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HARVEST GLEANINGS III

St. Paul Enterprise, September 3, 1915

A GREAT PRIESTHOOD DIVINELY APPOINTED

Albany, N Y, August 29 Pastor Russell delivered a masterful address here today, from the text, "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Heb. 5:4)

He said: The Apostle's statement forming our text is made in connection with his discussion of the Mosaic arrangement and the Aaronic Order of priesthood. Christ, while on earth, could not be a priest, because there was already a priesthood ordained of God the family of Aaron. No Israelite could take part in this priesthood except he were of Aaron's lineage. To presume to take part in it without God's invitation would be a sin. To this day the Jews respect the Aaronic priesthood, and no one could serve as a priest unless he could show his genealogy back to Aaron. The Jews now do not know who belongs to the priestly family. Therefore they have no priest and no such service as a priest would render.

In his Epistle to the Hebrews St. Paul calls attention to another priest hood. He declares that Jesus, who was not of the tribe of Levi, has become a Priest of a still higher Order than the Aaronic; moreover, that God had foretold our Lord's Priesthood long before. (Psa. 110:4) His was a Divine appointment to this Priesthood. The call to be the Messiah and the highest of all priests was from the Father.

Here we have another proof that our Lord Jesus was not the Father. He could have only such honors as the Father would give Him. God glorified Him in giving Him this great Priesthood. The Apostle quoted from the Prophet David respecting Jesus, "Thou art a Priest forever after the Order of Melchisedec." Melchisedec was a great personage who lived in Abraham's day. So great was he that, after Abraham had won a great victory and wished to show his appreciation of God's goodness, the patriarch came to Melchisedec, "king of Salem and priest of the Most High God," and offered tithes of all he had captured. (Gen. 14:18-20) Since the inferior offers gifts to the superior, Melchisedec must have been greater than Abraham, who in turn must have been greater than Aaron, his descendant. How much higher than Aaron, then, must he have been who was a type of Christ and of Christ's Priesthood!

We see that our Heavenly Father has conferred a very great honor upon our Lord Jesus Christ, in appointing Him to be the world's great Redeemer, High Priest and King. He is the One through whom will come all the bless ings upon the world that God has designed. But before God could recognize Him in that position, He must prove our Lord, as the Bible declares.

WORTHY TO LOOSE THE SEALS

Elsewhere St. Paul points out that our Lord Jesus left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was and took upon Him the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself still further all that He might do the Father's will. His obedience to the Father finally led to the Cross. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given" [HGL746] "Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." (Philip. 2:5-11) In that exalted position He is the Antitype of Melchisedec.

This is corroborated by our Lord's own statement in the Fifth Chapter of the Revelation. There is pictured the Father, seated upon the Throne of Glory and holding in His right hand a Scroll, written within and without and sealed with seven seals. This Scroll represented the Divine Plan that God had purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world. What was in that Scroll nobody knew but Himself. The entire Plan was in God's own power; and, as the Apostle declares, before the foundation of the world the Father foreknew that our Lord would be the One worthy to open the Scroll.

Throughout Heaven and earth the proclamation was made, "Who is worthy to loose the seals and to look therein?" Nobody came forward. Then St. John began to weep. After he had wept much, an angel touched him and said, "Weep not. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed." The Lion of Judah was the Strong One of Judah, of which tribe God had prophetically declared that Messiah should come of David's lineage. Here was the Strong One, competent to do the work absolutely perfect.

The difficulty with every other person in the world was that all were imperfect. But Jesus was sent into the world with all the qualities of perfection in the image of God. When He became the Man Christ Jesus, He was qualified to fulfil the Divine Purpose. But He must be tested. No one heretofore had proven worthy, because the conditions that God had attached to the honor were very stringent. God was looking for One competent to be entrusted with the charge of affairs a Prime Minister, as it were. One who would fully represent Him in the Kingdom work and be associated with Him forever. For so high a position God had purposed that this One should be made partaker of the Divine nature.

IMMORTALITY'LIFE IN HIMSELF

The Scriptures tell us that God has immortality; i. e., He is not liable to death. All the angels are mortal; not that they are dying, but that they could die. A mortal is not a dying person, but one liable to death. God has supplies to continue existence to those who will be obedient and loyal to Him. To all such He is pleased to grant everlasting life. But He is immortal, not susceptible to death in any sense. He is not dependent upon food, water, air, rest or anything else. Jesus says, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Him self." (John 5:26) This is so high as to be beyond human comprehension.

God purposed that this One whom He would so highly exalt should also have this quality of immortality life in Himself. But first He must demonstrate His loyalty to the fullest degree. Jehovah determined that the first opportunity to prove worthiness of this position should be given to the Logos, "The Word," the One first created by the Father. (Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15; John 1:1-3) Those who believe in the doctrine of the Trinity hold many very unreasonable views. They say that Jesus did not become a man, that He merely hid Himself in a human form for a time. Not so says the Bible. Our Trinitarian friends are driven to some such ridiculous position by claiming that Jesus was co-equal with the Father, a very unscriptural claim.

The Son of God left the glory which He had with the Father, was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. He was no ordinary man, no sinful man. We beheld in Him a glory that no other man had a glory of perfection. (John 1:14; Heb. 7:26) He became a man for the very purpose of carrying out the Father's Plan, which He could not then fully know. He knew that the first step of preparation was to be made a man. The next step was to present Himself for sacrifice. From those who interpreted the Law, He knew that there was nothing that He could do in His priestly office until He was thirty years old. When His thirtieth anniversary came, He presented Him self to the Father in consecration and was baptized by John.

THE HEAVENS WERE OPENED TO HIM

There, at Jordan, the Father granted the Son the opening of His eyes of understanding. There He became the slain Lamb. At the very moment He made His consecration at Jordan He died, so far as His covenant with God was concerned. And so it is with His followers. The very moment we make our covenant with God, we are dead indeed to sin and to all earthly interests. Our death dates, not from the time we actually die, but from the time we give up our will. So God there counted Jesus dead. He was the sacrificial Lamb. To Him was given the right to open the Scroll.

So we read that at His baptism, when the holy Spirit descended upon our Lord, "the Heavens [the higher things] were opened unto Him." (Matt. 3:16) The deeper things of God's Plan became open to His mind. Never before had He seen the meaning of these things. They were hidden from Him, as from any natural man. The natural man whether perfect or imperfect, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14) Jesus became a perfect natural man, and as such He gave all that He had in consecration. Then God begat Him of the holy Spirit to the new nature. From the moment of spirit-begetting, old things passed away and all things became new.

After Jesus had received the holy Spirit, He went immediately into the wilderness for forty days. During that time He was a Bible Student, thinking over the Scriptures, which from boyhood He had heard read in the synagogue. Having now received the illumination of the holy Spirit, He could understand what was meant by the manna in the wilderness, by the serpent erected upon the pole, by the bullock of the Atonement Day sacrifices and by the Passover Lamb. The whole Plan of God for human salvation was opened to Him. He had "loosed the seven seals." By that time He fully understood all that He was to suffer. He saw that He was to give up His life sacrificially, that He was to be crucified.

Then, after all the stress of Bible study for forty days without food, the Devil came and tempted Him. This was the opportunity, in His weakened physical condition, for the Adversary to present a temptation. But our Lord withstood all of Satan's suggestions, and finally the Devil left Him. We have no record that Satan ever again tried to tempt our Lord. [HGL747] God thoroughly proved the One who was to be the great Antitype of Melchisedec, the Priest upon His Throne, partaker of the Divine nature. And Jesus demonstrated His worthiness, not only during those forty days in the wilderness, but during the following three and a half years, clear down to Calvary even to the death of the Cross. Now He is the highly exalted One, far above angels, principalities, powers and every name that is named. He is at the Father's right hand the chief place of favor. Our Lord Jesus is God's great Prime Minister next to the Father Himself.

FURTHER CONTENTS OF THE SCROLL

But the Scroll in God's hand contained more than this. It showed that the Father, who had called the Lord Jesus, had called Him to be the Head over a Church, which is His Body. Nineteen hundred years before the Messianic Kingdom was due to be set up, God sent Jesus into the world that He might open up the way and that Jews and Gentiles might come in and participate with Jesus, first in the tests and afterwards in the honor. In the Book it is written that not only a bullock, but also a Lord's goat must be offered in sacrifice on the Atonement Day. Thus the Church are to be sharers in the sufferings of Christ and in the glory to follow. Heb. 13:11-13

So all the work of this Gospel Age has been with a view to perfecting this company. First the call went to such Jews as were ready, that these might be brought into the Church, to be of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. But there were not enough of them; and so the door was thrown open to the Gentiles, that as many of them as desired might come in and be fellow-heirs with the Jews. All these are to be members of the Body of the great antitypical Priest and King, "after the order of Melchisedec."

God is now calling merely the class that is anxious to come to Him. The Apostle speaks of some who were feeling after God, if haply they might find Him. (Acts 17:27) Now there is only one way to come to Him, and that way is by membership in the Body of Christ. Those who will walk in this narrow way shall become joint-heirs with Christ. Some say, "I think that I will wait a little while." They are not altogether ready to sacrifice'to give up all to the Lord. To such the Lord says, "Very well." Jesus said to some in His day, "Sit down and count the cost." It is better that one should not put his hand to the plow than that he should do so, and then look back and wish that he was not there.

"If any man will come after Me [be My disciple], let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." So then, dear friends, we see the conditions. And whatever the Father's providence may be for us, we wish to have. Jesus did not specify what was to come to Him. The Father had specified our Lord's experiences before the foundation of the world. As for you and for me, our part is to do the Father's will to drink whatever cup the Father shall pour for us. He does not give us the honor of drinking so great a cup as our Savior drank, however.

GATHER TOGETHER MY SAINTS UNTO ME

For each consecrated child of God the great question is, "Am I walking in the steps of Jesus?" Have we entered into a Covenant with God, as our Lord did? Faithful is He who has called us. If we fail to get the great prize of our High Calling, the fault will be ours alone. God is ready to do for us as He was ready to do for Jesus.

Now to come back to the statement, "No man taketh this honor unto him self, but he that is called of God." Did we call ourselves? No indeed! How did we come to a knowledge of the Truth? Thank God, we have had the ears to hear His Message! Thank God that this privilege came to us that we were called of God! To what were we called? Hear the Call that applies to Jesus and to all His disciples the Call to which Jesus responded, and to which you and I are to respond. It reads, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice." (Psa. 50:5) By nature we were sinners, like all the fallen race of Adam. But even as sinners we may have been trying to do our best. Then the Message reached us, speaking peace through Jesus Christ, a Message telling us that if we gave ourselves to God we would be forgiven our sins, begotten of the holy Spirit and accepted into God's family.

God's arrangement is that our Lord Jesus is to sanctify and make saints those who have taken these steps. He will impute of His merit to such, to make up for their natural imperfection. To give them of that merit would make them perfect human beings. To impute the merit is to give them a credit on God's account books.

God has arranged that nothing shall come to His altar except that which is without blemish. We cannot come, therefore, except as our Lord Jesus shall make up wherein we are short of perfection. Christ has proposed to do this, in order that you and I may give acceptable sacrifices through Him. Is that not a blessed arrangement? It is made to permit us to share in the sufferings of Christ that by and by we may share in His glories. (2 Tim. 2:11, 12) All that He has He will share with His faithful Church; and by way of encouraging us He says that He will make all things work together for our good. Rom. 8:28 Our Father will bless our trials and difficulties. He will not permit us to be tried above that we are able; with every temptation He will provide a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13) I trust that we all shall be of one mind to accept this wonderful provision of God's grace, that we may be fully accepted members of this great Melchisedec Priesthood, of which our Lord Jesus is the Head. As soon as the last members of this order are completed, the entire number-144,000 will stand with the Lamb upon Mount Zion, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. Rev. 14:1-5

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