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Here all thy days and forever are used to express the same period of time, and simply mean throughout the generations of Israel. It was a sign between the Lord and Israel forever, that in six days God made heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh, Exod. xxxi. 17. The children of Israel dwelling in Canaan, or inheriting it forever, is contrary to fact. For nearly two thousand years the Jews have been cast out of it, and should they return to-day, and dwell in it as long as this earth shall continue, yet unless the world is to be of endless duration, forever does not express an infinite period of time. It is further said 1 Chron. xxiii. 25. "the Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem forever." And Jer. xvii. 25. it is said, "and this city shall remain forever." And referring to it, David says, Psalm xlviii. 8. "God will establish it forever." And Jer. xxxi. 40. it is said, "it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more forever." And in Psalm cxxv. 1. it is said, "they that trust in the Lord shall be like mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever." And referring to the temple, Solomon says, 1 Kings viii. 13. "I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in forever." For substance repeated, 2 Chron. vi. 2. And in 2 Chron. xxx. 8. it is said to be "sanctified forever." But what is meant by Jerusalem remaining "forever," is explained thus, Joel iii. 20. "but Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation." Again Josh. viii. 28. it is said, "Joshua burnt Ai and made it an heap forever." It is added by way of explanation, "even a desolation unto this day." And of Babylon it is said, Isai. xlvii. 7. "I shall be a lady forever." But God says concerning this city, Jer. li. 26. thou shalt be desolate forever." And verse 62. it is added, "none shall remain in it, neither
mån nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever." Of Hazor and other cities it is said, they "shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation forever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it," Jer. xlix. 33. And of another place it is said, "the smoke thereof shall go up forever," and that the wild beasts "shall possess it forever," Isai. xxxiv. 14, 17. The explanation of forever in the last text is given thus: "from generation to generation it shall lie waste," and "from generation to generation wild beasts shall dwell therein." See verses 8-17. In Psalm xlix. 11. it is said that the inward thought of the wicked is, that their houses shall continue "forever." But the explanation given is "and their dwelling-places to all generations."
The word olim is rendered forever, and applied in a variety of ways to the laws and ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation. It was a statute "forever throughout their generations" that they should not sacrifice their children to devils, Levit. xvii. 7. Nor eat of the fruits of the land, until they had brought a part of it unto the Lord, Levit. xxiii. 14. It was an ordinance forever throughout their generations, that the stranger and the children of Israel were to be alike in offering certain offerings to the Lord, Num. xv. 15. and xix. 10. It was also a statute "forever unto their generations," that Aaron and his sons should enjoy certain things, and perform certain parts of service, Exod. xxvii. 21. Levit. xxiv. 3. Exod. xxviii. 43. xxix. 28. and xxx. 21. Levit. vi. 18, 22. vii. 34. 36. and x. 9, 15. Numb. x. 8. and xviii. 8, 11, 19, 23. 1 Chron. xv. 2. and xxiii. 13. 2 Chron. ii. 4. Exod. xii. 14. comp. verses 17, 24. Levit. xxiii. 41. Comp. verses 33-41. Levit. xvi. 31. comp. verse 29. and xxiii. 31. The laws and ordinances enjoined in these texts, all relate to the old dispensation, which has vanished away. But all
must see they were to be observed "forever," and the fact shows that endless duration could not possibly be meant by this expression. The children of Israel were a peculiar people, separated from all other nations, and for certain important purposes, which would be aside from our present purpose to detail. Such laws and ordinances were to be observed by them "forever," and this forever was as long as they existed as a nation, and until the purposes of God were answered by them. Hence "in your generations," and "throughout your generations, some similar explanatory expression is used. Both seem to express, the constant continued practice of those laws and ordinances, but not the endless duration of their observance. This law was added because of transgression "till the seed should come." In the hope of the promise of the Messiah being fulfilled, the twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hoped to come. When Christ had fulfilled all that was written of him, it was virtually abolished, and Paul declared in his day, it had waxed old and was ready to vanish away. The "forever" was bounded by this period, and this was even a longer forever than some others spoken of in Scripture.
In the following texts, forever seems to express a long, indefinite period of time, but not endless duration. In Exod. xix. 9. the reason given for God's speaking to Moses in a cloud is, that the people might believe him "forever." But does forever mean any thing more, than that Moses might be believed by all the future generations of Israel. It is also said, Ezek. xliii. 7. that God is to dwell in the midst of Israel "forever." But can this signify to endless duration? Can it mean any thing more than what is said so often by way of explanation, "from generation to generation," or throughout their generations? See also verse 9. David says of God's commandments,
that they were "ever with him," Psalm. cxix. 98. But does this mean any thing more than a continuance in them? But further, had Saul obeyed the Lord, Samuel told him that the Lord would have established his kingdom upon Israel "forever," 1 Sam. xiii. 13. But I ask every candid man, did not Samuel mean, that the kingdom would have been hereditary in Saul's family, or as the Scriptures say, he should not have wanted "a man to sit on the throne ?" David, on whom Saul's kingdom was bestowed, says, that God chose him before all the house of his father "to be a king over Israel forever," 1 Chron. xxviii. 4. But did David mean, that he and his seed should sit to endless duration on a throne in Israel? Is not the meaning simply this- that the kingdom should be hereditary in his family so long as Israel existed as a nation? We think this is evident from 2 Chron. xiii. 5. where it is said, "ought ye not to know, that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and his sons by a covenant of salt?" Comp. 2 Chron. ix. 8. Besides, notice what is said, Psalm lxxxix. 4. in confirmation of this, and in explanation of the meaning of the phrase "forever." It is said, "thy seed will I establish forever;" but it is added, "and build up thy throne to all generations." All generations is surely not endless duration? Admitting that this ultimately referred to the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David, yet it clearly was understood of David's descendants. This seems evident from similar things being said of Solomon. See 1 Chron. xvii. 23. 1 Kings ii. 45. 2 Sam. vii. 13, 16, 25. 1 Chron. xxii. 10. and xxviii. 7. which I need not transcribe. It is also evident, from the intrigues and attempts of David's sons and others to usurp the throne.
That the same is said of the Messiah, is evident. from Isai. ix. 7; "of the increase of his government
and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever." But even when forever is here applied to him, we doubt if this expresses the endless duration of his reign, but simply expresses that it shall never give place to any other in this world. One or two of our reasons for thinking so we shall only here state.
1st. If "forever" and "no end" in this passage means endless duration, it must be allowed that this world must also continue to endless duration. Is it asked how I make this appear? I answer, that it is plainly said, that of the increase of his government there shall be no end. But how is this to take place if this world is to end? The increase of his government takes place in this world, nor does any one refer its increase to a period after it ends. Either then this world has no end, but shall continue to afford an increase of subjects to Messiah's kingdom, or forever, and no end, here does not mean endless duration. We never heard of any increase of subjects to Christ's kingdom but while this world continued.
2d. Christ's kingdom or his reign, is represented like the duration of the sun or the host of heaven. Psalm 72. is allowed to refer to him. In verse 19. it is said, "and blessed be his glorious name." And in verse 17. we find it said, "his name shall endure forever." If we ask, how long a time this forever is, we find it answered thus, "his name shall be continued as long as the sun." Again, it is said, Psalm 1xxxix. 29. "his seed also will I make to endure forever.” But it is added." And his throne as the days of heaven." And in verses 36, 37. we find it said, "his seed shall endure forever," but it is again subjoined by way of explanation,-"And his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon."