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Passages in which the words ETERNAL, EVERLASTING, FOREVER, &c. ar evidently used in a limited sense.
Eternal.-Isaiah 60: 15. Whereas thou (the Jews) hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
Everlasting. Gen. 17: 7, 8. And I will establish my covenant be tween me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Verse 13. And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting
Gen. 48 4. And will give this land (Canaan) to thy (Jacob's) seed after thee, for an everlasting possession.
Gen. 49 26. The blessings of thy (Joseph's) father (Jacob) have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
Exodus 40 15. And thou shalt anoint them (Aaron's sons) as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
Lev. 16: 34. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.
Numb. 25 13. And he (Phinehas) shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood.
Ps. 24: 7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors.
Hab. 36. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow. See also Ps. 105: 10; 2 Sam. 23: 5; 1 Chron. 16: 17; Isa. 24: 5.
Forever.- Deut. 15: 17. Thou shalt take an awl and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant forever. See also Ex. 21: 6.
1 Sam. 1: 22. I (the mother of Samuel) will not go up until the child (Samuel) be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and abide there forever.
1 Sam. 27: 12. And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant forever.
Lev. 25: 46. They (the children of strangers) shall be your (the Jews) bondmen forever.
2 Kings 5: 27. The leprosy, therefore, of Naaman shall cleave untc thee (Gehazi), and unto thy seed forever.
Job 41: 4. Wilt thou take him (the leviathan) for a servant forever?
0, king, live forever. See also 3: 9,5 : 10; 6 : 6, 21.
Exodus 14: 13. The Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever.
Eccl. 1 4. The earth abideth forever.
Ps. 104 5. Who laid the foundations of the earth, that they should not be removed forever.
Ps. 78: 69. He built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established forever.
Ezekiel 37: 25. And they (the Jews) shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children's children, forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever.
Gen. 13 15. For all the land which thou (Abram) seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.
Exo. 32 13. And all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.
Josh. 14 9. Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's forever.
1 Chron. 23: 25. The Lord God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem forever.
Jer. 17: 25. And this city (Jerusalem) shall remain forever.
Jer. 31 40. It (Jerusalem) shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more forever.
1 Kings 8 13. I (Solomon) have surely built thee (God) a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in forever.
Numbers 10: 8. And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever.
Numbers 18: 23. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a statute forever.
1 Chron 28: 4. Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me (David) before all the house of my father to be a king over Israel forever.
1 Kings 95. Then will I (God) establish the throne of thy (Solomon's) kingdom upon Israel forever.
Josh. 47. And these stones (the stones set up at Jordan) shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.
The earth with her bars was about me forever.
Jonah 2 6. Ps. 37 29. forever.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein
Forever and ever. - Ps. 148: 5, 6. For he (God) commanded, and they (the hosts of heaven) were created. He hath also established them forever and ever.
Isa. 30: 8. Now go, write it (that the Jews were a rebellious people) before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, forever and ever.
Isa. 34 10. It (the fire that was to burn the land of Idumea) shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste: none shall pass through it forever and ever.
Jer. 7 7. Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, forever and ever.
Jer. 25 5. Turn ye again, now, every one from his evil way, and every one from the evil of your doing, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers forever and ever.
Never. Lev. 6: 13. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
2 Sam. 12: 10. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine (David's) house.
Judges 2: 1. I will never break my covenant with you (the Jews). Joel 2: 26, 27. And ye (the Jews) shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else and my people shall never be ashamed.
Jer. 33 17. For thus saith the Lord, David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.
Ezek. 16: 63. That thou (he Jews) mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame.
Amos 8: 14. They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy God, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beer-sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
Hab. 1 4. The law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth.
To this list of passages, wherein the words everlasting, forever, &c., are obviously used in a limited sense, many more might be added. In these texts we see the word eternal applied to the excellency which God was to bestow upon the Jewish people. We see the word everlasting applied to God's covenant with the Jews; to the priesthood of Aaron; to the statutes of Moses; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the mountains and nills; and to the doors of the Jewish temple. We see the word forever applied to the duration of a man's earthly existence; to the time a child was to abide in the temple; to the continuance of Gehazi's leprosy; to the duration of the life of David; to the duration of a king's life; to the duration of the earth; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the time they were to dwell in Jerusalem; to the time a servant was to abide with his master; to the time Jerusalem was to remain a city; to the duration of the Jewish temple; to the laws and ordinances of Moses; to the time David was to be king over Israel; to the throne of Solomon; to the stones that were set up at Jordan; to the time the righteous were to inhabit the earth; and to the time Jonah was in the fish's belly. We find the phrase forever and ever applied to the hosts of heaven, or the sun, moon, and stars; to a writing contained in a book; to the smoke that went up from the burning land of Idumea; and to the time the Jews were to dwell in Judea. We find the word never applied to the time the fire was to burn on the Jewish altar; to the time the sword was to remain in the house of David; to God's covenant with the Jews; to the time the Jews
should not experience shame; to the time the house of David was to reign over Israel; to the time the Jews were not to open their mouths because of their shame; to the time those who fell by death should remain in their fallen state; and to the time judgment was not executed.
But the external excellency of the Jews is taken from them; the law covenant is abolished; the priesthood of Aaron and his sons has ceased; the ordinances, and laws, and statutes of Moses are abrogated; the Jews have long since been dispossessed of the land of Canaan, have been driven from Judea, and God has brought upon them a reproach and a shame; the man to the duration of whose life the word forever was applied is dead; David is dead, and has ceased to reign over Israel; the throne of Solomon no longer exists; the Jewish temple is demolished, and Jerusalem has been overthrown, so that the not left "one stone upon another;" the servants of the Jews have been freed from their masters; Gehazi is dead, and no one believes he carried his leprosy with him into the future world; the stones that were set up at Jordan have been removed, and the smoke that went up from the burning land of Idumea has ceased to ascend; the righteous do not inherit the earth endlessly, and no one believes that the mountains and hills, as such, are indestructible; the fire that burnt on the Jewish altar has long since ceased to burn; judgment has been executed; and no Christian believes that those who fall by death will never be awakened from their slumbers. Now, as these words are used in this limited sense in the Scriptures, why should it be supposed that they express endless duration when applied to punishment?
These words are applied to punishment in the Old Testament eight times only. In the New Testament they are applied to punishment twelve times. So that these words are applied to punishment only twenty times in the whole Bible. In the next Section we shall examine all the passages where they are thus applied.
Examination of all the passages in the Bible where the words ETERNAL EVERLASTING, FOREVER, and FOREVER AND EVER, are applied to punish
1. Job 20:5-7. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish forever.
This passage needs no comment to show that it has no reference to punishment in a future world. It is only necessary to examine the connection in which it is found to see that it refers to temporal destruction. "Yet he shall perish forever, like his own dung ; they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? ...... His bones are full of the sins of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust."
2. Ps. 9: 5. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name forever and ever.
This and the text just considered, if we allow them to have reference to a future world, prove not the endless suffering or misery of the persons spoken of, but their absolute and entire annihilation. It is not said they should be endlessly miserable; on the contrary, in the text now under consideration, the punishment of the persons named is said to have been already accomplished. "Thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name," &c. Undoubtedly referring to the Canaanitish nations which God destroyed from off the face of the earth, so that their names should be known no more on earth forever. Indeed, the connection shows this. See the whole Psalm.
3. Isa. 33: 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
The context of this passage shows that God was speaking of his temporal judgments on earth; and that these judgments are represented under the figure of fire. "The earth mourneth and languisheth; Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down; Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. Now will I rise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. Ye shall conceive chaff; ye shall bring forth stubble