Pittsburgh Gazette'November 14, 1904


Pastor C T Russell of Allegheny, Pa., spoke twice here today in the Auditorium of the Young Men's Christian Association. His afternoon topic was "God's Oathbound Covenant With the Seed of Abraham." The second discourse, on "The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David," follows. His text was: "After these things will I return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which has fallen; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up, that the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things." Acts 15:16-17.

The Apostle James uttered the words of our text at a general church conference in Jerusalem. The subject of investigation was the course of Paul and Barnabas in preaching the gospel to Gentiles. Many of the brethren felt that this was a serious error a breach of the social proprieties as well as an infraction of the religious proprieties which the Lord had established. For over 1, 800 years the natural seed of Abraham had been specially favored of God, and all the promises of the divine word had been to these alone, as the prophet Amos declared, "You only have I known (recognized) of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2.) All the other nations, as the Apostle Paul intimates, were left of the Lord without revelation or message or covenant, and were consequently "without God and without hope in the world." -(Eph. 2:12.)

Under these conditions it is not to be wondered at that the Jews had come to feel a religious exclusiveness, and to believe that although the Gentiles were fellow creatures and of the one general Adamic stock with themselves, nevertheless the Lord had made differences, and that, accordingly, to the stock of Israel alone belonged the chief divine favors. The apostle intimates the same thing, saying, "What advantage hath the Jew?" He answers, "Much every way, chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God." -(Rom. 3:2.) We remember also our Lord's instruction to his disciples at His first advent, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." -(Matt. 10:5-6.)


Under all these circumstances we cannot wonder that the early church was disturbed with the thought that God's oath-bound covenant to their nation, as well as His providential dealings with them for eighteen centuries, should now apparently be set aside as though the special hope of Israel were a vain one, no more applicable to them than to others. The investigation of the matter therefore was deemed very important, as lying at the very foundation of all faith in the divine word, and this should not be considered as a proof of narrowness of mind on the part of these, but rather as a proof of loyalty to the Lord and His plan a jealousy for the truth a fear of leaving the old paths and by implication at least denying the foundation of all their hopes.

A somewhat similar question had arisen some years before when Peter, under the direction of a vision, visited Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, preached the gospel to him and his household and baptized them as believers after the Lord had witnessed by the Holy Spirit that they were acceptable and Israelites indeed. At that time Peter's course was criticized, but his full explanation of the Lord's dealings satisfied the brethren. Now, Peter was among the first at the present conference to speak in favor of Paul and Barnabas and their preaching to the Gentiles. He reminded the conference that a good while before the Lord had indicated a breaking down of the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles as respects the favors of this gospel age, and had illustrated this in the case of Cornelius and his family. Following this, Paul and Barnabas were permitted to explain their own course and the Lord's leadings, and how the blessing of the Lord came upon the Gentiles who believed, and the wonderful work of grace, and the miracles of healing, etc., wrought through the laying on of the apostles' hands.

Then the Apostle James, who seems to have been the chairman of the convention, arose and indorsed the course of Paul and Barnabas, and called the attention of the conference to a prophecy made by Amos, which constitutes our text. He pointed out the previous experience of Simeon, surnamed Peter, how the Lord first showed His favor to the Gentiles, even to Cornelius and his family through him, and there indicated the divine purpose to be that not only the faithful Jews, but also some from the Gentiles should be selected to constitute the peculiar people of the Lord. The early church, all Jews by birth at first, had already realized that God was passing by their nation as a whole, and was merely taking out of it a remnant, a little flock of Israelites indeed. The Apostle James was now getting a [HGL271] clearer view of the divine intention, namely that this little flock should be composed also in part of faithful Gentiles, begotten by the Holy Spirit and thus constituted spiritual Israelites Israelites indeed.


St. James declared that God was taking from the Gentiles a "people for His name." This may be understood to signify that as the faithful Israelites were invited to become the bride of Christ, and thus to take the name of the bridegroom, so Gentiles were now to be admitted to the same company, that they also might be sharers of the name of Christ members of the bride, the Lamb's wife. We must remember this thought of a special elect spiritual class being selected from among men, to be the bride and joint heir with Christ in His kingdom was to the Jews, as well as to us, a surprise. It was indeed included in the promises of the Old Testament, but so covered, so hidden, as to be unnoticed until brought to light by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.

The Apostle Paul, it will be remembered, speaks of this as the "mystery of God (the secret of the divine plan), hidden from past ages and dispensations, but now revealed" because the time had come for the selection of this special or bride class. -(Eph. 3:3-6.) Although the fact of the bride class was kept a secret during the Jewish age, and although it is not very clearly understood by the majority of Christian people even yet, it was stated distinctly in the prophecies as well as in the types. In these types, for instance, we see how Abraham typified God, how Isaac typified our Lord Jesus Christ, and how Rebecca typified the church, related to God only by becoming the bride of Christ, even as Rebecca's relationship to Abraham was through her union with Isaac. Thus it comes about, as the apostle declares, that "if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise" - "heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord" our bridegroom. (Gal. 3:29; Rom. 8:17.)

In divine providence the custom of the wife dropping her own name and assuming the name of her husband is universal, and was so guided by providence that the matter might be a type or illustration of how the church loses her own identity and name and assumes those of her husband. Thus in the scriptures the name Christ, which signifies the anointed, while primarily given to our Lord Jesus in His own person, is in a secondary sense applicable to all the church, His bride, His body. This, too, was intimated in the Old Testament prophecies. It reads: "This is the name whereby He shall be called the Lord our righteousness," and again, "This is the name whereby she shall be called The Lord our righteousness." [Jer. 23:6; 33:16]


The early church learned gradually respecting this mystery of the bride class to be joint-heirs with the bridegroom in the kingdom, and they learned gradually, too, that in this bride class the Lord would accept Gentiles of the proper heart attitude to be fellow-heirs and of the same body. After calling this matter to the attention of the conference, the Apostle James proceeded to point out that all this was consistent with the prophecies of the past, one of which he quoted, After these things (in the future, in the end of this age, when the bride class is being chosen), will come the time for the restoration of the nation of Israel to divine favor, and then will follow a general favor to all the Gentiles also. The tabernacle of David, which is fallen down, refers to the family of David, which by divine arrangement was the royal family of the nation of Israel. The last representative of David upon the throne was Zedekiah, and it will be remembered that at the time of his overthrow the Lord's pronouncement was, "Thou profane and wicked prince, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, remove the diadem and take off the crown; this shall not be the same. . . I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is; and I will give it to him." Eze. 21:25-26.

The overturning had lasted for over 600 years until our Lord Jesus came, and the disciples had asked Him, "Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Should we now expect that as the heir you will at once take your throne and power and re-establish the dominion of Israel, which passed away entirely in the days of Zedekiah? Our Lord's answer was that it was not for them to know the times and seasons on the subject that the Father had kept these in His own power and would accomplish them in due course. It was shortly after this that the disciples received the Pentecostal benediction, and under the enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit were being gradually taught more and more respecting the divine purpose. The very conference in which the apostles were engaged at this time was a further feature of the divine leading in the matter, showing them that the "mystery" class, the church, the bride of Jesus, was to be composed of select Gentiles as well as select Jews, and not until after this had been accomplished would the kingdom be established and the tabernacle of David, which had fallen down in Zedekiah's day, be re-established upon better, holier, more solid, foundations.


The Apostle Paul brings out the same facts in his epistle to the Romans. In chapters nine and ten he points out to us that the fall of Israel as a nation came through the rejection of Jesus, but that their course was not a surprise to the Lord that He had on the contrary previously foretold the same through the prophets. The apostle quotes several statements of the prophets to this effect that Israel's table of divine bounties and blessings and promises would become their snare, their trap, and lead to their fall through pride and a feeling of self-sufficiency, which caused them to repudiate the great Life-giver, the way, the truth, the life. In the eleventh chapter the apostle, bringing up the other side of the question, assures the church, composed of Gentiles and Jews, that the nation of Israel, although blinded as respects the divine favors of this gospel age, although blinded as respects the "mystery," is still beloved of the Lord for the Father's sake, and that that nation, although blinded and cast aside, is not destroyed and will ultimately be recovered, "saved," from their blindness, which happened unto them as a nation through their rejection of the Messiah. [HGL272] Thus the Apostle Paul in these statements is in full agreement with the Apostle James in our text: The tabernacle of David is to be re-built the Jews as a nation are again to come into divine favor, after the mystery class has been completed, after the elect amongst the Jews and the elect from amongst the Gentiles shall all have been gathered to the number foreordained in the divine plan.

Mark how distinctly the Apostle Paul sets this matter forth. He says: "Blindness in part is happened unto Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in" come into the fellowship and joint-heirship with the faithful Israelites as members of the bride of Christ and joint-heirs with Him in the kingdom promised to the seed of Abraham. To leave no doubt on the matter the apostle particularizes, saying, "As ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all." Rom. 11:30-32.

Here is the plain statement that the blessing which is coming to Israel will be God's mercy exercised through the church after the church shall have been completed and glorified. No special mercy or divine favor or opening of the blind eyes of Israel or turning of them from their blindness to look upon Him whom they have pierced should be expected until the completion and glorification of the church. Whatever they may enjoy in the interim will be so exceptional as to verify this scriptural statement, which indeed has been fully attested by the history of the intervening eighteen centuries. While, therefore, we see with pleasure that the eyes of the Jews are opening to some extent, we have no expectation that this will become general nor that it will lead to a clearness of sight until the appointed time.


The statement of our text respecting the rebuilding of the house of David, the repair of its ruins, etc., should be understood as figurative; certainly no literal residence of David could be referred to, no literal ruins of his ancient palace. The reference should undoubtedly be understood to signify the throne, or kingdom, of David the ruins in which that kingdom has been for centuries and the re-establishment of that kingdom. Looking back to David and his divine commission as king of Israel, we find that like all the other circumstances of the Jewish age this was typical, and hence when we read that the throne of David was the throne of the Lord's kingdom we get the thought that the kingdom established in the hand of David was a typical one as the nation over which he ruled was a typical one, and that he himself was a type or figure of the great king who is to be of the house and lineage of David according to the flesh. We see then, that the establishment of Christ in kingdom power in the beginning of the millennial age will be the re-establishment of the kingdom of God, over which David ruled in a small and typical manner. Even in David's name we see a significance which points us to Christ bridegroom and bride, head and body. David signifies beloved, and assuredly the glorified church, Christ the head and His gospel age faithful followers, the body, are the beloved of the Lord, the antitypical David.

As we have seen on previous occasions, and as we have presented in print in Millennial Dawn, this kingdom of Christ is to be purely a spiritual one, invisible to men, changed from fleshly conditions to spirit conditions. As our Lord declared to the Pharisees, the kingdom of God will be in the midst of mankind, yet none shall say, Lo here! or Lo there! for the kingdom of God cometh not with outward show that men should so recognize it. Luke 17:20.

There is, however, to be an earthly department of the kingdom and this department will be visible to men. Those who will constitute this earthly department of the kingdom and be the visible representatives of it before men will be those ancient worthies of the Abrahamic stock referred to by the apostle in Heb. 11:39-40. These, the apostle declares, shall receive a share in the divine promise, though not the superior part of it, which has been reserved for the spiritual Israelites of this gospel age, "God having provided some better thing for us (than for them), that they without us should not be made perfect."

The resurrection of these ancient worthies will be to the perfection of human nature, a totally different resurrection from that which is to come to the overcoming class of this gospel age, which will be to a divine nature, invisible to mankind. These resurrected perfect ancients, approved of God, will constitute the earthly representatives of the heavenly and invisible kingdom of Christ, and to these the world of mankind will come for instruction, and through these the divine law and messages of justice and mercy will be communicated to all the families of the earth, as it is written, "Out of Zion (from the kingdom class, the church glorified) shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord (the message of the Lord, the announcement), from Jerusalem." -(Isa. 2:3.)


Thus the earthly plans of the kingdom of God will be in the hands of the Jews, and thus also the earthly features of the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled through the members of the natural seed of Abraham, and these as well as the spiritual seed will be used of God to bless first the Jews, the natural seed of Abraham, and subsequently every nation, people, kindred and tongue. Thus the apostle declares that the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled through both the natural and the spiritual seeds. -(Rom. 4:16.)

Here we remember the prophetic declaration respecting our Lord: "instead of the fathers shall be the children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." -(Psa. 45:16.) Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the holy prophets were continually spoken of by the Jews as the "fathers," and our Lord is spoken of as a son of Abraham and also a son of David; but matters have undergone a great change. He who was the son of Abraham, of David and of Mary, by his great sacrifice not only redeemed the world, but also became the heir of God's great oath-bound covenant and the life-giver for Adam and his race. Whoever of mankind shall be resuscitated, restored, [HGL273] resurrected to life during the millennial age, will receive that life from the Savior, the life-giver; and since every life-giver is a father, it follows that Jesus will be the life-giver or father to all the world of mankind who will accept His favor all outside the little flock of this gospel age called to be His bride, and those who will go into the second death. Thus we see that He will be the father or life-giver of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets; and so, instead of being the fathers of Jesus they will become His children, and during the millennial age they will constitute the earthly representatives of the spiritual, invisible kingdom its agents among men, "princes in all the earth," exponents of the glorified Christ, bridegroom and bride.

These princes of Jewish stock, according to prophecy, will be clothed with great power. They will be perfect men themselves. Their trial for eternal life having been passed successfully their resurrected bodies will be in every sense of the word complete, as was the original Adam, in the image and likeness of God. Possession of human powers in their perfection then will constitute them in every way superior to the remainder of mankind, and the superiority will be recognized by the world by the Jews first and later by the Gentiles. Their manifestation among the Jews will be after the regathering of many of the faithful Hebrew people to their own land, and when they will be in the midst of a great trouble, antagonized by their Gentile neighbors.

The promise is that the Lord will at that time manifest himself on their behalf, as when he fought for them in the day of battle, in the day of Joshua. The manifestation of divine favor will be so marked as to create a new era in the affairs of Israel; their period of rejection will be passed, their period of favor fully begun, and among the first things connected with this favor will be the opening of the eyes of their understanding that they may look upon Him whom they pierced, and then, as the prophet declares, the Lord will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication, and forthwith the new covenant blessings will be theirs their sins and iniquities the Lord will remember no more. -(Zech. 12:10.)


The turning of the living generation of Israel from their present condition of blindness is in the scriptures figuratively spoken of by the prophet as a resurrection from the dead, as the apostle declares, "What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:15.) It will be but the beginning of a revelation to the world of the great goodness of God and His wonderful plan of salvation, which extends His benefits and opportunities to every member of Adam's race. Hear the various prophecies: One, for instance, represents the other nations as witnessing the prosperity of Israel under the new regime in contrast with the anarchous conditions prevailing in their own territories, and declares that the desire of all nations shall come, and represents the nations as sick of war and perfidy and graft and anarchy, saying: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths." -(Isa. 2:3.)

This same condition is referred to in our text which, after telling about the setting up of the Davidic throne, declares as a result, "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord." How grand a time that will be! The scriptures describe it, saying: In His day the millennial day, the day of Christ the righteous shall flourish and evil-doers shall be cut off. Again they declare that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep. Again they assure us that at that time there will be no need of proclaiming the Lord or saying to one's brother and one's neighbor, know thou the Lord, know thou the Lord, because all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest.

Already signs of the budding of Israel's fig tree are visible; not only in their growing interest in Jesus as the renowned Jew, but also in their longing for Palestine, their old home evidenced in their "Zionist movement." But their blindness will not depart, nor their hopes of national independence be realized until the "little flock" of spiritual Israel shall be completed and glorified; for thus saith the inspired record. -(Rom. 11:25, 33.)

The statement of the text, "Upon whom my name is called," is clarified by an examination of the prophecy from which it is quoted (Amos 9:11, 12), where it is rendered, "And as all the heathen (nations) which are called by my name." The sense of the expression is, we believe, that in that glorious time the Lord will provide a blessing upon all who heartily and sincerely bear His name all who desire to be children of the great life-giver, and who accordingly hear and obey His voice. All such will be received back into harmony with God as members of the Christ family, as the apostle declares it is the divine purpose eventually to gather together under one head all things both in heaven and in earth. This gospel age accomplishes the unification of the bride and the bridegroom, the millennial age accomplishes the development of the children of Christ on the earthly plane of being.

All these blessings we have just examined were fully combined in the briefly stated oath-bound covenant, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Another statement of God's favor in this respect was made to Abraham in the words, "I have constituted thee a father of many nations." Abraham was a type of God, and this expression implies that eventually all nations shall have the glorious privilege of becoming sons of God. First, the spiritual seed, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed;" secondly, the natural seed of Abraham, first the princes, and subsequently all of the Jewish race who will come into harmony with God; thirdly, many nations all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues. These brought to a knowledge of their glorious opportunities during the millennial age, if willing and obedient, will be accepted also as Abraham's seed and as sons of God through Christ. No wonder the apostle in view of these great things of God's plan not only for the salvation of the church of this gospel age, but ultimately for bringing blessing to every nation, people, kindred and tongue exclaimed: "Oh, the depths of the riches both of the knowledge and wisdom of [HGL274] God! How unsearchable are His plans and His ways past finding out! except as they are revealed to us through His word and spirit." -(Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 2:10.)

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