It is of the utmost importance, in the study of Scripture, to distinguish between God’s moral government of the world (esp. concerning Israel, still and will always be “God’s people”—NC), and the specific hope of the Church. The entire body of Old Testament prophecy, and much of the New, treats of the former, and in so doing, presents a subject of commanding interest to every Christian.

It is interesting to know what God is doing, and will do, in all the nations of the earth—interesting to read His thoughts about Tyre, Babylon, Nineveh and Jerusalem; about Egypt, Assyria and the land of Israel. In short, the entire range of OT prophecy demands the prayerful attention of every true believer. But, let it be remembered, we do not find therein contained the proper hope of the Church (only for Israel—NC).

How could we? If we have not there the Church’s (Christians—NC) existence directly revealed, how could we have the Church’s hope? Impossible. It is not that the Church cannot find there (among Israel—NC) a rich harvest of divine moral principles (e.g. the Decalogue—NC), which she may most happily and profitably use. She undoubtedly can; but this is quite another thing from finding there her proper existence and specific hope (new heaven instead of new earth—NC).

Yet, a large portion of the OT prophecies has been applied to the Church (which do not apply—NC); and this application has involved the whole subject in such a mist and confusion, that immature minds are turned away from the study (exegeses of Israel’s eschatology—NC). Hence in neglecting the study of prophecy (which most is of Israel, 90% of the Bible being Jewish centered—NC), they have also neglected that which is quite distinct from prophecy, properly so called—even the hope of the Church. Which hope, be it well remembered, is not anything which God is going to do with the nations of the earth, but to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven, to be forever with Him and forever like Him.

Many may say, I have no head for prophecy. Perhaps not, but have you a heart for the Lord Jesus? Surely, if you love Him you will love His appearing, though you may have little or no capacity for prophetic investigation. An affectionate wife may not have a head for her husband’s business matters, but she has a heart for her husband’s return—she knows his footstep and recognizes his voice. The most unlettered saint, if only he has affection for the Person of the Lord Jesus, can entertain the most intense desire to see Him; and this is the Church’s hope.

Paul could say to the Thessalonians, “Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven” (1Thes 1:9, 10). Now, evidently, those Thessalonian saints could, at the moment of their conversion, have known little, if anything, of prophecy, or the special subject thereof; and yet they were, at that very moment, put into the full possession and power of the specific hope of the Church (eternal life—NC)—even the coming of the Son.

Thus it is throughout the entire New Testament. There, no doubt, we have prophecy—there too, we have God’s moral government; but, at the same time, numberless passages might be adduced in proof of the fact, that the common hope of Christians in apostolic times—the simple, unimpeded and unencumbered hope—was, the return of the Bridegroom. May the Holy Spirit revive “that blessed hope” in the elect, and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Tit 2:13; Luk 1:17).

—Charles Henry Mackintosh (1820-1896)

MJS daily devotional excerpt for Nov 12

“How much there is that is called spiritual that is but flesh! How many of the Lord’s people are seeking to touch the living God and fail to find Him and to satisfy their heart-hunger for true fellowship with Him. Theoretically we believe in His presence, but we find only a mere stirring of emotions. We are told of the Spirit’s power, but we see results produced by showmanship, oratory, and emotionalism. We are counseled to depend upon the Spirit, but in practice dependence is really on human wisdom, ability, personality and programs. We do not get through, behind all that is of man, to touch the living God.” -A.H.

The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.’” -MJS