into the kim king of Judah into his treasure house of his god.
LECTURE 1363. The symbolical language of prophetic dates. This book opens with mention of the taking of Jerusalem, because then Daniel was carried away into captivity. Little did the king of Babylon know the value of his captive. Little did he suppose, that this also was a vessel of the Lord, one infinitely more precious than those of silver or of gold, and one, which with all his might, he never could have brought into the treasure house of his idol god. This happened in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's full reign, he having for a time shared the kingdom with his father. And the statement bere given, of its happening “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim,” is best reconciled with what is elsewhere said of its happening in the fourth, by supposing that the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign answered partly to the third and partly to the fourth of Jehoiakim. See Jer. 25. 1. Many such difficulties occur in regard to the dates of ancient history, the records which remain being few, and the methods of reckoning time being various. Much more do uncertainty and obscurity hang over the dates of things future, as revealed in prophecy. As the book of Daniel presents to our view the most striking instances of such prophetic reckonings, it will be well to observe in the outset, that the most learned expositors of prophecy have as yet come to no conclusion on this subject, which has not been more or less called in question by others. Giving therefore due weight to all that may be said to the contrary, we may adopt the current opinion as most probable, that Daniel uses a symbolic language in regard to prospective dates; in which a time, or a year, stands for as many years as the days of a year, and a week for as many years as there are days in a week; even as also in the Revelation of St. John, a month stands for as many years as the days of a month, and each day stands for a year.' See Rev. 11. 2, 3. Not that even with such a key as this we must presume to think we can unlock the future.
The different ways of estimating years may make the length of a period uncertain. Or the length of a period may be known, and we may be unable to ascertain its commencement. Our aim is not to be prophets, but students of prophecy. Let us study prophecy with diligence and reverence.. And with God's blessing we may expect that we shall be thereby edified abundantly.