THE PROPHETICAL BOOKS.
In the Hebrew Canon (Ap. 1) we have:
In the Law, the grace of God was shown to Israel (Deut. 4:31-37, &c.);
but true grace came by Jesus Christ. (See note on John 1:16, 17.)
In the Prophets, we have Jehovah's special dealing with Israel.
In the "former prophets" we see the law-principle; and in the latter prophets
we see faith-principle; and two together presenting us with a wonderful
picture of the failure of man on the one hand, and the faithfulness of
Jehovah on the other.
Through the changing of the order of the books of the prophets, by the
Translators of the Septuagint, the Church has lost sight of the one grand
illustration of the great principle of Old Testament teaching, which is
currently supposed to be taught only in the New; viz, that law-principle
brings in "the curse", whereas faith-principle brings in "the blessing".
There is another Structure, differing from that given in Ap. 1, but equally true, viz. :--
A | JOSHUA. Israel brought into the Land. God keeps His covenant. Israel under priests.B | JUDGES. Israel in the Land. Man breaks the covenant. Failure of the priesthood.A | KINGS. Israel ejected from the Land. Man breaks the covenant as before; the ten tribes and the kings break the one made with David.
Here, in the "former" prophets (Zech. 7:7), we see, arranged in an Introversion,
the whole of Israel's failure in the Land, set forth by the Lord.
Now we are shown in the "latter" prophets how God's faithfulness was
going to secure His own purposes, and Israel's blessing.
Priests and kings were anointed : but God would now send an anointed One, i.e. Messiah; and if they would believe on Him they would be established. For He would be also a Prophet. Corporate testimony had failed : therefore there would be a division among individuals of the nation on account of Him; so that in times of crisis those whose sins had not been expiated by His priestly work would be excluded from the Nation for not hearkening to Him as Prophet (Deut. 18:18, 19), and extirpated by His work as King (Isa. 6:9-13, 7:9; John 7:40-43; Acts 3:19-26; 13:38-52; Matt. 13:36-43). In Him, then, the righteous Servant of Jehovah, the future of Israel is seen in the latter prophets (Isa. 49).
He is both rejected and accepted. The Nation went back to the land to try that question under Divine auspices (Dan. 9:24-27). When they rejected Him, they were not established, but again scattered. But when they accept Him they will be regathered, and never again rooted out.
They can come back only through David (from whom their second breach of covenant referred to was a departure), before the first breach of covenant can be healed up; for the character and form of the Structure (here, as elsewhere) corresponds with the subject-matter; and, in this, the Introversion of the Structure is the same as the principle on which God works : viz., by introversion. The Law must go forth from Zion.
We find then that the following is the Structure, showing
C | ISAIAH. Restoration of the throne of David through the priestly work of Messiah, from the standpoint of the two tribes.D | JEREMIAH. Political disruption, and final restoration of Judah and Ephraim (the twelve tribes) by a new Covenant.C | THE TWELVE MINOR PROPHETS. Restoration of the throne of David through the priestly work of Messiah, from standpoint of the ten tribes. (See the Structure of these, preceding HOSEA.)
The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 has indeed been made (Matt. 26:28); and can never be made again : for His "blood of the Covenant" has been shed, once for all. Had the nation repented on the proclamation of Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19-26), all would have been fulfilled; in the same way as John the Baptist would have been taken for Elijah the prophet (Mal. 3:1; 4:5. Cp. Matt. 11:10-15) had the nation, through its rulers, repented at his proclamation (Matt. 3:1, 2) and that of Messiah (Matt. 4:17, &c.). But, seeing that these great calls to "repent" were not obeyed, both fulfillments stand in abeyance, until this one great condition of national restoration and blessing shall have taken place.
The modern doctrine, in certain circles, that the New Covenant holds good with Gentiles now, or with the present-day "house of Israel", would bestow justification on unbelievers. This is not the teaching of Heb. 8 and 10. This does not affect the position of those who are "in Christ" in this Dispensation of the "Mystery". They have all, and more than all, in that "New Covenant" which will yet bring back blessing to Restored Israel.
When that national repentance does take place, the time will come for
the travailing woman to bring forth (Isa. 66:8; John 16:19-22). But
that is still future. What is true, is that declaration of Jehovah
by Micah : "Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she
which travaileth hath brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren shall
return unto the children of Israel" (Mic. 5:3).