Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 6
(237) IN my fifth book of the Proof of the Gospel the doctrine of the Father and the Son has been clearly defined in the confession of one Almighty God, and in the proof of a Second Being coming after Him as Head of all begotten things, Whom the Holy Scriptures named of old the Firstborn Wisdom of God, the Only-begotten Son, God of God, the Angel of Great Counsel, the Leader of the Host of Heaven, the Minister of the Father, yea, even Lord of the Universe, Word of God and Power of God, and if now the witness of the prophets should shew that they foretold that God intended to come to men, it will be abundantly evident to whom we must apply this prediction, especially as according to what I have said already, the Word of God, under the Name of Lord and God, appeared to human eyes, to the pious men of Abraham's day, made in the form and likeness of man.
So let us now examine any such predictions of the Hebrew oracles, that now the Ford, now God, would descend to men and again ascend in their sight, and the causes of His descent: and you will note that some prophecies are veiled and some clearly expressed. I hold that the secret prophecies were delivered in a disguised form because of the Jews, as the predictions concerning them were unfavourable; because they would most probably have destroyed the writing, if it had plainly foretold their final ruin; just as history shows that they attacked the prophets, because they rebuked them. But the prophecies that are clear include beyond all doubt |2 the call of the Gentiles, and announce the promises of the reward of holiness not only to the Jewish race, but to all men throughout the world. As this is so, we must now hear the divine oracles.
(238) Of the Sojourn of the Word of God with Men.
From Psalm xvii.
The Shewing forth of the Coming of God to Men, and the Consequent Call of the Gentiles.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xvii. 9-11.]
I CONSIDER that we have here an express prophecy of God's Descent from heaven. For after telling many divine truths he adds the above. In saying "He bowed the heavens and came down," he notes that humiliation of the Divine Glory, which the divine apostle expressed, when he said:
"Who being in the form of God, did not consider it a prize to be equal with God, but emptied himself, and took the form of a servant."
And by the words, "He rode upon Cherubim and flew," I believe he presents darkly the return to Divine Glory, which He made surrounded by troops of angelic and divine powers. And this also seems to be intended by, "He flew upon the wings of the wind." And by "making darkness his secret-place, and darkness under his feet," is signified the hidden and secret dispensation, under which He accomplished all this. What shall we understand by "round about him was his tabernacle" but His Holy Catholic Church, either the earthly, or the heavenly? And afterwards at the end of the same Psalm, there is a prophecy of the rejection of the former people coincident with the call of the Gentiles:
" 43. Save me from the gainsayings of the people, thou wilt make me the head of the Gentiles. A people whom I have not known shall serve me.
"44. At the hearing of the ear they obeyed me: the strange children lied to me. |3
"45. The strange children waxed old: and grew lame from their paths."
I will examine in the proper place what meaning is to be attributed to this.
The Ascent of God Who had First descended, and the Calling of all the Gentiles thereafter, to know the One and Only God.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xlvi. 1-9.]
WHAT can the Ascension of the Lord God here mentioned imply, but a Descent previous to His Ascension, after which the calling of all the Gentiles is again prophesied, and good news of joy and gladness announced to all nations in their future knowledge of God, when the Lord Himself, He that is the one Most High God and King of all the earth, is said to subdue the peoples under us. And who are meant by "us"? Surely those who give the prophecy: which will be clearly seen to be fulfilled, when all the nations that believe in Christ are subdued to the teaching of the prophets.
Or they might be spoken in the person of our Saviour's apostles, who also could say, "He has chosen out an inheritance for us." And what else could be understood by "his inheritance," but the calling of all nations, which the Christ of God shewed forth Himself, when He said: "The Lord said unto me, Thou art my Son: to-day have I begotten thee . . . Desire of me and I shall give the heathen for thine inheritance, and the bounds of the earth for thy possession? "This inheritance, then, that was given Him by the Father He subordinated to His apostles and prophets, by subduing those that believed on Him to their words agreeably to the above prophecies.
And the Word of God, of Whom I have discoursed so much, after accomplishing all things in His appearance among men, "ascended with a shout." This is interpreted by the apostle, who says: "That he ascended, what is it but |4 that he also descended first to the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same as He Who ascended far above all heavens." And he says that He ascended with a shout, because of the companies of angels proclaiming His Divinity as He went up, who also said: "Open your gates, ye rulers, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in."
And you would not err in identifying the sound of the trumpet with the preaching of the Gospel heard in all the world. For as the trumpet is the loudest of all musical instruments, it seems a fit symbol to shew forth that the teaching given to all men about Christ is proclaimed in stronger and louder tones than any other teaching has ever been, by which as by a trumpet for the hearing of all men the Holy Spirit shouts and cries what follows in this Psalm, "Sing to the Lord, sing, sing to our King, sing, That God is King "not only of the Jewish race in the future, he says, but "of all the earth, sing with understanding."
No more the daemons of old, he says, no more the earth-bound and weak spirits, but God Himself rules over all the nations, God Himself, Who sits upon His holy seat.
I have already in the preceding book treated of the throne of God the Word, on which the Father bade Him sit, "Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet." And we can still more clearly refer the words, "The princes of the peoples were gathered together with the God of Abraham," to the Gentile rulers of the Christian Church coming into the inheritance of God's pious prophets of old, who, waxing strong by the power of the Saviour, have been lifted up, no man being able to cast them down or humble them because of the right hand of God that raises them and gives them power. But of this I will give fuller treatment when I have leisure. |5
From Psalm xlix.
How it is said that God will come dearly to Men, and will call all Races of Men io Himself.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xlix. 1-14.]
HERE the divine prediction clearly prophesies that God will come manifestly, meaning none other but the Word of God. And it shews the reason of His coming, again emphasizing the calling of all nations of the world. For it says, "He (d) has called the earth from the rising of the sun to the setting"; and it teaches that the rejection of the outward worship according to the Mosaic Law will follow hard after His Manifestation and the calling of the Gentiles, a worship which actually ceased after the manifestation of the Word of God to all men. For from that day to this all men throughout all the world have been called, and all the nations of the east and west. And the Jewish worship has ceased (262) and been abolished, all men being called to worship according to the new Covenant of the preaching of the Gospel, and not according to the Law of Moses. We might also apply these prophecies to our Saviour's second and glorious Coming.
From Psalm lxxxiii.
That God is said to be about to be seen on Earth through the Manifestation of the Christ to Men.
[Passage quoted, Ps. Ixxxiii. 7.]
AFTER saying that the God of gods shall be seen, he prays that His Manifestation may take place quickly, teaching in what manner He will be seen in the words, "Look on the lace of thy Christ," as if he said more clearly, "Manifest thyself to us in the person of Christ." For since "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father that sent me," He naturally promises that the God of God who dwells in Christ will manifest Himself in the Person of Christ. |6
From Psalm xcv.
The Coining of Christ on Earth, and His Kingdom over the Gentiles, and the New Song which shall be given, not to Israel but to the Gentiles.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xcv. 1-13.]
(b) HERE again the Coming of the Lord to men is foretold, and that a new song shall be sung at His Coming, by which is meant the new Covenant, by the whole earth, not by the Jewish race; and that the good news will be no longer for Israel, but for all the nations, since it says that the Lord Who is to come will be their King. But who could this be but God the Word, Who, intending to judge the world in righteousness and the human race in truth, reckons all men in the world equally worthy of His call, and of the salvation of God consequent thereon?
(c) CHAPTER 6
From Psalm xcvii.
The New Song, the Knowledge of the Heathen of the Lord's Righteousness and His Own Coming as Judge of the Universe.
[Passage quoted, Ps. xcvii. 1-8.]
IT is prophesied here that the Coming of the Lord will be the cause of great benefits to the nations, which have been proved to have actually accrued to them, through the manifestation of our Saviour. For of a truth from then and not before the new song of the new Covenant has been sung among all men, and His wonders have been known (264) and heard by all men through the written gospels. Yea, and salvation also, by the Resurrection of the Lord from the dead, has been revealed to all nations, and the true righteousness, by which it has been clearly proved, that God is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles. "Since there is one God," in the words of the holy apostle, |7 "who will judge the circumcision from their faith, and the uncircumcision through faith." And the words, "for he cometh to judge the earth," might refer also to His second Coming."
From Psalm cvii.
The Word of God sent forth for the Healing and Salvation of Souls Long Time afflicted with Evil.
[Passages quoted, Ps. cvii. 15-19, 32-36.]
THIS clearly gives the good news of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, Who is named, and of the result of His Coming. For it says, "He sent his Word and healed them." And we say distinctly that the Word of God was He that was sent as the Saviour of all men, Whom we are taught by the Holy Scriptures to reckon divine. And it (265) darkly suggests that He came down even unto death for the sake of those who had died before Him, and in revealing the redemption of those to be saved by Him it shews the reason of His Coming. For He saved without aid from any one those that had gone before Him even to the gates of death, healed them and rescued them from their destruction. And this He did simply by breaking what are called the gates of death, and crushing the bars of iron. And (b) then the prophecy proceeds to predict the state of desolation of those who rejected Him when He came. For it says, "He turned rivers into a wilderness, and rivers of waters into thirst, a fruitful land into saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein": which you will understand if you behold Jerusalem of old, the famous city of the Jewish race, her glory and her fruitfulness, despoiled now of her holy citizens and pious men. For (c) after the coming of Christ she became as the prophet truly says without fruit or water, and quite deserted, "saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." |8
To this is added quite in the prophetic manner a veiled prediction of the change of the long-time desert and thirsty land, referring either to the individual soul, or to the turning of the Gentile Church to holiness, and of its fertility in divine words. This is clearly predicted in a veiled way, when it says, "He made the desert into pools of water," and that which follows. But to understand this one must have wisdom from God; according to the monition at the end of the Psalm, which says, "Who is wise, and he will (d) keep this? "and that which follows.
From Psalms cxvii. and cxviii.
The Calling of the Gentiles, God Manifested, and Pressed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
[Passages quoted, Pss. cxvii. 1 and cxviii. 25.]
(266) HOLY Scripture records that this prophecy was fulfilled when our Lord and Saviour Christ entered Jerusalem, and a great multitude of men and children went before Him (b) crying with joy, "Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest." For instead of, "O Lord, save us," as expressed in the Psalm, they cried out the Hebrew "Hosanna," which is translated by "save." And the words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," explain the words that follow, "The Lord is God and hath appeared to us." It was, then, one and the same Lord God that appeared to them, that is to say the Word of God, as He Who is therefore blessed, because He came among men in the name of the Lord His Father that sent Him. It was therefore in reproof of the Jews that disbelieved in Him, that He said: "I came in the name of my Father, and ye received me not. But if one come in his own name, him will ye receive." So the Holy Spirit suitably addresses the opening verses of the Psalm not to the Jewish people, but to all the nations. |9
From Psalm cxliii.
The Descent of the Lord from Heaven for Men's Salvation, (d) and the New Song sung thereafter, which is the Song of the New Covenant.
[Passages quoted, Ps. cxliii. 3, 5, 9.]
I CONSIDER this to be connected with my present subject. (267) For in his wonder at the knowledge of God the Word coming to men, the Psalmist is astonished above measure at the love by which He descends from His Divinity, and lessens His natural Majesty, and reckons the human race worthy of bearing Him. So here he prays, saying, "Lord, bow the heavens and descend." While in the Seventeenth Psalm it is written, "And he bowed the heavens, and descended, and it was dark under his feet. And he rode upon Cherubim, and flew, he flew upon the wings of the winds," wherein there is a prophecy of His Ascension (b) from earth to heaven. And when there is a fit opportunity I will shew that we must understand the Descent and Ascension of God the Word not as of one moving locally, but in the metaphorical sense which Scripture intends in the use of such conventional terms.
But we should also note here the new Covenant, into which the Coming of Christ was about to invite men. And the new Covenant is that which succeeds the old and is given to all nations. And so the oracle before us says, "O God, I will sing a new song to thee." The words, (c) "Touch the mountains and they shall smoke," I think are a veiled prophecy of the burning and abolition of all forms of idolatry, which had its chief seats among the ancients in mountains, it being a common charge against the Jews themselves, that they worshipped idols on every high mountain in imitation of foreign nations. |10
(d) From Psalm cxlvii.
The Word of God sent on Earth, and in a Short Time running through All Nations.
[Passage quoted, Ps. cxlvii. 12, 15.]
"HE that sendeth his word on earth, until his word runs swiftly." He that sends is evidently distinct from Him that (268) is sent. You have then, here, both the Sender, the Almighty God, and also the Word that was sent, Who having many names is called by the holy oracles now Wisdom, now Word, now God, and also Lord. And as you know how in a very short time the word of His teaching has filled the whole world, I am sure you will wonder at the fulfilment of the prophecy, "Till his word runs swiftly."
From the Second Book of Kings [= 2 Samuel].
(c) The Lord descending from Heaven, Leader of the Nations that before knew Him not, and about to cast off the Jewish Nation.
[Passages quoted, 2 Sam. xxii. 1, 10-12, 44-46.]
(d) THE God that bowed the heavens and came down, Who mounted upon the man whom He had chosen, called here Cherubim by Scripture, flew up with Him making His Ascension with the divine spirits as His bodyguard, and these are called the wings of the winds. And it suggests that this was done darkly and in obscurity by some secret and hidden words, when it says, "And he made darkness his secret place." What follows agrees with the Incarnation of Christ and shews the opposition of the Jewish people to Him, and the obedience of the Gentiles to His teaching. |11
You will find similar sayings in the Seventeenth Psalm, about which I have already given my views.
From the Third Book of Kings [ = First Book of Kings].
God descending from Heaven, and dwelling with Men on Earth.
[Passage quoted, 1 Kings viii. 26, 27.]
THIS is also found in the same words in Chronicles. God then promised David He would raise up a king from His body, and would be His father, so that the offspring of the seed of David should be called the Son of God, and should have His throne in an eternal kingdom. This was prophesied to David by Nathan in the Second Book of Kings as follows:
"And it shall come to pass when thy days shall have been fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, who shall come from thy body, and I will prepare his kingdom. He shall build a house to my name, and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son."
The same is also said in Chronicles. And in the 88th Psalm it is written:
"27. He shall call on me, Thou art my Father, my God and the helper of my salvation. | 28. And I will will make him my firstborn, | high among the kings of the earth. | 29. I will keep my mercy for him for ever, | and my covenant shall stand fast with him, | 30. and I will make his seed last for ever and ever, | and his: throne as the days of heaven." |
"4. I have sworn | to David my servant, | 5. I will prepare thy seed for ever, | and I will build thy throne from generation to generation." | |12
And once more:
"36. I have sworn once by my holiness that I will not lie to David. | 37. His seed shall remain for ever, | and his throne is as the sun before me, | 38. and as the moon that is established for ever." |
And Psalm 131, too, when it records this, refers the matter to Christ. Hear what it says:
"1. Remember, Lord, David and all his gentleness; |
2. how he sware to the Lord and vowed a vow unto the God of Jacob." |
To which he adds afterwards:
"11. The Lord sware the truth to David, and he will not abolish him. | Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat." |
And a little lower down he names more definitely Him that is to arise of the fruit of David's body, as follows:
"17. There will I raise up the horn of David, I have prepared a lantern for my Christ. | 18. His enemies I will clothe with shame; | but on him shall his glory flower." |
And so Solomon being unique in wisdom, understanding this oracle given to his father, and perceiving it to be no slight thing, but something beyond human nature, and more suitable to God than to himself, son of David though he was, and knowing who was meant by God by the Firstborn, and who was clearly foretold as the Son of God, was overjoyed at the message, and prayed that the words of the prophecy might be confirmed, and that He that was foretold might come, calling Him Firstborn and Son of God. So he says, "And now, O God of Israel, let thy word be confirmed which thou spakest to thy servant David my father: Shall God truly dwell with men on earth, if the heaven and the heaven of heavens will not suffice thee? " |13
Concerning the Descent from Heaven to Men, and concerning the Fall of the Jewish Nation at His Coming, and the Incorporation of All the Other Nations.
[Passage quoted, Micah i. 2-5.] (271)
HERE, too, in this passage the Descent of the Lord coming forth from His place is proclaimed plainly. This must mean (b) the Word of God, Whom I have proved in the previous books to be alone God and Lord after the Supreme and Almighty God. His place you would rightly understand to be the kingdom of heaven, and the glorious throne of His Divinity, of which the prophet sang in praise of God, saying, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,'' on which the Father bade Him sit as being His Only-begotten Son, saying, "Sit thou on my right hand." For I have already shewn (c) that these words can only be referred to our Saviour, God the Word. So, then, the prophecy before us says that He conies forth from His place, and will descend upon the high-places of the earth. How are we to understand this? Shall we take it literally of the hills and mountains of Israel, which are the subjects of so many prophecies, Jerusalem itself and Mount Sion, in which our Lord and Saviour spent so much time? If so, their destruction and ruin at (d) the descent of Christ would be prophesied. And it is the fact that after the Saviour's coming and the treatment He received all the hills mentioned were besieged, and utterly desolated. But the rulers of the Jewish people as well, and their kingdom that existed previously, their sacrificial system and the seats of their teachers, here called Mountains metaphorically, are said to be shaken by the Descent of the Lord from heaven. And who could deny that this was fulfilled after the time of our Saviour Jesus Christ, when he sees all these things not only shaken, but abolished? And the valleys even now melting are the Jewish synagogues established in all cities instead of Jerusalem and Mount (272) Sion, which are full of lamentation and wailing, and melting as wax at the fire with grief and extreme sorrow for the |14 desolation of their homes and their long and lasting slavery. And the coming of the Word of God regarded in another light took place not in chasms and valleys, nor in lowly and earth-bound thoughts, but in exalted souls. And so the Lord Himself is said in a wider metaphor to be about to descend on the high-places of earth. Then the mountains shaken under Him will be those very heights whither He "was led by the spirit to be tempted of the devil," "when the devil leadeth him to an exceeding high mountain, and he was with the wild beasts." Or the mountains again might represent in metaphor the idolatry practised formerly on mountains, and the principalities and powers working there invisibly, which our Saviour's teaching was to shake and overthrow in no small degree. For His inspired word and His miraculous and wondrous strength have insensibly destroyed the powers which from far ages have attacked mankind. In like manner also the hills melting like wax from the presence of the fire would be the infernal and earth-bound daemons, against whom He sent forth fire to consume their lust, saying, "I came to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?" Burned by which fire, and unable to bear the torture of its unseen flame, they withdrew from the bodies of men, and acknowledged that which controlled them and drove them out, crying, "Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, Son of God? Hast thou come to torment us before the time? We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." And these He chiefly chastised, and destroyed their princes, because not content with the corruption of the other nations, whereby they had cast them all into the errors of polytheism, they had also plotted against God's ancient people, those of the Circumcision, and had endeavoured to seduce even them from their God to all manner of impiety. And this was the chief reason why the Lord descended from heaven. Wherefore He says next, "For the iniquity of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of my people Israel." And then He gives an additional reason for the Descent of the Word, recounting the impiety of the Jews, and the destruction falling upon them, and heralding the calling of all nations throughout the world. For these things' sake the Word of God came down from heaven to earth. Hear this passage: |15
"5. For the impiety of the House of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of the House of Israel. What is the impiety of the House of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? 6. And I will make Samaria a lodge of the field, and a plantation of a vineyard, and I will draw down to chaos the stones thereof, and will hide the foundations thereof."
And He adds:
"12. Evil hath descended from the Lord on the gates of Jerusalem, the noise of chariots and horsemen."
"15. O glory of the daughter of Jerusalem, shave and cut off thy choice children. Enlarge thy widowhood, as an eagle, when thy captives are led from thee."
"Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a granary, and the mount of the house as a grove of the wood."
Sion and Jerusalem and the so-called "mount of the house" are what were represented before in, "And the mountains shall be shaken from beneath him, and the valleys shall be melted as wax before the fire for the iniquity of Jacob." For the mountains and the dwellers thereon were besieged for the iniquity they had wrought against Him soon and not long after Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood.
If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem, as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge. And this has come to pass precisely because of their impieties, for the |16
sake of which the Heavenly Word has come forth from His own place.
And I have already said that the Word of God came down from heaven and descended on the high places of the earth for other reasons, both that the mountains which of old lifted themselves up and exalted themselves against the knowledge of God might be shaken beneath Him (that is to say the opposing powers, which before His coming enslaved the Hebrew race as well as the rest of mankind in the practice of impiety and idolatry), and also that the evil daemons called valleys (through their living in gloomy chasms, and in the recesses of the body) might melt as wax before the fire and flee away from men by the power of the divine Word. And there was another additional reason by no means fortuitous for the descent of the Lord from heaven, which this prophecy recognizes, namely that all the nations on earth, the daemons being banished and the ruling spirits shaken, recovering from the cruel and ceaseless tyranny which had long afflicted them, might attain the knowledge of Almighty God. And the voice of the same prophet proclaims the same things further on as follows, uniting them in the same manner under one head:
"And in the last days the Mount of the Lord shall be glorious, prepared upon the tops of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and peoples shall haste unto it, and many nations shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord, and the house of the God of Jacob, and they will shew us his way, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Sion shall come forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he will judge in the midst of the nations."
One can learn at one's leisure in what sense such prophecies of the Call of the Gentiles are to be understood, and that they were only fulfilled after the coining of our Saviour. And the opening of the prophecy is in full agreement with I the truth that the Lord descended not only for the salvation of the Jewish race, but for that of all nations, in proclaiming to all peoples and all the inhabitants of the earth, saying, "Hear all peoples, and let the earth attend, and all that are |17 therein." And it darkly foretold the witness of the Passion of our Lord, adding, "And the Lord our God shall be for a witness."
And after this the same prophet, having prepared the way by telling of what related to the fact of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, and foretold what should be the causes of His coining, proceeds to relate His birth among men, and to name the place where He should be born, in the following words:
"2. And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, art the least to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth for me a leader, to be for a ruler in Israel, and his goings-forth are from the beginning from the days of eternity."
Note with care how he says that the goings forth of Him that shall appear at Bethlehem are from above and from eternity, by which he shews the pre-existence and essential origin of Him that is to come forth from Bethlehem. Now if any person can apply the oracle to any one but Jesus, let him shew who it is; but if it is impossible to find any one but our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Person after the date of this prophecy Who came forth thence and attained to fame, what should hinder us from acknowledging the truth of the prophecy, which directs its prediction on Him only? For He alone of all men is known to have come forth from the before-named Bethlehem after the date of the prophecy, putting on a human shape, and what had been foretold was fulfilled at His coming. For at once and not after a long time the woes that were foretold fell on the Jewish nation, and blessings in accordance with the prophecies on the nations as well, and He Himself, our Lord and Saviour Who came from Bethlehem, was shewn to be the ruler of the spiritual Israel, such being the name of all people of vision and piety. Note too that it is said that the goings-forth of His Divine Pre-existence are from the beginning and from the days of eternity, which would not agree with mere humanity.
Then the word of the prophet, a little further on, suggests again the curtailing and abolition of the ancient ritual of the Law, speaking in the person of the people: |18
"6. Wherewithal shall I reach the Lord, and lay hold of my God most high?. Shall I reach him by whole burnt-offerings, by calves a year old? 7. Should I give my firstborn for my ungodliness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"
And he makes this answer to them in the person of God:
"8. Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk after thy God? "
You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
That it was prophesied that the Word of God that cometh will come and will not tarry.
[Passage quoted, Hab. ii. 2.]
AND here it is clearly foretold that the subject of the prophecy who is coming will come. Who could this be but he who is referred to above in the words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the Lord God also has shone upon us"? With which also Zechariah agrees, when he says: "Behold a man, the Dawn is his name, and |19 he shall rise from below." The same prophet, too, noting the time adds, "At eventide it shall be light. If he delays, wait for him." Instead of which Aquila reads, "If he tarry expect him, for he that cometh will come, and will not tarry." And the Epistle to the Hebrews has this in mind when it says:
"Cast not away then your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, doing the will of God, ye may receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that cometh will come, and will not tarry. And the just shall live by my faith. And if he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him."
And note how clearly the Epistle arranges what was obscure in the prophetic writing, because of the inversion of the clauses. For the prophecy says," He that cometh will come and will not tarry, and adds, "If he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him," and this addition would seem to refer to him that cometh and doth not tarry, which is absurd. For how could it be said of him that God takes no pleasure in him? But the placing side by side of the divided clauses by a change in the arrangement of them preserves the sense. For after, "Yet a little while and he that cometh will come and shall not tarry," it adds next, "The just shall live by my faith. Then what was first in the prophecy it places second in, "And if he draw back my soul taketh no pleasure in him." For as Scripture has already once foretold through the prophecy, that the light promised, to all nations by Christ's Coming "shall rise late and in the evening, and shall not deceive" (for so Aquila interprets instead of "come to nothing,") it next exhorts to patience, because the coming of the subject of the prophecy is to be late and in the evening, in the words, "If he tarry await him, or if he delay expect him, for he that cometh |20 will come and will not tarry," and encourages the hearer to trust the prediction, saying, that he that trusts it, shewn by his very faith to he just, shall live the life according to God, as on the other hand he that does not trust, drawing back through lack of boldness, and putting no faith in the words, "My soul hath no pleasure in him." So, then, if we follow this course and place the first clause last, and the last first, we shall preserve the sense of the passage, putting, "The just shall live by my faith," after, "For he that cometh will come and will not tarry," by transposing the clauses, and (278) adding to this, "If he draw back my soul taketh no pleasure in him." And Aquila agrees with this interpretation saying, "If he delay, expect him, for he that cometh will come, and will not tarry. Lo, if he be sluggish, my soul is not true in him, and the just shall live by his faith."
From the same.
That the Heating about the Descent of the Lord from Heaven is Terrible, and His Works Wonderful, and at His Coming the Whole Earth shall be filed with His Praise, when the Word of His New Covenant shall pervade all Men.
[Passage quoted, Hab. iii. 2-5.]
(d) LISTENING to himself, or rather to the divine prophetic spirit within him, which said of the subject of the prophecy, "He that cometh will come, and will not tarry, and the just shall live by my faith," and believing as a just man in the oracle, the holy prophet says in the passage before us, "O Lord, I have heard thy report, and I was afraid," and the words that follow in which he clearly announces that God will come to men.
And who could this be who was known of old, and was to be known afterwards when the time drew near, and (279) was to be shewn forth at the date predicted, but that same Being before shewn to be the second Lord of the Universe, who agreeably to the prophecy at the end of the ages has |21 been proclaimed for all to hear? It was surely His works that are written in the Holy Gospels, and it was clearly His Birth from the Virgin Tabernacle whence he sprang, and how "being in the form of God, he thought it not a thing to be grasped at to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave," and it was the miracles He performed among men, and the insults offered to Him by the Jewish race that the prophet anticipated with the eyes of his soul; and learning of the Holy Spirit his Teacher what would accrue to minds purified from sin, he confessed that he was astonished and afraid at what he heard, and said, "Lord, I have heard thy report, and I was afraid, I understood thy works, and was astonished."
Our Lord and Saviour, too, the Word of God Himself, "was known between two lives." The word ζωῶν is plural and accented with circumflex on the last syllable as the plural of the singular noun ζωή (life). It is not ζώων accented acute on the penultimate from ζῶον (a living creature), but with circumflex on the last syllable (ζωῶν) from nominative plural ζωαί (lives). He says, therefore, He was known between two lives. One life is that according to God, the other that according to man; the one mortal, the other eternal. And the Lord having experienced both, is rightly said to have been made known between two lives in the LXX translation. Aquila translates differently: "In the nearing of the years, cause it to live." What does "it" mean here but "thy work"? And Theodotion says: "In the midst of the years, cause him to live," and Symmachus renders: "Within the years, revive him." They all by the use of ζώωσον (cause to live) shew clearly that the word in the original does not refer to irrational or rational animals. And so following the rendering of the Septuagint, "He was made known between two lives," and not the commentators who have preceded me, I understand that the two lives of the Subject of the prophecy are referred to, the Divine and the Human. |22
To this the prophet adds: "When my soul is troubled thou wilt in wrath remember mercy," teaching that when he foresaw the time of the Passion of the Subject of the prophecy he was troubled in spirit. Yet at that very time, he says, in which I was troubled in spirit, though at no other time such anger ever threatened men for the impiety dared against their Lord, the Lord of Love Himself in place of wrath remembered mercy, as the Son of the good Father. For His Passion became to all the world the ground of God's salvation and mercy.
To this is added: "God will come from Thaeman." And Thaeman translated into Greek is "consummation," so that it means simply, "God will come at the consummation." For at the consummation of the age and in these last days the kindness of the God of the Universe has been made evident to us through our Saviour.
But perhaps he foretells also His Second Coming in glory, in which case a fresh beginning is made at' "God will come from Thaeman," as shewing that at the consummation of the age He will come from the southern part of the heaven. For Thaeman is translated "south." Wherefore Theodotion translates thus: "God will come from the south." And you will understand the sentence that follows if you compare with it these words in Zechariah:
"8. I saw the night, and behold a man sitting on a bay horse, and he stood in the midst of the shady mountains."
I believe this rider on the bay horse who stands in the midst of the shady mountains to be the same person mentioned in the prophecy before us, which says that the Holy One will come from a thick and shady mountain. |23
In each passage shady mountains are mentioned, and I believe they refer to the Paradise of God, which He planted eastward in Eden, or perhaps to the Heavenly Jerusalem. For "there are mountains around it, and the Lord is in the midst of his people." And these mountains are said to be shady, because they are full of divine powers and holy spirits, as of trees planted there and far-spreading. But in Zechariah clearly the vision was of a man riding on a bay horse, by which the Incarnation of our Saviour was meant, and the flesh in which He rode: while here "God a Holy One" is named. For to mark that it was from God that He made His approach to men, and that He arrived from diviner regions, it is said, "God came from Thaeman, and the Holy One from a thick and shady mountain." And then it adds: "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth is full of his praise, and his ray shall be as light." In which both the glory of His Heavenly Kingdom is shewn, and also the increase of the praise of the teaching about Him that will be spread through all the earth. And the expression, "horns in his hands," shews the symbols of His rule, wherewith He drives away the invisible and opposing powers by pushing and butting them. And agreeing with this he adds: "He made the love of his power strong": and the greatest sign of His strong affection and love to men was "that his Word should go before his face," meaning the Gospel of Salvation, which should come forth and scour the plains, so that soon all the world should be filled with the salvation offered by Him to all men according to the prophecy which said, "Before his face shall his Word go forth, and shall go out into the plains." His Word will bring a further and more exact fulfilment to this prophecy and its context at His Second Coming, which it is not now the place to expound. |24
That the Almighty Lord states that He is sent by Another Almighty Lord for the Destruction of the Wicked.
[Passage quoted, Zech. ii. 8.]
IN these words the Almighty Lord Himself says that He has been sent, and teaches who it was that sent Him, saying, "And ye shall know that the Almighty Lord has sent me." Here, then, you have clearly two Persons using one Name, the Almighty Lord that sent, and Him that is sent having the same Name as the Sender. And whom else could you suppose Him that is sent to be, but Him that we have so often called God the Word, Who states that He is sent by the Father, and says clearly, "After his glory he has sent me," shewing that though pre-existing in the glory of the Father He was sent afterwards unto the nations that spoiled you? For the Word of God was sent unto the nations, who before were hostile to the people of God, and subjected them to Himself, making a spoil of them by His disciples, who belonged to the Jewish nation, which the Gentiles had long spoiled enslaving it to their own idolatry. This, then, He says that the nations will suffer, as He ordained. For as they perverted the people of God from their ancestral religion, and made them a spoil for their own daemons, so some day shall they be made spoils from their fathers' idolatry to them who of old have served them, and be brought under the yoke of the Jewish religion. And the Lord says that this will be done by Himself, as He will be sent by His Father to accomplish it. It might also be said that certain invisible spiritual powers are meant by the nations which spoiled and enslaved the souls of men, which the Word of God here says He loves as the apple of His eye. And the proof of His great love to the human race is that He did not draw back, though He was the Word of God and in the glory of the Father, but agreed to live with men and govern them. |25
From the same.
How the Lord foretells that He will come from Heaven and dwell among Men, and that the Nations will flee to Him, and He states that the was sent by Another Almighty Lord stronger than Himself.
[Passage quoted, Zech. ii. 10.]
As it is now my object to unfold from the prophets the second cause of our Lord's living our life on earth, the prophecy before us appears to state it so clearly that it hardly needs any elaboration. You will notice that He gives the cause of His coming, where He says, "And many nations shall flee unto the Lord in that day, and they shall be to me for a people." And the Word announces this to the daughter of Sion, calling the Church of God by this name, through her seeming to be the daughter of the heavenly Jerusalem, she that is the mother of the Saints, according to the holy apostle. Or the Church of God might be called the daughter of Sion for another reason as one separated from the former congregation of the Jews by the apostles and evangelists, who also were the children of a mother divorced for her own impiety, and a widow because she had driven away her Husband, Who rebuked her by the prophets and said, "Hast thou not called me as a husband, and father, and leader of thy virginity?" And accusing their mothers ways also to them that were born of her He says: "Where is the bill of thy mother's divorcement, by which I rejected her?" And again: "Judge the cause of your mother, judge it, because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband."
So, then, this prophecy rightly announces the presence of the Lord to those who had rejected their mother (calling them) the daughter of the Lord. And it is the Church of the Gentiles that is reckoned by the apostles of our Saviour to have taken the place of her that before was daughter. |26
From the same.
Of the Coming of the Lord, and of the Events of His Passion.
[Passage quoted, Zech. xiv. 1-10.]
AFTER the first siege of Jerusalem, and its total destruction and desolation by the Babylonians, and after the Return of the Jews from their enemies' land to their own, which came to pass in the time of Cyrus king of Persia, when Jerusalem has just been restored, and the Temple and its Altar renewed by Darius the Persian, the present prophecy foretells a second siege of Jerusalem which is to take place afterwards, which it suffered from the Romans, after its inhabitants had carried through their outrage on our Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus the coming of our Saviour and the events connected therewith are very clearly shewn in this passage—I mean what was done at the time of His Passion, and the siege that came on the Hebrew race directly after, the taking of Jerusalem, the call of the Gentiles also, and the knowledge attained by all nations of the one and only God. But the inspired prophet pathetically bewails the woes of the Jews as those of his own people, and begins his prophecy with a cry against them. He means by "days of the Lord," here as well as in other places, the time of our Lord's presence among men. And he clearly shews how the Lord Himself, as being the true Light, will become some day the maker of His own days, and will shine on all men in the world, all the nations receiving Him and the rays of His light, when all nations are enlightened, according to the words, "I have set Thee for a light to the Gentiles, for a covenant of my race," and the Jewish nation through their unbelief will fall into great trouble.
For such is the meaning of "Behold the days of the Lord come, and thy spoils shall be divided within thee, and I will gather all the Gentiles to Jerusalem to war. And the city shall be taken, the houses plundered, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go into captivity." |27
And after the siege of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the Jews which succeeds it, he next adds a prophecy of good things for all: "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth." And again: "There shall be one Lord, and his name one, encircling all the earth and the wilderness."
But who would not be surprised at the fulfilment of a prophecy which revealed that the Jewish people would undergo these sufferings in the days of the Lord? For as soon as Jesus our Lord and Saviour had come and the Jews had outraged Him, everything that had been predicted was fulfilled against them without exception 500 years after the prediction: from the time of Pontius Pilate to the sieges under Nero, Titus and Vespasian they were never free from all kinds of successive calamities, as you may gather from the history of Flavius Josephus. It is probable that half the city at that time perished in the siege, as the prophecy says. And not long after, in the reign of Hadrian, there was another Jewish revolution, and the remaining half of the city was again besieged and driven out, so that from that day to this the whole place has not been trodden by them.
Now if any one supposes that this was fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, let him inquire if the rest of the prophecy can be referred to the times of Antiochus —I mean the captivity undergone by the people, the standing of the Lord's feet on the Mount of Olives, and whether the Lord became King of all the earth in that day, and whether the name of the Lord encircled the whole earth and the desert during the reign of Antiochus. And how can the fulfilment of the remainder of the prophecy in the days of Antiochus be asserted? But, according to my interpretation, they are fulfilled both literally and also in another sense. For after the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ, their city, Jerusalem itself, and the whole system and institutions of the Mosaic worship were destroyed; and at once they underwent captivity in mind as well as body, in refusing to accept the Saviour and Ransomer of the souls of men, Him Who came to preach release to those enslaved by evil daemons, and giving of sight to those blind in mind. And while they suffered through their unbelief, those of |28 them who recognized their Ransomer became His own disciples, apostles and evangelists, and many others of the Jews believed on Him, of whom the apostle says, "So also now there is a remnant according to the election of grace." And "If the Lord of Sabaoth had not left unto us a seed we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorra." They were preserved safe from the metaphorical siege, and also from the siege literally understood. For the apostles and disciples of our Saviour, and all the Jews that believed on Him, being far from the land of Judaea, and scattered among the other nations, were enabled at that time to escape the ruin of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And the prophecy anticipated and foretold this where it said, "And the remnant of my people shall not be utterly destroyed." To which it adds afterwards, "And the Lord shall go forth, and shall fight for those nations, as a day of his battle in the day of war." For which nations will the Lord fight, but for those that shall besiege Jerusalem? The passage shews that the Lord Himself will fight for the besiegers, being among them and drawn up with them, like their general and commander warring against Jerusalem. For it does not say that the Lord will fight against the nations. With whom and against whom, then, will He fight? Surely against Jerusalem and her inhabitants, concerning whom it is spoken.
And the words, "And his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem to the eastward," what else can they mean than that the Lord God, that is to say the Word of God Himself, will stand, and stand firm, upon His Church, which is here metaphorically called the Mount of Olives? For as "My Beloved had a vineyard," and "There was a vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth," are used in a figurative sense of "the house of Israel and the plant of Judah His beloved vine," so also we may say in the same sense that the Church of the (d) Gentiles has become an olive-garden to the Master, which of old He planted with wild olives, and grafted them on the apostolic roots of the good olive after cutting away the old branches, as the apostle teaches. And the Lord planted it for Himself, saying as much in the prophecy: "The Lord hath called thy name a beautiful and shady olive." For when the first vineyard should have brought forth |29 grapes it brought forth thorns, and not justice but a cry, God rightly withdrew from it as unfruitful, its mound and its wall, and gave it to its enemies, "to rob and to tread down," according to the prophecy of Isaiah, but established another field for Himself, here named "the olive-garden," as that which had obtained God's mercy, and been planted by Christ with ever-flourishing plants, that is with souls that are holy and nourish the light, which can say, "I am like a fruitful olive-tree in the house of God."
And this Mount of Olives is said to be over against Jerusalem, because it was established by God after the fall of Jerusalem, instead of the old earthly Jerusalem and its worship. For as Scripture said above with reference to Jerusalem: "The city shall be taken, and the nations that are her enemies and foes shall be gathered together against her, and her spoils shall be divided," it could not say that the feet of the Lord should stand upon Jerusalem. How could that be, once it were destroyed? But it says that they will stand with them that depart from it to the mount opposite the city called the Mount of Olives. And this, too, the prophet Ezekiel anticipates by the Holy Spirit and foretells. For he says:
"22. And the Cherubim lifted their wings, and the wheels beside them, 23. and the glory of the God of Israel was on them above them, and he stood on the mount which was opposite to the city."
Which it is possible for us to see literally fulfilled in another way even to-day, since believers in Christ all congregate from all parts of the world, not as of old time because of the glory of Jerusalem, nor that they may worship in the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, but they rest there that they may learn both about the city being taken and devastated as the prophets foretold, and that they may worship at the Mount of Olives opposite to the city, whither the glory of the Lord migrated when it left the former city. There |30 stood in truth according to the common and received account the feet of our Lord and Saviour, Himself the Word of God, through that tabernacle of humanity He had borne up the Mount of Olives to the cave that is shewn there; there He prayed and delivered to His disciples on the summit of the Mount of Olives the mysteries of His end, and thence He made His Ascension into heaven, as Luke tells us in the Acts of the Apostles, saying that while the apostles were with Him on the Mount of Olives:
"While they beheld he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And as they gazed steadfastly into heaven while he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? This same Jesus that is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
To which he adds: "Then they returned from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is opposite to Jerusalem." The Mount of Olives is therefore literally opposite to Jerusalem and to the east of it, but also the Holy Church of God, and the mount upon which it is founded, of which the Saviour teaches: "A city set on a hill cannot be hid," raised up in place of Jerusalem that is fallen never to rise again, and thought worthy of the feet of the Lord, is figuratively not only opposite to Jerusalem, but east of it as well, receiving the rays of the divine light, and become |31 much before Jerusalem, and near to the Sun of Righteousness Himself, of Whom it is said: "And on them that fear me shall the sun of righteousness arise."
And if it says next: "That the Mount of Olives shall be divided, half of it to the east and towards the sea, a very great chasm, and half of it shall lean towards the north, and half of it towards the south," it possibly shews the expansion1 of the Church throughout the whole inhabited world, for it has filled the east, and the western and eastern nations; it stretches to the western sea, and the isles therein; yea, it has reached to west and south, and to north and north-east. On all sides and everywhere the Church figuratively called the Olive of the Lord is planted. And it is possible that by its division is figuratively meant the schisms and heresies and moral declensions in everyday life that have taken place in the Church of Christ, and are even now taking place; for it says, the mountain shall be divided, half of it towards the east and the sea, a very great chasm, and half of it shall lean towards the north, and half of it towards the south, as being divided into four parts, two of which are worthier and better, and two the reverse. And note in this passage how the part to the east and the part to the south may refer to two sections of those who have made progress in the things of God, the first those who are perfected in knowledge and reason and the other graces of the Holy Spirit; and the second, those who live a good life but pass their time in ways self-chosen. And the other two parts separated from the first, one to the sea and one towards the north, both signify tendency to evil. For "from the face of the north," he says, "shall be burned the evil of all the inhabitants of the earth," while the Dragon is said to have his home in the sea. So that, probably, two kinds of character in those that fall away from the Church, the morally sinful, and the one who slips away from healthy and orthodox knowledge, are here |32 figuratively represented by the prophecy as divisions in the Mount of Olives.
To this he adds afterwards: "And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and the cleft of my mountains shall be joined unto Asael, and shall be closed up as it was blocked up in the days of the earthquake in the days of Ozias king of Judah."
What can God's "valley of mountains" mean here, but the outward Jewish worship according to the Mosaic Law practised for long ages before in Jerusalem, which the present prophecy foretells is to be cut off, as if it were closed up, saying: "And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and the cleft of mountains shall be joined unto Asael, and shall be closed up"? Instead of which Symmachus translated: "And the valley of my mountains shall be closed up, and also the cleft of mountains shall approach that which is beside it, and shall be closed up," shewing the cause of the closing up of the valley. And what was this', but that it came near and approached what was beside it? And this mount of the Lord was the before-named Mount of Olives, which is called Asael in the Septuagint. And this word means in Hebrew "Work of God."
And so, he says, the ancient valley coming near to the mountains, and to the Christian Church, and to the work of God, will be closed up and shut off, as it was closed up before the earthquake in the days of Ozias king of Judah. Though I have set myself to the task of inquiring, and gone through the Holy Scripture to discover if the valley mentioned here was "closed up before the earthquake" in the days of Ozias, I have found nothing in the Books of Kings, for there was no physical earthquake in his time, nor is anything recorded in those books such as is here told about the valley.
But Ozias is described as at first having been righteous, and then it is related that he was lifted up in mind, and dared to offer sacrifice to God Himself, and that his face (b) became leprous in consequence. This is what the Book |33 of Kings establishes. But Josephus carefully studied the additional comments of the expounders as well, and a Hebrew of the Hebrews as he was, hear his description of the events of those times. He tells how:
"Though the priests urged Ozias to go out of the Temple and not to break the law of God, he angrily threatened them with death, unless they held their peace. And meanwhile an earthquake shook the earth, and a bright light shone through a breach in the Temple, and struck the king's face, so that at once it became leprous. And before the city at the place called Eroga, the western half of the Mount was split asunder, and rolling four stadia stopped at the eastern mountain, so as to block up the royal approach and gardens. [Jos., Ant. ix. 10, 4.]
This I take from the work of Josephus on Jewish Antiquities. And I found in the beginning of the Prophet Amos the statement that he began to prophesy "in the days of Ozias, king of Judah, two years before the earthquake." What earthquake he does not clearly say. But I think the same prophet further on suggests this earthquake, when he says: "I saw the Lord standing on the altar. And He said, Strike the altar, and the doors shall be shaken, and strike the heads of all, and the remnant I will slay with the sword."
Here I understand a prediction of the earthquake, and of the destruction of the ancient solemnities of the Jewish race, and of the worship practised by them in Jerusalem, the ruin that should overtake them after the coming of our Saviour, when, since they rejected the Christ of God, the true High Priest, leprosy infected their souls, as in the days of Ozias, when the Lord Himself standing on the altar gave leave to him that struck, saying: "Strike the altar." For He shewed this in effect, when He said: "Your house |34 is left unto you desolate." Concurrently, too, with His Passion "The veil of the Temple was rent from the top to the bottom," as Josephus records as happening also in the time of Ozias. Then, first the courts were shaken, when the earth was shaken at the time of His Passion, and not long after, they underwent their final ruin, the striker received authority and struck upon the heads of all.
And so we see how at this time the valley of the mountains of God was closed up, as was done in the days of Ozias. Actually and literally in the siege by the Romans, in the course of which I believe such things happened, and figuratively, also, when the outward and lower worship of the Mosaic Law was prevented any longer from activity by the earthquake which according to his prophecy came upon the Jewish race, and by the other causes recorded.
After this the prophecy recurring to the Coming of the Lord announces it more clearly, saying: "And the Lord my God shall come, and all His holy ones with Him," referring either to His apostles and disciples as holy ones, or certain invisible powers and ministering spirits, of whom it was said: "And angels came and ministered to him." And then of the Corning of the Lord, he says: "It shall be day, and it shall not be light, and cold and frost shall I be for one day." Instead of which Symmachus translated:
"And in that day there shall be no light, but frost and cold shall be for one day, which is known to the Lord, not day nor night, but at eventide it shall be light."
See how clearly this description of the day of our Saviour's Passion, a day in which "there shall be no light," was fulfilled, since "from the sixth hour to the ninth hour there was darkness over all the earth." And also the "frost and cold," since according to Luke:
"They led Jesus to the palace of the high priest. And Peter followed afar off. And while they kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, he sat clown, according to Mark, with the others to warm himself. And John, too, especially mentions the cold, saying, The servants and the ministers stood, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves.''
And this day, he says, was known to the Lord, and was not |35 night. It was not day, because, as has been said already, "there shall be no light"; which was fulfilled, when "from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour." Nor was it night, because "at eventide it shall be light" was added, which also was fulfilled when the day regained its natural light after the ninth hour. And this was fulfilled figuratively as well, generally in the Jewish race, darkness, cold, and frost coming on them after their outrage on the Christ, their understanding being darkened, so that the light of the Gospel should not shine in their hearts, and their love to God waxing cold, and then at eventide the light of the knowledge of the Christ arose, so that they who sat of old in darkness and the shadow of death saw a great light, in the words of the prophet Isaiah.
And in that day it says: "Living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem." This is that spiritual, sweet, life-giving and saving drink of the teaching of Christ, of which He speaks in the Gospel according to John, when instructing the Samaritan woman:
"If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
This was the living water, then, that came forth from Jerusalem? For it was thence that its Gospel went forth, and its heralds filled the world, which is meant by the words: "The living water shall go forth to the first sea and the last sea," by which is meant the bounds of the whole world, that toward the Eastern Ocean being called "the first sea," that toward the West being meant by "the last sea," which, indeed, the living water of saving Gospel teaching has filled. Of which He also taught, when He said: "Whosoever shall drink of the water, which I shall give him, shall never thirst." And again He says: "Rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly, springing |36 up into everlasting life." And again: "If any thirst, let him come unto me and drink."
Then after the refreshing saving spiritual blood has fallen on every race of mankind from Jerusalem, which is more clearly described in another place in the words: "A law shall go forth from Sion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and it shall judge in the midst of the nations," it says: "The Lord shall be King." He shall not be King in Jerusalem, nor of the Jewish race; but, over all the earth in that day. And this agrees with what I have quoted from the Psalms, where it was said: "The Lord reigneth over the nations," and also: "Tell it among the nations, the Lord reigneth." The prophecy is that this will be fulfilled in the days of the Lord. For the whole prophecy opens with: "Behold, the days of the Lord come, and these things shall come to pass." And what is meant by "these things," but the siege of Jerusalem, and the passing of the Lord to the Mount of Olives, according to the words, "The Lord shall come," and the events of the day of His Passion, and the living water, flowing in all the world, and to crown all, the Kingdom of the Lord ruling over all the nations, and His One Name, filling all the earth—in short, what I have briefly shown to be fulfilled?
It is also quite clear that the name "Christian," derived from the name of the Christ of God, has filled the whole world. This, too, the prophecy foretells, when it says: "And his name shall be one, encircling all the earth,, and the wilderness." And you can test each expression at leisure for yourself, and carry the interpretation still further. |37
It is prophesied that the God of the Prophets, having laid down the Complete Way of Knowledge by the Mosaic Law to the Jews, will some Day afterwards be seen on Earth, and mingle among Men.
[Passage quoted, Baruch iii. 29-37.]
I NEED add nothing to these inspired words, which so (295) clearly support my argument. (c)
It is prophesied that the Christ will come into Egypt, and What Things will come to pass at His Coming. (d)
[Passage quoted, Isa. xix. 1-4 and the context.]
HERE the prophecy before us states that the Second after (296) the God and Lord of the Universe, I mean the Word of God, will come into Egypt, and will come not imperceptibly nor invisibly, nor without any bodily vesture, but riding on a light cloud, or better "on light thickness": for such is said to be the meaning of the Hebrew word. Let the sons of the Hebrews tell us, then, on what occasion after Isaiah's time the Lord visited Egypt, and what Lord he was. For . the Supreme God is one: let them say how He is said to ride on "light thickness," and to alight locally on any part of the earth. And let them interpret "light thickness," and (b) explain why the Lord is said not to visit Egypt without it. And also when the words of the prophecy are recorded to have been fulfilled, the shaking of the idols of Egypt made by hand, I mean, and the warring of Egyptians with Egyptians through the Coming of the Lord. And their gods, that is to say the daemons, that were so mighty of old, when did they have power no more, and refrain from answering their (c) |38 inquirers through fear of the Lord? And into the hands of what cruel lord, let them say, and of what kings was Egypt delivered after the coming of the Lord that was foretold, and why when the Lord came they were delivered to evil rulers? And let him, who likes, interpret the rest of the prophecy in the same way. But I contend that it can only be understood consistently, of the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ to men. For He, being Word of God and (d) Power of God, fulfilled the aforesaid prediction both literally and metaphorically, visiting the land of the Egyptians on a light cloud. The name, "light cloud," is allegorically given to the visitation He made by means of the Body, which He took of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit, as the Hebrew original and Aquila clearly suggests, when he says, "Behold the Lord rides on light thickness, and conies to Egypt," naming the body that came from the Holy Spirit, "light thickness." And surely this part of the prophecy was literally fulfilled, when the Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said: "Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there (297) until I tell thee." For then, the Lord God the Word, uniting with the child's growth, and present in the Flesh that had been furnished Him of the Holy Virgin, visited the land of the Egyptians. (His flesh was "thick" as representing bodily substance, "light" again through its being better than ours, and it is called "a light cloud "because it was not formed of the sensuous passions of corruption, but of the Holy Spirit.) But the cause of His journey thither is as follows. When it is remembered that the first origin of idolatrous error was in Egypt, and the Egyptians seemed to (b) be the most superstitious of men, and bitter enemies of the people of God, and as far removed from the prophets as possible, we can see why the Power of God came to them first of all. And therefore the word of Gospel teaching has waxed stronger among the Egyptians than among any other men. Hence this prophecy foretells that the Lord will |39 sojourn among them. But it does not say that the Egyptians will come to the land of the Jews, nor worship him at Jerusalem, nor become Jewish proselytes there according to the enactments of Moses, nor sacrifice at the altar in Jerusalem. It says naught of this, but that the Lord will (c) Himself visit the Egyptians, and will think these men worthy of His Presence, and will be the occasion of great blessings to them. For His sojourn would accomplish those very things, which we see to have been actually fulfilled after the appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let us see what these were. The evil and noxious daemons who infested Egypt before, inhabiting images for long ages, and enslaving (d) the souls of the Egyptians with all manner of deceitful superstition, when they became aware of a strange divine power sojourning among them, were all at once disturbed and tossed to and fro, and their heart and power of thought was minished within them, yielding to and conquered by the invisible power that drave on them and consumed them with its sacred word as with fire. Yea, the daemons suffered thus invisibly when our Saviour Jesus Christ sojourned in Egypt in flesh and blood; and, again, when afterwards His |40 (298) Gospel was preached openly to the Egyptians as well as to the other nations, for His unseen power was with His Apostles imperceptibly working with them, co-operating, announcing by their tongues His holy teaching, exhorting men to worship only the one and true God, and rescuing the victims from the daemons that of old had been deceived by them. Hence, soon among the Egyptians as among (b) other nations, revolution and civil war arose, between those who gave up polytheistic error and turned to the Word of Christ, and those who warred with them, urged on by their own daemons, so that brothers were parted one from the other, and the dearest fought together because of the Gospel of Christ, for the oracle says, "And Egyptians shall rise against Egyptians, and a man shall fight with his brother, and a (c) man with his neighbour." And our Saviour Himself confirms the prophet's prediction, saying in the Gospels:
"Brother shall deliver brother to death, and father child, and children shall rise up against their parents and slay them."
"Think not that I came to give peace on earth. I say not so unto you, but division. For there shall be from this time five in one house divided, three against two and two against three: For the father shall be divided from his son, and the son from his father, the mother against her daughter, and the daughter against her mother, the mother-in-law against the bride, and the bride against her mother-in-law."
(d) How do those words differ from the prophet's cry concerning the coming of the Lord to Egypt: "Egyptians shall rise against Egyptians, and man shall war against his brother"?
And the law of the new Covenant of Christ was raised against the law of polytheistic superstition, when the law of idolatrous nations warred against the teaching of Christ, and the city and polity of the Church of Christ took the |41 place of the polities of the heathen nations. And this explains "city against city, and law against law." It is the fact also that all the Egyptian idolaters, and the spirit of idolatry working in them, are even now conscious of their confusion, and though they make many plans against the teaching of Christ, to quench it, and abolish it from among (299) men, yet they are ever scattered by God, as it is said in the prophecy, "And the spirit of the Egyptians shall be disturbed within them, and I will scatter their counsel."
And they who make many inquiries and ask endless questions against us of the oracles and diviners of their gods, and of the daemons that haunt the idols, and the familiar spirits who were of old so powerful among them, get no more profit of them. For Scripture says:
"And they will inquire of their gods, and their idols, (b) and the familiar spirits."
But when they flee, it says, to them that falsely appear to be gods, they will receive no help, for then will God chiefly deliver them to cruel kings and rulers, when under the influence of their daemons, and in their power, they arouse persecutions against the Churches of Christ. And, please, notice the fact, that until the appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ all Egypt had its own kings, as a separate (c) and responsible state, and the Egyptians were autonomous and free, and their dynasty was great and famous through long ages, and it was after that date, when Augustus, in whose time our Lord was born, being the first Roman to subjugate Egypt, captured Cleopatra the last of the Ptolemies, that they came under the Roman power, laws, and enactments, losing their former autonomy and freedom. So that here also the prophecy is true, regarding first the governors (d) and rulers sent out to those places, and the other officials in their several positions, saying, "And I will deliver Egypt into the hand of cruel rulers," and also in what follows regarding the general conduct of the government.
Instead of which Aquila says, "And a mighty king shall reign over them." And Symmachus, "And a strong king shall reign over them." Thus the kingdom of Rome seems to be meant, which has bound with bridle and bond not only the Egyptians, the most superstitious of men, but all other men as well, so that they dare no longer to blaspheme against the Church of our Saviour Jesus Christ. And after (300) |42 this the prophecy proceeds to darker and disguised sayings, which require longer and more profound allegorical interpretation, which in the proper place shall receive their proper exposition at leisure when with God's help I treat of the promises.
From the same.
A Promise of Good Things to the Church of the Gentiles, that before was deserted, and to Sick Souls the Manifest (c) Presence of God, and Marvellous Saving Acts.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xxxv. 1-7.]
HERE also the Coming of God for salvation, bringing many blessings, is precisely foretold. The prophet says that there will be a cure for the deaf, sight for the blind, yea, even healing for the lame and tongue-tied, and this was only fulfilled at the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ, by Whom the eyes of the blind were opened, and the deaf regained their hearing; why need I say, how many palsied and deaf and lame also received physical cure by the hands of His (301) disciples? And how many others, afflicted with various diseases and maladies, received of Him healing and salvation, according to the inspired prediction of prophecy, and according to the unimpeachable testimony of the Holy Gospels? And the prophecy here disguises under the name of "desert" the Church of the Gentiles, which for long years deserted of God is being evangelized by those of whom we are speaking, and it says that besides other blessings the glory of Libanus will be given to the desert. Now it is customary to call (b) Jerusalem Lebanon allegorically, as I will show, when I have time, by proofs from Holy Scripture. This prophecy before us, therefore, teaches that by God's presence with men the glory of Libanus will be given to that which is called "desert," that is to say, the Church of the Gentiles. And for, "And the honour of Carmel," Aquila says, "the |43 beauty of Carmel, and of Sharon, they shall see the glory of (c) the Lord." Symmachus, "The grace of Carmel and of the plain, those shall see the glory of the Lord." And Theodotion, "The beauty of Carmel and of Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord." In which I think the prophet means, figuratively, not that Jerusalem, nor Judaea, but the land of the Gentiles will be counted worthy of divine knowledge. For Carmel, and that which is called Sharon were places that belonged to foreign races. That would be the literal meaning: but figuratively, even to-day, they that were before so blinded in soul, as to bow down to wood and stone and other lifeless substances, earth-bound daemons, (d) and evil spirits instead of the God of the Universe, and they that were deaf in the ears of their mind, and lame, and palsied in all their life, are even now being released from all these and many other sufferings and weaknesses by the teaching of our Saviour Jesus Christ, receiving far better healing and benefit than that of the body, and shewing forth clearly the divine and superhuman power of the presence of the Word of God among men.
From the same.
How the First and Everlasting Word of God, the Creator of (302) the Universe, confesses that He is even now sent by the (b) Lord His Father.
[Passage quoted, Isa. xlviii. 12 and 16.]
You have here the Lord sent and the Lord sending, that is to say the Father and God of the Universe, entitled Lord twice as was usual. |44
From the same.
How the Lord rebukes the Jewish People, because They will not receive Him when He comes, nor hear His Call, and what He will suffer at Their Hands.
[Passages quoted, Isa. 1. 1, 2 a, b.]
HERE the Lord Himself recording plainly His Coming among (303) men rebukes the Jewish people, because they will not receive Him when He comes, nor hear Him when He calls. And He teaches, as if by way of apology, that this is the cause of their own rejection. "For when I came," He says, "I was not among you as a man: I called, and there was none that heard: therefore," He says, "ye were sold for your sins, inasmuch as ye were of yourselves divorced from my call, not that I had given you a bill of divorcement." This is clearly (b) addressed to the Jews, and at the same time reveals their outrages on Him at His Passion, when it says: "I gave my back to scourges, and my cheeks to blows," and that which follows. But these words shall be properly interpreted at leisure.
From the same.
How the Same Lord that spake in the Prophets will come Among Men and be seen by Their Eyes, and be known to the Gentiles.
[Passage quoted, Isa. lii. 5-10.]
THE prophecy of Christ's Passion immediately succeeds this in one and the same passage, which I shall expound at leisure. One and the same Lord, who said in the previous (304) quotation to the Jewish people, "You were sold for your sins, and for your iniquities I sent away your mother, because I came, and there was no man: I called and there was none |45 to hear," says in the passage before us to the Jews again: "Because of you my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles."
Then, as though having another people besides them, he adds, "Therefore my people shall know my name," and teaches that not another, but the same Lord that spoke in the prophets, will sojourn some day in our life, saying, "I am he that speak; I will come." And the words, "As a season upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching a message of peace, as one preaching good things, I will make thy salvation known, saying, Sion, thy God reigneth," the other translators make it clearer. For Aquila says: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that preacheth the gospel, who publisheth peace, who preacheth the gospel of good things, publishing salvation, saying to Sion, Thy God reigneth."
And Symmachus says, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him that preacheth the gospel, making peace known, publishing good things, making salvation known, saying to Sion, Thy God reigneth": and instead of "The voice of thy guards is lifted, and they shall rejoice with the voice together, because they shall see eye to eye." Symmachus translates thus: "The voice of thy guards; they have raised their voice. Together, will they praise: For they will see openly." By "guards" would here be meant the holy apostles of our Saviour, who also saw openly Him that was foretold, and raised their voice preaching to all the world. Sion and Jerusalem that here have the good news told them the apostle knew to be heavenly, when he said, "But Jerusalem that is above is free, that is the mother of us," and, "Ye have come to Mount Sion, and the city of the: living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels." Sion might also mean the Church established by Christ in every part of the world, and Jerusalem the holy constitution which, once established of old time among the ancient Jews alone, was driven into the wilderness by their impiety, and then again was restored far better than before through the coming of our Saviour. Therefore the prophecy says, "Let the waste places of (305) |46 Jerusalem break forth into joy together, for the Lord has pitied her, and saved Jerusalem."
Nor would you be wrong in calling Sion the soul of every holy and godly man, so far as it is lifted above this life, having its city in heaven, seeing the things beyond the world. For it means "a watch-tower." And in so far as (b) such a man remains calm and free from passion, you could call him Jerusalem—for Jerusalem means "Vision of Peace."
After this the call of the Gentiles to the worship of God is very clearly shown in the words, "And the Lord God will reveal His holy arm before all nations; and the high places of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." And consider that the arm of the Lord is nothing else but the Word and Wisdom, and the Lord Himself, Who is the Christ of God.
It is easy to shew this from many instances. In the Exodus you have Israel saved by the arm of God from (c) slavery to the Egyptians. While the prophecy before us says that that same arm of the Lord, which of old appeared to save His people will be revealed to all nations, as if it formerly were hidden from them. And "the salvation, which "he says "all the high places of the earth shall see," and which he mentioned before when he said, "I will make my salvation known," know that it is the Hebrew for the name of Jesus.
From the same.
How, again, the Coming of God the Word and the Gathering of All Nations is foretold.
[Passage quoted, Isa. lxvi. 18, 19.]
HERE also the Coming of the Lord to men is exactly foretold. And as it said, "He will come as fire," our Saviour rightly says, "I came to cast fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled?" You may say His "chariots" are His attendant divine powers, and the holy angels chosen |47 to minister to Him, of whom it is said, "and angels came and ministered to Him," and His holy apostles and disciples, borne up by whom, the Word of God with divine invisible power ran through all the world. One might also literally in another way connect fire and chariots with His coming, through the siege that attacked Jerusalem after our Saviour's Advent, for the Temple was burned with fire not long after, and was reduced to extreme desolation, and the city was encircled by the chariots and camps of the enemy, after which too the promises to the Gentiles were fulfilled in harmony with the prophecy. Who would not wonder hearing the Lord say by the prophet, "I come to bring together all nations and tongues," and then seeing throughout the whole inhabited world the congregations welded together in the Name of Christ through the Coming and the Call of our Saviour Jesus Christ, with the tongues of all nations in varying dialects calling on one God and Lord? To crown all, who beholding all them that believe in Christ using as a seal the sign of salvation, would not rightly be astounded hearing the Lord saying in days of old, "And they shall come and see my glory, and I will leave my sign upon them"?
We see in part, indeed, now with our own eyes the fulfilment of the holy oracles as to the first Epiphany of our Saviour to man. May it be seen completely as well in His second glorious Advent, when all nations shall see His glory, and when He comes in the heavens with power and great glory.
To that day the remainder of the prophecy must be referred, as I shall show in my own argument.
As I have in this Book collected so many passages concerning the prophecies of the coming of God, my next task should be to connect with them an account of what was foretold as to the nature of His entry into human life.
[Note to the online text: volume 2 commences with book 6, so the page numbering starts again at 1]
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|