Blessed Bible – Hymns of Dawn No. 22

Blessed Bible – Hymns of Dawn No. 22

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 22 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

Lyrics

1.
Blessed Bible, precious Word!
Boon most sacred from the Lord;
Glory to his name be giv’n
For this choicest gift from heav’n.

2.
‘Tis a ray of purest light,
Beaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems.

3.
‘Tis a fountain, pouring forth
Streams of life to gladden earth;
Whence eternal blessings flow,
Antidote for human woe.

4.
‘Tis a mine, aye, deeper, too,
Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new, rich gem appears.

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The History Of This Hymn

Author No information. The same four verses in the Bible Students’ Hymns of Dawn are also found amongst the six verses in an 1856 publication titled “The Harp” (No. 1162);

Composer — No information.

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Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

Psalm 119: selected verses (KJV)

“(9) Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
(11) Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
(17) Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
(25) My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
(28)  My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
(38) Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
(41) Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
(42) So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
(49) Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
(50) This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
(58) I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
(81) My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
(103) How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (104) Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
(105) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
(107) I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.
(114) Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
(115) Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
(116) Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
(130)  The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
(140) Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
(154) Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
(158) I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
(160) Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
(161) Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. (162) I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
(163) I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
(164) Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
(165) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
(169) Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.
(170) Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
(172) My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.”

Isaiah 40:8 (KJV) — “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

Matthew 4:4 (KJV) — “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

2 Timothy 3:12-17 (KJV)

“(12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(13) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
(14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
(15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
(16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
(17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

James 1:19-27 (KJV)

“(19) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
(20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
(21) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
(22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
(23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
(24) For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
(25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
(26) If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
(27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

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The words below are from Reprint No. 1144, from the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence as documented on “Harvest Truth DataBase Version 9: http://www.htdb.one

THE AUTHORSHIP AND CREDIBILITY OF THE BIBLE

No other book which the world has ever known has such a history as the Bible. Its origin and authorship, its antiquity, its wonderful preservation in the midst of the unparalleled and continuous opposition which sought to destroy it, as well as its diversity and teaching, make the Bible the most wonderful book in existence.

It is a collection composed of sixty-six separate books, written by about forty different writers, living centuries apart, speaking different languages, subjects of different governments, and brought up under different civilizations. Over 1500 years elapsed between the writings of Moses and of John…

He who would cast away Bible history as unworthy of credence, must on the same groundreject all history; and to be entirely consistent,must believe nothing which does not come under his own personal observation

INTERNAL EVIDENCES

Those who will make a study of the Bible plan will be fully convinced of the conclusive evidence of the credibility of the Sacred Scriptures, which is furnished in the purity, harmony and grandeur of its teachings.

Our first definite information with reference to the Sacred Writings is afforded by the direction given to Moses to write the law and history in a book, and put it in the side of the ark for preservation. (See Exod. 17:14; 34:27; Deut. 31:9-26.) This book was left for the guidance of the people. Additions were made to it from time to time by subsequent writers, and in the days of the kings, scribes appear to have been appointed whose business it was to keep a careful record of the important events occurring in Jewish history, which records—Samuel, Kings, Chronicles—were preserved and subsequently incorporated with the Law.

The prophets also did not confine themselves to oral teaching, but wrote and in some cases had scribes to record their teachings. (See, Josh. 1:8; 24:26; 1 Sam. 10:25; 1 Chron. 27:32; 29:29,30; 2 Chron. 33:18,19; Isa. 30:8; Jer. 30:2; 36:2; 45:1; 51:60.) As a result we have the Old Testament Scriptures, composed of history, prophecy and law, written by divine direction, as these citations and also Paul’s testimony (2 Tim. 3:15,16) prove. These writings collectively were termed “The Law and The Prophets,” and the Hebrews were taught of God to esteem them of divine authority and authorship, the writers being merely the agents through whom they received them… (See, Exod. 14:30,31; 19:9; 1 Kings 18:21,27,30,36,39)…

The Jewish copyists regarded these documents with great veneration. A very slight error in copying often led them to destroy it and begin anew. Josephus says that through all the ages that had passed none had ventured to add to, take away from, or transpose, aught of the Sacred Writings.

In the degeneracy of the Jewish nation, under the idolatrous administration of the successors of Rehoboam [1 Kings 14:21], these Sacred Writings fell into disuse and were almost forgotten, though they seem never to have been taken from their place. In the reformation conducted by Josiah, they were again brought to light. Again, in the Babylonish captivity this book was lost sight of by the Israelites, though it appears that they were accustomed to meet together in little companies in Babylon to be instructed by the scribes, who either taught the Law from memory or from copies in their possession. On the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem, the Scriptures were again brought out, and Ezra and his companions read the law to the people, commenting upon and explaining it. (Neh. 8:1-8.) This public reading of the Scriptures was the only means of keeping them before the people, as printing was yet unknown and the cost of a manuscript copy was beyond the reach of the people, very few of whom could read. At the time of our Lord’s first advent, these O.T. Scriptures existed substantially as we have them today …

One of the strongest evidences of the authenticity of the O.T. Scriptures is found in the fact that the law and the prophets were continually referred to by our Lord and the apostles as authority, and that while the Lord denounced the corruptions of the Jewish Church, and their traditions, by which they made void the Word of God, he did not even intimate any corruption in these Sacred Writings, but commends them, and refers to and quotes them in proof of his claims.

In fact, the various parts of the entire book are bound together by the mutual endorsement of the various writers, so that to reject one is to mar the completeness of the whole. Each book bears its own witness and stands on its own evidence of credibility, and yet each book is linked with all the rest, both by their common spirit and harmony and by their mutual endorsement. Mark, for instance, the endorsement of the account of creation in the commandment of the law concerning the Sabbath day.—Exod. 20:11. Also compare Deut. 23:4,5; Joshua 24:9; Micah. 6:5; 2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11-13; Isa. 28:21; Hab. 3:11; Matt. 12:40.

THE NEW TESTAMENT

[The earliest translation of the New Testament out of Greek is thought to have been in the Syriac language. Its date is sometimes estimated to be as early as the year A.D. 100. Syria was the country in which the Greek language intersected with the Syriac, which was closely related to the Aramaic dialect used by Jesus and the Apostles.]

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The Syriac Bible of Paris, Moses before pharaoh

And even at that early date it contained the same books as at present with the exception of the Second Epistle of Peter, the Third Epistle of John, Jude and the Book of Revelation. And these omitted books we know were written about the close of the first century, and probably had not been widely circulated among the Christian congregations at that time.

All the books of the Old and New Testaments as we now have them appear, however, in the Greek, is the Sinaitic Manuscript, the oldest known Greek MS., whose date is about A.D. 350. [Read more about the Codex Sinaiticus here: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/%5D

The first five books of the N.T. are historical, and present a clear and connected account of the life, character, circumstances, teachings and doings of Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Messiah promised in the O.T. Scriptures, and who fully substantiated his claim. The four accounts of the Evangelists, though they differ in phraseology, are in harmony in their statements, some important items being recorded by each which seem to have been overlooked by the others. These Evangelists testified to that of which they had positive knowledge. The Apostle John says: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you—”that which was from the beginning (the beginning of the Lord’s ministry), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness.” (1 John 1:1-3.) They testify also that they saw Christ after his resurrection. The fifth book [the Book of Acts] presents a valuable account of the doings of the Apostles after their anointing with the Holy Spirit, of the establishment of the Christian Church, and of the first preaching of the good news to the Gentiles.

The Apostolic Epistles were written to the various local congregations or churches, and were directed to be publicly read, and to be exchanged among the churches [R1146] ; and the same [divine] authority was claimed for them by their writers as that which was accorded to the O.T. Scriptures. (1 Thes. 5:27; Col. 4:16; 2 Pet. 3:2,15,16; Heb. 1:1,2 and 2:1-4.) These letters and the five historical books were carefully preserved by the different congregations, and were appealed to as authority in matters of doctrine …

The original copies of both the Old and New Testaments have, of course, long since disappeared, and the oldest manuscript (the Sinaitic) is reckoned to have been written about three centuries after the death of Christ.

CODEX-SINAITICUS-BRITISH-MUSEUM.jpg

Those of earlier date were either destroyed in the persecutions under which the church suffered, or were worn out by use. These oldest manuscripts are preserved with great care in the Museums and Libraries of Europe. During the Middle Ages, when ignorance and corruption prevailed and the Bible was hidden in monasteries away from the people, God was still carrying on his work, preserving the Scriptures from destruction even in the midst of Satan’s stronghold, the apostate [R1146] Church of Rome. A favorite occupation of the monks during the Middle Ages was the copying of the manuscripts of the N.T. … Of these manuscripts there are said to be now more than two thousand, of various dates from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. The quiet seclusion of those monks gave them special opportunities for careful copying, and years were sometimes spent in the copying of a single manuscript.

RELIABILITY OF PRESENT TRANSLATIONS

While there are some errors in translation and a few interpolations in our common English translation, on the whole it is acknowledged by scholars to be a remarkably good transcript of the Sacred Word…

Very early in the Christian Era translations of the New Testament Scriptures were made into several languages, and the different factions that early developed and continued to exist, though they might have been desirous of adding to or taking from the original text in order to give their claims a show of Scriptural support, were watched by each other to see that they did not do so, and had they succeeded in corrupting the text in one language, another translation would make it manifest.

Even the Douay translation, in use in the Romish church, is in most respects substantially the same as the King James translation. The fact that during the “dark ages” the Scriptures were practically cast aside, being supplanted by the decrees of popes and councils, so that its teachings had no influence upon the masses of the people who did not have copies in their possession—nor could they have read them if they had them—doubtless made unnecessary the serious alteration of the text, at a time when bold, bad men had abundant power to do so. For men who would plot treason, incite to wars and commit murders for the advancement of the papal hierarchy, as we know was done, would have been bold enough for anything. Thus the depth of ignorance in the dark ages served to protect and keep pure God’s Word, so that its clear light has shone specially at the two ends of the Gospel age. (1 Cor. 10:11.) The few interpolations which were dared, in support of the false claims of Papacy, were made just as the gloom of the “dark ages” was closing in upon mankind, and are now made glaringly manifest, from their lack of harmony with the context, their antagonism with other scriptures and from their absence in the oldest and most complete and reliable manuscripts.

RELATIVE VALUES OF ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS

As to the relative values of ancient manuscripts, we quote the following comments from the pen of that eminent German scholar, Constantine Tischendorf, who spent many years of his life in diligently searching out and comparing the various ancient manuscripts and translations of the Scriptures in many languages, and who has furnished to the church the results of his investigation in a careful exhibit of the various departures of the English Authorized Version of the New Testament from the three oldest and most important manuscripts.

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Mr. Tischendorf says:

“As early as the reign of Elizabeth the English nation possessed an authorized translation, executed by the Bishops under the guidance of Archbishop Parker; and this, half a century later, in the year 1611, was revised at the command of James the First by a body of learned divines, and became the present ‘Authorized Version.’ Founded as it was on the Greek text at that time accepted by Protestant theologians, and translated with scholarship and conscientious care, this version of the New Testament has deservedly become an object of great reverence, and a truly national treasure to the English Church. The German Church alone possesses in Luther’s New Testament a treasure of similar value….

The Authorized Version, like Luther’s, was made from a Greek text which Erasmus in 1516, and Robert Stephens in 1550, had formed from manuscripts of later date than the tenth century. Whether those manuscripts were thoroughly trustworthy—in other words, whether they exhibited the Apostolic original as perfectly as possible—has long been matter of diligent and learned investigation. Since the sixteenth century Greek manuscripts have been discovered of far greater antiquity than those of Erasmus and Stephens; as well as others in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Gothic, into which languages the sacred text was translated between the second and fourth centuries; while in the works of the Fathers, from the second century downwards, many quotations from the New Testament have been found and compared….One thing is agreed upon by the majority of those who understand the subject, namely, that the oldest copies approach the original text more nearly than the later ones.

“Providence has ordained for the New Testament more sources of the greatest antiquity than are possessed by all the old Greek literature put together. And of these, two manuscripts have for long been especially esteemed by Christian scholars, since, in addition to their great antiquity, they contain very nearly the whole of both the Old and New Testaments. Of these two, one is deposited in the Vatican, and the other in the British Museum. Within the last ten years a third has been added to the number, which was found at Mount Sinai, and is now at St. Petersburg. These three manuscripts undoubtedly stand at the head of all the ancient copies of the New Testament, and it is by their standard that both the early editions of the Greek text and the modern versions are to be compared and corrected.

“The effect of comparing the common English text with the most ancient authorities will be as often to disclose agreement as disagreement. True, the three great manuscripts alluded to differ from each other both in age and authority, and no one of them can be said to stand so high that its sole verdict is sufficient to silence all contradiction. But to treat such ancient authorities with neglect would be either unwarrantable arrogance or culpable negligence; and it would be indeed a misunderstanding of the dealings of Providence, if after these documents had [R1147] been preserved through all the dangers of fourteen or fifteen centuries, and delivered safe into our hands, we were not to receive them with thankfulness as the most valuable instruments for the elucidation of truth.

“… To us the most reverential course appears to be, to accept nothing as the Word of God which is not proved to be so by the evidence of the oldest, and therefore most certain, witnesses that he has put into our hands. With this in view, and with this intention, the writer has occupied himself for thirty years past, in searching not only the Libraries of Europe, but the obscurest convents of the East, both in Africa and Asia, for the most ancient manuscript, of the Bible; and has done all in his power to collect the most important of such documents, to arrange them and to publish them for the benefit both of the present age and of posterity, so as to settle the original text of the sacred writers on the basis of the most careful investigation.

“The first of these great manuscripts already referred to which came into possession of Europe was the Vatican Codex. Whence it was acquired by the Vatican Library is not known; but it appears in the first catalogue of that collection which dates from the year 1475. The manuscript embraces both the Old and New Testaments. Of the later it contains the four Gospels, the Acts, the seven Catholic Epistles, nine of the Pauline Epistles, and the Epistle to the Hebrews as far as 9:14, from which verse to the end of the New Testament it is deficient; so that not only the last chapters of Hebrews, but the Epistle to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, as well as the Revelation, are missing. The peculiarities of the writing, the arrangement of the manuscript, and the character of the text—especially certain very remarkable readings—all combine to place the execution of the Codex in the fourth century, possibly about the middle of it.

The Alexandrine Codex was presented to King Charles the First in 1628 by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had himself brought it from Alexandria, of which place he was formerly Patriarch, and whence it derives its name. It contains both the Old and New Testaments. Of the New the following passages are wanting:—Matt. 1:1 to 25:6; John 6:50 to 8:52; 2 Cor. 4:13 to 12:6. …It would appear to have been written about the middle of the fifth century.

The Sinaitic Codex I was myself so happy as to discover in 1844 and 1859, at the convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai, in the later of which years I brought it to Russia to the Emperor Alexander the Second, at whose instance my second journey to the East was undertaken. It contains both Old and New Testaments—the latter perfect without the loss of a single leaf….All the considerations which tend to fix the date of manuscripts lead to the conclusion that the Sinaitic Codex belongs to the middle of the fourth century. Indeed, the evidence is clearer in this case than in that of the Vatican Codex; and it is not improbable (which cannot be the case with the Vatican MS.) that it is one of the fifty copies which the Emperor Constantine in the year 331 directed to be made for Byzantium, under the care of Eusebius of Caesarea. In this case it is a natural inference that it was sent from Byzantium to the monks of St. Catherine by the Emperor Justinian, the founder of the convent. The entire Codex was published by its discoverer, under the orders of the Emperor of Russia, in 1862, with the most scrupulous exactness, and in a truly magnificent shape, and the New Testament portion was issued in a portable form in 1863 and 1865.

“These considerations seem to show that the first place among the three great manuscripts, both for age and extent, is held by the Sinaitic Codex, the second by the Vatican, and the third by the Alexandrine. And this order is completely confirmed by the text they exhibit, which is not merely that which was accepted in the East at the time they were copied; but, having been written by Alexandrine copyists who knew but little of Greek, and therefore had no temptation to make alterations, they remain in a high degree faithful to the text which was accepted through a large portion of Christendom in the third and second centuries. The proof of this is their agreement with the most ancient translations—namely, the so-called Italic, made in the second century in proconsular Africa; the Syriac Gospels of the same date, now transferred from the convents of the Nitrian desert to the British Museum; and the Coptic version of the third century. It is confirmed also by their agreement with the oldest of the Fathers, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement and Origen.

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St. Catherine’s Monastry, Mount SinaiHere Constantine Tischendorf discovered the Sinaitic Codex (one of the original New and Old Testament manuscripts) in 1844 and 1859.

“These considerations seem to show that the first place among the three great manuscripts, both for age and extent, is held by the Sinaitic Codex, the second by the Vatican, and the third by the Alexandrine. And this order is completely confirmed by the text they exhibit, which is not merely that which was accepted in the East at the time they were copied; but, having been written by Alexandrine copyists who knew but little of Greek, and therefore had no temptation to make alterations, they remain in a high degree faithful to the text which was accepted through a large portion of Christendom in the third and second centuries. The proof of this is their agreement with the most ancient translations—namely, the so-called Italic, made in the second century in proconsular Africa; the Syriac Gospels of the same date, now transferred from the convents of the Nitrian desert to the British Museum; and the Coptic version of the third century. It is confirmed also by their agreement with the oldest of the Fathers, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement and Origen.

“These remarks apply to the Sinaitic Codex—which is remarkably close in its agreement to the ‘Italic’ version—more than they do to the Vatican MS., and still more so than the Alexandrine, which, however, is of far more value in the Acts, Epistles and Apocalypse than it is in the Gospels [R1147]….

“No single work of ancient Greek classical literature can command three such original witnesses as the Sinaitic, Vatican and Alexandrine Manuscripts, to the integrity and accuracy of its text. That they are available in the case of a book which is at once the most sacred and the most important in the world is surely matter for the deepest thankfulness to God.”

OTHER MEANS OF VERIFICATION

Another remarkable means for preserving and verifying the New Testament writings is their copious quotation in other writings. Origen — who wrote in the early part of the third century, quotes 5745 passages from all the books in the New Testament; Tertullian — (A.D. 200), makes more than 3000 quotations from the N.T. books; Clement — (A.D. 194), quotes 380 passages; Irenaeus — (A.D. 178), quotes 767 passages; Polycarp — who was martyred A.D. 165, after serving Christ 86 years, quoted 36 passages in a single epistle; Justin Martyr — (A.D. 140), also quotes from the N.T. These were all Christian writers; and in addition to these, the Scriptures were largely quoted by heathen and infidel writers, among them Celsus (A.D. 150) and Porphyry (A.D. 304).

Indeed the entire New Testament, with the exception of about a dozen verses, has been found scattered as quotations through various writings that are still extant. And if every copy of the N.T. had been destroyed by its enemies, the book could have been reproduced from these quotations contained in the writings of the early Christians and their enemies.

While the means for the preservation of the Scriptures have been thus remarkably complete, and in view of the unparalleled opposition with which they have met give evidence of Divine care in their preservation, the means for their verification, and for arriving at an understanding of them in God’s due time, are found to be none the less remarkable. No other book in the world has ever had such attention as this book. The labor that has been spent in the preparation of complete concordances, indexes, various translations, etc., has been enormous; and the results to students of the Bible are of incalculable value. And while we recognize the providence of God in all this, we should and do appreciate these labors of his children and their great service to us, though we utterly repudiate, as useless, the labor that has been spent on many so-called theological writings, which are nothing more than miserable efforts to support the vain traditions of men, the accumulated monstrous volumes of which would indeed form a monument of human folly.

Just in “The Time of the End,” when the prophet (Dan. 12:9,10) declares that “the wise (the meek and faithful children of God) shall understand,” we find these wonderful aids coming forward to our assistance. And parallel with these has happened the general spread of intelligence and education and the placing of the Bible in the hands of the people, thus enabling them to use the helps provided.

In view of these things, our only reasonable conclusion must be, that this wonderful book has been completely under Divine supervision in its preparation, and in its gradual and seasonable unfolding to the understanding; and yet it has all been accomplished through human agency. Those who are too careless, or too indifferent, or who permit themselves to be too much engrossed with the cares of this life to give it a studious examination, should not be expected to comprehend its weight of authority, and its full evidence of credibility…

The very existence of such a book, animated with such a spirit of justice, wisdom, love and power, and disclosing such good tidings of great joy to all people, having such a history and authorship, and containing such varied information—historic, scientific, and moral; and so remarkably preserved for so many centuries, though so violently opposed, is sufficient to awaken at least a suspicion of its value, and to claim the attention and investigation of every reasoning mind…

THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE

The Bible claims to be a book written under divine inspiration. The word inspire signifies to breathe in, to infuse, to fill, to inhale—as to inspire the lungs with air. (See Webster’s Dictionary.) Hence, when it is said that certain scriptures, or writings of godly men, were given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16), it signifies that those men were in some way, whether through miraculous or natural means, inspired by, or brought under the influence of God; so as to be used by him in speaking or writing such words as he wished to have expressed. The prophets and apostles all claimed such inspiration. Peter says, “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy Spirit.”2 Pet. 1:21.

Through Moses we have the law of God and the only existing credible history of mankind from the creation of Adam down to his own time, covering a period of about 2500 years. While Moses and the other Bible writers were holy men, inspired with pure motives and holy zeal, and while personal pride, ambition, etc., were no part of their spirit, we learn that Moses was inspired with the knowledge of God’s law, both in its great principles and also in the minutiae of its typical ceremonials, by direct revelation from God at Mount Sinai, and of some points of duty at the burning bush at Horeb, etc.

As for his historical writings, Moses was evidently guided of God in the collation and presentation in its present complete and connected form of the history of the world down to his day, which was really in great part the history of his own family back to Adam with an account of the creation doubtless given by God to Adam while he was yet in fellowship in Eden. Nor does a correct handing down of family information, covering a period of over 2300 years, seem impossible, or liable, as it would now be, to have become polluted; for, aside from the fact that it was handed down through the God-fearing family line of Seth, it should be remembered that at that time the bodies, brains and memories of men were not so weak as they are now, and as they have been since the flood; and finally, because the long lives of two men link Adam with the family of Abraham, the family of covenant favor,—with Isaac, the typical seed of promise. These two men were Methuselah and Shem. Methuselah was over 200 years old when Adam died, and had abundant opportunity, therefore, for information at first hands; and Shem, the son of Noah, lived contemporaneously with Methuselah for 98 years, and with Isaac for 50 years. Thus, these two living, God-fearing men acted as God’s historians to communicate his revelations and dealings to the family in whom centered the promises, of which Moses was one of the prospective heirs.

In addition to these facts, we have the statement of Josephus that Methuselah, Noah and Shem, the year before the flood, inscribed the history and discoveries of the world on two monuments of stone and brick which were still standing in Moses’ time.

As for the writings of the prophets, their devoted, godly lives attest their sincerity; their lives were spent for God and in the defense of righteousness, and not for gain and worldly honor. And as for proofs that God acted through them and that they merely expressed his messages, as Peter declares, it is to be found in the fulfilment of their predictions… This brings us to the examination of the inspiration of the New Testament

The Apostle Peter tells us that the prophets of old time often did not understand their own utterances, as they themselves also acknowledge (1 Pet. 1:12; Dan. 12:4,8-10); and we should remember that the twelve apostles (Paul taking the place of Judas—Gal. 1:17; 1 Tim. 2:7) not only filled the office of apostles… they also, especially Peter and Paul and John, filled the office of prophets, and were not only given the spirit of wisdom and understanding by which they were enabled to understand and explain the previously dark prophecies, but in addition to this we believe that they were under the guidance and supervision of the Lord to such an extent that their references to things future from their day, things therefore not then due to be fully understood, were guided, so as to be true to an extent far beyond their comprehension, and such consequently were as really prophetic as the utterances of the old-time prophets. Illustrations of this are to be found in the Revelations of the Apostle John, in Peter’s symbolic description of the Day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:10-13), and in numerous references to the same period by Paul also, among which were some things hard to be understood even by Peter (2 Pet. 3:16) and only partially then by Paul himself. The latter, however, was permitted to see future things more clearly than others of his time, and to that end he was given special visions and revelations which he was not allowed to make known to others (2 Cor. 12:1-4), but which, nevertheless, influenced and colored his subsequent teachings and his epistles. And these very items which Peter thought strange of, and called “hard to be understood,” are the very items which now, in God’s due time, for which they were intended, so grandly illuminate not only Peter’s prophecies and John’s Revelation, but the entire word and plan of God,—that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished.2 Tim. 3:16,17.

… There were, even in the days of the apostles, ambitious men who taught another gospel and claimed for themselves the honors of special revelations and authority as apostles and teachers of no less authority than the twelve apostles. And ambitious men of the same sort have from time to time since arisen—Emanuel Swedenborg and many less able and less notable—whose claims, if conceded, would not only place them in rank far above Paul, the prince of the apostles, but whose teachings would tend to discredit entirely, as “old wives’ fables,” the whole story of redemption and remission of sins through the blood of the cross. These would-be apostles, boastful, heady, high-minded, have “another gospel,” a perversion of the gospel of Christ; and above all they despise and seek to cast discredit upon the words of Paul who so clearly, forcibly and logically lifts up the standard of faith and points to the cross—the ransom—as the sure foundation, and who so clearly showed that pseudo -apostles, false apostles, would arise and deceive many.

It not only required an inspiration to write God’s plan, but it also requires an inspiration of the Almighty to give an understanding of that revelation; yet this inspiration is of a different sort.

When any one has realized himself a sinner, weak, imperfect and condemned, and has accepted of Christ as his Redeemer, and full of love and appreciation has consecrated his heart (his mind, his will) to the Lord, to henceforth please not himself but his Redeemer,—God has arranged that such a consecration of the natural mind brings a new mind.

It opens the way for the holy mind or will of God, expressed through his written word, to be received; and as it is received into such a good, honest, consecrated heart, it informs that heart and opens the eyes of the understanding, so that from the new standpoint (God’s standpoint) many things wear a very different aspect, and among other things the Scripture teachings, which gradually open up as item after item of the divine plan is fulfilled, and new features of the unfolding plan become due to be understood, and from the new standpoint appreciated and accepted… Thus it is that “The path of the just is a shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” [R1149] …

The spirit of the truth inspires and controls to a greater or lesser extent … their words and thoughts, and even their very looks.

Yet such an inspiration, common to all the saints, in proportion to their development, should be critically distinguished from the special and peculiarly guided and guarded inspiration of the twelve apostles, whom God specially appointed to be the teachers of the church, and who have no successors in this office. Only twelve were “chosen,” and when one of these, Judas, fell from his honorable office, the Lord in due time appointed Paul to the place; and he not only has never recognized others, but clearly indicates that he never will recognize others in that office.—Rev. 21:14.

With the death of the Apostles the canon of Scripture closed, because God had there given a full and complete revelation of his plan for man’s salvation; though some of it was in a condensed form which has since expanded and is expanding and unfolding and will continue to expand and shine more and more until the perfect daythe Millennial Dayhas been fully ushered in. Paul expresses this thought clearly when he declares that the Holy Scriptures are able to make wise unto salvation, and that they are sufficient.

As we consider, then, the completeness, harmony, purity and grandeur of the Bible, its age and wonderful preservation through the wreck and storms of [nearly] six thousand years, it must be admitted to be a most wonderful book; and those who have learned to read it understandingly, who see in it the great plan of the ages, cannot doubt that God was its inspiring Author, as well as its Preserver. Its only parallel is the book of nature by the same great Author.

====================

Our Saviour — Christ Jesus

Here are some free online articles in relation to the Heavenly Father — Jehovah, and his Son — Christ Jesus — “a ransom FOR ALL … to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6), as well as, about the holy Spirit (the invisible power and influence of God) with clear explanations about why the anti-Christ teaching of “the trinity” — introduced by the Roman Catholic Church system (the “Beast” in the Book of Revelation) — is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible Student Movement does not support the teaching of purgatory nor does it support the Roman Catholic System’s teaching about people being sent to a place where they burn up forever, which certainly does not reflect the perfect love of God — the Almighty Creator of all things.

Hence, for the interested Reader, we urge you to consider the following articles and posts:

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

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine by Sr. Cher-El L. Hagensick.
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

Development of the “Trinity Doctrine” by Br. Tom Gilbert.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2010d.pdf

Understanding John 1:1 by Br. Richard Doctor.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2010d.pdf

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

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:

The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/

The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

2

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated-to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn—the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA

——-

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

  • Br. George Tabac — Written Work: “Harvest Timing Clarifications” —

Here is a link to Br. George Tabac’s 2016 Discourse —”Harvest Timing Clarifications”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqa_GT2QSVA

[Note: Br. George Tabac’s 2016 discourse is almost identical but not the same as his 2015 discourse where it had been concluded that 6000 years from Adams creation would be up in 2042. However later, like Br. Charles Taze Russell, Br. George too came to realize the need to clarify his understanding by one year in his 2016 General Convention discourse, where he concluded the 6000 years from creation would be up in 2043, which concurs with Br. David Rice’s chronology (www.2043ad.com). Note the distinction in the final charts of these two discourses.]

Click on the following link to download Br. George Tabac’s 2016 Script Version of “Harvest Timing Clarifications”

HARVEST TIMING CLARIFICATIONS 7-9-2016 General Convention – 34 Page Han…

https://biblestudents1.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/harvest-timing-clarifications-7-9-2016-general-convention-34-page-han.pdf

Suggested Further Reading

THE BIBLE — The World’s Best Model. Here is Why.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/26/the-bible-the-worlds-best-novel-here-is-why/

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

Debtors To His Marvelous Grace, by J.J. Blackburn. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, July/August 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_4.htm#_Toc36907878

The Foreshadowing of Grace, by F.A. Essler. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January/February 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_1.htm#_Toc36905444

A Special Calling by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July /August 2016.
https://herald-magazine.com/2016/07/01/the-bride-class/

The Bride and the Bridegroom by Br. Carl Hagensick. A Verse-by-verse Study of Psalm 45. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_4.htm

A Chaste VirginThe Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/chliv_38.htm

His Loving Kindness – Hymns of Dawn No. 19
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/19/his-loving-kindness-hymns-of-dawn-no-19/

Awake My Soul — Hymns of Dawn No. 20
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/27/awake-my-soul-hymns-of-dawn-no-20/

The Sacrifice
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/05/the-sacrifice/

Give Thanks In All Circumstances
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/01/03/1-thessalonians-518-thankfulness/

The Truth About Hell. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/hell.htm

Hope Beyond the Grave. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/grave.htm

Christ and His Bride. BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/25/christ-and-his-bride/

Pastor Russell Blogspot
http://pastorrussell.blogspot.com.au/2009/12/

Pastor Charles Russell founded the Bible Students movement not the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/wp-content/uploads/Bible-Students-not-Jehovah-Witnesses2.pdf-final2.pdf

pastor-russell-founder-of-bible-students-not-jehovah's-witnesses

Did Russell Start The JWs?
http://rlctr.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/was-russell-founder-of-jws.html

Pastor Russell – Not the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
http://www.dawnbible.com/1940/4008-hl.htm

Who We Are. BIBLE Students DAILY – https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/who-we-are/

Our Beliefs — What Does the Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

Bible Students’ Links and Bible Study Resources
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/

 

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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/

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/14/ezekiel-184-what-the-bible-teaches-about-soul-and-spirit/

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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/

p-1033-0b4da7fdf4754fc992a050096ab172df-411x600

 

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Listing of All Posts For 2018

SISTER&BROTHERINCHRIST

“The Christian life is not without its burdens. But they are not heavy burdens, because they are things which Christ sees we can manage, if we apply ourselves to our duties. We do not need to fathom difficult mysteries, or accomplish great deeds, but simply be responsible to the duties we have, do justly, be kind and considerate of others, and set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2)” (Br. David Rice, Faithbuilders Fellowship Journal, January, 2006).

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No harm can come nigh that dwelling place, so far as the New Creature [in Christ] is concerned. Trials, tribulations, slanders may be exercised against us according to the flesh, but these cannot harm us as New Creatures, nor even disturb our peace of soul, while we are close to the Lord” (The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, January 1909, Reprint No. 4311).

*******

“He who puts on the armor of God, he who possesses the fruits of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul assures us shall never fall, but so doing an entrance shall be abundantly administered unto him into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Br. Charles Taze Russell, Harvest Gleaning II, p.121-124 “Faithful Unto Death”).

*******

2018

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Epoch Periods In God’s Plan

Hosea-6-1-2-bible-students-daily-website.jpg

The Light In The First Day

In Genesis 1:1‑5 (KJV) we are first introduced to the “light” of the sun.

“(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (5) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 

The Sun

“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) evidently refers to the light of the sun, which was sufficient for general illumination, but not sufficient to break through the mists to become an identifiable object in the heavens, until the fourth day when it was “appointed” (as the word there can mean), together with the moon and stars (Genesis 1:16). Genesis 1:11 shows that there were already plants and trees on day three, which required sunlight to grow. The sun was in place and burning before the earth was suitable for life.

Genesis-1-11.jpg

The Length of Each Day of Creation

The days of creation recorded in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 were epoch days of creative activity, of undefined length.

The word “day” customarily describes a normal day of 24 hours, but very often has a broader usage for any defined period of whatever length. For example, Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Here “day” is a period that includes all of the seven days reported earlier.

In Hebrews 3:8, Paul refers to the “provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” — which refers to a period of years, not a single day.

When we speak of Jesus’ day, we mean a period of history long ago, not a single day.

The work involved in these “days” of creation required lengthy periods of time for the natural processes to reach maturity, or completion.

Zechariah 14:7-9 provides another example, this time from prophecy, of the greater use of the term “day.”

“(7) It shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time [at the close of the Millennial day that spans 1000 years] it shall be light. (8) And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (9) And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”

The metaphorical use of the word “day” is usually apparent from the context.

The Third Day

In John 2:19-22 we read about Jesus being raised on the literal third day:

“(19) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (20) Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? (21) But he spake of the temple of his body. (22) When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

However, if we take the above passage to refer to the metaphorical body of Christ, that is, the body of believers in Jesus, then it is apparent that any application of the three days would be on a larger time frame. In this case the saints are raised on the third millennium from the time of Christ.

In Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV) we read about this “third day.”

“(1) Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (2) After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (3) Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

In both of these cases — John chapter two and Hosea chapter six — the three days involved are evidently millennial days 4, 5, and 6 as counted from Adam. On the sixth millennium, which includes our day, Israel has been under process of restoration. Jesus’ first advent was in the fourth Millennial day, counting from Adam. Here are those “days”

(1) 3958 B.C. to 2958 B.C.
(2) 2958 B.C. to 1958 B.C.
(3) 1958 B.C. to 958 B.C.
(4) 958 B.C. to 43 A.D.
(5) 43 A.D. to 1043 A.D.
(6) 1043 A.D. to 2043 A.D.

The words of Hosea 6:1-3 is thus about natural Israel (not about Spiritual Israel — the Bride of Christ) because in verse one, we read that God has “smitten” them. God has not smitten the Church. But Israel was “smitten” following their rejection of Christ. God did smite Israel during the Roman wars that closed the Jewish Age. They were cast off in 33 A.D., in day “four” from Adam. After the close of day four, and the close of day five, thus “after two days,” they began to be restored in 1878 and forward, on day “six” from Adam.

Hence Israel is now being restored — presently as a nation, and later, in the Kingdom, to individual life after they recognize Jesus as their Redeemer.

Three Dispensations in the Divine Plan

3 dispensations

There are three large periods of time in the Divine Plan. Sometimes these are termed “Dispensations,” because the administration of these three periods varied. Sometimes they are called three “worlds,” drawing from these three scriptures —

  • World that Was 2 Peter 3:6 — Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water [the Flood], perished.
  • Present Evil World Galatians 1:4 — “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
  • World to ComeHebrews 2:5 — “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”

Epoch 1 – The World That Was

This epoch lasted from the time of Adam and Eve until the flood. In this period some of the angels were allowed to exercise influence in a way that was later restrained. It was not subdivided into ages because God’s method of dealing with men did not vary from Adam’s fall to the flood. God had given man his law, the law of conscience written into his nature. However, after he sinned God left him measurably to his own downward course, that man might learn through experience the wisdom of God in requiring obedience. The disastrous effects of sin were manifested showing that the tendency of sin is downward to greater degradation and misery, showing the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost” — man’s first estate — would ever be accomplished.

Epoch 2 – The Present Evil World

The second great epoch (Galatians 1:4, 2 Peter 3:7) spans from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom of God. It is under the limited control of Satan, the usurper, “the prince of this world,” who has no interest in Christ’ followers except to oppose, tempt, annoy, and buffet them (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Malachi 3:15).

In this present evil world, or epoch, whoever will live godly shall suffer persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree (2 Timothy 3:12, Psalm 37:35).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and until the era or “world to come” does come, Christ’s kingdom will not control the earth. For this we are taught to hope and pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.” Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,” and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.” Satan now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).

The current epoch is divided into three “ages.”

(a) The Patriarchal Age. God’s dealings and favors were with various patriarchs, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At Jacob’s death his descendants were called “the twelve tribes of Israel.” They were together recognized of God as his “peculiar people,” and through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors.

(b) The Jewish Age (or the Law dispensation). God specially blessed the nation of Israel during this age from Jacob’s death until Christ’s death, as evidenced in the following:

  • Giving the Israelites His law,
  • Making a special covenant with them,
  • Giving them the Tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King,
  • Sending them prophets,
  • Sending them His Son, Jesus, who performed his miracles and taught in their midst. Jesus ministered to the Israelites, and instructed his disciples the same during the time that he was with them. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5,6). Jesus explained, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

This national favor ended with their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, as shown by Jesus’ words five days before his crucifixion, “Your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

(c) The Gospel Age. From Jesus’ death, the good tidings of justification have been heralded for nearly 2000 years not only to the Jewish people, but to all nations; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. During this Gospel age there is a class called to special favor, to whom special promises are made. Namely, to those who by faith accept Christ Jesus as their Redeemer and Lord and follow in his footsteps.

The aim of this age is not to convert nations, but to call out a “little flock” as Jesus foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom in an age to follow this.

Epoch 3 – The World to Come

The third epoch is to be a “world without end” (Isaiah 45:17) under divine administration, the kingdom of God. It is called “The World to Come, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” and during this period, all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Hebrews 2:5, 2 Peter 3:13, 2 Corinthians 12:2‑4, Revelation 21:1).

The thousand years of Christ’s reign is the first age in the “world to come” (Revelation 20:4). During the Millennial age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19‑21). Then, all tears, sorrow, pain, and death resulting from the fall of Adam in Eden shall have been wiped away (Revelation 21:4). Following this 1000 year Millennium, there will be “a little season” of final testing time for the world of mankind (Revelation 20:3,7-10).

Revelation 11:15 says that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and His Christ [Jesus].” Thereafter our Lord Jesus exercises his power to remove present powers, and establish his Millennial Kingdom in order to bless the world in righteousness.

There are seven trumpet periods in Revelation. The seventh of these commenced in 1874 with the return of Christ and his subsequent parousia, or presence. Acts 3:21 connects this to the beginning of the “times of restoration.” There the process of restoring Israel commenced.

At the end of the Millennium will come the close of the seventh millennial “day,” introducing day number eight. At this time there will be “a little season” for the testing of mankind. Those found unfaithful and rebellious, disobedient to God and His principles, will not continue further. Thus the world is cleansed, purged, “circumcised” as it were, on the eighth day — evidently represented by circumcision of old being on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).

Revelation 11:18, part of the description of the seventh trumpet, refer to the raising of the sleeping saints. “The time … that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets [Jesus’ New Testament spokesmen, compare Ephesians 3:5], and to the saints [holy ones of the Gospel Age].” The Millennium will be introduced subsequent, at the close of 6000 years, which we anticipate about a generation future, with the year 2043.

When that kingdom is established, all of the Bride class will have been gathered to glory, ready to serve as priests and kings with Christ to uplift the world (Revelation 20:6). Gradually all will be raised to life again, and have an opportunity to gain life everlasting.

Revelation 11:18,19 shows that the transition period into the Kingdom involves a general time of trouble. Evidently this commenced in 1914 with World War I. Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil [plunder] his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house” (Mark 3:22‑27). Jesus has entered the house of the strong man, Satan, and is in process of disrupting his affairs, incident to removing the influence of Satan altogether.

Satan is the “strong man” of the Present Evil World. The disruption of his “house,” and the binding of that strong usurper, is the necessary predicate for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Satan will remain bound for “a thousand years,” allowing the world to grow and learn without the adversary’s deceptions.

We read of this in Revelation 20:2,3

“2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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.”

The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then. It will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous shall flourish” (Psalm 72:7). Then the obedient shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9).

Heavens and Earth – Not Literally Destroyed

This earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. Though ages pass and dispensations change, still the earth continues “The earth abideth forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4).

In 2 Peter 3:12, Peter refers to the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” Here “the heavens” symbolize the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and “earth” (verse 10) symbolizes human government and social arrangements.

The first heavens and earth, or social arrangement, ended at the flood, “being overflowed with water” (2 Peter 3:6). “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). The order and arrangement of things then existing ended at the flood. But the physical heavens (sky and atmosphere), and the physical earth, did not pass away.

Likewise, the present social structure, political and ecclesiastical, will pass away in deference to the Kingdom of Christ. The beginning of this work occurs in the “Day of the Lord” which “shall burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1). But the complete integration of mankind into the new arrangement, the “new heavens” and “new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) will require time, as the work of the Kingdom proceeds.

Society will become reorganized in harmony with earth’s new Prince, Christ Jesus. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements give place to the new and better kingdom, based on justice and equity. The more we examine God’s plan of the Ages, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty and order.

“Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will” (Br. Charles T. Russell, The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 74).

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Russell — for content shared from his book titled “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” which is Volume One (of six) of “Studies in the Scriptures.” This can be read from the Harvest Truth Data Base website. Here is the direct link: http://www.htdbv8.com/indexa.html

Br. David Rice — for content & editing assistance.

Further Suggested Reading

The Stream of Time by Br. David Rice. http://2043ad.com/streamoftime.PDF

Booklet titled: “I Will Come Again – John 14:3”
https://chicagobible.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/I-WILL-COME-AGAIN.pdf

God’s Millennium. A Dawn Bible Students Association Publication (booklet).
http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/Gods1k.htm

Israel in History and Prophecyhttp://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/israel_hp.htm

The Approaching End of The Harvest
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/19/the-approaching-end-of-the-harvest/

1 CORINTHIANS 15:45 – How Long Until the Millennial Reign of the ‘Last Adam’?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/06/1-corinthians-1545-how-long-until-the-millennial-reign-of-the-last-adam/

The Book of Revelation: A 2016 Perspective
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/30/the-book-of-revelation-a-2016-perspective/

 

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THE BIBLE – The World’s Best Novel. Here Is Why.

MATTHEW-4-4

 “The more we feed our mind with anything in one direction, the more it will wander there. Let us feed our mind with good spiritual food and have it wander in the right direction” (Pastor Charles T. Russell, “What Pastor Russell Said,” page 159).

There is a saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.” It is like this with our natural dispositions—that whatever is “a little piece off” from us we are inclined to want, perhaps like a cow in a paddock who is fed the best grass in her own barn, but when beside the neighbour’s fence, she will try to break through the fence to get to the neighbour’s paddock of grass! But what happens then?!  Let the following picture and the Scriptural admonitions on it do the explaining!

Colossians-2-20-23.jpg

Dear friends, we want to fence ourselves off from the world that we will no longer desire those things, and as the Apostle says, “set our affection on things above and not on things beneath” (Colossians 3:2).

This word “set” suggests a continual setting. Set it today, and tomorrow morning set it early, and if it slips off, set it back again. If it slips off set it back again, and by and by we will be too busy to have time to wander.

Let us not become overcharged with the affairs of this life by very trifling things, things that are not worthy of our attention at all, but foolishness. Let us not give our mind to what another person imagines and made a story about, such as secular entertainment often is. In the Bible we have the most wonderful story, the most wonderful drama that was ever known.

The Bible could be said to have the best plot that any novel ever had or will have. It goes all the way back to the beginning of Creation and shows the garden of Eden in all its beauty and grandeur, then the coming in of the serpent and the temptation of our first parents. Mother Eve was deceived and father Adam, being perplexed, gave his very life for his wife, because he thought he could never live without her. Thus he proceeded against God’s command. He ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9, 17).

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden, a name that means “pleasure” (Strong’s 5730), and separated upstream into four contributing headwaters (Genesis 2:10-14):

  • Pishon—meaning “increase” (Strongs 6376);
  • Gihon—meaning “bursting forth” (Strongs 1521);
  • Tigris (or Hidekel)—meaning “rapid” (Strongs 2313);
  • Euphrates—meaning “fruitful” (Strongs 6578).

 

This river of Eden may represent the “river of water of life” that flows from the throne of God to bless mankind (Revelation 22:1). That river of life is the Gospel, or good news, of salvation through Christ. The life and work of Christ comes to us in four Gospel Accounts, that may be represented by the four headwaters contributing to the river of Eden.

Perhaps also, the four headwaters may somewhat reflect the four categories of humanity during the 1000 year millennial reign of Christ as is reflected in the four divisions of the Levitical priesthood, (explained in the post titled: “Study 6: The Levites”) whereby:

  • The Pishon river that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold (Genesis 2:11) reflects the Amram Levites, who were situated on the eastern side of the Tabernacle and may represent the antitypical “Little Flock” and BRIDE OF CHRIST.

 

  • The Gihon river reflects the Merari Levites who were situated on the northern side of the tabernacle who “burst forth” in service to the Heavenly Father. The Gihon river flows through south-eastern Mesopotamia into Ethiopia – which from time immemorial has been a symbol of servitude so would represent the SERVANTS class before the throne in heaven, the palm-bearers of Revelation who were also of the spirit-begotten class and “called out of Babylon” class—the “great multitude” class. These do not qualify as the Bride of Christ yet are a heavenly class “before the throne” (Revelation 7:15) who “burst forth” with joy in serving the Heavenly Father and The Christ—head and body, who shall then be complete in full glory.

 

  • The Tigris (Hidekel) River means “rapid” and it may reflect the Kohathite Levites who represent the Ancient Worthies who will be the “princes on earth” helping humanity make rapid progress by their work on earth to “rapidly” spread the Truth about righteousness and the need to obey God’s law of love in order to inherit eternal life.

 

  • The Euphrates River – reflects the world of mankind in the kingdom as reflected in the typical picture of the Gershom Levites on the Western side of the Tabernacle arrangement of Israel in the wilderness, who shall be fruitful in the 1000-year Millennium as they walk up the “highway of holiness” to gain eternal life choosing obedience to Godly principles.

 

The Plot Thickens

Then we learn about what disastrous effects of sin have come into the world as the result of Adamic disobedience. We could not have any deeper plot than to think how the Adversary and the fallen angels have conspired to blind and delude men and women from Eden to now.

The picture then reveals our great Creator looking down from His holy habitation, beholding our condition in sin and degradation, hearing the groaning of the prisoners, all going down to the prison house of death.

Can we find any novel more engaging than that?

Only God can help man out of his trouble. No power but God’s can open the bars of the prison‑house of death and bring the prisoners out. Only by choosing to obey God will life eternal, and eternal happiness, result.

God’s eye pitied us, and He extended his Arm to help us, in the person of his son, Jesus, who as our redeemer gave his life a RANSOM FOR ALL.

We read about Jesus redemptive gift toward every single human that ever lived, in 1 Timothy 2:6,

“Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Jesus Christ died the just for the unjust and thus satisfies justice. When the proper time comes for the Millennial Reign of Christ with his Bride class, then mankind will be released from the curse. This will occur, by God’s grace, after the sharers in the anti-typical “sin offering” shall have fulfilled their covenant of sacrifice until death and become the completed Bride of Christ united with their Head, Christ Jesus. Thereafter, the living among mankind who embrace the Kingdom can begin walking up the Highway of Holiness, without passing through the death experience. For the curse will be abated. Subsequently, those raised from the dead will also be invited to walk up that Highway to perfection, if they will (Isaiah chapter 35).

This grand novel provides still more!

What kind of Bride will the Heavenly Father have his Son to possess? She has only the filthy rags of sin and imperfection, yet she desires to be in harmony with God’s will. So Christ, her Bridegroom, provides for her purification, cleansing, and justification. He even provides her a wedding garment.

Is this not a great plot?

Now, what must the Bride do? She must receive this robe of Christ’s righteousness which is to be the wedding garment. A marriage is preparing, and the bride must get ready by getting a robe from the bridegroom.

Then what shall the Bride do with this robe?

She must embroider it. She gets the robe for nothing and has the stamped pattern given to her.

What pattern?

Christ is the pattern and she must do the embroidery work herself. She must work out her own salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), seeing carefully that every stitch on the robe shall conform to the pattern the Lord has given her.

What does the embroidery represent?

It represents the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit. We know that unless we have those fruits and graces, we will never be counted worthy to be a joint‑heir in the Kingdom.

What are the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit?

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self‑control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22‑23).

How long does it take to embroider these?

It takes longer with some and shorter with others. Some can get their hearts fixed on this glorious pattern (Hebrews 12:2) and so appreciate it that it is the great desire of their lives to cultivate these graces of the holy Spirit. As they go to the Lord, the first thing in the morning they say, Lord help me to cultivate the fruits of Thy spirit today.

Why?

Because I want to be pleasing to the Bridegroom, and be ready when he claims his Bride, that I may be counted worthy to enter in as a member of that Bride class (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5). Then all the trials and difficulties we are obliged to pass through, will be finished. He allows us to be tempted in all points like He was tempted.

“14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Why?

Because He wants to have a Bride class who can endure temptation, endure hardness, show loyalty, and manifest that they are not merely so‑so Christians, but really overcomers, seeking to know and to do God’s will. He wants them to love righteousness and truth so that they would lay down their lives in this service, rather than receive the pleasures of sin for a time. He has taken nearly 2000 years so far, for this purpose.

God knew there would not be very many who would love Christ sufficiently to lay down their life in sacrifice with Christ, in difficult circumstances, and thus receive the reward of incorruption and immortality with Christ. Every one of the Bride members will be approved of the Father. Christ will present them blameless and unreprovable before God in love, after they have had all of the necessary trials that permit their share in the blessings (which come from the sufferings for righteousness sake) of Christ.

 

The invitation

Christ invites whom he will, and marks them with the holy Spirit of God. This mark indicates who has been invited to run in the race “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). They are called out of Babylon (Revelation 18:4) and enlisted in a “beauty contest,” like Queen Esther.

It is a beauty contest pertaining to one’s Christlikeness. The criteria are based upon a character of godliness and righteous conduct, reflecting loyalty, trustworthiness, and obedience to God’s will. The overcomers will constitute a loyal Bride of Christ forever.

This “calling out” or “marking” with the holy Spirit of God allows them to understand His Divine plan and character. This is part of the betrothal process. We are engaged to Christ now and everything depends upon our developing proper Christian character, upon wearing our robe, and upon showing our love and zeal by the embroidering our robe with the fruits and graces of the spirit.

Then what?

Then comes the marriage of the Lamb when the Bride has made herself ready.

What is the marriage all about between Christ and His “little flock”?

The marriage will be our collective union with the Lord.

How will it be brought about?

By the change from imperfect human nature to Divine nature—“changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Then we are to be forever with the Lord.

And is there a supper, or something?

Yes, or we might call it a breakfast, as it is in the morning. The word “supper” comes from the terms “to sup.” You may sup in the morning, noon or evening. It means to eat. This supper is to be the first great banquet that we will have on the other side of the vail.

Who could ever imagine that such a most wonderful drama is found in the Bible?

And what next?

Well, before the supper begins they will wait a little while for the Bridesmaids, comprising a secondary company. They were part of the church at one time; they made a consecration and were begotten of the holy Spirit, just the same as the Bride class, but they failed to make their calling and election sure to the high position to which they were invited. They were not sufficiently zealous and loyal.

Were they disloyal?

Oh, No! No disloyal ones will be given anything at God’s hands. By and by they will come up through great tribulation and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and be before the throne instead of on the throne. They will have palms of victory instead of crowns of glory.

So we read in Psalms that after Jesus, the King, shall introduce the Bride before the Father, then the virgins, her companions that followed after her, shall also be brought into the presence of the King (Psalms 45:14). Oh, there is a grand drama there in all that Bible picture!

Then have we anything more? Yes, the King and Queen are going to reign for a thousand years, and everybody is going to be blessed. In all that empire there will be no attempt to take from the people their rights, and make everything subservient to the King, and the people poor. The very reverse of this. The King will take delight in lifting the people up, refreshing them, and bringing them to perfection. Then, by the end of the thousand years, when all the unfit ones are destroyed from amongst the people, all of these grand beings will show forth the praises of God.

Is there anything more?

Astronomers tell us that numerous stars are suns like our sun, with planets around them as the planets around our own sun. Are these worlds yet to be inhabited? If God formed the earth to be inhabited, might other planets someday be inhabited? We think so.

Then who is to do that great work?

God says that Christ shall be first in all things, so that will put Him first in that great work. Who will come next in God’s arrangement? The Lord says that the church shall be next to him. Now we have Christ and the Church and a great work for them for all eternity in peopling millions of worlds.

Can anyone make a greater drama than this?

My heart rejoices and overflows with gratitude to God for the privilege now of having a chance to become an heir of God and a joint‑heir with Jesus Christ, my Savior.

We have all been called in one hope of our calling (Ephesians 4:4), and this is the hope of our calling. Is it sufficiently grand for you? Do you know of any other kind of business in which you could become so rich as that?

The Scriptures are indeed right when they tell us about the riches of God’s grace, and when Jesus tells us of the pearl of great price, it is a valuable pearl indeed. If any man once gets his eyes on it, and appreciates the value of our heavenly calling, then let him dispose of everything he has in order to win that prize. So let us do, dear friends.

1-corinthians-9-24

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Russell. The content of the above post is based on the written content of Br. Charles Russell in “What Pastor Russell Said” (page 159), titled “CONSECRATION‑Proper Use of Time,” Question 158:1 (1913), Should Christians spend their time reading worldly magazines and newspapers?

Br. David Rice—Editing.

Suggested Further Reading

How To Study The Bible And Have It Make Sense.
https://chicagobible.org/images/storie/pdf/HOW%20TO%20STUDY%20THE%20BIBLE.PDF

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1 CORINTHIANS 15:45 – How Long Until the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

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“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life‑giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Of the two natures, human nature and spirit nature, Br. Charles T. Russell wrote in R1259:5: “As surely as there are natural, human or earthly bodies, so surely also there is such a thing as a heavenly or spirit body.”

Adam was the first human man and all the peoples of the earth are descended from Adam, no matter how different in color, stature, intelligence, etc. they may now be (R2344:6). Adam generated no children until first Eve had been taken from his side (R4556:2). The first Adam is the sample of what an earthly body will attain to in the resurrection. (R1855:2, R3564:3).

The Apostle Paul in this statement from 1 Corinthians 15:45 does not contrast Adam and Jesus, but speaks of the “first Adam” and the “last Adam.” Christ is very unlike Adam. Jesus was obedient. However, Adam and Eve in some respects foreshadowed Christ and the Church in the sense that Christ will be the Great Life‑giver, or Father of mankind, while the Church (Hebrews 12:23, 2 Timothy 2:10) will be the mother or caretaker of the regenerated hosts (R5141:5, 777:1).

Jesus as the “Last Adam”

Jesus, as a “last Adam,” presently lifts us from condemnation and restores us to the fellowship of God through redemption. The saints have been regenerated by our Lord from heaven, but rather than grow to human perfection, they sacrifice their justified bodies in the service of Christ for a higher calling, theHigh calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). These, if faithful to their calling, will become, symbolically, a spiritual “bride” for Christ (Revelation 21:2). Then Christ and the Church will together restore and uplift the world, and bring them back to perfection during the Millennium. In this way Christ will be a “second Adam” or life giver to the world, and the Church will be a second “Eve” to nurture and assist them.

Adam was made a living soul since he was given a natural body, which is earthly. The “last Adam,” or life‑giving being, is Jesus, who from his resurrection forward is a glorious spirit being of highest magnitude.

“Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3, KJV).

Eve was drawn from Adam when his side was opened up after he passed into a deep sleep. She was formed from a rib of Adam, “bone of my bones” (Genesis 2:23). Jesus also was caused to pass into a deep sleep, the sleep of death, and then his side was opened up by the spear of the soldier at the cross (John 19:34). From this came blood and water, which represents redemption and the water of the Spirit, by which the Church class is developed.

The Church class are “bone” of Jesus’ bones, in the sense that bones represent one’s hopes for the future. We share the same hopes for glory in the service of God, as our Lord Jesus had. Of Jesus it was said that “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36). That means that despite the tortuous trials and treatment suffered by Jesus, not one of his prospects for the future was in the least damaged. Those same prospects are sure for his bride also, “bone” of his bones.

The Bride of Christ shall be made Christ’s joint‑heir and help mate in the Kingdom who’s role will be to nourish and instruct all the willing and obedient back into harmony with God during the Millennial age (R4556:2, R5967).

“The plan of God proposes that the second Adam shall in relation to Adam take his place as the life‑giver to a race who shall possess the earth and enjoy it… as Father to our race does our Lord correspond to Adam—as the second Adam” (R4556:2). He is called the second Adam, in that he takes the place of the first Adam—undertakes to be the Father and life‑giver to Adam and every member of his race” (Expanded Biblical Comments). Upon condition of their obedience to him, they may then obtain everlasting life.

Our Redeemer presently enlivens us, in the respect that our old nature has been lifted from condemnation. This allows us to present ourselves in devotion and service to God, in order that we may grow a new life, a spiritual life, a heavenly life, to be secured in the first resurrection. Of that life God is Father, our “Heavenly Father.” “In accepting Christ as Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned no longer as a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the ‘last Adam,’ having a new life in Christ” (R1438:1). Our renewed standing is then laid down in sacrifice to God for the prospect of a heavenly life above. Our higher prospect is mentioned in Ephesians 2:6, NIV, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

How Long from the Creation of Adam to the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

The period in question, judging by the Hebrew Scriptures, was on the order of 4000 years. As we are now on the order of 2000 years further, brethren of our fellowship recognize that it is now timely for the blessed Kingdom of God to become established on Earth. For there is a long standing view, held even by Jewish Sages in pre‑Christian times, that God intended a millennium of blessing for the world following six millenniums of sin and death.

The Holy Scriptures refer to a “day” with God as a thousand years:

“A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday [one day] when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

By this measure, the six days of labor in the Jewish economy represent 6000 years of sin and death, and the sabbath of rest represents the 1000 year Millennium of restoration (Revelation 20:1‑6).

Ezekiel 46:1 (ESV) expresses this concept symbolically. “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day [the 7th day, which represents the Millennial Age of Revelation 20:4‑6] it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon [when a new covenant will be inaugurated with Israel] it shall be opened.”

With this hope in mind, Christians throughout history have endeavoured to estimate when the close of 6000 years may come.

 A Historical Perspective

In the days of William Miller and the early Adventist Movement, they supposed 6000 years were drawing to a close in the mid 1800s. In fact, William Miller concluded that Christ would return in 1843, assuming that 6000 years would end then. When Christ did not return as expected, some brethren gave up their faith but others simply recognized that they needed to keep looking. Br. Nelson Barbour was among those. He came to believe that Jesus would return in 1873. Therefore, he assumed that 6000 years would end about that time. He went looking, and found in EB Elliott’s work, “Horae Apocalypticae,” written in the early 1800s, a version of Bible chronology suggested there that shows how 6000 years might conclude somewhere near the year 1872.

Br. Barbour was a younger associate of Br. Miller, so he followed Br. Miller’s assumption that 6000 years would approximately mark the return of Christ. As far as we know, Br. Barbour did not consider another option—namely that 6000 years would take us to the completion of the Church, rather than simply to the return of Christ.

Br. Russell met Br. Barbour in Philadelphia in 1876, and accepted the prophetic package, as it seemed reasonable. At the time they anticipated that the Church would be complete in 1878, after that they supposed it would be in 1881, and subsequently the expectation was reset to 1914. But concerns persisted. It seemed that a seventh “day” had commenced, and yet the “thousand years” of Revelation 20:4,6, was deferred. How could this be explained?

Some of the dear brethren seem unaware of the perplexity expressed on this issue by Pastor Russell himself. However, his words are clear and to the point about the uncertainty. It thus surprises us that even some who honor and revere his service bypass the important and specific points he advised brethren of, respecting this. However, the issue did not escape the attention of brethren in Pastor Russell’s own day. Thus, near the end of the year 1900, the following specific question was submitted to Pastor Russell.

“I understand from Revelation 20:4-6 that Christ will reign one thousand years, and from verses 2 and 7 that Satan will be bound during that period. If Christ began to reign in 1878, and Satan will not be bound until 1915, the two periods do not seem to synchronize; and … both extend beyond the seventh-thousand year period which … began in the Autumn of 1872. … Can you assist me?” (R2739

Pastor Russell’s answer is very different from what some appear to suppose it should have been.

Some today appear to suppose that the right answer would have been, “The reign, the binding of Satan, and the 1000 years all began in 1874.”

But not a word of this in Pastor Russell’s actual reply.

Instead, he refers to the “obscurity” of the issue as “an open question” that, at the time, was “not now ‘meat in due season for the household of faith.’ ” However, Pastor Russell did affirm the following part of the answer.

“The Scripture declaration respecting the saints, the ‘overcomers’ is, ‘They lived and reigned a thousand years.’ The reign of the saints cannot be properly said [R2740: page 368] to begin before all the ‘jewels’ have been gathered, nor before ‘the times of the Gentiles’ end, in 1914.”

It is clear from this direct answer to the brother’s question—on an issue that was declared as of then unresolved—that the 1000 years of Revelation 20:6 would not begin until the Church was complete. It was not apparent how this synchronized with the then-current view that 6000 years had been completed.

Pastor Charles Russell continued to affirm his view that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 would not commence until the Church was completed. Nor does he express any view other than this, respecting Revelation 20 directly. In R3460 (Diagram 3), you will find a diagram showing 1000 years beginning in 1914, when he supposed the Church to be complete. He later supplemented this with the following comments in later years.

R5115“The Church shall have passed into glory … Messiah will then reign for a thousand years.”

R5604 “The great Battle of Armageddon … will precede … Messiah’s glorious rule of a thousand years … (Revelation 20:6).”

R5692“Messiah’s kingdom shall be fully inaugurated. Then these shall … reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4.)

R5919The Kingdom cannot come until the Royal Family is ready to take the Throne. Jesus, indeed, has long been ready; but in harmony with the Father’s Plan He has waited and has been doing a work in the preparation of the Church, His brethren, who are to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom—otherwise styled ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.’ (Romans 8:17; Revelation 21:9,10.) Then for a thousand years the Restitution privileges will be open to the whole world of mankind. It will no longer be necessary to preach; for all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest, and unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Jeremiah 31:34; Philippians 2:9-11.)”

There is more. Sometime late in the year 1913, Br. Russell changed the chart to accord with the expression cited just above. Early on, the period from the parousia of Christ forward was labeled “Millennial Age.” But late in 1913, Pastor Russell changed the designation to the broad Messianic Age.”

Why this change?

The reason seems apparent. Strictly speaking, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-6 would not begin until the end of the Harvest. Thus, if one begins a period incipiently from the parousia forward, better to give it a more general designation, “Messianic Age,” to avoid the inference that the 1000 years proper, of Revelation 20:4-6, had commenced.

A perceptive awareness of these points is the foundation for a recent presentation by Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications,” which explains these points in remarkable detail. This presentation is specially excellent for brethren with high regard for the teaching of Pastor Russell.

What is the Answer?

What, then, is the answer to the question that has spurred so much discussion during the Harvest period? Namely—how does one reconcile the end of 6000 years early in the harvest of the Gospel Age, with the fact that the thousand years of Revelation 20:4-6 begins at the close of the harvest?

The answer is now at hand.

In the century and a half since the harvest began, and decades after Pastor Russell completed his course, the history of the Old Testament has clarified. 

Not because of the wisdom of men, but because it was God’s due time for greater clarity, to direct the Church to the approaching climax of their hopes.

The timeline from the Hebrew scriptures directly, respecting the synchronisms of the kings of Israel and Judah, shows that some of the kings of Judah (and of Israel) overlapped one another, in periods of coregencies. The testimony of these facts comes from the scriptures directly. However, the issues had not been solved while Pastor Russell lived. It was premature. “We may see some day just how [these synchronisms in the Hebrew Scriptures] can be harmonized, but at present we do not” (Question Book, page 42).

The overlapping of Judean kings, testified to in the Old Testament Scriptures, reduces the period of Kings from 513 years to 463 years. Affixing the end of this period to the firm date of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, establishes the year in which Israel’s last king, Zedekiah, lost his throne, was in 587 bc.

This means that we can now date the spring of Solomon’s fourth year to 966 bc, at which time was founded (but not yet operational) “Solomon’s Temple,” referred to in 1 Kings 6:1. From that text we can then place the Exodus at 1445 bc. (Note: 1445 bc is discussed in the following post: STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night.)

As detailed in Volume Two of Studies in the Scriptures—“The Time is at Hand,” by Br. Charles Russell (page 43-47)—the time from Adam to the Exodus is widely agreed among brethren to be 2513 years. That is:

From Adam to the Flood

From the Covenant with Abraham to the giving of the law.jpg

If we now count from the Exodus date of 1445 bc, a period of 2513 years backward to Adam, the result is the date 3958 bc for the creation of Adam. Six thousand years forward from there will be the year 2043 ad—thus the date opening the Seventh Millennium, which apparently is the same as the 1000 year Millennium of Revelation chapter 20.

Now the answer to the conundrum that Pastor Russell said was an “open question” in his day, can be resolved—for it is timely, inasmuch as the end of the harvest approaches. The resolution is straight forward. The end of 6000 years of permission of evil synchronizes with the close of the harvest, rather than with the opening of the harvest. With this key, all is harmonious.

 

Acknowledgements

 

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The Origin and Meaning of Easter & Lent

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The Word Easter in the Bible

The only place in the Bible where the word “Easter” is found is in Acts 12:4, yet it is a mistranslation of the Greek word pascha. The word pascha should properly have been translated “Passover” (Strong’s G3957, “pascha, the Passover”). It has been correctly translated Passover in most modern translations. The corresponding word in the Hebrew Old Testament is Strong’s H6453, pecach, also defined as Passover.

Acts 12:4 describes events that took place in the springtime when the Apostle Peter’s apprehension and imprisonment by King Herod coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover, after Herod had earlier arrested and killed the Apostle James, brother of the Apostle John. In respect of Jewish religious custom, Herod waited till after Passover to act on Peter’s fate, planning to kill Peter as he had James. God did not allow this, and sent an angel to free Peter. Soon after, Herod himself was struck dead of a ghastly disease (Acts 12:23).

The “four quaternions (“squads”—in the NIV) of soldiers” (Acts 12:4) refers to four groups of four soldiers each, perhaps each group of four serving in rotation through the 24 hour day, at Jerusalem. During each period four soldiers guarded one prisoner as indicated in Acts 12:6—Peter was chained to one soldier on either side, with two guarding at the doorway.

A Real Angel, A Real Deliverer

During the festive week of Passover and Unleavened Bread, God’s mighty power delivered Peter from prison and death in a miraculous manner.

“The angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. (10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:8-10).

“It is worthy of notice that the miracles performed here were only such as were beyond Peter’s natural power. Whatever he could do he was required to do, namely, putting on of his sandals and his cloak, and following the angel. He could have been transported. His own sandals or other sandals could have been fastened to his feet. A new coat might have been provided. But the lesson is a more profitable one as it was given. Similarly in the Lord’s dealings with us today, we should remember that it is ours to do everything within our power, and the Lord’s to overrule all things for our good, and to supply our deficiencies from his abundance. Thus still he gives us day by day our daily bread, in the rain and the sunshine and the seed; but he expects us to labor for it, to plow the ground, to sow the seed, to harrow it, to thrash it, grind it and bake it.

” ‘When Peter was come to himself,’ when he realized the facts in the case, that he was free, he said, ‘Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod and … of the Jews.’ St. Peter’s faith was strengthened. Willing to die, he found that the Lord was willing that he should live and labor and endure, and he was equally pleased, rejoicing, we may be sure, for the privilege of further service, even though it would mean further sacrifices and sufferings for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of his people” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

From this account in Acts chapter 12, we are assured that “the Heavenly Father himself loves us and that all the heavenly powers are pledged to those whom he has accepted in Christ Jesus, and these unitedly guarantee blessings to all those who abide in God’s love. This means to abide in faith in the Redeemer. It means to abide loyal to our consecration, to do the Father’s will to the extent of our ability. That will is declared to be, that we shall love the Lord supremely, our neighbor as ourselves, and all the members of the household of faith, as Christ loved us” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).

Why Easter Sunday?

Dear friends, have you ever wondered WHY Easter Sunday is one of the most sacred Christian holidays?

It is because Christian churches have generally adopted Easter Sunday as the resurrection day and the proper time to celebrate the raising of Jesus Christ from the grave, which occurred on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus died on Nisan 14th  (Friday, about 3 pm, 33 AD), and was raised the following Sunday morning, Nisan 16th. This was the “third day” counting inclusively—Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1‑2, John 20:1, Luke 24:1,24, 1 Corinthians 15:4).

Later on, it was determined in the Christian world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday, and remember the death of Christ by Good Friday, irrespective of whether Nisan 14th and 16th on the Jewish calendar actually falls on Friday or Sunday in a given year. Among brethren of the Bible Student fellowship, it is different. Jesus sat with his disciples for his “Last Supper” (Luke 22:20) on the evening that had just begun the calendar day Nisan 14th, and there instituted a memorial of his approaching death. We customarily observe our Memorial accordingly—on the night following Nisan 13th—that is, the night which technically begins the calendar day Nisan 14th. This year, in 2017, that means a Sunday night (April 9th) memorial of Jesus’ death, but the day of the week varies year by year.

Further in this post we shall explain why “Good Friday” is not celebrated by the Christian world closest to the exact day of our Lord’s commemorated day of death. But in brief, here, it is because of the decision made by the Papal Anti-Christ church (lead by Constantine as we explain later) and they were not concerned about the Jewish date of Jesus’ death. Their new rule (established in 325 A.D.) fixed it relative to the equinox rather than relative to the Jewish calendar. The truth of the matter is, that it is Nisan 14th which the Bible explains is the date when the memorial of our Lord’s death is to be annually commemorated—not the nearest Sunday to this or any other date.

Pagan Influences Came in Later

Today, in our memorial supper, we recognize the influence of the Hebrew traditions by observing it according to the days of the Jewish calendar. The celebration is not of the Jewish Passover, however, but of the sacrificial death of our redeemer, Jesus, the antitypical Passover Lamb. Subsequently, however, pagan influences also blended with popular Christian observances.

(a) The name “Easter” is from Ishtar—who was the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. The Phoenicians called her Astarte (a sister and consort of Baal,) a god worshipped in many parts of the eastern world. Some of the ancient Hebrews also worshipped Baal.

(b) In Europe, Eostre (with variations in spelling) became the Anglo‑Saxon goddess of spring, emphasizing fertility and the rising sun. The month of April was dedicated to her, and the Old English word for Easter was “Eastre” which refers to Eostre. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when day and night receive an equal share of light and darkness.

(c) During the early Middle Ages, Christian missionaries seeking to convert the barbaric tribes of northern Europe realized that the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection also coincided with the Teutonic springtime celebrations. The Teutonic goddess of fertility, Ostare, derives her name from the ancient word for spring. As the days of approaching spring grew longer, celebrations coinciding with the spring equinox emphasized the end of winter and a rebirth of nature, triumphing life over death. The Christian missionaries taught that this time also pointed to the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter Eggs and Bunnies

Eggs symbolize birth, fertility, and new life in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians and Persians would hand out coloured eggs as gifts during their springtime festivals.

Europeans during the Middle Ages, collected eggs of different colours from the nests of various birds, using them as charms to avert evil and bring good fortune.

The Easter egg hunt custom was gradually phased out by the more popular egg painting custom where colourful eggs were hidden and children as well as others would search for them. Eggs were painted in bright colours to resemble the sun, the arrival of spring, and fertility, while Easter baskets, holding the collected eggs, were intended to resemble bird’s nests. Polish people today still decorate their eggs with many traditional symbols for Easter, many of them with religious representations.

Rabbits have also served as fertility symbols in some ancient cultures. Legends from ancient Egypt connected the rabbit with the moon because of their nocturnal feeding habits. This association with the moon is also thought to have originated with those who watched the cycles of the moon to determine the precise date of the approaching change of season, and the accompanying celebration. This event took place on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

The first documented use of hares for the Easter festival was in Germany during the 1500’s. Later, edible Easter bunnies were prepared with pastry and sugar. These traditions made their way to America during the 1700’s by the Pennsylvania Dutch who had emigrated from Germany. During the years following the American Civil War, handcrafted chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits became increasingly popular.

Hot Cross Buns

Australians also celebrate Easter with hot cross buns, a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was around 1733. They are traditionally eaten on “Good Friday” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India. The cross on the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside are meant to remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus” (See Mark 16:1, Luke 23:54‑56, Luke 24:1).

John 19:39 says that Nicodemus also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, “about an hundred pound weight,” for the burial of Jesus. The number 100 is used for Jesus in the Tabernacle, as the square measure of the gate, door, and vail, representing that Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” for those who follow him (John 14:6). Also, there were 100 sockets of silver as a foundation for the Tabernacle, coming from the Ransom money of the Israelites, representing Jesus as the Ransom and foundation for God’s Plan of Atonement (Exodus 38:25-27).

Myrrh, a bitter herb, represents suffering, and aloes is used for healing. Thus these two elements represent the suffering of Jesus, from which comes the healing from sin and death from Jesus’ death. When Jesus is depicted as a king in glory, his “garments smell of myrrh, and aloes”these very two fragrances (Psalm 45:8). For Christ in his resurrection glory has achieved a death of suffering that brings healing for the world.

Lent

Does the Bible teach us to celebrate or commemorate Lent?

The following is an extract from a website by the Uniting Methodist Church explaining what “Lent” is about—a practice not observed within the Bible Student Movement:

“Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means ‘spring.’ The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

“Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a ‘mini‑Easter’ and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”

There is no direct reference of this practice, of Lent, in the Scriptures. However, this pleasant custom probably has benefited various ones who applied themselves to it through the centuries, if it focused their minds and hearts on proper spiritual values. However, if afterward its observers supposed they were free at other times to practice worldly principles, then they would have missed the true value. A consecrated believer should remember that their life of service here first of all involves purity of heart and mind, always (James 3:17).

The Catholic Church believes that “Lent” is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. This may have useful benefits. However, for the true Christian, their entire consecrated life should be one of devotion.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).

Fasting can be a good practice at any time of the year, both for our physical benefit, and for mortifying the things of the flesh, to focus on things of the Spirit. Sometimes eating less can cause the mind to sharpen. We are to be continuously humble and lowly of heart, as was Jesus (Matthew 11:29, Luke 2:37). Weaning away from earthly attractions, it can help us also to be satisfied with whatever God permits us to have in other temporal commodities also—food, housing, car, or job. God gives us what we need. If we experience some discomfort for the flesh, it can augment our hope for and appreciation of the spiritual values, and spiritual promises, that exceed anything Earth can provide.

Regarding the practice of baptism at Lent season—perhaps this custom also had some beneficial results. However, it is not something mentioned in the New Testament, and baptism is appropriate at any time of year, when the believer determines to proceed in full commitment to God, with a personal consecration of themselves and their life to Him. Thus it is not reserved for a particular month of the year. See the post titled: What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ? and What Does Being Consecrated To The Lord Mean?

Pastor Charles Russell’s Comments about Lent

The following is an extract from Reprint 3170.

“Our best wish for all the people of New York and of the whole world would be that all or at least some of them, may observe Lent and join in such petitions heartily: if but one in a hundred of those who will observe the Lenten season will do so, it will surely mean a great revival in their own hearts.

“To us who observe the Memorial Supper on its anniversary only, the occasion is one of the greater solemnity, and may well be approached with the greater reverence. We commend to all of ‘this way’ (Acts 9:2) that the interim between now and the Memorial (April 10th) be specially a season of prayer and fasting—drawing near to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:5). True, the Lord’s consecrated people are continually to live as separate from sin and from the mind of the flesh as possible, and are to “pray without ceasing”; but, as the Apostle intimates, there may profitably be special seasons of this kind; and surely none more appropriate than this Memorial season. The fasting which we urge may or may not affect the food and drink, according to the judgment of each, respecting what diet will best enable him to glorify God and to keep his “body under.” We refer specially to abstention from all “fleshly lusts which war against the soul”; these appetites always under restraint with the saints, may well be specially mortified at this time.”

However as the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 7:29‑31, our “fasting” or “mortification” should be a daily act moment by moment to those who have fully enlisted in the Priesthood of complete consecration in the “School of Christ” as far as it be reasonably possible and all depends on one’s level of maturity in Christ:

” (29) This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, (30) and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, (31) and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29‑31).

Hebrew Customs

Concerning our opening text (Acts 12:4), let us consider the relationship between the Easter festival and the Hebrew Passover.

Passover is the oldest and most revered festival in Judaism. It is observed in the spring, in the month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious new year (Exodus 12:2). As Jewish months began with a new moon, the timing of Passover about halfway through the month puts it about the time of full moon. The afternoon that Jesus died was the time a full moon, and this represented that Israel’s favor was full—but because of their rejection of Christ, their favor would wane and diminish.

The Jewish Passover, under the administration of Moses, commemorated Israel’s deliverance from centuries of Egyptian bondage. The firstborn among the Israelites where passed over by the angel of death during the final plague suffered by Egypt. That tenth plague forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from a life of compulsory servitude.

The Passover is celebrated on an annual basis in accordance with the instructions that were given by God to Moses:

“The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover” (Numbers 9:1‑4).

Our Lord Jesus became the antitypical Passover Lamb (John 1:29) when he gave his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, during the time of the Jewish Passover.

Christian Traditions

Though the Easter festival became well‑established and accepted by Christians by the second century after Jesus’ death, there had been considerable debate between the Eastern and Western divisions of the Church over the exact date the event should be celebrated.

The Eastern Church preferred to not hold it as an annual Sunday event, but rather to observe it on whatever day Nisan 14 fell. These early Christians wanted to time the observance according to the timing of the Hebrew type. The Western Church, on the other hand, wanted to remember the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday—Easter Sunday—regardless of the day of the week indicated by the Jewish calendar (Exodus 12).

Emperor Constantine wished to resolve this issue at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. The question of the Easter date was one of the main issues of concern. After lengthy dispute, the council was unanimous in its decision that Easter should always fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. After further discussion, it was decided that March 21st was to be the date for the spring equinox. This dating process has been the general guideline for most of Christendom ever since.

In Remembrance of Me

Students of the Bible stand free from many of the long‑standing traditions that have been passed down to us from the past. Their faith is based on the meaning and partaking of the symbolic emblems that represent our Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus’ request given to his disciples that night in the upper room were, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Every consecrated child of God joyfully accepts the privilege of partaking of the bread, representing Jesus’ flesh, and drinking of the cup, representing Jesus’ shed blood. This is the true meaning and purpose of observing this most important occasion each year on the 14th day of the first month Nisan.

Church of the Firstborn

In his letter to the Hebrew brethren, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “church of the firstborn” whose names are “written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). Elsewhere, he explains that they are walking with our Lord in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). They also remember his death, and solemnly renew their consecration to God annually by partaking of the meaningful symbols, bread and wine.

In keeping the type of Exodus 12, the blood of each lamb that was slain in Egypt that night was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the houses of Israel.

  • Each Jewish household represents the Household of faith, that is, all believers in Christ. This includes both spirit begotten and non‑spirit begotten, both fully consecrated and not yet consecrated, both the baptized into Christ and not‑yet baptized into Christ, who believe in the blood of Christ as the redemptive value that saves us from the curse of Adamic death. On that night, however, only the firstborn were under jeopardy, as only the firstborn has a spiritual life that could be lost.
  • That all believers benefit from the Passover sacrifice is reflected in the deliverance of all the Israelites through the Red Sea, subsequent to the Passover night. (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Here are some lovely words by Br. Charles Russell on the Household of Faith, from Reprint 5457. “These words “Household of Faith”—are broad enough to include not only those who are fully in the way, but also those who have made more or less of an approach unto the Lord and the Truth. The very fact that any one is drawing near to the antitypical Tabernacle is a strong reason why we should wish to encourage him to press on. He has come a part of the way, even if he has not made a consecration.

In a strict sense, the Household of Faith, of course, includes only those who are consecrated. But the words of the Apostle justify us in believing that those who are considering the matter, counting the cost, would in a broad sense be counted as of the Household of Faith. And we are to give these special assistance—all in whom we see any prospect of consecration. Our constant desire and effort should be to point men directly or indirectly to the Lord. Thus we shall be showing ‘forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ ”

  • Each slain lamb—represents the antitypical Lamb of God: Christ Jesus.
  • The firstborn Israelites in each familyillustrate the Christ, head and body, the “church of the firstborn.”
  • The bitter herbs that were eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—illustrate the trials and afflictions that are experienced by the Lord’s people during the present Gospel Age.
  • The unleavened bread eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—represents our wish to be purged from the leaven of sin, as we feast upon the merits of our Lord’s sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
  • The household joining eating the Passover lambrepresents our common participation, our sharing together, of the merits of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16,17).

Those who are faithful to their High Calling will be privileged to share in the deliverance of the poor groaning creation during Christ’s future kingdom, as proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:22, 23).

Christ our Passover Lamb

The Apostle Paul directs our attention to the significance of the Passover type and our need to purge out all unrighteousness and sin (pictured by leaven). He wrote to the Corinthians brethren,

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7,8).

The Jewish people were to slay their Passover lambs on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the Jewish New Year. This was the exact time many centuries later when our Lord Jesus, as the antitypical Passover Lamb, died for the sins of the whole world of mankind.

All who recognize Jesus as the true Passover Lamb and have accepted the merit of his shed blood on their behalf, may appropriate the merit of that blood by purifying their hearts from a consciousness of evil. Because of their faith in the blood of Jesus, they are privileged to enjoy a new relationship and standing before God.

The Lamb of God

When John saw Jesus coming toward him, he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Later, the Apostle Peter, when comparing earthly riches with the true value of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18), speaks of the exceeding value of Jesus’ blood of sacrifice, as “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (verse 19).

God’s wonderful plan of reconciliation for the sins of the whole world will become manifest to all during the Millennial Kingdom soon to be established. The meaning of “Christ our Passover” takes on a deeper significance when we look forward to the time when the entire human family will praise God for the gift of his beloved Son, the “Lamb of God,” that takes away the sins of the world.

Acknowledgment:

The Dawn Bible Students’ Magazine—Article from the Highlights of Dawn, April 2006. “Easter—It’s Pagan Origins and True Meaning,” used to present this post.

Bro. Charles T. Russell, The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. David Rice—editing assistance.

The Uniting Methodist Church website—for references cited from “What Is Lent and why does it last 40 days?”

The URL of this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/04/07/the-origin-and-meaning-of-easter-lent/

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STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.

THE GATE. THE DOOR. THE VAIL..jpg

There were three entrances in the Tabernacle arrangement which include:-

  1. the “gate” to the “outer court” (Exodus 27:16-19).
  2. the “door” to the “holy place” (Exodus 26:36-37; 36:37-38).
  3. the “vail” to the “holy of holies.” (i.e. “Most Holy”) (Exodus 26:31-33).

All three entrances were made of the same material: a fine white woven linen with blue, purple and scarlet threads running through the material (Exodus 38:18).

All three entrances had the the same dimensions as regards their area, that is, they were all 100 square cubits a number representing Christ Jesus:

  • The gate was 20 cubits long x 5 cubits high (Exodus 38:18);
  • The door and the veil were 10 x 10 cubits — SQUARE — a symbol of PERFECTION (equality on every side)!

NOTE: For the door, we do not have an explicit text for its measurements however the boards were 10 cubits high (Leviticus 26:16). As to the width, we infer from the 20 cubits of Solomon’s Temple that the Tabernacle was half the size (1 Kings 6:2) — thus, 10 cubits wide. The back of the Tabernacle was defined by 6 board of a cubit and a half, so 9 cubits interior — the two sides, if each 1/2 cubit thick, would constitute 10 cubits outside dimension of the Tabernacle. If the door was sufficient to cover this, then it was 10 cubits wide.

This teaches us that the same truth seems therefore to be embodied in each of these typical curtains. The same Jesus is portrayed in each. There could be no access to God, of any kind, whether of comparatively distant worship, or of closest intimacy, but through the one door, the Lord Jesus. “I am the door” (John 10:7).

The value of 100 also “beautifully correlates to the “redemption price” of the “firstborns” which was five shekels at 20 gerahs per shekel: 100 gerahs (also representing Christ Jesus)! (Numbers 3:46,47; 18:15,16)” (Notes on the Tabernacle, page 100).

Jesus is our entry into:

  • justification (the gate into the court),
  • sanctification (the door into the Holy) and
  • glorification (the vail into the Most Holy).

(1) THE GATE

the-gate-beauties-of-the-tabernacle

The gate was the only way into the court and represents our Lord Jesus who said of himself, “I am the door. Whoever enters through me, will be saved” (John 10:9, NIV).

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV).

By faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice, represented in the Brazen altar, we enter the ‘gate’ to the ‘Court’ — the vail of unbelief and sin is passed” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22).

The gate was wider than any of the other entrances, enabling all Israelites to enter the court. The width of the entrance shows that God makes grace available to many for “many are called but few are chosen(Matthew 22:14).

In Exodus 40:33 we read, And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.”

The root word of “gate” from Exodus 40:33 is shâʻar, shaw-ar’ and means, to split or open, reason out, estimate… and the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon writes: “to set free… to set a price” and Jesus most certainly did “set free” every human from the curse of sin.

The gate, (as also the door and the vail) was really a “hanging.” (See Exodus 27:9, 16; 26:31,32, 36).

All three entrances were suspended by way of metal (silver or gold) hooks from the pillars which supported them (Exodus 38:19; 26:32,37). (See Study 4 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.”) There were no curtain rods nor any other device by way of which these “hangings” could be raised up or pulled to one side.

To enter the court, and thus, in order to pass “beneath” the “hangings,” one had to lift the bottom of the curtain and stoop down and go under the curtain. This bowing to enter shows a right attitude of heart, for when we come to Christ we come humbly in need of a Saviour. The man who will not bow his knee and his heart to Christ, cannot enter in (Psalm 99:5, Ephesians 3:14, Matthew 19:24).

We can only approach Jehovah God, by recognizing Jesus’ merit and through the eyes of a New Creation mind — the mind that was also in our Lord Jesus.

There were no cherubim interwoven into this outdoor screen surrounding the court area and the gate, unlike that of the vail. (We discuss about the cherubim a little later in this Study.)

The tribe of Judah, the kingly tribe, camped outside the Eastern Gate. The name Judah means “praise,” and Jesus was descended from this tribe (Hebrews 7:14).

The Four Posts at the Gate

There were FOUR posts at the Gate (Exodus 27:16-19).

Perhaps FOUR here, could represent the four authors of the Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) who most conspicuously held up Christ’s character before the world and who are the instruments used to build our faith into Christ — by studying about Jesus and getting to know who he is and thus how to become like him, and learning about what he taught to likewise follow his teachings and spread the lessons to all who have a listening ear.

(2) THE DOOR

the-five-posts-at-the-door-of-the-tabernacle

The “door” was the one entrance into the Holy (which represents the spirit begotten condition of the “little flock” class — see Study 3 of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” series of posts on this website).

The door of the Tabernacle is of finely twisted linen (Exodus 26:36) because Jesus has completely satisfied the justice of God.

It is white to express the purity and righteousness of Jesus’ character. Jesus was the one without sin and without stain or blemish (1 Peter 1:19).

As was the gate and veil, this door was made of “blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer” (Exodus 36:37).

The door would have been thick enough to block light and it was in the Holy Place where the golden lampstand was (which stood directly opposite the table on the south side) and it was to burn continuously both night and day (Exodus 27:20-21).

The Materials Used for the Fabric of the Sanctuary

Flax and goat’s hair were the materials used for the fabrics of the sanctuary. According to Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, “the flax was dyed before it was spun into thread.”

weavers.jpgHere is an image of two Israelite women moving the “weavers beam” forward on a large vertical loom as they make fine twisted linen.

In Exodus 35:25 we read, “And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. 26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

In the above verse, “wise-hearted” women refers to all who had sufficient skill. Although both men and women of ancient Egypt spun thread, spinning seems to have been done primarily by the Hebrew women. It was effected in early times by means of a wheel and spindle, with or without a distaff. (Reference: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000994).

Jesus Christ referred to spinning when he urged his disciples, not to be unduly anxious about clothing, but to trust in God to clothe them. Jesus said: “Mark well how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.” (Luke 12:27, 28; Matthew 6:28-30).

“Of fine linen” — Rather, of white. Most of the Egyptian linen is of a yellowish white, being made from flax imperfectly blanched.

Note: It is described in the English version as the linen being wrought with the needle, or embroidered; but the word rendered “needle-work” is now believed to denote a striped or checked pattern produced by the loom. Hence the curtain of the gate and door had a blue, scarlet and purple colour appear in them in stripes or checks, instead of being wrought into figures of cherubs, as on the curtain of the vail.

The Colours of the Linen Curtains

colours-of-the-tabernacle

  • White

White linen was used for garments for royalty and persons of rank and has been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs. White linen always speaks of purity and righteousness:

Revelation 15:6 —And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.

Revelation 3:5  “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Revelation 19:14  “And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.”

The fine-twined, white linen speaks of righteousness and typifies Jesus, the Son of Man, spotless, pure, and sinless.

1 John 3:3-5 — “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure…and you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.”

  • Blue

The interwoven thread of blue seems to speak the fact that Jesus remained completely loyal and true to his heavenly Father; that he faithfully maintained his righteousness and purity at all costs.

Blue is the colour of the sky without clouds and so it is also known to be a symbol of what is heavenly.

Blue is also the colour of nobility. We recognize those qualities in our Lord Jesus. He came from heaven, he then returned there as a divine soul. “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (1 Peter 1:20, ESV).

We read that Jesus came and being found in the appearance of a man humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11).

  • Scarlet

Scarlet represents Christ’s blood shed for all — his sufferings and death on the cross. Our Lord’s loyalty and faithfulness were put to the severest tests, tests in which obedience to the will of God resulted in his sacrificial death on Calvary’s cross.

The Apostle Peter captures the thought here in saying “it was not with …. silver and gold you were redeemed… but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:17-23).

It is Christ’s blood which gives life and purifies.

  • Purple

Purple represents Jesus’ royalty; he was of the royal line of David, Lord of the earth, and the inheritor of all the promises of God.  Our Lord Jesus became King of kings and Lord of lords since Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18, NIV).

Jesus is king of a kingdom not of this world (John 18:33-39).

Because of Christ’s faithfulness unto death, God indeed did highly exalt him to the royalty of the kingdom, as was prophesied many centuries in advance:

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

The Five Posts at the Door

There were FIVE posts (pillars) that supported the first vail (the door) of the Holy (Exodus 26:37; Exodus 36:38). The number 5 in the Bible represents the New Creature in Christ. (See Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle”.)

These posts were constructed of shittim wood overlaid with gold, and they were set in sockets of copper — representing perfect (or justified) human nature, and therefore, the spirit-begotten condition of the church. How beautifully this reflects that the saints still in the flesh (in the Holy — representative of the “in part” condition (1 Corinthians 13:9) have their “treasure” of the Spirit (gold) in “earthen vessels” (copper) as we read of in 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ASV):

 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.”

(3) THE VAIL

the-vail-of-the-tabernacle

The entrance to the Most Holy is called “the vail” (or in Hebrew, paroketh) of the Tabernacle and which the Apostle Paul in the New Testament designates “the second vail” (Hebrew 9:3).

It was only through the vail (which represents Christ’s flesh, R.4746) that one could enter into the Most Holy — the spirit-born condition of glory, honor and immortality to which the faithful over-comers of this age became heirs. (See Study 3 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.)

For a certain period of time the door to the High Calling of the Church stands ajar during the 6000 years of permission of evil which has been allowed since 33 AD. Jesus opened up this new way of life through the veil; that is to say, his flesh—his sacrifice.

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh (Hebrews 10:19, 20).

The Rending of the Vail

The rending of the Temple vail (in Jerusalem) took place at the same time as the earthquake at the moment of our Lord’s death — his crucifixion — which we read about, in Matthew 27:51 and Luke 23:45.

Interestingly, this great vail was torn, not from the bottom toward the top, as would be the expectation if it were the result of wear, but from the top to the bottom, as indicating it was a manifestation of divine power.

The rending of this curtain represents symbolically the opening of the narrow entrance way into the High Calling — an opening between heaven itself and the heavenly condition of those living in the Gospel Age (now spanning nearly 2000 years since 33 AD) by Christ through the sacrifice of his flesh.

Through that rent vail we may see into the things beyond and be ready to pass into the Most Holy (R.4746).

Passing through this second vail into the Most Holy, involves “the death of the HUMAN body” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22).

Both the fleshly mind and fleshly body must be left behind before we can enter into the “holiest of all.” We will then be in the spirit realm, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).

True believers are represented as being associated with Jesus as priests in the Holy, (the outer apartment of the two) where they have fellowship with God through the light of the golden candlestick, through the bread of the golden table, and through the incense that we are permitted to offer on the golden altar. It is from this standpoint we can now by faith see beyond the vail — catch glimpses at least of the heavenly estate which God hath in reservation for them who love him, for the called ones according to his purpose, for the Christ, head and body (R.3371:2).

The Cherubim

Unlike the curtain for the gate and the door, the linen curtain of the vail was embroidered with cherubim, (as were the walls of the Tabernacle proper — due to cherubim embroidered on the first of the Tabernacle’s coverings). Any cherubim in the vail would presumably have been depicted in a different way than the two golden cherubim over the ark of the covenant — these being described in Exodus 25:20:-

“And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.”

Here is one artist’s impression of what the vail pattern may have resembled:

artist's impression of vail pattern .jpgCherubim being heavenly (angelic) creatures suggests that those passing beyond this vail enter into the heavenly condition — life on the spirit plane — partakers of the Divine Nature.

The ancient Jews said this later veil of the temple was as wide as four fingers, so that no one could possibly see into the Most Holy place (David Guzik).

The vail divided the Tabernacle into two, the Holy place at the front — 20 x10 cubits — and the Most Holy place that became a room 10 cubits long x 10 cubits wide x 10 cubits high.
Only the high priest was permitted to go beyond the vail. This occurred once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

When it came to moving from place to place, the vail was taken down from its hanging position and draped over the ark of the covenant (in which case, there was no “most holy” at that point, the vail defining the most holy having been taken down).

“(5) And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: (6) And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof” (Numbers 4:5-6).

Hence there was sufficient means by which the Levitical priests could carry out God’s requirements of not entering the most holy nor seeing the ark of the covenant exposed and thus not inflicting death on themselves or others. For whomever would touch the ark of the covenant (other than the High Priest on the Day of Atonement) would die, such as in the case of Uzzah (Exodus 25:14-15).

Is this not a wonderful reassurance that a consecrated child of God should not fear failing in their vows of consecration until death or fear second death! Why? Because the Heavenly Father provides enough immunity against the evils that surround when, one’s fear of reverence to the Father through Christ (Proverbs 1:7) helps one seek for God’s wisdom, help and comfort in every time of need and trial (Psalm 46:1). This reverential fear of doing wrong in the eyes of God is a blessing in disguise! — helping the consecrated Christian overcome (Romans 8:37) all the testings and temptations as did our Lord Jesus when he was on earth.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The vail (“katapetasma”) means “to hide or conceal”, hide from view the “ark of the covenant” and the “mercy seat.”

It also acted as a barrier between God and man because while we are in the flesh, in the Holy condition as the developing embryonic New Creations in Christ, God is in the Most Holy, thus the vail separates the two of us.

The FOUR POSTS at the VAIL

4-posts-at-the-vail

The FOUR posts (Exodus 26:32; 36:36) supporting the vail into the Most Holy are set in sockets of silver.

Silver is a general symbol of Truth — the knowledge of which the justified believer holds on to the righteousness of Christ. (See Study 4  of the “Beauties of the Tabernacle” Series of posts on this website, regarding details about silver.)

The posts here, represent the spirit-birth (gold) condition as an actuality (silver), where one’s treasure is obtained in the fullest sense by carrying out one’s sacrifice willingly and with great joy in the Spirit, unto death.  Thus, the posts into the Most Holy no longer had sockets of copper as in at the gate and door entrance ways and this signifies that those entering the Most Holy place (Divine Realm) are no longer in the flesh.

The vail was hung from golden hooks from off the 4 posts (not from the 50 golden clasps which joined the two parts of the linen covering, although, the vail was located approximately under these clasps.) Refer to Study 8 of “Beauties of the Tabernacle.” It was probably a unified drapery on the backside of the posts.

As were the golden hooks and covering of the pillars of the holy and most holy — so are our hopes, aspirations, and calling — these all concern with things divine (Exodus 26:32-37).

The Number FOUR — In the Bible

The number four in the Bible refers to the concept of trial, testing, probation, judgment.

Thus here at the entrance of the most holy of the Tabernacle, the time of judgment of the church may be reflected in the four posts.

Here are some other examples of four in the Bible (as explained in an article titled “Symbolic Numbers” by Br. David Rice in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, Nov./Dec. 2004):

  • At the second feeding of the multitudes by Jesus — representing the time of harvest and judgment closing the Gospel age, the number reported was four thousand.
  • The forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13) — representing the Gospel age period of testing, trial, development.
  • The same is represented in the four hundred years of Genesis 15:13 — which describes the period of the affliction of the seed of Abraham, beginning with the mocking of Isaac, at the age of five, by Ishmael — a picture of the early affliction of the Church by the Jewish authorities and ends at the Exodus — a picture of the deliverance of God’s chosen at the end of the Gospel Age.

When multiplying these 400 years by the 360 days in a prophetic year, we yield 144,000, the number of the church in Revelation — showing the fruitage to be developed during the testing period of the Gospel age.

The different orders of magnitude of the number four (i.e. 4, 40, 400 and 4,000) also expressing the symbol.

[It is interesting to also note: “Of the dated visions of Jeremiah in chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 36, three are dated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and three in the fourth year of Zedekiah — all six judgments are in a year four.

When the seven times of punishment on Israel was represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the expression “seven times” appeared four times in the narrative, and four times in the warning by Moses (Daniel 4; Leviticus 26).

These judgments were fulfilled by four Gentile kingdoms dominating Israel during the 2,520 years of their national punishment.] (Symbolic Numbers, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Nov./Dec. 2004)

The colours embroidered on the white linen of the vail are the same here as for the entrance into the Holy. The presence of these three colours on the white linen vail is echoed in Revelation:

“Be thou faithful (blue) unto death (scarlet) and I will give thee a crown (purple) of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Psalm 100:2-5 (NLT)

Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

References

[R= Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence – Charles Russell]

Acknowledgment

Content assisted by Br. George Tabac.

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/02/study-1-an-introduction-to-the-tabernacle-and-its-purpose/

STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud By Day And The Pillar of Smoke By Night  https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/09/study-2-the-pillar-of-cloud-by-day-and-the-pillar-of-smoke-by-night/

STUDY 3: The Tabernacle Construction: The Holy and The Most Holy   https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/14/study-3-the-tabernacle-construction-the-holy-the-most-holy/

STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/20/study-4-the-court-holy-place/

STUDY 5: The Camp. The Israelites.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/28/study-5-the-camp-the-israelites/

STUDY 6: The Levites
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/18/study-6-the-levites/

STUDY 7: The Priests. The Day of Atonement.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/10/study-7-the-priests-the-day-of-atonement/

STUDY 8: The Tabernacle Coverings
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/study-8-the-tabernacle-coverings/

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

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Listing of All Posts For 2017

psalm-11-2

Fill your hands with the LORD’s work…

The most frequent Hebrew term rendered consecrate is actually a pair of words used together, “mala” (Strong’s #4390) meaning to fill and “yad” (Strong’s #3027) meaning open hand. To fill an open hand, in this context, means for the priests to be devoted to their sacred duty to God and ministering to others. In English there is an expression, “my hands are full,” meaning one is FULLY occupied. So it should be with those consecrated to God during this age. We should have our hands full in the sacred service which is our privilege (Br. David Rice).

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URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/02/listing-of-all-posts-for-2017/

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