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S. Lewis Johnson on Isaiah 60: The Future Glory of Israel

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m nearing the end of S. Lewis Johnson’s Isaiah series, originally delivered in 1968 and 1969.  One interesting thing from these audio files is a very early mention of Arnold Fruchtenbaum.  He was then in his mid-twenties, a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, and Johnson mentioned this student a few times –as one of the Jewish remnant in our day — and Fruchtenbaum’s experiences during the 6 day war in 1967.

Isaiah 60 is headed, in the ESV translation, “The Future Glory of Israel,” a very fitting description.  In considering this passage I looked up Isaiah 60 in other Bible translations, and quickly discovered an example of the very thing that J.C. Ryle preached against:

In reading the authorized version of the English Bible, do not put too much confidence in the “headings” of pages and “tables of contents” at the beginning of chapters, which I take leave to consider a most unhappy accompaniment of that admirable translation. Remember that those headings and tables of contents were drawn up by uninspired hands. In reading the Prophets, they are sometimes not helps, but hindrances and less likely to assist a reader than to lead him astray.

— for the King James Bible actually titles this section of scripture as “The glory of the church in the abundant access of the Gentiles.”  Other modern translations give a somewhat ambiguous heading with the word “Zion” instead of “Israel” or “Church” — as in, “The Glory of Zion” (NIV), “A Glorified Zion” (NASB) and “The Gentiles Bless Zion” (NKJV).

Now to some highlights from SLJ’s  Isaiah series.  Isaiah 60 features the following five movements:

1.  Jerusalem Glorified by the Coming Glory of Jehovah:  Isaiah 60:1-3

  • Here SLJ speculates that perhaps the “thick darkness” is a reference to the Great tribulation judgments described in Revelation

2.  Jerusalem Glorified by the Coming of Citizens and Gentile Wealth:  Isaiah 60:4-9

  • Again we note that, even in the future, Israel and the Gentiles are distinguished

3.  Jerusalem Glorified by the Service of the Gentiles:  Isaiah 60:10-14

4.  Jerusalem Glorified by Prosperity and Stability:  Isaiah 60:15-18
5.  Jerusalem Glorified by the Presence of the Holy God Among His Righteous People:  Isaiah 60:19-22

  • The words in these verses are similar to Revelation 21-22

The Key to Understanding the Bible: The Cross and the Crown

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

J.C. Ryle well expressed what the “key” is to understanding the Bible:

Christ’s sacrifice and death for sinners, and Christ’s kingdom and future glory, are the light we must bring to bear on any book of Scripture we read. Christ’s cross and Christ’s crown are the clue we must hold fast, if we would find our way through Scripture difficulties.

He then gave several examples of how we see aspects of Christ in various Old Testament texts.  Many of these are in types, examples that prefigure Christ either in His cross or His crown.  Of his ten references, in fact, four of these highlighted Christ’s First Coming  (Hebrews 11:4; Galatians 3:24; 1 Cor. 10:4 and John 3:14;  and four His Second Coming (Jude 14-15; John 8:56; Genesis 49:10; and the judges and kings of Israel); and two others, David’s life and the overall theme of the prophets, that equally reference both Advents.

S. Lewis Johnson often made a similar point, that God’s Divine Purpose, and all of Old Testament Prophecy, focuses on the two events of Christ’s First Coming and His Second Coming.  In the OT types, too, he notes that David and Solomon represent different aspects of the true king:  David represents Christ as the “man of war,” while David’s son Solomon represents the King of peace.

I now notice this “key” in my own Bible reading, especially as regards the many “kingdom” references.  For example, a recent day’s Bible readings included the following:  Luke 14:16-24 , Psalms 97 and 98 (see this article), 1 Kings 10 (Solomon as the type of Christ ruling in His kingdom), and Ezekiel 34 (especially verses 23-31).

As I’ve said before, understanding the Bible in terms of the importance of both comings — rather than emphasizing the First Coming to the exclusion of the one yet to come — greatly assists in the daily ups and downs of life, to understand why the world is the way it is.  A right understanding sets the focus where it should be, for believers to eagerly await His imminent return to set things right while truly praying “Thy kingdom come.”  Amillennialism and Church Replacement Theology simply do not do justice to the language of the wonderful Old Testament prophecies, and instead give the false impression that this church age is a wonderful time in which Satan is bound and so many people are coming to Christ, which makes this world so much better.  Yes, technically amillennialism is not so optimistic as post-millennialism, yet I find it difficult to distinguish the two in practice–the amillennialist preacher optimistically proclaims that the prophets spoke of our age (while reading the wonderful texts such as found in Isaiah or Jeremiah, etc.) and that Satan is bound now while the gospel goes forth unhindered.  Aside from the fact that such an idea denies the vivid and clear words of scripture concerning both the persecuted church and Satan’s activity in this age, it simply has no answer to what we actually observe: a world in which the believers are scattered (like salt) among a majority of unbelievers, a church never extinguished yet  oppressed and persecuted, and riddled with worldly believers as well as outright unbelievers.  That view also cannot make any sense of actual history and the hard questions that many people ask, such as “why the Holocaust?” and “why such hatred of the Jews?”

More to the point, the amillennialist scheme, with its excessive focus on only the First Coming, promises great things (that cannot be delivered in this age) and encourages believers to live only for this life and forget that Christ will return to setup His kingdom.  That mindset is focused on the past and what Christ has done (past tense) for us, yet lulls the believer to sleep in regards to the future — I’ll live a full life now, and someday go to be with Jesus in heaven.  Since the “first resurrection” is only the spiritual rebirth of believers, and emphasis is on a non-material “heaven,” the resurrection itself is downplayed.  J.C. Ryle spoke truly for his age, as well as ours, that the majority of believers, like the virgins waiting for the king in Matthew 25, are asleep and not looking for Christ’s imminent return:

We have adapted and accommodated to the Church of Christ the promises that were spoken by God to Israel and Zion. I do not mean to say that this accommodation is in no sense allowable. But I do mean to say that the primary sense of every prophecy and promise in Old Testament prophecy was intended to have a literal fulfillment, and that this literal fulfillment has been far too much put aside and thrust into a corner.  And by so doing I think we have exactly fulfilled our Lord’s words in the parable of the ten virgins, we have proved that we are slumbering and sleeping about the second advent of Christ.

S. Lewis Johnson: Lessons from Isaiah 48 – 50

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

What follows are several interesting observations from the S. Lewis Johnson Isaiah series.

Isaiah 48
In Isaiah 48 we learn that truth has priority over miracles.  God sometimes allows a false prophet the ability to perform a miracle, but that does not necessarily mean the prophet is of God.  But God alone holds the truth, and He alone can tell the beginning from the end and tell us in advance of the fact.
Isaiah 48:10 deals with God’s testing and trying Israel, though not as silver.  Silver was refined through a process much harsher than other metals, so here is a note of God’s mercy in how He deals with Israel.  S. Lewis Johnson here noted the three types of discipline from God:

  1. Retributive, as with David’s judgment following his sin with Bathsheba; “the sword shall not depart from your house…”
  2. Preventive, as in Paul’s thorn in the flesh, to prevent Paul from becoming conceited
  3. Educative, as in the cases of Job and Jonah, the psalmist’s struggle to understand.  Educative discipline is intended to lead us onward, to another step up in the Christian life.

Isaiah 49
Isaiah 49:1 speaks of the Messiah’s mother  (ESV: The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.), and S. Lewis Johnson here points out that the scriptures never speak of Messiah’s father, but only of His mother.  Consider Psalm 22:9-10 and Micah 5:3.  Again we remember that, because of the prophecy in Jeremiah 22:30, the Messiah had the legal descent of Joseph but could not be descended physically from him.

Passages Concerning the Suffering Servant
The following passages in Isaiah reveal different aspects of the Servant of Jehovah:

  • Isaiah 42:1-8  The Program of the Suffering Servant’s Ministry
  • Isaiah 49:1-7  The Purpose of His ministry
  • Isaiah 50:4-9   The Preparation to which the Servant was submitted in His earthly life

 

Horatius Bonar: Living in and for the Future

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Horatius Bonar Quote on “Our Blessed Hope” Blog — Click Here

It is no fanaticism to live both in and for the future. It is faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Unbelief would dwell in the present, faith leads us into the future.  It displaces the visible, and brings forward the invisible. It lays hold of every thing that will open up more of the future. It prizes the prophetic word, as being its guide through that region to which it so specially lays claim as its proper portion and heritage. It treasures up every fragment of information given respecting days or ages to come, casting aside nothing, but pondering all; not shrinking from details or dates, in so far as these have been recorded by the Spirit of truth.

Horatius Bonar, Quarterly Journal of Prophecy volume 1, “Our Connexion with the Future.”

New Blog Feature — Our Blessed Hope

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve just added a new feature to this blog — and a spin-off to a second blog, Our Blessed Hope.

At least a few times a week, the new category “Our Blessed Hope” will feature select quotes from several Christian names, including Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, Horatius Bonar, and others — concerning  eschatology, prophecy and its right interpretation, the future for Israel, the premillennial return of Christ, and more.

See the first post, C. H. Spurgeon:  Jesus the Ruler Over His People Israel,  as a sample, the first in this series.

Or stop by the new blog, a site dedicated to these quotes:

http://ourblessedhope.wordpress.com/

The Book of Immanuel: Isaiah 7 – 12

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Continuing in S. Lewis Johnson’s Isaiah series, I now look at Isaiah chapters 7 through 12, a subset within the overall book of Isaiah:  the book of Immanuel.  This book itself has many interesting things, including an outline that follows the “signs” given in Isaiah 8:  Isaiah and his two sons:

  • Isaiah (Salvation of the Lord):  Isaiah 11

The details in Isaiah carry great meaning.  Consider the well-known words of Isaiah 9:6-7:  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.
The order is important — it is not “a child is given” and “a son is born.”   The “child is born” part refers to Christ’s human nature.  He was born as we are.  The “son is given” refers to the Divine side of Christ, the Eternal Son (ref. Psalm 2:7).

Isaiah 11 presents the Coming of the King and the Anointing of the King, but skips over the Suffering of the King.  As S. Lewis Johnson points out, this part is reserved for later chapters in Isaiah.  Yet it is also significant that Isaiah (as with all the prophets) skips over the interval of this the Church Age without mention, directly from the Anointing of the King to His reigning in the Kingdom.  From the human perspective at least, it was (theoretically) possible for Christ to come and then to inaugurate the Kingdom, if the Jews had accepted their Messiah.  Yet we understand that in God’s sovereign purposes this was planned as well, that the Jews would reject their Messiah.  The first mention of the interval, the long delay between Christ’s First Coming and Second Coming, is in the gospel accounts when Jesus brings this new revelation, in the parables told to the apostles and the people concerning the delay.

The Importance of Prophecy
In 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul refers to Isaiah 11:4,
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Here also is a lesson concerning the importance of prophecy.
In response to those who say, we should not teach prophecy to a young Christian, because “prophecy is really confusing.  Give them the simple truth of the Bible, like the person of Christ, and the work of Christ, and how to live the daily life,” we see the example of the apostle Paul and the Thessalonian church.  Paul spent just 15 days in Thessalonica, and from that ministry a small church developed.  Acts tells us he was only there 15 days, and according to the chronology of Acts he could not have spent more than six weeks there, but apparently it was only 15 days.  SLJ continues:

And you know what he taught them?  He taught them all about the cross.  He taught them all about the work of the Holy Spirit.  He taught them all about Christian living.  And furthermore, he taught them about the man of sin.  He said remember when I was with you, I told you these things.  He taught them about the rapture of the church.  He taught them about the tribulation period, the 70th week of Israel.  He taught them about the kingdom.  He taught them not only these facts, but he taught them about the individuals themselves and what they would do.  And he told them that the man of sin was going to arise; that is, what he is talking about right here.  So we do not apologize for teaching the prophecy.  If Paul did it, we can do it too.  And if the Thessalonicans could take it, so can you.

The Importance of the Kingdom

Isaiah 11:6-9 describes the kingdom age — the words are not just symbolical, empty words.  Another good point from S. Lewis Johnson:

Now, theological contemporaries tell me … there is no such thing as the kingdom of God upon the earth.  But when I look at the Book of Revelation, I notice that not only is the kingdom of God upon the earth prophesied, but I read that the angels are saying, thy kingdom come too.  And to tell you the truth, I am glad to be associated with the angels.  And I say to my friends, I am very interested in what you say to me, but as soon as the angels stop praying thy kingdom come and as soon as the saints down through the years stop saying thy kingdom come, and as soon as our Lord’s prayer is changed to thy kingdom will not come, not until that time will I stop praying for the kingdom.  And as far as I am concerned the company of the apostles and the company of the prophets, and the company of the angelic beings in heaven is the kind of company I want to keep.  And so I will pray “thy kingdom come.”  That is precisely what that text meant and what it means.  And this in Isaiah is the fulfillment, expressed in the description of “thy kingdom come.”  And it is a beautiful picture of course.

As to why the kingdom is necessary:

Now, some people say, “A kingdom” is kind of an appendage to God’s plan — the ones who have the cross, the coming of the spirit, the preaching of the gospel, the last events in which Jesus Christ comes and then go right into eternity.  We do not need any kingdom.  It is a useless appendage attached to the plan of God.

Let me remind you of something:  Sin occurred in history.  God gave a promise of redemption in history so Christ is King and he suffered in history.  Now, furthermore, he says that in history when Jesus comes here, we are going to be caught up to meet him in the air, and we are going to be given a resurrection body in history so that men may see in history what God is doing.  Not out of history, in history.

Furthermore, when man sinned, vicariously he placed the creation under a curse, in history.  So, in history, the creation is going to be redeemed.  Its time of redemption is not when we believe on Jesus Christ — its time of redemption is when the children of God receive the resurrection bodies and then God will bring the quick provision, his program for the creation, in history.  And because of sin in history and redemption in history, sin that affects the man and affects the creation, so we must have redemption in history that affects the man and affects God’s creation and not until then shall we enter into the eternity.  You see God’s philosophy of redemption is very, very to the point.

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Bible Study: Types of Prophecy

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m enjoying S. Lewis Johnson’s Isaiah series, already learning a lot about this oft-neglected yet very instructive book.  Johnson taught this class on Monday nights in the fall of 1968, with occasional reference to then- contemporary persons and events.  He sounds much younger here than in his later teachings (from the 1980s and especially the early 1990s), though he was already 53 by this time:  proof that sometimes a man is used by God more so in his later years than earlier.  The Isaiah series is one that I wish had been videotaped (of course such technology wasn’t readily available then), for sometimes he made use of a blackboard and pointed to “this here” and “this” in discussions of a timeline of events.  But most of it is straightforward enough for audio listening.

Now, from message 6 in the Isaiah series . . .
Old Testament Prophecy can be understood by grouping into different categories, different types of prophecy.
1.  Direct Messianic Prophecy:  Prophecy that is altogether predictive, a vision of the Lord Jesus.
Examples include Isaiah 9:6-7, and Isaiah 53.

2.  Indirect Messianic Prophecy:    Prophecies like these are quoted by NT writers, but the prophecies themselves only say “the Lord” without direct reference to Jesus Christ.  However, the apostles understood the trinity and the different activities of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  When OT passages refer to activities done by the Son — such as reigning over the Kingdom, etc. — the apostles recognized these as talking about the Second Person of the trinity.
Example:  Psalm 102, especially verses 25-27.

3.  Typical Messianic Prophecy:  Illustrative Messianic prophecy, as seen in the prophets, priests and kings of Israel.  They had experiences that are typical (that is, an example) of Christ.  This category can be sub-divided into two types:
a.  Historical Typical:  A historical event as an example, as a prophecy that has no direct reference to the future.  Example: Psalm 8.
b.  Historico-Prophetical Typical:  Cases where the activities of the prophets, priests or kings go beyond themselves.  Isaiah and his children (Isaiah 8:17-18)  are typical of Christ and His people, and typical of a Messianic community.   Examples:  Psalms 16 and 45, and Isaiah 8:17-18.

A Lesson in Hermeneutics: Zechariah Interpreting Isaiah

August 14, 2010 Leave a comment

S. Lewis Johnson has mentioned that the apostle Paul in his epistles would often string together many Old Testament quotes, as part of his flow of thought.  The apostle John did likewise in Revelation, in which many passages contain allusions to Old Testament texts.  Often in Revelation, many different OT allusions are likewise strung together within the same sentence.  See Johnson’s exposition of Revelation 19:15, for example, which contains references to Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49 , and Psalm 2 in its references to a sharp sword and ruling the nations with a rod of iron.  I’ve observed a similar quality also in Spurgeon’s sermons, wherein he quotes various scriptures as part of his normal sentence structure.

Another principle of interpretation:  not only are we to interpret the Old Testament by New Testament, but also we should interpret the Old Testament (earlier texts) by later Old Testament texts that reference the earlier texts.  For example, Isaiah 53 describes the same event as Zechariah 12:10.  From these texts we can observe that Zechariah (a later prophet) was a student of the earlier prophet Isaiah.  Zechariah 3 also relates to similar content in Isaiah’s servant passages.  An excerpt from S. Lewis Johnson:

when you read the prophecy of Isaiah, some of the greatest of those chapters are the chapters I’ve referred to a number of times in this series.  Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49, Isaiah 50, Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12, and perhaps, chapter 16.  But all students of Isaiah agree that those four great sections are sections that have to do with “The servant of Jehovah,” a reference, ultimately, to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  But here, we have the same kind of thing referred to by Zechariah.  He refers to the Lord as the “servant.”  Now, we know Zechariah was a student of Isaiah.  Anyone who reads these two discovers that.  And if you read Zechariah, after having read Isaiah, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

…  And, in fact, we can learn a great deal about the interpretive principles of the prophets, by the way in which they handle earlier Scripture.  And it’s obvious that this Book of Zechariah is one that we can learn a lot about hermeneutics from.  And, I think, we will see that when Zechariah interpreted previous Scripture, he interpreted it according to the grammatical, historical, theological method of interpretation.  That is, he did not give it spiritualized force. He interpreted it generally in the grammatical, historical fashion.  And here, he is using a term given to him, of course, in this vision by the Lord, which Isaiah had used and clearly a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Whole Counsel of God: The Abrahamic Covenant

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

What great treasures in God’s word are missed by the casual Bible teacher or student, by those who limit their study of God’s word to only certain parts and do not teach the whole counsel of God — justifying their neglect of the Bible by the notion that the only important thing is Christ’s First Coming, remembering the cross and how much God did for us at the cross.  Such a one, who concludes from 2 John that “there’s only one doctrine, the doctrine of Christ” also dismisses some biblical teachings as less important, saying:  (others would say) “oh let’s talk about Israel in prophecy, that’s more fun,”  — but that’s not important and that distracts from what’s really important, what Christ did at the cross.  Such an attitude appears to show great spiritual superiority, yet completely misses the important things that God has chosen to reveal to us– including the significance that Israel does have in prophecy (a large section of the Old Testament plus many New Testament references), as an important part in exalting and glorifying Christ, praising Him for the wonders He will yet do in the Divine Purpose of the Ages.  As I mentioned in this blog, the New Testament writers placed great emphasis on Christ’s return, often mentioning the prophetic word; they did not just look back, but eagerly awaited and desired His return.

Now to an important part of the whole counsel of God:  understanding the Abrahamic covenant, and the relevant passages in Genesis chapters 12, 15 and 17.  I have come across this topic a few times during previous studies from S. Lewis Johnson, such as his Eschatology series, and now in the “Divine Purpose” series he again briefly touches on the subject (while noting that he had previously covered this topic in many other series and suggested that people reference the tapes from those previous studies).  To those who would say that the basic promises in the Bible have to do with the cross of Jesus Christ, S. Lewis Johnson points out the connection, why studying the Abrahamic covenant is important:

what Christ did on the cross is the outgrowth of the Abrahamic promises and the outgrowth of the Davidic promises as well.  So we are contending that the basic broad promise of redemption is the Abrahamic covenantal promises.  The story of the Bible, we have said, is the record of the path along which Israel moves toward the fulfillment of these great promises. …  it’s in harmony with this that at the last of the whole of the Bible, that is, in Revelation chapter 22 in verse 16, the Lord Jesus’ connection with the Davidic covenant is again set forth and it’s the next to the last word that Jesus says.  He says, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star,” and his final word is, “and surely I come quickly.”

One new (to me) interesting thing concerning the account in Genesis 15:  verse 12 describes the deep sleep that fell on Abram — and “dreadful and great darkness.”  This was a nightmare, and the fact that it is associated with the ratification of this covenant indicates the future judgment, the horror and terror that would be required for the actual fulfilling of the covenant, the death of Christ on the cross.  Again from S. Lewis Johnson:

the fact that the terror and the horror of great darkness is associated with the ratification of this covenant suggests the judgment that is bound up in the ratification of it in reality in the future when the Lord Jesus Christ represented by this covenantal ratification dies upon Calvary’s cross.  So the terror and the horror of darkness is designed to suggest that the ratification of the covenant in reality not in type or not in illustration is a matter that involves the most serious and most painful of the divine judgmental discipline.

It is also biblically accurate to say that if we are to get any blessings from God, we have to get them through Abraham.  God chose Abraham, that the promised seed would come through him.  All the blessings involved in Jesus Christ come from Abraham, for Christ comes as the seed of Abraham.

A final note from S. Lewis Johnson about the importance of the Abrahamic covenant:

In fact, one of my teachers once said a long time ago that the way one looks at Abraham’s covenant more or less settles the entire argument in eschatology.  So it’s important to have a concept of what is taught in the Abrahamic covenant, its unconditional character and also the Scriptures that have to do with its future fulfillment.

Horatius Bonar and Our Human Limitations on God’s Word

April 1, 2010 7 comments
Horatius Bonar

Horatius Bonar

I’ve been reading Horatius Bonar’s “Prophetical Landmarks” (first published in 1847), and it is interesting to read different viewpoints to help understand the variations in premillennial and dispensational thought.  Specifically, I’ve learned that Bonar was premillennial with future for Israel, but not dispensational — and this comes up in the details such as his understanding of Daniel’s prophecies, saying that those events will happen to the Church.

Chapter 10, “Distribution of Times and Events,” especially reveals Bonar’s weaknesses and limitations in understanding.  Here he abandons the standard literal interpretation of some prophecies because, to his mid-19th century viewpoint, the literal meaning seemed impossible to him. Consider the following two observations from Bonar:

Further, there are some things foretold as taking place during the well-known period of twelve hundred and sixty days, which scarcely admit of being compressed within the space of so many days. The “wearing out” of the saints of the Most High is something which cannot be accomplished within three years and a half. It denotes a long period of trial, a gradual, continuous oppression of the Church, not the sharp and sudden infliction of calamity upon one generation of saints. It is true this expression occurs in Daniel, not in the Apocalypse, but the periods are the same, and the expressions made use of in the latter are of the very same import.

Here Bonar reflects the evolutionary thinking of the mid-19th century, unable to conceive of things happening very quickly and catastrophically.  Yet he also missed a few biblical references that perhaps could have helped:  the sudden calamity of the flood in Noah’s day (reference 2 Peter 3), and Jesus’ words that the elect would not survive except that the days (of tribulation) be cut short.

But the next part is really interesting — again, consider Bonar’s 19th century perspective:

Again, we read that the dead bodies of the witnesses are to lie unburied for three days and a half, (Rev. 11: 8-10,) that is, three and a half literal days, if the abridged scheme be correct. And then it is added, that “they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, shall see their dead bodies, and shall not suffer them to be put in graves.” Now, is it possible, that within three days and a half, people of the different nations even of the prophetic earth should be able to come together to the street of the great city, and see these bodies lying? Or is it possible, that within that short space the intelligence of their death should be so universally diffused, that men should have time to congratulate each other, and send gifts one to the other in token of their common joy? We can hardly conceive this possible.

Though Bonar and his contemporaries could not understand this as literal, our generation — with satellite communications, cell phones, instant messaging and the Internet — has no difficulty with the idea that the literal meaning could actually be fulfilled.  It really is amazing, how God’s word should always be taken at face value.   The oft-quoted saying, “if the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense” bears repeating.  The passage itself has a plain enough meaning, a narrative description of a particular event, so it definitely fits with the advice to “seek no other sense.”  If people in one age cannot see how it will happen literally, it is because future events — and technology unimagined — must yet come to pass.  We can be sure, though, that God will in the course of human history bring about what is necessary to make such prophecies — which completely befuddled Horatius Bonar — literally come to pass.