Future Revealed  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 44



BESIDES the four main elements of Old Testament Eschatology dealt with in the preceding chapter, there are some others directly connected with the subject, but not of the same importance; it will be of interest to touch briefly upon these.

§i. Theophanies.

There are, broadly speaking, three kinds of Theophanies spoken of in the Old Testament: firstly, those in which God is represented as appearing in human form, e.g., in Gen. xvi. 13, 14, where Hagar is said to have seen God; And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth me; for she said, Have I even here 

p. 45

looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; or Gen. xviii., where three men, one of whom was Jehovah, appeared to Abraham as he sat at the entrance of his tent; or again, Gen. xxxii. 24-32, the account of Jacob wrestling at Peniel (I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved). Then, in the second place, we meet with another species of Theophany, according to which God appears in human form, but His appearance is in visions, i.e., the manifestation is to the spiritual, not the material sight; examples of this are Num. xxiv. 4, Isa. vi. 1f., Ezek. i. If ., and many others. It is not, however, Theophanies of either of these kinds to which attention is invited in the present connection, but rather to examples of those which may be called the more normal type of Theophany; these describe the Deity as appearing in fire or storm, and the like. For example, in the description of the great Theophany on Mount Sinai (Exod. xix. 16-25) we read of thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount. . . . And mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount 

p. 46

quaked greatly. The account in Deut. iv., v. is similar; e.g., iv. 11, 12: . . . And the mountains burned with fire unto the heart of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire. . . . (See, further, iv. 33, 36; v. 4; xxxiii. 2.) Again in Judg. v. 4, 5, we read: Lord, when thou wentest forth out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, yea, the clouds dropped water. The mountains flowed down at the presence of the Lord. But it is in the Psalms that the most vivid descriptions of Theophanies are to be found.; no words could be more awe-inspiring than the account given in Ps. xviii. 7-15 of Jehovah's appearance: Then the earth shook and trembled, the foundations also of the mountains moved and were shaken, because lie was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured; coals were kindled at it. He bowed the heavens also and came down; and thick darkness was under his feet. . . . He sent out his arrows and scattered them; yea, lightnings manifold, and discomfited them. . . . The same thoughts recur in Ps. xcvii. 2-5: Clouds and darkness are round about him . . . a fire goeth before 

p. 47

him, and burneth up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lightened the world; the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord. (See, further, xlvi. 7; lxxxiii. 14, 15; civ. 32; cxliv. 5, 6.) But not less striking are the prophetical books in the descriptions they contain of Jehovah's appearances. Some of the passages to be cited belong perhaps more strictly to §ii. of the preceding chapter, though, as they do not directly mention the coming of Jehovah in the "last times," they come here as appropriately; but, in any case, there is an undoubted connection of thought between passages which describe Theophanies and those which deal directly with prophecies of the Advent of Jehovah in the "last days." In Isa. xxx. 27, 28, we have this theophanic picture: Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are fill of indignation, and his tongue is as a devouring fire; and his breath is an over-flowing stream. (Cf. xxxi. 9; xxxiv. 8-10; Mic. i. 6; Nah. i. 6.) Very graphic are the words in Hab. iii. 3-15: God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and the earth 

p. 48

was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had rays coming forth from his hand. . . . Before him went the pestilence, and fiery bolts went forth at his feet. . . . the eternal mountains were scattered, the everlasting hills did bow; his goings were as of old .. . The sun and the moon stood still in their habitation, at the light of thine arrows as they went, at the shining of thy glittering spear. . . . Thou didst tread the sea with thine horses, the heap of mighty waters. Once more, the thought of Jehovah's appearance in fire is thus expressed in Mal. iv. 1: For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Finally, there is a passage in which the appearance of Jehovah is referred to, but which also contains an element which will come before us again more than once, namely, that at His appearance enmity will arise between relations and friends. This strange phenomenon which, as will be seen later, forms a characteristic feature at the Advent, occurs here apparently for the first time. The passage in question deals, it is true, with a prophecy regarding Egypt; but,

p. 49

as we have already had occasion to remark, the prophets frequently utilise apocalyptic material and adapt it to the historical circumstances of the time: Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians, and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom (Isa. xix. 1, 2).

These passages will be sufficient to show that the conceptions as to the manner of the divine appearances--conceptions which evidently date from very early times--must have greatly influenced the thoughts and words of apocalyptic writers, both Biblical and post-Biblical, in their accounts of the "last things." This is a point which needs to be borne in mind in studying the history of eschatological teaching.

§ii. The Gathering of the Gentiles.

There are a very large number of passages which speak of the gathering together of the

p. 50

[paragraph continues] Gentiles in the "last times"; at first sight some of these passages appear to be contradictory; but if the standpoint of the various writers of them be taken into consideration it will be seen that the Gentiles are regarded from different points of view, and the attitude of these writers towards the Gentiles is the outcome of these different points of view. Thus, some writers regard the Gentiles as altogether bad since they worship idols, and that they are therefore the enemies of Jehovah; for this reason the Gentiles are looked upon only as the objects of divine wrath, and therefore their punishment and destruction are to be consummated in "that day." Other writers, while fully realising that as idolaters the Gentiles are Jehovah's enemies, nevertheless look forward to a time when the conversion of the Gentiles will be brought about, and this will be in the "Day of the Lord"; so that according to these, it will not be punishment and destruction which will come upon the Gentiles in "that day," but a joining together with Israel in the worship of Jehovah, and therefore the showing forth of Him as the God of all the world. The former represent a somewhat narrow nationalism; in their view, Israel, the people of the Lord; and therefore

p. 51

[paragraph continues] His chosen ones, is an altogether unique nation, a "peculiar treasure"; between this "chosen seed" and the peoples of the world there can be no community, least of all a community of worship; this is the Particularist attitude. The latter represent those who have a wider outlook upon the world; to them Jehovah is not only the God of Israel, but the Lord of the whole earth; they see, indeed, that the Israelite nation is, from a religious point of view, superior to the Gentiles with their multiplicity of gods and their impure forms of worship, but this superiority only makes Israel the fitter instrument for bringing the Gentiles to God; in the "Day of the Lord," therefore, they look for the gathering in of the Gentiles into the one fold; this is the Universalist attitude. A characteristic which is common to both attitudes, and which often finds expression, is that for Israel a process of purification is necessary in "that day" before the nation can enter into the joy of the glorious Era that is to follow; and this idea also occurs, as will be seen presently, in respect of the Gentiles. The doctrine of the Remnant, referred to above, expresses this best of all. But, besides those passages which contain the idea, just mentioned, there are

p. 52

some others which describe how that in the "Day of the Lord" the Gentiles shall gather to war against Israel, and shall overcome them, but that after that Jehovah will Himself fight against the Gentiles and utterly annihilate them. The ideas expressed in this last class of passages belong to the Particularist type; they are, comparatively speaking, of late date, and are probably due (in part, at least) to historical conditions; they will come before us again later on.

What has been said must now be briefly illustrated by a few quotations. As an instance of the destruction of the Gentiles Isa. xiii. is instructive, for here is described the final destruction of Babylon, which may be regarded as the enemy of Israel (and therefore of Israel's God) par excellence: The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; the noise of a tumult of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host for the battle. . . . Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand; as destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Therefore shall all hands be feeble, and every heart of man shall melt; and they shall be dismayed; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain 

p. 53

as a woman in travail; they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be faces of flame . . . (verses 4-8; cf. the whole chapter, especially verses 11, 13, 19, etc.). More general is Isa. xxxiv. 1-4: Come near, ye nations, to hear, and hearken, ye peoples; let the earth hear, and the fulness thereof; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the Lord hath indignation against all the nations, and fury against all their host. . . . And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. Edom is then, in the following verses, singled out as the especial object of God's wrath: in verse 8 it continues: For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance . . .; these last words show that the passage is an eschatological one. Similar to this is Isa. lxiii. 4-6, where Edom is again mentioned by name, though the peoples generally are included: For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. . . . And I will tread down the peoples in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will pour out their lifeblood on the earth. One other passage of this type may be given (Zeph. iii. 8) Therefore wait for me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: 

p. 54

for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour out upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. This passage, however, leads on to the second type, the Universalistic attitude, for it continues in the next verse: For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent. A passage of a still more pronounced Universalistic character is Isa. ii. 2-4 (= Mic. iv. 1-3): And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths . . . . This community of worship between Israel and the Gentiles in the "latter days" is again referred to in Isa. xi. 12: And he (Jehovah) shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth; that this is an

p. 55

eschatological passage may be seen from the opening words of the section: And it shall come to pass in that day. . . . Another striking passage of the Universalistic type is Isa. lxvi. 18: The time cometh that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory. (See, further, Isa. xlv. 20, 22, and others.) Lastly, a passage may be given from one of the visions of Zechariah: Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people (ii. 10, 11).

Two passages must now be referred to which tell of the gathering together of the Gentiles for the purpose of attacking Israel, but they are finally destroyed through the intervention of Jehovah Himself. The first is Ezek. xxxviii. 14-xxxix. 16: Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord; In that day when my people Israel dwelleth securely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the uttermost parts of the north, thou, and many peoples with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company and a mighty army; and thou shalt come up against my people 

p. 56

[paragraph continues] Israel, as a cloud to cover the land. . . . And it shall come to pass in that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up into my nostrils. . . . And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his hordes, and upon the many peoples that are with him, an overflowing shower, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone. . . . And 1 will send a fire upon Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles . . . This great conflict between the Gentiles gathered together under Gog and Magog, and the nation of Israel in the first place, and then, after Israel's defeat, between Jehovah and the Gentiles, when the latter are annihilated--is one of the most striking elements in the Eschatological Drama. While starting from the historical conditions of the time, and in fact always based on these in the first instance, the war of Gog and Magog with Jehovah represents the idea of the final conflict between the powers of good and evil; it was always the great heathen world-powers which were especially thought of as representing evil; in Ezekiel's prophecy, Persia, Cush and Put are mentioned by name (xxxviii. 5); in the time of the Maccabees the representative oppressive

p. 57

heathen power was the Syrian-Greek empire of Antiochus Epiphanes; and later on, when this disappeared, its place was taken by Rome. It is Jehovah Who is described as gathering together the heathen powers for the conflict; and the defeat of Israel, prior to the destruction of the Gentiles, probably expresses the purificatory process whereby Israel is made fit to inherit the Messianic kingdom which is to be inaugurated after the terrors of "those days." One other passage may be cited to illustrate this; it is Zech. xiv. 1-11: Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, when thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled. . . . Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. . . . And the Lord shall be king over all the earth. . . . And men shall dwell therein, and there shall be no more curse; but Jerusalem shall dwell safely.

iii. The Ingathering of Israel.

This is so obvious an element of the subject which we are considering, that only a very

p. 58

brief reference need be made to it. The passage which seems to have been especially influential in forming the ideas of later writers on this point is Isa. xxvii. 13: And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great trumpet shall be blown; and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and they that were outcasts in the land of Egypt; and they shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem. The same type of prophecy occurs in Isa. xi. 11: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt . . . and from the islands of the sea. (See also Isa. xxxv. 8-10; Mic. vii. 12; Zech. x. 6-11.) Some passages are noteworthy as anticipating that the Gentiles will themselves escort the scattered Israelites back (see Isa. xliv. 22, lx. 4-9, lxvi. 20, and others). So that the ingathering of the dispersed Israelites became a regular and permanent feature in the picture of the "last times." The thought of Israel's ingathering being connected with the purification of the nation has already been alluded to.

p. 59

§iv. The Resurrection of the Dead.

A belief in the Resurrection of the Dead in the "last days" is an integral part of Jewish eschatological teaching. The earliest witness to this belief is apparently Isa. xxvi. 19, a difficult verse, the meaning of which is not brought out with sufficient clearness in the R.V. rendering, which we give, however: Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead. The writer, who speaks in the name of the people, looks forward to the setting up of the kingdom, with a strong city, whose walls and bulwarks are salvation, and whose gates will be entered by "a righteous nation" (xxvi. 1 ff); and since the nation is but few, the righteous dead shall rise and share the blessedness of the regenerate nation (xxvi. 19). This notable verse should, with Duhm and Cheyne, be read as follows: Thy dead men (Israel) shall arise; the inhabitants of the dust shall awake and shout for joy; for a dew of lights is thy dew, and the earth shall bring to life the Shades1 Most

p. 60

likely based on this passage is Dan. xii. 2, 3: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. The mention here of the resurrection of the wicked implies a great development of belief since Isa. xxvi. was written. An idea which later on doubtless gave a further impulse to the doctrine of the Resurrection was that those who suffered martyrdom for the Law were worthy to share in the future glories of Israel. In the crudest form of the doctrine, the Resurrection was confined to the Holy Land--those buried elsewhere would have to burrow through the ground to Palestine--and to Israelites. The trumpet-blast which was to be the signal for the ingathering of the exiles would also rouse the sleeping dead. 1

§v. The Messianic Banquet.

This point is interesting, but not important;

p. 61

it is only mentioned here because it is referred to in the Gospels (see below) in a spiritualised form. In Zeph. i. 7, we have a reference to this: Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for or the day of the Lord is at hand; for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath sanctified his guests. The ideas concerning this Banquet were greatly developed in later times: according to Rabbinical teaching the righteous are to feed on Leviathan (see Isa. xxvii. 1) when the new kingdom--the kingdom of the Messiah--is established.

We shall have occasion to revert to this subject again.


It will be useful now, before we proceed, to gather up the main points of what has been said regarding the Eschatology of the Old Testament.

Everything centres round the "Day of the Lord," which heralds the end of the present conditions on earth and is to inaugurate a new era. This "Day" is referred to often as the "last times," and is to be preceded by certain signs, namely, terrifying phenomena in

p. 62

the heavens, darkness on earth, sorrow and lamentation among men, wars, enmity among friends and relations, and the general break-up of society. The central figure in that "Day" is Jehovah, Whose Advent as Judge is then to be looked for; He will come and set up His Kingdom on Mount Zion, and will renovate all things. Sometimes, however, the central figure is the Messiah, who is to appear as God's representative; this conception comes more and more to the fore as time goes on. There is to be a forerunner, who is to be the prophet Elijah, and he will come to warn the people of the Messiah's near approach. When the actual Advent takes place, the first act of the Judge will be to pronounce the condemnation of the Wicked, who are the enemies of Jehovah. On the other hand, the Righteous will be blest, and peace and happiness is to be their lot. Two tendencies, the Particularistic and the Universalistic, are observable; according to the former, the Gentiles are regarded as altogether outside the pale of Divine mercy, and they have therefore nothing to look forward to in the "last times" but eternal punishment; according to the latter, Jehovah is not merely the God of Israel, but of the whole earth, and whosoever obeys Him,

p. 63

even though it be late in the day, will be numbered among the Blessed. And not only so, but the Israelites themselves, though they are the "Chosen People," will only be received into the Kingdom that is to be set up if they have proved themselves worthy. Not infrequently the prophets declare that owing to the wickedness of the nation, it is only a "Remnant" that shall be saved in that day.

It was pointed out more than once that the historical conditions of the time often furnished a point of attachment for eschatological teaching; this important point must be constantly borne in mind.

Then, besides these four main elements, there were some others which required a passing notice. It was pointed out that the normal type of Theophany in the Old Testament--that, namely, which describes the Deity as appearing in fire and storm, and the like--must be taken into consideration in studying the antecedents of the eschatological teaching of the Gospels. Secondly, the gathering of the Gentiles in the "last times" was shown to be a regular feature in Old Testament Eschatology; here again the two attitudes of thought referred to above come into evidence; on the one hand, this gathering of the Gentiles

p. 64

is declared to be merely a preliminary to their final destruction; on the other, it is in order that they may be gathered into the fold of the Righteous. Sometimes the nation of Israel is designated as being the medium for bringing the Gentiles to God. Thirdly, the ingathering of Israel became, in the later prophetical literature, a regular and permanent feature of the "last times." A belief in the Resurrection is at least adumbrated in the two passages, Isa. xxvi. 19; Dan. xii. 2, 3. And lastly, the idea of a Messianic Banquet was likewise seen to be probably referred to in Zeph. i. 7.

According to the Old Testament presentment of the Eschatological Drama, it is on this earth that it all takes place, and the Kingdom to be established is likewise of this world; at the same time, some supernatural traits seem to foreshadow more spiritual ideas.


59:1 Charles in Encycl. Bibl. ii. 1364.

60:1 Cf. Oesterley and Box, The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue, p. 224.

Next: Chapter IV. The Antecedents of the Gospel Teaching. The Apocalyptic Literature: Introductory.