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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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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