Brethren I will begin my discourse this morning with a few questions that I would like you to consider. With the goal of planting some seeds of thought that will help you to better see the Lord's hand in the World's affairs and to better appreciate the gradual unfolding of God's plan before us. So I ask, are things just getting worse and worse in the world? Is sin and suffering on the increase? Is mankind worse off then he has ever been? What of our returned Lord and King? Has he after over 130 years of his return and over 90 years of taking what was rightfully his (the kingdoms of this earth) not been a net blessing to mankind yet? What of righteousness? Is not our Lord's reign a reign of righteousness – of increasing righteousness as the bright shining that gets brighter and brighter as the day draws on? Therefore, is righteousness on the increase or the decline?
Brethren it is my intent through the course of the next hour to present scriptural reasoning, using the principles laid down by our returned Lord through his wise and faithful servant, and corroborated with corresponding historical and current information of three ideas: First, that the human experience has been upward and improved throughout the 132 years of our Lord's reign despite having experienced the greatest time of trouble that man has ever known as measured in human suffering and bloodshed. Second, the real preparation for the mediatorial phase of the Kingdom does not lie in building roads and communication satellites but in building up mankind (for these physical items are renewed and improved every five to ten years and will likely go through several more cycles before the mediatorial phase of the Kingdom). And third, that it is my belief (but surely open for debate) that the Lord need not reverse these trends of worldwide blessings to usher in the mediatorial phase of the Kingdom. Said simply, our returned Lord could continue to show his love and pour out his blessings upon mankind as their King, like he has been doing for the past 130 years (a fact which we will endeavor to show in this discourse), in such a way that has and will continue to lift them up, develop them, correct them, and bless them in any way he can until the personal and individual blessing can be given to them under the conditions of the New Covenant. Never in the history of man has so many of humanity had the opportunity to feed, clothe, and house themselves and to make use of the blessings of this great day in which we live. Citizens of every country have seen an increase in their standard of living, quality of life, length of life, and gradual removal of the curse of the sweat of face.
Nevertheless, as exciting and amazing as the events of the past 130 years has been these blessings are hardly comparable to what lies ahead for the world of mankind. What is presented in this discourse is a positive view of persistent improvement in the human experience since our Lord's return; however, the blessings have just barely begun. Please keep in mind as we discuss these things that I believe them to be incipient in nature and all are beginnings of a much greater work to take place under the terms of the New Covenant once the Church finishes her course.
Lets start by looking at the technological developments and corresponding increase in the wealth of mankind as a measure of man's ability to feed, shelter, protect, educate, and improve himself. Furthermore, the wealth of this planet is not in the tangible assets of capital and raw materials but in the wealth-creation potential of human intellect. This principle is described best by the following quote, "Sharing knowledge among [people] does not diminish its value for any one person. To the contrary, two people sharing their individual knowledge sets often can be leveraged to create additional knowledge new to each one of them." Therefore, the ability and capacity to manage human intellect and to convert it into useful products and services is the key to the creation of wealth. What I see in this process is a principle of Love. As one shares his knowledge with others and vice-versa often something new to all (and of greater value) results – this is how wealth is created.
Figure 2. World Income per person over the past ten centuries. Taken from "Cornucopia", J. Bradford DeLong, Working Paper 7602, National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2000
Again, this increase in wealth resulting from the increase in knowledge (which continues to increase) translates into the ability to feed, clothe, house, protect, medicate, communicate, educate, and to make use of the blessings of this great day in which we live. Who is at the center of these blessings? From Harvest Gleanings Volume III, December 10, 1915 St. Paul Enterprise under the heading "Present Blessings from God" Bro. Russell says, "Let us assure ourselves that we are not the brainiest people who have ever lived, that the blessings of our day have not come to us because we are of superior brain capacity to those of past generations. They are here because this is God's 'due time'. He is now letting in the light of the dawning New Dispensation."
So, our returned Lord is at the center of this improvement. He has been blessing mankind with the light of his presence that has and will continue to dispel the darkness of sin and error and replace them with righteousness and truth. But, how is Our Lord doing this?
Bro. Russell again furnishes us with a clear explanation in R5155 under the heading "FOREGLEAMS OF MESSIAH'S KINGDOM" as follows: – "Many of our readers will be surprised to know that the glorious blessings of Messiah's Kingdom will steal over the world gradually, coming through human channels-- entirely unaware of being used of the Lord. Bible students are so interpreting the wonderful things of our day. They are foregleams or early dawning of Messiah's Thousand-Year-Day, during which He will roll away the curse and shed forth Divine blessings. Whoever can see the matter from this standpoint must be deeply interested in every fresh advance of invention." A very important point comes out of this statement by Bro. Russell and that is that the Kingdom blessings steal over mankind gradually (not quickly as would be the case if great miracles were used) and that these agencies of the Lord would be "entirely unaware of being used of the Lord". This stealthy characteristic of the beginning of the Lord's reign is consistent with the thought that he comes as a thief, see comments on Rev 16:15 and R1742:6 about the use of miracles. The Lord's spirit is influencing man by opening his mind to the Truth on all subjects and man, by natural means, is carrying these ideas forward to their varied and logical conclusions as light naturally dispels darkness.
Brethren, we often think of the technological blessings as coming from the Lord because we interface with these wonderful inventions on a daily basis. They have brought to us and the rest of the world of mankind medical advances and productivity explosions that have increased the length of life, improved the quality of life, and removed the sweat of face for much of the world. However, in addition to these technological blessings, knowledge has been increased in all aspects of human understanding. The political, legal, social, and economic advances have been steadily progressing in the direction of truth right along with the advances in technology. The principles of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, free markets and the general education of the masses, has lead to more just political process and more just laws upon which to build more economic advances in the world than in any time in the history of mankind.
Have you ever thought about the complex political and legal systems that have to be in place for you to get fresh grapes and tomatoes in January? Politicians from two countries have met and agreed on trade with each other, treaties have been ratified by the governing bodies of each country, laws are written to enforce these treaties in each country, transportation systems design to speedily get the products to their destinations across borders, systems for the governments of both countries to track and correctly tax such trade, systems of justice where all parties of such trade feel they have a chance for restitution if either party takes advantage of the other else they would not chance the exchange in trade, and countless other systems of inspection, distribution, payment, currency exchange all set up so you can get fresh fruit in January. Where would technology be without a political and legal infrastructure that provides for the development of schools, universities, and companies where human advances can be broadly applied to mankind and where these organizations can reap the rewards of success? Education is open to all who choose to use it. Companies are willing to compete in fair and transparent markets where they have chance to earn income and workers are willing to work for companies and advance their cause as well. What can be said about the laws and complex social structures that support such advancement? Haven't these been blessed by the Lord's return as well?
The general belief is that corruption permeates every corner of the world and that if you want to get "ahead" you need to lie cheat and steel to really get what you want. I guess that if you are motivated by a love of money and that you would stop at nothing to get very rich then there may be some truth to this statement. But, we are living in a day like no other for those who choose this evil path to wealth – they eventually get caught. More and more things are being brought into the light of this new day. The Lord tells us in Isa 26:9 that –"for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." ASV Our Lord's judgments have been in the earth since 1914, over 90 years ago. So, is mankind learning righteousness?
Figure 3. Transparency Index (higher is better) vs. Purchasing Power per Person. Data taken from Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index and World Development Indicators database, World Bank, 15 July 2005
So, the answer is clear. If you want to have better healthcare, better schools and business, safer streets and less poverty then root out the corruption in your government. Businesses cannot function if contracts are not enforced. Investors will not invest money where it can be nationalized at the whim of a government official. The incentive to do a good job is lost if the contract was received via bribes and other corrupt means. Workers will not work well in a corrupt organization – eventually it will fail.
Leaders of successful governments and successful business realize more and more this principle. If they want to be successful they need to do the right thing. We are living in a day where everything is being revealed. These great and wise men are not necessarily doing the right thing because of their higher moral standards or because of a better moral compass (although some do) it is because it benefits them and their cause to take the high road and to play by the rules of the New King. If they do not do these things the great searching eye finds them out and exposes them sooner or later. See R1362 "Everything is being dragged to the light, whether men are willing or not; for every hidden thing must be revealed. And not only the hidden things of creeds and systems of error and iniquity, but also the hidden things of individual character; 'for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.' (Luke 12:2,3.)" Also, please read (Prov. 15:3; Eccl. 12:14).
Moreover, should any Bible Student think that the governments of today are more corrupt than Babylon? Surely not! Could any reasoning mind think that the methods of the kings of the earth wed to the various churches were more honest and trustworthy and that justice would be more likely met out in the kings courts than the "jury-of-your-pears" courts of today?
Brethren, while the world is certainly not rid of evil, evil no longer rules this earth. The fifth universal empire is set-up and ruling with our returned Lord at the helm and his rule is not an evil rule (Rev. 11:15). Now, I am not saying that the world is without sin and that everything wrong is revealed - the removal of sin will take the entire thousand year reign of Christ to accomplish. But, what I am saying is that we are seeing signs of righteousness rewarded and corruption and sin punished through natural cause and effect. Slowly and gradually mankind is being lifted up as a result of the times of restitution – preparing them for the mediatorial phase of the Kingdom when individual restoration will be accomplished.
Bro. Russell also says in Volume I on p67 "The third world or epoch is mentioned as 'THE WORLD TO COME--wherein dwelleth righteousness,' not because there will be no evil in it, but because evil will not predominate. The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then; it will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but 'the righteous shall flourish' (Psa. 72:7), the 'obedient shall eat the good of the land' (Isa. 1:19), and 'the evil doer shall be cut off.' Psa. 37:9".
Let's look at another common misconception about the day we live. Namely, things just keep getting worse financially and that today's generation does not have the buying power of the generations past. Figure 4 shows the real average output per worker in the USA for the past 115 years.
While other economies have smaller GDP per worker the shape of the curve is similar. I have data and information on over 100 countries, for those who wish to see it, but in the interest of time I will move onto the next item.
The next common falsity is the statement that "the rich just keep getting richer and the poor just keep getting poorer". The truth of the matter is the rich do keep getting richer but the poor are getting less poor. The gap between rich and poor may be increasing but that is due to a greater increase in wealth for the rich than the increase in wealth for the poor. Figure 5 shows the wealth distribution in the USA for 1964 and 2001 in real terms (inflation effects have been accounted for so that direct comparisons can be made across years). The values shown are net worth (what you own minus what you owe). Percentage shown is per household.
As you can see there were 5% of families having the 2001 equivalent of $100,000 to $250,000 wealth in 1964 whereas in 2001 a full 15% of households in the US were at this wealth level. On the low income-side 6% of families in 1964 had the equivalent of $1,000 to $2,500 whereas in 2001 only 2.4% of families were at this low level. The ideal situation is to have all the income concentrated to the right so that all are wealthy and we can see the shift has been in that direction and we can thank and give praise to our Lord for this as well.
Figure 5: Income distribution in the USA from 1964 and 2001. Data taken from "Survey of Financial Characteristics of Consumers", FEDERAL RESERVE BULLETIN * MARCH 1964, pp. 285-293, and "A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001", Arthur B. Kennickell, November 2003
As we have presented earlier the Lord is at the center of these blessings. But, who and what have been his instruments to bring these wonderful blessings? We would answer that it has been man. The Lord has used mankind to bring about much of his will here on earth so this should not surprise us. The Lord has used the restless masses as his army to bring about the demise of Christendom. The Lord has used education of man to bring about communication to disperse knowledge over all the earth. The Lord has used man to teach lessons to the mighty hosts of heaven through observation. The Lord has used mankind to teach lessons to mankind and the Lord has used mankind to bless mankind. Notwithstanding the fact that his spirit and influence acting upon mankind has by these natural means brought mankind these blessings.
The times of restitution began in 1874. What is to be restored? Is it not man? I would propose that the most important piece of the infrastructure of the Kingdom is mankind. Mankind must be ready for the Ancient Worthies, ready to comprehend and to follow what they have to teach, ready to implement the laws, processes, and systems that they direct, ready and able to appreciate (at least a little in the beginning) the loving nature of these laws – recognizing that blessings result from their obedience. Just as Love is a very advanced and sophisticated thing (after all we devote our lives to the study of what it means to be loving and the meaning of love through the four quarter marks) it will take a better educated and improved humanity to grasp love and apply love when the princes of the earth demonstrate it. How could an ignorant and destitute humanity grasp the laws of the New King? Once here the Ancient Worthies will use this infrastructure of man to bring blessings to mankind. When setting up a new government or any sophisticated organization, the difficulty is not in erecting the buildings or the equipment or the material used the difficulty is getting the right people in place - preparing them and developing them to be able to do their job. Likewise, this is where we see the most of the Lord's work related to the earth today - preparing mankind.
OK, we have seen that Bro. Russell explains that gradual and natural means would be used to usher in the Kingdom "unaware of being used of the Lord". We have seen real and tangible data showing the persistent and gradual uplifting of mankind by our Lord in the political, legal, and economic as well as technological areas of society. But what lies ahead? Is all the Lord has done going to be destroyed by Armageddon? Will we return to the financial conditions that existed before 1914 or 1874 or worse are we to expect greater bloodshed and human suffering than mankind has already experienced in the 20th century? Do you know that between 160,000,000 and 180,000,000 humans were killed in the 20th century through wars and revolutions and government police and military oppression?
[comments on Figure 6]
Figure 6: Annual deaths by wars, massacres, and government atrocities from 1900 to 1995. Adapted from "Wars, Massacres and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century", M. White, 1998. http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/war-1900.htm
Will God require greater suffering than this? Let us be careful not to fall into the trap where we would assign to God greater vengeance than is necessary to accomplish his will. On page 250 of Volume I Bro. Russell says, "[God] designs that eventually all shall work for good and that finally even the 'wrath of man shall praise him.' The remainder, that would work no good, serve no purpose or teach no lesson, he restrains. Psa. 76:10". So God will not permit one second more suffering than is necessary for justice to be met and for mankind to learn the intended lesson.
Let's reason on this idea for a moment. What benefits would come from even greater human suffering than we have seen in the past 100 years? If a man and his family is stripped of house and home, good food and clothing, and safety would he be ready to accept God's Kingdom then? Surely he would. But, would he also be ready to accept anything put before him that promised something better for him and his family? Look at the lesson taught to us by Hitler and Nazi Germany. WWI reparations lead to such destitute conditions in Germany that many were willing to do anything to survive. Hitler rose to power promising a better life and he delivered a better life at first. Hitler was also able to convince an entire nation to commit genocide on Europe's Jewry and attempt to take over Europe and the world. People can be convinced of anything when starving.
Furthermore, while significant human bloodshed and suffering were necessary for the overthrow of the kingdoms (i.e., the mountains of Rev 16:20) the same is not necessarily true for the overthrow of the republics (i.e., islands). I would propose that for the seas, the restless masses of humanity, need not be as restless for an island to flee away as compared to the swallowing up of a mountain. The Lord provided us an example of this in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Chief of State, Mikhail Gorbachev, went on television and in late December 1991 explained to the viewing public that within a few days the Soviet Union would cease to exist – fade to black. The country that murdered millions in the Bolshevik Revolution at the beginning of Armageddon just relatively peacefully dissolved into a democratic republic with a free market economy and now after 15 difficult transition years is beginning to flourish.
Brethren, our Lord wishes to be obeyed not out of necessity but out of choice. How is the world of mankind to learn of the truth if they are trying to feed and clothe their children? Often Ezek 36:26 is quoted with the impression that man, represented by Israel, must be brought very low in order to accept the terms of the New Covenant – that his will must be broken and his heart soft before he can enter into the Kingdom under the terms of the New Covenant. Let's look to see what Bro. Russell has to say about man's stony heart and the replacing of it with a heart of flesh and the effect of the time-of-trouble on this stony heart.
Bro. Russell says in R2504 "A hard or stony heart represents a selfish condition of mind and sentiment. This hardening process is a result of the fall, and through heredity and practice affects all of Adam's posterity. … The breaking up of this stony heart condition, other Scriptures show us, will be accomplished to a considerable degree by the trouble [of the day of wrath]."
So, the time-of-trouble will serve the purpose of breaking up the stony heart and this breaking up is simply to rid man of enough selfishness that enables him to enter into the terms of the New Covenant. He will not have at that time a heart of flesh. In fact, initially man will enter into the terms of the New Covenant because it benefits him to do so – he will want to receive the restitution blessings that he sees others receiving. In R5164 Bro. Russell tells us that "This change of heart is entirely aside from the making of the New Covenant. It will take 1000 years to remove the stoniness out of the hearts of man and to make them stand without a mediator."
If the bride class finished their course tomorrow would the world be ready for the mediatorial phase of the Kingdom? Imagine for a moment that the Kingdom has started and this new government while initially appearing strange and eccentric to the rest of the world begins reporting to the world key government statistics. First, regarding the safety of its citizens it has an impressive record of no murders, no robbery, no accidents, no scraped knees, and no paper cuts. Second, healthcare is great – it's not needed as everyone is in perfect health. Third, everyone is very smart. Education is better than the world has ever seen and the students are able to learn more in one year than others have learned in twenty years of graduate study. Fourth, everyone is rich. They all have anything they could ever want. Why? Because of their superior intelligence their productivity and output is one-hundred times that of any other country in the world. Moreover, their senior citizens look like their thirty. Do you think the citizens of the world of today would be interested in getting their citizenship in this new country? Why do you think that poor Mexicans would like to get into the USA? Is it not for a better life? Imagine the immigration situation around Israel when the Ancient Worthies are up and running! I think mankind would jump at the chance to join this arrangement – at first for the benefits to themselves and later on for the benefits to their fellow man. After all, are they not groaning and travailing waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God?
Brethren, let's look to history and see if man's stony heart has been broken by this Time-of- Trouble (Armageddon) that they have been experiencing for the past 90 years. First, in order to do this we must remember that even when man's heart is broken it's still stony. Man's selfishness must be broken enough to prepare him for the Kingdom. However, man will still be selfish when he enters into the terms of the New Covenant just to a lesser degree. As Br. Russell said, it will take the entire Millennial Age to completely remove selfishness. With this in mind let's look to see if man has learned any lessons from this trouble.
It is an established historical fact that Woodrow Wilson urged the allies (especially France and England) to help Germany and the Axis powers that were defeated to rebuild their economies and to engage them in trade and diplomacy at the end of World War I.
We know from history what actually happened was war reparations were levied and Germany's economy was taxed so heavily that severe economic conditions ensued. The only way that Germany's government could pay their fines was to print money, a process that leads to hyperinflation because there is nothing to back the paper, this lead to conditions where money was cheaper than wallpaper and it took a wheelbarrow full of it to buy a loaf of bread. The depression was far worse in Europe especially in Germany than it was here. No wonder Hitler was able to rise to power. Man did not learn the lesson.
Now let's contrast this with the actions taken by the victors of WWII. The leaders of England, France, Russia, and the USA met with the leaders of the Axis powers and agreed to create and develop agencies and systems that would prevent another world war. They set up the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development aimed at providing financing for all of war torn Europe. The World Bank was created. The International Monetary Fund was created. The General Agreement on Tariffs Treaty was approved. Laws relating to the currency exchange rate between countries were ratified. Significant monies were provided through the Marshal plan. Many actions took place that laid the groundwork for better political, social, and economic integration between all countries around the world. The result, is it likely that Germany will attack France? How about Japan going to war with the United States? Here's a quote from Marketing Management a book on global markets that explains this point.
"One of the biggest surprises of the postwar era has been that historic enemies, such as Japan and the Untied States, or France and Germany, have not had the remotest threat of war since 1945. Why should they? Anything Japan has that we want we can buy, and on very easy credit terms, so why fight for it? Similarly why should Japan fight the US and loose all those profitable markets? France and Germany, linked through marketing and the EU, are now each other's largest trading partners. Closed countries build huge armies and waste money on guns and troops; open countries spend their money on new machines and tools to crank out Barbie dolls and consumer electronics. Their bright young people figure out how to run the machines not fire the latest missile. For some reason, they not only get rich fast but also loose interest in military adventures. Japan the peculiar superpower without superguns, confounds everyone simply because no one has ever seen a major world power that got that way by selling you to death, not shooting you to death. In short, if you do a great deal of trade with someone, why fight? The logical answer … you don't … is perhaps the best news mankind has had in millennia."
I am reminded of Mic 4:3 "and he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. ASV" – War is becoming less and less popular and more and more expensive. Just ask George W. Bush.
As a further illustration that man's stony heart has been broken and continues to be broken let's look at Isa 13:11-12 which reads, "And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.  I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." KJV This scripture shows that the trouble of the day of wrath brings mankind to see the value of human life. Is not this what has happened?
Progress in humanitarian activities have increased in the 20th century more than any other time in the history of mankind and mankind is more able to respond to the humanitarian needs of the world than ever before. While there is much more that can be done along this line, and the Kingdom blessings will continue to do more as the day draws on, please keep in mind that the expectations are set higher than ever before.
Professor Terry Karl of Stanford University says it well "Progress in human rights is one of the Twentieth Century's hallmark achievements. One hundred years ago, more than half the world lived under colonial rule; no country permitted all of its citizens to vote; and state terrorists operated with impunity, protected by the norm of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender were accepted official practices. A mere fifty years ago, the systematic mass murder of European Jewry by the Nazis was met with virtual silence while it was occurring. There were no strong pressures for humanitarian intervention to stop genocide, and even neutral states refused to open their borders to fleeing refugees. But today, a half century after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there has been a profound transformation in the way that governments are expected to treat their people and each other – even if they often do not comply."
Who accomplished these changes? Was it not the Lord's Great Army (the restless masses of mankind)? Surely so! People fight for their rights and get them – an indisputable fact. Moreover, we have seen the suffrage movement of 1910, labor laws relating to worker safety, hours worked, rights to organize, and child labor, the Universal declaration of Human Rights in 1945, the Civil Rights in the U.S. in the 60's and around the world, the Americans with Disabilities Act in the U.S., Defeating Apartheid in South Africa, Environmental Protection initiatives world wide (EPA, CERES, CARB,…), the European Convention on Human Rights and the Anti-Torture Convention (Membership in the EU requires a parliamentary democracy and recognize human rights) and countless other laws and initiatives to improve the human experience and to protect human rights – all as a result of the Lord's great army demanding and receiving there rights.
What of righteousness? Is it on the rise or on the decline? Has the introduction of our Lord's rule on earth been one of increasing sin or one of increasing righteousness? Well it was introduced with a time-of-trouble such as never was since there was a nation as we have already observed. Was this a righteous war or was it an increase in sin? Let's look to the scriptures and Bro. Russell for the answer. In Rev 19:11 the scriptures tell us "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war." KJV Also, Bro. Russell says in R5240 "The Scriptures indicate that of this present generation [May 1913] God will require all the righteous blood shed from the time of Abel down to the present. Hence for willful sin there will be satisfaction rendered through a great time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.--Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21 [and Bro. Russell goes on to say in this same article that] "That Day of Vengeance is about at the door of Christendom." Therefore, these wars and the associated trouble were from the Lord as a just and right payment for Babylon's past sins. Such ubiquitous events as the first and second world wars when viewed from this standpoint surely constitute an increase in righteousness – a balancing of the scales of justice.
Bro. Russell tells us in R1415 that "As the sun's brightness increases to noon, so shall the honor of the Messiah grow brighter and brighter as the mists and gloom of sin are driven away." What of the curse? Is it not on the decline? Bro. Russell tells us in Volume II Roman numeral viii [Bii:2 - site Editor] that the curse is beginning to be lifted by inventions, and he said this in 1916. What can be said about the discoveries of our day? Is the curse being lifted in the face of increased sin? I think this would be incongruent with God's principles. As righteousness increases sin decreases and the natural result is man's uplift. Brethren, is it possible that God's natural laws would reward an increase in sinfulness and error with increased standard of living, removal of the sweat of face, and a great increase in the length of life?
Nevertheless, man is still on the broad road to destruction and his physical being is decaying and his moral appetites as shown in entertainment and the media reflect this decay. It will take the terms of the New Covenant to provide for the change of heart required to reverse this individual decline and provide the individual blessing as found on the highway of holiness. However, we must consider the other aspect that is bringing so much of the sin and error, always present, into the public eye and that is light and truth from our Lord's reign shining on the sin. There's a large difference between hidden morals and behaviors, like the skeletons in the closets of all families of years past, and the more brazen behavior of the youth of today. For any that wish to study the subject you will find many indications that the moral behavior of our ancestors were not that much better than what we see today – however, it was done in the dark and in secret. In today's world more and more sin and evil is exposed. Rape, sexual assault, and child abuse are no longer acceptable in the developed world – the perpetrators are sought after and punished in most cases. Years ago rape and sexual abuse were swept under the rug, hidden, un-prosecuted, and unpunished. None spoke of the uncle or neighbor who abused the children in the family. Often the children would hide and keep things from their parents because sexual things were not allowed to be discussed. A woman raped would hide from her crime. How about the local priest that abused alter boys? All these behaviors are unacceptable in today's society and are being punished more and more.
Moreover, the ability to identify, collect, distribute, and pump into our minds the worse events of the world today has been greatly enhanced by this increase in knowledge and productivity in the media today. There is a virtual army of media providing the very important service of searching out every problem they can find and bringing it into the light of public opinion. Br. Russell says in Volume I on p264, "In fact, the dissatisfaction is more general and widespread than ever before; not because there is more oppression and injustice than ever, but because, under God's arrangement, men's eyes are being opened by the increase of knowledge." Should this surprise us? Br. Russell says in R3469:5 "Our Lord will not have [his] authority in vain. When he shall have the authority he shall use it. One of the first works will be the suppression of evil--the devil and all his institutions."
We have discussed in the last hour the evidence of our returned Lord and King's blessings upon his purchased possession. Although incipient, we have seen how man's experience has been improved through developing his ability to protect, feed, clothe, shelter, and educate himself in the truth on all subjects since our Lord's return. The Lord has provided for the increase of the quality of life, length of life, and gradual removal of the sweat-of-face. Political, social, economic, and technological progress has provided a standard of living for much of the world that the kings of the 19th century could not even dream of. Righteousness is on the rise and sin is on the decline as the gleams of the sun from the dawning of the millennial age pierce through the storm clouds of the time of trouble shinning light down upon the groaning creation of mankind and chases away the mists and gloom of sin that pervaded the valley for over six-thousand years. These blessings are coming to man through man - used by the Lord as his agents both as his army and as his workforce though completely unknown to them. Mankind, as a whole, has been developed, lifted up, and loved by our returned Lord and he continues to do so in order to prepare man for that great and wonderful day when the individual blessings can be poured out through the terms of the New Covenant – may the Lord as His blessing