|J. H. PATON||ALMONT, MICH.|
|W. I. MANN||SWISSVALE, PA.|
|B. W. KEITH||DANSVILLE, N.Y.|
|H. B. RICE||W. OAKLAND, CAL.|
|A. D. JONES||PITTSBURGH, PA.|
A. – I shall enjoy a conversation with you on this subject; it is one deserving of careful thought and is mentioned by Jesus himself, as well as by his apostles and prophets. I presume I need not make mention of the various theories held by bible students on the subject. Many believe that Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt soon, and that some literal man will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, will sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 2:4.) He is expected to be able to perform "signs and lying wonders" – to deceive all the world into the idea that HE is God, and to have them give homage and worship to him.
There are various conjectures as to who may be this "Man of Sin." It has been claimed for Napoleon Boneparte and each of his successors to the title to the throne of France, and now for Prince Jerome Boneparte. Others quite recently have given up expecting so much of a development of power from a broken down dynasty, and claim, with positiveness, that it is the present Pope.
B. – It would be a very remarkable thing to have occur in this nineteenth century. It might have been possible in some heathen land, hundreds of years ago, but I could not make myself believe that such things are even possible now. No, the tendency of the press and of science is to ignore God altogether, and in the face of the wonderful evidences of His creative power and might, to deny, entirely, the Lord, in whose praise "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. Ps. 19:2.
A. – I fully agree with you. It would be much easier to turn the world to Atheism than to Idolatry. This is one reason why I could not look for a personal "Man of Sin." Paul had always exhorted the church to look and wait for "The day of the Lord, yet here (2 Thes. 2.) he tells them "That day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed." As I believe the word to teach that we are now living in "the day of the Lord," you see it is both natural and consistent in me to look back for the "Man of Sin," and to expect to be able to recognize him, for Paul says he must be revealed, or his real character shown and seen before the "day of the Lord." He referred to a false system which would develop in the church. As one error after another crept into the church, they gradually brought about the "falling away." The church fell from her position of trust in, and support on the promises of her absent Lord, and began to love the world and the things of the world.
The narrow path was too steep and rough; she coveted the world's ease and abundance, and the more bold element formed the plan of so arranging the customs and laws, that the world's affections were captured, and instead of persecuting, the Roman Empire embraced the church and seated her in power. Doubtless she thought to use the power and influence of her new friend – Rome – to the honor of the Lord to whom she was betrothed, but soon she began to "glorify herself and to live deliciously with the kings of the earth," and "her sins reached unto heaven." Rev. 18:5-7.
A. It requires two to make one, as Adam and Eve became one and "God called their name Adam." And as Jesus and his bride are to become one and together be known as The Christ (anointed) – the one seed, – so with this case: The virgin of Christ became untied to the World – They twain became one – "The Man of Sin." Since she pretended to be the true bride and heir with Jesus to the throne of kingdoms, so when united to the World, she claimed the union to be valid and lawful, that she sat a queen. She ruled over the empire of earth, claiming the various titles and honors due to the true Lord and his bride. And that system – Papacy – being a falsifier which sought to take the honor of the true anointed, is emphatically the opponent of the true Christ, or, as the name signifies, Antichrist.
A. Yes, brother; and you will remember that the late Pious IX. promulgated the dogma of his own Infallibility. And the present Pope, "Leo XIII. claims to be "The Lion of the tribe of Judah." This, like other titles belonging to the true Christ, is claimed by the Anti-Christ, as you will see by this extract from the Pittsburg Dispatch of June 14, 1879: "A rich American, now residing at Rome, desiring to possess the bust of Leo XIII., engaged the services of the celebrated sculptor, Tadolini. The latter, not content with the simple portrait of the Holy Father, went to the Vatican and asked permission of Leo XIII. to reproduce his features from the original. The Pope consented. When the work was finished, Leo congratulated the artist, who asked him to trace a word on the still fresh clay. His Holiness took the burin from the sculptor, and wrote with a smile, 'Leo de tribu juda.'" ["The Lion of the tribe of Judah."]
B. It does seem very clear when so put together; but how about the remainder of the verse, – "Who sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." How could Papacy fulfill this? The temple at Jerusalem had been destroyed hundreds of years before Papacy's rule.
A. The temple of God is the dwelling or abode of God. Once He dwelt in the Jewish temple, but at the death of Jesus the vail of the temple was rent in twain and the glory of the Lord departed, and from that time it ceased to be, really, the temple of God. For [R55 : page 2] fifty days there was no temple on earth; but, "When pentecost was fully come," the Lord descended by his spirit, and his glory and presence filled His New Temple, the gospel church. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21,22. There has been no other temple since, and there never will be another, for this one is an everlasting habitation. Any building which men may put up at Jerusalem might be called a temple, but it would not be THE temple of God. The "Man of Sin," – Papacy – did take his seat in God's church (temple), and used in a blasphemous manner the titles and honors of the "King of Kings." Paul tells us that the errors which led to this falling away from the truth had begun to operate in the church even in his day. It increased more rapidly when the churches' "candlestick" was removed, – the special gifts of the Spirit in healing, discerning of spirits, etc., ceased. These let, or hindered the more rapid development of error in the Apostolic days. (Another hindrance was the pagan empire, and not until its decline could Papacy be exalted.)
B. It does seem to be a wonderful counterfeit of the true Kingdom of God, and I see some force in the Spirit's calling it (vs. 11) strong delusion that they should believe a lie.
"The Woman, clothed with the Sun," is the Gospel church, covered with the precious promises of God and the glorious light of truth. The Moon is the reflection of the Sun's brightness, so the Law or Jewish age was a shadow of the Gospel. It was light, but not the real, only reflected light. The woman had the Moon under her feet. She had reached a higher plane, and yet she rested upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. The diadem of twelve stars, representing the Apostles (vs. 3). The Roman Empire having seven heads (Rome's seven successive and distinct forms of government), and ten horns (divisions of power). "The red dragon," Pagan Rome, persecuted the church. "His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth." "Stars of heaven," – the bright ones or ministers and teachers in the church. The dragon's tail draws them, i.e., these become followers of Pagan Rome in hopes of having favor with the empire and escaping persecution. As a result, they lose their position as stars in the true church, and are "cast to the earth." Persecuted and reviled, she was pained to be delivered, and longed for the completion of the promised "Seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent's head." Her anxiety and desire in this direction produced a pre-mature birth – "The Man of Sin" (the papal hierarchy) being the offspring. This "male child," at first a weak one (A.D. 314), was gradually "caught up unto God and to his throne," or exalted to the position and titles, homage and praise of the true "seed," so that "He as God sat in the temple (church) of God, showing himself that he is God." And within three hundred years he did "Rule the nations with a rod of iron."
Vs. 7: "And there was war in heaven;" – i.e., there was a conflict or controversy between the two elements – the church and the empire – when this son of the church attempted to take the ruling position. (This conflict and casting down continued for several hundred years, or until about A.D. 752, when "In the pontificate of Zachary, the German court decided that no Metropolitan could enter upon his functions without the approval of the pontiff." "In the same year, Pepin asked the sanction of the Pope to ascend the throne of France.") "Michael and his angels" – the papacy and its supporters – fought against the dragon – pagan rulers, etc., – and the great dragon was cast out of heaven. This conflict between Papal and Pagan power resulted, as we have seen, in the overthrow of the latter.
B. But does it not seem a forced construction to suppose Michael to symbolize the "Man of Sin?" Is not this the same Michael referred to in Dan. 12? If it is a symbol in one case, is it not in the other?
A. No; the account in Dan. 12 is a literal statement. The resurrection and other matters there mentioned are literal, but not so Rev. 12. The woman, dragon, tail, stars, horns, etc., are all symbols, and it would be out of order to have a real Michael fight a symbolic dragon. However, it seemed puzzling at first to know why this name should be given to Antichrist, but on turning to a dictionary we find that the meaning of the word Michael is – "Who as God." It is quite remarkable that the meaning should be in such close accord with Paul's description – "He as God sitteth in the temple of God," etc. When the dragon was cast out of heaven (out of the ruling position) it left this one ("Who as God,") in control, or in the heavens, and from him issues the "loud voice" (great proclamation) of verses 10,11 and 12; that is, Papacy claimed that when it assumed control "the kingdom of God and the power of his anointed," had come to the world. They claimed that they had overcome by the blood of the Lamb, their lives and testimonies. "Therefore, rejoice ye heavens." (Let Papacy and all connected therewith rejoice.) "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, etc." As the church had once been persecuted when Paganism reigned, so now when she reigns she makes the Pagans and heretics suffer. This, papacy claims as the millennium, during which it broke in pieces the kingdoms with the rod of iron.
A. Remember that the dragon represents Rome, and that the same dragon has various heads. (See Rev. 17.) Here it had fully taken on its fifth head – Papacy. It was the same Rome under a new ruler, or head, and the same power which had previously persecuted the church, – the Empire and its army. Under the new ruler it persecuted pagans and heretics. Remember, therefore, that hereafter the dragon represents the empire or military power, under the control of its ecclesiastical head. This military power must be made use of by its new head, and its force was directed against the woman and against the remnant of her seed [not of the apostasy], which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus." ["The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."] These, Waldenses, &c., doubtless knew from the prophetic word, not only that the "same Jesus" would come again "to be glorified in his saints," but also that there should "first come a great falling away," and "That Man of Sin be revealed – the son of perdition," – before the day of the Lord.
Vs. 14. – To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness [lit., the place deserted] into her place. The two wings are probably the "two witnesses," – the word, – which now showed the true church from which papacy had sprung, her true condition – ON earth instead of, as at first, above the earth, with the moon under her feet.
These two witnesses assist her, not only to mount upward again, but to return to "the place deserted," i.e., to a condition of harmony with God, not with the world. She was nourished in this wilderness 1,260 years, or three and a half times, (from A.D. 538 to A.D. 1798.)
Vs. 15. – "The dragon (Empire) cast a flood of waters (people – army) after the woman to destroy her, but the earth helped the woman, &c." The army was largely made use of in furnishing dissenters, and had it not been that frequent trouble from other sources otherwise occupied it, the army might have exterminated the true church.
A. Paul says: "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth." To consume is to waste gradually. The spirit of his mouth is his word. This consuming of Papacy has progressed for about three hundred years, or since God's word began to be published, (A.D. 1526) and particularly since 1801, when it "the two (witnesses") was exalted to heaven, or when it came to be reverenced.
Papacy has ever realized that "the word" would be its destroyer, [R55 : page 7] and has sought in every way to keep it from the people, and would to-day, as in past ages, burn every bible if it could.
B. Thank God for His Word. How we should prize it. It is the light which dispels errors and scatters the powers of darkness. Yet I often think that many of its strongest advocates are neglecters or careless readers of it. Would that all might remember that "it is the power of God unto salvation," and that in neglecting it they neglect him. (Mark 8:38.)
A. Your remarks are good. I have noticed of late that while the nominal Christian professor becomes the more skeptical, the more matured and most earnest children of God are searching as they never did before.
A. – The words you quote would be more literally rendered: "Whom the Lord will make powerless by the appearing (manifesting) of his presence." Papacy has been losing its power gradually, (the "Roman Inquisition," the last of its kind, being [R56 : page 7] abolished in 1870.) This, too, is in harmony with our understanding of Christ's presence: that he is now present, separating, purifying and gathering the wheat; and when this is accomplished we (if gathered) "shall appear with Him." Oh, glorious hope! Let us "so run that we may obtain," really overcoming the real dragon by the blood of the Lamb and the word of His testimony, that we may have part with the real anointed Jesus, in the real kingdom. Good-bye; call again.
"When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." Psalm 102:16.
It represents "the city of the Lord" (Isa. 60:14) – Jerusalem. But which? There are two Jerusalems: the old, and the new: the earthly and the heavenly, and two nations or churches corresponding – the Jewish and the Gospel. Some apply the text wholly to the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, and others apply it wholly to the success, in some way of the gospel church; perhaps it is most commonly applied to what is familiarly called a "revival of religion." We believe such prophecies apply primarily to the building up of the old Jerusalem, by restoration, and in a higher sense, to the building up of the New Jerusalem by glorification, and that both will be accomplished in one and the same day, i.e. "the day of wrath," or the 37 years on which we have entered reaching to A.D. 1914. We do not believe that a revival of religion fills the prophetic picture in any proper sense. The New Testament clearly locates the appearing in glory after the resurrection of the saints, for, says Paul: "When Christ who is our life shall appear we also shall appear with him in glory." Col. 3:4. That it is associated with the Christian's reward, and not with his work in this life is evident, because Peter speaks of our trial when ended as being "found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Pet. 1:7.
The "manifestation of the sons of God," (Rom. 8:19) the appearing in glory, and the descent of the New Jerusalem, may be the same great fact under different names. The same glorious results are clearly foretold as coming from each. When the New Jerusalem comes down "having the glory of the Lord," it is said "The nations shall walk in the light of it;" to its flowing river "whosoever will" are invited to come and drink, and the leaves of its tree are "for the healing of the nations." Rev. 21:10,11,24 and 22:1,2.
As a result of the "manifestation of the sons of God," it is said that "the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God." Rom. 8:21. Compare these results with what is stated in the connection of our text as to the great benefits to earth's inhabitants, of the Lord's appearing in glory, and two things must, we think, be impressed on the reader's mind: first, that the three things mentioned above are one and the same; second, that the appearing in glory is an event greatly to be desired for the benefit of mankind. Certainly the manifestation, or descent, are not due until after the church is glorified, hence the building up of Zion must precede the time when a perfect theology will prevail among men on earth. It is when the "Lord shall bring again Zion" that "the watchmen shall see eye to eye." Then, the veil being removed the knowledge of the Lord shall prevail," and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." Isa. 52. It is during a period of imperfect theology, when we know only in part, that the stones of the heavenly building are selected and hewn to fit their places; but when the temple is built and filled with the glory of the Lord, "Then it will shine forth as the sun, and the nations will be enlightened, and they shall turn to the Lord." Ps. 22:27. Some object to the double application of the term Zion, who are believers in the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, and yet believe in the same general results as to the world's conversion in the dispensation to come. They believe that the Jew restored will be God's agency in the great work. To this we agree, and with them we would quote: "It shall come to pass in that day that ten men shall lay hold of one that is a Jew and say, we will go with you, for we have heard that the Lord is with you." That the earthly Jerusalem restored is to be capital of the earthly nations, and center of earthly service, does not as we see it, militate against the idea that the New Jerusalem in glory, will be the power manifested through restored Jerusalem. Satan's invisible kingdom has acted largely through the visible city and government of Rome, and by the same law of correspondence, the Roman Empire, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns, is "called the Devil and Satan." Rev. 12:3,9.
In this sense we believe the restored Jerusalem will be called the kingdom of God, but the real, the heavenly kingdom will be as much higher than the earthly, as Christ is higher than he was. The Jews restored will be natural men, bearing the image of the Earthly, and such can neither see nor inherit the real kingdom of God. John 3:3, and 1 Cor. 15:44,50.
That not only the earthly Jerusalem is called Zion, but also the Heavenly is evident, from Heb. 12:18,22: "Ye are not come to the mount that might be touched... but ye are come to Mt. Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem." A literal mountain could be touched and stands associated with literal or earthly things. The earthly is but a symbol of the Heavenly, which is therefore called a mount which could not be touched. None we think can object to the double application, who see that in God's plan nearly every thing is double; the two standing related to each other as the natural and the spiritual.
There are two Adams, their two wives, and two families; two births and two lives; two covenants, two laws, two sanctuaries, two circumcisions, two temples, two seeds, two nations and two lands for inheritance. Abraham, to whom the promise was made, saw through the earthly, and so looked for a "better country, that is, an heavenly," (Heb. 11:16) and so also he looked for a "city whose builder and maker is God." (Ver. 10.) Man could build an earthly city, but not the heavenly.
To build up Zion implies a process, and so far as relates to the earthly Jerusalem, includes the restoration of the Jewish nation of Israel according to the flesh, in all its parts; and we believe in its application to the Gospel church, the same must be true. That from 1878 to 1914 is the last half of the last trump, has often been shown, and also that this is the period during which Jerusalem is to be restored. "The last, or seventh trumpet covers the day of wrath, angry nations and the time of reward for prophets, saints and them that fear God's name, small and great." Rev. 11:18. All Christians, whatever their grade of development, are thus included. Some occupy a position with Christ in his throne, as a reward of their faithfulness, while many serve him before the throne. But all are included in the heavenly city, and that city descending in its completeness and glory; as the light of the nations, is called the Bride, the Lamb's wife. As the whole Jewish church was the Bride in type, so the antitype includes the whole gospel church. This does not shut out the idea of order and variety in the city of God, nor lessen the motive of seeking by faithfulness a high position, even a place in the throne, but it does preserve the idea so clearly taught in the New Testament, of the Unity and indivisibility of the One Body of Christ. Some are to be counted worthy to escape the tribulation, as like Aaron in the mount [R57 : page 3] with Moses, execute the judgments written, while others are left to pass through the fire, wash their robes, and come up out of the great tribulation. But as the body would not be complete without all its members, so the church or city of God would be incomplete without its citizens, as servants before the throne. "They shall be mine saith the Lord in that day when I make up my jewels." Even them that think on his name are dear in the sight of the Lord.
The day of this building is here and both the earthly and heavenly will be built up. Then indeed the Lord in his temple will appear in his glory, and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.
During harvest there is reaping, with separation of tares from wheat. Then follows the gathering into the barn. After a little time to season, comes the threshing; then the winnowing. Next comes the grinding of the pure grain; followed in due time by the kneading together of the fine flour. Finally the oven does its work, (well heated) and the bread is ready for the hungry.
Jesus said: "The bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.... If any one eat of this bread, he shall live forever; yea, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:33,51.
Paul said: "The cup of blessing for which we bless God – is it not a participation of the blood of the Anointed One? The loaf which we break – is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed One? Because there is one loaf, we, the many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Cor. 10:16,17. – Emphatic Diaglott. Notice context in verses 6,11-13. Are we not in the barn being threshed, with good prospect of a winnowing? If so, the grinding of the purified should follow, and a kneading together, perhaps mingled with oil, which the heated oven will only better prepare for the Master's use and our future work.
The history of Joseph the son of Jacob, as given in the book of Genesis, is one of considerable interest. Taken just as a true story of a life, there are but few like it. "Truth is stranger than fiction;" and it is certain that many, both young and old, have read this history with thrilling interest and lasting profit. The exemplary conduct of Joseph is worthy of admiration and imitation.
His relation to the history of God's cause and people, in their early stage of development, is important. As an example of the over-ruling Providence of God in the affairs of men and nations, showing how man, seeking his own selfish ends, and to a certain degree succeeding, may yet have his plans thwarted, and the seeming evil turned to good account, the history of Joseph is most remarkable. For many reasons his history has been justly valued by [R57 : page 4] many; but to us the most important feature of his case is its allegorical character. This feature of bible history, though overlooked by many, and denied by some, is becoming more and more apparent. The story itself, though true, as we fully believe, sinks into comparative insignificance when its spiritual import is seen. The greater eclipses the less, and the spiritual is greater than the natural, but while this is true, there can be no doubt that those who appreciate the spiritual, value the letter, because of its deeper import, even more than those who see only the letter; just as men who expect to be changed from the natural to the spiritual body in due time, value the natural body because it is a stepping stone to the higher, more than do they who ignore the spiritual, and who act on the epicurean principle: "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." We regard Joseph's history as representing in its general features the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a type proper, as in the law, we would expect "every jot and tittle" of it to be fulfilled, but in an allegory we look for a picture only on general principles. The case of Abraham's two wives, and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael, which is declared to be "an allegory," (Gal. 4) will illustrate. Every feature of their lives is not mentioned, but there is a most remarkable correspondence between the facts in their history, and the facts in relation to the two Jerusalems; to which Paul makes the application. We do not intend to make parallels, or to force into use any feature of Joseph's life, and say this and that must have a parallel; but using as a basis what is revealed of Christ elsewhere, we find the parallels, and by these, as illustrations, confirm the truth. We regard these correspondences as strong evidence that the same mind that created the gospel plan, superintended the lives of the ones of whom the history is given, and inspired in his own way the writers. The evidence seems all the stronger in view of the fact that many features of this correspondence have not long been seen. They have been hidden away as jewels in the earth, to be uncovered for the encouragement of the faith of the disciple in this hour of bold and defiant infidelity. "He that hath ears to hear let him hear." It seems as if no Christian could have any difficulty in tracing the many features of our Saviour's life and work in the life of Joseph, when their attention is called to them.
Joseph was the well beloved son of his father: "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children," Gen. 37:3. For this fact, his reproving of sin, and for his ambitious dreams of coming glory, his brethren hated him. So Jesus, the "beloved Son" of his Father, on account of his condemning their wickedness, and because of his royal claims, as one born to be their king, was hated by his brethren – the Jews. The words are almost identical. "Shalt thou indeed reign over us?" said Joseph's brethren, when he had told them of his dream of their sheaves making obeisance to his sheaf." "We will not have this man to reign over us;" We have no king but Caesar;" said Jesus' brethren. In both cases the malice became so intense that death was determined on. They both went down into the pit, and were both delivered from death. It is true Joseph did not actually die, but neither did Isaac, who in another case prefigured Christ, and it is said "Abraham offered his son Isaac," and also "Received him from the dead in figure." The pit was a figure of the death state into which Christ descended. Joseph was counted dead, and his resurrection was thus in figure; but Christ's death and resurrection were both in fact.
The events do not all occur in the same order in both cases; but both were severely tempted and yet resisted; both occupied for a time the position of a servant, and were shamefully abused; both were favored of God in their sufferings and their cause miraculously vindicated; both had a price set upon them by their enemies in certain "pieces of silver;" and both gained a glorious victory, being exalted to the "right hand of power." Pharaoh committed all power of his kingdom into Joseph's hand: "Thou shalt be over my house and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou." Gen. 41:40. He was royally robed and enthroned, and before him went the cry "Bow the knee."
What Pharaoh did thenceforward was done through Joseph, and the only way to obtain the blessing of Egypt was by the "way" or mediation of Joseph. So Christ was exalted to the right hand of God; "sat down with the Father in his throne;" had all power given unto him in heaven and earth; "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow;" and it is said of him, "Let all the angels of God worship him." "He is Lord of all," "the way the truth and the life," and "no man cometh unto the Father except by" him.
One grand feature of the work of Joseph is that of giving the needed bread, and there was no where else to go; so it clearly represents Christ's work as Life-Giver. "I am the bread of life;" "I am the truth;" "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." "The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life." Well may we say as did Peter: "To whom shall we go; thou hast the words of eternal life." Oh, that all our readers might realize that we are as fully dependent on the Lord Jesus for Immortality and Eternal life, as were the Egyptians dependent upon Joseph for the support of the natural life. Eternal life only in Christ, is the essence of the Gospel. The first man did not have it, and so did not lose it. He was natural; and the flesh was tried and failed that the need of the Second Man might be appreciated. Let us remember that in order to get the Bread we must apply for it as did the hungry to Joseph. "He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Oh, ye hungry ones, feed upon his precious truth and be filled. We would not overlook the realization of Joseph's youthful dreams. His brethren that scorned him and cast him out had at last to come to him for bread, and they gladly bowed before him. He whom they rejected and counted as dead became their benefactor and saviour. They looked on him whom they had pierced (in figure), and they mourned and were ashamed, but he fed them and even excused them – "It was not you that sent me hither, but God." "Now, therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life." – Gen. 45:5-8.
Let God's mercy be praised![R58 : page 4]
When Christ left the Jewish house desolate it was not eternally, but "until the time come when ye shall say blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." In the coming day of restitution, the Lord says: "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication (favor and prayer), and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn." – Zech. 12:10. Yes, they will mourn and be ashamed of themselves, when in prayer before him whom they despised, even as did Joseph's brethren when they discovered their brother. But it is the mourning of penitence, and not of despair; it is caused by the spirit of favor which is shown them by the long lost brother now restored. They find him exalted as a King and Life-Giver, and he cares for them. They give themselves to him and he gives them a home and all they need. Thus we see that Joseph in many ways represents Christ, and confirms our view of God's plan of the ages.
Truly, God is good, and "his mercy endureth forever." Well may we say, "how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out." What we cannot discover he can uncover or reveal; and "thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift," and the glimpse he has given us of his plan and his love. "We love him because he first loved us." We love one another because "he hath given us of his spirit." "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son." Matt. 22:2.
The Jews were first invited to the great feast, but they made light of the matter, were more interested in the farms and merchandise, and a remnant even persecuted and slew the servants who carried the invitation; in consequence of all which "he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city." (Ver. 7.) Then the command is given: "Go ye therefore into the highways and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage." (Ver. 9.) This seems clearly to refer to the work of the Gospel among the Gentiles; and by people gathered from among them "both bad and good, the wedding was furnished with guests." (Ver. 10.)
The parables of Jesus about the "kingdom of heaven," seem always to refer to the "church militant," or to the living mortal phase of the church; as soon as a man dies he is no longer represented in the parables, so the last part of the movement represented by the parable would include only the generation that are "alive and remain." So the "harvest" of the parable of tares and wheat (Matt. 13) relates to those that "grow together until the harvest," which "is the end of the age." (vs. 30 and 39.) And in the parable of the virgins, the going in to the marriage, refers to same act of the last generation. (Matt. 25.)
The idea of a wedding is often referred to by the Saviour, but it is somewhat remarkable that in such parables the believers are represented in the attitude of guests, and not as the bride. This fact has puzzled some, as Paul speaks of the church as the "espoused" virgin or prospective bride; and the Revelator speaks of the bride made ready as clothed with "the righteousness of saints." (Rev. 19:7,8.) The bride is therefore composed of saints, (holy ones); but why then should the last generation be called guests? It is certain that the "wedding garment" is spoken of as properly belonging to the "guests" with which the wedding was furnished.
We suggest a solution, but as disciples we would gladly receive light from others. 1st. We understand the bride is the whole church, dead and living, raised and glorified. 2d. That the marriage is the process of raising and glorifying the church, or the process of making up his jewels. (Mal. 3:17.) The making up suggests a gradual and not an instantaneous work; as also, "when the Lord shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory." Ps. 102:16. This doubtless refers primarily to the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem during thirty-seven years, or from 1878 to 1914, which, according to the prophetic arguments, is the last half of the sounding of the seventh [R58 : page 5] trumpet. But there are two Jerusalems – an earthly and a heavenly; a mount that could be touched, and a mount Zion that could not be touched. (Heb. 12:18,22.) We believe these are related to each other; the one outward and Jewish, the other inward and Christian; and that both are to be built up during the same period, "the last trump." According to the parables of the "two Dispensations," Christ was due to enter or come into the office of king in the spring of 1878, the parallel of his riding into Jerusalem in fulfillment of "behold thy king cometh;" and the same king who has the power to restore the natural Jerusalem, has the power to build up the spiritual Jerusalem; and it is declared that he will reward the whole church – prophets, saints and them that fear his name, small and great" – during the seventh trumpet, (Rev. 11:18) – the same period in which it has often been shown that the earthly Jerusalem will be restored.
3d. To be in the light when this process is due is the privilege of the living generation, and because of this they are guests. They understand when he takes to himself his great power. "When he had returned having received the kingdom he then inspects the guests and rewards them." Luke 19:15,27. It is evident that the inspection is a work done in reference to the living, while they are yet mortal, for two reasons, first, the reward follows the inspection, and second the unfaithful was cast out.
The idea of being cast out of immortality seems absurd, as the immortal "cannot die." The case of the unfaithful servant cast out seems the same as the one found among the guests without a wedding garment, who shares the same fate. (Comp. Luke 19:26 and Matt. 22:13.) From this it appears evident that "going in to the wedding" is not the translation of the living into immortality, but is coming into a position of expectation, which may be lost on account of lacking certain qualifications, represented by the wedding garment.
The servants gather, but they are not infallible, they do not know the heart, and the king sifts out those unfit for the kingdom. This inspection and sifting out we again remark is after the king comes, and yet before the "power over the nations" is given.
The "dead in Christ" have no part in this light, and therefore not guests, neither are they subjects of this inspection or sifting – their case was decided before they fell asleep. Hence Paul could say: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown." When the dead in Christ are raised they are immortal, and when the living are changed they will be immortal too, both alike sharing in the position of the glorified church – "The Bride, the Lamb's Wife." If it be kept in mind that the living are guests while mortal, by being in the light, there can be no objection we think to our being guests now and yet in due time constituting a part of the Bride, when we put on immortality.
After the king comes, and inspection is due, it should not be surprising if the subject of the garment should be uppermost in the minds of the guests; neither should we be surprised if there is a sifting out instead of a gathering in. That many have passed through a strange test during the past year is known by them all, and the work goes on. Let none be in haste however to judge their brethren, the Lord is judge, and he will decide who is or is not possessed of the wedding garment. In another article we may consider this subject.
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what...?" 1 Pet. 4:17.
In the popular mind the day of judgment is after the end of the Gospel dispensation. As regards the world, so it is; but as regards the church, as quoted above, it is now, in the present time, and has been all through the dispensation.
Of the christian who has seen God's truth clearly, we may say, in the words of another, written many years ago, "He is now on trial, as the investigating judgment is in actual session at this moment, and every individual [Christian] during his life is on trial before God, the righteous "Judge of all the earth;" and each one is, day by day, not only at the bar of the investigating judgment, but is himself the witness, for or against himself, and is every hour giving testimony on which the judge decides the case. Solemn thought! And here let it be remembered that "God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." How solemn the consideration that each one of us is, every hour, testifying before Jehovah's court for or against ourselves! Every word we utter is a part of our testimony; every act of our lives is but our own testimony in our own case; every temper of mind indulged or cultivated goes to make up the chain of testimony, and all our motives in life are so many links in the chain. What a life we are then living! Always in court – always on trial – always giving evidence by which the Judge is to decide." [R59 : page 5]
What an awful thought! Thank God we are not standing in the filth and rags of our own righteousness under the searching gaze of the All-seeing One. We have a friend at court who has thrown his own royal mantle over us. We have an Advocate, too – an intercessor at the throne of justice. Besides all this, the Judge himself is "Our Father;" and "as a father has compassion on his children, Jehovah has compassion on them that fear him.
Is it right to oppose what we believe to be error? We think it is our duty to guard the flock against heresies, as truly as it is ours in any degree to "Feed the flock" with "Meat in due season." Christ warned his followers to "Beware of the leaven (doctrines) of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And the Apostles are found not only teaching the truth, but warning against the entrance of error. "Shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker, of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." 2 Tim. 2:16-18. What is true of one error is true of another, and it is the duty of teachers to defend as well as to teach, – Defend the hearers by defending the truth. The inspired word "is profitable for doctrine" (teaching), not only, but also, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It is clearly taught in the word that God has set watchmen on the Watch Tower, who are made responsible to the people to warn them against the approach of danger, and if the watchmen fail to do their duty the people's blood is required at the watchman's hand.
It is a pleasant duty to preach the gospel, and also to present to the household of faith the many beautiful truths concerning the plan of salvation which we may have learned, but it is not so pleasant to defend the truth against errors. If the first elements of the gospel introduced at the beginning of the age, have served so good a purpose during nearly two thousand years, it seems as if the abundant light of millennial dawn might serve, at least in part, for the age coming on. But we still are on the watch for more, and will gladly accept light through old channels or through new ones, if our Father sends it to us. But we cannot accept as true whatever is presented by others regardless of our own judgment of what the word teaches, "Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good," is an inspired statement of both duty and privilege. It is our duty to learn, but it is also our duty not to learn. Gather truth, but reject error.
Our object is two-fold, – to learn and to teach. We believe God has called us to both. If in our effort to teach we find it necessary to oppose the teachings of others, we purpose with the Lord's help to do so. Sometimes in anxiety to get things new and startling, there is danger. And when our faith in its "first principles" is assailed, we find it necessary to defend it.
The doctrines of Atonement and Resurrection, as we teach them, we regard as fundamental elements of the Gospel and of these we stand in defense.
The bible may be compared to a magnificent edifice that took seventeen centuries to build. Its architect and builder is God. Like this beautiful world, the work of the same Author, it bears on it everywhere the impress of a divine hand. This majestic temple contains sixty-six chambers of unequal size – the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. Each of its 31,173 verses is a stone, a beam, a panel of the building, which is a temple more glorious by far than that of Solomon or of Zerubbabel, with their hewn stones from Lebanon, their pillars of cedar, their doors of olive, their floors, walls, and ceiling overlaid with fine gold of Parodim, their holy places, their courts, their porticoes and gates. Would you have fellowship with the Father? You will be sure to find him within the precincts of his holy house. Shall we take advantage of the King's permission and step inside? We approach by the beautiful Garden of Eden, with its innocent flowers, its groves and lucid streams. The first of the building, that of highest antiquity, bears the name of the Chambers of Law and Justice. These are five in number – the Books of Moses. One of these is a sort of vestibule to the others, and resembles a long gallery hung with portraits and pictorial scenes of surprising interest – mementoes of persons and events that had place before a stone of the building was laid: such figures as those of Abel and Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, Jacob, Esau, and Joseph; and such scenes as Paradise and the Flood, the departure from Ur of the Chaldees, the Tent-door of Mamre, the Flaming Cities of the Plain, the Offering of Isaac, Rebecca at the Well, and the Governor of Egypt weeping over the neck of his brethren.
Thence we pass through an extensive range of imposing apartments – the Chambers of Historic Record. These comprise the Library of the edifice, and in them are laid up the Church's archives for more than a thousand years. These rooms are twelve in number, and stretch from Joshua to Esther.
Then we come to a wide space called the Gymnasium of the building, or the saints' exercising ground – the Book of Job. Entering right of this we find ourselves in the Music Gallery of the Psalms, the orchestra of the house, where dwell all the sons and daughters of song, [R60 : page 6] with cymbal, trumpet, psaltery and harp. Issuing thence we pass at once into the Chamber of Commerce – the Book of Proverbs; not far from which is the Penitentiary of the place, where sorrowful bankrupts and other defaulters may remain for a time with profit – the Book of Ecclesiastes.
A little further on we enter into a tiny parlor in the midst of larger rooms – the Chamber of Sympathy with Mourners – the Book of Lamentations. Interspersed among all these the eye is regaled with such delightful conservatories of flowers as the Books of Ruth and of the Song of Solomon. And next we come to a noble suite of lofty apartments, some of which are of great capacity, and are laid out with extraordinary splendor – no less than seventeen in number. These are the Halls of Ancient Prophecy, and follow in grand succession from Isaiah to Malachi.
Thence we pass to the portion of the edifice of more modern construction, and we enter four spacious chambers of peculiar beauty. These are of marble fairer far than was ever taken from the quarries of Paros or Carrara – chambers of which one knows not whether the more to admire the simplicity or the exquisite finish. At once the walls arrest us. On them we see not golden relief of palm-trees, lilies, pomegranates, and cherubim; but four full-length portraits of the Lord of the building himself, drawn by the Holy Spirit's inimitable hand. These are the Books of the four Evangelists. Stepping onward our ears are saluted by the loud sounds of machinery in motion; and entering a long apartment, we find ourselves face to face with wheels, and shafts, and cranks, and pinions, whose motive power is above and out of sight, and which will bring on changes all the world over. This is the Chamber of Celestial Mechanics – the great work-room of the building – the book of Acts.
Leaving it, we are conducted into the stately Halls of the Apostolic Epistles, no fewer than twenty-one in range. The golden doors of fourteen of these are inscribed with the honorable name of the Apostle to the Gentiles, those of the seven others with the names of James, and Peter, and John, and Jude. Within these halls the choicest treasures of the Lord are stored.
And last of all we arrive at that mysterious gallery where brilliant lights and dark shadows so curiously interchange, and where, in sublime emblems, the history of the Church of Jesus is unveiled till the Bridegroom come – the grand Apocalypse. And now we have reached the utmost extremity of the building. Let us step out on the projecting balcony and look abroad:
Yonder, beneath us, is a fair meadow, through which the pure River of the Water of Life is winding its way; on either side of it stands the Tree of Life, with its twelve manner of fruits and its beautiful leaves for the healing of the nations. And in the distance, high on the summit of the Everlasting Hills, the city, all of gold, bathed in light and quivering with glory – the New Jerusalem; its walls are of jasper, its foundations of precious stones, its angel-guarded gates of pearl – the city that needs no sun, no moon, "for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
Lord, open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Several trees in the distance, in the same direction, appear near to each other, though quite a distance apart. The space between them becomes apparent only as you approach them. The eye of the prophet is permitted to see future events on the same principle, and though events may be centuries, or even millenniums, apart, unless there are prophetic periods given to locate them, it is impossible for us to determine how far apart they will be in fulfillment.
Isa. 9:6,7, relating to the birth, development, reign and final triumph of our Lord, is a clear case of the perspective. Though written nearly eight centuries before the birth of Christ, the present tense is used: "Unto us a child is born," &c., and though the fulfillment requires ages, the prophecy is but a few words, without even a hint of the long time required.
Another case in point, is the prophecy of the work of Messiah. Isa. 61:1,3. This work among other things both before and after is: "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, – and the day of vengeance of our God." Christ himself "rightly divided" this scripture, not reading the latter part, because it was not yet due, and of what he read, added: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Luke 4:21.
The coming of Christ is on the same principle foretold as if it were a single event. The phrases "First Advent" and "Second Advent" are not scriptural. And though we do not object to their use, and will use them by way of accommodation, we nevertheless believe that the impression made is often anti-scriptural. Our aim is to remove misapprehensions as far as possible. We believe that the coming of Christ is properly one great and comprehensive manifestation; but that the process includes several lesser comings or manifestations as parts or stages of the whole. This fact was made the stone of stumbling to the Jew, and it probably will prove to be such to many Christians.
That the prophecies of Christ's glory and kingdom were not fulfilled when he came in the flesh, is true, and as that was what the Jew had in mind, he failed to see the sufferings of Christ (Isa. 53), and so he was rejected by them. It seems strange that any now should claim that in his incarnation and humiliation he came as "The Desire of all nations," in face of the fact that he did not come to any but one nation.
The limited commission: "Go not in the way of the Gentiles," found its sanction in Christ's own words: "For I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Will any one in the face of this say he came then to all nations? The first thing Christ did for the world was to die for them and that not until he had given up the nation to whom he was sent. He was not desired even by that nation. He was "as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men," &c. No clearer pen picture could have been given, than Isa. 53, of the estimate his nation placed on him and the manner in which they treated him. "He came unto his own and his own received him not." "The foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." "We will not have this man to rule over us." "We have no king but Caesar." "Away with him; crucify him." These and many other facts prove conclusively that Christ in the flesh was not the Desire of any nation.
It is evident that the shaking of the nations and the overthrow of kingdoms referred to in our text and context are to precede his coming as the Desire of all Nations. Therefore Paul's reference to the language and his location of it in the future in his day (Heb. 12:26-7), confirm our conclusion that this scripture was not fulfilled at what we familiarly call "The First Advent." Then will it be fulfilled when he appears the "Second time?" Perhaps nearly all would answer, "Certainly." But we are compelled to think differently. Heb. 9:29, is, we believe, the only place in the bible where the word second occurs in connection with Christ's coming. And certainly nothing in this makes it impossible that other comings should follow. Mark, we do not affirm that what is here called the second is not elsewhere referred to, but that when the coming is referred to, it does not always refer to the second. We wish to be distinctly understood as claiming that some of the prophecies of Christ's coming will be fulfilled after he has appeared the second time.
Our question is, Is he the Desire of all nations at the second appearing? If not, there will be another coming, for God's word will be fulfilled. Paul's statement is: "To them that look for him will he appear the second time." Do the nations look for him? Do they desire him? No. Not even the professed church desire his coming. They say they love him, but do not want him to come "in our day." They say they care not if he comes not for "ten thousand years," or even if he never comes, for they expect to die and go to him; but they DO NOT WANT TO GO? God has given us the love of life, and the instincts of men are often better than their theology. Brethren, you ought to know that you can not be with him till he comes. He said, "I will come again and receive you to myself." At his coming the dead in Christ rise and the living are changed and caught away to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Comforting words! 1 Thess. 4:13-18. These are doubtless in reference to his second coming, [R60 : page 6] because it is to them that look for him. There is a company who want him to come. The little flock, the chaste virgin espoused, want to see the Bridegroom. They love his appearing, and Paul says that all such, as well as himself, will receive a crown of righteousness in that day. 2 Tim. 4:8. There is no promise that he will come to them that do not look for, or who do not love his appearing. And there is no promise that any mortal eye will see him at his second coming. Those to whom he then appears are to be changed, made like him, and shall see him as he is.
"Behold he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him," is a sample of passages often quoted against our position. But this is one of the evidences of our position. The nature of events prove that the "coming with clouds" is not the second coming. He will come in all his glory, and in his kingdom, but not until after the saints are with him. When he thus appears to the world, to men in the flesh, to "every eye," the saints are with him. This is represented by a beautiful picture of the grand manifestation, on the mount of transfiguration. Moses and Elias appear with him in glory. Brethren, do not confound this grand event with a previous one of his coming to raise the dead. Three comes after two, just as certainly as two comes after one. The same truth is stated by Paul. "When he shall appear we also shall appear with him in glory." What is true of the Head is true of the Body. It is called "the manifestation of the sons of God." Rom. 8:19.
The church's hope is the "redemption [R60 : page 7] of our body," verse 23, and is reached at the second appearing; but the world's hope is in the "manifestation of the Sons," – the Head and Body complete, – the promised "Seed" whose work it is to crush the Serpent and bless all nations.
God made the creature subject to vanity but in hope. Ver. 20. And it is declared that the groaning creation "itself also (as well as the church who had the first fruits of the spirit) shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." Ver. 21.
It is claimed by some that this manifestation is but a later stage of the "Second Advent" than his coming for his saints. To this idea we would not object so much, for the order of events being admitted, would prevent the blinding effect of the popular view of expecting him to come for them and come with them and do a dozen other things "in a moment" as it were, and without any order. But we are convinced that as his coming in the flesh was to the fleshly house of Israel, and only those knew it who were in the light. So his second coming is to the church, "to them that look for him" and the world will know nothing about it until it is past. That the second advent has its different stages and covers a considerable period of time, as well as the first advent we fully believe. Just as surely as the High Priests coming out was a work of time and had its stages, so surely our High Priest will fulfill them for not a jot or tittle can pass unfulfilled. The first step in type was to leave the most holy, then he tarried in the holy place to cleanse it before coming to the people, and when he had done all, it was to them that waited for him he came. This too is the very subject under consideration by Paul when he says: "As – and so ...to them that look for him will he appear the second time." His coming does not always refer to coming from Heaven, but is a manifestation, or it may be taking or coming into a new position or relationship.
As a babe he came at his birth. He had come, but he had not come fully, i.e. all the steps had not been taken. So John preached "before his coming." Acts 13:24. John says, "there cometh one after me" and again "that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." John 1:31. So Jesus was manifested as the Christ i.e. Anointed, by being anointed with water and that which it represented – the Holy Spirit.
He then entered on the harvest work, but not until three and one-half years later did he fulfill the prophecy, "Behold thy King cometh." First the birth, then the anointing, and last the manifestation as their King; but these were none of them coming from heaven. His return from heaven is a coming, but every coming is not a return, at the second, any more than at the first. That Christ will have come as a king – i.e., have entered upon the office of king – even before the living church are translated, is evident from the parable of the King inspecting the guests before the marriage. "And when he had returned, having received the kingdom," &c. Luke 19:15. Then follow the inspection of all the servants and the reward of the faithful. The President must be inaugurated in his office before he can properly appoint his Cabinet; So Christ has his official honor conferred before he can share it with others. And be it remembered that his saints are in office as ruling princes, before the kingdoms are cast down. The Kingdom of God is set up before the kingdoms of earth fall, for it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms. Dan. 2:44. "This honor have all the saints." (Ps. 149.) This overthrow of the kingdoms by the strong hand of judgment, is what will break the proud spirit of the nations: "For when his judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Isa. 26:9. Together with these judgments the everlasting gospel will be preached: "Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come." Rev. 14: "And all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest." 15:4.
Thus the great change will be wrought, the proud spirit broken, men feel their weakness, and the "Desire of all nations will come." The Royal Seed, both head and body, having been exalted – Christ first, to prepare a place in the Father's house of many mansions; then the saints, gone to be with him in the house prepared: then will the Lord behold the earth, looking down from the height of his sanctuary, and hearing the groaning of the prisoner, deliverance will come. "When the people are gathered together and the kingdoms to serve the Lord." Ps. 102:19-22. Thus in due time, though it has not been at any time in the past, Christ will be the consolation of all nations.
We lose this month one of our special contributors. Bro. A. D. Jones felt a strong desire for some time to give more of his time to preaching the glad tidings. He started out this month, going wherever the Lord may open the way. God will bless him in his endeavor to bless others. May he be used to the glory of our Lord.
Our brother has other [business] calls upon whatever spare time he may have, and asks to be excused as a regular correspondent; so what is the people's gain is the WATCH TOWER'S loss. We hope, however, for occasional brief articles from his pen.
Can you spare an October copy of ZION'S WATCH TOWER? The edition is entirely exhausted, and if you have a copy for which you have no further use, it would be thankfully received at this office. We are short about fifty copies for new subscribers, &c.
Husband, is also a definition of Lord. The Anglo-Saxon word, Hlaford, from which our English word Lord is derived signifies Breadkeeper, and is applied to one who has the general care over, and control of a family. The title of Lord thus applied to Jesus Christ is expressive of a glorious fullness of power and love.
Bible students have doubtless been impressed with the numerous applications of this term to Christ in the New Testament. Familiar phrases applicable to Christ: "Lord of the Sabbath." Mark 2:28. "Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36. "Lord of glory." 1 Cor. 2:8. "Lord from Heaven." 1 Cor. 15:47. "One Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 8:6. "One Lord, one faith and one baptism." Eph. 4:5.
I. He is Lord of dead and living." Rom. 14:7,9. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be Lord, both of the dead and living."
The reference in this text is to Christians. Christ died for all, and therefore has a claim upon the obedience of all. A Christian is one that recognizes the claims and yields obedience. Why should any one say, in the face of so plain a statement, that Christ has nothing to do with the dead but only with the living? "Both of the dead and living."
II. "He is Lord of Jew and Gentile." Acts 10:34,36. Then Peter opened his mouth and said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him...preaching peace by Jesus Christ: "He is Lord of ALL."
The equality of Jew and Gentile under the Gospel was hard for Peter to learn. He was convinced by the vision of the unclean beasts, and the voice: "What God hath cleansed that call not thou common." Ver. 15. "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all, is rich unto all that call upon him." Rom. 10:12. Here, as Joseph, Christ is the bountiful Breadgiver.
III. He is Lord of Angels as well as men. "All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth." Matt. 28:18. "Wherefore (in consequence of his condescension and obedience unto death) God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name [official position] which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in Heaven, [angels] and in Earth [living men] and under the Earth; [dead men] and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:9,11.
"Being made so much better than the angels as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they...and again...he saith, "Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb. 1:4,6. They are his servants, therefore he is their Lord. There is a clear contrast between Moses and Christ as mediators of the two covenants. Under the old covenant, Moses received the law from God through angels, therefore the angels were [R61 : page 8] superior to Moses; (Acts 7:53 and Gal. 3:19) but in this dispensation Christ controls the angels, and under his loving administration they are ministering spirits to the "heirs of salvation." Heb. 1:14.
IV. As Lord he is the Great Teacher, Leader and Commander. "Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people." Isa. 55:4. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye THEREFORE and teach all nations, baptizing them...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. 28:18,20. As Leader he is both our example in the life of obedience, and our Forerunner in the order of development, from the natural to the spiritual. The obedience is our work, the spiritual is our reward. A great encouragement: He who has all power has said: "He that believeth and is baptized SHALL BE SAVED." A serious warning: The same Lord has said: He that believeth not SHALL BE CONDEMNED."
V. He has all power, physical and spiritual. As often expressed: Power over the body as well as the soul. Many believing the latter are too apt to exclude the former. As a Healer he confirms his word and establishes his authority. "Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age." Matt. 28:20. "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them he was received up into heaven...and they went forth and preached the word everywhere, the Lord working with them confirming the word with signs following." Mark 16:19,20.
By whatever means the apostles confirmed the word, it was by the power of the Lord Jesus working with them or the above scripture has no force. Examples of confirmation by healing diseases: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk, and he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength." Acts 3:6,7. The case is the man, lame from his birth, who sat at the gate of the temple, called Beautiful. And Peter said: "Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole, arise and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him and turned to the Lord." Acts 9:34,35. Bear in mind Christ is Lord. They turned to him, because these things were done by his authority and power.
Examples of confirmation by the destruction of life are given us in the case of Ananias and Sapphira. "And great fear came upon all the church and upon as many as heard these things." "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women." Acts 5:11.
Healing is the Lord's usual method, but the Lordship of Christ is illustrated by his power over life, either to kill or to make alive. Examples of confirmation by raising the dead. Raising the dead is the climax of physical healing; the power which can do the one can do the other.
"But Peter put them all forth and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body, said: Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes and sat up, and ...he presented her alive,...and many believed on the Lord." Acts 9:40-42. The case is very clear, and that the Lord's agency is recognized by the people is clear, because of their turning to him in consequence. He prayed to the Father, doubtless; no other prayer seems to be scriptural; [R62 : page 8] but had Peter neglected Christ's teaching – "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he will do it," we cannot suppose his prayer would have been answered.
Another case: "Eutychus... fell down from the third loft and was taken up DEAD. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him, said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.... And they brought the young man ALIVE, and were not a little comforted." Acts 20:9-12.
That Christ has power to restore natural life, is not only clear by virtue of his Lordship, but by these examples. Power is a cause to produce results; if never exercised, it would at least be vain. These are samples and assurances of the coming Restitution of all.
The ransom has relation to the thing bought as its equivalent. Note the value of Christ's death. "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:5,6. Human for human is the legal ransom. He became a man that he might "give his life (Gr., psuchee – the natural life,) a ransom for many." Matt. 20:28. It was the human life. "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death;...that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man." Heb. 2:9.
This enabled him both to sympathize with and to redeem. "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same, (not that he might die for himself, as one of us, but) that through death he might destroy... the devil and deliver" from death those who, while they lived, were afraid to die. (See verses 14,15.)
It was not the preexistent life, but "A body hast thou prepared me. ...Lo, I come to do thy will, O God....By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:5-10. "Since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:21,22. The making "alive" of the 22d is clearly the raising "of the dead" of the 21st.
"I am he that liveth and was dead...and have the keys of Hades and of death." Rev. 1:18. Hades is the state of natural death, and the Key is the symbol of power.
"The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." 1 Cor. 15:45. Adam gives the natural body, which is mortal; Christ gives the spiritual body, which is immortal. (See context.)
"I give unto them eternal life." John 10:28. He hath "abolished death (by the ransom) and brought LIFE AND IMMORTALITY to light." 2 Tim. 1:10. He gives life to all, "And became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." Heb. 5:9.
May a "patient continuance in well doing" secure for us the "glory and honor and immortality," which he has promised. Rom. 2:7.
QUES. I see no reference to the resurrection of the natural man, in a natural body in 1 Cor. 15. Does it not seem to treat only of the raising of Saints – spiritual bodies?
ANS. In 1 Cor. 15:22, Paul restates what he has everywhere affirmed, viz: That as by Adam's disobedience the race became dead, so by Christ's obedience all were in God's sight justified to live again, and in his due time, they will be delivered from death's dominion and restored to perfect life. He lays down the general proposition or truth that, "as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order." This indicates that several resurrections may take place before all are raised. Paul does not specify how many orders or companies there will be.
He was writing to believers and informs them, that their resurrection is the first order "Afterward they that are Christ's at his parousia [presence]." "Then – the end." (The word cometh is not in the Greek.) The thought is: "Then, i.e. after all the companies or orders of the dead are raised, &c. – When "all are made alive." Then, having rescued man from his fallen condition and having destroyed the last enemy death, by releasing mankind from his bondage, the work which the Father gave him to do is accomplished, i.e., "reconciling the world," having put down all rule and power opposed to the Father, then will he deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father; then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him." Ver. 28.
QUES. Does not Rev. 20:4,6, seem to ignore any but the two classes, viz: the blessed and holy of the first resurrection, and the rest of the dead who live not until the thousand years are finished. Now where do we find the great restitution class mentioned in these two chapters?
ANS. This text certainly does emphatically contradict the idea of the various orders of resurrection during the (1000 years) millennial age; and not only so but it also contradicts all scriptures which teach – "a restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets;" and it precludes the idea of "all men being saved [from death] and coming to a knowledge of the truth;" and it would prevent its being "testified in due time [to all] that Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:6.) Verse 4 treats of the first resurrection, those who reign and live with Christ during the thousand years. Now, if "the rest of the dead" (outside the first resurrection,) "live not until the thousand years are finished," they certainly have no probation, for verses 7 to 10 describe the final winding up of sin and sinners, symbolically termed a "lake of fire and brimstone" where the symbolic beast had been cast, &c.
But how about this? If Rev. 20:5, contradicts the balance of the Bible what shall we do? This same point troubled me about eight years ago. I knew not what to think. This text stood opposed to all thought of restitution and the "blessing of all the families of the Earth" through "The Seed," Yet I could not think of discarding it even though the Prophets had said that Sodom, Samaria, Israel, &c., were to be restored to their "former estate, &c." I was in this perplexed condition until I found that the objectionable part of this fifth verse (the first sentence) is not to be found in three of the oldest MSS. viz: the "Syriac," "Sinaitic" and "Vatican." The Syriac is the older, (second century) and the "Sinaitic" the most authentic and reliable MSS known; written about A.D. 350. The only ancient MSS containing this sentence is the "Alexandrine." It is not only less reliable (although recognized as valuable) but being written about the middle of the fifth century, it is less valuable than the more ancient "Sinaitic" and "Vatican," because more liable to have its text interpolated during the century intervening. The last mentioned three manuscripts are acknowledged by all to be the best GREEK texts extant. The "Syriac" is not so authoritative because written in the Syriac language.
Upon a careful reading of the context, you will notice that the connection would not only not be impaired, but positively improved by the omission of this sentence; read it: "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years: This is the first resurrection. Blessed, &c."
When copying was all done by the pen, the transcribers have, it would appear, frequently made a parenthetic or marginal note of their thought upon the subject, designed to refresh their memory when reading it again. These notes were mistaken by subsequent copyists for parts of the inspired text. Another similar interpolation is Jno. 21:25, also omitted in the "Sinaitic" MS. (See article on "The Holy Bible" – crowded out, will appear in Jan. No.)
Almost all the brethren whose names appear on our list as regular contributors, the editor, and three others who do not write for ZION'S WATCH TOWER, but who are in sympathy and accord with its teachings, are preaching the good news wherever the Lord of the Harvest opens the way. Requests for their services may be sent to this office.