PSALM 139 – “Search Me, O God”

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“You, Lord, are intimately acquainted with every part of my life and thoughts — past, future, present — though such a realisation staggers the natural mind. Everywhere is near You. Your nearness knows no limits. There is neither height nor depth of human experience beyond your sharing or perception. All that I am, comes from You. You are the Cause, and Yours the skill that from my beginning called forth and watched over every stage of my growth, thus turning Your thoughts into my being. The comprehensiveness of Your thoughts defies my imagination, and by them, I am brought forth, not unto myself, but unto You — Your presence, care, and love. Where can any evil, stand in Your presence? May it flee before You, and thus before all whom You cause to stand near You. And may that nearness discover and eradicate all trace of error, that I may walk with You always.”

This paraphrase of Psalm 139 surely expresses the wonder of the dealings of the Lord and His care for each one of His people. It is an intimate confession of the surprise and the awe brought to us by the Truth when we are let into Divine secrets, and when we are thus confronted with the mystery, WHY? Why, Lord, are you interested — in this worthless lump of clay? Who am I Lord? And who are these Thy people? What claims have we upon Divine love? And yet, we are here only because You made us, Lord. We are what we are because that is how You made us. And we are in Your presence, because that is where You had in mind for us to be.

If the lips were King David’s, the words were of the holy Spirit. Their full appreciation requires also the Spirit of God in the heart of the Readers.

Five Parts, Like Genesis to Deuteronomy

The psalms are not in chronological order. This is apparent, in that psalm 137, describing conditions during the captivity in Babylon, is followed by a whole series from the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, psalms 138 to 145, centuries before the captivity. Nevertheless, the Jews have long believed that the psalms are grouped according to a pattern, a series of five themes, which they have likened to the five books of Moses, from Genesis. We find our psalm, 139, in the last of these — the Deuteronomy portion. The book of Deuteronomy is one of retrospect. It looks back over the forty years of wilderness wanderings. This psalm of David also looks back over many years. It looks back with wonder at the countless thoughts of God towards him, the trials, the failings, the over‑rulings, in every experience, God was there.

Perhaps, looking back, we too may be able to recognise in general terms a sequence in our own individual lives. Our own Genesis of beginnings, our first reaching out towards the Lord. In my case, and that of many other brethren, that Genesis beginning coincided with the reading of Volume one of “Studies in the Scriptures — The Divine Plan,” by Pastor Charles Taze Russell. Joseph Rotherham, translator of the “Emphasised Bible,” left his own testimony concerning this book. “The chapter on the Permission of Evil alone is worth more than the price of the whole Volume and is the fullest discussion of this great mystery and the nearest approximation to a probably correct solution of it with which we are acquainted.” (With Volume One selling in those days for only 60 cents, that was a bit of an understatement!) The Lord had set our feet upon a Rock. Many millions of copies of this Volume went out throughout the world. The seed was widely sown, yet from those millions comparatively few were to respond to the sickle‑like message of the harvest of the age.

“Whose hearts the Lord opened.”

It was not you or me, but the Lord; and this must have an awesome effect upon our minds. Why did the Lord open my eyes? Those first vague desires, that impulse to follow, though I knew not whither I was going, why me, Lord?

With each of us, that Genesis stage would soon develop into our Exodus — the effect of Truth in releasing from captivity to the ways and thinking of this present evil world, and the power of the evil one. Again the blessedness of that release was not by our effort. It was the Lord, our Deliverer. He opened our eyes to the vanity of all below, and by various means loosened our grip upon the things of this earth.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed;
There was not a wound in mine aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed,
Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,
In wisdom that taught and fried,
Till the soul He sought was trusting in Him
And nothing on earth beside.

The book of Leviticus was concerned with the Divine sanctuary, the consecration of the priesthood, and the implications of approach to a Holy God. We came to realise that salvation lay in something more than the endeavour to live a high moral life of separation from the world.

At what great cost the Lord made provision for our sinful state.

With this deepening realisation came the longing to know Him better, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire into His sanctuary. With deepening appreciation we learned what consecration really meant — and so beside His sacrifice we were led to lay down our little all. That consecration is still to be brought to completion. Such a state of resolution was the result of heaven’s love overflowing into our hearts. Again; it was the Lord.

A period of wilderness experiences was to follow, our book of Numbers stage. In many ways these wilderness tests and trials of faith are still ours today and probably will be until the journey’s end, yet already, perhaps, they are merging into our Deuteronomy stage of retrospect.

Tonight, we can look back over the whole of life’s journey so far. Do we see a hotch‑potch of seemingly disconnected experiences?

Did our path seem to ramble, first this way, then another, without particular sign of progress or achievement?

That’s what we mean by wilderness wanderings. Did we notice that Rock? — The Rock that followed us? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul sanctioned the Jews’ tradition that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the Israelites from place to place, supplying its life‑giving pools throughout the wilderness way. Deuteronomy 32:4-37 identifies the Rock as the Begetter and the Former, the Saviour and Defender of the Lord’s people; the Source of Truth sweeter than honey, and of the Holy oil, and in all these works, perfect beyond compare.

Someone was watching, watching us every step of the way. Watching us even this moment, and perhaps now, as we look back, helping us to trace the way of the Lord’s dealings in our lives.

“Deep on my heart let memory trace
His acts of mercy and of grace.”

Never did we walk alone, for He had said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

And with that special Angel of His presence, Our Blessed Lord and Head, came other angels, some of them visible angels with human faces. The Janes and Wills, the Mays and Hildas, Judys, Evas, Franks and Harrys, and Jims, the home ecclesia brethren, and other dear brethren both here and throughout the land, each to play a part in our lives, as helping hands along the way. We had so many helps, so many blessings. We can now look back with deepest gratitude to the Lord. He Who designed the Great Ages of His Plan, had turned His wondrous skills to me.

Toward the End of Our Journey

Psalm 139:16 in the Hebrew, “In Thy book each day was planned.” “Thou hast searched me and know.” He knows it all; with vision divine He knows each turn of our path, He knows how it all will end; he knows what is required to achieve that end.

If we have begun our Deuteronomy stage, we know it is not only one of retrospect — it is forward looking also. Never have we been nearer to our journey’s goal. The river at last pours out into the boundless waters of the sea. The nearer it gets to that estuary the greater is the influence of what lies so close ahead. It is moved by its tides, as the great ocean waters mingle with its own. And so with the saints as they anticipate their home‑coming now so near. The abundant entrance, the joyous throng of welcoming overcomers who have gone before — already we sense that sweet taste of victory through Christ — already does that joy unspeakable bring its glory‑glow into our hearts. Soon, the day will arrive for each of us to finish this present course — our Graduation day! Are our gowns ready? Will it be marked, that last step of the way? Will we find a label stating, “This is your final test of faith”? We wait on Pisgah’s mount until that “vision glorious” melts into its full blessed reality.

Looking now forwards towards that veil we perceive but the semblance of what lies beyond. Through that pattern of blue, and purple, and scarlet threads, set in the fine twined linen of cunning work: we but vaguely perceive the hazy outline of heavenly things, depicted in the cherubim. But once we pass that veil, the scales of all present limitations will fall from our eyes, and with vision clear as the noon‑day sun, we shall see Him Whom our soul loveth, face‑to‑face.

Then too shall we see what He has wrought. A new creation, after the likeness of Him that made it. Then, from within those encircling arms of our Father, we shall be blessed with full retrospective wisdom, know at last the reasons for so many puzzling circumstances and experiences of the way.

Even now, can we not anticipate something of the wonder of that blessed hour? Lord, that I might view my present walk, each test, each trial, each concept of Thy Truth, against the glory of that perfect day. Oh that with retrospective wisdom blest, I could retrace each step, remould each thought, with noonday vision of my Father’s face. It is, then, in blessed realisation of all we have come to know of our Father thus far, that our hearts echo the refrain of the psalmist in this song of retrospective wisdom.

Bruising

This whole psalm, 139, is an expression of the awe and wonder of this knowledge of the Lord — that is, His knowledge of us. Verses 2‑5: we have the concept of His omniscience. He knows it all. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. How thankful we are of that. Did we ever feel, “My way is hid from the Lord.”? “I am on my own, He does not know; He does not heed”? Verse 11 of the psalm (139) says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me.” The Hebrew word translated “cover me” is used only three other places. Each time it retains its true meaning, to bruise me. Job speaks in 9:17, of being bruised or broken by the stormy tempest the Lord had allowed into his life.

Genesis 3:15 speaks of the bruising of the seed of the woman. Is there then a hint in this verse 11 of the psalm of the powers of darkness under which both Jesus and His followers would be bruised? Was His arm then shortened that He could not use those very trials to achieve the end He has in mind?

If it pleased the Lord to “bruise” Him, or any other of His children, it is to an end more wonderful than anything they are caused to bear. But only by His permission can the bruising come.

Isaiah 49:14,15. — Does Zion cry “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me”? “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget [a mother’s mind is full of so many things. We can recall one sister who, arriving home from the daily shopping chores, suddenly remembered that she had left the pram at the store!] yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Looking back, can we not each testify with the conviction of retrospect.

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

“The billows that guarded my sea-girt path,
But carried my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest” (“Stream in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman).

The woman was at her wit’s end, dejected and desolate, Genesis 16:6. Her life had become so hard that she had tried to run away. But to go further into the wilderness meant she would certainly perish.

It was then

that the Lord sent His angel to tell her to

go back

and submit to her trials.

What a message! Wherein lay the comfort? Where was the way of escape?

“Go back! Submit!”

Yet with wonder Hagar realised that the Lord knew everything about her, He knew, and He cared! With awe she had come in that moment of crisis to know the name of the Lord. Genesis 16:13, You‑Are‑The‑God‑Who‑Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Did our experience match?

At time of need, did the message come: “Don’t run away! Submit!” Was it in storm that we found our anchor, and first came to realise what it was for?

In that experience Hagar knew she had heard the voice of the Lord, and had seen Him in new light. Forever in her mind that place would be a memorial to a precious divine understanding of human need. She had found a well, and she called it “The Well of the one Who Lives and Sees Me” (NKJV). Never would that well run dry. And the child born from that experience was called “Ishmael,” “God hears.” God really does hear!

Searching

Psalm 139:1 — “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and know.” The following verses show it is an on‑going ever‑present tense. It is said that “the word rendered searched, has a primary reference to mining into the earth as for precious metals.” Digging deep into the inner recesses of our heart. As the result of that searching and sifting, we can confidently say, “Thou, Lord, seest all that is in my heart. Nothing is, or can be, concealed from thee. You know everything about me, yet You still love me!”

It is with this deep consciousness that the psalm begins; and all that follows is but an expansion and application of this revealing. God knows me altogether; He sees all that is there in my innermost being. He sees more in me than I can see in myself. He is fully acquainted with every stage and step of my past life. How does He do this? We may well ask!

More to the point; Why?

Why does He condescend?
Why does He notice?
Why trouble to know me, and everything about me?

It would, of course, be true to say; “known unto the Lord are ALL His works from the beginning.” He is not confined to our concept of time. It is part of His nature, His ability, His attribute of omniscience, to know all things. Is there anything He does not know? But knowing in this intimacy is for us, part of a close relationship, that of a Father and His child. Jesus said (Matthew 6:8), “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And for our Father to see and know, is for Him to oversee and supply the needs of His child.

Helping

Psalm 37:25 — “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” How many of our dear elderly brethren today can echo those words! Yes, maybe sometimes the bread we need turns out to be the “bread of affliction” in 1 Kings 22:27. It is the harsh treatment of one imprisoned by straightened circumstances, like Hagar. Here the word “affliction” is defined as something “to bring one to the state of submission.”

Paul found that imprisonment is not so bad, when shared with the Lord. But sometimes this same expression “bread of affliction” means the sustenance that the Lord specially provides in the midst of trial, as in Deuteronomy 16:3. The Lord will use many means, many messengers, to supply those needs. In 1 Kings 17:4 He uses ravens. In Psalm 23, as in the darkness the enemies circle around the flock, we find a table prepared before us.

So Jacob too was to find as he lay himself down in his stony place. Nor was he the first, nor would he be the last, to discover in the midst of trial the wonders of a God Who sees all, sees our past, and our present, and understands our needs. He knows and sees also what we cannot see, the outcome, the end to which the path is leading and He sends His messengers to our aid with the blessed assurances of His Word of promise. For there Jacob saw a ladder linking all the array of heavenly resources to the pressing needs that moment of one fleeing before the threat of death. He saw Angels ascending and descending.

Do we share Jacob’s vision?

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O could we hear the sound of many wings of angels’ flight on wondrous mission bent! Could we but see each messenger speed forth, to aid, to strengthen, comfort and support! Could we perceive the interest of a spirit world — some rising, some descending, all sent forth along the sunlight shafts of love divine … breaking through clouds … opening prison doors! With ease and grace their wonders they perform, whispering words behind us, beckoning on, guarding, guiding, watching every step of every saint, to keep in all their ways … beholding constantly a Father’s face.

Before we cry, they take our hand to bear us up, and lift us high above the stumbling stones of earth, beyond the things of time and sense to glory realms, eternity’s domain, where dwells our Lord. See, He prepares, within His Father’s House, a place “reserved” (oh blessed thought!) in heaven — for me? Sweet are such messages of love. Beautiful the flight of those who bring them to my longing heart — and loan to me their wings. How wonderful those holy sons of light whose flight from heaven’s courts was made for me, who readily descend to sinful earth to grapple with dark powers to save me harm. Yet their successes apprehended not by our poor minds, we rarely even notice that smoothed path, nor sense their effort, vigilance, or zeal in faithful ministration for our sake.

An angel’s mind accepts such poor acclaim. They joy to do it in the Father’s Name, and recognised or not, they serve the same.

His Presence

Psalm 139:7‑8 speak of His presence. It is as though He is everywhere, and in everything He is the Cause. The heights — and the very depths of human experience — He is there.

Psalm 139:7 — “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Adam ran to hide from that Sacred Presence.

The psalmist was not trying to flee from the Lord’s presence, far from it. He is testifying from his own experiences that there is no place, no trial, no circumstance in life, that is beyond the range of divine awareness, too great, or too little, for Him to share. There is no situation beyond the reach of His eternal arms, or beyond the need of His purpose in us. He uses those two words, presence and spirit, or breath, interchangeably. In every place, He is so close that we can feel, as it were, His breath.

Psalm 139:6 — “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Psalm 139:17,18 — record the wondrous admiration of the psalmist. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Like a child who falls contentedly to sleep upon his Father’s breast, he wakes to find himself there still, within those same unfailing arms. “When I awake” — Our spiritual life is made up of awakenings, rousing of the senses, from our first awakening to the light of Truth and Love and the realms of things eternal. Perhaps in moments of holy contemplation the Lord awakens our mind to depths of truth we had not before suspected. Perhaps at times of great pressure, when the foes of the soul are too strong for us at such a moment, He opens our eyes, like the eyes of Elisha’s servant, to those great forces working together for us — the Hosts of the LORD, the limitless supply of all the divine resources.

Perhaps, like Jacob, our hours of weariness have become times of vision and great reassurance of divine promise so that we feel we have just awakened to the personal watch care of our God and His never‑failing faithfulness, so that we too are constrained to say, “SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, and I knew it not.”

Our spiritual life is made up of such awakenings. There is yet to be the ultimate of all our awakenings, and each awakening of our present course makes it nearer.

Here is that moment of sweet release from all limitation of human frame, the moment of victory. This is the awakening “where sin and sense molest no more,” and the mind soars like the eagle to the sun, to gaze upon and to comprehend all the glorious fullness of truth’s ultimate reality. In Scripture it is compared with the full light of noonday. Doubly precious not only will that moment of blessed truth introduce us into the closest, fullest, relationship and awareness of the glories of eternity, it also will mark the completion, the bringing to perfection, of Our Heavenly Father’s most wondrous purpose for us.

The moment of reaching the goal, the reaching out and grasping of the prize of the high calling, the moment too, that will be, that He reaches His goal for me — His work in me finished, and the great seal of divine approval pronounced, “It is very good,” and, as in a dream, I will realize that He speaks of His work in me! And His “well done,” shall be, though all eternity, enough for me.

Only in the peaks of our present spiritual experience can we remotely sense that height of the Father’s triumph in His achievement, the bringing of His child to glory, the setting of the jewel in His crown. “They shall be Mine.” That moment of awakening to see what He has wrought! Will it not surpass our brightest hopes and sweetest dreams? The years of pilgrimage all lead to this. That delight in the Lord, deepening with time, will be answered in the granting of the heart’s desires, to be experienced in ten thousand joys, all compressed into that moment of change. And central to all our joys, Dear Lord, I am “Still, still with Thee.”

Searching

Psalm 139: 23,24 — “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This has to be searching with intent — the intent of the purifier of silver, and the trier of gold. His thoughts towards us — so many; so high, and humanly unattainable. Here is the response He seeks. The depth of the desire He has imparted in our hearts for holiness, the yearning to be all that He wants us to be; all this is expressed in our earnest plea,

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This is the cry so patiently He waits to hear.

This is the prayer that He alone can answer, and answer it He will, for He it was who has inspired in us this thirst after Him, as of the little deer for the water brooks.

Our Father can make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). What a precious realisation! But He knows those that are His;

He knows the sincerity of our cry for Him to help us search out every corner of our heart for that hidden crumb of leaven, that would pollute His sanctuary.

“Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”

He never asks what He cannot achieve, and how we long for it!

We cry to Him to search out and remove the dross, the ways and weaknesses that cannot co‑habit with a Holy God — Whose dwelling place we are!

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The psalmist commences with the acknowledgement of the Lord’s ability to scrutinize and lay bare before His eyes all that we are. Now he responds with earnest plea of these verses 23 and 24 that those holy eyes search out all trace within us of anything that would grieve our Father’s heart.

“Oh may thy goodness chase away all hindrance to Thy love.”

Do I really long to see my God? Are all my springs — in Him? Does the Spirit He has poured into our hearts answer for us?

If my Heavenly Father desires me for His rest forever, then the honour and the glory cannot be compared with any earthly joy!

Thus do our hearts’ desires with our Father’s desires, merge into that blessed oneness of which our Master spoke in that sacred prayer in John chapter 17.

The psalmist prays that the Lord would examine him with that closest scrutiny, so that he might be under no delusion or self‑deception. To search that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires. Here is a prayer of deep sincerity; a prayer that also implies self‑distrust. Self‑examination is required but is limited in its efficiency.

Each Moment

The goal is closer now; that glorious end of the Lord, that once had seemed so far away. Every moment, we stand upon the brink of realization of that blessed hope. But every moment too, we are already experiencing the joy of that fellowship, the sacred sharing of everything, with our Father, and the consciousness of His great love from which neither life nor death can now ever separate.

So what thought can we carry away with us, today and every day, to keep us poised, as it were, that will recapture for us all the blessings of this searching song? One constant thought helps me. I trust it may also help each one of you.

“This moment belongs to You, Lord. This moment, this knife‑edge of time on which I forever dwell, belongs to YOU.”

A New Song

In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

Is this that song which only Thy saints can sing? This psalm — this beautiful song — the melody that fills the life with the holy awareness of God, to be sung by those whose mind and vision have been enabled by the Spirit’s invitation to “Come up higher”? This song that enables us to break through the boundaries of natural sight into the greater and grander realm, to see the King in His beauty, in the land of far horizons, the immeasurable dimensions of the Divine, that constitute the glory that will fill eternity?

If we have learned this song, how can we keep from singing?

We each can say Psalm 40:3‑4 — “You, Lord, have put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. How Blessed indeed is that one that you have brought to make the LORD our trust …”

How can I keep, from singing!
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, not far‑off hymn,
That hails a New Creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul —
How can I keep from singing?

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above post.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/09/17/psalm-139-search-me-o-god/

 

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REVELATION 20:1-4, 6 – Satan Is Bound To Be Bound

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” (1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years”  (Revelation 20:1-4, 6, KJV).

Discussions of this subject sometimes involve the following questions.

(1) Was Satan bound in 1874, when Jesus returned invisibly?
(2) Was Satan bound in 1914, when the time of Trouble began (Daniel 12:1)?
(3) Is the binding of Satan gradual since our Lord’s return?
(4) Will Satan be bound when the Church is complete?
(5) Does the binding of Satan include the fallen angels?
(6) Is the binding of Satan by Christ alone or by Christ and his complete Church?

The first explicit statements that the Kingdom of God will reign on earth for a thousand years appear toward the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation. Revelation 19 describes the Revelation of Jesus Christ in full glory and power with his 144,000 Bride, his “body” members all raised to the Divine realm to institute a new, just reign on earth (verses 11‑16). Christ will put down rebellion and institute a government of God for the 1000 year Millennium.

The Evil One Bound

Revelation 20, describing the binding of Satan, follows Revelation 19 and is linked to that narrative. Revelation 19 depicts the marriage of the Bride class, and subsequently describes the closing judgments of the Harvest of the Gospel Age that introduce the Millennium. Revelation 19:11 and forward speak of the treading of the winepress. Verse 17 says “I saw an angel standing in the sun,” probably referring to the Church complete (compare Matthew 13:43). It then speaks of the “supper of the great God,” which continues through verse 18. This draws symbolically from Ezekiel 39:17-20, which refers to the defeat of Gog and his allies when they attack Israel at the end of the harvest.

Revelation 19:19-21 then refers to the Beast, and the False Prophet, and chapter 20:1 add the Dragon — so that we now have all three elements that are involved in precipitating the Battle of Armageddon (compare Revelation 16:13,14). Thus the passage that speaks of the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1 and forward) follows through on depictions that refer to the close of the Harvest, introducing the Millennium. All of this puts Revelation 20:1 at the close of the Harvest, rather than earlier in the Harvest.

“Notice that the great symbolic battle, and the harvesting of the vine of the earth [are] here described as closing the present age and opening up the Millennial Age (Revelation 20:1-3)” (Volume One, page 324).

In Revelation 20, one of the first events after the Church is complete, is the binding of Satan for 1000 years. We read this in Revelation 20:1‑3 (ESV):

“(1) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. (2) And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”

Is there still deception on earth?

YES. Thus, we believe the binding of the evil one has not yet occurred. The agencies by which Satan has controlled affairs are under judgment. But his deception over the nations remains until he is deposed as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The subsequent rule of righteousness will begin at Israel and gradually expand outward to a weary world, prepared to learn something better after the deceptions of Satan have been removed. Thus the world is given a thousand years to learn righteousness, and have it rooted in their hearts, before “the little season” of testing (Revelation 20:3,7,8). Thereafter Satan and all evil ones shall be destroyed forevermore. Then all the former things will have passed away. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

A Process of Judgment Precedes the Binding

Throughout the Parousia of Christ, and specially from the Time of Trouble in 1914 onward, the institutions Satan has used to control his usurped domain have been under judgment and are crumbling. All of this is part of bringing down the power of the adversary — and preliminary to the complete divestment of Satan from the domain he has manipulated for 6000 years.

When Jesus came at his first advent, he entered into the “house” of the strong man, Satan, and measurably disrupted the progress of affairs. Thereafter, during the opening centuries of the Gospel Age, the rule of the world by Pagan Rome, an instrument of the Adversary, was overthrown, and this was a major step in the progress of the Gospel (see Revelation 12:7-9). However, as a counter to this, Satan corrupted the Church and the great Nominal System of Christianity grew so much as to be described as “where Satan dwelleth” (Revelation 2:13).

It is thus after dispossessing the systems of Christendom — represented by the Beast (Papacy) and False Prophet (Church of England and associated allies) — that Satan, the great “Dragon” who exercises his power through the political systems of earth, is defrocked of his personal power and allowed no more influence, until the close of the Millennium.

The judgments of Nominal Christendom are depicted as a series of seven “plagues” in Revelation chapters 15 and 16. These judgments have proceeded ever since the return of Christ, and build toward the Armageddon conflict that opens the seventh plague. Notice that during the time of plague 6, which builds toward Armageddon, that there is a coalition for mutual support by the “dragon … the beast, and … the false prophet” (Revelation 16:13) — but no chain restraining the “dragon” appears as of that time. Thus the “chain” symbol, appearing in Revelation 20:1, applies not during the entire Harvest period, but only at some time following plague six.

The Gospel References

The binding of Satan is referred to in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These passages are sometimes appealed to in a discussion of the binding of Satan in Revelation 20. However, properly, in context, those Gospel passages apply the influence of Jesus at his first advent restraining the influence of Satan, binding his power to keep the world and its inhabitants under his control. We here look at the passage from Luke 11:21-22 (KJV).

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”

Jesus had entered the strong man’s house at his first advent, and began an active ministry after his baptism that was counter to the influence of Satan. When Jesus healed others, it was contrary to the influence of Satan who had imposed the distress on mankind by leading our first parents into disobedience. “Ought not this woman … whom Satan hath bound … be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16). More than this, the teachings Jesus declared during his ministry liberated those who received them, from the control of the adversary. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

In the Luke passage about the binding of Satan, this is the kind of work that Jesus refers to. Jesus was the strong one that came upon Satan and his “palace” and “goods.” Jesus was stronger, in that Jesus had access to Divine power. Jesus healed, and enlightened the people, and in this way removed Satan’s “armour wherein he trusted.” By this means Jesus restrained or bound the influence of Satan, and began taking to himself those who turned to Jesus out of the domain of the adversary. In this way he “spoiled” the house of Satan — that is, Jesus took to himself, some of the precious goods out of the house of Satan. These precious goods, the “spoils,” were ones who had formerly been under the control of Satan.

A Parallel to the Second Advent

We can take a parallel from this, perhaps, respecting the work of Jesus’ second advent, when he returns in order to dispossess Satan and take control of the world of mankind as the “spoils” of his conquest. During the parousia of Christ, Jesus has been removing the armour in which Satan trusted, piece by piece, through the increase of knowledge.

The “spoils” to be taken by Jesus are the world of mankind that has lain captive as part of the usurped domain of the “strong man” of the old world. Now that a stronger has come upon him, Satan  is in retreat, using whatever schemes he is able in order to thwart the inevitable. He continues to exercise himself to resist the incoming Kingdom, and evidently would be pleased to see confusion in the Church, and the defeat of Israel, to thwart the establishment of both the complete Church in glory, and the nation of Israel being prepared as the beginning of the earthly Kingdom in due time.

Satan’s final extremity apparently is his marshalling of forces against Israel as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, to quash the opportunity for Israel to facilitate the establishment of an earthly kingdom. But this extremity will his last. The defeat of Gog in Armageddon, and the subsequent fall of “great Babylon” (Revelation 16:19), are followed by Satan being completely removed from his ability to control, manage, and deceive — as referred to in Revelation 20:1.

Thereafter his “spoil” — the world of mankind — will be taken by Jesus and controlled, managed, and enlightened, by Christ and his Church class. “He [Jesus] shall divide the spoil with the strong [the overcoming Church class](Isaiah 53:12).

Thereafter follow a thousand years when all the dark effects and influences of Satan rule will be turned back, not in a day, but as the blessings of the Kingdom flow outward and people respond to them. Then all the world’s current problems — wars, hatred, drug addiction, abuse, mental and physical illness, will be gradually eradicated. Whereas today, under Satan, some of these problems are increasing.

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Suggested Further Reading With Direct Online Reading Reference Links —

“Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) in 1874.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/

“Epoch Periods In God’s Plan.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/16/epoch-periods-in-gods-plan/

“ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

“Three and a Half Years” by Br. David Rice. The Beauties of the Truth Journal, http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTAUG08.PDF

“Daniel 12” by Br. David Rice, Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, March-April 2009
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2009/2009b.pdf

“Daniel: Conclusion” by Br. David Rice. Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, May-June 2009 (at 2043ad.com / button “Journal.”) Here is the direct link to this article:
http://2043ad.com/journal/2009/2009c.pdf

“Questions of Interest” — What Is the Meaning of Christ’s Presence? Faithbuilders Fellowship — Proclaiming Christ’s Parousia, “Journal” section, May-June 2008 (at 2043ad.com / button “Journal.”) Here is the direct link to this article:
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2008/03_mj_08.pdf

“Coming Blessings” by Br. David Rice (www2043ad.com). The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Sept-Oct. 2012 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2012/12so_9.htm

“An Important Greek Word — Parousia” by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_8.htm

“Every Eye Shall See Him” by Br. Gilbert Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_4.htm

“The Harvest — The End of the Age” by Br. Carl Hagensick. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_2.htm

“The Prophetic Date — 1874.” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_5.htm

“Questions and Answers. The Beginning and Ending of the Millennium.” Reprint No. 2739 of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
http://www.htdb.one/1900/r2739.htm

“Further Confirmations of Our Chronology.” Reprint No. 3459-60 of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
http://www.htdb.one/1904/r3459.htm

“A Secret Coming — A Thief In the Night. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2003 issue.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_9.htm

 

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EZEKIEL 18:4 – What the Bible Teaches About SOUL and SPIRIT

EZEKIEL-18-4.jpg

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

This brief text expresses a simple truth. Souls die. Against the speculations of some that there is something within a man, a “soul,” which remains alive after death, lingering as a disembodied spirit, the scriptures affirm to the contrary. Death is what it seems to be — death.

When a dog dies, what happens to the dog? It stops breathing, its body decays and returns to the elements. Thought and consciousness immediately terminate. There is no more dog. It does not go to some place prepared for old dogs, to chew bones in bliss, for there simply is no more dog. It is dead, it is gone, it is no more.

Death is the same for human beings. Death is the cessation of life. Psalm 146:4 describes what happens when a man dies. “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”

“That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other … they have all one breath … all go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20).

The Resurrection

However, unlike the animals, man has the hope of a resurrection from the dead. Animals were made to live for a limited period of time, procreate, age, and pass away as part of the cycle of nature. But man, the height of God’s physical creation, was created with the capacity to live forever. They appreciate life, plan for the future, and cherish the hope for continued life. Accordingly, the prospect of living forever was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden, by God who created him.

This offer was contingent upon obedience, a test which Adam and Eve failed. But even after being expelled from the Garden, so robust was the human frame that Adam lived 930 years before death claimed his life (Genesis 5:5). Almost 4000 years after Adam sinned, Jesus died as a ransom for father Adam (1 Timothy 2:6), which allows Adam and his posterity a release from the death penalty — in other words, a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22). For the world, this will come during the Millennium so near at hand.

In the meantime, where are all the dead of past ages? They are simply dead. They silently await the resurrection, when they will be reconstituted as the persons they were before they died, to learn the lessons God has for them during the Kingdom on earth.

What is a Soul?

From our opening text, it is apparent that souls do die. The expression “immortal soul,” sometimes used among Christians, is not found in the Bible.

A soul is a living being, whether animal or human, and neither animals nor humans are immortal.

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, word number 5315 in Strong’s Concordance, which gives this definition: “A breathing creature, i.e. animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense.”

Genesis 2:7 uses the word “soul” for Adam.

“The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Here the word nephesh, or soul, is defined as a living being, a body combined with the breathe of life. Thus we learn, that man does not possess a soul, but that he IS a soul, which means simply that man, when alive, is a living being.” Adam subsequently died, and he with all the others silently awaits the resurrection.

Animals as Souls

The “breath of life” which animates the human organism is no different than the breath of life given to the lower animals. In reference to the “beasts and every creeping thing” which perished in the Flood, we read, “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21,22). Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 informs us that both man and beast “have all one breath, so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.”

As Strong’s Concordance notes, animals are also souls — living beings. However, in the common English version this is hidden by the translation, which confuses the subject to many readers. When the word nephesh, soul, refers to an animal, the translators rendered it with some other word, such as creature or beast.

For example, Genesis 1:20 says “let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh, soul]…”

Verse 21, God created great whales, and every living creature [nephesh, soul] that moveth…”

Verse 24, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature [nephesh, soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Here are other texts of the same sort: Genesis 1:30, 2:14, 9:3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 18. And Isaiah 19:10, “… all that make sluices and ponds for fish [nephesh, souls].

This method of translating hides the fact that animals are souls. Were this fact more open and apparent, it would assist people to recognize that souls are not immortal, for no one supposes that animals are in any sense immortal.

Only once in the Old Testament did the translators render the word nephesh “soul” when it applied to animals, namely Numbers 31:28, where the word applies at one time both to people and animals: “one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep.”

The Difference Between the Human Soul and the Animal Soul

The difference between the soul of a human and an animal is in the construction of the organism, particularly in the formation of the brain. Although some organisms of some of the lower animals may seem to be superior to man’s (such as a dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing and an eagle’s eyesight), God in his great wisdom created man in his own image, thus giving man the ability to reason, and to have a moral sense of right and wrong — possessing a conscience (1 John 3:20-22). Man has the ability to love and obey Jehovah-God as well as to love (agape) his enemies or those who do or wish him wrong through, striving to see all things through the eyes of their Bridegroom — Christ Jesus. He died as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6) because of his great love of the Heavenly Father — stemming from a love for righteousness which comes from a knowledge, understanding and experience of the results of obeying the Heavenly Father, which permits the highest and purest form of joy to be felt, that joy that is felt through the eyes of faith, that joy that our Lord Jesus had in bringing the Heavenly Father joy, as reflected in his words: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34, ESV).

Other Hidden References

There are other important places where the translators also obscured the use of nephesh. “There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body [nephesh, soul] of a man … If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body [nephesh, soul] …” (Numbers 9:6, 7, 10). If the translation use “soul” in these places, it would be apparent to the reader that souls simply die. When Samson toppled the house of Dagon, he prayed to God: “Let me [my nephesh, soul] die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

Expanded Use

The texts above give us the proper meaning of the word soul, namely any living being. However, Strong’s Concordance shows that nephesh is sometimes used figuratively for one’s life, being, or vitality. Here are two examples of this. (1) When Rachel was dying at the birth of Benjamin, Genesis 35:18 says “As her soul was in departing (for she died) … she called his name Benomi: but his father called him Benjamin.” (2) 1 Kings 17:21, speaking of the raisin of a young boy by Elijah, says he cried to God “let this child’s soul come into him again.” In both of these cases the word “life” or “being” is the meaning intended.

Sometimes the word is used of one’s deepest thoughts or feelings, distinguished from the mere body. Thus 2 Kings 4:27 says of a troubled woman, “her soul is vexed in her.” Language is flexible, and the word nephesh is used flexibly. But none of these cases are any predicate for believing some conscious force called “soul” mysteriously lingers after death. Death is death. It is the cessation of life.

Soul in the New Testament

The New Testament Greek word for soul is psuche. Whenever the word “soul” appears in the common English version of the New Testament, it is from this word (Strong’s number 5590).

1 Corinthians 15:45 uses psuche as the counterpart of the Hebrew nephesh, which serves to equate the two words. “The first man Adam was made a living soul [psuche].” This expression clearly draws from Genesis 2:7, where nephesh is used. This word is frequently rendered life. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Mark 8:35). “I lay down my life (John 10:17). “They seek my life (Romans 11:3), and many other examples. In these cases “life” refers to the being, the person. The same meaning attaches when the word is rendered “soul,” as in Acts 2:43, “fear came upon every soul” — every person, or being.

Revelation 8:9 and 16:3 apply the word to sea creatures. Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 use the term metaphorically of the spent life of the saints, awaiting the resurrection. John 12:27 says of Jesus “now is my soul troubled.” Thus there is a breadth in this Greek word that matches the breadth of its Hebrew counterpart.

In the Old Testament the condition of death is expressed by the Hebrew sheol, and its Greek counterpart in the New Testament is hades. This was the condition into which Jesus’ “soul,” psuche, passed for three days until his resurrection, for a soul, psuche, dies and is later raised from the dead.

The Soul Is Not Immortal

If the soul were truly immortal, the soul would be indestructible, yet it is not, because each human born under the curse of Adamic condemnation, dies until the curse shall be lifted up from humanity once Christ’s ransom price has been applied to all mankind. By then the Bride of Christ will have completed their share in the sin offering — and the antityical “atonement day” sin offering thus completed. The High Priest in Leviticus 16 made atonement for  himself, his sons, and then, finally, for the sins of the people (the world of mankind). God warned Adam that if he disobeyed God’s rule, then as a living soul Adam would cease to exist. We read about this in Genesis 2:17, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” In Ezekiel 18:4 God said, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die.” This means that the person who sins shall die, and since all are born in sin, the entire human race has been dying for nearly 6000 years. Here are two examples of Scriptures about death being the consequence of sin:

“So death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, NASV).

Every soul [person] sins and, as a consequence, every soul dies (Romans 6:16,23).

But God in his great love provided redemption from death for all sinful souls, or persons, through the gift of his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died as a corresponding ransom price to free mankind from the prison house of death. All of Adam’s progeny lost life through Adamic transgression and thus have inherited sin and imperfection. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in Adam all die,” adding to this, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” And again, “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21,22). The Prophet Isaiah wrote that Christ’s “soul” was made an offering for sin, and also that he “poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:10,12).

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Adam and all past generations of his children have fallen asleep in death, but they have not “perished,” because through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and by the exercise of divine power, they are to be awakened in the resurrection and given an opportunity to believe. Then, upon the basis of their belief and obedience, they may live forever.

Those called to discipleship in the present life are given an opportunity to inherit eternal life by accepting Jesus as their personal Redeemer and responding to the invitation to take up their cross and follow him, gladly lay down their lives with him, and be planted together in the likeness of his death (Roman 6:3-6). These are referred to in Revelation 20:4 as the “souls” which are “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:17,18). Thus, Paul speaks of Christians who die as merely being “asleep,” and not in any sense perishing in death.

Genesis 12:11-13 (NASB) says Abraham was afraid that his soul would not live, and thus, that he would die. “It came about when he [Abram] came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I (“my soul,” nephesh) may live on account of you.” If the Hebrew word nephesh meant an indestructible immortal soul, Abram’s soul could not have died (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

Jesus emphasized this same important truth in an admonition to his disciples to meet courageously any and all opposition against them and any persecuted unto death, saying, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [Gehenna] (Matthew 10:28). Jesus here refers to the possibility of permanent cessation of life by God for the incorrigible, which the Bible terms as “second death.”

“This does not imply that the soul can live apart from the body, for actually the body is the organism of the soul. Rather, Jesus is speaking from the standpoint of the divine plan to awaken the dead in the resurrection. It was from this standpoint that Paul could say that Christians who fell asleep in death had not ‘perished.’ If an enemy puts a Christian to death, he has not perished as a soul. The body dies, but the person, the soul, merely ‘sleeps’ until the resurrection. But if a Christian becomes a willful sinner and is not worthy of a resurrection, then death means extinction of that person, or soul, forever.

“Jesus explained this from another standpoint, as recorded in Luke 20:37,38 ‘Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.’ Jesus did not say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had gone to heaven to live with God. He simply explained that because there is to be a resurrection of the dead, and these faithful servants will be restored to life, God does not consider them as having gone out of existence — they ‘live unto him,’ or, to him they are alive.

“So it is with all God’s faithful servants of the past. They may have been ‘sawn asunder’ by their enemies; they may have been thrown to the lions, or beheaded, or burned at the stake, but to God they still live, they have not ‘perished,’ for he has the power and will use that power to awaken them from the sleep of death.

“The ‘souls’ which are ‘beheaded,’ as mentioned in Revelation 20:4, are brought forth in the ‘first resurrection’ to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. The ‘souls’ that died serving God during the ages preceding Jesus’ first advent will come forth to a ‘better resurrection,’ to serve as ‘princes in all the earth’ Hebrews 11:35; Psalm 45:16” (The Dawn – and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January 1959 issue).

Lazarus – An Example that the Soul is not immortal

In John 11:11 Jesus said “Lazarus sleepeth.” Lazarus was dead for four days (John 11:39). Surely Jesus would not have retrieved Lazarus from the bliss of heaven. For those four days Lazarus did not go anywhere, nor did he see anyone, nor did he speak, eat, feel, or think. He was simply dead. When he was raised to life he began again to do all those things. In this respect the whole world sleeps in death, waiting for the resurrection — unaware of what is transpiring in the meantime, because the dead do not sense, feel or think anything. “The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

In John 5:28,29 Jesus said that the hour is coming when all in their graves will come forth. If their souls were already in heaven, then there would be no need for Jesus to say that he would bring them forth from the grave? If physical bodies were needed in heaven, how have these presumably immortal souls survived without them? Scripture also tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Seeking After Immortality

The Bible never equates immortality with the soul of common man, only with the saints, and then only as a gift for faithfulness (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). The sleeping, unconscious dead will one day be awakened from their graves (John 5:28,29; Job 14:11-15; Psalm 17:15; Acts 24:15,16). At that time, ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9). ‘Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths’ (Micah 4:2). In God’s kingdom on earth, mankind will be raised from the dead and have their first real opportunity to learn God’s ways of righteousness because Satan will be bound and will no longer be able to deceive the world (Revelation 20:3) (Br. Peter Karavas, 2011).

The Dead Raised To Life In the Resurrection Age

“Possibly the spirit that returns to God contains the unique ‘data’ of each individual can be compared to computer information on a removable disk. The resurrection of an individual could be a recreation after the pattern of Adam. The original body had passed to dust so a new one, either spiritual or fleshly, would be created. The individual again comes to life when the (unique?) spirit is returned to the body and he becomes a living soul again. Whatever the exact process is, we know the resurrected fleshly body will be in its intended perfected state. Job intimates that the flesh will be fresher than a child’s and will have the beauty and vitality of youth (Job 33:25)” (Robert Davis, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom article.)

Spirit

The word “spirit” in the Old Testament is usually from the Hebrew ruach, and in the New Testament it is usually from the Greek pneuma. Both terms refer to breath, inhalation, or the movement of air, whether gentle or forceful. But as these are invisible forces, the words are applied by extension to the “spirit” of a person which is the invisible mental force, personality, influence, or disposition of a person.

Thus the Old Testament uses ruach when speaking of the “spirit” of Jacob, Elijah, Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Joshua, God, and others. The New Testament uses pneuma when speaking of the “spirit” of Paul, Christ, and God.

These words are also used to describe the influence of various non-personal but good “spirits” — the spirit of Truth, Holiness, Life, Faith, Wisdom, Grace and Glory and of an opposite spirit of Jealousy, Judgment, Burning, Heaviness, Infirmity, Divination, Bondage, Slumber, Fear and Error.

Ruach also refers to the “spirit of life” which we receive from God, which figuratively “returns” to him when we die. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). This does not imply a transport of persons. It applies to the motivating force of life, of both good and bad people alike.

Both words sometimes refer to the essence of a person, that is, their identity, character, personality. In this sense Jesus commended his “spirit” to God when he died, which was restored on the third day when God raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 23:46, Psalms 31:5).

In this sense also Paul speaks of the “spirits of just men,” the faithful Ancient Worthies of the Old Testament, who were matured by the things they suffered, and await their resurrection reward in the Kingdom (Hebrews 12:23, 11:40).

None of these cases teach that any conscious entity persists after the death of a person, except metaphorically, in the memory of God. Not until the resurrection does a person who has died live again as a conscious, sentient being. The great hope for the world lies in such a Resurrection from the Dead. “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth” (John 5:28,29).

This assurance was secured for us at great cost, both by God who gave His dearest treasure, his son Jesus, and by Jesus who labored in his ministry for 3 ½ years, suffered accusation from the religious leaders of his day, and died for our sins on the cross.

“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust … [to] bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18). “By man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:21).

For the saints of the Gospel Age, this resurrection occurs during the present “Harvest” period. For the remainder of the world, the resurrection will occur during the coming Millennium.

Do Angels Have a Soul?

As with human being, angels are souls, for they are the union of the spirit of life, together with a body, in this case a spiritual body. “The first man Adam was made a living soul…” (1 Corinthians 15:45). It would be the same with the angelic hosts, but on a higher scale. “There are also celestial bodies … but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (1 Corinthians 15:40).

——-

Acknowledgment & References

We are thankful for the permission of sharing content from a study titled “Soul and Spirit,” drawn from a study by Br. Gilbert Rice, featured in the “Faithbuilders Fellowship” Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

“Immortality and the Human Soul,” The Bible versus Tradition—Article IV, April 1959 in The Dawn – A Herald of Christ’s Presence (Monthly Magazine) Rutherford, NJ, USA.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

“Immortality of the Soul” by Br. Peter Karavas. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, May-June 2011.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2011/11mj_3.htm

“The Resurrection of the Dead” by Br. Robert Davis. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_14.htm

Suggested Further Reading

Volume 5 of “Studies in the Scriptures” — “The Atonement Between God and Man” by Br. Charles Taze Russell, pages 383-404, Study 13, “Hopes For Life Everlasting and Immortality Secured by the Atonement.”

“What Is the Soul?” by Br. Robert Seklemian
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/treatises/seklemians%20discourses.htm

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part A: What Is Jesus All About?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part B: Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 — HOPE & RESURRECTION. Part C: The Order of the Resurrection Process
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

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Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and the Lamb

The Holy City

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

The Song

The words of “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb” in Revelation 15:3‑4 remind us of the song of deliverance and victory in Exodus 15, sung by Moses, Miriam, and the children of Israel, after crossing the Red Sea, after coming out of Egypt. Moses composed a hymn of praise in which the people joined, while Moses’ sister Miriam and the singing women prepared a response to various parts of the hymn of praise (Exodus 15:1‑20).

If it was appropriate that the Israelites give glory to God for their deliverance from Egypt, it is much more appropriate that spiritual Israel recognize the still greater deliverance from the power of Satan and the bondage of sin (R3998:6) and in the reassurance of our Heavenly Father’s grace permitting us to be called out of “Babylon” (Revelation 18:4), and recognize and thus stay away from the “antichrist” systems of belief. As the Apostle John said, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Song expresses the feeling of the heart, and there can be no song of joy, no song of the Lord in the hearts of spiritual Israel, if we feel that we are not pleasing to our heavenly Father, if we feel that we are not living in harmony with his will and purpose for us, for only in the sunshine of His love and favor is there joy forevermore in the heart and a song upon the lips of His child. If we are living up to our privileges in Christ Jesus, we will be constantly rejoicing, and the song of the Lord will well up from our hearts and will constantly be upon our lips” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

King Ahaz fostered idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:2-4) and sent silver and gold from the sacred temple to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:8). He constructed an altar patterned after a heathen one, replacing the customary temple altar (1 Kings 16:10-15), profaned sacred vessels, and closed the temple (2 Chronicles 28:24).

“All this and his closing the doors of the house of God robbed Israel of her song. And if the song of the Lord shall ever go out of the life of spiritual Israel, it will be because of our closing the door of the temple of our hearts to God’s holy spirit, a gradual closing of the door by a growing neglect of the study of God’s Word. Earnest prayer to the Lord might become too much of a task. The worship of the Lord might lose its attraction. Then would the door to the temple of our heart be closed, and the song of the Lord would cease. How then could one get the song back that he knew when first he loved the Lord? [2 Chronicles 29:27] provides the answer: ‘And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also.’ What a beautiful picture is the burnt offering of our [devoted appreciation] and of … acceptance by our heavenly Father'” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

We are now learning this song Brethren in Christ!

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [over sin, and thus victory over the world, Egypt] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“With the rosy view of the future which the Bible so surely gives, darkness and clouds, sorrows and tears for the immediate present cannot daunt us” (R5799:5).

The song of Moses and the Lamb practiced by the prospective Bride of Christ class while they are training on earth in the Priesthood of Christ, may be heard by others. They preach in perfect accord with the Law and the Gospel (R497:3). They “sing” about the good tidings announced in connection with our Lord’s birth, his ministry; and the testimony of the apostles respecting the Lamb of God and the great work to be accomplished by him (R2569:6). The song of the Lamb is the clearer revelations contained in the writings of the New Testament (C237, Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 8:5).

This song described in Revelation 15:3,4 is the beautiful and harmonious expression (R497:3) about restitution (R130:3), reflecting an intellectual (R3177:5, R5441:6) understanding of God’s marvelously harmonious Plan. It is a balance of the Old Testament prophecies (the song of Moses) and the New Testament content (the song of the Lamb).

The song, practiced now by the “called” of God (Romans 1:7, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:7) who are seeking to be the Bride of Christ, is driven by their love of God’s perfect standard of righteousness and their delight to do God’s will as they daily mortify the deeds of the flesh, for their eyes of faith are fixed on Christ (Hebrews 12:2,3, 2 Corinthians 4:18) and the one hope found in Christ (Ephesians 4:4). Their joys in the precious promises of God are theirs by faith (Romans 15:13). They seek to gain Christ and Christ alone. They willing lay down their lives as living sacrifices pleasing and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1), cheerfully enduring (Revelation 3:10, Luke 21:19) the testings of faith patiently; an enduring of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love. They are fully depending on God’s strength and His leadings in all the affairs of life, and are running the race of the high calling to “win the prize… in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 9:24).

PHILIPPIANS 3, 7-11.jpg

The song of Moses and the Lamb is “to be sung by the immortalized bride [the 144,000 in glory] on the sea of glass” (HG16:5) who are the overcomers of the Gospel Age (R3078:3). However, those who understand the work of God, and are sympathetic to it, and “who can exercise faith in the Lord” may sing it even now while the work progresses but it is not its complete fulfillment: that will be attained when all the people of God shall have been found  at the end of the Millennial age” (R3999:1). Let us keep practicing and training our “voices” of character, mind, and heart so that we can sing this song in glory, as did the angelic sons of God who “shouted for joy” in the dawn of earth’s creation (Job 38:7).

Those who sing this song teach others through their behaviour, actions, and words to do the same until “all nations will come and worship” (Revelation 15:4) in the presence of God “Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Before they can believe they must hear (Romans 10). The billions who have died in ignorance must be made alive before they can hear. Their blessing will come during the Millennium when they “shall learn of the divine mercy, … and they shall bow to the Lord to confess his goodness and his love and enjoy … the opportunity of full reconciliation to God and full return to the perfect conditions of mind and of body, and to life everlasting, lost by Adam’s disobedience, and brought back by the great Redeemer for as many as will receive it upon God’s terms” (R3282). Then all will “come to a knowledge of the truth: For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:4,6, R76). Once the glory of the Lord shall have filled the Temple, all peoples shall sing this song, just as all of Israel sang the song of Moses when delivered out of Egypt, representing the escape from sin and death (R3283:4).

Great and marvelous thy works, just and true are thy ways!

The Levites who sang at the dedication of the Temple did not sing of divine wrath never ending, but of divine mercy forever (Psalm 136, R3283:4). We can sing now of God’s righteousness and just dealings with the nations, because we have come to see how He permitted evil and death by looking at the work of the next, as well as that of present and past ages (R497). The more advanced our concept of right, truth, holiness, and purity, the more we appreciate the divine view of sin (R3729:4).

Having The Harps of God

In Revelation 15:2, the singers have “harps of God in their hands” with all its strings attuned (R5441:6, 926:4). Our harps are “called The word of God, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Job, Moses, and all the Prophecies are but strings to our harp; they only require keying up and they will produce the sweetest harmony to this ‘Song of Moses and the Lamb,’ for as Peter says, God hath spoken of the restitution by the mouth of all these holy Prophets (Acts 3:21)” (R130).

Revelation 15:2-4

In Revelation chapter 15 and 16, the seven vials of the wrath of God, that close out this age and introduce the next, are described as poured out by seven angels in divine service. The blessings of the kingdom follow this work, and wait for its completion. In the meantime, those who appreciate the aim and result can sing with thanks and praise for the Divine action.

The “sea of glass” perhaps refers to the large “sea” or laver of water before the temple of God (2 Chronicles 4:2). The laver contained water for washing, and thus draws to our mind the cleansed or justified class of believers who stand above the world with a higher prospect and understanding. The “sea of glass mingled with fire” suggests the judgments of God that proceed during the Harvest, as described in the pouring of the seven vials. “Above the troubled people are the overcomers — calm, serene, untroubled. Their position shows that their standing is by faith (Matthew 14:29). To the eye of faith all is transparent as glass” (R497).

Brother Charles T. Russell wrote in an August 1880 Zion’s Watchtower article (R130): “We believe that this fire [trouble] has been mingling or coming among the people since 1873, and that it is to continue until 1914” (R130). Pastor Russell understood the period of the last plague “to be the closing act in the drama of this age” (R497). “An important difference exists between our view and that of many others however, in that they suppose the end of the age to be accompanied by the destruction of the people, and of the earth itself; while we understand that it is the ending of the present reign of evil, and a necessary preparation of mankind for the reign of righteousness” (R497).

Since Pastor Russell’s passing in 1916, clearer prophetic insight for the last 102 years has been permitted due to the unfolding of Biblical Prophecies. It is now apparent that the “time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1) that began in 1914 is a process consuming many decades. Elijah’s vision of the time of trouble shows three waves of activity (1 Kings 19:11,12).

(1) The winds of war came in two stages, World War I followed by World War II.

(2) The earthquake breaking up the colonial powers proceeded thereafter, perhaps until the break up of the Soviet Union in 1989.

(3) The fire of Islamic insurgency continues until Armageddon and its consequent effects, which close out the “time of trouble” and introduce the long sought Millennial Kingdom.

The ending part of this “time of trouble” will be punctuated with the seventh plague (beginning with Armageddon), and the loosing of the four winds of Revelation chapter seven. These will come after the saints have been “sealed,” apparently referring to the completion of the Bride class in glory. Recall that in Exodus 12:29, the firstborn were delivered from the power of the death angel, as the last plague was poured. So the “Church of the firstborn” are “passed over” from death to life at the outset of the final judgments against this “world,” or order of things.

The Crossing of the Red Sea Versus the Deliverance of the Saints of the Gospel Age

In Revelation there are seven last plagues, whereas in Exodus there were ten plagues. It seems to many brethren therefore that the first three of the ten in Egypt refer to distresses on Christendom that precede the seven last plagues of Revelation. These may be the (1) Reformation, (2) the French Revolution, and the (3) Adventist Movement, which all prepared the way for the end of the age.

After crossing the Red Sea, the awesome and eerie calmness of the sea, when restored to its normal height, could be likened to a sea of glass without a ripple (Matthew 8:26), as Israel looked down in hushed and prolonged silence upon the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. Just as the seventh plague of Revelation 16 is in three parts — Armaggedon, Earthquake, Hail — so the end of Papacy is described in three parts in Revelation 18:8Death, Mourning, Famine.

The 144,000 members of the Bride of Christ will be complete in glory at the opening of the 7th plague of Revelation 16. Some members of the Great Company class will linger here, passing through this “great tribulation” while washing their robes (Revelation 7:14).

In this Exodus 15 account, Moses is a type of Christ, and the Israelites picture of the Lord’s people who sing the song of praise. Standing beside the sea, but at a higher elevation, the Israelites were witnesses of God’s judgment on Pharaoh and his host (Psalm 136:15).

The saints living at the end of this Gospel age must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10); they must be victors in every test. The enemies which have confronted the saints are many. Revelation 15 mentions these —

The beast, Papacy, which is described symbolically in the opening verses of Revelation 13.

The image of the beast. Here are some suggestions respecting this. “The Image was formed by the organization of the ‘Evangelical Alliance’ in 1846 … [thus] the overcomers of the ‘Image’ could not occupy this position of favor and exaltation prior to that date. This furnishes a general reason for believing that the plagues must commence this side of the date mentioned, since it is during the pouring out of the plagues that the overcomers occupy this condition upon the ‘sea of glass'” (R497). The image may refers to “organized sectarian Protestantism” (R497), perhaps allied in spirit.

The image of the beast is later referred to as the false prophet (Church of England) which is one of the three entities combining in plague six (Revelation 16:12-14) as a prelude to Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).

There is a comparison to be made between the golden image of Daniel 3:1, and the image of the beast in Revelation 13:18. In both instances the numbers mentioned are multiples of six. Both refer to statues that are set up. Both have to do with religious worship, and in each case the penalty for failure to do so is death.

King Nebuchadnezzar represents the civil or “dragon” element of society (Revelation 16:3) and it is these world governments (political power under the influence of Satan) that will try to co-operate together with the actions of the “beast” and its “image” (that represent the clerical or religious element on earth) to try to stabilize the crumbling societies of the world when things really start to pull apart — the brunt of this we believe, will occur in just over a decade from now).  These co-operative efforts will be born out of weakness, not strength but their efforts and croaking together “like frogs” (Revelation 16:13) will prove abortive (Revelation 16:18,19).

Babylon is pictured as a harlot in Revelation 17. The harlotry of the apostate church is due to her having a unification (adulterous marriage) with the governments of this world. On the other hand, the true saints (who are represented as the wise virgins in Matthew 25:1-13), strive to keep themselves separate from all entanglements with the world.

Revelation 10:1 in the sixth trumpet (the longest of all the trumpet descriptions, Revelation 9:13-11:14) depicts an angel with a rainbow — an emblem that the distress (of the 1260 years and its persecution unto death by Papacy) is past, just as the rainbow in the cloud after the Flood meant that the experience would not be repeated. This indicates that the persecution of the saints by Papacy, in the manner that it was exhibited during the 1260 years of Papal power, is over, not to be repeated.

In Revelation 17 the Papal system (represented as the “whore”) is destroyed. The 10 horns and the beast (that is, the people, the body of the beast ridden formerly by Papacy, the woman) will eat and devour and burn the whore. The “hour” in Revelation 17:12 is the time of her final judgment, depicted in the Old Testament as Jezebel being eaten by the dogs. Compare Revelation 18:10, “Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

 The “mark” of the beast is an identifying mark that the recipient is in sympathy with Papacy. The mark could be either in the forehead (belief and mental agreement with Papacy), or in the hand (sympathetic activity with Papacy) — Revelation 13:16.

 The “number of his name — which is 666. The number six represents something sinful or away from the holy influence of God, and the triple appearance here intensifies the connection (Revelation 13:18). Compare Lamech’s “number” or lifespan of 777, whom some believe is related to the true church.

For many centuries the Papal System persecuted the saints of God. Revelation 13:7,6,5 — “It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them … he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God … power was given unto him to continue 42 months.”

The number 666 some think is reflected also in the Latin title which the pope has taken to himself, “Vicarius Filii Dei,” that is, “Vicar of the Son of God.” Of the Latin letters in this title, those which the Latins also used to represent numerals, add up to 666. (In Latin the “U” of Vicarius becomes a “V,” and the double U [W] is actually a double V. Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 361).

The Trinity: “The number 666 is composed of three 6’s. The fact that it is one number, yet contains three integers, may suggest the doctrine that from the time of Arius has been embraced by the nominal Church… The pagan Trinitarian doctrine, as shown so profusely by Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons,” existed many centuries prior to the introduction of Christianity into the world. This unholy and unscriptural doctrine found its way into nominal churchianity about the time of Constantine. It not only existed in Babylon but also was expressed in the complicated theology of Hinduism and Brahmanism (Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 366).

“Just and true are your ways”

“Who, but those who see the restitution to be accomplished in the next age, could sing this part of the song? Not one; Christendom in general fears to think of God’s justice in dealing with the nations in general, the great majority of whom have gone down into death without any knowledge of the only name whereby we must be saved. The righteousness, and justice, and love of God’s dealing, can only be seen by looking at the work of the next, as well as at that of present and past ages. Yes indeed we rejoice to proclaim to all who have an ‘ear to hear’ — Just and true are Jehovah’s ways in ruling the nations” (Br. Charles Russell, R497).

‘For all the nations shall come and worship in thy presence, because thy righteous acts are manifested.’ This is the last note of the song, and is full of force and meaning. How few are proclaiming, either publicly or privately, this part of the song. Some believe that many of the nations now dead are in a place of mental or physical torture, there to remain to all eternity. Others claim that they are dead, and will never again have life; others that those who are dead, will be raised from death to pass a mock trial, and be destroyed. But how few can sing this song of restitution, declaring that all nations shall yet come from death, and shall worship their Lord and Redeemer, when brought to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Even Sodom, a nation long since destroyed, shall come and worship (Ezekiel 16:48‑63)” (R497).

“King of the Ages”

“The Sinaitic manuscript renders the phrase “King of saints” as “King of the ages,” which appears to be the proper thought. The emphasis indicates that as God brings to a successful conclusion His purposes with respect to the Gospel Age, so likewise He will bring to a triumphant climax at the end of the Millennial Age His purposes in regard to mankind. This is the song and this is the confidence of the saints in verse 3. The fulfillment of Revelation 15:4 is yet future — the very near future it is believed!” (Br. Frank Shallieu, The Keys of Revelation, page 400).

Christ returned in 1874, and the Time of Trouble began in 1914 (Daniel 12:1). When the final stage of the trouble has come upon Christendom, after Israel’s deliverance, and the subsequent “earthquake” and “hail” that complete the seventh plague (Revelation 16:18-21), the revelation will dawn upon the people of Earth that God has intervened in a remarkable way. Thereafter, in Christ’s 1000 year reign of righteousness, all humanity will seek and obey the laws of the Kingdom (Psalms 96:11,13).

Tune Your Harps

Dearly Beloved Brethren in Christ —

“tune up your harps, and sing aloud our glad song of ‘Jubilee.’ Sing to your dear friends who love God, despite what seems to them his injustice. But if they will not hear sing to the world. It will be a ‘Bow of promise’ to them when they go further down into the time of trouble. And if you cannot do this sing it loudly in your own heart. It will joy and comfort bring you, to think of our Father’s love and realize that ‘His mercy endureth forever’ (Psalm 136). It will open and warm your heart and enrich it with love, both for your Father and for those who are the objects of His care and love” (R130).

Let us present ourselves as peace offerings, such as the Ram of Consecration, so that our lives may ascend as a sweet savor, to our Heavenly Father. Our consecration “is not to this condition or to that condition, to this prize or to that prize, but it is to our heavenly Father, to the One on high, an ascending consecration to God alone .. a full, entire, and complete consecration, nothing held back; not a part or partial … offering, but a whole.” “For our consecration to be acceptable in the sight of God, we must be stripped of all fleshly coverings. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

As we onward sojourn without murmuring, seeking the Promised Land of Zion above, may we with great joy in the one Love, one Hope, and one Faith, and testifying and proclaiming of God’s acts of justice, love, wisdom, and power, continue to gladly and with thanksgiving in and for all experiences, sing:

“‘Not my own!’ my time, my talent,
Freely all to Christ I bring,
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.”

Have You Lost the Song?

Dear friend — If you ever feel you have lost the song of the Lord, or if you feel you are walking through a valley which is overcast with the shadow of death, then may you gain great encouragement through the words of Brother H. V. Warren’s article “The Song of the Lord” in The Herald of Christ Kingdom Magazine (A direct website link of this article is cited in the Reference section below).

“When the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also” (2 Chronicles 29:27).

———————————-

References, Acknowledgment and Suggested Further Reading:

“R” – represents the references to the article numbers of the Reprints of the Original Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
http://www.htdbv8.com/reprintA.html

Harvest Gleanings (HG)
http://www.htdbv8.com/HG/HG1.pdf

Br. David Rice — Editing.

Br. Frank Shallieu — “The Keys of Revelation,” pages 398‑400.

Br. Jim Parkinson, “The Exodus Plagues,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, January / February 2018.
https://herald‑magazine.com/2018/01/01/the‑exodus‑plagues/

V. Warren, “The Song of the Lord,” in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, July / August 1978
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1978_4.htm#_Toc36734285

“God’s Comprehensive Law,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Volume 14. August 1‑15, 1931 No. 15/16
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1931_8.htm#_Toc23239884

Br. William J. Hollister, Notes on the Book of Revelation, Miami, Florida, May 1, 1960 (found in the Bible Study Library).

Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) In 1874
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/

Moses and The Lamb — Hymns of Dawn No. 17
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/19/moses-and-the-lamb-hymns-of-dawn-no-17/

Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and The Lamb
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/21/revelation-chapter-15-to-18-and-the-song-of-moses-and-the-lamb/

All For Jesus – Hymns of Dawn No. 8
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/19/all-for-jesus-hymns-of-dawn-no-8/

Church Union and the Antichrist Booklet: https://chicagobible.org/product/church-union-the-antichrist/

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Matthew 14:22-33 – How To Walk On Water

Jesus walks on water - Matthew 14

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:28, 29

Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.

A Joyous Multitude

It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.

Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.

Blessing Now, Blessing Later

The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.

Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.

This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.

A Need for Quiet

Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!

Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.

Their Stormy Challenge

He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.

It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.

But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.

Winds and waves threatened their ship;

               yet there was Jesus,

                                                     walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.

Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.

Our Stormy Challenges

This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.

We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.

“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).

The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.

We Learn from Peter

We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!

In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.

The time of trouble will not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.

Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,

Take courage. It is I! Do not be afraid!”

 What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,

Be not afraid. It is I!”

 Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.

Water-walking

The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.

When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.

Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”

Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.

It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.

First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.

We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!

Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.

The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthyto accept him as our TOTAL means of support.

PSALM 20, 7

Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.

PSALM 118-8

Our Rocky Boats

Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.

HEBREWS-11-1-6

Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seenpeace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!

The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.

PSALM 61, 1-2

The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.

Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!

Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.

All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.

Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.

PSALM 73-26

There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”

At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.

When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!

Reaching to Jesus

Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.

Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.

We are not arm-chair saints.

Our faith is on trial NOW.

THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.

Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.

2 COR. 4, 16

Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.

Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:

Let the chill mists gather round me.
Let the lights of earth grow dim.
Leave me Jesus, only Jesus.
I am Satisfied with him.

*****

HEB. 10, 23

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above study.

*****

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MATTHEW 26:27-29 – Drinking from Christ’s One Cup

MATTHEW 26, 27-29, NASB.jpg

 

In Matthew 26:27-29 our Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples about the communion cup. “(27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) for this is my blood of the New Testament (Covenant) shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. (29) But I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29, KJV).

“The Cup”

When we refer to the symbol “cup,” we actually refer to the contents of the cup, “the fruit of the vine” that Jesus passed to his disciples. On this occasion, that juice represented the life of Jesus — his human life, his being, his soul — poured out in sacrifice for the remission of sin. Grape juice is sometimes referred to as the “blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11), and in this case it represented the blood of Jesus, shed for us.

Sometimes the symbol of “cup” refers to experiences, either difficult or joyous. When Jesus said in the passage above that he would “drink it new” with his disciples in the Kingdom, he there referred to a cup of joy and rejoicing, a blessed experience. Psalm 23:5 says, “My cup runneth over.” We might connect this to the delightful experiences of faith that come our way. (See Post: “Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”)

In Psalm 116:13 we read of “the cup of salvation.” We might readily connect this to the cup Jesus passed to his disciples at the last supper, for by receiving the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for us, we receive salvation. The world’s salvation shall be attained in the future, when the cup of salvation is then applied when they accept Christ by faith.

Notice the context of Psalm 116:12-15:

“(12) What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? (13) I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord [for needed aid], (14) I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Let us take a moment to try to understand some words in this Psalm.

“The Death” of Christ’s body members (“his saints”) who are training for the Heavenly Priesthood of Christ during this Gospel Age (since the opening of the High calling in AD 33, from Pentecost) — is the process from the time of FULL consecration to our Heavenly Father’s service and our Heavenly Father’s ACCEPTANCE to His service. Once we are accepted — begotten of God’s Spirit — we become New Creatures IN Christ, and this is the way we are dealt with: consecration, dying daily, and finally the actual dying of the flesh. (See R5325).

The Vow of Christ and his members is faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10) — the drinking of the cup. The promised reward for doing so is the crown of glory in the Kingdom. This is represented as another cup of the future. Only those who presently share with Christ in his cup of suffering, will share with him in the cup of joy and glory, which the Father will pour for the faithful at the end of this Age — at the close of this anti-typical Day of Atonement and its sacrifices.

Our Lord used the symbol of “cup” also in in Matthew 20:22, when he answered James and John that their only hope of sitting with him in his throne lay in their partaking of his cup of suffering and sharing in his baptism — into death (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 6:3-8, 2 Timothy 2:11,12, Colossians 3:3, Galatians 3:27).

When in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39), this was a cup of bitter experience. If we at times experience a cup” of sorrow, as Jesus in Gethsemane, let us treat it as the greatest privilege and opportunity to prove our loyalty to our Heavenly Father in acquiescing to His divine and perfect will for us even in this. “While this wine of sacrifice exhausts the human nature, it invigorates and makes strong the spiritual nature” (R588:3) and no matter how trying is the cup of sorrow, “we know that ALL things [experiences] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Both Christ and his followers have rejoiced in their tribulations, not counting their lives dear unto them, that they might win the great prize. We can rejoice in tribulation because of our hope in Christ which is founded upon the most precious promises of God (Hebrews 6:19, 2 Corinthians 3:12, Colossians 1:5, Romans 5:4, 2 Timothy 4:8, Philippians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 9:25, James 1:12, Romans 8:18). As the tribulations will overflow, the rejoicing likewise overflows, and with the Apostle Paul, we can say, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

When we commit our “cup” of any particular experience to the Lord, then we make a recognition that our cup of experience is the Lord’s. Through patient cheerful endurance in doing the Lord’s will — not rendering evil for evil nor slander for slander, but on the contrary, blessings in return for injuries (1 Peter 3:9) — may we continue to do all in our power to hold forth the Truth in its glorious beauty, so that not only its friends will be the more charmed and blessed, but that any of its enemies may be recovered from their folly.

All of these uses of the symbol of the cup, are related, in that they apply to the Christian life. In our Christian lives we enjoy the benefits of salvation, the sweet blessings of faith, and also the cup of trial, testing, and sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). Our Lord said respecting it, “I delight to do thy will, O God” (Psalm 40:8). And again, “shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Our Lord Jesus’ “cup” represents:

Our Lord’s death our Lord’s sacrifice of his earthly rights, which was sufficient of itself to have sealed the New Covenant (R4453:4).

The shed blood of Christ which is our redemption to release us from the condemnation (of Adamic sin — from the curse/sentence of death, and thus) of justice (R3526:5) was the ransom price for all (1 Timothy 2:6). His act of handing the cup to his disciples and asking them to drink of it was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings (R5192:5) and drink into Christ’s death, to “be made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

 Jesus’s trials of great anguish endured, as he was tried and tested as a New Creature: John 18:11 — “Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” 

 One cup, though it contains the juice of many grapes. It was Jesus’ cup of which he drank, which he gave to his disciples to finish (R4475:1). The grapes cannot maintain themselves as grapes if they would constitute the life-giving spirit (R5341:3, R2772:6). Thus they must be crushed.

Our fellowship in the sufferings of Christ’s (2 Timothy 2:12), in Christ’s dishonor, pain, shame, degradation (loss of self-respect, mortification), bitterness, distress and sorrows (because of seeking after that which is Godly and righteous in God’s sight) until our mortal death (R3880:3, R1637:4, R5081, R4591). We rejoice in the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ because of the glorious results (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:12).

 The antitype of the cup, in its highest sense, will be the new joys in the kingdom (R4703:6).

Was the juice made from wine or unfermented grape juice?

Nowhere is this cup described as wine, though it may have been (R2772:6) for (as shared in an article in the March-April 2018 Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (titled “Bread and Cup”) we read: “the vintage season in Palestine was September and October, and the Passover was about six months later. The wine made in October would of necessity be fermented before April.” If we suppose that Jesus used wine, we might feel compelled to copy the issue down to the actual drink he used, namely fermented grape juice, or wine.

However, it is an open question whether it was fermented or unfermented. “We feel sure that unfermented grape juice will fulfill the terms of the injunction” (R3879:6). Our recommendation is against a general use of wine as being possibly a temptation to some weak in the flesh. It might not be amiss to put a small amount of fermented wine into the unfermented grape or raisin juice (R2773:4) as this then would not put any others into danger of stimulating an appetite they had tried to overcome. If any one should feel himself endangered by tasting wine at the remembrance of the Lord’s death, we would recommend that such a one use grape or raisin juice instead which, though not wine, is certainly a “fruit of the vine” (R509:5).

Giving Thanks To God

Before Jesus gave the cup of the fruit of the vine to the twelve Apostles to drink, he gave thanks to the Heavenly Father. There is a lesson here for the consecrated people of God who willingly partake in the sufferings of Christ — that of remembering to joyfully acquiesce in all the sufferings which the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes implied (R2773:2) and in doing so, display thankfulness and gratitude to the Heavenly Father for the privilege of being counted as worthy of running the race of the High calling in Christ Jesus to which such were called by God, and who then consecrated themselves to holy service, following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus.

“Drink from it, all of you”

Matthew 26:27 (KJV) says, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it.’ ” The New American Standard Bible, and others, express this command from Jesus a little more clearly. “And when he had taken a cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ “ Jesus was not meaning to say “drink the entire content of what is in the cup,” but rather, Jesus was as if saying to the Apostles that all of them require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ. All of Jesus’ disciples need to drink from this cup. All of us require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ.

“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56, KJV).

During the present Gospel Age, those who are invited to receive this blessing are also called to walk in the way that Jesus walked, and join him in suffering in the present, for the hope of glory in the future.

“We suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

ROMANS 8, 18 - ad..jpg

As Jesus was fully committed to his consecration to God, we should be also. The consecrated children of God experience suffering with Christ now. We leave none of the sufferings for the coming age (R3880:2, R4605:3, R4453:4, R4429:4).

Jesus Christ invited God’s called ones to participate with him in the sacrifice of EVERYTHING — earthly life, interests, hopes, aims, ambitions. All who will reign with Christ, must now drink of the cup of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, as Jesus did. We must be immersed into his death (R4591:5).

Our participation in our Lord’s sufferings show not only our interest and gratefulness in Christ’s sacrifice, but also expressing our own (individual) covenant (agreement/promise) to be dead with him and to drink of the cup of experience that he received (R325:5).

The appropriation of this by us signifies primarily our acceptance of restitution rights and privileges which our Lord has thus, at his own cost, secured for us (R2772:4).

This is my blood”

Christ’s blood was represented through the drinking of the symbolic one cup of the fruit of the vine and it represents our Lord Jesus’ human life, his being, his soul, poured out unto death on our behalf (R2772).

As “blood maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), so Christ sacrificed his life, shed his blood, gave his life, providing redemption for us and all. His death on Calvary’s cross was the final step in his labors to provide redemption for us now, and the world in the Kingdom.

If we receive of his life for us presently, we are able also to lay down our lives in sacrifice with him.

As Jesus’ sufferings prepared him to be our high priest, to purge us from sin, so our sufferings will prepare us to be with him in glory, to assist him in purging mankind from sin.

Sea-of-Galilee-Mount-of-Beatitudes.jpg

“Of The New Testament”

The word “new” is missing in good manuscripts in Matthew 26:28, but it is included in Luke 22:20. By the words “new testament,” Christ was talking about the New Covenant, which supersedes the Law Covenant (R3364:5) and whereby through his shed blood at Calvary, the New Covenant would be sprinkled, sealed and made efficacious (R4331:6) just as Moses had ratified the Law Covenant (a shadow of this) with the blood of burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exodus 24:5-8).

When Christ and his Church is complete in glory, at the end of the Gospel Age, then the blood of Christ will be applied for the world. Then Israel will see their privileges under a new covenant, replacing the old covenant, and become a means of extending the blessings of the Kingdom to the world.

“Remission of sins”

Through faith in Jesus’ blood we have remission of sins for we read in Hebrews 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”

We were redeemed, not with Jesus’ example, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). Our sins could never have been forgiven by divine justice except through the divine arrangement by which Christ Jesus paid our penalty.

There is no other way to attain eternal life
except through accepting the blood once shed as
the ransom price for the sins of the whole world.

(R2772:6)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Until that day”

These words of Christ refer to the time the saints will join him in glory. During the present parousia, or presence, of Christ, those who have completed their service here below are being gathered into the joyous privileges above. Soon the Gospel Age of suffering will end, and all of the remaining members of the Bride class will join those who have gone before. During the Millennium thus introduced, the elect Bride class, the 144,000, shall be in heavenly glory, beyond the vail, in heaven itself.

“Drink it new”

What is this “new” wine that Christ was referring to in his words? Through these words of Christ, Jesus was saying to his followers, that if they will suffer with him, they will participate with him in his future cup of joy as sharers in his glory as immortal and incorruptible beings (R5643:4R4703:6, R1695:2). In Romans 2:7 (ESV) we read: “(7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

Seeking after immortality means desiring with one’s entire being to be raised in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42) with a body and mind in which there can NEVER EVER be found sin or disobedience — where this is not possible or probable; where the tests of loyalty, obedience and faithfulness to God’s principles have been overcome and proven one as worthy to inherit life within one’s own self, not dependent on another for life and for purity, and where the Almighty Heavenly Father is honored above all (Revelation 14:1-5).

The saints will receive the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom, and the grand JOY of participating with the Master in uplifting the world of mankind! To have the Heavenly Father receive JOY from ALL His creation, is a thrilling thought. It gives one a foretaste of SUBLIME PEACE, beyond tranquillity. It is beyond us to fully grasp what it will be like to not have to fear ever disobeying the Almighty Father! What a wonderfully grand thing to NEVER EVER have to fear causing the Heavenly Father pain, displeasure, or grief, when sinless everlastingly! This is the ultimate JOY that can be attained by any being, created in the image of God!

Imagine:

feeling this PEACE OF GOD in a DIVINE body, with a perfected and DIVINE mind!

a PAIN-FREE existence that brings the Ultimate Power of the Universe — Jehovah, the Heavenly Father (who’s divine love, justice, wisdom and power are beyond words), everlasting and righteous pleasure.

an EVERLASTING state where causing unintentional pain, suffering, or injury is never possible!

“(9) For our knowledge is imperfect, and so is our prophesying; (10) But when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end” (1 Corinthians 13:10, Weymouth New Testament).

“My Father’s kingdom”

This kingdom of God will be experienced in the highest sense, beyond the antitypical second veil of the antitypical “tabernacle” in the presence of God Himself, by the overcomers of the Gospel Age who inherit everlasting life in the Divine Realm.

As a result of the trials and sufferings endured, there will be a jubilation in the Kingdom and hence, Kingdom glory is the end of the symbol (R5193, R2272). Primarily it is the Kingdom of the Father, but the Father has voluntarily proposed to place the dominion of the earth for 1000 years under the full charge of a Viceroy, Christ and his bride (D642).

The Passover Lamb and the World’s Sin

The passover lamb spared only the firstborn of the Israelites. The anti-typical meaning of this would be that our Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God which “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) would spare or pass over only the Church of the firstborn ones in this Gospel Age, the antitype of the passover night.

Only the Church of the firstborn, the household of faith, the consecrated, are spared or passed over through Divine mercy, through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, during this Gospel Age. Nevertheless, the divine plan does not end with the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven” [Hebrews 12:23] and who shall share with Christ in ‘his resurrection’—the first, or chief resurrection. The appropriation of the merit of Christ first to the Church is merely an incidental feature of the Divine Plan. Soon the Church shall have shared by the privilege now granted to believers of becoming dead with Christ to the earthly interests and alive as New Creatures by the first resurrection. Then the merit of the blood of Christ, the slain Lamb, will be applied to the world of mankind to legallytake away the sin of the world.’ When applied it will immediately satisfy Justice on the world’s behalf and turn over the world to the Redeemer for restitution blessings. Then the Lamb of God and the Church, ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,’ will prosecute the work of actually taking away the sin of the world during the Millennium” (R4556).

Acknowledgement and References

Br. David Rice — Some content and editing.

“Reprints (No. 4556) of the original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.”

The large majority of the “Watch Tower” articles which have been referred to in this post, have been written by Br. Charles Taze Russell — the Laodicean (7th Church Period) Messenger of the Book of Revelation.

Suggested Further Reading

“Are We Actual Or Reckoned New Creatures?” The Reprints (No. 5325) of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ Second Presence.

“The Ransom.” by Br. David Rice. Faithbuilders Fellowship Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2007/02_ma_07.pdf

“Bread and Cup” by Br. James Parkinson. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, March-April 2018.

“Jesus The Name.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

“Who Is the World’s Ransom and Why?”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/29/who-is-the-worlds-ransom-and-why/?share=press-this&nb=1

“Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

 

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1 THESSALONIANS 5:18 – Give Thanks In All Circumstances

love.jpg

Thankfulness for the Heavenly Father’s limitless love and mercy aids in the growth in grace and develop “the fruits” of God’s character — “(22) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Some one has suggested that these fruits of the spirit of God might be defined as the following:

  1. Joy — is Love exultant;
  2. Peace — is Love in repose;
  3. Longsuffering — is Love enduring;
  4. Gentleness — is Love in society;
  5. Goodness — is Love in action;
  6. Faithfulness — is Love on the battlefield of life.
  7. Meekness — is Love in resignation.
  8. Temperance — is Love in training.

[See “Studies in the Scriptures” Volume 6, page 186.]

Praising God for Your Current Situation

“Since as Christians we have learned that it is our privilege to be always rejoicing — to rejoice evermore and in everything give thanks — we need not, like the world, wait for special manifestations of Divine favor to call forth our praise, our homage of heart and our grateful obedience to the Lord. Rather, learning that Divine providence is in all of our affairs, ready to shape them for our good, we may rejoice ‘whatever lot we see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth us.’ Someone has well said: ‘If we are not ready to praise God where we are, and with our conditions and circumstances as they are, we should not be likely to praise Him if we were differently circumstanced and our conditions just that which now seems to us most desirable. Daniel could sleep better in the den of lions than Darius in the royal palace; he who could not find rest in a lion’s den, when that was the place for him, could not gain rest by a mere removal to a palace’ ” (“From Philippi To Athens,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Aug. 1921).

It is our own self which must be changed, not our circumstances or our possessions, in order to for us to have a heart that overflows with joy and praise.

How do you change self? 

(1) ASK God for help —

James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Before reading any further, please take a moment now, to pray to the Heavenly Father through Christ, asking for God’s Divine help in your matter … concerning your current situation — asking for God’s help to be pleasing to Him, thankful for your current circumstances as ALL THINGS are WORKING OUT FOR YOUR GOOD according to Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

(2) APPLY EFFORT

Attaining a crown of glory is dependent upon our progress in Christ. Effort is required, as indicated in the following Scriptures:

  • “(13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).
  • “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:11).

What Should We Be Thankful For?

For a start, we have an eternal gratefulness for being blessed with the richest favors of divine grace in that knowledge of Divine Truth which reveals to us the high privilege of becoming sons and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for the called and chosen and faithful according to God’s purpose.

God’s favour toward us revealed to us the hope of everlasting life, as justified, human sons of God and, we understand we have access to full restitution to the divine favor and likeness, as was at first possessed by our father Adam.

And how great was our joy when first, by faith, we claimed this precious promise for ourselves and realized that legally, through merit of the precious blood of Christ shed for our redemption, we had passed from death unto life, and that in God’s appointed time the everlasting treasure with all its attendant glory and blessing would actually be ours! But! Beyond even this, are the “exceeding great and precious promises” to those of this justified class who have been called, according to God’s purpose, to become the bride and joint-heir of his dear Son!

What a grand aspiration to attain to, that is still available to all who seek to know and please our Divine Father in every single aspect of their existence — who are seeking to fill up their void of loneliness and pain and despair with that peace of God which surpasses all understanding found from finding the best vocation in the world — offering their lives as living sacrifice unto God, and walking as Christ did, being trained to become empathetic priests of God to uplift mankind during the Millennium! To be the “spot lights” which magnify and illuminate God’s love, justice, wisdom and power is truly even now, the most joyful moments of this carnality!

What a perfect goal to aim for!

Then, in addition to all these blessings of hope and promise, we had the blessed realization during all the year, and with some of us for many years past, that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, as the Psalmist aptly represents the present life, our blessed Shepherd’s rod and staff have been our comfort and our safeguard.

How often has the friendly crook of the Shepherd’s staff protected us from wandering off into by paths and kept us in the narrow way; how his chastening rod has from time to time aroused us from dreamy lethargy and urged us on our way. And at such times we have recalled the comforting words:

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Spiritually, we have feasted on the bounties of divine favor; while in things temporal, under whatsoever circumstances we have been placed, having the assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God, we have realized that Godliness with contentment is great gain, having promise of the life that now is (so long as God wills us to remain here), and also of that which is to come.

Let us give Jehovah not only the praise of our lips, but also the incense of truly consecrated lives, throughout the year upon which we are just entering.

Dearly beloved!

With the start of this New Year, let us consecrate ourselves anew to the Lord in the sense of re-affirming and emphasizing that covenant. Tell our dear Lord that it is still our purpose to keep our ALL upon the Altar of Sacrifice during 2018 and until it is wholly consumed in His service. Then, let us proceed with studious care from day to day to pay these, our vows of Full Consecration, unto the Most High.

As we look back and with sorrow view the imperfections of even our best efforts, and then forward and see the lion-like difficulties that seem to obstruct our onward course, we will need greatly to reinforce our waning Courage with the special promises of Divine Grace to help in every time of need. We have the blessed assurance that the Lord will give strength unto his people(Psalm 29:11). “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

As soldiers under our great Captain, we have enlisted in no uncertain struggle, except our own faint-heartedness or unfaithfulness should make it so. We are fully supplied with the whole armor of God, and will be amply protected against all the fiery darts of the adversary if we accept it and carefully buckle it on; we are forewarned of all the snares and dangers that beset our onward way, so that we may avoid and overcome them; we are fully informed as to the policy and course of the Captain under whose banner we have enlisted, and of the part we are to take under his leading.

We have our Beloved Jesus’ constant presence with us, even to the end of our course. His inspiring voice may always be heard above the clash and din of battle—

  • Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE YOU the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32)
  • Be of good cheer; I have overcome!” (John 16:33)
  • Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid!” (John 14:1)
  • Greater is he that is IN you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

If we are weak and incline to faint-heartedness we have only to remember the blessed promise, “The Lord will give strength unto his people;” and by our faithfulness in the service we shall glorify God and he will deliver us gloriously from all our foes, both seen and unseen.

How To Pay Our Vows?

When we consecrated ourselves fully to the Lord, we made a promise to God that we would hold nothing back for self.

Our consecration to God, includes:

ALL our possessions, our time, our physical energies and our mental attainments; the sacrifice of ALL our former earthly ambitions, hopes and aims, so that we should no longer pursue them to any extent. This, and nothing less, is what our vow of Full Consecration signifies.

It also signifies, further, that these possessions or personal qualifications, which the Lord terms talents, are not only to be released from the service of the worldly ambitions, etc., but that they are to be so released, not for aimless inactivity, but for the purpose of being utilized in an opposite direction—in the service of God, of his plan and of his children.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Lord illustrated very clearly how we are expected to pay our vows of consecration to the Most High. He says, “It is like a man who, intending to travel, called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his respective capacity; and straightway took his journey.”

Here are some Bible verses that teach us something important about thankfulness.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever. A Psalm for giving thanks.

(1) Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
(2) Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
(3) Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(4) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
(5) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)  — “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Ephesians 5:18-20 (ASV) —”Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”

Psalm 136:26 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Psalm 106:1 (KJV) — “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Psalm 107:1 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV) — “(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

John 6:11 (KJV) — “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”

Colossians 4:2 (KJV) — “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”

Psalm 28:7 (KJV) — “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”

Psalm 116:17 (KJV) — “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

Colossians 3:17 (KJV) — “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV) — “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

1 Corinthians 15:57 (KJV) — “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 95:2 (KJV) — “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”

Psalm 92:1 (KJV) — “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:”

Revelation 11:17 (KJV) — “Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”

Colossians 3:15 (KJV) — “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

1 Chronicles 29:13 (KJV) — “Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”

2 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV) — “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

Psalm 105:1-2 (KJV)“(1) O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. (2) Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.”

Psalm 30:4 (KJV) — “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”

Psalm 69:30 (KJV) — “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

Acknowledgment/References:

The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s PresenceReprint 3695
http://www.htdbv8.com/1906/r3695.htm

The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s PresenceReprint 3135-3138
http://www.htdbv8.com/1903/r3135.htm

“From Philippi To Athens,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Aug. 1921
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1921_8.htm#_Toc517709610

The Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one/

Suggested Further Reading

“1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 – Prayer – The ‘Oxygen’ for the New Creature in Christ.” BIBLE Students DAILY post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/04/1-thessalonians-516-18-prayer-the-oxygen-for-the-new-creature-in-christ/

“The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.” BIBLE Students DAILY post. https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

“Thanksgiving in our Hearts” — Adapted, David Steindl-Rast, “Before Turning out the Lights.” The Beauties of the Truth Periodical, Nov. 2003. http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2003nov.pdf

“Thanksgiving For Spiritual Blessings” by Br. Jerry Moore in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2009/09nd_3.htm

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/01/03/1-thessalonians-518-thankfulness/

 

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SONG OF SOLOMON 2:1, 2, 16; 4:5 – The Rose of Sharon & the Lily of the Valleys

roses and liies in the bible-bsd

What is the “rose of Sharon” and who is “the lily of the valleys” as mentioned in the Song of Solomon? We begin with some background.

The Song of Solomon

The “Song of Solomon” (also titled the “Song of Songs” or “Canticles”) was written by King Solomon, who represents Jesus as King after his ascent to the Divine realm. Here Christ Jesus, our prospective bridegroom (Matthew 25:6), speaks in the form of a melodic song, to his “Bride,” “the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10, Romans 8:33) who answers him as his “Love.”

The “rose of Sharon”likely is not a rose as we know the flower. It may have been a crocus, tulip, hibiscus, lily, white daisy or some other flower that grows in a field. (We include a brief discussion about this with flower images later in the post.) Jesus may have spoken of this when he referred to the “lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27,28), meaning some humbler but delicate flower.

Song of Solomon 2:1 (RSV) — “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

In the above verse, the prospective Bride of Christ is speaking. Notice that in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the text says not “the rose,” but “a rose,” and it is likewise in the NIV. This indicates humility. In other words, “I am a common, lowly flower of the low lands.”

“It is the bride, then, who is here declaring that she is as one of these common or ordinary flowers of which there were so many. She says, in effect, ‘I am no different and no better than my companions, my sisters, in this great floral throng’ ” (F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1”).

The rose and the lily are to be thought of in the collective sense: the “valleys” (plural) would have more than one lily, for example. Many flowers, a class of flowers, is referred to. The virgin class, these common little flowers, realize that God has called them as individuals into His family, and perhaps in time they see why He has picked them because they are poor in spirit, meek, though rich in faith. When they realize that they have this faith, they have a measure of confidence and hope that He really has called them. The HOLY ONE who inhabiteth eternity dwells with the lowly and contrite in heart (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).

Song of Solomon 2:2 — “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”

As mentioned earlier, in verse 1 the virgin class has said “I am the lily of the valleys.” Now, in verse 2, Christ Jesus is, as if, responding, Yes, you are as the lily, but you are amidst thorns.

“He proceeds once again to tell her of what and how he thinks of her… ‘As the lily among thorns’ she is seen in harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation (Philippians 2:15) … She isin moral contrast with all her surroundings; He adds no more; His words, though few, give her heart to know that He is content with her; she is what He can delight in; no more is needed.

“The Lord would have her follow in His footsteps; as she beholds Him in His beauty, in His fragrance, and His humility, she hears Him say: ‘As I am, so are ye in the world. He that saith He abideth in Me ought himself also to walk even as I walked.’ [See 1 John 2:6.] To be like unto him, she must go down into the fertile Valleys, and there must she abide. She must draw strength and nourishment from the hidden springs and the rich soil of His Word, and His life must flow into her until she blossoms out in His likeness” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).

The beautiful lily has no thorns growing upon her. In her words, there is nothing which is sharp, to wound her Lord or those around her. There are no unkind actions growing upon this plant that is being prepared for the Garden of Heaven. There are no unworthy, uplifted attributes found upon the one whom God will choose as the bride of His Son. She [her character] must be:

  • harmless, yet steadfast,
  • humble, yet standing in pure dignity,
  • upright and beautiful,
  • maintaining the Faith once for all delivered unto the saints,
  • spotless and fragrant.

“Each lily in the company stands for His glory and His delight alone. He has invited many to be the bride; but though many have received the invitation, only a few will He choose” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

The Thorns– Who or what do these represent?

“The ‘thorns’ would be not only worldly people but professed Christians. The ‘daughters’ are the same ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ in Song of Solomon 1:5 and 2:7. Even among nominal Christians who have similar hopes,the virgin class appear as fanatics and oddballs. ‘So is my love among the daughters.’ The word ‘love’ is ‘friend’ in the Hebrew, but of course it has a much deeper meaning than our English word. We sing, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus,’ but he is singing, ‘What a friend I have in my consecrated followers’ ” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

Song of Solomon 2:16 — “My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

The Bride calls Christ her “beloved.” She is saying that Christ feeds among the lilies.

“The ‘lily’ is the common little flower of the lowlands, so Jesus ‘feeds’ (has communion and fellowship) among this humble, meek class. In olden times, receiving hospitality gave one a feeling of security and protection. If you could get into the tent of an enemy and converse with him and plead for mercy, he would never kill you. The safest place would be in the house of the enemy. George Washington, with all of his problems, had a rule that during dinner no strife or unpleasantness could mar the peace or be discussed. A principle of ancient times was not to bring problems to the table of fellowship” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Songs of Solomon).

“Having once again turned her face toward her dearly beloved Bridegroom‑to‑be, she feels herself reassured, and very happy, yet still too possessive; for she says, as it were, to herself, ‘My Beloved is mine.’ But she is destined to grow both in grace and in the knowledge of her Lord (2 Peter 3:18), until she is able to say I am my beloved’s; and my beloved is mine’ (Song of Solomon 6:3). In the meantime she will have to strive earnestly to make herself really worthy of becoming one day, the Lamb’s wife! True, she has been ‘called’; yea, she has even been ‘chosen’ so to speak; but to be with Him as His Beloved, throughout all the ages of eternity, will depend uponher being‘faithful’(Revelation 17:14). This is a faithfulness in her love of,and for, Him; to have doves’ eyes, to see none other, ever, but ever and always Jesus only!” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

“She now beholds Him ‘feeding among the lilies.’ In her soliloquy she mentions this, noting that He is almost invariably found ‘feeding among the lilies.’ Regardless of what the flower here referred to may have been, it was undoubtedly intended to represent the ‘pure in heart’ who shall one day see God (Matthew 5:8) — those, who like the wild flowers of the field neither toil nor spin[with distressful anxiety] but who, in accepting whatever divine providence may permitto come unto them, are arrayed even now, in garments whose glory and beauty transcend that of Solomon’s (Matthew 6:28‑29). The espoused virgin seems now to sense the fact that like unto Jehovah of old, who was fed by way of the willing sacrifices of His people upon His altar (See Leviticus 21:17‑21, Psalm 50:14, Hebrews 13:15), so too, her beloved was ‘feeding’ upon the loving consecrations and dedications of the pure in heart. The ‘sweet fragrance’ of these ‘lilies’ is to her beloved, as was the ‘sweet savor’ of the burnt‑offerings and peace‑offerings to Jehovah of old! He gathers the lilies in chapter 6. He delights to gather the saints (who are called lilies) together, and then He comes down to feed among them. He comes into the companies of His saints, when they are thus gathered, to get something for Himself” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 31).

Song of Solomon 4:5 — “Thy two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.”

The suggestion that the roes “feed among the lilies” is a most beautiful one. The roes are enriched in life and health by what they feed upon; and this shows in their beauty and grace, as well as in the fleetness of foot.

roe.jpg

The roe or gazelle is the smallest animal of the antelope kind; it is only about two feet in height, and not more than half the size of the fallow‑deer. Its eyes are remarkably soft and expressive. It is noted for its swiftness in 1 Chronicles 12:8, speaking of men who were “as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” In 2 Samuel 2:18, “Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.” In the Song of Solomon 2:9, “The voice of my beloved! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills: my beloved is like a roe or a young hart.”

two roes.jpg

Whatever goodness and cheer can flow out of the fully consecrated child of God into the lives of others, is but the outgrowth, the result, of what one in Christ feeds upon “among the lilies,” among the consecrated saints of God, in their gatherings, when and wherever these fellowship in the Lord. And, of course, this is what shows, for not only are her “breasts” beautiful and graceful, but they are full of wholesome “nourishment” for others. We cannot help but here think of an expression used by the Apostle Paul when writing to the beloved at Thessalonica:

“I was like a mother that lovingly nurses her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, Way’s Translation).

“The ‘two breasts’ speak of affections that are balanced. They set forth symbolically the tenderness and sensitiveness of spiritual affections. Grace governing the heart, would secure this; the one who loves God would love his brother also; and there would be no partialities as to the truth, no attaching ourselves to one aspect of the truth in such a way as to lose interest in the whole circle of truth” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

The fleetness of foot, and the sensitivity to anything unwholesome or harmful, reflects the disposition in the character of the espoused virgin. In order to love, and to do good unto others, regardless as to who or what they may be (Galatians 6:10), she must not allow herself to remain for any length of time in an atmosphere that might cause the flow of her loving kindness toward any to be stopped, or even retarded. To this end, all professing to be saints of God should guard themselves against “bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking” so as to remain “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:31,32). The prayer that should ever remain on the lips of the espoused virgin should be:

“I want a principle within
Of jealous godly fear;
A sensitivity of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
“Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make:
Awake my soul, when sin is nigh,
And keep my soul awake.”

Roes are timid creatures, sensitive to any disturbance and ready to flee from it on swift foot. The Lord wishes us to cultivate and exhibit affections that are delicately sensitive, that are quickly alarmed by the approach of anything that is of the world or the flesh or the devil. This holy sensitiveness can only be preserved as it is nourished upon appropriate food. The garbage of the world is fatal to it. The fawns “feed among the lilies.” This is where He feeds His flock (Song of Solomon 2:16, 6:3). If the spouse is herself a “lily among the thorns,” her affections must feed in conditions that correspond with her true character. How refined the purity of such a feeding‑place! A place where one is surrounded by a beauty and glory that has been directly conferred by God. Where all is in contrast to the thorns around, and is marked by harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness. (See Philippians 2:12‑15.) In such conditions spiritual affections can be suitably nourished. They are conditions which do not pertain to the world nor to nature; they belong to a sphere where all is the product of grace [God’s loving kindness; unmerited/undeserved favor] (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

“Still blushing profusely under the barrage of the sweet things He has been saying to her, she fain would change the subject. She, therefore, interrupts Him, to tell Him that it will not be too long to wait ere she shall be His forever — to have and to hold! “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

“It is still night, and the time of His rejection, but we are not children of the night. As children of the day we ardently long for it to come, but there can be no day until He appears who alone can usher it in. Then we shall have done with the night and shadows. Until then, the bride will seek those things which are above, and set her affections on things above, not on things on earth. She wants to be above this world (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).

Meaning of “Rose of Sharon”

From an Old Testament place name, “Sharon” in Hebrew means “plain,” referring to the fertile plain near the coast of Israel.

Here are two maps of the Plain of Sharon in Israel. The area is fertile and is near the Golan Heights, which belongs to Israel since 1967. (Some think it contains high oil reserves —more oil here, than in all of Saudi Arabia. If so, perhaps this will be a factor inducing Gog’s attack on Israel in the future.)

Flowers growing in such a low‑lying terrain aptly reflect the “beauty” and the “fragrance” of Him, who, though once in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, made in the likeness of man. “Being found in fashion as a man, [he] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the [humiliating] death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6‑8).

“Our Lord Jesus, ‘the beginning of the creation of God,’ was willing in harmony with the Father’s plan to humble himself, to take a lower nature and to do a work which would imply not only a great deal of humiliation, but also a great deal of pain and suffering. The Apostle points out how the ‘Only Begotten’ proved his willingness and humility by complying with this arrangement; and that after he became a man he continued of the same humble spirit, willing to carry out the divine plan to the very letter, by dying as man’s ransom‑price; and not only so — when it pleased the Father to require that the death should be a most ignominious one in every respect, perhaps beyond the requirements of the ransom merely, he did not draw back, but said: ‘Thy will not mine be done,’ and stooped even to the ignominious ‘death of the cross’ ” (R2228:2).

What kind of flower was the “rose of Sharon” and the “lily of the valleys”?

The “rose of Sharon” is a name that has been applied to several different species of flowering plants that are valued in different parts of the world. The identity of the plant referred to in the Bible is unclear and is disputed among biblical scholars. Wikipedia says that it does not refer to actual roses, although one of the species it refers to in modern usage is a member of Rosaceae.

The Hebrew phrase was translated by the KJV editors as “rose of Sharon.” However, the Septuagint and the Vulgate render it simply as “the flower of the field.”The Hebrew word occurs three times in the scriptures (here in the Song of Solomon, Isaiah 65:10,Isaiah 35:1). The last one reads “the desert shall rejoice and bloom as the rose.” Here, the word rendered “rose” in the KJV is rendered “lily” (Septuagint, Vulgate and Wycliffe), “jonquil” (Jerusalem Bible), and “crocus” (RSV). Varying scholars have suggested that the biblical “rose of Sharon” may be one of the following plants:

(1) A crocus — “a kind of crocus growing as a lily among the brambles” (“Sharon,” Harper’s Bible Dictionary) or a crocus that grows in the coastal plain of Sharon (New Oxford Annotated Bible). Gesenius has no doubt that the plant denoted is the Colchicum autumnale (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible).

Colchicum Autumnale.jpg

(2) A tulip — “a bright red tulip‑like flower… today prolific in the hills of Sharon” (“Rose”, Harper’s Bible Dictionary).

tulip.jpg

(3) Tulipa agenensis — the Sharon tulip, a species of tulip suggested by a few botanists.

Tulipa Agenensis - Sharon Tulip.jpg

(4) A lily, Lilium candidum, more commonly known as the Madonna lily, a species of lily suggested by some botanists, thought likely to refer to the “lily of the valleys” mentioned in the second part of Song of Solomon 2:1.

Lilium Candidum.jpg

(5) (Polyanthus) Narcissus — “Rose,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.

Polyanthus Narcissus

Etymologists have tentatively linked the biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning “bulb,” and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either “pungent” or “splendid” (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon).

From Smith’s Dictionary: “It appears to us more probable that the narcissus is intended than the crocus. The narcissus and the lily (Lilium candidum) would be in blossom together in the early spring, while the Colchicum is an autumn plant.”

(6) Marshmallows — “W.M. Thomson, in The Land and the Book suggests that what is really referred to by the rose of Sharon is the marsh‑mallow” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).

Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus

“The Lilies of the Field” (Luke 12:27, 28)

(7) Anthemis palestina — Better known as the common daisy, dots the fields of Palestine after the rains. Dr. Ha‑Reubeni (Professor of Biblical Botany, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) points out (Nature Magazine, December 1934) that it is “beautiful at all hours of the day, even when old and drying. When it has dried up, it is gathered with the dried grass and cast into the furnace.” He adds “the daisy has a crown, which gives special aptitude to the comparison with Solomon, the crowned King.”

Anthemis Palestina.jpg

(8) AnemoneAccording to F. A. Shuttleworth (in “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, April 1958) in the Eastern world, the lily of the valleys is that flower known in the West as the anemone with its rich petals of red and purple. Here is an image of these (below).

anemone flower.jpg

What do all these flowers have in common?

All these flowers have things in common: simplicity, in natural beauty that reflects God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18); sweet fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15), that reflects the sweetness of cheerful, willing, patiently enduring sacrifice to bring glory to God by accepting and doing the Heavenly Father’s will; joy, which is infectious, as it brings joy to all who look at their beauty of colour. Their head is either bowed low, reminding us of humble reverence in seeking to know and do the Heavenly Father’s will through Christian servitude in the School of Christ, or held high, reflecting saints who hold high our “head,” Christ Jesus. May God be praised, honored, and glorified in all that is done to please Him through Christ (Matthew 5:16).

References

Br. Charles Taze Russell, Reprints (R) of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. These Reprints can be read online at The Harvest Truth Data Base (Version 9) website here: www.htdb.one

Br. Anton Frey, “Notes on the Song of Solomon.” These study notes are from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD which can be purchased from The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Bookstore at the following link: https://herald-magazine.com/bookstore-2/

Br. Frank Shallieu, “Notes on the Song of Solomon.” These study notes are also from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD. (Same link as above.)

F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, April 1958. Here is the direct link: http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1958_4.htm#_Toc36391359

Suggested Further Reading

“The Song of Solomon” by Br. David Rice. The Beauties of the Truth Periodical http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY02.PDF

“I Am My Beloved’s, and My Beloved Is Mine.” The Dawn Magazine, Sept. 1989, in the Christian Life and Doctrine section.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1989/8909cl-4.htm

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1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 – Prayer – The “Oxygen” for the New Creature in Christ.

 

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“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense.” Psalm 141:2

This is the same thought elsewhere expressed in the Bible—that the prayers of God’s people rise up before him as a sweet perfume (Revelation 5:8).

The incense of old, which typified the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3), was composed of a rare mixture of spices, giving forth a peculiarly sweet odor and nobody was allowed to make that incense except the priests who were to offer it (Exodus 30:34-38; 37:29).

Aaron, brother of Moses and the first High Priest of Israel

Thus again the Lord shows us that the privilege of prayer, of approaching him in an acceptable manner, and praying directly to the Heavenly Father through Christ, is confined to the anti-typical priests, called by Apostle Peter the “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

“Only those of the Lord’s people who have consecrated their lives to him, even unto death, are thus represented as members of the sacrificing priesthood, to whom the Apostle wrote, saying, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, and your reasonable service’ (Romans 12:1). The Lord has pledged to this particular class that he will hear them… he will answer them—not necessarily according to their natural preferences, but he will heed the spirit of their cry and give to them, according to his wisdom, the experiences and blessings most helpful” (R5692).

Luke 18:1 reads “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Prayer is the attempt to gain access to the presence of God, and to hold communion with him, and thus, prayer prepares the way for divine blessing and superlative joys (Volume 6, Studies in the Scriptures, p. 679).

“In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore,” declares the prophet (Psalm 16:11).

We must not grow disheartened and discouraged because of the delay in the answer to our prayers.

“Consider Jesus lest ye be weary and faint in your minds,” “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Hebrew 12:3; Galatians 6:9).

The Motive Behind our Prayers

The Apostle James speaks of some who offer improper petitions. He says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).

The word lusts here signifies desires.

“We are not to ask to gratify fleshly desires. An example of this, could be praying to the Heavenly Father to send us a million dollars, telling Him that we knew what to do with the money, and how to use it in His work. The Lord probably would not give it—for we would probably be asking amiss. But it might be that we would think that we were asking wisely.

“Whenever we ask anything from the Lord, we should scrutinize our motives to see if there is any personality connected with the matter. In our own case we should ask ourselves: Do we want that million dollars in order that we may shine in the use of it? If so, such a prayer would be a grossly improper prayer. We might offer such a prayer at the beginning of our Christian experience, and the Father would not chide us for it. We would excuse a child for doing what we would not excuse in one of adult years.

“In respect to this matter of prayer our Lord gives us a cue. It is this:

“If ye abide in Me and My Words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

“For God’s Word to abide in us implies that we have a knowledge of God’s Word. This necessitates the studying of the Word of God, that we may know what to pray for… We should consider what the Word of God teaches on this subject, and if any one has become well acquainted with the Word of God, he should know whether or not he has met the conditions which will sanctify his prayer. It is only after he has come to this position that he may continue to make his request, nothing doubting. But very likely he will then find that he has not a very large list of petitions that he can present” (R5311).

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The New Creature’s Greatest Need

In order to pray properly, the child of God should know what he may pray for. The things that the heavenly Father is pleased to give to his children are heavenly things.

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“The new creature is on trial for the new nature—for glory, honor, immortality. And he can receive these only as he is worthy. The terms on which he is received into spiritual relationship with the Father are that he shall mortify, deaden, the earthly impulses and seek to have the spiritual impulses quickened (R5311).

With persistence in our petitions to God we will know what is proper to pray for by studying the words of Jesus and the apostles and the prophets of old. The spirit-begotten ones may thus understand what are the rights and privileges of sons of God. To these the Heavenly Father is more willing to give the holy Spirit than earthly parents are willing to give good gifts to their children (Matthew 7:11).

“The holy Spirit is the one thing which the new creature needs” (R.5310).

Thus, the most important thing that the New Creature in Christ is to pray for, is for the holy Spiritthe spirit of holiness, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Truth, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of love. The Master’s words are, “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good (earthly) gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

God is particularly willing to give us the holy Spirit, and especially pleased that we ask for it.

This does not mean that earthly interests will be ignored, since our Heavenly Father knows perfectly what things of an earthly character we have need of, just as He knows what we have need of for our spiritual welfare (R5311).

The child of God should feel that it is a privilege to have the Lord’s approval of every thought, every act, and every word (R5310).

“What we do is God’s work, not ours… Today the Lord may be leading us by the still waters and in green pastures… Tomorrow the pathway may be thorny and through rough places. Thus day by day we grow in knowledge and grow in love, and we should be ready for whatever experiences may come to us: ‘Content whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me’ ” (R5312).

The prayer of one who asks only in harmony with the Lord’s Word is certain to be answered.

“It is best not to use any set form of words in prayer, but merely to think in advance what you desire of the Spirit—more faith, more patience, more meekness, more love.

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Praying For Wisdom

In James 1:5, we are encouraged to pray for wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not.” 

By this wisdom we may be enabled to speak and act in a way that will be helpful to others.

“In order to have the holy Spirit in large measure, we must keep near to the Lord… The illumination of the Spirit will… become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections and to the degree of our consecration to the Lord. This we manifest by the zeal with which we study his will as expressed in his Word, and with which we practice that will in the affairs of life. These are the means by which we may supply the oil to keep our light burning brightly. But while we are endeavoring to do this, we must see to it that we do not come into contact with anything which will tend to extinguish the flame of sacred love in our hearts.

“The world, the flesh and the devil are all in opposition to the light of the holy Spirit. To whatever extent they are brought into contact with the light, to that extent they smother itt. We should ever be on our guard lest we allow anything to dim or to extinguish our love for the Lord, for the truth or for holiness and Christ- likeness” (R5129, R5130).

What else should be prayed for and what are the effects of this?

Here are suggestions of what we are to pray for.

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Our affections must be upon the spiritual food—upon the bread which came down from heaven and upon all the precious promises of God of which Christ is the center and substance. These we must seek, these we must appropriate; and for these, therefore, the substance of our prayers will be. Thus our watching, praying and daily seeking will be in full accord. Moreover, thanksgiving must largely take the place of requests, from the time that we learn of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine provision, for both the New Creation and for our dear ones according to the flesh, and for all the families of the earth. What could we ask for more or better than God has already promised?

Daily breadBut is not this something for the flesh?  This is a necessity, and the Lord has warranted us in praying for our necessities.

“We are to use our judgment the best we may; yet we are not to trust to our own efforts alone, but to the Lord’s supervising care. If, therefore, the temporal supply be scant, we are to learn the lesson of frugality and care of what we have.

“We should learn very early in life not to be wasteful. When Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes, and then instructed his disciples to take up the remainder of these in their baskets, he illustrated his economy.

“We are to eat with thankfulness what we have, if it is merely bread and water, or potatoes and salt. There is nothing to indicate that we are to ask for pie or cake or ice-cream, but for the necessities. If in God’s providence He furnishes the necessities and withholds the luxuries, then we are to be satisfied, to be thankful (R5311).

Let us also ask ourselves daily: Did we waste anything today? Did we eat too much today—twice as much as we had need for? “If so, the Lord will probably teach you some lesson, and it will be for your good as a New Creature. But if you have used wisdom and economy, He will provide the things needful. As the Prophet says, “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (R5311).

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Deliverance from the Evil One—which should lead us to see that there is an Evil One, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to resist his attacks successfully. We need the Lord’s help at all times, and we need to pray continually and not to faint (R5311).

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Forgiveness of our trespasses daily—which are the result of our fleshly imperfections. “Our trespasses of the flesh today should be a great deal less than similar trespasses with us ten years ago or five years or even one year ago” (R5311).

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God’s Kingdom to come—By praying without doubting it, we are strengthening in our faith more and more.

“Let our affections be set on things above, and not on things beneath—upon the robe of Christ’s righteousness and our future glorious apparel, when we shall be like our Lord and see him as he is, rather than on earthly apparel” (R5311).

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Express thanks for Divine care and to request a continuance of the same.

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Prayer and praise should always go up to heaven arm in arm, like twin angels walking up Jacob’s ladder, or like kindred aspirations soaring up to the Most High” (Spurgeon).

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“The prayers recorded in the Bible are generally not lengthy. God accepts as our prayers all the good thoughts and sentiments of our minds, as well as those expressed by our tongues” (R5311).

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Pray for each otherIn relation to this point, “the Editor” in the Reprints (R2576) of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, writes an encouraging comment in relation to a letter received from a Brother in Christ (i.e. Br. W. E. Vanamburgh from South Dakota, USA):

“We cannot express in words our deep appreciation of the love of the brethren so often expressed in their letters… We assure these dear brethren and all that their love is most heartily reciprocated. We love the brethren and take pleasure in laying down our life in their service. We are glad to know that you remember us and the Lord’s ‘harvest work,’ which he as been pleased to center here in Allegheny, in your prayers. If we may judge from the letters received, thousands of prayers ascend daily on our behalf. We cannot tell you how deeply we appreciate this: it keeps us humble as we remember our needs, and it strengthens us as we remember the Lord’s sufficiency and his willingness to pour out his blessings in answer to your prayers and ours.

These prayers and the divine power to which they are attached are to our hearts a bulwark against the many Satan-blinded foes who beset you and us continually because of our loyalty to the Lord and his Word.”

“The Scriptures not only encourage public and audible prayers amongst the Lord’s people, but point out, also, that he who prays should remember his audience in connection with his ministry, and perform the service so that he who hears may be able to say ‘Amen,’ whether audibly or in his heart” (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) (Volume 6, Studies in the Scriptures, page 688).

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem“They shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6).

These words are as true of the Heavenly Jerusalem (government of peace) and her children of peace, as they are of the earthly Jerusalem—which now is, and is in bondage with her children (Galatians 4:25).

“But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26).

“Those who are praying the Lord’s blessing upon his cause are seeking to serve it and are proportionately blessed. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of Zion and the Lord’s cause now, are standing in a slippery place and are in great danger of falling” (R2071).

“The true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Worship “in spirit and in truth” does not apply simply to prayer, praise, supplication and thanks giving. It goes deeper than all these. It takes hold upon the affections, upon the heart, and hence signifies not an act of worship but rather a life of worshipa life in which, through the begetting of the spirit and the knowledge of the divine plan, the individual becomes so at-one with God and all the features of the plan of God that it is, in the words of our Lord, his meat and his drink to do the Father’s will. This is worship in spirit and in truth. It will find its expression… also in all the acts and words of life (R2071).

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Pray for God’s will to be done. 

“We are not to tell God what to do for we have no means of knowing what is His will in matters in general.

“Our Lord Jesus did not pray in a mandatory fashion. With his petitions, he said, “Not My will, but Thine, be done”—I have no will of my own; for I have given up my will and I desire to have Thy will done. This is a prayer of full submission. It did not mean that our Lord did not pray in faith, nor that he would not get what he desired. It meant that he desired to learn the Father’s will; and he learned that the Father willed that he should drink the cup of suffering to the very dregs” (R5203).

Results of Prayer

It is the privilege of the Lord’s people to ask in order that they may have fullness of joy and the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” rejoicing greatly in hope of the glorious things which the Father has in store for us and which the holy Spirit reveals through the Word.

“The joyful Christian is the thankful Christian. The thankful Christian is the one who is making the best use of his life. By reason of having exercised thankfulness of heart, he will be the better prepared for the kingdom” (R5203).

It is truly an enormous privilege to have access to the presence of God, entering by faith into the Most Holy.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles T. Russell—The content of this post is derived from a combination of various Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Suggested Further Reading

The Privilege and Power of Prayer by Irwin Doran. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/pray_7.htm

Effectual Prayer by Francis Earl. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
Prayer – Effectual Prayer

Thanksgiving in our Hearts. Adapted, David Steindl-Rast. Beauties of the Truthhttp://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2003nov.pdf

Let This Cup Pass From Me by Jerry Leslie. Beauties of the Truth.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTAUG99.PDF

Hezekiah’s Song of Trust by Carl Hagensick, and Pray Without Ceasing by Peter the Damascene. The Beauties of the Truth. http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTNOV04.pdf

What Is the Purpose and Intent of Prayer; What are its Privileges and Its Limits? BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/15/what-is-the-purpose-and-intent-of-prayer-what-are-its-privileges-and-its-limits/

The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength. BIBLE Students DAILY. https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

 

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DANIEL 3:17 – Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver Us

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“Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us.” Daniel 3:17

The King of Babylon – King Nebuchadnezzar

Probably twenty years elapsed after Daniel and his companions reached Babylon in captivity before the scenes of the lesson in Daniel Chapter 3 were enacted. Meantime Daniel had been raised to a very high position in the empire, as the King’s counselor, while his three Jewish companions—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednegohad been made magistrates in the provinces of Babylon. We know that their prosperity did not tend to make them careless of their duties and responsibilities toward God, for otherwise they would not have been able to stand the severe test recounted in this lesson, and which proved a great blessing to them because of their fidelity to the Lord.

King Nebuchadnezzar just before this had won some great victories over surrounding nations—Egypt, Syria, etc.—as he had previously done with Judah, and as the Lord had predicted in the dream which Daniel had interpreted for the King, which showed the Babylonian Empire as the golden head of earthly dominion. His great success no doubt had tended to feelings of pride and a desire for display. Yet these were probably not the only motives which led to the program of the great festival in honor of his victories, and the erection of the great image which all were commanded to worship.

With a view to unifying the Babylonian empire by unifying the religious views and worship of the various peoples under his sway, Nebuchadnezzar had a great feast arranged, of which the very center of attraction was the great image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Nebuchadnezzar's image

In Daniel 3:1 we read that this image, with its pedestal, was sixty cubits high (approximately 27 metres or 8 storeys high) and six cubits wide (approximately 2.7 metres wide). It was of gold, probably either made hollow or on a base of clay cement. It was located in the Plain of Dura, about the centre of the walled enclosure twenty-four miles square, known as the city of Babylon. As it is a level country, and as the structures were comparatively low, the image could probably be seen from every part of the great city.

The Festival

The appointed time for the festival having come, leading representatives, judges, treasurers, governors, sheriffs, etc., from all the divisions of the empire, clad in the gorgeous garments of the East, were present. A great band had been prepared, composed of all the musical instruments popular at that period.

As the people stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up, the herald proclaimed aloud:

“‘You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace'” (Daniel 3:4-6).

By falling down and worshiping the image, the people would thus be indicating their loyalty, not only to King Nebuchadnezzar, but also to his gods who he believed had given him the wonderful victories which they were celebrating.

This was a crucial test for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They knew that the King’s powers were autocratic, and that to cross his will meant death in some form, yet they wanted to be true to God, whatever the cost. It might be that their refusal to prostrate themselves before the image would pass entirely unnoticed by others, or it might be that, even if noticed, the incident might never reach the ears of the King, but such circumstances could make no change in the matter of their duty; whatever others might do, they must not bow the knee to any but the true God. Daniel is omitted from mention here, possibly because, occupying a different position as one of the king’s personal staff and household, his conduct would not come so directly in contrast with the general conduct.

The Hour of Trial

Finally, the hour of trial came, when the great King of Babylon was recognized not only as civil but also as religious ruler, and the image which he had set up was worshiped by the various representatives of his empire—except Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. Their neglect to bow was quickly brought to the attention of the King, for no doubt these, like all good men, had their enemies: some enemies through jealousy and rivalry for the King’s favor; other enemies because, perhaps, they had been interrupted or hindered in dishonest practices and contracts with the government. The matter seems to have astounded the king, and hence his inquiry, Is it true, can it be true? Surely, no sane men would be so foolhardy as to oppose my decree, and that in my very presence, and upon such a fete-day as this? Not waiting an answer as respects matters of the past, the king voluntarily proposed for them a fresh test of loyalty and submission.

Perhaps the king’s mind shot a glance backward fifteen years, to the time when the God of the Hebrews, through Daniel, had told and interpreted his dream, a matter which none of the other gods of his wise men could do; and as though he had this in mind, and wishing to impress the matter upon these three Hebrews who had dared to challenge his power, he made the boast, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” In his arrogance of mind and under the flush of his mighty victories over the greatest nations and mightiest kings, Nebuchadnezzar felt prepared to have a contest even with the unseen and to him unknown invisible powers. He would not be backed down in his own capital city; he would demonstrate his power to inflict a penalty, regardless of what any of the gods might do in retaliation.

The answer of the three Hebrews was a wise one; seeing from the king’s mood that the discussion of the subject would be useless, they did not attempt to retaliate by threatening him with divine vengeance; neither did they attempt to convert the King to Judaism, knowing well that the provisions of the Jewish covenant were not for Gentiles. They simply responded that they were not anxious to avail themselves of the opportunity to argue the matter with the King. They assured him of their full confidence that their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, and out of the hand or power of even the greatest king of the earth; but they answered:

 “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Angered that his great festal day should be thus marred by even the slightest opposition to his will, the king did not wait to give another opportunity wherein the Hebrews might relent. He saw that it was useless, that they were men of character and determination, and he resolved that he would make an example of them before all the people. The form of his visage or his countenance changed toward these men; whereas once he had admired them, as amongst his ablest counselors and magistrates, and an honor to his empire, now he hated them, as opponents whose course, if not interrupted, might introduce disorder into his empire, and lead to more or less sedition, if copied by others. In his rage he commanded that the furnace be heated seven times, or to its utmost capacity. The furnace, already heated for the occasion, may have been the one used in melting the gold for the image, and must have been of immense size.

Probably as a mark of his great authority, and to show that even the very greatest of his subjects were subordinate to his supreme authority, the king commanded that these three recalcitrant officials be cast into the fiery furnace by prominent officers of his army—no doubt to teach a lesson respecting the power of the army, and the willingness of its chief representatives to serve the king, as against everybody else.

The Hebrews, bound in their official garb, were evidently cast into the furnace from the top, because it is stated that they fell down bound, while the heat was so intense that it even killed those who cast them into the furnace, possibly by the inhalation of the flames, which might kill them instantly.

The King seemed to be having matters his own way, as usual; even the mighty God of the Hebrews had not delivered these men from his power. And yet the King was solicitous and eyed the furnace, and to his surprise beheld those who had been cast into the furnace bound, walking about free in the flames—seemingly uninjured. More than this, he saw a fourth person there, of most remarkable appearance, which caused the King to think and speak of him as one of the gods. No wonder he was astonished; he was evidently contending with a God of whose powers he had been ignorant.

Nebuchadnezzar realized he had made a great mistake in attempting the destruction of three of his most eminent magistrates, and that he was thus defying the great God. He was prompt to make acknowledgement, and approached the furnace, calling out, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” In the presence of the king’s courtiers they came forth, and all beheld them that the fire had done them no injury, not even having singed their clothes or their hair. This was indeed a stupendous miracle, and doubtless was valuable in its influence, not only upon the Gentiles, but also upon the Hebrews residing throughout Babylon, who would thus hear of the power of Jehovah in delivering those faithful to him.

Whether this had a bearing on the subject or not, we know well that, while idolatry had been one of the chief sins of the Israelites before this captivity, there was comparatively little of idolatry in its crude forms in that nation afterward.

Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgement of the God of the Hebrews, who sent his messenger and delivered his servants that trusted in him, is very simple and very beautiful. He rejoiced in the noble character of these men, and at once made a decree:

“Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way(Daniel 3:30).

And furthermore, he promoted these faithful men to still higher positions, for they had still more of his confidence respecting their integrity.

Men who would thus hazard their lives for conscience’ sake could be trusted in the most important positions.

Lessons From This Bible Account

The Lord’s people may find in this Biblical story many valuable lessons and suggestions. Not all of God’s people are in such prominent positions as were these Hebrews; and not many have testings of exactly the same kind as were theirs, with a literal fiery furnace before their eyes. Nevertheless, there are trials before the Lord’s people today that are fully as severe.

Babylon the literal was in ruins long before the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos was shown in prophetic vision the mystic or symbolic Babylon “which reigneth over the kings of the earth” today. The provinces of Babylon today are the various civilized nations—really “kingdoms of this world;” but deluded into calling themselves and thinking themselves kingdoms of Christ—“Christendom.” And parallels to the King and the image are also presented in Revelation—they are religious systems symbolically described as “the beast [Papacy] and his image” (Revelation 13:15-18).

The worship of this symbolic beast and his image are to be the great test or trial upon professing Christians in every province of symbolic Babylon in the end of this age and indeed, the testing is even now in progress. Only those who refuse to render worship to those powerfully influential religious systems (symbolized by “the beast and his image”) will be counted by the Lord as “overcomers” and be made his joint-heirs as members of his elect Church (Revelation 20:4).

As already pointed out, the “beast” represents not Roman Catholics (the people) but the Roman Catholic system, as an institution: and the image represents not Protestants (the people) but the consolidation of Protestant systems, as an institution. Those who absolutely refuse to worship its images are already exposed to fiery trials;—social ostracism and financial boycotts. Prominent amongst these is:

The Roman Catholic idolthat church sets itself as the representative of God, and demands worship, obedience and contribution to its funds;

The Greek Catholic Church idol: the Anglican is another; and the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.all similarly demand worship, obedience and revenue. They have “pooled their issues,” to a certain extent, so as not to war upon each other’s devotees, but they unite in warfare against all who do not bow the knee to some such idol (who reverence and worship only the Almighty God, and recognize his only begotten Son as the only Head and Lord of the true Church, whose names are only written in heaven—not on earthly rolls of membership (Hebrews 12:23).

In the “dark ages,” when Papacy had a monopoly of the “church” business, it meant torture and the stake, as well as social ostracism. Today, in many instances there are evidences that the same spirit prevails, merely restrained by changed circumstances and lack of power. Thousands today are worshiping at the various shrines of Christendom who in their hearts long to be free from the sectarian bondage of fear—who fain would serve the Lord God only, had they the courage. And there are some the world over who, with a courage not less than that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, declare publicly that the Lord God alone shall have the worship and the service which they can render. None, perhaps, know better than the writer the various fiery experiences to which these faithful few are exposedboycotted socially, boycotted in business, slandered in every conceivable manner, and often by those of whom they had least expected it, who, according to the Lord’s declaration, say “all manner of evil against them falsely” (Matthew 5:11,12).

But with these, as with the three Hebrews of our lesson, the chief trial is in connection with their faith; after they have taken a firm stand for the Lord and his truth they may indeed be bound and have their liberties of speech and of effort restrained, and they may indeed be cast into the fiery furnace, but nothing more than these things can be done to them. As soon as they have demonstrated their fidelity to God to this extent, their trials and troubles are turned into blessings and joys. As the form of the Son of God was seen with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, so unseen, the Lord is present with those who trust him and who, because of faithfulness to him and to his Word, come into tribulation. How beautifully this is expressed in the familiar hymn,

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

And sometimes even the worldly can realize that the Lord’s people in the furnace of affliction are receiving a blessing, and sometimes thus our Heavenly Father’s name is glorified in the world, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s experience.

Sometimes the Lord’s people who are bound, restrained of liberty to proclaim the truth, find, as did those Hebrews, that the fire burns the cords and sets them free, and really gives them larger opportunities to testify to the glory of our God than they could have had by any other course.

The Lord’s providences vary, and it is not for his people to decide when shall come remarkable deliverances, and when they shall apparently be left entirely to the will of their enemies without any manifestation of divine favor on their behalf.

Note, for instance, the fact that, while the Lord interposed to deliver these three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, he did not interpose to prevent the beheading of John the Baptist, although of the latter it is specifically declared, “There hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” We remember that, while Peter was delivered from prison by the angel of the Lord, James was not delivered, but was beheaded. We remember also that Paul’s life was miraculously preserved on several occasions, and that the Apostle John, according to tradition, was once cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped uninjured, while on other occasions dire disaster came upon the Lord’s faithful ones, and that quickly, as in the case of Stephen, who was stoned.

It is not, therefore, for us to predetermine what shall be the divine providence in respect to ourselves; we are to note the point of right and duty and to follow it regardless of consequences, trusting implicitly in the Lord. This lesson is most beautifully set forth in the language of the three Hebrews, who declared to King Nebuchadnezzar that their God was entirely capable of delivering them from his power, but that, whether he chose to do so or not, they would not violate their conscience.

It is just such characters that the Lord is seeking for, and it is in order to their development and testing that multiform evil is now permitted to have sway.

While such testings have been in progress to a considerable extent throughout this entire Gospel age, the Scriptures clearly indicate to us that in some special sense all of the Lord’s people will be tested in the “harvest” or closing time of this age. Our Lord speaks of it, likening our Christian faith to a house, and represents the trials in the end of this age as a great storm which will beat upon every house, with the result that all that are founded upon the rock will stand, and all founded upon the sand will collapse. The Apostle Peter speaks of this trial-time, saying:

“Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you, as tho some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12).

We are to expect a testing in the end of this age, just as there was a testing of the Jewish nominal church in the end of its age. As in that testing there was a thorough, complete separating of the “wheat” from the “chaff,” so here the separating will be complete between the “wheat” and the “tares,” as our Lord declares (Matthew 13:24-30). Throughout the age the “wheat” and the “tares,” by divine arrangement, have been permitted to grow side by side; but in the “harvest” the separation must occur, that the “wheat” may be “garnered,” received to the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul, also, speaks of this time of fiery trial, and, likening the faith and works of a zealous Christian to a house built of gold, silver and precious stones, he declares that the fire of this day, in the end of this age, shall try every man’s work of what sort it is, and shall consume all but the genuine faith and character structures (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). But we are to remember that such loyal characters grow not suddenly, in a few hours or days—mushroom-like,—but are progressive developments, fine-grained and strong like the olive tree.

We who have become “new creatures” reckonedly, in Christ, know that we are to be tested (if our testing has not already commenced), and should realize that only as we practice self-denials in the little things of life, and mortify (deaden) the natural cravings of our flesh in respect to food, clothing, conduct, etc., will we become strong spiritually and be able to “overcome.”

Many deal slackly with themselves in respect to little violations of their consecration vow, saying,—“What’s the use” of such carefulness and so different a life from that of the world in general? Ah! there is great use in it, for victories in little things prepare for greater victories and make them possible: and on the contrary, surrender to the will of the flesh in the little things means sure defeat in the warfare as a whole. Let us remember the maxim laid down by our Great Teacher—that he that is faithful in the things that are least will be faithful also in the things which are great. And this is the operation of a law, whose operations may be discerned in all the affairs of life.

Our Lord expresses the same thought, saying,—To him that hath (used) shall be given (more), and from him that hath not (used) shall be taken away that which he hath. If we start on a Christian life ever so weak in the flesh and weak in spirit, we will find that faithfulness in the little things will bring increasing strength in the Lord and in the power of his might. But it is in vain that we pray, “Lord, Lord,” and hope for great victories and the “crown of rejoicing,” if we fail to do our best to conquer in the little affairs of daily life. In other words, our testing is in progress from the moment of our consecration, and the little trials are but preparations for greater ones which, when faithfully attained, we will be able to reckon with the Apostle as light afflictions which are but for a moment, and which are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

The answer of the Hebrews to Nebuchadnezzar,—“Our God whom we serve,” is worthy of note. They not only acknowledged God and worshiped him, but they additionally served him, according as they had opportunity. And so it will be found today: those who have the necessary strength of character to refuse to worship human institutions and thereby to “suffer the loss of all things,” counting them but as loss and dross, that they may win Christ and be found finally complete in him, as members of his glorified body, and joint-heirs in his Kingdom, not only practice self-denials, but gladly serve and confess the Lord in their daily life. Rightly appreciated, a profession of love for the Lord would always be a profession of service to his cause. Whoever is not rendering some service to our King in the present time of multiplied opportunities has at very most the “lukewarm” love that is offensive to the Master (Revelation 2:4; 3:16).

Let us resolve, dear brethren, as did the three Hebrews of this lesson, that we will worship and serve only the Lord our Godthat we will neither worship nor serve sectarianism, in any of its many forms, nor mammon, with its many enticements and rewards, nor fame, nor friends, nor self. 

God “seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth,” is the declaration of our Lord and Head (John 4:23,24).

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Taze Russell – The above content is based on Reprint 2494-2497 – from The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Suggested Further Reading

Daniel The Beloved
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/bio_3.htm

Daniel and the Lions
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY98.PDF

Daniel In Babylon
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/proph_31.htm

Trials
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB98.PDF

Time and Prophecy 
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

The Doctrine of the Trinity – Mystery or Confusion
http://www.heraldmag.org/1999/99nd_3.htm

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

Facts About the Trinity http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/FACTS%20ABOUT%20THE%20TRINITY.htm

God and the Trinities
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_42.htm

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/23/father-son-and-holy-spirit/

What Is the Heavenly Father’s Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Jesus – The Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

The Doctrine of Christ – Booklet
http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

Daniel the Beloved of Jehovah (paper back book) by R.E. Streeter –

Streeter-Daniel-Paperback_cropped_with_shadow-424x600

This book can be purchased through the Chicago Bible Students bookstore at the following link:

https://chicagobible.org/product/daniel-the-beloved-paperback/

 

book-of-daniel-activity-book-biblestudentsdaily-com

The Book of Daniel- Children’s Activity Book – free online here for use in proclaiming the glorious Gospel message:

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/02/05/the-book-of-daniel-childrens-activity-book/

 

 

 

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