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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Acts 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 7-31

Elymas, Paulus, and Paul

Acts 13:7-31

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Barnabas and Saul and John Mark made up the party that journeyed together, as the Holy Ghost led them in the way. It was a strong party, and the grace of the Lord was with them.

They passed from city to city giving their testimony and preaching the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.

When they had left Salamis and had gone through the Isle of Paphros, they found "a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus."

This man Bar-jesus, who by interpretation was called Elymas, was with Sergius Paulus, the deputy of the country. Sergius Paulus sent for Barnabas and Saul, desiring to hear the Word of God. Then it was that Elymas vehemently withstood them, seeking to turn Sergius Paulus from the faith.

This was too much for the ardent Saul. He was willing to personally bear the maledictions of men, but he would not allow the faith which he preached to be without defense. Therefore "Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost set his eyes on him.

"And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."

Whatever else may be said, Saul did not wear gloves when he rebuked Elymas. He did not apologize for his faith, nor felicitate his Lord. He spoke with conviction and with the assurance that he was right. He spoke as one set for the defense of the Gospel. He spoke as one unwilling to allow the lies of an enemy of Christ to pass unchallenged.

Saul and Barnabas did not set up a flag of truce and seek some means by which they and Elymas might fight together. Saul and Barnabas did not withhold words of defense for Christ because they hated to disrupt the peaceful conduct of affairs.

Mark once more Saul's words, "O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness." Do not dare to accuse Saul, saying that he was "hotheaded," and that he spoke unseemly, for we read that Saul spoke, "filled with the Holy Ghost."

Men and brethren! Those who defame our Lord and deny the faith, are children of the devil. Even if they are "suave" and "cultured," they are filled with all subtilty, and they are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Men and brethren! Those who withstand the faith and drag the Name of the Lord down into the mire of a human begetting, are children of the devil, still breathing out the devil's insinuations "If Thou be the Son of God."

Men and brethren! Those who deny our only Lord God, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, acclaiming Him no more than perfect man, are enemies of all righteousness.

I. THE RESULTS OF SAUL'S DEFENSE (Acts 13:11-12 )

There are two things that happened as a result of Saul's words to Elymas.

1. Elymas was stricken, temporarily blind. Perhaps Saul in pronouncing this judgment on Elymas thought of the days when he had been set against God, withstanding saints and dragging them bound to Jerusalem. Perhaps he remembered how God had stopped him in his madness, and had struck him with blindness for the while.

As we think of this we can see the inner heart of Saul. Saul not only sought to stay the hand that was raised to strike his Lord, but he sought by his words of denunciation and judgment to turn foe to friend. Had not he been turned from a persecutor to a preacher?

We do not know the future of Elymas, We do know that he went about seeking some one to lead him by the hand. We trust that he humbled his heart and became the servant of the Lord.

We are sure of one thing the best way to help the enemy of Christ is not to flatter his venom of words, spoken against the Lord, We can never save the denier of the faith by false affiliations with the enemy. We must speak strongly and truly if we would arouse him from his madness.

2. The deputy believed God. Let me read Acts 13:12 ; "Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord."

There is one thing certain the faithfulness of Saul in exposing the subtilty and sin of Elymas, friend of the deputy, did not result in disaster to the furtherance of the Gospel. On the other hand, the Gospel message was enhanced. The deputy believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

The conversion of this deputy must have been most marked. He was Sergius Paulus now mark the expression, "Then Saul (who also is called Paul)." The inference is that Saul became known as Paul, from the name of this noted convert to the faith, whose name was Sergius Paulus.

Of this we are sure that it always pays to go all of the way with God; and it pays to always expose the deceitfulness of sin. The Church has not gained in influence nor in power, by hobnobbing with the world.

We find that Saul is now called Paul, One other thing is to be noted, Saul had taken the place of "associate" with Barnabas. Since the marked victory over Elymas, and the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Paul was reckoned leader. Acts 13:13 opens this way, "Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos." It is no longer, "Barnabas and Saul," but, "Paul and his company."

II. IN JOURNEYINGS OFT (Acts 13:13 )

From Paphos they went to Perga in Pamphylia, and from there John Mark departed from them, returning to Jerusalem.

From Perga, they went on to Antioch in Pisidia.

It is interesting to follow the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul. He never wearied of travel, although many dangers beset his path. Travel in those days was anything but convenient. There were no fast trains, and no automobiles de luxe. Perhaps it was better so. We fear that the fast methods of travel that mark our time have forced us to pass by thousands with whom, otherwise, we might have touched elbows, and to whom we might have given our testimony.

Difficulties however, never even caused Paul to hesitate. He pressed on and on, from city to city, preaching Christ in the regions beyond him, and never content with another man's line of work made ready to his hands. He himself recounts some of the perils which beset him by the way.

There are too many who are seeking soft places for service: large salaries, comfortable homes, twentieth century luxuries, and but little of arduous service. We are unwilling to press from city to city, evangelizing the needy places of earth, and carrying Christ into hearts and homes where they know not the Lord.

Paul went on and on with the Gospel of grace. Shall we not follow in his footsteps?

Go out through the lanes of the city,

Tell the Good Tidings to men;

Pass on through the byways and hedges,

And tell it again, and again.

Press on to the ends of creation,

Press over moor and o'er fen,

Press on with the news of salvation,

And tell it again, and again.

In Christ there is no condemnation,

Preach it from hilltop and glen,

Cease not till the lost of each nation,

Have heard it again and again.

III. THE PLACE OF CONTACT NEEDED (Acts 13:14-15 )

Paul and Barnabas reaching Antioch that was in Pisidia, went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and sat down. After the reading of the Law and of the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue said to Paul and Barnabas, "Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."

We are of the impression that Paul and Barnabas had not revealed their real identity. Had they entered the city emblazoning the fact that they were Christians, the rulers of the Jewish religion would never have hailed them with, "Men and brethren." They took them for orthodox Jews of an high order.

The two travelers had not sought to hide their allegiance to Christ, but they did seek to be all things to all men, in order that they might gain the more.

Paul and Barnabas had nothing of the spirit of cowardice that would pull down the colors, they only sought entrance to the synagogue where they might raise them to greater advantage.

When the rulers asked them to speak, they had obtained just what they wanted, the privilege of proclaiming Christ in the citadel of those who rejected and repulsed Him.

IV. THE MESSAGE NEEDED (Acts 13:16 )

We will not consider Paul's words in detail, which he delivered upon the opportunity afforded him by the rulers. We can only now note some outstanding features of that message.

1. Paul began with a common ground, where both he and his auditors stood.

It was the part of wise strategy for Paul to first emphasize certain great underlying facts which were well known and accepted by the rulers of the Jews and by the Jewish nation. In this Paul accomplished several things. First of all, he established the fact that he knew the Scriptures, and was well versed in Jewish lore. Secondly, he won his way into their confidences by acknowledging the good that was in them. Paul had, however, in reserve, some very vital things to say, concerning Christ, These things were not accepted by the Jews, and yet they were based upon the very things that the Jews did believe. Thus, thirdly, by expounding the basic facts of the Jewish Scriptures, Paul was laying deeply the foundations upon which he was about to build the message concerning Jesus Christ.

2. Paul quickly presented the indissoluble link between the old and the new. As Paul led the people to David, God's first great appointed king over Israel, he also spoke of David's seed which God, according to His promise, had raised up unto Israel, even Jesus Christ, a Saviour.

The Apostle did not make wild fire statements, that were controvertible. He builded his statements upon the more sure Word of God. He proved his contentions by plain and positive Scriptures that could brook no denial We who contend for the faith must be certain of our statements. We must build upon the Word of God. We must rightly divide the Word of Truth.

3. Paul made plain that the errors of the rulers of Israel were caused by their ignorance of, and unbelief in, the very Word of God. He had just listened to the reading of the Law and of the Prophets in the Jewish Synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia. He now reminded the people that those Prophets were read each Sabbath in the Temple. Then said he, "They that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, * * knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath day."

There is nothing comparable to the power of the Word of God when it is faithfully presented in the Spirit. Jesus Christ used the Bible as a drawn sword to meet the devil in the wilderness. Satan quoted Scripture also, but he misquoted and also misapplied it. Christ responded with Scripture, rightly dividing it, and Satan fell back defeated.

For Paul to have argued with human reasonings against the Jews that day in Antioch, would have been no more than folly. Paul did nothing more or less than open up the Scriptures, and thus illumine the minds of his hearers. He answered error by truth, and not by mere words of human or scholastic wisdom.

Until our preachers and laity are men of one book, versed in the Word of God, we can never meet the encroachments of religious unbelief. We must either be able to show up the errors of the false, by the luster of the true, or else we must succumb to error.

4. Paul dealt with candid criticism against the men who rejected the Truth. The Apostle went so far as to quote the Prophet's word, "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish."

Before Paul had completed his charge, he had convinced many of the error of their ways. We will never win dissenters from the faith by conceding to them the possibility of their being right. There are never two opposite sides to any truth. Truth is truth, and departure from truth is error. Error is heresy, it is corrupting, misleading destructive.

V. A RESUME OF JEWISH HISTORY FROM ABRAHAM TO DAVID (Acts 13:17-21 )

1. Israel's first call. Paul said: "The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers." These words really look back to Abraham.

When God called the fathers and made them His nation, He apportioned unto them their land. Hear these words: "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the Children of Israel."

Thus Paul truly said, "The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers."

2. Israel exalted among strangers. The Apostle is now referring to the coming down of Jacob and his sons and their families to Egypt, The exaltation of Joseph is familiar to all. Then came the years of plenty and the succeeding years of famine. It was during the famine that Joseph made himself known to his brethren, and it was then that Jacob came down. Pharaoh received them gladly. However, as time wore on there rose up a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. He beheld the ever-increasing group of the sons of Jacob. They were becoming many in number and great in influence and power, and the new Pharaoh feared for his kingdom. Then began the persecutions of Pharaoh but God was with His own. They grew and multiplied. Finally God raised up Moses as a deliverer, and through him Israel was exalted and delivered, while the hosts of Pharaoh were overthrown in the Red Sea.

All of this marvelous history Paul epitomized in one phrase, "God * * exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought He them out."

3. Israel suffering in the wilderness. It was after Israel had been brought out of Egypt that God proved them for forty years. Let me read the Old Testament account of God's testings during those sad and disappointing years. "He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not. * * Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years." All of this was done that God might know what was in their heart, and whether they would keep His commandments or no.

Paul thus summarizes the period of the forty years of wandering: "About the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness."

4. Israel settled in the land of Canaan. After the wilderness experience and the purging that those years brought about, God led the Children of Israel into Canaan by the way of the Jordan and of Jericho. This was the fourth stage in Israel's national life, Joshua was then their leader. We know how the walls of Jericho fell down flat. We know how the fear of Israel fell upon the nations. The land which God has given unto His people for an inheritance was infested by seven nations whose cup of iniquity was full. These nations were overthrown and cast out, and Israel entered into their possessions, each tribe having their own distinctive and God-ordered portion.

All of this presents a most fascinating and instructive story of God's dealings upon which Paul might easily have dwelt at length. However, the Apostle summed it all up in one word, even this, "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, He divided their land to them by lot."

5. Israel under judges. The fifth stage of Israel's history was that of the period known as "The Judges." During that time God was Himself the head of His people, and He ruled them under judges. This period was a memorable time of development and of growth. Many marvelous deliverances were granted Israel. The people time and again rebelled against God, and time and again they were delivered into the hands of their enemies. Then they cried unto the Lord and He heard their voice and restored them.

Memorable among the judges of this period were Deborah, and Gideon, and Jephthah, and Samson, and Eli, and Samuel.

Paul passed over the history of each and of all of these and merely mentioned Samuel with this summing up of the period of the judges, "And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the Prophet."

6. Israel under their first king. In the days of Samuel the Children of Israel cried for a king. God allowed them to have their own way, and granted them their own desires in the choosing of Saul, the son of Kish, as king. This man Saul was a man superior in brain and brawn. He was a great soldier and the admiration of the nation. However, he was not God's man, and soon he led Israel into sin, and one disaster after another followed his reign.

When men or nations step aside from God's choice, and walk in their own way, they will assuredly come to sorrow.

Paul simply says, "And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years."

7. Israel under David. Saul had hurried through the earlier history of Israel because he was leading up to a great climax. He hurriedly mentioned great historic events, some of which covered as much as four hundred years, each, because he was building a foundation for an argument that would present the real objective of his address.

VI. A CULMINATING PLEA CONCERNING JESUS CHRIST (Acts 13:22-26 )

After Paul's historical survey of Israel's past, from Abraham to David, he immediately turned the discussion to David's seed and greater Son, even to Jesus their Saviour. He said: "Of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus."

This simple statement has many great truths hidden in its depths.

1. Jesus was born of David's line, according to the flesh. The genealogy of Mary is given in Luke's Gospel, and it carries it back to David, by the way of Nathan, David's son. Joseph, Mary's husband was also of the seed of David, along the kingly line, from David through Solomon. Thus, both Mary and Joseph sprang from David but through different sons.

2. Jesus came according to promise. Paul certainly believed that what God had said, He was able to perform.

3. Jesus was raised up unto Israel. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles did not forget that to Israel Christ first came, preaching repentance. Jesus Himself said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel." He came into the world, but He came unto His own. Christ said unto the Twelve, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

4. Jesus was raised unto Israel a Saviour. This was Paul's fourth great statement in the enclosure of one simple verse, which read in its entirety: "Of this man's seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus."

VII. THE IGNORANCE OF THE RULERS (Acts 13:27-29 )

"For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre."

1. The rulers knew Him not. Paul is now drawing his message rapidly to a close, and he, having established the fact of Christ's coming and of His Deity, begins to explain the attitude of the rulers, the Jews who crucified Christ.

First of all he says, "They knew Him not." These words are in line with the testimony of the Holy Spirit through John, He "came unto His own, and His own received Him not." "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." Paul goes just a little bit further. He intimated that Israel received Him not because they knew Him not. All of this is passing strange. Every mark of His Deity, and every signet of His personality, had been so fully detailed in the Prophets, that the rulers should have known Him when He came, yet they knew Him not.

2. They knew Him not because they knew not the Prophets. Had they known the voices of the Prophets they certainly would have known the Christ, for the Prophets spoke of Christ. On the Emmaus road, Jesus found no difficulty in discoursing upon the things concerning Himself, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets.

Strangest of all, the rulers neither knew Christ, nor the voices of the Prophets, although they read the Prophets every Sabbath Day. They had a knowledge of the verbage of the prophetical Scriptures, but they made them void by their vain reasoning.

3. They fulfilled the Prophets in condemning Christ. Stranger than all strange things is this The rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets, fulfilled everything the Prophets had said concerning Christ's death. Their very going about to slay Him; their giving Him gall for His meat, and vinegar for His drink; their dividing His raiment by the casting of lots; their surrounding His Cross like bulls, and compassing Him like dogs; their piercing His hands and His feet these and many other things had all been written in the Prophets, and all of them they had ignorantly fulfilled.

4. They desired that He should be slain. The rulers with envy delivered Him, condemning Him before their High Priest and before Pilate. They smote Him, they spat upon Him, they placed a crown of thorns upon His brow, and yet they found no cause of death in Him. They desired of Pilate that He should be slain, although they had no charge against Him which they could sustain. These were the words with which Paul pressed home his message before the gathered crowds in Antioch of Pisidia.

Paul said that when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a sepulcher. Paul is emphasizing that, step by step, the Jews with wicked hands were doing the very things that the Prophets had said would be done.

VIII. GOD'S VINDICATION OF CHRIST (Acts 13:30-31 )

"But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people" (Acts 13:30-31 ).

After Paul had shown the villainy of the people, and yet withal, the purposes of God in the death of Christ, he showed that God gave glory to Christ in that He raised Him from the dead. The resurrection of Christ was the vindication of every claim to Deity that Christ had ever made. God raised Him from the dead and declared Him the Son of God with power. God raised Him from the dead that He might also declare Him "a Prince and a Saviour,"

Had the grave held Jesus, as it held all other men, Jesus had not been God. Had the body of Christ gone the usual route of "dust to dust," "earth to earth," "ashes to ashes," He would have remained for ever covered with shame and spitting. However, God raised Him up.

IX. PAUL'S TWO GREAT THEREFORES (Acts 13:38 ; Acts 13:40 )

1. The "first therefore." "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Paul likewise recounts

1. Jesus, the Man, Abraham's Seed.

2. Jesus, the Man, slain.

3. Jesus, the Man, raised up. Then comes his "THEREFORE."

"Through this Man is preached"

4. "The forgiveness of sins."

5. Justification "from all things."

What we want now to accomplish is to set forth the results which God obtained for us in Christ, born, crucified, raised.

6. Through Christ we have forgiveness. He who feels the curse of his sins heavy upon him; he who is weighed down under the burden of his sin, realizing the wrath of God, and seeks relief, even the forgiveness of sin, can find it only in Jesus Christ, born of the seed of David, and yet begotten of the Holy Ghost. This, however, is not enough. He can find it only in Jesus Christ, God's Substitute in sacrificial death, and in Jesus Christ proclaimed God's acknowledged and accepted sacrifice, as shown in His resurrection.

7. Through Christ we have justification. Paul was not preaching a new doctrine when he taught that by Christ believers were justified from all things.

Paul knew the inability of the Law to justify those who broke the Law. He knew that by the Law came the curse. That the Law wrought wrath.

2. Paul's second great "therefore." "Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets; behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." This second "therefore" carries a warning most applicable to the Jew, yet just as vitally applicable to the unbelieving Gentile, both of that day, and also of ours. After Christ has died for us, and God, upholding His own honor and glory, has provided for us a way of forgiveness and of justification, God pity the despisers who perish.

X. THE AFTERMATH OF PAUL'S SERMON AT ANTIOCH (Acts 13:43-52 )

1. Many Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas. Paul spake to these persuading them to continue in the Grace of God.

2. The next Sabbath Day came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of God, It must have been a wonderful sight to see the great throngs pressing their way to hear Paul proclaim the Word of God.

3. The Jews seeing the multitudes were filled with envy. Some among Jews, no doubt, believed, but the masses of the Jews spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Some believed, but the most believed not.

4. Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles. They admitted that it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to the Jews, but since they put it from them and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, Paul turned to the Gentiles, "For," said he, "so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth."

5. The Gentiles glorified the Word of the Lord. When Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles they were glad, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The result was that the Word of the Lord was published throughout all those regions.

Israel, proving herself unworthy, was broken off; and the Gentiles were grafted in. From that day until this, covering a period of twenty centuries, God has been taking out of the nations a people for His Name. Not all, mark you, but only those who believe among the Gentiles are saved.

6. The Jews raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas. As the Word of the Lord swept its way throughout all that region, the unbelieving Jews stirred up devout and honorable women and the chief men of the city, and thus they expelled the two evangelists out of their coasts. As the two men left they shook off the dust of their feet against them. In this was fulfilled that which was spoken by the Lord, If they have hated Me, they will hate you; "if they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." Our Lord Jesus is now exiled from earth, despised and rejected of men. What then can we who follow Him, preaching His Name, expect? "In the world ye shall have tribulation."

There is, however, a bright side to every cloud. The last verse of the chapter reads "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." The world may be filled with wrath and anger against the Son of God, but the Church rejoices and praises God for all His wondrous mercy, and the salvation which He has brought.


Verses 27-41

Fulfilled Prophecies Verify Unfulfilled Prophecies

Acts 3:17-21 ; Acts 13:27-41

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

The Scripture chosen for today, is worth our thought. The first Scripture was spoken by Peter, the second by Paul. Let us note them, one at a time.

1, The first Scripture Acts 3:17-21 . Peter is speaking to the rulers of the Jews, and to national Israel. He is pleading for them to repent, that so God may send Jesus Christ, "whom the Heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all of His holy Prophets since the world began." In these words Peter is asserting the certainty that unfulfilled prophecies must be fulfilled.

In enforcing this contention Peter asserted that "Those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all His Prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled."

It is easy to see that Peter uses the fact of the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ's sufferings, as a certain assurance that He will fulfil all the prophecies of His Second Coming, when God shall send Jesus Christ, and the times of restitution shall come.

Peter likewise showed that all the Prophets, from Samuel down, spoke of the very days in which Peter then lived.

2. The second Scripture Acts 13:27-41 . Our second Scripture is much like the first. Paul is now speaking, and he says that they who dwelt in Jerusalem, and the rulers, because they knew not the voices of the Prophets, which were read every Sabbath Day, they had fulfilled in condemning Christ. Then Paul said, "And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree."

With the statement of fulfilled prophecies plainly made, Paul warned the Jews to "Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets," What Paul actually did, was to use the literal fulfillment of certain prophecies, as an argument that unfulfilled prophecy would be as literally fulfilled.

All will agree that Paul's argument was just. All will agree that if certain prophecies concerning events far distant from the day when they were prophesied, have been fulfilled, then far distant prophecies which remain unfulfilled, must meet a like fulfilment.

We trust this study of fulfilled prophecy will prepare our hearts to accept the message of God to the certainty of unfulfilled prophecy.

I. PROPHECIES FULFILLED TYRE (Ezekiel 26:7-12 )

This is a remarkable prophecy. There are some who tell us that these words were written after Nebuchadrezzar had destroyed Tyre. That is an attempt to rob God of His power to foretell. Here is the striking thing of the prophecy It says, "Nebuchadrezzar * * shall slay" (Ezekiel 26:8 ); in Ezekiel 26:9 , it says, "he shall set engines of war"; in Ezekiel 26:10 it says, "by reason of the abundance of his horses * * he shall enter into thy gates"; in Ezekiel 26:11 , it says, "with the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets." Now, notice, in Ezekiel 26:12 "And they" ah, the word is changed this time from the "he," the singular, to the plural, "they."

"And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise; and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.

"And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard."

Here is a prophecy that man could not have uttered. God does not only say that Nebuchadrezzar is coming down upon the city and overthrow it and make a breach in its walls; but He says that they shall spoil the city and that the very walls shall be cast into the sea; He even goes so far as to say that the very dust of the streets shall be dumped into the sea. Nebuchadrezzar did come down in a few years to destroy the city, fulfilling the first stages of this prophecy in detail; but he did not utterly destroy the walls, nor cast them into the sea. He did not care to do it. Why should he? What was the sense of such an undertaking"? Why should any sane man take time to tear up the walls and throw them in the sea?

If I prophesied that an army would come to America and destroy Chicago, and throw its skyscrapers into the lake, you would laugh. The army might come and destroy the city, and raze its buildings with bombs, but they would not take the trouble, after the city was taken, to cast its very stones into our lake. Why should they do that?" Yet, concerning Tyre, one of the great cities of the East, God said just as much as that.

History shows that Nebuchadrezzar lived and died. He had fulfilled the first stage of the prophecy, but not the last. After his victory Tyre moved out. There was a little island half a mile away; there the new Tyre was builded. The city had the sea between them and their old city, which Nebuchadrezzar had destroyed.

The new Tyre felt secure. They said to themselves, "The nations cannot march their armies against us, we are separated by the sea. We are all right here, we can protect ourselves." Some hundreds of years passed by, about 395 years. During those years some one might have been reading this prophecy of Ezekiel, and they might have said, "God did foretell the truth partly, but not in full. He said Nebuchadrezzar would throw the very walls off into the sea, but he did not do it." Wait a minute. After four hundred years, Alexander the Great, came by Tyre. History tells us that he sent word over to the island and asked Tyre to allow him to come over and worship in their temples. Tyre refused the victorious and mighty Alexander. They thought their city was secure, but what did Alexander do? He determined to take the city. But, how could he march his army across the half-mile stretch of sea. He had no cannons to shoot across the bay. This is what he did: He literally took the stones of the ruined city of Tyre; he also took his scrapers and scraped up the very dust of their streets, and threw stones and dust into the sea, and built him a cause-way. Upon this cause-way he marched his armies across, and took the new city of Tyre.

Alexander's conquest happened four hundred years after Nebuchadrezzar had razed the city. Do you see how the very words that God had prophesied were all literally fulfilled? Surely it is time for us to bow before the Word of God, and do it obeisance. There is no other Book like it. No one has ever dared to foretell, like it foretells.

II. FULFILLED PROPHECIES EGYPT (Ezekiel 29:14-15 ; Ezekiel 30:4-6 )

The words of this prophecy were written about three thousand years ago. Egypt was afterwards depleted, and from that day to this, she has never lifted up her head above the nations.

You must remember, when this prophecy was written, Egypt was in her prime, revelling in glory, and in power. Egypt was the granary of the world. Egypt, with her great universities, with her marvelous cities; set the pace for the sciences; lead in literature and in art, and was the head of the nations. Yet the Lord God said, Egypt shall become a base nation, she shall no more lift herself against the nations forever.

What do you think of the Egyptians today? of Egypt as a nation? You say, the Egyptians are an impoverished people. Where is her beauty? where is her glory? where is her strength? where is her power? It is gone and it has been gone for centuries. Time and again they have sought to resuscitate themselves, and to regain their former honor, and glory but God has said, "Neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations."

Egypt was once peer among the nations; a nation that was a marvel to all time; a nation with exhaustless riches in her soil, because of the overflow of the River Nile; yet, the Lord God said that that country should become impoverished. The seemingly impossible is accomplished.

I am quoting now from Urquhart's book concerning the glories of Alexandria and Memphis, Egypt's great cosmopolitan cities in the seventh century. Their culture, the variety of their riches and their beauties, Urquhart thus describes: "Alexandria contains four thousand palaces, four hundred theaters, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetable foods, forty thousand tributary Jews." Who. would dare to prophesy that such a country, with a city like Alexandria, would become what it is today? Yet that is just what the Word of God did prophesy in 350 B.C. Until this hour there has never been upon the throne of Egypt a native born king or prince, God had said, "There shall be no more a prince in the land of Egypt."

Her victories have ceased, her glory is departed, her people are illiterate. She who was once a leader, the glory of the world, is now a base nation, never ruling, and never lording it over other nations. God said it should be thus, and thus it is.

III. FULFILLED PROPHECIES CITIES OF ISRAEL (Leviticus 26:27-34 )

"If ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me:

"Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

"And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.

"And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and My soul shall abhor you.

"And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.

"And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.

"And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste."

You know that in the year 70 A.D., Titus came to overthrow the city of Jerusalem. You know that in the year 135 A. D., 580,000 Jews fell in one war.

God said, "I will destroy your sanctuaries, I will bring them into desolation."

Jesus added concerning the great Temple in Jerusalem, "There shall not be left one stone upon another."

He said, "Your enemies shall dwell there, and be established in it,"

In the year 135 the whole land of Israel was put on sale, and the Gentiles flocked in where the Jews once thrived.

God said, "And I will scatter you among all the nations, and will draw out a sword after you."

How wonderfully has that prophecy been fulfilled, you know it as well as I. And He said, "Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land."

Isaiah said, "How long?" And God said, "Until the cities be wasted, without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land."

Do you know, beloved, that today there are cities over there, actually standing without an inhabitant in their houses, and some of those houses are in the most marvelous state of preservation. Those deserted cities, far over in the old Bible lands, are waiting for the Jews to march in and take possession. God also said that the very city of Jerusalem should be plowed as a field. It is true that the vast part of the old city, is not included within the new walls; that part is actually plowed as a field.

Here is one of the most remarkable things in prophecy. Deuteronomy 29:22 : "And the stranger (the foreigner) that shall come from a far land" I wonder why the Holy Ghost said that? When He had said the land and the city would be trodden down, destroyed and devastated; why should people from a far land want to look at it? Perhaps some of you have been in Jerusalem.

Every ship that goes over, carries its sightseers. I have had various descriptive trips to Jerusalem, sent me; they would like us to go. Strangers, from far countries are constantly going to that land. Why? Because it was there the Lord was crucified. People are going to the land that lies desolate; to the land where the old Jews, the fathers, beat their heads against the walls and weep and wail, because their city lies waste:

Listen to Jeremiah: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Zion shall be plowed like a field."

Dr. Thompson says that only the Northern portion of Zion is included in the walls of the present city; the rest of the surface is tilled, that is, plowed as a field. Now, notice another local touch. Jesus Christ said of the Temple, "There shall not one stone remain upon another."

Titus came, and the Temple was destroyed in A. D. 22; but the words were not wholly fulfilled, until 135 A. D. Emperor Julien said, "I will build the Jews' Temple."

He started his work, but judgments from God fell and the workmen were afraid and the emperor stopped the work.

That temple shall never be built until Christ, whose name is the Branch shall come and rebuild it. See. Zechariah 6:12 , Zechariah 6:13 .

IV. PROPHECIES OF TWO COMINGS SIDE BY SIDE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES (1 Peter 1:10-11 )

The Prophets saw two things, the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow; that is, they prophesied two comings, but they understood them not. The age in which we now live is a long-drawn parenthesis, lost to the view of the saints who lived before Christ came. They did not know that centuries would intervene between the two comings; they did not know that the Church would be builded, give its testimony and pass up to be with the Lord, before the second stage of their prophecies came to pass. We know these things. We also know the certainty of unfulfilled prophecies, because of the faithful fulfilment of fulfilled prophecies.

Let us now mark several prophecies which detail, in one breath, the two comings of Christ.

1. Our First Scripture Is Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his, name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

Part of this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ when He was born, a Child; and when He was given, a Son. Dare we hesitate to believe that that Son shall fulfill the other part of the prophecy, which is yet unfulfilled, and sit on the throne of David?

2. Our Second Scripture Is from Psalms 22:1-31

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture(Psalms 22:17-18 ), "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. For the Kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the governor among the nations" (Psalms 22:28 ).

At a glance the Scriptures to the left, speak of Christ on the Cross. It was on the Cross that Christ cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!" It was there that His bones were "not broken," although they "looked and stared" upon Him, It was there that they "parted His garments, and cast lots upon His vesture." In fact, all of Psalms 22:1-31 , down to Psalms 22:20 , was distinctively, and decisively fulfilled on the Cross.

The first Scripture in our right hand column was fulfilled in the resurrection, when Christ said, "Go tell My brethren, that I go before them into Galilee." With these fulfilled Scriptures before us, may we not assuredly expect to see the final Scripture, and its surrounding verses just as literally fulfilled?

There is no doubt that Christ has never yet been governor of the nations, nor, has the "Kingdom" been the Lord's yet, He will come and accomplish both prophecies, for the Word of the Lord can never fail.

3. Our Third Scripture Is Psalms 69:1-36

Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (Psalms 69:20-21 ).

For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah; that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it; and they that love his name shall dwell therein (Psalms 69:35-36 ).

Psalms 69:1-36 , like 22, is strictly a Psalm of the Cross; yet, not exclusively of the Cross. Both Psalms prophesy the Second Coming. This is seen at a glance. He who came and fulfilled the verses in our left column, will just as surely come and save Zion and build the cities of Judah. The fact that twenty centuries since Christ fulfilled the first prophecy have passed without the fulfillment of the second set of prophecies, in no sense makes the Word of God void.

4. Our Fourth Scripture Is Psalms 110:1-7

The Lord said unto my Lord. Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool (Psalms 110:1 ).

The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head (Psalms 110:2 , Psalms 110:6-7 ).

This marvelous Psalm has been fulfilled so far as Christ's sitting at the right hand of the Father is concerned. The same Christ will come and fulfil every jot and tittle of the balance of the Psalm. He will rule in the midst of His enemies; He will judge among the heathens, and fill the places with dead bodies, and wound the head over many countries. In that day He will send forth the rod of His strength out of Zion.

5. Our Fifth Scripture Is Daniel 9:1-27

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity" (Daniel 9:24 , f.c).

"And to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy" (Daniel 9:24 , l.c.).

Bible students know that sixty-nine weeks are past, and that the Scripture in the first column has met its fulfilment; they also know that after the present parenthesis in which Jewish time is not counted, God will just as faithfully fulfil the second portion of the verse, in the second column, and that Christ, the Most Holy, will be anointed.

6. Our Sixth Scripture

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit" (Joel 2:28-29 ).

"And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call" (Joel 2:30-32 ).

Comment is unnecessary. The first stage of this prophecy, as printed in column one, met at least a partial fulfilment at Pentecost; the second stage of the prophecy will meet as literal a fulfilment, at Christ's Second Coming, when all that Joel said, will be fulfilled to the letter.

Had Israel received the Lord, nationally, as Peter preached and pled, the prophecy would have been completely fulfilled at that time. Israel rejected her call, her house was left unto her desolate, and she shall not see the Lord until He comes back again to complete the fulfilment.

7. Our Seventh Scripture

"Behold the man whose name is The Branch, He shall grow up out of His place" (Zechariah 6:12 ).

"And He shall build the temple of the Lord * *; and He shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne" (Zechariah 6:12-13 ).

Christ is the man who was called, "The Branch" He was born, "the root and the offspring of David." He will come again and build the Temple, He will rule on His throne, and be a King-Priest.

8. Our Eighth Scripture

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee, He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zechariah 9:9 ).

And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen; and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:10 ).

Christ came the first time and fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 ; however Zechariah 9:10 was not then fulfilled. We believe therefore that all of Zechariah's prophecy will be fulfilled, and fulfilled to the letter of its statement.

9. Our Ninth Scripture

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones" (Zechariah 13:7 ).

"And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley: and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

"And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one" (Zechariah 14:4 , f.c. and Zechariah 14:9 ).

Where is he who doubts that the first column statement was literally fulfilled as the disciples forsook Christ and fled? Shall we not then believe that Christ will come again? that His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives? that He shall be King over all the earth? Where is our honor and honesty, if we accept one prophecy and reject the other? The fulfilment of the one makes certain the fulfilment of the other.

V. THE SECOND COMING IN TYPES

For a final consideration, we wish to present this fact: The Old Testament typical characters, which so marvelously set forth Christ, in His first coming, have met exact fulfilment; shall not the same characters which continued to set forth Christ in His Second Coming, meet as exact a fulfilment?

1. The Adam and Eve type. All will grant that Adam was put to sleep, and his open side, with the extracted rib and the woman made, was a most striking and realistic type of Christ Jesus, put to sleep on the Cross, of His riven side, and of the Bride formed withal. Who then dare doubt that Eve presented to Adam, is as true a type of that glorious Heavenly scene of the presentation of Christ's Bride unto Himself, at the Heavenly marriage of the Lamb?

2. The type of Noah. Where is the Christian who has not heard the ark used time and again as a type of Christ, saving the trusting sinner from the wrath to come? Shall we then fail to see that the flood, with the subsequent earth, renewed and blessed, is a type of Christ's Second Coming and the Millennial blessedness that will ensue?

3. The type of Joseph. Where is he who has not rejoiced over the detailed foreshadowing of the earlier experiences of Joseph, as they have seen in him, step by step, the life of Jacob's greater Son, outlined? Shall the foreshadowings cease before Joseph is made ruler in the land, with all the earth coming to seek his favor, and with the sons of Jacob repentant and restored by Jacob's grace to plenty and power?

If we had time, we could outline two distinct details of the life of Joseph. The one, would include his supremacy over his brethren, his love from his father, his hatred by his brethren, his search of his brethren, his casting into the pit, his sale to the Ishmeelites, etc. These all spoke with strange clearness of Christ, in His first coming. Then, we could present the other side of Joseph's life: his exaltation in Egypt, his marriage to a Gentile wife, his watchful eye during the seven years of famine, his making himself known to his brethren, with his forgiveness assured, his welcoming back all of Jacob's sons and their families, etc. All of these speak just as plainly of Christ in His resurrection and in His Second Corning.

4. The type of David. David is pre-eminently the foreshadower of Christ in His conflict with the antichrist, and in His ultimate reign over a restored and reunited Kingdom. It is marvelous to watch David as, upon the effort of Absalom to take away his kingdom, he passes weeping over the brook Kedron, and then goes up, by the way of the mount of Olives. It is just as wonderful, after Absalom is dead in battle, to hear the people saying, "Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now, therefore, why speak ye not a word about bringing the king (David) back?"

5. Isaac a type. All are familiar with Isaac's offering on Mount Moriah. All know that, step by step, the Cross of Christ, His death, and resurrection, is set forth, in a most marvelous way, in Genesis 22:1-24 .

Are all as familiar with the story of Rebekah, in chapter 24? Abraham sought a wife for Isaac. His faithful servant of Damascus went to seek that wife. Rebekah gladly left all and went with the servant across the desert sands. Isaac went forth by the well Lahai-roi (the place of meeting), to await Rebekah's coming. He received her with joy, taking her to his mother's tent, where she became his wife. The Lord's seeking a Bride, His Second Coming, and the marriage in the skies, are here all beautifully forecast. Surely he is blind who sees in these Bible-typical characters, the Christ of Calvary; but fails to see the Christ of the Glory Cloud.

Can we sit down at the Lord's Table and remember His death, and fail, withal, to anticipate His Coming? If so, blind, blind, blind, amid the blaze of noon.

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Acts 13:4". "Living Water". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/acts-13.html.

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