The great fact of all facts proclaimed by God to sinful men is that Jesus Christ, Who was crucified on Calvary, “died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4). They who believe that proclamation receive the Salvation of the Lord. Those who refuse to believe that Christ rose from the dead, make the Son of God like unto those sinners whom He died to save. They make His death to be the death of a sinful man, for they declare that His body remained in the grave to see corruption. They make Him to be under the power of death; and thus they deny the whole basis of salvation. Whatever prospect there is for sinful human beings depends absolutely upon the sign of the prophet Jonas. If that be not a true sign, then there is no hope for man; then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished, and we who believe on Him are, of all men, the most miserable.
The prayer which Jonah uttered while in the belly of the great fish is one of the most remarkable passages of Scripture. Some of its striking features we purpose to point out later; but just now we would call attention to the words in which the utterance culminates – “Salvation is of the Lord”. When Jonah reached that conclusion, his deliverance was at hand, for then ‘the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land’.
Human beings are all come into the same situation in which Jonah found himself. They are swallowed up by a great monster; for “the whole world lieth in the Wicked One” (1 Jn. 5:10). Like Jonah, the offspring of Adam came into that desperate condition through departure from the Word of God. Like Jonah, they have no means of escape. Men are very clever; they have invented many devices for making the interior of the great sea monster a more agreeable place to pass their time in, but they have invented no ingenious contrivance, no mighty engine, no potent chemical combination, no code of morals, no elaborate religious system, whereby a single human being can escape from the dominion of sin and death. Truly, “Salvation is of THE LORD”. Man’s works, whether works of power or works of righteousness, are all in vain.
When, however, a sinner of Adam’s race realises that he has indeed departed from the way of God and fallen into the power of a mighty being whose helpless prey he is; and when he realises that human strength, human intelligence, and human goodness avail nothing for deliverance; when, in a word, he realises that “salvation is of the Lord”, then the hour of his deliverance is come. God “speaks” and a miracle like the new birth takes place. Thus Jonah became pre-eminently the type of all types, the type of the Divine Saviour, bringing the sinner up out of the depths of sin and darkness into the light, and liberty, and love, and joy, and service, and everything that pertains to “newness of life”. For Jonah was born again, born out of the water and of the Spirit.
Types of Resurrection in the Old Testament
The Old Testament contains many clear types of the Resurrection. Those types begin early in the sacred volume, and their frequent occurrence testifies strongly to the importance of the subject. God’s purpose manifested from the beginning was to have a people born from the dead.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we read that on the third day God brought up the earth from out of the waters in which it was buried. That was the first baptism, the first great figure of death, burial, and resurrection. On the third day God said, “Let the waters be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear”. And the earth immediately came forth into the light and air already prepared for it. Moreover, God spake again to the earth, and the earth became fruitful.
In like manner as God spake first to the waters, commanding them to release the earth, and then to the earth, commanding fruitfulness; so He spake first to the great fish, commanding it to release Jonah, and then to Jonah, commanding him to go preach in Nineveh. The lesson is the same.
Then we come to the ark of Noah, another great and clear type of Resurrection. For the apostle Peter tells us that the ark is like baptism, a figure of that which saves us by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 3:21).
The ark was delivered from the waters of death and judgment on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (Gen. 8:4); for on that day the ark “rested” on Mount Ararat. God reckons the date of that event to be important, for He caused it to be recorded. The importance of the date becomes evident when we associate it with another event, the Passover, which represented the death of Christ, and which occurred on the fourteenth day of the seventh month. Three days later He arose, on the date of the resting of the ark, the type of Resurrection. And then, after the deliverance of those who were in the ark, God spake to Noah, commanding fruitfulness. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”.
Reading on further in Genesis, we come to Abraham, brought out by the Word of the Lord from the idolatries of the heathen, himself “as good as dead”, and whom God commanded to be fruitful, saying, “I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly” (Gen. 17:3).
Further on we read of Isaac, a very clear type of resurrection from the dead, from whence, it is written, his father “received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:19). After Abraham and Isaac had gone three days‘ journey to the place appointed, God spake, delivering Isaac from death, saying, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him”. And through this man, raised as it were from the dead, God caused fruit to be produced, saying, “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore” (Gen. 22:12-17).
Then we come to the case of Joseph, thrown into a pit and raised up again to be a prince and saviour even to those who cast him out. Joseph also was cast into prison and associated with two malefactors, one of whom was saved; and the third year Joseph was brought out of be the deliverer of the Gentiles and of his own people. Moreover, he called his second son Ephraim: “for”, he said, “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen. 41:52).
Again, we read of the Israëlites delivered from Egypt at God’s command, baptised in the Red Sea, which they crossed on the third day (Ex. 14:21-22).
Again, we have the crossing of Jordan by the ark with all the people “after three days”. Thus, as it were by death and resurrection, the people of Jehovah entered the land promised to them (Josh. 3:2,17). And so we might go on, finding other types of the same great truth, foreshadowing that God’s way of deliverance for His people is by Resurrection. And there is no other way.
God’s Salvation: Life from the Dead
One of the leading truths to be learned from the Book of Jonah is that the salvation of God is Resurrection. God’s salvation is nothing less than bringing forth the sinner from out the dominion and power of death, and giving him new life in a new place. All human beings are, from the hour of birth under the power of death. This is a fact so palpable that none can deny it. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men”. This is true equally of the man of high character and the man of low character, of the man who has done his best and the man who has done his worst. The greatest men, the wisest, the most intelligent, the most learned, the strongest and the best, are all under the dominion of death. Since all are in precisely the same condition by nature, all are in need of precisely the same salvation. For there is “no difference”. Saul of Tarsis, the man of blameless life, spent in pious works and religious exercise, stood in the same need of God’s salvation as the woman of Samaria, or the dying thief of Calvary. All alike need a Saviour – God, One who reverses the course of nature – bringing life out of death. For the course of nature, which is governed by sin, carries every man from life into death.
The salvation of God reverses the course of nature, bringing men out of death into life. This salvation may be described by the one word Resurrection, and that is the supreme lesson of the book of Jonah.
So the Gospel brings to light another fact, a fact that is not self-evident like the universal fact of death’s power over all men, but a fact known nevertheless to those who hear and believe the Word of God: “But now is Christ RISEN FROM THE DEAD and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since BY MAN came death, BY MAN came also the Resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20,21). Death came by one man, Adam: Resurrection came by one man, Jesus Christ.
There are many who seem to think that the place in which they find themselves – the world that lieth in the Wicked One – is a good enough place to be in. They admit that there are defects in it, that its advantages are most unequally distributed, that it contains much suffering and misery, and much crime and wickedness. But they hold the soothing doctrine that the world needs only a few improvements in its social and political arrangements to make it a comfortable and agreeable dwelling place for all human beings; and they hold also that men themselves possess the ability to devise and introduce all needed improvements. But this is not the testimony of the Word of God; it is the falsehood of that same “Wicked One” in whom the world lies, who is its “prince” and “god”, and “who has the power of death” (Heb. 2:9). It is not the testimony of the Spirit of truth, for He is come to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8,11). It is no part of the mission of Christ to introduce social and political changes in the world, but to bring Resurrection as a way out. Jonah was not so foolish as to suppose that God’s salvation would make him a little more comfortable in the fish’s belly. He looked for deliverance out of it.
Let none be deceived as to this vital matter. The world over which death has absolute dominion is not a good place to be in; and the best possible news to those who are in such a place is the news of a way out. Hence the prominent fact of God’s “good news” is the Resurrection, and that is what is represented by the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Jesus and the Resurrection
But we do not dwell upon the many important lessons that may be traced in the little Book of Jonah, for we wish specially to look at the marvelous type it presents to us of the essence of “that Gospel which”, says the apostle Paul, “I preach among the Gentiles” (Gal. 2:2). That Gospel, the only Gospel of God preached for the obedience of faith among all nations, is concisely stated in Acts 17:18, as consisting of “Jesus and the Resurrection” – “Jesus”, the Foundation of God; and “Resurrection”, the seal of authentication which God has placed upon the Person and Work of His Son.
For we cannot too often or too earnestly proclaim in these days of departure from the faith that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of Christianity. That is the fact which God has commanded to be proclaimed throughout the world. The true messenger of God, the true prophet, the true evangelist, preaches a risen Christ. They preach the Son of God come in the flesh, crucified for sinners, and raised from the dead to the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit is come down from heaven to witness to the fact of the risen Christ.
After His Resurrection the Lord Jesus Himself opened the understanding of His disciples that they might understand the Scriptures; and this is the true He then impressed upon them: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day”.
Yes, it “behoved” Him to suffer and to rise the third day. Why? Because “thus it is written”. To be “the Christ” He must needs fulfill all that was written of Him. Without the sufferings appointed to Him there would be no glory to follow, no salvation, no Saviour. For the Spirit of Christ in the prophets testified beforehand (to the bewilderment of the prophets themselves) of the sufferings belonging to Christ and of the glories that were to follow (1 Pet. 1:11).
In like manner, the apostle Paul, when he announced the Gospel, “opened” the Scriptures, and reasoned with his hearers out of the Scriptures, alleging “that Christ MUST NEEDS have sufferd and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you IS CHRIST” (Acts 17:2,3).
There are two great links to the Apostle’s argument. The first is that the Christ of God must needs have suffered and risen again. Of this, the Scriptures supplied overwhelming proof. Anyone claiming to be “the Christ of the Scriptures” must needs make this claim good by dying and rising from the dead. Unless he died and rose again, he would not be the Christ of God, but an impostor, a false Christ.
The second link is “that this Jesus IS the Christ”. The proof of this is that in every detail down to the very last, “this Jesus” fulfilled the many things foretold of the Christ, and specially in regard to the predicted sufferings of Christ. And then, after having suffered according to the Scriptures, He appeared in Resurrection to the “witnesses” chosen of God to testify this mighty fact to all the world (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:31,32; 13:29,31)..
So, upon this great fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity was founded. Through the foolishness of the preaching of that fact, sinners were converted, their sins forgiven, eternal life bestowed upon them, and they were gathered out from a dying world to a risen, living Saviour. For “with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
From this we may learn how much is involved in the estimate which “modern scholarship” places upon the Book of Jonah, and in particular in the estimate placed upon the history of Jonah’s deliverance. And as we begin to realise what is at stake, we shall more clearly understand how much the Lord based upon the truth of the narrative. How shall they face Him, they who, in order to gain repute among men for superior intelligence or superior learning, have discredited the one incident of Old Testament history which Christ selected as the pedestal for the saving truth of His own resurrection from the dead?
Let us, then, increasingly thank God for the Book of Jonah.
And now comes the promise of resurrection:
- “Yea, Thou hast brought up My life from corruption, O Lord, My God. When My soul fainted within Me, I remembered the Lord, and My prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple” (Jon. 2:6,7).
The Holy Spirit now puts into the lips of the prophet Jonah almost the same words found in the sixteenth Psalm: “Thou wilt not leave My soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life”. These words are quoted both by Peter (Acts 2:25,31) and by Paul (Acts 13:35), as containing the promise and prophecy of the resurrection of Christ. How exceedingly important, then, is the little Book of Jonah! What portion of the Old Testament scripture of equal length contains truth more vital to men who are in bondage and under the dominion of death?
In the few verses of chapter 2, we find, in words of wonderful depth and simplicity, the unutterable experiences of the Christ of God when accomplishing in mighty work of redemption. Here, as nowhere else in shadow, type, and prophecy, the anointed ear may hear the voice of the spirit of Christ, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. For here we have the profoundest utterances of the Spirit gathered from various Psalms and Prophecies and condensed into a few sentences. But more than that, those sentences are put into the lips of a man actually undergoing an experience marvelously in correspondence with the experience of the Lord in His death, burial and resurrection.
In some scriptures we have death and resurrection in a figure. In others we have death and resurrection foretold in words. But in Jonah we have the mighty truth, which is the gospel of our salvation, given both in figure and in words. This wondrous combination occurs nowhere else (so far as the writer recalls) in Old Testament Scripture. It gives to the Book of Jonah a very special value, and indicates the reason why the Lord chose Jonah from among all the types, as pre-eminently figuring His own death and rising from among the dead.
Among all the varied experiences of men in this world, no man other than Jonah ever had such an experience as this. To be tossed into the sea for the express purpose of quieting its ragings and thus saving the imperiled lives of others; to be swallowed by a great fish; to be made alive and conscious in the fish’s belly after just three days; and to be brought up again the third day in safety and subsequently made a preacher to the Gentiles, constitute a history the like of which has befallen no other man. There it stood on the inspired page, seemingly only a tale of marvel, its significance utterly unknown to men, until the Son of God with a few words, illuminates it with Divine light, revealing in it treasurers of heavenly truth of incalculable value. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”.
Examining the history of Jonah in the light of the words of Christ, we find in it the fullest and clearest of all types of His mighty work, whereby the redemption of sinners is accomplished and eternally secured. And not only so, but we also find the Spirit of Christ uttering through the lips of Jonah – the man of this unparalleled experience – words expressive of the experiences of Christ while suffering in our stead, in order that the sea might be calm unto us.
Where can language be found to voice the wonder that the believing heart must feel in coming upon such a revelation as this?
God has seen fit to give us this surpassingly wonderful prophecy and figure setting forth the sufferings of Christ when delivered up for our offences, and His rising again for our justification. Yet men of corrupt minds, though calling themselves by the Name of Christ, are showing to one another their superior wisdom and scholarship, as they vainly suppose, by casting doubt and even ridicule upon that Scripture, in which, as in none other, the Spirit of Christ has testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow; which things the angels desire to look into.
That “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” is clearly shown forth in the Book of Jonah. Let us, then, prize it and thank God for it. “Salvation is of the Lord”.
By P. Mauro / The Berean Expositor / April 2019 VOL> 70 No. 2*
THE THOUSAND GENERATIONS
It is only possible to speak of the Millennium, if we believe that the term, ‘a thousand years’ means what it says, and is to be taken literally. This being so, what are we to understand by the statement in Deuteronomium 7:9?
- ‘The LORD thy God. He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.
How are we to understand the language of David recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:15?
- ‘Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.
And yet once more, what did the Psalmist mean in Psalm 105:8?
- ‘He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.
The usage of the word ‘generation’ in the Scriptures falls into three groups or shades of meaning.
- The primary meaning is that of offspring. This is its meaning in the genealogies that abound in the Old Testament. In Hebrew ‘the book of the generations’ is sepher toledoth, and in the Greek, biblos geneseos (Gen. 5:1, LXX; Matt. 1:1).
- Arising out of this primary meaning comes a secondary sense, namely a period of time. This would not have been used rigidly, especially when we observe that the natural length of human life has changed since the days of the patriarchs. Herodotus, the Greek historian, says, ‘three generations of men make an hundred years’, and Clement of Alexandria citing Homer says, ‘two generations’ covers the period of ‘about sixty years old’. It will be remembered that our Saviour’s earthly life was just about a ‘generation’, He commencing His ministry at about 30 years of age (Luk. 3:23).
- The word subsequently came to indicate some specific characteristics such as ‘an adulterous and sinful generation’. When the three Old Testament writers quoted above speak of ‘a thousand generations’, they can mean nothing more or less than an exceedingly long period of time, not necessarily 33,000 years, but sufficiently long to overlap the Millennium to such an extent as to show that the thousand years’ reign is but the threshold to a period very much longer than the present history of man, multiplied several times. If this has even any element of truth in it, then the Day of God, which follows the Day of the Lord must be of great importance, and it is highly probable that many a passage of the Old Testament that has been indiscriminately labelled ‘Millennial’ belongs to this subsequent period. This will become at length the kingdom which the Son of God will deliver up to the Father, after all rule, authority and power have been put down (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Most certain it is that the Millennial kingdom as it is (Rev. 20:8-10) was not ready to be thus delivered up to the Father. The words, ‘For He must reign’ (1 Cor. 15:25) extend far beyond the limits of the thousand years, if it is to extend to the end of a thousand generations. One or two other terms should be examined while we have this question before us. What is meant by the words of Ephesians 3:21:
‘Eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos ton aionon. / Unto all the generations of the age of the ages’.
To what period of time, and to which part of the Divine purpose does Peter refer in 2 Peter 3:18, eis hemeran aionos, ‘unto (the) day (of the) age’? For one thing, we know that this reaches out to the extreme limits of the time period mentioned in 2 Peter 3:
- (1) The Day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:10), that ends in dissolution,
- (2) The Day of God (2 Pet. 3:12), for which the believer is to look,
- (3) The Day of the Age (2 Pet. 3:18) which appears to be the goal of all time.
In Isaiah 44:7 Israël are called ‘the ancient people’ which however is translated by some, including The Companion Bible, ‘the everlasting nation’. The Companion Bible note reads, ‘The nation of Israël is everlasting, like the covenant. The nations which oppressed Israël (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome) have passed away; but Israël remains, and when restored, will remain for ever. Note and compare the nine everlasting things in Isaiah:
- Covenant (55:3; 61:8; cf. note on Genesis 9:16);
- kindness (54:8);
- salvation (45:17);
- excellency; (60:15);
- joy (51:11);
- name (56:5);
- light (60:19,20);
- sign (55:13); and
- as the pledge of all, ‘the everlasting God’ (40:28; 63:12)’.
Providing that we realize that the Hebrew word olam and the Greek aion, means literally an age of undefined extend and not necessarily that which is eternal in the fullest sense, the repetition of this term as indicated in the quotation given above demands something more than a millennium of a thousand years to justify or exhaust. There are evident correspondencies between the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem, which, while necessary to keep distinct, throw light upon several features.
The promise of Ezekiel 37:26-28 is echoed in Revelation 21:3:
- ‘Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israël, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore’.
The other blessed reference to the wiping away of all tears, is an echo of a prophecy of Isaiah:
- ‘He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it’ (Isa. 25:8).
Again, the description of the city given in Ezekiel 48:30-35 with its twelve gates, each bearing te name of one of the twelve tribes of Israël, establishes another link between the restored Jerusalem which shall be on the earth, with the Heavenly City, which is to descend out of heaven after the Millennium has run its course:
- ‘The nations (of them which are saved) shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it’ (Rev. 21:24).
In strong contrast with the constitution of the Church, ‘where there is neither Greek nor Jew’ (Col. 3:11) the distinction between Israël and the nations will be maintained throughout the whole period. It is not within our present intention or ability to attempt to fit Old Testament prophecies into (1) the Millennium or (2) into the succeeding Day of God, all we know is that many Scriptures hitherto labelled ‘Millennial’ have been so indicated without sufficient justification. Patient and accurate study is demanded of any who will attempt to extend the suggestions offered in this brief article; patient accumulation and tabulation of many prophecies that deal with the hopes and destiny of Israël will have to be made before it can be said with any degree of certainty, ‘there Israël’s kingdom ends’ and ‘this is Millennial’, but we can only express our conviction that Israël’s kingdom will continue until the day of which 1 Corinthians 15:28 speaks, when it will be swallowed up in ‘the perfect day’ (Prov. 4:18), ‘the day of the age’ (2 Pet. 3:18) when what we loosely call ‘eternity’ takes the place off time.
THE SEVENFOLD BLESSING OF REVELATION
While it must be admitted that there are passages, some of great length, in the Revelation that have as their burden, Woe, Judgment and Wrath, it is a joy to record the sevenfold Benediction that runs through the book, linking the opening chapter with the last, and taking its place with the seven seals, seven vials and seven trumpets which are such a feature of this book.
The Sevenfold Blessing
A a 1:1,3. The Angel – Read – Hear – Prophecy – Keep – Time at hand. b 14:11-13. Beast – Image – Mark – Dead – Works follow them.
B 16:13-15. Watch – Keep garments – Demons – Unclean.
C 19:9. Called – Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
A b 20:4-6. First Resurrection – Priest – Reign – Beast – Image. a 22:7,8. The Angel – Keep sayings – Prophecy – I come quickly.
B 22:14,15. Wash – Robes – Enter – Dogs – Sorcerers.
Regarding B 22:14,15 the Authorized Version reads, ‘do His commandments’ but the Revised Version reads, ‘washed their robes’. The Received Text reads, poiountes tas entolas autou, but the Critical Texts (endorses by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and (Alford) read plunontes tas stolas auton, which superficially looks very like the text used by the Authorized Version, and is the probable cause of the rejected reading.
Certain features are brought into prominence by the disposition of these blessings which we must observe, but before doing so, let us note that there are two Greek words translated ‘blessed’, (1) eulogeo, (2) makarios. No. 1 is used in Ephesians 1:3 and No. 2 is used in Roamsn 4:7. Eulogeo in the form eulogia is the word translated ‘blessings’ in Ephesians 1:3 and occurs three times in the book of the Revelation, but only in ascriptions of praise to the Lamb (Rev. 5:12,13), and to God and the Lamb (Rev. 7:12).
Makarios in classical Greek was strictly an epithet of the gods, who are … … …