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HARVEST GLEANINGS 2
The National Labor Tribune, July 11, 1909 TIMES OF THE GENTILES
New Orleans, La., July 11-Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle, preached here today. He took for his text the following: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Luke 21:24.
He said: As the city of Babylon represented the Empire of Babylon, so the city of Jerusalem represented the Jewish nation. In our text our Lord refers to the fact that centuries before his day the Jewish kingdom had been overthrown-had passed to the control of the Gentiles-and in our text he declares that this subserviency would continue until certain times of the Gentiles-certain years or periods of their control -would pass away. When we read that certain times will be fulfilled, we are justified in thinking that these times have bee!1 foretold. And in looking for the statement of the matter in Holy Writ, we notice the facts of the case as follows: God established the Jewish nation as his representative nation, or Kingdom, in the world, with the understanding that in some manner and at some time that nation would be the channel of divine blessings to all the families of the earth, in harmony with the original oath-bound promise made to Abraham.
After a precarious existence of nearly six hundred years, the star of Jewish Empire set, and it has not re-arisen since. The particular date at which the typical kingdom passed away is clearly marked in the Scriptures. The solidarity of the Empire in the hands of King David, and his son King Solomon, was lost in its division in the days of Solomon's successor. Nevertheless, in harmony with the divine prediction, the royal line continued in the tribe of Judah, as it is written, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come." Gen. 49:10
Of the last King of Judah, Zedekiah, the divine declaration was, "And thou, profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God, 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 him." (Eze. 21:25-27)
That statement was made just prior to Israel's captivity to Babylon, B. C. 606. And the crown and sceptre have been overturned since then, and will continue so to be until Messiah himself at his second advent shall take the throne as the antitypical son of David.
THE INTERIM OF TIME
The interim of time between the overthrow of the crown in the days of Zedekiah and the establishment again of the crown in Messiah's Kingdom at his second advent is Scripturally termed the "Times of the Gentiles" -that is to say, the years of the Gentiles; the years in which the Gentiles would bear rule over Israel and all the earth -the period in which God would have no representative nation in the world. Some may inquire, Were not the Israelites restored from the Babylonian captivity?
Yes, we answer, but they did not receive back the Kingdom; they were thereafter subject to the great dominant kingdoms of the world. First, they were subject to the Media-Persian Empire, whose Emperor Cyrus restored them to their own land as a subject-nation. Subsequently they were subject to the Grecian nation. And in the time of our Lord they were still a subject-nation to Rome. Pilate represented the Roman government, and so did Herod, the King of Galilee. Anyway, the Herods were not Israelites, but Edomites.
While it is true that an outward form of Jewish kingdom was maintained subject to the Roman Emperors for a time, the last vestige of this authority passed away with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in A. D. 70, and the Jews have never been able to re-establish themselves in their own land up to the present time. Now, in harmony with the Scriptures which foretell Israel's restoration to Palestine, and their re-establishment as the earthly representatives of God's Kingdom, the Zionist movement is coming forth with good hopes of soon effecting a Jewish sub-kingdom.
We may be sure, however, that the declaration of our text will come true to the very letter-'Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled" -or, filled full. Let us look backward and note what the Scriptures declare respecting earthly Empires and the period of their domination. If possible, let us ascertain when the Gentile times began, and when they will end-giving place to the Kingdom of Messiah, the spiritual Kingdom, the Church glorified, whose work will be [NS682] the ruling of the earth, the blessing of all nations, and the uplifting of the human family out of sin and death conditions -to all that was lost through Adam's disobedience, to all that was redeemed through obedience of Christ Jesus. The Scriptures very particularly draw to our attention King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Very carefully does the Prophet explain that Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of deep interest to him, but the particulars of which he could not recall.
He demanded of the wise men of the Empire a statement of the dream, as well as an explanation, arguing that if they had any supernatural power by which they could explain a dream, the same power could rehearse it. Then it was that Daniel, the Prophet, was brought to the notice of the king, and by divine power not only rehearsed the dream but explained it-a dream of much more interest to all Christians than it possibly could have been to Nebuchadnezzar himself. Many of this audience doubtless recall the dream and its interpretation, yet we will briefly rehearse it.
In his dream Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image of wonderful height and grandeur; its head was of gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, and its feet of iron mixed with day. While it stood erect, a stone was taken from the mountain and hurled at the image, striking it on the feet. Forthwith the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold were crushed to powder and became as the chaff of a Summer's threshing floor, and the wind carried them away.
By divine illumination, Daniel, the Prophet, explained the vision thus: The head represented Nebuchadnezzar's own universal Empire, Babylon. The breast and arms of silver represented the kingdom which would succeed his as a universal Empire; namely, the kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Upon the fall of Media-Persia, the Grecian Empire would become universal, to be succeeded in turn by the Roman Empire, whose great strength was symbolized by the iron. This is the Empire which ruled the world in the days of our Lord. Thus we read that our Lord was born at Bethlehem, whither Joseph and Mary had gone at the command of Caesar-Augustus, the Roman Emperor, who sent forth a decree that all the world should be taxed.
The civil Roman Empire lasted for several centuries after Christ, and was followed by the ecclesiastical Roman Empire, of which the popes at Rome were the representative heads. This Empire, partly civil and partly ecclesiastical, was represented by the mixture of the iron, representing civil power, and with the clay, representing papal religious powers, and this phase of Daniel's image still exists in the kingdoms of Europe as represented in the ten toes of the image which stands for the divisions of the territory of the old Roman Empire in Europe.
SMITING THE IMAGE
Let us have in mind that this image represented all the Gentile governments which would bear rule over the earth from the time of the removal of the crown from Zedekiah down to the time when Messiah, the rightful heir to the throne of David, will take to himself his great power and reign. He has not yet taken that power, he has not yet begun that reign. On the contrary, as the Scriptures declare, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence-the true Church, the Body of Christ, is disesteemed amongst men, because "the world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not."
Our Lord, in answering the representative of the Roman Empire, said, My kingdom is not of this world-this age-if it were, my subjects would fight, and I should not be delivered into your hands. The same is true today: if the Lord's Kingdom has been established, his servants, instead of being subject to the princes of this world, would be the princes of earth, the judges of the earth, the Royal Priesthood.
DANIEL'S VIEW OF THE MATTER
When God subsequently gave his servant, the Prophet Daniel, a vision of these same Gentile governments that would bear universal sway over the earth from the time of the removal of the diadem from Zedekiah until the establishment of Messiah's Millennial Kingdom, the picture was a different one. Instead of a glorious image of towering height and splendor, Daniel saw four great, terrible wild beasts.
The first, like a Lion, corresponded to the head of gold of the image -representing Babylon. The second, like a bear, corresponded to the breast and arms of silver in the image, and represented Media-Persia. The third, like a Leopard, corresponded to the brass of the image, and represented Grecia. The Fourth beast great and terrible, found nothing in the animal kingdom to represent it. It corresponded to the legs of iron, which represented the Roman Empire; while the ten horns of the latter beast corresponded to the ten toes of the image, representing papal Rome and the present subdivisions of imperial Europe.
The difference between these two visions represents how differently present institutions, the kingdoms of this world, are viewed from the human stand-point and from the divine stand-point. From the worldly standpoint and estimation, the kingdoms of the past have been majestic, grand; from the stand-point of God, and those who have his spirit, they have been beastly. [NS683] The world glories in its records of military and naval victories, while to the Christian the pages of history are stained with blood, and are full of records of man's inhumanity to man. The sequel to both of these dreams showed the overthrow of the earthly government. As it is written, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom, and it shall break in pieces and consume all of these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."
The Kingdom of God was pictured in the stone which smote the image on its feet. That stone prefigured Christ and the Church, and shows that it will be the power of God through the Church that will ultimately work the wreck of all earthly governments. Do not misunderstand me: nothing in the Word of God teaches anarchy, or authorizes God's people to fight with carnal weapons; rather they are exhorted to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and to leave all else to the Lord, assured of his willingness to make all things work together for their good.
As Christ in the flesh neither lifted hand nor tongue to smite the earthly Empire, nor opposed Caesar and his representative Pilate, so his followers are to raise no opposition to the powers that be, but are strictly enjoined to be subject to the powers that be, and to recognize that they are ordained of God. It will be after the glorification of the Church with her Lord that, invisibly to mankind, this power will be exercised, Gentile governments will be overthrown, and the whole world will be brought into submission to the reign of the Kingdom of Righteousness and its earthly representatives.
Thus our Lord taught in his last message that in due time he would take unto himself his great power and reign, and that then the nations would be angry, and divine wrath would come upon them for their destruction. Thus also our Lord said respecting his followers, who in due time will be glorified with him, "To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations; And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers. Rev. 2:26-27
"HOW LONG, O LORD?"
It would be impossible for any child of God, in heart sympathy with the Lord and righteousness, and in opposition to iniquity, and appreciative of the divine promise of the Kingdom, and hopeful of a share in that Kingdom, not to desire some knowledge respecting it, and that it might come as quickly as would be in harmony with the divine program. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This does not imply impatience, nor a desire to hasten matters before the divine time, but it does imply interest in the gracious things of the heavenly Father's plan. And if it pleased the Lord to make known to us some things of his glorious purposes, it would be disrespectful on our part not to feel a deep interest in them, and not to seek to know all that he might be pleased to inform us respecting his plans and their times and seasons. Nor should we be deterred from investigating whatever we may find written in the Bible on this subject because of our Lord's words to his disciples, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only."
This passage does not tell us that no man would ever know, but that none knew at that time. It does not tell us that our Lord Jesus would never know the time of his own second coming, nor that the angels would never know. As we surely believe that the Lord and the angels will know at about the time of the second advent, so we may well believe that the Lord's faithful saints will not be left in darkness on the same subject. Indeed this is what the Apostle distinctly tells us-"Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day."
The Apostle intimates that those who do not have the light in its due season would thereby justify the inference that they belonged not to the Church but to the world, upon whom that day shall come as a thief and as a snare. 1 Thess. 5:1-8
GENTILE TIMES 2520 YEARS
What we would like to know, if it has pleased the Lord to reveal it, is, just how long a period is meant by the expression 'Times of the Gentiles" -or, years of the Gentiles -in which the Gentile nations will bear rule or sway over the land of Israel.
If God has been pleased to reveal the matter, let us enjoy it; if he has not been pleased to give any clue to the matter, we cannot find it. We are to remember, however, that this, like other features of the divine revelation, was intended to be kept secret from the world, and to be made known only to those who are in heart harmony with the Lord, interested, and very desirous of knowing the mind of the Lord on this and on every subject.
Hence we may not look for a plain statement to the effect that in so many years from such an event the Gentile lease of power will terminate and God's Kingdom be transferred to Israel again. Rather we should expect that the matter would be stated in a more or less obscure form, in which it might be read over and over again without attracting attention except from those especially interested ones led by the Lord's holy Spirit. [NS684] We believe that the period is what the Scriptures term "seven times" -seven years. Not seven literal years, but seven symbolic years. A "time or year in symbol represents 360 literal years. In other words, each day of a symbolic year is a year, and hence the seven times, or seven years, would represent 7 times 360, or 2520 years.
I give it to you as my conviction, dear friends, based strictly upon the Scriptures, but corroborated, it seems to me, by the events of our day, that this 2520 years, beginning in 606 B. C. will end in October, 1914 A.. D. That a times' or "year" has been Scripturally used to represent 360 may be very easily and very quickly demonstrated. For instance, in Revelation a period of time is mentioned in three different ways; namely, 1260 days, 42 months, and 3 1/2 times. The 3 1/2 times of Revelation are exactly one-half of the "seven times" of the Gentiles.
The 1260 years of Revelation are exactly one-half of the 2520 years of the Times of the Gentiles. And these 2520 years we believe will expire with October, 1914; at that time we believe the Gentile lease of power will expire, and that the God of heaven will set up his Kingdom in Israel. We do not expect universal peace to immediately ensue because Christ is styled the Prince of Peace. On the contrary, to our understanding the collapse of the nations will be through a fierce strife, "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation," in which "there shall be no peace to him that goeth out, nor to him that cometh in," because God will set every man's hand against his neighbor. Our belief is that the warfare between capital and labor, emperors and peoples, will be short, sharp, decisive, and bring untold calamity upon all concerned.
If people could only discern it, they would avoid it, but their eyes are holden; they see not, neither do they understand. All the parties to the conflict are plunging into it, each intent on gaining its point, and each oblivious to its own best interests. It is here that the voice of the Lord speaks to his people, and to all with whom they have influence, favoring peace and discouraging violence, saying, "Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Zeph. 2:3
THE SEVEN TIMES
These seven times were foreshadowed in the experiences of Nebuchadnezzar, who was irrational for seven years, and at the end of that time recovered his reason and acknowledged the Lord as the ruler of the Universe. So history seems to show that during this period of Gentile domination the poor world has been in a measure insane, putting light for darkness and darkness for light. Our trust is that at the close of the Gentile Times, and following the short, sharp, decisive, time of great trouble in 1915, humanity will regain its sanity and praise the God of heaven and acknowledge that all authority comes from Him and pertains to Him. Likewise the Scriptures show these same seven times as being the period of Israel's chastisement.
At the beginning of their national career the Lord set before them the possibilities of their nation: if they would obey his law and keep his statutes they should be his peculiar people, his peculiar treasure, and he would bless them temporally, as well as refresh them with promises and favor; but if they would walk contrary to him, and ignore and neglect his laws, he would deal to the contrary with them, and punish them in various ways. Amongst other things he said that if for all of this they would not come back into proper relationship to him, he would cause seven times to pass over them, until they would be thoroughly humbled and ready to learn the lesson and to appreciate the favor of his protection and direction. These seven times of the Gentiles are the same seven times of Israel, only to the one they have meant seven times of domination which would close, and to the others they have meant seven times, (2520 years) of being dominated until the close of these times, when at Messiah's second advent Israel was again to return to divine favor and be used during the Millennium as God's agency for the blessing of every nation, people, kindred and tongue throughout the earth.
To us, dear friends, the lesson is, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God -a joint-heirship with Christ in his Millennial Kingdom. We should make this our first consideration in life, our primary aim, knowing that to gain a place in the Kingdom will be the greatest boon imaginable, and realizing that our Heavenly Father and our Redeemer have "called" us to this glorious station, and that the acquirement of it will be cheap whatever it may cost of self-sacrifice of the things of this present life. Amen.
Men sit in darkness at thy side, Without a hope beyond the tomb; Take up the torch and wave it wide, The torch that lights the thickest gloom.
The National Labor Tribune, July 18, 1909 THE HEATHEN FOR AN INHERITANCE
"Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Psa. 2:8
Oakland, Cal., July 18-The Bible Students' Convention of Believers in the Atonement by the Precious Blood opened here yesterday. Pastor Russell, of Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York, was the principal speaker on the program to-day. He made two addresses.
We quote one of these as follows: Our text is from one of the Messianic Psalms. It represents our Lord as making known to his people the Heavenly Father's decree rewarding him for his faithfulness as our Redeemer, assuring him of his exaltation to the Kingdom, and that with this will come the inheritance of all the earth, with power to fully subject all things to the Heavenly Father's will. He was to have it for the mere request-"Ask of me."
As a matter of fact, this world-wide dominion has not yet come to Messiah; the heathen are not yet his inheritance; the uttermost parts of the earth are not yet his possession. Indeed, as a prophet declares, "Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the heathen."
When we remember our Redeemer's love for the race, the love which led Him to lay down His life "to seek and to recover that which was lost," we are in-dined to amazement that He has not yet asked the Father for His inheritance of the heathen -we are astonished that He has permitted "the prince of darkness" and the "reign of sin and death" for more than eighteen centuries since He suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Our perplexity in the matter might well be answered by our Lord's words to the Sadducees. "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God."
As we come to understand the Scriptures more fully, and to appreciate how the power of God will be exercised in bringing the heathen under the domination of the Redeemer, the eyes of our understanding open and we are enabled to rejoice accordingly.
WHY HE DID NOT ASK
Our Lord did not ask for His great power to reign at an earlier date because he knew the Father's plan, and was well contented with the divine times and seasons; He had no wish of change in this. He did not ask to receive the heathen for an inheritance at the beginning of this gospel age, but has been content to wait and place that request in its due time in harmony with another feature of the Divine program which must first be fulfilled.
That other feature is the selection of the church, the bride of Christ, the members of His body. It pleased the Father to make our Lord not only the world's Redeemer, and the world's King, but also to make Him the High Priest of an Underpriesthood, the Bridegroom of the church, his bride; the Elder Brother of these saints of glory whom the Father is pleased to have developed during this gospel age as new creatures of Christ Jesus" -sharers of His sufferings and of His glory to follow.
Meantime the heathen have been suffering no damage. Born in sin, shapen in iniquity, condemned to death, they were having experiences with sin and death, and going down to the great prison house for periods of unconsciousness-until the Redeemer at His second advent shall call them and all mankind from the great prison house, the tomb. This he foretold, saying, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth."
This will include not only the Church of the first-born ones, who have been approved of God, and who, passing trial now, will come forth unto life eternal, but it will include also all the remainder of mankind, those who have not had God's approval, all of whom, because redeemed, shall come forth unto judgment-trial.
A fair trial will be theirs to determine their worthiness or unworthiness of life eternal by the manner in which they receive or reject the Christ of God when, during the millennium, the same shall be made fully known to them. It was part of the Divine purpose also that the whole earth should be filled with people, and hence the bringing forth of a progeny is a part of the Divine will. The few short years of the present life, with experience of sin and death conditions, will in due time be supplemented by the glorious period of the millennium, with its grand opportunities for lessons of [NS686] righteousness and obedience and rewards. Its corrective "stripes," or punishments, to the careless will be to the intent that so many as possible may ultimately be entirely recovered from death conditions and brought into full accord with God in Christ. And others, demonstrating their unwillingness to come into heart sympathy with righteousness, will be utterly destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23)
THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY
So, then, our Lord's reason for not asking sooner for the heathen as His inheritance, and the remotest parts of the earth for his possessions, was because He knew the Father's plan to be a different plan, and that it was the more excellent way, and He delighted to do the Father's will. And so with all the followers of Christ: So soon as they ascertain the Father's glorious plan of salvation, they find it to be soul-satisfying, and greatly prefer it to any plan of their own.
It is the undeveloped Christians, whom the Apostle designates "babes in Christ," who are continually praying to the Heavenly Father for a change of the Divine program, imagining that their wisdom and their love in respect to the heathen are superior to those of the infinite Creator. Nearly all Christian people have had their experience with such ignorance; and we are glad to suppose that the heavenly Father laid not the sin of such presumption to our charge, but rather sympathetically appreciated our interest in the heathen, although He must have depreciated our lack of reverence, our headiness, our high-minded assumptions of more than infinite wisdom.
We are not saying a word against missions-home and foreign. Quite to the contrary, we believe that every Christian should labor with heart and hand to do all in his power to glorify the Father and the Redeemer, and to enlighten his fellow men respecting the cross of Christ, and the blessings and privileges which it secures.
But while gladly, willingly, serving the divine cause, "instant in season and out of season," we should learn to labor and to wait. We should learn that the laboring under present conditions is chiefly arranged for our benefit-for the development in the minds of the Royal Priesthood of the sacrificing qualities, and the graces of the holy Spirit -meekness, gentleness, patience, faith, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love.
CO-WORKERS TOGETHER WITH GOD
Let us be sure, dear friends, that any theory of ours respecting the heathen, or any other feature of the divine program, which in any degree implies superior wisdom, or superior energy, or superior love, on our part, as compared with that of our Heavenly Father and our Redeemer, must be wrong. The sooner we learn to pray from the heart, "Thy will be done," the better it will be for us, the more will we be able to get into harmony with our Lord, and the more will we be used as His ambassadors and representatives.
The wisdom of man is foolishness with God, and the wisdom of God is foolishness with man, hence we must not take the human standpoint in investigating or reasoning upon the divine purposes and program. Rather, we must go direct to the Word of God, that we may be taught of God, that we may discern the beauty; the harmony of His plans. It is written that obedience is better than sacrifice, and, this being recognized, how careful it should make us to inquire what the will of the Lord is; to search the Scriptures that we may there ascertain the divine program, and be found in harmony therewith.
There we find that the Lord's present work is the completing of the Royal Priesthood, the Royal Judge, the Royal Prophet, the Royal Mediator, the Great King, for the world of mankind-for the world's deliverance from the bondage of sin and death, and their assistance back to harmony with God. Thus seeing, we will have patience in respect to the heathen, and strive now to make our own calling and election sure, and lay down our lives for the brethren in assisting to build them up in the most holy faith, "until we all come to the measure of the stature of a man in Christ" -the great Mediator of the New Covenant, of which Jesus is the Head.
CONVERTING THE WORLD
When will the world be converted? When will Christ ask for the heathen? When will the Father give them to Him? How long, O Lord? The scriptural answer, dear friends, is, that it has pleased the Father to select the "jewel" class during this Gospel Age by means which the world would think foolish-by means of the preaching of the good tidings. But His program for the future age is different.
There are millions who have no ear to hear the preaching of the cross of Christ. There are millions who have no eye of faith to see the glorious things of God.
In fact, according to the Scriptures, only a "little flock," comparatively, can be brought into accord with the Lord under the conditions of the present time, because sin abounds, because death reigns, because Satan, the Prince of this world, now works antagonistically in the hearts of the children of disobedience. Hence it has pleased God to have a different method of dealing with the world of mankind in general from that which He adopted for dealing with the church in [NS687] this age. In the next age force will be used, and not merely moral suasion. Force will be employed in putting down the reign of evil. Satan will not merely be requested to desist from deceiving the world, but will be bound for a thousand years and be unable to deceive the nations.
Likewise, mankind will no longer be invited to accept Christ and to give their hearts in obedience to Him, but, on the contrary, they will be compelled to be obedient. As it is written, "Unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God."
HEATHEN FALL UNDER HIM
Another Psalm describes Messiah's triumph in the Millennial Age, saying, "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with the glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously in the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach these terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee" (Psalm 14:3-5).
Instead of the word "people" here, read the word "heathen," as in the original, and we have a picture of the conversion of the heathen as it will shortly be accomplished. We are not to suppose the Lord will ride upon a horse, nor that literal arrows will literally pierce the hearts of His enemies.
We are to understand this picture to signify our Lord's triumphal conquering of the world, and that the arrows of truth which will go forth unto the whole world will reach the hearts of men and smite them down. Even so we read that when St. Peter preached at Pentecost that the Jews had taken and crucified the Son of God, the hearers were cut to the heart with the lance of truth. Thank God for such arrows from the quiver of divine wisdom, justice, love. We rejoice that the heathen will thus be conquered for the Lord and thus eventually every knee bow and every tongue confess.
This work of dealing with the heathen, with the world, with all except the Church, will begin with the generation living at the time of the establishment of the Lord's Kingdom. In due time it will proceed and ultimately include all that are in their graves, in the reverse order from that which they entered, and the last shall be the first to come forth-"every man in his own order" or class. Too frequently do Bible students neglect to see whether or not their interpretations are in harmony with the context of the passages under discussion. Let us not make this mistake. Turning to the second Psalm, we find that, following our text and a part with it, is the declaration, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel ."(verse 9)
The application of this evidently is to the time for our Lord's second advent, when the selection of the Church shall be completed, and she shall have entered into His glory as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, symbolically pictured in the New Jerusalem we are told that the River of the Water of Life shall flow freely, and that whosoever will may partake of it freely-all that are athirst. On either bank will grow the trees of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. And the Spirit and the Bride will say Come, and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely.
But meantime, before the nations, the world, will be ready for that blessing from the New Jerusalem, they must needs pass through a period of very deep humiliation-"a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. As for the nations of that time, the extent to which they will suffer destruction will depend largely on their own attitude, as is intimated by the verses following our text. Those of the nations who freely and heartily accept of Messiah's rule will be correspondingly saved from the breaking process. Hence it is urged, "Kiss the Son, O ye kings of the earth; kiss the Son lest He be angry with you and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."
But while this seems to offer leniency, mercy, these favors are conditional on the manner in which the Messianic kingdom shall be received. Other Scriptures seem to intimate that all the nations, not only heathen but civilized, will be found in violent opposition to the heavenly kingdom, and hence that all together they will be crushed as the vessels of a potter.
THE GLORIOUS OUTCOME
The Lord tells us that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than man's ways, and His plans higher than man's plans. And this we find true as we come to better understand the Scriptures. Who ever dreamed of such lengths and breadths and heights and depths of love divine, all love excelling, as are implied and included in God's great plan of selecting, first the Christ -Jesus the Head of the Church, His Body-and then through these blessing all the families of the earth with a knowledge of Himself and the glorious opportunities of life eternal! We make no claims of universal salvation, because the [NS688] Scriptures do not authorize this, but distinctly speak of some who will die the Second Death, proving themselves not sufficiently in harmony with righteousness to be worthy of eternal life -even after being brought to a knowledge of the truth. But the Scriptures do show us that when all the unwilling and disobedient shall have been cut off in the Second Death, then the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, and every creature in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, shall be heard acclaiming praise, honor, glory, dominion and might to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever. And He upon the throne declares, Behold, I make all things new. And there shall be no more sighing, and no more crying, and no more dying, for the former things shall have passed away. (Rev. 21:1-5)
The National Labor Tribune July 25, 1909 THIEVES IN PARADISE
Seattle, Wash., July 25- Pastor Russell, of Brooklyn Tabernacle, addressed the Bible Students' Convention twice today.
The theology which came down to us from the dark ages was wonderful in its extremes. It pictured Divine wrath as unsatisfied with anything short of an eternity of torture for the sinner, and in the next breath assured us of a Divine mercy which would take the vilest sinners to an eternity of glory without character development, merely at their request. One would suppose that neither of these doctrines could command support amongst reasoning, intelligent people, but they do; and the only explanation of the matter is that by reason of the fall the balance of human judgment, on moral questions particularly, is sadly undone. It is fair, however, to suppose that the majority of intelligent people have never so much as given these subjects consideration. Receiving them through the various creeds from childhood's hour, they have swallowed them without reflection, taught that to doubt them would bring the doubters under the ban of Divine displeasure, and make sure that Divine mercy should never reach them.
BAD EFFECTS OF ERROR
It is difficult to measure the bad results which have flown from the misinterpretation of our text.
(1) The Divine character and government have thereby been traduced and measurably brought into contempt as unphilosophical, unreasonable, arbitrary, instead of wise and just. Two vagabonds gambled and quarreled, drew their revolvers and shot each other. The more contemptible of the two killed his antagonist instantly, while he himself lingered in consciousness for a few minutes, during which he had opportunity to say, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
The creeds of Protestantism tell us that the one who used the magical words was instantly ushered to heavenly glory and companionship with the pure and holy throughout eternity. The other, we are told, though less vile, went instantly to eternal torture and despair, without a single ray of hope. Is it any wonder that such unreasonable conclusions have driven many of the brighter minds of Protestantism unto infidelity, and led others back to the teachings of the Church of Rome, which, to say the least, is more consistent, in that it would put both of the culprits into "Purgatory," where after centuries of torture and instruction in righteousness they might be prepared, either or both of them, for heavenly glory. We are not advocating either infidelity or Romanism; we are defending the Bible, but incidentally must admit that our Protestant views of some portions of Holy Writ have been very unsatisfactory and very baneful.
(2) Who can measure the evil effects of this doctrine upon thousands, leading them to believe that whatever their crime, a few magical words of repentance will straighten it all out? Can it be doubted that this wrong theory is accountable for much of the wickedness committed by those who know better, who reside in civilized lands?
First of all they doubt the doctrine of eternal torment, being unable to imagine how any one could burn forever and yet not be destroyed. Secondly, if there be such a place of eternal torment, they reason, it is quite improbable that they will die so suddenly as not to have time to offer a petition for mercy- a petition which, if offered, will surely be heard and answered, and bring them to the regions of the blest. The further reasoning is, that while heaven is certainly desirable, it is useless to seek it via the strait gate and narrow way and self sacrificing experiences of [NS689] Jesus and the Apostles and all the saints. The reasoning is, that these saintly ones may indeed occupy a higher position in heaven than those who are saved after a life of sin and carelessness by a momentary prayer in the dying hour; but the philosophizing is, that the pleasures of sin for a season more than compensate for the higher glory of the saints, since even the sinners are to get to paradise at the small cost of nine words -the supposed teaching of our text.
THE TRUE INTERPRETATION
Before proceeding to discuss the principles involved as between the right and the wrong interpretation of our Lord's words, let us notice what he really did say and really did mean, and how it happened the true meaning was lost sight of and the erroneous one adopted generally.
The Bible teaching that "the dead know not anything," together with the doctrine that the resurrection of the dead is the Divine provision, has long been lost sight of. Our Lord's own words that "No man hath ascended up to heaven" have been overlooked, and so has his teaching respecting his Kingdom-that the blessing of the Church and of the world awaits his second coming, when he will establish his Kingdom under the whole heavens in power and great glory.
Losing sight of these truths has led directly to the acceptance of the general error respecting our text. Let us begin the investigation by noting what the dying thief requested. He had heard his companion berating our Lord, saying, If thou be Messiah, save thyself and us. He had sufficient character to realize the dishonesty of classifying our Lord with evil doers. He spoke up, reproving his companion; and then turned to Jesus, and, as a reward, asked, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom."
He did not ask to be remembered in heaven, nor that day, but when our Lord, who was then being crucified, should attain to his Kingdom. As the thief's request was a reasonable one, our Lord's answer was no less reasonable. He said, in the words of our text, Verily (truly) I say unto thee today (this day of my agony and rejection by Israel, and crucifixion by the Roman soldiers; this day, when I seem to be an impostor and not at all the Messiah; nevertheless, truly I tell you today) thou shalt be with me in Paradise.
I do not tell you when you shall be with me, nor have you even asked me to tell you. You have asked to be remembered when I come into my Kingdom, when I shall have fully taken control of the Kingdom under the whole heavens, when the speedy result will be that the entire world will become a Paradise, and you have asked my assurance that you will be there, and I will remember you as requested.
PUNCTUATION NOT INSPIRED
It will be noticed that this different interpretation makes necessary the changing of the comma from before "today" to after it. We remark that the punctuation of our text was surely not inspired, for punctuation was not invented until centuries after our Bible was written. Our interpretation, with the comma after "today," makes this entire passage reasonable and harmonious-consistent with all the remainder of the Bible, and logical. Further, be it remembered, that Jesus was not in Paradise on the day he died; nor has Paradise lost, yet been restored. Jesus was dead, and St. Peter declares he "arose from the dead on the third day."
As a matter of fact, the other thief also will be in Paradise. All mankind, redeemed by our Lord's sacrifice, will have the privilege of the Millennial blessings. As we read, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth."
The Church will come forth to the heavenly glory and condition, for which they have been prepared by the trials, the disciplines, the lessons, the chiseling, the polishings, of this present life. Theirs will be the instantaneous change, or resurrection, from earthly to heavenly conditions. Those of the spirit-begotten ones, all who wilfully walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit, having had their trial in the present life, will be accounted worthy of the Second Death.
All the remainder of mankind, not having come to a knowledge of the Truth, not having incurred, therefore, the responsibility of this age, will come forth during the Millennium when Messiah's Kingdom shall be established and his rule of righteousness shall have brought the earth to the condition of Paradise. Both of these thieves, and all other thieves and all other evil doers, all of the heathen, all who have not in the present life come to a clear knowledge of the truth, and sinned against light, against the holy Spirit, will be there-there to be blessed, to be enlightened, to be brought to a knowledge of the Truth, and if they will, to be helped out of ignorance, superstition, sin, weakness-mental, moral and physical.
NOT LUCK, BUT CHARACTER
The attaining of eternal life will not be a matter of luck, but a matter of character. It is true at the present time that chance, or luck, would seem to be associated with many of our affairs, except as we are able to view them in the light of Divine revelation. Some of us were fortunate to be better born than others-born of [NS690] religious parents. Some are fortunate in being born in religious communities, and in a land of liberty and enlightenment. Some are unfortunate in being born in heathen lands, of heathen parentage, etc.
But the Scripture shows that during this present time God is exercising his sovereign power in electing a special class of special characters, and assures us that a majority of these are being called from amongst the mixed peoples of Europe and America, and that proportionately few are being gathered from other nationalities. If all of the non-elect were consigned' to eternal torment, or even to Purgatory, a grave injustice would be chargeable against the Almighty Elector. But this is not the case.
The Lord is no respecter of persons, but is taking out from the world of mankind, from every nation, those with suitable characters, those upon whom his Truth and Grace exercise a transforming influence. The non-elect, not worthy of a blessing amongst the faithful of the first class now being selected, pass at death to the tomb, to the prison-house of sheol, hades, where there is no wisdom, knowledge nor device, as the Scriptures declare (Eccl. 9:10).
Although unworthy of a share in the blessings now being dispensed, God's love and mercy pursue after these through Christ, and in their interest the Millennial Kingdom will be established. Under its domination Satan will be bound, every influence of evil will be restrained, and every good influence will be brought into captivity, to the intent that all those at present non-elect, and unworthy of the present salvation, may be brought to a savable condition through the rewards and punishments (judgments) of the Millennial Age. The result of the purifying influences of that time upon the willing and obedient will be full human perfection and the reward of everlasting life in Paradise restored -world-wide, under the whole heaven. The result to the unwilling who will resist God's grace and merciful provisions will be eternal death -extinction-the Second Death -Gehenna. (Rev. 20:14, 15)
CHARACTER A PREREQUISITE
The Bible, in harmony with sanctified common sense teaches that character is a prerequisite of Divine favor and eternal life. Whoever is called during this Gospel Age and fails to develop character, will fail to attain the reward of life eternal. Similarly, in the world's trial time, or Day of Judgment, the Millennial Age, character will be the test.
All the influences of the great Kingdom of Messiah will be exercised with a view to the development of character, and only those properly exercised thereby will get the reward of earthly life eternal. The question properly arises here, What kind of character will meet with the Divine approval and be granted the reward of life everlasting? We answer that God has but one standard, which is fully set forth in the Scriptures. The Law of God is the standard. That law standard is, "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy being, with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself."
As our Redeemer testified, on these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets; all the divine blessings and promises and covenants are to those who develop the character here described.
WORLD ACTUALLY ATTAINS
The Scriptures show a difference as between God's dealings with the Church in this age and the world in the next age, even though there be but the one Law or standard of character for both. During the Millennium, when everything will be favorable to human uplift, during the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began," actual obedience to the Divine Law, and actual attainment of this standard of character, will be required. Not all at once, however. The poor world "born in sin and shapen in iniquity" -in sin did their mothers conceive them -are prone to sin as the sparks to fly upward."
Steeped in degradation they will require years, if not centuries, of determined resistance of sin and cultivation of the principles of righteousness to develop in them absolutely the character required by the Divine Law -Love supreme for God and Love for the neighbor as for one -self.
During the Millennium the weakness and imperfections of the race will be conceded by the great Teacher, Christ and the Church -Jesus the Head and the Church his members. The more degraded the will, the more undermined the character, the more perverted the conscience and judgment, the more difficult will be the ascent of humanity from the horrible pit of sin and death, even with the assistance of the Redeemer. The less degraded the mind, the less perverted the conscience, the stronger the will for righteousness, the easier will be the ascent along the Highway of Holiness, of which it is written, "The redeemed shall walk thereon" (Isa. 35:9).
The laggards will receive the "stripes" of correction for their assistance; the zealous will receive the smiles and blessings of the great High Priest, the great Teacher and Mediator like unto Moses, of whom it is written, "And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will [NS691] not hear (obey) that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23).
All the reformation must be made during the allotted time-the thousand years of Christ's reign. Sin must be put down-not only outward sin, but inward sin, even in the very thoughts and intents of the heart. Sin must be eradicated, even to the extent of the destruction of the wilful sinner in the Second Death. If the thieves and liars and evil doers in general would realize that they are either making character or undermining character every day, what a helpful influence it would have upon the social and political and financial life of the world!
The effect would be the very reverse of that which is now made by the false interpretation of our Lord's words to the thief, which we are seeking to correct. If every pernicious word uttered were realized to be so much of an undermining influence, if every pernicious thought were similarly recognized, with what carefulness would mankind come to guard their thoughts and their words, as well as their deeds. They would attentively learn the great general lesson set forth in the Scriptures, and also in the book of nature, namely, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
Who shall say that there would not be less "sowing of wild oats" if all were assured that a proportionate crop would be unavoidably reaped, and that no mere prayer of repentance would constitute an "open sesame" to heavenly glory to the one who had lived a life deserving reprobation and punishment.
The National Labor Tribune, August 1, 1909 IN THIS MOUNTAIN
St. Joseph, Mo., August 1-The Bible Students' Convention is in session here. Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle addressed the Convention twice today. One of his discourses follows, from the text: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things. "Isa. 25:6
As you are all undoubtedly aware, the word "mountain" throughout the Scriptures is used as the symbol for kingdom. Earthly governments are represented as mountains and hills, while the Lord's government is represented as being established "in the top of the mountains."
It is this mountain or Kingdom of God that is referred to in our text. it has not yet been established in the earth, and hence the blessed work foretold in our text is not yet realized. We still properly pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
True, a beginning has been made: for more than eighteen centuries since our Lord's ascension, and the bestowment of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Church has been in process of selection, and the Church is sometimes styled the Kingdom, because its members when glorified will constitute the Kingdom class -the Bride -who, with the heavenly Bridegroom, will share the Kingdom honors and services for the world. It is true, also, that our Lord is exalted a Prince and a Savior, and that shortly, at his second Advent, he is to take to himself his great power and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords-but he has not yet done this.
He declared at his resurrection, "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me," yet he also in his last message to the Church distinctly pointed out that the time for taking possession of his Kingdom was future, and that the time will surely come when he will take unto himself his great power and reign, because the time to reign will then have come. Rev. 11:17
More than this, the signs of the times, read in the light of the lamp of truth, the Word of God, seem dearly to indicate that the time is nigh at hand for the setting up of Christ's Kingdom. How glad we all should be, what rejoicing it should cause to the whole world of mankind, to know that the reign of sin and death is nearing its conclusion; that Satan, the prince of this world, will shortly be bound for a thousand years, that he should deceive the nations no more until its termination. How we should rejoice that "the night is far spent and the day is at hand;" that the Millennial morning is already dawning; that the Sun of Righteousness is already rising; and that soon the whole earth will "be full of the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the great deep."
A FEAST IN THIS MOUNTAIN
The bare announcement of the Kingdom of God would strike mankind variously in proportion as the character of the Kingdom and its work might be understood or misunderstood. Thus today to many the mention of the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand would carry the thought of a wreck of matter and the crush of [NS692] worlds. Not only our Second Advent friends believe, but the creeds of practically all denominations of Christians recite, that our Lord's second advent and the establishment of his Kingdom will signify to mankind the end of probation, the end of hope, and usher in to all except the elect few a great burning day. For too long we have allowed these traditions of men to becloud our judgment, to come between our hearts and the great blessings set forth in God's Word as now due to the Church and to the world.
It is very proper that those who are living in alienation from God in wilful sin should realize that the establishment of his Kingdom will mean a reign of righteousness which will be strictly opposed to their pernicious ways -opposed to every form of immorality, opposed to every form of injustice and iniquity, opposed to every form of trickery, and sham, and false pretense. But surely Christians who are seeking to live in harmony with the divine law of love for God, for the neighbor, for the brother, for enemies, have every reason to look forward, to long for, to hope for, the coming of the Lord's Kingdom as the most desirable thing possible to be imagined. Indeed, it is thus described in Bible language: "The desire of all nations shall come." Hag 2:7
However much the few, favored by present conditions, may be pleased to have them remain as they are, the masses of mankind, if they were but converted from ignorance and superstition and brought to a knowledge of the truth as God's Word presents it, would be glad and rejoice in the salvation which is to come to the world through God's Kingdom. The god of this world hath blinded the eyes of understanding of mankind and put darkness for light, and under the terrors of the words "doom's day" has obscured the glorious blessings which belong to the day of the establishment of the Kingdom of the Lord. 2 Cor. 4:4
True, the Kingdom of the heavens will be introduced, the Scriptures tell us, by a time of trouble such as never was before and never will be afterward: a time of trouble which will involve all nations, and peoples, and kingdoms, and tongues, and every part of the world; a time of trouble from which there will be no escape except for those who have made the Lord, even the Most High, their refuge and habitation. (Psa. 91:9)
But then, even that plowshare of trouble the Lord proposes shall be overruled so that it will constitute a channel of blessing to mankind, by preparing their hearts for the message of divine love and grace, centered in Christ and his redeeming work at Calvary.
WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES?
Turning from the ignorance and superstition and darkness and terrors of the dark ages, let us look still further -to the inspired Word of God through the Apostles and Prophets. From these let us hear some description of the blessings which God intends His Kingdom shall bring to our sin-cursed race. The Scriptures tell us that God has prepared a great feast for humanity; they intimate figuratively that mankind has been starving for the message of divine grace -that the millions of our race have gone down in ignorance and superstition, famished for lack of the Word of God.
The Bread which came down from heaven -the message of truth and grace which our dear Redeemer brought and exemplified-has indeed been supplied lavishly to some. Some of us have feasted upon the good things of our Father's Word and plan. But the great mass of mankind have been so deaf and so blind that they see not, neither do they understand or receive the grace of God under present conditions.
How glad we are that "all the blind eyes shall be opened, and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped" (Isa. 35:5), and that the whole world will thus be prepared for the true knowledge of God, whose goodness and loving kindness and tender mercies will undoubtedly have a softening and mellowing effect upon hard hearts. At all events, the divine program will be carried out, the Kingdom of God will be established amongst men, they will have the opportunity of contrasting the reign of righteousness with the reign of sin and death. So many as will be rightly influenced by this knowledge may lay hold upon eternal life by accepting the divine arrangement. Truly it is the goodness of God that leadeth to repentance, and of this it is that mankind needs to learn.
BLESSED THE HUNGRY
There are many hungry hearts in the world, -many whose bodies are well nourished have famished hearts which cry out for love and sympathy. He who reads the hearts, who knows what is in them, has prepared this feast which will surely satisfy every legitimate, righteous desire. Those who already are the Lord's people and who have already feasted at the bountiful table spread for the Church, can approximate to some extent the bounty that will be spread before the world in this great feast foretold through the Prophet, in our text. There will be several differences, however, between our present feast and that one for the world.
(1) The present feast is merely a feast of promise which must be partaken of by the exercise of faith. The feast described in our text will be a very actual one, the realities of blessing, of restitution, of health, of strength, mental, moral and physical, bountifully supplied, to be partaken of freely by all who appreciate them. [NS693] (2) The present feast spread for the Church is a spiritual one relating to a heavenly Kingdom glory and honor-things not seen as yet, except by the eye of faith. To the contrary, the feast for the world, referred to in our text, will consist of earthly bounties and blessings, most tangible in kind as well as excellent in quality-all that was lost in Adam will be tendered to such of his children as will accept the mercy. The Prophet in attempting to describe the bounties of that feast uses highly symbolical terms, and describes it as "a feast of fat things, full of marrow and of wines on the lees, well refined."
Assuredly no language that we could use could fully and properly set forth the riches of God's grace provided for the world of mankind under the ministration of his Kingdom. The earth shall yield her increase, streams shall break forth in the deserts, the wilderness shall blossom as the rose, the solitary place shall be glad. Isa. 35
THE DESTRUCTIVE WORK
The Lord through the Prophet, after describing the feast of blessing and refreshments, portrays the destruction of things injurious to mankind, saying, "And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people -the vail that is spread over all nations." (vs. 7)
This vail is none other than the veil of ignorance and superstition which hinders mankind from seeing that the Creator is their friend, that righteousness and truth are to their advantage, that the ways of the Lord are righteous altogether. The sunlight of the new dispensation, the reign of righteousness, will scatter the clouds and the darkness, the vail of ignorance, and let into the hearts of mankind "the light of the knowledge of the goodness of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord."
What wonderful change, and how glad mankind will be, not only to have that feast prepared, but also to be rid of the darkness which would hinder them from appreciating it and coming to a knowledge of the Lord and his grace.
STILL MORE TO FOLLOW
The Prophet proceeds to describe further, saying, "He will swallow up death in victory."
For several thousand years Death has had the victory, and the human family have been swallowed up by it. The Scriptures describe the six thousand years of earth's history as a period of the "reign of Sin and Death."
It is conservatively estimated that death has swallowed up twenty thousand millions of humanity, and that ninety thousand are going to the tomb every day. The Lord tells us through the Prophet that with the establishment of his Kingdom will come a wonderful change: instead of death continuing to swallow up the race, dying shall cease. None shall die then except for wilful sin.
How glorious a time that will be! All of our sorrows are more or less intimately associated with the reign of Sin and Death! How we may well rejoice in the new dispensation which divine wisdom has planned and divine love will execute for the releasing of our race from this dying process -from this bondage of corruption, permitting them to return to the liberty of the sons of God, freedom from death, freedom from sin. But even this is not enough. The Lord proposes that he will not merely restrain the power of death, so that it shall cease swallowing up our race, but additionally he proposes that he will "swallow up Death in victory."
The tomb, which figuratively has engorged itself with twenty thousand millions, will be forced to disgorge, to release its victims. "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth."
The saintly few whose faithfulness to God has already been tested will come forth to the perfection of life. The unsaintly masses, the majority of whom have never known God truly, will come forth to the resurrection of trial, of judgment, of discipline, of testing. Death itself shall be destroyed. St. Paul quotes from the Prophet Hosea, saying, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" He does not quote this as applicable now, for Sin and Death still have their victory in the world.
Thousands are still slaves of sin, and millions are still bounden by the power of the tomb. St. Paul and the Prophet pointed down to the glorious epoch of the Millennial Kingdom (following the resurrection change of the Church) when all shall be brought to a knowledge of the truth, from the least to the greatest, and when all that are in the prison-house of death shall come forth, because Jesus has redeemed every member of our race from the power of the tomb.
WIPE ALL TEARS AWAY
We remember our Redeemer's tender words, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Those of us who have accepted his gracious invitation, and obtained from him the rest of faith, found that it meant to us the wiping away of our tears, the cancellation -in a large degree of our troubles. We, then, should be able to understand the next statement of the Prophet in our text, "The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces."
It is the same message given to us in Revelation, where the same Kingdom, under the figure of the New Jerusalem, is brought to our attention. It will be the Heavenly Father who will wipe away the tears, not [NS694] directly but indirectly through his Son, the Redeemer. More and more as we come to an understanding of the grace of God, as illustrated in his divine plan of the ages, we come to realize that "all things are of the Father and all things are by the Son" -that the two, while distinctly separate, are also distinctly one in love, in sympathy, and in cooperating in the work of relief which has already begun in the Church, and which ultimately is to extend to the world during the Millennium.
Tears are the marks of sorrow, pain, suffering, and the poetic statement that God himself will wipe away the tears of mankind is a beautiful and forceful suggestion of how the power of the Highest is shortly to be employed, not in the eternal torment of the world, but in its blessing, its uplifting, the wiping away of its tears and sorrows.
When we remember that there are no tears in heaven, and that the joys of that blessed state are because of its sinlessness, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving as we catch the poetic thought included in the assurance -that all sin, and all sorrow as the result of sin, and all tears and marks of sorrow, will forever pass away in that happy day.
Truly we may be glad and rejoice and give honor to our God as we see his righteous dealings with our race manifested-as the clouds and shadows flee away and permit the sunshine of divine love and grace to take their proper places before the eyes of our understanding. Let no one imagine that this signifies universal salvation. Other Scriptures show us that while universal opportunity for salvation will be accorded, none except those who avail themselves of it by a hearty acceptance of the divine arrangement, and a hearty obedience to the laws of the Kingdom -these only will get the great blessing of life eternal, only their tears will forever be wiped away. All other wilful sinners will be destroyed in the Second Death.
REBUKE OF HIS PEOPLE
Another matter mentioned in connection with this great feast and Kingdom work for all people is stated in the words, 'The rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth."
Throughout the period of "the reign of Sin and Death" there has been a rebuke, an odium, attached to being God's people. Thus the Apostle pointed out that Christ as the anti-type of Israel's bullock of the sin-offering "went outside the camp, bearing reproach," and he exhorts us as the Gospel Church as antitype of the Lord's goat of the sin-offering, that we should "go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach."
As it is written, "The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."
The Apostle refers to the same thing again, saying, "The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not."
Hence, said the Apostle, we are become as the filth and the off -scourings of the earth, as deceivers and yet true. Rom. 15:3; 1 Cor. 4:13; 2 Cor. 6:8 This reproach has lasted throughout this Gospel age. Will it last forever? Will the world ever come to honor those who are the Lord's true people? Will mankind ever come to know God's saints? We answer that the declaration of Scripture in respect to our Lord is, They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced and mourn because of Him. (Zech. 12:10)
And so we may expect it will be in respect to the Church of Christ, his members. In due time, after the clouds and shadows shall have passed away, after he who sits upon the throne shall have made all things new, after the vail of ignorance covering all mankind shall have been dissolved, after the tears shall have been wiped away, it will be found that the reproach of God's people has ceased. The world will not only have come to a knowledge of the Creator, and a knowledge of the Redeemer, but to the knowledge also of the Bride, the Lamb's wife.
Instead of its being a reproach to have been a member of the Body of Christ, it will then be recognized as the greatest of all honors and privileges. "Of Zion it shall be said, This man and that was born in her." Psa. 87:5.
We who now in advance by faith thus recognize our privileges may well thank God and take courage and wait for the development of his Kingdom.
SIGHING, CRYING, DYING
In the account furnished us by our Lord in Rev. 21:4-5, we are assured that there will be no more sighing, no more crying, and no more dying, because all the former things shall have passed away -all the things of sin and death, and all in sympathy with those evil conditions in any sense or degree. How glorious it will be when Eden shall bloom without a tomb; when the character-likeness of God, exemplified in the law of Love, shall be written in every human being, when God's will shall be done on earth as it is already done in heaven! How glorious the contemplation! No wonder, we further read, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
And now another thought: those glorious conditions are sure to come, but the time is not yet, though very near. There is still opportunity for us who are "called" to this "high calling" to "make our calling and election [NS695] sure" by obedience to the terms and conditions of the call. The more we come into sympathy with the glorious purposes of the Kingdom, the more we have the mind of the Father and of the Son in respect to their great work of human uplifting, the more will we desire to have a share in that work. And when we remember that the zeal with which we now throw ourselves into the Lord's service, and lay down our lives for the brethren, will determine our worthiness or unworthiness to have a share with our Lord in the Kingdom work, we are inclined to agree with the Apostle's statement, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us (begotten of his spirit) by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."