XXXVIII December 1956
I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people"
- Luke 2:10.
again, in the Lord's providence, the season of Christmas is approaching,
recalling precious memories of the past; and more especially, to most of
us who read these pages, memories of our childhood and the family
festivities that are so indissolubly linked with the observance of
Christmas in the home. Although, as in so many other instances to-day, the
hallowed associations of this season have become corrupted with
commercialism, and, in the case of Christmas, with the pleasures of eating
and drinking, the joy of this season, even thus expressed, is fundamental,
deeply rooted in the announcement of the angel quoted above, at the
birth of Jesus. It is fitting, therefore, that we should rejoice in a
special manner, as we ponder over all that the festival of Christmas
means to us.
THE CHRISTIAN YEAR
this connection may it not be that we miss much by ignoring, as is
so frequently done, the significance, at the appropriate seasons, of the
various events comprehended in the Christian year? Would it not be to our
spiritual enrichment, for instance, if at Whitsuntide we not only
participated in the public holiday* usually marking that occasion, but as
Christians availed ourselves of the opportunity to meditate in a special
way on that further gift of our gracious God, viz., the Holy Spirit, and
all that Pentecost meant to the early Church and to us? And so with
the other great events of the Christian Calendar; would not our
spiritual lives be nurtured, in these days of rush and bustle, by more
particular contemplation at such seasons, of the significance to us of the
events thus brought to mind?
it be objected that the evidence available indicates that the birth of
Jesus took place about October 1st of our present calendar and not
December 25th, we reply that such fact in no wise lessens the importance
of the latter day to all Christians, inasmuch as in such case it marks the
time of the Annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel of such birth in due
time, and the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary by the operation of
the Holy Spirit. The one event was as necessary and important as the other
in the outworking of the Divine Plan, and both are equally a cause of
rejoicing, being essential elements of the one operation whereby "The
Word was made flesh" - John 1:14.
two aspects are presented together in that familiar prophecy: "Unto
us a child is born, unto us a Son is given" (Isaiah 9:6), whereby we
learn that the coming of the long-promised seed of the woman (a Child is born)
is the result of a Son being given. "God so loves the
world that he gave his only-begotten Son"
3.16). What lessons throng upon us as we contemplate that mystery! Herein
is revealed to us the marvelous love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
The whole plan of God is based upon the fact that God is the great giver,
giving even to the end of time. Again, in those few words of the prophet
we have enshrined both the pre-human existence of our Lord (he was already
God's Son when given), and the virgin birth-a child is born in
circumstances unique in the experience of the human family. How much more
is involved in this transaction, and how much greater cause of rejoicing,
when we thus perceive the divine power operating through human
instrumentality for the accomplishment of the designed end! And what
deeper understanding is imparted to that age-long assurance, "The
seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head" (Gen.
3.15), in the light of that subsequent development of the virgin birth.
Should not this awake us to the possibility that many other statements of
Scripture apparently quite plain to us now, may in the light of further development
of God's eternal purpose be seen later to convey a much greater conception
than at present we are able to apprehend. In this way the prayer
voiced in the words of the well-known hymn in reference to the Bible finds
continuing fulfillment: -
are indebted to two of the Evangelists for accounts of events which are
inseparably connected in our minds with the celebration of Christmas.
Luke, the travel companion of St. Paul, and his "beloved
physician" (Col. 4.14), tells us that he was at pains to set forth
the events "in order"-Luke 1:3. To him we are indebted for the
account of the birth of John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, in
the old age of Zechariah and Elizabeth-a child, like the Christ himself;
specially brought into the world for a particular purpose, though not, of
course, in analagous circumstances, in the manifold wisdom of God.
then we have the beautiful story of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel
to the meek and lowly Mary of the conception and birth of Jesus. In this
record, the faith and humble acceptance of God's will on the part of the
woman Mary is in contrast to the doubting attitude in much less testing
circumstances of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. The old age of
Elizabeth and her- husband was indeed a test of faith in God's
pronouncement of the birth to them of a son, but there was a precedent for
this in the familiar record of the birth of Isaac in similar
circumstances, a story well known to every Jew. Yet Zechariah in doubt
queried, "Whereby shall I know this, for I am an old man and my wife
well stricken in years?" But in the unique position in which Mary was
placed she meekly said in complete resignation to God's will, and
doubtless mindful of all that it might bring upon her in the way of
reproach, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word" - Luke
1:38. And as it was at the beginning, so was it at the end of our Lord's
earthly life, in connection with another Mary. As one has said:
is Luke who has related for us the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, and
preserved for us the Songs of Zechariah and Mary, the "Jubilate Deo"
and the "Magnificat", which enrich the worship of many today.
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
then at last we come to the birth of Jesus, in the lowliest possible
circumstances, yet attested by a power that moved the whole Roman Empire
to accomplish the desired end. From Luke 2:4 we learn that Mary with her
affianced husband resided at Nazareth in Galilee, whereas prophecy, as
the priests and scribes pointed out to King Herod, (Matt. 2:3-6) indicated
Bethlehem, the city of David, in Judea, as the birthplace of the Messiah -
Mic. 5:2. So, under Divine direction the ponderous machinery of the vast
Roman Empire was put into motion by the promulgation on the part of the
Emperor Caesar Augustus of an edict for the enrollment (not taxing) of his
Empire's inhabitants (Luke 2:1. RSV.) As a result, Joseph and Mary, both
of the lineage of David, were made to leave Nazareth temporarily and
report at Bethlehem, the divine timing, as always, being so perfect that
their arrival at that city coincided with the due date of delivery by
Mary of her firstborn son, the infant Jesus. Truly, "God moves in a
mysterious way his wonders to perform."
of the house of David in lineage, it is evident that both Joseph and Mary
were in very poor circumstances, Joseph being the carpenter of the
obscure village of Nazareth and in the eyes of the world of little consequence.
Hence, when as a result of the Emperor's edict the town of Bethlehem
became thronged with an unwonted number of visitors, and accommodation
there was fully taxed, they received no consideration either on account of
their lineage which presumably the rest of the visitors shared, or of
Mary's condition, and were forced, for the time being at any rate, to find
shelter in the stabling of the khan or inn. It was in such humble
circumstances that Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and the Savior of
the world was born. The infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and
laid in one of the mangers for his first cradle.
a fruitful subject of meditation here presents itself! The operation of
divine wisdom on the one hand choosing such a medium for the introduction
into this sinful world of the Divine Son as Israel's Messiah and the
Savior of mankind. It was so entirely different from the expectation of
the world in general, and of the Jews in particular, whose anticipations
and visions of their Messiah were based upon human rather than divine
conceptions. On the other hand what infinite condescension and love was
thus manifested by the Son who, although in the words of St. Paul, existed
originally "in the form of God, did not count equality with God a
thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men." - Phil. 2:6, 7, RSV.
although the outward circumstances of the birth of Jesus were so lowly,
Luke does not fail to record that the event was acclaimed by a heavenly
host. Following the announcement of the birth by an angel to simple shepherds
watching their flocks in the fields nigh to Bethlehem by night, an angelic
chorus by "a multitude of the heavenly host" praised God
singing, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will
toward men." As the echoes of the angelic song died away, the shepherds
said among themselves, "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see
this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto
us." And so they hastened to the royal city and found Mary and
Joseph, with the babe in the manger as the angel had said. Thus the first
of mankind to worship and welcome the Lord Christ were humble shepherds.
then proceeds to record the circumcision of the infant Jesus on the
eighth day in accordance with the covenant God made with Abraham-Gen.
17:9-14. After this, Mary and Joseph remained at Bethlehem until the days
purification of the mother after childbirth had been accomplished. In accord
with Lev. 12:2-6, this was an additional period of 33 days in connection
with the birth of a male child, a total of 40 days in all. At the
conclusion of this period, the infant Jesus, being Mary's firstborn, was
presented before the Lord in the temple and duly sanctified as the law
provided (Ex. 13:2), whilst the stipulated offering in connection with
the birth of a child (Lev. 12: 6-8) was made. This was usually a lamb but
here again the poverty of Joseph and Mary is brought under notice, the
alternative of "a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons" in
the case of the poor, being availed of by them (Luke 2:24); thus
emphasizing the lowly circumstances of the home into which the
only-begotten Son of God was born. And then Luke explicitly states (Luke
2:39), "when they had performed all things according to the law of
the Lord" (occupying, as we have seen, a period of 40 days)
"they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth."
us now for a few moments ponder on the deep significance to the human
family of the advent into this sinful world of the Logos, "the Word
made flesh" (John 1:14). The angel's pronouncement to Joseph when the
latter was pondering over his discovery of Mary's condition was,
"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary
thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And
she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he
shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:20, 21). The Greek
form "Jesus" (Jesous) is equivalent to and has the same meaning
as the Hebrew Joshua or Jehoshua. This may readily be seen by reference to
Heb. 4:8, where the name Jesus obviously refers to Joshua of the Old
Testament, who led the people of Israel from the wilderness into the
promised land and subdued the nations dwelling therein. In either case the
meaning is "The Salvation of Jehovah," and sets forth, as do the
majority of names in the Scriptures, the character, or the office, or the
destiny of the individual named. Thus this child to be born of Mary was
designated by the angel to be the long-promised Savior provided by the God
of Israel to save his people from their sins. In Matthew's Gospel -- the
gospel of the King and Kingdom as it relates more particularly to
Israel-the Savior is the Savior of his
as foretold by Israel's prophets. Through Isaiah, for instance, God had
declared to Israel, "I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of
Israel, thy Savior; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for
thee," and proceeds to foretell another deliverance (salvation) for
his people in the future (Isaiah 43:3-7) (See also 49:26; 60:16). It was
on the basis of such passages that the Jews derived their conceptions
and hopes of a Savior for Israel, a mighty Deliverer from external foes;
and this helps us to understand their bitter antagonism to the Apostle
Paul as announcer of glad tidings to the Gentiles. This was exemplified
in connection with his speech from the top of the stairs leading from the
Temple area in Jerusalem to the Roman castle. He was heard with attention
until he related how in vision he had been commissioned by the Lord Jesus:
"Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles;" when
the Jews at once lifted up their voices and cried, "Away with such an
one from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live" (Acts
although our Lord was of the Seed of David according to the flesh and thus
related to Israel, he was also the seed of the woman (Gal. 4:4), through
whom blessing is to come eventually to "all the families of the
earth," bringing "the desire of all nations" (Hag. 2:7).
Thus by taking upon himself our humanity, he became a fitting counterpart
-- a Ransom or corresponding price -- not for the Jew's only,
or even for Israel as a whole, but for the whole race of men involved in Adam's
fall. This of course, would have been in vain if he himself had been
involved in that fall and its, penalty for disobedience, viz. death. But
by means of his birth by a virgin, Mary -- the seed of the woman yet not "in Adam" -- the Divine purpose was
accomplished and so Jesus came "in the likeness of sinful flesh and
for sin" but "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), being
"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb.
JESUS OUR LORD
concluding this Christmas meditation, however, we remind ourselves that
the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem was but one link in a chain of connected
events leading up to the grand climax of human blessing, each of which is
important and necessary to this end. So we cannot linger at the manger,
but must proceed to the contemplation of the purpose for which the child
was born, viz. that in due time Christ might die for the ungodly (Rom.
5:6). "He by the grace of God tasted death for every man" (Heb.
2:9). Yet neither may we remain indefinitely at the Cross, for as Paul
states, "if Christ be not raised ... ye are yet in your sins; then
also they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Cor.
15:14-18) Yes, thank God, the Christian religion does not invite us to
make a yearly pilgrimage to the tomb of its dead prophet, but announces,
"Christ is risen indeed." "He was delivered for our
offenses and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). Again,
having been raised from the dead, to be subject no more to death, he is to
come again, to bring to Israel, to be again restored to Divine favor, and
to the world in general in due time, the blessings secured step by step by
the faithful course of the Logos, who became flesh, died and was
subsequently glorified. Thus the birth of our Lord which we celebrate at
the Christmas season was the necessary prelude to the three
"R's" of the Christian faith, viz. Ransom (Redemption),
Resurrection, and Return; and without an appreciation of all three and the
marvelous joy awaiting mankind as a result, our present joy at
Christmastide would be but a hollow mockery.
the meantime, those privileged to understand the purpose of the present
age, viz. the development of the mystery (sacred secret) of God, i.e. Christ
(Col. 2.2), await with patience the consummation of that feature of
God's Plan of the Ages, and endeavor to do their part in becoming
"conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom. 8:29), utilizing
both the joys and sorrows of life to that end, assured that "all
things are working together for good to those who love God, the called
according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Such have the Master's joy
fulfilled in themselves at all seasons and under all circumstances, in
accordance with St. Paul's exhortation, "Rejoice in the Lord always,
and again I say, rejoice!" - Phil. 4:4.
as the lightning cometh out of
the east, and shineth even
unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
- Matt. 24:27.
is a widely-discussed text. It is frequently used to support either of two
considerably variant expectations regarding the manner of the Second
Advent. That Advent, think some, is to be sudden and spectacular, as a
flash of lightning. Not so, say others; lightning does not emerge out of
the east and shine unto the west. Our Lord must have referred to the
bright shining of the sun, and his coming of gradual perception to the
minds of men, even as the dawn steals upon sleepers unawares, broadening
gradually into full day.
view is correct?
first the context. By way of warning to his disciples, Jesus told them
that they were not to heed any assertion that he had come "in the
desert" nor yet "in the secret chambers"; "For,"
said he, "AS the lightning . . . so shall also the parousia [presence] of the Son of man be." The meaning of
this is clear; his presence, which we know will extend over a period of a
thousand years, is to be universally known and perceived.
is obvious that Jesus was likening his presence to something in nature
with which they were already familiar, and had themselves witnessed a
hundred times before. His use of the analogy would have been futile
otherwise. We need then to determine the precise nature of the allusion.
is sometimes suggested that the Greek word here used, "astrape,"
not mean "lightning" but it does mean "bright
shining," and in this text refers to the sun. Put like this, the
suggestion is not altogether accurate. "Astrape"
regular Greek term for lightning, as reference to any lexicon will show.
But the dictionary definition of a word is not sufficient unless the usage
of that word in the literature and language of the period in question is
also taken into consideration. Only thus may the true meaning of recorded
utterances be appreciated.
English word "lightning" is restricted in its use to that flash
of light which accompanies the electrical discharges associated with a
thunderstorm. The term, however, is a derivation of
"lightening," any dazzling or radiant display of light, and a
trace of this older English usage appears in Luke 17:24. Just so did the
Greek "astrape" refer,
in the current usage of the time, to any bright or intense display of
light, and the question as to whether lightning or other form was
concerned has to be decided by the nature of the allusion, or by the
word occurs quite often in the New Testament, in the Greek version of the
Old Testament (the Septuagint) and in the Apocrypha, and since all these
represent the language as it was spoken in the first century, their
testimony can be admitted.
following texts are quoted to show how "astrape," both
as a noun and as a verb, has been translated in a number of instances and
from these it is apparent that its general application is as suggested
From the New Testament.
9:3 - "There shined round about him a light from heaven."
22:6 - "There
heaven a great light round about me."
24:4 - "Two men stood by them in shining garments."
11:36 - "As when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. "
9:29 - "His rainment was white and glistering."
10:18 - "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
28:3 - "His countenance was like lightning."
From the Old Testament.
32:41 - "If I whet my glittering sword."
10:6 - "His face as the appearance of lightning."
3:11 - "At the shining of thy glittering spear."
From the Apocrypha.
11:18 - "Wild beasts . . . shooting horrible sparkles
Macc. 4:10 - "There appeared from heaven angels riding on horseback all
examples go to show that "lightning" is not necessarily the
meaning of the word in Matt. 24:27. Jesus apparently referred to a noteworthy
radiance or shining of light that was known to emerge from the east and
cover the sky to the west. The rising of the sun is, of course,
immediately suggested, but, it is only when the nature of a Palestinian
sunrise is appreciated that the force of the allusion can be perceived.
The gradualness of an English sunrise would not meet the sense of the
Greek "astrape." We
dwellers in the temperate zone are familiar with the slow increase of
daylight, occupying the space of an hour or more, which constitutes our
dawn, but this is true only of our own latitude. The farther one proceeds
towards the tropics the more rapid is the transition from total darkness
to full daylight, until at the Equator the change is practically
instantaneous. To appreciate the meaning of Jesus' words, therefore, we
must visualize to ourselves a Palestinian dawn.
few quotations from travelers who have actually witnessed such a sunrise
will be of interest in this connection.
V. Morton, in his book "In the steps of the Master" says: "As I sat on the stone thinking of
these things, a light began to fill the sky. The sun rises over Jerusalem
from behind the Mount of Olives. I turned my back on the city and, looking
up over the Mount, saw a great fan of light pulsing up from the east. The
fire filled the sky and turned the little clouds in its path to pink and
gold, but the high ridge of the Mount, almost black against the
palpitating light, hid the sun from view. . . . The sun topped the crest
of the Mount of Olives, and looking again towards Jerusalem, I saw the
highest buildings gilded with light though the wall was yet unlit. In a
few seconds a flood of light fell over the city, ran down the wall and
into the valley of the Kedron. It swept up the stony flanks of the
opposite valley, and I felt my face and my hands warm in its light."
often must Jesus and the disciples have watched this splendid sight from
the Mount of Olives. They must have seen the city ramparts light up with
the first rays of the sun. They must have seen, just above the Garden of
Gethsemane, the towering white and gold mass of the Temple. They must have
seen a priest come out on a pinnacle, as he came every morning, to look
towards the east and report, before the sacrifice of the day, 'The sun
shineth already!' They might even have heard in the still air of dawn
the daily cry from the assembled priests: 'Is the sky lit up as far as
Hebron?', and the daily response of the watcher from the pinnacle: 'It is
lit up as far as Hebron!'"
same writer describes sunrise at Gaza, a little to the south of Jerusalem:
now, as we went onwards, I saw a gathering tumult in the east. A white,
palpitating light was filling the sky. It was like something approaching
at great speed, a mighty army with its chariots and its horsemen. Swords
of light thrust their way upwards, catching stray clouds and turning them
to banners of pink and gold. Then, like an orange flung into the air, the
sun leapt up, fully armed, into the sky: it was warm, and the dead earth
was instantly, vividly, and rather violently, alive."
James Bryce, describing his ascent of Mount Ararat in 1876, thus describes
sunrise as seen from his position halfway up the mountain; (Transcaucasia
3 a.m. there suddenly sprang up, from behind the Median mountains, the
morning star, shedding a light such as no star ever gives in these
northern climes of ours, a light that almost outshone the moon. An hour
later it began to pale in the first faint flush of yellowish light that
spread over the eastern heaven, and first the rocky masses above us,
then Little Ararat, throwing behind him a gigantic shadow, then the long
lines of mountains beyond the Araxes, became revealed, while the wide
Araxes plains still lay dim and shadowy below. One by one the stars died
out as the yellow turned to a deeper glow that shot forth in long
streamers, rosy fingers hovering above the snows on the mighty cone; till
at last there came upon the topmost slope, six thousand feet above us, a
sudden blush of pink. Swiftly it floated down the eastern face, and
touched and kindled the rocks just above us. Then the sun flamed out, and
in a moment the Araxes valley and all the hollows of the savage ridges we
were crossing were flooded with over powering light."
more recent traveler, Leonard Pearson, in "Through the Holy
Land" (1937) gives this picture of dawn at Baalbec, in the north
see the sun rise at Baalbec (three and a half thousand feet above the sea)
is a sight indeed. For the view we climb on the flat roof of the hotel.
What a picture with the crimson glow of the rising sun tinting the
horizon! The snow-topped Lebanons are a blaze of pink, and yellow on the
lower level. Now the rays of the sun flood-light the mighty ruins of the
famous temples.... Look at the giant columns caressed by the warm sun's
glow. Now the pink tinge has gone, yet it seems to remain in the
own booklet "The Promise of His Presence" may be quoted here by
way of concluding these descriptions of the "astrape."
sun comes up suddenly, and a few minutes suffices to transform the velvety
blackness of tropical night into the full brilliance of the day. It is for
this reason that very few inhabitants of the land actually witness the
sun's rising, for their sleep is broken only by its dazzling beams as they
encircle the earth. There is no long and gradual dawn as in more temperate
countries. The first sign of approaching day is a grayness in the eastern
sky, a grayness for which -- in Jerusalem at least -- both city watchmen
and the priests in the Temple were waiting and watching; the watchmen, because
it indicated the end of their period of service, and the priests, because
as soon as light had flooded the land it was their duty to offer the
morning sacrifice. Hence the constant Scriptural association of the coming
day with the "watchers," and the meaning of that cryptic message,
"Watchman, what of the night? . . . The morning cometh, BUT IT IS YET
DARK" (Isa. 21. 11-12 French version). Within a few minutes the
grayness is streaked with shafts of pink, and then, so rapidly as almost
to bewilder the unaccustomed observer, a glorious effulgence of golden
light spreads fan-wise from the east and moves visibly across the sky,
turning the clouds in its path to pink and white and bathing the entire
land in a wonderful rosy glow. It was at this time that the priest,
stationed on a pinnacle of the Temple, cried out in a loud voice that the
light was come and had overspread the land, and his companions below
immediately commenced the ritual of the morning sacrifice. Within a few
minutes more the full blaze of day is pouring down upon a people quickly
arising from sleep and betaking themselves to their accustomed tasks.
is this emergence of light from the east, followed quickly by the sun
itself, to which reference is made in Mal. 4:2, where the promise is that
the 'Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings' -- the
great fan of glory spreading over the sky as the sun rises being not
inaptly likened to the pinions of some great celestial creature. Our
Lord's own allusion to the 'astrape' emerging from the east and
sweeping the sky to the west is undoubtedly a reference to that same
phenomenon which his disciples, early risers as they must have been and
accustomed to remaining awake all night, were thoroughly accustomed to
the basis of the foregoing, then, is might be concluded that Jesus in
tended us to understand His Parousia as an event to be perceived
first by the "watchers," those on the mountain tops, the walls
of Jerusalem, pinnacles of the Temple. These would be in no uncertainty,
they would know full well what the light in the sky portended, and
straightway make proclamation "The Lord is come." Whilst that
proclamation was still going forth, the full blaze of his presence would
overspread the earth and become evident to all people. The two phases of
the Second Advent are adequately included in this metaphor; the first
phase, in which the Lord, coming into the space and time framework of our
earthly habitation "as a thief," gathers his own whilst the
world is as yet unaware of the fact, and the second phase in which his
presence is so patently obvious to all men that no man can deny it. It is
from this latter point that his reign over the earth commences and the
Kingdom is to date. The assumption of power by Jesus must be a real
assumption of power and this cannot be until the kingdoms of this world
have actually and literally given place to his Kingdom. That will be
after the glorification of the Church and therefore after the first phase
of his Advent has been completed.
A. O. Hudson.
I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to
the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest [i. e.
or else} I come and smite the earth with a curse." -- Mal. 4:5, 6.
The Time is at Hand, written in 1889, the author, Charles T. Russell, undertakes to present
"the evidences of the time being at hand for the establishment of
Messiah's Kingdom in the earth." In considering those evidences, he
was careful to observe that "this prophecy, showing the priority of
Elijah's coming, must not be overlooked."
exposition awakened much interest when it first appeared. Today, in the
light of two world wars and their present-day aftermath, the subject of
which it treats may be seen in clearer perspective. Because of this, we
have condensed his luminous exposition in the following paragraphs,, in
the conviction that its review at this time cannot fail to profit the
prophecy, the last message sent by Jehovah to Israel, seems to have deeply
impressed them--especially the last two chapters, which particularly refer
to Messiah's coming, and to the special trials which the day of the Lord's
presence would bring with it. (See Mal. 3:1-3, 13-18; 4:1-6.) Gathering
from this that the testing would be peculiar, they took comfort from the
last verses quoted above, which promised that Elijah the prophet, who
had once converted the entire nation from the worship of Baal back to
the worship of God, would come again to prepare them, before this severe
testing time which Messiah's coming would bring.
prophecy was not fulfilled at the first advent of our Lord-neither
the portion which relates to Messiah nor that which refers to Elijah. The
reference of the prophecy is evidently to the second advent; to the
coming of the "Messenger of the Covenant" in glory and power;
and to the testing and great trouble of the Day of the Lord at that time.
However, Christ's presentation to typical Israel, and the great trouble
which came upon them as a nation when they rejected him, was, as God had
foreseen and intended, another shadow which further illustrated in many
particulars the things presented in this prophecy. John the Immerser, in
the spirit of Elijah, did a work for Israel similar to that of the Elijah
promised, but failed of success; and, as a result, trouble (a curse) upon
that nation followed. The real Elijah referred to by the prophet was to
do a great work for the whole "earth," to prepare all mankind
for the second advent; and he will for a time also fail of success, and as
a result the great time of trouble (the curse) will smite the whole earth.
the coming of Elijah mentioned by the prophet is to be "before"
this "great and dreadful Day of Jehovah," it is important to
show here that Elijah has come. He has failed to turn the hearts of
the world to childlikeness and to the [true] wisdom of the just; and
therefore the great time of trouble comes, as God foresaw and foretold. In
it, God will teach mankind by severe and bitter experiences lessons they
need to learn thoroughly, to prepare them to gratefully accept the Christ,
Jehovah's Messenger of the New Covenant -- with all the just
arrangements, laws, etc., of that covenant.
the first advent, many of God's promises and plans were carried out on a
small scale with one nation, Israel, as an illustration of the greater,
grander realities to be accomplished at Christ's second coming. And as the
miracles, cures, etc., represented the greater works of the Millennial
Age, and our Lord's riding on the ass as King represented his assuming the
greater power, majesty and honor at the second advent as King of kings and
Lord of lords, so "the man Christ Jesus" and his little
band of disciples represented the Lord of Glory highly exalted,
associated with the saints, his bride and co-heirs, at the second advent.
And thus John the Baptist and his disciples engaged in the same
work with and under him, in attempting to convert Israel and to prepare
them to receive Messiah, represented the real Elijah (the true
Christian Church), whose work has been to attempt the conversion of
the world before the coming of Messiah to the world-the spiritual Lord
of glory and King of kings. John the Immerser, in the spirit and power of
Elijah, failed to reform Israel, and, as a consequence (Matt. 27:12),
Israel rejected Jesus in the flesh, and brought upon themselves a great "day
of vengeance," trouble and wrath. (Luke 21:22.) So, likewise,
only on the larger scale, the real and greater Elijah has failed to
convert and prepare the world to receive the King of Glory, and now,
consequently, the great day of wrath must come upon the world, to melt and
mellow and humble and prepare all to cry out from the heart-Hosannah!
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah!
is thus seen that the Church in the flesh (the Christ in the flesh,
Head and Body) is the Elijah or forerunner of the Church in glory, Jehovah's
Anointed. Not the nominal church, but the really consecrated Church, which
on the other side of the tomb will be the great Anointed Deliverer,
--these constitute the Elijah. Their mission is to reprove error and sin,
and to point to the coming Kingdom of glory. Our Lord Jesus and the
Apostles, and all the faithful in Christ Jesus since, are of this great
antitypical Elijah, prophet or teacher -- the same class (Head and Body)
which shall shortly compose the King of Glory. The work in which the
Church is now engaged is merely preliminary to its future work, so far as
the reforming of the world is concerned. In its kingly office the Church
shall accomplish for the world what it fails to do as the Elijah teacher.
us not be misunderstood: We have heretofore shown that God's Plan does not
extend to the converting of the world during the Gospel Age. He did not
intend it to do so, but merely designed the selection and trial of the
now, and the blessing of the world through the Church, the Christ, in an
age to follow this. We do not contradict this when we say that the Elijah
(Christ in the flesh) has tried to convert the world and failed,
except in bringing about partial reforms, though
God knew and foretold that our mission to the world would be largely a
failure, except in selecting a choice little flock, yet, knowing that the
effort would react favorably upon ourselves, his commission to us through
our Lord was to try to convert the world, when he said, "Go ye
into all the world and
preach the good tidings to every creature." Seeing that he foretold
our present failure, but our future success, when he shall glorify and
endue us with divine power, we are enabled to rejoice even while viewing
the comparative failure of the past eighteen centuries, realizing that the
labor of the true Elijah class has not been in vain, but has served the
divine purpose in developing the true Church while bearing witness before
the world-which will profit it in due time.
the Baptist was not actually Elijah returned to earth, neither is the
Church; but as it was true of John, that he did an Elijah work to Israel
(Luke 1:17) to prepare them, and introduced the Lord in the flesh, so it
is true of the Church-it does the predicted Elijah work "in the
spirit and power of Elijah" to the world, and announces our Lord's
second advent in almost the same words which John used at the first
advent: "There standeth one among you whom ye know not.... He it is
who, coming after me, is superior to me." - John 1:26, 27.
could not receive John's testimony nor realize that he was forerunner to
the King in the flesh. Had they done so, they would have been prepared
thereby to receive Jesus as their Messiah. To as many of them as could and
did accept John's message and receive Christ, to these John did do the
Elijah work. As our Lord said to them of John (Matt. 11:14), "If ye
will receive it, this is the Elias which was to come;" though
John and his work did not complete the prediction concerning Elijah,
even as our Lord in the flesh did not fulfill all that was
predicted of Messiah. He was, to all who could receive it, Jehovah's
Anointed, even before he had finished his work of sacrifice, or had been
glorified, or had come again in the exercise of the great office of
Messiah or Deliverer. John, at the first advent, was really a finishing
out, in a measure, of the type begun in the person and work of Elijah; and
John's work at the first advent foreshadowed the closing work of the
Church at the second advent. These, the feet of Christ in the flesh --
the feet of Elijah -- announce the Kingdom. (Isa. 52:7.) To those who "can
receive it" we announce, as at hand, the reign of the Christ
glorified; and likewise to those who "can receive it" we
have pointed out the foretold antitypical Elijah. Some, probably, will not
"receive it," but will still look for some one man to fulfill
Malachi's predictions, and will "know not the time of their
visitation" until the great day of trouble is burning as an oven.
will be seen, then, that the failure of the Elijah (the Christ, in the
flesh) to convert and restore the world was as much a foreseen result as
was John's failure to convert Israel. Nevertheless it will be the same
Elijah class, only glorified and empowered, which will during the
Millennial Age bless and teach the world and restore all things, as
promised by the mouth of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21); only in the
name and likeness the Elijah type ceases with our earthly career. In
harmony with this were our Lord's words in reply to his disciples who
asked, "Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?"
Our Lord's answer does not attempt a full explanation of Elijah's being
a type and John a continuation of the same while at the same time a
shadowy fulfillment of it, etc. -- things which the disciples were not
then prepared to understand, and which moreover were not then due to be
understood; and hence, while pointing out John's failure as a
partial fulfillment of the prophecy, our Lord adds, "Elijah truly
shall come, and restore all things." (Matt. 17:11.) Evidently
he had in mind his own glorious work of the coming age, associated with
his glorified "body" which the Gospel Age would select and test.
He was looking beyond the vail to the Millennial Age, and seeing the
Elijah class caught up in the chariots of fire in power and great glory --
woman is the
figure used when the Church alone is referred to, separate from her Lord
and Head. Separate and distinct from her Lord, the Bridegroom, she is an
espoused virgin. But in this instance a man, Elijah, is the figure used,
because the work prefigured is riot the work of the Church separate from
her Lord, but the one work of both. Our Lord was the Head and Forerunner
of the Church in the flesh (the Elijah), as truly as he is Head of the
Church triumphant-the Christ. Other instances in which a man is the figure
used, when a joint work of Christ Jesus and his body, the Church, is typified,
are numerous: for instance, Aaron and all his successors in the office of
Chief Priest represented the Lord and the under priests, members of his
body; Melchisedec similarly represented the whole body in glory; so
did Moses, David and Solomon. Hence the use of Elijah as a figure, in
representing a united work of Christ and the Church, is in harmony
with the Scripture usage.
view of the class which Elijah represented, how forcibly eloquent was that
the Lord showed to the three disciples on the mount of transfiguration.
(Matt. 17:1-9.) It was a vision of the coming Kingdom, Peter tells us. (2
Pet. 1:16-18.) Our Lord, transfigured, appeared radiant before their eyes,
while a figure of Moses represented the Mosaic or Law Dispensation and a
figure of Elijah represented the Gospel or Christian Dispensation. Both
dispensations look toward and point out and speak of the sacrifice and
sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow.
have no desire to draw before the mind a dark picture; but it is necessary
that the saints should be at least in some measure forewarned of impending
events, that when such come to pass they may not be alarmed or
disheartened, but being fore-armed may know how to meet them; and also
that they may more fully appreciate the blessings of the present, so as
diligently to "work while it is called day; for the night [a
much darker time in comparison with -the present, called day) cometh,
wherein no man CAN WORK."
present little season, before the storm-cloud bursts upon the world, is a
most favorable time for the work of the Elijah class, and corresponds to
the successful days of both Elijah and John. It is favorable for personal
growth in grace and knowledge, and also for the spread of the truth-the
most favorable time that has ever been known.
may we expect between the present comparatively favorable time and the
coming blessed time of unhindered righteousness? Will it continue to be
as favorable as the present for labor in the vineyard-or more so, or less
so? Let us notice what these types indicate; for since our Lord has
directed our attention to them, whatever we find in the life and
experience of either Elijah or John which seems to fit well to the experience
of the Church, and to the testimony regarding her future earthly course,
we are justified in recognizing as typical.
was separated from earthly scenes by a chariot of fire, representative of
the spiritual glory and exaltation awaiting, at the end of the earthly
racecourse, those of the Church alive and remaining to the last days.
But we should also remember that it was by a whirlwind or storm that he
was taken away; and a storm is the symbol of trouble, as much as the fiery
chariot is a figure of victory and glorious escape from that trouble.
the Baptist's closing experiences are still more clearly marked by the trouble feature.
Though he was not obeyed by the people (Matt. 17:12), they for a short
time recognized him as a servant and prophet of God (John 5: 35); yet when
he had announced the presence of Messiah his influence soon began to wane,
as he had testified it would do, saying of Christ, "He must increase,
but I must decrease." So it must be in the end of this Age: the work
of the John class (the Elijah class) closes with the announcement that the
Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and that the King is present. This is now
being done; and the exact words of John's testimony apply with equal force
at this time of the Lord's second advent: "There standeth one among
whom ye know not," "whose fan is in his hand, and he will
thoroughly purge [cleanse] his [threshing] floor, and gather his wheat
into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable
fire"-the great time of trouble. - John 1:26; Matt. 3:12.*
To the day of his death (October 31, 1916) Pastor Russell believed and taught that October 1914
the close of the Times of the Gentiles, and that the period of our Lord's
second advent began forty years before. However, as he himself stated,
uncertainty about the matter of chronology to make it a
matter of faith rather than of positive knowledge." (Reprints
of this measure of uncertainty, when, in 1912, he listed various items
of his faith, and unqualifiedly affirmed them, in some instances
challenging statements to the contrary as unscriptural, he was careful to
state his belief as to the date of our Lord's return in much more guarded
phrase: "We do not affirm, dogmatically, that he came in 1874, but we say that to us it is the evident teaching of the Scriptures." (Rep.
that some of
over-zealous followers could learn from his wise and faithful example
here! Moreover, in the Foreword to S.S.
Vol. II, written
more light was beginning to break through, as his keen, spiritual mind
pondered the unfolding scene: "We could not, of course, know in 1889, whether the date 1914, so clearly marked in the Bible as the end of
Gentile lease of
permission to rule the world, would mean that they would be fully out of
that time, or whether, their lease expiring, their eviction would begin.
The latter we perceive to be the Lord's program; and promptly in August 1914,
Gentile kingdoms referred to in the prophecy began the present great
struggle, which, according to the Bible, will
in the complete overthrow of all human government, opening the way for
the full establishment
of the Kingdom of
John decreased -- his special work being accomplished when his message was
delivered-so the Church in the flesh must decrease when its last message
is given, until the last member has laid down his consecrated life, and
passed beyond the veil into "glory," thenceforth to be a member
of the glorious, reigning Christ. As John said that Jesus must increase,
so now that the real Kingdom is about to be established we can
confidently say that the King is present, and that his kingdom must
increase until it fills the earth. And John's announcement of the
"harvest" work -- the gathering of the wheat, and the trouble
coming upon the chaff-also finds its parallel in the present time.
liberty was restrained soon after the delivery of his message, announcing
the work before him; and he was cast into prison because he had reproved
the king of improper union with a woman (Matt. 14:4). And though the
faithful children of God have often pointed out that union between the
Church and the civil power is out of order, being in the Scriptures
termed harlotry (Rev. 17:5), and though in a great measure the world has
withdrawn from the churches, the union still exists, and the Scriptures
seem to point out that, in the time of trouble approaching, the nominal
churches, professedly virgins of Christ, will be on the side of the
kings of the earth, and united to them; and the true Church, like its
type, John the Baptist, will be unpopular and restrained of liberty, because
of faithfulness in opposing and condemning error.
same necessity for restricting liberty on political and social questions
will probably be supposed to apply equally to freedom of expression on
religious questions, which really lie at the foundation of all liberty. It
would not be surprising if a "strong government," a monarchy,
would some day replace this present Great Republic; and it is entirely
probable that one common standard of religious belief will be deemed
expedient and will be promulgated, to teach outside of which will be
treated and punished as a political offense. Such a persecution would
not only furnish, in the end or harvest of this age, another parallel to
the harvest of the Jewish age (Acts 4:10-13, 23-30; Acts 5:29-41;
but would also give a wider and deeper significance to the words of the
Apostles Paul and John (2 Tim. 4:3; Rev. 13:17), and to the typical
illustrations of the close of the earthly career of the true Church, as
represented in Elijah's whirlwind departure and John the Baptist's
imprisonment and beheading.
Subsequent to writing The Time is at Hand, the author was led to see that the harvest of
Gospel Age extended beyond forty years and that there is no
way of determining
its exact length. Under the caption "Our Mistake Respecting the
Harvest," he wrote (September 1,
imagined that the harvest work of gathering the Church would be
accomplished before the end of the Gentile Times; but nothing in the Bible
so said. Our thought was purely an inference, and now we see that it was
an unjustified one."
- Reprints R5950.
lessons we may draw from this to advantage, whether future developments
shall prove that we have read the prophetic testimony correctly or
incorrectly; and they are these: First, we should be so prepared, so armed
and so thoroughly furnished with the invincible truth, that persecution
would move us only to greater zeal, and not lead us through surprise or
fear to lower our standard, nor to surrender when the kings of the earth
stand up, and, with the religious rulers of the people, are gathered
against us, and against the truths to which God has granted us the
privilege of witnessing, as his servants and ambassadors. (1 John 3:1.)
Second, such reflections relative to the future, contrasted with the
privileges of the present, should serve to stimulate every consecrated
child of God to make diligent use of the present grand harvest
opportunities and privileges, remembering that "he that reapeth
receiveth wages," as truly as he that planted and watered, and that
now is pre-eminently a time for gathering fruit unto eternal life.
The little quiet of the present favorable time, with its greater liberties
and advantages in every way, is divinely arranged in order to the sealing
of the true servants of God in their foreheads (intellectually, with the
Master saith: "Work while it is called day; for the night
cometh, when no man can work." "Labor not for the meat that
perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life."
then, in the present due time, we see that Elijah the prophet came, as
foretold, before the great and notable day of the Lord. And we hear his
closing testimony, like that of John, saying, "There standeth one
among you whom ye know not"-whose fan is in his hand, and he will
thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor: he will gather his wheat into the
garner, and burn up the tares [as tares -- not as men) with unquenchable
fire in the great time of trouble-the curse, which must needs come to
prepare the way of the Great King of kings. He must increase, but the
Elijah must decrease and finally be entirely restrained. Not only do we
hear this testimony from a few of the Elijah class now, but every one who
is of the Elijah class will ere long be found proclaiming this message
and engaging in the Elijah work. Such only as are thus faithful will be of
the glorified Elijah, and permitted to share in the work of restitution of
all things which, during the Millennium, will be a grand success. A depth
of significance is found in the meaning of the name Elijah. It
signifies God [mighty-one) of Jehovah. It is thus a fitting
name for the Lord's Anointed, whose grand work will be to restore all
things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since
the world began.
He stake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray,
and not to faint. - Luke 18:1.
from last issue.)
presumes a life of close and intimate communion and fellowship with God,
and with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is because real prayer brings us into
direct contact with the Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, that the great
Adversary -- the Devil, Satan -- uses every possible means to keep us from
a life of prayer. Prayer is as necessary and vital to the Christian as the
air we breathe is to our bodily well-being. Yet real prayer is one of the
most neglected exercises in the Christian Church as well as in the lives
of individual Christians! Why is there such a lack of power in the
lives of so many Christians, and in the great majority of Christian
communities today? Of how few can it be said that men take note "that
they have been with Jesus," or that they are bright and shining
lights in the world, "holding forth the word of life"! So often,
alas, the light has grown dim and flickering, and the spirit of slumber
has descended upon whole communities of professing Christians. It is
because prayer has been neglected-that which should have the foremost
place in our lives and in the Church has so often been relegated to the
time that is left to us when every other task has been accomplished. The
Prayer-life involves every moment of the twenty-four hours of every day,
during which there is an awareness of the Father's presence, but it is
no less important that definite times should be set aside when we
shut ourselves away from every earthly contact to meditate upon our
Father's Word, and commune with him in earnest prayer and supplication.
is reminded of the little child who delights to be where mother is, busy
with her needlework or whatever it may be; or with father, in the garden
or in his study. The child is intent and occupied with its own small tasks
-- playing with its toys, or reading the storybook; nevertheless,
there is an awareness of the parent's presence which brings contentment
and quiet joy. And how comforting to know that in the realization of
that presence it can speak of its problems and frequent causes of joy and
gladness. That is how it should be with every true child of God; indeed,
there must be a continual awareness of the Father's presence at all
times, wherever he may be. There are times, however, when the
child will leave its tasks, upon which it has been so intent -- and,
forgetful of all else, will delight to sit at the parent's feet in sweet
and quiet converse. There it will pour out all that has been troubling the
mind; there it will give expression to the love and gratitude in its
heart, and there it will listen to words of advice and admonition. So with
the child of God; there must be seasons set apart when our
"transitory toys" are cast aside; when we leave the tasks upon
which we have been so intent-yes, even the work we have been doing
for our Father-and in quiet solitude at his feet express our love and
appreciation of his goodness toward us, tell him of our troubles and
trials, our pleas for forgiveness, our desires for the future, and our
need for guidance and direction. But 0, how often is it true that we are
so taken up with "the cares of this life," and ofttimes so
active and busy in the Lord's service, that we find only time to rush into
his presence, to ask his blessing upon our projects and efforts-the
things which we think ought to be done and upon which we have set
our hearts-and then hurriedly to leave the Throne of Grace in order to
resume our self-appointed tasks!
there are many "Marthas" in the world today, sincerely loving
the Lord and loved by him, but "cumbered with much serving," and
sometimes envious of
who seem to find time to choose "the better part" of close
fellowship and communion with the Lord. How few are those who will make
time to "sit at Jesus' feet." Yet we can all be "Marys"
if we will but put "first things first" and come apart to rest
awhile and sit at the Master's feet in the spirit of prayer and communion.
Brethren in Christ, if you have tried it-if you have made it your
determination that not a single day shall pass without its
"Quiet Hour" of unhurried and sweet prayer and meditation, alone
with the Father and the Lord Jesus, you will know that nothing is lost of
efficiency in the Lord's service, and not a single needful task is
left undone. You will know-and in no other way is it possible to
know-that prayer is the secret of power! Isn't that the great need
of us all -- POWER to command the blessings which God has promised to
his people? O how we need to ask our Father's forgiveness that we have
been so tardy in our prayers. A praying Christian is a live Christian,
and a praying church is a live church!
our profit we would consider a few experiences in the early Church which
so manifestly reveal that prayer is a source of power and vitality which
nothing can withstand. In that early Church we have the model and pattern
for the whole Church throughout this Gospel dispensation, and how much we
need the simplicity, the Divine energy, the joy, and the power of those
early Christians! Have we ever fully appreciated the fact that Pentecost
was an answer to prayer? That wondrous outpouring of God's holy spirit
came upon a group of disciples assembled in an upper room, as a result
of their prayers! But it may be objected: "That cannot be, for
the holy spirit descended upon the disciples as the result of a promise
made by the Lord Jesus while he was yet with them, for he had told them
that 'the Comforter' would come after his departure from them." How
true that is, but is
essence of prayer a claim upon the promises made by God and the Lord
was the Lord himself who once said to his disciples: "If you then,
who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more
will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke
11:13.) Here is the record concerning those waiting disciples in Jerusalem:
"And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where
they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas,
Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot
and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves
to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with
his brothers." (Acts 1:13, 14, R.S.V.) What a wonderful
Prayer-meeting that was! The first little "ecclesia" of Christ's
brethren were gathered together, and their first meeting was a prayer
meeting. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and
supplication." And what must have been the burden of their
prayers? Surely that the holy spirit should come upon them! Would there
have been a Pentecostal outpouring if those disciples had not longed for
it, and prayed for it with all their hearts? No, indeed. The answer
did not come immediately, but they continued in prayer over a period of
several days, and at last the answer came. "And when the day of
Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place ...
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:1, 4.)
example to us of true prayer, persevering and importunate prayer --
and what an answer! Would our prayers be less effectual today if we
prayed as those disciples must have prayed? It has sometimes been said
that there was only one outpouring of the spirit, but however that may be,
if we would receive the full measure of the spirit in our hearts and
lives, it will only be by prayer.
record continues, and reveals Peter boldly and courageously giving his
first great discourse, which so manifestly declares the enlightening
influence of the spirit, and its power. As a result of this witness and
the call to repentance, about 3,000 souls were added to the Church in one
day-and what is the very first thing we read about them? "And they
devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42, R.S.V. ) Yes, prayer occupied a prominent place in their devotions. Acts 3
opens with these words: "Now Peter and John were going up to the
temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour." The ninth hour was
the time of the evening prayer in the Temple, and Peter and John make
their way to the place of prayer-the "court" of the Temple --
that place so loved by Jesus, and from which he angrily cast out the
money-changers with those who sold and bought, saying, "It is
written, 'My house shall be called the, house of prayer."' The
record continues to tell of the miracle wrought by Peter and John, and
of the opportunity thus afforded them to witness for the Lord, first of
all to the people and then before the leaders of Israel. With what
boldness they speak of their crucified Lord and Master! "Now
saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had
been with Jesus." (Acts
4:13, R.S.V.) Not many days before this "they all forsook him and
fled." Immediately after their release from custody, we find them
again assembled with their "own company" in prayer.
"And now Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to Thy servants to
speak Thy word with all boldness." (Acts 4:29.) Notice what
follows, as recorded in Acts 4:31: "And when they had prayed,
the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were
all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with
boldness." Yes indeed, it was prayer which brought grace
and strength, courage and enlightenment to our brethren of the early
Church. It was prayer which had wrought the great transformation in
their lives. Are we to think that prayer will accomplish less in this our
day, or that it is less necessary today than it was then, or is it that
God's people have failed to use sufficiently the means by which alone we
can manifest the power of God in our lives?
record in "The Acts" continues to tell of Stephen's bold defense
and martyrdom, and of the resulting severe persecution which scattered the
brethren throughout the then known world. The news reached Jerusalem that
many in Samaria were responding to the Gospel message, and it was decided
that Peter and John should visit them. "Now when the apostles at
Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to
them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might
receive the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14.) How prominent was this
aspect of prayer
experiences of those brethren, and how continually they recalled the words
of the Lord Jesus: "How
much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
secret of the holy spirit's indwelling in the hearts and lives of God's
people! Acts 9 then tells of Saul the persecutor and his conversion. How
important it is to note where the Lord himself placed the emphasis in his
message to Ananias: "And
the Lord said to him, 'Rise and go to the street called Straight, and
inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold,
he is praying." (Acts
9:11.) It would seem that it was this for which the Lord had been looking,
longing, and waiting: "Behold,
he prayeth." That is what our Lord is looking for, longing for, and waiting for today;
he wants our prayers, "the broken and contrite heart," the
listening ear, and our petitions for the things which can only be granted
through prayer. Again, in this same chapter is the record of the miracle
wrought by Peter as an answer to prayer. "Peter . . . knelt down and prayed; then
turning to the body he said, 'Tabitha, rise.' And she opened her
9:40.) Dorcas was restored to life as an answer to prayer! So prayer entered into every aspect in the experiences of those
- Edwin Allbon, Eng.
he bringeth them unto their desired haven." - Psalm 107:30.
would life be without its bridges and its fords, its resting spots where
we recline beneath the blossoming boughs and beside the still waters of
quietness? What would it be without its royal summits where we gather to
our hearts visions of the Home Land that lies beyond the tiresome
journey, its halls of friendship where hand grips hand with the
earnestness of true love, and heart becomes knit to heart in confidence
and trust? And last, but not least, how important its starting places,
where having taken a retrospective glance along the years and braced our
hearts with new determination, we once more turn our feet toward the road,
buoyed up with an optimism which whispers to us that bigger, better,
nobler days lie ahead of us, and that some day we shall reach the Palace
of Blessedness, the place of life's consummation, which lies beyond the
arduous country of endeavor. How often the mind travels back - away back -
to air castles built in sunny childhood and buoyant youth, for "The
thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." Old scenes and memories,
how they throng upon us and will not be lightly thrust aside. And through
the varying way how well we know that a great hand has been guiding our
steps, leading us into the light of an unfading and wondrous hope.
yes, for there shall be no night there, and the end shall pay us a
thousand fold for all the toil and struggle of the way. Thus we
cogitate, and in these meditations which, effulgent in silvery light,
brighten the night like stars, we find the quiescence and the joy of
faith, affording comfort through every day and keeping alive that hope
which is as an "anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and
which entereth into that within the veil. What a forepicture of the Ages
of Glory when the cold blasts of selfishness and pride shall be shut out
from human hearts, and the purest goodwill and love shall glow and fill
the world with the light of God.
as the years have passed, the advance of time has meant much to some of
us. We are richer in experience because of the days and hours God has
spread before us. We think our love has a farther range, a fuller sweep, a
stronger and truer grip on "Love divine all loves excelling."
Our sympathies have broadened, our faith has deepened, our hope bears
iridescent hues of a brighter glow. Our craving for righteousness is
more intense. We have moved farther up the stream of truth; we are less
from its source than we were years ago. Nor have we forgotten to ask, What
is truth? If formerly we held up a gem and said, "This is
truth," we have learned to qualify the statement. No more we affirm,
"The gem that I hold is all the truth, but the gem that you hold is
not truth." Rather we now say, "My gem has truth." So the
tree has water, but is not water, and the earth has gold, but is not gold,
and the diamond has beauty, but is not beauty. Even so my pearl has truth,
but truth has not stopped with my pearl. There are other pearls, rare and
wondrous pearls. Some day we'll know more about them, for now "we
know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is
come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
so we have no desire to be severe with the other finders of gems, for the
ocean of truth is great, and God is not severe with us. He is glad we have
our gem, because when we gaze upon its liquid-like fairness, we catch
glimpses of his face, and he smiles upon us from out the gem and we are
glad because of the smile.
as we think of these things, our hearts warm more to the journey before
us, more to our fellow-travelers, more to the possibility of complete
victory, more to the goal. Love has taken his royal seat. We see him
crowned. He is there to stay, yea, to subdue all things unto himself. His
accents are very gentle as he speaks to us, and his countenance is lit
with "the light that never was on sea or land." He stretches out
his arms and blessing drops from his hands upon the world of men.
love. Your kingship of our minds is monarchy exalted and sublime. Ever
wield your scepter o'er us. In every moment of the day we need you, we
need your power, your peace, your assuagement of life's woes.
- W. Sargent
God of all grace, who hath called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect (katartizo), stablish,
strengthen, settle you." "Be ye perfect (teleios), even as your
Father in heaven is perfect (teleios)." - 1 Pet. 5:10; Matt. 5:48.
the article on "Scriptural Perfection", published in the
August-September Herald, pages 121-123, the writer says that
there are two words in the original, translated in our English Bible by
the one word "perfect" and that one of these two Greek words has
the sense of finish or complete and the other of being perfectly
adjusted. Could you tell me what these two Greek words are?
is teleios (Strong's Concordance No. SG5046.) The other is katartizo
(Strong's Concordance No. SG2675.) They appear in the two texts above
quoted which also appeared at the head of the article to which you refer.
P. L. Read
"Till the day break, and the shadows flee away."