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The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary

Rebels

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I beg the reader's indulgence while giving to him my sense and apprehension of the Scriptural meaning of rebel and rebels. If I err, I pray the Lord to forgive me, and to preserve the reader from following my opinion.

I humbly conceive that by the term, in the language of Scripture, is meant reprobate; and therefore is never used in application to any of God's children, in confirmation of this opinion, I beg the reader to consult all the places in Scripture where the word occurs; and these, as far as I recollect, are only five, namely, Numbers 17:10; Num 20:10; Jeremiah 50:21 —in the margin of the Bible, Ezekiel 2:6; Eze 20:38. Now the reader will discover, that in every one of those instances, excepting one, namely, Numbers 20:10. (and that one, as I shall hereafter endeavour to shew, becomes the greatest instance in confirmation of my opinion) the term is invariably made use of in reference to reprobates.

It should seem by the term rebels, in those passages of Scripture, the Holy Ghost intended to mark the children of the wicked one, by way of distinction, from the children of the kingdom: hence the word is similar to that of traitor. And we read of no traitor in the word of God but the traitor Judas, who is said to have fallen by transgression, that he might go to his own place, (Acts 1:25) his own proper place, his birth-right. So Balaam said of himself: "I go, said he to Balak, unto my people." And what that place and that people implied, the Scriptures, in other parts, explain. Christ speaking of this very traitor Judas, saith of him, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." (Matthew 26:24) And Jude, speaking of all such, calls them ungodly men,"who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." (Jude 1:1:4) And Paul speaks of similar characters under the general term of traitors, (2 Timothy 3:4) So that Judas and his company, the reprobate, are the only traitors we meet with in the word of God; and in this sense rebels and traitors are one and the same.

It will be said perhaps in answer to this statement, that the Lord frequently calls his children rebellious children, and pronounceth a woe against them. (See Isaiah 30:1 etc.) To which I answer, Yes; the Lord most certainly doth so; but there is a vast distinction between rebellious children and rebels. A child may be, and God's children all are by nature, rebellious; and even when in grace too frequently rebellious again; but still, though rebellious, they are children, and not rebels. Rebels they never were, nor of the seed of the serpent. The Holy Ghost himself hath made this precious distinction when, by his servant John, he points out in the instances of Cain and Abel the mighty difference. "Not as Cain, (saith he) who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother." (1 John 3:12) And hence when the Lord promiseth to separate his people from among the reprobate, he expresseth himself by those striking words: "And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 20:38)

And with respect to the woe the Lord pronounceth against his rebellious children, everyone who reads his Bible with attention, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, will discover that this woe is all of a temporal nature, and hath respect only to chastisements. In confirmation, I beg the reader to consult Isaiah 13:1-22, where this woe is spoken of most particularly. The prosecution of that chapter is the fullest proof of it; for after the Lord had said that the woe of his people should be, to find their punishment in the very things from which they sought protection and help, the Lord declares that he still waits to be gracious, and that his people should be blessed. And from the eighteenth verse to the close of the chapter, the Lord shews his graciousness to his people, by favour to them, and destruction to their enemies.

Though I have largely trespassed under this article, yet I must still detain the reader with one observation more to fulfil my promise, by shewing, as I proposed, that the one only place in Scripture where the Lord's children are called rebels was misapplied, and in that misapplication of the name, and the Lord's displeasure in consequence on this occasion, becomes in my view the highest confirmation of the whole. The case I refer to is Numbers 20:10. I beg the reader to turn to the chapter, and read the whole passage Numbers 20:1-13. When the reader hath made his own observations upon it, let him turn to the one hundred and sixth Psalm, and hear what God the Holy Ghost saith upon it, Psalms 106:32-33. Let him then ask, (for I presume not to determine upon it,) what was the particular sin of Moses on this occasion? Perhaps the unhallowed manner of joining himself with the Lord, when he said, must we fetch water out of this rock? Perhaps the smiting the rock twice, when but once on the former occasion, at the Lord's command, was done, Exodus 17:6. But might there not be an offence also in calling the Lord's heritage rebels? Let the reader remember I do but ask the question, and not decide. But when we recollect how jealous the Lord is of his glory, how dearly he prizeth his people, calling them his portion, his jewels, his treasure, surely it is but reasonable to suppose that Moses herein of fended also. If, as our Lord Jesus in after-ages taught, that whosoever should say to his brother Raca, or fool,a (Matthew 5:22) term implying a child of hell, should be in danger of hell-fire, we may conclude that when Moses called God's children rebels, or children of hell, there was great sin in it. Reader, pause! If this opinion be at all founded in right, think, how precious the Lord's people are in his sight!


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Rebels'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/pmd/r/rebels.html. London. 1828.

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