46 The first sign, at Cana, signifies the blessing of Israel in the kingdom. This, the second sign, is also at Cana, hence is also concerned with the coming kingdom. The wine prefigured the joy of the favored nation. This second sign foreshadows the healing of that nation. The effect of human government is aptly figured by a burning fever. Never was this more evident than after the great European conflict. The delirium, the weakness, the oppression, the dread of death, possesses the nations. It will be far worse at the time of the end. It will not be cured by human medicaments, but by the coming of Christ. The seventh hour is suggestive of the seventh seal, and the seventh trumpet which proclaims that the world kingdom became our Lord's and His Christ's. . . (Un.11:15). Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He will assuage the pain and unrest which possesses Israel today. He will change their feverish delirium into a quiet, restful peace.
49 "Lord, descend! " is the only cure for the earth's political ills. The resort to arms has not healed but rather aggravated the sores which caused it. Instead of being the last war it seems to be the seed of further conflict. Even if the war weary world should patch up a truce, it would not last. There is no other cure but "Lord, descend!"
This sign does not signify blessing to the nations now, during Israel's defection. At present the fever of the nations continues unabated and all our blessings are spiritual and celestial. The fact that the courtier was connected with the king, suggests that the rule of Israel over the nations is in view, and that they are included in the blessing. The Lord does not visit the son, but heals him at a distance. So He will deal with the nations in the millennial era. When He comes for us we are snatched away to meet Him in the air and enter His very presence, and remain with Him, and share His heavenly rule for the eons. The nations on earth in that day will not be so highly blessed.
52 Yesterday, that is, before sunset of the same day.
1 The third sign brings before us another picture of Israel before and after His advent. They are not only joyless, but weak, infirm through the flesh (Ro.8:3), unable to put into practise the precepts of that holy law which had been given to them. They cannot walk in the commandments. The occasional presence of a prophet sent from God stirred them up and recalled them to righteousness. But it had been a long time since a prophet had risen in Israel and they became almost hopeless of such help. They lay in the portico, outside. Christ is the Door.
Here we have Israel under the old covenant, which they are powerless to fulfill. Their infirmity followed the breaking of its precepts (14). It was given to teach them the excessive sinfulness of sin, and, by transforming sin into transgression, show them their utter helplessness to fulfill His will apart from His enabling grace.
The sign signifies that none other than Messiah had given strength to the infirm man, even as He will do for the whole nation when He confirms a new covenant with them, in the days of His coming. Then, like the infirm man, they will have a due sense of their own impotence, and will be looking for some one outside of themselves to introduce them into the sphere of God's healing power. But, as it will be in the future, His Word will be sufficient to turn their weakness into strength. He will put His law in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. . . He will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more (Jer.31:33-34).
2 "Bethesda", in Hebrew, signifies "House of Kindness," an apt designation. Israel abode under the law of Moses, with its five books.
In that day, instead of ineffectual efforts to fulfill the law, and being dispersed among the nations for their failure, He will gather them together from the peoples, and gather them from all of the lands in which they have been scattered and give them the land of Israel. And He will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. He will take away their stony heart and give them a heart of flesh, to walk in His statutes (Eze.11:17-20) .