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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

He says explicitly, "By the law shall no flesh be justified" A circumcised person is therefore bound to keep that which he cannot possibly keep; and which if he did keep could not benefit him, because justification to life is by faith in the promise, and not by conformity to the Mosaic law.

The relation of the Jews to eternal life as individuals, and to the everlasting possession of Canaan in blessedness and peace as a nation, is manifest.

They are circumcised, and therefore bound to keep the whole law; by which law they seek to be justified.

But how vain and impossible is their enterprise.

The law says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them"; and so unexceptional is this sentence, that it even cursed the Lord Jesus, saying, "Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree"; and in this way he was made a curse for men.

Now, the law teaches that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and prescribed certain sacrifices which must be offered upon an altar in Jerusalem, and there only.

To say nothing of other impossible things, these offerings, which are indispensable, the Jews neither do, nor can, present.

These are things, then, they do not continue in, and therefore they are cursed by the law, and condemned by Moses in whom they trust.

They are under sentence of death, and of eternal exclusion from all inheritance in Canaan and the world.

They may possibly believe in the promise made to Abraham, that God will give the land to him and the Christ; but they deny that Jesus is the person named in the covenant, which is tantamount to rejecting the covenant itself.

While circumcision obliged Israel to keep the whole law, in which there was an annual remembrance of national offences, it gave them through that law only a tenant at will occupancy of the land of Canaan; and that not to the extent which pertains to its everlasting possession.

This appears from the words of Moses, as it is written, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law, ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it".

The condition of their tenancy was their good behaviour.

If they served God according to the law of the land He had given, he would bless them in their basket and store; but if they served other gods, He would let in the worshippers of those gods upon them, and expel them from the country.

Israel has rebelled; and therefore they are in dispersion, until the time appointed shall come to remember the covenant made with the fathers; and therefore to remember the land.

The national tenancy of Canaan under the law being leasehold, no purchases of freehold estates could be made in the land.

If Israel had been a freeholder, the case would have been different.

But the land belonged to the Lord; and they had no more right to grant it away in parcels for ever, than the tenant under a twenty-one years' lease has to cut up his holding into lots, and sell them to purchasers for ever.

Israel were the Lord's tenants; and the law said to them on the part of their Landlord, "The land shall not be sold for ever; for the land is mine, and ye are strangers and sojourners with me"; so that "in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land".

Hence, if poverty compelled a man to sell his farm, it was always redeemable by himself, or kin, according to certain conditions; but if neither could raise the money to redeem, the estate was not lost to the original owner; for though it remained in the hands of the purchaser, he was obliged to return it for nothing at the year of jubilee.

Even under the New Constitution, when the nation obtains everlasting possession, the servants of the Prince will have to surrender his territorial gifts at the year of liberty; while his sons will possess them for ever.

The covenant of promise confers a more extensive holding of the country than the law of Moses.

At no time of their occupation did Israel possess all the land from the Euphrates to the Nile, as promised in the covenant; and even if they had, such holding would not have been in the sense of the covenant, for they have not held possession according to the limits defined "for ever".