The following pages are taken from a stenographic report of a "Question Meeting" conducted by Pastor Charles T. Russell, of Allegheny, in St. Louis, Missouri, Sunday, August 11, 1907. The brethren who have arranged for its publication send it out with the sincere hope and prayer that it may be blessed of the Lord in making more clear to the minds of His people into whose hands it may fall, the "Harvest Truth" concerning the subjects discussed; to the end that all the "Watchmen" may see "eye to eye." Peace be to you!
I was glad to accept the invitation of the St. Louis Church to hear certain questions, perplexing to some, and give answers to the best of my ability, with the hope and prayer that the subject may be clear to our minds. We are living in a time when the Lord declares his people shall see eye to eye. He says this shall be a characteristic of our day: "When the Lord shall bring again his people the watchmen shall see eye to eye." (Isa. 52:8.) We trust that while some of us, called Elders, might be called watchmen in a special sense, yet all the Lord's people are watchmen. We are all seeing what the Lord our God has brought to us, and looking to that word which is the only revelation of the Divine will. So all should see eye to eye. Those asleep are not watchmen, but as soon as they become watchmen they will come to see eye to eye. As we come nearer and nearer to an object it should be more clearly seen by all of us.
If we recognize that we are in the harvest time of the Gospel Age, then we ought to recognize certain things as being due to be understood more clearly, yet at the same time we ought not to expect anything particularly different from what has been the course of the Lord's dealing throughout the past; but so surely as we are, we ought to expect something peculiar to the harvest time. What are we to expect? With us the Jewish nation is a figure, an example and type. You remember having studied that matter. They had their priesthood, their high priests and under priests, we have ours; they had [PT324] their tabernacle and we have ours; they had their golden candlestick and we have our golden candlestick of Divine truth and light. So when it comes to the harvest we find that their harvest was a particular pattern of this age. If Jesus was present to do the work there, so he will do the work here. What was the work? Separating and reaping, and gathering together of the Lord's elect. How was that done? By the promulgation of greater knowledge and greater truth. He made known certain things. Well, then, we should expect there to be greater knowledge of God's plans pertaining to this time, as there was to that harvest time. We ought to remember that that was the end of the Jewish age and the opening of the Gospel age, and the Apostle, by inspiration, speaks of the light that is to come upon the "ends of the ages," upon the ends of those ages where they met, and these two ages where they meet. That light did not precede our Lord's presence, and while there has not been gross darkness over this Gospel age, the special light from God shines upon the "ends of the ages." It is in harmony with this that you and I have received from the Lord the great blessing of clearer light. It would be very difficult for us to say what is the most valuable feature of Divine truth. It is all important, all necessary, that the man of God may be "thoroughly furnished." (2 Tim. 3:16,17.)
Now, dear friends, this clear light on the end of the age came in connection with the understanding of a mystery. What mystery? The "mystery" the Apostle Paul talks about. You remember how this was on the end of the Jewish age and the opening of the Gospel age. The Lord made known the mystery "not made known to other ages and dispensations and which is now made manifest." (Rom. 16:25,26; Col. 1:26,27.) You remember how frequently he speaks of this mystery. He explained that the Messiah [PT325] to come was to be not only our Lord Jesus Christ, but also the Church his Bride. They supposed that the great Messiah was coming and was to be king of their nation and their nation was to convert the world, but they did not know he was going to take out of the Jewish nation the joint heirs of the world.
Then the Apostle says there was another part they did not understand. God not only proposed to take some of that body of Christ from the Jews, but from all the nations of the earth, that He might make of each one a part of the Christ. This is what the Apostle brings to our attention. He says God gave Jesus to be the head of the Church. This is "the mystery" not made known in previous ages. This mystery was not even made known to all the apostles. You remember it was made known to the Apostle Paul, and while the writings of the other apostles are in harmony with this thought, you do not get it from them--you get it from Paul. He tells us that God had given to him visions and revelations more than to all the other apostles, and it is manifest from his writings, that he had this clearer vision and knowledge. So it is from the Apostle Paul's writings that we get this knowledge of the mystery. Peter did not understand it: he was at first in opposition to the Gentiles, but the Lord sent to him the vision of the sheet held by the four corners, by which he was shown he must not consider the Gentiles any longer as common and unclean. (Acts 10.) You see, then, that at that time the Apostle Peter did not have the thought of the oneness of the Body of Christ. That is a part of the mystery Paul says was made more clear to him through visions and revelations than to them all. And yet that very thought was lost sight of--the oneness of Christ and the Church--when the Church began to get the wrong impression that it was to [PT326] convert the world. When they thought of everybody, they could not think of the "Body of Christ" including everybody. It destroyed this thought that the Church is the mysterious body of Christ that is to rule all the earth and bless the earth.
So this thought was hidden from all during the Gospel age, and our parents and friends did not see this subject, which is now clear to us. It is clear to us because we are living in the harvest time of the age, when God is brushing away the darkness and allowing our eyes to see and understand. This light was lost sight of during the Gospel age, and now this is the particular thought brought to your attention, namely: That Christ the head and the Church his body, is the great anti-typical Moses, the great Prophet God has been raising up, through which the blessing is to come to Israel, and through Israel to all the nations (Acts 3:22,23.) Christ is the head, and through the members of his Elect is to bless Israel and all the nations. When did this feature of light come to our attention? It came to my attention in 1869. I was thinking along these lines, seeing that our friends in the churches were wrong, and seeing the second coming of Christ was the thing to be expected, and along about 1873 I got so far as to see that there was restitution coming to the world, but I did not understand what restitution meant. I supposed that when the world was blessed it would come to be in the same sort of spiritual condition as the Church, and not until 1878 did the light of that feature come, in respect to the fact that the Church is to be of a separate and distinct nature, and is to be used by the Lord in blessing Israel and through them blessing all the nations. What is the basis? The matter we are to discuss this morning--The type of the Sin Atonement, and the Day of Atonement.
You have it in a booklet called "Tabernacle Shadows," [PT327] published in the Fall of 1880--there was the basis of it. Christ is the great High Priest and the Church is associated with him as the under priests, and to be associated with him in the glories of the future when the atonement day is over and the sacrifices ended. So have in mind that the basis of any light we have today rests upon this subject of the atonement sacrifices and the sin-offerings of this Day of Atonement. The light has come along these lines. God has been pleased to bless this thought. If that becomes evident to you, you will be very slow to cast aside that which has brought you to the light you have. It is on this line God has granted all the light in which we are now rejoicing.
(Answer.) The two are not to be associated at all, any more than two of our Lord's parables. If you take the parable of the Wheat and the Tares and the parable of the Ten Virgins and try to combine them, you will find it impossible to do so, because one is discussing one subject and the other another subject. They are both true, and plausible, and both teach beautiful lessons, but not the same lesson. They are both parables given of God; they do not contradict, but they do not teach the same lesson. And so when we talk about the Ransom, that is one thought, and the Sin-offering is another thought, and we are not to mix the two.
Suppose you were to say, "The Church is called [PT328] the brother of Christ and the Bride of Christ and the living stones of the temple. How could Christ marry his own brothers, or the living stones of the temple?" This is confusion--these are different figures. They must be kept separate and distinct. In the matter of the Ransom, that is one picture in which the Lord shows us that Adam was condemned while the race was yet in his loins, and that the Lord Jesus Christ as a ransom takes the place of Adam and gives his life for Adam's sin, and thus purchases Adam and his race. This is a pretty picture--a true picture--and could not be supplanted by any other. If that were left out, we would not get the same teaching from God. But we do not want to mix it with any other. How one person buys another, how one person with his race in his loins is bought by another having a race in his loins. Jesus gave himself in exchange for Father Adam and his race. That Adam had a wife associated with him in the transgression, and Christ Jesus a bride to be associated in the work of redemption, is not considered. It is all confined to the one thought that by one man sin entered the world, and so, by another, Jesus Christ, a ransom has been paid for the race redeemed.
Z.'07-47, Col. 1, third line from foot: "Reading the article in question more carefully, you will perceive that it is not discussing the Redemption, but the sin-offering, which is a different view of the great transaction."
I presume the question is, How do these two harmonize? Evidently it would have been better if we had not introduced the matter of the Ransom in the [PT329] first quotation. It would have left it clearer. We were not discussing the Ransom at the time, but the Sin-offering. It tends to confuse. To some minds it might not. The attempt to make the subject too broad and take in two thoughts has been confusing to whoever took this up.
(Answer.) So far as the Ransom is concerned, the Church is never said to share in the Ransom. The Ransom is the price and our Lord Jesus is declared to be a ransom for Father Adam. As for Mother Eve, she did not need a ransom--she was considered as a part of Adam--she came from him, was his wife and was included with him. So with the Church; our part is not shown in the Ransom, for we would correspond to Eve, and she was not shown in the Ransom; nor are we.
(Answer.) She does share in the anti-typical Atonement Day offering. She shares actually in the most positive sense. The Apostle Paul says (Col. 1:24), "seeking to fill up the measure of the sufferings of Christ," and he says, "You have us for an example," so as he was filling up, all those who take up their cross and follow Jesus are sharing with him. Are we actually sacrificing anything? There are different minds. A thought will strike different people differently. If we read "I am crucified with Christ," some might think they would have to be nailed to the cross. It is not their fault that they cannot grasp the thought, but there are some that cannot grasp it. We are crucified with Christ; we are partakers with him in his sufferings. That is a fact. It is not imagination. Some one says, "I never [PT330] suffered anything." I am sorry for you. If we have suffered with him, we shall reign with him. (2 Tim. 2:12.) If we be crucified with him, then we may have joint heirship with him in his glory. If any one cannot say that, do not feel discouraged, but do not war with those who can do it. Try to say it. If you cannot, then you lack the spiritual vision. Pray to the Lord that you may say this.
I think of a dear brother who died recently who lived near Providence, Rhode Island. When our Brother Streeter came into the truth he was publishing a little paper and he discontinued it and introduced all his subscribers to the Watch Tower and started in to preach. He was very much interested in an old retired Adventist minister living near him. He said, "I tried to make the Truth plain to him and could make no impression. Finally I concluded it was no use, and so I said to him: 'I know that you are a good man and one of the Lord's children, and I have tried to make this matter plain and clear to you, but I see that you are too old to grasp the subject, and I have concluded that the Lord will not require it of you. So I am not going to bore you with this any more. When we meet, we will talk about the Lord and his goodness, and have prayer together, and not talk about these things that are objectionable to you.' The next day the word came, 'Come down to see me.' I went down, and the old man said, 'Brother Streeter, after you went out I got to thinking and praying and I said to the Lord, "Lord am I too old to learn anything? If I am not, help me. I want to know the truth." Before I got off my knees the whole thing became clear to me.'"
I do not say that is the way with everyone, but that it is the proper course if there is something we do not see. The Apostle James says, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not." (James 1:5.) We shall know [PT331] the things that belong to our day. My answer is, we are most assuredly members of this Sin-offering.
"Thus is shown that the Redeemer and Restorer is spiritual, having given up the human a Ransom for all, and that from this highly exalted spiritual class all blessings must proceed." (A293, Par. 2) What does that mean? We are not discussing the sacrifices of the atonement day in this quotation. We are discussing another matter that has no bearing. What do we mean by this? I answer, we refer there not only to Jesus, who gave up his human nature, but also to the Church. Each member of it, as he becomes a part of the body of Christ, must give up his right to share in the redeemed human nature. What is true of the head is true of the body. The only difference between Christ and the Church is that Christ was perfect actually and gave himself actually, the pre-human and human nature, on behalf of the world; but you and I have no such nature; we have not anything that would be suitable for sacrifice. But as we are justified by faith, God counts us as though we were perfect in order to accept our sacrifices as perfect. He first justifies us and after that if we will take the proper steps we may be sanctified. The day of atonement is the time of the acceptance of this sacrifice. "Now is the acceptable time." How acceptable? We used to think it meant, "if you want to escape Hell, God will now accept you to Heaven." But we now see that this scripture means "now is the acceptable time" in the sense that God is now willing to accept your sacrifices. For you have heard the message that his death atones for your sins, and you being justified by that death, present your body a living sacrifice; this is the acceptable time. Will he accept the sacrifice the next day? No. All the sacrificing will be over. It only belongs to this Gospel age. It began with Jesus, the great Head of our [PT332] priesthood. It ends with this Gospel age, and there will be no more opportunity of being accepted. The day of sin-offering will be at an end, and nobody will be accepted after that. The Elect will be complete then. There will be no adding to or taking from. No one can get into that class except as a sacrifice, for the Apostle Paul says priests are ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices. So if you are a priest you are to offer gifts and sacrifices. What is the difference? A gift might be something that would be offered, and yet not anything necessary for you to do, as a sort of incense. That is not a sacrifice, that is a gift; as priests not only offered animals, but also incense that went up as a perfume. All priests are ordained to offer both gifts, and also sacrifices for sins.
Z.'07-47, Col. 1, Paragraph 3: "You never read in any of our articles or books, or sermons, the statement that the Church redeems anything or anybody. Quite to the contrary; we have often been accused of making a hobby of the ransom doctrine--that our Lord Jesus 'tasted death for every man,' 'gave Himself a Ransom for All'."
You can take the Bible and read: "Judas went and hanged himself," and another place that says, "Go thou and do likewise." If you put these two together, what kind of sense do you have? It is equally possible to take things out of the Watch Tower and make them seem something not intended. In this case we are saying that Christ, the head, and the body make sacrifices. When did Jesus make his sacrifice? When he presented himself. When did he present himself? When he came to John at Jordan.
You say, I thought his sacrifice was made on Calvary. It was finished there; it was made at Jordan and it is of that experience that the Apostle [PT333] says--speaking of Jesus there--"Lo I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do Thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:7.) He came to that when he was thirty years of age.
You say, was his death reckonedly finished there? Yes, in a sense. It was the beginning of the New Creature from that time. The old creature finally lost life on the cross, and the new creature was glorified three days later. So with all others; the time when you made your sacrifice was when you presented your body a living sacrifice, and you are henceforth living in newness of life, being refreshed and growing strong in the Lord; the new creature growing, and the old creature dying, until finally death will be complete.
(Question.) Is it correct to apply the Apostle's words (quoted below) to the Church's sacrifice, as proving that the sin-offering for the world is not yet complete, since they have not yet received remission or release from the penalty of sin; and to say that the blood (life) of the last member of Christ's body must be shed before the world can receive remission?
Heb. 9:22: Apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission.
Heb. 10:18: Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
(Answer.) Yes, I would say it would be proper to apply both of these scriptures to the work of this Gospel Age, which began with our Lord's baptism, where he made his sacrifice which he finished at Calvary and which has since been continued by those of the Seed who walk in his steps. It is true of the whole Body of Christ that the shedding of blood is necessary. It is not possible for us to be of the Church unless we suffer with Him. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. The Apostle is [PT334] right. We are partakers of the sufferings of Christ, and these sufferings, Peter says, were spoken of by the prophets of olden times when they testified of the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (1 Pet. 1:11.) The sufferings occurred, but did the glory follow? No. What is there if we have not glory now? The Apostle says we have the whole world travailing and groaning; they are waiting for the glory of the manifestation of the sons of God. (Rom. 8:19,22.) The manifestation cannot be consummated until after the sons have been found. Dear friends, if any one does not wish to be a living sacrifice, he has the chance to step out. The Lord is not compelling anybody. He is merely giving us the opportunity. He is not going to force you. He will deal with others by and by. He is dealing now with those who want to have fellowship in his suffering that they may have fellowship in the glory of the kingdom.
(Answer.) I answer, the Anti-typical Day of Atonement is for the sins of the whole world. This atonement-day service performed for the twelve tribes was typical of what was to be done by the Son of God for all who desire to come into harmony with God. First of all, there was the elect, the priests of the tribe of Levi. The work the High Priest does and the others join in helping to do is the work of atonement, the High Priest accomplishing it and the other priests being counted as members of the body of Christ who is doing the work and is making the sacrifices for our sins. He appears in the presence of God on our behalf--not on the world's behalf, but on our behalf. Christ has been in the world for all these eighteen hundred years in the sense that he has been represented by you and by me and every consecrated one of those under [PT335] priests, and finally the sin-offering will be accomplished and he will apply the blood of this sacrifice as he applied the other sacrifice, only the merit of all is in his own blood. We have no merit except as he imputes it. The Apostle intimates there is no merit in the Church--that the whole merit is in Christ. Rom. 12:1: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." Paul says you are holy, acceptable. How did that come? "To us was imputed the righteousness of Christ." (Rom. 4:24.) His merit has been applied to us. Whatever merit or excellence our sacrifice has is in him, and through it we may possess the privilege of being associated with him by and by in the glories of his kingdom.
(Question.) The question was asked: What was specifically accomplished in the Anti-typical atonement, and the answer was, the completion of the sacrifice of Jesus and the Church, his body. What was the value of this sacrifice? What did it accomplish?
(Answer.) The Lord's object in having a whole Gospel Age instead of a few days was to have an Elect Church, instead of merely having our Lord as the one Elect; because if Jesus had been intended to be the Redeemer and the Church left out of the mission, there would have been no Gospel Age provided for at all. The Gospel Age is for us to make our calling and election sure. So if he had not had a Gospel Age, it would have meant he did not want an Elect Church; but if he did, as is the case, then he did want an Elect Church.
(Answer.) The Church is of importance, even if there was no work in the Millennial Age. The Son shall give immortality to whomsoever he will (John 5:21,26), so here is the Father, the Son and the Bride, all having this quality of glory and honor and immortality. I think that so far as the Church is concerned God wishes to show, not only to men but to angels that He is able to accomplish this thing through his Son, who came down to this world into the depths of degradation that we might be partakers of the Divine nature. God could have gotten along without the Church. He did not need the Church, but it gave him pleasure to accept the Church as joint heirs with Christ, and the Church has been seeing the exceeding richness of his grace in his loving kindness toward us. Not many great, wise, learned, hath he chosen, but chiefly the poor. (1 Cor. 1:26.) God not only wished Jesus to be the Savior of mankind, but the manifestation of his love. The Heavenly Father hath exalted the Son, and He will make us joint heirs with him in glory and immortality. The exaltation of the Church means a manifestation of the love of God.
(Answer.) The word Atonement takes in a large scope, and ultimately all of mankind will have the opportunity of coming into it. The sacrifice of Christ was applied first to the House of Faith, including the Body of Christ; not to every one. He hath ascended on high, and we have an Advocate with the Father, because he appears for us. (1 John 2:1; Heb. 9:24.) What do we mean by that? In the sense that if you had a suit, and the case came up in [PT337] court, and you should address the judge, he would not hear you; you would have to get an attorney. So we have an attorney, and that attorney is termed an "advocate." We have an advocate--an attorney--Jesus Christ the righteous. How can he be our attorney? Because the Father "hears him always." (John 11:42.) What is the basis on which he appears before the Court of Justice? His sacrifice to cover our sins. We are in harmony with the sacred word of God, which says you can only come through Christ. The Advocate says, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6.) What about the world? They cannot come, because there is only one Advocate, and they have not gotten him yet. As soon as they receive him they are believers. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord doth not impute sin." (Rom. 4:8.) The world cannot come. The Father hath no dealing with the world. Will he have dealing with them in the next age? No. The Advocate will take them himself as Mediator, to set up a reign of righteousness.
(Answer.) I do not think Jesus takes some literal blood into Heaven, and sprinkles it before the mercy-seat there, but the blood as was represented in his sacrificed life. Jesus appeared in the presence of God offering his sacrificed life, and said: "This is on behalf of those who believe in me." So he will again present not our blood, but his own blood, as he counts our blood as his blood. The blood becomes one and he says, "Accept this blood also, this sacrifice also; accept this on behalf of the sins of the whole world." It is all his merit.
(Answer.) We answer, no. The sprinkling of the blood has no signification of that kind. I will picture that before your minds: First of all the High Priest went out to the altar and there he slew the animal; then took some of the blood in his hand, and incense, and went beyond the first veil--into the Holy, and inside the Holy there was a candlestick, and there was a table of shew bread, and he sprinkled incense upon the fire and the smoke rose as a perfume, entering beyond the second veil, where was the Most Holy; then he took the vessel containing the blood and passed beyond the second veil. That passing was the death of Christ, and the rising on the other side was the resurrection. He went under the veil, but he rose again on the third day. After our Lord's resurrection he remained forty days, then ascended on high. He there tendered to the Father on behalf of the class he represented the blood shed by his death. For whom did he sprinkle that blood? For "himself and his house;" for his Body, the Elect, and for all the house of Faith. These were covered by the first sacrifice-- Leviticus 9. Then he took the other sacrifice--he took the blood of the goat and did with it just as he did with the blood of the bullock, only he did not offer it "for his house," but "for the people." Now the question is, did Jesus die two times, once for the Church and then for the rest of mankind? Once only. Where then, does this second sacrifice come in? The Lord indicated that the Church would be partakers with Christ; he is the great High Priest with us as members of his body. He has been offering the sacrifice. You are not doing it, you are not the priest. We offer ourselves to Him. He says, "I will count you a member of my body." We give ourselves to the Lord, and he accepts us as members, and the matter of how the [PT339] sacrifice shall take place is not especially one for us; but we shall ultimately be with Him. We give ourselves to Him, into his hands, and he accepts us as members of his body. So the
He did not sacrifice the bullock and then tell one of the under priests to sacrifice the goat. Nobody has any standing before God except the High Priest, and it is only in this way that we can be accepted--that our flesh can be counted as Christs', and we can be counted as New Creatures with him in glory.
There were two sacrifices, and yet both were offered by the one priest. From this all the light of the present day has come; if we suffer with him we shall reign with him; by dying with him we shall live with him. Is not that what the Apostle meant when he said, "I beseech you, therefore, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice," etc.? For a while it never really entered into my mind what it meant. The Church has the privilege of living in this day of suffering, and there is the distinction God is making between the Church and the rest of mankind--because we suffer with him, we shall reign with him. And he has given us his "precious promise that we may become partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4.) This promise assured to us the privilege of laying down our lives. You remember how the Apostle put that in his letter to the Philippians (Chap. 3:10):--"That I may know the power of his resurrection."
Paul knew the resurrection was to come to the just and the unjust, and he says, "If I might know the power of his resurrection." What are the conditions? Being "made conformable unto his death." If we do not go into his death, we will not go into his resurrection. How do we go into his death? What is the difference between Christ's death, and the death of any other man? Christ's death was a [PT340] sacrifice, and we are counted in with him as part of his sacrifice; so we become partakers with him in the sufferings of the present time and the glories to follow.
(Question.) What is the scriptural objection to understanding the Apostle's argument in Romans 6:1-11 to be that our "old man" as a sinner died in the person of his substitute, Jesus, on Calvary; and that therefore we should be raised with him (Jesus) to walk in a "new life" of holiness? Please give a brief exposition of these verses.
(Answer.) "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein." You will perceive the Apostle is not speaking to Jews, nor to Gentiles, nor to mere believers, but to those who are dead to sin, and have surrendered themselves to die with Christ. "Know ye not, that so many as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" We do know. We know to be baptized into Christ is not into ordinary death. But you are baptized into his death. Was that a death to sin? I think not. He "knew no sin." (1 Pet. 2:22.) He could not die a death to sin. We were baptized into his death. Therefore that means that our death was not a death to sin, as his death was not a death to sin. Of course our death includes a death to sin. When we give up our lives that we may share with Christ in his sacrificial death, it means we have enlisted to battle against sin--have sworn that we will lay down our lives in battle against sin. How shall we that are dead to sin, and whose lives are buried with Christ,--how could we consent to sin? We might have imperfections of the flesh, but to be in harmony with sin would be impossible to those who have given up their lives.
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism [PT341] into death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." That is to say, if we have given up ourselves to be like Him in death, we shall also be like Him, sharers, in His resurrection; the resurrection and death being linked together. Whoever goes into His death goes into His resurrection, and who does not, does not. Just as surely as Jesus' death was a sacrificial death, so must this be.
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." This old man is crucified. Just as Christ at his baptism had given up his earthly life, and the remaining years of his ministry were to be newness of life, as the old creature was dying; so the Apostle says we may reckon ourselves, our old nature, the old creature, as being crucified with him; it is a slow, lingering death, but we are living as new creatures and the old creature is dying. We are willing to be crucified with him, and suffer on account of sins with him, that we may be with him in his glory.
"For he that is dead is freed from sin." That is to say, when you are actually dead, you will be actually free. You will never know any more of the temptation of sin. He that is dead is set free from the power of sin. So the Apostle says, though we were once the servants of sin, after being set free we have become the servants of righteousness. In the eighth chapter of Romans he tells us--"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." God's Spirit will not come to dwell in you until after you have received the Holy [PT342] Spirit, but if you have made your consecration and received the Holy Spirit "The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." Our Adventist friends apply this to the future, and say that God will quicken their mortal body. We say if we have made our consecration, God has given us His Holy Spirit, and this Holy Spirit is already energizing this mortal body. You shall not be "carried away" as formerly, but having the Holy Spirit, you shall walk in newness of life. "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, but to the Spirit." In this chapter he is speaking of the new creature that is triumphing over the flesh. The new creature might not have perfect control over the flesh, but the Apostle says the Lord is judging these new creatures by their wills, and where the will is right, there can be no sympathy with sin. He has enlisted and laid down his life to battle against sin.
(Question.) Should the words of the Apostle in Hebrews 9:16,17, as follows be understood to teach that the word "testament" or "covenant," as used in the Scriptures always carries the significance of a "last will and testament?"
16: For where a testament is there must of necessity be the death of him that made it.
17: For a testament is of force where there hath been a death; it doth never avail while he that made it liveth.
(Answer.) I do not know why we should say the word "testament" always means a covenant. Every will is a covenant, but we could not say every covenant is a testament. I do not understand the purpose of this question. [PT343]
(Question.) The point is made that the definition of the Apostle in Hebrews makes a Scriptural definition of the word, so that we are to understand that in every case where that word is found the Apostle has furnished a definition of it. The contention is that the Apostle's definition makes it always carry that significance in the Scriptures.
(Answer.) We read in Genesis that God made a covenant with Abraham. If that could not be carried out until the death of the one who executed it, God would have to die--and God is not going to die very soon. So you see "testament" is not to be used as the only definition of covenant. It would not be appropriate at all there. It would mean that to carry out that testament he would have to die.
(Answer.) The Abrahamic Covenant became operative in Christ. It was to the effect that there was to be a "Seed of Abraham." Nothing could be done until the Seed should come. That Seed was Christ. The Apostle says, you remember, in Galatians, that the Abrahamic Covenant is typified by Sarah, who had no children; she represented that covenant and was barren for some time. Hagar represented Sarah, but was not Sarah. This law covenant had a seed; Hagar had a child, Ishmael, who corresponds to the Jewish nation, and as Hagar was a bond woman, so this was a bond covenant, and as Hagar was a bond woman her son was a bond servant. So all Israel are under bondage of the law. The Apostle says by and by the time came when Sarah had a son, and when she did, Ishmael was jealous and so this corresponds to natural Israel now fighting against the true Israel of God, which is Christ and all that accept of Him. The Apostle is saying that the Abrahamic Covenant began to have [PT344] its fulfillment in Christ, and he says not only Jesus "but you brethren are the children of the promise." He makes it still more clear in Galatians 3:29: "If you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed"; not Ishmael's, but you belong to the real seed, which is Christ. If you belong to Christ you belong to all that is typified in Isaac and Rebecca. The Lord gave Rebecca also to be a type of the Church and as Rebecca became joint-heir with Isaac, so the Church becomes joint-heir with Christ.
(Answer.) Under the Abrahamic covenant. There is no New Covenant yet. There were three wives of Abraham: Sarah, barren for a time; Hagar, who bore Ishmael; and also Keturah, the third wife, by whom he had many sons and daughters. These three wives represented the three covenants. All of Abraham's seed came from these three; so we do not have two mothers, two covenants, but one. This matter was not always as clear to our minds as it is now. We started in with our minds very much befogged, but gradually we got to see what the Scriptures meant and they became clear to our mental vision. But it took time. In one place the Apostle says: "He hath made a former"--and I did not think at the time he was telling the Jews that their covenant was doomed to pass away; I thought he was speaking to us. The Jew said, "Moses gave us that covenant; God gave us that covenant. We are the greatest people in the world, and our covenant will never pass away." They could not imagine such a thing. The Apostle was trying to prove to them that it would. He says, "Hagar was your mother. You are not Israel's sons." They thought they had Abraham, but Paul says not. They did not see it because they could not see it. But this we can see [PT345] was what the apostle meant. He was telling that those Jews never were the real "Seed of Abraham"; that it was intended their law covenant should pass away, and to prove it he said (Heb. 8:7-13): "Don't you remember it reads, 'I will make a new covenant after those days?' Don't you see if he meant he would make a new covenant, the old one would be useless?" He tried to get the Jews to see their covenant would not last forever and be the only covenant. We see their covenant did pass away and they, as children of the flesh, are not children of the Spirit. We see that Jesus is going to fulfill that promise. (Jer. 31:31-34): "It shall come to pass that after those days I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel," and bless them. With my eyes not clearly open at the time I confused that New Covenant with the Abrahamic Covenant because the Apostle said that the old should pass away and the Sarah covenant come in. But when we examine everything, it becomes clear. Z.'98-197, Article entitled, "Mercy Rejoiceth Against Judgment": "The death of Christ sealed or ratified or made complete and binding this New Covenant between God and man....We see then that since Calvary, since the sealing of the New Covenant with the blood of the Mediator, since that New Covenant was thus ratified or made effective, the triumph of love and mercy over justice and the sentence of death originally inflicted has been a fact....The object of the present call of the Church....to share in the benefits and privileges of the New Covenant," etc.
I answer this: We were thinking all the time of the original covenant God had made and which became effective to us in the death of our Lord. This death not only brought us into relationship with the Abrahamic Covenant; it is also the basis of what is to be done for the world in the next age. So the New Covenant was related to the Lord's death. The New [PT346] Covenant had as a basis the fulfillment of the death of Christ. Jesus said at his Last Supper, giving the cup, "This is the cup of the new testament--the New Covenant--in my blood shed for many (for all) for the remission of sins"; in other words the cup of his death was to be efficacious not only for the Church, but for all of humankind: "This is the cup of my blood, shed for the remission of sins; drink ye of it." This is the cup which brings justification to the whole world; the cup of suffering and death which seals the New Covenant, and I invite you to join with me in the sealing of that New Covenant. So when the disciples said (Matt. 20:22-23): "Grant that we may sit one at thy right hand and one at thy left," he said, "Are you able to drink of the cup I shall drink of?" No one can be with him on his throne except that he drink of this cup and share in his blood. So the hope of being with him in his throne is in sharing his cup as well as being baptized into his death. If we are partakers with him, we are members of his body. If not, we are not. Somebody else will get in, for the body must be full. No one could serve as High Priest unless he had all his fingers and toes. Why? Because those parts were necessary to represent full completion, a specific principle--that part could not be added or diminished. There will be neither one more nor one less than the elect number. If you fail to get in, somebody else will, for that number must be full. No one can be of the Bride of Christ except he shall drink of his cup. "Drink ye of this cup."
Quoting further from the Watch Tower above mentioned: "Our call and acceptance are based on the New Covenant, etc. We have seen that all those acceptable to God in Christ were obliged to come unto him under the New Covenant."
I answer just the same thing. We have nothing to do with that New Covenant. It means what it says. "It shall come to pass after those days I will make a new covenant." You see the difference between after those days and during those days. "Those days" are the Gospel Age. During those days the Lord does something for Spiritual Israel, taking out the Body--the Bride.(Joel 2:28,29): "It shall come to pass after those days I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." But "in those days," said the Lord, "I will pour out my Spirit upon my servants and my handmaidens." Nobody else in those days. "It shall come to pass after these days I will make a new covenant." In other words, not until after this Gospel Age can the New Covenant be sealed. Our Lord gave his life for the sealing, but left something for you. He said, "Drink ye of it," for this is the basis on which this New Covenant is sealed.
Z.'07-9, Col. 1, Paragraph 2: "Entirely separate and distinct from both of the foregoing covenants is the Lord's promise of a New Covenant." In this article we were discussing it from our present greater enlightenment. If you will look back, you will find you have done a great many silly things, and that is one of the silly things I did. Because I have got my "thinker" to work, and see that what I thought was the New Covenant is not the new one, somebody takes me to task. (Foot of same col.) "The New Covenant belongs exclusively to the coming age, as the Abrahamic Covenant belongs [PT348] exclusively to the Gospel Age, and as the Law Covenant applied exclusively to the Jewish Age." Page 10, 1st Col., 2nd line: "The New Covenant is not yet in existence." Quite correct. The New Covenant is to be made "after those days," and awaits its ratification until after the last member of the Body of Christ shall have tasted death, because no testament can be in effect while the testator lives. The whole Church has been accepted as the Body, but not until the last member has gone will the blessings of the New Covenant come to the world.
(Answer.) That is not the way they are constituted. They are constituted by being united to Christ as the Bride, as was illustrated in the case of Rebecca when she was married to Isaac and became joint-heir with Isaac; so the Church becomes joint-heir with Christ.
(Continuing Question)--will not all those who during the Millennial Age come under the provisions of the New Covenant and are blessed by it also thus become members of "the Seed," and thus the promise to Abraham be fulfilled to them, i.e.: "(Being) In thee and (being) in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed?"
(Answer.) No. There were two seeds. Romans 4:16--"...to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." [PT349]
The Apostle's thought seems here to be that while there is only one in number, yet there are many of us in another sense--in the sense that all nations are yet to become the children of Abraham; as all the nations will come into harmony with God, they will become of God's seed, so that all may ultimately be the children of God. Abraham was the father of Ishmael, and the father of Keturah's children, and yet only one was called "the Seed," the Seed which the promise specified. In that sense Christ and the Church is the only Seed, but in a general sense, that all mankind may receive the blessings, they may become the seed of Abraham, but not The Seed. There is a particular seed, the Seed of promise, and the general seed.
(Answer.) I will tell you, sister. Here a little, and there a little. The Lord, we are told, has hidden his plan so that none of the wise shall understand; he "hath hidden these things from the wise and revealed them unto babes." And it is in proportion as we become humble, teachable children, that we can learn them. It was intended in God's plan that there should be a special light upon the ends of the ages, and it is this special light God is giving that we understand to be our blessing. The Lord has been blessing and making these things known in a natural way. The Lord said (Rev. 10:7): "It shall come to pass in the days of the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet that the mystery of God shall be finished." The trumpet began to sound in 1878, and one of the first things to be accomplished is that the mystery is to be finished. The Apostle says he had far more knowledge of the mystery than any one else. He says God had given to him more knowledge than to any one else. We understand it is our privilege to see some of these things with the same [PT350] clearness the Apostle Paul saw them. He says he was not permitted to tell these things. It is now privileged to be told. Why did God tell Paul anything? Because he was one of the Apostles, and it is necessary that all knowledge shall come through the Word of God so that God will not need to give special revelations today. And he kept the things secret until the due time, and when the due time had come the things were made clear.
(Answer.) From the Old Testament and the New Testament both. Paul says "we have an anchor of the soul." What is this anchor of the soul? This promise that God made to Abraham and Isaac; and everything Paul said in the New Testament is proved by the Old Testament. We would not be wise to leave out the Old Testament.
(Answer.) I see what you mean. Do we call this book the New Testament? God never called this book the New Testament. He was not meaning this book. It has nothing to do with the "New Testament." That is not the sense in which the "New Testament" is used.
(Answer.) Yes, but I do not think any of the apostles called this the New Testament. It is a name that has been given by man. We call this the New Testament, but it is not called so in the Scriptures.
(Answer.) Yes, but he was not talking about this book. [PT351]
(Answer.) About the work of Christ. We are talking about the New Testament. God says it shall come to pass that after those days there shall be a New Testament, a New Covenant. Jehovah was talking about this New Testament, this New Covenant. Paul was a servant of it and was talking about it, and you may be a servant of it and talk about it. I am talking about the New Covenant. I am saying it is your privilege and mine to be sharers in the sealing of that New Covenant which is to be a blessing to the world. So Paul was an able minister of that New Covenant.
(Answer.) It is God's covenant in Christ. God has purposed that through this Seed all the earth shall be blessed. I do not say how. I leave the matter in Christ's hands. He is the life-giver of the world, and therefore the father, the prophet, the great priest and king, and shall work all through the Millennial age because all power has been given into his hands. Not that which is his own power individually, but power delegated to him by the Father, and the Father gives him the power to do this; and so the people of the world in the Millennial age will have to do with Jesus and the Church in the same way the Jews had to do with Moses. But they had all to do with Moses, and Moses with God. As you remember on several occasions, God said to Moses, "Let me alone that I may destroy this people." God put it in this way to show us how [PT352] completely Moses was the mediator, and that what Moses did God was doing. So in the Millennial age, what the glorified Christ shall say will be just the same as if the Father had said it. And just as in the Bible, Abraham's children had to do with Isaac, so here God has provided a blessing in Christ, and whoever gets any blessing gets it under Christ. It is all in Christ. The whole work looks to this Christ, and during the "day of Christ" he shall bring all things into subjection.
Paul brings out the thought that a testament is of no force until the testator is dead. I believe he meant to say the New Covenant will not be in force except under certain conditions; because God was the testator. He had in view certain conditions, which must be fulfilled.
We sometimes read that God declares "I am thy redeemer, and beside me there is no saviour," and then again we read that God sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world, and again we read that Christ gave himself, and again we read that God gave his Son. These are different accounts, and we are obliged to harmonize them. So in this case it is said he became a testator. I think it is really God who is behind the whole matter, but since Christ was not forced to it, it may be said to be his testament. So you may be said to join in this testament. Sacrifice is a different thing from execution. Execution would be by force, but sacrifice brings in the thought of voluntariness. So we are doing the Father's will, and so when Christ was making this testament he was carrying out his Father's will, and in harmony with the Father's original covenant. It was his gift of life to the world, and the sealing of that arrangement by which God is willing to receive men. [PT353]
In a napkin smooth and white,[PT354] [PT355]
Hidden from all mortal sight,
My one talent lies tonight.
Mine to hoard, or mine to use,
Mine to keep, or mine to lose;
May I not do what I choose?
Ah! the gift was only lent,
With the Giver's known intent
That it should be wisely spent.
And I know He will demand
Every farthing at my hand,
When I in His presence stand.
What will be my grief and shame
When I hear my humble name,
And cannot repay His claim!
Some will double what they hold;
Others add to it tenfold,
And pay back in shining gold.
Lord, O teach me what to do!
I would faithful be and true;
Still the sacred trust renew.
Help me, ere too late it be,
Something now to do for Thee;
Thou who hast done all for me!
In Revelation 11:15, we have a prophecy respecting the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, and realizing that we are living in the days of the voice of the Seventh Angel, we must be especially interested in all the details as to what would occur during the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.
In describing the events, the Apostle in the 19th verse first makes this statement: "And the temple of God was opened in heaven and there was seen in his temple the Ark and the Testament." (This word testament in the original Greek is the same as the word covenant.)
We are here informed that after the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet some specially clear and open views would be granted of God's glorious temple, and in connection with this there would also be some illumination upon that. This was illustrated and typified in the "Ark of the Covenant." We know that during the last year we have surely had glimpses of the covenants that we never had before, and it seems that this passage is having its fulfillment today.
Now let us notice what follows: "And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." Notice the order of these statements--first "lightnings." When these thoughts upon the covenants first began to be seen and given to us, it was in the nature of individual flashes of light. Probably one issue of the "Watch Tower" would have one flash, and the next issue would have another flash. We recognize that just as lightning naturally has three effects, so these flashes of light upon the subject of the covenants have been productive of three results:
Then there is the third class, who seems not to be specially embittered, but frightened, and fearful that something awfully wrong will come out of this discussion. [PT357]
Following the lightnings there were to be "voices." We know that following these flashes of light there were discussions by the brethren as they would meet and inquire of one another what they thought of this passage and that passage in connection with the covenants.
And last, there was a "great hail." Just as rain is a symbol of truth, so hail conveys the thought of hard, condensed truth, and the thought seems to be that this special light upon the covenants, and the various experiences therewith, were really to be a preparation for a specially great outpouring of truth. Because of this and of some other similar passages, I have been led to believe that the ultimate outcome of the consideration of this covenant question is going to be a remarkable bringing forth of certain truths in connection with the great plan of salvation, with a clearness that we have never seen before.
Before coming to the consideration of the subject direct, I would like to say a few words in relation to my own experience in connection with the matter. Whenever any thought has been promulgated by Brother Russell, either in writing or orally, I have always held my judgment in suspense until I have been thoroughly satisfied that the Scriptures corroborate the view he has presented; and so when these thoughts upon the subject of the covenants were presented by him I could see certain Scriptures which seemingly were corroborative of his view, but there were other passages which seemed to conflict with his view. Instead of hastily concluding that Brother Russell was wrong, as many seem to have done, I determined to wait until the Lord had made this matter clear and plain. I took a composition book and headed two pages: "The Covenants." At the top of one page I put the statement: "Scriptures and lines of thought which seem to corroborate the view of Brother Russell." And on the other page I wrote: "Scriptures and lines of thought which seem to contradict the view of Brother Russell." I then searched for every passage in the Bible which directly or indirectly seemed to relate to the subject of the covenant, especially the New Covenant. When I found a passage which seemed in perfect agreement with the view of Brother Russell, I put it on the affirmative side, and when I found a passage which seemed to conflict, I put it on the negative side. I made no attempt to twist any [PT358] passage nor to force it to conform to the idea which he presented. I then thought of all the points or arguments which would have a bearing upon the subject, and I put them on their respective sides. When I had finished I had a very large number of Scriptures and quite an array of arguments and lines of thought. The majority of them seemed to be confirmatory of Brother Russell's position, but there were quite a number which seemed to conflict with his position. I then took the matter to the Lord in prayer, I left it entirely with Him, and asked that this matter might be thoroughly settled, and determined to hold my opinion to myself until I had given the subject such a thorough investigation that every Scripture and agreement would be removed from one side to the other, and when I had everything in the same column, I would be satisfied as to which view was right, and which was wrong.
It required quite a number of weeks before the subject was thoroughly settled to my satisfaction. There were some passages in the book of Hebrews which seemed almost impossible of understanding as Brother Russell had presented the matter, and I made no attempt to twist those passages, nor to distort them, or to try to work out of them a significance which the Lord did not intend us to get from them. But, in due time, I was just as thoroughly satisfied upon the subject of the New Covenant as upon any other subject contained in the Word of God. I now see in those passages a depth of meaning and a harmony with the other statements of the Word of God of which I had once never dreamed, and I now look back and wonder how it was that I read those passages over and over and over and failed to see the real depth--the views which I expect to present in the course of this talk.
Suppose we begin this discourse by noticing the occasion when the Lord made his wonderful covenant with Abraham. We must keep in mind that this was not the first covenant that God ever made, for we recall the special covenant God made with Noah, saying that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood of water, but it is this covenant with Abraham around which all other covenants revolve. It is recorded in Genesis 22:15-18:
"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice." [PT359]
When we call this a covenant, we are not using liberty, because the Bible itself speaks of it in various places as a covenant. In Luke 1:72,73, we read: "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He swore to our father Abraham." Here it is stated that this oath which God Swore to Abraham was His holy covenant.
Again Acts 3:25: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." However, there was something very peculiar about this covenant. A covenant is not merely a promise; it includes certain promises, but it implies an agreement. The Hebrew word rendered covenant unmistakably has this meaning. The Greek work translated covenant is sometimes used rather in the significance of a promise, but it also has other secondary meanings, and it is often used as the equivalent of the Hebrew word conveying the thought of an agreement. Yet to a great majority of Christian people God's statement to Abraham has never been considered as a covenant, but merely as a promise. But just as truly as God would never call something death that was not death, so He would never call something a covenant that was not a covenant. The agreement entered into between God and Abraham was a very peculiar agreement. It was a covenant because it was an agreement which involved God and it was also to involve others, but God made it in the nature of an unconditional covenant. He told what he would do according to that covenant, and then left it to the liberty of all those who might come to an understanding of His promise to decide as to what they would do in view of what He had promised to do. If we are pleased to make an entire surrender of ourselves to Him, to live for Him, to glorify Him in thought, word and deed, we thereby become participants in this covenant, and it was in harmony with this that the Psalmist stated in Psalm 50:5: "Gather together My saints unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." It is different in this respect from the covenant made through Moses with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, which was a covenant of bondage, a covenant which did not leave it to the people as to what they would or would not do, but it stated, Thou shalt not do that, etc.
Because the statements of God to Abraham were spoken of as a promise should not blind us to the fact that they were also in the nature of a covenant. A covenant would be impossible without a promise being included in it. Therefore, we sometimes find it called a promise and sometimes a covenant--it was both.
We might digress here for a moment to notice an argument which has been used by those opposed to our [PT360] understanding of the covenants. They say that there is no Scripture where it says that God made the covenant with anybody, but that the thought is always that God made that covenant to a certain one. But I would say that such have not thoroughly familiarized themselves with the Hebrew idiom in connection with the making of covenants. In the Hebrew language, the expression which most always is made use of is that of making a covenant to a person, even though it is frequently translated as making a covenant with a certain person. As an illustration of this, notice Joshua 9:7,11,15: "Make a league with you," while the original Hebrew states it, "Make to us a covenant." The Hebrew expression is equally as proper and accurate as our English, because a covenant binds one to another. Many illustrations of this can easily be found throughout the Old Testament.
We thus see two peculiar covenants brought to our attention in the Old Testament times--the covenant with Abraham, and the covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, often styled the Law Covenant. These two are referred to by Paul in Ephesians 2:12, where he tells the Gentile converts that previously they had been strangers from the covenants of promise. He put the word covenants here in the plural. What two or more covenants is he speaking of? The Abrahamic and the Law Covenants. Were both of these covenants "covenants of promise"? Most assuredly, though the Law Covenant contained promises which no one of all the imperfect race of Israel was able to keep because of their weaknesses and inability to conform their lives to a perfect law. However, Jesus because of His faithfulness became heir to all the promises of the Law Covenant, but the Gentile converts had formerly been strangers to these things. And with equal truthfulness, they had been also strangers to that other covenant containing the promise which would ultimately result in the blessing of all.
These two covenants are beautifully portrayed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:21,31: "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham has two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman." We all recognize these two sons as Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael the son of Hagar, who was really a slave, and Isaac the son of Sarah, the true wife of Abraham. "But he who was of the bondswoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise." In other words, Ishmael was born without any necessity for divine intervention: it was a matter of the flesh altogether, but it was different in the case of Isaac. In the accomplishment of his birth God's special over-ruling providence was required to [PT361] work a miracle. "Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants." We know that the larger part of the Old Testament had a typical and allegorical significance; the things recorded actually happened, but they were not recorded because there was any real worth in them from an historical, sociological or ethnological standpoint, but because there was a hidden meaning underneath them, which the Lord realized would be for our edification. Now, if Paul had never told us that the history of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Ishmael and Hagar was an allegory, we might have known it anyway, but we feel ourselves on so much safer ground when we have the inspired statement as to what this allegory represented. We might have thought that Sarah was a type of the Church and Hagar of the Jewish nation, or vice versa, or we might have supposed some other strange idea from our own imaginations. But here we have Paul's positive assertion that those two women were typical of two covenants. Now we might inquire as to which covenant Sarah and Hagar would typify, and we look to see if there is any special work peculiar to those two women, which corresponds to these two covenants, and immediately recognize that there is. We remember one of the emphatic things recorded of Hagar is her bondage, and how appropriately this reminds us of the bondage of the Sinaitic or Law Covenant. Sarah therefore represents the other or covenant of grace and special promise, and the Apostle goes on to say: "For these are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage which is Agar." We notice that this word "Agar" is spelled differently than in the Old Testament, not having the initial letter "H", but we might say by way of explanation that there is really no letter in the Greek which corresponds with the letter H in the Hebrew, so that Agar in the New Testament really refers to the same woman who is called Hagar in the Old Testament. "For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in the bondage with her children." The Apostle thus very clearly shows us the correspondences between Hagar and Law Covenant, and between Hagar's child and the children of the Law Covenant. "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother to us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. But as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondswoman and her son: for the son of the bondswoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free." [PT362]
Having obtained from Paul the key to this type, let us now consider it in the light of what he has said and see the beauty of the allegory. In other lines of study, we have seen that Abraham is a type of God; for instance, when he offered up his son Isaac, he was there clearly marked as the type of God offering up his Son. Again in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, he is a type of God. In that parable we note that the rich man saw him afar off, which illustrates how the Jews have seen God afar off, since temporarily cast off, not nigh as they once were. We understand from Paul's declaration that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was a type of the covenant of grace. The fact that Sarah was Abraham's wife emphasizes the preciousness of that covenant which God made. Just think of what it means for God to speak of that covenant as his wife, to be called the husband of that covenant. We also have Scriptural foundation for this statement in Isaiah 54:5: "For thy maker." The Maker of that Abrahamic covenant was God Jehovah. "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name." This gives us some faint conception of how dear to the heart of the Father in heaven that wonderful covenant must have been. The very name Sarah is significant; it means "princess." The covenant of grace is well called the Sarah covenant; because it is the Princess Covenant, which is going to give birth to the royal seed.
However, after Abraham's marriage to Sarah, years passed and there was no seed as the result of that union, and we remember that this same thing was true of the covenant of which Sarah was a type. After God had married that covenant away back in the days of Abraham, that covenant was unproductive, so far as producing the seed through which the promises were to be fulfilled. And, in addition to this, it almost looked as though Abraham did not care for his wife Sarah. You remember that on two occasions it looked almost as though Abraham had actually denied his wife and that he did not love her. We recall the experiences with Pharaoh and Abimelech, when he taught Sarah to say that she was his sister. (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-13.) It looked as though Abraham was not truthful, but he explained afterwards that she was his half-sister, yet she was more. How well that illustrates God's relationship to that covenant which He made. It seemed that God did not care any more for that covenant than Abraham did for Sarah. God likewise made statements which seemed contrary to the covenant which He made, and it looked as though He had very little love for His covenant.
At length it seemed unlikely that there would be any result from the union of Abraham and Sarah, so Hagar [PT363] was added to the family of Abraham. (Gen. 16:1-3.) She did not actually become Abraham's wife--she did not take Sarah's place, but Abraham treated her as though she were his wife, and as though she had taken Sarah's place.
The same thing is true of the Law Covenant, of which Hagar was a type. In due time the Law Covenant, if we may be permitted to use the expression, was added to the family of God, and so Paul puts it, "The Law (Covenant) was added because of transgression until the seed should come." (Gal. 3:19.) God treated that Law Covenant as though it was His wife, and as though it had taken the place of the original covenant, but that was not really the case.
Almost immediately the result of Hagar's relationship with Abraham was Ishmael, and so we remember that very quick results came from the addition of the Law Covenant--the development of those of whom Ishmael was a type. We remember that even after the birth of Ishmael, God kept reiterating the promise which He had made respecting Sarah, although each year it looked more unlikely that that promise would have a fulfillment. So likewise, after the Law Covenant had been inaugurated, and after the development of the children of the Law Covenant, God kept reiterating through the prophets the fact that the Sarah Covenant would produce the promised seed, in due time. But as it seemed unreasonable with Sarah, it likewise seemed unreasonable that the Sarah Covenant would ever have the seed that was promised. It almost looked in Abraham's case as though the only child he would ever have would be the children that might be developed under that Law Covenant. At length, however, Sarah conceived, and Isaac was born. At length, also, the time for the development of the children of the Sarah Covenant, the Isaac Class, arrived. We are to keep in mind that Ishmael was not a type of one individual, but of a whole class; and so likewise, Isaac was not a type of one person, but of a whole class. Thus we read in Paul's statement in Gal. 4:28: "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." Isaac thus typified not merely the Lord Jesus Christ but His faithful followers, His brethren, as well. The Lord Jesus Christ was the Head of that Isaac Class, and His faithful followers will constitute the Body of the Isaac Class. In some of the types of the Old Testament (for instance, when Abraham offered up Isaac) Isaac represented only the Lord Jesus; but there are other types in the Old Testament in which Isaac typified not only the Lord Jesus, but the Church also. We remember he was given the name Isaac, because Sarah said: "Now all the world will laugh with me." The word "Isaac" means "laughter." (Gen. 21:6.) How appropriate, because Isaac represents a class that will make the whole world to laugh, the one that is to displace [PT364] sorrow with joy, grief with pleasure. We also remember that Ishmael took rather unkindly to Isaac, and as Paul also reminds us in Galatians, he persecuted and mocked Isaac (Gen. 21:9): similarly we remember that the Ishmael Class, the Jews, persecuted and mocked the Isaac class, the Lord Jesus and His faithful followers. The result of Ishmael mocking Isaac was that Abraham cast off Hagar and her child (Gen. 21:10,14): and, as a result of the Jews rejecting the Isaac Class, our Lord, the Apostles and the faithful ones, God cast off the Law Covenant and its children, the class of which Ishmael was a type. It is by keeping this thought in mind that we find a depth of meaning in many of the Old Testament passages which otherwise would have but little intelligent significance.
Notice Isaiah 50:1, "Thus saith the Lord, where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away, or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away." What mother is here referred to? It is evident that the Lord's remarks are aimed at the Jewish nation, but who was the mother of the Jewish nation? This very question and our inability to see the correct answer has confused a great many. The Law Covenant was the mother, and the Lord divorced the Law Covenant over eighteen hundred years ago, just as Abraham did with Hagar. The Law Covenant was cast off because of the transgressions of its offspring. We remember how, after being cast off, Hagar and Ishmael had a very hard time, and we remember that the Jewish people have had a very hard time ever since they were cast off. We also recall that Hagar did not die the moment she was cast off by Abraham, neither did the Law Covenant die eighteen hundred years ago when God put that Covenant aside. Hagar lived for some time to afford the best comfort she could to her son Ishmael, and so the Law Covenant is still in existence, trying to comfort, trying to give some measure of help to its children, the Jews. But we also remember that the Scriptures show that at last Hagar was led to recognize and point Ishmael to the well of water. Here notice Genesis 21:19, and the context. This was expressly stated to be in the Wilderness of Beer-Sheba, a word which means, "The well of the oath." (See verse 31.) We see in all of this an intimation of how, in due time, the Law Covenant is going to point the Jews to the truth and blessings that will come through the wonderful oath-bound covenant made away back there with Abraham in the days of old.
Notice another passage in Micah 5:1-4. The first and second verses have to do with the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they speak of His birth at Bethlehem, and tell how, instead of the Ishmael class accepting the [PT365] Lord Jesus willingly, they would "Smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek." Then follows the third verse, "Therefore," that is, in view of the fact that those Jews were willing to smite and persecute our Lord, just like Ishmael persecuted Isaac, "Therefore will he give them up until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord." Here we are told that the children of the Law Covenant were to be given up, to be cast off until the time that the Sarah Covenant, the covenant which during this period of the Gospel age would be travailing and would bring forth the whole Isaac class, and when this had been accomplished, the Lord's favour was going to return to the Ishmael class, and they were to get the blessings which the Lord foretold to them, under the New Covenant.
We thus get the thought that the Covenant under which Christ and The Church were to be developed was not a New Covenant which would supersede the old Law Covenant, but in reality it is a much older covenant than that one made at Mount Sinai--it was made away back in the days of Abraham. However, it remained barren for twenty-two hundred years, and eighteen hundred years ago that Covenant was redeemed from its barren condition. It would not be right to say that when Isaac was begotten, Sarah had become Abraham's new wife. She was his true wife much longer, as respects her relationship to Abraham, than Hagar. The only difference was that there had not been any visible result from Sarah's relationship to Abraham up to that time. The same is true of the covenant under which we are developed. It is not a new covenant any more than Sarah was a new wife, and if it is proper to designate the Covenant under which we are developed as an Older Covenant still.
Notice the statement in Isaiah in this connection. The apostle in Gal. 4:27 expressly applies the first verse of the 54th chapter of Isaiah to the Covenant under which Christ and the Church are developed. So again we have the key which makes us recognize that we are on safe ground in the application which we are about to make.
We will just briefly comment upon a few thoughts in Isaiah 54:1-5, but we will not attempt to go into an exhaustive treatment of all the statements there. "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child." Here the Abrahamic Covenant of grace is personified, being compared to a woman who has been childless for many years, but now has occasion for rejoicing because at last granted a child. She is spoken of as "the desolate," not because she is now desolate, but in remembrance of [PT366] the long period during which this was the case. In the same verse the Law Covenant is called "the married wife." While this is the rendering in both the King James and Revised Versions, it is not a very accurate translation of the original. The usual word for wife (ishshah) is so translated several hundred times in the English Bible, but the word used in the passage we are considering (baal) is a word very seldom applied to a wife, though often to the husband. It is a word which conveys to the mind the idea of ownership, possession. Thus Paul in Gal. 4:27, gives the thought correctly: "She which hath an husband." In an oriental home where there are several wives, if one of those wives has borne their husband children, she naturally feels that in a special sense he is her husband, he belongs to her. The original Greek of Paul's words emphasize this thought; note the Diaglott: "Her having the Husband." How well this pictures the relative positions of the Abrahamic and Law Covenants during the eighteen hundred years of the Jewish Age.
The Prophet Isaiah then foretells in verses 1 and 2 how much greater will be the results of the Abrahamic Covenant than the Law Covenant, and in verse 3 shows us that the children of the Covenant made with Abraham will not be all found in one part of the earth, but she was to "break forth on the right hand and on the left," in every direction; in contra-distinction to the children of the Hagar Covenant, who were all located in that land of Palestine. The remainder of this third verse most unquestionably points to Christ and the Church as the Seed of this formerly barren covenant: "Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles (nations), and make the desolate cities to be inhabited" (Psalm 2:8 and Rev. 2:26,27) are examples of the plain statements in the Word of God proving that the Seed of Isaiah 54:3 must be Christ and His faithful followers.
In the following verse that covenant still being personified as a woman, is advised to forget the long period during which she was more like an unmarried woman, or, worse yet, more like a widow. As far as visible results were concerned it almost looked as though she did not have a husband.
Then in verse 5 we are taught that just as the same Abraham who originally made Sarah his wife, in due time with divine assistance delivered her from her barren condition; so likewise the same God who had originally made the Covenant of grace in due time redeemed or delivered it from its barrenness. Israel knew Him in a limited sense, and they recognized him as their Holy One, but in due time everyone was to know this wonderful God and Father. Then he would be the God of the whole earth.
Now having considered the subject sufficiently to have [PT367] satisfied us that we are under a covenant which is now about four thousand years old, we would inquire regarding the covenant which is distinguished from either of the two old covenants we have been considering by being called "the New Covenant." And we will begin this portion of our study by considering Rom. 11:25-27: "For I would not, brethren that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceit; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in."
In other words, Israel, like Ishmael, has been rejected or cast off, and this condition was to last until all the Isaac class had been developed, or the entire Church of Christ had been gathered out from the nations of the earth. "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant with them when I shall take away their sins." Here we have reference to a Covenant which is specially connected with the blessings of Israel after their re-gathering. It is this Covenant which the Prophets, and our Lord and the Apostles, designated as the New Covenant.
Listen to Jeremiah 31:29-34. In the 29th and 30th verses we have statements which never were true and never will be true until the Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ: "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." Then again in the 34th verse, we have a picture after the Millennial Age has made considerable progress: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more." Now, if verses 29,30 and 34 have evident reference to the Millennium, is it not also probable and proper that the verses 31,32 and 33 should also point us to something respecting the Millennium? "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." Now we want to see if there is not something further to identify the time to which this New Covenant applies, and we find there is: "Not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My Covenant they brake; although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord." We are thus reminded that there will be some sharp distinctions between the old Law Covenant and the new Law Covenant, and one great difference will be that whereas that old Covenant was [PT368] disregarded and broken by them, the new Covenant will be respected and kept.
But let us pause here for a little consideration of the last part of this verse, "although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord." You will recall that the Apostle quoted this passage in Hebrews 8:9, and if you look at his rendering of this clause you will find it radically different from the English version of Jer. 31:32. Paul has it read: "and I regarded them not, saith the Lord." We must consider Paul a competent translator or judge of translations, especially when it is remembered that he was controlled by the spirit of inspiration; but why is there such a seeming discrepancy between his words and the passage in Jeremiah? That the words of Jeremiah could be rendered just as they are in the King James version there can be no question; but we feel compelled to see if they do not have another meaning in harmony with the statement in Hebrews. We could never be satisfied to think of the inspired Apostle as misquoting Scripture. The New Testament writers when quoting from the Old Testament do not always quote the same identical words, they spoke a different language, but while we may note a little difference in the wording, it presents the very same thought. That must be so in this instance, too. And it is, for we find quite a number of Hebrew scholars giving "to reject," "to disregard," as some of the meanings of the word. Thus in Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon we have this very passage in Jeremiah cited as an instance of this significance. The marginal reading in the common version also is in harmony with the thought, though I do not see that it is a really accurate rendering; "should I have continued an husband unto them?" That is, seeing the people of Israel were treating the children of the Abrahamic Covenant somewhat like Ishmael treated Isaac, how could they expect God to treat the Law Covenant and the children of the Covenant as a husband would treat his wife and children? No, He would do as Abraham had done, cast off the Law Covenant which for so long a time had been treated as a wife, and He would reject the children of that Covenant, the natural Seed of Abraham, until the entire Isaac Seed had been developed.
I have considered this point somewhat in detail because of its bearing on the 33rd verse, which we will now consider: "But this will be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, saith the Lord." After what days? After the days when the Lord would have disregarded them; after those days in which he would not show them the favour formerly enjoyed. And we all instantly recognize that those days of disfavour have lasted nearly nineteen hundred years. So "after [PT369] those days" would clearly designate the Millennial Age as the time for this New Covenant. "This shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour," etc.
That this new Covenant was to be inaugurated in the Millennium, after the regathering of the Jews, is also proven by Jer. 32:37-40: "Behold, I will gather them out of all countries whither I have driven them in My anger, and in My fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.
Another pertinent Scripture is found in Ezek. 20:37: "And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the Covenant." Israel's experiences under the chastening rod have been painful and humiliating, but, thank God! her buffeting is almost over, and soon the blessings of that new everlasting Covenant will begin to be showered upon her.
Having considered these quotations from the prophets, let us return to the writings of the Apostle Paul. The book of Hebrews is specially full of statements regarding the New Covenant. Of all the passages in the Bible which might seem to support the idea of the New Covenant most of us once held, these verses in Hebrews are invariably counted among the very strongest; and yet, if I were called upon today to prove that the Church is not under the New Covenant: that the New Covenant did not include the special blessings which the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has made possible to the Church of this age; I would very likely turn to these very passages in the book of Hebrews to prove our position. I believe the statements of the seventh and eighth chapters of this book as convincing as anyone could ever ask for. And still I must admit, when this further light began to be seen on the subject of the Covenants, these very verses appeared to me to be almost irreconcilable with it, while now their teaching is so simple and plain that I wonder I did not see it from the first.
Let us turn to Hebrews 7:22: "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better Covenant." The King James [PT370] version renders the same Greek word, sometimes Covenant and sometimes Testament, but the significance would be more quickly grasped if in all these places it were rendered Covenant. Both the Revised version and the Diaglott have Covenant in Heb. 7:22. This verse makes it most emphatically evident that this better Covenant, better than the Law Covenant under which Israel previously was, was a thing of the future, not of the present; and the proof of our assertion is the word "surety."
Let me illustrate the significance of this word; suppose that in the same room, within ten feet of me, there was a bag of gold which I desired someone present to bring to me. How strange it would be if, before I allowed that one to touch the bag, I would require surety, or, as we more usually say, security. But if that bag of gold was two or three thousand miles away, then it would be nothing unusual to expect that man to have someone go on his bond as a surety, a guarantee, a pledge, that he would bring the gold to me, if I sent him after it.
Similarly, the Lord Jesus is not the surety for the blessings enjoyed by the Church today. He purchased those blessings for us with His own blood, but we do not need any surety of them, because we have the things themselves. But if our Saviour is a surety, it implies that there is something yet future coming to somebody, something different from what we are getting today. Paul calls that something a better Covenant, so we conclude that this Covenant is entirely separate and distinct from the high calling of this age. This agrees perfectly with what we have already seen: that the new Covenant has reference to the blessings of restitution, which are soon to be granted to the willing of mankind, beginning with the people of Israel. Jesus, as a result of the sacrifice which He completed at Calvary, is the surety, the pledge, the guarantee, that these things shall be, even though the Jew is still in a cast-off condition; yet, in due time, the very one because of whose rejection they were cast off, will be the one who will bring them back.
Hebrews 8:6-13 will be now considered, but we will first take the sixth and seventh verses by themselves. "But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
The Apostle here calls the Sinaitic or Law Covenant the first Covenant, not because it was the first covenant that God ever made (indeed, we know that the Abrahamic Covenant was not the first covenant), but it is called the first covenant because it was the first covenant given to Israel as a whole. His statement is another way of saying [PT371] that, if the first covenant had been faultless, it would have done the work that the second covenant is going to do, and as a consequence, the second covenant would have been unnecessary. Now we inquire, What would the first or Law Covenant have done had it been faultless? We must remember that the fault was not in its imperfection, but in the lack of any mediatorial provision to offset the weakness and inability of the people to keep it. If that covenant had been faultless, it would have given the people under it everlasting life. That covenant said that the man that doeth these things shall live by them, and he could have lived as long as he did those things. Furthermore, he would have been free from sickness and disease. In addition to that, his farm would have been a paradise, for God had promised to bless his flocks, and trees, and wine and oil, and to bless him in basket and in store. To sum it up, man would have been a perfect being living eternally in a perfect earthly paradise. But if that first covenant had been faultless, it would not have taken anyone to heaven; it would not have made anyone a joint heir with Jesus; it would not have begotten anyone to the divine nature, nor given them immortality--it would have accomplished restitution. So if the second covenant is going to do what the first covenant should have done, then that New or Better Covenant will accomplish restitution, and nothing of a spiritual nature at all.
But someone might ask, Why in the sixth verse does the Apostle speak of this covenant in the past tense, as having already been established, saying: "Which was established upon better promises"? We answer that that covenant was established eighteen hundred years ago, but we must distinguish between a covenant being established and becoming operative. In our city the council meet together, and they enact certain laws, these laws then go to the mayor for his signature, and after being properly passed and signed, they are established. Yet it might be explicitly stated in the body of that law that it was not to go into effect or operation until January 1st, 1915. It might be that that law appointed the mayor as arbitrator, or referee in some particular matter. He is appointed arbitrator, referee, or whatever the position might be, the moment that law was established, and yet he does not have any duty to perform in that capacity until the law has gone into effect or become operative, and that is expressly stated to be at a particular future time. It is in perfect accordance with this that the New Covenant was established eighteen hundred years ago, but all the Word of God agrees in proving that that New Covenant was not to become operative until more than eighteen hundred years after it had been established, and several thousand years after it had been promised.
The Apostle then continues by referring to the passage [PT372] already noted in Jeremiah 31: "For in finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord." After those days in which they would be disregarded, in the cast-off condition. "I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know Me from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
This last verse reminds us that the Law Covenant in Paul's day occupied a position somewhat similar to Hagar's position after Abraham had rejected her. There she was in the wilderness, almost ready to die, to vanish away; nevertheless with certain promises which God had made her and her child Ishmael; so Paul saw the Law Covenant in Hagar's predicament, almost ready to die, to vanish away, but there were certain promises of future blessings which God had made to the children of the Law Covenant, and these would have to be fulfilled after the death of the Hagar Covenant, and in the days of the New Covenant.
We will again digress to note another beautiful point, and yet so liable to be misunderstood. I refer to the word translated "make" in the eighth verse. Those who refer to the Emphatic Diaglott will find this word there translated "complete." In the King James version the Greek word "sunteleo" is rendered by four English words: end, finish, fulfill, make. It is evident in the verse under consideration that the Apostle did not mean to say: after those days God will bring that New Covenant to an end, for in that case it would not be an "Everlasting covenant" at all. When was the Law Covenant finished or completed? In one sense it was finished or fulfilled eighteen hundred years ago, and in still another sense it will be finished at the close of this age, when the Israelites are delivered from its curse, by coming into the bonds of the New Covenant; but in neither of these senses does the Bible use the word "sunteleo." The Law Covenant was finished in the "sunteleo" sense, when God had completed the writing of the commandments on the tables of stone, and giving [PT373] them to Moses, sent him down from the mountain to inaugurate that covenant with the people of Israel. A house cannot be conveniently occupied until it is finished, a horse and vehicle cannot be driven until the harnessing has been completed; similarly, a covenant cannot be effective until it has been "sunteleo."
But there is still another thought in this word which must be noticed. In Jeremiah 31:33, from which Paul is quoting here in Hebrews 8, and, in fact, in almost all Old Testament passages where it speaks of "making a covenant," the word translated "make" is not the usual word with that significance, but it is the rendering of the Hebrew word "karath." This word has the sense of cutting off. Jer. 11:19: "Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off (karath) from the rest of the living." Joel 1:9, says "The meat offering, and the drink offering is cut off (karath) from the house of the Lord." This word was used in connection with covenants in evident reference to the sacrifices that would seal or ratify the covenant entered into. No Covenant was really made until the sacrifices had been cut off or accomplished.
However, we must distinguish between the sacrifices being cut off and the covenant being made as a result of the sacrifices being cut off. Jeremiah's word would not mean that after those days the sacrifices will be cut off; indeed the sacrifices will all have been made before those days. The thought was, after those days I will covenant a covenant with the house of Israel as a result of the sacrifices cut off.
When Paul came to translate this word into the Greek, he says (see Diaglott rendering of Heb. 8:10): "For this is the covenant that I will covenant with the house of Israel; after those days," etc. But in order to emphasize the thought of the original Hebrew, the Apostle, in verse 8, uses a still different word, "sunteleo," from that he has in verse 10. We have already noted the force of this word, but there is another point connected with it that we can not pass unnoticed. In classic Greek this word was commonly used in a different sense from what it usually has in the New Testament. It meant payments or contributions made by others towards defraying the expenses of some enterprise that had for its object the benefiting of the general public. Thus in Liddell and Scott's Unabridged Greek Lexicon are included such definitions of the word as, "a joint contribution for the public burdens. For instance, at Athens, this term was applied to a body of men who contributed jointly each year to equip a ship for the public service. Any similar partnership in bearing public burdens."
I do not lay much stress on the acceptance of the more classic meanings of the New Testament words, and yet there is certainly some food for reflection here. The new [PT374] covenant promises were not for the benefit of some private class, like the high calling of this Gospel Age, but it was for the blessings of the general public, all the people of the earth, beginning with the Jewish nation. However, certain contributions, certain sacrifices were to be made before that work could begin. The principal contributor, in fact the sole contributor as far as individual merit was concerned, was the Lord Jesus; but while the Church had no merit of her own to offer, yet the Heavenly Father had graciously arranged that she should have somewhat to contribute also, by bestowing upon her some of the merit borrowed from the Lord Jesus Himself. She has the privilege of contributing that which was reckoned to her through faith in the blood of the Saviour. And when all these contributions are in, then this new covenant will begin to operate on behalf of Israel first, and then through Israel to all the remainder of the human family. (Acts 15:15-17; 1 Peter 4:13.)
Let us next turn to the ninth chapter of this epistle to the Hebrews, verses 13-15. While the verses that follow these have considerable bearing on the subjects we are considering, yet it is these three that we will give most attention to, because they are recognized by some as among the most difficult to reconcile with our views of the covenants, and it is so until you once get the real import of this passage.
"And for this cause He is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
A casual glance at these words would lead almost anyone to think Paul was here saying that those to whom he was writing had been delivered from the condemnation of the law covenant by coming under the new covenant. But a little further research would show us that we had failed to grasp the basis of the Apostle's argument. The epistle to the Hebrews was primarily addressed to the Jews and Jewish proselytes who had accepted the Christian religion, and the inspired writer here, as well as in many other places, points out to them that their deserts under that first covenant was condemnation. And just as truly as a murderer with the sentence of death hanging over him could not be put on trial for another [PT375] crime, until some way had been found of delivering him from the penalty incurred by the first crime; neither could those Jews be accepted of the Lord and enter the race for a heavenly prize, unless some way was found of delivering them from the condemnation of the law covenant, as well as from the more universal sentence resulting from the sin of Father Adam.
However, that law covenant could not be disregarded, nor its condemnation ignored, so the only way whereby the Israelite could have its curse lifted would be by the introduction of that of which the law covenant was a type, a shadow. Then it would be just as it is in nature, where every shadow ends at the substance. But before the law was given the Lord selected the mediator for that covenant, and so the first thing in the introduction of the antitypical law covenant was the election of its mediator. So we recognize God's choice of the Lord Jesus nineteen hundred years ago to be the mediator of this better covenant even though, as we have already seen, He was not to begin to bestow the blessings of that covenant until it had become operative. And now that the Saviour had become the Mediator of the new covenant, it was possible for those who had been under the condemnation of the law to accept the Lord Jesus as their Captain and Leader instead of Moses, and through faith in His great offering, the great sacrifice which fitted Him to become the Mediator of the new covenant, they found deliverance from the curse of the law covenant.
Now do not misunderstand me, and think that by this I mean the law covenant ended and the new covenant began 1,800 years ago. That is not my thought. I may illustrate it in this manner; there are two classes of people in the world at this time. To the one class we are yet in the Gospel Age, and to them the Millennium will not begin until 1915. But there is another class, among whom we are thankful to be counted, with whom the Gospel Age ended in one sense and the Millennium began in 1874. So in the days of the Apostles there were two classes, to the one class the law covenant was as dead, but to the other class the law was just as much alive as ever. In Rom. 10:4 Paul refers to the first class, saying, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." But some one may be prompted to remark: I do not see how the law covenant could be said to end even with this class, unless they came under the new covenant first, if it be true that no shadow ends until the substance has begun. To this I answer, the substance has begun with them, but in a wondrous way the Lord arranged for them to share in the distribution of the blessings of the new covenant, rather than in the receiving of the blessings which were to be granted to those under the new arrangement. [PT376]
First, there was the preparatory stage which lasted for forty days, when Moses went up into the mountain and preparations were made for bringing Israel into covenant relationship with the Lord. In due time Moses came down from the mountain. There the preparatory stage ended when the Law went into effect. After it went into effect, then the influence of the Law Covenant began to be felt. Now, eighteen hundred years ago, as respects the class which accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and Redeemer, the third stage ended, and there the first stage of the New Covenant began, namely the preparatory stage. We remember Moses was in the mountain forty days during that preparatory stage, which represented the entire Gospel Age. When Moses came down from the mountain, he had to put a veil over his face, reminding us that at the end of this Gospel Age the greater Moses was to come down and He would be invisible to the world. He came down to inaugurate the Law Covenant, for which preparations had been going on for forty days, and so when the greater Moses comes down at the end of the Gospel Age, it will be to inaugurate the New Covenant, of which the Law Covenant was a type, and for which preparations have been going on all down through the Gospel Age.
We can thus see that it would be improper to speak of the second stage of the New Covenant, beginning where the third stage of the Law Covenant ended. Where the third stage of the Law Covenant ends, as respects that class, the first stage of the New Covenant began. The first stage, as we have already seen, was the preparatory stage. After this would come the second stage, when the New Covenant would become operative, which will last during the Millennial Age. Then, after the New Covenant became operative, the third stage will begin, when the effect of the New Covenant would be experienced. How long? Through all eternity. That is why it is called the Everlasting Covenant. It would be very inappropriate for us to take any other view of this matter. We also recall the Jubilee type. We remember that the Jubilee consisted of two stages: First, the cycle of forty-nine years, then the Jubilee, the fiftieth year. When the last typical jubilee was celebrated, then the-type began. Not the Jubilee itself, but the antitypical cycle, and when the antitypical cycle ends, then the second stage or real Jubilee will begin.
We would also call your attention to the fact that the [PT377] Apostle Paul in the 3rd chapter of 2nd Corinthians is making a comparison between the work of the Gospel Age and that of the Law Covenant, and he clearly shows that the comparison was not with the time when the Law Covenant had gone into effect and become operative, but with the time when the Law Covenant was in process of preparation. He reminds us there that just as up in the mountain the tables were being prepared, so today there is a work going on of which that was a type. But up in the mountain the Law Covenant was not binding, not operative--no indeed. But the agents and instruments necessary to put that Law Covenant into effect were being prepared, being fitted for the work that they were to do. So likewise, during this Gospel Age, a similar work is going on, a preparatory work, which is being to make the New Covenant effective in blessing all the families of the earth.
We notice in this connection also the statement of Paul in 2nd Cor., the 3rd chapter and the 6th verse, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Covenant." Remember that the ministers of that Law Covenant were not the people under that Law Covenant, but that the principal minister of that Law Covenant was Moses, and he ministered the Law Covenant largely before the Law Covenant became operative; it was while he was up in the mountain that he was its minister as truly as after he came down. So today we are ministers of the New Covenant, we are ministers of the Lord, servants, sharing with Him the work of preparation which will ultimately inaugurate this New Covenant which is to mean a new agreement on behalf of Israel, and through them to the remainder of the world of mankind.
However, what we have been saying applies only to those who have recognized the Lord Jesus as their Redeemer. Christ is the end of the Law to such, but to the remainder of the Jews that Law Covenant is as binding as it ever was; they are still under the control of it, just as Ishmael was under the control of Hagar back there in the wilderness.
Now, this will probably be the most appropriate place for some reference to the type of Abraham and his wives. Someone might say, Why is it if there is to be a New Covenant that God did not illustrate it in the case of Abraham and his wives? Why did God cut the picture short? The Lord has made that picture complete too. We find that there is still another wife mentioned in the 25th chapter of Genesis, Keturah, and we understand that she is the appropriate type of this New Covenant. One might inquire as to why Paul made no reference to her in his epistles to the Galatians, and we say, Simply because she had nothing to do with the argument which the Apostle [PT378] was making. He was endeavoring to show some of those Christians that they were occupying a very improper position, that they were making believe that it was necessary to adhere to all the requirements of the Jewish Law, and the Apostle used this argument to show that that was a wrong position, that it would have been very inappropriate for Isaac to have clung to Sarah, and at the same time to have wanted to go out in the wilderness and to spend the time with Hagar too. So the Apostle was trying to show them that they were not the children of the Hagar Covenant, but that they were the children of the Covenant of which Sarah was a type. Now, to have brought in this New Covenant would only have confused matters and would not have served any purpose, it would have added to the mistiness of the subject to those whom Paul was addressing. But we find frequent illustrations of this, and we remember that passage in Isaiah 61--how our Saviour quoted only a part of the passage, only so much as was appropriate in His day. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." There He stopped. Why not go on and describe the other things? Because they were not then due. In Ephesians 4:3 Paul said, "Wherefore he said when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." Paul was only partly quoting this passage from Psalm 68:18. He quoted only just as much as is appropriate to this Gospel Age, but there is another clause in that verse which refers to the Millennial Age, and Paul very properly left that out; he was not talking about the Millennial times then, but about our position in this Gospel Age. It was in perfect harmony with this thought that Paul made no reference to Keturah, but we know that the Lord never puts anything in His Word without a purpose, and it cannot be that this reference to Keturah slipped in here without any real significance or object, but when we look a little deeper, we are surprised to find how appropriate the picture is in this detail also. In Gen. 24:67 it refers to the death of Sarah, and then the very next verse, the 1st of the 25th chapter begins, "Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah." And in the following verses we read of six children whom she bore. The construction leaves no doubt in one's mind but that Keturah was a wife to Abraham subsequent to the death of Sarah. Furthermore, if Keturah had lived previous to Sarah's death, or during her lifetime, why all those statements respecting Isaac, and how he was Abraham's peculiar son, and how he was the only son to whom properly Abraham's inheritance could go? Yet very few [PT379] Bible scholars and students are willing to admit that after the death of Sarah, Abraham did take another wife, Keturah, as recorded here. I will refer you to the Bible dictionaries and other books treating upon this as a proof of what I have to say. Almost all of them agree, notwithstanding the plain reference of this event to the time after the death of Sarah, that Keturah must have been a wife who lived contemporaneously with Sarah. The reason given for this belief is that Abraham was quite aged at the time of the birth of Isaac, and it seems miraculous that he should have had a child at all, and God had to interfere and work a miracle. Then they say, is it possible that Abraham could have grown thirty years older, then married, and then had six children more? Evidently it is a lack of faith on their part. But how well this illustrates the very matter under consideration, the New Covenant--the very things that Bible students have been saying for years and years about Keturah, are being said today about the New Covenant. They say that it is very unreasonable to think that there is going to be such a thing as a Millennium of blessing for the world; they say these things seemingly pointing to the future really have reference to things contemporaneous with the selection of the Church of Christ, that the New Covenant does not have to do with anything that will follow the development of the wife taken by Abraham after the death of Sarah. But we believe that this statement respecting Keturah is true, just as the Bible records it. Just so, we can have the same assurance respecting the New Covenant, of which Keturah is a type, that it is equally true.
We remember, too, the significance of the name, "Keturah," the word meaning "incense." How true it is that through this New Covenant such incense and praise and universal honour will ascend to the Heavenly Father, according to the predictions of the prophets. In Mal. 1:2 the word "incense" is from the same root as Keturah.
We may notice also the share which the Church of Jesus Christ was to have in this New Covenant, and we perceive that it was not the share of a beneficiary, but rather that of being sharers with Jesus in the making of this New Covenant. In Isaiah 49:8 we have one statement respecting this, and we are right in applying this to the Church, because the Apostle Paul quotes it in 2 Corinthians 6:2, applying it to the Church, "Thus saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people to establish (margin, raise up), the earth to cause to inherit the desolate heritages." We find here that the church was to be given for a Covenant. For what covenant? Surely not for the Law Covenant, nor for the covenant of special [PT380] grace, but we can see that it was to be for, on behalf of, or in the interest of the New Covenant, that they might share with Jesus in bestowing its blessings upon the world.
Let us consider the Scripture relating to the making and sealing of the Law Covenant, and see how it illustrates the making and sealing of the New Covenant. In Exodus, 24th chapter, verses 4-8 especially, "And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said, will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words."
The inspired account here tells us of certain oxen which were sacrificed, and we would understand them to properly represent the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is reason to believe that there were some goats offered, probably at the same time, judging from the account given in the book of Hebrews, but they are left out of this picture, as though they formed a separate picture. We understand that these oxen typified the same thing that the passover lamb did, all pointing to the one great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then it tells us how part of this blood was sprinkled upon the altar, and the other half was put in the basins. The word here translated "basins" does not properly indicate any vessel as large as a basin. It is a word that would more properly refer to a smaller vessel, such as a cup. As an instance of this, in the Song of Solomon 7:2 this same word is translated "goblet." We are to keep in mind that this was not a yearly ceremony, but when the time came for the sealing of this Law Covenant, it was done right at that time, and we can readily imagine Moses calling to the people to bring their cups, their goblets, any kind of small vessels to put the blood of these oxen in. We understand that this is the work antitypically which has been going on for these past eighteen hundred years, that the Lord Jesus, the great ox, the bullock, was slain, and since that time, we have been partaking of His blood, we have been receiving of His life, for, as the Scriptures express it, "the blood is the life thereof."
These cups and small vessels having been gathered together rather hastily, they must have been a peculiar [PT381] collection, no two of them exactly alike. Probably some had big cracks through them, others had pieces broken away--some injured in one way and some in another way, but that did not matter. The important thing was not the cup, but the blood that was put in it. Thus it has been during the past eighteen hundred years, for we have been receiving the blood of Jesus Christ. Those cups had no blood of their own until it was put into them. So with us, we had no life until we received it reckonedly from Jesus. Jesus was the only one who had life, as we read, "In Him was life." But Jesus poured out His life; He gave up His life there, and we have been receiving it, and so the Apostle could say, "I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me." (John 1:4; Gal. 2:20; John 6:53-57.)
How much blood did these cups add to that which came from the ox? Not one single drop. Did they not possess a little blood of their own? Not one bit. Thus was illustrated how entirely void of life we are of ourselves, how the merit or life comes from Christ. But then, why was this blood put in these cups? In order that through them it might be applied to all the world of mankind, and so in this picture, we are told how that blood was sprinkled over the people. It could not be the blood that was put upon the altar, for that could not be gathered up again, it must have been that put into these cups, and we can thus see how that in due time through the Church the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to reach all and they will all get the blessings promised. Just as the blood had to come from the oxen and the cups were merely the channel through which it reached the people, so today we can see that God's people have no merit of their own. They have merit, they have worth, but it is this merit which they have received from the great bullock which is going to reach the remainder of mankind.
I cannot help but think that this is the real thought found in 1 Peter 1:2. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." You will notice that the Apostle is not speaking about how we have been chosen because of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. We realize that we need the blood of Jesus just as much as the world needs it in the next age, but we recognize that we must get the benefit of the blood before we would be of the elect, but, after becoming the elect, the Lord shows us that we have the privilege of obedience, and so today we are trying to be obedient, but there is going to be a future work. After this has properly developed us, we are then to share, in due time, in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Well, one may ask, Has not the blood of Jesus Christ been sprinkled upon us? We would say, Assuredly. But [PT382] we must ever bear in mind that there are a great many things true of the Church today that will be true of the world in the Millennial Age, but it would not be reasonable to say that because such things are true of both the Church in this age and of the world in the next age, therefore everything that is true of the Church in this age would be true of the world in the next age. That would lead to some very erroneous conclusions. We know that some things which will be true under the New Covenant are also true under this covenant of grace, but it would not be proper to say that because some of these things are true in both instances that it is all therefore the work of the New Covenant. We know that, according to the New Covenant, the world will be enlightened in respect to the Lord, and we have been; and we know that under the New Covenant the world will be brought to love the Lord, to serve Him, and we have been brought to love and serve the Lord. We are also to bear in mind that we need the blood of Christ just as much as the world under the New Covenant will need the blood of Christ, even though there is some difference in the work accomplished in us and later in the world.
One might be inclined to inquire of us, But are we not reckoned as under the New Covenant when we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, are we not in the step of justification counted as under the New Covenant? But we answer, No. The New Covenant includes the gradual uplifting process that will bring man to a state of human perfection, and will enable him to actually remain there for ever.
Note the passage in which our Lord's words to His disciples in the upper room are recorded, Matthew 26:27-28: "And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Our saviour invited them to drink what He here called the blood of the New Covenant. When they drank of that cup, they assimilated the wine which it contained, and thus it illustrates well how we assimilate that which we receive of our Lord Jesus. Furthermore, it indicates a participation with Him in that same cup of suffering of which He drank. This is also clearly pointed out in Paul's reference on this statement in 1 Corinthians 11:25: "After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood." These words show that the Lord Jesus drank of this very cup first, before He gave it to them to drink; and if this implies their coming under a New Covenant, it would indicate that Jesus came under the New Covenant, but if this New Covenant had reference to the benefits that would be enjoyed by all imperfect men, [PT383] whether in this age or in the next, then it would lead us to the contradictory conclusion that the Lord Jesus Christ was also an imperfect being, and that He also needed to participate in the imputed merit of His sacrifice. But the very fact that Jesus was a perfect being, and did not require at all the condition of the New Covenant, is an evidence and a proof to us that in the drinking of this cup, He had no reference to the coming under the conditions of the New Covenant, but we see now that the real thought of this passage is that, as He had drank of that cup of degradation, bitterness, distress and suffering, and that this even implied the sacrifice of His very life, and all of this was done for the purpose of sealing a New Covenant, then we must likewise believe that the share which Jesus had in this was to illustrate the share which likewise His disciples were to have. If His position was not that of one under the New Covenant, but one who was to seal that Covenant, as a result of the sacrifice of His life, then they likewise, in accordance with the passage already noted in Isaiah 49:8, were to share in the sealing of that New Covenant, by giving themselves as He had given Himself. The difference was that in giving Himself, He was perfect and complete, without need of any imputed merit, while with us, we are weak and imperfect, and we need the imputed merit of our Lord the Master. We must get the reckoned righteousness, which comes from the applied merit of our redeemer, before we are in a fit condition to sit at our Master's table and to participate with Him in the cup which He offers us to drink.
In concluding this discourse it might be well to say a few words respecting why this New Covenant was to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah--there is no reference to its being made with the whole world of mankind.
We know that all of God's arrangements seem to have been to the Jew first, and then also to the Gentile. We remember that the Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:4, "To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law."
According to the prophetic statements, when the great time of trouble with which this age concludes, has drawn to a close, there will be only one nation on the face of this earth, namely the Jewish nation. The prophecies lead us to the conviction that the time of trouble will mean a destruction of every nation except the Jewish nation, and to that people it will mean a national resurrection. We remember that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the Jewish nation was compared to a man; we remember that their national death was represented by the death of that rich man, and that as a nation the Jews have been [PT384] dead ever since A.D. 70. We recall how in Ezekiel the 37th chapter, reference is made to the resurrection of that nation. The valley of dry bones here spoken of does not refer to the individual Jew, but it refers to them in a national sense. Note the explanation of this fact in the 11th verse, "Then he said unto me, Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off from our parts." He does not give us to understand that these bones represent men that are actually dead, because these people are represented as speaking; they are talking about how they were like dried bones, cut off from their parts, their hope lost. In what sense was this true? Nationally. Then in this passage, we have a picture of the national resurrection of Israel. But the same time of trouble that will result in the national resurrection of Israel will result in the death and destruction of every other nation. In Jeremiah 30:11 it says, "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished." Here the statement is made that the Lord is going to make an end of all nations except the Jewish nation, that He would give them a measure of punishment, and when that period of punishment was over, He was going to restore them and bless them.
When we speak of all other nations being destroyed, we would not have you infer that we mean the individuals of those nations, nor would we have you understand us to mean that all lines of demarcation will be immediately blotted out, that language and facial characteristics will immediately disappear; but our thought is rather that from their peculiar standpoint as a nation with a government of their own, and with an organization of their own, every other nation on the face of the earth will lose its national individuality and standing in this time of trouble, except this Jewish nation, who will gain what the others lose. Why will the Jews survive nationally when the others will not? Simply because the Jewish nation was the only nation established by God; every other nation was man-made, and God had nothing to do with their organization. However, we see that through the Jewish nation that covenant and its blessings will reach all the remainder of the earth's inhabitants in due time. Note a Scripture to this effect in Isaiah 14:1, "For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob." Here we would have you specially notice the fact that strangers, those who had been members of other nations, were going to be joined at that time to Israel, to share [PT385] her blessings. The 2nd chapter of Isaiah is quite a picture of the same thing. Jeremiah, 3rd chapter, 17th and 18th verses, also remind us of the way all other nations of the earth will gather about Israel at that time. Notice also Zechariah, 8th chapter verses 20-23, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; it shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; in those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold of all languages of the nations, even take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, we will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
We have a further confirmation of this in Ezekiel 16:59-62: First the Lord reminds Israel how they had despised that old Law Covenant that He had made with them, and then He would have them further remember that even though they had been unfaithful, He was not going to forget the beautiful things typified in that Law Covenant, and in due time, He would establish unto them an Everlasting Covenant. Following that in the 61st verse with the statement, that when He has made that Everlasting Covenant, that New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, then He would give to them the people of Samaria, and the people of Sodom, but He specially reminds them that He would not give to Israel those people by that old Law Covenant, but that it was going to be by or through this New Covenant of which we find His Word full of references.
Some might ask why the Lord had determined to send this blessing to other nations through the Jews. One reason is this: The Lord determined to humble the entire human race. There is nothing that will have a more humiliating effect upon a large part of the people of the earth, and especially those who have professed the name of Christ but have really been unfaithful to His teachings, than to be compelled to look up to the Jewish people as the divinely appointed channel through which they will get their blessings. We can well believe many of them at first, in that Millennial time, will refuse to accept the blessing through the Jews, as much as to say, Lord, I want you to bless me, I want to enjoy the blessings of that New Covenant, but I am not going to take it through a Jew; you must send it through some better channel than that. We can imagine the Lord saying, All right, that is the method I have adopted; if you do not wish to accept the blessings through the Jews you need not accept them at all. We realize that in due time man or woman will come to the humble attitude of mind that will be ready [PT386] to accept the Lord's blessing through what ever channel He may be pleased to send it.
We thus recognize that, beginning with Israel, the blessing of the Lord shall reach ultimately to all the world of mankind, and thus it will be true that the blessings of that time will be to the Jew first and then to the Gentile, the same as it is now.
The secret of the Lord respecting the selection of the Church, etc., is with them that fear or reverence Him, and He will show them His covenant. (Psalm 25:14.)
We assume that all who have made a serious study of the matter are satisfied beyond all question that the Ransom provided for mankind is none other than the man Jesus, who presented Himself for this purpose when He came to John at Jordan, there to be immersed by him into that typical water grave. (Matt. 20:28.)
Many Scriptures can be found to support this conclusion, and none that can be construed to oppose it, hence we accept it as sound and incontrovertible. This being so we know that Jesus was in no sense inferior to Adam before he transgressed: by this we mean that Adam possessed no power, no right, no quality of any kind whatever, now represented in Jesus, but this could not be said of any other man; so that Jesus, and Jesus only, God could use to restore all that was lost to the race through the sin of its federal head Adam. His sacrifice made possible a restoration of all things, spoken of by God through all the prophets of old (Acts 3:19-25). In this connection it is interesting to recall that Adam was given a partner (Eve) to share with him his privileges and his responsibilities, and the experiences of these two were almost identical in every way. So, in like manner, will the second Adam (Jesus), the regenerator of the first Adam's race, have a partner--"the Lamb's wife"--the Bride of Jesus (Rev. 19:7; 21:9.)
It is clear to all students that the loss suffered by our race through Adam's transgression included life--human life in perfection, enjoyed amidst perfection. A restitution of all things must, therefore, include these two conditions, with all else rightly attached to them in God's plan.
How was so wonderful a thing to be accomplished as the providing for all those condemned in Adam, an opportunity to gain to themselves everything that was lost by original sin? It is not necessary to point out that such an undertaking would be altogether beyond the skill of man, beyond his wit even to devise, much more beyond his power to perform. But "God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." [PT387]
A reverent mind has no difficulty in appreciating that the condemnation, the curse of death, rests quite justly upon the whole race; nor is there any difficulty in recognizing the wisdom of condemning all in one man, seeing that this made possible the redeeming of all by one. To explain the philosophy of this redemption requires more than human intelligence however, and nothing but enlightenment by the Holy Spirit could make it possible. If the Lord can use this pen to help make more clear some of the hidden mystery, how grateful we all shall be.
In the first place we would remind ourselves of the sentence passed on Adam by God: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow thou shalt eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Or in other words: "In the day thou eatest thereof dying thou shalt die." The matter is summed up by the Apostle Paul as follows; "The wages of (the) sin is death." (Romans 6:23.)
Seeing the instructions of God were disregarded, and Adam willfully transgressed (1 Tim. 2:14), there can be no question of the justice of the death sentence, and the only hope for a future existence for the race lies in a resurrection from the state of death (Rom. 5:18).
The penalty for sin--death--passed upon all men in that all were condemned in the one transgression, the sin of one man. (Romans 5:12.) To make it possible for the race to escape this curse of death Jesus died--"the just for the unjust." His eternal extinction as a man--the corresponding price--meets the original sentence as a substitute for Adam and his race. He was "delivered up on account of our offences"--"The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Had sin never entered into the world Jesus could not have died, for "the wages of sin is death." Now that He has died for us our reconciliation with God is possible, and had God so planned the matter the resurrection of the human race could have been long since.
We can see that the death of the man Jesus meets the penalty--"the wages of sin," thus guaranteeing an opportunity of life to all. But to raise humanity to life and perfection requires more than this at His hand; they are still held in bondage to sin and death; it is His part to break the bonds of death and set the captives free in God's due time. The only way to accomplish this great work will be to give life to the poor captives; that indeed will break death's bonds, and set the prisoners free! "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will [PT388] redeem them from death" (Hosea 13:14); "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The ransom, provided by Jesus, is the price necessary to set men free from the power of death. Mankind has no option but to come forth from the tomb in due time (Hosea 13:14; John 5:29), because the ransom has been provided in their behalf.
As matters stand at the present time we see that not only has Jesus voluntarily met the penalty for man's sin--when He by the grace of God tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9)--but, additionally, the vast majority of the human race have also suffered death on account of the same sin. What a contrast is here presented, however! In the case of the race a penal death from which they require to be redeemed. In the case of Jesus a sacrificial death, providing the Ransom, the means of redemption for us, and for all. This sacrificial death Jesus spoke of as a baptism--"I have a baptism to be baptized with," a baptism of death; it was the consummation of the bitter cup God poured for Him.
The sin which made the death of Jesus possible, and necessary, was the sin of the poor world of which we all formed part--"dead in trespasses and sins." (Ephesians 2:1.) How remarkable it seems that God's plan provides for others to suffer this sacrificial death with Jesus, following in His steps. Not to provide the Ransom however, for this He had already found. To James and John Jesus says, "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized" (Mark 10:39). We recall that Jesus was thus baptized for the dead; and the Apostle refers to the like experience which comes to others when, in commenting upon the resurrection of the dead, he says, "Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?" (1 Cor. 15:29,30.)
The explanation why those who are baptized for the dead stand in jeopardy every hour can be understood when we realize that these form God's first-fruits, who have been ransomed and redeemed by Jesus and whose ransomed life has been given up to God a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). It is as new creatures in Christ they stand in jeopardy: their ransomed life sacrificed, they now have set before them the one hope of their calling--"the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 4:4; Phil. 3:14): It is a question of eternal life or eternal death for them. [PT389]
The sin for which Jesus died remains upon the race still, the curse continues, and this makes it possible for those first ransomed by Jesus, and therefore having a living and acceptable sacrifice to offer, to be baptized into Jesus' sacrificial death (Rom. 6:3). They are first passed from death unto life (John 5:24) so that they might die with Jesus. In John 6:44-58, the Lord sets the matter before us; the essence of which can be found centered in one verse (verse 53), which should be read in conjunction with Lev. 17:10,11 where one feature is typically shown. To eat (assimilate) the flesh of Jesus (by faith) means the appropriating of His human life, and drinking of the blood at the same time makes necessary the laying of that life down as part of His great sacrifice for sin--drinking the cup with Him (Mark 10:39): the cup must not pass, "drink ye all of it." (Matt. 26:27.)
It is recognized by students of the Bible that we are living in the antitypical Atonement Day, a time of sacrificing for the purpose of atonement, during which "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain"--afflicting their souls all the day long (Lev. 16:29,30). The Man Jesus was sacrificed, offered up, over nineteen hundred years ago, and the continued sacrifices which have followed have consisted of those who have denied themselves, and taken up their cross and followed Him. That there would be further sacrifices following the sacrifice of the man Jesus is set forth clearly in the book of Hebrews in chapter ten. In chapter nine, verse 23, we read: "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these (the blood of bulls and goats); but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices (plural) than these." Then in chapter ten, verses 9 and 10, we read "He taketh away the first (typical), that He may establish (not fulfill) the second; by the which will (purpose) we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." The authorized rendering of verse 12 is not complete; the full text can be seen in the literal rendering of the Diaglott New Testament which reads--"He but one on behalf of sins having offered a sacrifice for the continuance (Lexicon: prolonged, extended) sat down at the right hand of God thenceforth waiting till may be placed the enemies of Him a footstool for the feet of Him. By one offering He has perfected for the continuance those being sanctified." He has been waiting for nearly two thousand years and waits still, whilst those who are perfected and sanctified continue the "better sacrifices," which He established for the cleansing of the things heavenly (Heb. 9:23). When this work of sacrificing is complete, the Lord will begin to deal with the world, and will quickly put all enemies under His feet. We read: "This is the [PT390] covenant I will make with them after those days," after the days of waiting during which the "continued" sacrifices are completed. God says He will put His "laws in their hearts, and on their minds will He write them," and adds: "And their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more," then no longer will offerings for sin be needed.
None of the fallen human race shares in this "oneness" when in their fallen state. To have fellowship with Jesus in the Sin-offering, we need to receive the grace of God in its many aspects and applications, to fit us for so great an honour: and even then the fellowship with Him is possible only by the righteousness provided in Jesus. When Jesus inaugurated this wonderful work, He expressed Himself thus: "Suffer it to be so now, for it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Our Lord's words formed a message of instruction to a fallen race, of whom none were righteous, that God had now appointed that righteousness was to be obtained in, and through, Jesus only.
It is interesting, and suggestive, to note that wherever the expression "justified," occurs in the New Testament it invariably comes from the Greek word "dikaioo." From this we gather that some similarity must be seen wherever the word is used: a correspondence, but not necessarily an exactly similar meaning, because, as Prof. Young tells us, "to justify" means "to make, or declare, right." The Scriptures say--"it is God that justifies (Rom. 8:33). For God to make right would mean that the individual would be holy--perfect: for Him to declare right need not mean a state of perfection, but right in intention or action--a qualified state of rightness. The first thing required by God of a sinner is repentance: "Repent ye therefore."
Repentance would appear to be the first stage of justification, as clearly taught by our Lord in the parable (lesson) He gave for the purpose (Luke 18:10-14). Here Jesus teaches us that the man who confessed himself a sinner, and cried for mercy, went down to his house "having been justified" (Diaglott literal).
The next thing God requires is conversion, a change of heart--"repent ye therefore and be converted." Such a [PT391] state indicates a progression in justification, a drawing nearer to perfection, and Jesus says: "By thy words thou shalt be justified"; the good words spoken being an indication of the converted state of the heart, as the context shows.
Faith continuing to develop according to knowledge and a fuller appreciation of God's plan of salvation in Jesus, brings a still further advancement towards holiness, perfection, peace, and life. Jesus said, "According to your faith be it unto you," and the Apostle Paul expresses it thus: "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God." (Rom. 5:1.)
Thus far justification is of a "declared" character, not the end in view, but arranged to convey one to the final stage of justification to life--a "making" right. To fail to proceed would mean to receive the grace of God in vain--the object in view not being attained to; but this would not mean loss of life for the individual, he never having been justified to life. So far he has been "declared" right, but not "made" right. The next, and final, step of justification is found in Romans 5:9, where we read "by much more then having been justified now in the blood of Him"--a "making" right. The Scriptures tell us that "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11). Hence the expression "justified now in the blood of Him" is a hidden way of saying justified in the human life of Him. These are the "mercies of God" whereby it is possible to present to God a living, holy, and acceptable (human) sacrifice "our reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
The sin-offering forms the basis for forgiveness of sins (Making atonement), thus affecting mankind from the moral, or righteousness, point of view. It provides for atonement from sin, but does not provide life for anyone.
In Hebrews 13:10-13, is clearly set forth what the sacrifices of the Gospel Age (the antitypical Atonement Day) are. We read "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach."
Those spoken of as serving the tabernacle are the consecrated, and anointed, Priests, both in type and antitype. Which means that those, thus called of God today, have an altar whereof they have no right to eat. Had Jesus, the first of these favoured ones, partaken of the offering, He Himself placed upon the altar for sacrifice, He would have been unacceptable to God as an offering for sin. The Apostle would remind all who are sharing this [PT392] experience with Jesus, that their offering must be wholly and totally consumed in like manner "for the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the gate," "let us go forth therefore unto Him (Jesus) bearing His reproach." If we take back from the altar any part of the offering we make to God we shall lose for ourselves the privileges and honours of the Christ of God. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15); "It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him" (2 Tim. 2:11). "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). Quite clearly the meaning of the references in Hebrews is that the offering of the footstep followers of Jesus must be wholly consumed upon the altar; and the reason for this is equally clear, namely because their sacrifice forms part of the sin-offering (Rom. 15:16), the completing of Jesus' sacrifice, as typically shown by the commingling of the blood of the goat with that of the bullock upon the propitiatory. (Lev. 16:15).
Jesus, the Lamb of God, delighted to do His Father's will. The course marked out for Him was a remarkable one. He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name." "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," for God has predestinated that the Bride of Christ must first be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). Those who demonstrate their loyalty to their heavenly Bridegroom under the various tests now upon us, filling up of the afflictions left behind of Christ for the Body's sake will be counted worthy to form the Bride, the second Eve. O glorious prospect drawing near--the Marriage of the Lamb! "They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut." When the marriage is consummated, and the virgins, the Bride's companions that follow her, are brought into the King's palace, with gladness and rejoicing, then the regeneration of Adam's race, for whom atonement will have been made, will begin, and "the fathers shall become the children" of the Bride and Bridegroom, and they shall be made princes in all the earth, as co-labourers in the glorious work--the restitution of all things made possible through the sacrifice of the man Christ Jesus.