The National Labor Tribune, August 8, 1909


Brooklyn, N. Y., Aug. 8 – Pastor Russell preached today in Brooklyn Tabernacle to a crowded house. He said "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished; that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." (Isa. 40:1, 2)

Explain it how we will, there is a persistency in the Hebrew race not found in any other. Many and great nations have risen and fallen since God's promise to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

The Hebrew race alone has continued. It is with us today – a power throughout the civilized world. In literature, medicine, science, and art, as well as in finance, the Jew occupies today a high position. No other nationality can make as good a general showing. The Jew, willingly or unwillingly, is a witness for God and his Word – not that the Jewish traits are all amiable, or Godlike, or worthy to be copied, or worthy to be considered examples for the remainder of mankind, but because the race connects us up with the great promise of God, which is the hope of the whole world – the Oath-Bound Covenant made with Abraham, which is yet to be fulfilled.


The Jews know, and Christians know, that for centuries Israel was God's peculiar people, of whom he said, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (Amos 3:2)

Both know also that since the time of Jesus' death that favored nation has been cut off from the favors once enjoyed, has been a people without a country, held together indeed, but subjected to calamities and persecutions. But very few of either Jews or Christians have investigated and are aware that there is an exact parallel, or duplication, of time between the two experiences of Israel – that is to say, that the period of their favor ending at the Cross of Christ, and the period of their disfavor beginning at the Cross, are of exactly the same length, or duration.

And comparatively few know that there are several distinct promises which foretold this parallelism, this division of Israel's history into two great, equal portions, one of favor and the other of disfavor, each 1845 years long. One of these prophecies mark the beginning of Israel's disfavor in advance, saying, "The days come, saith the Lord, when I will cast you off, and show you no favor" (Jer. 16:13), and render unto you double. Another of these Scriptures points to the exact date which constituted the turning point in their experience, saying, "Even today do I declare that I will render unto you double" – literally, the other half of your experience. (Zech. 9:12)

That turning day is distinctly noted by the Prophet as being the one on which our Lord rode to Jerusalem on the ass at the close of his ministry, when he wept over the city of Jerusalem and said, "Your house is left unto you desolate. Ye shall see me no more until that day when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matt. 23:38, 39)

Our text marks the closing of Israel's period of disfavor, announces the forgiveness of Israel's sins and the return to that people of God's smile of favor, and states the reason for this in the words, "He hath rendered unto her double for all her sins."

Not double punishment is meant, as though God were unjust to punish too severely, but a double, or parallel, of experience under disfavor corresponding to a previous period of experience under Divine favor as God's peculiar people. [NS696]


Every Christian who is rightly informed and of proper heart will have three reasons for pleasure in speaking comfortingly to the Jew, in harmony with the exhortation of our text, at the present time.

(1) He should have that general sympathy for the Jews as for all others of the human family, and should therefore be glad to rejoice with him that the end of his tribulations is near at hand, even though the Scriptures distinctly declare that his tribulations will close with a very sharp experience.

(2) When the Christian remembers that the hopes and promises which he cherished belonged once to the Jew, and were forfeited by that nation because of unpreparedness of heart to receive the Messiah, it must cause a fresh sympathy. While rejoicing in the riches of God's grace which, through the failure of the Jew, was extended to the Gentiles, we should also feel pity and sympathy for them in their loss of the Divine favor, which has come to us and which we enjoy. (Rom. 11:28-32)

(3) The Christian may well rejoice with the Jew additionally because the Scriptures clearly indicate that with the end of Israel's disfavor will come the end of the present order of things and the inauguration of the Millennial Dispensation of Divine favor to Israel, and through Israel to the world. And this will mean the completion of the Church, her change in the "First Resurrection" from mortal to immortal, from earthly to heavenly conditions as the Bride of Christ and as Zion in the Millennial throne of glory – which is first to bless Israel, and then through Israel to extend that blessing to all the families of the earth. (Rom. 11:26)


Let us hastily review Israel's hope, noting the while that it is this hope which has energized that people for now nearly four thousand years. The so-called "Hope of Israel," which has held that nation together as a peculiar people in the world, is built upon the Scriptural fact that God made a special Covenant with Abraham, saying, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

This promise God made oath to, and hence the Israelites felt it to be immovably secure. For century after century they held to that promise, believing themselves to be Abraham's promised seed, and looking forward with anticipation to the time when God would exalt them as a nation and make them the rulers of the world, to establish his laws of righteousness in all the earth, and thus to bless mankind.

In due time, when Israel realized that her hope for attaining this high position was a glimmering one because of her national vicissitudes, God explained a still further feature of his plan, namely, that it would not be executed by the nation of Israel alone, but that he would send them the Messiah, the Mighty Immanuel, whose dominion would be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth, and that Israel would, however, constitute his special nation, which he would use in connection with the blessing of the other nations. This is still the hope of Israel, although it has become faded and dim by reason of the disappointments of the long centuries which have intervened since their rejection of Jesus.

When Jesus came, everything connected with his advent was so different from what they had pictured it, that they were ashamed of him, rejected him, and crucified him, thus fulfilling the prophesies they already had which told of him as the Lamb of God – the passover Lamb. We are not to think hard of the Jews for this, nor to suppose that the majority of Gentiles under similar circumstances would have done differently. St. Peter's words on the subject on the day of Pentecost are quite to the point. He said to his hearers, "I wot (know) that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." Acts 3:17


The Jewish rulers saw nothing in the Redeemer but fraud. They considered Jesus an Imposter, brilliant in some respects, but a deceiver of the people. They feared his ultimately raising an insurrection, which would bring against their little nation the strong power of the Roman Empire and take from the few liberties and privileges still enjoyed as a people. The High Priest expressed the prevalent sentiment – "It is better that one man should die than that our whole nation should perish." (John 11:49-51)

His words, however, were true in a sense which he did not understand; for only by the death of Jesus could salvation ever have come to the Jewish nation or to the world. The Lamb of God must die, "the just for the unjust," to make reconciliation for iniquity. The penalty for Adam s sin must be met, before its death sentence could be lifted.

As St. Paul points out, nothing happened in our Lord's experience not foreknown to the Father. Israel's rejection of Messiah, and the consequent rejection of Israel by him, were all foretold through the prophets. Let no one suppose that Israel's rejection was a finality; let no one understand that Israel fell; but merely that Israel stumbled; for as St. Paul points out, the gifts and callings of God are things he will not repent of – will not deviate from. (Rom. 11:29) [NS697] Israel was cast off merely for a time, merely until Spiritual Israel would be gathered. When that great work shall have been accomplished, Divine favor will return to natural Israel – forgiveness of their sins, the opening of their blinded eyes, their restoration to Divine favor as a people, and the fulfilment through them of the promised blessing of all nations.


The thing which the Israelites did not understand, and which alas! comparatively few Christians comprehend, is distinctly pointed out by St. Paul as the Mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations, and now made known unto the saints. (Eph. 3:3-5)

The Mystery is this: That Messiah would not be one individual merely, but a composite Messiah of many members. Messiah will be spiritual, not earthly, and hence the heavenly promises would be his – "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" – in the heavenly condition.

This will still leave the many gracious promises of God of an earthly kind for natural Israel. But the fulfillment of these earthly promises is deferred until first the Spiritual Messiah, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, Spiritual Israel, shall have been developed, perfected, glorified. Then the blessing of God proceeding through Spiritual Israel, the Messiah, under the headship of Jesus glorified, will extend to natural Israel, and in turn pass through natural Israel, during the Millennial Age, to all the families of the earth. No wonder the Jews, to whom only earthly promises had ever been given, were surprised and perplexed by the teachings of Jesus respecting his Kingdom. They were expecting him who would be the glory of the world, and whose capital would be located at Jerusalem; but he declared, "My Kingdom is not of this world."

And again, "The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation (outward show); neither shall ye say, Lo, here (it is), nor, Lo, there (it is), for it shall be in the midst of you" – everywhere present, but invisible. Such teachings were too deep for the Jews, except for the few who were deeply spiritual and accepted our Lord's teachings on the strength of his merits. Even these did not understand his teachings until endued with Divine blessing and enlightenment at Pentecost.

Then they remembered the Lord's words and appreciated them, as we may now do under the same blessed guidance. Instead of Jesus, the Messiah, taking the place of Caesar as the Emperor of the world, and as King of the Jewish nation for the conquering of the world at his first advent, he endured the cross for the world's redemption, and at the same time began the work of calling and sealing a company of disciples, followers, who, when begotten of the holy Spirit, were accounted as "members in particular of the Body of Christ."

These members, gathered primarily from the Jews, and subsequently out of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, are all required to have the characteristics of their Lord, their Redeemer, their Teacher. Like him, they must delight to do the Father's will at any cost, at any sacrifice – like him, they must suffer for righteousness' sake and thus attest their faith and loyalty to principle.

Like him, they must bear witness to the truth under adverse conditions as ambassadors for God. Like him, they must be servants, or messengers of the New (Law) Covenant, proclaiming it to those who have an ear to hear, and drinking of Christ's cup of the New (Law) Covenant, partaking of a share in the sacrifice, whose blood will eventually seal that New (Law) Covenant for Israel, and through Israel for the world.


Here was the Mystery – that during nearly nineteen centuries God's plan, so far as Israel and the world were concerned, was deferred, while Spiritual Israel, of which they had no previous intimation, was called, tested, and glorified. To Israel it would appear as though God had broken his Covenant with that nation, the natural seed of Abraham; a matter which they could not consider possible, in view of the fact that the original Covenant was bounded by the Lord's oath. Yea, how wonderful! When we come to see into the matter properly, we perceive that Israel and the world could not have obtained their earthly blessings otherwise.

"It was necessary that the Christ should suffer and should enter into his glory" on the heavenly plane – the Head and then his foreknown Members. Thus the prophets have foretold the sufferings of The Christ, which have now lasted for nearly nineteen hundred years, and the glory that should follow – the Millennial glory. (1 Pet. 1:11)

Our Lord Jesus, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners (and yet through his mother a member of our race), by his obedience to the Divine Law, became heir of all things – all things which Father Adam had once possessed and had lost by his disobedience – earthly life under perfect or Paradisaical conditions, everlasting life, the rulership of earth, etc. But instead of keeping these earthly blessings to himself, Messiah, in harmony with the Father's plan, sacrificed them, giving his life and all that pertained to human nature as a Ransom sacrifice for Adam and [NS698] his race, and all their earthly rights. When our Lord had finished his sacrifice and ascended up on high, he applied the merit of it to the household of faith – to all who trusted and obeyed him. What he gave to believers was the earthly rights which were lost by Adam but which he had purchased. But in order to become members of his Body, these believers were required to sacrifice the earthly interests and rights which they received by justification. This they have been doing for the nineteen centuries of this Gospel Age. Soon the last member of the predestined number, having acquired the Divine likeness, having consecrated all their earthly interests, and having been accepted of the Father, will have finished his share in the sacrifice of Christ – the "suffering of Christ." (1 Pet. 1:11; Col 1:24)


The Law Covenant which God made with Israel of which Moses was the mediator, St. Paul points out was an unsatisfactory one; not because the Law was bad, for it was perfect; not because the Divine proposition or Covenant connected with it was bad, for it offered eternal life to whoever would keep the Law. The difficulty lay in the fact that the Jews, like the remainder of the world, were imperfect, fallen, and unable to keep the Covenant, unable to fulfill the requirements of the Law. Hence, says St. Paul, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight." (Rom. 3:20)

God, however, assured Israel that at some time in the future he would make with them a New (Law) Covenant, which would be more satisfactory, and yield the desired results (Jer. 31:31); that he would take away their stony hearts (not give them spiritual hearts, not make them "new creatures," but give them "hearts of flesh"); that at that time he would write the Law in their hearts. Is it asked how the New (Law) Covenant would differ from the old one, and how it could bless them, when the old Law Covenant merely brought upon them a sentence of death?

The answer is given by the Apostle that the Covenant will be practically the same – a Covenant to give them eternal life on condition of obedience to the law; but a difference will consist in the fact that the Mediator of the New (Law) Covenant will be more capable than was the mediator of the old Law Covenant.

Not that Moses was unfaithful, nor that he did not do his best to assist the people, but because the new Mediator, Christ, having "died, the just for the unjust," has a residue of merit at his disposal sufficient to make good to justice for the unwilling defects of Adam and all his race. In this way the New (Law) Covenant will be much more effective to Israel than the old one was. Moses, the mediator of the Law Covenant, was a type of the Christ, Head and Body, the Mediator of the New (Law) Covenant. Our Lord Jesus in his own person came into the world to mediate this covenant. As the prophet declares, he is the "Messenger of the Covenant." (Mal. 3:1)

The merit of his sacrifice, symbolically styled "his blood," is the blood which seals the New (Law) Covenant. Nevertheless, he has not yet applied in this manner, but has applied it merely to the household of faith for the justification of those now invited to become members of his Body under the original Covenant made with Abraham 430 years before the Law Covenant. St. Paul says that the "Law Covenant which was 430 years after" the original Abrahamic Covenant could not disannul it. (Gal. 3:17)

The Church is being selected, not under the old Law Covenant with Israel, nor under the New (Law) Covenant which will be made with Israel at the opening of the Millennium, but under the original Abrahamic Covenant, which was barren up to the time when our Lord became the heir of all things, the Christ, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. It is that original Covenant, under which our Lord was accepted to the priesthood on the spirit plane, that is now held open to Spiritual Israel. As St. Paul declares, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29

So then the original Covenant provides the Spiritual Seed of Abraham – Jesus the Redeemer, the Lord, the Head, and the Church of his faithful, spirit-begotten followers, members of his Body. To these Body members the Head passes on the cup of self-sacrifice, self-denial, suffering. These, a "little flock," are partakers now of the suffering of Christ, that they may be sharers in due time of his glory. These present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, and their reasonable service (Rom. 12:1)

And accepted of Christ, they are thenceforth not their own, but members of him – members of the Mediator of the New (Law) Covenant between God and Israel.


As soon as the last member of the Mediator class shall have passed his sufferings and testings, and been glorified, as soon as the Royal Priesthood shall have been completed, then the blood of the New (Law) Covenant will be applied on behalf of Israel, sealing their Covenant and blotting out their sins, and forthwith the Great Millennial work will have begun. All nations will be privileged to share in the blessings of that New (Law) Covenant by joining themselves to Israel, by becoming children of Abraham by faith in God. Thus shall all the families of the earth be blessed with the glorious opportunity of return to Divine favor [NS699] and eternal life. The willful intentional rejection of those favors will mean to them utter destruction – the Second Death. Acts 3:23


Notice now the connecting links of God's great plan, and the share therein apportioned to Spiritual Israel and to natural Israel. God preached the Gospel message in advance to Abraham. The due time had not yet come to introduce any feature of the Gospel – would not come for nearly 2,000 years. In the meantime the Law Covenant was introduced and apparently was made a part of the Covenant of Grace and Faith. It occupied the time, and taught certain lessons and types in preparation for the Spiritual Seed of Abraham.

Although our Lord was born under the Law, and kept the Law, St. Paul explains that the Covenant of Grace operates with all those who accept of Christ by faith, justifying them, even as Abraham was justified by faith before the Law Covenant. The Christ, justified before God, (the Head actually just, the members of his Body reckonedly justified through faith in his blood) constitutes the Seed of Abraham – the only ones in the whole world who possessed the faith of Abraham, the only ones, therefore, who were qualified to inherit under that promise.

God might have claimed a fulfillment of his promise made to Abraham in the completion of the Church – he might have claimed that all who were of the faith of Abraham had been blessed, and that the remainder were such as had not Abraham's qualities of heart. But God was willing to do much more than this. Hence this Seed of Abraham was granted the high reward of a spirit nature – glory, honor, immortality, in return for the sacrifice of the justified earthly life.

Thus, these all pass from the earthly plane of being to the heavenly, and through the New (Law) Covenant arrangement bestow their blessing upon the natural seed of Abraham by sealing the New (Law) Covenant for them and becoming the Mediator for them. The work of the glorified Christ during the Millennial Age will accomplish much more for Israel and for the world than could possibly be done along the lines of simple faith such as Abraham exercised, and such as the household of faith now must exercise.

The inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom, the subduing of sin and of Satan, the releasing of mankind from the bondage of sin and death, the opening of the blind eyes and the unstopping of the deaf ears, will enable the world practically to walk by sight, and to come to an accurate knowledge of the Truth, instead of merely a faith knowledge.

Thus many of Adam's children will be helped under the New (Law) Covenant arrangement who could not have been helped under the original Covenant without this added feature of the New (Law) Covenant. How wonderful and how generous are the divine arrangements! Who but the Lord could have made such a glorious plan, so just, so reasonable, so far reaching? The more we see of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of "Love Divine, all love excelling" the more properly it should sanctify our hearts, and prompt us to loving obedience, that we may make our calling and election sure as members of his Body, and sharers of his glory and his Millennial work.

The National Labor Tribune, August 9, 1909


New Philadelphia, O., August 9 – Pastor C. T. Russell of Pittsburg, Pa., preached in our Opera House twice today to deeply interested audiences. We report one of his discourses from the text, "Go now and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." (1Sa 15:3)

He said: Rumor has it that the Sunday School teachers throughout Christendom had very perplexing experiences two Sundays ago in the teaching of the lesson of which our text is a part. Prominent ones publicly denounced the record as surely false, and claimed that to accept the Prophet Samuel's command as being of the Lord and his anger against King Saul for having spared even one Amalekite alive, King Agag, and the subsequent slaying of this one, is to discredit Samuel as a Prophet and the Bible as an inspired record. They assert that to teach this lesson and many other similar lessons from the Old Testament especially, would [NS700] make infidels, overlooking the fact that their own course in denying the inspiration of the Scriptures and their faithfulness of the record is itself infidelity – unbelief. Such teachers as these and the higher critics in general are making infidels by the wholesale, for if the reliability of Samuel's course be questioned, then everything else that Samuel did and said would be equally subject to criticism and rejection; for if he deceived on one occasion, what guarantee have we that he did not deceive on all occasions? To the contrary, we have Samuel named by the Apostles as a Prophet of the Lord. He is named with David by St. Paul (Heb. 11:32) and again in Acts 13:20; while the Lord, through Jeremiah the Prophet, classed Samuel as one of the chief of the prophets, ranking him next to Moses, saying, "Though Moses and Saul stood before me to plead the cause, I would not repent. (Jer. 15:1)

Whoever, therefore, undertakes to find fault with this lesson is practically finding fault with the entire Bible and is branding himself as an unbeliever in it and its teachings. And by the time the Bible has been repudiated as the standard of authority before the mind, it leaves us without any standard of judgment except what each individual may possess by nature.

Thus the tendency of these higher critics is to rationalism, under which each man makes his own god, his own religion, his own hopes, fears, etc. I am well aware that in supporting the truthfulness of my text and of other Scriptures of similar import, I am taking the unpopular side; but I trust that by the time I shall have finished my argument, it will be seen that the charges of lovelessness, injustice and slander against God and his methods are not mine, but those of my opponents, who today number the vast majority of the thinking people of Christendom.

I said "thinking people," but perhaps that statement was incorrect. I incline to think that otherwise intelligent people do very little thinking along religious lines, and that this lack of thought is one of the sources of their difficulty and dilemma in connection with this subject.


The difficulty which besets the average Sunday School teacher rests upon the wrong foundation laid in the Christian mind by the creeds which have come down to us from the "dark ages," and which we have reverently worshipped because we supposed that they directly represented and interpreted the Scriptures. It is not the Scripture that is at fault, and unreasonable and impossible of acceptance by those who use their reason.

The fault lies in the creeds and traditions of men contrary to the Scriptures; which we have imbibed from infancy and which have hoodwinked Christianity for centuries. To have the right understanding, we need to go to the very bottom of the subject and to call attention to the fact that those who demur against the justice of the slaughter of the Amalekites, men, women and children accept as a fact something much more atrocious and often glory in it. I refer to the fact that practically all of the creeds of Christendom teach that God has somewhere a great furnace called hell, large enough to contain the entire human family of thousands of millions; that he made this before he made man; and that all are to go there except the mere handful of saintly ones who walk in the footsteps of Jesus, not after the flesh but after the spirit, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, who are to go to heaven.

It seems thoroughly unreconcilable with reason that those who believe this last proposition and who blaspheme the holy name of God by such misrepresentations of his character, his work and his future plans, should have any difficulty about the slaughter of a few hundred of the poor heathen. Are they not, in our Lord's language, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel?

Which is the more dishonoring to God, to teach that he used the Israelites as his executioners in destroying the Amalekites or to teach that God has a place of torture for the masses of humanity, with Satan and the whole corps of his demons as the executioners of all these? Which of these theories dishonors God the more? Assuredly the latter. And, by the way, is it not true that the special feature of difficulty before the human mind in connection with the death of any human being is the prevailing theory that immediately at death the wicked are sent to eternal torment?

Does not our horror at the slaughter of the Amalekites arise in a great measure from the impression given us since childhood that they, being wicked, would immediately drop into a burning hell, there to suffer eternally? It is that feature of the matter which consciously or unconsciously influences us in respect to the death of nearly every human being. That is the point of error; and when it is cleared up, the whole matter becomes plain. According to the ordinary idea the Amalekites, a wicked heathen people who for centuries had been under God's sentence, as expressed to Moses (Deut. 25:17-19), would be sure to go to eternal torment when they died; while the Israelites the one nation which God had elected and favored, held a special privilege of getting into heaven when they died, except the few who wickedly repudiated their special privileges. All this is a mistake. The Israelites were not elected to go to heaven when they died, but as all the [NS701] Scriptures declare, all alike, good and bad, went into the grave, into the state of death, sheol, translated hell sometimes in our common version of the Bible, but never meaning a place of fire or suffering or consciousness of any kind, always signifying the death state, and corresponding to the Greek word hades of the New Testament. This is the same penalty which was upon the Amalekites – the death penalty. In fact, the theory of eternal torment is utterly foreign to the Scriptures.

St. Paul, who wrote the major part of the New Testament and who says, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), does not include in that counsel of God even one word about a fiery hell or an eternal torment or consciousness in death. On the contrary, the severest penalty mentioned by St. Paul in any of his writings is his declaration that certain incorrigible ones "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." (2 Thess. 1:9)

There is a great difference between a punishment of everlasting destruction and the punishment of everlasting preservation in torment. And it is right here that the Adversary has so grievously deceived us and twisted our understanding of the divine Word. His object in so doing is set forth in the Apostle's declaration, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not (the truth), lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor. 4:4)

In other words, the Adversary would separate us from the love of God and from the book which tells us about the love of God – the Bible. He would have us think of God as the most terrible monster of the universe, bent upon the eternal misery of nearly all of his earthly creatures. Thus he would alienate our hearts and minds from God and from his Book. And to what an extent he has succeeded in promulgating his blasphemy respecting our Creator!

The general result of these false doctrines is explained by the answer given by a small child to her Sunday School superintendent, who asked, "Lizzie, what will you do when you get to heaven?" The child replied, "I will run and get behind Jesus, so that God will not see me. Poor child! how the doctrine of devils has reached even her and discredited the Almighty God, whose name is love!


We are glad indeed to note the general spirit of our time, which hesitates to countenance as divine the command of our text with the thought that the poor creatures would be necessarily hastened to an eternity of torment.

It will do us good, perhaps, to reason a little more on religious matters, to enquire why the God of love has permitted the reign of sin and death, which we see all about us today and which we know has been in progress for six thousand years. Leaving out entirely the matter of eternal torment after death, we should begin first of all to inquire, Why does our loving Father in heaven permit burning fevers, consumption, etc., to afflict our race? As a matter of fact, the destroying of the Amalekites by the sword of the Israelites caused far less pain and suffering than if a plague had been permitted to come upon the Amalekites for their destruction.

Famine and pestilence have ravaged the world and caused a hundred times the distress connected with the sudden death by the sword, and all must admit that God had as much power to stop the Israelites from slaughtering the Amalekites as to stop some of the plagues and famines which have swept away much larger numbers in other families of our race.

To acknowledge God at all is to acknowledge his power, his wisdom, his justice, his love; and whoever has not thus far been able to harmonize these divine characteristics with the reign of sin and death has failed to learn the first great lesson in theology, in the study of the Bible, in the appreciation of God and his divine plan of the ages. There must be a reason why everything is harmony in heaven and discord on earth, why the heavenly hosts are perfect in mind and morals, while the earthly creatures of God are all so imperfect that "there is none righteous, no, not one." (Rom. 3:10)

There must be some reason why they have no insane asylums in heaven, while on earth their inmates number in civilized lands about one out of every one hundred and fifty of the adults. There must be a reason for this degeneracy in the human mind, this loss of the image of God. There must be a reason why humanity sickens and dies, while the angels maintain their vitality and perfection and know nothing of death.


The only explanation that will satisfy reason is the Scriptural one expressed by the Apostle; namely, that death is the wage of sin. (Rom. 6:23)

Do you inquire, When did we sin, that we should be born in sin and shapen in iniquity? The Scriptures answer us that our misshapen heads, twisted reasoning faculties and other characteristics; and general dying tendency resulted, not from our own transgression, but from father Adam's. The Apostle says, "By one man s disobedience, sin entered the world and death as a result of sin; and thus death passed upon all, because all are sinners." Rom. 5:12 Here then is the key to the mystery. Our race is a [NS702] @race of slaves of sin, inheriting a degenerate nature from a disobedient parent and accentuating with each generation the depravity and the mental, moral and physical obliquity and decline.

It is therefore on account of Adam's transgression and the inheritance of weakness on our part as his children that neither our fathers nor ourselves are worthy of eternal life on the only terms upon which God could grant it – obedience and righteousness. For this reason our whole race is going downward into death – the tomb, the grave, sheol, the Bible hell. The great mistake that confused us is, that we neglected the Bible teaching on this subject and accepted the false and nonsensical theory of the "dark ages," viz., that because of father Adam s one act of disobedience God sentenced him to an eternity of woe. That was our mistake; that is where the error comes in; that is where the fog and blindness affected our minds. Putting away this error and taking the Scriptures just as they read, we find that all becomes simple and plain. The death penalty was "Dying thou shalt die, Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 2:17; 3:19) – not a word about eternal torment, nor a suggestion along that line in the Bible.


Now let us examine the matter and see why it was that the Lord gave the Prophet Samuel a message to King Saul to destroy the Amalekites utterly. The record of the context is that it was to be the execution of the divine decree against that people, a part of whose special crime was their war upon the Israelites when the latter were in the wilderness journey toward Canaan. (Exo. 17:8-16)

It will be noticed also that certain Kenites who were living in the same country were given an opportunity to depart that they might not be destroyed in the slaughter of the Amalekites, and that the reason for this is given, viz., that the Kenites, instead of injuring the Israelites, showed kindness to them when they were coming up out of Egypt. 1Sa 15:6

If now we turn to the account in Exodus, we find that the Lord had said unto Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, for I will utterly destroy and blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." (Exo. 17:14)

In harmony with this was the Lord's command to the Israelites through Moses, saying, "Remember what Amalek did unto you by the way as ye came forth out of Egypt: how he met thee by the way and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." (Deut. 25:17-19)

As a matter of fact it was about four hundred years after the divine decree against the Amalekites that the order to put it into effect was sent to King Saul. As to why so long a delay, we may merely conjecture, basing our surmises upon the Lord's dealings with nations. For instance, when the Lord told Abraham that his posterity would come ultimately into the land of Canaan and receive it as their possession from the Lord, the declaration is made, "In the fourth generation they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (Gen. 15:16)

The intimation is that, although the Lord foreknew when and how the iniquity of the Amorites would increase, he allowed them to have the full benefit of time to demonstrate actually the downwardness of their course. This same thought is set before us by the Apostle in his opening chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, in which he specifically declares that the degradation of the world is due neither to the direct acts of the Almighty nor to his failure to safeguard his creatures. Adam, the only one of our race directly created, was perfect, upright, the image of his Creator, and his sin was a wilful one, for the Apostle says, "Adam was not deceived." (1 Tim. 2:14)

Likewise the Lord has not inflicted punishment upon our race for their degeneration; but as the Apostle explained, "When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but because vain in their reasoning, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness, to the lusts of their hearts and the dishonoring of their own bodies between themselves . . . God gave them up into evil passions. . . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting." Rom. 1:21-28

This seems to be the course which the Lord has pursued with the entire human family except the one nation of Israel, which he undertook to specially deal with under the Law Covenant, to use them as a typical people, to prepare them for Messiah's coming, when they would furnish the nucleus of the Church. Certain great catastrophies of the past are explained to us in the Scriptures along these lines, to be inflicted with a view to preventing the race from going into further degradation, on the principle enunciated, "Thus far shalt thou go but no further." [NS703]


Note some illustrations of this principle that very corrupt people were destroyed, lest they should become more wicked. The Canaanites were sentenced to destruction when their iniquity had come to a full: so we may assume that the destruction of the Amalekites of our text was the time when their iniquity had come to a full. Similarly it was in the case of the Sodomites, for we read that in answer to Abraham's proposition for mercy for the cities of the plain the Lord agreed that if ten righteous persons could be found the city would be spared. (Gen. 18:32)

We are not including the flood in this list of calamities; for while it is true that at that time the wickedness of men in the earth was very great, nevertheless it is equally evident that the flood was intended to destroy the illegitimate progeny of the angels through their unauthorized intercourse with the daughters of men, described in Gen. 6:1-5.

The case of the Sodomites will serve us a valuable lesson on this very subject. Not only is it evident from the record that their cutting off from life was a divine judgment, but additionally we have our Lord Jesus words, "It rained down fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:29); and we have the word of the Lord through the Prophet, "I took them away as I saw good." (Eze. 16:50)

Our thought, of course, in the past has been that the Scriptures taught that the wicked Sodomites, taken away from life in so peremptory a manner and admittedly vile and sinful, were at once consigned to a place of flames and torture at the hands of devils; and perhaps we found it difficult to see how God could say, "I took them away as I saw good."

We were inclined rather to say, Why did not God send Abraham to preach to them? Why did he not give Lot a commission to start a revival meeting or what not? or why should he not have given them some slighter punishment, from which they might have effected a recovery? Why blot them out at one stroke? How could this be good for them or for anybody? We must rely upon the Scriptural account to justify and make plain the matter. It does so abundantly. The chief difficulty with us heretofore has been that we did not seek our information at the right quarter, but went to the traditions and creeds of the "dark ages."

Coming now to the Bible we find its assurance that those Sodomites had already enjoyed more privileges and blessings of life than they were entitled to; for according to the divine decree, life was provided only for the righteous. The fragment of life which the Sodomites had received through their ancestry was Adamic life, which was already under sentence of death; and they were merely enjoying more of it than was their due. God might have cut them off in the moment of birth or by disease or calamity or in any manner. They were culprits; and the death sentence was upon them, as upon all the remainder of the race. As by one man sin had entered the world and death as a result of sin, so death passed upon all men; for all are sinners. (Rom. 5:12)

God took them away as he saw good when their iniquity had reached its full; and it would probably have been injurious to themselves and others if they had been permitted to go further. Meantime they have been suffering nothing except the experiences in dying; for as the Scriptures declare, "The dead know not anything."

There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave (sheol), whither thou goest." (Eccl. 9:5, 10)

The Sodomites have no knowledge of the intervening time and had no hope in their death. But we who are instructed by the Word of God know something respecting them and their hopes. We know that Christ died for them as well as for others; for by the grace of God he tasted death for every man. (Heb. 2:9)

We know that this guarantees for the Sodomites, as well as for all others of the race a full, fair opportunity for release from the death sentence of Adam, under which they died. We know that the time for their awakening will be in the Millennial Age, "Every man in his own order." (1 Cor. 15:23)

We know that when they come forth, therefore, it will be under the favorable conditions of that time, when the strong hand of Immanuel will have control over all the affairs of the earth, when Satan shall be bound for a thousand years and be permitted to deceive mankind no more, when good influences will be let loose upon mankind and evil influences all be restrained, and when the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. Since, therefore, the Sodomites were taken away from conditions which were no longer helpful to them, to be brought forth again under conditions more favorable, did not our God say truly, "I took them away as I saw good?" Looking at it from this the divine standpoint of the Bible, does it not seem good to us all that God should remove them from their scenes of degradation?


Lest some should think that we are painting fancy sketches from our imagination, lest there be some of you who do not remember the Scriptures on this subject, I quote you our Lord's words respecting those very Sodomites who were destroyed. He says that, in [NS704] the day of judgment (the Millennial Age) when the whole world will be on trial, Sodom and Gomorrah will rise up as superior to some of the Jews and condemn in contrast the people of the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin; for if, as our Lord says, the mighty works that were done in those cities by himself and the Apostles had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Hence our Lord declares that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah under the judgments of the Millennial Kingdom, than for the people of Bethsaida and Chorazin. (Matt. 11:20-24)

It is not, therefore, a question of how intolerable it will be for any of them, but the reverse. It will be tolerable for Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin, but more tolerable for the Sodomites. If this be not the teaching of our Lord, pray what do his words signify and what guarantee have we that we shall ever know the meaning of words?

Let us not be so persistent in our adhesion to the traditions of the elders and the darkness of the past that we will refuse the only reasonable explanation of the facts before us, given us by the Lord for our edification and comfort. I remind you that the Lord has also told us through the Prophet Ezekiel something about the Sodomites and what shall be their future state. He tells most distinctly that times of restitution are coming for the whole world of mankind, to lift them up out of their fallen condition and degradation, to bring them back into full harmony with God and the full likeness of God, as originally represented in the perfect man Adam.

Then the work of the Millennial Age is to reach every member of our race and to prove all who will accept the gracious terms and arrangements and be obedient thereto. The Prophet declares that the Lord's favor will come again to the Israelites. The return of the Jews to divine favor will follow the completion of the Elect Church, to be changed in the First Resurrection to be like our Lord, to be the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And at the same time the Jews will return to God's favor; and the same general beneficent favor which will forgive their sins, even the crucifixion of our Lord, will arrange also for the blessing of all mankind, including those wicked Sodomites.

So it reads word for word: "When I will turn again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them; that thou mayest bear thine own shame and mayest be confounded of all that thou hast done in that thou art a comfort unto them. When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate." Eze. 16:53-55

How clear the statement! How in harmony with the divine program that as there has been a reign of sin and death for six thousand years which has carried mankind down to degradation and the tomb, there is to be a reign of righteousness and life for the uplifting of them from degradation and from the tomb. And the right thus to lift mankind from under the divine sentence of death is recorded by our Lord Jesus Christ, when he bought Adam and his race by the sacrifice of himself.

We are merely awaiting the glorious Millennial Age, when this great work of human uplifting shall begin, and the delay is merely to grant the opportunity for finding the Elect Church, the "little flock," who will constitute the Bride of Christ, and in which company the Apostle urges us to strive to make our calling and election sure.

This particular statement of the return of Israel to her former estate and of the Sodomites and Samaritans to their former estate, is in full harmony with the Apostle Peter's statement that times of such refreshment and restitution are due to begin at the second coming of our Lord. There are some who affect to find irony in our Lord's words in the passage quoted; but this is merely because they have not attained to that degree of appreciation of the divine character which the old colored woman had when some one asked her, "Aunty, is it not marvelous, strange, that God would love us and redeem us through the death of his Son?" Aunty answered, "No sir, not strange."

"What, not strange that God should give his Son to be our Redeemer at the cost of his life?" "No, Massa, it is just like him; it is just like him" So dear friends, there are some who think it strange if they read in the Scriptures of something gracious that God has promised to effect for the recovery of our race from the dominion of sin and death. But those who have the Lord's spirit will feel as did the colored woman, that it would be just like him, just like a good, loving, wise, powerful God not only to redeem Adam and his race, but also to give each and all the fullest opportunity for profiting by the great redemption sacrifice, opportunity for release from condemnation and from the weaknesses of inherited dying conditions.


Read further the prophecy respecting the Sodomites and Israelites. The Lord through the Prophet reasons with them and declares that in some respects the Israelites were worse than the Sodomites, more responsible, agreeing thus with our Lord's testimony on the subject. He calls our attention to the fact of [NS705] their wickedness and the wickedness of the Sodomites, etc., saying, that the casting out of Israel from divine favor was the result of their having despised the Law Covenant which he made with them, not that the Law Covenant could have given them life, nor that they would have been able to keep it, but that it was expected of them at least to show respect for it and to make the best possible endeavor to comply with its conditions.

This they did not do; and hence, when the worthy ones were selected by our Lord at his first advent to be members of the Church class, the remainder of that nation were turned aside and stumbled, blinded, decreed to remain so until the fulness of the Gentiles should become into divine favor as members of the Church. Then the Church being completed and glorified, favor would return to natural Israel and, as this Scripture shows us, not to them only, but to the Sodomites and Samaritans, and then to the remainder of the world. Compare this statement with that made by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11.

Here, after showing that Spiritual Israel has come in and has supplanted Natural Israel as respects the great, chief blessing of God – joint-heirship with Christ, the Apostle proceeds to declare that by and by with the completion of the Church blindness will be turned away from Israel and so "All Israel shall be saved (recovered from blindness). 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: as concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sakes (treated as enemies, blinded, ignorant), but as touching the election they are beloved for the father's sakes; for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. For as ye (Gentiles) were in times past disobedient to God but have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also now are disobedient, that by the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God hath shut up all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all. O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his decisions and his ways past finding out!

This is the same message given us through the Prophet Ezekiel. "I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then shalt thou remember thy ways and be ashamed when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thine younger, and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant; and I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know I am the Lord: that thou mayest remember and be confounded and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame when I am pacified toward thee for all thou hast done, saith the Lord of Hosts." Eze. 16:60-63

Let us note, dear friends, that the only possible interpretation of the Bible is along its own lines; that whenever we attempt to mix the theology of Plato and heathenism, we merely confuse ourselves, dishonor God, make his Word of none effect, and increase our own blindness. Let us learn the lesson and abandoning human tradition, take merely a "thus saith the Lord" for all our religious hopes and aspirations.

From this standpoint alone we can see that Samuel was right; that God was right; that the death of the Amalekites was not a violation of any principle of righteousness, but rather in the interest of righteousness, as taking away a people whose iniquity had come to the full, that they might come forth in due time under the power and instruction of the great Redeemer to have a blessed opportunity for knowing the truth as in comparison with the error; and that if they will to choose the truth they shall live; but if they will not choose it they shall be cut off in the Second death, to be as though they had not been, or as the Apostle Peter says, as natural brute beasts. Indeed the first death sentence would have meant everlasting destruction, had it not been that God had made other provision; viz., for our redemption through the precious blood of Jesus and for an opportunity of reconciliation through him. Let us not be misunderstood that we are advocating more than one full complete personal trial or test as respects eternal life.

But let us be understood that we are preaching one trial for each and all of our race; and that we have no objection, but would rather greatly appreciate it, if all the poor heathen and others who have not had a full knowledge and opportunity of the Redeemer, as we have had, shall ultimately have as great opportunity, as great privilege as we to come to know "the only name given under heaven and amongst men whereby we must be saved."

Forever may Thy will be done: I would not choose, I leave it all with Thee, – ...The pilgrimage, if short or long it be, – Thy will be done!

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