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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

He was at the place; and so well did he understand this that he termed Bethel "the gate of heaven".

Now the interval of time between the giving of the promise and the fulfilment of it was represented to Jacob by a ladder of extraordinary length, one end of which stood at Bethel, and the other end against the vault of heaven.

Here were two points of contact, the land of Judah and heaven; and the connecting medium, the ladder between them.

This was a most expressive symbol, as will be perceived by considering the uses to which a ladder is applied.

It is a contrivance to connect distant points, by which one at the lower end may reach a desired altitude.

It is, then, a connecting medium between points of distance.

Now if, instead of distant localities, distant epochs be substituted, the ages and generations which connect them will sustain a similar relation to the epochs as a ladder to the ground on which it rests, and the point of elevation against which it leans.

The ladder, then, in Jacob's vision was representative of his seed in their generations and appointed times.

One end of it was in his loins; the other, in the Lord Jesus when he should sit upon his throne, reigning over the land upon which Jacob was asleep.

But upon this ladder of ages and generations, with Jacob at the bottom and his seed, the Shiloh, at the top, "the angels of God were seen ascending and descending".

This represented to him that the affairs of his posterity, natural and spiritual, in all their relations with the world, would be superintended by the Elohim, who would pass to and fro between earth and heaven, in the performance of their work.

Hence, the apostle styles them, "All ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation".

Israel and the nations are under their vicegerency till the Lord Jesus comes to assume the sovereignty of the world.

When he appears in his kingdom, the land of Israel especially will be no longer subjected to their superintendence.

The apostle includes Palestine and Syria, when the Hebrew commonwealth is reconstituted upon them, in "the future habitable" (th;n oijcoumevnhn th;n mevllousan).

When he wrote this, these countries were inhabited by Israel under the Mosaic constitution, mixed up with.

and in subjection to, the Gentiles.

Under this arrangement their affairs were superintended by the angels of God.

But with the future habitable it will be different; for the apostle says, "God hath not put it in subjection to the angels": but "when he brings the first-born back again into the habitable (eij" th;n oijcoumevnhn) he says, ‘Let all the angels of God do homage to him"." This return of the Lord to the habitable cannot be referred to the epoch of his resurrection; because he had not then left it.

Indeed, he never left it but once before his resurrection, and that was involuntarily when Joseph and Mary carried him into Egypt.

He said himself that he had not been to the Father before rising from the dead.

He was in the habitable, only asleep in death.

But when he ascended then he departed into a far country to receive the kingdom; and when he had received it, to return.