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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

Other orbs may have their paradises: but as far as man is concerned, the Paradise of God will be by Him planted in Eden according to "the promise".

"In that day, shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land"; that is, of Eden: "whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt, my people, and Assyria, the work of my hands, and Israel, mine inheritance".

In the letter to the congregation at Ephesus, the Spirit says, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God".

The simple import of this is as follows.

The saints of God are termed in scripture, "Trees of Righteousness," which bring forth good fruit; and the King of Saints, the Tree of Life.

This, then, is the symbol of Christ as the giver of life.

"As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me," says Christ, "even he shall live by me".

Hence, to give a man to eat of the Tree of Life, is for the Lord Jesus to raise a true believer from among the dead to incorruptible life.

He will then eat, or partake, of that life, which he is ordained to bestow, who said of himself, "I am the way, and the truth, arid the life".

But none of the believers, or heirs of life, can partake of the life-giving tree, until it is manifested in the Paradise of God; that is, until the Lord appears in his Kingdom.

We shall see in the second part of this work the particulars concerning this Kingdom.

I shall, therefore, content myself with remarking here, that when it is manifested, it will be established in the Lord's land; that is, in Eden: hence, the promise, interpreted into plain English, is -- "To the believer that overcomes the world, will I, the Lord, who am the life, give glory, honour, and immortality, when I come to stand on the Mount of Olives, and to re-establish the kingdom and throne of David, as in the days of old".

There is no immortality, nor Paradise until then; neither can any attain to them unless they "overcome the world"; for the promise is only "to him that overcometh".

But to this doctrine sceptics object, that Paradise must have a present existence somewhere; seeing that, on the day of his crucifixion, Jesus told the thief that he should be with them in Paradise on that day; as it is written, "I say to thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise".

I admit, that it is so written in English; but I find there are various readings and punctuations in the Greek.

In the first place, the thief's petition is differently worded in some manuscripts.

In the common version it reads "Remember me, Lord, when thou comest in thy kingdom," ejn th`/ basileiva sou but in others, it is various, though in sense the same -- as, "Remember me when thou comest in the day of thy coming," ejn th`/ hJmevra/ th\" ejleuvsew" sou.

Now the Lord "comes in his kingdom" "in the day of his coming"; therefore, I say, the two phrases are in sense the same, only the latter more plainly suggests to "the unskilful in the word of righteousness," the import of the term "to-day" in the answer to the petition.

In the next place, Jesus did not evade the thief's prayer, but gave him a direct and intelligible reply.

He told him, in effect, that what he requested should be granted: in other words, that when he was himself in his kingdom he should be there too.

But does the reader imagine, that Jesus told him the time when, seeing that he was not even himself acquainted with the time when the Jewish State, as constituted by the Mosaic code, should be abolished?

And, till this was set aside, he could not come in his kingdom; for then he is to sit and rule, and be a priest upon his throne; which he could not be co-existent with the law: because the law of Moses would permit no one to officiate as a priest, who was not of the tribe of Levi; and Jesus was descended from Judah.

"Heaven and earth," or the Mosaic constitution of things in Eden, "shall pass away," said Jesus: "but of that day and hour knoweth no man -- no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father".