This Theocratic Kingdom, thus incorporated with the Davidic, is removed when the Davidic Kingdom is overthrown.
PROPOSITION 32. This Theocratic Kingdom, thus incorporated with the Davidic, is removed when the Davidic Kingdom is overthrown.
The spirit of prophecy, which expresses the opinion of God in this matter, is emphatic and clear. Thus e.g. take Ps. 89, and the Davidic throne, which it is asserted the Messiah, “the Holy One of Israel,” shall occupy, is represented as completely removed, the throne and crown cast down, God himself having withdrawn in his wrath at the nation’s sinfulness. Numerous predictions, to avoid repetition, will be given hereafter.
Obs. 1. The Proposition is evidenced, (1) by the continued overthrow of what God called His throne and Kingdom (Ezek. 21:25–27, Hos. 3:4, 5, etc.); (2) by the Prophets not recognizing any other Theocratic Kingdom than the one thus connected; (3) by the restoration from Babylon, building of the temple, etc., being never likened to this Kingdom, for although blessings were vouchsafed to the nation from God through His general divine Sovereignty, yet God did not act as their King, which is seen, e.g. in the Jews being still “servants” and others had “dominion over them” (Neh. 9:36, 37), being placed under tribute, (Ezra 4:13 and 7:24); (4) by the simple fact that neither in the temple rebuilt nor in any subsequent political position of the Jews, was God directly accessible as Ruler, to be consulted, etc.; (5) by the Jews themselves, in their future political and religious status, never supposing, after the overthrow of the Davidic Kingdom, that it or the Theocracy connected with it was restored, but constantly and ardently looked for its re-establishment; (6) by the withdrawal of God, more and more decided, so that even for centuries the voice of prophecy was silent. In brief, all the circumstances indicated, that the distinctive features which manifested a Theocracy, were withdrawn, and the religious, the ceremonial, indispensably necessary for the moral preparation and culture of man, was alone continued. The nation was undergoing divine punishment for its non-appreciation of Theocratic privileges.[*]
Note. Some writers, evidently through inadvertency, misuse the word “Theocracy,” when they speak of the “re-establishment of the Theocracy” at the return of Ezra to Jerusalem B.C. 457, distinguishing it from “a free and independent Theocracy” by designating it “a dependent” one. This is to make a partial restoration of the nation and religious rites a Theocracy, when Ezra and the nation were subjects to the sway of Babylon, etc. The least reflection shows the misuse of the term, and especially to make it “dependent,” without restoration (as we shall show) of David’s throne, etc.
Obs. 2. The highest position, politically, occupied by the nation afterward under the brilliant reign of the Maccabean Princes, was never regarded as a return to the Davidic or Theocratic rule. The Asmoneans were not in the Davidic line, and God was not the Theocratic King as once before.[*]
Note. The Theocracy, the Kingdom of God, being withdrawn is the reason why (comp. Obs. 4 below) Daniel’s prophecies, which give an epitome of the world’s history down to the re-establishment of this Theocracy under the Messiah, make no mention (as they consistently could not) of a Kingdom of God on earth running contemporaneously (as many would have us to believe against fact) with the Gentile empires delineated by the Prophet. God’s Spirit does not contradict itself.
Obs. 3. The highest religious position afterward arrived at, when the Temple was restored with magnificence, did not meet the Theocratic features. The second Temple, among other deficiencies, possessed not the manifestation of the Divine Presence of the great King in the Holy of Holies, and gave not forth, as the first Temple, the responses of an earthly Ruler. With all the veneration attached to it by the Jews, they never regarded its erection and their worship there, as the enjoyment of a restored Theocratic government. They still lamented the loss of the once enjoyed precious boon.[*]
Note. Warburton (Div. Leg., B. 5, S. 5) labors to show that the Theocracy existed down to the Coming of the Christ. A more recent writer (Wines, Com. on the Laws, p. 495, etc.) indorses this unhistorical view, and says: “It (Theocracy) was democratical till the time of Saul, monarchical from his accession to the throne till the captivity, and aristocratically after the restoration of the Jews to their own country; but through all these revolutions it retained the Theocratic feature.” This is a serious mistake, utterly opposed to his own definitions (which we have freely given, Props. 25, 26. etc.) of a Theocracy, which he leaves for a lower one of his own framing. It utterly ignores the Scripture testimony; it vitiates the predictions of a restoration; it makes it impossible to understand the covenant and prophecies; and it presents us a Theocracy with its life taken out, its essential meaning removed, its throne and Kingdom overthrown. Alas! that men of ability are so misleading.
Obs. 4. The reader, although perhaps premature in our line of argument, will notice that this feature has its decided influence in shaping the peculiar and striking manner in which the Bible is written and placed together. Unbelief has made itself merry at the early historical narrative of the Jewish nation when contrasted with the mighty empires of the world, at the sudden breaking off of the same, its non-resumption (in the Bible) to present the splendid achievements of the Maccabees, etc. But under all this lies a profound reason. The mighty empires of the world are as nothing to God when compared to His initiatory Theocratic ordering. Small as the latter is when contrasted with Kingdoms that embraced immense territories and a multitude of nations; weak as the subordinate Theocratic kings were when compared with an Alexander or Cyrus or Cæsar, yet in the estimation of Deity, there was in this nucleus, this earnest of government, something that outweighed the grandeur of all earthly Kingdoms. This was the Theocracy. God shows due respect to His own ordering, and hence confines Himself almost exclusively to the history of the Jewish nation. Other Kingdoms are, indeed, mentioned, but only to show their relationship to the Jewish nation and to pronounce their doom, or the final result when the Theocracy shall be triumphantly re-established. This gives the Bible its remarkable cast of expression and its historical connection. Thus e.g. there is a regular tracing of the rise of the nation, the establishment of the Theocracy, and then comes the regular history of the Theocracy to its downfall or rather withdrawal. Everything which led to it, that was connected with it, that led to its abandonment, is given as a matter of interest. Briefly, but boldly, the outlines, the essentials, for a correct apprehension, are presented down to the last King. Then follows the account of the Captivity; of a partial restoration; of the return not meeting the requirements of a restored Theocracy; of God’s fulfilling His Word in punishing; of prophets who predict the re-establishment of the Theocracy; of a long silence of centuries, a sufficiency of prediction having been given and the history of the nation being unworthy of record; of what occurred at the coming of the Messiah, and the mention of continued punishment, of a few predictions confirmatory of the Old Test., but no attempt to verify them, for in the unbroken silence, the dignity of prophecy is exhanced by the fulfilment being taken for granted as something needing no proof, being ever present in history.