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by Dr. John Thomas
They put Jesus to death; and persecuted those to whom "he gave power to become the sons of God," believing on Iris name; and were "contrary to all men; forbidding the apostles to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved".
They were then "first"; but power was destined to change hands, when they who were "the first shall be the last".
They had killed the heir that the inheritance might be theirs; but they have been destroyed, and the vineyard now remains to be bestowed upon others, who shall render its Lord the fruits in their seasons.
Thus, as in the case of Ishmael and Isaac, "he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so," says the apostle, "it is now"; and, we may add, ever will be, until the times of the restitution of the State when "the last shall be first," and beyond the reach of evil.
No one but God had the right, or the power, to appoint "the heir of all things".
Abraham could not appoint him, neither could he be self-appointed.
Abraham wished that Ishmael might be the heir; or, as he expressed it, "O that Ishmael might live before thee".
But God would not consent to this.
He therefore promised to give him one for the heir, whom he should call Isaac; and of whom He said, "I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him".
But Isaac was not only born of promise; he believed the promises likewise, for the scripture saith, "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come".
Now it is written, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" -- that is, Christ shall descend from him, and all who believe the promises, and put on Christ, shall be considered as "in Isaac"; and being thus "the children of the promise," shall be "counted for the seed," who shall inherit the land and the world for ever.
"The seed," then, is a phrase that must be understood in a two-fold sense -- first, as referring to Christ; and secondly, to all who are constitutionally in him.
Isaac is representative of both: for Christ was in his loins, and all "in him" must be constitutionally in Isaac also.
For want of understanding the scripture doctrine of the two seeds, some very fatal mistakes have been made by many well-meaning persons.
They have gone so far as to deny that the seed of Abraham after the flesh will ever be restored to the land of Canaan, which is in effect to deny the fulfilment of a vast proportion of "the testimony of God" The seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman, indicated before the Flood, were afterwards distinguished in the seed of Ishmael, and the seed of Isaac.
"The children of the flesh are not the children of God; neither are they all Israel, who are of Israel".
This is true; but it does not therefore follow that there is nothing more to be done with "the children of the flesh" than to burn them up.
To carry out the allegory, God has yet to make of the Ishmael-seed a great nation; for though Ishmael was an outcast and a wanderer in the wilderness, God promised that he should be great, and dwell in the presence of his brethren.
The children of Abraham according to the flesh are "the children of the kingdom" as well as the children of the promise; only, these two classes of children stand in a different relation to the government and glory of the commonwealth, and to the dominion of the nations in the age to come.
The Ishmael-children were cast out of the government by the Romans; but the children in Isaac will "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," when the kingdom is restored again to Israel.
In the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory," the children in Isaac will reign as "sons"; while the children of the flesh will be the king's subjects, or "servants".
This distinction is apparent from the following testimony; "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes throughout all the earth"; of whom it is said, "If the Prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons'; it shall be their possession by inheritance.
But if he give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants then it shall be his to the year of liberty; and after it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them".