Christ Is Reigning – No, He Is Not Reigning – A Key To Harmonize
Br. Ted Smith
The two expressions above describe the state of mind that many Bible students are in today. Can these two expressions both be true, and if so how? We believe both expressions are true, in certain senses, and there is a key to show how.
Before proceeding with our treatment of these questions, and the solution, we think it is important for all those brethren who appreciate the ministry of that "wise and faithful servant" (as truly from the Lord), to realize that there is no lack of sincerity on the part of both classes or groups or brethren who use the above expressions in the title to our study. This being the case, there should be the utmost courtesy employed in all of our discussions, knowing that neither is trying to teach a new idea or discard the teachings of our Pastor. It is simply that each individual thinks he is right and that he has caught the Pastor's thought.
On the other hand, we know it is a fact that there is a third group of brethren, mainly leaders, who not only differ with their brethren on the subject of the reign, but who think our Pastor was in error on the subject of the reign. This third group has a different spirit entirely, the chief characteristic seeming to be "BROTHER RUSSELL WAS WRONG!" In our present discussion of the subject, this third group of brethren and their ideas are ignored entirely.
A number of brethren have done some careful studying, and we will make use of their findings in our discussion. We especially appreciate a mimeographed book in two sections. The first section is 40 pages long and is entitled "THE SEVENTH THOUSAND YEARS (Millennium--Restitution--Seventh Day)." The second section is 19 pages long and is entitled “THE REIGN OF CHRIST." Another study worthy of careful consideration was that made during the summer of 1970 at the New Brunswick Bible Students Convention held in Hickman Hall located in Douglass College. The first day of this convention was devoted to the consideration of "THE REIGN OF CHRIST--A STUDY IN DEPTH." A four-page resume of the study was mailed out to interested brethren. We will make use of the valuable quotes from this resume and the suggestions for study of the subject.
Examining the various quotes of the two studies mentioned above, it is clearly evident that our Pastor has stated himself in both ways in unmistakable language--"Christ Is Reigning," and "Christ Is Not Reigning." There is a reason for this, and that reason we want to discover. Our Pastor had an unparalleled understanding of the Scriptures, and he was possessed of a keen mind and gifted with rare ability to express himself at great lengths on Christian subjects. This being the case, it is not reasonable to conclude that our Pastor was confused on his understanding of the Reign of Christ; neither is it reasonable to conclude that he used language that was not fitting to the explanation of the subject.
Some have concluded that there is a dilemma and that we are faced with the necessity of accepting one of the two horns of that dilemma. The present writer does not believe that a dilemma exists. Those who do believe there is a dilemma, think that it is a case of believing that the situation is hopeless and it is not possible to arrive at a clear understanding of what our Pastor really meant; OR that we are faced with taking a choice in believing one or the other expressions, viz. "Christ Is Reigning," or definitely that "Christ Is Not Reigning." Again we say, we do not believe this dilemma exists.
We think the contention of the New Brunswick brethren is a valid one, viz., that we must study "the style of a writer," and this is the task facing us. Let us quote from the four-page resume of the New Brunswick study: "You know in the field of literature, there are individuals who spend years studying the style of a writer and they become authorities on this or that writer. Why do they do this? The basic concepts of a writer can be missed completely unless you understand his style of writing. If we respect Bro. Russell as that wise and faithful servant, then in all due respect to the man, we had better first study his style of writing.” The resume continues--"We submit seven characteristics peculiar to Bro. Russell's style of writing." The seven characteristics are stated with proof quotes or references. For the sake of brevity we will give the seven characteristics, omitting the proof quotes or references (which proof quotes or references will be referred to later at appropriate points): 1. "Often when dealing with a future phase of an event that has already begun, Bro. Russell will speak of the whole event as future." 2. "When writing a generalized article on prophecy, Bro. Russell often speaks of everything in the future." 3. The majority of the International Sunday School lessons that deal with prophecy deal with it in a general way, and often speak of everything in the future tense." 4. When Bro. Russell is writing an article on the sin offering, the covenants, the mediator, the priesthood, and he mentions the reign of Christ or the Millennial Age, he almost always speaks of them in the future tense. . . Yet in the very same issue of the Watch Tower, when writing an analytical article on prophecy, he will speak of the reign of Christ or the Millennial age, or the 1,000 years as having begun." 5. "In a single article, Bro. Russell, dealing with different features of the same event (reign), speaks of it as having begun and not begun." (Our emphasis)) 6. "Psalm 2:8 and 9 and Rev. 11:17, 18 are examples of how Bro. Russell will give the same scripture various starting points of fulfillment. This was in harmony with his gradual establishment of the Kingdom concept. A scripture could begin to be fulfilled in 1878, having a fuller fulfillment in 1914, yet a fuller in anarchy, complete when Mediatorial reign begins." 7. “An example of the peculiarity of Bro. Russell's applying the same scripture in the present and future tenses is his dealing with Isa. 52:7 on reprint page 5258, top and 5259, par. 4."
The foregoing seven points show conclusively that the New Brunswick brethren are correct when they say that we must study the style of a writer." "If we respect Bro. Russell as that wise and faithful servant,’ then in all due respect to the man, we had better first study his style of writing.” Since we have considered this exhortation as necessary to our understanding of the Pastor’s writings, we have noted that in our own case, we have spoken and written in identical terms as our Pastor, and we did this naturally and assumed that our hearers and readers would understand what we were saying, without the necessity of detailed explanations and qualifications.
The title of our study mentions a "Key to Harmonize” the pastor's modes of expression. We will not name the "Key” at this point in our study, because we think the key will be more impressive and more useful if we note actual quotes from our Pastor giving the thought in unmistakable language that "Christ is reigning," and other quotes that express the opposite thought, that "Christ is not reigning;" and by so doing we will actually run across the key in our Pastor’s own language, and we will see that he furnishes the solution to our problem. It is not a case of our Pastor expressing himself carelessly or even loosely but he expresses himself in a manner that is perfectly acceptable by all reasonable people, for all reasonable people do the same thing exactly. We will therefore proceed to quote the Pastor objectively and then we will point out the key that the Pastor himself used, not knowing that such a key would be necessary for us to use long years after his death.
Our first quote is drawn from page 3 of the mimeograph study (40 pages in length), "The Bible chronology herein presented shown that the six great thousand-year Days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great Seventh Day, the thousand years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." Page II, par. 2 and 3 of Author’s Foreword, Oct. 1, 1916, Volume II.)
Our second quote is from page 7 of the same Mimeographed study, "But this is not the type, but the reality: it was not a Jubilee Year, but the antitypical Thousand years of Restitution of all things, which commenced Oct. A. D. 1874." (page 187, par. 1, 2 and 3, Vol. II.)
Our third quote is from page 12 of the same study, "The Time of the End has emphasized this more and more as the years have gone by especially since we entered chronologically the great Seventh Day." (Page I, par. 3 of 1916 Foreword of Volume III.)
Incidentally, our quotes are brief and only those sentences or words necessary to the thought are used-- the quotes themselves in the Mimeographed study are quite lengthy.
Our fourth quote is from page 14, "Thank God, however, it is breaking now! We are in the dawn of the glorious Millennial Kingdom." (Sermon Book, page 514, par. 2.)
Our fifth quote is from page 15, "Now the great Seventh Day, also a thousand years long, has commenced. What wonder if the dawning be remarkable!” (Sermon Book, page 793, par. 2.)
Our sixth quote, from page 16, "Many hold that we are living in the time when the Antitypical Jubilee is being inaugurated; mankind will return gradually to all their rights and privileges for a thousand years. The present social unrest is incidental to the great change. We are living in the beginning of the New Era.” (The Photo-Drama of Creation, 1914, page 48, par. 4.)
Our seventh quote, page 16, "Under Messiah's glorious reign that last thousand years' Restitution work will bring Earth to the condition originally designed by God! . . Yet we are only in the beginning of the thousand years in which, under Messiah's guidance, God's Wisdom and Power will undoubtedly work miraculous changes in a natural way." (Photo-Drama of Creation, 1914, page 95, par. 1 and 3.)
In the Mimeographed study there is page after page of references to the reprints, beginning with the year 1879 on through to the year 1916. We shall pick out only a few that are very much to the point.
On page 21 is this quote from reprint page 842, col. 1, par. 1, "Slowly and surely the morning dawns; slowly and surely the present kingdoms and powers of this world will crumble and fall before the heavenly King and kingdom. Slowly and surely the 'strong man' is bound in his own house by the stronger one now present—‘as a thief’--unobserved; and his house is being broken up.--Matt. 24:43."
On page 30 is a quote from reprint page 2992, col. 1, par. 3, "In the Millennial Dawn series, we have called attention to many of these prophetic fulfillments now transpiring;--to the end of the 6,000 years of the reign of evil, and to the opening of the seventh thousand, or period of rest and blessing;--to the great antitypical Jubilee, a thousand years long, in whose beginning we are now living, .
On page 32 is a quote from reprint page 4148, col. 2, top, "Their hope is stated in these words, ‘I will raise him up at the last day.' The last day, the great seventh day, the Millennial day. Ah, yes! We remember it is written respecting the church, the bride class, 'God shall help her right early in the morning' (Psa. 46:5)-the morning of that Millennial day. The six days, epochs of one thousand years each, from Adam have passed, the seventh is already dawning. . . .”
On page 34 is a quote from reprint page 4976, col. 2, par. 2, "The Apostle tells us that these evil spirits are to be restrained until the judgment of the great day. What would seem to be implied? We answer that this is the day of Christ, the thousand-year day. . The Apostle says that the fallen angels are restrained in chains of darkness until the great day."
On page 35 is a quote from reprint page 5139, col. 2, par. 5, "The seventh day of the creative week began with Adam's creation and has already lasted six thousand years, and is to be completed with the thousand years of Christ's Reign. . .”
On page 38 is this quote from reprint page 5567, par. 5, "Has the kingdom begun in any sense of the word? We so believe."
On the same page is a quote from reprint page 5574, par. 1, "’He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day' (John 12:48)--the day of judgment, now present since 1874."
Another quote from the same page is from reprint page 5696, par. 1, "Our Lord Jesus repeatedly mentioned 'the last day,' and declared that certain things would occur in the last day. We understand him thus to be referring to the great seventh day, the thousand-year day of his kingdom. . .”
The final quote on page 38 is from reprint page 5752, col. 2, par. 6, "Mount Horeb, otherwise called the ‘Mount of God,’ fitly represented in the picture Messiah's kingdom. The coming of Elijah to it portrayed the fact that the church will be in and under the kingdom administration while still in the flesh, although the last members of the church will not fully participate in the kingdom honors and blessings until they shall have experienced the great resurrection 'change' noted by St. Paul. . .”
On page 39 is a quote from reprint page 5753, "Many Bible students understand that chronologically Messiah's kingdom began its operation in the world in the year 1878, while the last members of the Elijah class are still in the flesh. . . While in this condition Bible students the world over have been receiving of the Lord a special vision of the future. That is to say, through Bible study they have been learning that Messiah’s kingdom is to be inaugurated in a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation--no, nor ever shall be afterward. . .”
Section II of the Mimeographed study is entitled THE REIGN OF CHRIST and this section has 19 pages.
On page 1 is a quote from Vol. II, 1916 foreword, page VIII, par. 2, "The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great thousand-year Days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great Seventh Day, the thousand years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873."
On the same page is another quote from Vol. II, page 40, par. 2, “If, then, the seventh thousand-year period of earth's history be an epoch specially noted as the period of Christ's reign, we shall, by showing that it began in A.D. 1873, be proving that we are already in it."
On page 2 is a quote from Vol. II, page 100, par. 1, "So, in this 'Day of Jehovah,' the 'Day of trouble, ' our Lord takes his great power (hitherto dormant) and reigns, and this it is that will cause the trouble, though the world will not so recognize it for some time."
On page 3 is another quote from Vol. II, page 142, top, "It is to this mission of the ‘feet,' or last members of the church, who will declare upon the mountains (kingdoms) the reign of Christ begun, that Isa. 52:7 refers."
Page 4 has a quote from Vol. II, page 168, part 1, "The Apostle then reminds us (verse 8) that this Day of the Lord’s presence, for which the Church has long hoped and looked, is a thousand-year day--the Millennium of Christ's reign."
Another quote on page 4 is also from Vol. II, page 239, middle, "Since that time it has been emphatically manifest that the time had come in A.D. 1878 when kingly judgment should begin at the house of God. It is here that Rev. 14:14-20 applies, and our Lord is brought to view as the Reaper crowned. The year A.D. 1878, being the parallel of his assuming of power and authority in the type, clearly marks the time for the actual assuming of power as King of kings, by our present, spiritual, invisible Lord--the time of his taking to himself his great power to reign, which in the prophecy is closely associated with the resurrection of his faithful, and the beginning of the trouble and wrath upon the nations. (Rev. 11:17, 18)."
Page 5 has a quote from Vol. III, page 62, par. 1, "Nor does this brief synopsis of Christ's reign omit mention of the great time of trouble by which it will be inaugurated. . .”
Another quote from Vol. III is from page 129, top, "The 'kingdoms of the world,' even while being crushed by the Kingdom of God, will be quite ignorant of the real cause of their downfall--until, in the close of this 'day of wrath,’ the eyes of their understanding shall open, so that they will see that a new dispensation has dawned, and learn that Immanuel has taken to himself his great power, and has begun his glorious and righteous reign."
On page 6, a quote from Vol. III is found, from page 278, par. top, "But as the Kingdom of Zion to some extent began in 1878, when our King took to himself his great power to reign."
On page 7 is a quote from Vol. III, page 301, "In view of all the evidences presented in this and the preceding volumes of this work, we have no hesitancy in proclaiming to the Lord's loyal and faithful people, his beloved Zion, this glorious intelligence: ‘Thy God reigneth!’ . . . The faces of these messengers shine with that heavenly joy which fills their hearts and overflows their lips as they commune together and with the Lord and go heralding to every nation (mountain) the good tidings of Immanuel's reign begun. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him (the feet of the Christ) that bringeth good tidings of Millennial joy and peace, assuring Zion that the reign of our Lord is begun!"
On page 8 is a quote from Vol. IV, foreword page XVII, par. 1, "The question now arises, Why did not God send His Kingdom sooner? Why is Armageddon necessary? We answer that God has His own times and seasons, and that He has appointed the Great Seventh Thousand-Year Day for the reign of Christ."
On page 9 is another quote from Vol. IV, page 622, par. 3 and 4, "In describing the events under the Seventh Trumpet, this order is observed:--(l) the power is taken by the Lord as King of Earth, and his reign begun; (2) as a consequence the great judgment-trouble comes upon the world. We are told, prophetically, that the reign begins before the time of trouble, and before the resurrection of the saints and prophets; but that it will continue long after these (for a thousand years), until it shall have 'judged' all mankind, . . " “We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which are and wast and art to come, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and has reigned. . . And (as a consequence of the reign begun) the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come. . .”
Another quote from Vol. IV is found on page 623, par. 1, "We read similarly that the Kingdom reign will begin before 'Babylon' falls; and that Babylon will fall as a result of kingdom judgments. . .”
On page 10 is found a quote from OUR MOST HOLY FAITH, page 572, top, "At the sounding of the seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding."'
From page 10 to page 19 are many quotes from the reprints--we will note only a few pertinent to our discussion.
On page 15 is a long quote from reprint page 2992, col. 2, par. 3 and 4, ". . . while we point out to them that this seventh trumpet--' The Last Trumpet'--'The trump of God,' is as much symbolic as were its predecessors, and marks a much larger and more important fulfillment than any of them. Its fulfillment extends through a period of 1,000 years; its events mark and coincide with all the various features of the Millennial reign of Christ. Its beginning, we understand, was in 1878, and its termination will be a thousand years future from that date. It will be 'sounding' for all that time--during which its events will be in process of accomplishment. . . What the events represented by this Seventh Trumpet are, is briefly explained in the verses following our text (17, 18). The first. feature of this Trumpet is the announcement of Christ's kingdom in the earth--the assumption of his great office, the beginning of his reign. This, as we have already shown from other Scriptures, was chronologically due to begin in 1878. The results of this assumption of authority by Messiah follow in due course as narrated. (1) 'The nations were angry and thy wrath is come.' The laying of judgment to the line and justice to the plummet, and the sweeping away or the refuge of lies, as early features in our Lord’s reign, as described in the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 28:17), will necessarily result in great commotion in the affairs of the 'present evil world.’”
Another quote is from reprint page 2993, par. 3, "What is here termed 'the time of the dead that they should be judged,' is elsewhere termed the 'day of judgment,' of which the Apostle declares, 'A day with the Lord is as a thousand years’--with men. We remember that the inspired declaration respecting this day of judgment is--'God hath appointed a day (the Millennial day--the thousand years of Christ's reign), in which he will judge the world. . .”
On page 17 is another interesting quote from reprint page 5632, par. 2 and 4, "Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God's kingdom has begun its work. We are expecting to see multiplied proofs of the kingdom power, though the world will not recognize it as such until it is manifested in the flaming fire of anarchy, which is still further along. . . At the sounding of the seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding! 'And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come.' (Rev. 11:18). It is our judgment that we shall see more of this iron rule and its breaking influence, not only upon the nations, but upon society at large."
Page 18 contains a quote from reprint page 5916, col. 2, "Nevertheless, both the King and the Kingdom are not only coming, but are here; and the present troubles and shakings in church and state, and the general awakening of the people are the results of emanating from that King and kingdom."
Page 19 has a quote from reprint 5990, par. 2, "The Mountain (kingdom) of the Lord's House is now being established in the top of the mountains, superseding the great kingdoms of this world, and is being exalted above the hills. . . and now--since the Spring of 1878--God has 'set his king upon his holy hill of Zion.' (Psalm 2:6)"
The foregoing quotes are clearly stated in plain English and there can be no doubt of the meaning . The writer stated that our Lord's presence began in 1874--he has been reigning since the resurrection of the sleeping saints in 1878, and the reign is to cover the entire Millennium; and this Millennium is the same period of time as the Thousand-year reign, and the great Seventh Day, one thousand years in length, and this is known as the Day of Judgment, as the Times of Restitution and the period of the antitypical Jubilee.
But now let us turn back to the study instituted by our New Brunswick brethren and examine "the other side of the coin." Our New Brunswick brethren considered a number of quotes to demonstrate that our Pastor expressed the thought that "Christ was reigning", and also what seemed to be the opposite thought that "Christ was not reigning." And as we do this, let us see if we can find the key to this conundrum.
On page 1 of their study, section II, item A is a quote from reprint 5527, col. 2, par. 3, which reads as though the kingdom is future. Let us quote from this paragraph and note the qualification, "The picture given of the end of the Gentile times is that of a stone striking the image of Gentile supremacy in its feet (Dan. 2:314, 35) The impact will be so sharp and so thorough as to leave nothing of them. Having had their day, they will cease to be-- 'become like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.' The next event in order will be the Messianic kingdom, of which it is written, 'The desire of all peoples shall come.’” Let us take special note of the words which we have underlined. What did the Pastor refer to when he said that the next event would be the Messianic Kingdom? Did he not refer clearly to something the kingdom would accomplish for the people? viz. their desire for a rule of righteousness and peace? So when he spoke of the kingdom as being future, he was referring to the rule of righteousness and peace--surely this was future, and this is acceptable and proper use of the English language. This was in no sense contradicting his other statements that the kingdom was already begun, even back to the year 1878--since that date the kingdom has been doing other things in the earth, such as tearing down the old order, gradual binding of Satan, etc.
The next item referred to by our New Brunswick brethren is very similar in meaning, and is found on reprint 5554 par. 7, "Let us look beyond the present terrible war (World War I) to the glorious things which God’s Word assures us lie just beyond it; namely, Messiah’s Kingdom." This is precisely the same thought as our first quote above--the writer was referring to "glorious things" which would be accomplished by Messiah's Kingdom, and he uses the expression "Messiah's Kingdom to give the thought. This does not contradict the Pastor's other expressions indicating that the Kingdom had already begun and was doing other things that would not be looked upon by the world as "glorious things."
The third quote under item A is from reprint page 5564 col. 2, par. 5 and we quote only a part of a sentence, "Christ's kingdom has not yet been fully established; but it will be built on the wreck of these present institutions, which outwardly resemble Christ's kingdom. . .” Isn't this what Bro. Russell was telling us all the time--that Christ is exercising his reigning power for the purpose of finally displacing the present kingdoms and “fully establish” his own Kingdom? Our Pastor is not contradicting himself, but is consistent in what he is saying.
The next quote is from reprint page 5569 par. 4 and 6, and we pick out the pertinent sentences, "We should always bear in mind that we are representatives of the Lord of Righteousness and of the great King of Peace, who will ultimately take the throne of power." And "Then the elect of God will interpose that the world may not be destroyed, that humanity may not destroy itself; and then will be the beginning of the blessings that are to come to all people through Christ, through the merit of his sacrifice, through the channel of The Christ glorified--Jesus and his joint-heirs in the kingdom." We, as the Lord’s people know that bur Beloved Head is indeed the "great King of Peace" but now he is not peaceable, rather he is a King of war, overcoming all the enemies of mankind. And we look forward to the time when the kingdoms of this world will be subdued and we will be with our Lord to dispense the blessings of restitution that are needed so desperately by mankind. Our Lord is reigning now as the great General of Jehovah to destroy Satan's empire--LATER he will reign as King of PEACE to a chastened world.
The next quote is very interesting, and we note the thought the writer had in mind. This is found on reprint page 5567 par. 1 and 5, “That anarchy will be the 'flaming fire' revealing the new kingdom, taking vengeance, bringing retributive justice upon the world--preceding its blessing." We note two points here in particular--the 'flaming fire' reveals the new kingdom--the kingdom is acting to destroy the present order; THEN will follow the blessings of THE SAME KINGDOM ACTING IN A DIFFERENT CAPACITY! Then the second quote from par. 5, "Has the kingdom begun in any sense of the word? We so believe. . . We think. That the light now going forth is under the direction of the Captain of our Salvation. We think that the present distress amongst the nations is merely the beginning of this time of trouble." What is our Pastor really saying? He is saying that the kingdom is acting now in causing trouble.. Is that what the world wants? Of course not! But the Lord knows that the world needs this trouble to get rid of the causes of the world's ills; and so he is exercising Kingdom power to destroy the enemies of the FUTURE REIGN OF THE SAME KINGDOM ACTING PEACEABLY. There is no contradiction here.
Let us consider the next quote, which is found on reprint page 5574 par. 3, "Not only is mankind to be restored, to be brought back to his primeval condition of human perfection and harmony with his Maker, but the lower animals will also share in the blessing and the restoration of order to be accomplished by the Reign of Christ, now, we believe very near at hand." Here again our Pastor is talking about something that is to be ACCOMPLISHED by the Reign of Christ; and it is obvious that this is still future. Christ is not exercising his Kingdom power to accomplish this desirable thing--no, this is still future!
Reprint page 5598 last two paragraphs, contain an interesting comment by the Pastor--"The end of the Gentile Times, then, marks the beginning of Messiah’s kingdom." Preceding this sentence are these words, "As the Lord declared, Zedekiah was the last of the line of David, who should reign until Messiah's kingdom would be established." When the Gentile Times ended, then would be the time for the FIFTH UNIVERSAL EMPIRE--and the Kingdom of God would be that empire. Surely we would not conclude that our Pastor is contradicting everything he had said in the past concerning the taking of power by our Lord shortly after his return in 1874. Secular writers have had a great deal to say about a momentous change when the first World War began in 1914; and from their standpoint, if they would write history in the Millennial Age, they would very likely say that Messiah's Kingdom began in 1914 when the Times of the Gentiles ended.
On reprint page 5622, par. 5, we find more interesting facts expressed by the Pastor—“Therefore as soon as the merit of Christ is appropriated for the world, he will immediately take charge of his purchased possession. He will then take his great power and reign. Then all those redeemed ones for whom he will appropriate the merit of his sacrifice, he will be ready to give the long-promised restitution blessings." What does Christ do before he takes charge of his purchased possession? He wages his Kingdom power to overthrow Satan’s empire, to wrest from Satan, so to speak, the human race, so that Satan will no longer have mankind under his deceiving influence. When Christ has accomplished this necessary work, then he takes charge of his purchased possession and reigns to bring to mankind restitution blessings that he died to accomplish. He does not reign now to dispense restitution blessings--he has other things to do for mankind before restitution blessings can be dispensed, viz. the overthrow of Satan's empire.
There are two other paragraphs referred to found on reprint page 5632, and there are two paragraphs--l and 4, "The final phase, 'to execute the judgments written,' would seem to imply that there would be something for the saints on this side of the veil to do in connection with the execution of the judgments upon the nations. As to just what this means, we have not yet fully learned. But we see nothing here to conflict with the thought that the Lord's kingdom may be properly understood to have begun operations and that the present smiting of the nations is under kingdom control. The fact that some of the members of the kingdom class are still in the flesh does not militate at all against this thought. We see the kingdoms of this world now being dashed to pieces, and we are expecting to see the process continued until they are completely ground to powder. They shall become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, and the wind shall carry them away. Then shall they be found no more at all.--Dan. 2:35.” And “. . . And this war was allowed to occur at about the end of the Times of the Gentiles, at the appropriate time when they are to be dashed to pieces with the iron rod of the iron rule. (Psalm 2:6 to 12) It is our judgment that we shall see more of this iron rule and its breaking influence, not only upon the nations, but upon society at large. Now in this great day of the Lord everything that can be shaken is to be shaken to pieces and shaken out, to the intent that nothing unrighteous or unworthy shall remain. God himself is doing the shaking." How simple is the meaning here--Christ (at the time the article was written by our Pastor) was crushing the great Gentile image with. his unlimited Kingdom power--Christ was acting as a man of war, and not yet as the Prince of Peace. And the Gentile Image is being ground to powder and in time it will be completely ground to powder and anarchy will consume everything that is left. This is all a logical sequence of events necessary to the full establishment of the Kingdom in the earth.
Now we come to a quote that furnishes us the KEY to enable us to harmonize those expressions of our Pastor that seem to be contradictory.. We will underline those words that constitute the key in our estimation. The quote is on reprint page 5715, col. 2, par. 1, "They (the world) are ready for the message that Messiah's kingdom is to furnish the remedy for all the ills of the world by uplifting mankind out of ignorance, superstition, sin and death. They are ready for the information that although Christ was eighteen hundred years ago declared worthy to become the King, he has not yet taken office IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD, but is waiting for the completion of the church, which has been in process of calling and disciplining and polishing for more than eighteen hundred years. They are ready for the message that Christ is now taking to himself his great power and beginning his reign, and that the present disturbance of Europe, is what is described in Revelation as the nations being angry, and God’s wrath having come, etc.--Rev. 11:18."
"IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD”--ah yes, this is the key, and if we use this key we will be able to harmonize seemingly contradictory statements of the Pastor. Let us note in the foregoing quote that the Pastor is expressing both thoughts--"he has not yet taken office" is one expression, and the other expression is that "Christ is now taking to himself his great power and beginning his reign." How do we harmonize these two thoughts? The first thought that “he has not yet taken office" refers to the idea expressed in the immediate context--"that Messiah's kingdom is to furnish the remedy for all the ills of the world by uplifting mankind out of ignorance, superstition, sin and death." And how' true it is that Christ has not yet taken his kingly office in this sense of furnishing the remedy for mankind's ills. As to the second expression-- "Christ is now taking to himself his great power and beginning his reign," undoubtedly refers to his exercise of kingly power in overthrowing Satan’s empire. Note too that Rev. 11:18 is quoted and if we turn back to one of our previous quotes, taken from reprint page 5632, par. 2 and 4 we read, "At the sounding of the seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding! 'And the nations were angry and thy wrath is
come.’ (Rev. 11:18)." (Page 7 of this discourse, par. 2) So we see that the Pastor had in mind that our Lord was not yet exercising his kingly power to bless mankind with restitution blessings, but he was ruling and exercising his kingly power to vanquish Satan’s empire. The reigning of our Lord "IN THE FULLEST SENSE OF THE WORD" has reference to his taking over of his purchased possession, awakening mankind from death and showering restitution blessings. As our Pastor so well stated the matter--"Messiah's Kingdom has various stages of inauguration," We should keep this in mind so we can follow our Pastor’s thinking as he touches upon different "stages of inauguration," and expresses himself accordingly (Vol. III foreword, 1916, page IV, par. 2.)
The next quote is a perfect example of what has been said in the foregoing paragraph. This is found on reprint page 5753, var. 1, "Many Bible students understand that chronologically Messiah a kingdom began its operation in the world in the year 1878, while the last members of the Elijah class are still in the flesh. How soon the entire company of the Elijah class will pass beyond the veil and the kingdom be ushered in with power and great glory is not definitely stated in the Bible.” We might say correctly that the Kingdom NOW is being ushered in, not "with power and great glory," but with great judgment-troubles upon the present rulers of mankind. This is the difference and all quite logical, and understandable, in the light of all our Pastor has said upon the subject.
Our next quote is found on reprint page 5772, col. 2, par. 4, "They are convinced that the present war (World War I) is the result, and that its ultimate conclusion will be the complete overthrow of all the kingdoms of the world and (here Bro. Russell uses the key again) "THE FULL ESTABLISHMENT of Messiah's kingdom in the control of earth."
On reprint page 5777, col. 2, par. 4 we find these words, "During the Messianic reign, Christ and the church will do a restitution work for all mankind." Does this mean that we are to understand our Pastor as actually saying that Christ is not now reigning? Surely not, for Christ reigns for many purposes, the first purpose, as we have said before, is to break down the old order, so he can perform the other, the final purpose of the reign, viz to dispense restitution blessings to all mankind. ("For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." I Cor. 15:25 and 26.)
Our next quote is from the 7th reprint and is found on page 5823, col. 2, top, and it expresses a double thought as has been done in numerous other occasions, They (the world) are awakening to the fact that we have long been under a great delusion--that these kingdoms are merely kingdoms of this world; that the prince of this world is still the ruler; that Messiah, the Prince of light, is only now, and through great tribulation taking to himself his great power TO BEGIN HIS REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." We notice how this is stated--He is "now, and through great tribulation taking to himself his great power"--and for what purpose? --as a preparation or a step of inauguration "TO BEGIN HIS REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." Is it a reign of righteousness now?--it is in a sense
--but more precisely it is a REIGN OF SEVERE JUDGMENTS, GETTING READY FOR "HIS REIGN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS."
Again, in the 7th reprint we find a simple statement that is quite understandable. This is found on page 5899, par. 3, "Now the church of Christ, the saintly bride class, is being selected from the world to constitute the royal family of the future, when completed and perfected by the first or chief resurrection. (1 Pet. 2:9) Then this royal family will, as God's kingdom, deal with the world of mankind, ruling, instructing, uplifting, blessing, all the willing and obedient. . .” Yes, God's kingdom, when the Christ is completed, will bless mankind richly; but God's kingdom now, in the hands of Christ, is acting to crush all those who oppose its present inauguration.
In an article written in July 1, 1916 our Pastor expresses this thought (reprint page 5916, last par.), "Nevertheless, both the King and the kingdom are not only coming, but are here; and the present troubles and shakings in church and state, and the general awakening of the people are the results of influences emanating from that King and kingdom.” Here is a double thought again--note the words "both the King and the kingdom are not only coming, but are here; . . .” What is the double thought?--the kingdom is “here" in the sense that it is exercising power in the world to crush Satan’s empire; AND it is "coming" in the sense that it will, when all the church class are with our Lord in glory, the kingdom will then dispense restitution blessings, when our Lord REIGNS AS THE PRINCE OF PEACE.
In the same issue (July 1, 1916), and in a succeeding article which is a Sunday School article (and this is significant, for the Pastor usually expressed himself in very general terms when he wrote Sunday School articles, for these articles were read by many in the nominal churches), found on reprint page 5919, col. 2, par. 4 which reads as follows, "The kingdom cannot come until the royal family is ready to take the throne." Now let us use the key and see how smoothly this reads--"The kingdom cannot come" (IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD) "until the royal family is ready to take the throne. Then a few sentences farther along in this paragraph are these words, "Then for a thousand years the restitution privileges will be open to the whole world of mankind." Now are we going to understand the Pastor to say that the restitution kingdom is going to start after the church is completed and then continue literally A THOUSAND YEARS from that point? This would not be consistent for what has he said so many times in the past? Has he not said that "Times of Restitution" synchronize with the great Seventh Day, and that the Seventh Day is the Millennium? and the Millennium is one thousand years long? He certainly has said just this. And when did his second advent, his presence begin? In 1874. Isn't this clear enough to qualify the above statement in the Sunday School lesson above? We think so.
Again we find a double thought in an article found on reprint page 5922, col. 2, par. 6, "The church in association with her Head will be the Melchizedek Priest, during the Millennial Age. That Priest, Prophet, Teacher, is not yet fully raised up from among the people, but will be entirely raised up by the close of this age, perfected in the first resurrection. (Acts 3:23; Eph. 2:10-16) Consequently no reigning takes place as yet, EXCEPT AS OUR LORD IS TAKING TO HIMSELF HIS GREAT POWER AND BE-GINNING HIS REIGN--the majority of the church already with him on the other side the veil, and we on this side gradually passing over." Here is a perfect example of our Pastor's thinking on the reign. He said "no reigning takes place as yet." What reigning is he talking about? --it can only be the reign of righteousness of the King of Peace for blessing mankind with showers of restitution blessings. Now we notice what our Pastor says further, if no reigning takes place as yet, EXCEPT Why this word "EXCEPT"? Because there is some reigning of a different kind going on. And what is that?--it is great judgment troubles upon the world-- the early part of the Millennial Reign is known to be a dark and troublesome time--"a time of trouble such as the world has ever known." This is all consistent and understandable--our Pastor is not contradicting himself at any time in any sense or in any degree.
Farther along in 1916 is another reprint quote, page 5980, col. 2, par. 1, "Those who have been favored with the message of truth and have turned a deaf ear, while still professing to be followers of Christ, and perhaps teaching in his name, will find the conditions of the incoming age less favorable to them than to heathen peoples who have never heard the true message of God, the Gospel of the kingdom, the establishment" (IN THE FULL SENSE OF THE WORD--we are using the key here)) "which is now very near." How simple this all is when we use the key that the Pastor himself used many times.
There was an article printed immediately after our Pastor’s death. It was entitled THE EARTH TREMBLED--AND FELL, and is found on reprint page 5989. The first two paragraph of this article are extremely interesting. They read as follows, "Text--"His lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw, and trembled."--Psalm 97:4." "God's holy Prophets of the Old Testament and of the New give us numerous pictures of our day and the events now taking place in the world. The Psalmist David, taking prophetically a standpoint of observation future from his day, declared, 'The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof !' (Psalm 97:1) As we have shown in Scripture Studies, Vol. III, Study 9, this began to be true when our Lord Jesus, having returned to earth to set up His Kingdom, took unto Himself His great power. Yet not until His Kingdom has been fully established (our emphasis) in the earth will His glorious reign be clearly recognized." “That the Prophet David is referring especially to the present time, from 1878 down to the full inauguration (our emphasis) of the Kingdom, is clear from his succeeding statement: 'Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne. A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about.' How true it is that the storm clouds are all about us in this Day of the Kingly presence of Jehovah’s great Representative, the Executor of His great Purposes! Daily the darkness of gloom and perplexity deepens on every side for those not acquainted with Jehovah's purposes."
Another paragraph in the same article is found on reprint page 5990, par. 2 and elaborates the same points, "The Mountain (Kingdom) of the Lord's 'House is now being established (our emphasis ) in the top of the mountains, superseding the great kingdoms of this world, and is being exalted above the hills--the smaller governments. (Isaiah 2:2) Clouds and darkness, trouble and perplexity and distress of nations are round about; and the thunderings and lightnings are making all the earth to tremble as did Israel at Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 19:1-25) And now--since the Spring of 1878--God has 'set His King upon His Holy Hill of Zion.' (Psalm 2:6) (Our emphasis) Therefore, if those who refused to obey Moses, and presumptuously disgraced the ceremonies of the occasion at Sinai, met with instant death, how can we escape if we disregard the voice of the great Mediator of the New Covenant, (our emphasis) and the remarkable circumstances which now accompany its establishment?" (Our emphasis) We note the last sentence where Bro. Russell is saying that it is "the voice of the great Mediator of the New Covenant" and that the circumstances in the world which he was referring to were identified with the "establishment" of the New Covenant. Actually the establish of the Kingdom is the work of establishing the New Covenant and the Kingdom is properly viewed as the New Covenant Kingdom because it is for the purpose of administering the law of the New Covenant.
The final quote from the reprints, under item A of the New Brunswick study is found on page 60l4, col. 2, par. 2 and is easily understood, “. . Then the third phase of the calamity--the darkest of all--will be the symbolic fire of anarchy, which will utterly destroy our present civilization. Then, in the midst of that most awful time of trouble, Messiah, the great King, will take his great power and will exercise it, with the result that the raging waves of the sea of human passion will all be quieted, the fires of anarchy will all be extinguished, and the reign of righteousness and peace will begin." The exercise of Messiah's great power will be exerted to quiet the raging passions of man and "the reign of righteousness and peace will begin.” Previous to this, Messiah was not exercising his power in a “reign of righteousness and peace" but was exercising his power to crush and destroy. There is quite a difference, and in both cases it is the reign of Christ. Christ reigns to destroy the old order, AND he reigns to establish peace in the earth. The destruction comes first and the establishing of peace in the earth comes second. The reign of Christ does both.
At this point we insert a quote from reprint page 5193, par. 1, which gives an excellent illustration of Brother Russell’s use of the key, "Even though the kingdom may be considered as begun from the time the King began the exercise of his great power (Rev. 11:17) in 1878, it will not be 'set up', in the full sense of the word (our emphasis) until the last member of the kingdom has been changed or glorified- -until the breaking of the Loaf, The Christ, Head end body, is completed. . ." Could any-thing be plainer?
We go back now to the study of our New Brunswick brethren--to page 2 of their outline, under Section II, item B, where seven characteristics of our Pastor are considered. There are a number of points that are important to grasp. The first characteristic of Bro. Russell's style is worded this way, "Often when dealing with a future phase of an event that has already begun, Bro. Russell will speak of the whole event as future. Example: Vol. I, page 116, last paragraph speaks of second advent as future." We quote now from this paragraph (in part) as proof of the point, ". . . Seeing that the time of evil, injustice, and death is to be brought to an end by the dominion of power which he will exercise (our emphasis), and that righteousness, truth and peace are to be universal, who should not rejoice to see his day?"
The second characteristic of Bro. Russell's style of writing is worded as follows, "When writing a generalized article on prophecy, Bro. Russell often speaks of everything in the future. Examples: Reprint 5028 --reign and Jubilee future, in same article; reprint page 5574, par. 1 --judgment of nominal church not begun; par. 3--reign not begun; par. 9 - harvest not begun. Here are the references--5028, par. 2, ". . . That Jubilee pictures the glorious Restitution Times of Messiah’s kingdom, which, we believe, are nigh, even at the door." 5574, par. 1, "Consequently, when the time shall come that 'judgment shall be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet,' and when this judgment shall begin at the nominal house of God, the nominal Systems will fall--condemned by that Word." 5574, par. 3, "Not only is mankind to be restored, to be brought back to his primeval condition of human perfection and harmony with his Maker, but the lower animals will also share in the blessing and the restoration of order to be accomplished by the Reign of Christ, now, we believe, very near at hand." 5574, par. 9, "This is a striking reference to the fact, elsewhere clearly taught, that the ripe 'wheat' of the Gospel church are to be separated from the unripe wheat and the 'tares' at the end of this age, that they are to be exalted and glorified before the burning, the consuming, trouble will come."
The third characteristic of Bro. Russell's style of writing is found in the Sunday School lessons: "The majority of the international Sunday School lessons that deal with prophecy deal with it in a general way, and often speak of everything in the future tense. Examples: 7th day future--reprint page 5378, col. 2, par. 2 and 3; second advent future--reprint page 5589, last 2 paragraphs." Reprint page 5378, col. 2, par. 2, "Messiah’s kingdom will be in the great seventh day, or Sabbath, in which all who will accept the Savior may enter into rest." Reprint page 5589, last paragraph, “. . He went quietly, secretly, unknown to the world--he is to return as a thief in the night; and none will know of his return except those whose eyes of understanding will be opened to discern the signs of the presence of the Son of Man.”
The fourth characteristic--"When Bro. Russell is writing an article on the sin offering, the covenants, the mediator, the priesthood, and he mentions the reign of Christ or the Millennial Age, he almost always speaks of them in the future tense. Example reprint page 5622, par. 5 and 6." We quote par. 5 in full, "This work, then, of appropriating the merit of Jesus on behalf of the world is left until the Millennial age; when the Redeemer's kingdom will make man's restitution privileges a real boon. Therefore, as soon as the merit of Christ is appropriated for the world, he will immediately take charge of his purchased possession. He will then take his great power and reign. Then to all those redeemed ones for whom he will appropriate the merit of his sacrifice he will be ready to give the long-promised restitution blessings." Paragraph 6 is very similar in meaning.
Another part of the fourth characteristic is worded as follows: "Yet in the very same issue of the Watch Tower, when writing an analytical (our emphasis) article on prophecy, he will speak of the reign of Christ or the Millennial age, or the 1,000 years as having begun. Example: 5632, par. 1, 2, 4 and 9. Also compare reprint page 5458, col. 2, par. 5 with reprint page 5462, par. 6.” On page 5632 we find the following in par. 1, “. . But we see nothing here to conflict with the thought that the Lord’s kingdom may be properly understood to have begun operations and that the present smiting of the nations is under kingdom control." From par. 2 we note the following words, "Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God’s kingdom has begun its work. . . When this symbolic fire shall prevail, then the world will realize what we are trying to tell them now; namely, that God's kingdom is taking control, and that these various demonstrations are evidences that our Lord is taking his great power." From the 4th paragraph we glean the following, "At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding! 'And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come.' (Rev. 11:18)." From par. 9 we quote as follows, “. . We believe that the time for the setting up of the kingdom was on September 21, 1914. At that time, when it was due for our Lord to take up his great power and reign, the nations were already angry. They were at war over a month in advance of the time, because so angry."
Now we compare 5458, col. 2, par. 5 with reprint page 5462, par. 6. We quote now from 5458, col. 2, par. 5, in part as follows, ". . . Hence, he withheld the morning light until the morning time, so that the struggle and its disastrous effects upon human institutions will occur just in advance of the time for the establishment of Messiah's kingdom, for the control of the world by the spiritual, invisible, but all-powerful King, who is so soon to take unto himself his great power and reign.-- Rev. 11:17, 18; 19:6; Psalm 99:1.” Reprint page 5462, par. 6 reads as follows, "There will be no divine disfavor holding over upon the world at that time, because the price for man's release will have been paid. But mankind at the beginning of the Millennial age will still have the blemishes resulting from the fall. It will be the work of that age to restore the human race, to lift them up out of imperfection and weakness. Man will be helped up from his fallen condition, because justice will have been satisfied.”
The fifth characteristic is stated as, "In a single article, Bro. Russell, dealing with different features of the same event (reign), speaks of it as having begun and not begun. Reprint page 5564, col. 2, par. 5; reprint page 5567, par. 1 and 5; reprint page 5569, par. 4 and 6.” Here is par. 5 of col. 2 found on reprint page 5564, “Christ's kingdom has not yet been established; but it will be built on the wreck of these present institutions, which outwardly resemble Christ's kingdom, calling themselves Christian nations on all their coins and declaring that God is reigning in these kingdoms. Now in the same article but on page 5567, par. 1, "Should we expect that the Lord would reveal himself the very moment Gentile times end? The Bible declaration is that he shall be revealed in 'flaming fire.’ . . That anarchy will be the 'flaming fire' revealing the new kingdom, taking vengeance, bringing retributive justice upon the world--preceding its blessing. Now to par. 5, same page, ". . . Has the kingdom begun in any sense of the word? We so believe. We think that the light now going forth is under the direction of the Captain of our Salvation. We think that the present distress among the nations is merely the beginning of this time of trouble . . ." Now reprint page 5569, par, 4, in part, “. . . We should always bear in mind that we are representatives of the Lord of Righteousness and of the great King of Peace, who will ultimately take the throne of power." Par. 6, in part, ". . . In the meantime the kingdom class will have been glorified, and our great King will have taken unto himself his great power, and with the elect, the body of Christ, the church, he will bring in peace and blessing to mankind, as soon as the world shall have passed through the fire of anarchy and the present order of things shall have been dissolved in the great heat--not a moment sooner."
The sixth characteristic is worded as follows, "Psalm 2:8 and 9 and Rev. 11:17 and 18 are examples of how Bro. Russell will give the same scripture various starting points of fulfillment. This was in harmony with his 'gradual establishment of the Kingdom' concept. A scripture could begin to be fulfilled in 1878, have a fuller fulfillment in 1914, yet a fuller in anarchy, complete when Mediatorial reign begins." Then illustrations are given for Psalm 2:8 and 9--"Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
1914 date--reprint page 5632, par. 4 as follows, "And this war was allowed to occur at about the end of the Times of the Gentiles, at the appropriate time when they are to be dashed to pieces with the iron rod of the iron rule. (Psalm 2:6-12) It is our judgment that we shall see more of this iron rule and its breaking influence, not only upon the nations, but upon society at large." 1914 date again on reprint 5735, col. 2, par. 1 as follows, ". . We believe that the present strife in Europe (World War I) is very forcefully depicted in some of the prophecies cited above, and that this is only the beginning of the great trouble and overthrow, the breaking in pieces of the nations as a potter's vessel."
When ransom price was paid--5622, par. 6, "Through the Prophet David, Jehovah God said to his Son, 'Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen (Gentiles, nations, people) for an inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.' (Psalm 2:8) This, we believe, is at the door.?' Same thought is expressed on page 5683, last par. in col. 1, "The ransom-price, the ransom-sacrifice of Jesus, has not yet even been paid over, or applied, for the whole world of mankind. If it were, the whole world, redeemed by that, payment would he in his hands. The world has not yet been in our Lord’s hands. The time, however, we believe is near when through the strength of that sacrifice, he will ask the Father, and the Father will give him ‘the heathen for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.' (Psa. 2:8) That will be the time when he shall have paid over the ransom price." Again the same thought on reprint page 5777, col. 2, par. 2 to 4 which we quote in part, "The same merit which has all through the present age been efficacious for the church class is to be efficacious for the whole world, those in their graves as well as those now having a measure of life. It will be a final or complete intercession, an intercession to the uttermost. It will not leave out even one human being." Same idea is expressed in the 1916 foreword of Vol. III, page IV, par. 2 which we quote in part, ". . As shown in the parables of the pounds and the talents, the Master's judgment concerning worthiness or unworthiness in the Kingdom must pass upon all of His consecrated ones and the full number of the Elect must be found and be glorified by the resurrection 'change'--because 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.' (1 Cor. 15:50) Then the dominion of the world will be assumed. The glorified One will ask of the Father, and He will give Him the Heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. 'He will rule them with a rod of iron. As the vessels of a potter shall they be broken into shivers.'--Psalm 2; Rev. 2:27."
Rev. 11:17, 18 reads as follows (and is applied to 1878, to 1914, to the time of Anarchy and to the time when Mediation begins), "Saying, We give thee thanks, 0 Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."
The above scripture is applied to 1878 as shown by first par. on page 5989, "As we have shown in Scripture Studies, Vol. III, Study 9, this (beginning of reign) began to be true when our Lord Jesus, having returned to earth to set up his kingdom, took unto himself his great power. Yet not until his kingdom has been fully established in the earth will his glorious reign be clearly recognized."
Applied to 1914 period--reprint page 5632, par. 4 which we quote in part, "At the sounding of the seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding.' 'And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come.' (Rev. 11:18) Surely the nations are angry now! . . " Again applying it to 1914, we read from reprint page 5715, col. 2, par. 1 as follows, in part, "They (the world) are ready for the message that Christ is now taking to himself his great power and beginning his reign, and that the present disturbance of Europe is, what is described in Revelation as the nations being angry, and God’s wrath having come, etc.--Rev. 11:18.”
Identified with anarchy, we quote from reprint page 5527, col. 1, top, "We understand that Christ's kingdom is associated with this in the sense that Christ is about to take to himself his great power and reign. The Lord speaks of the anarchists as 'his great army' in a figurative way, just as he speaks of the caterpillars, which are used figuratively to represent his army."
Applied to the time of Mediation on page 5376, last par., "Our Lord, when he takes his great power to reign, will not have the same motive as have the rulers of the present time--merely to assume power for his own glory and for vaunting himself. He will, indeed, have great power and authority, but it will be in harmony with what the Heavenly Father has arranged. It will be a manifestation of glory and power, not to crush the world, but to bless and uplift it. This work will be accomplished from the standpoint of service, with a view to helping mankind to be the real rulers of the world; for the Messianic kingdom will cease when the world shall be able to take care of itself." Again to the Mediatorial kingdom on reprint page 5414, col. 2, par. 1, But when Messiah takes his great power and reigns, then Satan will be bound. Then all the evil influences will be brought under the control of the Messianic kingdom. . ." The same thought again on reprint page 5622, par. 5, “ . . Therefore, as soon as the merit of Christ is appropriated for the world, he will immediately take charge of his purchased possession. He will then take his great power and reign. ." This thought is repeated on reprint page 5646, col. 2, par. 3, "How grand it would be if the whole world could be under such rule- -heavenly wisdom directing and incorruptible earthly judges communicating and enforcing the divine message and law! The Scriptures inform us that this is what will eventually come to pass. (Isa. 1:26) However, before that grand condition can be realized, it will be necessary for the Messiah to take his great power and reign. . . " Again on reprint page 6014, col. 2, par. 2, "Then in the midst of that most awful time of trouble, Messiah, the great King, will take his great power and will exercise it, with the result that the raging waves of the sea of human passion will all be quieted, the fires of anarchy will all be extinguished, and the reign of righteousness and peace will begin.”
The seventh characteristic of Bro. Russell as a writer is expressed by our New Brunswick brethren as follows: "An example of the peculiarity of Bro. Russell's applying the same scripture in the present and future tenses is his dealing with Isa. 52:7 on reprint page 5258, top, and reprint page 5259, par. 4.” The first reference (page 5258, top) reads as follows, "These various manifestations of progress that we see, are just beginning. The new regime is only opening. After our Lord shall have delivered and glorified the church, then he will begin the work with the world. None had the right to say, ‘Thy God reigneth,' in the past; but since 1878, we are making this proclamation."
The second reference (reprint page 5259, par. 4) reads like this, "The passage from which our text is taken seems to indicate that those who bear the vessels of the Lord's house would have a special force and influence at the present time. This is shown in the statement, 'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.'' (Isa. 52:7) This seems to be applicable now in a sense that it never was previously; for the time for the kingdom reign is practically here, the time for this message of God is at hand. We believe that the kingdom of God is in process of erection, and the gathering of the saints now in process of completion. With the completion of this class will come the inauguration of the kingdom."
We would like to make a comment here, for it seems to the writer that the foregoing is a classic example of our Pastor's frame of mind when he talks about the kingdom. Actually the Kingdom "in the full sense of the word,” is commonly thought of in the description of that kingdom found in Matt. 6:10—“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." THIS IS THE POPULAR CONCEPT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD--THE CONCEPT THAT IS IN THE MINDS OF ALL OF US. And truly this is wonderful to. contemplate. So when our Pastor speaks of the Kingdom as still ahead of us, and that it is not yet fully established and that it is being set up, is it not reasonable to think that he had the POPULAR CONCEPT IN MIND? If this is so, then is this not another key to solving our problem? Possibly this is even more important as a key than the other one we have already referred to.
BUT, BUT--our Pastor studied prophecy carefully and he found out that the establishment of this wonderful kingdom of blessing is preceded by a great time of trouble; and that this period of establishment of this Kingdom of blessing is a forepart of the thousand period of the reign of Christ. The reign of Christ, for a thousand years, then, includes the time of trouble incident to the overthrow of Satan’s empire, in preparation FOR the Kingdom of Blessing. We think our Pastor is very correct when he speaks of the reign of Christ in great judgments of trouble against the nations--and at the same time he is always saying that the Kingdom is not yet here--not yet fully established. This all makes sense and is prophetically sound.
Apparently we must catch these two points, viz., that the first part of the thousand-year period of Christ's reign is a stormy time--overthrowing the empire of Satan. AND the second part of the thousand-year period is the blessing part- -the part THAT IS THE POPULAR CONCEPT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. This second part is expressed so well and so simply in the first reprint reference we quoted above (page 5258, top of first col.)—“After our Lord shall have delivered and glorified the church, THEN HE WILL BEGIN THE WORK WITH THE WORLD.” Notice this point--"WORK WITH THE WORLD." Isn't that what we are all looking forward to--"WORK WITH THE WORLD,” or work FOR the world?
It seems to the writer if we keep this thought in mind, then we will be able to follow the various expressions of our Pastor which seem to be contradictory, but actually are not. The MAIN idea all the way through is that we are approaching the Kingdom of BLESSING; but we are in the "inauguration" stages which are marked by intense trouble and these inauguration stages are the forepart of the thousand-year reign of Christ. All this makes sense and is harmonious. There is a necessity in our study of our Pastor’s writings, that we rightly divide them, just as there is necessity in our study of the Scriptures. In mathematics, if the principles are not grasped, no one is able to work problems correctly.
There is more to the outline of the study on the reign of Christ as prepared by our New Brunswick brethren, but we think we have covered enough material as a basis for reasonable conclusions. We are very grateful for the outline of study by the New Brunswick brethren. We have the tape of the various remarks on the part of the members of the panel and found them extremely significant and helpful. We wish we could include these remarks in this present study but it is very difficult to transcribe from a tape.
As we are about to bring our study to a close, we think it would be helpful to summarize the expressions that were used by our Pastor as shown at the beginning of our study. We will be impressed with the fact that he did say over and over again that Christ was reigning; and this will impress us with a further fact that we must use the KEY that our Pastor himself used, if we are to have harmony of thought regarding the reign of Christ. And the second key is just as important to keep in mind, perhaps more important, as we have already suggested.
Here is an abbreviated list of the expressions used by our Pastor which we considered in the first part of this present study: "The great 7th day, the thousand years of Christ’s Reign, began in 1873." (Page 3, par. 1.) "Jubilee Year--antitypical Thousand years of Restitution. . commenced Oct., A.D. 1874.) (Page 3, par. 2.) "We entered chronologically the great Seventh Day." (Page 3, par. 3.) "We are in the dawn of the glorious Millennial Kingdom.' (Page 3, par. 5) "The great Seventh Day, also a thousand years long, has commenced." (Page 3, par. 6.) "Antitypical Jubilee being inaugurated; mankind to return to rights for a thousand years; living in beginning of the New Era." (Page 3, par. 7.) "Under Messiah's glorious reign, that last thousand years--restitution work; yet only in beginning of thousand years." (Page 3, par. 8.) "Slowly and surely the morning dawns; slowly and surely the strong man is bound in his own house." (Page 3, par. 10.) "Great antitypical Jubilee, a thousand -years long, in whose beginning we are now living." (Page 4, par. 1.) "Last day, the great seventh day, the Millennial day; God shall help her early in the morning of that Millennial day; the seventh day is already dawning." (Page 4, par. 2.) "Evil spirits restrained until judgment of the great day; day of Christ; the thousand-year day." (Page 4, par. 3.) "The seventh day of creative week has already lasted 6,000 years--to be completed with the thousand years of Christ's reign." (Page 4, par. 4.) "Has kingdom begun in any sense of the word? We so believe." (Page 4, par. 5.) "The day of judgment, now present since 1874." (Page 4, par. 6) "Last day, great seventh day, the thousand-year day of his kingdom." (Page 4, par. 7.) "Chronologically Messiah's kingdom began its operation in the world in 1878." (Page 4, par. 9.) "The great Seventh Day,: the thousand years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." (Page 5, par. 2.) "The seventh thousand-year period--period of Christ's reign; began in 1873, already in it." (page 5, par. 3.) "Day of Jehovah, Day of trouble, our Lord takes his great power (hitherto dormant) and reigns." (Page 5, par. 4.) "Day of Lord's presence--a thousand-year day--the Millennium of Christ's reign." (Page 5, par. 6.) "1878 assumes power as King of kings--time to reign, resurrection of saints and beginning of trouble upon nations." (Page 5, par. 7.) "Kingdom of Zion, to some extent began in 1878, when our King took to himself his great power to reign." (page 5, par. 10.) "We have no hesitance in proclaiming 'Thy God reigneth,' the reign of our Lord begun." (Page 6, par. 1.) "God has appointed the "Great Seventh Thousand-year Day for the Reign of Christ." (Page 6, par. 2.) "Reign begins before resurrection of saints and before time of trouble; will continue long after these--for a thousand years." (Page 6, par. 3.) "At sounding of seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto himself his great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding!" ( Page 6, par. 5) "Seventh trump, 1,000 years--its events mark and coincide with all various features of Millennial reign of Christ. Began in 1878 and will terminate 1,000 years future from that date. Chronologically due in 1878." (Page 6, par. 7.) "The day of judgment--'a day with the Lord a thousand years--God has appointed the Millennial day, the thousand years of Christ's reign in which he will judge the world." (Page 7, par. 1.) "At sounding of seventh trumpet Messiah to take unto himself his great power and reign--trumpet now sounding--we shall see more of this iron rule." (Page 7, par. 2.) "Both the King and the Kingdom are here.” (Page 7, par. 3.) "The mountain of the Lord’s House is now being established in the top of the mountains--now since 1878 God has set his king upon his holy hill of Zion." (Page 7, par. 4.)
We have found this study very fascinating and we hope as others take up this study and delve deeply into the Pastor’s writings, they too, will feel richly blessed and feel more confident of their understanding of the "thousand year reign of Christ" as explained in great detail and from different standpoints by our Pastor. Many years ago, when our Pastor was alive, his name appeared in our Manna books at the date Feb. 16, and after his name were these words, "PRAISE YE THE LORD." We too, have the same sentiment in considering the blessings attending our study. of the Word of God in the light of our Pastor's consecrated labors-- "PRAISE YE THE LORD!"