Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

Christian Fellowship – Hymns of Dawn No. 23

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

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

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 23 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

Lyrics

1.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

2.
Blest are the sons of peace,
Whose hearts and hopes are one,
Whose kind designs to serve and please
Thro’ all their actions run.

3.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts and our cares.

4.
We share our mutual woes;
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

5.
When we asunder part,
O may this mutual love
Encourage ev’ry fainting heart,
His zeal and faith to prove.

6.
Our glorious hope revives
Our courage ev’ry day,
While each in expectation strives
To run the heav’nly way.

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Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

Acts 2:42 (NASB) — “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Romans 14:19 — “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

1 Corinthians 12:20-27 (NRSV) — “(20) As it is, there are many members, yet one body. (21) The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ (22) On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, (23) and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; (24) whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, (25) that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. (26) If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (27) Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 (NRSV) (4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never ends. (13) And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Galatians 3:28 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:27 (NASB) — “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

Philippians 2:1-8 (NASB) —(1) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,(2) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (3) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (4) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Ephesians 4:3 (Amplified) — “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NASB) — (24) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (25) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

1 John 1:3, 7 (KJV) — “(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 Peter 3:8 (Amplified) — “Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).”

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The History Of This Hymn

Author John Fawcett (1740-1817) is attributed for writing the original lyrics for “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” which in the “Hymns of Dawn” constitute Verses 1, 3 and 4 of hymn no. 23, “Christian Fellowship.”

John Fawcett was a British-born Baptist theologian, pastor and hymn writer (Wikipedia). “In 1772 he was invited to London, to succeed the celebrated Dr. J. Gill, as pastor of Carter’s Lane; the invitation had been formally accepted, the farewell sermon at Wainsgate had been preached and the wagons loaded with his goods for removal, when the love and tears of his attached people prevailed and he decided to remain” (https://hymnary.org/person/Fawcett_John1740).

Composer — Lowell Mason (1792-1872, who is considered “the father of American church music”) arranged this hymn’s tune titled “DENNIS” which he first publishing in The Psaltery in 1845 (a hymnal he compiled with George Webb). Mason attributed the tune to Johann G. Nageli (Switzerland, 1773-1836) but included no source reference (https://hymnary.org/tune/dennis_nageli).

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The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 647 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one

CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP

“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

True fellowship implies love, sympathy, a mutual sharing of good or ill, common principles, common interests, and a common aim. It may exist between parties on equal footing, or between those whose conditions are widely different. Where the latter is the case, benevolence [kindness, goodness, compassion, thoughtfulness, decency, charity] on the part of the superior is shown in acts of favor and blessing, and on the part of the inferior, in gratitude and such returns in action as are possible.

Than such fellowship there is nothing more desirable and more helpful to the saints in the narrow and difficult way they are called to tread. But while we should ever seek and cultivate such fellowship, we need to be very careful to see that our fellowship one with another, is based upon correct principles, else that which was designed as a blessing, will be found to our great disadvantage.

Realizing this, the Apostle Paul admonishes us, saying: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness…or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor. 6:14,15.) “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” It is impossible. Let us see to it, then, that our fellowship is based upon the sure foundation referred to in this text—the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanseth us from all sin—and that our rejoicing and communion be of the increasing light as we walk together.

And this great blessing, the Apostle John tells us, it is our privilege to have. He says we may have fellowship with our Father, and with his Son, and also with other saints who are walking in the light—the truth.

“This then,” says John, “is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The truth is all clear and plain in God’s sight, and he, by his Spirit, through his Word, will lead all of his children into light (truth) in its due season, if they are in actual fellowship with him. John states this very emphatically, saying, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not [practice] the truth” (Ver. 6.) …

God speaks to his children through his Word, and he is acquainted with all our circumstances and hears our prayers, but it is a great mistake to imagine that we have communion and fellowship with God, when we only speak to him in prayer, and never examine the Word to hear him speak to us. We may speak and then listen, but we need to hear much more than we say. Thus we have communion, interchange of thought, fellowship. None can thus commune with God without becoming acquainted in some measure with his truth, and if they are in harmony and fellowship with him, his plans and purposes will become theirs. If they do not desire to obey the truth, they will deceive themselves in an endeavor to disbelieve it, and to substitute something else in its place. And while doing this many hold to the form of sound words while denying their import.

But if as children of the light we walk in the light, not only shall we have fellowship with our Father and our Lord, but we shall also have fellowship with other saints who are walking in the same narrow way.

R. W.

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The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 1278 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: www.htdb.one

This one page article from the Reprints of the original “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence” is something that “appeared on the inside front cover of each issue during 1891.”

WE CONTEND EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH

—ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.—

“We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men—specially [or most fully and everlastingly] of those that believe.”1 Tim. 4:10.

“To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”1 Cor. 8:6.

All we are brethren, and one is our Master, even Christ. (Matt. 23:8.) Our Master declares: “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” “And this is his commandment, that we love one another.”

WE SEEK TO WALK

Worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to preserve the unity of the spirit [oneness of mind] in the bond of peace. There is ONE BODY [Church], with ONE SPIRIT [one sentiment or disposition], even as we are called in ONE HOPE of our calling; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, who is above all and through all and in us all.—Eph. 4:1-6.

THE ONE BODY—is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth;” “the Church of the first-born” “whose names are written in heaven;” the “little flock,” to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom; the members in particular of the body of Christ; prospectively, Christ’s Bride and joint-heir; the “Seed of Abraham,” of which our Lord Jesus is Head. Since Pentecost this Church of Christ has been in process of selection from among justified believers, or the general “household of faith;” and its members, when complete and glorified, unitedly shall inherit the Abrahamic promise and bless all the families of the earth.—Gal. 3:16,29.

THE ONE SPIRIT—is the spirit of the Truth, the spirit of God, the spirit of adoption as sons of God, which actuates and governs all who are of the ONE BODY, in vital union with the one Head, Christ Jesus. It is the spirit of holiness, and chief among its fruits is Love.

THE ONE HOPE—which inspires all the members of the one body of Christ, who have the one spirit of the Truth, is the hope set before us in the gospel,” and not hopes suggested from our own or other men’s imaginations or conjectures. The one hope is a “good hope” (2 Thes. 2:16), a hope of eternal life by a resurrection. (Titus 3:7.) The ground of this hope is found in Jehovah’s promises, confirmed unto us by the death of our Lord Jesus as the ransom price for our sins, and by his resurrection from the dead for our justification.—1 Pet. 1:3; Acts 17:31.

THE ONE LORD—is the Head or Chief of the one body—his Church possessing the spirit of the Truth and actuated by the one hope of becoming his Bride and joint-heir. He and his Father are one, even as he and his church are one. (John 17:11.) He is the Redeemer of his church as well as her Lord, Exemplar and Master. And he is the Redeemer also of the whole world, and by virtue of that office he is to be the world’s Deliverer from Adamic sin and death. He it is who in all things has the pre-eminence in Jehovah’s plan and work. He was not only “the beginning of the creation of God,” “the first-born of every creature,” but more: he was the “beginning and the ending,” he was the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,” of Jehovah’s direct creation; for all other “things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (Col. 1:15,18; Rev. 3:14; 1:8; 21:6; 22:13; John 1:3.) He it is who, to carry out the Father’s gracious plan, willingly left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was created, and became a man—a little lower than the angels—that he might, as a man, present himself in sacrifice for the sins of man. Thus we behold him as the “Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL.” (1 Tim. 2:5,6.) By his willing sacrifice of himself for men he bought Adam and the entire race condemned through his fall, and became Lord of all—not only of the living, but also of the dead, with full power and authority to awaken and restore to all that was lost whosoever accepts of the New Covenant of divine favor which, by his death, he sealed and made effective to all. But our Lord is no longer in the flesh, no longer a human being. He has finished the work of ransoming us, for which the taking of the flesh was needful. He was indeed put to death in the flesh, but was quickened [made alive] in the spirit. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him [so] no more.” As he was begotten of the spirit at his baptism, so he was born of the spirit at his resurrection; and “that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” “Now the Lord is that spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:16; John 3:6; 2 Cor. 3:17.) Because he showed his obedience to the Father, and his confidence, in that he humbled himself to become a man and tasted death for every man, therefore God highly exalted him—far above manhood, far above the angelic nature; even far above his own glorious previous station, and gave him a name [title] above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father. He made him partaker of the divine nature and honor, “that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” “He is Lord of all.”Phil. 2:8-11; John 5:22,23,26; Acts 10:36.

THE ONE FAITH—is that we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, who died for our sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God; by whom we have accepted the at-one-ment with God, offered unto us. Wherefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; being cleansed by his blood [sacrifice], we are brought nigh to God and are no longer strangers and foreigners, but children and heirs of his favors, prepared for those who love him when brought nigh through the precious blood. Through this faith we grasp the exceeding great and precious promises of God as rapidly as we see them, and gladly appropriate them to ourselves. Faith anchors our hearts securely to the precious things of the future, though unseen as yet except to the eye of faith. Faith is the power of God to every one that believeth.

THE ONE BAPTISM—Those of the one BODY and one HOPE, joined to the one LORD, possessing the one FAITH, are all baptized or immersed into Jesus Christ. (Rom. 6:3.) As individuals they have reckonedly ceased to exist: henceforth, for them to live is for Christ to live. With their wills buried or immersed into the will of Christ, they thenceforth live, not unto themselves, but unto him that bought them with his own precious blood. Their own wills are dead, and henceforth they recognize only the will of the one Lord, the Head of the body, which is his church, whose names are written in heaven. Justified believers attain membership in this Church of Christ through this burial or immersion of their hearts, their wills, into the will of Christ. And as the Apostle further declares, this immersion of our wills (ourselves) into Christ is acceptable only when it is an immersion even unto death—an entire, a complete immersion forever. “Know ye not that so many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by immersion into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also [from the time of our consecration, the immersion of our wills into that of the one Lord,] should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be [sharers] also in the likeness of his resurrectionthe first resurrection, to be with him and like him, partakers of the divine nature. (Rom. 6:3-5; Phil. 3:10,11.) This is the only real baptism, of which immersion in water is only the beautiful and appropriate symbol.

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Acknowledgment & References

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

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

 

Suggested Further Reading

Making Peace by Br. Rick Suraci.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2018C.pdf

Doing and Saying the Kindest Thing in the Kindest Way
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/18/doing-and-saying-the-kindest-thing-in-the-kindest-way/

Hebrews 10:25 — Not Forsaking The Assembling Of Ourselves Together
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/26/hebrews-1025/

John 13:14-15 — “Washing One Another’s Feet — A Privilege.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/03/27/washing-one-anothers-feet-a-privilege/

What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

Are You In the Little Flock?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/03/are-you-in-the-little-flock/

How Is Your Zeal?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/10/06/how-is-your-zeal/

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

OUR BELIEFS — What Does The Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

 

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

Jesus walks on water - Matthew 14

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

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

A Joyous Multitude

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

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

Blessing Now, Blessing Later

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

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

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

A Need for Quiet

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

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

Their Stormy Challenge

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

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

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

Winds and waves threatened their ship;

               yet there was Jesus,

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

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

Our Stormy Challenges

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

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

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

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

We Learn from Peter

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

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

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

Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,

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

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

Be not afraid. It is I!”

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

Water-walking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.

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

PSALM 20, 7

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

PSALM 118-8

Our Rocky Boats

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

HEBREWS-11-1-6

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

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

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

PSALM 61, 1-2

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

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

Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.

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

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

PSALM 73-26

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

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

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

Reaching to Jesus

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

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

We are not arm-chair saints.

Our faith is on trial NOW.

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

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

2 COR. 4, 16

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

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

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

*****

HEB. 10, 23

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above study.

*****

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

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

The King of Babylon – King Nebuchadnezzar

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

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

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

Nebuchadnezzar's image

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

The Festival

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

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

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

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

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

The Hour of Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons From This Bible Account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement

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

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Streeter-Daniel-Paperback_cropped_with_shadow-424x600

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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HAGGAI 2:7 – The Desire Of All Nations Shall Come

1.

Here is an overview of the written content from the video “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this post.

In recent times Television and Radio news commentators, have filled our consciousness almost daily with catastrophic events happening throughout the world. Who can forget the tragic collapse of the twin towers on November 9th, 2001, when thousands of innocent people lost their lives because of a hand full of terrorists. Earthquakes are increasing at an alarming rate all around the world, which in turn, often produce the heart wrenching scenes of Tsunamis, wiping away entire cities with tens of thousands of lives lost in Indonesia, and the more recent one in Japan. The world is plagued with terrorist attacks. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought not against conventional armies, but suicidal terrorists. Throughout the Middle East we see people uprising in revolt against their nations leaders. The masses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and many other countries, are held down in poverty and oppression of rights. As a result, they demanded the removal of all their corrupt leaders, and governments. Other countries are worried that terrorists or radical governments might acquire a nuclear weapon to destroy their enemies resulting in a nuclear holocaust.

Armageddon In The News

2.

These catastrophic events and increasing threats are resulting in the Medias News anchors using the term Armageddon ever more frequently. People are wondering if all this trouble is an indicator that we are approaching Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation?

In Revelation 16:13-20 (ESV) we read:

“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Political power under the influence of Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [Papacy – the Roman Catholic Church], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the Church of England and their Protestant allies]. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Strongs 717 – “the hill or city of Megiddo”]. (17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

The destruction in Armageddon is highly symbolic picture language. By many, the word Armageddon has come to be misunderstood as a final great cataclysmic event that will destroy by fire the heavens and our literal planet earth, together with all remaining unbelievers. Let us explain in relation to the words of 2 Peter 3:10.

3.

This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.

The Heavens and The Earth

4.

The heavens being destroyed couldn’t possibly be referring to the literal heaven of God’s abode or the billions upon billions of stars in the starry heavens above as in this NASA deep space shot, in which each speck of light is not a star, but a galaxy.

Nor could the destruction of the earth be referring to our literal planet earth on which we live, for notice God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 1:4.

5.

This scripture is a plain easy to understand literal statement. The earth will abide forever!

How then, can 2 Peter 3:10 be understood which says the earth will be destroyed by fire?

Since the Bible was inspired by God, we realize it must be harmonious with itself. Hence, the heavens and earth that are to be destroyed can only be understood in a symbolic sense.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this present evil world.

“In their case the god of this [evil] world [the Adversary] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Thus, the symbolic heavens and earth that will be burnt up with fire, refers to the destruction and removal of all the works of injustice and iniquity of Satan’s evil empire.

6.

All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed in Armageddon.

The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.

7.

God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteous one. This new heavens and earth refers to the kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.

8.

We notice God’s kingdom for which we pray for, is going to be right here on earth.

Thus the new heavens isn’t referring to a new literal heaven, but to the new spiritual ruling power of “The Christ,” that will govern over a new earthly society. Not a new planet, but to a new holy righteous kingdom here on earth.

A Great Time of Trouble

A great time of trouble will remove this present evil order. Yet, let us take note what immediately follows aftera great time of blessing to mankind here on planet earth! The kingdom of God!

Psalm 46 speaks of the time of trouble that will melt the earth at the end of the age. It begins with giving comfort to his faithful people as the trouble time approaches.

9.

 

10.

This is the same end time trouble referred to in Revelation and in 2 Peter chapter 3. The elements melt as he brings desolation or destruction to earths evil social structure. But now notice what immediately follows in the very next verse after the symbolic earth melts from the heat of trouble.

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After the symbolic melting of earth, the earth is still here!

God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. It’s God’s kingdom time, the time God will be exalted among the nations.

And where are the nations? God says, “I will be exalted in the EARTH!

Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.

The previous melting, was only symbolic of the destruction of Satan’s evil empire that will be removed, and replaced with God’s kingdom. Similarly we read about this in Zephaniah 3: 8,9.

12.

Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:

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After the removal of the present evil order of society, the kingdom of blessings will immediately follow.

All mankind will be gradually raised from the tomb of death, and will be instructed with a pure language, that is a pure and true understanding of God’s word, his plans and His will for mankind to follow in order to go on to receive everlasting life.

Now we come to our theme text of Haggai 2:6-8 (KJV).

“(6) For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
(7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
(8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.

This is prophetic of the same shaking of Armageddon and the end time of trouble that will remove Satan’s empire—the present symbolic heavens and earth. But again, let us notice what immediately follows in the very next verse!

“‘(9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.’”

What a glorious precious promise!

After the trouble, the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth will come. A time when THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME when they are raised from the tomb in God’s kingdom.

What is the desire of all nations, of all people?

→ peace
→ health
→ freedom from all fear and anxieties,
→ EVERLASTING LIFE!

The opportunity for all these and more is what God has promised for all mankind in God’s promised Kingdom on earth.

WHY

One might ask, then, if God intends “the desire of all nations” to pass, then:

WHY did God not do this from the very beginning of Creation?

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WHY has God allowed man to suffer pain, sickness and death for thousands of years?

 

In order to find the answer to this universal question, may we suggest that for a few moments we try to imagine ourselves being God! That’s rather difficult but let us give it a try! Imagine having just finished creating the Angelic host and all the stars, galaxies and planets.

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Let us try to envision our beginning to contemplate creating a new human race of intelligent beings. Our first thought might be that of creating him in such a way that it was impossible for him to ever do anything wrong, for in this way, humanity will live forever never having any pain or sickness.

But upon further thought, we may realize no, this would not be good because then humans would be mere robots, programmed to love God rather than truly desiring from their own hearts to love God.

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We would want our children to love and obey us because they want to, not because they have to without any choice.

We would want them to have a mind of their own, to have freedom to make their own decisions.

As we consider various possibilities, we gradually develop a fantastic plan. A plan that:

  • is kind and loving!
  • provides for freedom of choice!
  • teaches our children to learn by experiencing right from wrong!
  • provides an opportunity to live forever in perfect happiness.
  • allows our children to love and serve us, not because they have to with no choice, but because they love us for what we are, and for what we provide for them.

This is the plan of God that he provided for his new human family. As we further consider that plan, we will see that it is the most loving, most just, most reasonable plan for mankind that you could ever imagine.

Adam and Eve in Eden

When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a simple test:

Obey and live,
or
disobey and die.

 

God knew Adam would fail his test, because of a lack of experience, but
God permitted it as an act of love
for man’s ultimate greatest eternal blessing.

Man was to learn from experience to discern right from wrong and also to experience the disastrous effects of disobedience so that…

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after evil is eradicated, for eternity the lessons of the past will serve as a reminder of what JOYS REMAIN ETERNALLY for all who OBEY the Heavenly Father’s principles.

The Scriptures promise, that very soon every single one who has ever lived will gradually be raised from the sleep of death in God’s promised kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Notice ALL will be made alive. This includes every man, woman and child that has ever lived on the face of the earth… Jew, Arab, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, good or bad… ALL are promised to be made alive in God’s kingdom!

Because the one perfect man Adam sinned, the death penalty came upon him and all of us as his children. But God’s love provided for another perfect man Christ Jesus, to give his life as a ransom to redeem father Adam. Thus, it was Jesus’ ransom merit that provided the legal basis for justice to be satisfied, and allow everyone that has ever lived to be resurrected from the dead.

Two Salvations

The KEY to understand God’s ultimate plan for his human creation is to recognize that the scriptures teach that there are two salvations for mankind:

  • A heavenly salvation.
  • An earthly salvation.

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Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.

 

But note:

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It is to this earthly kingdom that ALL the remainder of mankind (the good and the bad) will be raised in the 1000-year Millennial kingdom of God. As each one will be raised from the dead in this kingdom, they will be guided and instructed in the laws of the kingdom. They will be given every opportunity to gradually change their ways to develop Christ -like qualities.

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By that time, all mankind will have experienced the great contrast between disobedience (prison) and obedience (joyful life). Thus, with experience being the best teacher, this vast contrast will enable most of mankind to pass their individual test and go on to live forever in perfect happiness.

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A Foretaste of the Future

We can see that the plan God has adopted for his new human creation will result in most all of mankind loving and obeying their Creator for all eternity, not because they have to with no choice, but because they want to with all their being. It will be then that words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:10,11 shall be fulfilled.

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Kingdom Blessings

With this brief summary of why God permitted evil for man’s ultimate good, let us note a few of the many Scriptures that describe the blessings of what the kingdom of God will be like.

In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose…
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert…
and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

10496121_10203530977370025_4997210872171024409_o.jpg“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV).

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (Kingdom), for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

“He will destroy in this mountain [kingdom,] the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9, RSV).

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After the shaking trouble of Armageddon, truly the desire of all nations shall come” in God’s glorious kingdom!

Signs of The Time of the End

Since Jesus died so long ago, one might wonder when will this resurrection take place and the kingdom of God be established? The disciples asked Jesus this very same question in the 24th chapter of Matthew:

30. MATT-24-3.PNGJesus proceeded to outline evidences that would enable those who were watching to recognize when this time would be.

Matthew 24:21,22—For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.

But someone might say, there has always been trouble, and people often feel it is worse than ever before. What makes our present day trouble, a special sign? What makes it a special sign is the last phrase,

“And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.”

Recall for a moment the devastation that took place in Hiroshima Japan on August 5th 1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.

40. HIROSHIMA.PNGOver 200,000 people died and countless others were injured with radiation burns.

By today’s standards that bomb was relatively small. Its destructive power was the equivalent of exploding only 13,000 tons of TNT explosive.

On October 30, 1961 Russia exploded a test hydrogen bomb, that had the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT—3,846 times greater explosive power than the one bomb on Hiroshima!

Today there are eight countries that have nuclear warheads: China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. There are currently about 31,000 nuclear warheads owned by these eight countries. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5000 million tons of TNT. That’s 200,000 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!

We can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign of the end of the age when he said:

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

Never before in the history of man would it have been possible to destroy all life on earth. Today there are enough nuclear warheads to destroy all flesh on earth many times over. But how thankful we are God has promised the trouble will be shortened. And when Satan’s present evil heavens and earth are removed, they will be replaced with the new righteous heavens and earth of God’s kingdom.

In the book of Daniel, God gave us additional signs to know where we are in the stream of time.

“And at that time shall Michael [Jesus] stand up, … and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1-4, KJV).

 Again a great time of trouble like never before, but note what will come after the trouble in the next verse… THE KINGDOM TIME!

“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, (2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Daniel 12:1,2).

The resurrection of the dead will begin!

Then in verse 4, God gives us two more signs to help us know when this time of trouble followed by the kingdom would be. It wasn’t going to be in Daniel’s day, but in “the time of the end.”

56.

We have witnessed both of these signs. Think for a moment how fast knowledge is increasing. The accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, a period of 150 years, redoubled again in just 50 years by 1950, redoubled again in 10 years to 1960, and again in 8 years to 1968.

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The telephone, electric light, automobiles, sound recording, radio, television, jet airplanes, modern appliances, computers, space travel, trips to the moon, cell/mobile phones have been changing so rapidly we can’t keep up. And now with the internet—via a press of a button—information about any topic from around the globe can be accessed.

The “increase of knowledge” was one of the signs Daniel gave us of the nearness of the kingdom of God and it made possible the next sign Daniel gave us: “…many shall run to and fro!” (Daniel 12:4, KJV).

Are we not running to and fro today?

Think for a moment how just a little more than 100 years ago, man’s common transportation for thousands of years was a horse and buggy. Sir Isaac Newton was scorned by his peers when he predicted man would someday travel at speeds of 50 miles per hour. Little did he realize that man would fly across the ocean at 1300 mph and travel through space at 25,000 mph.

“Many shall run to and fro”—this is certainly our day!  Another evidence that we are on the very brink of the establishment of God’s Kingdom!

The Fig Tree

Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus gave another very important sign that would indicate the time of his 2nd presence and the end of the age in Matthew 24:32-34.

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32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

From many Scriptures throughout the Bible we realize the fig tree always represents the nation of Israel. Leaves sprouting on a tree is a sign that the tree has sprung to life after a dormant winter. Thus, what Jesus was actually telling us, is that when we see Israel come alive as a nation after being without a homeland for thousands of years, then we will know that God’s kingdom is right at the door.

Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!

As we recall the past, we see how Israel as a people were dispersed among all nations, persecuted bitterly, having to live in Ghettos, hunted and exterminated as undesirables. Yet Israel’s hope was strong in God’s promises of a return to their homeland.

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We recall the words uttered so often by Jewish people, “next year in Jerusalem.”

This hope was fulfilled in an historic miracle of our day, after thousands of years without a homeland.

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By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.

 

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In war after war, outnumbered 100 to one, the tiny Israeli forces could not be overpowered.

 

 

 

 

And so it has continued to this day because God’s time clock has struck, for Israel to return to their land!

there is hope israel.biblestudentsdaily.com.jpg

The Fig tree has blossomed!

Remember this was a sign Jesus gave to show the nearness of his kingdom. The Apostle Luke adds something in his account that makes our faith even stronger, writing the following words:

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If the Fig Tree pictures Israel, “all the trees” would refer to other nations.

So Luke is telling us that together with Israel putting forth leaves (springing into life), many other nations would be putting forth leaves—sprouting into existence. And when we see this happen we would know the kingdom of God was near at hand. What does history tell us?  It ties in exactly with Israel becoming a nation.

Up until 1945 the number of independent nations in the world remained relatively constant for centuries. A total of 70 were in existence in 1945. But since the ending of the 2nd World War in 1945 notice what’s happened! Today, there are 196 nations! More than 125 new independent nations have sprung into being which previously were held as colonies. Yes, Israel simultaneously with other nations has put forth leaves, sprouting into existence! We are the ones who have witnessed the fulfillment of this!
Let us recall what Luke and Matthew told us:

“When ye see these things come to pass, know ye the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).

 “When ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:34).

What a thrill to our hearts to realize this means we are on the very brink of the greatest event in all human historythe establishment of God’s Kingdom!
If this is so, then why all the continued trouble?

This is again in fulfillment of prophecy. For just as a contractor must remove an old structure from a building site, before he can build a new skyscraper, so with God. He must first remove Satan’s present corrupt systems of society, before they can be replaced with Jehovah’s kingdom of blessings.

Notice how this was portrayed in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2:31-45 Daniel interprets a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that pictured the four Universal World Empires, and their removal. Here are three images to explain the image according to Bible prophecy:

50. IMAGE
Image 1
51. STATUE - WORDS
Image 2
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Image 3

The stone that struck the image—pictures how God’s kingdom will grow and fill the whole earth. This prophetic dream is in essence, another symbol of the removal of the present corrupt heavens and earth being replaced by the new heavens and earth of God’s kingdom, which will fill the earth with blessings.

Then in verse 44 of Daniel 2, we are given another prophetic corroboration of 1914 as the time when the stone of God’s power initially strike the image beginning the “time of trouble” which will be culminated in Armageddon.

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We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.

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Thus this Scripture is telling us, that when the kings still existed in 1914, it was God’s initial kingdom power that struck a blow which started the time of trouble. It started to break in pieces the monarchies and colonies of the kingdoms, and the breaking down process will continue until it ultimately removes all the kingdoms in Armageddon.

God’s plan is truly the most kind, the most loving, the most just, the most blessed and reasonable plan for mankind, that you could ever imagine.

We leave you with one of the most precious closing verses of the book of Revelation. Earlier we consider Revelations reference to Armageddon. But now notice how Revelation’s closing promises show us that Armageddon is not the end, but in reality it’s the prelude to the beginning of the new heavens and earth, the most glorious time period awaiting you and me and everyone that has ever lived—God’s Kingdom!

Revelation 21:4-5

Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!

Acknowledgment:

Br. George Tabac—The content for this post is based on Br. George Tabac’s script of his video titled “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed on the BibleTruth411 YouTube channel, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAnPWMXrW0

Suggested Further Viewing/Reading

“Armageddon—A Critical Part of God’s Master Plan” by Br. Bob Goodman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECzweTBCmjk

“Armageddon then World Peace”— a Dawn Publication by The Dawn Bible Students Association.  http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/armageddon.htm

Armageddon then World Peace.jpg“The Melting Elements.” The Dawn (Magazine) – A Herald of Christ’s Presence.http://www.dawnbible.com/1957/5711-hl.htm

 

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JOHN 13:14-15 – Washing One Another’s Feet – A Privilege

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During Bible times, frequent washing of the feet was necessary as the Israelites wore sandals instead of shoes, and often went barefoot in the house. Thus, among the Israelites, it was the first duty of a host to give his guest water for washing his feet. To omit this was a sign of marked unfriendliness. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “it was also customary to wash the feet before meals and before going to bed (compare Cant. 5:3).” Abstaining for a long time from washing them was a sign of mourning (2 Samuel 19:24).

The priests had laws about this practice (Exodus 30:18-21). Here it is explained that a copper laver was placed in the court, between the Tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering, in which the priests had to wash their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle or approaching the altar of burnt offerings, hence before all their priestly functions. As no one is allowed to approach a king or prince without due preparation, which includes the washing of the hands and feet, so the Israelite, and especially the priest, is forbidden in his unclean condition to approach God, for if such a one came defiled, he was subject to die.

Feet Washing in the Old Testament

The practice of providing water for guests to wash their feet is illustrated on the occasion of a mysterious visit by “three men” to Abraham.

In Genesis 18:24 we read: “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.”

Later, Abraham’s nephew (Genesis 11:27), Lot, made a similar offer to two angels who came to the city of Sodom where he and his family lived, to destroy the city because their immorality has become “so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent” angels to destroy it (verse 13).

“(1) Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. (2) And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’ (3) Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate” (Genesis 19:13).

(See also Judges 19:20, 21. To understand the context here, starting from verse 1 may be good).

The act of feet washing in the above cases reflects a spirit of LOVE, SERVICE and HUMILITY = WILLING SACRIFICE TO PLEASE THE HEAVENLY FATHER, who reads the heart of men.

Feet Washing – In the New Testament

The Woman’s Tears and Perfume

those who are forgiven much love much

Feet washing in the New Testament is found in Luke 7:36-50. It is six days before the Passover (Luke 12:1) a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to his home for a meal. While he was seated at the table, a woman “who had lived a sinful life in that town” came to the Master with an alabaster jar of costly perfume.

“(38) and standing behind him [Jesus] at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing his feet and anointing them with the perfume. (39) Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet he would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.’

(40) And Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he replied, ‘Say it, Teacher.’ (41) ‘A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

(42) When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.

So which of them will love him more?’

(43) Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.‘ 

And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’

(44) Turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

(45) You gave me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet.

(46) You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.

(47) For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’

(48) Then he said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’ (49) Those who were reclining at the table with him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ (50) And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace‘” (Luke 7:38-50 NASB).

Dear friends, what can WE do as did this woman?

In the Mark account of another occasion, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, even poured the perfume on Jesus’ head (Mark 14:3).

How can we anoint the minds of our brethren, as suggested by the head?

Perhaps by praying for our brethren’s strength, that they might endure all for CHRIST.

This is so important, as would we not ourselves wish others to pray for us to more than overcome, which is the desire of our entire existence—to bring JOY to the Father by pleasing Him more? What more than to feel his Perfect Loving counsel moment by moment?

Perhaps anointing the head of our brethren can also mean sharing spiritually edifying thoughts and asking faith-building questions as well as letting the subject matter discussed or studied, be one that feeds the New Creation in Christ so as to encourage fellow consecrated believers to be fully consumed in their thought processes upon heavenly things since “a mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:7-9).

How can we wash each other’s feet as this woman did for Jesus?
How can we show true hospitality likewise to our fellow brethren in Christ?

The specific and precise answer for each consecrated child of God may be unique and personal, just as each has been given by God uniquely specific talents to use in His service in the body of Christ. But how can we make sure our talents in God’s service are not buried? Perhaps by COURAGE IN CHRIST and by asking our Heavenly Father to eradicate FEAR of man from our lives while holding on to the REVERENTIAL FEAR of GOD—the fear of doing wrong in the eyes of God alone. See post titled: A Proper Fear

Does FEAR OF MAN … fear of past mistakes (as with the Apostle Paul before he became fully enlightened) … fear of being misunderstood and thus misrepresented and shunned or separated from the general assembly, or labelled “crazy” or “a missfit,” “the radical one,” stop us from BEING as CHRISTLIKE as we can and striving to moment by moment develop into the likeness of Christ by getting outside of the CARNAL COMFORT ZONE? Let it not!

This means, going BEYOND the PAIN BARRIER!

If you are not suffering for righteousness sake in some way, shape, or form, it means YOU ARE NOT working to your full potential in CHRIST.

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…” (1 Peter 2:21)

The consecrated until death “stars of heaven” class are the “heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29) and coheirs of Christ (Romans 8:17). But such will be heirs only if they display the forgiving, repenting, and humble spirit among men, as we find in the weeping woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears of remorse and reverential thankfulness in being worthy of but touching the hem of the garments of Jesus. (Matthew 6:15) She had heard among the crowds that his kingdom was not of this world, and now she was able to SERVE him and be CLEANSED from her sins by him—because of her desire to have her sins forgiven. Later, if she continued on, she would be washed in this antitypical lamb’s blood. Her REVERENTIAL FEAR wished only to do right in God’s sight, recognizing her need for a redeemer.

Since Simon was a Pharisee, he may have considered himself to be rather important and may have felt he had bestowed an honor to Jesus by inviting him to dinner.

Was Simon embarrassed or afraid of what others would think of him if he showed Jesus hospitality? This Jesus who had allowed the woman considered in the public eye as inferior, to come near him?

Do you think Simon’s attitude was one of self-righteousness? Self-importance?
Do we ever allow this feeling to creep into us like LEAVEN?

To rid our minds of any such poison to the New Creation in CHRIST, let us focus our thoughts upon the Son of God who humbled himself even to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Anointing the Feet

In John 12:13 Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with costly ointment of spikenard six days before the Passover, when Jesus came to Bethany. [Note: this would be Nisan 10th after 6pm and an appropriate time for anointing the Passover lamb—whom Jesus himself was, symbolically.] Mary displayed her loving devotion to the Master by using her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet.

Although Judas’ perhaps insincere words highlight his dissatisfaction with Mary’s use of this expensive perfume (“worth a year’s wages”), Jesus said that she should be let alone, because she did what she could.

In fact, Jesus commended Mary’s actions, in Matthew 26:11-13: “(11) For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. (12) In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. (13) Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

What a beautiful illustration how true Christians should treat their most valuable assets on earth—the feet members of Christ that remain. In these we see Christ. They profess consecration, and evidence this with acts of true loving kindness, and manifestations of concern, gentleness, patience, assistance, and sympathy. They strive to bless others as Mary did with Jesus, lavishing costly, symbolic perfume upon the body of Christ, the Church.

As the washing of another’s feet is not a glamorous work, and considering the imperfections that each of us have, it takes a large measure of love, phileo and AGAPE love, and humility, to press forward in striving to serve our brethren.

Let us not allow differences along one line or another, nor misunderstandings, hinder us from seeking to do good unto all that we have opportunity, especially the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10, 1 Peter 3:11, Psalm 34:14, Micah 6:8)

Washing the Disciples’ Feet

One of the marks of female saintship in the early church was, “if she have washed the saints’ feet” (1 Timothy 5:10). Feetwashing being necessary at that time, became a synonym of service and kind hospitality. To illustrate this same principle of service and humility, Jesus used this same custom on the night of the Last Supper:

At the end of Jesus’ ministry and “just before the Passover Feast,” and when “the evening meal was being served,” Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. The disciples must have been shocked and silent that the Great Teacher, their Lord, would do such a thing. Simon Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet at first, until the Master said that unless he washed Peter’s feet, he could have no part with him in the kingdom. Then Peter was willing to have his whole body washed, yet Jesus pointed out that he who is clean needs only to wash his feet. Jesus pointed out that not all of them were clean, the reference obviously being made to Judas.

Jesus admonished the disciples: “(14) If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).

Jesus’ act was intended as an example in humility and a lesson to the apostles who seem still to have had a spirit of rivalry for preeminence. To our understanding, the lesson was that our Lord’s followers were not to shun any service, however menial, that would enable them to assist or comfort one another.

Jesus’ lesson is amplified by his words in John 13:34, 35: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Not until they had received the holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, were the disciples of Christ able to manifest their determination to serve Christ in a way that would enable them to become pillars of the Church (Acts 2:24, 16-18, 33, 38).

Feet Washing – TODAY

When it comes to helping brethren, let us gladly do the work of feet washing, illustrated for us by the Master himself who taught the disciplines the lesson of HUMILITY, “that they should love one another to such an extent that they would consider no service too great nor too degrading which would minister to each other’s comfort” (Br. Charles T. Russell, Biblical Expository 1).

Here are some encouraging words of Br. Oscar Magnuson from a 1932 Bible Students Reunion Convention Report:

“If we place a limit on what we are willing to do and to bear for the Lord, the Lord might find it necessary to give us a body with limited capacities in the resurrection. In that case a divine body would not suit us, for such a body is unlimited in bodily capacities.”

There are hundreds of opportunities of showing the meek, lowly, and loving spirit of our Master. As God’s stewards and servants, it is not self that we are to minister and serve and pamper, but it is our mission to “do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith,” remembering that we are to walk in his footsteps who “came not to be ministered unto [served], but to minister [serve] and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, Matthew 20:28).

In Reprint 1101, Br Russell writes that “the entertainment of any of the household of faith, is really the fulfillment of our Lord’s injunction, ‘See that ye wash one another’s feet.’ But none should be permitted to overdo themselves in this blessed service, nor to deprive themselves of the spiritual communion of the meetings. To this end all have been urged to make only very simple arrangements, that both visitors and entertainers may have their principal feast upon the spiritual meat. Come, then, expecting a warm welcome to such plain things as we have ourselves.”

In our sympathetic desire to help others be more than overcomers, a reciprocal washing of one another’s feet can include:

  • Desiring and maintaining loving fellowship with the members of Christ’s body as did Jesus spend in that upper room SERVING his disciples;
  • Praying for each other, as our Lord Jesus taught in his prayer in John 17.
  • Encouraging each other to fight the good fight of faith and become transformed in newness of life by renewing the mind when we dwell on things that are above. For example, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
  • Within the ecclesia and among those with whom we have frequent fellowship, if we are actively engaged in promoting one another’s spiritual growth and development, we should be able to appreciate that all of our brethren have certain qualities, graces, or attributes that can benefit us; and we, likewise, should be on the alert as to how we can be of help to them.
  • Volunteering for ecclesia projects.
  • Entertaining visitors with an offer of a booklet or Divine Plan Book.
  • Witnessing to all humans at every single chat we have with another.

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  • Providing transportation.
  • Sending messages of comfort to all who write messages on the Old Ron email list.
  • Sharing tapes or truth literature.
  • Typing, proofreading.
  • Testifying at Testimony meetings.
  • Sharing hymns, psalms, and Bible Scriptures over the phone or conference calls etc.
  • Sharing bible study magazine articles or poems written.
  • Sending little “keep pressing onward and upward” parcels of spiritual items to edify.
  • Sending item of use to our brethren worldwide E.g. Africa, Philippines…
  • Visiting the ill, hospitalized or isolated.

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  • Reading the Scriptures morning and evening  with your own children/family.
  • If you have a garden: sharing some of your garden’s edible produce with brethren and friends.
  • Creating a one or 2 page witnessing ad/flier and distributing amongst the public as a family activity.
  • Helping your children leave fliers on the tables and seats at shopping centres and at supermarkets.
  • Sending in bill payments with a booklet inserted inside them letting someone know about GOD’s GLORIOUS KINGDOM to come to give the world HOPE!
  • Offering to set up Convention/Camp Book Tables.

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  • Coordinating a class choir.
  • Opening up your home for a weekday Bible Study.
  • Having an email sign-off Scripture “logo” — let CHRIST be what others remember you by.
  • Asking the brethren who have websites how you can contribute your skills to aid in the witnessing efforts.
  • Asking your Elders how you could help lighten their load by supporting them in their preparations for the Ecclesia.
  • Making bookmarks from pressed leaves to sell to raise money for some Truth related cause or to give out as gifts and reminder of Scriptural words of encouragement.
  • Offering your time for Sunday School teaching and Children’s Camp /Convention lessons.
  • Sitting next to someone different during ecclesia meeting intermissions at ecclesia and share Scriptures and Scriptural thoughts.
  • Coming prepared to class studies.
  • Finding an Elder who you can be your mentor and have Bible studies, Question and Answer email studies etc.
  • Take the kids on “witnessing bike trips.”

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Each of us should realize that we have something to give for the edification of the body. We should be faithful in contributing to our ecclesia studies, praying for others, and being a model of someone whose life is undergoing the transformation process; being, therefore, an example of a believer.

Let us be faithful in washing one another’s feet!

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Acknowledgement

  • Br. Homer Montague, for source material from his article in the Herald of Christ’s Kingdom (March/April 1998), titled “The Privilege of Feet Washing.”
  • Br. Charles T. Russell, Biblical Expository 1
  • Br. Oscar Magnuson for source material from a 1932 Bible Students Reunion Convention Report.

 

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Gain The Lesson

GAIN THE LESSON

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When our trials sore distress us,
Sickness, pain, and sorrow stress us,
‘Tis then we see our Father’s Face,
Feel the clasp of His embrace,
As He says in tenderness,
“This is for your blessedness;
Gain the lesson, precious child,
Gain the lesson!”
When trials blow like raging storm,
And many doubts and fears alarm;
When they drag on without an end,
Still He does this message send;
“All of this will work no ill
If, in faith, you trust Me still;
Gain the lesson, precious child,
Gain the lesson!”
Though trials linger, don’t despair,
We never are beyond His care.
He knows, He loves, He’ll understand,
For each experience is planned,
And each one holds its lesson clear,
“Just trust in Me, I’ll hold you near,
Gain the lesson, precious child,
Gain the lesson!”
Though hard your trials seem to be,
They’re designed to give you victory,
And teach you things you’ll need to know
As future ages onward go.
I say to you, “Press on, Rejoice,
As I urge with tender voice,
Gain the lesson, precious child,
Gain the lesson!”
-Margie Hagensick-