Polskojęzyczna strona poświęcona życiu i twórczości pastora Charlesa Taze Russella
Pastor Charles Taze Russell
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LESSON IV., ISA. 37:14-21,33-38, JANUARY 24.

Golden Text.--"The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them."--Psa. 34:17.

This lesson is a scrap of history incidentally interwoven with Isaiah's prophecy. In reading it we should bear in mind that Israel was God's peculiar people and under his special protection and care, as it is written, "Ye are the children of the Lord your God....Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." "The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure." --Deut. 14:2; Psa. 135:4.

We should remember also that God himself was King of Israel, and that Hezekiah and others were his representatives on the throne, as it is written, "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king, instead of David his father." (1 Chron. 29:23.) While God thus ruled in Israel he permitted all the other nations to pursue their own course and follow their own inclinations except when they interfered with his plans for the government of Israel. When Israel became refractory and disobedient he often chastised them by permitting the other nations to annoy them and take them into captivity, but as long as they were obedient to the Lord they had prosperity.

All the promises made to Israel were promises of temporal good; no mention was made to them of the heavenly hopes set before the Gospel Church. These are peculiar to the gospel dispensation which had its beginning in our Lord's ministry and at Pentecost, and which closes with the dawn of the Millennium. The promises made to Israel were that they should have the land of Canaan "for an everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8), and that, if they were willing and obedient subjects of God, their King, they should "eat the good of the land."-- Isa. 1:19.

But they were also told that if they were disobedient and walked contrary to the Lord, he also would walk contrary to them, and bring upon them distress and trouble. See Lev. 26, and observe in their history how God dealt with them as he said he would do. So long as Israel was under the divine rulership and care no evil could befall them except by divine permission for their correction and discipline, as it is written, "Shall there be evil in a city [a city of Israel], and the Lord hath not done it [or brought it upon them]?" And they were generally forewarned of such impending evils or calamities and given the alternative of repentance; for, said the Prophet (Amos 3:7), "Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

In reading Hezekiah's prayer for the deliverance of Israel from the Assyrian invaders, and the Lord's answer to that prayer in the destruction of the enemy, we are not to consider that a precedent is thus established, whereby other nations may claim God's help in overcoming their national enemies; for none of the other nations has ever been recognized as God's [R1358 : page 30] kingdom, nor has Israel, since the rejection of the Messiah. Since that time, God has had no kingdom set up in the world, but has permitted the Gentile kingdoms to have full sway until the time appointed for the establishment of his own glorious kingdom in the hands of his Anointed--our Lord Jesus and his Church. And when that time arrives, which now is not far distant, all these Gentile kingdoms must be destroyed.

The only sense in which the kingdom of God now is or has been in the world since the beginning of the Gospel age is in its embryo or incipient stage, and it is composed of the prospective heirs of that kingdom. In this sense all through the Gospel age the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and the violent have taken it by force (Matt. 11:12). Suffering and ignominy, and often martyrdom, have been its lot; but the glory is to follow in due time.

This scrap of Israel's history which the Prophet here narrates was given, not merely to point a moral lesson, but to show, in connection with other similar items recorded by other prophets and historians, how God actually did deal with them as a people according to his promises and his threatenings. However, we may take all the good suggestions we can draw out of the narrative. Thus, for instance, we may admire Hezekiah's sterling character, particularly in view of the wicked example of his father who reigned before him; for instead of heedlessly following in his unrighteous ways, as most sons of unrighteous parents incline to do, Hezekiah resolved to do differently, and became a great reformer in his day; and the narrative of this lesson shows his reliance upon God's promises in time of trouble, and how God honored his prayer and fulfilled those promises in the deliverance of Israel from a great impending calamity.

The golden text--"The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth and delivereth them," is applicable to all who fulfill its conditions. [R1358 : page 30]

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