of Christ's Kingdom
XLII June 1959 No. 6
Table of Contents
What Say the Scriptures About Our Lord's Return?
The Law of Attraction
The Messiah of Jewish Hopes
"The Word of God"
The Question Box
He shall send Jesus Christ, which (who) before was preached unto you; whom
the heaven must retain until the times of restitution of all things, which
God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world
began." - Acts 3:20,
centuries past, a considerable number of professed Christian people, in
reading the Scriptures on the Second Coming of Christ, have failed to find
there, the comfort intended for the truth -- hungry. Instead of seeing in
our Lord's return the dawn of hope for the groaning creation -- the
restitution of all the willing and obedient to Paradise -- they have
seemed to read only a dreadful doom for the masses of humanity, and the
destruction of all things mundane. According to this conception, the Plan
of God is seen to end in disaster and defeat so far as the vast majority
of our race is concerned, and in an overwhelming victory for Satan.
many of God's people have been offended, "stumbled," as respects
the doctrine of the Second Coming of our dear Redeemer, by reason of
peculiar, extravagant, unreasonable, illogical, and unscriptural views on
the subject, presented by some, who professedly love the Lord's
appearing. The doctrine of our Lord's return, as a glorious gem, should
be given the first place among the precious jewels of Divine truth, where
it can cast its halo and splendor and brilliancy over all connected and
related promises and blessings. It should not be left in the imperfect
setting which hides its glory and beauty, but should be recovered, remounted,
set in its true place, to the glory of God and the blessing of all who are
sincerely and truly his people.
need offer no apology for the interest which we feel in this grand subject,
which is the center upon which all the testimony of Divine grace through
all the holy prophets, is focused. Rather do they need to apologize who,
knowing that the Second Coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the
dead hold the most important places in the Scriptures, next to the
doctrine of the atonement for sin, have, nevertheless, neglected these
while they have quarreled, skirmished, fought and bled over trifling
things of no real importance, doctrinally
John, the beloved, in his wonderful revelation was given a glimpse of
future events, and in marvelous vision was borne across this dispensation
with the powers of evil still in control; he saw its changing scenes of
Church and State and witnessed the final culmination. He saw a great
change take place on earth -- Satan was bound, the forces of evil
overthrown; Christ and the saints reigning in glorious triumph. He saw the
world of mankind liberated from the prison -- house of death, and their
return to their home in Eden -- Paradise restored. No wonder the beloved
John, as he beheld this heavenly vision of the future blessing of the
world, out of the depths of his soul, cried, "Even so, come, Lord
one of the Twelve who walked with Jesus while upon the earth, St. John
remembered the prayer that the Savior taught his followers: "Thy Kingdom
come, Thy will be done in earth as in heaven." The Apostle knew there
could be no more sure guarantee of the lifting of the curse from the
earth, and the restoration of humanity, than this promise of the Kingdom
at the Second Coming of the Lord.
God, with the clearer light of our day shining upon the pages of his holy
revelation, the sincere student reads in fairer lines the Plan of God with
regard to our Lord's return and the consummation of all things in the
ultimate and everlasting defeat of Satan and in the recovery of a
sorrowing and ruined world. - Rev. 21:3-5; 22:3, 17.
presume that it is admitted and believed by all familiar with the Scriptures,
that our Lord intended his disciples to understand that for some purpose,
in some manner, and at some time, he would come again. True, Jesus said,
"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the Age" (Matt.
28:20), and by his Spirit and by his Word he has been with the Church
continually, guiding, directing, comforting, and sustaining his
saints, and cheering them in the midst of
afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the
Lord's knowledge of all her ways and of his constant care and love, yet
she longs for his promised personal return; for when he said, "If I
go, I will come again" (John 14:3), he certainly referred to a second
think he referred to the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; others,
to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc.; but these apparently overlook the
fact that in the last book of the Bible, written some sixty years after
Pentecost, and twenty -- six years after Jerusalem's destruction, he
that was dead and is alive -- the risen Christ -- in living tones speaks
of the event as yet future, saying, "Behold I come quickly and my
reward is with me," and the inspired John replies, "Even so,
come, Lord Jesus." - Rev. 22:12, 20.
a number think the conversion of a sinner forms a part of the coming of
Christ, and that so he will continue coming until all 'the world is
converted. Then, say they, he will have fully come.
evidently forget the Scriptures on the subject, which declare the reverse
of their expectation: (1) that at the time of our Lord's Second Coming the
world will be far from converted to God; (2) that "in the last days
perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of pleasure more than
lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:1-4); (3) that "evil men and seducers
shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." - Ver.
forget the Master's special warning to his Little Flock -- "Take
heed to yourselves lest that day come upon you unawares, for as a
snare shall it come on all them [not taking heed) that dwell on the
face of the whole earth." (Luke 21:34, 35.) Again, "All kindreds
of the earth shall wail because of him," when they see him coming
(Rev. 1:7) -- no reference is made to the conversion of sinners. Do all
men wail because of the conversion of sinners? On the contrary, if this
passage refers, as almost all admit, to Christ's presence on earth, it teaches
that all on earth will not love his appearing, as they certainly would do if all were
CHRIST'S REIGN TO ACCOMPLISH WORLD'S CONVERSION
expect an actual coming and presence of the Lord, but set the time of the
event a long way off. It is their thought that when the world has been
converted by their efforts, and Satan bound, and the knowledge of the Lord
caused to fill the whole earth, and when the nations learn war no more,
then the work of the Church in her present condition will be ended; and
that when she has accomplished this great and difficult task, the Lord
will come to wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn
Scriptures, taken disconnectedly, seem to favor this view; but God's Word
and Plan viewed as a whole, will be found to favor the view that Christ
comes before the conversion of the world, and reigns for the purpose of
converting the world; that the Church is now being tried, and that the
reward promised the overcomers is that after being glorified they shall
share with the Lord in that reign, which is God's appointed means of
blessing the world and causing the knowledge of the Lord to come to every
creature. Such are the Lord's special promises: "To him that
overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." (Rev. 3:21.)
"And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." -
ONLY THE CHURCH CALLED IN THIS AGE
are two texts chiefly relied upon by those who claim the Lord will not
come until after the Millennium to which we would here call attention. One
is, "This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world
for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
(Matt. 24:14.) They claim this has reference to the conversion of the
world before the end of the Gospel Age. But "witnessing" to the
world does not imply the conversion of the world. The text says nothing
about how the testimony will be received. This witness has already been
given. In 1861 the reports of the Bible Societies showed that the Gospel
had been published in every language of the earth, though not all earth's
millions had received it. No, not one -- half of the sixteen hundred
millions* living have ever heard the name of Jesus. Yet the condition of
the text is fulfilled -- the Gospel has been preached in all the world for
a "witness" -- to every nation.
The population of the world is given as sixteen hundred millions. This was
true in 1878, when this article was written. Today it is 23/4 billion and "by 1962 the total population of the
world is expected to pass the 3 billion mark." - Newsweek
Apostle (Acts 15:14) tells that the main object of the Gospel in the
present Age "is to take out a people" for Christ's name -- the
overcoming Church which, at his Second Advent, will be united to him and
receive his name. The witnessing to the world during this Age is a
other text is, "Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies
thy footstool." (Psa. 110:1.) The vague, indefinite idea regarding
this text seems to be that Christ sits on a material throne somewhere in
the heavens until the work of subduing all things is accomplished for
him through the Church, and that then he comes to reign. This is a
misconception. The throne of God referred to is not a material one, but
refers to his supreme authority and rulership; and the Lord Jesus has been
exalted to a share in that rulership.
St. Paul declares, "God bath highly exalted him
[Jesus] and given him a name above every name," "authority"
above every other, next to the Father. If Christ sits upon a material
throne until his enemies are made his footstool (all subdued), then, of
course, he cannot come until all things are subdued. But if "right
hand" in this text refers, not to a fixed bench or locality, but, as
we claim, to power, authority, rulership, it follows that the text under
consideration would in nowise conflict with the other Scripture which
teaches that he comes to "subdue all things unto himself"
(Phil. 3:21), by virtue of the power vested in him.
JESUS' FIRST ADVENT TO REDEEM
MEN -- HIS SECOND ADVENT TO RESTORE THE REDEEMED
further examination of God's revealed Plan shows a broader view of the
object of both the First and Second Advents; and we should remember that
both events stand related as parts of one Plan. The specific work of the
First Advent was to redeem men; and that of the Second is to restore and
bless, and liberate the redeemed. Having given his life a ransom for all,
our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, thus making
reconciliation for man's iniquity. He tarries and permits "the prince
of this world" to continue the rule of evil, until after the
selection of "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife" who, to be accounted
worthy of such honor, must overcome the influences of the present evil
world. Then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings
secured to them by his sacrifice will be due to commence, and he will come
forth to bless all the families of the earth.
Apostle informs us that Jesus has been absent from earth -- in the heaven
-- during all the intervening time from his ascension to the beginning of
the Times of Restitution, or the Millennial Age -- "Whom the heaven
must retain until the times of restitution of all things," etc. (Acts
3:21.) Since the Scriptures thus teach that the object of our Lord's
Second Advent is the restitution of all things, and that at the time of
his appearing the nations are so far from being converted as to be angry
(Rev. 11:18) and in opposition, it must be admitted either that the
Church will fail to accomplish her mission, and that the Plan of God will
be thus far frustrated, or else, as we claim and have shown, that the
conversion of the world in the present Age was not expected of the Church,
but that her mission has been to preach the Gospel in all the world for a
"witness," and to prepare herself, under Divine direction, for
her great future work. God has not yet by any means exhausted his power
for the world's conversion. Nay, more -- he has not yet even attempted
the world's conversion.
may seem a strange statement to some, but let such reflect that if God has
attempted such -- a -- work -- he has signally failed; for, as we have
seen, only a small fraction of earth's billions have ever intelligently
heard of the "only name" whereby they must be saved. We have
stated the views and teachings of only some of the leading sects --
Baptists, Presbyterians, and others -- viz., that God is electing or
selecting out of the world a "little flock," a Church. They
believe that God will do no more than choose this Church, while we find
the Scriptures teaching a further step in the Divine Plan -- RESTITUTION
for the world, to be accomplished through the elect Church, when completed
and glorified. The "little flock," the overcomers, of this
Gospel Age, are only the Body of the "Seed"
in or by
all the families of the earth are to be blessed.
THE ELECTION AND FREE GRACE OF THE BIBLE
who claim that for six thousand years Jehovah has been trying to convert
the world, and failing all the time, must find it difficult to reconcile
such views with the Bible assurance that all God's purposes shall be
accomplished, and that his Word shall not return unto him void, but shall
prosper in the thing whereto it was sent. (Isa. 55:11.) The world has not
been converted nor the knowledge of the Lord filled the earth; therefore
the Word has not yet been "sent" on that mission.
lines of thought have divided Christians for centuries, namely, Election
and Free Grace. That both of these apparently opposite doctrines have
Scriptural support, no Bible student will deny. This fact should lead us
at once to surmise that in some way both must be true; but in no way can
they be reconciled except by observing heaven's law -- order, and
"rightly dividing the Word of Truth" on the subject. This order,
as represented in the Plan of the Ages, if observed, will clearly show us
that while an Election has been in progress during the present and past
Ages, what is by way of distinction designated Free Grace, is God's
gracious provision for the world in general during the Millennial Age.
If the distinctive features of the Epochs and Dispensations indicated in
the Bible be kept in mind, and all the passages relating to Election and
Free Grace be examined and located, it will be found that all which treat
of Election apply to the present and past Ages, while those which teach
Free Grace are fully applicable to the next Age only.
Election as taught in the Bible, is not the arbitrary coercion, or
fatalism, usually believed and taught by its advocates, but a selection
according to fitness and adaptability to the end God has in view, during
the period appointed for that purpose.
doctrine of Free Grace, advocated by our Methodist friends, is also a much
grander display of God's abounding favor than its most earnest advocates
have ever taught. God's grace or favor in Christ is ever free, in the
sense of being unmerited; but since the fall of man into sin, to the
present time, certain of God's favors have been restricted to certain
individuals, nations and classes, while in the next Age all the world,
including the dead who will then be awakened, will be invited to share the
favors then offered, on the conditions then made known to all, and
whosoever will may come and drink at life's fountain freely. - Rev.
BOTH THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
SHARE IN THE BENEFITS OF MESSIAH'S REIGN
who can see something of the blessings due at the Second Advent, and who
appreciate in some measure the fact that the Lord comes to bestow the
grand blessing purchased by his death, fail to see the vast scope of that
blessing as applicable to all mankind, and that all those in their graves
have as much interest in the glorious reign of Messiah as those living at
the time of his return. Is it not because of God's Plan for their release
that those in the tomb are called "prisoners of hope"?
read that Jesus Christ by the grace of God, tasted death "for every
man." (Heb. 2:9.) But if he tasted death for all humanity, both the
living and the dead, and from any cause that sacrifice becomes efficacious
to only a small fraction of earth's billions, was not the redemption
comparatively a failure? And in that case, is not the Apostle's statement
too broad? When again we read, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of
great joy, which shall be to ALL
2: 10) , and, looking about us, see that it is only to a "little
flock" that it has been good tidings, and not to all people, we would
be compelled to wonder whether the angels had not overstated the
goodness and breadth of their message, and overrated the importance of the
work to be accomplished by the Messiah whom they announced. Again,
"There is one God, and, one Mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:5, 6.) A
ransom for all? Then why should not all for whom the ransom has been
provided have some benefit from Christ's death? Why should not all come
to a knowledge of the truth, that they may believe?
A RANSOM TO BE TESTIFIED
"IN DUE TIME"
the key how dark, how inconsistent these statements appear; but
when we find the key to God's Plan, these texts all declare with one
voice, "God is Love." This key is found in the latter part of
the text "a ransom for all, To
TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME." God
has a due time for everything. He could have testified it to these in
their past lifetime; but since he did not, except to a small minority, it
proves that their due time must be future. For those who will be of the
Church, the Bride of Christ, and share the Kingdom honors, the present is
the "due time" to hear; and whosoever now has an ear to hear,
let him hear and heed, and he will be blessed accordingly. Though Jesus
secured our ransom before we were born, it was not our "due
time" to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the
appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent
of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all: in
God's due time it will be testified to all, and all will then have
opportunity to believe and be blessed by it.
prevailing opinion is that death ends all probation, but no Scripture so
teaches; and all the above, and many more Scriptures, would be
meaningless, or worse, if death ends all hope for the ignorant masses of
the world. The one Scripture quoted to prove this generally entertained
view is, "Where the tree falleth, there it shall be." (Eccl.
11:3.) If this has any relation to man's future, it
that whatever his condition when he enters the tomb, no change takes place
until he is awakened out of it. All Scripture bearing on the subject uniformly
ALL TO BE BROUGHT TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH
God does not propose to save men on account of ignorance, but "will
come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4); and since the
masses of mankind have died in ignorance; and since "there is no
work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave" (Eccl.
9:10); therefore, God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order
to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence his Plan is, that "as all in
Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive, but each one in his
own order" - the Gospel Church, the Bride, the Body of Christ, first;
afterward, during the Millennial Age, all who become his during the
thousand years of his "presence" (mistranslated coming), the
Lord's due time for all to know him, from the least to the greatest. (1
Cor. 15:22.) Thus the hope of the world lies beyond the Lord's return.
death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the Second Adam.
Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be
restored to those who believe in the Second Adam. When awakened, with the
advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who
thankfully accept redemption as God's gift may continue to live
everlastingly on the original condition of obedience. Perfect obedience
will be required, and perfect ability to obey will be given, under the
righteous reign of the Prince of Peace. Here is the salvation offered to
the world. This will not mean that God will coerce the world into a state
of salvation in the future Age. In that day of full knowledge and
opportunity, only those ,who accept the message and reform and become
obedient thereto, will be restored to everlasting life. Others who
willfully reject the way of righteousness under the reign of Christ,
will be judged incorrigible and will be ultimately destroyed in the
"Second Death" from which there will be no recovery. - Acts
3:23; Rom. 6:23.
THE JEWS WILL BE BROUGHT OUT OF
THEIR GRAVES AND PUT IN
THEIR OWN LAND -- Ezek. 37:12-14
Peter tells us that this restitution is spoken of by the mouth of all the
holy Prophets. (Acts 3:19-21.) They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the
valley of dry bones, "These bones are the whole house of
Israel." And God says to Israel, "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring
you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I
.. . shall put my spirit in you, and I shall place you in your own land;
then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith
the Lord." - Ezek. 37:11-14.
this, the words of St. Paul agree (Rom. 11:25, 26) -- "Blindness in
part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles [the elect
company, the Bride of Christ] be come in; and so all Israel shall be
saved," or brought back from their cast -- off condition; for
"God hath not cast off his people which he foreknew." (Verse 2.)
They were cast off from his favor while the Bride of Christ was being
selected, but will be reinstated when that work is accomplished. (Verses
28-33.) The prophecies are full of statements of how God will plant them
again, and they shall be no more plucked up. "Thus saith the Lord,
the God of Israel, . . . I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I
will bring them again to this land; and I will build them and not pull
them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give
them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people,
and I will be their God, for they shall return unto me with their whole
heart." (Jer. 24:5-7; 31:28; 32:40-42; 33:6-16.) These cannot refer
merely to restorations from former captivities in Babylon, Syria, etc.,
for they have since been plucked up.
EVERY MAN WHO DIES THEN SHALL DIE FOR HIS OWN SINS
the Lord says, "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers
have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge, but
every one [who dies] shall die for his own iniquity." (Jer. 31:29,
30.) This is not the case now. Each does not die now for his own sin, but
for Adam's sin -- "In Adam all die." He ate the sour grape of
sin, and our fathers continued to eat them, entailing further sickness and
misery upon the children, thus hastening the penalty, death. The day in
which "every man [who dies] shall die for his own sin," only, is
the Millennial or Restitution Day.
many of the prophecies and promises of the future blessing seem to apply
to Israel only, it must be remembered that they were a typical people
and hence the promises made to them, while sometimes having a special
application to themselves, generally have also a wider application to
the whole world of mankind which that nation typified. While Israel as a
nation was typical of the world, its priesthood was typical of the
"little flock," the Head and Body of Christ, the "royal
priesthood"; and the sacrifices, cleansings, and atonements made for
Israel typified the "better sacrifices," fuller cleansings and
real atonement "for the sins of the whole world," of which
they are a part.
then, that so many of the great and glorious features of God's Plan for
human salvation lie in the future, and that the Second Advent of our Lord
Jesus is the designed first step in the accomplishment of those long
promised and long expected blessings, shall we not even more earnestly
long for the time of his Second Advent than the less informed Jew longed
for the First Advent?
view of the foregoing Scripture testimony as to the object and purpose of
our Lord's return, we are prepared to recognize the great importance that
logically attaches to the time as well as the signs or indications which mark the appearing and presence
of earth's new King and the exercise of his power in the affairs of men.
therefore; for ye know not the day* your Lord doth come." "What
I say unto you, I say unto all [believers], Watch!" - Matt. 24:42;
read the old Greek MSS.
exhortation to watch for an event whose precise time is not stated implies
that the watching ones will know when the event does take place. Watch, because
ye know not, in order that at the proper time ye may know, is the thought;
and the intimation clearly is, that those who do not watch will not know;
that the events which are to be known in due time to the Watchers will be
recognized by them, and not recognized by others, at the time of
Apostle Paul urges us, saying: "Yourselves know perfectly that the
day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night, and when they [the
world, unbelievers] shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction
cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall
not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should
overtake you as a thief" (1 Thess. 5:24); because, being children of
the light, ye brethren will be watching and be enlightened and taught of
-- C. T. Russell
be concluded in next issue)
ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the
house of Israel." - Jeremiah
April 20, 1959
theory that the ten tribes of Israel were not swallowed up among the
nations, but joined the exiles of Judah in Babylon at the time of exile,
was advanced at the Seventh Annual Bible Study Congress held in the Holy
City last week. This four -- day gathering, sponsored by the Israel
Society for Biblical Research, convened at the Binyanei Ha-ooma (The
Great Convention Center). Mr. Yisrael Heller, a Tel Aviv teacher, cited
many references from the Book of Ezekiel which he says tend to show not
only that the ten tribes fused with the Babylonian exiles but that Ezekiel
himself took an active part in bringing this about. The speaker called
attention to two meetings Ezekiel had with "the elders of
Israel." From the context he deduces that it is clear that the
reference is to the ten tribes. Mr. Heller also drew attention to the
phrase, "the entire house of Israel" - unique to Ezekiel --
which he interprets as meaning Israel and Judah together.
attended the opening sessions of this Bible Study Congress. All the addresses
were delivered in Hebrew, of course. We heard Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
give one of the principal talks, as he is an active member of the Biblical
Research Society. We found that about 1500 were in the audience. The Bible
enthusiasts who assembled for the four day marathon, at which thirty six
lectures were given, were a variegated group. What especially impressed
us was the very large percentage of young people who were present, and
then too, many of the older ones were really only in their 40's and 50's,
and a small proportion of the total audience had grey hair. Furthermore,
from our observation, no more than half the men, or less, had their heads
covered, which means that many were not what would be termed orthodox. It
should be emphasized that very few rabbis actually participated in this
annual Bible Study Congress. It is a laymen's group. We were amazed to see
how many persons came into the auditorium equipped with a Bible and
referred to verses cited by the speakers, and as the discourses were
delivered, copious notes were being made by people all around us.
year's goal at the Congress was a better understanding of the Books of
Jeremiah, the last of the great pre-exilic prophets, and Ezekiel, the
first prophet of the captivity. The brethren who are convention goers will
appreciate this observation made by The
is doubtful whether any of
the Bible devotees heard every one of the thirty six lectures delivered at
the Seventh Annual Bible Study Congress. According to an officer of the
Israel Society for Biblical Research, which sponsors the congresses, one
man last year tried to listen to every lecture. He fainted."
greeting the Congress, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion said that if it were not
for the Bible, Israel would never have returned to its land. No book in
the world had exerted so great an influence on any nation as the Bible
had on Israel. Science, Mr. Ben-Gurion observed, teaches us only how to
do things -- it cannot teach men what to do -- that we can learn from the
prophets of Israel, and only here in the land of its birth could we
understand the Bible properly.
of the lectures were highly specialized, such as Mr. Amnon Gaber's
analysis of the phrase, "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim." (Jer.
25:1.) Others were more popular in nature, as was Dr. Ze'ev Vilnay's talk
on "Anathoth and Jerusalem in Jeremiah's Life." Best of all,
perhaps, were those lectures which could appeal to the scholar and the
Bible -- trained layman alike. In this category were the addresses by
Mr. Yehuda Elitzur on "The Theory of Diaspora in Jeremiah and
Ezekiel" and by Mr. Yitzhak Shalev on "The Relationship Between
Jeremiah and Zedekiah."
the closing speech, delivered by Mr. Zalman Shazar, Acting Chairman of the
Jewish Agency Executive, he said that it would be difficult to imagine the
existence of the Jewish people today if it had not been for the prophets.
Mr. Shazar contrasted the status of the Bible today in Israel and the
Diaspora. Here, despite all our ideological differences, there is not a
school in which the Bible is not taught, he said, but in other countries
only a minority of the Jews have a familiarity with the Bible.
the membership of the Israel Society for Biblical Research represents many
shades of differences of interpretation, it is good to see so many of
Jacob's posterity being willing, in peace and quiet, to consider one
another's views, as is true at these annual Bible Study Congresses.
Furthermore, it was especially noteworthy that this year's deliberations
were centered upon the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both of which have
so much prophetic content regarding the restoration of Israel.
press in Israel carried daily dispatches covering the sessions of the
Israel Bible Study Congress. Before the nine o'clock newscast each night
the Kol Israel (national radio station) gave a brief review of what was
said at the Congress. (It will be of interest to the friends to know that
every evening in the year Kol Israel features a Scripture reading.)
has been announced that next year's Congress will be devoted to the three
wisdom books -- Job, Psalms and Proverbs.
FROM SOCIALISM TO PROPHETIC JUDAISM
coming to Israel eight months ago, we have seen Mr. Ben-Gurion in public
and heard him speak several times, in English as well as in Hebrew, and
one cannot help but sense the admiration that wells up in the hearts of
the people here for this pioneer, scholar, and dedicated leader of his
people, who hasp weathered many storms during the past half century in the
struggle for statehood and the consolidation of the nation. In speaking of
"B-G" (as he is so often referred to), some one has well stated
that he could not be defined as a politician, because a politician looks
to the next election, but rather as
statesman, because he looks to the next generation.
the decades there has been a very evident change in the thinking of this
doughty little man. In reviewing the two volumes recently produced in
Hebrew entitled Ben-Gurion's
World of Ideas, G. Yoseph makes this significant analysis of David Ben-Gurion:
his turning in recent years from socialism to prophetic Judaism was foreshadowed
in his beginnings. Today Mr. Ben-Gurion is the foremost exponent of the
new Israeli mentality. His startling 'protestant' interpretation of the
Bible and the going back to the 'authentic' Judaism of the First Temple,
which breaks a tradition of at least 2500 years, reflects the change of
circumstances in which we find ourselves."
doubt to many this is a revelation, but to the very close observers of the
Israel scene, this has been noted for some time -- Ben-Gurion's change of
thinking and the break with "the traditions of the elders,"
bringing about the "new Israeli mentality," to which Mr. Yoseph
has been giving the rabbis no undue concern. For instance, at the Convention
of Religious Teachers Organization, just held here, Chief Rabbi Unterman
of Tel Aviv expressed disapproval of Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's
declaration of faith made at the opening session of the Israel Bible Study
Congress and stated that while "it is encouraging to see that Bible
study is on the increase in this country, at the same time it should be
remembered that the study of the Bible should be accompanied by a study
of the Talmud and rabbinic interpretation." At times the rabbis are
even more bold, and make it plain to the Israeli that it is forbidden to
study only the Bible, without the oral law and the Scriptural
interpretations of the sages.
"WHO IS A JEW"
highly controversial issue of legally defining who is a Jew in Israel, is
still unresolved here. The members of the United Religious Party (Mizrachi
and Hapoel Mizrachi) in the Israel Cabinet resigned at the end of last
June in protest over the identity cards issued by the Minister of
Interior, which permitted any Israeli to list himself as Jewish by his
on this matter, Mr. Ben-Gurion took the initiative of writing some of
the leading Jewish scholars the world over. Premier Ben-Gurion himself
has taken a very firm position on the definition of a Jew and has drawn on
Jewish Scriptures to support his view. The Prime Minister cited the
fifteenth Psalm, in a letter to Rabbi Judah L. Maimon, first Minister of
Religions in Israel, who had sent a communication to the Prime Minister in
behalf of the decision of the United Religious party to quit the coalition
on the issue.
15 defines as he "who shall sojourn" in the Tabernacle of the
Lord, the individual who is righteous, speaks the truth, does not slander
or do other evil to his fellow, does not reproach his neighbor, despises a
vile person, fears the Lord, testifies truthfully even if it hurts him to
do so, does not loan money for interest or take a bribe against the
that Psalm 15 "is the essence of Jewishness," the Prime
Minister asked: "Why should he that observes the Sabbath and Kashruth
[dietary laws) be considered a Jew but he who lives according to the
Psalmist's definition not be considered a Jew?"
from Mr. Ben -- Gurion's lengthy letter to Rabbi Maimon revealed that the
government does not intend to legislate on religious matters. "The
government decision," the Premier wrote, "is not binding on
rabbis in matters of marriage and divorce."
the proclamation of Israel's independence declared freedom of religion
and conscience to be among the basic principles of the State of Israel,
Mr. Ben-Gurion continued, it did not say that the Jewish State should be
governed by religious law, but on the contrary that the state should not
be theocratic in nature. "The state guaranteed every Jew who wishes
to observe religious law all facilities to do so and has undertaken the
obligation to make provision for the religious needs of the public at
state expense, though there are undoubtedly in the state many people who
do not observe religious law," he said. "As far as I know there
is not a single person in the government or Knesset, not excluding the
Communists, who has any idea of preventing a religious Jew from
observing the 613 Commandments [Maimonides' Code] in their
letter further declares that the government does not consider itself
authorized to decide who is a religious Jew. The question it had to
consider was who is a Jew by nationality. "It is a fact," Mr.
Ben -- Gurion wrote, "perhaps a bitter fact, that in matters of
religion and religious law there is no unity among the Jewish people, and
in America there are Orthodox, Conservative, Liberal, and Reform rabbis.
There are many Jews who belong to neither one or the other, but are in my
opinion Jews as long as they do not become converted to another
letter concluded by stating that many persons believe that they belong to
the Jewish people although they do not observe Jewish law. As long as he
remains in the government, Mr. BenGurion pledged, he would endeavor to
prevent strife over religion. "I see danger in a war against
religion and in a war for religion," he warned.
PURIM IS A GAY OCCASION
the course of a year there are many national holidays in the Jewish State,
but what makes the holidays here different from those in most other
countries is that practically every one has a Biblical derivation. In a
couple of days the Passover week will commence, which has a more solemn
connotation than Purim, which was joyfully celebrated the last week in
Purim festival commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the
days of Esther. Every year Tel Aviv is the focal point for the Purim
festivities. This year an estimated 500,000 persons lined the streets of
this city to view the jubilee "adloyada" (carnival) procession.
Five thousand school children, masquerading in gay costumes depicting
Queen Esther, Mordecai, Haman, Ahasuerus, etc., as well as fifteen bands
and many attractive and ingenious floats, most of them illustrating the
Purim story, paraded before one quarter of the total. population of the
we witnessed the celebrations, we were moved by the ordinance recorded in
Esther, "that these days of Purim should not fail from among the
Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed." - Esther
is the eighth report from the Land of Promise, from Brother Casimir
Lanowick, Editor of Jews
in the News. - Ed. Com. )
loving kindness have I drawn thee." - Jer. 31:3.
law of attraction is a universal law in all God's wide domain. The planets
are all subject to it, and swing in their orbits in response thereto. The
sun and moon affect our earth through the operation of this law, and ocean
tides speak of its force and marvels. The far off ocean calls to the
rivulets away in distant hills, and in answer to that call the lesser
streams are attracted to the greater ocean bound rivers, and all flow
onward until the mighty streams come to rest in the depths by which they
were so effectively drawn. But the circle of attraction continues on and
on. The rays of the sun sweep over the wide expanse of the ocean depths
lifting its waters to the clouds again. The forest covered hills and
mountains, the fields of waving grain and meadow, attract it back to earth
in dewdrop and rain. Thus the land is refreshed to supply the needs of
man, and the streams are kept flowing for the thirsty hart, and for cattle
on a thousand hills.
all this we may see illustrated a law of attraction by which our spiritual
life is nurtured and developed. Our love for God, we are told, is the
response to his love for us. "We love God, because he first
loved us." It is of this attractive influence we sing, "he drew
me with the cords of love, and thus he bound me to him." He has made
us so that our only complete satisfaction is found in drinking deeply from
the fountain of his grace. His Word teaches us this lesson, and in. the
world about us there are many illustrations of its application. As the
ocean draws the many scattered streams from the distant hills onward to
itself, so does the wideness of God's love and mercy draw us to himself,
the embodiment of all love -- excelling. As the hart pants for the
waters of the cooling stream, and in seeking it follows a law inherent in
its nature, so our soul's seeking after God is the perfect conformity of
our spirit answering to the drawings of his Spirit. The vine which may
begin its life in the dark recesses of a pit will never cease to struggle
toward the sunlight, nor rest content until it is waving in the light
toward which an unseen power was drawing it. It could not remain unaffected
by the pull of the light for which it had its inherent affinity. So we too
are drawn by a law of spiritual attraction toward an environment which God
has made our true realm of life in fulness. He works by this law leading
us to will and to do his good pleasure. In its workings this law drawing
us Godward grows stronger as our spiritual life progresses toward its
intended goal. The prayer for a closer walk with God becomes ever more
fervent as the heart response to his love expands. The true testimony of
his power working effectively in our hearts is therefore found in this
never -- ending longing for the fullest comprehension of his grace. What a
happy experience it is to know that there is a law working in us and for
us whereby we become conscious of being led from grace to grace, from one
degree of spiritual understanding to another yet greater vision of God's
complete will. What is this but confessing that "the half has never
yet been told"? Is it not giving reality to our oft repeated words,
"Heaven is nearer and Christ is dearer, than yesterday to me"?
Only as this law of attraction and answering -- response prevails in our
lives will we ever reach the possible attainments represented in God's
loving will for us. He is ever calling us toward greater things, and so
our language should always be, "Where he leads me I will follow, I'll
go with him all the way."
the river in its course toward the ocean teach us the beauty of this which
is God's way. The river flows continually toward the ocean, its
appointed rest. In its flow it grows wider and deeper because it receives
from all contributing streams along its way. Each little stream
adds a quota to its depth and strength. It begins in the far -- away
hills, a tiny stream. As it flows onward gathering volume as it progresses,
there will be many winding curves, many noisy rapids, and some projecting
rocks around which it will swirl in foaming haste and roar. But as the
stream nears the ocean, its flow will gradually become a more quiet and
even progress. The turbulent haste is gone and the undercurrents are
stronger. At last it reaches the inflowing tides and merges imperceptibly
and without commotion into the congenial environment of the larger waters
which all along its way had been mysteriously affecting it.
the illustration to our spiritual life, how is it with us now, as the
numerous signs of the times, and as well. the facts of age tell us that
life's course will soon be completed? Surely the law of spiritual
affinities has been drawing us onward through the years in ways that have
left the marks of progress. By that law maturity in spiritual vision
should have come, giving evidence that we have been with Jesus and
learned of him the deeper facts of eternal life. The powerful attraction
of eternal realities must have grown increasingly evident in an
abundance of the heart of which the mouth habitually speaks. We will have
learned the necessity of letting all contributing streams of spiritual
knowledge add to the volume of our understanding of the whole will. of
God. Comprehending with all saints thus, will have widened the horizon of
all truth, and deepened the currents of Christ's intended fellowship among
his people in a true unity of the Spirit. It is now a far call for most of
us since the day we took our first steps in the narrow way; the years have
come and, gone, filled with opportunities to grow in grace and knowledge.
The great ocean of eternity is now just a little further on. In what
measure have we attained the stability of character and. quietness of
spirit indicating readiness for a merging of the present life into the
greater life soon to be given to those made meet for the inheritance of
the saints in light?
sun is sinking westward now, and as it nears the points of its setting
beyond the horizon, what will it bring of glory into these closing years?
We should want it to be like one of those glorious sunsets when another
law of God paints the western sky in a glory no human artist can
reproduce. What beauty tints the lingering clouds, spreading a richness
of splendor over the sphere where earth and heaven seem to blend in a
glory that excelleth. We behold it all, and say, how beautiful is the
ending of a perfect day! The heat of the day is over, and the winds have
gone to rest. Day is slipping quietly out through the portals of the
western sky, and the night of sleep comes to give rest to the weary
toilers. How gracious all God's arrangements are! "Day unto day uttereth
speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." - Psalm 19:2.
should it be with us as our course is nearing its great consummation hour.
There should be a quieting and a deepening of our experience as we draw
near "the shining shore" before us. There is our home, and an
entering into a completion and perfection for which we have yearned.
There is our rest, where no more painful limitations of mind or body will
leave us seeking on and on for something instinctively recognized as yet
unattained. There hearts which have longed to see the face of God, and the
face of him whose image we are to bear, will never need to ask again,
"Face to face, what shall it be?" Then the stream of life over
which the love of God drew us, will have merged into the life that shall
endless be, a life full of all that an unfettered immortal life can mean.
In numberless ways we have had verifications of our Lord's good word of
promise, as he has said to us, as to others, "Yea, I have loved thee
with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn
thee." We praise him for those cords of love which naught of evil
forces, or of our own failures, has severed. In love he redeemed us and
drew us to himself, and that love attracts us still as nothing else can
-- J. J. Blackburn
unto my Lord, Sit thou at
my right hand, until I make
thine enemies thy
footstool." - Psa. 110:1.
this verse, David, writing under the influence of God's holy spirit, reports
a revelation of Jehovah's intention in regard to Messiah. In vision he,
David, heard Jehovah addressing one, who though David's son, was yet his
superior. David heard Jehovah say to this great One: "Sit thou at my
right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."
us now examine the Scriptures in proof that this understanding is correct.
the Psalm was written by David is a fact accepted by most scholars of
repute. To begin with, it bears a superscription which reads ''A Psalm
of David"; thus, on its very surface, it claims to have been written
by him. Moreover, in the New Testament our Lord Jesus himself evidences
his belief that David wrote it. (Matt. 22:43; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42.) Not
only so, but Jesus declares also that when David wrote this Psalm he was
"in spirit," that is to say, he was aided and guided by, or
under the influence or control of, the holy spirit of God. Accepting this
New Testament confirmation of the fact that David was the author of our
Psalm, it follows that the expression, "my Lord," means David's
Lord; that is to say, David's Master, his Superior, his "Adon."
the first occurrence of the word Lord refers not to David's Adon, but to
Jehovah. This is signified by the fact that here the word "Lord"
appears, in most Bibles, in small capital letters. The meaning may be seen
more clearly by reference to the Revised Version, which reads:
saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies
now we referred to Matthew 22:43. Let us read that verse, together with
the four verses which form its context, and note the additional light
they throw on this inspired statement of the Psalmist. Commencing with
Matt. 22:41 and reading from the Revised Version:
while the Pharisees were gathering together, Jesus asked them a question,
saying, What think ye of the Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him,
The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in the spirit
call him Lord, saying,
Lord saith unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I put thine
enemies underneath thy feet?"
David calleth him Lord, how is he his son?"
these verses carefully we note, first, that in asking the Pharisees,
"What think ye of the Christ?" our Lord was not asking them what
they thought about himself. True, he was the Christ, but he was not, in
this question, insisting on that title. Rather, he is drawing them out.
It is as though he had asked: "What have your studies of the Old
Testament led you to understand is to be true of the great Messiah, when
he comes? Whose son, whose descendant is he to be?" There was, of
course, only one reply for them to make: "The son of David."
This was common knowledge. The Scriptures had established this fact
beyond question. (See, for example, 2 Sam. 7:8-17; Psa. 89: 3, 4; :Psa.
132:11; Amos 9:11.) Not only the :Pharisees, but the masses of the people,
too, were well aware that Messiah was to be of David's line. - See Matt.
1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30, 31; 21:9, 15; Luke 1:32.
all were agreed that according to the predictions of the Prophets, the
Messiah was to be a son of David, and the heir of his throne. But now,
having by this preliminary query prepared the way for his main question,
our Lord puts It to them: "How then doth David in spirit call him
Lord?" "How do you explain this remarkable language which ]David
employs here, in Psalm 110:1? What is the reason that justified -- nay,
what is the reason that, under the influence of the holy spirit, impelled
David to call him Lord?"
is easy for us, with the New Testament in our hands, to answer our
Lord's question. David's son was David's Lord, in the prophetic vision
unfolded to David which he records in this Psalm, because, at the time
that vision would meet its fulfillment, this great son of his would have
become his Lord. Following his birth as a babe, he would have pursued
the path marked out for him by the Father to, and beyond, Calvary. Highly
exalted as a reward for his faithfulness, he would now become the Everlasting
Father of the human race. As such he would be David's Father David's
Life giver. (See Isa. 9:6; Rev. 22:16.) By his question, then, our Lord
intimates to the Pharisees that, understanding merely that Messiah was
to be a son of David, and failing to understand this verse, which
declared that Messiah was also to be David's Lord, they had but a poor,
outside, view of the real nature, character, and work of the long promised
Messiah. It was not a mere monarch, somewhat like David, that was needed.
It was one who was fit to be David's monarch, and the monarch of all
monarchs, one who would have power with God, and whose throne might be
established in the hearts of men.
Psalm is quoted not only by our Lord in Matthew, Mark, and Luke's
accounts, but also elsewhere in the New Testament. The first verse is
quoted by Peter in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost, a sermon
which carried conviction to the minds of three thousand hearers. - Acts
2:34, 35, 41.
1 Cor. 15:25 we are told that Christ "must reign until he hath put
all enemies under his feet" -- language which is quite evidently
borrowed from David.
in the first chapter of Hebrews, verse 13, the inspired writer, in showing
the supreme excellence of the Christian dispensation, over the past, and
the vast superiority of Christ over all the angelic order of beings,
exclaims triumphantly in concluding his argument: "But to which of
the angels said he at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make
thine enemies thy footstool," as God did say to Jesus the Messiah, as
you will find recorded in the 110th Psalm of David. This is the
culminating point of the writer's argument, and its force rests upon the
universal acknowledgment of his hearers that this Psalm referred to the
Messiah, and that there was only one being in all the universe so high, so
exalted, so powerful, to whom its language could be applicable, and that
that being was David's Son and David's Lord.
are we left in doubt as to the occasion in the experience of our Lord when
this prophetic utterance of David would meet fulfillment. Would it be when
Jehovah brought him into existence as the mighty Logos? Did Jehovah then
"Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Was it when his life was transferred to earth as a babe at Bethlehem?
Was it when he consecrated himself at Jordan? No! it was on none of
these occasions. It was when, following his death and resurrection he
ascended to heaven. Have we a Scripture to prove this? Yes, indeed. Hear
the writer to the Hebrews 10:12-13:
this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down
on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be
made his footstool."
again, in Ephesians 1:19-22, where the Apostle speaks of the mighty power
he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his
own right hand ... and put all things under -- his feet."
too, takes up a similar strain, when in 1 Peter 3:22, he speaks of the
resurrection of Jesus Christ:
is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and
authorities and powers being made subject unto him."
the Messiah of Jewish hopes we have found in the foregoing discussion at
least two things taught in the Scriptures, and condensed in Psa. 110:1:
He must be a descendant of David.
He must also be David's superior.
was a man highly educated in the Old Testament Scriptures. Note the
following from his pen, which testify that Jesus possessed these two
[Timothy] that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead
according to my Gospel." - 2 Tim. 2:8.
-- whatever else Timothy forgot, he must remember this, and maintain it in
in Romans 1:3, 4 in what has been called the "Gospel according to
Paul," he writes of that Gospel:
his son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David
according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power,
according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the
a word in closing: Jehovah is heard, by David, addressing Messiah:
"Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy
footstool." How shall we understand these words?
to an able commentator (Perowne) this expression "denotes that the
person thus honored occupied the second place in the Kingdom, taking rank
immediately after the King, and also sharing as viceroy in the government."
such be the meaning, if the solemn address, "Sit thou at my right
hand," is equivalent to saying, "Be thou associated with me in
my kingly dignity, in my power and universal dominion," then the best
comment on the passage is to be found in Daniel 7:13, 14, where one like
the Son of Man comes with the clouds of heaven and is brought unto the
Ancient of Days, and there is given him a kingdom and glory and a
dominion, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. The
two passages, the one from the Psalms and the other from Daniel, are in
fact combined by our Lord himself, when, standing before the High Priest,
he says: "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right
hand of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven." - Matt. 26:63, 64;
Mark 14:61, 62.
-- P. L. Read
Word of God is quick and powerful." - Hebrews 4:12.
is one of the great texts of the Bible -- a statement of truth at once
profound and inexhaustible. It has its source in the personality of God
himself, its channel in the person of the Logos -- in later times our
Lord Jesus Christ -- and its concluding effects in those inexplicable
experiences in his saints where conscience reigns supreme.
it is applied to the Holy Book which we affectionately term the Bible,
and, as a consequence, an aura of sanctity is accorded to the Book in a
most exclusive sense, a sanctity accorded to no other book no matter how
it may have helped in the molding of our lives. The reading of the Bible
is held by all good men to be infinitely more essential to our growth in
knowledge and in grace than the reading of the best commentaries and
dissertations that the world's libraries contain. And experience has
proved, and still continues to prove, that comparative assertion true.
the text contains much more than a reference to the printed book, peerless
and incomparable though the book may be. The Word of God may be embodied
"in" the words of the book, but it is much more than the words.
It is the living thought of God, seeking to reveal and disclose itself
through the languages of men.
is most essential that we remember its place as it stands in the argument
of this Epistle. It begins with the great idea of "God
speaking," and it is this great idea which carries through to our text.
"The Word of God" maintains the idea of "God speaking"
the introductory passage of Chapter One, we read that God "at sundry
times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the
Prophets," and that "in these last times" he has been
speaking unto us by
-- literally "in" a Son. Neither the Prophets nor the Son
spake "of" or "from" themselves, but only as God
gave them utterance.
cannot read this first section of Hebrews without being reminded of the
first words in Genesis: "In the beginning, God." In that place
and in this -- indeed,
Holy Writ, that
is the first implication. The first step in faith is to believe that God
"is"; the next to believe that he is a rewarder of those that
diligently seek him.
through the "time past," the word spoken was the "Word of
God," not only the word of prophet, priest, or king. When they
thundered forth the arresting words, "Thus saith the Lord," it
was intended to blazon forth the fact that it was the declaration of
God, through the prophet's lips, and that it would be avouched and
underwritten by the act of God, if necessary. As such, it cowed and
subdued haughty king or stubborn peasantry. All Scripture given by inspiration
was the Word of God, and as such emanated and flowed forth from the mind
THE MESSAGE SUPREME
less is this true when the mind of God was and is expressed in or through
"the Son." Jesus came to earth as his "messenger,"
bringing with him words and thoughts which had been given him by his
Father. "I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him
... as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. . . . I speak that
which I have seen with my Father.... He that is of God heareth God's
words." - John 8:26, 28, 38, 47.
Word of God" in our text is, therefore, "God still
speaking" through his appointed messenger. That it is still personal
(a messenger), and not theoretical (a message) is amply demonstrated
by the next verse: "Him with whom we have to do," from whose
"sight" nothing can be hid. Whether the "him" here
described is God, or Jesus, makes no difference to the force or sense of
the passage, though the connections within and following the text incline
one to say that the person of our Lord Jesus, as the great High Priest, is
In support of this view Rotherham, Houle, and others have pointed out a preferred translation: "All things
are naked and exposed to his eyes -- as to whom is our discourse."
(Italics ours) -- Ed. Com.
every messenger must have a message and must deliver it faithfully if
sender, messenger, and message are to operate as one. Hence, though differentiation
between them is very necessary in order that they may be seen in their
respective relationships to each other, cohering is just as necessary for
the allocation of final authority for what is being said.
the "time past" God's message had been tentative and
fragmentary; in these "last days" it is final and complete. Not
that all men have heard or will hear it during this present Church period.
None the less the finality of God's speech to men through his Son is most
definitely asserted in the opening passages, and argued for throughout the
whole range of the Epistle. There is never to be another Messenger, but
the delivery of the message is to be according to the times, and according
to the needs of the men involved. Thus the Messenger has a message today
appropriate for this Gospel Age, but, at its close, a further installment
of the message, appropriate to the Age to come, will be made by him, and
by those acting under him. This is quite in line with the time factors of
the Book of Hebrews -- it begins by speaking of the "world to come
whereof we speak" (Heb. 2:5); it depicts some of the blessings which
the true believer enjoys as "the powers of the world to come"
(Heb. 6:5); it encourages believers to wait patiently under present
distress "yet a little while" till "he that shall come will
come, and will not tarry" (Heb. 10:37); while its final picture is
that of the complete gathering to Mount Zion of the whole assembly of
the Elect Church, of just men made perfect (Ancient Worthies), of a New
Covenant (newly made), of God as the judge of all (or alternatively as a
judge who is God of all), and of Jesus, the illustrious One who has
mediated the newly made Covenant between God and the House of Israel (Heb.
12:22-24); and all this long period is the "speaking period" of
God, by the Son, which, in one single brief word is descriptively styled
"Today" (Heb. 4:7) -- a "today" spanning the centuries
from Jesus' baptism long ago, to that better day, when, Israel gathered
and restored, is fit and ready to enter again into Covenant relationship
with her God.
A BOOK, A PERSONALITY, A
Word (Logos) of God is thus not merely a Book but a Personality, the
Living Word -- plus the message which proceeds from his mouth at this or
that stage of the Plan, according as need requires. That this message has
been embodied in a book is a fact no enlightened student of its pages will
dispute, but that the message is there for all and sundry to take at their
wish is not true. Thousands read the Holy Book, but it yields no message
to them. Thousands more dissect and carve it up -- this part to J, that
part to P, etc., etc. - but it falls to pieces, meaningless and
purposeless in their hands. Others use it to pile text on text to prove
what they desire, only to find fetters and shackles firm -- riveted on
heart and mind. The truth of the matter is that the Book is a textbook,
but it needs a Teacher to explain it. And that Teacher is the one chosen
by God, long ago. God's illuminating power (his holy spirit) acting on
the spoken (and written) Word makes it live and operate; without that holy
power the Book is dead. Without that power it is of no greater influence
than the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, or other earthly sage. The
message without its Messenger and Author is impotent, inert, and
pointless, and does not do the work it was sent to do.
with the Messenger and Author behind it (or with it), how amazingly and
wonderfully it operates! It dissects and divides between soul and spirit,
between joint and marrow, and discerns even the very thoughts and
intents of the heart.
word -- picture here is drawn from the thoroughness and carefulness of the
priestly scrutiny as he slew and prepared the animal for sacrifice. The
verse 13 (opened to the eyes of him) means to "bend back the
neck" and thus leave the throat exposed. This was the first stage of
the sacrificial work as the priest brought down the keen blade upon the
throat of the victim stretched before him. With the same keen blade the
priest, after proper drainage of the blood, proceeded to dissect joint
from joint, organ from organ, opening up to view even the marrow in the
hair was searched, every joint examined, every organ scrutinized with
extreme thoroughness, and thus, the priest himself satisfied, the freewill
gift was passed and permitted to be offered to God in worship and
sacrifice. The internal economy of the lamb (or other animal) was set
naked and opened before the eyes of the sacrificing priest.
is the believer opened up before the eyes of him with whom we have to
do, by the sharp cutting instrument, sharper than any two-edged sword. The
Word of God -- the Living Personality of the great High Priest -- opens up
for scrutiny and inspection the surrendered personality of the saint, by
the sharp cutting action of his Holy Word, separating between the
desires of the flesh and those of the spirit -- the new creature. It
divides between those emotions and intentions springing from the exercise
of our five natural senses -- seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching
-- whereby we influence or are influenced by our fellowmen, and their
spiritual counterparts, by means of which we are able to hold communion
with God. Then the figurative application of the joints and the marrow
could well represent the difference between the form and the essence,
the extrinsic and the intrinsic appearance of every act, word, or thought.
DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART
there is no act or word or thought, nor any motive, emotion, or intent
which is beyond the sharp -- cutting edge of the Word of God. It is a discerner
judge) of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It can thus sit in
judgment, in the seat of conscience, upon belief and unbelief, upon right
-- doing and wrong, upon true thinking and false, and determine for us the
uprightness or deceit of every motion of the soul. With a balance more
infinitely sensitive than the apothecary's scales it can weigh up the
righteousness or unrighteousness of every intent, and indicate to which
side our leaning inclines.
to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart" . . . Christ
Jesus our Lord is very concerned about these, because what a man thinks,
that he will be sooner or later, in life. We must expect to have our most
secret thoughts, relations, and purposes questioned, criticized, and
measured by Jesus, the Living Word, through the precepts of the Bible --
the written Word. No court of inquiry was ever presided over by a more
exacting Inquisitor than this. He is the critic of all the secrets of the
heart, and as each thought or intention rises and begins to take effect,
he searches it through and through.
does the intangible line of demarcation between soul and spirit come?
Where does the one end and the other begin? We cannot tell, but the Word
of God knows! For instance, if we are tired and overwrought, would the
claims of the natural life have precedence over those of the new creature?
-- too tired to go to the Class meeting, but not too tired to go to
work! Or that use of our resources? -- too much to give for a spiritual
cause, but not too much to spend on ourselves! Or that artistic mood? --
too boring to sing a hymn of praise, but not too boring to play
Mendelssohn or Mozart, et
is the battle -- ground for the child of God, and the conflict must last
to his dying day. Spiritual seeing versus natural seeing; spiritual
hearing versus natural hearing; spiritual tasting versus natural tasting;
spiritual feeling versus natural feeling; spiritual touch versus natural
touch -- which shall it be? And yet: it need not be the one or the other
exclusively, so long as they are rightly placed and suitably followed.
There is no criminality in our weariness and tiredness so long as it
deters us from the natural as from the spiritual exercise. There is no
wrong in the use of our resources if the spiritual receives not less
attention than the natural. Good clothes, good furnishments, and good
holidays can all be bought to the glory of God. Nor is there anything
inappropriate in playing Mozart and Mendelssohn, if thereby a song of
praise to the Most High is evoked.
is to enable us to attain that end, and find the right balance between
soul and spirit, between natural man and new creature, that the Word of
God has come to preside in our lives. He has come to deal with the causes
of unrest in the human compound personality. If strange and contradictory
complexes lie at the center of our restlessness, he has come to
disentangle them and set them in their right relationship. He enters and
supervises the whole personality, distinguishing between what is
spiritual and what is not, and determines for us not only what is right
and true, but also what is best and life-promoting.
dissecting knife bespeaks a life of sacrifice, it cuts part away from
part, so that it may be laid in lowly worship before the Most High, yet,
contemporaneously, his presiding Personality, dwelling in our inmost
heart, separates, disentangles, and loosens up all the jangling,
discordant, restless complexes, and brings them all to rest, straightened
out, adjusted, balanced, because they find their place of rest in him.
not dread or fear the incoming of the Word of God into your heart of
hearts, for close after these searching, scorching words, come those of
comfort and hope. "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest,
that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast
our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like
as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne
of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of
Redeemer has passed this way too. The Word of God in his heart searched
him out through and through. He too lay like the flayed, dissected victim
'neath his Father's searching gaze, as part after part was scrutinized, as
joint and marrow were opened up and laid bare. But, thank God, there was
no flaw or blemish in him. Soul and spirit, the natural and the spiritual,
were at equipoise and rest in him.
yoke was easy and his burden light; he touched life's deepest chords and
was broken thereby. But for him the Cross was the prelude to the Crown.
The reproaches of men broke his heart, but in that breaking he came to
understand broken hearts, and thus it is that he is able to save to the
uttermost those that come unto God by him. Our hearts must be broken too
if we are to help heal broken hearts in a coming day, but while they are
on the breaking wheel, he is near to help and sustain. "He was
tempted in all points like as we are," and thus he knows and cares.
chosen High Priest of God has been given a twofold work on our behalf.
He must slay and dissect our sacrifice; he must also comfort and console
those that bring the sacrifice. In Israel, in time past, a goat, a lamb,
or a bird suffered as the one; the presented of the goat, the lamb, or
bird enjoyed the other. In these "last days" the twofold
experience befalls the same man. He must bring himself as lamb, goat, or
bird, and be slain as a man, but thank God, the same Hands that occasion
his death, also wipe away his tears, soothe his fears, and set his heart
to rest with the comfort of the Lord. Oh! that he may ever be to us the
Word of God ... and our great High Priest, searching and comforting us
-- T. Holmes, Eng.
I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having
the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." - Rev. 15:1.
is the significance of the seven last plagues? Have they been fulfilled
yet? If not, when will they be fulfilled?
we may not be too positive in our interpretation, it is our conviction
that they symbolize the closing events of the Gospel Age; that the first
six have been in process of fulfillment for a number of, years, while -- the fulfillment of the seventh lies
in the not far distant future. That they were foreshadowed and illustrated
by the last seven of the ten plagues of Egypt seems clear. It will be
helpful, therefore, if we first review those Egyptian plagues, reserving
to next month a discussion of the seven mentioned in Rev. 15:1.
THE TEN PLAGUES OF EGYPT
stated, the story of Israel is a story of bondage and deliverance, a history
of the thraldom of that nation to Egypt, and of its redemption therefrom
under the mighty hand of God. The narrative is given in the second book of
the Bible, the Book of Exodus, the word exodus signifying a departure, or
a going forth, as of a multitude, from a place or country.
the death of Jacob and Joseph the Israelites had greatly increased in
numbers, and fears were entertained by the Egyptians that in the event
of war, the Israelites would prove the stronger. The student will recall
that three attempts were made to keep their numbers down. First, hard taskmasters
were placed over them, and they were required to work long and
laboriously. Next, the midwives of the nation were instructed to strangle
all male children at birth. Finding these two methods unavailing, a law
was passed that all male children thereafter born of the Israelites should
be thrown into the river Nile. How well this diabolical law succeeded we
do not know. The narrative makes it plain, however, that it was overruled,
in the Lord's providence, to provide a certain new -- born babe, Moses,
with an education he probably would not otherwise have had. We remember
that he was placed in a cradle, or ark, of bulrushes, and was
providentially saved by Pharaoh's daughter, and brought up as her son, his
own mother being employed to nurse him. Thus in a way little dreamed of by
Pharaoh, God began the preparation of one who was destined to be the
nation's deliverer, to be the one who, as an instrument in God's hands,
was to lead the typical people out of bondage.
due time, after he had eighty years of special training (forty years of instruction
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and forty more getting that sense of
poise which comes from tending sheep and watching God's stars at night)
Moses received his commission. We recall that he saw a bush which burned
with fire, and yet was not consumed, apparently symbolizing the terrible
afflictions which the nation was experiencing, yet without being destroyed;
and we remember that God spoke to him out of the burning bush, assuring
him that he had seen the nation's affliction, that he knew their sorrows,
and that he was now about to deliver them out of the hand of the
Egyptians, and bring them up out of that land into a good land and a
large, unto a land which floweth with milk and honey; and that he, Moses,
was the one he had chosen to lead the people out. We remember how hesitant
Moses was; and how slow to accept this high commission; how Aaron was
appointed to serve as his mouthpiece, and how God gave Moses three special
signs -credentials, as it were -- to convince Pharaoh that he stood
before him as the representative of God, signs all deeply significant, but
not close enough to our immediate subject to dwell on here.
THE FIRST THREE PLAGUES
burden of God's message to Pharaoh was: "Let my people go." Over
and over was this message reiterated by God's faithful servant, Moses, but
without effect. And the narrative proceeds to show the various steps
which the Lord took to break down Pharaoh's unwillingness and opposition.
Ten plagues were visited upon him, steadily increasing in severity as they
went on. First the waters of the Nile were turned into blood, destroying
the fish and polluting the land for seven days. Next came a plague of
frogs polluting the houses. In the case of these first two plagues,
Pharaoh's magicians seem to have been able to duplicate them, doubtless
by Satanic power, but when the third plague of lice or sand fleas arrived,
they could not do so, but admitted that it was the finger of a God,
although not necessarily the God of Moses -- the God of Israel. In the
case of each plague Pharaoh relented, but -- as soon as the plague was
lifted, he hardened his heart again.
ISRAEL EXEMPT FROM LAST SEVEN PLAGUES
the fourth plague, that of flies, came, a line of separation was made
between the Israelites and the Egyptians, Jehovah thus demonstrating
that the plagues were not only from a God, as the magicians admitted, but
that they came from the God, the God of Moses, the God of Israel.
In predicting that plague God stated:
I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell,
that no swarms of flies shall be
there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the
earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people. By
tomorrow shall this sign be. And Jehovah did so. - .Exod. 8:22, 23.
pressure of this plague of flies Pharaoh promised to let Israel go, but
his heart hardened again as soon as the flies were removed.
next the fifth plague, that of murrain, a contagious fever or distemper
affecting domestic animals, which swept away all the cattle of the Egyptians,
but not one of those belonging to the Israelites.
sixth plague of boils and blains, or tumors and ulcers, plagued not only
men and cattle, but was especially on the magicians, who now acknowledged
Moses' victory over them.
seventh plague was a plague of hail and fire, causing much damage to man
and beast, trees and herbs, and especially to the barley and flax; the
wheat and spelt, (or rye) not yet being grown up. This seventh plague was
preceded by special warning, and directions were given as to how to escape
it. Not only so, but God, through Moses, warned Pharaoh of the folly of
continuing his resistance, assuring him that it was not because He lacked
the power that He had not already cut him off in death, and that it was
quite impossible for him to gain a victory over Him, and that He was
determined to accomplish the deliverance of Israel.
Pharaoh's own heart remained stiff and obstinate, it is evident that the
previous six plagues had brought about a change of sentiment on the part
of some of his servants for we read:
that feared the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh made his
servants and his cattle flee into the houses; and he that regarded not the
word of Jehovah left his servants and his cattle in the field." -
Exod. 9:20, 21.
Lord's special protection of his chosen is once again to be observed in
connection with this plague, as we read:
in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no
hail." - Exod. 9:26.
eighth plague, one of locusts, was sent to destroy what had escaped damage
by the hail of the preceding plague, and we read:
did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the
hail had left; and there remained not any
thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of
Egypt " - Exod. 10:15.
ninth plague was a plague of darkness, a darkness so great as to be felt,
which prevailed for three days; in connection with which we read:
all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." - Exod.
these nine plagues the first three seem to have been intended to pollute
the land, while the second three were designed to manifest that the God of
Israel was their Author. The last three, which followed in rapid
succession, destroyed the crops, and paved the way for the tenth and
last plague -- the death of the firstborns -- following which the deliverance
of the nation was effected. To quote from the record:
will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood [of
the Passover lamb) upon the lintel and on the two sideposts, Jehovah will
pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your
houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to
thee for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye are come to the land
which Jehovah will give you according as he bath promised, that ye shall
keep this service.
And it shall come to pass when your children shall say
you, 'What mean ye by this service?' that ye shall say, 'It is the
sacrifice of Jehovah's Passover, who passed over the houses of the
children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered
our houses.' And the people bowed the head and worshiped. And the children
of Israel did so; as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
it came to pass, at midnight, that Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the
land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto
the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the
firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his
servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for
there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for
Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Rise up, get you forth from among my
people, both -- ye, and the children of Israel, and go, serve Jehovah, as
ye have said. " - Exod. 12:23-31.
-- P. L. Read
O. L. Sullivan, Salem, N. J. - (Mar.)
Sr. Margaret Szkaradek, Harvey, Ill. - (Apr.)
Sr. Marie L. Watt, Temple City, Cal. - (Apr.)