|VOL. XXII.||JUNE 1, 1901.||No. 11.|
|A High Priest of Coming Good Things||179|
|To Whom was the Ransom Paid?||180|
|Paul's Heavenly Vision||182|
|Jesus Revealed to John in Vision||187|
|Discouragements and Encouragements||189|
|Bible Markings Commended||191|
|Special Wide-Margin Bibles||191|
|Public Ministries of the Truth||192|
|Items: – About Teachers' Bibles, Etc||178|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
We no longer have Bagster Bible No. 8706. We commend instead the Holman edition, which contains not only excellent Bible Study helps, but also eighty (80) photo-engravings, illustrating Palestine and the Orient in a most truthful manner – enabling accurate conceptions. These pictures are well worth one dollar. The type is Bourgeois of good size. Price in French seal, divinity circuit, $1.35; in Persian morocco, silk sewed, $2.35. Postage 25 cents extra.
Thus all the Mosaic arrangements were honored, and shown to be of divine institution, good for the time, and serving a noble purpose as types and lessons of instruction and preparations for the Gospel. The time had now come for the establishment of the antitype – the antitypical Covenant through the antitypical Mediator, sealed with the antitypical blood of the Covenant, and to be followed by the antitypical Day of Atonement, preceding the antitypical blessing of the people and their full and permanent release from sin and condemnation.
In line with the foregoing, the Apostle, in the lesson before us, is pointing to Jesus, ascended and in the heavens, as the antitype of the earthly high priests when they went into the "Most Holy" on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of the atonement upon the Mercy Seat. It will be remembered+ that on the Day of Atonement the high priest put on his linen garments (not his glorious garments) and with the blood of the sacrifice went into the Most Holy to present it as the ransom price – the atonement. While he was within the people had no evidence of divine favor resulting from his sacrifice, but waited on their faces in the dust, representing the prostrate and helpless condition of mankind in degradation, needing and waiting for the divine blessing. So, now, our High Priest is in the heavens, and we must not look for the blessings of restitution until all the work of atonement be accomplished, and until all the members of his body shall, with their Head, have put on the garments of glory and beauty, typifying honor, majesty and authority. Then the blessing will quickly follow, from the uplifted hands (manifested power), of our great High Priest; [R2822 : page 180] then, indeed, restitution blessings will prevail toward the whole creation now groaning and travailing in pain together. – Rom. 8:22.
It is in respect to this coming blessing that the Apostle declares our Lord to be a High Priest of coming good things – coming blessings – obtained of God in a higher tabernacle or temple than the Jewish earthly one – a tabernacle, the Holy of Holies of which is heaven itself, from which in due time our great High Priest comes forth with the promised blessings of restitution, etc.
In order to appreciate this matter we must see that not only was the High Priest superior to the high priests of the Aaronic order – their antitype – but also that the sacrifices which he presents are of a superior character – his own blood, his own life: having sacrificed it on our behalf he entered into heaven itself, the holy place – "having found [procured] lasting ransom-deliverance [for those whom he as high priest represented]." – Verse 12.
The Apostle urges that these conclusions are logical and reasonable, they recognized the fact that the typical sacrifices had served in a measure for purification, and made the creatures represented thereby typically acceptable with God for a time, and this, which was all that the most zealous Jew could claim for the Law, being accepted as true, how much greater must be the blessing which the greater, the antitypical, High Priest would bring, would secure, as the result of his better, more precious and wholly acceptable sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus offered up himself; the offering took place at his consecration, which was symbolized by his baptism at Jordan; his dying, his sacrifice, began there, tho it was not "finished" until he breathed his last at Calvary. His flesh which he offered was "holy, harmless, undefiled," an acceptable offering, a full offset or ransom-price for father Adam, through whose disobedience the condemnation of death came, not only upon himself, but also upon all his posterity. The man Christ Jesus was begotten again, begotten to the spiritual, the divine nature, through the holy spirit which there came upon him, and which constituted him the Anointed – the Christ, the Messiah. From that moment onward this Anointed One, Messiah, the new creature, was the anointed high priest, whose business for the time was that of offering up himself – offering up or sacrificing himself as the man Jesus, even unto death. Meanwhile, as a "new creature," he was growing in grace and gaining all the experiences necessary to fit him for his office as man's High Priest in all things pertaining to God. Jesus, from the time of his anointing of the holy spirit, was reckoned as having begun the new life, as having been begotten of the Spirit to be a spirit being (which was perfected in the resurrection, when he arose from the dead a quickening spirit) – it is to this spirit begotten High Priest that the Apostle refers, saying that our Lord (the new creature) offered himself (the man) without blemish unto God through, or by, the eternal spirit by which he had been begotten. – Verse 14.
Some have inquired sarcastically, "To whom was the ransom paid?" asserting that if paid at all it must have been paid to Satan. Our answer to this question is found in the Apostle's words in vs. 14 of this lesson; – that our Lord Jesus offered himself to God in sacrifice; that the ransom price was paid to Justice, that it was not Satan who gave the law under which Adam was tried, and under which, on his failure, he was condemned to death; but as that was God's law and God's condemnation, so the ransom price which God provided for in Jesus must be paid to God – to divine Justice – "that he might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." – Rom. 3:26.
The Apostle urges that this clear view of how "Jesus died and paid it all," how he bought us with his own precious blood, giving the exact sacrifice which was necessary, according to the divine law, should purge or free our consciences from a sense of guilt, and that forever. We should see that if God, who counted us justly condemned, has provided now in this sacrifice a ransom price acceptable to himself, "He is just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9.) And since this is a matter of faith, our blessing and good conscience toward God, and realization of the full reconciliation through the precious blood, will be in proportion as we exercise faith in this great fact which God has revealed in his Word. According to our faith it will be unto us; he who exercises the faith may go on realizing his acceptance with God; but he who fails to exercise faith will be hindered from approaching God, and using the blessed opportunities put before us in the Gospel, as truly as those who know not of the ransom.
The Jewish Covenant was one which required perfect works, and not merely a perfect heart or will; and since, as fallen men, the Israelites could not perform perfect works, even their best endeavors must be works which could only result in death. Now, however, realizing the better sacrifices which Christ had accomplished, and realizing that a new order or dispensation had come in, based upon a new covenant, of which Christ is the Mediator, they were to realize that he, having paid the ransom-price for the "sins of the whole world," could accept their will, their intentions, their righteous endeavors, as fulfilling their Law Covenant, and thus they might thereafter enjoy a living [R2822 : page 181] faith, instead of sorrowing for works that were dead.
To impress the foregoing lessons, the Apostle, in vss. 24-28, contrasts the work of Christ in the true tabernacle or "Holies" with the work of the typical high priest of the Aaronic order in the typical Tabernacle or Temple. Jesus could not have been an earthly High Priest, because, according to the Law, the priests could only be of the tribe of Levi, whereas our Lord sprang from Judah. Thus he could not, and did not enter into "holy places" made with hands, the typical; but his is a higher priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, as the Apostle elsewhere explains, and the Temple in which he offers is the antitypical one, and hence it is that in entering the "Holy of Holies" he entered heaven itself, there to appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf, as the earthly priests once every year, on the Day of Atonement, went into the typical presence of God, into the typical "Most Holy," appearing before the Shekinah glory (representing God) over the Mercy Seat.
For the same reason, the Apostle explains, it is not necessary that Christ should repeat his sacrifice every year, because his is the antitypical one and prevails everlastingly. The typical priests needed to repeat their typical offerings "year by year continually," because they were merely types, and could never cancel sin, but merely, by divine arrangement, covered it for a year. The Apostle reasons that if Christ's sacrifice had been no better than these it would mean repeated sufferings on our behalf, but, on the contrary, all the facts agree that his sacrifice was once and forever; because it was a complete, a perfect sacrifice, which the divine law demanded. This is in direct conflict with the teachings of the Church of Rome, which claims that our Lord's sacrifice needs to be repeated (in the "sacrifice of the Mass") in order to the forgiveness of each particular sin for which it is applied; hence the claim of Romanism that her priests have power to transmute the elements of bread and wine into the actual body and actual blood of Christ; to recreate Christ for the very purpose of sacrificing him afresh – and this sacrilegious, blasphemous misrepresentation of the divine arrangement is repeated, not only yearly, but daily, in all parts of the world where Romanism has a foothold.
And so far has Protestantism lost sight of the real character of Papacy, and the original grounds for protest which separated their fathers from Papacy, that they are now generally ignorant of this her claim, and ready to consider the Mass as merely a symbol of our Lord's sacrifice, of the same meaning as their own Eucharist or "Communion" service. The coronation oath of the British kings was so formulated as, if possible, to hinder any but a Protestant from ever coming to the throne; hence on this subject the oath declares: – "I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation; and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous."
The Romanists of Great Britain are complaining against this form of oath as being a reflection against their religious doctrines; and Protestants have so generally lost sight of the real meaning of the Mass that they are inclined to agree with the Romanists that the oath has become obsolete and might properly be changed. Their forefathers evidently knew much more about the real meaning of the Papal doctrine respecting the Mass, that it is blasphemous and sacrilegious, and particularly emphasized in the Scriptures as "the desolating abomination." (Dan. 11:31; 12:11.) The Scriptural proposition is that our Lord's sacrifice was once for all, and that Christ dieth no more, death hath no dominion over him (Rom. 6:9), and the Apostle in our lesson shows that there could be no need of a further atonement sacrifice than that which God has already provided. It is able to make perfect and that "unto the uttermost" those who would approach to God.
Perhaps no statement of the Scripture is more thoroughly misunderstood than the 27th verse of this lesson, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." It is unreasonable to suppose that the Apostle has suddenly dropped the topic of his discourse respecting Christ as the antitypical High Priest, in contrast with earthly priests, and to suppose that here he refers to mankind in general, out of all relationship to his subject. Indeed, as respects mankind in general, the verse would not be true; it is not true that God appointed man to die and after that a judgment. On the contrary, Adam, the one perfect man, was appointed to life, and it was while thus appointed to life that he had his judgment or trial; and it was his failure in that trial which brought the sentence, death. Death is the penalty, and must follow the judgment, not precede it. True, the Scriptures teach us that there is to be another judgment or trial for all mankind (and that with some, believers, this trial has already begun), but it is not because matters were so "appointed," but because Christ has redeemed us from the original sentence of death, paying it once for all. And in the new trial or judgment, thus secured, the same principle as in Adam's case will hold true again; – the redeemed are appointed to life if they will obey the great Law-giver – they are not "appointed" to die, and none will die except as wilful sinners in the Second Death. The world of mankind, [R2823 : page 182] as a result of the redemption, will be awakened from the tomb, that they may have their judgment or trial (John 5:28,29), – such a judgment or trial must precede the Second Death sentence in any event.
What the Apostle does mean by this statement may perhaps be more clearly shown by a paraphrase, as follows: We have just seen how the Jewish priests, and their service in the earthly holy places, typified Christ Jesus and his service in the heavenly holies, – now notice that, "As it is appointed unto men[-priests] once to die [typically, as represented in the animals which they slew, as their representatives] and after this the judgment [passing in beyond the second vail into the presence of the Shekinah glory, to offer the blood of sacrifice and to receive divine judgment in the matter, it implied that if everything had been properly done by the priest he would live, and be judged worthy to be the Priest for the people, and to go forth again as the bearer of divine favor, – to bless them, forgiving their iniquities and releasing them from all condemnation thereunder, – but if anything on his part had been improperly done, in a manner unacceptable to the Lord, his judgment would have been unfavorable; he would have perished, died, in passing under the second vail; for this was the law on the subject – Lev. 16:2]."
This interpretation not only connects with the preceding verse, but also with the succeeding one, for the Apostle says, "So [in like manner] Christ was once offered [died] to bear the sins of many [and we have evidence, in the giving of the holy spirit at Pentecost, that his sacrifice was acceptable to the Lord, and that he liveth, and that divine judgment has been rendered, accepting his sacrifice, and therefore favorable to us, for whom the sacrifice was made] and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin [not as a sin offering, nor as a sacrificing priest, but in the glory and majesty of his exalted office, symbolized by the robes of glory and beauty, worn by the Aaronic high priests] unto salvation [to accomplish for mankind the deliverance from sin, death and all the concomitants of death, sickness, pain, sorrow]."
Meantime, throughout the Gospel age, the Lord's people by the eye of faith beheld the great High Priest as their Mediator**, "who ever liveth to make intercession for us," while he awaited the Father's time for his coming forth a second time to make good his exceeding great and precious spiritual promises and blessings upon his Church, and to grant the promised restitution blessings to the world, foretold "by all the holy prophets since the world began."
** Please see author's later comment on this statement in September 1909 – site Editor.
But in advance of the actual blessings, by faith, all who are his brethren, his disciples, walking in his footsteps, seeking to fulfil their sacrifice as he fulfilled his, and under his assistance and direction, may realize that they are not aliens and strangers and foreigners from God, but that they are accepted with the Father – not directly but indirectly, "accepted in the Beloved," who is our Intercessor, our Mediator**, and in whom alone we have a standing before the Father and may ask or expect any favors. – Eph. 1:6; Rom. 5:1,2.
** Please see author's later comment on this statement in September 1909 – site Editor.
The name of the Lord's choice for the twelfth apostle was, in the Hebrew language, Saul, and in the Greek, Paul. Under divine supervision, and with a view to his future work, without, however, interfering with his will, the Lord had carefully guided, in respect to the birthplace, opportunities, education, etc., of this one whom he foresaw to be his chosen vessel to bear his message to the Gentiles. He was well-born, well educated, inheriting the valuable right of a Roman citizen; was of a very religious cast of mind, a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.
Paul, like others of his countrymen, was zealous for the Law, and for the promises made to Israel. He was not a wicked man in any sense of the word, but, on the contrary, was moral, upright, religious, having a religious zeal which led him to persecute Christ and his followers as heretics against the Mosaic institutions. He himself tells us that he persecuted the Church "in all good conscience," and yet he freely admits that in his language respecting Christians he blasphemed the holy name, and was an injurer of the saints and a persecutor. In his religious zeal, he tells [R2823 : page 183] us, he was "exceeding mad against" the Christians, and "delivered into prisons both men and women." – Acts 22:4; 26:11; 1 Tim 1:13; Phil. 3:5,6.
It was because Paul of Tarsus was not a bad man, but a good man, laboring under blindness and misapprehension, "an Israelite indeed," fighting the truth ignorantly, that our Lord favored him in the miraculous manner related in this lesson. Indeed, we may suppose that the Lord in some manner favored all "Israelites indeed," as we note, for instance, that he favored Nathanael, who at first was skeptical respecting his Messiahship, but was granted convincing evidence because of his sincerity. Similarly we may suppose that some of those who were converted by the miraculous manifestations of the day of Pentecost and shortly afterward (numbering thousands), may have been amongst the very ones who, but a few days previously, had thought of and perhaps had spoken of Jesus as an impostor, and his disciples as shallow-minded dupes. The Lord had mercy upon Nathanael, and assisted him in one way, while he assisted others, at Pentecost, in another way, through manifestation of the spirit; and now in a still different manner he arrested the attention of Saul, convincing him speedily that he was doing the very opposite thing from what he intended to do.
The heart of Paul being in a right attitude, – of loyalty toward God, of zeal for God, he merely needed to be set right; and we see that immediately the same zeal and fervency of spirit which once persecuted the Church was enlisted on behalf of the Church; – that he gladly forsook all to follow Christ, as soon as he recognized his true character. These things being true, those who refer to the Apostle Paul's "conversion," and who compare it to the conversion of an ordinary evil-doer, show that they are laboring under a serious misapprehension of the facts. Had Saul of Tarsus been a wicked man we could not suppose that the Lord would have been interested in him in any such manner, nor that any such miraculous means would have been used to bring his attention to his wrong course of action.
God's time for dealing with the unbelieving world is not in this age – that work is left for the Millennial age. He is dealing now only with those who are "Israelites indeed," honest at heart; and it is for this class, and this class only, that the Lord's providence and drawing and convincing power is exercised. In other words, God never proposes to change a man's will, but where his will is right and his ideas, his conceptions of proprieties, are wrong, it is in accord with every principle of righteousness for the Lord to favor such, and to open the eyes of their understanding: and this same rule holds good now, as the Prophet has declared: "None of the wicked shall understand – but the wise shall understand" – the truly wise. If any of the wicked gain a partial knowledge of the truth we may be sure that they will lose it, for, as the Scriptures again declare, "Light is sown for the righteous: truth for the upright in heart." (Psa. 97:11.) God has abundant provisions for dealing with other classes in the future, "in due time" – such as will be best suited to their cases.
Our lesson shows us Saul on his way to Damascus, armed with authority for the apprehension of the Lord's followers, accompanied by others who seemingly [R2824 : page 183] were under his command as a police force. All who know anything respecting the exceeding clearness and brightness of the noonday sun in Palestine, glaringly brilliant, will note the force of the statement respecting the great light which suddenly shone upon Saul from heaven about noonday. It must have been an exceedingly bright light; but apparently it affected Saul alone, and not those that were with him, tho they saw it and noted its effect upon Paul, who was blinded by it, as he fell to the ground. If he were afoot this might mean that he immediately prostrated himself, as one would be said to fall down before a king; if he were on horseback it might mean that he dismounted and prostrated himself; – but we do not incline to the thought which seems to be the common one, that he fell from his horse as in a faint. Rather, instead of being stunned or in a faint condition, Saul seems to have been fully possessed of his senses, and to have realized that he was the subject of a miracle. The voice which he heard was one, not of approval, as he might have expected, since he was supposedly in the divine service, but one of reproof: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Paul's clearness of mind is manifest in his inquiry, "Who art thou, Lord?" He recognized at once that the one who had thus power to arrest him in his journey was a lordly one, a powerful one, yet he wished to make no mistake, he wished to know who it was who thus reproved him, that he might benefit the more. The answer must have been a surprise to him, almost a shock: "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."
Our Lord's answer shows us how intimately he stands related with all those who are truly his; those who touch his saints touch him, for are they not, as the Apostle declares, "members in particular of the body of Christ?" He is indeed, "the Head of the Church, which is his body," and the ascended Head feels for and cares for and is interested in even the weakest and humblest of those whom he recognizes as truly his. If we remember this it will be a great help to us in the midst of trials and persecutions – the thought that we are "filling up that which is behind [R2824 : page 184] of the afflictions of Christ," that "as he was, so are we in this world," and that while we are in the flesh, Christ is in the flesh, and that this will continue until the last members, even the feet members of the body, shall have suffered and have entered into glory. Let us remember this also, and specially, if at any time we are tempted to deal harshly or speak rudely or think unkindly of any of the "brethren." Let us consider that as we, with all our weaknesses and unwilling imperfections, are the Lord's members and subjects of his interest and care, so also are all of the brethren; and that inasmuch as we do, or do not do, to one of the least of his brethren, we do, or do not do, to him. If this thought of the intimate relationship between the head and the members could be always fresh before our minds, how favorable would be the influence; how often we would improve the opportunity, not only of suffering, as the body of Christ, but of suffering with the fellow members, and assisting in bearing their burdens. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." – 1 John 3:16; Heb. 2:11; Col. 1:24.
We are told that Paul's companions also saw the light, but heard not the voice. Elsewhere it is stated that they heard the voice, but saw no man. The statements are not to be supposed to be contradictory, but can be understood to be harmonious by remembering that the expression "hearing the voice" is sometimes used in two different ways. We may say to a friend, "I did not hear what you said." And again, speaking of the same matter, we might say, "I heard a voice or sound, but did not distinguish the words." The two statements might seem to be contradictory, but are really quite in harmony; and so with these two records of the Apostle's words. The voice was heard by all, but the message by Saul only.
Paul was an intensely practical man, and as soon as he understood who it was that had thus arrested him in his course of error he immediately inquired, "Lord, what shall I do?" This meant a great deal; it meant: I am anxious now to undo what I have been heretofore mistakenly doing; I am anxious to be your servant; I appeal to you for orders; I am ready to obey. "He, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6.) This, the language and the attitude of all sincere souls, meant full surrender. It meant, I am not more sincere now than I was a moment ago, but the eyes of my understanding have been opened, tho it has cost me the loss of my natural sight. Let me demonstrate, O Lord, that my crime against thee was not of heart, but merely of misapprehension of head; let me lay down my life in thy service.
And similar seems to be the attitude of the Lord's true people today: those who have been blinded for years with misconceptions of the divine character and plan, and who have blasphemed God's holy name ignorantly, in misrepresenting him and his plan; and who have persecuted Jesus by opposing his truth, and those supporting it – these, when now the eyes of their understanding are opened, feel as did Saul, that the remainder of life is only too little and too short to show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light; – of him who had mercy upon us, and who graciously shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord. (2 Cor. 4:4.) Those who do not feel their hearts burn, and who feel no desire to pledge themselves to the service of the Lord and his truth, have not the spirit of the Apostle, – have not the spirit which is best pleasing to the Lord and most esteemed amongst those who have the mind of the Lord. And if we have this spirit or disposition in any measure let us cultivate it, by thinking what great things the Lord has done for us, and by considering how little we are able to do in return to manifest the appreciation which we feel and ought to feel.
The Lord's answer, sending Paul to Damascus, and informing him that "there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do," shows us that Paul was in the divine mind and plan beforehand. The Lord knew that he was honest, and one who, when the truth would shine into his heart, would not be disobedient to the heavenly vision, but would be prompt to consecrate his life, his all, in the service of the Lord and of the brethren. Verily, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." The same thought is brought to us in noting the Lord's answer to Ananias, when the latter was fearful to go to Saul. The Lord said, "Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Such language could not be used by the Lord in connection with one whose heart was not already fully consecrated to the divine will and service, however ignorantly it had been misused. So today we may have more hope of some who are outspoken in their opposition and enmity to the truth and its servants than for some who are its very cold and indifferent friends. The former may be truly consecrated, but blind, and if so the Lord's due time will come for their mental eyes to be open, and then we may be sure that they will be amongst his most faithful followers.
The wonderful light which flashed upon his eyes destroyed his sight. "Saul arose from the earth, and [R2824 : page 185] when his eyes were open he saw no man, but they led him by the hand and led him into Damascus, and he was three days without sight, neither did he eat or drink." We may be sure, however, that during those three days he did a great amount of thinking, – endeavoring to grasp, so far as possible, the lessons of his wonderful experiences. He tells us that he realized his experience to be nothing else than his seeing of Jesus. We need not suppose that he saw our Lord's spiritual body in its wonderful glory, for we are to remember the Scriptural statement that our Lord now is the express image of the Father's person; and we remember, too, that it is declared that no man can see God and live; that he dwells in a light no man can approach unto. And since our Lord Jesus is his express image and likeness, the same thing must now be true of him. Saul was but a man, and could not, therefore, have seen that which no man could see, and live. What, then, did he see? We answer, that he saw a representation of Jesus' glory. Since he could not see the fulness of that glory and live, he was permitted only to see a part of it, and that part destroyed his eyesight. This demonstrates to us the truth of the statement that the divine glory, if fully revealed to man, would cause death. Nevertheless, such an appearance of the Lord's glory to Paul made him as really a witness of Jesus' resurrection as were the other eleven apostles, for neither did they see Jesus, in reality, in his glorious spirit person; they saw him as he appeared in bodies of flesh, assumed for the very purpose of appearing and instructing; Paul saw him partially; that is to say, he saw some of the light from his glorious presence, sufficient to give him absolute assurance that Jesus was no longer, as he had supposed, the dead Nazarene, but the resurrected, glorified, heavenly Lord, a quickening spirit.
Let us note how the Lord chose a devout man amongst the disciples, when he would send a message to Paul, the record being that Ananias was esteemed amongst the Jews as a good man; and so we should always expect that those whom the Lord would choose as his special messengers would be good men, devout men, pious men, – not frivolous, not worldly, not immoral. [R2825 : page 185] And should we ever find any, claiming to be the ministers of the truth, of immoral character, we would have good reason to doubt them; or to suppose that if the Lord even had used them once, he would no longer use such after they had departed from the ways of righteousness. Nevertheless, we are to remember that we must not judge any hastily upon the testimony of the worldly, and especially not according to the witness of enemies of the truth, however religious those enemies may claim to be, but should remember our Lord's word, "They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake."
Altho the Lord, at the hands of Ananias, performed a miracle on the eyes of Saul, so that scales fell from them, and he was able to look upon Ananias, nevertheless, we have every reason to believe that his eyes were never restored to their former strength, and that it was for this reason that the Christian brethren would have gladly plucked out their own eyes for him (Gal. 4:15); for this reason, also, that, altho a learned man, he wrote very few of his own epistles, and was largely dependent upon his companions, tho himself invariably the chief speaker and writer. This was the "thorn in the flesh," which the Lord was not pleased to remove entirely, and which the Apostle learned to rejoice in ultimately, when he came to know that through this God's mercy and grace would abound toward him the more. – Gal. 6:11; 2 Cor. 12:7-9.
And so with us: we might be inclined to think that if we had greater talents and abilities, or we were relieved of certain weaknesses of the flesh, it would be better for us and for the Lord's cause; yet we are to remember the Master's words again, that we are to "seek first the Kingdom of heaven," and that all things needful of an earthly kind will be added to us. Our desires and prayers are not to be for the earthly things after which the Gentiles seek, but are to be chiefly for the spiritual things. We are to remember that as respects our earthly interests they have all been committed to the Lord, and that he knoweth what things we have need of before we ask him, and that he has promised to do for us in every matter exceeding abundantly better things than we could ask or think, as viewed from the standpoint of our spiritual and eternal interests. We surely would not want temporal blessings which would in any degree hinder our attainment to the exceeding great and precious promises – the spiritual things which God hath in reservation for them that love him.
Let us note carefully the message God sent to Paul through Ananias. "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that just one, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth." Ah! how few indeed realize the truth of the Master's statement, "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him." How few realize that God, during this present time, is not attempting to gather the world into his arms, but merely, as the Scriptures abundantly declare, is taking out from amongst the people a peculiar people, a little flock, to constitute the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heir. If all who have heard the voice of Jesus speaking to them through his Word, and who, with the eye of faith, have seen him, and into whose hearts the light of the glory of God, above the brightness of [R2825 : page 186] all earthly light, has shined, could but realize how great a favor has come upon them, it would indeed be a great stimulus to their appreciation of the privileges thus put within their grasp. They would see that all this signifies that we are called to be coworkers together with God, to be fellow-sufferers with Jesus in this Gospel age of sacrifice for righteousness' sake, and to be fellow-heirs with him in the coming age, in which the reign of righteousness shall prevail to the blessing of all the families of the earth, and the subjugation of Satan and sin.
This was the thought conveyed to Paul: that the meaning of the experience which had come to him was, that he had been found of such condition of heart as to be worthy to be a witness for God and for Jesus respecting the things he had seen and heard. And so with each of us; we are not to attempt to tell to others things which we have not seen and have not heard ourselves; but first of all the eye of appreciation and faith must be opened, and the ear of understanding unstopped, and then out of that which we ourselves hear from the Lord, through his appointed agencies and ministers, we are in turn to repeat to others – dispensing the divine favor according to our capacity for appreciation and for utterance.
The Lord's declaration to Ananias respecting Paul was, "He is a chosen vessel unto me...I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." (Acts 9:15,16.) Thus it is with all of the Lord's chosen ones, like the Captain of our salvation, Jesus, each and all must learn and prove their obedience and loyalty to the divine plan by suffering in this present time, that they may be thus fitted and prepared for the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom. And to be chosen to suffer much implies qualification for the higher glory hereafter. Thus it was with our Lord and with the apostles: and thus it is written, for our encouragement, that the sufferings of this present time work out "for us a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory." – 2 Cor. 4:17.
Let us also note and apply the words of Ananias, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." There is a directness in this address that is worthy of being copied by all who have an influence upon others, and who are seeking to bring them along in the right way. Urge them to promptness, to full and complete obedience, to a full confession of the Lord and the truth. If they are not inclined to promptly obey after their eyes of faith have seen the Lord, and after their ears have heard his voice, they will be much less likely to be ready to make a consecration after a while, when the world and the flesh and the devil will say to them, Do not be an extremist, now; be moderate; do not make a full consecration of yourself to the Lord. Your neighbors and friends will think you beside yourself, and it will interfere with your hopes and prospects, and turn your friends into enemies. It will cost you too much; go slowly. The right course for every one who would give instruction is that of Ananias, to favor prompt obedience. "The time past of our lives sufficeth us" to have misrepresented the Lord, his character and his plan to any extent. The remainder of life is far too short to show forth the praise of him whom we now see to be the glorious one, the author and finisher of our faith.
The baptism of John, which was instituted for Jews, was a baptism unto repentance and remission of sins – not original sin, but sins against the Jewish covenant, and sins against Jesus, the Messiah who fulfilled that Covenant. This was John's baptism, the one that was appropriate to the Jews; for every Jew who was in harmony with his God and with his covenant had his original sin covered under the arrangement of the Mosaic Law, in the sacrifices which took place year by year continually, until the great sacrifice came, the antitypical one, which superseded all others. Every true Israelite, therefore, who was in Moses under the Jewish Law Covenant, by virtue of Christ's work in taking the place of Moses, and in substituting the New Covenant for the Law Covenant, was, so to speak, transferred from the Old to the New; from Moses into Christ; and the typical covering of original sin became actual in Christ. Therefore the Jews were everywhere called upon to repent and to be baptized for the remission of their sins against their covenant; that thus they might be in full accord with the Lord. This baptism for the remission of sins, John's baptism, was for the Jews only, and not for the Gentiles, who were not under the Mosaic covenant nor in Moses (baptized into Moses – 1 Cor. 10:2), and hence in the transfer of the Mosaic institution into the Christian we were not transferred into Christ. Baptism to the Gentiles means an admission into Christ – into the body or Church of Christ, as the Apostle explains. – Rom. 6:3-5.
Noting that the Apostle Paul was so faithful a follower of the Lord Jesus, and that his enlightenment in many respects so clearly illustrates our own spiritual enlightenment in this harvest-time, let us lay well to heart the Golden Text, the Apostle's words, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." Let us, dear brethren and sisters, who have seen in the light of this harvest-time the light of the Lord's presence (parousia), shining above the brightness of all earthly light, giving a light of the knowledge [R2825 : page 187] of the glory of God, showing us something of the divine character and plan – let us not be disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but faithful to our privileges and opportunities in letting the light that has shined into our hearts and minds so shine out to others in our words, and in the living epistles of our lives, that men may glorify our Father which is in heaven.
Altho the words, "on the Lord's day," might not unreasonably be understood to signify that John in vision was carried down the stream of time to the great Millennial Day, the Day of Christ, the Lord's Day, nevertheless, we think it reasonable to understand him to mean also that he saw this vision on the first day of the week. And how appropriate it was that our Lord, who arose on the first day of the week, and who most frequently manifested his resurrection powers on that day, should on the same day reveal himself and certain great instructions to the Church through John, honoring the same day of the week. It is no wonder, therefore, that Christian people from the very earliest times have held the first day of the week in special reverence as the symbol of the fulfilment of all our hopes, whereof God gave us assurance in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus on this day. Besides, to confine the meaning of the expression to the Millennial Day exclusively, would be to ignore the fact that the larger proportion of John's vision related not to the Millennial Day, but to the intervening time.
Note the simplicity of the Apostle's introduction to this most wonderful book. He did not write the title of the book as it appears in our Bibles – "The Revelation of St. John the Divine" – that is to say, the Revelation of St. John, Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology. On the contrary, John claims no credit for the revelation; it was not his, but, as he distinctly explains, it was from our Lord Jesus Christ, – and to him from God the Father. Nor was it even to John in any special sense, but, as he again declares, unto God's "servants," sent by his "servant John." This simplicity, common to all the apostles, commends them to us as men of humble minds, – the very kind we should expect our Lord to use as special servants and messengers to his people. The apostolic simplicity is in striking contrast with the pomposity of the majority of those who claim to be their pupils and fellow servants, and who delight in the titles of "Reverend," "Right Reverend," "Very Reverend," "His Holiness," "Doctor of Divinity," etc. And in proportion as the spirit of the world is quenched by the spirit of Christ – and in proportion as the Lord's people are zealous in seeking and finding "the old paths" (Jer. 6:16), in that same proportion do these human titles which seem so much to the world and to Babylon come to appear vain, inappropriate, deceitful.
Instead of adding loud and boastful titles to his name, as Reverend, Bishop, Overseer of all the Churches in Asia Minor, we find John introducing himself as "Your Brother," as the companion of all saints in tribulation and in the Kingdom, and in the patient endurance of Jesus Christ. He was sharer with Christ, as a member of his body in his afflictions, in his endurance, and prospectively a joint-heir in his Kingdom, and in all this he was the brother of all fellow-disciples, sharers of the same sufferings, and prospectively of the same glory. It is generally understood that John had already been severely persecuted, and that at the time of this vision he was in banishment on the little island in the Mediterranean Sea called Patmos – a penal island where convicts were worked in the quarrying of marble, etc. Yet John himself, with remarkable modesty, passes over not only his previous service for the truth, which had brought him his persecution, but also lightly passes over the persecution itself, merely noting that he was in the island of Patmos because of his fidelity to the word of God and the testimony that Jesus was the Christ.
This simplicity, this absence of boastfulness so noticeable in the writings of all the apostles, commends them and their words to our attention, and marks them as being in the ministry not for the gratification of vanity, or seeking earthly rewards of any kind; but simply as the servants of God, who delighted to do his will, and to tell the good tidings, to the utter ignoring of themselves, excepting in so far as mention of themselves and their affairs might be necessary and helpful to the Church. All of the Lord's followers do well to [R2826 : page 188] note this characteristic of the Master, and of those whom he specially chose to be his followers and our exemplars. In proportion as we attain to the Lord's spirit it will similarly manifest itself in our sentiments and conduct.
John's attention was first attracted by the trumpet-like voice of Christ from behind him. The fact that the location is mentioned at all implies that it has a special symbolic meaning. It signifies that the beginning of this message was not in John's day, nor from some future time, but that the things to be revealed had already commenced, and were already to some extent in the past; – the voice from behind going clear back, as some of the features of the book show, to the time of our Lord's earthly ministry. The trumpet voice directed that its message should be written and sent to the seven churches named. Ancient MSS. omit the words, "saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and," and also the words, "churches which are in Asia." There were seven churches in Asia Minor corresponding to those mentioned by name in this connection; but while this revelation may have been applicable to them in some manner or degree it was evidently in but a small measure. Those seven churches of Asia Minor we understand were chosen of the Lord as symbols representing seven different epochs in the history of the one true Church of Christ, from Pentecost day until the gathering to the Lord of the last grain of wheat in the end of this Gospel harvest.
Turning to see the one who addressed him John beheld seven golden candlesticks (lamp-stands), and standing in the midst of these one having the resemblance to a son of man – not the Son of man. It is to this particular point that the Committee which selected this as the International Lesson for this date sought to draw attention – the revelation of Jesus to John, it to some extent resembling his revelation to Paul, considered in our last lesson. In truth, however, there is considerable difference, for what John saw in the way of light and stars and lamps and brightness was merely a mental vision, while that which Paul saw while on the way to Damascus was a very literal light, which permanently injured his eyes. What John saw in vision was not understood by him to be the Lord's glorious body, nor even a representation of it, except in the sense that it was a symbolical representation.
For instance, the head, with its white hair, corresponding to the Ancient of Days of Daniel's vision (Dan. 9:27), is not to teach us that our Lord in glory has the form of a man, and hairs that are white, but merely suggestive and symbolic of venerableness, of knowledge, experience, wisdom. The fiery or electric glance of the eyes should similarly be understood symbolically to represent penetrating intelligence, and ability to see and to know everything pertaining to his people, his Church. The mouth, from which proceeded the sharp two-edged sword is not to tell us that this is the appearance of our Lord in glory, but merely to symbolize to us that his words in his Church are to be as the sword of the spirit, which the Apostle declares to be sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart, dividing and classifying his people, and separating from his elect every impure thing and every unacceptable element. His voice, as the sound of many waters, might be understood to mean that the Lord could and did speak to his Church sometimes as the voice of musical rippling waters of the brook, and sometimes as the roaring of the sea; or the many waters might be understood as signifying peoples, nations and languages, as elsewhere explained in this book, and that thus our Lord, present with his Church, would speak to her and through her by many tongues, in many languages, – the latter view seems to us the more reasonable.
The hand, in which were seven stars, is similarly to be understood as a symbolical part of the vision, representing the Lord's power in his Church. The stars, as he explains (vs. 20; chap. 2:1,8,12,18,etc.), are the angels or messengers or special servants of the Church in each epoch. The intimation is that the Lord would recognize in his Church, in each of its seven stages or developments, one representative to whom he would specially address himself, and through whom he would specially instruct the Church, and whom he would specially hold or keep as his instrument by his own power or hand. This would not necessarily mean that one individual of the Church must be used of the Lord, even should he become unfit for the service, but would imply that one servant would be recognized in each epoch. If that servant for any cause or in any manner seemed to be an unsuitable one another might take his place, and be the star or messenger of the Church of that epoch.
The whole body was covered, hidden from sight, with a robe, only the head, the hand and the feet being exposed to view, thus agreeing with the explanation given us by the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 12:12-31) in [R2827 : page 188] which he represents the whole Church as being the body of Christ and members in particular, but pointing out that some of the members of the Church may occupy the position of an eye or an ear or a tongue, and others the position of feet. Thus the Lord would be present with his people by his spirit dwelling in them, using different members of the body to accomplish for his body different services. The feet, described as like furnace-refined copper would represent those members of the body of Christ who serve, in the sense of carrying forward, financially and otherwise, the Lord's work. Copper is a symbol of humanity,* and this copper being furnace-refined would seem to say that those who belong to the body of Christ, and whom the Lord would use in his service, "the feet" members of the body, must, in their contact and dealings with the world, be refined, purified, clean – "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord's house." The feet would thus represent the living members of the body, all down through this age; and the refining process to each and all will be fiery trials.
Thus understood, the figure of a son of man (a human figure) in the midst of the seven candlesticks, etc., symbolically represented Christ standing criticising, judging, directing, in the midst of his Church, upholding his chosen stars or ministers, and represented in the various members by his people, is an impressive picture or symbol, full of instruction, leading us to expect the Lord's guidance in all the affairs of his Church, and to realize that things are not happening to her haphazard. To so recognize that the Lord's people in every part of this age have been "feet" members of the body, carrying forward his work, is not to contradict our previous application of Isa. 52:7, which merely represents the "feet" members of the present time, and identifies them as the ones who declare unto Zion, "Thy God reigneth" – in this manner distinguishing these from their predecessors in the pilgrim way.
Seven, as a symbolic number, represents perfection or completeness, and thus the seven candlesticks, the seven churches, represent the complete Church, and this union of seven as one was most beautifully typified in the golden candlestick (lamp-stand) of the "*
Most Holy" of the Tabernacle and subsequently of the Temple. That candlestick or lamp-stand was one, but there were seven branches or lights; while in this symbolical picture of the Church in Revelation each is represented separately, and our Lord's messages are directed to the seven churches of the seven epochs separately; nevertheless, in reality the Church is all one. (1 Cor. 12:12.) The union and the separateness are merely as we view the matter from two different standpoints. It is the one high priest who cares for all the lamps, and the one holy oil that in every stage of the Church has given light to all of the consecrated class, the "Royal Priesthood," who have access to the "Holy * Place" and are seated with Christ in heavenly places (conditions). – Eph. 2:6.
It is not strange that John in vision fell down as dead at this glorious symbolical representation of Christ. John may be considered as a representative of the Lord's consecrated ones, who in his presence feel their own deadness. Upon all such he places his hand (his power), and to them gives his message, "Fear not, I am the first and last, I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell and of death." – Vss. 17,18.
Not all, but only those who fall as dead before the Lord, who recognize their own nothingness, who, in the language of this symbolical book, are beheaded, or lose their own wills, accepting the will of the Lord instead (Rev. 20:4) – these alone are ever able to fully receive this message from the Lord appreciatively. From these fear is cast out; and they alone may know that our Lord was the first-born of all creation, and the last; that he was the beginning of Jehovah's work, and the end of it, and that all beings and things were made by or through him, and that "without him was not one thing made that was made." (John 1:3.) These also may know, fully appreciate, understand, that the Lord now liveth, and in order to appreciate this they must understand that he was dead for parts of three days – not merely apparently dead, but actually dead – his soul poured out unto death, made an offering for sin. – Isa. 53:10-12.
For these also is the wonderful message that this Redeemer, now glorified, has all power in respect to our race – the keys, the authority, the control, not only of hades (the great prison house of death), but also the power or control over death in its every degree; so that it is his privilege to raise up so many as will obey him out of the degradation and imperfection of this dying condition, up, up, up, to perfection of life, where death will have no power. These may know, also, that the time for the exercise of this power by the Redeemer is nigh at hand, and that the privilege of deliverance from the tomb and from death into the full liberty of the sons of God, into abundance of life and freedom from the bondage of corruption, will be extended to every creature of Adam's race.
But to others this message is dark and meaningless or worse. Misled by error they believe that Jesus was not really dead, but fully alive always; mistaught that death holds no one, but all are alive in either bliss or torment, they see no force, beauty or significance in the key and its power; and thinking of hell (hades) as a torture chamber, filled with devils and their victims, they feel as tho the unlocking of its portals would be undesirable. Surely, all of the favored ones may say, "Blessed are our eyes for they see, and our ears for they hear!"
John was instructed to write, to make clear, to make plain to us and to all of God's people, the things already brought to his attention, and other things subsequently to be brought to his attention; to the intent that all of God's people might be enabled to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God, which passeth all understanding, and which can only be received through revelation from God. And here let us note the force of John's expression (vs. 3) to the effect that there is a blessing upon those who read this revelation, even tho they do not understand, and a special blessing upon those who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and keep or conform their lives to the things that are written therein.
NONE are so strong as not to need encouragements in the present time, when all who would be of the "Royal Priesthood" are required to "walk by faith, and not by sight." We feel this frequently in the WATCH TOWER office, and know from your inquiries that all laborers in the Vineyard are on the lookout for fruits of their labors. You as well as we sometimes wonder that the hundreds of tons of literature and other efforts on behalf of the Truth, emanating from this office, do not yield larger results.
Recently, while feeling considerably discouraged that the "Volunteer Work" seemed to show small results, the Lord lifted the veil a little, and showed us that a greater work was in progress under the surface, [R2827 : page 190] than we could have surmised. And as this encouraged us, we now relate the same for the encouragement of our colaborers. First a Presbyterian minister called at our office and renewed his WATCH TOWER subscription and, expressing himself quite warmly in approval said: Go on, Brother Russell, a greater work is being done than you can possibly be aware of; I know it, because the ministers express themselves freely to me. The Truth is taking effect in every direction. Be of good courage.
This did encourage us, especially when we reflected that this very minister has never openly confessed the truth, so far as we know, – "for fear of the Jews." Shortly afterward, when at the Toledo Convention, a brother from Indiana encouraged us greatly by relating one of his experiences. He said, "I had finished distributing the 'Volunteer TOWER' in my town and wondered that I saw no fruit of my labors, when one day a young man came to my bakery and asked if I had not distributed WATCH TOWERS at the Methodist Church, and if I could not let him have some more of them. I asked what for? He replied that at a recent meeting of their Epworth League their new pastor brought up the subject of Hell, and made some remarks upon it, and then threw it open for discussion. Thereupon one after another, some five or six of the Leaguers, arose and disavowed their former belief in hell, – denying that the Bible taught it and giving reasons. The pastor arose in surprise, and inquired where they had gotten their ideas, and was told that they had read them in ZION'S WATCH TOWER. Others who had not received them, then wanted copies of the TOWER. Of course I supplied the young man gladly."
As a further encouragement for you all – as showing that the DAWNS and tracts are doing silent work – we mention that every now and then we hear from some who have been reading the DAWN, and studying the Bible with their assistance for years, yet somehow had never before written to us for further reading matter, [R2828 : page 190] nor to glorify God on behalf of the light they had received and were rejoicing in. We give below a letter just received which has greatly encouraged us along these lines. It shows, also, how the truth can take hold of the heart, at as early an age as ten years. It should encourage those who have charge of children to teach them the truth. The child mind is more logical often at ten, than later, when the sophistries of its elders confuse it, by teaching that death and destruction are synonymous with everlasting life in torment. Assist the children to a knowledge of the Lord and the truth, and encourage them to right views of life favorable to a full consecration to the Lord. The letter follows:
DEAR SIR: – I would begin with an apology if I were not sure you must be used to such letters by this time, and perhaps expect them from all deeply interested in the truth which you expound. I beg pardon beforehand if I am too tedious and diffuse. I will try to be as brief as possible. I was a very small child (10 years) when your publications were first introduced into our family, through the kindness of Mr. Henry Weber, of Oakland, who was then my brother's Sunday School teacher, and whose name I cannot mention without the sincerest gratitude.
I cannot say what drew my attention to your writings, they were never forced upon me in any way, but I have been an insatiable reader ever since I learned how, and when Food for Thinking Christians came in I devoured it with the avidity of a healthy, unspoiled appetite. I was then so little that I had never received any but the most general religious instruction. I do not remember to have read any doctrinal works or heard any doctrinal discussions, but since my earliest recollections I had been taught, and realized as by a natural instinct, that the first object in life is to be good and learn the will of God.
I would like to describe the impression your writings made upon me, but it would be egotistical waste of space, and perhaps seem overstrained, as I was so young. I only want you to know that from childhood I have been familiar with your interpretation of the Scriptures, and acknowledged it as truth. The TOWER has been a regular visitor to our home for so long that I think I have seen it in all its different dresses; and all the volumes of DAWN I have read and re-read many times. Of course, as I grew older, I no longer accepted statements implicitly. I am naturally a student and I have thought and questioned and investigated deeply about these things, but always with the result of being more firmly convinced of the correctness of the views I criticized.
In my tenth summer I made a voluntary dedication of myself to the Lord. I think it was an intelligent offering, certainly I have never since wished to recall it. The one object of my life is to make my calling and election sure. The only thing that seems of real importance to me is my success in this. Yet I am often very perplexed to know what is required of me, just now. The practice of the Christian graces, the necessary transformation of my own character to the image of the Son, is clear enough. I can work at that daily, with some evidence of success; for tho I am continually shocked at the roots of sin and folly I find in myself, yet for a long time I have been accustomed to look at all things from God's standpoint, approve what I think he approves, and condemn where he condemns, both in private affairs and in matters of the world.
So far, then, as the discipline of my own "new nature" is concerned, the way is plain, tho toilsome; but when I begin to look about me and ask, What part can I take in the present harvest work? everything is confused and I seem tied hand and foot. I read in the TOWER of other workers, but none seem situated as I am.
In my own circle of relatives and friends I have tried to be a witness for the truth, tho I am afraid a very feeble one. Timidity is a fatal besetment to me, and the reluctance to seem to think myself wiser than my elders and betters.
One terribly severe trial I was enabled to undergo last spring. I withdrew from the denomination I had joined at fourteen. You may wonder why I ever did join it; but I was so young and ignorant, I thought only of acknowledging my Christianity, and really had no realization of binding myself to a particular sect. There is no word of the Confirmation service that I could wish to retract, but I was determined no longer to call myself an Episcopalian, so requested to have my name erased from the list of membership.
The pastor was most kind and considerate. He remonstrated, but being convinced that I was acting [R2827 : page 191] conscientiously agreed to do as I demanded, and announced the withdrawal at the next meeting of the congregation. I scarcely know how I went through with that ordeal. It seemed at first as impossible to make myself so conspicuous and shock so many of my family and friends. For, of course, almost every body misunderstood. Except from sisters I have no sympathy and am quite alone. I know there are people in town who take the TOWER, but I do not know them.
Perhaps something may come about to change things in this respect. Several times when you have been in our city I have seen and heard you, but I could not go forward and introduce myself. I do not expect any special answer to this letter. I do not know what particular advice you could give me. But I thought perhaps I had done wrong in remaining entirely unknown and aloof, and that I ought to have some personal communication with the one to whose ministrations I owe so much.
Yours gratefully and respectfully,
THOSE interested in Bible study appreciate everything which tends to give them a firmer hold upon the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. Such frequently wish that they could quickly find the particular passages desired; and many have been the devices for marginal marking designed to assist in this matter. We have a plan to suggest, as follows: –
USE RED INK for marking all passages which relate to the redemptive work, letting the figure 1 represent the thought of man's need of redemption, or of divine promises thereof. Use figure 2 to represent references to Christ's work in our redemption, as our sin-offering, etc. Use figure 3 to represent references to redemption as an accomplished fact – "ye were redeemed."
USE PURPLE INK for marking all passages relating to the Church as the "Royal Priesthood." Let figure 1 represent present sacrifices and joys of faith in coming glory; let figure 2 represent parables and promises of the Kingdom; figure 3, future glories and service in the Kingdom.
USE BLUE INK for marking exhortations of the Church to faithfulness, using figure 1 for references to graces of the spirit, and figure 2 for zeal in running the race set before us, figure 3 for reproofs and the "great company."
USE GREEN INK for representing Millennial blessings. Let figure 1 represent the Second Advent of the Great Restorer; let figure 2 represent Restitution promises, etc., and figure 3 the knowledge, judgments and instructions of the Millennium, and the restraint of evil then.
The verse, or part of a verse, referred to may be indicated by a neat line, like a parenthesis, or a brace mark [(^^], in the appropriate color, followed by the proper figure. Follow, this if you please, with marks to indicate a treatise on this verse in any of the MILLENNIAL DAWN volumes, using A, B, C, D, E, F and G respectively, to indicate the seven volumes of the series (only five yet ready). Use T to represent Tabernacle Shadows, S for What Say the Scriptures About Spiritism? and H for What Say the Scriptures About Hell? Following the letter indicating the volume, put the number of the page. References to ZION'S WATCH TOWER can be Z, using two figures to represent the year, then a separating stroke followed by the page number.
In the margin alongside Acts 3:20,21 we should place a brace line in green ink, then the figures 1, 2; under these we would put A89, 149; under that B173, 211, 254; under that put C243, D311, 615; next E24, 240, 418, 435; on next line Z'97-266.
Realizing that such marking would require a wide margin, to do it satisfactorily, we have hesitated to mention it, knowing that wide-margin Bibles usually sell at from $4.50 upward at wholesale; because few are sold, and the expense of special editions, larger covers, etc., etc., is considerable. However, we finally concluded that we might get a favorable price on a large order, of say 2,000 copies. We have secured prices that astonish ourselves, and have selected what all will conclude is one of the finest editions of the Bible ever published. It is known as the "Linear Bible," because it shows, side by side, the variations between the Common and the Revised Versions. It has a very full analytical Concordance of 256 pages, 14 maps, and we will have added eighty photo-engravings, illustrating Palestine, etc., and a combined index of the Scriptures cited in the five volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN; another giving Scripture references in the WATCH TOWER from January, 1895 to July, 1901; and another Topical Index showing Scripture, DAWN and WATCH TOWER references under various heads, such as Ransom, Restitution, etc., etc.; and additionally there will be a margin of one inch blank alongside the Scripture text, for the markings above described.
We can have these superb books made to order so as to supply them at the following prices to our subscribers only, so as not to conflict with the publisher's interests; but we are not restricted as to the number of copies you may buy.
We can obtain these special Bibles, at these special prices, only by ordering two thousand copies. We will do this provided a sufficient number of our readers approve the idea and send us word to this effect at once – by postal card. Say which grade you will want, and when ready due notice will be given in the TOWER columns; – probably not before July or August.
|VOL. XXII.||JUNE 15, 1901.||No. 12.|
|Views From the Watch Tower||195|
|Presbyterian Creed Revision||195|
|Religious Federation and Trusts||196|
|What Leading Jews Say About Jesus||197|
|In the Paradise of God||198|
|The New Jerusalem and Glorified Temple||199|
|God the Creator of all Things||203|
|What Self-Styled Bible Evolutionists Claim||204|
|Public Ministries of the Truth||208|
We no longer have Bagster Bible No. 8706. We commend instead the Holman edition, which contains not only excellent Bible Study helps, but also eighty (80) photo-engravings, illustrating Palestine and the Orient in a most truthful manner – enabling accurate conceptions. These pictures are well worth one dollar. The type is Bourgeois of good size. Price in French seal, divinity circuit, $1.35; in Persian morocco, silk sewed, $2.35. Postage 25 cents extra.
THE General Assembly of the Church of the Presbyterians, whose names are written on earth, (compare Heb. 12:23), has again been forced to discuss its creed in response to the general clamor of its people, who want to be told whether or not they still believe it; or whether or not they may do just a little thinking for themselves.
When the Assembly convened in Philadelphia, Pa., its committee reported: – a majority favoring some sort of an amendment or revision, and a minority favoring no revision, no change. The Assembly sided with the majority, and the discussion pro and con showed considerable warmth at times.
Rev. D. S. Kennedy was the bravest of the brave in defending the creed which has so nauseated the tender-hearted, and so severely tried their faith's unreason. He repudiated the statement that "ministers of the gospel and elders in the church do not believe the oath of ordination they have taken." He challenged any man on the floor to dispute his statement! And, strange (?) to say, not one of the Assembly was willing to sacrifice himself by admitting himself to be a violator of his conscience and of his oath of consecration; – by admitting that he neither believed the Westminster Confession, nor taught it.
"I protest against changing the Confession for the sake of popularity; for as the church goes up in popularity, it usually goes down in spirituality. When the church flirts with this idea it falls into a ditch. You will never convert the world by popularizing the doctrine of the church. The Confession in its present form is popular enough for me."
But the majority, without, perhaps, being more conscientious, were less brave. If their consciences could have a little relief they wanted it. It was at this time, after several days of discussion, that Rev. Moffat, D.D., brought order out of confusion, and a rainbow in the Assembly's clouds by some skilful word-strategy. He is reported to have said: –
"What is this whole matter about? Is it revision? There is no revision before this Assembly. I don't know what I am, a revisionist, or an anti-revisionist, for revision is not before us at all. This majority report only asks for more time and authority. Probably revision will be before us next year; if it is, then the speech Dr. Kennedy made this morning will be right in place. How do these men know that a new creed will be the outcome of the adoption of the majority report? I admire their imagination, but I do not admire their exegetical ability.
"I will guarantee that if there is any heresy in the report they bring in next year, the Assembly of 1902 will burn the whole document. This new creed proposed is to sustain the same relation to the Confession of Faith that the Shorter Catechism sustains to the Larger Catechism. The Westminster divines maintained that the Shorter Catechism was better suited to the wants of the common people than the larger one, then why be afraid to go on with this subject? The whole thing is under proper ecclesiastical supervision. The presbyteries asked for it. The last Assembly discussed it and appointed the committee and they have done their work well. I am sorry to see men belittle this work. One hundred and fifty presbyteries asked for some change. What would be your attitude if that number asked for the dismissal of the whole subject?
"I claim it is not wise for this Assembly to disregard the voice of the church in this matter, and we should hesitate long before we say to them, Be still. Preachers who come to the General Assembly ought to practice what they preach. I have sympathy with the common people, and they are demanding some changes. Theologians can get along with the creed as it is; but the common people cannot, and I only [R2830 : page 196] want our belief stated so they can understand it, and when it is thus stated, and not till then, will all denominations say: 'Why, they believe just what we do!'
"The saddest declaration I have ever heard was: 'We simply cannot tell the world what we believe.' This is not true. Adopt the majority report and we will then get a statement of what we believe, and all the world will believe it.'
The dis-ease affecting Presbyterianism, the Assembly would have us think a very peculiar one. They wish their Christian neighbors and friends to think that the Westminster Confession of Faith, framed shortly after emergence from the superstitions of the "dark ages," is an infallible statement of the truth, and therefore unalterable, unchangeable. Neither their own nor other hands must shatter their idol. Neither will they admit that it has an ugly and a repulsive look, and if not broken up and burned should at least be veiled from public view. The resolution which now comforts and rejoices the Assembly and the large and intelligent, but blindly stubborn body of Presbyterians, is that their idol shall not be harmed, nor covered nor veiled; – it will be merely set back in the rear, so as not to be so conspicuous to outsiders and new beginners, and it will be represented at the front door by a more lovable-looking, a more angelic idol.
In other words, Doctor Moffat tells the world and the mass of Presbyterians and the vast majority of the Assembly, that the Westminster Confession is so "deep" that few but himself can really understand and interpret it. He assures them that what appears to them to be black is really the purest of white, and that men of sufficient ability to demonstrate this to the Christian world, have been put upon the committee which is to report such a modernized explanation of the Westminster Confession. No wonder there was applause at such a suggestion; – that the idol need not be destroyed nor even maimed. Moreover, it was not merely the idol that they cared for, but more especially themselves, the priests of that idol; for whatever would discredit it, would discredit them. If it were proven faulty, fallible, the same would be true of them; for had they not sworn themselves and each other to the reliability of this idol? And if they now were to admit error, falsehood, misrepresentation of the divine character and Word and plan, who would receive their testimony as infallible hereafter? Would there not be great danger that some of the best of the "sheep" would cease to follow traditions of men and seek instead the voice of the Good Shepherd Jesus and his leading into the green pastures and by the still waters of his Word?
Later Dr. Moffat put his thought into the following words which were adopted as a part of the Assembly's instructions to its committee, which has a year in which to fix up the substitute idol and see how lovely it can be made, and yet bear some faint traces of family likeness to its still to live parent, the Westminster Confession, to which it will bear the relationship of representative, but not of substitute. The resolution follows: –
"We recommend that this committee be instructed to prepare and submit to the next General Assembly for such disposition as may be judged to be wise, a brief statement of the reformed faith, in untechnical terms, the said statement to be prepared with a view to its being employed to give information and a better understanding of our doctrinal beliefs, and not with a view to its becoming a substitute or an alternative of our Confession of Faith."
Some who are awaking are crying out for bread – the bread of truth, instead of the stones of error offered by the various creeds. The Rev. T. Chalmers voiced the sentiments of an increasing number, when, not long since, he said: –
"We cannot resist the inevitable. The creed of Calvinism is like a coat which is becoming too small for the rapid growth of human thought. With every movement of the arms it will be sure to rip somewhere, unless we refrain from all vigorous exercise. We do not want any coat which binds us so tightly that we cannot act with freedom. It is folly to attempt to keep pace with the ripping of the coat by a little sewing here and there. It is too small, and no amount of sewing and patching will help it any. It may have a good deal of good material which may be kept and still used, but the system of Calvinism, as a system, has done its service for humanity. We don't want systems any more. We want liberty and truth and love and righteousness. We want more of Christ and less of creed. We want still to grow – to grow until we come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto the perfect man, unto the fulness of the measure of the stature of Christ."
Long ago we pointed out that combination would be the order of the churches and the world for the new century; – that these will be the great giants of the end of this age, and make necessary the symbolic fire which will destroy present systems, corresponding to the giants, whose wisdom and super-ability and tyranny preceded the literal destruction of the first order of things (kosmos) by a flood of literal waters. The financial giants of Christendom are growing rapidly – beyond the wildest dream of the world's financiers – in every part of Christendom. It must be near the time for the religious combines to begin. Indeed, the leaders in finance are closely related to, and in many instances the real manipulators of, the nominal [R2831 : page 197] church machinery. Money moves Christendom to a degree that the masses are not aware of. And who can doubt that the spirit of federation, or "confederacy" as the Scriptures designate it, is growing in all directions; and that financial successes will encourage religious combines. It is not long since the Disciple denomination passed the following resolution: –
"The national congress of the Disciples of Christ, lately held at Lexington, appointed a committee of seven to take charge of a movement in behalf of an international confederation of religious denominations. According to this scheme, the different religious bodies are to retain their own creeds, but will be auxiliary to an international congress and will affiliate with all other churches on a common platform. The ultimate aim is to create one international church. This movement is the first of its kind in America, and is in line with the widespread tendency to church federation and church unity, and with the rapidly growing spirit of internationalism in literature, social reform, and art."
"The movement toward church union and federation, evident of late in nearly every part of Christendom, has been particularly noticeable in Great Britain during the past year. Closely following the organic union of the Free and United Presbyterian churches of Scotland and the proposed union of all evangelical bodies in that kingdom, has come the first joint assembly of the Congregational and Baptist churches of England. Both these bodies are strongly Congregational in church polity and Calvinistic in theology; and there seems to be every reason to believe that their corporate union is only a question of a comparatively short time. Indeed, Mr. Alfred Dawson, English editor of The Congregationalist, speaks of that union as a consummation 'sure to take place.' The rapprochement which has been going on for a long period, this year culminated in two joint sessions of these bodies, which Mr. Dawson pronounces 'the most wonderful series of religious gatherings' he has ever attended. He writes (The Congregationalist, May 11):
"'There were two joint assemblies: on Tuesday, April 23, when Dr. Parker presided and Dr. McLaren delivered his address as president of the Baptist Union; and on the following Thursday, when the positions were reversed, Dr. McLaren presiding and Dr. Parker delivering his address as chairman of the Congregational Union. The experiment was in every way a success; perfect harmony and the warmest fraternal feeling prevailed throughout, and not one single jar-note was struck....
"'Reverting to the paramount question of Baptist and Congregational union, the committee of the latter body frankly remarked in their annual report: "Neither of the joint assemblies can meet without the idea occurring to many minds that a permanent union of Baptists and Congregationalists should not be an impossible dream." Certainly many of the leaders and rank and file on both sides do not so regard it.'"
"I regard Jesus of Nazareth as a Jew of the Jews, one whom all Jewish people are learning to love. His teaching has been an immense service to the world in bringing Israel's God to the knowledge of hundreds of millions of mankind.
"The great change in Jewish thought concerning Jesus of Nazareth I can not better illustrate than by this fact: When I was a boy, had my father, who was a very pious man, heard the name of Jesus uttered from the pulpit of our synagog, he and every other man in the congregation would have left the building, and the rabbi would have been dismissed at once. Now, it is not strange, in many synagogs, to hear sermons preached eulogistic of this Jesus, and nobody thinks of protesting – in fact, we are all glad to claim Jesus as one of our people."
"Jesus is soul of our soul, as he is flesh of our flesh. Who, then, could think of excluding him from the people of Israel? St. Peter will remain the only Jew who said of the son of David, 'I know not the man.' If the Jews up to the present time have not publicly rendered homage to the sublime moral beauty of the figure of Jesus, it is because their tormentors have always persecuted, tortured, assassinated them in his name. The Jews have drawn their conclusions from the disciples as to the Master, which was a wrong, a wrong pardonable in the eternal victims of the implacable, cruel hatred of those who call themselves Christians. Every time that a Jew mounted to the sources and contemplated Christ alone, without his pretended faithful, he cried, with tenderness and admiration: 'Putting aside the Messianic mission, this man is ours. He honors our race and we claim him as we claim the Gospels – flowers of Jewish literature, and only Jewish.'"
"The Jews of every shade of religious belief do not regard Jesus in the light of Paul's theology. But the gospel Jesus, the Jesus who teaches so superbly the principles of Jewish ethics, is revered by all the liberal expounders of Judaism. His words are studied; the New Testament forms a part of Jewish literature. Among the great preceptors that have worded the truths of which Judaism is the historical guardian, none, in our estimation and esteem, takes precedence of the rabbi of Nazareth. To impute to us suspicious sentiments concerning him does us gross injustice. We know him to be among our greatest and purest."
"He was a bold religious and social reformer, eager to regenerate Judaism. True, a large number of sayings were attributed to the dead master by his disciples which had been current in the schools. Still, [R2831 : page 198] the charm of true originality is felt in these utterances of his when the great realities of life, when the idea of Sabbath, the principle of purity, the value of a human soul, of woman, even of the abject sinner, are touched upon. None can read these parables and verdicts of the Nazarene and not be thrilled with the joy of a truth unspelled before. There is wonderful music in the voice which stays an angry crowd, saying, 'Let him that is without sin cast the first stone!' – that speaks the words, 'Be like children, and you are not far from the kingdom of God!'
"The Jew of today beholds in Jesus an inspiring ideal of matchless beauty. While he lacks the element of stern justice expressed so forcibly in the law and in the Old Testament characters, the firmness of self-assertion so necessary to the full development of manhood, all those social qualities which build up the home and society, industry and worldly progress, he is the unique exponent of the principle of redeeming love. His name as helper of the poor, as sympathizing friend of the fallen, as brother of every fellow sufferer, as lover of man and redeemer of woman, has become the inspiration, the symbol, and the watchword for the world's greatest achievements in the field of benevolence. While continuing the work of the synagog, the Christian Church, with the larger means at her disposal created those institutions of charity and redeeming love that accomplished wondrous things. The very sign of the cross has lent a new meaning, a holier pathos to suffering, sickness and sin, so as to offer new practical solutions for the great problems of evil which fill the human heart with new joys of self-sacrificing love.
"All this modern Judaism gladly acknowledges, reclaiming Jesus as one of its greatest sons. But it denies that one single man, or one church, however broad, holds the key to many-sided truth. It waits for the time when all life's deepest mysteries will have been spelled and to the ideals of sage and saint that of the seeker of all that is good, beautiful and true, will have been joined; when Jew and Gentile, synagog and church, will merge into the church universal, into the great city of humanity whose name is 'God is there.'"
Quite evidently the way is preparing for the fulfilment of this Scripture in the near future. If a few of the Jewish "common people" are already "looking unto Jesus," despite the opposition of their leaders and the violent persecution, and generally disinheritance, sure to follow the acknowledgement of him, what may we not expect soon – when the changed sentiments of their leaders begin to be widely understood.
Let us not forget, however, that every such evidence of the return of divine favor to fleshly Israel – every evidence that their blindness begins to pass away – is an equally sure evidence and proof that the Gospel age is closing, and that its mission (the selection of spiritual Israel) is nearly accomplished, that the time in which we may make our calling and election sure is gradually closing. – Rom. 11:25.
Our Lord refers to this paradise in language which identifies it with the first paradise of Eden, saying, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rev. 2:7.) It will be remembered that all the trees in Eden were trees of life, but that the one in the midst of the garden was then a forbidden tree, the disobedient eating of which brought death on Adam and his race. That tree in the midst of paradise was called the tree of knowledge, and our Lord's promise is that the overcomers of this present age shall have full liberty to partake of that tree of knowledge, and under most blessed and satisfactory conditions, when the knowledge will be of benefit to them under divine approval, and not bring a curse. It is this same paradise of the future on this earth that our Lord referred to when addressing the penitent thief, he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in paradise."
This Paradise, we recall, is elsewhere referred to [R2832 : page 199] by the Apostles as "the third heaven" – "a new heavens and a new earth." (2 Cor. 12:2; 2 Pet. 3:13.) They are not referring to new worlds, nor to heavens ranged one above another, as many have supposed, but, as already shown,* what is termed the first heavens and earth or order of things, passed away at the flood; and that the heavens and earth "which are now," the present order of things, are reserved of God to pass away with a great fire of trouble, revolution, etc., which shall utterly destroy them – the present spiritual powers and the present earthly or social arrangements. "Nevertheless, we according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." This will be the third heavens, and third earth, or the new heavens, and new earth, which will differ from the present condition of things in that it will be righteous, whereas the present is unrighteous, imperfect. The "new heavens" will consist of the new spiritual ruling powers of the future, Christ and the glorified Church, as the present heavens consist of the nominal religious systems, which, claiming Christ for their Head, in a very large degree bow to Antichrist, the god of this world, the prince of this world, "who now worketh in [through] the children of disobedience," and who is captivating and blinding the whole world with the exception of the few, the eyes of whose understanding have been opened, who are under special blessing and leading, and are taught of God, – the "little flock," "heirs of the Kingdom." – Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4.
It is to this new heavens and new earth condition, this paradise, that our lesson introduces us. As the "new heavens" does not mean a new place of God's throne, and a new throne of God, but new conditions, and signify the spiritual power and control of Christ and his Church in glory, so the "new earth" does not mean another planet, but a new social order on this planet. The declaration is that the former heavens and former earth (which are now) will then have passed away and be no more. All present institutions are to utterly perish in the great time of trouble with which this age is very shortly to end. "And there shall be no more sea." As we have already seen, the sea is a symbol for the masses of people in a restless and unstable anarchistic condition, just as the land represents the social order, and as the mountains represent the kingdoms of the present time. As there is no reference to the physical earth and physical heavens being destroyed, so there is no reference to the physical sea being obliterated. The symbol signifies that under the new arrangement, under the control of the new heavens or spiritual powers, the reconstructed social order will be so satisfactory, so complete, so thorough, that there will be no more sea-class, no more restless people, no more dissatisfaction, no more anarchists; everything will be reduced to law and order; and law and order will under the new regime secure justice to every creature, obliterating the differences of wealth and power as they now exist.
In the symbolism of Scripture a city represents a government; as for instance, symbolic Babylon is denominated "that great city [government] which ruleth over the kings of the earth." The New Jerusalem, as a symbol, represents the new spiritual government of the Millennial age. It is not earth-born, it is not reared by men, but, as here pictured, it descends from God out of heaven – it is spiritual in every sense of the word – of God and not of men. It is for this kingdom, this government, that our Lord taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come – thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." The declaration that the city is adorned as a bride for her husband implies its grandeur and beauty and perfection, as a bride's adornment on such an occasion is particular and elaborate to the last degree. But additionally to this it reminds us that in the government of the future, the judges of the world are the saints, now being selected through faithfulness in trial and tribulation, and that these are frequently called the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heir in the Kingdom. The Revelator elsewhere strikingly bring this thought to our attention: the angel calls to him, "Come hither, and I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." – Verses 9-11.
We are not to think of this holy city as being composed of literal stones, coming down through the air; we are to remember, on the contrary, that the saints of this present time are "living stones," as the Apostle Peter explains. (1 Pet. 2:4-7.) This glorious city will not be visible to the natural eye – neither Christ nor the saints in glory can be seen of men; only those "changed" from human to spiritual nature see these matters in the full; but the whole world will be quickly made aware of the fact that a new government has been instituted, – a government of righteousness, and with all power, and that thereafter whosoever doeth righteousness shall be blessed, and whosoever doeth evil shall be punished.
The third verse of our lesson associates this city with the other figure of a symbolic Temple, which the [R2832 : page 200] Lord is now preparing, of which the saints will constitute the "living stones" and "pillars;" for it is declared that the tabernacle (dwelling) of God shall be with men in this city (government or kingdom). God will dwell in this glorious city or government – it will be his Temple, and the world of mankind will approach God in it to receive the divine blessings, as Israel approached the typical Tabernacle and the Temple in their typical religious services. Thus God, represented in his Church (the Christ, Head and body) will dwell with men (the world of mankind during the Millennial age) and they shall be his people; – all mankind will be treated from the standpoint of reconciliation, the propitiation price for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) having been paid at Calvary, and the due time having then come for the manifestation of divine favor, all peoples shall be treated as the Lord's people; none of them shall be treated as aliens, strangers, foreigners from God and his promises and his blessings.
While the Millennial Kingdom will be the Kingdom of God's dear Son, it will also be the Kingdom of God, because God's dear Son and his joint-heir, the Church, will be in absolute accord with the Father, and all that shall be done under their control will fully and completely represent the divine will respecting men. Nevertheless, it will be a separate Kingdom from that of the remainder of the universe, as the Apostle Paul indicates. (1 Cor. 15:24,25,28.) "He must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet....And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also be subject to him that did put all things under him....Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father," – at the close of the Millennial reign.
Since God is the Author of all the blessings of redemption and restitution, and since every good and every perfect gift cometh down from our Father in heaven, it is with appropriateness that the record declares [R2833 : page 200] that "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" – from the eyes of mankind. Tho it will be Christ and the Church who will be doing it, nevertheless, the Heavenly Father will be recognized as the first cause, the fountain of every blessing. The wiping away of tears implies a gradual work, such as we see will be the process of that glorious time. Man will not be exempt from every weakness and trial and difficulty at the beginning, but if he will conform to the laws of the Kingdom, all cause for distress will gradually pass away, as restitution blessings will lift him out of death into perfect life. "They that hear [obey] that prophet [teacher, the Christ, Head and body] shall live; but it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hear that prophet [not render hearty obedience to his requirements] will be cut off from amongst the people [in the Second Death]." – Acts 3:23.
Other Scriptures show us that the work of the Kingdom will begin with those who remain over at the time of its establishment, and that these, under condemnation of death, will at once be blessed with the knowledge and opportunities provided through the ransom, and if they accept these they will immediately be released from condemnation, that they may at once go on and upward on the way of holiness, toward perfection; and subsequently those who "sleep in the dust of the earth" shall come forth to more or less of shame and lasting contempt, as they begin to realize their mental and physical decrepitude, the results of their depravity. Nevertheless, these also, under the blessings of the Kingdom, may make progress up to perfection, losing their sin-blights, and simultaneously losing the "shame and contempt," – whose lasting will be only so long as their cause continues. Thus these may progress in the way of righteousness, so that only those who sin wilfully shall die, and then each for his own sins only, and not the father for the son's sins, nor the son for the father's sins. – Jer. 31:29,30; Dan. 12:2.
The whole work of the Millennial age is summed up in few words, and we are brought to its culmination in the declaration, "There shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." What a glorious sun-burst of blessing is in these words! What a grand fulfilment will be there of the Apostle's declaration respecting "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began!" This declaration, however, applies to the very end of the Millennial age, and not in full to any previous time in that age, for other accounts show us unmistakably that there will be imperfections and chastisements and stripes throughout the age, while mankind is being lifted up; or as our Lord expressed it, the raising up of mankind throughout the Millennial age, step by step, will be a "resurrection by judgment," chastisements, disciplines. (John 5:28,29.) And even at the close of that age we are shown, in another pen-picture of that time, that there will be a severe trial and testing to demonstrate to what extent the enforced obedience of that age shall have rightly affected the hearts of those who experience its blessings, so that their love will be for righteousness, and that they will hate iniquity. (Rev. 20:7,8.) All who in that final test shall manifest that his heart contains anything aside from full loyalty to the Lord and the principles [R2833 : page 201] of righteousness will have his part in the Second Death.
The fifth verse of our lesson comprehensively grasps the entire Millennial age; our Lord Jesus, then in the throne of earth's dominion, declaring, "Behold, I make all things new." This expression does not relate merely to rocks and trees, etc., but to the great work which our Lord undertook; viz., the regeneration of humanity – of so many of Adam's race as would, under favorable conditions of knowledge, experience and assistance, develop characters in full accord with the divine will. The end of the Millennial age will see the work completed; – all the wicked destroyed, all who will not hear the voice of that prophet, teacher, governor, cut off from amongst the people in the Second Death, and all the willing and obedient made new, brought to the complete perfection contemplated in the original divine plan.
John was to write this matter, because the testimony is true, is faithful, as is the one who has promised. This asseveration of faithfulness and truthfulness implies what we see to be the case; viz., that present conditions seem so contrary to all this grand restitution outcome that it cannot be fully believed and trusted by any except those who have learned to walk with the Lord, and in their weakness to lean upon his might, – to trust to his power to accomplish all the exceeding great and precious things which he has promised. To all others these things will appear untrue, and God will appear unfaithful, and the matters which we are here discussing will seem "idle tales," as fables and golden fancies: but to us who believe these promises are precious, and he from whom we receive them is precious, correspondingly as we know him and trust him. – 1 Pet. 2:7.
The one enthroned (the Christ) declares at the conclusion of the Millennial age, "It is done;" my great contract is accomplished; "I am the Alpha and the Omega [the A and the Z], the beginning and the end." It was the Father's good pleasure that the Blessed One, the Only Begotten of the Father, should accomplish the entire program of redemption and restitution; and that incidentally, by his obedience in the things which he suffered that he should prove himself worthy to be forever the associate and representative of the Father, through whom and by whom all things should continue, as he was the one through whom all things were made that were made. It is this one who, during the Millennial age, will extend to all the willing and obedient the water of life, everlasting life – the privilege of perpetual existence. But they must thirst for it, must desire it; and this desire must be manifest in obedience to the terms, the laws, upon which it will be supplied freely. Our Lord declared to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life," and that anyone believing him, trusting him, tho he were dead, yet should he live, – attain to perfect life, escaping from death conditions, until at the close of the Millennium he shall have life in the full, unrestricted sense. And he who thus liveth (attains to life) and still believeth, trusteth in the Life-giver, and is obedient to his directions, shall never die.
Our Lord adds, "He that overcometh shall inherit these things, and I will be to him a God, and he shall be to me a son." Those addressed are not the Bride class, selected during the Gospel age, but the sheep class of Matt. 25, – such of mankind as during the Millennial age become the Lord's sheep and obey his voice. To these at the end of the Millennial age, in harmony with the Father's plan, he says, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." They are not invited to inherit the Kingdom prepared for us, in joint-heirship with the Lord, the heavenly Kingdom. But they shall inherit the earth, the purchased possession – they shall come back into all the good estate of father Adam, which he lost for himself and his children through disobedience, but which Jesus redeemed with his own precious blood, and will restore at the close of the Millennium to all the children of Adam who shall have accepted his gracious favors and been regenerated by him, and thus become his sons, and he their God – their "father." – Isa. 9:6.
Here our lesson turns to a consideration of the city, the glorified Church, the kingdom class, who, during the Millennial age, will be "kings and priests unto God, and reign upon the earth," "a thousand years." (Rev. 5:10; 20:4.) This City class, the glorified Church, it is declared will have no need of the sun or the moon. Nothing in this statement indicates that the world will not have and need both sunlight and moonlight during the Millennial age, and subsequently, "as long as the sun and moon endure." (Psa. 72:5.) And while it will be true that the Church, as spirit beings, will not have need of literal sunlight and literal moonlight, nevertheless, this is not the thought. The sun and the moon here are symbolical, as in Chapter 12:1; the sun signifies the light of this Gospel age; the moon signifies the typically reflected light of the Gospel in the Law and the prophets of the previous dispensation. The glorified Church will have no need of the light which in the present time she so much enjoys through the Word and spirit, and the Law and the prophets. She will have, instead of these, a much more excellent glory, [R2833 : page 202] to which the Apostle refers when he says, "Now [with all the light, privileges and opportunities which we enjoy, both as respects the representations of God through the Law and the prophets, and through the instructions and leadings of the spirit in the present] we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now we know in part; then we shall know even as we are known." – 1 Cor. 13:12.
The Church, the Temple of God, will be so filled with all the fulness of God, when made like unto the glorious Lord, that nothing could add to their blessing of knowledge and divine favor; – will be so filled with the glory of God that from her, as from the Sun of Righteousness, shall proceed the light of the glory of God, which shall heal and bless the world during the Millennial age. This is the Sun of Righteousness to which our Lord referred in Matt. 13:43, "Then shall [R2834 : page 202] the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" – our Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, of course being included. The same Sun of Righteousness is mentioned by the Prophet, saying, "The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams." (Mal. 4:2.) Nevertheless, while so filled with the Lord's glory we are not to lose sight of the fact which the Apostle impresses upon us, saying that Christ is the Head of the Church, even as the Father is the Head of Christ Jesus. Hence the Lord Almighty and the Lamb will always be an inner Temple in this great Temple, which God has provided for the world's blessing during restitution times. – Verse 22.
When this Sun of Righteousness shall shine forth, its blessings of healing, refreshment and life, mental, moral and physical, upon the world of mankind, the nations shall walk in the light of it. (The words "of them that are saved" are not in old MSS. Indeed, it is because they are not saved that they need this special light during the Millennial age, in order to their enlightenment, their salvation, their restitution.) "And the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it." (The words, "and honor" are not found in old MSS.) The expressions "nations" and "kings" are not to be understood as signifying that the world of mankind during the Millennial age will be divided into nationalities and kingdoms as at present: the word "nations" here signifies peoples, and is intended to show that all peoples, and not merely the people of Israel, will be thus favored under God's Kingdom. The word "kings" represents those princes or chief ones of the earth who, during the Millennial age, will be the chief representatives of the heavenly, spiritual, invisible Kingdom of Christ. These princes, as we have already seen, will be Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the faithful prophets of the previous dispensation, who, loving God before the call to the Kingdom and to the Bride class, cannot be of it, but because of their faithfulness will be the princes whom the Lord will establish in all the earth – first making them perfect individuals, and qualifying them for their office, as a reward for their faithfulness to God in the dark times in which they lived – their manifestation of love for righteousness and trust in the Omnipotent One.
The bringing of their glory into the city, the Kingdom, signifies their acknowledgment of this heavenly Kingdom, their rendering of tribute of praise, thanks, worship and obedience to it as God's agency. And this rendering of glory to the Kingdom will continue throughout the entire Millennial age, as the princes throughout the earth will make known to the people that not in their own names or authority do they rule and execute judgment and establish righteousness, but in the name and as the ministers and representatives of the glorified Christ. The result will be that all the people will ascribe honor and praise and majesty and glory to the Lord's Anointed, through whom their redemption and restitution was and is being accomplished; and this is indicated in verse 26.
Then, in consideration of the fact that this book of symbols, while relating to the future, is addressed to God's consecrated elect Church in the present time, and in view of the fact that this message would be communicated to and more or less understood by those who would seek to make their calling and election sure to a part in the glorious city, the 27th verse is added, declaring that "In nowise shall there enter into it anything common, or he that doeth abomination and falsehood – but only they who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." The Lamb's Book of Life we must understand to include those, and only those, who attain to position of joint-heirship with Christ, whose names are written in heaven during this age, and who are faithful to their covenant. What a glorious incentive we have here to faithfulness! What a warning against the slightest sympathy with anything unclean, untrue, or in anywise contrary to the divine standard of holiness! If we appreciate the glorious things of the divine provision for the Church and for the world, these promises and offers will have their influence upon us, and under their influence we are expected to keep our garments unspotted from the world; to be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; to hate every contamination of the flesh upon our robe of righteousness; and to seek immediately in prayer for the removal of any spot or wrinkle or any such thing from our wedding garment, – that thus we may abide in the Lord's love, and in the due time be "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light."
Amongst those who acknowledge a Creator there has come to be a wide difference of opinion respecting his Word and his work. Some accept the Bible testimony as a divine revelation, relying upon it accordingly. Others, with a larger amount of self-confidence, deny that the Bible is God-inspired, go to the rocks and study them, – forming their conclusions in harmony with their findings. Both acknowledge God and that his power and wisdom are manifest in his creation, yet the latter, leaning more and more to their own understanding (Prov. 3:5), tend to question the personality of God, and seek, if possible, to prove that there are what they term "Laws of Nature" in operation now which have been in operation from time immemorial, and they query whether or not these laws must of necessity have had an author. They see life in its various manifestations, and admit intelligence, but claim that this intelligence was attained through a process of evolution, – attained without a Creator, as evolutions from inert matter. In other words, they have been seeking for some time to see whether or not in their theory a God is absolutely necessary, with a view to dropping him entirely from their theories, if possible.
However, the learned, worldly-wise, do not generally reach that "fool" condition; for the majority admitting that while they could reason out all manner of changes as respects conditions, admit that they cannot produce a satisfactory theory of the origin of matter, nor of the origin of the first spark of life, nor of the origin of the first gleam of intelligence. Hence scientists as a class still admit that there must be some kind of a God, but the Scriptures assure us that, looking in the wrong direction, they fail to see the real God, fail to discern his real character and plan. "The world by wisdom knows not God." – 1 Cor. 1:21.
While the leaders amongst natural men are searching for God and for truth in the rocks and in the sands, the children of God, begotten by his spirit, are seeking the wisdom that cometh from above, and are finding and knowing him whom to know is life eternal. Yea, and more than this, the "spirit of a sound mind" which they receive, and the guidance of the holy spirit, enable them to see "the deep things of God," in those things which were written aforetime for their admonition – in the holy writings which by divine arrangement have been gathered and cemented together, and which are known to us as the Bible – the Book of all books. In thus doubting their own wisdom and the ability of themselves and others to master the deep subject of creation and the divine will and plan associated with it, these whom the world counts unwise are really wise, in that they look to the Lord for their instruction respecting these things; they manifest a faith which is pleasing to him, and put themselves into a position of heart in which they may be "all taught of God," and thus know things which the natural man cannot know – thus seeing and appreciating things which "eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither hath entered into the hearts of [natural] men, ...but which God hath revealed unto us by his spirit; for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." – 1 Cor. 2:9,10.
We are not meaning to say that God has given great revelations respecting the earth and its creation; yet while admitting that the things that are revealed to God's people by his spirit pertain chiefly to the things that are to come, we hold, nevertheless, that in respect to the things that are past, the creation, etc., the Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. – 2 Tim. 3:17.
The opportunities afforded by this lesson in various Sunday Schools and Bible classes of the civilized world are sure to be taken advantage of by many ministers, superintendents and teachers to introduce the unscriptural views which they have for some time past been imbibing from various quarters, especially from the colleges and seminaries of Christendom, respecting what is known as the Evolution Theory of Creation. It is the taking theory – the theory which commends itself to the natural mind – the theory which will seem to best fit all the facts of history in the judgment of those who look at the question from the outside, [R2835 : page 204] not from the inside; – from the natural standpoint and not from the standpoint of the spiritual new creature, instructed by the inner light of the "golden candlestick." However, we are to remember that the light which the priests enjoyed in the "holy places made with hands" represented the enlightenment of the holy spirit; which is granted during this Gospel age, only to the consecrated "royal priesthood." And as this light in the "Holy," could not be seen by those outside, we must not be surprised that the "natural man receiveth not the things [the light, the instruction] of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." – 1 Cor. 2:14.
For centuries natural men have looked to the teachings of the Church, the Bible, for instruction; because in the "dark" time practically no other course of information was open to them. But now, in the dawn of the "morning," when light is becoming more general on every subject, the natural man is not only disposed to repudiate many of the teachings of priestcraft and superstition which he had received as truths, but additionally he is disposed to doubt that there is, and always has been, a truth-centre to Christianity; – around which, we admit, there were heavy incrustations of error and darkness which have to a very large degree misrepresented the truth to the world in general.
We are now come to the time when the battle of books which has waged during the past half century amongst professors and school-men is reaching the masses of the people. The leaven of doubt as respects the whole Bible, and Genesis in particular, is gradually permeating the entire mass of Christendom; and its progress will be increasingly rapid because it is already accepted by the learned; and the ignorant who are now being approached will feel that they can safely follow, blindly, these blind guides who are preaching "another Gospel," of which the atoning sacrifice of Christ is not the centre.
We well know that many Christian people who have adopted the Evolution Theory will dispute the foregoing statement, because of the source from which they have accepted it, and because of the insidious form in which they received it, and because they are not thoroughly furnished in a knowledge of the Scriptures, and because they have not reasoned the matter out – have not had their "senses exercised by reason of use" on this subject. (Heb. 5:14.) Their argument is: "We do not dispute the Scriptures, nor is it necessary so to do, in accepting the Evolution Theory. If asked to explain their position they would say: We still believe in God, a personal intelligent God, and have no sympathy with those who attempt to claim or to prove that life and intelligence could come spontaneously and without a Creator's power; we merely hold that our God, as Creator, produced the world gradually, and not in six twenty-four-hour days; we claim also that the creation of the fish, birds, beasts and man were gradual evolutions, but nevertheless under divine supervision, and during long periods. We claim that the monkey and the ape were not direct creations, but sharers in this evolution; and that in due time the evolutionary process which God started reached the point where a new and higher type of creature was evolved from the ape, a type having some degree of moral sense, that was man. We Bible-Evolutionists claim, that in this first gleam of moral sense was man's image or likeness to his Creator; and that during the past six thousand years this moral sense has been growing, expanding, developing, until by the grace of God the race has reached its present high altitudes of intelligence, – moral, spiritual, intellectual.
"We claim further that under divine providence the reasonable thing to expect is that this evolutionary process will continue throughout ages to come, perhaps forever, etc. We do not deny the Bible nor the Lord nor the apostles, altho we certainly do give less weight to their teachings than we formerly did; – being now inclined to believe that Jesus and the disciples either withheld some of the truth in their teaching, or else that they shared with mankind in general the lower planes of thought and less intelligence of their day; that they are to be respected for their good intentions and valuable service, but not to be regarded as competent to teach us who live under the more favored circumstances and enlightenment of this twentieth century civilization, taught by such lights as Prof. Briggs, Mrs. Eddy, Prof. Haupt, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndale, Spencer, et al."
In the foregoing we have given what we believe to be as fair a statement as could be made of the views of the great mass of intelligent people, especially of the educated class. And what does it mean? To us it means infidelity – a total denial of the divine Word and plan of God. And we will show why.
If the above theory be true, the Bible theory must be false; but if the Bible be true, the above theory must be false. We hold that the Scripture teaching as a whole is in violent conflict with the foregoing in nearly every point. The Genesis account of man's creation, in the image and likeness of God, is quite distinctly different from its account of the creation of the lower animals, and must necessarily mean something much higher than evolutionists admit; – it declares a direct creation. The words "image" and "likeness" [R2835 : page 205] signify a great deal more than a mere first glimmer of moral sense. To us these words signify a likeness of mental conception, a harmony of sentiment – that man was, in the flesh, a copy of his Creator, who is a spirit – that he was not a brute with a mere glimmer of intelligence. Nor could we imagine how such a being but one remove from the brute could be justly placed on trial for life, eternal life, so that by one act of disobedience he could be justly sentenced to death; nor could we see how such a being could with any propriety be said to fall, without losing the little spark of intelligence possessed, and becoming again a mere brute. The fact that the fallen man was possessed of such character and qualities as possessed by various of the patriarchs before as well as after the flood, as described in this very book of Genesis, proves conclusively either that the monkeyman and his posterity fell upward at a very rapid rate indeed, and not in any sense of the word downward and into sin and death, or else it disproves totally the Evolution Theory, on this subject.
On the contrary, all the Scriptures declare that man is fallen; that he has forfeited his Creator's favor and blessing, and the original grant of life everlasting; and teach us that this "condemnation" upon the first man and his posterity has been inflicted ever since; and that the "wrath of God" as manifested in the sentence of death has been upon the race as a "curse;" and that the only means of removing this "curse" or sentence, and recovering the lost man to the original position of harmony with God and to the right to eternal life, was through the redemption in Christ Jesus. The message of Jesus and the apostles was along this line; viz., that the promise of God that the race should be succored from its fallen condition by a Savior and a great one, able to save unto the uttermost – able to recover out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay of sin and death, and that he made this recovery possible by giving the ransom price, his own sacrifice, and that as a result of the sacrifice he was to be the great King who, during a future age, the Millennium, would exercise divine power and authority, binding Satan and all the evil influences at present operating upon mankind and holding it in subjection to the curse of sin and death, would be removed, hindered, while the great King Immanuel should lift up and bless the race under restitution processes, bringing all the then willing back to the Paradise lost, and to all the favors that were lost, – even fellowship with God, the divine likeness and the everlasting life.
These two theories are so antagonistic that there cannot possibly be any sympathy or cooperation between them. If one is true the other is false, and for our part we say, Let God be true, tho it prove every professed scientist a liar! (Rom. 3:4.) This Evolution Theory of science comes properly under the criticism of the Apostle when he speaks of "science falsely so-called," which contradicts the divine Word, and sets [R2836 : page 205] it at naught, preferring the traditions of men and the light of human intelligence rather than the light of divine revelation. Yet, as above stated, we must not be surprised at this great trial and testing of faith, which is to prove all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. (Rev. 3:10.) We must not be surprised at the stumbling of those who have failed to use the opportunity granted, of coming into a condition of heart-consecration to the Lord, and begetting of his spirit, and entrance into the "holy place," – into the light of the golden candlestick: we must not be surprised if these now reject and repudiate the true light which they see not. Indeed, to our understanding we are in the very testing time which is to prove the saints, and ultimately to reprove the world and bring to naught its wisdom.
Let us not be misunderstood: We agree that the Scriptures do not teach that the earth and all its creatures were created in six twenty-four hour days. There is nothing said in Genesis respecting the length of these periods called "days," but we have clearly set before us the fact that the term "day" is properly applied in Scripture to various periods. (Luke 1:80; John 8:56; Phil. 2:16.) Our Golden Text, rightly understood, indicates that the work of the six days mentioned in Genesis was a work of ordering and filling the earth, rather than a work of creating; for it plainly declares that the creation of the earth was "in the beginning" – that it "was" before the matters and affairs described subsequently, but in a chaotic condition. In harmony with this again is the statement, "Now the earth was without form and void." (Verse 2.) This was before the six creative days began, whatever their length; they merely set the earth in order and supplied it with living creatures.
Neither do we insist that anything in the narrative necessarily involves the thought that the creation of the lower animals, fish, fowl and beasts, was in the same manner as the creation of man; rather, since their creation is merely mentioned in a general way, the inference might be drawn that God used certain (possibly evolutionary) processes in their development up to the point where they reached fixity of class, nature, genera. But we do insist that the Scriptures specifically mention man as a direct creation of God, and not as an evolution. We insist that this particularity of statement respecting man's creation is not without significance, and that the special preparation for his reception in a Paradise of God was in full accord with his high rank as an earthly human son of [R2836 : page 206] the Highest, an image and likeness of his heavenly Creator. We do insist that the story of the fall as told in Genesis and throughout the prophets and psalms, and as particularly enunciated in the New Testament, must be held to implicitly by those who hold to the Word of God at all. We must insist that unless there was a fall, Christ died in vain, for if the Evolution Theory be true then there were no sinners to be redeemed and restored. – Acts 3:19-23.
We stand, on the contrary, with those who have, by the grace of God, attained a knowledge of God's Word, and who see in it Christ the Savior of mankind, and his cross the centre, the fulcrum upon which the entire work of salvation moves, by which alone the race can be lifted out of its present degraded condition, and brought back through divine processes of redemption and restitution to the glorious condition of God-likeness in a new Paradise of God, a new heavens and a new earth, from which sin shall eventually be blotted out, and in which righteousness shall prevail. These Scriptural presentations are the best possible answer to the doubts and queries of the scientists. But these clear views of the divine plan can be had only by those whose eyes of understanding have been opened, and into whose hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord has shined. As respects all others, moral and immoral, good and bad, we must surely expect that they will fall away in this time of sifting. "Who shall be able to stand?" Only those who have availed themselves of the mercy of God and who have come into covenant relationship with him; – and they only as they maintain the spirit of their consecration, and grow in grace, knowledge and love toward God and men.
Our lesson specially deals with the creation of man. Verse 26 tells us of the purpose of God in advance, and we would render it, "Let us make mankind in our image, and after our likeness let them have dominion over the fish of the sea," etc., making the word "image" to apply to the character-likeness of God, in which man was created, and the word "likeness" to refer to the dominion; – that mankind should have dominion over the creatures of earth, even as God has dominion over all things. In a word, man was intended to be the king of the earth, the lord of the earth; and it was to this end that he was crowned with the glory and honor and majesty of the divine image, – in the moral and intellectual features of his being, a flesh image of his invisible spirit Creator. It is to this high exaltation of man, as God's representative in the earth, that the Prophet speaks, saying, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands." (Psa. 8:4-8.) So far from being only a little removed above the beast, this scripture declares that man was created in the very highest position of earthly creatures, but a little removed in intelligence, etc., from the angelic hosts. What we shall subsequently see respecting the fall of man from this grand position and the necessity of his redemption before he could be restored to it, is in perfect accord with the declarations respecting the glory and honor of the image in which he was created.
Verse 27 declares that that which God purposed was accomplished, and that this glory and honor in its full, complete sense, was not represented by one of the sexes alone, but by them both unitedly. This holy, happy pair had the blessing, the favor of God, and, contrary to the views of many, their fruitfulness was not the result of sin and the fall, but, as here distinctly declared, was in the intention of the Almighty respecting them before their disobedience and condemnation to death. The fact that God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth," contradicts the unscriptural thought that the propagation of children was in any sense or degree a transgression, or the transgression on account of which the "curse" came upon our first parents, and upon all through them. The Lord's people are not to be wise above what is written, nor to permit idle speculations to twist and warp their minds; but, on the contrary, are to rightly divide the word of truth.
The word "replenish" in our common version, is manifestly incorrect, as the word implies that the earth had once been filled, and was now, for some reason, empty and to be replenished or refilled. A more correct rendering would be, "Fill the earth." It is in harmony with this original instruction, we understand, that when the earth has been filled with a population, the procreative powers will be eliminated, and eventually the race be composed of perfect units, such as Adam was originally, before being divided into two persons for the purpose of companionship, procreation, and the preservation of the race as one, and under one headship. As we have already shown, it is our thought that in that perfecting or unifying process every male being will take on the elements and qualities of the mind and of the heart now peculiarly emphasized in the female; and every female will take on those elements of mind and heart now peculiarly manifest in the male; and yet we should here guard ourselves lest we should think of either the coarseness or the frailties of the fallen race (male and female) being in any [R2836 : page 207] sense of the word a part or feature of the perfect earthly creatures of the future. We should also bear in mind that the Church, now being selected from the world, will have no part in this restitution process, but will become, as the Scriptures declare, members of a new creation, a new order of beings – spiritual – not only superhuman, but also "far above angels, principalities and powers."
The vegetarian idea respecting what would constitute the proper food for the perfect man is clearly set forth in verse 29, the Lord declaring that he had given his creatures the herbage and fruitage of the earth for their meat – their food. It was not until after the flood, and the peculiar changes of conditions resulting therefrom (which we cannot here take time and space to discuss) that the Lord specially sanctioned the eating of animal food. (Gen. 9:1-4.) We understand the reason to have been that the conditions were so changed as not only to shorten human longevity but to greatly impair human strength, making necessary the nerve strength obtainable from animal food. Since animal food was thus sanctioned by the Lord it behooves the Lord's people not to become erratic and dictatorial upon this question of vegetarianism, nor to condemn those who find, or think they find, that animal food is necessary to the maintenance of their physical strength: on the other hand, let them remember that whatever was originally intended, and whatever may be the order of things in the Millennial age, there is no Scriptural sanction for condemning the eating of animal food in the present time. Whoever, therefore, advocates it, let him take heed that he does not make another gospel of it, and permit time and thought and voice and energy to be thus estranged from the service of the gospel truths committed to us [R2837 : page 207] by our Lord; let such, on the contrary, remember that our Lord ate meat and fish, both before and after his crucifixion, and that the apostles ate meat, and that in no sense of the word was the eating of it condemned or evil spoken of; and that none of the Lord's people today have any higher authorities or examples than these. And let those who eat meat not mock those who eat "vegetable only," believing this course to be more healthful for them.
The fact that for beast and for fowl the Lord originally provided the same vegetarian diet, is in perfect accord with some of the prophetic statements which seem to imply that under the new conditions of the Kingdom even the lower animals will return to vegetable diet, when "The lion shall eat grass like the ox," and when "Nothing shall hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain [kingdom]." (Isa. 11:6,7; 65:25.) Thus we learn that the animals which at present are carnivorous (flesh-eaters) are not now in their original condition, but have been sharers with mankind in the results of the catastrophe which came upon our earth in the flood; likewise that they will be sharers with man, their king, in the great uplift which will come to him and to all nature when God's Kingdom, in the hands of the Sons of God, shall be established, and shall bless the groaning creation. – Rom. 8:19-22.
All that God did was in full accord with what he had purposed, and in his sight was very good; but we cannot think that man and the general conditions of the world today are in God's sight "very good," but, according to his own declaration, very bad – sin has marred all; and, as the Apostle expresses it, nothing is very good in God's sight now. "There is none righteous, no, not one." This is another testimony, therefore, to the effect that the fall of man was decidedly downward, and that the Evolution Theory of a gradual and persistent rise is a fallacy.*
The creation of man was just in the close of the sixth day or epoch. It was the crowning feature of creation, and finished it. Having finished his creative work God blessed the seventh day (or epoch) and set it apart, and rested therein from any further creative work – foreknowing, however, that during this seventh day, which has lasted from then until now (and will last yet another thousand years), sin would enter through disobedience, and his sentence of death be executed against Adam and his race, and the whole creation be caused to groan; knowing also that while he would thenceforth withhold his creative power, he would provide for the necessities of the fallen race, in the person of Jesus, "a Savior and a great one," who, by giving the ransom-price for man's sin, would become his Redeemer, his Lord, and thus obtain the right and the power to rescue him from death, and to lift up all the willing and obedient by restitution processes to all that was lost in Eden.
This seventh day, in which God has rested, to the intent that Christ may accomplish the great work of redemption, reconciliation and restitution has already lasted six thousand years, and altho this time has been an evil time under the reign of sin and death, the Redeemer is, according to the divine program, shortly to take unto himself his great power and reign for a thousand years, until he shall complete the work of restitution of the willing and obedient, and finally shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be the all-in-all throughout eternity.+ – Heb. 4:4-10.