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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

Thus, under the law of Moses, it was divinely appointed that "the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and Israel should seek the law at his mouth; for he was the messenger of the Lord of Hosts".

The priests, however, became so corrupt and ignorant that Israel sought in vain for knowledge at their lips, and therefore perished for lack of it.

The Lord charged this home upon them by the hand of Malachi.

"Ye are," says he, "departed out of the way, O ye priests; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law".

This was precisely the state of things when "the Messenger of the Covenant" made his appearance in Judea.

He denounced them for their corruptions.

"Ye have made," said he, "the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Hypocrites that ye are, ye draw nigh to God with your mouth, and honour him with your lips, but your heart is far from him.

But in vain do ye worship him, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men".

Among these hypocrites were the lawyers, who, feeling the keenness of his reproaches, remonstrated against it.

But he turned upon them, and said, "Woe unto you, lawyers!

for ye have taken, away the key of knowledge: ye enter not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered".

This was the unhappy condition of the Jewish nation at the appearing of Jesus; as it is of all the nations at the present time against whom the kingdom is shut by clerical traditions.

The Lord Jesus came to restore to Israel the key of knowledge.

"They erred, not knowing the scriptures"; but he was about to open them, so that in spite of the hypocrites, they might enter into the kingdom of God.

O that men could be induced now to devote themselves to the study of the scriptures without regard to articles, creeds, confessions, and traditions!

These things are mere rubbish; monuments of the presumption and folly of former generations indoctrinated with the wisdom from beneath.

If a Berean spirit could be infused into them; if they could be persuaded to "search the scriptures daily" for the truth as for hid treasure; they would soon leave their spiritual guides alone in all their glory of mysticism and patristic lore, and rejoice in the liberty of that truth which can alone make them "free indeed".

The gospel invites men to enter into the Kingdom of God.

The way of entering is made exceedingly plain in the Bible.

There is now no hidden mystery concerning it as there was before the sufferings of Christ were manifested.

The mystery of the kingdom has been unlocked.