of Christ's Kingdom
VOL. VI. May 1, 1923 No. 9
Table of Contents
THE BELOVED OF JEHOVAH
CONVENTION AT SPRINGFIELD
EXPOSITIONS TO BE PUBLISHED
COMMEMORATION OF HIS DEATH
THE FAITHFUL DAUGHTER
JUDGE AND PROPHET
STUDIES IN THE REVELATION
VOL. VI. May 15, 1923 No. 10
Table of Contents
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE PASTORAL BIBLE INSTITUTE, JUNE 2, 1923
THE LORD HEARKENED AND HEARD"
STUDIES IN THE REVELATION
THE BELOVED OF JEHOVAH
UNDER THE ROD"
THE BRAVE REFORMER
VOL. VI. May 1, 1923 No. 9
HIS CAPTIVITY AND EARLY EXPERIENCES IN BABYLON
"In the third year of the
reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and
be sieged it. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of eunuchs, that lie should
bring certain of the children of Israel, and of
the king's seed, and of the princes; now among these were the children of Judah, Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah."--Dan. 1:1, 3, 6.
IT IS quite reasonable to suppose that, in His youthful days, our
Lord and Savior, being under the law, became very familiar with the contents of the book
of Daniel. As He grew in years and increased in wisdom, and the solemn import of His
divinely appointed mission became clearer to His mind, the prophecies of this book would
be of very special, indeed, of enraptured interest to Him. We may be sure that the Divine
care and providence over Him would so arrange matters that He would have access to the
sacred writings, for it was in the making use of these that he grew in knowledge and
wisdom and in favor with God. We can imagine with what intense interest He would meditate
upon the words of the angel Gabriel to Daniel (chap.9), for in them He would learn
definitely, as in no other of the sacred writings, of the Divine times and seasons of His
ministry, of His rejection by His own nation, and of the appointed hour of His death. It
is very evident that it was to this very prophecy He referred, when beginning His ministry
He said, "The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Mark 1:
5.) It was undoubtedly one of those books referred to by Him in His words to the Emmaus
disciples after His resurrection: "Ought not Christ to. have suffered these things, and to enter into
His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the
Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning
Himself." (Luke 2:52; 24:26,27.)' In the prophetic discourse given to His disciples a
few days before His death while they were with Him on the Mount of Olives, He referred to
Daniel's prophecy in the words: "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of
desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let
him understand)."--Matt. 24: 15.
In some special features the book of Daniel is the most wonderful of
all the Old Testament prophetic writings. It contains visions portraying the general
outlines of over twenty five centuries of the history of Daniel's own people, the Jews, as
well as that of the great empires and false religious systems of the world. It briefly
traces the history of the suffering people of God, until their glorification with Christ
in His Kingdom. The visions of the beloved disciple, St. John, recorded in the book of
Revelation, and given about seven centuries later, are a continuation and fuller
development of those of Daniel.
PROPHECY FULFILLED IN DANIEL'S DAY
In chapter one of the book of Daniel, which we now consider, we have
no prophecy recorded, but rather a fulfillment of one, uttered over a hundred years
before. It was uttered by Isaiah to Hezekiah, the king of Judah, and reads: "Behold,
the days come . . . that thy sons, that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget,
shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of
Babylon." (Isa. 39:7.) It is quite certain that in Daniel and his companions this
prediction was fulfilled, and that in suffering and privation Daniel was prepared for the
place in which he became so conspicuous and notable.
The Divine purpose in having the events that are described in Daniel
I recorded as an introduction to the remarkable dreams and visions of the book is
evidently to make known to the reader who Daniel was; also to show how it happened that
he, a Hebrew, came to be living in Babylon, so far away from his own beloved kindred and
country. Furthermore, and doubtless of far greater importance, it was to make known to us,
for our emulation, some of those sterling traits displayed by the youthful Daniel-traits
that laid the foundation of a righteous character, which, when developed into manhood,
made him the man so "greatly beloved" of God (Dan. 10:11), and the one specially
chosen to represent Him in the king's palace in the great city of Babylon, and, by using
his influence with the king, to be of assistance to His chosen people during their long
captivity in that country. He lived through the entire period of their seventy years of
servitude and captivity, and doubtless used his influence with Cyrus , the king of the
Persian Empire, to aid them in their return to their native land. In answer to his earnest
prayer, recorded in chapter nine, that Jehovah's favor might be restored to his nation,
that they might resume again their worship of Him in their own country, that their beloved
city and temple might again be rebuilt, and the desolations cease, the An-gel Gabriel was
specially sent from the Court of Heaven to inform him that his prayer was answered. At the
same time he was to inform the aged Prophet concerning the time in history when their long
looked for Messiah would appear, and to convey the sad information that another long
period of judgment would befall the nation, because of its rejection of Him when, in the
predicted time, He would come.-Dan. 9.
A noted writer on the book of Daniel gives as a title to his
exposition of this first chapter, that of The
Forming Prophet, because of its portrayal of those commendable, formative traits of character exhibited by Daniel
when a youth of only about sixteen years.
A REMARKABLE ERA IN JEWISH HISTORY
THE SEVENTY YEARS SERVITUDE START 606 B. C.
The time in the world's history when the incidents described in this
chapter occurred, mark a most eventful .period in the history of the Hebrews, of both
their government and their people-indeed, in the affairs of all nations. We are informed
in verse 1, that it was in the third year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, that
Nebuchadnezzar, the great commander of the Babylonian armies. laid siege to Jerusalem,
captured the city, and carried away as captives to Babylon, some of the most intelligent
and highly favored of the royal families and nobles of the kingdom of Judah, and also a
part of the holy vessels of the temple. We learn 'from the Scriptures as well as from
secular history, that this event occurred about 606 B.C., two years before the death of
Nebuchadnezzar's father, who was an in' valid at the time. Nebuchadnezzar seems to have
been ruling at this time in association with his father. About two years after, in 604
B.C., Nebuchadnezzar became the sole ruler of what is commonly called in history the
Second Babylonian Empire, which ruled all nations. Among the captives taken to Babylon at,
this time was the youthful Daniel, who, a few years later, as we have noted, became the
great prophet of God, and one of the most noted and prominent statesmen in the affairs of
Babylon; and for a brief period of years, after the overthrow of Babylon in 538 B. C. by
the Medes and Persians, he was prominent in the affairs of the Medo-Persian Empire as
From a comparison of other Scriptures, we learn that Jehoiakim, the
king of Judah, was permitted by Nebuchadnezzar, to continue on the throne of Judah -- no
longer, however, as an independent sovereign, but as a servant, a vassal of the king of
Babylon; and we have it definitely stated that this great calamity came upon the
government and people of the Jews, as a judgment of Jehovah, and that Nebuchadnezzar was
Jehovah's' servant in the execution of this judgment. "And the Lord gave Jehoiakim into his hand." (Dan. 1:
2.) It was at this time, about 606 B.C., that the Jewish nation lost its independence, and
the predicted seventy years of servitude to the king of Babylon began. Thus commenced the
long predicted judgment, which nineteen years later, about 587 B.C., culminated in the
destruc-tion of the City of Jerusalem and its temple.
This judgment-punishment upon the kingdom and people of Judah, which
began with Jehoiakim, was predicted in a general way
by Moses a thousand years before; and in a more specific way, over a quarter of a century
before, in the days of Josiah, the king of Judah, who was the father of Jehoiakim, The
good king Josiah, who saw the sad and terrible departures from God" on the part of
the nobles and the people of Judah, sought earnestly and energetically to bring about a permanent reformation, but was unable to accomplish
it. It was at this time that there was found, in the desecrated temple, hidden away
amongst the accumulated rubbish, the book of the law of God. (2 Kings 22: 8.) The book was
shown and read to the king, who, when he heard the words of the judgments written therein
to come upon the nation because of their departures from the Divine precepts, was filled.
with sorrow and amazement, and immediately caused inquiry to be made of the Lord if it
were possible that these judgments be averted.
JUDAH'S KINGS BECOME VASSALS
To this end, the high-priest and others were sent to inquire of the
Prophetess Huldah. After she had sought in the usual appointed way to obtain the Lord's
mind in the matter, she received from Him a special message to be delivered to the king
Josiah. The substance of the message was that it was too late, that the punishment must
come, that the judgments could not be stayed. However, the message also contained the
comforting information that because of Josiah's tender solicitude for the people, and his
own love and loyalty to Jehovah, he would be spared from seeing the judgments executed;
that before they would begin to come, he would die, and be gathered to his grave in peace.
.(2 Kings 22: 14-20.) About twelve or fifteen years after this, Josiah was killed in a
battle against the king of Egypt, and was buried amidst great lamentation and mourning.-2
Kings 23:29, 30; 2 Chron. 35:23-25.
After Josiah's death the people made his youngest son, Jehoahaz,
king, and then the predicted judgments began to fall. Jehoahaz had reigned. only three
months, when the king of Egypt, came against Jerusalem, captured the city, removed
Jehoahaz, and placed in his stead Eliakim, his older brother, on the throne, as the king's
vassal, and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt and died
there. (2 Kings 23: 31-35.) Jehoiakim sat upon the throne of Judah as a vassal of the king
of Egypt-for about three years. It was at the end of this time, in the third year of
Jehoiakim, that the event described in Daniel 1: 1-3, occurred. (See also 2 Kings 24: 1.)
The predicted judgments upon Josiah's sons had now begun. The events which followed were
sad indeed to both the government and people of Judah, and briefly summed up are as
Jehoiakim in his third year was made a servant or vassal of
Nebuchadnezzar, and after serving him three years, rebelled.
As soon as Nebuchadnezzar was relieved in his conquest of other
nations, he came again to Jerusalem with his armies and captured the city. Jehoiakim was
then slain, and was denied a decent burial.--Jer. 22: 19; 36: 30.
Jehoiachin, a son of Jehoiakim, seems to have been placed on the
throne by Nebuchadnezzar, and occupied it three months, at the expiration of which time
Nebuchadnezzar's army came again and besieged the city, and Jehoiachin and, his mother
voluntarily gave themselves up (2 Kings 24: 11-12), and were carried to Babylon, and
Jehoiachin was placed in prison where he was confined during the remaining period of
Nebuchadnezzar's reign, which was about 37 years, when he was released by Evil-merodach,
Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor.--2 Kings 25: 27-30.
Jehoiachin's captivity which occurred about 598 B.C., is commonly
called the great captivity, because at this time Nebuchadnezzar took away the treasures of
'the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the
vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord. He
carried away all the princes and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives,
and all the craftsmen and smiths; none remained save the poorest of the land. -2 Kings 24:
EZEKIEL PROPHESIES IN BABYLON
It was at this second stage of the judgments of Jehovah, at the time
of Jehoiachin's captivity, that the Prophet Ezekiel was carried away captive. Daniel, who
at this time had been in Babylon about eight years, had become 'famous. About five years
before this he had been called into the presence of the great king Nebuchadnezzar to make
known and interpret the marvelous dream of empires, and as a reward for this, he was
highly honored, as we read: "Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many
great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the
governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel
sat in the gate of the king."--Dan. 2:48, 49.
Shortly after Ezekiel was carried away, he was given visions in which
the final judgments upon the nation of Israel were depicted. It is in connection with
these revelations, that Jehovah spake the words to Ezekiel which show that at this time
Daniel had become famous everywhere. "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and job,
were in it, they should deliver but their own souls, by their righteousness, saith the
Lord God." (Ezek. 14: 14.) And a little later in connection with the pouring out of
the final judgment in Zedekiah's day, we have another utterance of Jehovah which, though
ad dressed to the king of Tyre, are quite generally sup posed to be also applicable to
Satan, the great adversary of man. Understanding them to refer to the king of Tyre, we are
doubtless to recognize that the utterance is ironical; however, they serve to show that
Daniel was quite generally recognized as a wise man. "'Thus hath said the Lord
Eternal, Whereas thy heart was lifted up, and thou saidst, A god am 1, on the seat of the
gods do I dwell, in the heart of the seas; yet thou art but a man, and not God, while thou
esteemest thy mind equal to the mind of God. Behold thou wast wiser than Daniel; no secret
was obscure to thee." Ezek. 28:2-3.--Leeser's Translation.
When Jehoiachin was removed, Nebuchadnezzar placed Mattaniah, another
son of Josiah and an uncle of Jehoiachin, on the throne of Judah, as his vassal, and
changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24: 17.) It was evidently Jehovah's purpose, had
Zedekiah and the people continued obedient to God's servant, Nebuchadnezzar, to have
allowed the servile government to continue,
and to have permitted the remnant of the people to remain in the land until the whole
period of the seventy-year servitude, which began when Daniel was carried away, was
completed. (Jer. 27: 12-15.) However, Zedekiah, influenced by evil advisers, rebelled
against Nebuchadnezzar, and in Zedekiah's eleventh year, and Nebuchad-nezzar's nineteenth,
the temple, as also the entire City, was destroyed, and the long period of desolation
began, which did not fully end until about 520 B.C.--2 Kings 25; 2 Chron. 36; Zech. 1: 12.
DANIEL AND COMPANIONS SPECIALLY FAVORED BY THE KING
Having in the foregoing summed up in brief the fulfillment of the
divinely predicted judgments, both of the servitude to Babylon, and the desolations, we
now continue with chapter one, which takes up some of the experiences of the youthful
Daniel and his companions, One of the first incidents that occurred after the Hebrew
captives had become settled in Babylon was the giving of a command by Nebuchadnezzar 'to
one of his officers to select from among the Hebrew captives those who were the most
intelligent as well as prepossessing in physical appearance, etc., and to have them placed
as students in the royal college for three years, to be instructed in the wisdom and
learning of the Chaldeans that they might thus, become useful servants of the king. The
Chaldean teachers. were especially noted in their studies of what is termed the occult
sciences, and of astronomy, Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless familiar-with the special
department of knowledge in which the Hebrews were reputed amongst the surrounding nations
as being adepts. This was the ability of their Prophets to foretell future events--an
ability which would be looked upon by Nebuchadnezzar as simply a natural gift, a
department of human knowledge. He hoped evidently to take advantage of this Hebrew gift
(as such it seemed to him) and thus. add to the fund of knowledge possessed' by his own
wise men, astrologers, and soothsayers, etc.
Amongst those selected under these instructions of Nebuchadnezzar
were Daniel and three of his companions. The first thing of significance that happened to
Daniel and his three companions after their selection was the changing of their names.
Their Hebrew names were such as to be a continual reminder of their nationality, and, that
which was of more importance, their relationship to the great Jehovah and the religion
established by Him among their forefathers. They were given Chaldean names, evidently with
the thought of influencing them to forget the God of their fathers and adopt the religion
of the Babylonians, an idolatrous one. The name Daniel, which in the Hebrew tongue meant
"God's judge" was changed to Belteshazzar; the latter in the Chaldaic signifying
Another thing that occurred was that of giving them food and drink
from the king, Nebuchadnezzar's own table. This was doubtless intended for their good, and
would most naturally be looked upon by these Hebrew youths as a favor; indeed, it might be
considered as an honor, a mark of distinction. While doubtless Daniel and his companions
appreciated the kindness and good intention of the king, there was associated with the
partaking of this food, that which would mean the violation of their consciences. The
Hebrew people when in bondage in Egypt were, to a considerable extent, led astray into
idolatry, and after their deliverance by Jehovah, amongst the laws given them was one
forbidding the eating of meat and the drinking of that which bad been first offered to
idols. Daniel and his three companions of course held firmly their allegiance to Jehovah
and His laws; and on this account. this action of the king in providing for them food from
his table became a severe test of conscience.
CONSCIENCE AS A FACTOR IN GOUS SERVICE
Obedience to conscience lies at the very foundation of. loyalty and
faithfulness to God; indeed it is a mark of character, which if lacking means the loss of
God's favor. There was evidently no thought of compromising with evil on the part of
Daniel-no questioning in his mind concerning what he would do under the peculiar and
trying circumstances. He had already, obtained great favor with the king's servant, as the
narrative shows. Although he desired to show his appreciation of the king's favor, also
that of the king's servant, yet we find that he had already purposed in his heart what he
would do. It is, out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaketh; it is that
which a man purposes in is heart that determines the character of the man. And so we read
of Daniel, that he "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the
portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." On this decision of
Daniel another has truthfully and forcefully remarked:
"The question consequently was whether Daniel should consult his
conscience or his appetite and comfort--whether or not he should let his religion go, and
accept common cause with idolaters--whether he should relinquish fidelity to the throne of
his Maker, or risk his good standing with the king, who was disposed to favor him. Had he
been one of those easy-going Christians of our day, who, are ready to make any worldly
pleasure, gain, or convenience an ample excuse for setting aside any claims or duties of
religion, we should never have heard of any scruple on the subject; but then we never
should have had the illustrious Daniel. It takes sterner stuff to make saints, prophets,
and holy princes than that which shuts Its eyes and asks no questions, and is content to
accommodate itself 'to almost anything and any place. Abraham's conscience would not let
him stay in Ur, though his going out would lead him he knew not whither. Moses' conscience
would not allow him to accept Egypt's throne and riches, though it sent him an exile for
forty years in the wilderness. And any one who would be a true man of God must be willing
to risk all, and even life itself, rather than go against conscience and the clear will of
Jehovah.- The worldly-wise may call it squeamishness, and sneer at it as straining at
gnats, that Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the viands of the king; but it was
the great foundation stone of -all his greatness. It is even greater when exhibited in
little things than in matters so imposing that there is scarcely room for trial. Daniel
took his stand for God, conscience, and righteousness even in the little matter of his
meat and drink, and thus laid the groundwork of a character which passed untarnished and
unscathed through seventy years of political life, which outlived jealousy, envy, and
dynasties, and which stands out to this day the brightest of all the, records of humanity.
Elevated from his early youth to the presidency over all the colleges of Babylon's wise
men, then to the judge's bench, then to the headship of all the governors of an
all-conquering empire, and holding his place amid all the intrigues indigenous to Oriental
despotism, through three successive monarchies; honored during all the [more than] forty
years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; entrusted with the king's business, under the insolent
and sensual Belshazzar; acknowledged by the conquering Medes and Persians; the-stay and
protector of his people under every administration through all the dreary years of their
long exile; dwelling with the great in the most dissolute as the most grand and powerful
of all the old heathen cities; invulnerable to the jealousies and envies of plotting
satraps, 'arid maintaining himself unspotted to the end, a worshiper of Jehovah in a court
and empire made up of idolaters, Daniel's life presents an embodied epic of faith and
greatness, and exhibits one of the rarest pictures ever shown in any one man. And yet the
whole of it had its 'root and beginning in his youthful resolve, not to defile himself
with the portion of the King's viands."
It is not our purpose to discuss the matter of why this restriction
Was a part of the law covenant. It will be sufficient to say that Daniel lived under that
law covenant. Certain kinds of animals were forbidden as food under that covenant; in fact
any animal that had been offered up in idol worship. On this account to eat animal food
from the table of Gentiles would involve a violation of the law; therefore, Daniel and his
companions preferred to become vegetarians. They requested that there might be given them
pulse to eat. With us today pulse means leguminous plants, as peas, beans, etc. "It
is not a proper construction to limit this in its use in this instance to pulse, or that
Daniel desired to live solely on peas and beans, but the fair interpretation is to apply
it to that which grows up from seeds; such probably as would be sown in a garden, or as We
would now express it, vegetable diet."
DANIEL AS AN EXAMPLE TO THE CHRISTIAN
Another trait of character exhibited by Daniel in connection with
this matter is also worthy of our emulation as servants of God and followers of Christ.
This was the kind, meek, and courteous way that he expressed his purpose to the chief of
the eunuchs, who, was entrusted with the duty of carrying out the command of the king. It
was in no offensive, self-assertive manner that Daniel chose to decline the food from the
king's table, but rather were his words and manner of a character fitting to address a
superior in office. True religion is always kind and courteous to all, and exhibits
humility and meekness, especially when addressing those over them officially. While it is
inflexible in its determination to be true to God and conscience, it endeavors always to
be amiable and courteous. Some Christians seem to think that they cannot be true to God
and conscience without being rude, without exhibiting harshness toward their fellowmen,
without upbraiding them for not seeing and doing as they do. Not so with Daniel. He did
not begin in a passionate way to upbraid the king or his servant. Nor did he refuse in a
supercilious manner the king's offer.. He did not show either by his manner or words that
he felt insulted by the king's request. To do so would neither have recommended himself
nor exemplified his religion in the eyes of the king, nor of his servant. Indeed, to have
acted thus would have displayed a lack of that wisdom that Is of God, and would only have
made matters worse. He did not even begin by condemning the custom of the Babylonians, or
denouncing their idolatrous religion; but rather in a modest demeanor, with a clear
sensing of the situation, and with that humility of spirit that is considerate for the
sincerity of others in their religious convictions, however wrong, and yet with a
determination to be faithful to principle and to his God, he simply presented, in a mild
and gentle manner, a request that he and his three friends might be permitted to live on a
vegetable diet for ten jays and thus prove that the object desired by the king would be
better obtained by so doing. He thus showed not only his respect for the king, but also
his confidence that God's favor would be with those who would thus honor his laws and
statutes. Such was his confidence in God that he cheerfully committed himself to accept
whatever should be judged right., if at the end of ten days, he and-his companions, after
living on such food, should not come out as fair and prepossessing in flesh as any of his
fellow-school mates, who partook of the king's meat and drink. The results of these ten
days food test were most gratifying as 'recorded in verse 15, and clearly demonstrated the
wisdom of Daniel and his companions, as well as the fact that God was with them. "And
at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the
children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
The remaining portion of the chapter is devoted to that of recording
the general happy results of the course of obedience on the part of the four Hebrews as we
read: "Now at the end of the days [the three years] that the king had said he [the
king's servant] should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in
before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none
like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in
all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten
times-better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. And Daniel
continued even unto the first year of Cyrus."--Dan. 1:18-21.
The dear brethren of Springfield, Mass., have expressed the earnest
desire to have a convention in their city September 1, 2, and 3. These dates fall on
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The latter being a legal holiday constitutes these dates
very acceptable. We therefore make this early announcement of the matter that the friends
of other Classes may have it in mind in connection with their plans for the summer. The
sweet remembrances of previous conventions at Springfield and the profitable seasons of
fellowship there, warrant us in looking forward to this gathering in September in the
belief that it will also prove to be an occasion of blessedness in the Lord.
Let us hope and watch and pray to this end. Further particulars will
be announced later.
IT will doubtless be gratifying to many to learn that the conclusion
has now been fully reached to proceed with the publication of the series of expositions on
Revelation in book form. The response to our query on the subject has been such that the
brethren are led to believe that the mind of the Lord has been clearly indicated favorably
to their undertaking the project. Some of the friends may have felt a measure of
disappointment that the matter has not gone forward -be fore this, yet doubtless the
delay has been providential. While we have believed that the entire Revelation matter if
published in a book would be the means of a great blessing to the brethren, yet we desired
not to act hastily nor to be unduly anxious to issue a publication. And though it is now
more than two years since we first considered the proposition, and while this appears to
be quite a long delay, yet we believe it was the wisest course to act slowly in the matter
and to wait un til there was marked evidence that it was the desire of the friends
generally throughout the world and that it would be pleasing to the Lord. This evidence we
feel that we now have, and the promised co-operation on the part of the friends by
donations and orders, etc., is very much appreciated.
The preparation of the matter for the printers is now going forward
as rapidly as possible and it is hoped that it may not be long till the copy will be in
their hands. It is expected that the matter will fill two volumes of between 500 and 600
Some who have communicated with us have enclosed remittance covering
the amount of their contribution or order for the books; though the majority have not done
so. As the project is being undertaken on the basis of a general co-operation, and as the
printers will require a considerable of the amount in advance of our receiving the books,
it will therefore be quite in order for all who find it convenient to advance the amount
on their order or donation promised, in the near future, that thus having the necessary
funds at hand there may not be any delay from this standpoint.
HE opportunity once more has come to Christian believers to observe
the memorial of the death of their great leader, the Head and Forerunner of the Church
which is His Body.Every year of progress in the Narrow Way brings a deeper sense of
gratitude and love as upon the anniversary of the death of our Master we call forth the
scenes of His earthly life and pilgrimage. How -wonderful is our privilege of hearing the
Master say. Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear! Indeed, we do
see and hear marvelous things that lift us up to realms above. The things we have seen and
heard have meant our transference from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's
dear Son. And, as we by faith take our places as His footstep followers, bearers of the
Cross after Him, we also are caused to realize that a cup has been poured for us, as the
Father poured a cup for Him.
How appropriate that our Lord should on the eve of His death
institute this beautiful Memorial! He desired His followers to keep ever in mind the
source and means -of their justification through His broken body and shed blood. More than
this, He desired that they might ever be mindful of the solemn and sacred engagement into
which they have entered with Him and in which they have agreed to drink of His sacrificial
cup and be broken as members of His Body, as saith the Apostle. For as oft as ye eat this
bread and drink, this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come."
The Memorial observed by the Brooklyn Ecclesia on the evening of
March 30 was indeed a solemn one. The review of Israel's Passover, then of our Lord's
death, the significance of the emblems, together with the prayers and hymns of worship and
thanksgiving all drew our hearts very close to the Master and caused us to appreciate more
than ever the great fact that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
Reports received from various quarters reveal the general observance
of the Memorial Supper again this season-that as the brethren gathered in larger or
smaller companies, they were richly blessed in realizing afresh their shares and
privileges in the great purpose of redemption,
As each year brings us nearer to the realization of all our blessed
hopes, let us guard with jealous care our present inheritance of the Spirit and grace of
God in our hearts, that He may continue to show unto us His loving kindness, and
ultimately account us worthy of His heavenly Kingdom and glory.
"Thy people shall be my People, and thy God my
God."--Ruth 1: 14-22.
HUMAN nature is much the same every where and always. How many
there are today who mistakenly seek to map out their plans for the present life in
disregard of their highest interests, in disregard of the Lord's promises and the
relationship which they have entered into by covenant with Him! How many there are who
forget that the Lord's arrangement with all of His covenant people is that He will
supervise their affairs and cause all things to work together for good to them!
A forceful lesson comes to our attention in the book of Ruth which we
do well to heed. Somewhere about Gideon's time, when scarcity amounting almost to famine
prevailed in Palestine, as a, judgment of the Lord upon His people for some measure of
coldness or unfaithfulness to Him and to their covenant, Naomi's husband determined to
emigrate with his family to the other side of the Dead Sea--to the land of Moab. The
Moabites were the descendants of Lot, nevertheless, the Lord marked out to His people
Israel that they were not to be considered the children of Abraham--that they were not
fellow-heirs of the promises made to Abraham, and, therefore, they were not subjects of
special dealings, disciplines, providences, etc., as were the Israelites. Naomi and her
two sons went with her husband apparently without regret, to the land of Moab, hoping
thereby to better the prospects of the family. It was a mistake, however, as she
afterwards realized, to attempt to regulate their own affairs when they were specially
under the Lord's protection and guidance.
As Israelites they should have esteemed the Divine promise's so
highly that they would not. have left the land of promise and the people of promise to
commingle with those who were strangers to those promises and more or less idolaters. To
be on the Lord's side amongst the Lord's people should have been esteemed far more
important than earthly prospects. Instead of making temporal interests the chief concern..
Naomi's husband should have been making the religious interests of himself and family his
chief concern, so that if he had been living in Moab under greater prosperity, he should
rather have been willing to go into the land of promise amongst the Lord's people, though
such a course would seem to mean a blighting of some of his earthly interests.
Naomi, however, is not to blame in connection with this matter; the
responsibility rested with her husband, 'and it is evident that her heart was never fully
in sympathy with the move, because about ten years subsequently, when her husband and two
sons died, she promptly determined on a return to the Lord's people and to the land which
He had given them.
CHOOSING THE BETTER PART
The Lord's people of spiritual Israel will do well to bear the
thought continually in mind--that spiritual interests are to be given the preference
always; that temporal affairs are to be managed and controlled from the standpoint of the
everlasting welfare; from the standpoint of spiritual growth and development and
prosperity; from the standpoint of the best interests and influences upon their children.
They should not only hesitate to follow any suggestion that would take themselves and
their families into unfavorable, godless surroundings, but they should determine that not
under any consideration would they follow such a suggestion; that on the contrary the
Lord's people should be their people, even though this meant less of the comforts and
luxuries of this present life. It would surely mean greater spiritual blessings and favors
for the present time, and persevering, it would mean the gaining of the glorious reward
which our Lord has promised to the faithful who love Him more than they love houses and
lands and kindred, etc.
Evidently Naomi's life and example and her faithfulness to the Lord
had made an impression amongst those with whom she was specially in contact-her two
daughters-in-law, both of whom resolved to go back with her to the land of Canaan. On the
journey, however, she reflected that these two young women. would be sacrificing
much-leaving kindred, homes, acquaintances, customs, and good prospects to go with her to
a land where they would be considered foreigners and probably be discriminated against.
She therefore, urged them to return to their own people, to the religious worship, etc.,
to which they had been accustomed. She feared that their resolution to accompany her would
result in disappointment later on. Her disinterested course in this matter reminds us very
much of our Lord's words to some who proposed to become His disciples. He advised them
first of all to sit down and count the cost; this He did, not because He wished to stumble
or to turn back any who had inclinations to follow in His footsteps, but because it is
best on general principles that people should not undertake that in which their hearts are
not fully and deeply interested; because, otherwise, they are sure to make a failure. They
Who sit down and count the cost and then rejoicingly follow in the Lord's footsteps of
suffering and trial, glad to be accounted worthy to suffer for His name's sake, and to
walk in His footsteps-they alone are the kind who will gain the prize. Those who would
follow without the spirit of sacrifice would be sure to miss the prize, and all the
sacrificing they might do would be burdensome and measurably disappointing.
Naomi's argument appealed to one of her daughters-in-law, who did
return to her Moabitish home, concluding that after all it would be too much of a
sacrifice for her to part with her kindred, etc. Ruth, on the contrary, had come to love
her mother-in-law so deeply and to respect her religion so thoroughly that although it
cost a tear to part with home and kindred and to contemplate the trials of poverty in a
foreign -land, she, nevertheless, fully resolved that such a home amongst those who
reverenced the true God and were heirs of His promises was more to be esteemed than
anything she was leaving. Her impassioned words to her mother-in-law are noted throughout
the world as being amongst the most beautiful expressions of sympathy, kindness, and
devotion. Some one has arranged them in poetic form, thus:
"Entreat me not to leave thee,
And to return from following after thee;
For whither thou goest, I will go;
And Where thou lodgest, I will lodge;
Thy people shall be my people,
And thy God, my God;
Where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me."--Vs. 16, 17,
YE ARE THE EPISTLES OF CHRIST
A good and faithful, God-fearing, God-serving, God-honoring
mother-in-law, Naomi surely was, to have so deeply interested Ruth in herself and in her
God and in His promises to her people. There is a lesson here, not only for
mothers-in-law, but for all of the Lord's people. Not. all are able to preach and to teach
the, Word of God publicly or privately, but all can teach through their daily lives and
glorify their Father in heaven in their bodies and spirits which are His, by living a
godly life, by telling in the simplest manner of the hopes and promises which control
their own hearts and inspire their own courage and devotion. The Apostle Paul had in mind
this same thought of the general influence of life and character when he said, "Ye
are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ." Our Lord had the same thought
in mind when He declared, "Ye are the light of the world . . . . Let your light so
shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
heaven." That Naomi had told her daughters-in-law respecting her God and His promises
to His people is evident; but to have told them of this and not to have acted and spoken
and lived in accord with this faith and hope, would have been contradictory and,,
undoubtedly, never would have influenced Ruth to forsake her own people and her father's
house, and to cast in her lot with her mother-in-law and the Israelites.
Arrived at her home city, Bethlehem, Naomi, who had been well known
ten years before, and whose friends probably never expected to see her again I , was
greeted by her name; but she replied, Call me no longer Naomi (which signifies lovable,
pleasant), but call me rather Marah (which signifies bitter). She explained to them that
the Lord's providences in respect to her affairs had been severe afflictions-the Lord had
testified against her course--had not prospered her self and family in the course they
had taken. No doubt later on she came to see that the Lord's afflictions upon her had
really been for her good, bringing her back to the land of promise and to fellowship with
her people, so that her last days were probably the best of her life.
So at times it may be with some of the Lord's spiritual Israelites;
His chastisements and afflictions and disciplines may seem to indicate His displeasure,
but really, from the standpoint of faith and knowledge, they may afterward be seen to have
been blessings in disguise. However, much depends upon the way in which the Lord's
disciplines are received. Had Naomi suffered herself to become sour and morose and
rebellions against the Lord, no blessing would have followed her trying experiences; but
the fact that she permitted these to draw her closer to the Lord and to His people formed
the channel of her blessings. And this lesson also is easily applied by us all as
spiritual Israelites to our experiences.
THE BLESSING OF DIVINE GUIDANCE
The remainder of the lesson gives us an insight into the customs of
the time, and incidentally shows us how the Lord rewarded the noble character and faith of
Ruth. That she did not come to Bethlehem with great expectations and selfish motives is
evidenced by the fact that she set out to earn a living for herself and her mother-in-law.
She was young and strong, and could, after the manner of the times, go into the harvest
fields and glean such stray handfuls of the grain as were missed by the men who did the
reaping. This was permitted by the Jewish law; the grain growing in the fence corners
might be gathered by any of the poor for their own use. Providentially Ruth was guided in
her humble efforts to make a living, to the field of a man who was a kinsman to Naomi, and
to whom she (Ruth) was subsequently married and became one of the mothers in Israel, from
whom descended King David and ultimately Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It is well that the Lord's people note even in this little incident
something that may be helpful to them. We are to commit our way to the Lord and sincerely
and unselfishly determine to. follow the path of righteousness; then the Lord shall be our
God; then His people shall be our people. Testings will come 'as to whether or not we are
willing to do our duty in respect to the common affairs of life, laboring with our hands,
providing things honest in the sight of all men. As we go forward in the line of duty, the
Lord guides our steps and overrules in our affairs and brings us blessings, but if we fail
to take the proper steps and to do with our might what our hands find to do, we miss the
The fact that these two women could journey from Moab to Bethlehem by
themselves and without molestation, and the fact that Ruth, unknown and unprotected,
could safely glean in the fields without interference of any kind, speaks to us strongly
of the general law and order prevalent amongst the Israelites -- the general recognition
of the Divine law and the general conformity thereto. We are. to remember, too, that at
this time the laws were liberally administered, and that, so far as we are made aware,
there was neither army nor police organization to 'enforce them. The people were
comparatively free and evidently in some respects moral, noble, and trustworthy. This is
illustrated further in. the course of Boaz. flow few employers of labor today, as they
visit their farms, would be in any degree inclined to salute their labor ers as Boaz did
his, saying, "The Lord be with you!" And how few farm laborers of today would
respond as. did these of Boaz: "They answered him, The Lord bless thee."
Evidently the employers and employees of our day could learn some profitable lessons
from the past, notwithstanding the fact that Evolutionists would endeavor to convince us
that back in the days of Boaz men must have been much nearer the monkey condition than
today. The facts are to the contrary.
Furthermore, we notice the generosity of Boaz, that instead of
dealing selfishly and miserly in respect to the gleanings of the woman, he gave directions
to his servants that they purposely let fall an occasional handful when binding the grain,
that Ruth's gleanings might thus be enlarged. Christian employers and employees need not
to go back to the Jewish Law and to the customs of the Jews as illustrated by Boaz and his
laborers; for we have a -still higher law and much advantage every way over, them. If
their knowledge of the Lord led them to kindly salutations and kindly actions, much more
should the Christian's greater knowledge of the Divine will and his anointing of the Holy
Spirit enable him to be kind, considerate, and affectionate toward others-doing good unto
all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.
Finally,--It is unsafe to neglect to have the Lord for our God, and
to neglect to make His people our people. Acceptance of the Lord means ultimately a change
in all of life's interests and affairs if we .would abide in His love and favor. The
sacrifice of earthly things may cost us tears and heartaches at first; but eventually we
will be more than compensated, as was Ruth, only in higher, spiritual blessings.
THE SHEPHERD'S RESTORING AND
"He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness
for His name's sake."--Psa. 23:3.
AS APPLIED to the Lord's sheep the words, "He restoreth my
soul", may properly have reference to the way we are first led into the "paths
of righteousness". Our life, soul, being, was forfeited under the Divine sentence,
and by faith in the Great Shepherd, who laid down His own life for the sheep, faith in the
merit of the precious blood, a restoration of soul, being, is granted. However this does
not reach a state of actual or full accomplishment in this life, but is a reckoned one. We
are counted perfect in Him-in the merit of the Great Shepherd. Thus we become His sheep;
thus He becomes our Shepherd. We are counted holy and acceptable to God through the merit
of His sacrificial death, in order that we may follow in His footsteps and become living
sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God which is a reasonable service. It is in this way that
we are led into the paths of righteousness-right paths, paths that are advantageous to our
development in righteousness. However, these paths are not always pleasant, but are
frequently, from the natural standpoint, difficult and trying. This favor and blessing and
opportunity comes to us not for our own sake, nor on account of any worthiness we may
possess, but "for His name's sake."
FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE
This great privilege of being led out of the paths of sin,
unrighteousness, selfishness, disfavor, into a place of, acceptance and favor, is well
called a restoration. Strange as it may seem to us at first, this wonderful deliverance,
purchased at so great a price--a price which manifested the wealth of His loving grace and
interest in us, was not, we are told, for our own sake, but "for His own name's
sake." This grand and blessed experience of having the great Shepherd, go before us
through all the checkered scenes and experiences of life, through sickness and health,
through adversity and prosperity, is not for our sake but "for His own name's
sake." The world passes through these varied experiences and the Lord's "little
flock" is not exempt from them. The Great Shepherd sees the necessity for His sheep
to pass through these scenes, and to have these experiences in their journey to their
Eternal Home, that they may attain that home, enjoy its blessedness, and, more important
than all, that they may fill the places designated for them. His mighty love takes in all
the wandering sheep of Adam's race. It is to manifest His great love and wisdom and mercy
and power to all these,. that this "little flock" is now being fitted and
prepared. It is "for His name's sake" that He does this. His "name"
stands for all that makes up His wonderful attributes, His character. To know of these
will be the privilege of all in God's due time, and this knowledge will then be for their
eternal good as it is for His "little flock" now. It will vindicate His
character, and thus bring all to reverence, to honor, to praise and to magnify His great
and holy name. The Apostle saw this, and expressed it when he said, "He has raised us
up together and seated us together in the Heavenlies by Christ Jesus; in order that He
might exhibit in those Ages which are approaching, the surpassing wealth of His favor, by
kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." The words of the poet will then be realized by
"Salvation! O the blessed theme
Shall fill the world with joy!
When all its mighty work is seen,
.Praise shall all tongues employ."
"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake". 'One has truthfully said:
"He is pledged to do it for the sake of His own great name." It is the earnest
desire of all the sheep that the Great Shepherd's name shall be magnified and honored. The
name denotes the honor and character of God. "These are implicated; these are at
stake; the right leading of the saint is guaranteed by their immutability." His name
is "Wonderful". This name calls for the marvelous working and overruling of His
almighty power for our highest good. His name is "Counselor". This requires that
all His unerring wisdom be displayed in leading us into those circumstances and conditions
which will accomplish the end designed by Him for us. 0 beloved, what a wonderful state of
grace it is to be able to say, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His
name's sake"! What a blessed privilege when in prayer we come to Him, knowing
something of the difficulties, the dangers, the snares, the pitfalls by the way, to say,
Thou art leading me Savior, Master, Shepherd, "for Thine Own sake"!
"HE RESTORETH MY SOUL"
In addition to this application of the words, "He restoreth my
soul," there may be another meaning. When in times of deep distress, in times of sore
trial, in times of severe test, we become weak and begin to faint, the great Shepherd
renews our strength, He restores. our soul, that we may be enabled to profit by the
trials, to bear them with fortitude, and to endure unto the end. In a similar way this may
be applied to the Good Shepherd Himself, when He was laying down His life for the sheep.
When in Gethsemane, He knew that He was nearing the time when His great sacrifice was to
be finished, and He realized as never before that not only His own soul, life, being,
existence, but also the great Plan of salvation was at stake, and depended upon His
perfect obedience unto death. May there not have come into His mind the query, Have I been
perfect in every thought, word, and deed? Have I pleased the Father absolutely in
everything? Will I be able on the morrow to endure perfectly the shame and ignominy of the
trial before the Jewish tribunal, before Pilate, before Herod? It is only as we view the
Gethsemane scene from this standpoint, that we can understand the words of St. Paul when
referring to that dark hour: "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up
prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him
from death, and was heard in that He feared". He was heard, His prayer was answered,
He was assured that up to that time He had been perfect, that He had pleased the Father,
that He had been faithful to His covenant of sacrifice, and He was then and there
strengthened in soul and being, and enabled to finish the great work, to endure the cross
and despise the shame even unto death. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him"
by a resurrection to the Divine nature, to sit at His right hand.
SIGNS AND CAUSES OF SPIRITUAL DECLINE
There is still another way that these words: "He restoreth my
soul," may be applied. They are indeed very generally applied to restoring the
straying, the wandering sheep back to the fold. Concerning the literal sheep, one has
said: "In the Hebrew, the soul means the life or oneself. There are perilous places
for the sheep on all sides, and they seem never to learn to avoid them. The shepherd must
ever be on the watch. And there are private fields and sometimes gardens and vineyards
here and there in the shepherd country; if a sheep stray into them and be caught there, it
is forfeited to the owner of the land; so, 'He restoreth my soul', means, the shepherd
brings me back and rescues me from fatal and forbidden places."
Referring to the Lord's true sheep, another has said: "These
words are among the most precious of this priceless Psalm. They speak of the experience of
many children of God, who are deeply conscious of the need of the restoring grace of the
Good Shepherd. If He were alone followed, and if His influences upon us were always
instantly obeyed, there would be no need of restoration. But we are not always susceptible
and obedient to the heavenly leadings; we easily relapse into states of lethargy and
indifference, and it is necessary that we should be restored".
From various causes the Lord's sheep are liable to relapses, perhaps
not relapses of the outer life and action, but relapses of the heart. We do not say that
there need be such, for His grace is sufficient to keep us from these relapses; but there
have been, and there are such deflections amongst His sheep. We are liable to spiritual
decline, to lose our first love, and were it not for the Good Shepherd, we would fall back
altogether into the world. Spiritual decline has its symptoms. One who has realized a
close walk with the Great Shepherd, and who has experienced the blessedness of His
fellowship, may not always discover immediately these signs. If he begins to do so, he is
not always ready to admit it. However, the Heavenly Shepherd will not allow this state of
things to go on; He keeps His watchful eye on His sheep, and causes a chain of providences
to arouse him from his stupor, his lethargy.
The signs of spiritual decline are many, but are not always looked
upon as such. One -who has realized the blessed rest that Jesus gives when coming to Him,
weary and sad with the burden of sin, is not always conscious when this rest is lost.
Those who have taken His yoke upon them and are learning of Him, in other words, those who
have yielded themselves, their lives,, their all to Him and have found that deeper rest
which comes through a realization of the Shepherd's loving interest and care, may not
always be conscious immediately of its loss. We may take on a spirit of restlessness, a
spirit of complaining, without being conscious of it. We may lose in a measure, great or
small, our interest in His Word, in the things of His kingdom, and attribute that loss of
interest to every other cause than the real one, which is that of spiritual decline. We
may lose our testimony for the Master, our testimony against sin, and yet be unwilling to
admit that it is any different with us than formerly. It is only when the watchful
Shepherd, through some chosen agency, brings His word of truth to us in the power of His
Spirit that we are able to see where we are, and acknowledge our deflection. It may be
when we hear others who are deeply spiritual, and 'who are living near Him, relate their
experiences and joys, that we are caused to see our true condition; or it may be when
brought under the power of temptation, we discover our lack of strength or ability to lay
hold upon the Lord, the source of our strength, and alas! yield. It may be that not until
then do we realize the loss of our first love, of Divine strength, and flee to Him for
forgiveness, and restoration.
"O! MAY NO EARTH-BORN CLOUD ARISE"
The causes of spiritual decline are many. Neglecting to confess our
sins and shortcomings is a fruitful source of decline. "These things I write unto you
that ye sin not", are words that we surely need to give heed to. However, it is
equally as necessary to give heed to the words that accompany this exhortation: "If
any man -sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous", and,
"if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It has been truthfully said that "if there
be a cause of disagreement, however trivial, among friends, they shrink from meeting; or
if they meet, there is a cold ness and restraint, which are the more evident and painful
in proportion to the warmth and intimacy of their previous attachment. There can be no
more heart union till the cause of estrangement has been probed, and the wrong confessed
or the misunderstanding explained. And the same principle obtains in the relationship of
the soul with God. When we sin there is generally a tendency to imitate Adam and Eve in
their concealment beneath the foliage of the garden. ... Sin makes the thought of
fellowship unwelcome. Similarly we have learned again and again that unconfessed sin casts
a dark shadow over our fellowship with God, and makes it irksome or perfunctory. Then we
begin to change the open heart for the averted one, and put on the shy look and the formal
phrase. And if the sin is not instantly confessed and put away, the little rift within the
lute will widen, until it makes the music mute."
THE SUBTLETY AND POWER OF SIN
A neglect of special times of communion with our Shepherd; a neglect
of times of pouring out our soul in thanksgiving to Him; a neglect of gratefully
remembering all the way the Lord our God has led us in the past, of His goodness and mercy
toward us, will sooner or later result in leanness of soul, and a loss of real communion
and of real spiritual joy.
We may even become so occupied, we may have our time so taken up with
what we call serving Him, as to find no time for fellowship and communion. This is a very
fruitful source of backsliding in heart, if not in life. There is no service that we can
engage in for Him but what we need His counsel, His guidance, His assistance. It is not
too much to say that we can do nothing without Him.
There are many other things that might be cited which tend towards
backsliding in heart and life. While mingling with the world, as is necessary' more or
less, we should never forget what we are by grace, whom we represent, and what our great
mission is. While it will be impossible for us to have our conversation, when in the
society of people of this world, always about religious matters, yet our words, our
actions should be such as to show that we have learned of Jesus. We should be careful what
we read, what we hear, and how we hear. Indeed the only safety from spiritual declension
is the cultivation of the spirit of watchfulness and prayer concerning everything, to
learn to pray without ceasing, to in every thing give thanks, to meditate upon His Word,
to quench not the spirit, to despise not prophesyings, to avoid every appearance of evil.
And yet with all these exhortations, knowing that all these things
are necessary to keep us in the life of abiding in Christ, we are prone to forget, to
neglect them, and to find ourselves in need of His restoring grace. One of the first
things, and often the most difficult, for a person in this condition to do, is to admit,
to confess his need of this grace. How true are the words of an eminent writer on
spiritual life, when speaking on this matter: "Just as we have met with people
afflicted with an insidious and dangerous disease, who yet refuse to consider themselves
so, and who fight against the desire of their friends to summon medical aid; so, one phase
of spiritual decline is the attempt to turn aside all suggestions of its presence,
although gnawing the vitals of the heart. Then follows the sad admission, extorted as the
years go on, that things are not as they were, which is followed by the hopeless
conclusion that they cannot be mended."
To such, how welcome are the words of the Good Shepherd, who has at
last caused the straying sheep to realize the hopelessness of, its own efforts to re
store again the joy, nay, the consciousness of favor and companionship once known:
"He restoreth my soul." He restored David, He restored Peter, He will restore
all His straying sheep. The poet has beautifully expressed the loving tenderness and power
of the Great Shepherd to restore the straying sheep, when he says :
the desolate, light of the straying.
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure."
DIVINE LESSONS IN REPROVING OTHERS
The one and only place, for the straying one to find the restorative
grace is at the mercy seat. The Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep, may
use many different agencies in bringing the wanderer back to the fold, but there is but
one place where the restorative remedies may be applied. It is where the blood has been
sprinkled. It is there and only there that remission, restoration is found. The agency
used may be an animate or an inanimate one. It may be a hymn, reminding of happy days
past. It may be a little word spoken, a book on religious exper-iences, the influence of a
life, a gentle rebuke, something that softens, something that breaks up and melts the
indifference -- the icy coldness, something that humbles the pride and takes away the
false shame of confession. As the writer just quoted has said:
"Let those who want to understand the whole philosophy of
restoration read the marvelous story of the way the Good Shepherd restored the soul of His
erring Apostle. We can only enumerate the stages here. He prayed for him, and warned him.
From the midst of the rough crew that did their will on Him, 'He turned and looked at
Peter'-not angrily, not harshly, but with the tenderest reproach. He gave a special
message to the angels, that they should bid the women summon Peter amid the rest on the
resurrection morning, showing how constantly he had been in the Savior's heart all through
His sorrows. He met him alone on the world's first Easter-day, and permitted him to pour
out the story of his sorrow unrestrained by the presence of any beside themselves. He gave
him an opportunity of thrice attesting his love, to wipe out the memory of the thrice
denial. And this is not more than He, will do for
any of us.
"O, do not wait for days or weeks to elapse ere you apply to Him
for restoring grace! But just as you are, dare to trust Him to do so now. Whilst the throb
of passion is still beating high, and the deed of shame is recent, look up to Him, and
claim forgiveness first, and in the same breath, ask Him to put you back immediately in
the very place which you occupied before you fell. And then, though as yet no answering
joy thrills your heart, you will be able to exclaim, in the assurance of faith, 'He
restoreth my soul.' Yes, and for those who dare to claim it, there is another promise (one
made to Israel of old) still more assuring, which tells us that, 'He will restore the
years that the canker worm has eaten', giving back to us opportunities and privileges
which we may have seemed to forfeit forever." *
To be continued
Only fear Jehovah, and serve Him in truth with all
your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you." -- 1 Sam. 12: 1-5,
SAMUEL the Prophet stands out on the pages of sacred history a very
noble character--very similar in many respects to Moses. He had served the Lord and the
people faithfully for a long period, and then, at the urgent request of the people, and
with God's assent, he had anointed Saul their king. The latter had been received rather
half-heartedly, but the battle with the Ammonites and the great victory which the Lord
granted to His people on that occasion united their hearts to Saul who had been the
visible leader in that victory and Samuel 'perceived that the right time had come for a
public coronation of the king, and the formal transfer of allegiance to him as the Lord's
representative in the temporal affairs of the nation. Accordingly, a general convocation
of the people was called to meet at Gilgal--one of the several prominent places for public
gatherings--one of the places at which Samuel was in the habit of holding court when, as a
kind of supreme judge, he went at different seasons of .the year to various parts of the
territory of Israel to hear and to decide causes and differences which the elders of the
tribes could not adjudicate satisfactorily.
SAMUEL ADMONISHES TO OBEDIENCE
Upon the assembling of the people, the Prophet Samuel opened his
address (vs. 1-5) by calling upon God and the people to witness to his own rectitude of
character in all of his dealings with them for the many years in which he bad served them;
to his justice in seeking to decide their various questions righteously; to his honesty,
in that he never received even the smallest bribe, nor permitted anything to vitiate his
judgment; neither had he been an oppressor of his people, but had always sought their
good. With united voice the people concurred in the excellence and purity of his
administration--a wonderful tribute, one which would be almost inconceivable in, our day,
in which we find that even the best and noblest officials are sure to have enemies,
traducers, backbiters, slanderers. We are not to suppose that Samuel was merely eulogizing
his own ad-ministration, but are, rather, to attribute to such a noble character a nobler
object. He wished to make a lasting impression with this address and this transfer of
Authority to King Saul; and, to make his words more impressive and more effective in the
interests of his successor and in the interests of the Lord's people, he impressed upon
his hearers the fact that his entire life had been one of devotion, and that they might
well understand that his words now were in full accord with all the course of his previous
life. They would thus realize that he had their best interests at heart , that he was
thoroughly loyal to the Lord, and that his example, as well as his advice, would be
beneficial to them. Perhaps, too, he would thus set before the people a standard of what
they might look for and hope for from their new king, and set before the king a standard
of the ideal after which he should pattern his rule.
Next, he called attention to God's faithfulness to them in the
centuries past, from the time that he adopted them as His people and made a covenant with
them through Moses and became their heavenly King. He recounted to the people the many
deliverances which the Lord had wrought for them through various agents whom He had raised
up. He would not wish them to think of the recent victory over the Ammonites as being the
only one; but he desired that they recognize it, in common with all previous victories, as
from the Lord, by whatsoever hand they were effected. He would have them discern that they
exercised great ingratitude in forgetting that the Lord had, all this time been their
King, and in preferring. an earthly king to the government He had established.
Nevertheless, now that God had granted their request and given them an earthly king, they
must not fail to recognize that he was only the representative of their real King,, the
heavenly One. Otherwise, their condition would be deplorable in every way. They had the
king of their choice and God had set him over them: let the matter thus stand, and from
this new standpoint they should go on to make the best of their condition; and to do this,
would be to give close attention, to the commandments of the Lord.
Obedience to the Lord would bring blessings both to the people and to
their king, and disobedience and rebellion or any measure of irreverence toward the Lord
and His commandments would bring upon them Divine disfavor and injury. Not that the Lord
would vindictively render evil for evil, but the hand of the Lord would be against them in
the same sense that the current of the river is against the persons who attempt to go
contrary to it. Divine justice has its steady flow. It -is irrepressible; it opposes
anything that comes against it, and favors anything that goes in harmony with it. We can
recognize something of this principle in. various laws of nature, as, for instance,
gravitation. Let us also recognize that the principles of Divine government operate in a
very similar manner. As fire bums the evil or the good when they come in contact with it,
and as the law of gravitation operates in respect to all, whether good or bad, who come
into the line of its influence, so the principles of Divine justice operate automatically.
STEPPING STONES TO HIGHER PLANES
Samuel proceeded to do a miracle before the people -- to cause a
thunder shower in the middle of harvest. In Palestine they have the early and the latter
rains. The spring rains usually end in April, and the fall rains begin in October or
November. A writer on the subject says, "In ordinary seasons, from the cessation of
the showers, in spring until their commencement in October or November, rain never falls,
and the sky is usually serene." The wheat harvest which the Prophet pointed out to
them as just in order, must have been the first of June and, hence, nothing could have
been further from the expectation of the people than a thunder shower at that time. The
bringing of it at the Prophet's announcement, was to remind the people how completely
their affairs and interests were in Divine power. They were to discern that the recent
victory need not have been theirs except as the Lord had been pleased to favor them and
grant them the Victory;: and that simply by bringing unfavorable showers upon their
harvest, the entire fruitage of their labors of many months might be quickly spoiled and
they be reduced to starvation, and in that way become more thoroughly subdued than by any
foreign invasion. The Prophet calls their attention to the wickedness of their course in
the rejection of God as their King, and to this power of God, which could easily be
exercised did He wish to requite them according to their dealings with Him.
The people saw the point. They discerned that if it were to rain a
few days they would lose their all, they recognized that they were wholly in the power of
God, and entreated Samuel to pray for them, confessing not only the wrongs they had done
in seeking a king, but, also their sins: "'We have added unto our sins."
As the Lord's mouthpiece, the Prophet assured the people that they
need not fear God's taking vengeance upon them, notwithstanding their wrong course. On the
contrary, they should more fully than ever determine to, turn to the Lord
whole-heartedly, and let their mistake and the trials and difficulties that would come to
them as a result of it prove a blessing to them in drawing their hearts nearer and nearer
to the Lord , their true King, who never sought anything but their highest welfare. So it
should be with us. If at any time we find that we have taken- a wrong course Which is
irretrievable, we may expect it to bring the disappointments as the Lord foretold; but
He may permit it to bring, as well, some blessings in the way of contrition of heart, and
humility toward the Lord, and greater zeal, watchfulness, and faithfulness for the future.
Thus, even some of the blunders of life may become stepping-stones to 'higher planes of
grace and truth.
The sentiment of verse 22 is very beautiful, and, doubtless, was very
encouraging to the Israelites in assuring them of God's continued love and favor to-ward
them because of His having adopted them as His, people. Applying this verse to spiritual
Israel, we may take great comfort from it, too. If it was a favor to natural Israel to be
adopted as the Lord's peculiar people, as the house of servants, how much greater is the
blessing to spiritual Israel, adopted of the Lord as the house of sons under the chief
Son, Jesus;- "whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of
the hope firm unto the end!" (Heb. 3: 6.) It is well that the Lord's people be called
upon to fear, to reverence, the Lord; but if. the Scriptures were entirely made up of
commands and reproofs, the Lord's people would air surely have been discouraged long ago.
On the contrary, with the reproofs and corrections, the Lord gives us very precious
testimonies respecting His love and mercy, His goodness and longsuffering kindness, to
encourage us. All the members of the Body of Christ laboring against the course of this
world, and against public opinion, and against the weaknesses of their own flesh, and
against the great adversary Satan, need spiritual encouragement--assurances that the Lord
is for them. The Apostle points this out, saying, "If God be for us who can be
against us?"--what will all the opposition against us amount to if God be on our
side? He again encourages us with precious words, reminding us of the unchangeableness of
God and the fact that He has already done great things for us and is preparing to do still
greater things. If while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly, much more shall
His favor be with us now that we are adopted into His family and are seeking to walk in
His ways. as members of the Body of Christ.
THE KEY-NOTE, FAITHFULNESS TO GOD
The grandeur of the Prophet's character shine's out in the
twenty-third verse again: Re seems to have none of the petty animosities which some
smaller creatures might have under the circumstances, and Was a patriot to the core of His
heart, as well as a faithful representative and ambassador of the Lord and mediator of His
people. He says, practically: "Nothing that you have done toward me-rejecting me in
choosing King Saul-shall in any manner or degree hinder my love for you and my prayers on
your behalf. God forbid that it should! I should consider this a sin against the Lord who
has placed me as a kind of representative of Him to you, and of you to Him; and I
certainly would be failing of my duty and privilege did I neglect this important office of
mediator. You may rely upon it. that I not only will refrain from pleading against you
with the Lord, but that I will petition Him on your behalf."
The nobility of, Samuel's course may well be copied by the Lord's
people under various circumstances in life. When those who are near and dear to us flag in
their love and devotion, they need all the more our sympathy and our prayers; and, as our
dear Master showed us, even. our enemies are to be prayed for and have our good
wishes-that the Lord would grant them in His providence such opening of understanding,
such experiences as in Divine wisdom would be for their highest welfare to bring them into
full accord with Himself, and thus back into harmony with us and all who are in harmony
with Him. The Prophet indicates that, although he was ceasing to be their judge and ruler,
he would not cease to be their instructor in the good and right way so long as the Lord's
providences might permit him to serve them, and so long as they would accept his aid.
Recurring, however, to the principal point of his instructions, he points out that reverence for
the Lord serving Him in truth with all their heart, was not only a proper course, but a
course which would bring them the Lord's blessing. And as a help to our flagging zeal, we
should continually remind ourselves of the Lord's great blessings to us., As we learn to
appreciate the goodness of the Lord, if rightly disposed at all, the influence will be to
strengthen us and to make us more loyal to Him. Failing to seek with our whole heart the
Lord's service after we have become His people and entered into covenant relationship with
Him, receiving of His favors and blessings in this life, and also, by promise, in the life
to come, would mean wickedness which, persevered in, will surely bring destruction.
Faithfulness to God should be the key-note of all our desires. "Let the words of my
mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, 0 Lord, my strength and
my Redeemer."--Psa. 19: 14.
Dear Brethren in Christ:
I am greatly interested in the possibility of the Revelation series
being published in book form by the INSTITUTE. I trust you may see your way clear to so
publish these interesting and helpful articles. During the present industrial crisis I
cannot state how much I may be able to co-operate with you in this project; but I will be
glad to help in any way that I can.
I am sure the publication of the Revelation series in book form will
fill a long-felt want amongst the Lord's people. The majority of the friends here are
pleased with the prospect.
I cannot close without a word of appreciation of the other articles
appearing in the columns of the HERALD. Those on chronology are especially helpful, and
Let me say again that I trust that we may have the articles on
Revelation in book form very soon. I heartily recommend the study of Revelation to the
friends, confident they will receive a great blessing in harmony with our Lord's promise
in Rev. 1:3.
With Christian love and continued prayers for our Lord's guidance,
Your brother in His service,
G. E. L.-Colo.
Enclosed find twenty cents, for which please send me a package of
assorted post cards. I would like, also, about twenty-five of the tract, "A Dark
Cloud and Its Silver Lining."
I am so glad for this new tract, and wish we could have more of the
kind that one could enclose with letters. I always try to send a bit of Truth in every
letter I write; and the dear Lord has helped and blessed me wonderfully in making
selections of tracts, poems, clippings, etc. Oh, how I do wish that the "radio
sermon" published in the August 1st HERALD could be published in small tract form! It
is so grand and comprehensive, I should love to distribute it everywhere -- especially
among my neighbors and friends.
I shall be very glad if the Revelation series is published. I am sure
I would study these subjects more if they were to be had in convenient book form. It would
be delightful to have them in the same beautiful style and binding as "THE DIVINE
PLAN OF THE AGES." I pray daily that the will of the Father may be made known to you
in this as well as in every other service which the INSTITUTE: may undertake. Nothing else in life really matters, but just to know
and do the will of God.
I cannot contribute much toward this work, but, if the books are
published, I will promise-to take a full set and pay for them in advance, and as many more
as the Lord will let me.
Your sister in the One Hope,
Mrs. N. F. J.-Minn.
I am writing to tell you how much I enjoy receiving the HERALDS. I
have wanted to tell you before but have been hindered.
Some time ago, some of us became very hungry, and seemed even at the
point of starvation, and very weary and sad; and when the first HERALD was put into my
hands, how fearfully I opened it, "wondering."' But, oh the joy! as I read, to
perceive the same sweet spirit of the Master. When I had finished reading I thanked God
that once more we were to have our, appetites appeased. I wrote 'you to offer my thanks,
but tore the letter up, fearing I should put a stone of stumbling in your way, by
"puffing" you up, and just thanked God, knowing He would reward you, if you only
The articles in the HERALD bring comfort and joy, and the letters of
the different ones presented often come as a little testimony meeting; and I felt I wanted
you to know this, so am once more writing, praying that you may be kept holy and pure, and
that you may manifest always that sweet spirit of humility which must be pleasing to our
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Manna, June 7.
I am your sister in Jesus' service,
Mrs. F. M. R.-Aus.
STUDY CLXXI--APRIL 8
BEHOLD I COME SPEEDILY--REV. 22:6, 7
(906) In what general light may we regard verses 6 to 21 of chapter
(907) What significance may we attach to the words of the angel,
"These sayings are faithful and true," and to the fact that three times
throughout the visions this asserveration is made? H '21-135.
(908) What is the force of the statement that it was the Lord God of
the holy Prophets who had sent His angel to show unto His servants these things? H'21-135.
(909) Who is the speaker in verse 7? and what is the import of his
language, "Behold I come quickly"? H '21-135.
(910) Why was. the Second -Advent of the Lord to be regarded as of
such solemn import, and what special bearing should this doctrine have on the lives of
footstep followers of Christ? H '21-135, 136.
STUDY CLXXII--APRIL 15
OBEDIENCE AND TRUE WORSHIP ENJOINED--REV. 22:7-10
(911) What is the import of the language "Blessed is he who
keeps the words of the prophecy of this book"? Have any opposed the reading of the
(912) What is implied in the statement "Keep the words of this
prophecy"? And what is necessary in order to realize the blessing here promised? H
(913) Why did the Apostle fall down to worship the angel who showed
him those things? and why was it wrong for him to worship the angel? H '21-136, 137.
(914) What is the practical lesson to the followers of the Lord today
in the fact that St. John was forbidden to worship the revealing angel? H '21-137.
(915) What is the lesson to be drawn from verse 10: "Seal not
the sayings of the prophecy of this book"? Why were Isaiah and Daniel, in contrast
with the command given to St. John, commanded to seal up their prophecies? H '21-137.
STUDY CLXXIII--APRIL 22
AT HIS COMING--REV. 22:11-14
(916) What connection would we logically see between the thought in
verse 10 and that in verse 11, and why is there a special difficulty encountered in the
interpretation of the latter? H '21-151.
(917) What is probably the correct thought intended to be conveyed in
this language, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, etc."? and why would
the Revelation vision not be expected to affect the world at the time referred to?
(918) What is the import of the announcement again, "Behold, I
come quickly"? and of the further statement, "and My reward is with Me"? H
(919) Briefly review the thought contained in verse 13, which is a
repetition of that of chapter 1, verse 8. H '21-151.
(920) What is the significance of, and at what time do the words of
verse 14 apply? H '21-151.
STUDY CLXXIV--APRIL 29
THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID, THE MORNING STAR--REV. 22:14-17
(921) What is meant by entering the Gates of the City? H '21-151.
(922) What general thought and lesson are we to gather from verse 15,
describing those "without" the City? H '21-152.
(923) Explain the statement, "I am the root and offspring of
David"? In what sense is this true? H '21-152.
(924) What is the significance of the expression, "the bright
and morning star"? In what sense is this applicable to Christ? H '21-153.
925) Give a review of the thought suggested in verse 17, considered
in a previous lesson in connection with verse 1. H '21-103, 153.
VOL. VI. May 15, 1923 No. 10
ANNOUNCEMENT is now made of the regular annual meeting of the
PASTORAL BIBLE INSTITUTE to be held on Saturday June 2, at 2 p.m. at the headquarters of
the INSTITUTE, 177 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, N. Y. The charter of the INSTITUTE provides
for this annual meeting for the purpose of electing directors for the ensuing year and for
the transacting of such other business as may come before the members. The annual meetings
heretofore have proved to be generally very interesting occasions, as the members are
afforded an opportunity to hear reports of the INSTITUTE's activities, and, are given the
fullest liberty to discuss any feature of the ministry that is desired.
The names of the brethren who have been serving as directors during
the past year and whose term of office expires June 2, are as follows:
I. I. MARGESONH.
E. J. PRITCHARD
I. F. HOSKINS
P. L. GREINER
F. H. McGEE
J. L. COOKE
The charter of the INSTITUTE contains no provision for any brother to
'hold any office for life, nor longer than for one year. We believe the brethren are
generally familiar with the fact, too, that any member of the INSTITUTE is eligible for
nomination and election as director at the annual meeting, and that any member present at
the meeting is free to make nominations for directors of any brother that he or she may
choose. The provision was also added at the meeting two years ago, that the INSTITUTE
shall publish annually in the HERALD at the time of the announcement of the annual
meeting, the name and address of any member nominated by any Ecclesia as candidate to be
voted on at the election. We have this year received from the class at Providence, R. I.,
the nomination of
Brother R. E. Streeter.
The brethren who have composed the directorate for the past year take
this occasion to express their thanksgiving to the Lord and their appreciation of the
assistance and co-operation of the brethren in the humble efforts that have been put forth
to serve the Lord and His Cause. They have endeavored to keep in mind that it is the
Master Himself that they desire to serve primarily, and it is hoped that what has been
accomplished, though imperfect, is acceptable to the Lord if not to all the brethren. The
results we leave with the Lord, well knowing that He is fully able to work out and
accomplish all of His wise designs without the assistance of any of US.
In connection with this announcement of the annual meeting of the
INSTITUTE, there are certain important items of which the friends are already aware, but
which we will again note by way of remembrance. The charter and by-laws contain the
1. Only those holding voting Certificates of Membership will be
eligible to take part in the annual meeting or in the election (though others may be
present). If you have made a, donation of five dollars at one time to the funds of the
INSTITUTE, -and have not received a Certificate of Membership, you should notify us
regarding the matter.
2. No voting Membership Certificate is transferable.
3. Any voting Membership Certificate in order to be valid for voting
on June 2 must have been issued in the office of the! INSTITUTE not later than 20 days
prior to the election, which this year would be not later than May 13.
4. It is not necessary for one holding a voting Certificate to be
present in order to cast his vote. If any so choose, he may send in his proxy to the
Secretary, or to another in attendance , but in so doing he must state on the proxy the
names of the exact seven brethren for whom he wishes to cast his vote for directors, so
that no discretion is left to the one using the proxy :as to the person for whom the vote
is to be cast. A proxy form will be mailed to each member prior to the election. Please be
sure to 'fill each blank space, including the space for the name of the one whom you
desire to cast your vote for you:
While we could wish that all the brethren might attend this annual
meeting, yet we know that not all will find it convenient; in fact, it will be impossible
for many on account of the long distance-, and as indicated in item 4 above, those unable
to be present may have a voice in the election Of the seven directors to -serve another
year by giving their proxy to another to act for them.
It seems to us that all who are interested in this ministry and who
appreciate that the INSTITUTE may be a means of much blessing in enabling the friends to
unite their various talents, powers, and opportunities in the advancement of I the cause
of the Truth and in building up one another, will recognize the importance of taking part
in this annual meeting, either by, being present personally or in a representative manner,
as indicated above.
ALL that was anticipated was surely experienced at the Convention
held in Boston, April 21, 22. They were indeed two days of blessed and undisturbed
fellowship in the Lord-of a kind that, we believe, has resulted in fresh courage and in an
increase of a loving zeal toward the Lord and the brethren. Such results of course were
especially sought and were the inspiring motive in coming together. It was evident too,
that the brethren had assembled with hearts prepared both to give to others and to receive
a blessing. The loving thoughtfulness on the part of the Class in Boston in warmly
welcoming the brethren and making all comfortable was indeed appreciated.
As is the case at all of our conferences, the general intercourse,
fellowship, and testimonies of the friends, clearly revealed the fact that all seemed to
realize the necessity for great watchfulness, sobriety, purity of heart, and full
consecration to God, in order to be accounted worthy to stand the severe tests of this
evil day. And though, as noted in previous conventions in recent years, our gatherings
seem small in comparison with those of former times, yet this fact is full of solemn
significance, and there is special satisfaction in realizing that the comparatively small
numbers assembled at conventions in these days represent not the listless nor those who
are merely superficially interested, and who would come largely out of self-gratification,
but rather they are principally brethren who have passed through fiery tests and trials
and who at great cost have taken their stand loyally and courageously. on the side of
Truth, principle, honesty, and Christian liberty-the side of the Lord. It is thus
manifested that those who have the true, convention-spirit in these days are those who out
of deep and holy desire seek renewed strength from the Lord, whereby they may become more
thoroughly fortified along spiritual lines and be the better enabled to succeed in living
the victorious Christian life. The following is a brief extract from a letter received
from a sister who refers to the blessing she experienced in attendance at the recent
meeting in Boston:
"'I want to add also that I am very thankful to my heavenly
Father for the great blessings I received out of the several discourses. ... It was indeed
a great joy to me to hear God's Word so ably and forcibly expounded again, after being
isolated for more than two years. There are no Classes out here and I cannot get these
people interested enough to start one. I have my studies and readings alone, and yet not
alone for I feel and am sure that the Lord is always with me; He has promised never to
leave me nor forsake me and I know I can always rely on Him in every time of need."
The addresses of the brethren, it can be truthfully said, were along
the lines of pure and sound doctrine, embodying those messages which encourage to
sobriety, moderation, and spirituality.
There were a good number of strangers present at the Sunday afternoon
service who gave evidence of deep interest in the message of the coming of the great King
and the establishing of His glorious. dominion under the whole heavens. It is hoped that
the message of Truth found lodgement in some good and honest hearts, which will bring
forth fruit to the praise of our heavenly Master.
Finally we return thanks to the Giver of all good gifts that by His
kind providence Christians are still permitted to meet in conference and enjoy that
fellowship of kindred minds so like to that above--a foretaste of the joys of the Kingdom.
STUDY CLXXV--MAY 6
"ADDING TO" AND "TAKING FROM THE
(926) With regard to the language in verse 18, who is spoken of in
the words, "For I testify unto every man," etc.? H '21-153.
(927) What is the import and object of the solemn affirmation
Contained in this verse concerning those who "add unto these things"? Give an
example of what would be "adding unto these things". H '21-153.
(928) What is the force of the further statement "If any man
shall take away from the words of this prophecy"?--how can any one take away from the
(929) What is meant by the statements "God shall add unto him
the plagues", and "God shall take away his part out of the book of life"? H
(930) Have the warnings been timely, and does the history of God's
people show that there have been those who have added to and taken away from the words of
this prophecy? H '21-154,
STUDY CLXXVI--MAY 13
THE LAST PROMISE
(931) What is the significance of the expression "Surely I come
quickly"? Why are these words repeated by the Savior? H '21-154.
(932) What is the import of St. John's response "Even so, come,
Lord Jesus"? H'21-154.
(933) How have the masses of professing Christians throughout the Age
viewed the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming?
(934) What effect has the hope of the Savior's return had upon the
hearts of all true believers since the Apostle's day?
(935) What events and changes of great magnitude did St. John
associate with the coming of the Lord? H '21-154.
THE DREAM OF EMPIRES
THE second chapter opens with the statement that in the second year
of Nebuchadnezzar he "dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his
sleep brake from him and subsequently in this same chapter we read that Daniel was called
into the King's presence to interpret one of his dreams. We meet with a seeming difficulty
in the statement that this incident occurred in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar for the
reason that in chapter one, verse 5, we read that Daniel had been at school for three
years during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, before being brought before the King. The
question is, How could Daniel have interpreted the King's dream in the second year of his
reign when he was not permitted to come into the King's presence till he had served three
years at school. This seeming conflict is seized upon by skeptics and "Higher
Critics", in an endeavor to discredit the Divine authority of the book of Daniel. The
difficulty, however, is only a seeming one. All
the Scriptures having a bearing on the matter have been. previously considered in this
journal and are seen to be in perfect harmony with one another and in accord also with the
recorded facts of secular history. The third year of Jehoiakim, when Daniel was taken
captive and began his schooling, was the year in which Nebuchadnezzar began his suzerainty
over the Jewish nation. This occurred before the death of Nebuchadnezzar's father. In
other words, Nebuchadnezzar was reigning conjointly with his father at the time Daniel was
carried away into Babylon. In the account in Daniel 1:1-3, Daniel calls Nebuchadnezzar
"king", but it is doubtless partly by anticipation, Nebuchadnezzar became sole
king at the death of his father, two years afterwards. He was what may be termed,
co-regent with his father, who, because of sickness and infirmity, was unable to minister
the affairs of state. He had been placed in command of the armies which he victoriously
led. "Daniel had been two years in the school of the eunuchs when Nabopolasser died;
and it was two years after his death, the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's sole regency,
that the things narrated in this second chapter of Daniel occurred. The second year of
Nebuchadnezzar's sole regency would then be the fourth from the time he began to share the
regal administration, thus leaving no room for the difficulties and cavils which have been
raised 'respecting the chronology of these events."
With this brief consideration of this chronological matter, we
proceed to the consideration of this most wonderful dream of dreams.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR SEEKS ASSISTANCE. FROM OCCULT POWERS
"I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the
Such were the words of Nebuchadnezzar, the great. king of Babylon, to
his heathen councilors, over twenty-five hundred years ago. Why should he be troubled? Was
be not occupying the highest position possible for man on earth? He was at this time
monarch of, all the world. He had spared no expense in beautifying his Capital, and. its
grandeur and magnificence were heralded far and near. Its streets were broad and spacious,
its gardens and parks were beautiful beyond description, its temples were all that art
could make them, and his magnificent palace was one of the wonders of ancient times.
And not only this-he had spent immense sums in strengthening the
City's fortifications, until its defenses were deemed impregnable. It was inclosed within
a wall fifteen miles square, and according to Herodotus, 325 feet high and 86 feet thick.
All the kings of the ancient world bowed in submission to him, and vied with each other to
do him honor. Beyond this, he had been' told by God's Prophet that his dominion had been
delegated to him by the great Jehovah.--Jer. 27: 5-7.
Notwithstanding all this, Nebuchadnezzar, the great monarch, was
pacing up and down in his palace with a perplexed and anxious countenance. It was
affecting all far and near. All the inmates of his palace, and the dwellers in the city
were being moved and troubled by it. His wise men and astrologers and soothsayers, who
were employed to assist him in the management of the empire, and who professed to have
supernatural vision, never before had such a difficult task set before them by the king.
They had, once at least, expressed their utter inability to do the king's bidding; and in
his anger he had decreed their death unless, by their incantations, they would help him in
his sore distress.
The king had retired as usual- the night before, and in the early
hours of the night had dreamed a dream. So startling and strange was it to him that he
immediately awoke, and for the remainder of the night "his sleep brake from
him." The dream made a powerful impression upon his mind, but it was in vain the next
morning that he tried to recall it. Because his magicians were unable to help him in the
matter; they were all sentenced to death; and it was this that was causing so much fear
and trembling in his palace. On other occasions his magicians and astrologers had
seemingly helped him in his difficulties, and naturally he sought their aid at this time.
But it was in vain, for no power which they professed to have was able to recall to the
king's mind the startling transaction of his dream.
Meanwhile another scene was taking place in the king's palace. A
young and God-fearing Jewish captive, heard of the matter that was causing so much trouble
and threatening the lives of so many. That young man was none other than Daniel. When the
king's officer came to execute the decree of the king in putting the wise men to death,
Daniel requested a stay of the sentence until he had time to seek his God, and discover
the secret which was so agitating the king, and causing so much trouble in his palace. On
communication with Nebuchadnezzar the request was granted. Daniel immediately sought his
three companions in captivity; a prayer meeting was held, and in answer to their united
petitions, the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. As the strange vision, and
the remarkable revelation from God of the future which it was designed to reveal, burst
upon his mind, Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and said:
"Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and
might are His, and He changeth the times and the seasons; He removeth kings and setteth up
kings; He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding; He
revealeth the deep and secret things; He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light
dwelleth with Him. I thank Thee, and praise Thee, 0 thou God of my fathers, who hast given
me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of Thee; for Thou
hast now made known unto us the king's matter."--Dan. 2:20-23.
Daniel then requested of Arioch, captain of the King's guard, that he
might be brought in before the King. With great haste was this young and humble servant of
Jehovah ushered into the presence of the great monarch of Babylon, where doubtless were
assembled his nobles and lords. This was one of the supreme moments of Daniel's life. It
was also an hour of testing and trial--a test of his humility and of his loyalty to his
God. But he stood the test, and before that vast assembly kept himself in the background,
and bore a faithful testimony to the God of his fathers.
"Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have
seen, and the interpretation thereof ?" asked the king. Then Daniel answered,
"The secret which the king hath demanded, cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the
magicians, the soothsayers shew the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth
secrets. ... but as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have
more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the
king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart."
"As for thee, 0 king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy
bed, what should come to pass hereafter, and He that revealeth secrets maketh known to
thee what shall come to pass."--Dan. 2:26-30,
THE VISION OF EARTHLY KINGDOMS
Then Daniel told the king the strange and remarkable dream -which had
been the cause of so much anxiety and distress of mind to him. He told him that in his
dream he beheld the colossal image of a man standing upon its feet, and towering high. It
had a head of pure gold; its breast and its arms were of silver; its belly and thighs were
of brass; its legs were of iron, and its feet were a mixture of potter's clay and iron. In
the dream the brightness of this image seemed "excellent" to the eyes of the
king, and its form was terrible to look upon. After beholding this strange sight, the
attention of the king was attracted by another scene, even more strange and startling. Not
far from the image was a mountain, and as his eyes rested upon it, he beheld as though
without hands a gigantic stone was in process of being cut out, of its side. Suddenly as
if impelled by an unseen power, he saw this stone descend, and with terrific force it
struck the image at its base (its feet) and in an instant the entire structure fell and
was crushed to powder, which was carried away by the wind. He then saw the stone assume
gigantic proportions, becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth.-Dan. 2:31-35.
It is no wonder that so startling a dream as this would trouble the
mind of the king, and cause him to have no rest until it was recalled to his memory. The
greatest wonder is that he should forget it; this was evidently according to a Divine
intent also, and was designed to be more convincing to the king and his court, and all
concerned, that it was a revelation from God, when afterwards it was supernaturally made
known to the young servant of Jehovah. And now the fact that God had revealed the dream
prepared the mind of the king to have confidence in the interpretation given by the same
young prophet of God. Daniel bad already told the king that by the dream the God of heaven
desired to make known "what should come to pass hereafter", and "what
should be in the latter days"; hence he was prepared to understand that in some
mysterious way the dream was a symbol of future events.
Daniel next proceeded to unfold the significance of the dream. (Dan.
2:35-45.) He told the king that the great colossal image of a man which he had seen
represented the whole period of man's dominion in the world, from the time of the dream to
the time when that dominion should be taken away, and God Himself should set up a kingdom,
which would be universal and eternal. The four different parts of the image-gold, silver,
brass, and iron-were descriptive of the four universal kingdoms, each succeeding the
other, and covering a larger part of this period. The feet and toes of iron and clay
mixture indicated that the fourth empire after hearing rule for a while, would be divided.
Daniel next proceeded to describe a particular feature of the closing period--a feature
represented by this divided rule of the fourth kingdom-namely that strenuous efforts would
be made from time to time to unite these lesser kingdoms into one again, but that these
efforts would fail, because, like the potter's clay and iron of the image, they would not
weld together. This is contained in the words: "And whereas thou sawest iron mixed
with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not
cleave one to another, even as iron is, not 'Mixed -with clay." There are two
interpretations of this statement, both of which seem reasonable. One is that "the
clay element blended with the iron in the feet represents the mixture of church and
state." The other is that reference is had to the efforts put forth by the ruling
families of these kingdoms to unite them by intermarriage.
THE DREAM UNFOLDED IN HISTORY
The king was then informed that his empire was described by the head
of gold; that it was destined to be overthrown and to be succeeded by a second--the breast
and arms of silver; that this was to be followed by a third-the brass of the image; and
that this latter was to be succeeded by a fourth-the iron legs; and finally, that the
fourth was to be broken up into lesser, weaker kingdoms-the feet and toes of iron and
Over twenty-five centuries have passed since Daniel stood before the
great heathen king of Babylon and explained this inspired dream. What- have historians
recorded concerning this eventful period? We answer, With one united voice they inform us
that the first twelve hundred years of this period witnessed the rise and fall of' the
four universal empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome; and that the last half
of the twenty-five hundred years has witnessed the divided rule of Rome. To this there is
not a single dissenting voice.
Who but God could have seen and made this wonderful forecast of the
future? Who but He could have pictured its main outlines in so simple and clear a
manner--so simple that a child can take it in, and yet so comprehensive in its unfolding
that it fills the reverent mind with wonder and awe! It is indeed the very backbone of
twenty-five hundred years of history; and it is the magic key that unlocks all prophecy
covering this period. The details concerning the manner of the rise, the progress, and the
overthrow of these vast empires, together with the divided fourth, are filled in by other
prophecies, and form the subject matter of volumes, in their exposition.
"Surely goodness and loving kindness shall
all the days of my life."--Psa. 23: 6; 1 Sam. 16: 1-13.
THE story of the life of David is introduced to us with a remarkable
contrast between the fresh hope, of his young life and the rejection of the self-willed,
disobedient King Saul, whose course was rapidly descending toward the battlefield of
Gilboa, where he met with ultimate disaster and death. It has been truthfully said
concerning Saul that "the hot impatience that persisted in offering the sacrifice
before Samuel came; his needless oath and ruthless proposal to take Jonathan's life; his
flagrant disobedience to the distinct charge respecting Arnalek--all proved that he was
not fit to act as God's vicegerent, and that he must be set aside." Still another has
said "With every opportunity to make a success of his life, Saul had made it a
failure through his disobedience to God's plain commands. There was nothing to be done but
to, appoint another king, so clearly had Saul shown his baser characteristics, so
determinedly had he chosen the wrong path."
The Lord's choice was David to succeed Saul, and this meant of course
that the family of Saul, his sons, should not succeed him in the kingdom. It meant the
Lord's selection of another family for the office of ruler in Israel and for His.
representative upon the throne. Samuel indirectly referred to, David, saying, "The
Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be
captain over His people, because thou [Saul] hast not kept that which the Lord commanded
thee." (1 Sam. 13:14.) David, at the time of this lesson, was about twenty years old;
consequently, the words of the Prophet just quoted must have been uttered about the time
of David's birth.
Samuel mourned and prayed for Saul, and was apparently disappointed
that this man, of whom he had expected such great things and under whose guidance he had
anticipated great prosperity for Israel, should be rejected. Quite probably fearful
forebodings of a civil war to result from the installation of a new king perturbed the
Prophet's mind. He knew that Saul would not quietly submit to lay down in obedience to the
Lord's arrangement, the scepter which he had taken up with so great modesty; his mental
eye could see the probability of civil strife which might rupture the nation and, cause
great trouble. He should have had greater trust in the wisdom and power of the Almighty,
but his trouble was more or less like that which assails all of the Lord's people even
today. The lesson from this to our hearts could be that we will implicitly trust the Lord
to manage His own affairs: that we will trust Him where we cannot trace Him, and be
obedient to His directions, and, so far from mourning at the execution of His plans, will
rejoice, knowing that all things are work ing together for, good to them that love
God--that all things will ultimately work blessings for those who are in accord with the
Lord--blessings for the future life if not for the present.
When sent to anoint David, Samuel exhibited a power not elsewhere
noticeable in his character. He did not hesitate to perform the, Lord's bidding, but
intimated that he clearly understood it to mean the risk of his own life-that Saul would
kill him as a traitor if he should anoint a successor to the kingdom. The Lord made it
clear to him that it was not the intention to make the matter known at once, and directed
him to go to Bethlehem and make a sacrifice there, and, incidentally, improve the
opportunity of finding and anointing the One who, in due time, would be made known and
exalted to the throne. At the time, he was merely to perform the initial work, which
David's father and brethren would not understand, thinking" perhaps, that the
anointing meant special blessing or a commission from the Lord to engage as one Of the
members of the school of the prophets or something else of this kind. Quite probably,
however, the Prophet privately informed David of the meaning of the anointing, just as he
had privately informed Saul when he secretly anointed him to the office of king.
GOD'S CHOICE DIFFERENT FROM MAN'S
The lesson takes up the subject at the point when Samuel had arrived
at the town of Bethlehem. The Elders were in fear, thinking that his presence signified
some sin on their part or on the part of some of their fellow-citizens which God had sent
him to reprove and to punish; hence, their inquiry whether or not he came
peaceably--whether or not his presence meant a blessing or the infliction, of a penalty.
Their fears were allayed when they heard that his mission was a peaceable one -- to offer
a sacrifice there unto the Lord. Some time before this the ark had been captured by the
Philistines, and the tabernacle services thus discontinued had not yet been
re-established; for this reason this sacrificing was performed by the Lord's specially
appointed Prophet. The command to the people of Bethlehem to sanctify themselves if they
would be participators in the blessings of the sacrifice, signified that they should wash
their persons and put on clean clothes and draw nigh to the Lord with their hearts. Thus
they typically represented that justification and sanctification which the Church of this
Gospel Age enjoys. Samuel seen-is to have taken supervision of the family of Jesse to the
intent that he might without public display find the man whom the Lord had chosen and
anoint him to the office and give him the Divine blessing in preparation for it. Jesse
properly introduced his sons to the Prophet according to the order of their birth-his
eldest, Eliab, first; and as he was of fine appearance Samuel naturally assumed that he
was the Lord's choice; but as he looked to the Lord for direction in -the matter, he got
the response (in what manner we know not) which contains the essence of wisdom. judging
from the human standpoint of appearance, age, ability, etc., Eliab was the most suitable
person in Jesse's family to be the king over the nation; but not so in the Lord's sight.
The Lord was looking at the heart and had already selected David as a man after His own
heart, although at this time being under age, etc.. his father had not thought worth while
to send for him to be present at the feast. As one after another appeared, and the Prophet
found not him whom the Lord's spirit indicated as the one to be anointed, he inquired,
"Are all thy children here?" when Jesse suddenly remembered that he had another
boy, his youngest, in the field with his sheep.
"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the
heart." These words appeal to all in connection with the High Calling of this Gospel
Age, and year by year experience shows us its general applicability. We, too, as the
Lord's messengers, are seeking for those to be
anointed with the oil of gladness, the Holy Spirit, that they may be kings and priests
unto God in the Kingdom He is about to establish, which will supersede present kingdoms.
We too, like Samuel, might feel afraid to proceed with this work of anointing the
successors of present institutions, did we not realize that the work of sealing the elect
of the Lord, which is now in progress, is a secret work which the world cannot understand.
Indeed, none understand this matter of the sealing, the anointing of the Holy Spirit,.
except those who have received it, and they are all of the David class. The name David
signifies "beloved", and as it applied specially to our Lord and Master, of whom
it is said by Jehovah, "This is my beloved Son", so also it applies to all the
members of His body, each one of whom must be beloved, else he cannot be acceptable as a
member. The Head says of such, "The Father Himself loveth you", and again He
says that we should love one another as He has loved us. It is not too much to say that
all who receive this anointing of the Lord must ultimately be of this David, or beloved,
character -the spirit of love must be in them, love for the Lord and love one for the
other, else they are none of His.
THE LORD'S ANOINTED OF THE SPIRIT
In seeking for the Lord's anointed who shall by and by reign in
Millennial glory for the blessing of the world, as antitypes of David, we notice that as
he was counted by his brethren too insignificant to be considered in this connection, so
also are those whom the Lord is choosing and anointing for His heavenly Kingdom. Our Lord
Jesus was disesteemed of His brethren, and when the suggestion was made that He should be
the Lord's anointed, His people hid, as it were, their faces from Him-disdained Him,
despised Him, and considered Him hopeless in respect to anything great or glorious-"
as a root out of a dry ground." The same has been true respecting the members of His
Body, the true elect Church; they also have been despised and -rejected of men, and of
them the Apostle declares, We are counted the filth and offscouring of the world; we, are
counted fools all the day long, for Christ's sake.I Cor. 4:13.
Again He declares that "not many great, not many wise, not many
learned, hath God chosen; but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs
of the Kingdom." And this principle of the Divine selection of. things that are not
[esteemed amongst men], to bring to naught the things that are [esteemed by men], is
noticeable all throughout this Gospel Age. Often have we, like Samuel, looked about us
amongst men seemingly eligible to a place in the Kingdom-upon those who are high in
position--socially, intellectually, morally, educationally-and in the esteem of men, and
expect that surely the Lord would sanction their anointing with the oil of gladness, and
grant them a knowledge of the truth pertaining to the Kingdom, etc., only to find
ourselves mistaken, and to get a fresh lesson that God looketh not on the outward
appearance but upon the heart. We concede that we are unable to read the heart, but we are
fully satisfied to accept the Divine decision in such matters, and to trust that when in
due time all the secrets of this present time shall be disclosed, we then shall be able to
understand the meaning of the Lord's selections more completely than we do now-we shall
then be able to see what a difference there was between the hearts of those the Lord
accepted and the hearts of those outwardly humble, whom He did not so highly favor in
respect to the Kingdom call. Meantime, we must simply wait and trust the Lord and accept
His decisions, as expressed by our dear Redeemer when He said, "I thank thee, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy
GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH THINGS
Instructed respecting the Lord's methods, we are not to despise the
least, the most ignoble or illiterate of those who give evidence of a purity and honesty
of he-art toward God, and to whom He seems to give the anointing of His Spirit and the
"ear to hear." Rather, while making known the message to all as we have
opportunity, we are to rejoice specially with those upon whom the Lord's favor is
manifested, regardless of their earthly surroundings, etc. The Lord knoweth them that are
His, and it is for us to recognize, to honor and to co-operate with all such, as the
ambassadors and representatives of our Lord and Master.
Often have we thought as we have looked over a congregation of the
Lord's people and beheld some not prepossessing in personal appearance, some not
well-educated or refined, some ignoble, but, nevertheless, bearing the marks of the
anointing of the Lord, the light of the truth shining in their faces, the confidence and
hope of the truth inspiring them, and their lives indicating a transformation from the
Kingdom of darkness Into the kingdom of God's dear Son -- often have we thought of such,
that had the Lord sent us forth to seek His Bride, we might have ignorantly passed by some
of His choice jewels and have gathered in some whom He rejects as unworthy -- because we
are unable' to read the heart. This thought should make us very humble, gentle, and meek
toward all, and very trustful of the Lord and very much inclined to look for His leading
in respect to our labors as His servants, just as Samuel looked to the Lord in connection
with the anointing of David.
Samuel's words, "We will not sit down until he come
hither", referred to the feast of which they were about to partake. It was the custom
that after the sacrifice had been offered, the sanctified persons present and those in
spirit sharing. in the sacrifice might join in a feast, eating the flesh, and thus
celebrating a communion with the Lord. It was this feast that Samuel decided should not be
commenced until David's arrival-indeed, by reason of his being the Lord's anointed, he
would be the most important one. present at the feast. Perhaps in this also we can see a
figure of the Lord's blessing in the Divine Plan. A great feast of fat things has been
designed for the whole world of mankind, but it cannot be participated in until the
justifying and sanctifying sacrifice has been killed -and, more than this, the feast
cannot be commenced until first the Anointed One shall come and shall receive the
anointing. The anointing began with our Lord, the Head of the Church, and has throughout
the Gospel Age been flowing down upon all the members of His Body, the Church. The
sacrifice has been killed, and we, as members of Christ, have been participating in the
sacrifice. Shortly the whole matter will be accomplished and then, as the Lord's Anointed,
the feast of fat things will be spread--the Anointed One-Head and Body, being the
principal in that great antitypical feast. It is as New Creatures that we are anointed; as
New Creatures that we grow in grace and knowledge and love; and as New Creatures that, by
and by, we shall be perfected in the First Resurrection and come to the throne with our
Lord and Master as our Head.
THROUGH DEATH'S DARK VALE
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they
comfort me."--Psa. 23:4.
IT has been said that there is no verse in the Bible that is more
familiar than this one -- no expression that has made so lasting and indelible an
impression upon the human mind as the words, "Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death." The words have generally been understood as picturing the
close of life's journey-as a sunny pathway merging into a dark and gloomy valley.,
However, while this is not the true, the Scriptural thought, nevertheless, these words
will ever be a reminder that life's earthly journey will end at last in what is looked
upon by those who do not understand its cause, as earth's dark enigma and mystery-death.
One has expressed this general thought: "This picture of the close of our lives, with
a dark valley at the end of their sunny pathway, was hung up long ago in the halls of
memory, as we first learned to lisp these venerable words, and though much has happened
since then, it holds its place, and will while memory lasts."
While it is not our thought that the "valley of the shadow of
death" means death itself, yet these words convey the thought that death is a
reality. No matter what may be the view of death, the larger proportion of humanity
instinctively realize a sense of terror and dread of death. Poets and theologians have
endeavored to picture death in such a way as. to, remove this dread and fear but they have
utterly failed. "The wages of sin is death," and until sin is removed, death
will be feared and looked upon with dread. Shakespeare has well expressed the thought of
the natural apprehension respecting death: "But that the dread of something after
death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of."
The thoughtful 'man, though not a Christian, cannot think of death's approach without a
feeling of seriousness and sobriety. It is not true, as many profess to believe, that
death at its worst is only a shadow. The Scriptural thought is that death is a terrible
ON THE JOURNEY TO DEATH
The Psalmist, however, is not here speaking of death, but rather of
the journey thither. A beautiful translation of these words that retains the original
poetic form in which they were first written, brings out very clearly the thought,that the
"valley of the shadow of death" pictures the present life as a journey to death
in which we have the comfort of the rod and staff :
"Though I may walk through death's dark vale,
I fear no hurt: for You are there;
Your rod and staff direct my way."
The Scriptural meaning of these words are thus most beautifully
expressed: "All of our lives we have been in the shadow of this great valley of death. The valley
was entered by our race, because of our first parents' disobedience. Our father Adam was
once on the mountain top of life. He lost his footing there, and descended gradually the
slopes into this valley of the shadow of death. We, his children were all born here. We
are dying daily; we are surrounded by dying conditions. ... The shadow of death has been
over the human family, and its accompaniments of sickness, pain, and sorrow have extended
to every creature, so that the Apostle truly said: 'The whole creation groaneth and
travaileth in pain together, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God -- waiting
for the uplifting power of the Millennial Age, waiting for the sons of glory, Jesus Christ
and His Church, to bring the promised restitution and uplifting out of the 'valley of the
shadow of death', back to the heights of light and love and Divine likeness. The fear of
evil, of trouble, of disaster hangs over the world and is accentuated by its ignorance of
God and of the future. Satan, taking advantage of this spirit of fear, has so terrorized
mankind with horrible pictures of purgatory and eternal torment, as to thoroughly separate
the human heart, if possible, from its Creator, while feigning to be its shepherd. Under
the influence of doctrines of devils the Adversary has made God's character and His Book
repulsive to mankind in general, and well nigh quenched their love while fanning their
However, it is to the Lord's sheep, and to these only that the words
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil",
apply. To such, death itself has been-robbed of its "sting". "The sting of
death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Such can walk calmly and without fear through
this dark "valley of the shadow of
death." And while it is true as the poet has said that even to the Lord's sheep,
"Sometimes the shadows are deep, And rough seems the path to the goal," he
"fears no evil."
The figure is evidently drawn from the life of an earthly shepherd
and his sheep. The expression may have been suggested to David by incidents in his own
life as a shepherd When, in search of good pasture or of quiet resting places, he led his
sheep "o'er moor and crag and fen"; or, perhaps at other times wending their way
homeward they found the way leading through places of danger. Sometimes the path, suddenly
turning downward, led into the dark vale below where, following the voice of their
shepherd they were led further downward into a deep and narrow gorge overhung with
frowning rocks. The steep precipice on the one side and the trees on the other shut out
all but a few rays of sunlight even at noonday. Ravenous beasts lurked in the deep
ravines, calling the more for the watchful care of the shepherd. Some such circumstances
and conditions may have been in the mind of the Psalmist, when he wrote the words:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." He would recall.
how the frightened sheep would huddle together, and how his voice would calm their fears.
"I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE"
How much like this at times is the pathway of the Christian. We have
often to pass through dark valleys. It is in such experiences that we feel very deeply our
need of drawing closer to our Divine Shepherd, and whisper, "Thou art with me". In the green "I
am with thee", "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee", become very
real and precious.
May not this account for the fact that at this 'point David in
speaking of the Lord, changes the pronoun. Until we reach this verse he speaks of the Lord
in the third person: "He maketh me to lie
down in green pastures"; "He leadeth
me beside the still waters", etc. Up to this time he is content to speak about Him, but at this point, recalling the dark
valleys and deep gorges through which he led his sheep; how his familiar voice' calmed and
quieted their fears; and how at such times the sheep much more attentively gave heed to
his voice, may it not be that there is brought to his memory some of the dark and shadowy
experiences he encountered in his own life in his endeavors to serve Jehovah; and how he
felt himself, to draw nearer to the Great Shepherd, and whisper, "Thou art with
me". In the green pastures and beside the still waters of life's journey, when things
are pleasant with us, when the pathway is smooth and in the sunlight, or when in the quiet
shady places, we can look out and see that the sun is shining, it seems enough to talk
about the Good Shepherd and speak of Him as the One who sought us and found us and led us
to these green pastures and quiet resting places; and so we say, "He leadeth
me"; but as we move down into the dark valleys of trial and affliction, when ,nothing
of an earthly nature can be found to comfort and remove our fears, we feet the need of
drawing closer to our great Shepherd; and addressing Him in closer, more tender terms we
say: "For Thou art with me". It is then that we realize as not at other times
how precious is the promise: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with
thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee;, when thou walkest through the
fire thou' shalt not be burned; neither shall the flames kindle upon thee; for I am the
Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior."--Isa. 43: 2, 3.
TRUSTING GOD IN THE DARK
One has said: "We pass through many a valley of shadow, ere we reach the valley. And whenever we 'feel 'our souls
overcast, we should stay to consider if* there be a cause arising from our neglect or sin.
If there be, a moment's confession will bring us out again into the light. But if there be
none, so far as we can tell, then let us be brave to plod on. Every step has been measured
out for us, even as it has been trodden before us. And God is testing us, to see whether
we can trust Him in the dark as well as in the light; and whether we can be as true to Him
when all pleasurable emotions have faded off our hearts, as when we walked with Him in the
light. There is a good purpose in all these shadowed valleys. They test the quality of the
soul. They reveal our weak places. They unveil the stars that peer down through the
interstaces of a rock or tree. They make us follow the Shepherd closely, lest we lose Him.
They teach us the value of the rod and staff. Blessed are those who do not see, but who
yet believe; and -who are content to be stripped of all joy and comfort and ecstasy, if it
be the Shepherd's will, so long as there is left to them the sound of His voice, and the knowledge that He is near."
The ancient Prophet of God seems to refer to such a possible
experience when he says: "Who is among you that feareth the Lord [Jehovah], that
obeyeth the voice of I His servant [Christ], that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."--Isa. 50:10.
The story is told of a small company of tourists in Switzerland, who
in order to reach a certain place at a definite time found it necessary to make a very
difficult and dangerous journey over one of the mountains. A guide was employed who was
acquainted with the route, but the particular dangers to be encountered were not made
known to the tourists. They were informed by the guide that it would be necessary to make
the journey at night. To the minds of the travelers this seemed strange, as they most
naturally would reason that daylight would be the proper, the best, and the safest time to
take such a journey. It would most naturally seem to them that if they could see the
dangers to be encountered, they would be better able to avoid or pass through them in
safety. However, they were told by the guide that if they desired to fill their
appointment they must trust themselves wholly to his care-he knew the way, he knew the
dangers, and if they would place themselves under his care, he would bring them safely
through. When the sun set behind the mountain, and darkness shut in all around, they
started on their journey, the first few hours of which was up the mountain. They were then
called by their guide, to halt. At this point the darkness seemed more and more intense,
and they were unable to see any of the conditions that surrounded them. After they had
rested a while, the guide proceeded to give them very particular instructions what next to
do. One of the tourists was instructed to take hold of the guide's right hand; another to
take hold of the one whose hand he held, and each in turn to do likewise until they were
all standing side by side. The guide charged them that only when he gave the word for each
step were they to move. He further told them that after they had begun to move, as he gave
the word, each in turn should lean backwards and he, would find at his back a support
which he was to lean hard against as he moved step by step, not forward, but to the side.
The tourists not knowing what all this, meant followed implicitly the instructions of
their guide. After a few moments, thus hand to hand, following their leader's commands,
they were told that they might loosen hands as the danger was over. Proceeding a short
distance further on their journey, they halted and encamped until the morning, not knowing
what the real danger was. When daylight came and the sun shone out bright and .clear, the
guide pointed to a place on the side of the mountain, where a very narrow path, scarce
wide enough for one to stand, led around the side. Back of the path was a perpendicular
wall of rock, and in front was a deep chasm which lie hundreds of feet below. That
pathway, said the guide, you passed over last night. As the tourists from their position
of safety gazed at the narrow path, the shelving rock behind and the deep chasm below,
they then for the first time realized the danger they had encountered. They then realized
how utterly impossible it would have been for them to have stepped with a firm tread that
path in daylight.
While it may not be of frequent occurrence, yet there are times in
the Christian's experience when he realizes that there is nothing for him to do but to
trust in the naked promise that the Good Shepherd is with him. The word of promise then
becomes truly as real as if we heard His voice, "I am with thee"; "I will
never leave thee nor forsake thee." It is indeed well to be able to say, "What
time I am afraid I will trust Thee", but it is much better to be able to say, "I
will trust Thee and not be afraid." One has said: "The darkness is sometimes too
dense for us to be able to see Christ. But faith can always be sure that He is there; not
because of the evidence of sense or feeling, but because He has said, 'I will never leave
thee, nor forsake thee.' He cannot break His word. He has not left us alone. He is looking
down upon us with unabated tenderness. The depths may sever Him from the apprehension of
our love; but neither death nor life, nor height nor depth, can separate us from the
strong grasp of His faithful and unchanging affection. Yes, 'the mountains may depart, and
the hills be removed; but His kindness will not depart from thee, neither will the
covenant of His peace be removed.'
THY ROD AND THY STAFF
While walking in the "valley of the shadow of death" it is
inevitable that we encounter sorrow, and it is not difficult to realize that when passing
through this valley, we stand in need of comfort. The road to the-Heavenly Jerusalem
passes through "valleys of Bacca, where eyes are red with weeping and tears brim into
pools." These sorrows may be from different causes. The Psalmist continues to enlarge
upon and further elucidate the different ways that the, Great Shepherd assists His
sorrowing sheep. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... Thy rod
and Thy staff they cornfort me." It is most natural for us to inquire how it is that
these two badges of the Shepherd's vocation can possibly bring comfort in the dark hours
of adversity and sorrow. The word rod in this text is from the Hebrew word shebet. Its meaning is a scepter. It is then the
symbol of authority. It may be the authority of a king, or it may be that of a father. It
is used in the latter sense in Prov. 22:15, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a
child, but the rod of correction shall drive it
far from him." The rod is here the symbol of correction. It is used in this way also
in Ezek. 20:37, which is part of a prophecy concerning Israel's restoration. Jehovah is
addressing Israel of the latter times and speaks to them of His chastening rod. He tells
them that "Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of
Egypt, so will I plead with you saith the Lord God; and I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the
bond of the covenant." How blessed to know that God is a Father to spiritual Israel;
that we are the special objects of His fatherly care. All of His spirit-begotten children
need the rod of correction. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." But how
different is the object to be obtained by our Heavenly Father from that of most earthly
fathers. The inspired writer illustrating this point said: "We have had fathers of
our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in
subjection unto the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened
us after their own Pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His
holiness." (Heb. 12:9, 10.) How comforting it is to the child of God to know that in
making use of the chastening rod, He does it in love, and "that like as a father
pitieth His children so the Lord pitieth them that fear [reverence] Him; for He knoweth
our frame, He remembereth that we are dust." The. shepherd's rod being the symbol of
authority and power, it is reasonable to suppose that it is also the weapon by which he
strikes down our adversaries, '.'even though the same rod at times may be heavy with
chastisements for ourselves." The shepherd's rod, then, is used both for protection and correction. How comforting
is the thought that we have such an Almighty Protector who administers the rod of
correction for our eternal good.
But what is meant by the "staff "? The word staff is from
the Hebrew word "Mishenah", It means a
support, a stay. It is the same word that is used in Isa. 36:6. The words are addressed to
Hezekiah, king of Judah, by the repesentative of the king of Assyria. "Lo, thou
trusteth in the staff of the broken reed, on
Egypt; whereon if a man, lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh,
king of Egypt to all that trust in him." The Psalmist says: "This is my comfort
in my affliction; for Thy word hath quickened me." (Psa. 119:50.) Again, we have St.
Paul saying: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of
the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. 15:4.) The earthly shepherd used both the
rod and the staff for protection and correction. With the point of the staff. the shepherd
sometimes prodded the sheep that were careless, and with the crook he sometimes helped one
out that had stumbled into the ditch. How glad we are to know that all power in heaven and
in earth is committed unto our Shepherd and that under both His protecting and correcting
care we are safe from all foes, and nothing can by any means do us harm, while we
"walk through the valley of the shadow of death."
To be Continued
I saw a young bride in her beauty
Bedecked in her snowy array,
And the bright flush of joy mantled high on her cheek,
For the future seemed smiling and gay,
As with woman's devotion she laid her fond heart
At the shrine of idolatrous love,
And anchored her hopes to this perishing earth
By the chain which her tenderness wove.
But I saw when those heart-strings were bleeding and torn
And the chain had been severed in two;
She had changed her white robes for the sables of grief,
And her bloom for the paleness of woe.
But the Healer was there, pouring balm on her heart,
And wiping the tears from her eyes;
He strengthened the chain He had broken in twain.
And fastened it firm to the skies.
There had whispered a voice, 'twas the, voice of her God,
"I love thee, I love thee! pass under the rod!"
I saw the
young mother in tenderness bend,
O'er the couch of her slumbering boy,
And she kissed the soft lips as they murmured her name,
While the dreamer lay smiling in joy.
O! sweet as the rosebud encircled with dew,
When its fragrance is flung on the air,
So fresh and so bright to that mother he seemed,
As he lay in his innocence there.
But I saw when she gazed on that same lovely form,
Pale as marble, and silent and cold,
But paler and colder her beautiful boy,
When the tale of her sorrow was told.
But the Healer was there, who had stricken her heart,
And taken her treasure away,
To allure her to heaven He had placed it on high,
And the mourner will sweetly obey.
There had whispered a voice, 'twas the voice of her God,
"I love thee, I love thee! pass tinder the rod."
I saw then a
father and mother who leaned
On the arm of a dear, gifted son;
And the star in the future grew bright to their gaze,
When they saw the proud place he had won.
Oh! the oncoming evening of life promised fair,
And the pathway grew smooth to their feet;
And the starlight of hope glimmered bright at the end,
And the whispers of fancy were sweet.
But I saw them again bending low o'er the grave
Where their heart's dearest hope had been laid,
Their star had gone down in the darkness of night,
And the joy from their bosom had fled.
But the Healer was there, and His arms were around,
And He led them with tenderest care,
While He showed them a star in the bright upper world;
'Twas their star shining brilliantly there.
They had each heard a voice, 'twas the voice of their God,
"I love thee, I love thee! pass under the rod."
"Choose you this day whom you will
serve."--Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 18:30-39.
THE name "Elijah" is said to be a compound' of the two
common Hebrew names for the Deity, and means "Jehovah is my God." Elijah's home
was Tishbe (therefore he was called "the Tishbite"), a place in Gilead, the
wild, hilly, and thickly wooded region cast of Samaria, to the east of the Jordan.
Little is known concerning his parentage or his mode of living before
his sudden and startling appearance in the history. He was evidently a man of profound
religious convictions, and had long grieved over the degradation of his people, for the
nation was rapidly falling into the most debasing heathenism.
Following the death of Jeroboam there was a period of repeated
insurrections against king after king who took the throne of Israel, until Ahab, of whom
it is written, "Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord, above all
that were before him." Ahab's wife, Jezebel, was seemingly still more wicked than
himself, and really instigated most of 'his evil deeds. It is a well recognized fact that
a good wife can be a great help to her husband: the -history of Jezebel shows that a
wife's influence for evil may be even more potent. It was during the reign of Ahab that as
the Lord's servant and prophet, Elijah delivered the messages and did his marvelous works.
The work of establishing a new religion, which Jeroboam began, was
ably carried on by his successors: and Ahab, influenced by Jezebel, his wife, seems to
have outdone his predecessors not only to establish the new religion, but to exterminate
the religion of Jehovah. He and his wife openly established the worship of Baal and slew
the Prophets of Jehovah-the first religious persecution on record. Not only the out-spoken
Prophet of the Lord who delivered the message, but all the true Israelites who had respect
to Jehovah, were obliged to hide from Jezebel's wrathful zeal for the worship of Baal.
Under Divine direction, Elijah appeared in the presence of King Ahab
and delivered a message, saying, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth [who you seem to
think is dead] before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but
according to my word." At first, probably, the matter was considered a foolish boast,
but when the dew and rain ceased and scarcity and famine resulted, the full purport of the
judgment began to be understood, and the King sent hither and thither,. everywhere, to
find Elijah; presumably to induce him, either by entreaty or by cruelty, to lift from the
land what he probably considered to be an evil spell or curse. But God had directed Elijah
where to hide, in a place where he could himself be supplied with water, and where he
could be fed by ravens.
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS PROVIDENCES
Elijah's prediction of a famine was not merely a prophecy; rather, it
was a declaration of a Divine judgment upon Israel. The object of the famine was to bring
the Israelites to their senses-to show them that they were leaving the true God to trust
in idols. The force and appropriateness of this particular kind of a judgment may be
recognized, when we remember that the claim made for Baal was that he was specially the
god of the forces of nature: his worship was presumed to bring increase in the home and in the field. The drouth
and consequent famine would be a contradiction, therefore, of these claims made in the
name of Baal, and would shatter faith in him, and prepare Israel to recognize and worship
again the true God, Jehovah.
Meantime, Elijah, following the directions of the Lord, lived about
two years at the brook Cherith, drinking of its waters, and fed there by the ravens.
The lesson to us is one of the Divine care and providence over those
who are devoted to God's service. He who sustained Elijah can equally sustain us. The
important question with each of us should be, Am I the Lord's servant, in the place and
doing the work which He has directed? If so, our bread and our water shall be sure, and no
good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.--Isa. 33:16; Psa. 84:11.
Next Elijah was directed to a widow of Zarepath, across the border,
in the Kingdom of Zidon. Our Lord refers to this, and incidentally confirms this entire
piece of history respecting Elijah, the three and a half years of famine, and his visit to
The three and a half years of drouth no doubt had an humbling effect
upon King Ahab, as well as upon the people of Israel. No doubt they began to wonder where
the matter would end; and to recognize it as more than an accident-as a judgment. The
question would be whether it was a judgment from Baal or a judgment from Jehovah; for the
people, as a result of their extended acquaintance with idolatry, had a comparatively weak
faith respecting the unseen Jehovah, 'who permitted no image or likeness of Himself to be
made or to be worshiped. The Lord's time had come for awakening Israel, and starting a
reformation movement amongst them, and Elijah, who had been sought by the King throughout
the surrounding nations, was instructed to present himself before Ahab, with a promise
that rain should follow; and was permitted to be the Lord's agent in drawing the attention
of the people to the true God, who alone has power over the elements.
Although Ahab realized that the famine was a judgment of the Lord,
nevertheless, after the custom of the natural man, he ignored personal responsibility, and
affected to charge the evils to Elijah, saying to him, "Art thou he that troublest
Israel?" It is always so with the faithful mouthpieces of the Lord. Since they cannot
prophesy smooth things, but must present the truth in reproof of unrighteousness,
therefore the world and the nominal Israelite hate them. They do not seem to realize that
the difficulty lies in themselves, and their sins, and their separation from the Lord. But
Elijah, humble yet unabashed, did not hesitate to tell the king the truth of the matter,
assuring him that the trouble in Israel came from his own wrong course.
The drouth had so humbled Ahab that he did not re sent the
Prophet's arraignment of his sin: perhaps also he hoped that through the Prophet's favor
the embargo of the drouth and famine might be lifted. At all events he very promptly
complied with Elijah's request that the people of Israel be assembled at Mount Carmel,
together with the priests of Baal. Accordingly there was a great concourse to the flat,
table-top of Mount Carmel, where Elijah awaited them, the king also coming with them; but
Queen Jezebel sullenly remained at the palace in the capital city of Samaria.
THE OVERWHELMING DEFEAT OF BAAL
Elijah, full of zeal for the Lord, and full of indignation against
the idolatry, and probably counseled respecting 'his course by the Lord, had a plan
prepared by which to demonstrate to Israel which was the true God and which the false one.
In the presence of the people he made a proposition to the priests of Baal for a contest
to prove the question. This proposition was so reasonable, and the interest and
expectation of Israel so great, that the priests of Baal dare not refuse. They, four
hundred and fifty in number, were to build an altar and to make a sacrifice thereon to
their god, Baal, while Elijah would build an altar and offer a sacrifice thereon to
Jehovah, and whichever god would answer by fire would thus be attested as the true God. If
Baal were powerful enough to answer the prayers of his priests and to accept the offering
of the. altar, then the people might understand that it was because Baal was offended with
them that they had experienced the drouth and famine. But if Jehovah bad the power, and
would answer with fire, it would be proof to the people that the drouth and the famine
were from Him, and signs of His. indignation because they had worshiped Baal.
The proposition could not be rejected: the priests of Baal prepared
their altar and their sacrifice, and had the advantage of the noon-day heat of a tropical
sun, sufficient almost of itself to ignite the fat of the sacrifice. They desired and
prayed that the test might be granted; they cut themselves with stones until the blood
gushed out, claiming that it must be because some of them, as priests of Baal, had
trespassed against him, that their prayers were not heard., They kept this up for hours,
until near sunset-Elijah meantime, in the hearing of the people, pouring upon them the
sharpest sarcasm -- the sarcasm of truth, not of falsehood. He suggested that they pray
louder, as peradventure their god might .be a little deaf; he urged them to keep it up,
peradventure Baal might be on a journey, or attending to other business, or asleep. Thus
he was giving to Israel in general the most telling lesson possible, considering their
lethargy on religious subjects. He was preparing them for the final demonstration which he
was about to give, that Jehovah is the true God, the only God who had power to answer both
by fire and by water.
THE ANSWER BY FIRE
Mark how thorough the Prophet's faith in God, and how thoroughly he
demonstrated, that there could be no room for deception in connection with his offering.
Twelve stone crocks of water were poured upon the sacrifice and the wood, and filled the
trench around about it; the sun was losing its power, and the offering was thoroughly
drenched, and all things were thus ready for a thorough test of Jehovah's power to send
Elijah stated the matter to the people: "How long halt ye
between two opinions? If Jehovah be God, follow Him; but if Baal be God, then follow
him." The test was to show which was the true God, and which was the false god, and
incidentally which the true and which the false prophets. Then Elijah prayed a beautiful
and proper prayer. He did not say, "0 Lord, cause Israel to know how great, I Elijah,
am, as a prophet of the Lord," but "Hear me, 0 Lord, hear me, that this people
may know that Thou art Jehovah God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again
[-recalling them again by their experiences and these signs to be Thy people]."
The answer by fire was prompt, and the effect upon the 'people great.
They promptly acknowledged Jehovah, and slew the priests of Baal. Then, while Ahab and the
people rejoiced in Elijah's promises that the long hoped for rain would come, and went to
their homes to rejoice and feast, the Prophet remained upon the mountain to pray for that
which God had definitely promised. Once he prayed, and sent his servant a distance to look
for indications, but no answer. Again he prayed, and sent his servant again, but no
evidence of response. After having been used of the Lord so mightily, in-the matter of the
sacrifice, Elijah might have gotten to feel too much of his own importance, if his prayer
for rain had been too promptly responded to. Opportunity was given for fear and doubt,
that the Lord would fail to keep His engagement, respecting the rain. But knowing the
sureness of the Lord's word, Elijah did not doubt; he prayed again and again, and sent his
servant each time to see what evidences there were of the Lord's answer to the prayers,
until finally when he had prayed for the seventh time, and inquired for a sign, the young
man returned, saying that he saw a small cloud about the size of a man's hand. Then Elijah
ceased his prayer, and realized that the beginning of the fulfillment had come.
There is a lesson in this also for the Lord's people of today, that,
as our Lord said, "We ought to pray and not to faint," not to grow weary in
looking for, asking for and expecting the spiritual blessings which the Lord has promised us. Many of the prayers which fail of
fulfillment, fail because the petitioners ask amiss--ask for things which God has not
promised. Others fail, be cause of lack of faith. The prayer of faith is that which is
offered, "nothing doubting," and whose hope is based upon a definite promise of the Lord. For in stance, to us as New
Creatures, the Lord has declared, "Your Heavenly Father is more willing to give the
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts [of an
earthly kind] to their children."' He that seeketh the spirit of holiness, the
showers of Divine grace, findeth them. To him that knocketh, the stores of Divine favor
shall be opened.
"Here am 1; send me."--Isa. 6:1-8.
CONCERNING the time in which the Proph et Isaiah lived, little is
revealed more than he has himself told us. In the superscription to his book (chapter 1
:1), the statement is made that he was the son of Amoz and that he discharged the
prophetic office during the reign of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. It is
manifest also from the prophecies themselves that he delivered them during the reign of
these kings. In chapter 6:1, it is expressly said that be was given a vision of Jehovah in
the year in which Uzziah died. It is then evident that he must have begun his prophetic
labors at least as early as during the last year of that king.
Albert Barnes, whose dissertations on both the Old and the New
Testament are in some respects very luminous, has submitted some very interesting
observations on the writings of Isaiah, which we believe will be found to be profitable
and instructive in this connection:
"Isaiah, as we have seen, lived for the greater, part of a
century, and possibly even more than a century. It is probable also that for a period of
more than seventy years he exercised the prophetic office. During that long period,
important changes must have occurred; and a knowledge of some of the leading events of his
time is necessary to understand his prophecies. Indeed a simple knowledge of historical
facts will often make portions of his prophecies clear which would be otherwise entirely
unintelligible. . . .
"The reign of Hezekiah stretched through. a considerable portion
of the prophetic ministry of Isaiah. A large part of his prophecies are, therefore,
presumed to have been uttered during this reign. It is probable that to this period we are
to attribute the entire series from chapter 13 to chapter 39 inclusive. The most important
of his prophecies, from chapter 40 to chapter 66, 1 am disposed to assign to a subsequent
period -to the reign of Manasseh."
ISAIAH PORTRAYS MESSIAH'S COMING GLORY
"It is not a violation of probability that Isaiah after the
death of Hezekiah, being an old man, withdrew much from public life; that he saw and felt
that there was little hope of producing reform during the impious career of Manasseh; and
that, in the distress and anguish of his soul, he gave himself up to the contemplation of
the happier times which should yet occur under the reign of the Messiah. It was during
this period, I suppose, that he composed the latter part of his prophecies, from the 40th
to the 66th chapter. The nation was full of wickedness. An' impious prince was on the
throne. Piety was banished, and the friends of Jehovah were bleeding in Jerusalem. The
nation was given up to idolatry. The kingdom was approaching the period of its predicted
fall and ruin. Isaiah saw the tendency of events; he, saw how hopeless would be the
attempt at reform. He saw that the captivity of Babylon was hastening on, and that the
nation was pre paring for that gloomy event. In this dark and disastrous period, he
seems to have withdrawn himself from the contemplation of the joyless present, and to have
given his mind to the contemplation of happier future scenes. An interval perhaps - of
some ten or fifteen years may be supposed to have elapsed between his last public labors
in the time of Hezekiah, and the prophecies which compose the remainder of the book.
During this interval he may have withdrawn from public view, and fixed his mind on the
great events of future times. In his visions he. sees the nation about to go into
captivity. Yet he sees also that there would be a return from bondage, and he corn forts
the hearts of the pious with the assurance of such a return. He announces the name of
the monarch by whom that deliverance would be accomplished, and gives assurance that the
captive Jews should again return to their own land. But he is not satisfied with the
announcement of this comparatively unimportant, deliverance. With that he connects a far
greater and more important deliverance, that from sin, under the Messiah. He fixes his
eye, therefore, on -the future glories of the Kingdom of God; sees the long promised
Messiah; describes His person, His work, His doctrine, and states in glowing language the
effects of His coming on the happiness and destiny of mankind. As he advances in his
prophetic descriptions, the deliverance from Babylon seems to die away and is forgotten;
or it is lost in the contemplation of the event to which it had a resemblance-the coming
of the Messiah -- as the morning star is lost in the superior glory of the rising sun. He
throws him self forward in his descriptions; places himself amidst these future scenes,
and describes them as taking place around him, and as events which he saw. He thinks and
feels and acts as if in that period; his mind is full of the contemplation; and he pours
out, in describing it, the most elevated language and the sublimest thoughts. It was in
contemplations. such as these, I suppose, that be passed the close of his life; and in
such visions of the glorious future, that he sought a refuge from the gloom and
despondency which must have filled a pious mind during the early part of the reign .,of
the impious and blood-thirsty Manasseh.
Isaiah was cotemporary with the prophets Jonah, Hosea, and Micah.
They, however, performed a less important public part, and were not favored with visions
of the future glory of the Church, like his. In a single chapter, however, the same
language is used by Isaiah and by Micah. See Isaiah 2:2-4. Comp. Micah 4:1-4. In which
Prophet the language is original, it is impossible now to determine. . . .
"Isaiah refers more fully to the times of the Messiah than any
other of the Prophets. It is natural, therefore, to expect to find his writings often
quoted or appealed to in the New Testament. The frequency of the reference, and the manner
in which it is done, will show the estimate in, which he was held by the Savior, and by
Our attention is drawn to Isaiah's vision revealed in chapter 6. The
temple at Jerusalem, otherwise called the House of Jehovah, was the scene of the vision.
But instead of the holy and most holy, the mercy-seat, the altar, the table of shew-bread,
and the golden candlestick, everything was changed--a glorious Throne was there, and upon
the Throne the Lord. On either side of Him, as representing the Divine attributes, stood
the four seraphim, while the entire temple was filled with His train of 'followers. The
temple was full of glory-light and two of the seraphim cried, "Holy, holy, holy is
Jehovah of Hosts." The two on the other side replied, "Let, the whole earth be
full of His glory." Following this response the door-posts were shaken and an
obscuring haze filled the temple, dimming the glory.
LET THE WHOLE EARTH BE FULL OF THE LORD'S GLORY
The signification of this vision we draw from the words of Jesus. He
refers us directly to this vision. (John 12:41.) In fulfillment of the Divine promise
Jesus appeared at His First Advent and tentatively offered Himself to Israel as their
great King of Glory, the great Mediator of the New Covenant, promised them by Jehovah.
(Jer. 31:31.) God knew that Jesus would be rejected; nevertheless the offer was, made. Had
He been received and had He then taken to Himself His Messianic glory and power it would
have meant that a sufficient number of the Jewish nation had received Him with their whole
heart, so as to constitute the complete number of the 'Bride class, to be associates in
the spiritual Kingdom. In that event there would have been no offer made to the Gentiles
of joint-heirship with Messiah in His glorious Kingdom--Israel would have gotten the
entire blessing. The Kingdom would have been established forthwith and the nation of
Israel, accepting Messiah, would at once have become the channel of Divine blessing to all
But when the voice declared, Let the whole earth be full of the
Lord's glory, the unreadiness of the world to receive the message was indicated by the
shaking of the door-posts and the darkness beclouding the glorious scene. The fulfillment
of this we see in the fact that the Jewish nation, which is the doorway to this glory, was
not in proper condition. A new door-way must be provided through which the glories of the
King of kings will issue forth to the world. St. Paul declares that the shaking of
anything, in a typical sense, represents its instability, its removal -- that something
superior may be established in its stead. The Jewish nation was removed from its favored
position and a new nation, a new doorway, a new channel of access between God and men has
since been in process of establishment.
No other nation in the world was found more worthy than Israel of the
honored position. Consequently, God proceeded to make a new nation composed exclusively of
saints. As St. Peter. explains, "Ye are a royal priest hood, a holy nation."
(I Peter 2:9. ) First of all, the saintly Jews were taken, to be the nucleus of the new
nation, spirit-begotten, heavenly. Subsequently, the selective processes having continued
throughout this Gospel Age, with its close the Holy Nation will be com pleted by the
power of the First Resurrection. Then everything will be in proper readiness, and the
com mand, Let the whole earth be filled with the glory of Jehovah God, will go forth and
the world will be blessed -natural Israel being promised a prominent share in connection
with this grand work.
In the vision Isaiah recognized that the shaking of the door-posts
and the obscuring mist signified an unpreparedness somewhere for the glory of the Lord and
he cried out, recognizing his own imperfection and the imperfection of those with whom he
dwelt. A glimpse of the Lord's glory showed his own defects and those of his neighbors.
This was the effect of Jesus' teaching upon all those who received
His message. The Law shone out more resplendently than ever and they found that they
violated it more than they had supposed-not only in deeds, but also in words and thoughts.
The holy ones, as represented in Isaiah, took the matter to heart and humbled themselves
before the Lord and acknowledged that they were not fit to be the teachers of men, but
that the whole Jewish nation and all others were imperfect, and that any message which
their lips could carry would be imperfect.
As Isaiah's lips were touched with a live coal from the altar, it
illustrated how the saintly ones of Israel and from all nations during this Gospel Age
have had the .required blessing upon their lips and have proclaimed the Divine invitation,
"Present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God." (Rom.
12:1.) This message, enkindled by the live coal from God's altar of sacrifice, has gone
hither and thither throughout the world for eighteen centuries. It has not only taught a
cleansing from sin, but a service to, God.
"HERE AM I; SEND ME"
Isaiah continued to be the type of the holy people. God has desired
to send His message of grace and the invitation to sacrifice to all who would have the ear
to hear. And the sanctified, whom Isaiah typified, have throughout this, Age said,
"Lord, here am I; send me."
Our lesson further shows that the message of this Isaiah class would
be unpopular. Few would hear; few would see; few would receive the blessing of forgiveness
and begetting of the Holy Spirit. The Master and His Apostles began this proclamation. It
has continued the same to this day.
But we are not in this to be discouraged. Only the "little
flock," the pure in heart, the followers in the footsteps of Jesus, will get this
blessing and be prepared to constitute the Kingdom class, the new doorway or threshold
connecting the Divine Holy with the world of mankind.
Israel's experiences are used as the measuring line to show when the
completion of the Church will be accomplished and the glory of the Lord shine forth upon
Israel, and through Israel to all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues, for a thousand
years. That measuring line tells of the desolation of Israel's land, of its becoming
utterly waste and of their removal from the land. The last verse of the lesson tells of
how in the end there will come a sprout out of the roots--a holy Seed, a holy people,
under Divine providence,. will be raised up. These holy ones of Israel, on this side the
veil, will be the Ancient Worthies, who will be resurrected and enter into their reward as
the earthly representatives of Messiah's Kingdom. (Heb. 11: 38-40; Psa. 148:11.) To these
Princes will be gathered the faithful, loyal, holy of the Jews, the nucleus, the beginning
of the earthly phase of the Messianic Kingdom.
THE FUTURE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD
The Lord, through the Prophet, shows the means by which the righteous
reign of the Messiah shall be inaugurated, in the statement, "He shall smite the
earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the
wicked." It is evident, then, that there will be not only poor., needing assistance
and equity, but there will be wicked at the time the Kingdom is established. (Compare Mal.
5:1, 6; Rev. 19:15.) The rod of Messiah's mouth signifies the judgments which He has
already expressed, and which have very largely gone unheeded by Christendom. 'We remember
His declaration, "He that rejecteth Me and receiveth not My words hath one that
judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
Christendom in general has admitted the righteousness of the Lord's Word, but those who
attempt to live according to that Word are remarkably few. Consequently, when the time
shall come that judgment shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and
when this judgment shall begin at the nominal house of God, the nominal system in general
will fall-will fall condemned under that Word.
The power by which the Lord shall accomplish the blessing of mankind,
after He has crushed the power of evil and established the reign of righteousness is
stated to us in this prophecy-it is to be by the spread of a knowledge of the Lord. The
Apostle assures us (1 Tim. 2:4) that it is the will. of God that all men shall come to a
knowledge of the Truth that they may be saved. He assures us that there can be no
salvation without knowledge (Rom. 10:14, 15), consequently the knowledge of the Lord being
very limited throughout this Gospel Age, only comparatively few of earth's mil lions
have come to such a knowledge of Him as to permit them to exercise faith in God, and in
the great sacrifice and pardon for sin which God has provided in Christ. But the fact
that few in the present life have come to this knowledge shall not in any degree thwart
the Divine Plan nor make the death of Christ on their behalf of no avail, for the Lord
assures us that in due time the true light of the world, Jesus, shall lighten every man
that cometh into the world -- this includes all the heathen, all those of imbecile mind ,
who could not grasp the Truth, and all the infants who die without a 'knowledge of the
only name under heaven whereby we must be saved. God has thus made ample provision, first,
in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and secondly, in the Millennial Age
which He has provided through Him, in which the knowledge of the Lord shall be caused to
fill the whole earth.