A Lily of Christ

SONGS 6, 3-bsd

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies”
(Song of Solomon 6:3, KJV).

Once on earth did live a pure white lily,
The sweetest flower of all God’s family.
With head bent low, in reverent humility,
He was fixed to a cross, to free you and me!

White lilies are found in fields and valleys,
Among thorns they grow, graceful and lovely,
From fruitful bulbs, with fragrance alluring,
White and clean as Christ, thus so endearing.

To become a white lily with open face,
Turn fully to God, receiving His grace,
His favouring breeze with gladness embrace,
Christ’s lily, growing bright, in whatever our place.

Nothing on this earth is more chiefly desired,
Than to serve with joy as God may require,
Running the race with patience, nothing other aspired,
Daily, devotedly, even if tired.

LORD grant your wisdom, to do what is right,
Refrain from the wrong and walk in Christ’s light.
Diligently watch and pray, for victory’s gain —
As Christ’s holy name, we ever proclaim!

Our cross we bare and press forward, on —
Our crown not to lose, but to overcome!
Assured that the battle is ours to be won,
And then, finally, the rest surely will come.

Thus praising Jehovah, wholeheartedly!
As a sacrifice, living, pleasing to Thee,
By grace, we endure, all faithful to be,
Sealed thine everlasting, this is our plea! 

 

To be a lily of Christ, let us each strive to be: simple and sincere in humility (Philippians 2:3); sweet and fragrant in gentleness, compassion, mercy, and long-suffering towards all; and joyful in hope (Romans 12:12), enduring patiently (1 Peter 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:24) with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6). May we be at peace, in the valley that God has planted us in to be watered by His steams of living water, found in the Word of God, delivered to the saints by God’s grace and mercy in order for God to be glorified, honored, and praised BY ALL in due time (1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Peter 4:11).


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I AM MY BELOVED’S, AND MY BELOVED IS MINE
(Song of Solomon 6:3).

The following words are from the Reprints (R4783) of The Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence (which can be freely accessed from the Harvest Truth Data Base website at the following link and under the subheading “ZWT” (Zion’s Watch Tower): http://www.htdb.one/).

RIGHTLY understood we find the Bible to be a love story of surpassing interest. No earthly love story will compare with it. First, we have the Father’s love for our race, which, originally created in his likeness, fell by disobedience under just condemnation. What a wonderful story of parental Love blended with Divine Justice is conveyed to us in the narrative of how God so loved the world while we were yet sinners, that he gave his Only Begotten Son to be our Redeemer, that he might restore again to Divine favor and blessing whosoever wills to return after learning of his loving provision.

How different this view of the Divine character and Plan from the one which once terrorized us—when we thought of God as almighty in power and knowledge, but destitute of love and sympathy; when we thought of him according to the universally accepted false teachings as having, with cold indifference, sat in the councils of eternity, before the creation of the earth or our race, and there planned our creation and everlasting destiny; that he there deliberately arranged (“according to the council of his own will,” as the catechism expresses it) that he would place us as a race under such unfavorable conditions that only a mere handful, comparatively, would ever attain to a life of bliss, either in the present world or in that which is to come. Deciding also that the vast majority, ignorant (whom the God of this world hath blinded), steeped in inherited sin and degradation, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, should, nevertheless, be so constituted and preserved that they could never end their miserable existences; and, withal, providing, we were told, a great place for their eternal torture, from which would ascend for ever and ever, alike futile and unheeded, their prayers, their curses and their groans.

RELIEF TO KNOW THAT GOD IS REALLY A GOD OF LOVE

What a relief do we experience as finally we awake to a better knowledge of God and of his precious Word, to find that all these teachings of the Dark Ages were but a horrible nightmare, as unreal as they were cruel and unjust—as unscriptural as they are contrary to every reasonable conception of every reasonable mind, of the proper exercise of Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power—the Divine attributes. We are reminded of the nursery tales of childhood, told to children by parents and nurses who, with grossly mistaken ideas of wisdom and propriety, used them as a lash of terror with which to secure a frightened obedience. As the bugaboos of infancy faded from memory, or at least ceased to inspire terror, as we grew older and began to take note of the deceptions which had been practiced; so as children of a larger growth we have learned that many of the “terrors of the Lord”—which, however severe, are reasonable and just—have been distorted by theologians and others who would fain exercise a terrorizing influence upon the world, to restrain from evil. We have learned, in the language of Scripture, that “their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men,” and not by any of the Divine precepts—Isaiah 29:13.

Oh, what a relief it has brought to our hearts to know God as really and truly a God of love, who is not only willing to save unto the uttermost, but able to save unto the uttermost all who put their trust in him! and who is so willing thus to save that he has made abundant [R4783] provision that every member of Adam’s race must come to a clear knowledge of his grace and to a full opportunity—by obedience to the extent of his ability—to attain eternal life through Christ Jesus.

It does us good at times to look back and view, not only the horrible pit and miry clay of sin out of which Jehovah lifted us when he placed our feet upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, but also to remember his mercy toward us in the anointing of our eyes, now in the end of the Age, that we may see wonderful things in his Word; that we may realize how he has graciously brought us “out of darkness into his marvelous light,” in permitting us to brush away the veil of superstition, misunderstanding and mistranslation which has befogged his Word, beclouded our understanding and bedimmed our view and appreciation of the great Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift—James 1:17.

NOT ONE, BUT MANY INDIVIDUALS CHOSEN TO BE BRIDE OF CHRIST

But our text deals specially with another part of this great love story of the Scriptures. Our loving Father, having provided a redemption for ALL our race through Christ Jesus, did more: he highly honored and glorified our dear Redeemer as a reward for those things he endured faithfully through obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:8-11), and in addition to this arranged to select a Bride and joint-heir in glory for his Son, our Lord Jesus. It was not an individual that was chosen to be the Bride, but many individuals, and yet in all, compared with the world, a “little flock,” the “elect Church,” called and in process of selection and perfection, to be “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.”

Of all the plots and peculiarities of love stories which have been conjured up by human brains, none will compare with this story of how Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her—redeeming her with his own life; and how, being rewarded with excellent glory by the Father, these who would be his companions, are invited to share his cross, his suffering, his death, and to be received up into glory with him, to share his love and his throne and the Father’s favor. We will not go into details here; we have done this before and our readers are familiar with every feature—so, instead, we pass on to consider some of the conditions of acceptance with the Bridegroom, and how we may make our calling and our election sure to this position of honor and blessing to which he has invited us.

ONLY A FEW CAN SAY FROM THE HEART, “I AM MY BELOVED’S”

Our text briefly, yet very pointedly, states the entire matter.

(1) “I am my Beloved’s.” There is no possibility for any one to get into this special elect class, “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife,” without knowing it. There is therefore no possibility that heathen philosophers or others who lived and who died without a personal knowledge of Christ as their personal Savior, can ever be members of the elect Church, the Bride; all who are of it will be able to say, “I am my Beloved’s.” Very manifestly also, for the same reason, many who are Church members “in good and regular standing,” have neither part nor lot in this matter; for only a few can say, from the heart, truly, “I am my Beloved’s.” This union with the Beloved (Christ) implies that the step of justification through repentance and faith in the precious blood has first taken place; because only the justified are “called.”

(2) It is implied that the one who can say, “I am my Beloved’s,” has not only heard of Christ but has made a definite, positive compact or contract with him. And this contract—to be his in every thought and word and deed, to the extent of our ability, if he will accept us and be our Bridegroom, is our marriage vow or covenant.

The Scriptures assure us that in the present time, while evil prevails and the God of this world blinds the minds of the vast majority, none can come to the Lord Jesus, except as the Father draws them (John 6:44). The Father is not drawing all mankind now, but only believers. He is leaving the general work of drawing the worldly for the next Age, the Messianic Age, when Christ and the Church glorified shall, as God’s agents, cause the whole earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Truth. Whenever the Truth reaches the heart and understanding its influence is to draw, although the drawing may be resisted not only in the present Age, but also in the Age to come (Acts 3:23). But, it is only the few who are being drawn to Christ by a knowledge of the Truth now, because only a few have a knowledge of the Truth. And while many resist the truth and refuse the opportunity of union with the great Bridegroom, some have gladly accepted and given themselves wholly to the Lord, thus sealing the covenant binding themselves to him and by his grace binding him to them.

IF FAITHFUL IT IS THE PRIVILEGE OF EACH TO SAY, “MY BELOVED IS MINE”

It is proper that each one should decide for himself positively, whether or not he has ever accepted the Divine invitation to give himself (Proverbs 23:26; Romans 12:1) [R4784] to the Lord, to be ultimately accepted as a member of his Bride if he continue faithful to his engagement to the end. If we are faithful, and so long as we continue to be faithful, it is our privilege to look up with confidence and be assured of the second part of our text, “My Beloved is mine.” And if we will, it is possible for us to continue in this attitude, “faithful unto death”; and so doing we may know that in the resurrection we shall be with our Lord, and be like him, and share his glory and his throne—Revelation 3:21.

How much is implied in this statement, “My Beloved is mine”! We are reminded of the Scripture which declares, “He that hath the Son hath life”—eternal life. More than this, the Apostle assures us that those who have Christ, who can truly, Scripturally say, “My Beloved is mine,” are really possessors of “all things.” For since Christ is the heir of all things, if we have become associates with him, then, indeed, “all things are yours (things present and things to come) for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:22,23). If it lifted from us a great load to know that our sins were graciously forgiven through the merit of the precious blood, how much more of a load of care does it lift from us to know that we are vitally united with the illustrious Son of the great King of the Universe—the Son in whom the Father is well pleased and whom he has made his sole associate in the glory and dominion of the Universe.

Nor does this promise of blessings in Christ apply merely to the future. The glories and honors truly are not now, but by and by to be revealed; but the Bridegroom’s care, protection, provision and comfort belong to his betrothed even now, while we are in this tabernacle; so that while we are passing through the “valley of the shadow of death,” we need fear no evil, for he is with us, and his rod and staff comfort us.

All who abide faithful to him, all who truthfully can say, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine,” have not only the promise of the life that is to come, but also [R4784] the promise of this present life. They hear the Master’s voice saying, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Age,” and in the end of the Age he is to be specially near, specially precious, and is to reveal himself to his faithful in an especial manner, even before she is so changed as to behold him in his glory.

ALL THE “EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES” BELONG TO THIS CLASS

It is the privilege of these to apply to themselves, and to realize as properly theirs, all the “exceeding, great and precious promises” of the Divine Word. These may hear the voice of the Lord, saying, I will be with thee in six troubles and in the seventh I will not forsake thee. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee.” Indeed, we are assured and “know that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called ones according to his purpose [to be the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife]Job 5:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 50:15; Romans 8:28.

These promises of the Lord have been well summed up in the expression of the poet:—

“In every condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth,
At home and abroad, on the land or the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

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

What a blessing of peace, quietness of spirit, ability to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ, and sustenance and strength in time of trial, lies behind these precious assurances of the Bridegroom to those who can see and realize unquestionably, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine,” no tongue can express. It has in the past permitted his faithful ones to pass through many dark and trying experiences with a fortitude that has surprised the world, which has seen them in the fiery furnace, but has not seen that there is with them the form of the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). They have endured as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). The poor world who know not this invisible Friend above all others, and are unacquainted with this Heavenly Bridegroom, and know not his sustaining grace in every hour of trial are, indeed, to be greatly pitied. They must largely bear alone those burdens which the Lord’s people, his betrothed, are privileged to lay at the feet of the great Burden Bearer, whose invitation is, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-29).

But, if the case of the world is a sad one, because it knows not our Bridegroom, how much worse is the case of those who having once known him, and having once experienced his tender care and helpfulness in all of life’s affairs as a Counselor and Guide, have wandered off, having lost their first love; having forgotten that they were purged from their old sins, and become deaf to the “exceeding great and precious promises” pertaining to the present as well as to the future life; and are now striving merely for the things which perish, and which at most are but for a moment (2 Corinthians 4:17,18). These are in a much worse condition than the world.

As the Apostle declares, “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment”—2 Peter 2:21.

Let us who have named the name of Christ, who have assumed his name, abide in him—by continuing in faith, in love and in zeal, to walk in his footsteps and thus make our calling and our election sure.

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Further Suggested Reading

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

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

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

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

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

“SONG OF SOLOMON 2:1, 2, 16; 4:5 – The Rose of Sharon & the Lily of the Valleys.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/12/15/song-of-solomon-21-2-16-45-the-rose-of-sharon-the-lily-of-the-valleys/

 

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

roses and liies in the bible-bsd

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

The Song of Solomon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thorns– Who or what do these represent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

roe.jpg

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

two roes.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meaning of “Rose of Sharon”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colchicum Autumnale.jpg

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

tulip.jpg

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

Tulipa Agenensis - Sharon Tulip.jpg

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

Lilium Candidum.jpg

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

Polyanthus Narcissus

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

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

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

Rose of Sharon - Hibiscus

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

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

Anthemis Palestina.jpg

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

anemone flower.jpg

What do all these flowers have in common?

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

References

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

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

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

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

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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ACTS 3:19-21 – The Restitution of All Things

ACTS-3-19-21.jpg

The King of kings has come! We are even now in the parousia (presence) of the Son of Man! Soon the last members of his “elect” body, the Bride of Christ, will be gathered to him—glorified and invisible to men,—and then he will begin the rule of the iron rod which shall break the world’s vaunted institutions as potters’ vessels (Revelation 2:27).

He declares, I will “gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. And then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zephaniah 3:8,9).

This symbolic burning and breaking will be the new missionary method, by which the glorified Bride of Christ and Church, will, after 2043, under and with her glorious Head, “bring in everlasting righteousness.”

“When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

“The glory [majesty] of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5).

Through the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 3:19-21, Christ Jesus, intended his disciples to understand that for some purpose, in some manner, and at some time, he would return. True, Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and by his spirit and by his Word he has been with the Church continually, guiding, directing, comforting and sustaining his saints, and cheering them in the midst of all their afflictions. But though the Church has been blessedly conscious of the Lord’s knowledge of all her ways and of his constant care and love, yet she longs for his promised personal return; for, when he said, “If I go, I will come again” (John 14:3), he certainly referred to a second personal coming.

Some think he referred to the descent of the holy Spirit at Pentecost; others, to the destruction of Jerusalem, etc.; but these apparently overlook the fact that in the last book of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation—written by the Apostle John some sixty years after Pentecost, and twenty-six years after Jerusalem’s destruction, he that was dead and is alive speaks of the event as yet future, saying:

“Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me.” And the inspired John replies, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:12,20).

Quite a number think that when sinners are converted that forms a part of the coming of Christ, and that so he will continue coming until all the world is converted. Then, say they, he will have fully come.

These evidently forget the testimony of the Scriptures on the subject, which declares the reverse of their expectation: that at the time of our Lord’s second coming the world will be far from converted to God; that “In the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4); that “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (Verse 13). They forget the Master’s special warning to his little flock:

“Take heed to yourselves lest that day come upon you unawares, for as a snare shall it come on all them [not taking heed] that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34,35).

When it is said, “All kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,” when they see him coming (Revelation 1:7), no reference is made to the conversion of sinners.

Do all men wail because of the conversion of sinners?

On the contrary, if this passage refers, as almost all admit, to Christ’s presence on earth, it teaches that all on earth will not love his appearing, as they certainly would do if all were converted.

Some expect an actual coming and presence of the Lord in the future, claiming that through the efforts of the Church in its present condition the world must be converted, and thus the Millennial age be introduced. They claim that when the world has been converted, and Satan bound, and the knowledge of the Lord caused to fill the whole earth, and when the nations learn war no more, then the work of the Church in her present condition will be ended; and that when she has accomplished this great and difficult task, the Lord will come to wind up earthly affairs, reward believers and condemn sinners.

However, when God’s Word and plan are viewed as a whole, we learn that Christ comes before the conversion of the world, and reigns for the purpose of converting the world; that the Church is now being tried, and that the reward promised the overcomers is that after being glorified they shall share with the Lord Jesus in that reign, which is God’s appointed means of blessing the world and causing the knowledge of the Lord to come to every creature. The Lord’s special promises include:

  • “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Revelation 3:21).
  • “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).

There are two texts chiefly relied upon by those who claim that the Lord will not come until after the Millennium (the 1000 years of Christ’s reign with his 144,000 Bride “body” members):

1. “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

They claim this as having reference to the conversion of the world before the end of the Gospel age (the 6000 years of permission of evil). But witnessing to the world does not imply the conversion of the world. 

The Apostle (Acts 15:14) tells that the main object during the gospel age is “to take out a people” for Christ’s name—”the Church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23) which, at his second advent, will be united to him and receive his name. The witnessing to the world during this age is a secondary object.

2. “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

The vague, indefinite idea regarding this text seems to be that Christ sits on a material throne somewhere in the heavens until the work of subduing all things is accomplished for him through the Church, and that then he comes to reign. This is misconception. The throne of God referred to is not a material one, but refers to his supreme authority and rulership; and the Lord Jesus has been exalted to a share in that rulership.

Paul declares, “God [Jehovah] hath highly exalted him [Jesus] and given him a name above every name.” He hath given him authority above every other, next to the Father.

If Christ sits upon a material throne until his enemies are made his footstool [all subdued], then of course he cannot come until all things are subdued. But if “right hand” in this text refers, not to a fixed locality and bench, but, as we claim, to power, authority, rulership, it follows that the text under consideration would in no wise conflict with the other scripture which teaches that he comes to “subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21), by virtue of the power vested in him.

Right hand—signifies the chief place, position of excellence or favor, next to the chief ruler. Thus Joseph was at the right hand of Pharaoh in the kingdom of Egypt—not literally, but after the customary figure of speech. Jesus’ words to Caiaphas agree with this thought: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64) He will be on the right hand when coming, and will remain on the right hand during the Millennial age, and forever.

The specific work of :

(a) the first adventwas to redeem men. In Hosea 6:3, this period is referred to as the time of the “former rain.”

(b) the second advent—is to restore, bless, and liberate the redeemed. In Hosea 6:3, this period is referred to as the “latter” rain. Having given his life a ransom FOR ALL (1 Timothy 2:6), our Savior ascended to present that sacrifice to the Father, thus making reconciliation for man’s iniquity. He tarries and permits “the prince of this world” to continue the rule of evil, until after the selection of “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,” who, to be accounted worthy of such honor, must overcome the influences of the present evil world. Then the work of giving to the world of mankind the great blessings secured to them by his sacrifice will be due to commence, and he will come forth to bless all the families of the earth.

True, the restoring and blessing could have commenced at once, when the ransom price was paid by the Redeemer, and then the coming of Messiah would have been but one event, the reign and blessing beginning at once, as the apostles at first expected (Acts 1:6). But God had provided “some better thing for us”—the Christian Church (Hebrews 11:40); hence it is in our interest that the reign of Christ is separated from the sufferings of the Head by this 2000 years of waiting since Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary in 33 A.D.

The period between the first and second advents, between the ransom for all and the blessing of all, is for the trial and selection of the Church, which is the body of Christ; the “little flock” and “joint-heirs”; otherwise there would have been only the one advent, and the work which will be done during the period of his second presence, in the Millennium, would have followed the resurrection of Jesus. God has designed the permission of evil for six thousand years, as well as that the cleansing and restitution of all shall be accomplished during the seventh thousand.

Jesus has been absent from earth—in the heaven—during all the intervening time from his ascension to the beginning of the times of restitution—”whom the heaven must retain until the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).

We find the Scriptures teaching a further step in the divine plan—a RESTITUTION for the world, to be accomplished through the elect Church, when completed and glorified. The “little flock,” the overcomers, of this Gospel age, are only the body of “The Seed” (Galatians 3:16, Romans 4:13) in or by whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed. The fact that the world has not yet been converted, and that the knowledge of the Lord has not yet filled the earth, is a proof that it has not yet been sent on that mission.

Election and Free Grace 

While an election has been in progress during the present and past ages, what is by way of distinction designated free grace is God’s gracious provision for the world in general during the Millennial age.

Election—as taught in the Bible, is not the arbitrary coercion, or fatalism, but a selection according to fitness and adaptability to the end God has in view, during the Gospel Age.

God’s grace or favor in Christ is ever free, in the sense of being unmerited; but since the fall of man into sin, to the present time, certain of God’s favors have been restricted to special individuals, nations and classes, while in the next age all the world will be invited to share the favors then offered, on the conditions then made known to all, and whosoever will may come and drink at life’s fountain freely (Revelation 22:17).

Glancing backward, we notice the selection or election of Abraham and certain of his offspring as the channels through which the promised Seed, should come (Galatians 3:29).

The selection of Israel from among all nations, as the one in whom, typically, God illustrated how the great work for the world should be accomplished—their deliverance from Egypt, their Canaan, their covenants, their laws, their sacrifices for sins, for the blotting out of guilt and for the sprinkling of the people, and their priesthood for the accomplishment of all this, being a miniature and typical representation of the real priesthood and sacrifices for the purifying of the world of mankind.

God, speaking to the people, said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2).

This people alone was recognized until Christ came.

Afterwards, Christ’s ministry was confined to the Jewish people, and he would not permit his disciples to go to others—saying, as he sent them out, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.”

Why so, Lord?

Because, he explains, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24).

All his time was devoted to them until his death, and there was done his first work for the world, the first display of his free and all-abounding grace, which in “due time” shall indeed be a blessing to all. However, God’s grandest gift was not limited to nation or class. It was not for Israel only, but for all the world; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).

When the called-out company (called to be sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord—who have made their calling and election sure) is complete, then the plan of God for the world’s salvation, will be only beginning.

Not until it is selected, developed, and exalted to power, will the Seed (Christ—”head” and “body” in glory) bruise the serpent’s head (Romans 16:20Genesis 3:15). The Gospel age makes ready the chaste virgin, the faithful Church, for the coming Bridegroom.

In the end of the age—when she is made “ready” (Revelation 19:7), the Bridegroom comes, and they that are ready go in with him to the marriage—the second Adam and the second Eve become one, and then the glorious work of restitution begins.

In the next dispensation—the new heaven and the new earth, “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come! And let him that heareth say, Come! And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

For this promised and coming blessing, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:22,19).

Thus, free grace in fullest measure, not merely for the living but for those who have died as well, is provided in our Father’s plan as the blessed opportunity of the coming age because Jesus died for all. 

The United Nations expects the global population to reach 9 billion in the year 2043. (www.thoughtco.com/most-populous-countries-in-2050-1435117) What then will happen to the vast multitude who have not heard about nor accepted Jesus as their personal savior and redeemer? Did God make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many of his children claim? Not at all. The opposite is true. God has yet in store for mankind an opportunity for all to come to the knowledge of that only name, and, by becoming obedient to the conditions, to enjoy everlasting life. When the Bride class is complete, then they, together with Jesus Christ, will regenerate the world.

Satan will be bound so that he cannot intrude his deceptions upon mankind.

In Revelation 20:1-3 (ESV) we read,

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

The saints will reign with Christ for a thousand years, as priests, to bring mankind back to God (Revelation 20:6). The whole creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

To Be Testified In Due Time

For those who will be of the “Church of the firstborn,” the bride of Christ, and share the kingdom honors, the present is the “due time” to hear; and whosoever now has an ear to hear, let him hear and heed, and he will be blessed accordingly. Though Jesus paid our ransom before we were born, it was not our “due time” to hear of it for long years afterward, and only the appreciation of it brought responsibility; and this, only to the extent of our ability and appreciation. The same principle applies to all: in God’s due time it will be testified to all, and all will then have opportunity to believe and to be blessed by it.

Since God does not propose to save men on account of ignorance,  but “will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4); and since the masses of mankind have died in ignorance; and since “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Ecclesiastes 9:10); therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence God’s plan is, that “as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive, but each one in his own order”—the Gospel Church, the Bride, the body of Christ, first; afterward, during the Millennial age, all who shall follow Godly righteousness during that thousand years of Christ’s reign with his Bride.

Everything and Everyone To Be Restored To Perfection

As death came by the first Adam, so life comes by Christ, the second Adam. Everything that mankind lost through being in the first Adam is to be restored to those who believe into the second Adam. When awakened, with the advantage of experience with evil, which Adam lacked, those who thankfully accept the redemption as God’s gift may continue to live everlastingly on the original condition of perfect obedience, and the perfect ability to obey will be given under the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace (Pastor Charles Russell, Volume 1 of “Studies In The Scriptures”, p.107).

All mankind shall be fully released from the slavery of sin, and the corruption of death, into the glorious liberty of children of God. But attainment to all these blessings will depend upon hearty compliance with the laws of Christ’s Kingdomthe rapidity of the attainment to perfection indicating the degree of love for the King and for his law of love. If any, enlightened by the Truth, and brought to a knowledge of the love of God, and restored (either actually or reckonedly) to human perfection, become “fearful,” and “draw back” (Hebrews 10:38,39), they, with the unbelievers (Revelation 21:8), will be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:23). This is the second death.

Restitution Concerning Typical and Antitypical ISRAEL

Peter tells us that this restitution is spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21). They do all teach it. Ezekiel says of the valley of dry bones, “These bones are the whole house of Israel.”

And God says to Israel, “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I …shall put my spirit in you, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:11-14).

To this Paul’s words agree (Romans 11:25,26)—”Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles [the elect company, the bride of Christ] be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved,” or brought back from their cast-off condition; for “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew” (Verse 2). They were cast off from his favor while the bride of Christ was being selected, but will be reinstated when that work is accomplished (Verses 28-33).

The prophets are full of statements of how God will plant Israel again, and they shall be no more plucked up (Jeremiah 24:5-7; 31:28; Jeremiah 32:40-42; 33:6-16).

“In those days, they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every one [who dies] shall die for his own iniquity” (Jeremiah 31:29,30).

This is not the case now. Each does not now die for his own sin, but for Adam’s sin—”In Adam all die.” The day in which “every man [who dies] shall die for his own sin,” only, is the Millennial or Restitution day.

While Israel as a nation was typical of the whole world, its priesthood was typical of the elect “little flock,” the head and body of Christ, the “Royal Priesthood”; and the sacrifices, cleansings and atonements made for Israel typified the “better sacrifices,” fuller cleansings and real atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” of which they are sharers in, by God’s grace.

After comparing Israel with Sodom and Samaria, and pronouncing Israel the most blameworthy (Ezekiel 16:48-54), the Lord says, “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them.” In death all are captives; and Christ comes to open the doors of the grave, and to set at liberty the captives. (Isaiah 61:1Zechariah 9:11) In verse 55 this is called a “return to their former estate”a restitution, when Jehovah says to Israel:

“(60) I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. (61) Then, thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters…. (62) And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; (63) that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, SAITH THE LORD GOD” (Ezekiel 16:60-63).

To this Paul adds his testimony, saying, “And so all Israel [living and dead] shall be saved [recovered from blindness], as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins.’…They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; because the gracious gifts and callings of God are not things to be repented of” (Romans 11:26-29).

A Summarized Explanation of Acts 3:19-21

Acts 3:19speaks of the “refreshing” that comes from the face of Jehovah (“presence” is not the Greek word parousia here, but prosopon, Strongs 4383) whenever they would convert and come to Jesus.

Acts 3:20The sending mentioned in verse 20 means sending Jesus not at his second advent, but sending him to bless them in their repentance. (As in verse 26, “Unto you first God, having raised up his son Jesus [by the resurrection] sent him to bless you [early Gospel Age work, not the second advent], in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”)

Acts 3:21This verse explains that Jesus will remain in heaven until the times of
restoration, and then he will return. We understand those times of restoration have begun as evidenced in the restoration of Israel, which is what these Jewish hearers of Peter were interested in. Since Christ’s second presence (“parousia”), the saints here who are still living, continue on here for some time, before their service here is complete as we read about in Luke 12:36-37. Here it speaks of a time when Jesus returns, knocks, and asks those saints the living to “open unto him.”  Further explanation about the Second Presence of Christ is provided in the “Further Reading” links, below.

As we continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), may we rejoice in knowing that “great joy shall be TO ALL people” (Luke 2:10“in due time.”

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Taze Russell. The above post was based on content from Study 6 of Volume 1 of “Studies In the Scriptures.” The series of six volumes by Br. Russell can be read at http://www.htdbv8.com

Br. David Rice. Editing and content.

Further Reading

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

“Where Is The Promise Of His Advent. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. Sept/Oct. 2014 issue.
URL: https://herald-magazine.com/2014/09/01/where-is-the-promise-of-his-presence/

The Prophetic Date, 1874. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine. March/April 2003 issue.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2003/03nd_5.htm

Signs of Christ’s Presence. Beauties of the Truth. Volume 3, Number 1, February 1992
URL: http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTFEB92.PDF

A chapter by chapter studies of the Book of Daniel in the “Journal” section at www.2043ad.com

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

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

Time and Prophecy by Br. David Rice.
http://2043ad.com/timeandprophecy.pdf

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/02/acts-319-21-the-restitution-of-all-things/

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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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https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/26/the-bible-the-worlds-best-novel-here-is-why/

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Christ And His Bride

Shiny diamond on black background.

“And you belong to Christ, and he belongs to God.” (1 Corinthians 3:23, NAS)

To be part of a Heavenly Class,
To be part of the Bride of Christ,
To see our Heavenly Father “face to face!”
Are you also running, in this High Calling race?

Living in this world isn’t easy;
You’re confronted with trials, tribulations and sufferings;
So don’t be surprised or disillusioned,
Just put your faith, hope and trust in God.

Shine like stars in the Universe;
Shine like candles in the darkest night.
Illuminate the place with Christ-like conduct;
Preserve and maintain peace with Godly speech.

Keep pursuing righteousness—
The fountain of eternal joy;
Seek honor, glory and immortality—
A faithful life, do employ.

Discipline and train the mind
To take captive every thought,
‘Til it is obedience to God’s will,
This IS what we wish to be taught.

Being trustworthy and humble in all—
Can this be the result after a fall?
The Heavenly Father permits what is best,
Hence reassured in Faith—the mind in Christ can be at rest. 

Above all, don’t ever stop praying—
Communion with our Heavenly Father must start when we’re on earth.
By asking for and seeking for Jehovah’s Spirit,
We’ll receive it through Christ Jesus’ Precious Name.

Christ’s ransom price, paid at Calvary nearly 2000 years ago,
Has set sinners free, and raising the world will no sooner be, 
Than after the Elect, the Bride of Christ,
Has been glorified at last!

What a prospect before us,
Fellow pilgrims of the Cross of Christ!
As we sojourn to the Promised Land above,
May we do what the Heavenly Father requires here,
And thus attain God’s gracious offer—belonging to Christ forever.

 

Suggested Further Reading

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

Old Testament Portrayals of the Church by Br. Homer Montague. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_2.htm

The Song of Solomon by Br. Frank Shallieu. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_3.htm

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.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_4.htm

New Testament Portrayals of the Church by Br. Michael Nekora. A Precious Treasure. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
URL: http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_5.htm

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

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

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

 

URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/25/christ-and-his-bride/

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I See Jesus In You …

I see Jesus In You & b.jpg

“Just as water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.”  Proverbs 27:19

My children … there are precious jewels of GOD that surround us still,
Converse with them while as through their efforts they do the Father’s will.
Be close to those who now live in Christ,
As where the carcass of GODly righteous Truth lies,
Here you will be fed with the waters of eternal life.

The ministers of the Lord do proclaim
That Christ’s mediatorial kingdom reign, is on its way.
The mystery about the selection of the 144,000—Bride of Christ members
Is understood by the called ones of GOD who trumpet the message of the Divine Gospel.
They seek to encourage the feet members of Christ that remain—who are their glory and crown and gain.

Like Jesus’ disciples who wanted to understand the Divine Truths of Jehovah,
So the Lord’s “peculiar people”—“a Royal Priesthood”—who are still present, here on earth,
Seek out every moment that remains in this flesh,
To daily learn the lessons, and become Christ’s in thought, word and action.
They hope for and await the Heavenly Father’s “well done, good and faithful servant” reaction.

While remaining united in the spirit of Christ,
With the spiritual “eagles” that do tarry onward and upward on this side of the veil,
They find comfort from feasting on the carcass of GOD’s Truth.
Encouraged by prayers and supplications of their brethren in Christ and strengthened by the holy Spirit—a gift of GOD’s grace.
Thankful in all, they remain as palm trees “tall”—in steadfastness and patient endurance until death.

Why pray for them that belong to Christ?
Because prayers of the righteous avail much.
Prayers unite us with our fellow yoke bearers with whom we suffer in Christ;
Theirs is the highest joy attainable in this life from seeking the will of the Heavenly Father,
Conforming to the standards of GODly righteousness—seeking to sacrifice in all and do what is good, true, and right.

Oh! how blessed and comforted we remain,
When close to the fully consecrated in Christ we keep near.
Whether it be in prayer, sharing a word of cheer, studying the Bible together or singing a hymn,
Let us keep close in the spirit of Christ together.
Between some, this may mean silence now—but only for a while.

Dear brethren in Christ—you are our joy and crown because you seek to please our Almighty
EL SHADDAI most, as HIS name you boast.
Like wellsprings of water in a desert land,
Please keep feeding the remaining few, for this is the commission in Christ—yours to do.
Your offerings of joyful willing sacrifice, like the priests did present in Israel’s Tabernacle of old—
Have a sanctifying effect on the consecrated unto the Lord, and upon all who have an ear to hear the wonderful words of life.

Beloved in the Lord, may He be ever-so near you here on earth,
As with longing hearts we await our eternal home,
Striving to be loyal to our covenant of sacrifice and to Christ forever belong.
May your hearts continue reflecting the brightness of the sun,
For we see Jesus in you—your knowledge of the Truth shared and your kindness and hospitality towards all, done.

“Endure everything for the sake of the Elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
If we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”  (2 Timothy 2:10-13)

 

Further Reading Suggestions: (click on the direct links below):

What Does Being Consecrated to the Lord Mean?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/01/romans-121-what-does-being-consecrated-to-the-lord-mean/

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/father-son-holy-spirit/

Cheerfully Doing God’s Will
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/23/willingly-cheerfully-doing-gods-will-why-when-how/

What Can A Man Believe?
URL: http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/believe.htm

 

URL for this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/02/03/i-see-jesus-in-you/

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Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

Where Does CHRISTMAS ORIGINATE from.jpg

The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and 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 2:1-6).

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

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

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2 Corinthians 5:20 – What Does Being “Ambassadors for Christ” Mean ?

2 COR. 5, 20

What is an ambassador ?

According to Wikipedia, an ambassador is :

“an official envoy, especially a highest ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state, or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment… They are stationed in a foreign country and they as well as the embassy staff are granted diplomatic immunity and personal safety while living abroad.”

Apostle Paul made it clear to us that those who are accepted of God and begotten of the holy spirit are ambassadors of another country:

“For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, ASV).

“For he has delivered us out of the dominion of the darkness, and transplanted us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 11:13).

The Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul referred to himself as an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). This is hardly the view we take of diplomatic ambassadors today. But Paul does not say this to elicit pity. Rather he tells the Church not to lose heart over what he is suffering because it is for the Church’s glory.

Truly Apostle Paul was a great ambassador!

Should we not also represent our head, Christ Jesus and SHINE like stars in the sky, being blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation”? (Philippians 2:15)

YES we MUST do so… not tomorrow… BUT NOWright NOW… the High Calling of the Gospel Age is soon to end and Christ’s Bride composed of 144,000 members, shall hath made herself ready!

Dear Brethren, we will not miss out for the chance of eternal eternities and forevermore to belong to the BODY of Christ… to be counted worthy of the prize of the High Calling… of bringing our Heavenly Father grandest JOY and who shall present the Bride as the most righteous gift to Christ!

Let us “trim our lamps” as the “wise virgins” (Matthew 25:7) and stay separate from this world (2 Corinthians 6:17); and be “peculiar people” renouncing the world and its evil desires!

“14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Prepare yourselves through strict training and discipline to belong to the ONE BRIDEGROOM ONLYlet JESUS BE YOUR HEAD–SEEK him; SEARCH for him; COPY him; make him proud; REPRESENT him in spite of ALL RIDICULE and SUFFERING in this world.

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV).

The Apostle Paul encourages us: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20, KJV).

Qualifications of an Ambassador

As ambassadors of Christ, how should we conduct ourselves? What is our role?
Let’s consider the following characteristics of an ideal ambassador:

  1. PATIENCE

An ambassador listens carefully to the citizens of the countries he is involved in helping to understand their needs and situation so that any conflicts or disagreements can be resolved in peace. The Apostle Paul was so patient through his experiences as a prisoner and in his dealings with rulers he sought to bring about mutual understanding concerning the Truth.

  1. WISDOM

An ambassador uses his knowledge of people to (as far as possible) resolve conflicts between any parties involved. We have an example of this by the Apostle Paul–when question by rulers and confronted by hostile Jews and Greeks, he used Godly wisdom to answer.

“Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6, ESV).

  1. GRACIOUS SPEECH

As a spokesperson for his country, an ambassador is one who encourages and entreats with his words rather than causing any offence or hostility, as well as seeking the good of all. We see this in Apostle Paul’s conduct here:

“32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, KJV).

Apostle Peter explains: 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12, KJV).

  1. GENEROUSAn ambassador will use his time and talents to help others, especially as it promotes the interests of his home government, even at personal sacrifice and we note how Apostle Paul laid down his life for kingdom interests  in Philippians 2:4:-

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  1. REASONABLENESS

An ambassador will try to help those in his host country and persuade them to appreciate the benefit of his counsel. Paul continually appealed to others to accept his counsel concerning Christ’s kingdom and the blessing it will be to all.

  1. HONESTY

An ambassador tells the truth and uses facts to persuade others. He neither deceives nor exaggerates to achieve his way. Paul was forthright, even on occasion calling the attention of Peter and others to what appeared to be a misleading example.

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14, ESV).

  1. UNDER READINESS OF MIND

An ambassador is ever alert to represent and promote the interest of his government even at the risk of personal benefit or gain.

Apostle Paul did not let opportunities slip by him, to regret latter. He embraced his appointed service with diligence. As Jesus, “for the joy set before him” endured ALL manner of rebuff and persecution, so Apostle Paul followed the example of Jesus (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).

  1. HUMILITY

An ambassador recognizes that he has no personal authority apart from the country he represents. Further, as he provides instruction and direction, he explains the laws of his home country.

Though Apostle Paul was a leading light in the early church, he considered himself the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9, Ephesians 3:8).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:9).

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8, ESV).

Philippians-2-3.jpg

If we as Christians could keep these thoughts always prominent before our minds, what a dignity it would add to our character! What a transforming power it would be!

What an assistance to the new nature in its battle with the low and grovelling tendencies of the old nature now disowned by us and reckoned dead!

Dear friends, let us remember that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

While still living in the world, we are not of it but have transferred our allegiance and citizenship to the Kingdom. And now, as appointees of our Kingdom, while still living in the world among aliens and strangers, we as representatives and ambassadors should feel both the dignity and the honor of the position and the weighty responsibilities and keep in memory the Apostle’s words,

Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus(Colossians 3:23).

(Refer to Reprints of the Original Watch Tower page 3329 for a lovely article titled “Do All in the Name of the Lord Jesus.“)

We can learn by Apostle Paul’s wonderful example of ambassadorship and demonstrate, as he did, a ministry of reconciliation now.

Our Christ-like behavior in this world brings a certain amount of help and healing to a world that needs deliverance.

“A wicked messenger falleth into unhappiness; but a faithful ambassador bringeth healing
(Proverbs 13:17, Leeser).

This will prepare us well for the greater reconciliation of all mankind in which we will participate, no longer as ambassadors, but rather as kings and priests with Jesus.

What a hope is ours!

May we do ALL in our power to glorify our Heavenly Father Jehovah through Jesus Christ, GOD’s Son–in our bodies and our spirit which belong to our Head—Jesus CHRIST.

Reference:

Special thanks to Br. David Stein for source material from the article Paul the Ambassador“, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, August/September 2011.

 

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WILLINGLY & CHEERFULLY DOING GOD’S WILL: WHY, WHEN, HOW…

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Acquiescing to GOD’s will is the only way to get true PEACE in the spiritual mind of the New Creation in CHRIST.

To acquiesce means to be at rest; to be yielding and not resisting no matter how severe the trial our Heavenly Father may permit to melt us, humble us, mould us, teach us how to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NIV) and sacrifice for the good of others, knowing it will lead to the greater good and which will bring glory and honour to GOD and which is centered upon RIGHTEOUSNESS – as this is THE ONLY STANDARD our Almighty Heavenly Father accepts, and it can be achieved through our intentions being reckoned as righteous thanks to Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice on Calvary once for all, for the sins of ALL humanity.

Our plans being frustrated is GOD’s better choice for us.

Consider the Apostle Paul…

About the “thorn in my flesh”, Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 wrote, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘MY GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Do we fully TRUST OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’s tender-hood?

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Let us consider faithful Job, (who may have lived before Abraham and probably Moses received the book of Job from times before him) :-

GOD allowed Satan to test Job’s faith …Here is an account of Job’s FIRST TEST, Job 1: 6-22 (ESV):-

 

“6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Satan Takes Job’s Property and Children

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

 

FAITH can hold the hand of the Heavenly Father even when we cannot trace Him during our trials. Blessed be the name of the Lord GOD, because our Heavenly Father WILL TURN HUMAN DISAPPOINTMENT INTO HIS APPOINTMENT TO WORK out from each and every experience, an outcome that will result in the GREATER GOOD, EVEN IF IT RESULTS IN ONE’S DEATH.

If we wish to know how to DO GOD’s WILL WITH JOY then let us consider our Heavenly Father’s relationship with His Son and the World’s Redeemer, our Master and King JESUS CHRIST, who said:

 

5 “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not have, but a body hast Thou prepared for Me.

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.

Then said I, ‘Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.’”

Above when He said, ‘Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings, and offering for sin Thou wouldest not have, neither hadst pleasure therein’ (which are offered in accordance with the law),

then said He, ‘Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God,’ He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second.

10 By this will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5-10 (KJ21)

 

Job’s second test was that of GOD allowing the Adversary to afflict him “with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.” (Job 1:7). Even his wife told him to “curse GOD and die” (Job 2:9) from all his mental pain and fleshly agony, yet here too, we read in Job 2:10 – “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Despite Job wishing that GOD would allow him to die from the extent of his misery and pain (Job 6:9, Job 7:15), he still had this consolation – “my JOY in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.”(Job 6:10). Job even became a “laughingstock” (Job 12:4) to his three friends – Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar – who came to comfort him. Despite all, Job was still able to say:

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NIV)

Though He slay me, yet will I HOPE IN HIM.” (Job 13:15, NIV)

Can we say this too when disaster, or extreme agony of the mind or flesh “hit’s home”?

YES WE CAN! Because when our aim is to only want to do what the Heavenly Father would desire through our existence, then we have LET GO to what would weigh us down and to what would draw us away from running the race set before us to endure the battle of suffering and shame, knowing that “those who suffer with Christ shall reign with him.”(2 Timothy 2:12). This battle against sin is a daily one, until death (Revelation 2:10) and the strict discipline and serious training in the principles of righteousness becomes one that helps develop the true Christian into a mature member of the Royal Priesthood, a peculiar people, whos’ aims, intentions and desires are “NONE OF SELF and ALL OF THEE, HEAVENLY FATHER”. It is the fiery trials that are counted as “pleasing incense” to our Heavenly Father when there is willingness and patient, cheerful endurance exercised.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” – 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NIV).

* THE AIM OF EXISTENCE is:
TO PLEASE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER YAHWEH, OUR EL-SHADDAI,
through His Son Jesus Christ.

“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children…” – Psalm 103:17

“The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; But the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7 (ASV)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

During this Gospel Age (extending 6000 years for the permission of evil that is soon to end) when a Bride of 144,000 members (see Revelation 7 & 14) for Christ is being called out and tested, the consecrated unto the LORD GOD, are given the privileged opportunity in unfavourable circumstances to develop the heart character to make GOD’s will central in their lives.

Nothing can harm these, except as the Heavenly Father sees that the earthly injury or disadvantage would prove profitable to the individual new creature or the Lord’s general cause.” (R4926:6)

“Even if GOD should permit him to use his judgment in a way that afterward appeared not have been the best, nevertheless the Father may use it to bring some profitable lesson.” (R5212:6)

Our Heavenly Father wishes to give us the good things. Sometimes He sees best that we wait before getting an answer to our prayers. (R5480:4) Few lessons are harder to learn than this one—that GOD supervises the affairs of all who are truly His. (R5264:)

The consecrated shall have all needful instruction, grace, comfort, discipline, training and care; and such measure of temporal good as will be most conducive to highest spiritual and everlasting blessing. (R1396:3)

Sometimes our Heavenly Father sees best that we wait a long time before getting the answer to our petitions; at other times he may give us a speedy answer to our prayer. (R5480:4) “There shall no evil befall thee.” (Psa. 91:10)

“He who has buried his own will completely in the will of the Lord
can know no disappointment;
but in every affair of his life
he sees by faith divine appointment or supervision.” (R2412:6)

* HOW DO WE DO GOD’S WILL & WHY?

* IS DOING GOD’S WILL ENOUGH?

* DO WE DO GOD’S WILL CHEERFULLY & WITH PATIENT ENDURANCE, UNCOMPLAININGLY, JOYFULLY, NOT RELUCTANTLY, UNMURMURINGLY?

* WHO IN THE BIBLE DID GOD’S WILL?

These questions and others are discussed in the following video : “Acquiescing to GOD’s will”.

May it motivate, encourage and stimulate the New Mind in Christ in acquiescing to GOD’S will. GOD BLESS YOU.

“TRUST in the Lord with all your heart, and
do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.” 
Proverbs 3:5-6(ESV)

I Love Thy Will

I love thy will, O God!
Thy blessed, perfect will,
In which this once rebellious heart
Lies satisfied and still.

I love thy will, O God!
It is my joy, my rest;
It glorifies my common task,
It makes each trial blest.

I love thy will, O God!
The sunshine or the rain.
Some days are bright with praise, and some
Sweet with accepted pain.

I love thy will, O God!
O hear my earnest plea,
That as thy will is done in heav’n,
It may be done in me.

Hymn #114 from “Hymns of Dawn”

References:

Pastor Charles T. Russell – for quoted passages from the Reprints (R) of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

BibleTruth411 (YouTube) – Video: “Acquiescing to God’s Will” by Bro. Stephen Suraci.

Hymns of Dawn – http://www.htdbv8.com/index.html

URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/09/23/willingly-cheerfully-doing-gods-will-why-when-how/

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STUDY 4: The Court (“Holy Place”)

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The Tabernacle was surrounded by a yard, or “Court (Exodus 27:9-19), toward the rear of which it stood, and this courtyard is referred to by the Bible translators, as the “holy place” see Leviticus 6:26 and 14:13.

The Court represents the condition of justification, entered through faith in Christ, the “gate.” The tabernacle represents things from the time of Jesus forward. However, there are three time periods in the Plan of God when God through His holy Spirit deals with justified people:

  1.  The Ancient Worthies from Adam until Jordan;
  2.  The Church during the Gospel Age;
  3.  The world during the Millennium Age (Messianic 1000 year reign of Christ with the Church the 144,000 Elect Bride of Christ members).
  • The same is shown in the time in the ark (which pictures redemption) a total of 381 days, which is 3 x 127, that is, three times the age of Sarah, who represents the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • Also in the three times the doves were sent out from the ark in Genesis chapter 8 three missions of the holy Spirit.
  • And again in the three stories or levels of the ark, thus three time periods of justification.

Who Could Enter the Court?

Any Israelite (typical of a justified believer of the Gospel Age) was allowed to come into the Court, as indicated in Leviticus 1:1-3 (ESV):

“(1) The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, (2) ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. (3) If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.’”

Leviticus 1:11 shows also that Israelites were to bring their offerings into the court, and kill them there, “on the side of the altar northward before the Lord.” However, the priests would take the blood thereafter, for use at the altar. “And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.”

Note: Northward is the direction of God, and the Heavenly Realm. Offering on the north side of the altar emphasizes that the offering is made to God.

The offerers (Israelites) represent believers, coming in faith to make an offering to God whether believers in this age, or in the next.

Israelites commonly came in to make offerings. But the “daily sacrifice” was one lamb in the morning, another in the late afternoon, and these were done by the priests (Exodus 29:38-39).

The daily sacrifice was a burnt offering and it represents the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, who fulfilled this type, thus causing it to cease. The morning and evening times correlate with Jesus being put on the cross in the morning and expiring in the afternoon.

The Apostle Paul explained that our sacrifice is not just to be twice a day but 24/7 hence he defined the consecrated ones of this Gospel Age of the “High Calling” into Christ, as “living sacrifices” who “are holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Around and Inside the Court

(A) Copper

In the Court, the metal used most often was copper.

Copper represents human nature, either justified or perfect.

In John 3:14, Jesus compares himself to the copper serpent lifted up in the wilderness in the days of Moses, which healed those who looked to it. The copper of that serpent represents the perfect humanity of Jesus. The serpent symbol is used to represent that Jesus takes the burden of our sins upon himself, thus curing us from the “snakebite” of sin.

The court contained the “brazen altar” for use by the priests. Possibly Levites assisted the priests in some ways respecting the sacrifices (other than putting it on the altar).

(B) Court Measurements

The court was 50 cubits wide and 100 cubits long thus three of them could fit into the floor plan of Noah’s Ark, which was 50 cubits wide and 300 cubits long (Genesis 6:15). This also suggests that there are three time periods in God’s Plan (as explained at the start of this Tabernacle Study No. 4) where justified persons are called of God. It is notable that the “house of the forest”, picturing the call of the world during the Millennium, was also the size of the court (1 Kings 7:2).

The court was formed by a fence of white linen curtains (see Study 9 on this website in the series “Beauties of the Tabernacle,” titled “The Gate. The Door. The Veil”, suspended from silver hooks, set in the tops of wooden posts 5 cubits (7 1/2 feet high), which were set in heavy sockets of copper (mistranslated brass), and braced, like the tent which covered the Tabernacle, with cords and pins.

(C) The Silver Hooks

The silver hooks in the courtyard posts by which the posts held up the curtain, represent the divine Truth, by the knowledge of which the justified believer holds on to the righteousness of Christ. Silver is a general symbol of Truth but perhaps more specifically, that TRUTH which centers and deals with the RANSOM — the redemption accomplished in Christ Jesus (Tabernacle Shadows, page 114).

As these hooks were small in size they represent the small amount of Truth necessary to justify one.

Note: The Tabernacle Proper’s 100 silver sockets which supported the whole structure was made from the ransom or redemption money paid as a poll tax by the Israelites. (Exodus 30:12-16; 38:25-28.) In “Notes on the Tabernacle” (page 21) we read:

“. . . [God] enjoined that, whenever Israel was numbered as His people, every man must give a ransom for his soul. The price was fixed by God Himself.

Each man, whether poor or rich, must bring the same. One could not pay for another; but everyone must tender his own ransom-money of pure silver and of perfect weight. `Half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs), a half-shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.’ (Exodus 30:13) Other Gospel truths here shine out. When the question came to be one of ransom, the poor and the rich, the foolish and the wise, the ignorant and the learned, the immoral and the moral, stood on the same level. Each person was estimated by God at the same price. He proved Himself no respecter of persons.”

Hence, since most of the silver used in the Tabernacle was for the 100 foundation sockets for the Tabernacle Proper, this beautifully points to the TRUTH relative to the RANSOM sacrifice of our Lord as the foundation Truth upon which the entire plan of God rests.

“The four gold-plated pillars (posts) at the entrance of the Most Holy supporting the (second) Vail stood in four SILVER sockets, (reality, truth, verity) seeming to say to us, when you come inside this vail, you will be perfect – really and truly new creatures” (Tabernacle Shadows, page 115).

(D) The Posts (pillars)

The posts of the Court (Exodus 27:10-17) represent the justified believers whose imperfections are covered by Christ’s righteousness.

The function of the posts is to hold up to public view one’s faith in Christ who is represented by the linen curtain. This, brethren, is our purpose for being. This is why we are here. To show forth the mercy and goodness of Christ’s redemptive work, as Paul says, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

The posts were made of wood which is a corruptible material thus implying that the class typified, are not actually perfect as human beings.

(E) Sockets of Copper

The posts were set in sockets of copper which were sunken in the sand for stability.

The copper sockets represent our standing of perfect human beings, and this beautifully represents justification by faith, (despite the actual fact of our personal imperfections) which we can only hold onto by the aid of the Truth. This is the justification spoken of in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Some use the term “tentative justification,” to describe a Christian in the court condition before they reach the point of consecration at the door of the Tabernacle. However the priests also served in the court, and the priests represent the fully consecrated/spirit begotten. So their justification is also indicated in the court. If we simply relate that the court represents justification through faith in Christ, perhaps this suffices. It need not be one way or another  only unconsecrated (not spirit begotten) believers or only consecrated (spirit begotten) believers — as the concept of being justified by one’s faith in Christ can pertain to believers before consecration or believers after consecration.

Thanks to being reckoned as righteous in God’s sight, we are judged as to faithfulness in our intentions rather than in our actions. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).

Now, with rejoicing we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

It is thus that our faith becomes “rooted” and the philosophy of the ransom begins to appear. It is of this which Paul speaks in Colossians 2:7, “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”

(F) Guy Lines/Ropes/Cords & Pegs

2. FENCE EQUIPMENT.jpg

There is more to the philosophy of the ransom that prevents our faith from becoming weak and unstable. This is shown in the system of guy lines which uphold the wall of the court and tie the posts to the ground.

These cords represented the things which tie the justified believer to the earth; and there were two sets of cords and pins, one set inside the Court, the other, outside.

The set outside of the Court, outside of the justified state, represented the sin in the flesh which ties the believer to the world.

The set inside the Court represented the earthly things: joys, studies, music, etc., right enough in themselves, which bind the believer to the world. These are the weights (Hebrews 12:1).

These ropes were anchored by copper pegs tent pegs. One of these was installed inside the court and the other on the outside. Being copper, as opposed to wood covered with copper, they showed actual human perfection.

As we scan the pages of history we see just two and no more perfect men: Adam and Jesus. We see the one who lost his standing in the court, Adam, as the peg driven outside the fence. The other, grounded firmly in the court, pictures Jesus. These two have one connection the ransom pictured by this cord even as it was by Rahab’s scarlet thread. It is this simple philosophy of the ransom a perfect human life for a perfect human lifethat gives stability to our faith. How beautiful! How simple! Substitutionary atonement is the central doctrine of the Bible.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).

“For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15).

It is the very simplicity of the concept that speaks to its authenticity. Too good to be true? Too good not to be true! And yet our faith is sometimes weak. We need further support.

3. COURTYARD PILLARS, BANDS, BASES, SILVER EYELETS.jpgAccording to the Temple Institute in Israel:

The courtyard pillars, (amudim) were composed of three main components: The acacia pillars themselves, which were reinforced by silver bands, (chishukim); the copper bases, (adanim), into which the pillars were inserted; and the silver eyelets, (vavim), which were fitted onto the tops of the pillars, for stretching the curtains, (yeriot) across.

“fillets” Others have concluded that they were rigid, whether rods or bands, and served to stabilize the posts from leaning toward each other. We think that is correct.

The Furnishings In The Court

The Brazen Altar

4. BRAZEN ALTAR.jpg

The Brazen Altar was the first item encountered in the Courtyard. It was five cubits square, and 3 cubits tall (Exodus 27:1).

In each of the four corners there was a horn made from the same piece of acacia wood as the altar itself and the altar was over-layed with copper.

The Brazen Altar was used to burn up sacrifices placed upon it, such as during the consecration of the priesthood and the Day of Atonement.

Various utensils belonged to its service fire pans (called censers), for carrying the fire to the ‘Incense Altar,’ basins to receive the blood, flesh hooks, shovels, etc.

A Christian understands this altar is not an ornament of the Court, but a place where bulls and goats were killed and sacrificed, a place many times covered with blood and ashes, with the smell of burning meat, and much smoke. The grate of this altar was not on the top like a modern barbecue. It was placed half way between the bottom and the top of the altar:

“Thou shalt put it [the grate] under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst [Strong’s #2677: half or middle] of the altar” (Exodus 27:5). This placed the grate at the 1½ cubit mark, the same height as the mercy seat in the Most Holy. Both are considered in the design to be at the same “level;” neither towers above the other.

A Christian recognizes that Jesus has been sacrificed for him and starts to recognize that a similar sacrifice is needed from him if he is to enter beyond the next door. The sacrifice we have to offer, is as the Apostle Paul expresses it, in Romans 12:1.

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Thus, the antitypical priesthood of this Gospel age are privileged to use this altar (Christ Jesus), in presenting their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” for is it not the altar that sanctifies the gift?

You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” (Matthew 23:19).

“Your sacrifice would not be holy and acceptable, but it is made holy and acceptable as such by the Advocate [Christ Jesus] imputing of his merit to cover your sacrifice” (“What Pastor Russell Said,page 614).

Presenting our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God includes all our thoughts, words and doings and doing the best we can in all we do to bring God glory, honor and praise. It is Christ Jesus, our antitypical High Priest who alone is able to offer up the antitypical sacrifices. All that the followers of Jesus do, therefore, is to present (consecrate, set apart) themselves, as pictured in the type by the goat’s being, tied at the door of the Tabernacle. “It is after Jesus lays hold of this individual, accepts his consecration, imputes His own merit, and offers him to the Father, that the Father’s acceptance is manifested through the Son… by the begetting of the Holy Spirit. Thereforth, such an one is a member of the Body of Christ, and his name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, from which it will not be blotted out if he maintains his faithfulness” (What Pastor Russell Said, page. 614).

“It is the New Creature’s business to keep the old nature on the altar, upon which the great High Priest has put it. In other words, the New Creature must keep the old nature dead, hold it in subjection. When our flesh is brought into contact with the fires of experience for its consumption, it is the old creature that weeps, not the New Creature. Let the goat weep if it will. The New Creature will rejoice in the Lord and in His providential care, as daily it grows in grace and in knowledge. When the old creature is knocked out, or brow-beaten, as the Apostles says (1 Corinthians 9:27), it will groan; but the New Creature will be glad and rejoice in the Lord… We rejoice because God’s favor and blessing are with us as New Creatures.” (What Pastor Russell Said, page 613.) See also Acts 16:26, Philippians 4:4.

Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed for the entire world of mankind. He was perfect and became flesh to do the will of his Heavenly Father (John 4:34, John 6:38).

The wood of the altar, typifying humanity, reminds us that Christ became a man for the express purpose of experiencing our infirmities and “to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

5-bronze-altar

There is a thought that wood was used to make the articles of lighter weight and thus, more easily portable, than if of solid metal. This was an important consideration when they traveled.

As discussed earlier in this series of “Beauties of the Tabernacle,” the use of copper represents the human nature in its perfection, a little lower than the angelic nature (unlike gold, which represents the divine nature, far above angels, principalities and powers).

As gold and copper are much alike in their appearance, yet different in quality, so the human nature is an image and likeness of the divine, adapted to earthly conditions.

“The Tabernacle’s altar of burnt-offering represents… the ransom-sacrifice of Christ Jesus (Tabernacle Shadows, page 22) — the ‘altar’ unto which the world of mankind in the Millennial age, will bring its sin-, trespass-, burnt-, and peace-offerings. (Tabernacle Shadows, page 95,96)” (“Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 134).

The horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering were in themselves symbols of power; yet this power came from the blood which sanctified it. The Scriptures do set forth the fact that one guilty of a sin against his fellowman, when in danger of being apprehended, might flee for asylum to the altar — take hold of its horns, and find a safe refuge there (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28).

“We too have an altar, the power of which stems from the blood of Christ Jesus, that sanctified it. We too, had sinned against our King, who could justly have destroyed us. But we fled to the altar and found sanctuary, an asylum, a refuge, there. Our faith in the precious blood, justified us — made us free as it were; but only on one condition could we continue to be free and that was that we covenant with our King thereafter to walk “worthily.” Having entered into this covenant we are safe from the “avenger.” But should the time ever come when we would break that covenant by profaning the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified — outraging the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29) — we would then fall directly into the hands of the “avenger” and be put to death — the Second Death!” (“Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 130).

Was there a ramp?

Some may question whether there was a ramp attached to this brazen altar which would assist the priests with getting the sacrifices onto the large surface area of the altar.

We read in Exodus 20:26, “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.”

4.4 - BRONZE ALTAR.jpg
“It is worthy of note that the Hebrew word ‘maalah’ occurring [here] in Exodus 20:26 and there rendered ‘steps’ in the KJV, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible means ‘a going up, ascent.’ It would therefore cover even such a thing as a ramp, though this latter term has nowhere been used in the common version of the Bible. It has been rendered ‘stairs’ (2 Kings 9:13; Nehemiah 3:15; 12:37; Ezekiel 40:6; 43:17) and ‘steps’ (Exodus 20:26; 1 Kings 10:19, 20; 2 Chronicles 9:18,19; Ezekiel 40:22, 26, 31, 34, 37, 49).

“No priests were ever to enter the precincts of Jehovah — the Tabernacle’s Court, Holy, or Most Holy — without the linen breeches ‘to cover their nakedness’ upon them (Exodus 28:42,43). Especially is the injunction given that Jehovah’s altar was not to have any steps (stairs or ramp) unto it, since an approach by way of such would necessitate the ‘lifting of the robe’ and the consequent exposure of the priest’s nakedness (Exodus 20:26)” (Br. Anton Frey, “Notes on the Tabernacle,” page 133).

The Laver

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“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting, and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the LORD. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations’” (Exodus 30:17-21).

The Laver stood between the brazen altar and the door of the Tabernacle or “sanctuary”. It was a receptacle for water where the priests washed his feet and hands leaving behind the last traces of the flesh and of his contact with the surrounding world, before entering the Tabernacle.

The Laver as a whole represented the Word of God, Jesus was the word who cleanses the believer through the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

The Laver was cast from the mirrors of women who served at the Tabernacle, thus it was made of polished copper (Exodus 38:8) which represents the brightness of Jesus’ perfection. As the priests looked into the laver, they could see the faces reflected in its polished surface, so the consecrated see the imperfections and failings of their own characters when they compare these characters to the bright perfection of Jesus by looking unto him.

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The priests did not bathe in the Laver, but presumably drew water out of the laver using a copper pitcher for the purpose of washing his hands and feet (Exodus 40: 31, 32) otherwise the water in the laver would become dirty.

So we are greatly helped by concordances, dictionaries, etc. We cannot wash in them, but they help us in getting the Truth to cleanse us. And we likewise, cleanse our hands that they may do the will of God, and our feet that they may walk in Jesus’ footsteps, in the straight and narrow way.

At this step an approaching Christian accepts this purification as did all the followers of Jesus. Even if the Master did not need any purification, since he was perfect and without sin, by washing the feet of his disciples Jesus showed another important element of that washing: humility.

Now the Christian is at the door of the Tabernacle. After his journey through the Court, he is ready to follow his Master into the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11, KJV).

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles T. Russell for source material used from Tabernacle Shadows,” “What Pastor Russell Said” (Question Book).
Br. Anton Frey for source material used from Notes on the Tabernacle.
Br. David Rice & Br. George Tabac for sharing of content and editing for this post.
The Temple Institute in Israel for source material used.

Suggested Further Reading

STUDY 1: An Introduction To The Tabernacle And It’s Purpose
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 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/

STUDY 9: The Gate. The Door. The Vail.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/01/study-9-the-gate-the-door-the-vail/

 

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