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Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright #14

Jeremiah to Tear down


JUDAH'S SCEPTRE AND JOSEPH'S BIRTHRIGHT #14

by Allen (1917)

JUDAH'S SCEPTRE


THE TEARING DOWN AND ROOTING OUT


     Pursuant to the object of Jeremiah's call and work, the
first king on David's throne to be disposed of was Josiah, for it
was in the thirteenth year of his reign that the call of God came
to Jeremiah, as you may know by reading Jer.1:1,2. Jeremiah
himself gives no account of the downfall of Josiah, but it is
recorded in 2 Kings 23, and 2 Chr. thirty-fifth chapter. It took
place in the days of Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, and
Charchemish, king of Assyria.
     Josiah himself was a good man and a good king; he did all
that could be done to restore the people to the worship of God.
He had all the wizards, workers with familiar spirits, images,
idols and abominations put out of the land; but the Lord would
not stay his threatened punishment of the kingdom of Judea, which
had become "worse" than Israel.
     Concerning the goodness of Josiah, and also his inability to
prevent the impending calamity, it is written "And like unto him
was no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his
heart, and all his soul, and with all his might, according to all
the law of Moses; neither after him arose any like him.
     Notwithstanding, the Lord turned not from the fierceness of
his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah,
because of all the provocations that Manasseh (son of Hezekiah)
had provoked him withal. 

     And the Lord said, I will remove Judah (the Jews) out of my
sight, as I have removed Israel (the ten tribes) (2 Kings,
23:25-27.)
     Not only was Josiah the best king they ever had, and not
only did he put away those abominations, but he also kept the
greatest Passover that was ever held in Israel and Judah since
the days of Samuel the prophet. To this Passover that good king
gave thirtythree thousand and three hundred cattle and oxen, and
to this the princes and people gave willingly of their flocks and
herds, until the number was swelled to many thousand more.
     The sons of Aaron made themselves ready; the people made
themselves ready; the sacrifices were killed; the blood
sprinkled; the offerings were burned upon the altar of the Lord,
and the people kept the feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days.
But all this availed nothing, except a personal blessing to
Josiah, that he should die in peace and not see the destruction
of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people.
     No, the eternal fiat of God had gone forth, and we think
that no number of worshipers, no number of good kings, or good
men, and surely no mighty army of bad men, could stay the
downfall of that nation.
     For the Lord says, "After all this," when PharaohNecho, the
king of Egypt, came up to fight against Charchemish, king of
Assyria, Josiah rashly, without provocation, made it his business
and went out to fight against the king of Egypt, who kindly tried
to restrain him, and sent ambassadors to him saying: "What have I
to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this
day, but against the house (Assyria) wherewith I have war; for
God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with
God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not." And the record
continues: "Nevertheless, Josiah would not turn his face from
him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him and
harkened not unto the word of Necho from the mouth of God, and
came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at
King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away, for
I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that
chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had, and
brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of
the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem
mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah." (2 Chr.
35:21-25.)
     So Jeremiah saw that good king pulled down, and lamented
him, together with the whole nation; and the singing men and
women made an ordinance of lamentations for Josiah, and Shallum
the son of Josiah ascended the throne. But the Lord had said, "I
swear by myself" that this house of Judah shall come to deso-
lation. So he says to this lamenting people: "Weep not for the
dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away:
for he shall return no more, nor see his native country. For thus
saith the Lord touching Shallum, the son of Josiah, which reigned
instead of Josiah, his father, which went out of this place, he
shall not return any more: but he shall die in the place whither
they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more" (Jer.
22:10-12). Thus Jeremiah records the fact of another overthrow;
and so the work goes on.
     Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah, was next to take the
throne of his fathers; but hear the judgment which was pronounced
upon him: "Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Johoiakim,
the son of Josiah, king of Judah: They shall not lament for him
saying (to each other), Ah, my brother! or, my Ah, my sister!
They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah, Lord! or, Ah, his
glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and
cast forth beyond the gates of Jeru salem." (Jer.22:18,19.) 
Another disposed of. Who next?
     "As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah, the son of
Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet
would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of
them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose faces
thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon, and into the hands of the Chaldeans. And I will cast
thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country,
where ye were not born, and there shall ye die. But unto the land
whereunto they desire to return thither shall they not return."
Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? Is he a vessel wherein
is no pleasure? Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and
are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth,
hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord: Write ye this man
childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no man
of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and
ruling any more in Judah." (Jer.22:24-30.)
     Thus Coniah makes the fourth king who has been disposed of
since the Lord called and commissioned Jeremiah; but there is
still another, as recorded by that prophet: "And King Zedekiah,
the son of Josiah, reigned instead of Coniah, the son of
Jehoiakim." (Jer.37:1.)
     Zedekiah, the successor to Coniah, ascended the throne about
six hundred years before Christ. His reign lasted only eleven
years, and he is the last king of the Judo-Davidic line who has
reigned over the Jewish nation from that day to this. Yet God has
said that he would build up David's throne unto all generations,
and prior to that he declared: "The Sceptre shall not depart from
Judah (his posterity), nor a law-giver from between his feet,
until Shiloh come; and unto him (Shiloh) shall the gathering of
the people be." (Gen.49:10). With these facts before us it
behooves us to look well into this history of Zedekiah, and learn
his fate and also that of his family.

     During the reign of Coniah, the predecessor of Zedekiah, the
king of Babylon had come against the kingdom of Judah, subdued it
and carried away the king, his mother, his wives, and others,
into Babylon. Consequently at the time when Zedekiah ascended the
throne, the country of Judah was a province of Babylon. But the
then tolerant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took Mattaniah,
the third son of Josiah, who was of course brother to Jehoiakim,
Coniah's father, and changed his name to Zedekiah, then made him
king instead of Coniah.
     We do not purpose, especially at this time, to go into
endless genealogies, as it is generally confusing to the reader.
In this Josiah family there were at least two Zedekiahs, and
Zedekiahs along the family line for centuries back. There were
also Shallums, and Shallums, and Shallums, and even Coniah's name
is spelled three different ways. We will also say, for the
benefit of the more critical student, that often a man is said to
be the son of another when in fact he is grandson or even further
removed. Christ is the "Son of David," and yet David is his
great-grandfather twenty-eight generations back. "From David
until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations,
and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen
generations." (Matt.1:17.)
     This Zedekiah of whom we write is the third son of Josiah,
for we read, "And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, his
(Coniah's) father's brother, king in his stead, and changed his
name to Zedekiah."
     "Zedekiah was twenty-and-one years old when he began to
reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's
name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah." (2 Kings
24:I7-19.) Thus we find Jeremiah making the following record
concerning Coniah's successor: "And King Zedekiah, the son of
Josiah, reigned instead of Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, whom
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made king in the land of Judah."
(Jer.37:1.) Hence this young king, the fifth to occupy the throne
of David, since Jeremiah had received his commission, was his own
grandson.

     The work of rooting out and tearing down has been well done
so far, and we may rest assured that, although the prophet's own
flesh and blood are on the throne and dwelling in the palace, the
God-assigned work will not stop. But if there should be any very
young or helpless members of that family survive the wreck which
must come during the tearing down and rooting out period, who
would have a greater claim as their natural protector than one so
closely allied by the ties of blood as this very man whom God has
chosen for the work of building and planting, as well as of
tearing down and rooting out?
     Jeremiah records the downfall of Zedekiah and his sons, the
royal princes, as follows: "In the ninth year of Zedekiah, king
of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of
Babylon, and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged
it. And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month,
and the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up. And all
the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle
gate, even Nergal-sharezar, SamgarNebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris,
Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of
Babylon. And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah, the king of
Judah, saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went
forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden,
by the gate betwixt the two walls, and he went out the way of the
plain. But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook
Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and when they had taken him,
they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to
Riblah, in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.
Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah
before his eyes; also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of
Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him in
chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the
king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake
down the walls of Jerusalem. (Jer.39:1-8.)
     In the fifty-second chapter of Jeremiah there is a statement
of these events, to which, after recording the fact concerning
the king's being carried to Babylon in chains, there is added the
following: "And the king of Babylon * * * put him in prison till
the day of his death." (Jer.52:11.)

     Thus ends the history of the last prince of the house of
David who has ever reigned over the Jewish people from that time
until the present; and we know that they are not now, as a
nation, being ruled over by any prince of their royal family; for
they are scattered among all the nations of the earth, and are
now fulfilling, not the prophecies concerning their ultimate and
most glorious destiny, but a class of prophecies which pertain to
this period, or time, of being scattered, which are those of
becoming "a hiss and a byword," "crying for sorrow of heart and
vexation of spirit," and leaving "their name for a curse." When
those events occurred which resulted in the overthrow of the
Zedekiah branch of the royal house, a climax was reached, not
only in the history of all those things which were involved in
the Davidic covenant, but also in that predestined work, for the
accomplishment of which God sanctified and sent Jeremiah into
this world.
     By this climax, the first part of his mission, in all its
phases, was now most thoroughly accomplished - namely, the
plucking up, throwing down, afflicting. Indeed, it was so well
done, that the heretofore accepted authorities in theologic,
historic and ethnologic matters have taught that the sceptre,
throne and kingdom of David were wiped out of existence, together
with the house of David, excepting only another branch of the
family of Josiah, who were carried away into the Babylonish
captivity, of whom came Christ, the son of David, who, according
to the Scripture, must yet sit upon the throne of his father
David. We will give but one example of that class of sophistical
reasoning which has led the mind of the Christian world into this
gross error.
     Take, for instance, the well-known and much-used Polyglot
Bible, published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, of London. The
compilers of this work (whoever they are we know not) give what
is called "A summary view of the principal events of the period
from the close of the sacred canon of the Old Testament until the
times of the New Testament." According to the system of
chronology which this work adopts, the overthrow of Zedekiah
occurred in the year 589 B.C. This proposed summary begins after
the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonish captivity,
but while they were yet under the dominion of the Kingdom of
Persia; and when Artaxerxes Longimanus was the reigning king, who
in his twentieth year commissioned Nehemiah to rebuild the walls
of Jerusalem, an event which happened, according to the
chronology used, in 446 B.C.
     Then follows a brief record of the death and successions of
kings, the rise and fall of dynasties, and the overthrow of
kingdoms, powers, dominions and empires. But it is always shown
conclusively that these ruling powers, whatever might be their
nationality, were dominating the Jewish people.
     The summary shows that Alexander the Great marched into
Judea to punish the people for certain grievances which, in his
mind, they had practiced against him as commander of the Grecian
forces, and that God thwarted him in that purpose. It shows that
when Alexander died the Grecian empire was divided among his four
generals; that Palestine was given to Loamedon, one of those
generals, and that it was soon taken away from him by Ptolemy,
the king of Egypt, that they "rejoiced to submit to this new
master," and what the consequences were. It shows what they
suffered under Antiochus Epiphanes, especially after a false
rumor had been spread concerning his death, which they believed
and rejoiced in, and that in consequence of this rejoicing "he
slew 40,000 persons, sold as many more for slaves, plundered the
temple of gold and furniture to the amount of 80 talents of gold,
entered the Holy of Holies, and sacrificed a sow upon the altar
of burnt offerings, and caused the broth of it to be sprinkled
all over the temple." No greater indignity than this could have
been put upon that people. The summary continues, a truthful
record of suffering after suffering, trouble after trouble, and
indignity after indignity, heaped upon that conquered people, who
during all those centuries were reigned over by their enemies,
the Gentile nations; but not once does the record show - no not
for even one generationthat - they were ruled by a prince of
their own royal house.
     Finally, the summary ends as follows: "At length Antipater,
a noble but crafty Idumaean, by favor of Julius Caesar, was made
procurator of Judea, and Hyrcanus continued in the priesthood.
After Antipater's death, his son, Herod the Great, by the
assistance of Antony, the Roman triumvir, and through much
barbarity and bloodshed assumed the regal dignity; which
authority was at length confirmed by Augustus Caesar. He
maintained his dignity with great ability, but with the utmost
cruelty, in his own family as well as among others, till the
birth of Christ. In the interval he built many cities, and, to
ingratiate himself with the Jews, almost rebuilt the temple.
His cruel attempt to murder the infant Saviour is recorded by the
evangelist; and soon afterward he died most miserably. After some
years, during which the dominions of Herod were governed by his
sons, Judea became a Roman province, and the sceptre departed
from Judah, for Shiloh was come (the italics are their own); and
after having been under the government of Roman procurators for
some years, the whole Jewish state was at length subverted by
Titus, the son of Vespasian."
     The sophistry in the use of those italicised words, as
employed by the compilers of that summary, is that they destroy
the evident meaning of that prophecy to which they refer, by the
substitution of various sceptres - held by various kings, of
various Gentile nations, that have consecutively held dominion
over the Jewish people - for one particular Sceptre, which the
Lord promised should be held, only by some member of Judah's
family line, and which should not cease to be held by those of
his posterity until Shiloh should come.
     If the view, as put forth in the closing sentence of that
summary, is the true one, then the entire prophecy must, for
several reasons, go by default.

(1) A sceptre did not depart from over the Jews when Christ came.
Forty years after Christ had come and gone finds them still under
the power of Rome. Shortly afterward they were dispersed and have
since been scattered among all nations, where they remain unto
this day, and are still being ruled over.

(Remember now when Allen is writing - 1917 - Keith Hunt)

(2) If the first coming of Christ was his Shiloh-coming, then
Shiloh failed; for the people did not gather unto him.

(3) The Lord declares: "Judah is my law giver." According to this
summary and other accepted evidence, Judah as Lawgiver departed
from the Jews 588 years before Shiloh came. Hence that unbridged
chasm of nearly six hundred years stands like a gaping wound in
the side of the Church of Jesus Christ, whenever she is compelled
to show herself in naked honesty. The entire trend of this
summary with its subtle reference to the prophecy in question
seems to be that so long as the Jewish nation was ruled over, no
matter by whom, and held together as a province or state, this
prophecy was vindicated: whereas such vindication, conception,
or use of those words, is only an attempt to hold together, by
daubing with untempered mortar, an edifice which is tottering and
tumbling.
     The most charitable construction which can be put upon such
accommodating, mollifying, weak and abortive efforts to vindicate
the truth of God, is that the persons are ignorant of just some
such vital point as the fact that Jeremiah was called and
commissioned of God to build and plant anew the plucked-up
kingdom of David.
     All who claim that Christ has come as Shiloh are compelled
to resort to just such distortions of the Divine Word as the one
under consideration, in order to fill up that gaping hiatus of
588 years, from the overthrow of Zedekiah until Christ.
     Furthermore, after they have plastered over that gap to
their own (questionable) satisfaction, they are still confronted
with the fact that the Lord God did not give unto Christ the
throne of his father David, nor cause him to reign over the house
of Jacob - no, not even spiritually - for the Jews are a part of
the house of Jacob: as these men themselves are compelled to
admit. Also the Jews are enemies to the gospel of grace which
Jesus Christ came to bring, "but as touching the election (of
race), they are beloved for the fathers' sake."
     Meanwhile, the great question which confronts us is this:
Has God suffered his faithfulness to fail, or allowed any of his
promises to go by default, or permitted his covenant either with
Judah, David or Christ to suffer lapse? The very thought that
such could possibly be the case causes us to feel the first
chilling blight of skepticism to fall heavily upon our hitherto
believing and happy hearts.

     The next link in the chain of this divine history is of such
deep import that it is impossible for us to overestimate its
value, as it is the connecting link between sacred history and
prophecy; for you will notice in the first clause of the
following text we find a record of events which have become
history, but before the sentence is finished we are carried out
into the field of prophecy. "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. (Jer.31:28.)

     The Lord here uses the already accomplished facts of history
as a basis upon which to rest his promise concerning the
accomplishment of those which are yet future. Hence, upon events
which once were prophetic, but which have now become history, he
predicts the fulfillment of others which are still in the future.
But these events must follow as a sequence to those which have
gone before, since both these which are past and those which are
yet to come were originally couched in the same prophecy, in the
same commission, and were to be accomplished by the same prophet,
Jeremiah of Libnah.
The Lord has said that David should never lack a man of his seed
to sit upon that throne. Query - Where was the seed with which
Jeremiah must "build and plant"?
..........

To be continued


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