The Dispensations of God: 3 - The History of the Remnant

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
In closing our brief review of the past history of Israel, we must look at the return from captivity of a remnant part of Judah and Benjamin at the close of Babylonish captivity.
In Jeremiah 25 we find that when they were about to be sent into captivity, they are told by the prophet, “Behold, I will send... Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof... and this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
In the book of Esther, during this captivity, we see how God secretly watched over His beloved people, without publicly owning them or manifesting Himself to them.
In Daniel 9 we see that as soon as the seventy years had expired and Darius the Mede had taken the kingdom, Daniel understood the prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the captivity. At this time, a remnant of Judah and Benjamin came back, settled in the land, rebuilding the temple (Ezra) and the city (Nehemiah).
The temple in Ezra’s day was an empty temple, however. They had neither the Shekinah (the Glory—the presence of Jehovah) nor the ark nor the Urim and Thummim (the means by which the priest discerned the mind of God). They did not pretend to more than they had, but did what they could in the midst of the ruins of everything around. This was not the promised national restoration, spoken by the prophets, nor was it the inheritance of the land according to the promises to the fathers. Only a remnant of Judah and Benjamin returned under the permissive patronage of the Gentile rulers, to whom they were still subject (Neh. 9:36-3736Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it: 37And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. (Nehemiah 9:36‑37)).
The national restoration will yet take place of which God declares, “I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more” (Ezek. 37:2222And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: (Ezekiel 37:22)).
This returned remnant remained in the land under their oppressors until the coming of their Messiah and His presentation to them. Only a little band of disciples attached themselves to Him and received Him as the Christ. The mass of people refused Him and chose a murderer (Barabbas) in His stead. He warned them that He had come in His Father’s name and that they would reject Him, and that if another would come in his own name, him they would receive (John 5).
With His own blessed, unwearying love, He pleaded with, yearned over and wept for the people still beloved for their fathers’ sakes, till compelled to say, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!... Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:37-3937O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:37‑39)).
The husbandmen (the nation of Israel) “caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” His love was not turned aside even by this, for the Holy Spirit takes up the voice of Jesus on the cross—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” by the mouth of Peter in Acts 3. “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” If they would repent and be converted, He would return. But they stoned His witness Stephen, sending a message by him after Jesus: “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
Not many years after this, the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled by the armies of Titus. “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” (Isa. 6:11-1211Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. (Isaiah 6:11‑12)).
The great Prophet had come into the midst of His people; to Him they would not hearken. Rejected, He had gone to heaven to be a Priest for those who now believe, and when He comes again as King, He will unite all these glories in His own person, and His kingdom shall have no end!
(to be continued)
F. G. Patterson (adapted)