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2 Kings 25:18 . Seraiah, the father of Ezra, was put to death with the nobles for rebellion; but many of those who thus suffered had also made a false covenant with the Lord; and their sins found them out. Jeremiah 34:18.
Standing now on the ruins of a burned and desecrated temple, what is the history of the Hebrew nation for nine hundred years, since the emancipation from Egypt, but a sea of troubles. After the intervals of sunshine and calm, storms more furious seem to arise in succession. It commenced and closed in a state of captivity; its condition from first to last, corresponded to its obedience or disobedience to the principles on which it was first founded. A state in which the Almighty, the great Creator, vouchsafed to become their supreme governor and king; and as such, both showed himself present by a visible appearance, and gave them counsels by a divine voice, intelligible to their hearing, or by men raised up on purpose, and wholly actuated by his extraordinary influence. This is the great distinguishing characteristic of the Jewish state: the more we consider it the more we shall be astonished, and the more shall we be affected by it. Considered in this light, the history of the old testament will no longer appear merely a relation of the transactions of a worthless people, in which we have no concern, but as the oracles of God, in which we are most intimately concerned as men, and without which a chaos of darkness with regard to God would for ever remain. To know nothing of God but from the appearance of things, to have no knowledge of his ever having made himself known to men, or taken any account of them, would be a miserable state of darkness: nor would even the new testament afford us all the satisfaction we might wish on this head; for we should naturally cast our reflections on the ages past, and be staggered that God should, as it were just now, reveal himself to men, when the many ages before had never heard of any such thing. Our doubts and scruples would arise at this inexplicable difficulty; we should think it strange that the Creator and Sovereign of the world, if indeed the nature of things permitted it, and he was disposed to make himself known to men, should so long have left his world without manifesting himself in it. But by the sacred writings of the old testament all these doubts are removed. We learn from them, that ever since man was placed on the earth, God hath from time to time shown his majesty to man, and declared his right as the universal Creator and Lord. The scriptures of the old testament embrace a series of historical facts relative to this important point. And not this only, but to put it still more beyond doubt, and that it might not rest solely upon the single testimony of individuals, or transitory appearances, the holy scriptures inform us that God selected a whole nation, and appeared visible among them for many ages, by a shechinah or visible glory, which was such as plainly indicated it to be the symbol of the divine presence. This too was supported by wonderful facts attending the presence of this shechinah, and such declarations were audibly made from it as more and more confirmed the truth, that it was indeed the representative of the Lord, the Sovereign of the universe. For so were the affairs of this people, among whom God placed this visible symbol of his presence, ordered; so did things happen, that the presence of the true God residing among men, and taking account of the things of the earth, was thereby made known to the ends of the world, and his name went forth into all the earth.
“In a word, in the various occurrences of the Jewish state, God’s sovereign superintendance over mankind, together with his unbounded power over all things, was fully manifested. So wonderful is the series of facts, so placed are the prophecies relating to them, so surpassing all human power the wondrous things recorded, so plain, regular, and with such apparent marks of truth, the relation also corroborated by the existence of the same people to this very day, still separated from all others, that we could scarce be more affected, nor scarce be more convinced of God’s unbounded power, and of his ordering the affairs of the earth, by having the divine shechinah with us and seeing a series of miracles, than we may be by attentively and seriously perusing the records of the Jewish state in the writings of the old testament.
“If we only cast back our reflections on what we have read in the foregoing page; what a series of wonderful events lie before us. The formation of the earth, the creation of man, the appearance of God to him in the early ages of the world, the destruction and renovation of the earth, the evident demonstration that human nature may be removed into another state, by the translation of Enoch; the calling of Abraham from his kindred and country to preserve him from idolatry, and thereby to keep alive the knowledge of the true God in the world, and the right worship of him. The promise given to Abraham that his seed should inherit a particular country pointed out to him, in which he had not then so much as a single foot of property, though they were first to be strangers without any inheritance, and serve other people for four hundred years. The exact accomplishment of these remarkable particulars, the settling of the descendants of Abraham in that very country which had been declared to him for their inheritance four hundred years before; their perfect establishment therein, and the glory they arrived to; the many great signs and wonders which were done amongst them, the prophets that were raised up, mighty in deed and in word, and evidently actuated by more than human influence. The prosperity and adversity of the state, from first to last, through a succession of ages, exactly corresponding to what had been promised and threatened at the first settling of it, according to their obedience or disobedience; their entire removal out of the land into captivity, exactly agreeing with the prophetic denunciation declared long before; and their surprising restoration to their own land again, as exactly agreeing to prophetic promises, if they would repent and turn again to the Lord. When we attentively consider all these particulars, we cannot but be struck with admiration and reverence at the greatness of the things, and feel as it were that the hand of God was in them; and that the holy scriptures are indeed the authentic records of God’s dealings with the children of men, and his manifestations to them.
“It deserves farther to be remarked, that before the fall of the Jewish state, when ten parts out of twelve were no more to be a people, or return into their own land, that God was pleased to raise up two prophets, endued with a most extraordinary power, Elijah and Elisha, whose acts are recorded in the foregoing books. It seems highly consistent with the most consummate wisdom, that at a time when the house of Israel was diverging into the grossest idolatry, and the house of Judah following their example, that some great effort should be made if possible to reclaim and save them, or at least to inculcate the most important truths; which though not having an immediate influence, did perhaps afterwards keep alive the remembrance of the true God, and inspire notions of the greatest importance. In the days of Elijah and Elisha we find miracles were multiplied: they were exerted frequently, and upon many occasions, to testify the unbounded power of God, but in particular that he could raise men from the dead. Thus both Elijah and Elisha seem to have been brought into such circumstances by providence, as to give them occasion to restore the dead to life. This, with the wonderful translation of Elijah, and the dead man restored to life by the touch of Elisha’s bones, could not but in some degree inculcate the important truth, that the human nature might be translated to a happier state in the heavens. It is not improbable that at this time, the hopes of being restored to life after death were almost entirely extinguished, and the memory of Enoch’s translation nearly effaced. It was therefore highly necessary that the hopes of human nature should again be raised with respect to this important point; and therefore these two prophets were enabled to raise the dead, and one of them was taken up alive into heaven. How long the memory of these great things was retained by the ten tribes in the countries they were carried into we know not; but it is highly probable they might reflect upon them with more attention than they had done in their own country, and by this means propagate these important truths in all the countries where they were carried to. This we know, that the captivity of Judah, which seemed as it were to put an end to all God’s purposes in his election of the Hebrew nation, was the means of not only fixing them for ever after, more steadily in the worship, but also of spreading the knowledge, of Him and his almighty power through a great part of the world.”
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
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