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WHAT THE LORD HATH SPOKEN.

Beloved Editors And Brethren: – The testimony of the holy prophets of God, whom he called and inspired, is not merely the word of men, but as really the word of the Lord, which cannot be broken. All who admit the truth of revelation must admit this. For the Lord spoke by the prophets: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” – Heb. i. 1,2. Therefore Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” This was true also of the words spoken by the prophets of God. For this cause it was usual for them to preface their messages with, “Thus saith the Lord.” This testimony of the divine prophets is therefore infallible, as were the words of the holy Son of God, who said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” Concerning the faithful fulfillment of his word, the Lord says it is as the rain and snow, which make the earth fruitful: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” The “shalls” of the Lord God omnipotent cannot fail, because he is the Almighty and reigneth. This must be admitted.

With this established, let us now turn to the words of the “holy men of God (who) spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” which the apostle says is “a more sure word of prophecy;” more sure than oven the heavenly vision of Christ’s transfiguration upon the sacred mount, which only three of his disciples were witnesses to; but the truth of the infallible prophecies all his people shall witness to.

The testimony of the prophets of the Most High related to future events. Let us keep this fact in mind; for thus we must see that they spoke by revelation, and declared the infallible word of the Lord, whose faithfulness and omnipotence would surely fulfill all that he had thus spoken. To say any prophecy or foretold event might possibly fail to come to pass, would be a denial of God’s revealed truth, as the so-called “higher critics “now deny it, and desecrating the inspired oracles of God to the mere word of man. But with the inspiration of the prophecies admitted, we then must see that the holy prophets declared the things which God had before ordained should come to pass, just as he himself had thus revealed them to his servants, whom he had called for this very purpose. Surely none will call the truth of this in question, for it is certain that future events must have been unalterably fixed or determined, either by the Lord, who revealed them to the prophets, or by some other determining power, or else they must all have failed to come to pass. To see that it must be thus, we need only consider that all things which are dependent upon the wisdom and power of men are liable to fail, and that many of the mighty and far-reaching events of prophecy were hundreds of years in the future when the prophets were moved to write them. Therefore between the time of the prophecies and the times of their fulfillment, many generations of men were born and died, and countless events and changes took place, some of them involving and affecting unborn generations, and even including the rise and fall of nations and governments on earth. All this made it absolutely necessary that all the intervening circumstances and every event between the word spoken by the prophets of God and the fulfillment thereof must not only have been certainly foreknown by the Lord God, but as well determined by him. For if one link in the chain of successive events had been broken or subject to failure, all else connected with it would likewise have been liable to fail, and the purpose and end foretold must have been defeated. Hence either God or some other shaping or determining and controlling power, a power and intelligence mightier than all intervening powers and things, did sovereignly determine the end foretold from the beginning, when the prophet wrote, “Thus saith the Lord.” What power is it then that subjects and controls all events and things, great and small, so definitely that they all so certainly link together and combine in the exact accomplishment of the word spoken generations and ages before! Will the candid reader candidly answer, as unto the Lord! If it is admitted that all prophetic events, with all things else, were infallibly seen and foreknown by the omniscient One, yet denied that they were also determined by him in his infinite wisdom and according to his eternal purpose. then will the reader please answer the question, What controlling wisdom and power does establish the unfailing certainty of all prophetic events, and all other things certainly foreknown unto the Lord! For just as the omniscience of the omnipresent God foresaw all creatures and things, so must they be, or else the foreknowledge of God is denied. There is then an absolute certainty in the exact fulfillment of all foretold events and foreknown things, although hundreds and thousands of years may intervene between the foreknowledge and its accomplishment, with millions of interposing people and events; yet all those must be subordinated to the performance of the far distant thing foreknown and foretold precisely at the time and place and in the way the prophets of the Most High declared that thus it shall be.

Now, therefore, it is absolutely certain that some superintending wisdom and controlling power does sovereignly preside over all creatures and things in all the universe, so that all do in the end result in the very things which God eternally foresaw and foreknew should come to pass, according to his infallible word by his inspired servants the prophets, to whom he revealed those far off and momentous events. The prophets spoke and wrote them with an absolute certainty, as the historian records actual history, as though the things foretold were already done. This fact is truly wonderful. Upon the certain fulfillment of the prophecies rests the anthenticity of the holy Scriptures and the infallibility of the holy One, who spake by the prophets. A sacred reverence and humility becomes us, therefore, when we speak of God and his oracles. So now shall we meekly confess that the omnipotent One holds the reins of universal dominion and controls all things, to the certain accomplishment of his eternal foreknowledge of them? or will we deny him this prerogative and controlling jurisdiction, according to his infinite wisdom and almighty power, and attribute this certain control of all things to some other being or power? For certain it is that some overruling power does control and subject all things in the universe to the accomplishment of God’s absolute foreknowledge of them. Then which is wisest, safest and best, to ascribe this wisdom, dominion and controlling power to the holy God, or to wicked men and devils? But should we attribute the certainty of all things, just as God foreknew them, and as the prophets foretold many of them, to certain fixed natural forces and laws, as combining causes to produce the certain results, the question then remains to be answered, Who ordained or established and supports the fixed laws in the universe, so that they are thus unfailing in bringing to pass every foreknown event! God himself is the Lawmaker, and all his laws in his limitless dominion are ordained and maintained by his almighty power. This we must admit, or deny the God above us, and make him subject to some extraneous power and control. But his inspired prophets and apostles, who testify of him, as he revealed himself to them, ascribe to the Almighty all dominion and power, and abundantly declare that he is the omnipotent One, and all worlds, creatures and things are put under his feet, or subjected to his dominion and control. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Thus God is over all and controls all.

With these primary truths thus clearly established, we may now turn to a few of the very many solemn declarations of the Lord by his ordained prophets, by which let us be meekly instructed, while we are awed before the righteous majesty of our God:

“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” – Hab. ii. 2, 3. This is equally true of all the visions which the Lord gave to his prophets. They are “for an appointed time, but at the end they shall speak, and not lie.” “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed them far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” – Isa. vi. 11, 12. This was fulfilled against the people and land of Israel, by their ungodly and warring enemies, yet the Lord declared that he would remove them far away. For their sins he did it. (Let it be understood once for all, that all the righteous judgments of God upon the world are for the sins of men, justly meted out for their transgressions, in all of which God is holy, and justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne, and mercy and truth go before his face.) “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though my people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” – Isaiah x. (Please read the chapter.) “I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. * * * Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. * * * And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” – Isa. xiii. (Read this solemn chapter.) “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. * * * The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken his word.” – Isaiah xxiv. “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. * * * And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.” – Isaiah xxiv. “Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. * * * Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and live thousand.” – Isaiah xxxvii. “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the iirst; and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people! and the things are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.” – Isa. xliv. Here the Lord says that he appointed the ancient people, and the things that are coming, and shall come. All the quoted words of the Lord are plain. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” – Isa. xlv. “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.” – Isa. xlviii. The Lord declared this to his people Israel. How it should rebuke and humble us before him.

The prophet foretold the Lord’s glorious work of salvation in his reign of righteousness and mercy among the nations, saying, “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” – Isa. lix. “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” – Isa. lxi. “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.” – Isa. lxiii. Thus did the Lord speak about seven hundred years before Christ came and redeemed his people, trod down the rebellious nation of the Jews, and then the cruel Roman nation, and caused righteousness and praise to spring forth from the Gentiles. The prophets, and they that feared the Lord in Israel, and that thought upon his name, waited long, yet in the fullness of the time appointed, and just as the Most High had decreed and declared, the vision spake, and did not tarry, for the word of the Lord cannot be broken. True, unbelieving and wicked men, actuated by the flesh and the devil, combined to defeat the accomplishment of this great and glorious work and purpose of the Lord; but he had them in derision, laughed when their fear came, and mocked at their calamity. “And when ye see this, jour heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. * * * For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. * * * And they shall declare my name among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations. * * * For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. * * * And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” – Isaiah lxvi. These are the last words of the Lord by this great prophet. How full of majesty, glory and wonder they are! For just as the Lord hath spoken, so shall it come to pass. All worlds and beings cannot hinder it nor hasten it. This is the Lord God of the holy prophets. We may well adore this Jehovah of the Bible with humble reverence, while we take refuge under his almighty wing, for in him is everlasting strength, safety and salvation, and he is able to save us unto the uttermost.

“Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf.” “Behold, God exalteth by his power; who teacheth like him! Who hath enjoined him his way! or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity! Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it: man may behold it afar off. Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. * * * Touching the Almighty, we canuot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.” This is the testimony of Elihu to Job. Of cloud and wind and storm he says, God turneth them about by his counsels, “that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy. Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” Elihu thus speaks to us, too. “Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth! then shalt thou answer them, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. And I will cause them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.” – Jer. xv. “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye light against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them in the midst of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath. And I will smite the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast: they shall die of a great pestilence.” – Jer. xxi. “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off! Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him, saith the Lord! Do not I fill heaven and earth! saith the Lord.” – Jer. xxiii. “And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.” – Jer. xxv. The righteous God declared that he himself would bring those fearful but just judgments upon all those guilty nations, including his own people of Israel, who were guilty of the grossest idolatries and backslidings. Yet he would in mercy restore his people, and bring them again to Zion and bless them for his own glory.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that lime, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” – Jer. xxxiii. The Lord Jesus was the Branch or Son of David, and be reigns in righteousness upon his throne, doing the will of God, having obtained eternal redemption for his people, and ascended on high.

All those prophetic mighty events, involving the destinies of many peoples, and nations not a few, relating to wars and famines, plagues and pestilences, no less than the peaceful reign of Immanuel in the salvation of his redeemed among all nations, most solemnly declare that “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth “in it all, and accomplished his sovereign and righteous purpose in all those awful calamities and great national events, which his mouth foretold should so come to pass, even saying that he would bring them to pass. Because the Holy One has sovereignly thus foretold those mighty events, and fulfilled them in his judgments upon the sinful nations, shall we be so foolhardy and daring in presumption as to impiously say, If God thus purposed and determined all the atrocities and cruelties of those warring and life-destroying nations, then he himself is the author and doer of all the monstrous cruelty of those wicked nations, and is responsible for it! God forbid. Are we in God’s stead? Shall finite, sinful and ignorant creatures, whose very being and breath are dependent upon the infinite and holy and almighty Creator, rise up in judgment against him! What blind and stupid folly. Let vain man say what he will, the word of the almighty by the prophets most positively declared that thus it should be, and that he would surely execute those calamitous judgments, both upon his own people and the surrounding heathen nations. It is time to call a halt, and that men professing to be the servants of God should cease from replying against the holy Lord God Almighty, as he has declared himself by his faithful prophets. For such railing against the Lord God of the prophets, as to say that if he determined such wicked acts of men and nations, as the prophesies cited clearly show and plainly declare, makes the Holy One the author of all that sin and wickedness, and responsible for it, is blaspheming and profaning the name of the Most High, and it betrays a shocking degree of vain arrogance and conceited presumption and bigoted ignorance, or else a sinful creature would not thus speak against the holy Creator.

(Concluded in next number.)

D. BARTLEY

Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1901.