In the Hebrew Canon (Ap. 1) we have
The five books of the "Law". This is the number of Grace.
(2) The eight books of the "Prophets" -- this is the Dominical number.
(3) The eleven books of the Hagiographa --this is the remarkable number (the fifth prime) which plays so important a part in the works of God. (See Ap. 10.)
In the Law, the grace of God was shown to Israel (Deut. 4:31-37, &c.); but true grave came by Jesus Christ. (See note on John 1:16, 17.)
In the Prophets, we have Jehovah's special dealing with Israel. In the "former prophets" we see the law-principle; and in the latter prophets we see faith-principle; and two together presenting us with a wonderful picture of the failure of man on the one hand, and the faithfulness of Jehovah on the other.
THE BOOKS OF THE PROPHETS.
Through the changing of the order of the books of the prophets, by the Translators of the Septuagint, the Church has lost sight of the one grand illustration of the great principle of Old Testament teaching, which is currently supposed to be taught only in the New; viz, that law-principle brings in "the curse", whereas faith-principle brings in "the blessing".
The non-recognition of the fact that this is Old Testament teaching has obscured the specific doctrine of the New : viz., that over and above belief on the Lord Jesus Christ, a "mystery" or "secret", which had been hid in God "from the beginning of the world" (Eph. 3:9), was made manifest after Pentecost, and after the Dispensation covered by the Acts of the Apostles, to the apostle Paul. See notes on Eph. 1:9; 3; and 5:32.
There is another Structure, differing from that given in Ap. 1, but equally true, viz. :--
THE FORMER PROPHETS.
A JOSHUA. Israel brought into the Land.
God keeps His covenant. Israel under priests.
B JUDGES. Israel in the Land.
Man breaks the covenant. Failure of the priesthood.
B SAMUEL. Israel in the Land.
God shows mercy in appointing prophets, and a king
whose throne shall be established for ever.
A KINGS. Israel ejected from the Land.
Man breaks the covenant as before; the ten tribes and
the kings break the one made with David.
Here, in the "former" prophets (Zech. 7:7), we see, arranged in an Introversion, the whole of Israel's failure in the Land, set forth by the Lord.
Now we are shown in the "latter" prophets how God's faithfulness was going to secure His own purposes, and Israel's blessing.
THE LATTER PROPHETS.
Priests and kings were anointed : but God would now send an anointed One, i.e. Messiah; and if they would believe on Him they would be established. For He would be also a Prophet. Corporate testimony had failed : therefore there would be a division among individuals of the nation on account of Him; so that in times of crisis those whose sins had not been expiated by His priestly work would be excluded from the Nation for not hearkening to Him as Prophet (Deut. 18:18, 19), and extirpated by His work as King (Isa. 6:9-13, 7:9; John 7:40-43; Acts 3:19-26; 13:38-52; Matt. 13:36-43). In Him, then, the righteous Servant of Jehovah, the future of Israel is seen in the latter prophets (Isa. 49).
He is both rejected and accepted. The Nation went back to the land to try that question under Divine auspices (Dan. 9:24-27). When they rejected Him, they were not established, but again scattered. But when they accept Him they will be regathered, and never again rooted out.
They can come back only through David (from whom their second breach of covenant referred to was a departure), before the first breach of covenant can be healed up; for the character and form of the Structure (here, as elsewhere) corresponds with the subject-matter; and, in this, the Introversion of the Structure is the same as the principle on which God works : viz., by introversion. The Law must go forth from Zion.
We find then that the following is the Structure, showing
THE INTER-RELATION OF THE PROPHETIC BOOKS.
C ISAIAH. Restoration of the throne of David through
the priestly work of Messiah, from the standpoint of
the two tribes.
D JEREMIAH. Political disruption, and final restoration
of Judah and Ephraim (the twelve tribes) by a new
D EZEKIEL. Ecclesiastical disruption, God ceasing to
rule the Land in demonstration; and final restoration of
the same, re-establishing all the twelve tribes.
C THE TWELVE MINOR PROPHETS. Restoration of the
throne of David through the priestly work of Messiah, from
standpoint of the ten tribes. (See the Structure of these,
The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 has indeed been made (Matt. 26:28); and can never be made again : for His "blood of the Covenant" has been shed, once for all. Had the nation repented on the proclamation of Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19-26), all would have been fulfilled; in the same way as John the Baptist would have been taken for Elijah the prophet (Mal. 3:1; 4:5. Cp. Matt. 11:10-15) had the nation, through its rulers, repented at his proclamation (Matt. 3:1, 2) and that of Messiah (Matt. 4:17, &c.). But, seeing that these great calls to "repent" were not obeyed, both fulfillments stand in abeyance, until this one great condition of national restoration and blessing shall have taken place. The modern doctrine, in certain circles, that the New Covenant holds good with Gentiles now, or with the present-day "house of Israel", would bestow justification on unbelievers. This is not the teaching of Heb. 8 and 10. This does not affect the position of those who are "in Christ" in this Dispensation of the "Mystery". They have all, and more than all, in that "New Covenant" which will yet bring back blessing to Restored Israel.
When that national repentance does take place, the time will come for the travailing woman to bring forth (Isa. 66:8; John 16:19-22). But that is still future. What is true, is that declaration of Jehovah by Micah : "Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth; then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel" (Mic. 5:3).