MAKING READY FOR THE REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
"The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time
of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest
give reward unto Thy servants the Prophets, and to the
saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great;
and shouldest destroy them that
destroy the earth."--Revelation 11:18.
IT MAY be that many of the Lord's people were expecting more than they should have looked for to occur with the opening of the Jewish year 1915, which began with September 21. The human mind seems to have a natural tendency, and one with which we should have sympathy, to expect matters to culminate more rapidly, fulfilments to come more suddenly, than they ever do come. For instance, the Scriptures tell us that about the time of the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, certain great events, enumerated in our text, will begin to take place. Many Christian people, looking at the statement, expect all this to be fulfilled in a few minutes, or a few hours, or at most a few weeks. But as we come to understand the Scripture, we perceive that it covers the thousand years of Christ's Reign.
"The nations were angry, Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged." The Church are the first to receive their judgment, the decision in their case; for the world God has appointed a thousand-year Day. (Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:8.) "And that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the Prophets [the Ancient Worthies] and to the saints [all the holy ones], and them that fear Thy name, small and great." All this latter class--the world of mankind--will [R5564 : page 323] be judged, will have the decision passed upon them, according to the way in which they will conduct themselves under the Millennial conditions. And Thou shalt "destroy them that corrupt the earth." If this verse contains so much that a thousand years will be required for its fulfilment, the same may be true of other Scriptures.
Another Scripture (Daniel 12:1), describing the period of transition from Gentile supremacy to Messiah's Kingdom, declares, "There shall be a Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation." Our Lord discussed this statement in His great prophecy, and added, "No, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21.) After speaking about the tribulation that should come upon the Jews in the close of their Age, the Master said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24.) We think it reasonable for us to hold that if there are Gentile Times to be fulfilled, they must have been foretold; and that if they have been foretold, then they were foreordained, or planned of God, who knew beforehand how long those Gentile Times would be and when they would be fulfilled.
Our Lord's words, then, seemed to suggest to us the propriety of searching to see what we might discover concerning the Times, or years, of the Gentiles. Looking through our Bibles and our histories, we found that there was a particular date when God took away the Kingdom from His typical people, Israel; and that at that time He gave over the dominion of the world with more or less of a lease of power to the Gentiles. We also found that, as far as we can see from the Bible, this date when the Kingdom was taken from the last king of David's line, King Zedekiah, was the year 606 B.C. (We would not say that it was not 605 or 607, but that as nearly as we can tell it was the year 606 B.C.) Then we reasoned that if 606 B.C. was the time when God took away the typical kingdom, no doubt He had at that time the purpose of giving some lease of power to the Gentile nations; and we looked to see what history and the Bible had to say upon the subject.
THE IMAGE OF GENTILE SUPREMACY
Merely repeating what we have studied in the series of books called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, only putting the information in another form, we found that when God took away the kingdom from King Zedekiah, He gave the dominion to the Gentiles, the Emperor Nebuchadnezzar being the first of these world-rulers. We learned, in the Scriptures, that God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream. By morning the king had forgotten the dream, but it was afterwards explained to him by the Prophet Daniel. In his dream Nebuchadnezzar saw a great image, the head of which was made of gold, the breast and the arms of silver, the belly and the thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron smeared with miry clay.
The Prophet Daniel explained that this great image, which stood before Nebuchadnezzar, represented all the Gentile kingdoms. Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, was represented by the head of gold; next came the Medo-Persian, represented by the breast and the arms of silver; then Greece, represented by the belly and thighs of brass; then came Rome, represented by the legs of iron; next came the so-called Holy Roman Empire, represented by the feet smeared with miry clay; and last, the present governments of Europe, represented by the ten toes, also of iron smeared with miry clay. [R5564 : page 324]
According to this vision given to the Emperor Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by the Prophet Daniel, God designed that picture, image, to represent all the Gentile governments that would ever have sway over all the earth.
When we had this matter clear, then we said, The period of time during which these universal empires will have controlled the world must be the Times of the Gentiles. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, God has mentioned the Gentile Times (Luke 21:24), and now in the Old Testament we find out how many Times there are-- how many years; for in Scriptural usage a Time means a year.
As we studied the subject still further, we found that God had told the Israelites that they would come under His disfavor for Seven Times. (Leviticus 26:14-28.) These could not be literal years; for the Israelites passed through many tribulations as long or longer than seven years. The question then was, What kind of years were these Times to be? We concluded that if they were not literal years, they must be symbolical. Since a literal year, Jewish reckoning, contains 360 days, and since in prophecy a day represents a year of actual time (Ezek. 4:6), each symbolic "Time" would be 360 years. So then, this period of Seven Times must mean 7 x 360 years, or 2520 years.
Thus we found that this was to be the period of time during which Israel was to be overturned (Ezekiel 21:25-27) --to have their kingdom and their government subject to the Gentiles. Meantime, while setting aside His own typical kingdom, God said to the Gentiles, I will not be ready to set up My Kingdom for some time. In the interim you may have the opportunity to demonstrate what you can do for the world. Institute the best government that you can. Do your very best to rule the world justly and wisely.
EARTH'S GREAT UNIVERSAL EMPIRES
Full of confidence that they would rule the world in the best possible way, the Babylonians essayed to do so, but soon reached a sad climax. There followed a general program by which the rights of the people were disregarded, the wealthy getting everything and the poor practically nothing. Next came into power the Medes and Persians, who also started out very well, with just designs and every endeavor to do right. We recall that Cyrus, the first Medo-Persian Emperor, set free the Jews and gave them permission to return to Jerusalem; and that he also sent back the holy vessels of the Temple, which were very valuable, but which he would not retain because they belonged to God. Cyrus attempted to maintain a just and righteous government; and yet before long, the Medo-Persian Empire failed to bring satisfaction to the people or to prove to be a great blessing to the world.
Then came the turn of Greece. Alexander the Great, before he was twenty-one years of age, had conquered the world. For quite awhile Greece ruled the world. Grecian civilization and various systems of Grecian philosophy went out world-wide. Greek theories on all kinds of subjects have more or less permeated all the great countries of earth; even in our day the influence which went out from Greece is felt in every form of religion the world over, the religion of Christendom being itself a mixture of Grecian mythology and Christianity along with the teachings of the Mosaic Law and the Jewish Prophets. But Greece had her day, and had to bid farewell to the sceptre of power.
Next came the Roman Empire, with its various forms of government, each of which was tried with the endeavor to rule the world wisely and justly. The result of all this was the centralization of power to a greater or less degree, the wealth regathered into the hands of a few, and the masses of the people neither blessed nor satisfied. Then the Roman system began to fall.
By and by came in that mixture of Christianity and Roman civil power which was represented in the iron feet of the image, which were smeared with miry clay; the gloss of Christianity covering the civil power as the clay covered the feet of the image. This gloss did not make the nations really Christian, but has merely caused these kingdoms and governments to look upon themselves as though they were Christian; and this is what they call themselves--Christian Germany, Christian Great Britain, Christian France, Christian Russia, Christian Italy, and Christian Austria-Hungary.
A COUNTERFEIT OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM
Miry clay looks very much like stone; and God used a stone to symbolize His Kingdom in the same symbolic picture that He used the miry clay smeared over the iron feet to represent nominal Christians. Christ's Kingdom has not yet been established; but it will be built on the wreck of these present institutions, which outwardly resemble Christ's Kingdom, calling themselves Christian nations on all their coins and declaring that God is reigning in these kingdoms. Collectively they call themselves Christendom, which means Christ's Kingdom; and they were led to do this through the teachings of the Church during the Dark Ages--not the True Church, but people who deludedly thought that they were the Church of Christ and who persecuted the real Church.
We include as sectarian churches all that are not the real Church. There are many spurious churches; all cannot be right. The question is, Which is the right one? None will acknowledge the others to be the right one, all claiming to be right. Not one of them is the right one, as we have concluded from the Bible description of the Church of Christ. God recognizes only the one composed of those who are consecrated to Him--found in the Greek, the English, the German, the Swedish Churches, amongst the Baptists, the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians and amongst people who do not attend any church at all. All who are God's saints are members of His Church; all others are merely imitation Christians. These great systems calling themselves His churches are without authority of God, without Scriptural recognition. They are merely human institutions, and in them only the saintly ones are recognized of God at all as His people.
The Bible sets forth that these spurious churches are Babylon, a term which signifies confusion. They are a confused mixture, not only of all classes of people, but of all classes of doctrines, and quite contrary therefore to anything that God and His Word uphold. From this confused [R5565 : page 324] mass of people, God is calling out His people, saying, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4), and telling them that very suddenly a great calamity will come upon this great institution called Christendom, which will entirely demolish this system in every sense of the word.
THE END OF THE GENTILE TIMES
Studying God's Word, we have measured the 2520 years, the Seven symbolic Times, from that year 606 B.C. and have found that it reached down to October, 1914, as nearly as we were able to reckon. We did not say positively that this would be the year. We merely left every one to look at the facts of history and reckon for himself. [R5565 : page 325] Would this date be the time or would it be some other date? we asked. Many of us concluded that as far as we could see, October of this year would show the end of the Gentile lease of power; for when October comes we are getting down to the end of the Jewish year. The year 1914 actually ended Sept. 20, 1914, Jewish reckoning.
Now the question comes, Have the Gentile Times ended or not? Some perhaps may be inclined to say, "No; they have not ended." Others would say, "When the Gentile Times shall have ended, we would expect that the Gentiles would be entirely ousted from all power and control, and that Christ's Kingdom would be established. Were there not a great many things that we expected would take place when the Gentile Times would end?"
We find that some have one idea and others another. Some think that just the next hour after midnight would see a great, grand change everywhere--evil blotted out in sixty minutes or in sixty seconds. But would it be a reasonable expectation that the Gentile kingdoms would be snuffed out inside of an hour or inside of a day? If God had said so, it would be different; we know that God has all power to do His will everywhere. But are we in any sense of the word to expect such a sudden transition--that going to bed on the night of September 20, we would find, on the morning of September 21, all the kingdoms of the world destroyed and the Kingdom of Christ set up, the saints in glory, etc. Such would be a lightning change! We do not think that any would have been justified in so thinking. If any had such expectation, it was unwarranted.
GOD'S TWO WITNESSES
Now look back and see what happened immediately after the expiration of different time periods. For instance, there are great day periods mentioned in the Bible, namely, the 1260 symbolic days, the 1290, the 1335 and also the 2300 days. (Daniel 12:7,11,12; 8:13,14.) We have not the time to go into details concerning all of these time periods. They are familiar to us, and are treated in detail in the volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Therefore we merely refresh your memories.
The 1260 years ended in 1799. From their beginning to their culmination, the power of persecution held sway. When the 1260 years ended, was anything done in an hour, in a day, or in a year to stop the persecution? Nay! One of the results was that God's Two Witnesses were exalted to heaven. These Two Witnesses of God, the Old and New Testaments, were exalted to heaven, were lifted up in the sight of the people, taken up to a position of great influence and dignity which they never before had enjoyed.
EXALTED TO HEAVEN
Previous to that time the Church held that the Bible went hand in hand with the voice of the Church; that the voice of the Church was the voice of the bishops and the popes; and that the Bible was only to corroborate the voice of the Church. But after the expiration of the 1260 prophetic days, the Bible began to take a new position.
We remind you that it was between the years 1803 and 1813 that many of our great Bible Societies were organized. Only then the printing of the Bible in every language and in cheap form was commenced, and the Bible began to go out to all nations. The Bible was lifted up before the people--was exalted to heaven, in the sense in which our Lord meant when He said, "Thou, Capernaum, art exalted unto heaven." The Bible was greatly exalted in contrast to the degraded position which it had occupied during the Dark Ages. But several years were consumed in bringing it up to this high position.
"THE TIME OF THE END"
Of course, error all along has more or less combated the Truth, but nevertheless the Truth has been going forward, step by step. The year 1799 marked the beginning of the "Time of the End," when various events were to occur. According to prophecy--"Knowledge shall be increased"; "the wise shall understand"; and "there shall be a Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (Daniel 12:1-10.) These various predictions, the fulfilment of which was to follow 1799, have been in process of fulfilment throughout the past century. The running to and fro did not reach any particular development for some time after the Time of the End had begun. The progress in the use of steam power was gradual. First came the steamboat; then came the first railway train. These inventions of necessity had to precede the predicted "running to and fro."
Only within the past few years have we reached a maximum of speed on railways and steamships. Apparently they have begun to slow down. Very few trains now go faster than twenty-four miles an hour; and so with the great steamships Mauretania and Lusitania, which are types of the very swiftest steamboats. Indeed, these vessels might not have been built were it not that the British government wished to have some very swift cruisers in time of war.
These wonderful inventions which characterize our day have come gradually since 1799. After the first part of the period came the increase of knowledge, which is reaching its climax. We are now at the place where in civilized lands compulsory education is doing about all it can do for the people; and some nations are trying to restrain education. A prominent Russian statesman recently said that education is the basis of all the revolutionary spirit amongst the people, and that if the people had less of it there would be less trouble. In due time all the other nations will learn the lesson that without some restriction, education is a dangerous thing. To an unregenerate heart it means power in an unregenerate hand--which is not always safe.
DUE TIME FOR UNDERSTANDING CHRONOLOGY
The Prophet Daniel's statement that "the wise shall understand" apparently refers to the end of the 1290 days mentioned in the same chapter. This period terminated in 1829. Shortly after 1829 the message of the nearness of the Second Advent of Christ began especially to be promulgated by William Miller. As a result of the exaltation of the Word of God, certain doctrines were brought forth in a very prominent way.
We have all read about the great Miller Movement started in this country. (See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. III., page 84.) We are not endorsing the teachings of Brother Miller. While he had some correct thoughts on Scripture, he also had some incorrect ones--just as had Brother Calvin and other brethren since his day. But the time had come for the announcing of the Second Coming of Christ; and while the Second Advent did not occur in 1844, as the followers of Brother Miller had anticipated, yet beginning gradually in the year 1829 certain doctrines were brought to the attention of the Church which had never before been noted--certain doctrines respecting man's immortality, spiritual and human natures, etc. These subjects led to a careful searching of the Scriptures and to confidence in the Word of God above the traditions of men.
The increase of light has gradually progressed, and has by degrees been dispelling the darkness of error in [R5565 : page 326] both doctrine and practise, until today the Lord's people have a great deal of blessing. We are now more than a hundred years from the beginning of the Time of the End; and this development of Christian knowledge has been steadily progressing, opposed in various ways, but nevertheless fighting on to victory.
Another prophetic period mentioned by the Prophet Daniel was the 2300 days. This period was to mark certain things, and at the expiration of these days the Sanctuary was to be cleansed. This work of cleansing the true Church, the Sanctuary class, from the defilements of the Dark Ages culminated, we believe, in 1846, the time of the fulfilment of the 2300 days. But the work of cleansing was not accomplished in a moment or a day or even a year; and the cleansing was but limited.
We come now to the 1335 days, which culminated in 1875. Of these days the Prophet had said, "Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days" (years)! (Daniel 12:12.) At that time great blessings came to the people of God; for at that time our Master returned, preparatory to taking up His great power and commencing His long-promised reign of a thousand years. The time for His Parousia had come, and He was here! The nature of those blessings we need not repeat; in fact, they could not be explained in a few words. But ever since the Presence of the Master we have had evidences of the great blessings coming to us, as foretold by the Prophet Daniel.
EVIDENCES OF OUR LORD'S PAROUSIA
In what way will the Lord take His great power and reign? The Scriptures show us very clearly. In line with the same chronology the Scriptures teach us that there is a time for the Parousia, or Presence of the Lord. That time, as far as we are able to calculate, began in 1874. Since that date we have been living in the Parousia [R5566 : page 326] of the Son of Man. Is there anything to corroborate this? Yes. In the first place, we look for the Lord's dealing with His people, the Church. We should expect that at the time of our Lord's Coming His people would hear His "knock"--the knock of the prophecies, and whoever would open his heart and receive the things in a consecrated attitude of mind the Lord would gird Himself as a Servant and would come forth and serve Him.-- Revelation 3:20.
All of the special blessings that we, as a company of Bible Students, have received during the past forty years have been the result of the Lord's Presence. He has been our Servant and has been bringing forth things new and old out of His storehouse. These old things have been coming forth in a new way--not because of human ability or skill, but because it is the Lord's due time for these things to become clear--the doctrine of Redemption, the Ransom, the meaning of the term Body of Christ, the explanation of how the death of Christ is justification for our sins, the imputation of His merit for the Church, the giving of the merit to the world, what the sanctification of the Church really means, the begetting of the Holy Spirit, the begotten ones becoming New Creatures in Christ, and what this term, a New Creature, signifies, how the New Creature differs from the old creature, how the First Resurrection is to bring this New Creation glorious privileges and Divine blessing--glory, honor and immortality.--SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. II., page 103; Vol. V., page 421; Vol. VI., pages 59-84.
Our Lord, present, but invisible, has brought us light along every feature of the Divine Plan, not only respecting those things that were old--justification, sanctification and redemption--but also respecting the philosophy of God's dealings--how our Lord became flesh and dwelt among us, how He was holy, harmless and undefiled, and yet was born of an earthly mother. All these things which were once confusing to us, but which are now brought to light, are evidences that the Lord is here serving His people. We know that we have received these things. We do not believe that we have received them from any human tongue or pen, but from the Lord, who is giving us "meat in due season." The result of receiving this spiritual food is that many people have been sanctified--have experienced a transformation of mind that leads them to rejoice in laying down their lives for the brethren and in walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
A gentleman recently called on us, and made the remark that after seeing the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION he got his first glimpse of God's character and learned to love God. He had been an Episcopalian, then a Christian Scientist, and then for fifteen years an unbeliever; but now he has gotten clearer views of God and His Plan. Although he is a very talented man, he is doing what he finds to serve the Lord--helping to fold the volunteer literature. The first intimation we had of his interest was his giving of $50 for the work. After seeing the PHOTO-DRAMA, he had gotten so much good from it that he wished to help it along.
This we mention as showing the power of the Truth, in contrast with the opposite influence of error. While we cannot say that we number ourselves by millions, yet we can say that nearly fourteen thousand have taken a very special Vow that implies their full consecration to the Lord; many others are writing in to say that they have taken that Vow--some of them years ago; and there are some from whom we shall never hear--still others who have never taken the Vow, but who are fully consecrated, as far as we know.
If we ask Christian people whether or not they have given up everything they have to the Lord, the majority of them will say, "No. I want to live a good Christian life; but I never made full consecration to the Lord." All these blessings enumerated are the result of the very precious Truth that has come to us, and to thousands of others. These have been very greatly blessed and helped, even though they have not made a full consecration to the Lord. This is a good evidence that something unusual has occurred within the period of the Harvest time. Moreover, this work has been growing. It has been supported in a way that is marvelous to ourselves and to our enemies. Possibly many of the dear friends wonder if there is not a miracle performed. But there has been no miracle, yet it is marvelous in our sight that so much has been done with a comparatively small amount of money; for amongst the Lord's people there are not many rich, not many learned.--1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
THE TIME OF HARVEST
Our Lord indicated that at His Second Coming all His servants who would be in the right condition of heart would hear His knock; and that if they would open to Him immediately, He would come in and sup with them. What does this statement signify? It means that His knock showed that the time for the great Representative of God --our glorified Lord--to be here had come; and that all who were ready would hear that knock, the prophetic knock, calling attention to the prophetic testimony that thenceforth we could look forward to Messiah's beginning His Parousia, His Harvest Work, at once with all denominations.
When the year 1875 came, was everything accomplished [R5566 : page 327] within twenty-four hours? Surely not! Did everybody awake at the same minute? Have they not been getting awake all through the Harvest Time? And some of us have not been awake very long. Some of us did not hear the knock when first our Master returned; but just as soon as we did hear and opened our hearts, we got the blessing; for we were in the proper attitude of heart to receive. This is true in the United States, in Canada, in Great Britain, in Africa, Australia; true everywhere.
What has occurred during this time? We have had a Harvest period, and the work of the Harvest has been going on silently, gradually. The Lord has been judging amongst His people, just as He said He would. He said that He would call His own servants first and reckon with them. Of course, none of this was from anything that we saw with our eyes, but from an unfolding of God's Word.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE SAINTS
Through the testimony of God's Word we understand that the Resurrection began in 1878; not that we saw anything by the natural sight of the eyes, but that through the eyes of our understanding we recognized that the time had come for that great transaction, the First Resurrection, as far as the sleeping saints were concerned; and we understand that there commenced the time mentioned by the writer of Revelation, when he declared, "Blessed are they who die in the Lord from henceforth," marking a particular time, before which it would not be a blessing to die, but after which it would be a blessing. "From henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."--Rev. 14:13.
That particular time came, we believe, in 1878; then, not only the Apostles were awakened, but all the faithful in Christ Jesus, all the sleeping members of the Body of Christ. That was the beginning of the Resurrection of the Body of Christ--the Lord judging among His people first, before the judgment of the world. He foretold that when He would come He would call His own servants and reckon with them--not with the world--giving reward to those of His Church who had gone before, giving them part in the First Resurrection, and then afterward dealing with us, "who are alive and remain," so that each one of us who are of the Lord's people, may at death be "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," during the sounding of the last trumpet--the Seventh.
We are living now under the sounding of this great Trump of God; not that we are hearing anything with our natural ears, but that we are hearing with the ears of our understanding that God's time has come, and that the great institution which He is arranging for the future is now being inaugurated.
The next prophetic period is the Time of Trouble. In one sense, perhaps, this began back about 1872. That was the time when Communism began to be broached afresh, when Socialism began to spread itself. We believe that many people are counted Socialists who are not really Socialists, but who might become such under favorable circumstances and conditions--which likely will develop before 1916 A.D. This development of Socialism is connected with anarchy. The hopes and methods of Socialists will prove failures and then they will be so wrought up as to bring on the great Time of Trouble. Meantime, also, arrangements have been going on gradually for the present war. While outwardly proclaiming (1872 A.D.) at the Geneva Peace Conference that all the nations would band themselves together and advocate the peaceful settlement of difficulties, and while yet crying "Peace! Peace!" nevertheless, notwithstanding all this, the nations of the world have progressed in the building of great warships and the drilling of troops.
We will not go into details further; we merely wish to impress the thought that these fulfilments of prophecy did not come suddenly, but gradually--that they had a particular time for beginning, and were sure of accomplishment. In view of these lessons from the past, what should we think about the future? We should not conclude that everything would be transformed inside of one minute, or one hour, or one day, but gradually.
INAUGURATION OF MESSIAH'S KINGDOM GRADUAL
This leads us to expect that the remaining prophetic periods will have a similar fulfilment, and that September 20 of this year, 1914, probably marked the end of the Gentile Times. If so, what we are witnessing now amongst the nations is a conflict to their finish. This is exactly what we should expect. Evidently the Lord is behind the matter; [R5567 : page 327] the Lord's Kingdom will manifest itself more and more. It will not be fully manifested, however, until the Church is with her Lord in glory. "When He shall be revealed, we also shall be revealed with Him in glory."
Should we expect that the Lord would reveal Himself the very moment Gentile Times end? No. The Bible declaration is that He shall be revealed in "flaming fire." Just how long after the Gentile Times close will be the revealment in "flaming fire" we do not know. Seemingly, following this great war will come the greatest "earthquake" that ever occurred--a revolution that will involve all the civilized nations. (Revelation 16:18.) Then Socialism may loom up, but will be short-lived and develop into anarchy. That anarchy will be the "flaming fire" revealing the new Kingdom, taking vengeance, bringing retributive justice upon the world--preceding its blessing.
If the harvest work of our Lord's presence (parousia) has been a gradual work for forty years leading up to the present time, and if the Time of the End is a slow period, how long would this period be, in which present institutions will be ousted, and the present order of things be condemned and done away with, to make way for the Reign of Righteousness? We answer that according to such pictures we might expect the transition to run on a good many years. We might expect it to be five, ten or twenty years. But there is something, on the other hand, that leads us to anticipate that it will not be very long. The Lord has told us that He will "make a short work of it." Just how short the work will be would be conjectural. Every one may have his own opinion. At one time the Lord speaks of it as being "in one hour;" another time, as "in one day;" and the Apostle speaks of it as coming like travail upon a woman with child--suddenly.
We remember also that there is a certain parallel between the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age. The forty years' Harvest of the Jewish Age, which began with Jesus' ministry, 29 A.D., ended in the year 69 A.D.--just as we believe that the Harvest of this age began with 1874 and ended with this fall, 1914. It was in the year following the expiration of forty years of the Jewish Harvest that the end of the Jewish polity came--at the destruction of their city. And so the parallels would lead us to suppose that one year from the present time would finish this short parallel period, this great work of disaster upon the world, the overthrow of the nations, viz., the attempt of the different nations to gain supremacy--the failure of their efforts--then the fire of God's anger, anarchy, the destruction which will sweep the whole world and usher in Messiah's Kingdom.
The Master tells us that unless these days were shortened there would be no flesh saved. (Matthew 24:22.) [R5567 : page 328] It will be a part of Messiah's Kingdom work, not only to dash those nations to pieces, but to stop the anarchy when it shall have done its work, when it shall have demonstrated to the human mind the fact that nothing that man can do will be able to help the race. Then when man's extremity shall have been reached, Messiah's Kingdom will take hold; and the great disaster will be throttled, the blessings of the Kingdom will begin, and mankind will receive them in proportion as they are in the right attitude of heart to respond.
PRELUDE TO THE TIME OF TROUBLE
We see that God gave the lease of dominion to the Gentiles. The words of the Prophecy were that Zedekiah's crown would be overturned, overturned, overturned, until He comes whose right it is, and God would give it to Him. Has the Kingdom begun in any sense of the word? We so believe. We think that the light now going forth is under the direction of the Captain of our Salvation. We think that the present distress amongst the nations is merely the beginning of this Time of Trouble. They did not wait for the time to come when they would be smitten. In their "anger" they got into trouble before their lease had expired.
At present the nations show such a bitterness toward each other, such a desire to conquer and destroy one another, that they are determined to continue the war, even if it result in the loss of their own wealth, the destruction of their own homes, and of one another. The spirit of competition, which was supposed to have died, had only been covered up for a little while; and the spirit of the Adversary is still there. Although they are called Christian nations, they have not received the Spirit of the Lord; they have not received the spirit of meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, brotherly kindness and love, the fruits of the Holy Spirit; but on the contrary, the spirit which St. Paul says consists of hatred, wrath, strife, murder--works of the flesh and the Devil. For this reason they are angry and have involved themselves in the present turmoil.
The nations did not even wait for God's wrath to come, but began to bring it upon themselves nearly two months in advance. They became so angry that they began to destroy each other even before their lease of power had expired. God's wrath will continue in this great Time of Trouble to its completion--the "fire." The great dreadnaughts and super-dreadnaughts, great guns and little guns, Czars and Emperors, will soon dash each other to pieces. The anarchy that will follow this war will be the real Time of Trouble.
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Our thought is that the war will so weaken the nations that following it there will be an attempt to bring in Socialistic ideas, and that this will be met by the governments --the wealthy and all classes interested in the present order of things, "the world which now is," the present "heavens," or ecclesiastical system, and the "earth," the social order. The present order will be supported by the rich, by financiers, politicians, princes of industry, and the kings upon the thrones. All these will do their best to maintain present conditions, and will summon the clergy to their support. Then will come a general uprising everywhere; on one side those who are beneficiaries of the present institutions will be against any change. Against them, on the other side, will be the masses, who are striving to better their condition; for in God's Plan, the time has come for a change.
Shall the Lord's people have any part in the struggle? Nay! Let us ever keep in mind that we are peacemakers. Not only are we peaceable ourselves and seeking to live peaceably with all men, but we are to be peace-promoters, and to help others to see things straight and right. That course would be tending toward putting away anarchy and strife; but anarchy will surely come, despite all endeavors to the contrary.
Nevertheless, the Lord shows us through His Word that there is to be a victory on the part of the New Order of things, now coming in. The Socialists do not want anarchy; but they are not far from it. Anarchy is the worst thing that could be--a lack of some form of government being the worst thing the world could experience. The warring element will fight out this battle; and this will be the way in which God will promote the change, which is represented in the Bible as a great "fire," which will consume the present "heavens," or ecclesiastical ruling powers, and the "earth," or social institutions.
Following that great "fire," then, will be manifested the "new heavens and the new earth." The new heavens, the new ecclesiastical ruling power, will be the Church of the future in Glory, the Bride of Christ, enthroned with Him. The new earth will be the new order of things on the earth, which will be in the hands of the Ancient Worthies, "whom the Lord will make Princes in all the earth," when His Kingdom shall be fully established.
"THY KINGDOM COME"
Our text proceeds to say, "And the time of the dead, that they should be judged," that they should receive their proper rewards and punishments, and be righteously dealt with, is closely associated with this time of angry nations. The whole dead world will be dealt with during that thousand years of Christ's Reign. The object of that dealing is that He "should give reward to His servants the Prophets," beginning at the proper time. Their reward is that they are to be the earthly Princes in the Kingdom, in all the earth. "And to the saints." The saints will be changed in the First Resurrection, "right early in the morning." (Psalm 46:5, margin.) "Them that fear Thy Name, small and great," shows the reward of all those who will come into harmony with the Lord during the thousand years--this pictures the blessing of Restitution coming to all mankind. These blessings they are to receive as they show their obedience to Him in all things.
What will the consummation be? "And shouldest destroy them which destroy [or corrupt] the earth." Those that give forth a corrupting influence and that refuse to come into harmony with righteousness during the thousand years will be destroyed from amongst the people. Nothing will be left of them. Everything evil will be destroyed, root and branch; only the righteous will prevail throughout all eternity. All having sympathy with unrighteousness will be destroyed. We see, then, that the entire Millennial Age will be needed to accomplish the work outlined in our text. It is not to be suddenly accomplished; we are not to expect a sudden fulfilment of that work.
Will the culmination of Gentile Times bring in the Kingdom by a very slow change, or how will it be done? September 21 did not bring any great change, but it saw this anger and this war-fever already begun amongst the nations. The spirit of anger has been brewing in them for the past forty years. They have been in preparation all this time, not spending money for amusement, but for foreseen war. They have built great navies knowing that the majority of these vessels were to go to the scrapheap as soon as new types of battleships came in, making all the older ones obsolete. They were not wasting their money. They recognized that this great struggle was coming. In the German Navy, the custom is to instil into the men the thought that they will be the conquerors of the [R5568 : page 329] world, and they expect this great war to decide the matter.
We are treading upon what might be termed, perhaps, dangerous ground, in assuming the possibility, even, that during this year that has begun there would be such an upheaval of nations, such an attempt on the part of kings, rulers, political princes and merchant princes to hold things where they are; and that to do this they will probably raise up the churches to great power, in order that they may through them, if possible, hold back the new order of things. Whether this comes within this year or a longer period, no matter; we believe this is the way which the Bible indicates it will come. When the church systems shall be thus raised up, all who stand for the Plan of God will be evil-spoken of, evil thought of, whereas they are the best friends of the world, the truest--just as the Lord is the truest friend of the whole human family. But if Jesus was crucified, so will these have trying experiences, and although the offenders may be of the Household of Faith, we must feel kindly toward them. As St. Peter said to his Jewish brethren, "I wot, brethren, that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers."--Acts 3:17.
THE JEWISH QUESTION
Some one may say, We do not see the Jews back in Jerusalem yet. Is Jerusalem still trodden down of the Gentiles? In reply, we ask, What do you think our Lord meant when He said that Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled? Do you think that the walking over the stones and streets in Jerusalem was what the Lord meant by the treading down of Jerusalem? If so, you were very foolish in your thought. Jerusalem represents the Jewish polity, government, institution, people. The Jews had already been trodden down for centuries before our Lord's remark --in fact, they were under the heel of the Romans at the time Jesus uttered those words; and they would continue to be under the domination of those Gentile governments "until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Gradually the Jewish people have been emerging from their down-trodden condition--persecuted for eighteen centuries. The time is here when the Message has been and is still being delivered to them, as recorded in Isaiah 40:1,2: "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."--Isaiah 40:1,2.
This prophecy was fulfilled, as pointed out in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, in the year 1878; and ever since that time, the star of Judaism has been rising; the Jews have become more prosperous ever since, as they themselves realize. Nowhere have they been so prosperous as in these United States, where they have received their greatest blessing; while in Russia and Germany they have been persecuted to some extent, but not in the same degree as formerly.
JERUSALEM NO LONGER DOWNTRODDEN
The treading down of the Jews has stopped. All over the world the Jews are now free--even in Russia. On September 5, the Czar of Russia issued a proclamation to all the Jews of the Russian Empire; and this was before the Times of the Gentiles had expired. It stated that the Jews might have access to the highest rank in the Russian army, and that the Jewish religion was to have the same freedom as any other religion in Russia. Where are the Jews being trodden down now? Where are they being subjected to scorn? At present they are receiving no persecution whatever. We believe that the treading down of Jerusalem has ceased, because the time for the Gentiles to tread down Israel has ended.
As to a government in Palestine, the Jews have just as much of a government as any other people there. Nominally, the Turkish government has the rule. When we have the opportunity, we intend to call the attention of our Jewish friends to the fact that the time of their disfavor and the Times of the Gentiles have expired, and that they may re-establish their kingdom in Palestine; for there is nothing now that intervenes. Some years ago, we called their attention to the fact that the Gentile Times were fast closing; and the Message, by the way, went all over the various countries of the world where Jews live, it having been printed in the Yiddish and the German languages. That Message has carried peace to them, telling about their restoration and pointing out to them this very time. Now we are able to tell them that the Gentile Times have expired, and that they may go up and take possession of the land. We do not know how soon they will take possession. According to their faith it will be unto them.
A proper conception of the Divine Plan and arrangements shows that now is the time for the Jews to get the land of Palestine from the Turkish government. The Turks are anxious to get some money, and, as they do not have very much at the present, it seems as though they would be willing to get rid of something that is not doing them any particular good. Now would be a good opportunity for the Jews to offer to buy Palestine; and they would probably get their country for a few million dollars.
The Turks realize that if they lose in the present war, they would lose Palestine; in this favorable time the sale of that country would be of some value to them. There is nothing in our Lord's statement, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," that would militate against this thought. On the other hand, everything is in its favor; for the treading down of the Jews has ceased. Now it is merely for them to go up and possess their land.
THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE CHURCH
Some one may ask, Since the fulfilment of the various time prophecies demonstrates that God's methods of operating are slow, may it not be that the Kingdom will not be ushered in for five, ten or even twenty-five years? Our reply is, we are not a prophet; we merely believe that we have come to the place where the Gentile Times have ended. If the Lord has five years more for us here, we shall be very glad to be on this side of the veil; and we feel sure that all the Lord's truly consecrated children also will be glad to be on this side if it is the Lord's will. If the Lord has even one more year for us as good as the past year has been, what more could we ask?
Nothing could induce us to part with that knowledge of God and His Plan in which we rejoice today. All the world over, that which makes the Lord's people appear happy is not special beauty on the outside, but the Light on the inside, the Light of the Knowledge of the glory of God, the Light of the Knowledge of the Divine Truth in our hearts. This Light shining through these earthen vessels is heart-cheering and comforting. We cannot imagine anything better. As the poet says,
"It satisfies my longings, as nothing else can do."We are happy to be coworkers with God; and by and by we shall be coworkers with Him on the other side the veil.
Look back now and see how the Lord's promises have been fulfilled--how during this time of Harvest it has been, as He said it would be, a blessed time. Listen to the words of the Prophet concerning the time since 1875, and note how his prophecy has been fulfilled: "Oh, the blessedness of Him that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand [R5568 : page 330] three hundred and five and thirty days"--the blessedness of those who have been living from 1875 onward.
What blessings have we received? Just as the Bible has said to us, so has it been. Those who open their hearts to the Lord find that He not only comes in and sups with them, but that He becomes their servant, comforts them, and serves them with "meat in due season." This accounts for all these blessed truths upon which we have been feasting since we have entered into the light of Present Truth; and it proves that this Divine Plan of the Ages is not from any human being nor is it a human plan or scheme; for no human being is capable of bringing such glorious things out of the Word of God.
Looking back over the past eighteen hundred years at the futile efforts of able, good men and women to bring something reasonable and harmonious out of the Bible, we find nothing satisfactory. On the contrary, we are ashamed of all the creeds of the past. Even those made in the past century do not satisfy anybody's longings. Those who are paid to preach them are ashamed to do so, and cover them up as much as possible.
Our Lord said that at His Second Coming He would serve things "both new and old"; and this has been so. Not merely are new things coming to our attention respecting the glory of the coming Kingdom and the work throughout the thousand years of Christ's Reign, but old things are coming to us in a clearer, better light. Among these is the doctrine of Justification by Faith, about which Brother Luther preached centuries ago, and which we thought had been correctly defined and thoroughly understood. Now we find that we did not understand Justification by Faith at all. Sanctification was preached by good people, too. When we came to a Biblical understanding of the subject of Sanctification, all that we knew before seemed childish and contradictory. How beautiful and harmonious these doctrines became! Then there are the types of Leviticus, which picture all the glorious features of the Divine Plan. All these familiar subjects are now shining as new, having been brought forth by our great Master, who is doing the serving, who is giving "meat in [R5569 : page 330] due season," "things both new and old."
Take the doctrine of Baptism, which has been preached about for all these centuries past. Now we are finding out that what we did not know about it has filled volumes. When we come to an understanding of the subject of Baptism, it is beautiful, grand! We never supposed that it had so much meaning. The reason for all this increase of knowledge is that we are living in the blessed time mentioned by the Prophet Daniel, "Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth and cometh to the 1335 days"--in other words, as aforesaid, those who are living after the expiration of the 1335 days. We are living in the time during which God has been pouring in upon our hearts and minds all this joy, peace and blessing mentioned by the Prophet; but it did not happen in one hour, in one day, or in one year. It has been a gradual unfolding of Divine Truth. The path of the just shines more and more.
"WISE AS SERPENTS--HARMLESS AS DOVES"
We all agree that with the end of all of the different prophetic periods of the past, evidently there was no sudden explosion of new things; but that, on the contrary, the new conditions came in gradually. Now, however, in respect to this time in which we are living, there seems to be a little difference; for in speaking of this great Time of Trouble coming upon the world and about the changes to take place at this present time, the Lord everywhere represents it as coming suddenly. "In one hour," is a frequent expression; not meaning necessarily a literal hour, but a very short space of time. "In one day" is another expression, indicating a brief period of time. The Lord says He will make a "short work in the earth." We believe it. We remember again that the Master says, "Unless those days should be cut short, no flesh would survive; but for the Elect's sake these days shall be shortened."
What did He mean? We believe that this spirit of frenzy that is now manifesting itself in the Old World is bound to spread, and that this national anger, hatred, malice, of one nation against another will extend to persons. We think it very wise, then, that the public press and the various officials of this country are seeking to have all recognize the fact that we are a mixed people, and that we have our natural sympathies with those of our kinsfolk who are beyond the seas, and any special activity in seeking to defend any particular nation now at war would cause malice and hatred, would tend toward the condition spoken of in the Bible when "Every man's hand will be against his neighbor and his brother."
We think it very wise on the part of the government officials to advocate that we take no side in the present war; for to do so would foster the spirit of anarchy; and we think that so far as all religiously-inclined people are concerned, they should do all in their power to prevent the spread of this spirit of anarchy, even though it will surely come. In this way we shall be doing our duty, even if our endeavors to bring peace to the world are thoroughly ineffective. We should always bear in mind that we are representatives of the Lord of Righteousness and of the great King of Peace, who will ultimately take the Throne of Power.
RE THE DELIVERANCE OF THE CHURCH
What shall we expect concerning this great change coming in the next year? It seems to us possible that one year might work all this great change that we are expecting. But perhaps it will not be so. We must wait and see. We merely suggest the possibility that in one year all these great things will come. That will be very sudden, as travail upon a woman with child--without warning. This war came without warning, and very speedily the nations were fighting one another; for the time has come.
As these things were previously held more or less in restraint, now the Lord is letting them loose gradually; and He will let them loose more and more until the great anarchy comes which would entirely destroy our whole human race unless it was arrested. In the meantime the Kingdom class will have been glorified, and our great King will have taken unto Himself His great power, and with the Elect, the Body of Christ, the Church, He will bring in peace and blessing to mankind, as soon as the world shall have passed through the fire of anarchy and the present order of things shall have been dissolved in the great heat--not a moment sooner. Then the Elect of God will interpose that the world may not be destroyed, that humanity may not destroy itself; and then will be the beginning of the blessings that are to come to all people through Christ, through the merit of His sacrifice, through the channel of The Christ glorified--Jesus and His Joint-heirs in the Kingdom.
As we look at these things, we realize that we have every reason to do all in our power to prepare ourselves for this glorious work. We remember also what our dear Redeemer told us to do: "When ye see these things begin to come to pass [do we see them? We think so!], then lift up your heads and rejoice, knowing that your deliverance draweth nigh." Just how nigh, the Lord did not say. Therefore, we may not attempt to say. [R5569 : page 331]
But we cannot be far from our change; and we advise that all of the Lord's people live day by day just as though this was the last day on this side the Veil, and that tonight or tomorrow would usher us into the glorious things beyond the Veil. Living in this way will surely be at least a good experience for us, bringing blessings and ripening of character. What a blessed way to live!-- every day in anticipation of seeing our Redeemer and sharing in His wonderful work! The things connected with this present time seem less and less important to us, on account of which our names are cast out as evil by those who are living for all they can get out of the present life.
"DRINK YE ALL OF IT"
What may be done to our mortal bodies? None have the power to injure us as New Creatures. We are waiting for our change, which will come to some in one way and to some in another. God be praised! His will be done! Our Master had a cup at the conclusion of His experiences, and it was an especially bitter one, His suffering as an evil-doer and as a blasphemer being especially severe. Under the Jewish Law, blasphemy of God's name was really one of the most grievous crimes, and was especially punished by ignominious death. Jesus was not the blasphemer, but the Scribes and Pharisees were the blasphemers. Yet Jesus was to die as the blasphemer, while those who were really doing the blaspheming were the ones who put Him to death!
We should not wonder if in the Divine arrangement God might have some such bitter cup for the feet-members of the Body of Christ. Why should we think so? For various reasons. We have so much favor from God, that it would seem that we would deserve to have severer testings and a fuller and more bitter cup than others have had. Furthermore, the Scriptures seem to imply that it will be so.
Elijah was a type of the Church, and we remember that at his departure he went in a chariot of fire; and we believe that this symbolically represents the time of trouble on the Church when the time of our departure shall come. Then, again, John the Baptist was a semi-type, the semi-antitype of Elijah. John's experiences were very bitter. He was imprisoned for a while and not permitted to do any preaching; and he no doubt wondered in the time of his imprisonment whether or not he had been mistaken in his glorious expectations in regard to the Messiah. Then came the sudden edict for him to be beheaded. Herodias and Salome were anxious to get rid of him, but King Herod was not. We remember that in our interpretation of this type the king represents the civil power, Herodias represents the Roman Catholic Church and Salome, the daughter, represents the Protestant Churches Federated. These are more or less united to the civil powers, the "Mother" especially. We remember that there was some special dancing on the part of Salome before the king, who was so pleased with her that he told her that she might have anything she desired, even to the half of his kingdom. After she had conferred with her mother, they decided that the best thing that could happen for them would be the death of John the Baptist.
So it was in the Master's case. The religious rulers decided that the best thing that could be done was that He should perish. We remember that it was the last high priest of the Jewish nation, Caiaphas, who prophesied respecting Jesus that it was expedient that one man should die for the people rather than that the whole nation perish. So it was in the case of John. Herodias and Salome concluded that John the Baptist should die, and thereby they would cease to have his continual reminder of their wrong course; and so they would have him beheaded.
Whether or not this is to be a part of the antitype
remains to be seen. It would not surprise us if it will
be so. We are not speaking positively; but we wish to be
"wise as serpents." Let us not be surprised at whatever
things the Lord may permit to come. Let us remember
that our Master was given a bitter cup of suffering in His
closing hours, and that the Father did not seek to remove
it from Him. But Jesus meekly accepted it, saying, "The
cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not
drink it?" So we should be well prepared for whatever
cup of bitter experiences and ignominy the Lord may have
for us. At the same time we should have in our minds the
refreshing thought given us by the promise in the Scriptures,
that the Lord will not permit us to be tempted, or
tested, above what we are able to bear, but will with the
temptation provide a way of escape. The further assurance
is that "All things shall work together for good to
them that love God, to the called ones according to His
[R5570 : page 331]
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Have we heard the Call to be the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, to come out of the world, to be dead to the world, to give our wills to Him, to sacrifice our earthly treasures? Have we become footstep followers of Jesus? "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself [give up his own self-will], take up his cross and follow Me." Have we been following the Master, and will we continue to follow Him? In our hearts we should be saying, Yes.
The Master said that in the Regeneration those who would now follow Him would have glorious bodies, like His own. "We shall be like Him, and see Him as He is" --sharers in His glory. May that be the portion of all of us! Let us rejoice together in the glorious things that our God has arranged for those who are His Church-- first for the great Head of that Church, our Lord Jesus, and later for us, His humble followers, who are seeking to become Joint-heirs with Him in His Kingdom.
Let us remember that it is not knowledge alone that sanctifies. Knowledge is valuable to the sanctifying of the spirit only when we comply with the conditions that we shall mortify the self-will of the flesh and cultivate more and more of the Spirit of our Lord, about which St. Peter tells us. We are exhorted to put off all these: malice, hatred, wrath, strife, etc.; and to put on all these: joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, brotherly kindness and love. The Apostle Peter says, "If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and "thus an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-11.) Let our ambition and aim be to have a share in that Kingdom!
"WHO SHALL STAND?"
Let us remember that we are in a testing season. The Apostles had a similar one during the interim between our Lord's death and Pentecost. After our Lord's resurrection, He appeared to His disciples a few times, and then they did not see Him for many days. Then they became discouraged and said, "There is no use waiting"; "I go fishing," said one. Two others said, "We will go with thee." They were about to go into the fishing business and leave the work of fishing for men. This was a testing time for the disciples. So also there is one now. If there is any reason that would lead any to let go of the Lord and His Truth and to cease sacrificing for the Lord's [R5570 : page 332] Cause, then it is not merely the love of God in the heart which has prompted interest in the Lord, but something else; probably a hoping that the time was short; the consecration was only for a certain time. If so, now is a good time to let go.
Very probably it is now as it was when Jesus said to His disciples on a certain occasion, "Will ye also go away?" The answer was, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." We would starve spiritually if we went to any other than the Lord's table. We know not anywhere else to go. We shall stay right at the Lord's table. He has been feeding us on the Message of Truth and Life, and we believe that He will put on the table everything necessary for those who are hungering and thirsting for the Truth; and that the Truth on every subject necessary for us will be given as the Lord is pleased to reveal it; for He has promised, "they shall be filled."