of Christ's Kingdom
VOL. XXVI MARCH 1943 NO.
Table of Contents
Things Coming to Pass
The Memorial Supper
Gone From Us
The Christian of Today as He
Ought to Be
The Divine Weaver's Many Hued
"For as a snare shall it come
on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." "And none of the wicked
shall understand; but the wise shall understand." "When ye see these things come
to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand." - Luke 21:35; Dan.
12:10; Luke 21:31.
FROM TIME to
time, under this article heading, we have considered some aspect of current world events
in its relation to that most important of all events, the establishment of God's Kingdom.
The Biblical evidences for its proximity have been examined from many viewpoints, namely,
the World-war, the discontent of nations, the marvelous increase of knowledge, the
awakening of Jewish national aspirations, etc. But there is still another
"sign," and one often overlooked, which we now desire to consider in detail,
and that is the "sign of unawareness. To
emphasize this we have grouped the Scripture texts above, which, while removed from their
context, are nevertheless in complete harmony in testifying to this paradox of paradoxes.
For that the world's ignorance of the "day of their visitation" is paradoxical,
none can successfully gainsay, inasmuch as "these things are not being done in a
corner." How is it possible that in the midst of history's greatest crisis, men are
so astonishingly unaware of the true implication of world events -- that the Kingdom of
God is near, "even at the doors"? Have not millions of Bibles been spread over
the face of the earth, each with its divine testimony concerning the signs of the times?
What is the cause of this strange blindness in the midst of intellectual attainments
that are the marvel of our day? Only the Bible assays to answer. But though its testimony
is clear and explicit, there are few that can "hear"; for a spiritual blindness
has descended upon the present generation-a blindness altogether unperceived.
"DARKNESS COVERS THE EARTH;
GROSS DARKNESS THE. PEOPLE"
becoming more evident to thinking men everywhere that the roots of the present world
distress have their beginnings in deeper soil than is generally recognized. In the
recent words of Alfred Noyes, the British poet: "The war, with all its horror, the
programs of the totalitarian despotisms, with all their wickedness, are hardly more than
symptomatic eruptions, evidence of something profoundly wrong with modern civilization
that, unless the war brings the world to its senses, and quickly, the human race may as
well abandon itself to the final catastrophe."
startling words, and gloomy. Similar expressions are nevertheless being heard with
increasing frequency. As men look deeper into the political catastrophes of the modern
world, and ponder the disasters of a mechanized industrialism in which starvation and
over-production exist side by side, the conclusion is being inescapably forced that the
real cause of the contemporary tragedy is neither political nor economic. Slowly but
surely there is beginning to dawn the realization that we are witnessing the breakdown
of a civilization-of a culture based on a materialistic liberalism that had its
inception in the dissolution of the medieval culture and the feudal civilization which
ushered in two great movements, the Renaissance and the Reformation. Both these
movements, allied in some respects, and diametrically opposed in others, contributed
jointly to the freedom and individualism of modern civilization. Both represented great
advances; the one in social, political, and economic reforms which culminated eventually
in the industrial revolution of the past century, and the other in a freedom from the
fetters of religious authority and the corruption of religious superstition. Both begat
great hopes and promises. Both brought great confidence that the "emancipated"
mind would disclose the secrets of nature; penetrate into all the ultimate mysteries of
life; exploit the buried treasures of the natural world and make them available for man;
explore the complexities of human society and eliminate the social maladjustments that
ignorance had perpetuated, and finally free man himself of the sorrows and pains, the
frustrations and lusts by which he made himself and his fellows miserable. And in a
measure this has come to pass.
unfortunately in the process of realizing these great dreams, political and economic
action was thoroughly secularized and authentic Christian social ideals were neglected.
Human dignity, human personality, and human solidarity were forgotten. With the vast
material progress there have arisen new problems, and the fabulous productivity of the
modern machine has created crises and unemployment rather than security and abundance. The
dreams of economic harmony and of individual happiness have been cruelly disappointed.
Far from attaining that individual liberty, the "right" of democratic man, to
day, in large sections of the world, man has sunk to the position of a creature of the
State, that new juggernaut. Great totalitarian systems have sprung up and humanity finds
itself in the midst of an unparalleled world-wide conflict between the forces of freedom
and slavery. The injustice, the unhappiness, the brutality so rife, oppress and darken
men's minds and they see no way out. With Matthew Arnold, they feel there is no hope in
the world and that all they can do is to be true to one another:
the world which seems
To lie before us, like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor Bight,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here, as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."
groaning creation! With what foresight did our Master describe the mental state of men in
our day: "Upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity
at the roar of the sea and rolling waves, men ready to die through fear and
expectation of what is coming on the habitable earth." - Luke 21:26, Darby.
"CURSED BE THE MAN THAT TRUSTETH IN MAN,
AND MAKETH FLESH HIS ARM,
AND WHOSE HEART DEPARTETH FROM THE LORD"
But what has
caused society to move toward catastrophe rather than triumph? Why have not the
enormous achievements of man during the past century resulted in a stable and beneficent
order for his welfare? Why the present disillusionment and shattering of hopes?
profit, which in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries provided the motive force for the
economic system, has failed us, and we have not vet discovered any moral substitute for it
other than war. Nothing but war seems sufficiently worth while. The economic crisis is in
essence a moral crisis. It cannot be explained-and much less solved-in constitutional or
even in economic terms. The fundamental issue is moral."
pessimistic Professor Carr, in "Conditions of Peace." And here we have a
partial answer to our question. Who but cannot recognize a great decadence in moral and
ethical values throughout the earth? What has become of the absolute distinction between
right and wrong, good and evil, of the sanctity of agreements, of the sacredness of
can be trusted, what firm agreement can ever be made again, in a world where millions
upon millions have been educated to believe that, if it seems in their interest to
violate it, no pact or pledge, however solemnly drawn up, need be regarded by
"realistic" minds, or "cold statesmanship," as more than a "scrap
of paper"? And what of the imperatives of conscience, that God within the breast?
"Conscience," said Hitler, "is a Jewish invention."
Alas, in his
emphasis on material prosperity, man has gradually lost- the fundamental things without
which there can be no peace and justice; those values which make for morality and true
freedom, and which constitute the individual superior to his own creations. This central
value of Christianity, the value of the individual, has been corrupted in modern
political thought to demand a subordination of the individual to the State (or indeed
to any organization or society of which he is a member), the implications of which tragic
fallacy are but now being realized by thinking men. Thoreau uttered a profound truth when
he said: "There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State
comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its
own power and authority are derived." This has well been called the lost key to the
whole problem of modern government. We are all witnesses to the enslavement of hundreds of
millions of the human race under the unspeakable tyranny of the totalitarian powers. Never
in human history has the individual counted for so little and never has human life been
so cheap. The attempt to comprehend the sum total of human suffering today leaves the mind
numb with horror. Thank God for the assurances that under the beneficent rule of His
Kingdom man shall regain his original state, a creature in the likeness of his God. For
back the upward looking and the light,
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes."
word of the Lord:
I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the
Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger. And I will punish the world for their
evil, and the wicked for their iniquity: and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to
cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even
a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." - Isa. 13:13, 11, 12.
"A FAMINE IN THE LAND--NOT FOR BREAD,
BUT FOR THE WORD OF THE LORD"
But what has
happened to the spiritual guides? Is there no balm in Gilead? Is not the world filled with
thousands of church edifices, with tens of thousands devoted to the exposition of Him whom
these buildings monumentalize? Are there not millions of adherents and millions of
Bibles? What is lacking?
words of the brilliant Hindu leader, Jawaharlal Nehru: "The old days were days of
faith, blind unquestioning faith. The wonderful temples and mosques and cathedrals of past
centuries could never have been built but for the overpowering faith of the architects and
builders and people generally. The very stones that they reverently put one on top of the
other, or carved into beautiful designs, tell us of this faith. The old temple spire, the
mosque with its slender minarets, the Gothic cathedral-all of them pointing upward with an
amazing intensity of devotion, as if offering a prayer in stone or marble to the sky above
thrill us even now, though we may be lacking in that faith of old of which they are the
embodiments. But the days of that faith are gone, and gone with them is that magic touch
in stone. Thousands of temples and mosques and cathedrals continue to be built, but they
lack the spirit that made them live during the Middle Ages. There is little difference
between them and the commercial offices which are so representative of our age. Our age is
a different one; it is an age of disillusion, of doubt and uncertainty and questioning. We
can no longer accept many of the ancient beliefs and customs; we have no more faith in
them, in Asia or in Europe or America. So we search for new ways, new aspects of the truth
more in harmony with our environment. And we question each other and debate and quarrel
and evolve any number of 'isms' and philosophies. As in the days of Socrates,' we live in
an age of questioning, but that questioning is not confined to a city like Athens; it is
candidly honest statement, we have the full answer to the question, Why has the world no
conception of the meaning of present experiences? For the world has lost its sense of
spiritual values, yea, has lost its faith. A spirit of irreligiousness has spread abroad.
Men have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. We live in a generation which
can refer contemptuously to the Bible as a "collection of Hebrew myths," and
stigmatize religion as an "opiate for the inferiority-minded" - a time when a
prominent American man of letters writes a friend that "Rabelais was nearer God than
Christ," and a famous English writer says that no man who regards Christ as an ideal
is worth working with. This is the day of the cynic; of the pseudo-intellectual, of the
spirit of shallow cynicism and of mockery which has destroyed in a large measure the old
simplicity and integrity based upon the great Christian principles of the Word of God.
Yea, a generation which can even question the existence of its God. One is reminded of
Milton's lines so applicable to our day:
Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of Faith
Rarely be found. So shall the World go on,
To good malignant, to bad men benign,
Under her own weight groaning, till the day
Appear of respiration to the just
And vengeance to the wicked."
For it is
true the world has reached a condition of disbelief that augurs ill for the immediate
future, and though we still hear of "Christian principles," it is too often in
circumstances which, as ex-President Hoover said recently, make the very phrase sound like
a "Gargantuan joke.
But why the
silence from the spiritual guides of "Christendom"? Is there no message from the
Word of the Lord for the questions of suffering humanity? In vain do men seek a positive
answer, a definite "thus saith the Lord." Though thousands of sermons are
preached weekly, nowhere is the voice of assurance and enlightenment heard; instead, the
same echo of doubt and perplexity, of struggle to find one's bearings, of negative
moralistic teaching, of a "stone for bread"; the same emphasis on man seeking
strength from within himself. Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr has well said recently:
of the most stubborn and sentimental illusions about the possibilities of a simple and
easy peace between the competing elements in human society have been fostered by modern
churches. In America they contributed more possibly than any other influence to
political and moral illusions, for they aggravated false estimates of man and history by
compounding them with classical and pious conceptions. The errors and illusions of our
culture, which have made an estimate of the crisis of our civilization difficult it not
impossible, are, almost without exception, various versions of a single error. They are all expressions of too great an optimism about
the goodness of human nature; they all therefore underestimate the difficulties of
relating life to life, will to will, interest to interest, in a harmonious social life.
They regard the achievement of justice and social peace in human society as a
comparatively easy task. It is, as a matter of fact, a very difficult task, which can be
accomplished with tolerable success only if its difficulties are fully recognized."
concerning the weakness of human nature is a fundamental teaching of the Bible, and is the
basis for the Divine Plan of regeneration through the Kingdom of Christ. Other salvation
there is none. The hope of man resides in the establishment by divine power of a
universal reign upon earth for a thousand years, a "time of restitution spoken by the
mouth of all God's prophets." This is the message of God to men. Why is it not
thundered from every pulpit?
to this question goes back to two great scientific theories. The first was the theory of a
certain canon of the Church, Copernicus, which seethed to destroy the old, comfortable
assumption that the earth was the center of things, and to dwarf man by the mere size of
the material universe. The other was the Darwinian theory, which subjected his inner world
to an even more disintegrating scrutiny, and filled mankind with doubts as to the values
of human personality and the nature of its origin. The advancing flow of scientific
thought, true or otherwise, plus the wave of Higher Criticism which originated in Germany
and flowed out to all the ecclesiastical schools, resulted in the gradual breakdown of
faith in the Scriptures, yea, in many cases of faith in the existence of a supreme
Being. Endeavoring to harmonize the Bible teachings with the many new thoughts being
promulgated, gradually resulted in spiritual sterility. The great foundation truths were
slowly but definitely obscured, with the tragic result that not only the people, but the
leaders are practically blind to the Bible message concerning the meaning of present
momentous events. It is rare indeed to find a living faith today. In fact, to profess
implicit faith in the Bible as God's revealed word, is to set oneself apart as being, to
say the least, somewhat behind the times. True, there is a general profession of faith
in the great moralistic teachings of the Scriptures, but the substance has been lost.
Men do not seek the answers to their questions from the Bible. Men do not bring God into
their counsels. Professions of faith are merely outward-there is no spiritual vitality
within. The close of six thousand years of experience with evil finds man far departed
from his God, with perhaps even worse to follow in the near future.
the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their
lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is
taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work
among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men
shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." - Isa. 29:13,
paradoxical as it may seem, the church nominal is blind to the glorious message of the
Bible, and in the midst of stupendous scenes, all accurately foretold by the Master
Himself, gropes blindly on, all unwitting that the hopes of true Christians are so soon to
materialize. Though professing faith in the First Advent of Christ, in vain are the
evidences of His Second Advent presented, though there be ten times as many Scriptures
concerning the latter as there are for the former. And all the glorious words of the 96th,
97th, 98th and 99th Psalms awake no responsive chords. There stands One at the door whom
they know not. Perhaps nothing can equal Christ's own judgment as recorded in Revelation
3:14-18: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;
saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I
know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then
because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and
knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I
counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white
raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;
and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
judgment and exhortation have been doubly witnessed, inasmuch as it is manifest that in
these latter days God raised up one who for forty years faithfully set forth these things
in order, and testified to the church nominal the meaning of our days. Was not the witness
complete? And was it not rejected? Therefore the church nominal has ceased to be Christ's
mouthpiece and can bring forth no positive message from the Lord. The voice of the
Bridegroom and Bride is heard no more in her. And now there remains but blindness and
barrenness. "Her prophets also find no vision from the Lord." "Where there
is no vision, the people perish." - Lam. 2:9; Prov. 29:18.
Yes, as a
snare are these things coming on all mankind. Only the wise of God understand and only
they are able to rejoice in the evidence of the proximity of God's Kingdom. The world
will continue on into ever-increasing darkness and trouble, with unheeding ears to the few
who yet continue to point to the sure Word of Prophecy, until that glad day when upon the
wreck of man's institutions, the human race, illuminated by the Spirit of God shall
rebuild a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
while the earth with strife is riven,
And envious factions Truth do hide,
Lo! He, the Lord of earth and heaven,
Stands at the door and claims His Bride.
come! Let all the earth adore Him;
The path His human nature trod
Spreads to a royal realm before Him,
The Life of life, the Word of God!"
- W. J. S.
"This, do in remembrance of
Me." - Luke 22:19.
CONSIDERING the significance of the Memorial Supper, two passages of Scripture should be
17-20; 26-30, and 1 Corinthians 10:16-18, Diaglott rendering. The first of these
passages brings to our attention the primary significance
of this service; the second refers to this, but suggests certain additional thoughts.
The principal thought we wish to present is that this
is a memorial of Jesus' suffering and death, and of what He accomplished thereby for us.
consecration at Jordan to the cross at Calvary, He was laying down His life, daily
sacrificing Himself in order that He might 'be perfected through suffering and become our
Redeemer. And then, after three and a half years of daily sacrificing of Himself to do the
Father's will, He was called upon to make the supreme
sacrifice. And He who might have asked the Father and received more than twelve
legions of angels to deliver Him, submitted to be mocked and buffeted, spat upon and
cruelly scourged; and ° He endured it all for
our sakes. Upon His brow they pressed down the cruel crown of thorns; and as He was led
away to die the most ignominious death known to that age, He was made to carry through the
streets of the city that instrument of shame and disgrace, the cross, used only for
malefactors of the vilest kind.
the cross He was "wounded for our transgressions;
He was bruised for our iniquities, the
chastisement of our peace was upon Him," and with the stripes which He received in
our stead we are healed, for "the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us
all." Only the evening before He had said to His disciples (John 16:32), "Behold
the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and
shall leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." But in
the agony of those hours upon the cross He lost the view of even His Father's face; He was
conscious of having lost the sunshine of His smile, the sense of oneness with God, which
before He had always enjoyed; and from the depths of this new, and apparently
unforeseen misery of alienation from God He cried out, "My God! My God! Why hast Thou
forsaken Me?" In that moment our sins rested upon Him; He became our sin-bearer,
our sin offering. Truly speaks the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:24, 25): "Who His own self
bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are
now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
As it is
expressed in our hymn:
shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!"
the Apostle Paul (Eph. 2:12,13): "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens
from the commonwealth of Israel, a. id strangers from the covenants of promise, having no
hope, and without God in the world: But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far
off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
beautifully has the poet spoken of the depths of our Lord's suffering in the poem,
"The Ninety and Nine":
none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry --
Sick and helpless, and ready to die."
Corinthians 5:7, 8 we read: "For even Christ our Passover is slain for us: therefore let us keep
the feast." It is appropriate, therefore,' that on this occasion we consider the
full meaning of the Passover. The record of this is found in the twelfth chapter of
Exodus. Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, ate the Passover, and immediately
thereafter instituted this Memorial Supper of which we shall partake, as a memorial of
His death. This Memorial superseded, or took the place of, the Passover.
was a memorial pointing backward to the deliverance of the Jewish people from Egyptian
bondage, and also a type pointing forward to our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Memorial
Supper instituted by Jesus points backward ' to the sacrifice and death of Jesus, and
forward to the second coming of Jesus in power and glory to bring joy and blessing to all.
Supper was doubly significant to the Jew. In its
first significance it was a memorial of the deliverance
from death which all the first-born of
Israel experienced that night when the death-angel passed through the land of Egypt and
slew the firstborn of man and beast, except where they were found abiding under the
blood of the Passover lamb. In type it pointed to the deliverance from the death
condition of trespass and sin and alienation from God which we as members of the Church of Christ have
experienced, who are abiding by faith under the blood of Jesus, our Passover Lamb. - In Heb. 12:23 the Apostle
refers to us as the "Church of the firstborn,
which are written in heaven"; and Jesus, as recorded in John 5:24, said:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that
sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not
come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto
life." And says the Apostle John (1 John
3:14): "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Thus does the Passover
picture the deliverance of the first-born from the death sentence that passed upon all in
second significance, the Passover was a memorial of the deliverance of all God's people Israel from Egypt, the land of
bondage, oppression, and affliction. In type it pointed to the deliverance of the whole creation (the world of mankind, or as many of
them as will accept the deliverance) from the bondage and oppression of sin experienced
under Satan's kingdom, to be effected in the glorious times of restitution when Jesus
shall establish God's Kingdom upon earth. For, says the Apostle (Rom. 8:21, see Diaglott
footnote): "The creation itself also shall
be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of
THE LAMB A TYPE OF JESUS OUR PASSOVER
Now this was
the law of the Passover (Exod. 12) They were to take a lamb from their flocks, a male of
the first year without blemish. The lamb was a- type of Jesus our Passover, to whom the
Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 1: 19) refers as "a lamb without blemish and without
spot." For Jesus only, of all mankind,
was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners. - Heb. 7:26.
inauguration of the Passover the lamb was to be chosen on the 10th of the month Nisan, and
slain on the 14th. Deuteronomy 16:6 says: "Thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, 'at the going down of the sun." The word
translated "even" means "dusk." At dusk, then, as we understand the matter, in the twilight between
sunset and--dark, at the time of the daily evening sacrifice, on the 14th, which began at sunset, the Passover
lamb was slain, and it was eaten "in that night"
(Exod. 12:8) -- the night of the 14th. Jesus, likewise, probably on the 10th of the month,
came to His people in that triumphal entry which is celebrated today as Palm Sunday. And
being subject to the Law, He ate the Passover on the night of the 14th, and was Himself
slain during the following day of the 14th,
thus fulfilling the type on its appointed date.*
* The 14th of
Nisan this year, as previously announced, falls on Sunday,
April 18th, beginning at sundown, at which time it is appropriate to keep our Memorial.
They were to
take of the blood of the Passover lamb, and with a branch of hyssop, to sprinkle the posts
and lintel of the door, that the death-angel, seeing the blood, might pass over that
home. Hyssop evidently was a plant having some cleansing
qualities; thus the Psalmist says (Psa. 51:7): "Purge me with hyssop and I shall
be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The sprinkling signified the
sprinkling of our hearts with the blood of Christ by faith. Thus the Apostle Peter says (1
Pet. 1:2) that the Church is chosen through a sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; and
in Heb. 10:22 we read: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of
faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with
pure water." This sprinkling with the blood of the lamb is a figure representing
the justification of the household of faith, the
forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus' shed blood. His blood was shed for the
remission of sins. And so we sing:
is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."
instructed to eat the lamb in its entirety, nothing was to be thrown out or
wasted, and not a bone of it was to be broken. That which could not be consumed was,
therefore, to be utterly destroyed by fire. To feed upon
the lamb was to derive the benefits that it could bestow. It therefore signifies our
exercising faith in Jesus' sacrifice on our
behalf, by which faith we derive the benefits of that sacrifice, namely the forgiveness of
our sins, and the imputation to us of His merit making us acceptable to God. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou
shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31.) That none was to be wasted or thrown out signified the preciousness of the sacrifice by which atonement
was made for us, the costliness of His sacrifice. Preserving the bones unbroken was
literally fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:36): "For these things were
done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled: A bone of Him shall not be broken."
The lamb was
to be partaken of by the entire household, but no stranger was allowed to eat thereof.
If a stranger desired to partake, he was required first to be circumcised. This signifies
that not alone the firstborn, but the entire "household of faith," share now
by faith in the benefits of His sacrifice; but the "stranger" who has not
faith in Christ may not now share.
They were to
eat with the lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs; and they were to eat with their
loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and a staff in their hand, all ready to take-up
their journey from the land of Egypt. Leaven is a symbol of sin; and the putting away of
the leaven was a symbol of the putting away of sin by the follower of Christ.
"Therefore let us keep the feast, not
with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened
bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Cor. 5:8.) The bitter herbs represented the trials
and afflictions of this life, which serve to whet the appetite of the household of faith
for the Lamb and the unleavened bread. Being prepared to start on a pilgrimage was
symbolic of the fact that the Christian is to regard himself as a pilgrim here. Not
pilgrims in the earth, that they must needs
roam about it in order to serve Christ, but
pilgrims and strangers in the world, the cosmos,
or present evil order of things. They indeed "desire a better country, that is a
heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for
them a city." - Heb. 11:16.
THE MEMORIAL INSTITUTED
a Jew, subject to the law, kept this Passover; but
He did not suggest that His followers keep the Passover, "For Christ is the end of the law
for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10:4,) It was never
intended for any but Israelites to keep. But He did,
while keeping this last Passover with His disciples,
institute what we call the Memorial or Lord's Supper, to be kept by all His followers as a
memorial of His death until He shall come in glory and establish God's Kingdom upon earth.
they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the
disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and
gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink
henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you, in My
Father's Kingdom." - Matt. 26:26-29.
of the bread, which represented His body, was a symbol of the sacrificing of His body, and
the pouring of the wine was a symbol of the pouring out of His life blood, both of which
He accomplished upon the cross on that very day. Listen to Him as He says:
the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live
forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the
world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His
flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the
flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My
flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and
drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I
live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread
which came down from heaven." - John 6:51-58.
eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood is meant the same thing as the eating of
the Passover Lamb, namely, the exercising of faith
in the efficacy of Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, by reason of which faith we derive
the benefits of that sacrifice.
OUR PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING WITH HIM
to the secondary thoughts, suggested by I Cor. 10: 16-18 (Diaglott rendering):
cup of blessing for which we bless God-is it not a participation of the blood of the
Anointed One? The Loaf which we break-is it not a participation of the body of the
Anointed One? Because there is one Loaf, we, the many, are one Body; for we all partake
of the one Loaf.. Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the
sacrifices partakers of the altar?"
This, to our
minds, suggests the privilege His consecrated followers
have of walking the narrow way with Jesus, of suffering with Him, in order that they may
be also glorified with Him. (Rom. 8:17.) For, says the Apostle, "If 'we suffer with
Him, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. 2:12.) It is our participation in the
anointed company, as being members of the Body of Christ, which is here suggested.
of Himself (John 10:15, 18): "I lay down My life for the sheep. . No man taketh it
from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." And again, "I delight to do Thy will, O
My God." (Psa. 40:8.) The same spirit of loving devotion, and of delight with the
Heavenly Father's will, actuates His consecrated followers. "For whosoever will
save his life shall lose it," said Jesus; "and whosoever will lose his life for
My sake shall find it." (Matt. 16:25.) His followers are therefore exhorted to
present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable unto God, as their reasonable service; and to be not conformed to this world,
but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, that they may prove what is that
good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:1, 2.) "Hereby perceive we
the love [of Jesus], because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren." - 1 John 3:16.
thus present themselves in consecration to God, surrendering their wills and accepting the
will of the Heavenly Father, will have experiences like unto Jesus'. In Hebrews 2:10 we
read: "It became Him, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their
salvation perfect through sufferings." Speaking in Colossians 1:24 of his own
participation with Christ, Paul says: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you,
and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body's
sake, which is the Church." Many other Scriptures show this participation of the
Church in suffering with Jesus.
In order to
understand this subject we must make the fundamental distinction between the two phases of
Jesus' great Redemptive Sacrifice-the ransom and
the atonement: The ransom is based upon justice. To satisfy justice required the sacrifice
of a perfect man. Jesus was the only one who
could provide such a sacrifice, for He alone of all men was perfect. None could share in it; nor could justice accept more than the sacrifice of one righteous
man, since in one man, Adam, all the race had
sinned and incurred the death penalty. All others were condemned in him. The ransom
guarantees to every human soul in whose nostrils has. been the breath of life, a release
from the death penalty, and hence the right to
an awakening from the dead.
The atonement, on the other hand, the other part of the
one great Redemptive Sacrifice of Jesus, is based upon Love, and is accompanied by remission, or forgiveness, of our sins, which implies mercy, not justice. Now whatever part the Church,
Christ's Body, is permitted to have in the sufferings of the Christ is of love, of mercy;
and so they can have nothing whatever to do with providing the ransom; but their
participation with Christ is in connection with the atonement, the bringing to the world of the
benefits of the ransom, by assisting them back into harmony, into oneness, with God. This is the glorious privilege
to which the Church is called. They are to be priests, that is mediators, in the Kingdom
of God; and like the High Priest, Christ Jesus, must be able to be touched with the
feeling of the infirmities of those for whom they shall mediate.
sufferings of the Body of Christ, the Church, arc to cease ere long. "Rejoice,
inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed
ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." - 1 Pet. 4:13.
exceeding joy is suggested by Jesus in
connection with the cup: "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this
fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's
Kingdom." (Matt. 26:29.) New wine is a
symbol of marriage, of joy and blessings. You will recall how Jesus turned the water into
wine at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. In Isaiah 25:6, we read: "And in this
mountain [God's Kingdom] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines
on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." On the
lees, or dregs, means the full-bodied liquor; well refined: drawn off from the dregs-the
best portion. This is a symbol of the exceeding great joy and blessing in the Kingdom of
reference to drinking new wine in His Father's Kingdom signifies the time when the Bride
has made herself ready and the Bride and Bridegroom are made one: the marriage of the Lamb; the time when the Church is
united with the Lord Jesus. Jesus referred to the new wine in the Kingdom of God as a
symbol of the exceeding joy of the saints in glory, when the high praises of God are in
their mouths. (Psa. 149:6.) The exceeding joy of that occasion it is beyond our
capabilities now fully to comprehend.
Christ our Passover is slain for us. Therefore let us keep
the feast. The Apostle in 1 Corinthians 11:26 says: "For as often as ye eat this
bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come." Until, therefore, He claims
His Bride, until the deliverance of the Church, it is appropriate that we keep this
"LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF"
In 1 Cor.
11:27-29 we read:
whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood
of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and
so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh
unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's
nowhere says that we can be worthy objects of
our Lord's sacrifice; but he does say that we
can partake of this Memorial in a worthy manner by
a proper examination of ourselves beforehand.
does this examination comprehend? It surely includes the following: First: That we have
knowledge to discern the Lord's body that was offered for us on the cross; to realize that
it was only through the laying down of His
perfect life, the just for the unjust, that man could be redeemed from the guilt and power
of sin, and that it is only as we eat His flesh, appropriate to ourselves the merit of His sacrifice, that we can have any life in us.
Second: We must find in our hearts the personal
evidence of true repentance for our sins, true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one
who alone can save, and a true desire to be saved by Him. Third: This examination should
extend to our conduct, our words, and our thoughts. We should inquire whether in our
conduct toward others and in our thoughts we are desiring and truly endeavoring to live
the Christ-like life; whether we are by His grace endeavoring to gain the victory over our
besetting sins and weaknesses, and striving to become more and more conformed to the will
of God. If we are doing these things, then regardless of how weak and unworthy we may
realize ourselves to be, we can partake of this Memorial in a worthy, an acceptable,
remember, in quiet communion,
All that He hath in His love for us done:
How in the wealth of His infinite mercy
We were redeemed by the gift of His Son."
when they had sung an hymn, they went out." -Matt. 26:30.
and death came to others, Jesus wept. But when
these came to Himself, Jesus sang! As their hearts and voices were lifted heavenward in
that chant of the Passover feast, He must have heard, echoing down the halls of time,
other voices mingling with their own, the voices of Moses and Miriam and the children of
the Exodus passing through the sea and under the cloud, and singing
sound the loud timbrels
O'er Egypt's dark sea
Jehovah hath triumphed,
His people are free!
forth to His death, Jesus could sing that hymn
with joy, for looking down into the future he
saw the travail of His soul, and was satisfied, knowing that thereby the whole human race would be freed from a bondage
greater than that of Egypt-the bondage of sin and death.
As we go forth, we know not what experiences lie
before us. But we do know that we shall go forth
from this Supper to the death of our self-will; and
like our Master, we can go forth with a deep and abiding joy in our hearts that we are counted worthy to
suffer with Him; and with a determination not only to drink the cup our Heavenly Father
may pour, but to do so with a song o f praise upon
our lips, rejoicing that His blessed will shall be done in our lives.
Harvey A. Friese, a beloved brother and
a faithful minister.
FRIESE passed away this morning quietly" -- so ran the message which the Western
Union operator relayed over the telephone few hours ago. It was a message which might have
come at almost any time in recent months, so was hardly a surprise, yet when it came it
startled us into a sense of loss keener than we had thought to experience.
our hearts in prayer, silently for a few minutes, and then unitedly, especially that the
bereaved members of our Brother's immediate family might be given the special strength
needed in this crushing trial; and that grace sufficient would be supplied to the
"home class" with whom he was wont to gather in Springfield, Mass. Then
our" thoughts turned to the larger circle of friends throughout the country who have
enjoyed the privilege of his ministry and fellowship, and our prayers extended to these
also, that they, too, would greet the news, when it reaches them, with a solemnly renewed
vow to continue in the consecrated path and thus meet him "up yonder" when the
to our Brother early Monday morning, February 15th. He had been in failing health for many
months as a result of slight strokes, the final one apparently coming during his sleep
from which he never regained consciousness. Brother Friese was born September 15, 1863. As
a boy he learned the printer's trade and was connected for fifty-two years with one of the
leading newspapers in Springfield. In early life he was associated with his father in the
Advent movement, and at the early age of fifteen he gave his heart to the Lord, at which
time they were brought in touch with Brother Russell, who had not yet written the
"Divine Plan," nor had he commenced the publication of the journal which for
forty years was to bring meat in due season to the household of faith. But his ministry of
preaching by word of mouth had begun, and Brother Friese, in later years, loved to linger
at times on those early days when Brother Russell would come to Springfield and, in a
small room in his father's home, before a handful of eager listeners, would tell the
"Old Old Story" in a way that seemed so new. That simple Gospel Message gripped
and thrilled his eager, boyish heart, which he yielded in glad surrender to His Savior and
Any one at
all acquainted with his subsequent life will testify to the genuineness of his
consecration and devotion. On one occasion, making a passing allusion to St. Paul's
expression that he would rather speak five words which would profit his hearers than ten
thousand in a tongue which would not be understood (1 Cor. 14:19), he dwelt for a season
on that celebrated five-word passage from the great Apostle: "Ye are not your
own." (I Cor. 6:20.) This text might well have been the motto of his life, so
consistently did he seek to live in accordance with its sentiment.
esteemed it a great privilege to have Brother Friese laboring with us in the ministry --
in the Pilgrim service, as one of the Editorial Committee of the "Herald," and
as a member of the Board of Directors. His earnest desire and carefulness to have his
decisions always in harmony with the will of the Lord, and his prayerful spirit and holy
influence were a benediction to us at all times. Many were blessed by his ministry in the
Pilgrim service, which he loved and continued in as long as his health permitted. We can
but thank the Lord for such a faithful co-laborer.
Friese was married on June 4, 1885, and his beloved companion embraced the truth with
hint. She preceded him in death in 1929. He leaves three sons and three daughters, all of
whom were present at the funeral. He was greatly beloved by his family, and indeed by all
who knew him. The funeral, held at 2 o'clock Thursday, February 18th, was attended by a
number of friends and relatives, some coining from distant points.
Cast down we
most certainly are, at our Brother's passing, but not destroyed by our sorrow. (2 Cor.
4:9.) Nor do we sorrow for him, but for ourselves. Yet we sorrow not, as those must sorrow
who have no hope. (1 Thess. 4:13.) As we seek the Lord's comforting resurrection
assurances to revive our hopes and inspire us with a new sense of courage, we do not
find Him failing us. His words "I am the resurrection and the life" come
promptly to our aid, as also His powerful utterance: "Behold, I am the Living One,
and I became dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of death and of
the grave." (John 11:25; Rev. 1:1.8.) Because Christ Jesus lives, we have good
grounds for believing that we, too, shall live. (John 14:19.) Meantime, as one by one our
beloved brethren in the Lord are called Home, of all the lessons which we should seek to
have more clearly impressed on our own hearts is the necessity that is laid upon the rest
of the Church in the flesh, and upon each individual member in particular, of making up,
so far as is possible, the loss sustained. This has been a truth applicable at all times
throughout the Gospel Age, but it is especially true now, when only occasionally do we see
souls added to the Church.
When a dear
brother or sister passes on, if those left behind make no further progress in the
development of the Christian graces; if they merely stand still (if that were possible),
then there must of necessity be a loss result to the Church, a shrinkage in spiritual
values. A certain quantity, shall we say, of the spirit of kindness, gentleness, meekness,
patience, long-suffering, love; a certain measure of influence in
the direction of Christ,
a certain sanctifying influence has been withdrawn. In order that the spirit of Christ in
all its aspects may continue to be manifest in the same degree as before, it must be
apparent that each one left behind must become that much more gentle, meek, patient,
long-suffering, loving; that his or her counsels on each and every matter that enters into
the Church's experience shall be that much closer to the mind of Christ.
that we may each make a proper contribution to supply the Church with the necessary
increase in spirit values, those of us who are wise will betake ourselves to Jesus, that
in our weakness His strength may be made perfect.
would see Jesus, that great Rock-foundation
Whereon our feet were set by sovereign grace;
Not life nor death, with all their agitation
Can thence remove us, if we see His face.
would see Jesus, for the shadows lengthen
Across the little landscape of our life;
We would see Jesus, our weak faith to strengthen,
For the last weariness, the final strife."
As a final
testimony from our beloved Brother we quote below a poem found among his treasured
"The Lamb's Wife"
Bride of a spotless Lamb to be,
Thy Bride with garments clean,
From every spot and wrinkle free --
Teach me what this doth mean.
cleansing blood of Calvary
Can wash me white as snow;
But how can all the wrinkles be
Removed, Lord, I would know?
seen the linen, Lord, made white,
All free from spot or stain
And yet, not faultless in Thy sight,
For wrinkles still remain.
'neath the heated iron,
Lord, I've seen the linen made
So smooth that ne'er was royal board
With choicer linen laid.
this the way that I must be
Made meet to be His Bride?
Cleansed by His blood-from wrinkles freed
By furnace heat applied?
let pain's furnace fires glow,
Let sorrow light her flame,
If 'neath the heat and ache below
I still may bear Thy Name.
pain too great if only this
The glorious outcome be:
We the Lamb's Wife in spotless white
then? Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard!
Wait till thou too hast fought the noble strife
And won, through Jesus Christ, the crown of life!
Then shalt thou know the glory of the word,
Then as the stars for ever-ever shine,
Beneath the King's own smile-perpetual Zenith thine."
AN INDISPENSABLE element in the life
of the Christian is that vital relationship to the mind of God which shall establish and
preserve the strongest possible connections with the great Source of spiritual power.
connections will necessitate insulation from every contaminating influence of the world,
and from all inordinate desire for things non-conducive to the highest progress and
development. As the most potent testimony is that of example, the man of God will say with
the Apostle, "This one thing I do-I press toward the mark. Hence his affections will
be set on things above; he will have but one mind, the mind of Christ; he will say, in
apostolic phraseology, "Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ."
Primarily, fundamentally, indefatigably, he must be Christ's man, a fearless ambassador
of the King of kings.
Christian of the times must have a vision. In Ezekiel 13:3, we find a reference to
shepherds who "have seen nothing." The Prophet Isaiah received a vision of the
future. Beholding the glory of God in that power which He is yet to reveal, he could say,
"Here am I: send me," because in pictorial representation he had seen the
fulfillment of the great Eternal Purpose, the consummation of the program of the
centuries, the inauguration of a dynasty that should send to the eternal skies the
glories of its new-born righteousness and truth and love; a regime 'long delayed indeed,
yet borne hitherward on the wings of those gold-hued Biblical promises which cannot fail,
but are yea and amen.
today, have you caught Isaiah's vision, Abraham's vision, Ezekiel's vision, St. Paul's
vision -- all picturing an era when God shall make all things new by marvelous secrets
of life opened up and by Biblical instruction enlightening the mind, accomplishing its
desideratum of an everlasting fraternity of men, a world-wide community of love? If so,
you have something to build upon that shall stand, and may push forward your work in the
calm assurance that the ineffable goal of your life lies just ahead, whereat you shall
find the reward of courage and zeal and faithfulness in the service of Truth, which
represents God Himself.
Christian should be in fullest sympathy with the mighty, throbbing, burning, yearning
heart of humanity. He should have a broad outlook and see humanity as it is. That will most faithfully show him its
needs. What has he for a portion of the billion and a half human souls on this planet?
They are needful souls. The "bread of life" alone will fill them; the
"water of life" alone can satisfy their unquenched thirst. As Jesus felt the
burden of the world's woes, so should His servants, and each, while praying the prayer of
prayers, "Thy Kingdom Come," should be an exemplar of the righteousness of that
Kingdom in his daily life.
Christian should be genial, approachable, adaptable, and know how to slip off his coat and
put his shoulder to the wheel when it gets into the rut. Are his spiritual affairs not
progressing? Perhaps the reason is that his gardener is underpaid, or that he has reduced
his factory employees to a wage allowing of bare existence. Such doings would be "sin
in the camp," the very thing that caused the Israelites to be defeated at Ai.
"Beginning at Jerusalem," says the Word. If the Christian wants to be a power
for good, let him begin at home and manifest love in the little things. Let him study the
law of human equality, and the conditions of human inequality and derive wisdom therefrom.
Such truths may seem homely and stale, but they are vital and basic, and constitute the sine qua non of the entire matter before us.
Christian cause his own personal love to be communicated to and felt by those around him.
Let them see this intensity of love vibrating in his words and deeds, pulsating in his
conversation, and large good is bound to result, for the greatest of all laws is then
operating, and that law spells light, harmony, and life.
It has been
said that the mightiest forces are the silent ones. While the looms of men tell forth with
noisy hum the story of their industry, those of nature and the universe are often
soundless. No one ever yet heard the footfall of the sun as he steps over the circle of
the East and weaves from threads of light the gold-embroidered vestments of days. No one
ever heard the voice that whispered down in the ear of earth that the time was come to
awake from winter's sleep and once more don the verdant attire of strength and joyousness.
And what finely attuned ear ever heard the loom's working in the grand trees of orchard as
they labor in season to produce their princely fruitage of the apple, the peach, the plum,
and the pear? Who has heard the flapping of Night's wings as they slowly bore him o'er a
slumbering land? Who, the saraband of spring, or the music of the spheres, or the steeds
of the moon as they draw a thousand million tons of water from ocean's bosom and pile it
up upon the land? The answer to these questions is, None. Such mighty works of God are
done in silence. Thus also in silence operates the eternal spirit of divine Truth as it
cleanses mind and heart and life, and finding daily expression through the avenue of the
Christian bears superlative testimony of Him whose blessed and glorious name is Love.
Christian be an economist? He should. In the divine economy nothing is lost. Every tear,
every pang that rends the heart is designed for a purpose. Some day the broken threads
of life will be gathered up and spun to a conclusion, and woven into a tissue of matchless
beauty, and then all results of the present shall appear. The Christian should know that,
figuratively speaking, God gathers the tears of the saints and fashions them into garlands
of pearls to be worn throughout eternity; then shall he have comfort for sorrowing hearts
about him, even "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness."
should be an Empire man in the highest sense, recognizing God as the only true Empire
Builder, who raiseth up and setteth down, and can alone say to a kingdom, "Thou art
weighed in the balances and art found wanting." He should see in present institutions
a temporary arrangement, to, afford the world an experience calculated to be for lasting
good, and to give place to a universal dynasty where Love shall be the king law. Not in
present empires and their affairs, neither in science or philosophy should the Christian's
hope be centered, but in the Love of God, and in the Gospel of His eternal Son.
should see that mighty, irresistible,., transforming forces are at work today, and that
the, world really stands at the birth of a New Era. This is, no fancy theory, but a fact;
and these forces cannot be ignored or trifled with lest they crush the offender. Political
Economy, the Capitalistic platform, the resounding cry of Laborism, practical training
of the young, Government elections, International peace,. etc., are questions at issue at
the present time; and the Christian, when approached on these subjects, should. deal with
them from the viewpoint of his Text Book,. the Word of God, for therein lies the final
authority for knowledge and judgment in all matters pertaining to human affairs.
needs a good backbone. He should be like "Mount Zion that standeth fast
forever." His, attitude toward life and his dealings therewith should call attention
to the glory. of the commonplace, and teach men to gather good from the elements right at
hand, and to use circumstances as stepping-stones to grander heights. His face should
reflect the radiance of Truth itself; his eyes should be deep with the depth of eternal
things; his tongue should be moved by the Holy Spirit. He should have complete
consecration to start with, the grace of God to go along with, the Kingdom of Heaven to
end with. For such as is here described, there is work to be done. The Master has, come
and calleth for him. - W. S.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, . . . Ye shall
but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." -
intends His children to be always rejoicing is evident from the many references thereto in
His Word. He stands ready to impart a joy that can be permanent whatever may befall His
own. Jesus had such rejoicing in mind in His farewell words to His disciples, when, though
Himself so near the darkness of the cross and the agony of Gethesmane, He said,
"These things have I spoken unto you that ye might have My joy, and that your joy may
be full." (John 15:11.) Here, at such a time in His own experience, was sorrow and
joy made compatible; therefore it is possible to us under circumstances of similar
kind. To the Apostle this permanent joy was so much a part of Christian privilege that
he emphasized its importance by saying, "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say,
Rejoice." "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation." "Rejoice
evermore." - Phil. 4:4; Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:16.
But it is
equally plain that sorrow has its place also, for such is the import of our text, "Ye
shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Jesus wept in sorrow,
and truly He was acquainted with grief. Paul was a man of many tears and deep sorrows. In
the Lord's beatitudes, mourning is given a place among the experiences fruitful in
blessedness. It is of faithful servants the word is written, "He that goeth forth and
weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his
sheaves with him." (Psa. 126:6.) Thus we see that both joy and sorrow are
intermingled in the pattern God works out in our lives. Both are needed if His design is
to be wrought out in us as of fine needlework and beauty of adornment, making us meet
for the Bridegroom's choice. In this inworking, temptations will bring heaviness of spirit
at times, perhaps more than a little grievous for the present, but, thereby the
peaceable fruits of righteousness may be brought to fruition. Though strange at times a
trial may seem, yet cheering is the Savior's promise, covering all such experiences:
"Your sorrow shall be turned into joy." When we can rest in the assurance that
God holds the key to all the intricate things by which our lives are to be conformed to
His. design, then we have learned how true it is that
life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and Me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily. Ofttimes
He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
until the loon is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skilful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned."
and shadow's come in varying measure to all God's children. Though we may sing of life
flowing on in an endless harmony of song, yet most of us are ready to confess to groanings
within at times because the burdens press down heavily. And as it touches the faithful
Christian life, how rich in possibilities is the ministry of sorrow. Who of us would
want to be stranger to the fact that "E'en sorrow touched by heaven grows bright,
with more than rapture's ray"? Unfortunate indeed it would be if we had no share with
our Lord in His acquaintance with grief, and what a great deficiency in character would be
ours if we knew no experiences when the heart is "broken and contrite" over
failures to walk even as He walked amid life's varied environments. The penitential tear
is precious to God. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,
whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of
the contrite ones." - Isa. 57:15.
sorrows that come to all, worldling and Christian alike-the physical ills, the
fluctuations of financial gain or loss, the bereavement that takes a loved one from the
circle of home-in all these universal vicissitudes it becomes the child of God to exhibit
that faith in God's love and wisdom wherein is peace and rest. In these a willing
acquiescence is beautiful, for here surely heaven can touch sorrow and make it radiant
with hope. But there are sorrows of a peculiar shade known best by the contrite heart
and felt most keenly by the tender conscience. Among these there is that godly sorrow
which worketh repentance, a bitter-sweet it is, but its possession gives evidence of a
priceless quality of character.
GOLD AND SILVER THREADS OF JOY
There is an
upper and an underside to the pattern God is weaving out for each one of us. To Him the
upper design appears in all its charm and beauty, while we see the "dark
threads" of the underside. If we can but let patience have her perfect work until the
last needed thread has been wrought into the pattern, ah, then, we shall see how
mysteriously all the dark and somber shades of life have been interwoven by "the
Weaver's skilful hand" until all that had seemed drab or dark or foreign to the
pattern, has been transformed into strands of gold and silver. Then indeed shall our
sorrow be turned into joy. However, much we fail in doing so now, there will be no failure
"over there" in counting as "all joy" the divers trials experienced
But there is
much of joy apportioned to us even now. To us, "Godliness is profitable unto all
things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1
Tim. 4:8.) It is of the present Jesus said, "These things have I spoken unto you,
that ye might have fly joy, and that your joy may be full." There is a "joy
unspeakable" which the Apostle Peter says may be ours as we wait for Him, "whom
having not seen we love; in whom, though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice
with joy unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8.) Of such joy we should have a
perpetual consciousness. In it there is the fullness of which Jesus spoke. There should be
a continuous joy in the heart of any one to whom Christ is really precious as Savior,
Brother, Friend. Then to know of the wideness in God's grace-wide and deep as the
boundless ocean-and to understand His provision for all the world of men, past, present
and future, should make joy a permanent thing in life. To be called as we are called to a
future glory, if we faithfully endure present tribulations, should make the joys to come a
source of unfading joy now. Truly the Christian
should "Rejoice evermore."
Such joys as
these arc threads in the weaving of our character. But there is another joy that plays a
part, and an important part of the mystic Weaver's work as we may know it now. It is a
rejoicing in the Lord Himself. "We cannot have too many rejoicing Christians,"
it is said, "if they rejoice in the Lord." It is of such joy the Psalmist wrote,
"Let me come to the altar of God, to God, my
joy and delight, singing Thy praise on the lyre, 0 God, my God." (Psa. 43:4,
Moffatt.) Is it not this which makes us "love to steal a while away, from every
cumbering care," where we can come nearer to God in holy meditation than we can
express?-where the word may come to us, though it be spoken mainly to the restless
elements among men, "Be still and know that I am God." There is a communion of
the inner heart with the Invisible Weaver of life's great possibilities, a secret
rendezvous where "our conception of God becomes silent as it becomes supreme."
Oh how much of this joy's outworking may be known and seen by us even now, though as yet
we see but the underside of the divine pattern as it gradually reaches perfection.
THE SOMBER HUES OR TRIAL
is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, lie shall receive the crown of
life, which the Lord hash promised to them that love Him." (James 1:12.) There are
blessings which can be had only when purchased by sorrow; there are joys which can be
reached only through temptations -- such temptations as the Apostle refers to as making
the man blessed. These experiences are the soil from which the richest bloom and fruitage
come, and true it is, "the deepest shades of sorrow become memory's most hallowed
resting places, where the Day Star shines the brightest."
The trial of
our faith needs adversity, and there is much of truth in the expression, "Only by its
woes our life to fullness grows." Certain it is we could never know the deeper
meanings of faith and trust unless we suffered being tempted as was our Lord. When trials
are received without bitterness of spirit, and as God intends, they bring us into a closer
communion with Himself. Though strangely dark and somber the experience, and strangely
rough and lonely the way may seem, still it is the way by which we are led into greater
blessedness. Oh to learn that in the pattern He has planned for us, the dark threads are
as needful to bring it to a fullness of beauty, as are the threads of gold and silver.
Let us not
forget, then, that the strands of godly sorrow have much to do with beautifying the
character. Paul recognized its effect on the brethren at Corinth when his letter of stern
rebuke corrected their wrong in giving countenance to a sin within their assembly:
"Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what
clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire,
yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear
in this matter." (2 Cor. 7:11.) Here was sorrow made a, permanent influence in
the lives of these brethren. It was a true form of repentance on their part, and this is
always lasting in the benefits it can bring into any life.
of a former day, a humiliating defeat, or perhaps some never-to-be-forgotten deflection
from the spirit of Christ, the recollection of which still burns deeply on a sensitive
conscience, these too have been a dark thread taken up by the patient Weaver. Forgiveness
has indeed been freely given and cleansing made complete, but memory will carry it on into
days to come. Yet, has that dark thread not done much for us just because under God's hand
"all things" are gathered up and made to work out our good. Has the regret, the
humiliation, the defeat not done much to weave into the fabric of our character those
essential and beautiful qualities of mercy, patience, and loving-kindness, without which
the adorning divine could never be wrought. To whom much has been forgiven, by the law of
gratitude the same loveth much, and so the dark threads of failure serve us well now,
helping us to forgive others, even as for Christ's sake God has forgiven us. Well may we
rejoice that in the skilful Weaver's hand the failures for which there has been a full
repentance, are taken up and by grace interwoven into the pattern He began, which good
work He is able to finish; even in such as ourselves.
THE SHADOWS OF DEFERRED HOPE
necessarily finishing touches to the embroidery of that raiment of fine needlework in
which the Bride is to appear before her King. These are finishing touches of character of
the finest quality.
Christ must be perfected, and a consuming love for Himself must mark the spirit. Time has
been given through graciously lengthened years to be come "stablished,
strengthened, settled" in, all essential doctrine and needed graces of character,
but as the hour for presentation draws nearer, how much this consuming love for the
Bridegroom should be manifested. And yet in this very devotion there are trials of faith
and patience which, like threads, stretch across each waiting day. Because this is
particularly so now, we much need the inspired prayer, "The Lord direct your heart
into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ." (2 Thess. 3:5.) Hope
deferred has made many a heart sick, and long waiting does test both our faith and love.
Shadows of doubt can come in and greatly dim the ardency of hope, and make the cry,
"How long, 0 Lord, how long?" nothing more than an impatient lament. When we
should have hearts made patient in waiting because we know His time is best, we grow
restless in spirit over the delay. Yet there must be
eagerness and longing, ever saying, "How can I keep the longing back? Any other
attitude would be inconsistent in a time like our own. How could we with a knowledge of
such a hope of glory and of home, do otherwise than wish the hour might speedily come
when both would be fully entered into? Yet we may wonder at times if we are pleasing our
Lord by our longing for His appearing, or displeasing Him by our impatience. But here
again are threads taken up by the divine Weaver and woven into a pattern which His grace
alone will make perfect. He knows how to separate the elements of seeming impatience from
the greater volume of love He knows we carry deep in our hearts. We see the underside, but
He continues to weave the flawless beauty of the upper side, which we shall yet rejoice to
see as leaving His hand "with out spot,
or wrinkle, or any such thing."
And so the
colors, hues, and shades take shape under His hand, and ere long the weaving will be
complete. Perhaps few of us feel otherwise than disposed to look at the underside still
present with us, and see the tangled threads, the inharmony of our faith and practice. So
much of failure and unprofitableness we say, can it be that the pattern God planned for me
can ever be finished in a beauty pleasing to His eye? Hope clings to that possibility, and
faith affirms it will be so. It is the Lord's work and marvelous in our eyes.
time we shall see the upper side, and behold what God hath wrought. No dark threads. will
appear on that side. They will have served their purpose and disappeared under the mystic
Weaver's power to make all things work together for our good. Whatever our own poor faulty
words and ways have seemed to be in the sight of others, and whatever our own memory may
hold up before us of shortcomings, still God loves and understands. He knows the ideal we
loved and cherished as the ultimate objective in life. He knows we have often
misrepresented our better self, and He knows the godly sorrow this has brought to us
numberless times. His ideal planted in our hearts being our ideal also, He will continue
to create us in His own image and likeness, until on that perfected image in us He can
smile in loving approval. Then indeed shall all of
sorrow be turned into, joy. The pattern will be perfected in all its hues by the grace of
God, who works and moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. In this faith we bow
our heads as the sweet inspired benediction speaks its hope and peace to our hearts.
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless
before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be
glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." - Jude 24, 25.
- J. J. B..