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Catechism For Jewish Children

By Isaac Leeser.

Chapter VIII.

The Kingdom of the Messiah

1. What do you call the Divine Kingdom on earth?

A time will come when all the people of the earth will be united under one paternal government, and when all mankind will acknowledge the ONE and ONLY TRUE God, and serve Him along in truth and sincereity.

"And deliverers shall go up to Mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's." Obad. i. 21.

"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: on that day the Lord alone shall be acknowledged, and his name shall also be ONE." Zech. xiv. 9.

2. In what is this description different from the present state of the world?

In this: that at present parts of mankind are governed by unjust and tyrannical laws, not founded upon the law of God, but contradicting it in every respect; and that the knowledge of true religion is confined to a very limited number of human beings; whereas the greater part acknowledge not the ONE Supreme, but invest Him with qualities foreign to his being, or worship images and idols of their own invention.

3. Do you think that this state will be altered? and in what light do you look upon the Revelation at Sinai?

As I said, I believe that nothing but the precepts of the Lord will be the rule of conduct for all men, and that they will live under a government acknowledged to proceed from Him; and I believe likewise, that the revelation of the law on Sinai, though at the time of its promulgation it was only given to the Israelites, will at that period be the only law by the regulations of which all men will be governed.

"Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: even them will I bring unto my hold mountain, and I will make them rejoice in my house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Isaiah lvi. 6, 7.

4. Upon what reasons do you ground this hope?

Upon the promises of the Lord made through the mouth of his servants the prophets. The other promises of the Lord have always seen their fulfillment, and consequently no one who has faith in his Maker can doubt the fulfillment of this glorious hope for all mankind.

5. Through whose agency will the Divine reign on earth be established?

Through the Messiah, or the anointed of God, who is to descend from the family of David; it is therefore also called the reign or kingdom of the Messiah.

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a scion from his roots shall sprout forth. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord; and it shall make him quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, nor decide according to the hearing of his ears. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his hips.--and on that day it shall be the root out of Jesse, who shall stand for an ensign to the nations; after him shall the gentiles inquire, and his rest shall be glorious." Isaiah xi. 1-10.

"Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man, BRANCH shall be his name, even from his descendants shall he grow up, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and the priest also shall be upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." Zech. vi. 12, 13.

6. What do you understand now by "the king Messiah?"

The Messiah is to be a person, a human being, sent by God to do those acts which He purposes should be done on earth at the time of the redemption. He is to be endowed with wisdom more than any other man; with superior intelligence, and knowledge more penetrating than were ever given before; and his government is to be terrible only to the wicked, but peaceful and benevolent to the just, no matter how poor or humble they may be.

7. Is he to be independent of God's law? or is he to do, like other messengers of the Lord, just what he is sent to do under the limitation and rule of the law?

The Messiah is to be entirely the servant of the Lord, under the law, just as every other Israelite; he is to do nothing which the others ar enot permitted to do; and his duties will be pointed out and strictly defined. As such therefore he is himself accountable, and can accordingly have no power to be a mediator between God and man, farther than Moses and the other prophets and pious men of our people were. In accordance with this view the prophet says:

"And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall have all one shapherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes and do them." Ezek. 37:24.

"And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate without, and shall stand by the door-post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt-offering and peace-offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate, and then go forth; but the gate shall not be shut till the evening. Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the new moons." Ezek. xlvi. 2, 3.

8. What will take place when the reign of the Messiah is established?

The only pure faith, the law promulgated by God, will spread itself in its utmost purity, free from all admixture which, in process of time, may have been mixed up with its precepts, over all the earth, and be the only governing principle of all hearts: all men will then acknowledge the Only One, the everlasting God, as the sole object of their worship, and love each other as friends and brothers.

"And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit over all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; also upon the servants and upon the maid-servants even, in those days, will I pour out my spirit." Joel. iii. 1,2.

"Then will I change unto the nations a pure language, that they may all call on the name of the Lord, and serve Him with one consent." Zeph. iii. 10.

9. What will the Messiah especially effect for Israel?

He will be the means of the making of a new covenant between the Lord and Israel, and through his agency the conversion of the whole people to righteousness will be effected, in consequence of which change the Lord will forgive their sins, and be no more angry with them for their former misconduct.

"For a short moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith thy Redeemer the Lord." Isaiah liv. 7, 8.

"And the redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy children, nor out of the mouth of thy children's children, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Isa. lix. 20, 21.

"Behold! days are coming, saith the Lord, when I will make with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, a new covenant. Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers, on the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my covenant they violated, and I felt disgust for them, saith the Lord; for this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I have placed my law in their inmost part, and upon their heart I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach any more one his neighbor and one his brother, saying, 'Know ye the Lord;' for they all shall know me, from their small to their great ones, saith the Lord, for I will pardon their iniquity, and their sin I will no more remember." Jer. 31:31-34.

10. Is there any other consequences to arise to Israel?

We are also promised that the people of Israel, now scattered over all the earth, are to be assembled again into one state in the land of Palestine, where they are to be governed by the king Messiah, under the rule of the divine law, as were their forefathers in the time of the prophet Moses and at subsequent periods. The divisions and quarrels of the different sections of the country are to cease forever; and the outcasts even of the nation, they who have lost the name of Israel, no matter where scattered, shall be brought back from the most distant countries to the land of Canaan, which shall then be free from the plague of ferocious beasts and noxious reptiles, and be blessed with fruitfulness and plenty, and no one shall make afraid or disturb the people, who have so often been the object of scorn and contempt to their enemies; for these too will then acknowledge that the children of Israel are indeed the beloved of the Lord.

"And it shall come to pass, when all these things have come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God shall have driven thee, and thou shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul: that then the Lord thy God will restore thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God shall have scattered thee. If thy outcasts be at the utmost parts of heaven, from there will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from there will He fetch thee; and the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers." Deut. xxx. 1-5.

"And it shall come to pass on that day, the Lord will put forth his hand again, the second time, to recover the remnant of his people, which shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will gather the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." Isaiah xi. 11-13.

"And speak to them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I take the children of Israel from between the nations whither they have wandered, and I will gather them from around, and bring them unto their own land. And I will make them into one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one kind shall be to them all as kind, and they shall be no more two nations, nor be any more divided into two kingdoms. And they shall not defile themselves any more with their idols, and with their abominations, and with all their transgressions; and I will save them from all their places, where they have sinned, and I will purify them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And my servant David shall be king over them, and one shepherd shall be to them all, and in my mudgments they shall walk, and my statutes they shall observe and do them. And they shall dwell upon the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your fathers have dwelt, they and their children and their children's children for ever, and my servant David shall be prince to them for ever. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant it shall be with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and fix my sanctuary among them for ever. And the nations shall know, that I am the Lord who sanctify Israel."* Exek. 37:21-28.

*This paragraph has been given at unusual length, in order to give the whole doctrine at one view. If considered best it might be merely read to the class without getting it by heart.

11. What will be the external situation of this kingdom?

Peace and good-will shall prevail over all the earth; because the blessing of God and the knowledge of his law shall be the universal portion of all mankind.

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah xi. 9.

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." Ibid. lxv. 24, 25.

"And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up the sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it." Micah iv. 3, 4.

12. Give me some reasons and extracts from Scripture to prove that the religion of the Bible shall be the universal religion.

To judge from probability alone, we should say that the law made known at Sinai would be the law of all the world at the time of the Divine rule on earth. For in the Lord there is no change of purpose, no want of firmness; and what He therefore declares to be right at one time must be so always. But Scripture actually declared that our religion, at least a part thereof, shall be the sole law and religion of all men; and it is this chiefly which will make the time of the Messiah the period of universal blessing and peace.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he shall teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Isaiah ii. 3, 4.

"And the Lord alone shall be exalted on that day. And the idols He shall utterly abolish." Ibid. 17, 18.

"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." Zech. xiv. 16.

13. When is the time of the Messiah?

The prophets speak of the time as surely coming, but have not given us sufficient means to fix the precise period; the day is known to the Lord alone; but it is in our power to hasten its coming, through virtue and the fear of the Lord. But if even we should persevere in our wickedness and be undeserving: still God will bring about the fulfillment of his word at the time beyond which the redemption of the world is not to be delayed.

"Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil." Isaiah lvi. 1, 2.

"I the Lord will hasten it in its time." Ibid. lx. 22.

"Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, Not for your sake do I this, O house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name which ye have profanced among the nations whither ye went." Ezek. 36:22.

"But it shall be one day, which is known only to the Lord, not day nor night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening-time it shall be light." Zech. xiv. 7.

14. But tell me, how are we to recognize the time when it does arrive? how are we to guard against imposition by designing men, who may assume falsely the dignity of Messiah?

Whenever all the signs given by the prophets take place, and all the predictions are accomplished, then, and only then, has the Messiah actually come; and the person who is gifted with the spirit of God as laid down by Isaiah will be known as the true anointed; for so it was with Moses, whom all the people believed to be the prophet of the Lord, because he fulfilled the message with which he was sent. But the time of the Messiah will also be farther distinguished by the previous coming of Elijah the prophet, who will prepare the way for the renovation of mankind.

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in, behold, he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi iii. 1.

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Ibid. 23, 24.*

*As the doctrine of the Messiah has been but briefly given in the text, the teacher would do well to read at least some of the Bible passages quoted more at length from the Bible, in order to give the scholar a more complete idea than the limits of a work like this permit.

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