Bible Students Monthly Volume 7, Number 12


Four Thousand in Hippodrome Applaud When Venerable Brooklyn Clergyman Advocates Establishment of A Jewish Nation Astonished at His Profound Knowledge of the Hebrew Prophecies.

Hearers Who Came to Question Gentile's Views on Their Religion Find He Agrees in Their Most Important Beliefs A History-Making Gathering.

The unusual spectacle of 4,000 Hebrews enthusiastically applauding a Gentile preacher, after having listened to a sermon he addressed to them concerning their own religion, was presented at the Hippodrome yesterday afternoon, where Pastor Russell, the famous head of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, conducted a most unusual service.

In his time the venerable pastor has done many unconventional things. His religion is bounded by no particular denomination, and encompasses, as he says, all mankind. His ways of teaching it are his own. But he never did a more unconventional thing than this nor a more successful one.

He won over an audience that had come some of it, at least prepared to debate with him, to resent, perhaps, what might have appeared like a possible intrusion. "Pastor Russell is going to try to convert the Jews to Christianity," was the word that many had received before the meeting. "He wants to proselyte us."


In the crowd that filled the big showhouse were scores of rabbis and teachers, who had come to speak out in case the Christian attacked their religion or sought to win them from it. They had questions and criticisms ready for him. He was received at first in a dead silence.

But the pastor did not seek to convert the Jews. To their unbounded delight, he pointed out the good things of their religion, agreed with them in their most important beliefs as to their salvation, and finally after a warm advocacy of the plan of the Jews establishing a nation of their own, brought about a tumult of applause by leading a choir in the Zionist anthem: "Hatikva Our Hope."

A more interesting audience the Hippodrome never held, perhaps. From all parts of the city came serious minded Hebrews to hear what it was an alien, a Gentile, might have to say to them at a service, held during their week of feasting, Rosh Hoshana. They were quiet, well dressed, thinking men and women.

Among them were many prominent figures of the Hebrew literary world. Some of these escorted Pastor Russell to the Hippodrome in a motor car and then took places in the auditorium. The literary men recognized the pastor as a writer and investigator of international fame on the subject of Judaism and Zionism. Some of those present were Dr. Jacobs, editor of the "American Hebrew"; W J Solomon, of the "Hebrew Standard"; J Brosky, associate editor of the same; Louis Lipsky, editor of the "Maccabean"; A B Landau, of the "Warheit"; Leo Wolfson, president of the Federation of Romanian Societies; J Pfeffer, of the "Jewish Weekly"; S Diamont, editor of the "Jewish Spirit"; S Goldberg, editor of the "American Hebrew"; J Barrondess, of the "Jewish Big Stick"; and Mr. Goldman, editor of "H'Yom," the only Jewish daily.


No symbol of any religion at all greeted them when they gazed at the Hip podrome stage. It was entirely empty save for a small lectern and three peace flags hanging from silken cords above. One was the familiar white silk banner with the Stars and Stripes in its center, together with the words "Peace Among Nations" in letters of gold. Another bore a rainbow and the word "Pax." The third was a silken strip bearing miniature representations of all the nations' flags.

There were no preliminaries. Pastor Russell, tall, erect and white bearded, walked across the stage without introduction, raised his hand, and his double quartette from the "Brooklyn Tabernacle sang the hymn 'Zion's Glad Day.'"

Mrs. E W Brenneisen, Mrs. E J Detweiler, Miss Blanche Raymond, and Mrs. Raymond, Emil Hirscher, C Myers, J P MacPherson, and J Mock ridge. Their [HGL24] voices blended perfectly, and the hymn, without any instrumental accompaniment, was impressive. The members of this organization are Mrs. E W Brenneisen, Mrs. E J Detweiler, Miss Blanche Raymond, and Mrs. Raymond, Emil Hirscher, C Myers, J P MacPherson, and J Mockridge. Their voices blended perfectly, and the hymn, without any instrumental accompaniment, was impressive.

But still there seemed an air of aloofness about the audience. They did not applaud, but sat silently watching the stalwart figure of the pastor. When he began to talk, however, they gave him respectful attention.

With a powerful, yet charming voice, that filled the great playhouse, the unconventional clergyman made his every word audible to every hearer. His tones pleased their ears, his graceful gestures soon captivated their eyes, and in a few moments his apparently thorough knowledge of his subject appealed to their minds. Though still silent, the 4,000 were "warming up" to him.


It was not long before all reserve, and all possible doubt of Pastor Russell's entire sincerity and friendliness were worn away. Then the mention of the name of a great Jewish leader who, the speaker declared, had been raised by God for the cause -brought a burst of applause.

From that moment on the audience was his. The Jews became as enthusiastic over him as though he had been a great rabbi or famous orator of their own religion. He hailed them as one of the bravest races of the earth having kept their faith through the persecutions and cruelties of all other people for thousands of years. And he predicted that before very long they would be the greatest of the earth not merely a people, any longer, but a nation. By a system of deductions based upon the prophesies of old, the pastor declared that the return of the kingdom of the Jews might occur at so near a period as the year 1914. Persecution would then soon be over and peace and universal happiness would triumph.

As he brought his address to a conclusion the pastor raised his hand again to his choir. This time they raised the quaint, foreign-sounding strains of the Zion hymn, "Our Hope," one of the masterpieces of the eccentric East Side poet, Imber.

The unprecedented incident of Christian voices singing the Jewish anthem came as a tremendous surprise. For a moment the Hebrew auditors could scarcely believe their ears. Then, making sure it was their own hymn, they first cheered and clapped with much such ardor that the music was drowned out, and then, with the second verse, joined in by hundreds.


The speaker read to his audience many quotations from the prophecies of the Bible relating to Zionism, the first one of which was Psa. 102:13-18 -"Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. Then shall the Gentiles fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory."

Pastor Russell declared that while once he had been inclined to discard the Bible as unreliable, along the lines of Higher Criticism, he had subsequently given it very earnest study, entirely apart from all creeds and theories of men. This study had greatly enlightened his mind and had given him a very different view of the sacred Book. He now has absolute confidence in it. He now realizes, not only that there is a great Creator, but that he is definite, orderly, in his dealings with humanity, in his shaping of earth's affairs. For instance, the first Psalm quoted mentions the time, yea, the set time, for the return of Divine favor to Zion.

So he finds matters everywhere through the Holy Scriptures. In due time David, Solomon and others represented Jehovah in the Kingdom of Israel and "sat upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord." Later the Kingdom was taken from Zedekiah, the last of the line of David to sit upon the throne of God's typical Kingdom. When the dominion was taken from him the Gentile governments were recognized, but not in the same manner as was Israel. None of them was designated the Kingdom of God. None of them was given perpetuity of rule.

But Gentile governments were promised a lease of power during the period when Israel would be cast off from God's favor. Then at the appointed time the Gentile lease of earthly power would terminate, and God's original provision for Israel to represent his Kingdom in the world, would return.

These are certainly the set times referred to by the Psalmist. God's promise to David- "The sure mercies of David" were that of the fruit of his loins one should sit on the throne of the Lord forever. The real purport of this promise was that Messiah, the long-promised King of Israel, would be the root and off-shoot of the Davidic line and blessed of the Lord; his Kingdom should be and everlasting one and fully competent to fulfill all of the Divine promises made to Abraham- "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."


So long as God acknowledged the nation of Israel as his Kingdom their kings were his representatives; but when Zedekiah was rejected it was not inconsistent on the Lord's part to recognize the Gentile governments, as above suggested. Of King Zedekiah we read, "O thou profane and wicked Prince, whose time has come that iniquity should have an end. Remove the diadem. Take off the crown. This shall not be the same. I will over turn, overturn, overturn it until he come whose right it is (Messiah), and I will give it unto him" (Eze. 21:25, 26, 27).

It was at this very time that God gave the lease of earthly power to Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, as is related in Daniel's prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, but disremembered his vision. Daniel the Prophet, made prisoner at an earlier date, was, by Divine providence, introduced to the king as the one person in all the world able to rehearse the King's dream and to give its interpretation, and his power so to do is declared to have been of the Lord. [HGL25]


The vision was of a stupendous image. Its head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar's Empire Babylon. Its breast and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire. Its belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian Empire. Its strong legs of iron represented the Roman Empire, East and West. Its feet of iron and clay represented Papal Rome. The iron continues to represent civil governments, and the miry clay, making them appear like stone, represented ecclesiasticism as it is now mixed up with the politics of the ten kingdoms of Europe.

The whole period of time in which these various Gentile governments would dominate the world would last until Messiah's promised Kingdom. And this period is symbolically stated to have been "seven times"; that is, seven years evidently not literal years, but symbolical.

At their end the lease of earthly power of Gentile governments will terminate in the great time of trouble foretold by Dan. (12:1). Then Messiah shall stand up in the sense of assuming control of earth's affairs and Gentile governments will cease, for all nations shall serve and obey Messiah. And then God's Chosen People, Israel, will come to the front in the world's affairs, because they will become the representatives and instruments amongst men of Messiah's Kingdom, which will be spiritual and invisible, as is that of the Prince of this world, the Prince of dark ness, whom Messiah will bind or restrain during the thousand years of his reign of righteousness and destroy at the conclusion, when he shall deliver over the Kingdom of the earth to the Father. Mankind will then be perfect, because all willful sinners will be destroyed in the Second Death. Meantime, Messiah's reign will not only bless and uplift Israel, but through Israel the blessing will extend to every nation, people, kindred and tongue in full accord with the Divine promise and oath made to Abraham more than thirty centuries ago.

All this is briefly and beautifully represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as explained by Daniel. He saw a stone taken from the mountain without human aid. He watched and saw the stone smite the image on its feet and beheld, as the result, complete demolishment of the Gentile systems. This smiting of the image in the feet symbolically represents that it will be by Divine power that present institutions will all come to naught preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of God in their stead.


Then Messiah's Kingdom, symbolized by the stone, will not only fill the place where the image stood, but, gradually increasing, will fill the whole earth. From this standpoint, said the speaker, it is not difficult for us to believe the words of the Psalmist that there is a time for God's regathering Zion, yea, a set time fixed and unalterable. The speaker would not pretend to say the day or month or year in which these things would be accomplished in which the Gentile lease of earth's dominion would expire and Messiah's Kingdom assume control.

He did, however, offer a suggestion: So far as he could discern, the time for these stupendous events is very much closer than many of us had sup posed. The seven times, or years of Gentile domination, reckoned on the basis suggested in the Scriptures themselves, should be interpreted a day for a year, lunar time. Seven years in lunar time would represent 2, 520 days and these, symbolically interpreted, would mean 2, 520 years from the time Nebuchadnezzar, the head of the image, was recognized down to the time of the expiration of the lease of Gentile power, when the stone shall smite the image in the feet. So far as Pastor Russell has been able to determine, the year of Zedekiah's dethronement was 606 B C Thus calculated the 2,520 years of Gentile lease of power will expire in October, 1914. There are some who claim that Zedekiah's dethronement should be dated B C 588. If this be true it could make a difference of but eighteen years and give the date 1932. Pastor Russell's convictions, however, favor the 1914 date.


For more than thirty years I have been presenting to Christian people the views I am today presenting specially to Jews, at the invitation of your Committee. Thirty years ago I attempted to tell to Israel the good tid ings that God's set time to remember Zion had come. But that seemingly was too early. God's set time for Israel to hear was still future. I waited and am still waiting for God's own time and way for the fulfillment of Isa. 40:1, 2 -"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people; speak ye comfortingly to Jerusalem. Cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, and her iniquity pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all of her sins."

"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."

About twenty years ago providence raised up for your people a great leader, Dr. Herzl, whose name is now a household word with your race. While your people were unready for any message that I could give them they were ready for what God sent them through Dr. Herzl a message of hope, a message of national aspiration which quickened the pulse of your people into new hope respecting the future of the Jews. Dr. Herzl's endeavor was to have all loyal sons of Israel rise from the dust and aspire to be a nation amongst nations and to provide a home for the persecuted of their race in Russia and Eastern Europe. Dr. Herzl struck a popular chord in the hearts of the people. At first it was purely political, and the name Zion meant little of anything religious; but gradually Dr. Herzl and all the leaders of the counsels of your people began to see that the religious element of the movement was the stron gest, the most powerful.

Dr. Herzl has been succeeded by Dr. Nordau, also evidently a man of great talent and great patriotism; but Zionism languishes. I am disclosing no secret when I tell you that amongst the leaders, as well as amongst the rank and file, Zionism is trembling in the balances and fearful of coming to naught. It has spent its force along the lines originally inaugurated; but it will not fail, as many fear. Without assuming the role of a seer, I Answer – you that Zionism is about to take on fresh vigor; that its most [HGL26] prosperous days are yet to come. According to my understanding of the Hebrew prophets the time of "Jacob's trouble" is not yet ended. Further pogroms of Russia may be expected and further atrocities in the land of Romania and elsewhere.

It is sad indeed to be obliged to admit that these tribulations will probably come to you from professed Christians. How ashamed I feel of those who thus dishonor the name and the teachings of my Master, I cannot find words to express! They are deluded. They have misunderstood the Teacher whom they profess to follow. Their thought is that God will torment eternally all who do not profess the name of Christ. Controlled by delusions they are serving the god Adversary and dishonoring Jesus. But as the trials and difficulties of the patriarch Joseph were God's providences to lead him on to influence and power and honor, so will all these experiences and persecutions work blessings for your race and tend to drive them out of their present satisfaction and make them long for home – for Palestine. These experiences, in connection with the voice of the prophets, which will henceforth more and more ring in your ears, will be the providences of God to accomplish for you more along the lines of Zionism than personal pride and national patriotism. It is not my thought that the eight millions of Jews in the world will return to Palestine, even though it has been estimated that, under most favorable conditions, the land could support more than twice that many.

It is my thought that some of your most earnest and saintly people will go to Palestine quickly, that the rejuvenation there will be astonishing to the world. Further, it is my thought that Jews in every part of the world, in proportion as they come under the holy influence of God's promises through the prophets, will go to Palestine sympathetically by encouraging those who can better go than themselves and by financial assistance and the establishment there of great enterprises.

Permit me to suggest that in the time of trouble, incidental to the transfer of Gentile rule to the power of Messiah, all financial interests will be jeopardized. Many of your race, growing wealthy, will surely take pleasure in forwarding the work of Zionism, and soon as they shall realize that it is of God, foretold through the prophets. And those of your people of insufficient faith to use their means in forwarding the Lord's work at this important juncture will, before very long find them selves in the condition pictured by the Prophet Ezekiel, who declares (8:19) that in this great day of trouble- "They shall cast their silver in the streets and their gold shall be removed; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of wrath of the Lord." The great Messenger of the Covenant who you delight in (Mal. 3:1-3) will test and prove you as a people. Those who worship idols of gold and sil ver, stocks and bonds, will receive sever chastisement at his hand that they may learn a great lesson before he will grant them a share in the fast approaching blessing.

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