Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wonderful Fulfillment, Wonderful Completion

After the past few introductory posts in this series, it should be clear by now that Eusebius of Caesarea, the so-called "Father of Church History," considered the Scriptures to speak emphatically (and prophetically) about the end of the "Jewish Age," the Old Covenant "Mosaic" administration. Eusebius, of course, was not the only Church Father (as we will see in later posts) to highlight this teaching within the Scriptures. 

But for now, because Eusebius has so much to say about this topic, over the next few posts I plan on including much lengthier sections of his comments, in order to shorten the amount of posts on this blog. (I think I have roughly 50 pages of quotations left from him, which all refer to the prophetic "fulfillment" of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.). In order to alleviate myself of much time editing each post, I will also include relevant footnotes below each citation, from the work cited. Below are some more (lengthy) excerpts from The Proof of the Gospel: Being the Demonstratio Evangelica of Eusebius of Cesarean (W. J. Sparrow-Simpson & W. K. L. Clarke, Eds., W. J. Ferrar, Trans. London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company)

Commenting on Zechariah 14:1-2, Eusebius writes: 
The fulfilment of this also agrees with the passages quoted on the destruction of the whole Jewish race ...the final siege of the people by the Romans, through which the whole Jewish race was to become subject to their enemies: he says that only the remnant of the people shall be saved, exactly describing the apostles of our Savior. (Vol. 1, pp. 97–98) 

Commenting on Isaiah 53, he writes:
In this he shews that Christ, being apart from all sin, will receive the sins of men on Himself. And therefore He will suffer the penalty of sinners, and will be pained on their behalf; and not on His own. And if He shall be wounded by the strokes of blasphemous words, this also will be the result of our sins. For He is weakened through our sins, so that we, when He had taken on Him our faults and the wounds of our wickedness, might be healed by His stripes. And this is the cause why the Sinless shall suffer among men: and the wonderful prophet, in no way shrinking, clearly rebukes the Jews who plotted his death; and complaining bitterly of this very thing he says: “For the transgressions of my people he was led to death.” And then because total destruction overtook them immediately, and not a long time after their evil deed to Christ, when they were besieged by the Romans, he does not pass this over either, but adds: “And I will give the wicked for his tomb, and the rich for his death.” (Vol. 1, pp. 113–114)

Commenting on the faithful witness of Jesus' apostles, Eusebius draws a clear parallel between "the prophecies of what would happen to" Jesus' apostles and "the Son of man coming" (c.f. Matthew 10:13), which implies, based on the Scriptural allusion he uses, that Eusebius considered the "coming" of the Son of Man in Matthew 10:13 as the Lord's visitation of final judgment upon Israel within the same generation as the apostles. Notice carefully that Eusebius also sees consistency with this theme between Matthew's gospel and John's gospel, precisely because both come from the lips of Jesus himself:

When the Master gave them gloomy prophecies, if they gave heed to the things He said to them: “Ye shall have tribulation,”* and again: “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice”*—the strength and depth of their nature is surely plain, since they did not fear the discipline of the body, nor run after pleasures. And the Master also, as One Who would not soothe them by deceit Himself, was like them in renouncing His property, and in His prophecy of the future, so open and so true, fixed in their minds the choice of His way of life. These were the prophecies of what would happen to them for His Name’s sake—in which He bore witness, saying that they should be brought before rulers, and come even unto kings, and undergo all sorts of punishments, not for any fault, nor on any reasonable charge, but solely for this His Name’s sake.And we who see it now fulfilled ought to be struck by the prediction. (Vol. 1, pp. 136–137)
* John 16:33
* John 16:20
* Matthew 10:16-23

Commenting on Amos chapters 4 and 5, he notes a remarkable comment of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, which undeniably refers to the destruction of Jerusalem's temple in 70 a.d.  Eusebius writes:
God now proclaiming the Christ by name the seventh time is said to “strengthen the thunder” and “to create the wind,” the proclamation of the Gospel being called thunder from its being heard by all men, and similarly the spirit that Christ breathed on His apostles is meant; and also the Saviour’s sojourn among men has clearly fulfilled the prophecy in which God is said to make “morning” and “mist” together, morning for those that receive salvation, but for the Jews that disbelieve in Him the contrary.  On whom also Scripture foretells an extreme curse, adding a lamentation for the Jewish race, which actually overtook them immediately after their impiety against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For of a truth from that day to this the House of Israel has fallen, and the vision1 once shewn by God and the rejection have been brought to pass, concerning the falling of their house in Jerusalem, and against their whole state, that it should not be possible for any one to lift them up, who will never more be lifted up.  “There is,” he says, “therefore no one to lift her up.” For since they did not accept the Christ of God when He came, perforce He left them and turned to all the Gentiles, telling the cause of his turning, when He said with tears, as if almost apologizing: 
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killeth the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto her, how often2 would I have gathered thy children together, even as a bird gathereth her nestlings under her wings, and ye would not:* behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Vol. 1, pp. 210–211)

1 ὅρος in Migne from Paris text. Gaisford and Dindorf read ὅρασις following Donatus’ rendering, and the Oxford Codex.
2 W.H.: ποσάκις. E.: πολλάκις. W.H. omit ἔρημος.
* Matt. 23:37

In another chapter of the same work, commenting on a passage within Amos 4 again, he writes: 
You also, he says, will suffer a destruction such as Sodom underwent for its unnatural wickedness, and even so did not turn to Me. This is levelled at the Jewish race, and only received its fulfilment in their case, after their plot against our Saviour. Their ancient holy place, at any rate, and their Temple are to this day as much destroyed as Sodom. Yet though they have suffered in accordance with the prediction, they have not hitherto turned to Christ, on Whose account they have suffered so much. And so the prophecy before us is justly inspired to say: “And neither so have ye returned to me, saith the Lord.” (Vol. 1, p. 266-267)

In the introduction of the sixth volume of the same work, Eusebius reminds his audience again, that:
So let us now examine any such predictions of the Hebrew oracles, that now the Lord, now God, would descend to men and again ascend in their sight, and the causes of His descent: and you will note that some prophecies are veiled and some clearly expressed.  I hold that the secret prophecies were delivered in a disguised form because of the Jews, as the predictions concerning them were unfavourable; because they would most probably have destroyed the writing, if it had plainly foretold their final ruin; just as history shows that they attacked the prophets, because they rebuked them. But the prophecies that are clear include beyond all doubt the call of the Gentiles, and announce the promises of the reward of holiness not only to the Jewish race, but to all men throughout the world. As this is so, we must now hear the divine oracles. (Vol. 2, pp. 1–2)

Commenting on Psalm 106 and 107, he writes:
This clearly gives the good news of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, Who is named, and of the result of His Coming. For it says, “He sent his Word and healed them.” And we say distinctly that the Word of God was He that was sent as the Saviour of all men, Whom we are taught by the Holy Scriptures to reckon divine.  And it darkly suggests that He came down even unto death for the sake of those who had died before Him, and in revealing the redemption of those to be saved by Him it shews the reason of His Coming. For He saved without aid from any one those that had gone before Him even to the gates of death, healed them and rescued them from their destruction. And this He did simply by breaking what are called the gates of death, and crushing the bars of iron.  And then the prophecy proceeds to predict the state of desolation of those who rejected Him when He came. For it says, “He turned rivers into a wilderness, and rivers of waters into thirst, a fruitful land into saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein”: which you will understand if you behold Jerusalem of old, the famous city of the Jewish race, her glory and her fruitfulness, despoiled now of her holy citizens and pious men. For after the coming of Christ she became as the prophet truly says without fruit or water, and quite deserted, “saltness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Vol. 2, p. 7)

And finally (for this post, at least) Eusebius combines a lengthy series of prophetic statements by Micah, commenting on chapters 1, 3, 5, and 6:

And then He gives an additional reason for the Descent of the Word, recounting the impiety of the Jews, and the destruction falling upon them, and heralding the calling of all nations throughout the world. For these things’ sake the Word of God came down from heaven to earth. Hear this passage: 
“For the impiety of the House of Jacob is all this done, and for the transgression of the House of Israel. What is the impiety of the House of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the sin of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? And I will make Samaria a lodge of the field, and a plantation of a vineyard, and I will draw down to chaos the stones thereof, and will hide the foundations thereof.”
And He adds:
“Evil hath descended from the Lord on the gates of Jerusalem,* the noise of chariots and horsemen.”
And again:
“O glory of the daughter of Jerusalem,* shave and cut off thy choice children. Enlarge thy widowhood, as an eagle, when thy captives are led from thee.”
And moreover:
“Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a granary, and the mount of the house as a grove of the wood.”*
  Sion and Jerusalem and the so-called “mount of the house” are what were represented before in, “And the mountains shall be shaken from beneath him, and the valleys shall be melted as wax before the fire for the iniquity of Jacob.” For the mountains and the dwellers thereon were besieged for the iniquity they had wrought against Him soon and not long after Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood.
  If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem, as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge.1 And this has come to pass precisely because of their impieties, for the sake of which the Heavenly Word has come forth from His own place.
  And I have already said that the Word of God came down from heaven and descended on the high places of the earth for other reasons, both that the mountains which of old lifted themselves up and exalted themselves against the knowledge of God might be shaken beneath Him (that is to say the opposing powers, which before His coming enslaved the Hebrew race as well as the rest of mankind in the practice of impiety and idolatry), and also that the evil dæmons called valleys (through their living in gloomy chasms, and in the recesses of the body) might melt as wax before the fire and flee away from men by the power of the divine Word
...And after this the same prophet, having prepared the way by telling of what related to the fact of the Descent of God the Word from heaven, and foretold what should be the causes of His coming, proceeds to relate His birth among men, and to name the place where He should be born, in the following words:

“And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, art the least to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth for me a leader,2 to be for a ruler in Israel, and his goings-forth are from the beginning from the days of eternity.”*
  Note with care how he says that the goings-forth of Him that shall appear at Bethlehem are from above and from eternity, by which he shews the pre-existence and essential origin of Him that is to come forth from Bethlehem.  Now if any person can apply the oracle to any one but Jesus, let him shew who it is; but if it is impossible to find any one but our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the only Person after the date of this prophecy Who came forth thence and attained to fame, what should hinder us from acknowledging the truth of the prophecy, which directs its prediction on Him only?  For He alone of all men is known to have come forth from the before-named Bethlehem after the date of the prophecy, putting on a human shape, and what had been foretold was fulfilled at His coming. For at once and not after a long time the woes that were foretold fell on the Jewish nation, and blessings in accordance with the prophecies on the nations as well, and He Himself, our Lord and Saviour Who came from Bethlehem, was shewn to be the ruler of the spiritual Israel, such being the name of all people of vision and piety

...Then the word of the prophet, a little further on, suggests again the curtailing and abolition of the ancient ritual of the Law, speaking in the person of the people:
“Wherewithal shall I reach the Lord, and lay hold of my God most high? Shall I reach him by whole burnt-offerings, by calves a year old3 Should I give my firstborn for my ungodliness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”*
And he makes this answer to them in the person of God:
“Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? And what does the Lord require of thee, but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk after thy God?”4
  You have then in this prophecy of the Descent of the Lord among men from heaven, many other things foretold at the same time, the rejection of the Jews, the judgment on their impiety, the destruction of their royal city, the abolition of the worship practised by them of old according to the Law of Moses; and on the other hand, promises of good for the nations, the knowledge of God, a new ideal of holiness, a new law and teaching coming forth from the land of the Jews. I leave you to see, how wonderful a fulfilment, how wonderful a completion, the prophecy has reached after the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ(Vol. 2, pp. 14–18)

* Micah 1:12.
* Micah 1:15.
* Micah 3:12.
1 Cf. 406c: Σιὼν ὔρος … διὰ Ῥωμαίων ἀνδρῶν κατʼ οὐδὲν τῆς λοιπῆς διαφέρουσα χώρας γεωργεῖται, ὡς καὶ ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς ὀφθαλμοῖς παραλαβεῖν βουσὶν ἀρούμενον καὶ κατασπειρόμενον τὸν τόπον.—Epiphanius (de Mens. et Pond. xiv.; Migne, P.G. xliii. col. 259) in the fourth century states that Hadrian found the Temple trodden under foot, with a few houses standing, the Cœnaculum, and seven synagogues “that stood alone in Sion like cottages.” There is no reason to suppose that Eusebius’ valuable witness that part of the Temple area was under cultivation in his day is incorrect or merely rhetorical.
2 LXX omits ἡγούμενος.
* Micah 5:2.
3 E. omits Εἰ προσδέξεται κυρίος ἐν χιλιάσι κριῶν; ἢ ἐν μυριάσι χιμάρων πιόνων:
* Micah 6:6.
4 LXX: μετὰ κυρίου Θεοῦ σου. E.: ὀπίσω.

No comments:

Post a Comment