The effect upon all the nations
of the earth is a large part of the background of the picture. Through Israel's advancement under the new order, every other nation is to come back to God. The outpouring of the Spirit upon Israel is to be followed by an outpouring upon all
flesh. There are the two outpourings of God's Spirit in these old prophetic pages. This will be followed by a universal, voluntary coming to Israel for religious instruction. She becomes the teacher of the nations regarding God, until by and by the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the only God. Her influence upon them for good will be as the heavy fertilizing eastern dews and the life-giving showers are to vegetation.
But further yet, Israel is to be the only medium of God's blessing upon the nations -- the only channel. Those refusing her leadership will, for lack of vital sap, die of dry rot. The wondrous blessing enjoyed by this central nation, the unhingeing of dungeon doors, the opening of blind eyes, the mellowing of all the hard conditions of life, the reign of simple, full justice to all, is to be shared with all the nations. Israel's peace with all nations is to become a universal peace between and among all nations.
But there's still more. There are to follow certain radical changes in the realm of nature. Splendid rivers of water are to flow through Jerusalem, necessitating changes in the formation of the land there. The fortress capital of the Jews strongly entrenched among the Judean hills is to become, as the world's metropolis, a mighty city, with rivers to float the earth's commerce. The light of the sun and moon will be greatly increased, and yet this greatly intensified light will become at Jerusalem a shadow cast by the greater light of the presence of God. A devout Hebrew would associate this back with the light of the Presence-cloud in the Arabian barrens. While the devout Christian will likely, quickly think forward from that to the light that was one time as the sun, and, again, above the sun's brightness. Naturally, with this comes a renewed fertility of the earth's soil, and the removal of the curse upon vegetation. Before the healing light and heat the poisonous growth, the blight of drought and of untempered heat disappear. There is to be a new earth and above it a new heaven.
To complete the picture, the animal creation is to undergo changes as radical as these. Beasts dangerous because of ferocity and because of treachery and poisonous qualities will be wholly changed. Meat-eating beasts will change their habit of diet, and eat grain and herbs. There will be a mutual cessation of cruelty to animals by man and of danger to man from animals, for all violence will have ceased.
And then the climax is capped by repeated assurances that this marvellous kingdom will be as extensive as the earth and absolutely unending.
The whole thing, be it keenly noticed, is simply a return to the original condition. In the Eden garden was the presence of God, a masterful man in the likeness of God, with full dominion over all creation. There was full accord in all nature, and perfect fellowship between man and nature.
All this is to come to pass through the coming One. He is the key that unlocks this wondrous future. Through all, above all, growing ever bigger, is the shadowy majestic figure of a Man coming. His personal characteristics make Him very attractive and winsome. He will be of unusual mental keenness both in understanding and in wisdom, combined with courage of a high order, and, above all, dominated by a deep reverential, a keenly alert, love for God. He will be beautiful in person and, in sharp contrast with earth's kings, while marked personally with that fine dignity and majesty unconscious of itself, will be gentle and unpretentious in His bearing. His relations with God are direct and very intimate, being personally trained and taught by Him. Backed by all of His omnipotence, He will be charged with the carrying out of His great plans for the chosen people and through them for the world.
In a fine touch it is specially said that |He will judge the poor.| Poor folk, who haven't money to employ lawyers to guard their interests, and haven't time for much education to know better how to protect themselves against those who would take advantage of them -- the poor, that's the overwhelming majority of the whole world -- He will be their judge. They will have a friend on the bench. But He will have this enormous advantage in judging all men, poor and otherwise, that He will not need to decide by what folk tell Him, nor by outside things. He will be able to read down into the motives and back into the life.
Such is the plan for the coming One outlined in these old pages. To many a modern all this must seem like the wildest dream of an utterly unpractical enthusiast. Yet, mark it keenly, this is the conception of this old Hebrew book that has been, and is, the world's standard of morals and of wisdom. The book revered above all others by the most thoughtful men, of all shades of belief. It is striking how the parts of this stupendous conception fit and hold together. There is a mature symmetry about the whole scheme. For instance, the changes in the light of sun and moon run parallel with the changes in growth and in the healthfulness and longer lives of man. Increased light removes both disease and its cause, and gives new life and lengthened life.
Surely these Hebrews are a great people in their visions. And a vision is an essential of greatness. Yet this sublime conception of their future is not regarded as a visionary dream, but calmly declared to be the revealed plan of God for them, and through them for the earth. And that, too, not by any one man, but successively through many generations of men. The prophetic spirit of the nation in the midst of terrible disaster and of moral degradation never loses faith in its ultimate greatness, through the fulfilling of its mission to the nations of the earth.
Is it to be wondered at that the devout Israelite, who believed in his book and its vision, pitched his tent on the hilltop, with his eye ever scanning the eastern horizon, for the figure of the coming One? And when eyes grown dim for the long looking believed that at last that figure was seen, the heart breathed out its grateful relief in |Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen.|