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Studies in the Prophets.
The theme of all the Prophets.
Great stress has been placed upon the necessity for the right division of Scripture in the pages of
this magazine, and with sixteen years of study and publicity we realize more than ever how fundamental,
how essential 2 Tim. 2: 15 is to the true interpretation of all Scripture. This division, however, never
loses sight of-the organic, oneness of the Scriptures, a truth expressed in our key pamphlet which we
have entitled "United, yet Divided." The prophets of the O.T. spoke to Israel, Judah, or the nations. The
church as understood by Paul in his later ministry was never in view, yet although this is so, it by no
means indicates that the Gentiles, saved by grace and called to share the glories of the heavenly places,
have no interest in these O.T. prophets, or that no spiritual blessings can be received by their prayerful
study. On the contrary, while we see the essential difference that there is between Jew, Gentile, and
Church, between Kingdom, Bride and Body, between earth, heaven and the super heavens, yet we also
rejoice in the fact that all are the objects of the love of God, redeemed by the same precious blood, and
parts of one great and majestic purpose. As fellow-partakers, therefore, of the grace of God, it warms our
hearts and helps us to understand our own pathway better to trace His hand and see His ways with His
typical people Israel.
We therefore propose to study the teaching of the O.T. prophets in this series. We are immediately
confronted with the question of time and space, for the O.T. prophets equal two-thirds of the complete
N.T. in bulk, and therefore anything like an exhaustive study is quite outside the possibilities of these
pages. Our studies therefore will have to be broad views, with a descent into details where the passage is
peculiarly representative, leaving the student to pursue by means of these helps and hints the delightful
task of closer study of God's wonderful purposes for His ancient people.
The underlying theme.
The unity of theme that is traceable through the prophets (omitting Jonah, whose message was to
Nineveh and not to Israel) is of greater importance as an aid to understanding than the observation of the
individual peculiarities of each prophet. The fact that God used a great variety of human agents, who
were cal1ed in a variety of circumstances "at sundry times and in divers manners," would necessarily
leave its impress upon the mode of revelation without altering for one moment its full inspiration. Isaiah
wrote his messages before the captivity, and spoke particularly though not exclusively "concerning Judah
and Jerusalem"; Ezekiel and Daniel receive their visions during the captivity, both describe wonders and
heavenly visions, but from different standpoints. Zechariah and Daniel prophesy at the close of the
captivity. Sometimes the bulk of a prophet's burden is that of judgment, burning indignation, or bitter
tears; terrible threats or tender entreaties may characterize this prophet or that, but whether dominant or
recessive, whether minor or major, whether subdued or overflowing, we find one grand theme runs
through every prophet's utterance.
ISAIAH.-This great prophet, to whose rapt visions and burning words we turn for, perhaps the
fullest Messianic prophecies, is divided into two parts;-
Chapter 1:--39: . . . Israel's dispersion . . . "The Voice" (6:).
Chapter xl--xlvi . . .... Israel's restoration . . . "The Voice" (40:).
These main sections have, of course, many sub-divisions. Moreover, we do not suggest that the
prophet's words are to be considered as being in water-tight departments. Anticipations of coming glory
find their way into the early section. References to dispersion and judgment are to be found in the later
section, but speaking generally of the book as a whole the above is a fair presentation of its trend.
JEREMIAH.-The analysis of Jeremiah is much more complicated than that of Isaiah. Chronological
sequence at times gives place to the necessities of prophetic and dispensational instruction. There is
nevertheless a very complete parallel with Isaiah in the use and distribution of one important feature, to
which we shall have to devote a separate paper owing to its length and importance. Two passages in
Jeremiah, however, may be looked upon as the foci of his prophecy:
"See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy,
and to throw down, to build, and to plant. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest
thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten My
word to perform it" (Jer. 1: 10-12).
"And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw
down, and to destroy, and to afflict: so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the Lord. . . . If those
ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me
for ever" (Jer. 31: 28,36).