Br. Charles Taze 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., U.S.A. in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.
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, U.S.A., and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.
The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/09/06/abide-sweet-spirit-hymns-of-dawn-no-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
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.
This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.
The Heavens and The Earth
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.
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.
All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed inArmageddon.
The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.
God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteousone. This new heavens and earth refers tothe kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.
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 after—a great time of blessingto mankindhere 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.
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.
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.
Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 andloving!
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 Godpermitted 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…
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 asin Adamalldie, even so in Christshallall be made alive.”Notice ALLwill 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.
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.
Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.
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 kingdomof 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.
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.
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.
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.”
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calfand 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).
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:
Jesus 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 5th1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.
Over 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 powerthan 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 bea time of trouble, such as never wassince 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.”
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.
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.
“32 Now learn a parable ofthe 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 treealways 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.
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.
By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.
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!
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:
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 history—the 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:
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.
We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.
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 startedthe 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!
Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!
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
FAITHFUL when with tears thine eyes are dim, Faithful when Joy’s cup o’erflows its brim; Faithful when God seems to veil His face, Faithful when He crowns thy work with grace. Faithful, though thy loved ones turn aside, Lips that praised thee once, in harshness chide; Faithful, though success enwreathe thy brow, Faithful, should the world before thee bow. Faithful till hath fled life’s fleeting breath, Eager hands lie folded still in death.
“Faithful unto death!” Lord, day by day, Help me thus to keep the narrow way! Strengthen me to bear the scorn and shame – Portion of all those who take Thy name. “Faithful unto death!” When all is done, Cross is changed to Crown, the victory won, Let me hear Thee say, O blessed Lord, “Child, come enter into thy reward! Faithful thou hast been, come share with Me Glory, Honor, Immortality!”
FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
It will not be very long, dear fellow soldiers of the cross, until the battle will be over, the victory won; for the “King’s own” are called to victory and not to defeat. Our enlistment is in accord with the great plan of the ages which our Father previously mapped out, and we know that all His purposes shall be accomplished, that His Word which went forth for the calling of this little flock to joint-heirship with Jesus in the kingdom which is promised to be established and to bless all the families of the earth —that word cannot be broken, its fulfillment is sure. Yea, its fulfillment is nigh, even at the door.
Though we are in the world, but not of the world, we, nevertheless, are more or less affected by every matter which affects our neighbors; and hence in the great battle that is now impending between truth and error, between princes and people, between money and labor, and with more or less of right and wrong on both sides of all questions, the “King’s own,”the soldiers of the cross, will have some very trying experiences. It is the present time that the apostle emphasizes as “that evil day” — the period of special trial in the end of this age, saying, “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in that evil day, and, having done all, to stand.” Analyzing these words, we see them to signify that in the end of this age there would be special trials of severe testing; but the apostle’s language also implies that the Lord will make special provision for the protection of His faithful ones, and that this will be an armor of truth, of knowledge, of information granted to them from the great armory, His Word, the Bible. The exhortation that we should take it implies that the Lord will not force it upon any, but to those who are in the right attitude of heart the doors of the armory will be open, and the proper armor supplied in due season, and that they must demonstrate their loyalty and obedience to the Captain by seeking this armor and putting it on. Those who do not thus yield obedience to the Captain’s word will not have the protectionnecessary for this time, and, as intimated in the text by the apostle, they will not be able to stand in this evil day.
Soldiers of the cross in previous times had not so much of the armor supplied, neither did they need the special armor that is needed now. They did not live in “this evil day.” The head knowledge that our grandfathers had respecting the divine plan will surely prove insufficient in this day of so-called higher criticism of the scriptures, evolution theories, theosophy and Christian Science. Whoever has not the proper armor necessary for the present time will be pretty sure to fall in this evil day, this day of special trial and testing; but he who puts on the armor of God, he who possesses the fruits of the Spirit,the Apostle Paul assures us shall never fall, but so doing an entrance shall be abundantly administered unto him into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Many of the tests of this evil day are already upon us, and, as the prophets have foretold, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand.” (Psa. 91:7) These are falling away from the faith because in many instances they were not spiritual Israelites indeed, but as the Lord declares through the prophet, “Wherefore, because this people draw nigh to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me.” The Lord wants as members of the “King’s own” those who are at heart loyal to Him, loyal to all who have His Spirit and loyal to righteousness and truth. If we are ashamed of Him, ashamed of His brethren, or ashamed of His Word, we are not of the kind that He is seeking now. Those who are to be with Him, to share His throne and glory and to join with Him in the great work of emancipating the world from the power of sin and death during the millennium, must all be loyal at heart, to the core, and the various trials and testings now permitted will demonstrate the degree of loyalty. Let us, dear brethren, be loyal; and even if the time should come when we shall be misunderstood by our neighbors and friends, the children of this world, let us put our confidence in the Lord; let us fight the good fight of faith against sin and error and selfishness within and without, and thus doing lay hold upon eternal life.
* * * *
There is never a path so hidden, But God will show us the way, If we seek for the Spirit’s guidance, And patiently wait and pray.
In Psalm 148:13 (KJV) the Psalmist David wrote, “Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.”
But what is God’s actual name?
In this study we discuss the various names mentioned for God in the Old Testament Hebrew. Each of our Heavenly Father’s names describe different shades of His magnificent character, being, and personality, allowing us to know our Father better and learn what God wishes us to develop in our character, in order to bring joy, honor, glory, and praise to the Creator of all.
Almighty God—”El Shaddai”
The basic form for the Hebrew name of God is “El.” The word “El” means “might, strength, power.”The Schofield Reference Bible states that God (El) signifies the “Strong One.”
The word “Shaddai” is formed from the Hebrew words shad—the breast—and shadah—to shed, to pour out. Thus, El Shaddai is “the God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually” (Adam Clark’s Commentary, Genesis 17:1). God is “Shaddai” because He is the nourisher, the strength‑giver, and thus the satisfier, who pours Himself into believing lives.
The primary translations of this root in the scriptures are “god” (for pagan or false gods), and “God” (for the true God of Israel). However, in Strong’s Concordance “El Shaddai” is not found under the English words “God” or “Lord,” but rather “Almighty” (Strong’s 7706). “All‑sufficient” would express the Almighty God (El Shaddai) for He not only enriches, but also makes fruitful. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the first occurrence of the name “El Shaddai” in the Bible, in Genesis 17:1.
“(1) And it came to pass that, when Abram was ninety and nine years old [being “as good as dead,” Hebrews 11:12] Yahweh appeared unto Abram, and said unto him, I, am GOD Almighty,—Walk, thou before me and become thou blameless: (2) That I may set my covenant betwixt me and thee, And may multiply thee, exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face,—and God spake with him, saying: (4) As for me, lo! my covenant is with thee,—So shalt thou become—father of a multitude of nations; (5) And thy name shall no more be called Abram,—but thy name shall become Abraham, for father of a multitude of nations, have I appointed thee” (Genesis 17:1‑5, Rotherham).
All‑Powerful and All‑Sufficient
We can now best understand God’s character when combining these two named attributes of God’s being: All‑Powerful (“El“) and All‑Sufficient (“El Shaddai“).
Genesis 17:1 is a beautifully clear and direct statement from God of His unlimited, supreme, divine power and this quality of God can be best described in one word as God’s OMNIPOTENCE. Even simply because of God’s omnipotence, we should focus on being “blameless” through Christ. That is, through a firm belief (based on testing/studying the Scriptures, Romans 10:17,1 Thessalonians 5:21), and thus from a steadfast faith (1 Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 6:19) in Christ as a ransom for our sins (and for the whole world, 1 Corinthians 15:21), we are redeemed and reckoned as righteous children of God (Romans 8).
Our Heavenly Fatheris able to meet every need(Philippians 4:19) and protect usfrom any dangerto our spiritual lives(Jude 1:24).
“We must supply our best effort, which will always be too weak and insufficient to overcome all of our imperfections, but El Shaddai will supply whatever is needed to make up for our shortcomings. God’s name, El Shaddai, describes not only what God is, but also what He does for us. El Shaddai sustains us, nourishes us, comforts us, and provides everything we need. This should make us more grateful, more peaceful; and make us feel our complete dependence upon Him. Knowing God as El Shaddai helps us more readily to praise Jehovah, our Heavenly Father, in all the experiences of life” (Br. Allan Ross, “El Shaddai,” Beauties of the Truth, November 2014).
The Patriarchs were close to El Shaddai, our Heavenly Father. They depended on Him for everything in normal life. They were a pastoral people and depended on their crops and herds for food. If there was a drought, or a disease in their herds, they could starve. They did not have unemployment benefits or retirement plans through difficult times. They had El Shaddai and that was all they needed.
The Name “Jehovah”
Jehovah—the “Self Existing One,” “The Eternal One”—is God’sprimaryname. It is a translation of what is known as the Tetragrammaton. The Greek word “Tetragrammaton” means “four (tetra) letters (gramma)” because “Jehovah” comes from four Hebrew letters יהוה (yod, he, waw, he)—transliterated into English as “JHWH”sometimes written as “YHWH.” Some Bible translations do render the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah, just as it occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament, such as The American Standard Version 1901 edition (in 6,823 places) and The Emphatic Diaglott (in 18 places.)
“Jehovah” is the name that God gave to himself in Exodus 3:13‑15.
“(13) Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? (14) And God [elohiym, Strongs 430] said unto Moses, I AM [hayah, Strongs 1961] THAT I AM [hayah]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [Jehovah] hath sent me unto you. (15) And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”
The RVIC Bible (by Br. Jim Parkinson) has footnotes for Genesis 3:14‑15 which read:
“(14) Or, I AM BECAUSE I AM. or, I AM WHO AM. or, I WILL BE WHAT I WILL TO BE. or, I CONTINUE TO BE THE ONE CONTINUING EVERMORE. (15) Hb. Ehyeh — future tense (all three times). From the same root as Jehovah or Yahweh.”
Similarly Br. Ronald Day explains in his website study titled “The Divine Name” the following: “Yahweh [Jehovah] is the third person singular of the Hebrew verb hayah(to be or become). In Exodus 3:14 Jehovah gives Moses a different variation of his name in the first person: ‘I will be what I will be(Ehyeh’ asher’ ehyeh’).’ (Revised Standard Version – footnote) Many translations render this ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ However, according some authorities, the Hebrew word hayah, as used in this verse, means more than just to exist.It also carries with it the thought of coming into existence, or causing to exist. Thus the third person would mean: ‘He will cause to be,’ or ‘He causes to be.’”
In relation to Exodus 3:14, the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, page 1065, states that in this particular verse “a merely folk etymology of the name, based on the qal form of the verb ‘to be,’ is given.” “Grammatically, because of its vocalization, yahweh can only be a … causative form of this verb, with the meaning ‘He causes to be, He brings into being.’ Probably, therefore, Yahweh is an abbreviated form of the longer, yahweh aser yihweh, ‘He brings into being whatever exists.’The name, therefore, describes the God of Israel as the Creator of the universe.” (Ronald Day, “The Divine Name”.) That this meaning is correct can be seen by observing the indicated meaning of Jehovah in Exodus 6:2,3 – which is discussed further in this study.
Today you will not find the divine name “Jehovah” (English) (nor “Yahweh”) in the New American Standard Bible, not even in the four places that were in the original AKJV (i.e. Exodus 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4).
“The name was removed quite simply because there was many thousands of years ago a Usurper to the throne of God, the great liar, the Adversary. His first act of rebellion was to accuse Jehovah of lying to Adam and Eve about the tree of knowledge telling Eve that if she ate of the fruit she would become like God knowing all things and that she would not die. Ever since, Satan has opposed the Most High and His Son as well as all faithful followers of God’s Word. Thus, by having the divine name removed and substituted with “Lord”it made it so much easier to introduce the false doctrine of the Trinity whereas both the Heavenly Father and His firstborn son, Jesus Christ, the Logos, are called “Lord,” and the word is interchangeable to mean that both are coeternal and equal which is not true. The Heavenly Father had no beginning and no end, while Jesus had a beginning, and was God’s firstborn son (Br. Richard Tazzyman, 2017 Discourse: “I Am”).
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”(Colossians 1:13‑15).
This change of removing the name “Jehovah” stems from the 1880s when the council of the church of England recommended to the British Crown that a revision of the AKJV be produced, and at the same time a group of translators from the United States of America were invited to collaborate with the translators of the RV of the AKJV Bible to produce a version of the Bible in American English. Thus, the American Standard Version of 1901 was created. Br. Richard Tazzyman comments in his discourse “I AM” about how the original committee felt towards the importance of the divine name, in the Foreword of the 1901 ASV Bible.
“The change first proposed in the Appendix, that which substitutes JEHOVAH for LORD or GOD, is one which will be unwelcome to many, because of the frequency and familiarity of the terms displaced, but the American Revisers after a careful consideration were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish substitution which regarded the divine name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the old Testament.”
Here are two other texts with God’s name as “Jehovah.”
“I am Jehovah; this is my name, and my glory will I not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8).
“That men may know that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art El Elyon, the Most High over all the earth” (Psalms 83:18).
[Note:the difference between the name “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” is that “Jehovah” is the English word that represents the name of God, just as Jesus is the English word that represents the name of our Savior. When one uses a name in one language, it is often not the same pronunciation or form as the name in the original language. For example, with the name “Joshua” — as there was no “J” in English for some centuries, it is evident that this name that we all know as a familiar English language name today sounded different before, and as to its actual pronunciation in Hebrew, who would recognize it if we tried to simulate Hebrew in the English language. Jesus is surely not the sound his contemporaries used when they called his name. But it is our English name for him. In the same way, we know the name of God as Jehovah. Yahweh is a closer sound alike to the Hebrew, perhaps — at least some seem to think so — but even that presumably is different than a real Hebrew speaker of antiquity would have pronounced the name. There is no necessity to modify the word that English speakers know the name as. It is Jehovah. When we use that name, we are communicating. If we all began to use some other pronunciation, most people may get the point, but there would be some confusion. However, whether one prefers “Yahweh,” or the more familiar “Jehovah,”may the name of God be “hallowed.”]
By What Name Was God Known to the Patriarchs?
The name “Jehovah” appears in Exodus 3:15.
“And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, The Lord [Jehovah] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”
Only three chapters onward, we read of “El Shaddai” and “Jehovah” both being mentioned in Exodus 6:2,3.
“God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai[The All Mighty, All Sufficient God], but by my name JEHOVAH[“The Self Existing, Eternal One”] was I not known to them.”
This verse could not mean that up until the time of Exodus 6 no one knew God by the name of “Jehovah.” For even Adam knew God by the name of Jehovah as confirmed in Genesis 4:25,26.
“Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.” Adam lived 700 years after Seth begat Enos. Thus he would have been one of those that knew Jehovah by name.
In Genesis 15:2, God revealed himself to Abraham by this very name:“And he said unto him, I am JEHOVAH, that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees.”
From the very beginning the Patriarchs knew the name JEHOVAH El‑Shaddai, God All‑sufficient, since they recognized God’s continual provision made for them and the constant protection that God afforded them. However, the name “Jehovah”refers particularly to the accomplishment of promises already made; to giving them a being, and thus bringing them into existence, which could not have been done in the order of His providence sooner than until the deliverance from Egypt and the settlement in the promised land. Thenthe usage of “El Shaddai” became infrequent after the Law Covenant was established.
Hence in the earlier scripture mentioned — Exodus 6:2,3 — Jehovah had to be referring to the meaning of his name (as the one who causes) rather just to the word used to designate his name. In verse four Jehovah calls attention to the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them the land of Canaan. They never saw Jehovah cause the fulfillment of that promise. It is in this respect that Jehovah says that He did not make his name known to them. However, now, Jehovah is saying that he is going to cause a fulfillment of that promise. He will bring the Israelites out of Egypt into the land that he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 6:6-8).
Thus the name Jehovah signifiesthe one who accomplishes what he desiresand we can fully trust that His magnificent plan for man will be completely accomplished (Isaiah 55:11, 45:21).
El-Shaddai—An All-Sufficient, Covenant-Keeping God
When the patriarchs wanted to give the strongest assurance to those that were going on a dangerous mission, they used the divine name El Shaddai.
Genesis 28:1‑4—“Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan‑aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And El Shaddaibless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
“As Abraham had sent Eliezer to find a covenant wife for Isaac, so Isaac sent Jacob to find a covenant wife—not from the Canaanites, but from Abraham’s extended family. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were all under the Abrahamic Covenant, a Covenant of Grace. As consecrated Christians, we also are under a Grace Covenant. Like Jacob, who here typified the New Creation, we have been sent on a journey and blessed by the antitypical Isaac, our Lord Jesus. So we can repeat this blessing, transferring the thought from the type to the antitype as coming from our Lord Jesus to us: ‘May El Shaddai bless thee’ (verses 3,4).
“That helps to reinforce the thought that our Savior assures us that El Shaddai, the Almighty, All sufficient One, will be with us all the way in our dangerous journey through life. He is always near, always sufficient for any contingency. In the Promised Land, the Patriarchs had complete trust in El Shaddai. If we can completely trust Him now, then we can rest in full assurance of faith in our spiritual inheritance in the Promised Land.”
“Genesis 35:9‑12—Here God confirmed His Covenant to Jacob and changed Jacob’s name to Israel.
‘God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan‑aram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israelshall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am El Shaddai: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.’
“After this confirmation, Jacob journeyed to Bethlehem. There his wife, Rachel, died giving birth to Benjamin. Then Jacob travelled to Hebron where his father, Isaac, had died. Thus this revelation to Jacob of El Shaddai as his All Mighty, All Sufficient God was a specially needed blessing. It was a reassurance to Jacob to have the covenant confirmed to him, and to know that El Shaddai would be with him throughout his walk.
“Genesis 37:35—This text speaks of the time Joseph had been sold into Egypt, and Jacob was told that Joseph was dead.
‘All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.’
“Though Rachel, Isaac, and Joseph—the three people that Jacob loved the most—were gone, and no one on earth could comfort him, El Shaddai comforted Jacob. There was nothing that he and El Shaddai could not handle together.
“Genesis 43:14—Later, Judah promised Jacob that he would return to Egypt as surety for Benjamin. But before sending Judah, Jacob asked the blessing of El Shaddai upon him in.
‘And El Shaddaigive you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’
“Genesis 48:3,4—Years later, when Jacob was on his death bed, Joseph brought his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to be blessed.
‘Jacob said unto Joseph, El Shaddai appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.’
“Genesis 49:25—Jacob gave a final blessing to each of his sons just before he passed away.
‘Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by El Shaddai, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.’ ” (Br. Allan Ross, “El Shaddai”).
EL SHADDAI in the Book of Ruth
By considering the usage of El Shaddai in the Book of Ruth and the Book of Job, we understand an additional aspect of what God does for His people, that He permits short‑term pain for long‑term blessings. God’s people do not always understand His Grace when they are in the midst of a painful experience. But we must fully trust our All‑Powerful, All‑Sufficient, God. El Shaddai only allows experiences that bless us, if we take them in the right way.
In the Book of Ruth, Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons left Bethlehem‑Judah because of a famine and travelled to Moab. Within ten years of entering Moab, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Naomi was downcast and confused. If God was All‑Mighty, All‑Sufficient, why would he allow her husband and her sons to die so quickly? To answer this, we have to look at the big picture, the long‑term view. El Shaddai takes the long view.
Should Elimelech have taken Naomi and his sons and left Bethlehem to go to Moab in the first place?
No, since El Shaddai is All‑Sufficient, He would have cared for them IN the Promised Land. If Elimelech had a stronger faith, he would have kept his family in Judah and waited for El Shaddai to bless his faithfulness.
Short‑term satisfaction of fleshly desires will NOT bring long‑term happiness.
As in Naomi’s case, God mayallow afflictionsto come so that we willreturn to Him.
God took away what was keeping Naomi from being close to Him!
If Naomi had stayed in Moab we never would have heard of Naomi or Ruth. There would not be a Book of Ruth in the Bible. It was the return to El Shaddai that allowed El Shaddai to abundantly bless both Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth (who chose to return with Naomi to the Promised Land).
One of the guiding principles of this lesson is stated in James 4:8: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”
Because Naomi and Ruth returned to the Promised Land, Ruth married Boaz. As King David’s great grandmother, Ruth became identified through the lineage of Mary with David’s greatest Son and Lord, our Lord Jesus.
Because Ruth drew near to God in devotion, she received eternal blessings.
EL SHADDAI in the Book of Job
The first use of the word “El Shaddai” in the Book of Job is in Job 5:17,18, where we read the words of Eliphaz to Job.
“Behold, happy is the man whom Eloah [Strongs 433, the Majestic God] correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of El Shaddai [Strongs 7706, the All Sufficient God]: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”
The last use of “El Shaddai” in the Book of Job appears in Job 40:1,2.
“Moreover Jehovah[Strongs 3068, the Eternal One, the Existing One] answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with El Shaddai[Strongs 7706, the All‑Mighty, All‑Sufficient One] instruct him? He that reproveth El‑oah[the Majestic God], let him answer it.”
New Testament References
In the New Testament, Jesus begins to refer to God as “Our Father” when he gives us the model prayer of Matthew 6:9: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Jesus is the first person in Scripture to begin referring to God as “myheavenly Father,”and “our and yourheavenly Father.” Jesus only used these terms in the presence of his disciples; they were not applied to others who were not yet prospective sons. Jesus was the first son of God, who opened up a “new and living way”gives us the opportunity to also become sons of God (John 1:14, 1 John 3:1,2).
Revelation 15:3—refers to Jehovah as Almighty.
“They sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, LordGod Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
We also have scriptures that declare the almighty power of our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 77:10‑15—“I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High [El Elyon, The Supreme God]. I will remember the works of Jehovah [the Eternal One]: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm [our Lord Jesus] redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.”
Psalms 91:1‑3—In these verses David represents our Lord Jesus addressing his Church.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High[El Elyon, The Supreme God] shall abide under the shadow of El Shaddai[the All‑Sufficient One]. I will say of Jehovah[the Self‑Existing One], He is my refuge and my fortress: my [Elohiym]Supreme God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”
Jesus is telling his Church that we, who abide in the Secret Place of consecration in the antitypical Tabernacle, close to Jehovah, have nothing to feardespite the dangers that surround us because our God will protect us. Thus in the above passage of Scripture, four of God’s names are invoked to emphasize this—El Elyon, El Shaddai, Elohiym and Jehovah.
God Has Many Names
As the various verses shared highlight, God has used many different names to describe Himself indicating to us, that one name is not sufficient to describe the Heavenly Father. If God wanted to have only one descriptive name for Himself, He could have had the Bible written that way. But instead God has been described as “Eternal (Ezekiel 1:24)”, “Majestic,” “All‑Mighty,” and “All‑Sufficient (Ezekiel 10:4,5).”
It would be unfortunate to always read these descriptive names generically as “God” or “Lord.” So when we read Scriptures, let us consider referring to the Rotherham’s version or RVIC for a more exact translation of the original biblical manuscripts. Then there is no confusion between whether the verse refers to our Heavenly Father, or if the verse(s) refer to Jesus, Jehovah’s firstborn creation and the world’s Redeemer.
Based on the understandings shared here about the breadth of God’s being and character through an examination of the Heavenly Father’s names, we conclude with these thoughts about our God, “Whose—
Memory never fails,
Judgment is never inaccurate,
Plans for eternity are without any possibility of even the minutest failure,
Timing of His Divine plans of eternity are with unerring precision,
Grandest, most mighty power and skill can harness even every opposing element, animate or inanimate, making them all work together for the accomplishment of his grand designs,
Tireless vigilance never ceases, nor seeks relief from the pressing cares of universal dominion,
Eye never sleeps, whose ear is ever open, and who is ever cognizant of all the necessities, and active in all the interests, of his broad domains.”
To answer our opening question—Jehovah occupies the highest position of authority and glory in the universe.We hallow our Heavenly Father’s authority and bow in reverentand humble submission before Him in ALL His glorious attire of royal grandeur.
Our OBEDIENCE to God YHWH isan indicator of our heart attitude.
In John 14:15 we read, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”
So, obedience demonstratesour thankfulness, our appreciation, our devotion, our reverence for God and our praise.
“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”(James 2:17, ESV)
HOW do we become OBEDIENT? Is there a method to it?
Here are some suggested steps to learning OBEDIENCE in order to please our Heavenly Father:-
Step 1: Reading the scriptures daily to know God’s will
The first step to doing God’s will is to actually know what it is, and learn about what pleases our Heavenly Father by reading His holy words in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).
“And it [the Word of God] shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear [reverence] the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.” (Deuteronomy 17:19)
Proverbs 8:34 reads, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates.”
Why did the Apostle Paul describe the Brethren from Berea as “more noble” in character than the Thessalonians?
Acts 17:11 (ESV) tells us why. It is because “they received the word with all eagerness,examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
It is a lot easier to deal with the issues of life, the trials, difficulties and testings that come to us, if we have daily input from the scriptures. It produces in our heart an overriding confidence and peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), helping us “do ALL things through Christ” who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)
Step 2: Developing the will to do God’s will:
As we learn about the Heavenly Father’s will and what God wants us to do, we experience the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 6:6-23), that is, the fallen nature appearing on the scene, that wishes to slow things down in our progress of maturity in Christ.
Fighting against the tendencies of the flesh, which we wish to put to “death” from moment to moment,IS THE BATTLE against sin!
How zealously and diligently withGREAT DISCIPLINE over our thoughts, words and actions do we barricade the fleshly interests… the fleshly wants… the fleshly tendencies in order to let the New Creature in us grow?
You see, the “Old Man” and the “New Creature [in Christ]” are AT WAR with each other! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
If the “old man” gains strength,the “New Creature” in Christ, weakens.
In Galatians 6:17-27 we read,
“17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 27 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.“
Which one are we choosing to feed right NOW?
Which one will we choose to feed after we read this post?
Which one will choose to feed for the remainder of today?
How about tonight?
How about tomorrow and then for the remainder of this week and this month and year and until the day we die?
Are we consuming more spiritual food than earthly food?
Let’s say we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks in between, well, then that would mean the spiritual food would require to be served seven or more times a day or else the flesh will receive the growth and not the spiritual mind!
Better still, we shall like to feast on the spiritual ALL DAY as it is this kind of “food” that has no side effects but only most righteous and richest benefits (John 17:3, 1 John 2:25). Consuming spiritual food means feasting with Jesus and the spiritual “eagles” (Matthew 24:28; John 6:53-56, Isaiah 40:31).
In 2 Corinthians 5:15-18 the Apostle Paul well explains how all the “New Creatures” in Christ, should treat each other :
“14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
16From now on, therefore, we regard no one [who is “in Christ”] from a human point of view;even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
17 Soif anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Do we with great joy in the hope set before us, thank our Heavenly Father even when severe stormy experiences come our way?
How much effort do we put in to represent our titles of members of “a royal priesthood”… the “peculiar people” … “God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9)?
Brethren, how much do we strive to live in the world as citizens of heaven but NOT be “of the world”?
Do we long for earthly friendship OR are our minds consumed by the joys of our friendship with Jesus, whom we are training to be like in character-likeness?
Are we consumed by the friendship we have also in the Apostles and Ancient Worthies whom we are all getting to know actually RIGHT NOW?! The Bible is like a Reading Manual for our preliminary “Orientation” Program given to us by God’s grace, whereby we look forward to working with these whom proved faithful unto death.
The Apostle Paul explains that learning God’s will and wanting to do God’s will is a matter of development in our lives.
“For it is God that worketh in you bothto willandto doof his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
This means that we not only just learn to desire doing God’s will, but that we actually DO do it to the best of our abilities. These experiences and training in the school of Christ, involve TIME and we DO it with GREAT JOY being motivated by “the precious and very great promises” of God which in turn, gives us HOPE.
“And hopedoes not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
The Apostle Peter explains about these precious promises in 2 Peter 1:2-14 (ESV), which reads:
“2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us hisprecious and very great promises,so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.”
By clinging onto the Divine gifts from God founded upon His word, the new mind in Christ, by God’s grace and mercy, is able to overtake or over-weigh the “old mind” of the flesh, growing into maturity in Christ through the tests of faith, to prove worthy as sharers in the grandest prize of all—belonging to Jesus’ body, bring the Heavenly Father greatest possible joy and being granted the privilege to bring the world of mankind into harmony with GOD during the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom Age.
We come to delight in God’s will and delight in doing it when the desire to do so is continuously presented before God.
If we do our part, God will do HIS part in our lives and IMMEASURABLY MORE!
Expecting miracles without asking, seeking and knocking is perhaps how this can be understood based on what we read in Matthew 7:7-11,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
In Philippians 4:6, we are reminds:
“DO NOT BE ANXIOUSABOUT ANYTHING, but IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplicationwith thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
In Isaiah 26:9 we read,
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.“
A Desire to Serve God
One of the ways that God brings us to the point where we desire to serve Him is by showing us His Divine Plan of Salvation that we can truly love and respect now “early” before the resurrection of the world—who will all desire God and turn to Him in the Millennium when all shall be taught to walk up the Highway of Holiness in order to gain eternal life, and most will seek life. For is not God’s love better than life itself.
Let us think back in our lives to a time where we have studied scripture, or attended a convention, or had special fellowship with brethren or in some way come to a special appreciation of God’s character. For instance, when examining some glorious beauties of the Truth and recognizing the perfect harmonious relationship between the Scriptural types and anti-types. Perhaps it was that “eureka” moment of enlightenment upon some glorious gem of God’s Divine Truth that had never been realized before (Daniel 12:10, Proverbs 2:4-6). Here we were left with a stronger desire and eagerness to seek and do God’s will since. We continuously learn that GOD is more perfect than any other living being that we have ever know.
The Heavenly Father’s love, is the TRUEST, MOST LOYAL LOVE because it is PERFECT LOVE—a love that is balanced perfectly with PERFECT JUSTICE, PERFECT WISDOM, PERFECT POWER and PERFECT STRENGTH (Ephesians 3:14-19).
“ThisGod—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).
Jehovah’s love is reflected in Jesus—God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16).
When disappointment and discouragement comes with trials, testings and failures and the realisation of the emptiness of what the world has to offer, we know then that there is no real choice between serving God and serving the flesh/the world. This is another way God’s power works in our lives, guiding us through those experiences and teaching us things.
Perhaps the most painful experiences to the fleshare actually the GREATEST BLESSINGS to the New Creature’s development, for perhaps these are the moments of existence when the SURRENDERING up of self-will occurs fastest or with the best results. When we “let go” of the pain and not fight against the experience, we learn not to attach feeling or any label to the “what is” experiences of the flesh, trusting that “all things work out for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). By numbing the flesh in this way, one can concentrate on feeding the Spiritual Mind and take care to develop joy in the hope given to God’s people through the marvelous precious promises in the Bible.
The Bible is flooded with precious promises and we know they are true because already so many have prophecies have been fulfilled with the Nation of Israel as promised long ago, by the mouth of the holy prophets. For instance, what was once a valley of dry bones, is now an independent country which has gained not only “tendons” and “ligaments”, but “muscles” and soon “the bones” will live again and all things shall be renewed in the approaching millennial reign of Christ with his bride of 144,000 members. (Ezekiel 37, Revelation 7)
Step 3: Incorporating God’s will into our lifestyle:
We have responsibilities at work and with our families, entertainment, school, neighbours, activities with brethren etc., but how many opportunities do you think you have for obedience in any particular day?
Well, nearly everything we do is an opportunity for obedience.
Every time we interact with people is an opportunity.
A lot of the commandments in the Old Testament apply to us as well as in the New Testament. Let’s consider a few:
2 Timothy 4:2:“Be instant in season and out of season.”
That’s about teaching the word, but really it can apply to us in every regard.
Hebrews 13:16:“Forget not to do good and communicate, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
This is talking about an entire lifestyle, being connected with your brethren, being aware of what type of things they’re going through; because if you are, you will have no lack of opportunity to do good.
James 1:27:“Pure religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
That’s a commandment and a perfect balance between commitment to brethren and personal caring.
There are other things in the Old and New Testament about how to relate to other people, but there are other commandments that also tell us how to act when not with other people, even when we are by ourselves.
Philippians 4:8:“Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Also, Pray without ceasing.”
1 Timothy 4:15:“Meditate upon these things: give yourself wholly to them, that your profiting may appear to all.”
This instructs us to take the necessary time to think about what we do in the eyes of God and respect it, so that we may stand in awe of the grandeur of the high standard of being Christ-like, and thus pleasing to our Heavenly Father as His Sons and Daughters.
Psalms 4: 4: “Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
In Hebrews 12:12 we read, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
In other words, let us be a strengthening influence upon the brethren around us. Let us seek out those hands that hang down and lift them up. Remember Moses, when his hands were up the children of Israel would win and when down they would lose, so it was important for his hands to be held up. We have the same opportunity with our brethren.
Hebrews 12:13– “And make straight paths for your own feet lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but rather let it be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
By striving to BE RIGHTEOUS IN THE EYES OF GOD—that is by being amongst the company of the the Bible characters during our daily meditations of the Word, we can be saturated with Godly thoughts… Godly words—which result in Godly actions. We can BE GOOD examples to others, someone others can look to for encouragement.
This post was inspired by the content of an excerpt from a talk by Br. Tim Alexander titled “Five steps Towards Obedience.”
The second presence of our Lord is here! (Matthew 24, Daniel 12, 2 Timothy 4)
Invisibly he is active and the time of the Millennial kingdom reign of CHRIST is near,
When a new covenant shall be established with Israel… (Hebrews 8:8-13, Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Between the Heavenly Father and His people—Israel, and all who shall become “Israelites indeed”.
Then a golden standard of GODLY RIGHTEOUSNESS shall apply to all on earth. (Isaiah 26:9, 28:17, 35:8)
Whoever will do things their own way—disobeying the will of GOD’s will—
Upon such, judgment will be executed speedily and they will learn not to stray (Psalm 1:5);
Learning that the only way to eternal perfect life, is by OBEYING GOD faithfully each day.
As we now remain in the flesh executing GOD’s will with careful discipline and training,
Let us rejoice as we see how the nation Israel is blossoming like the rose (Isaiah 35:1);
The work of CHRIST and his raised sleeping saints is happening before our still carnal eyes, (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
And these, now divine jewels, are fulfilling Bible prophecies according to Jehovah’s plans and purposes. (2 Timothy 1:9)
The process of Ezekiel 37 has begun, since our LORD’s invisible presence—his “parousia.”
Ezekiel’s vision of “the valley of dry bones” reflects this. (Ezekiel 37)
And it can be recognized as occurring in stages—
Through a process of years and many developments, the Kingdom shall be inaugurated.
In 1874 the first stirrings (Peta Tikva)—here we see bone coming to bone…
In 1896 the sinews (ligaments) are evident, to join Israel’s bones…
In 1917 there is muscle that forms to cover the bones…
And in 1948 the skin is applied—to complete the “bone” of Israel.
There is no breath—no life still—there in the land of the ancient heros of faith (Ezekiel 37:8),
Until Armageddon shall hit the earth, when the four winds are let loose—showing their worth. (Ezekiel 37:9, Revelation 16:16) Then the financial, religious and political systems will collapse—false papal doctrines destroyed!
And the breath into Israel shall herald earthly restitution—a millennial age enjoyed! (Acts 3:21, Revelation 20:6-7)
The nation of Israel will then recognize the one they have pierced on Calvary (Zechariah 12:10). Then CHRIST—head and body complete—shall reign for 1000 years with greatest vitality! GOD’s spirit of Truth and understanding poured into each heart and mind (Ezekiel 37:14), And at the end of the Millennial Age, after a final “little season” of testing for the world—ALL evil destroyed and eternal JOY and NO PAIN ever more! (Revelation 20:7-15, 21:4)
By considering the dates of Israel’s history and studying the Biblical prophecies unfolded, May our Faith be strengthened and our lives be JOYOUS, as into CHRIST we are moulded. With humble gratefulness and sincere thankfulness, let us continue to watch and pray. Why? So that we, with the yoke bearers in CHRIST, can faithfully reach the end of our narrow pathway.
GETHSEMANE! The Garden’s lonely shade the world’s Redeemer sought that night. He went alone to pray For grace and strength to drinkthe last drop in His Cup. Great souls crave solitude in sorrow’s hour. Not e’en His well-beloved three might share the sacredness Of that deep woe, – He bade them tarry, while He went A little farther on, and fell upon His face.
Gethsemane! A solitary place, apart, No mortal feet may press in sympathy that dark, Encrimsoned earth. No human hand the fevered brow May cool, no other heart can share its agony, No voice but God’s may break the solemn silence there, – A place where every soul must drink alone the Cup The Father’s hand hath poured, and given to His child.
Gethsemane! A desert place, alone, apart? Ah, no! The anguished heart doth never cry in vain To Him who marks the smallest sparrow when it falls, For He shall send His Angel with the message, “Fear Thou not, for I am with thee! I will ne’er forsake, Nor let thee fail! My right hand shall uphold, My love, My power shall keep thee, even to the bitter end!“
Gertrude W. Seibert
Matthew 26:36-46 KJV
“36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”
The only place in the Bible where the word “Easter”is found is in Acts 12:4, yet it is a mistranslation of the Greek wordpascha. The word pascha should properly have been translated “Passover” (Strong’s G3957, “pascha, the Passover”). It has been correctly translated Passover in most modern translations. The corresponding word in the Hebrew Old Testament is Strong’s H6453, pecach, also defined as Passover.
Acts 12:4 describes events that took place in the springtime when the Apostle Peter’s apprehension and imprisonment by King Herod coincided with the Jewish festival of Passover, after Herod had earlier arrested and killed the Apostle James, brother of the Apostle John. In respect of Jewish religious custom, Herod waited till after Passover to act on Peter’s fate, planning to kill Peter as he had James. God did not allow this, and sent an angel to free Peter. Soon after, Herod himself was struck dead of a ghastly disease (Acts 12:23).
The “four quaternions (“squads”—in the NIV) of soldiers” (Acts 12:4) refers to four groups of four soldiers each, perhaps each group of four serving in rotation through the 24 hour day, at Jerusalem. During each period four soldiers guarded one prisoner as indicated in Acts 12:6—Peter was chained to one soldier on either side, with two guarding at the doorway.
A Real Angel, A Real Deliverer
During the festive week of Passover and Unleavened Bread, God’s mighty power delivered Peter from prison and death in a miraculous manner.
“The angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. (10) When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him” (Acts 12:8-10).
“It is worthy of notice that the miracles performed here were only such as were beyond Peter’s natural power. Whatever he could do he was required to do, namely, putting on of his sandals and his cloak, and following the angel. He could have been transported. His own sandals or other sandals could have been fastened to his feet. A new coat might have been provided. But the lesson is a more profitable one as it was given. Similarly in the Lord’s dealings with us today, we should remember that it is ours to do everything within our power, and the Lord’s to overrule all things for our good, and to supply our deficiencies from his abundance. Thus still he gives us day by day our daily bread, in the rain and the sunshine and the seed; but he expects us to labor for it, to plow the ground, to sow the seed, to harrow it, to thrash it, grind it and bake it.
” ‘When Peter was come to himself,’ when he realized the facts in the case, that he was free, he said, ‘Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod and … of the Jews.’ St. Peter’s faith was strengthened. Willing to die, he found that the Lord was willing that he should live and labor and endure, and he was equally pleased, rejoicing, we may be sure, for the privilege of further service, even though it would mean further sacrifices and sufferings for the Lord’s sake and for the sake of his people” (Charles T. Russell, R4347)
From this account in Acts chapter 12, we are assured that “the Heavenly Father himself loves us and that all the heavenly powers are pledged to those whom he has accepted in Christ Jesus, and these unitedly guarantee blessings to all those who abide in God’s love. This means to abide in faith in the Redeemer. It means to abide loyal to our consecration, to do the Father’s will to the extent of our ability. That will is declared to be, that we shall love the Lord supremely, our neighbor as ourselves, and all the members of the household of faith, as Christ loved us” (Charles T. Russell, R4347).
Why Easter Sunday?
Dear friends, have you ever wondered WHY Easter Sunday is one of the most sacred Christian holidays?
It is because Christian churches have generally adopted Easter Sunday as the resurrection day and the proper time to celebrate the raising of Jesus Christ from the grave, which occurred on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus died on Nisan 14th (Friday, about 3 pm, 33 AD), and was raised the following Sunday morning, Nisan 16th.This was the “third day” counting inclusively — Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1‑2, John 20:1, Luke 24:1,24, 1 Corinthians 15:4.)
Later on, it was determined in the Christian world to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday, and remember the death of Christ by Good Friday, irrespectiveof whether Nisan 14th and 16th on the Jewish calendar actually falls on Friday or Sunday in a given year. Among brethren of the Bible Student fellowship, it is different. Jesus sat with his disciples for his “Last Supper” (Luke 22:20) on the evening that had just begun the calendar day Nisan 14th, and there instituted a memorial of his approaching death. We customarily observe our Memorial accordingly—on the night following Nisan 13th—that is, the night which technically begins the calendar day Nisan 14th. This year, in 2017, that means a Sunday night (April 9th) memorial of Jesus’ death, but the day of the week varies year by year.
Further in this post we shall explain Why “Good Friday” is not celebrated by the Christian world closest to the exact day of our Lord’s commemorated day of death. But in brief, here, it is because of the decision made by the Papal Anti-Christ church (lead by Constantine as we explain later) and they were not concerned about the Jewish date of Jesus’ death. Their new rule (established in 325 A.D.) fixed it relative to the equinox rather than relative to the Jewish calendar. The truth of the matter is, that it is Nisan 14th which the Bible explains is the date when the memorial of our Lord’s death is to be annually commemorated—not the nearest Sunday to this or any other date.
Pagan Influences Came in Later
Today, in our memorial supper, we recognize the influence of the Hebrew traditions by observing it according to the days of the Jewish calendar. The celebration is not of the Jewish Passover, however, but of the sacrificial death of our redeemer, Jesus, the antitypical Passover Lamb. Subsequently, however, pagan influences also blended with popular Christian observances.
(a) The name “Easter” is from Ishtar—who was the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. The Phoenicians called her Astarte (a sister and consort of Baal,) a god worshipped in many parts of the eastern world. Some of the ancient Hebrews also worshipped Baal.
(b) In Europe, Eostre (with variations in spelling) became the Anglo‑Saxon goddess of spring, emphasizing fertility and the rising sun. The month of April was dedicated to her, and the Old English word for Easter was “Eastre” which refers to Eostre. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when day and night receive an equal share of light and darkness.
(c) During the early Middle Ages, Christian missionaries seeking to convert the barbaric tribes of northern Europe realized that the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection also coincided with the Teutonic springtime celebrations. The Teutonic goddess of fertility, Ostare, derives her name from the ancient word for spring. As the days of approaching spring grew longer, celebrations coinciding with the spring equinox emphasized the end of winter and a rebirth of nature, triumphing life over death. The Christian missionaries taught that this time also pointed to the resurrection of Jesus.
Easter Eggs and Bunnies
Eggssymbolize birth, fertility, and new life in many cultures. The ancient Egyptians and Persians would hand out coloured eggs as gifts during their springtime festivals.
Europeans during the Middle Ages, collected eggs of different colours from the nests of various birds, using them as charms to avert evil and bring good fortune.
The Easter egg hunt custom was gradually phased out by the more popular egg painting custom where colourful eggs were hidden and children as well as others would search for them. Eggs were painted in bright colours to resemble the sun, the arrival of spring, and fertility, while Easter baskets, holding the collected eggs, were intended to resemble bird’s nests. Polish people today still decorate their eggs with many traditional symbols for Easter, many of them with religious representations.
Rabbitshave also served as fertility symbols in some ancient cultures. Legends from ancient Egypt connected the rabbit with the moon because of their nocturnal feeding habits. This association with the moon is also thought to have originated with those who watched the cycles of the moon to determine the precise date of the approaching change of season, and the accompanying celebration. This event took place on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
The first documented use of hares for the Easter festival was in Germany during the 1500’s. Later, edible Easter bunnies were prepared with pastry and sugar. These traditions made their way to America during the 1700’s by the Pennsylvania Dutch who had emigrated from Germany. During the years following the American Civil War, handcrafted chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits became increasingly popular.
Hot Cross Buns
Australians also celebrate Easter with hot cross buns, a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was around 1733. They are traditionally eaten on “Good Friday” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India. The cross on the bun represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside are meant to remind Christians “of the spices put on the body of Jesus” (See Mark 16:1, Luke 23:54‑56, Luke 24:1).
John 19:39 says that Nicodemus also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, “about an hundred pound weight,” for the burial of Jesus. The number 100 is used for Jesus in the Tabernacle, as the square measure of the gate, door, and vail, representing that Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life” for those who follow him (John 14:6). Also, there were 100 sockets of silver as a foundation for the Tabernacle, coming from the Ransom money of the Israelites, representing Jesus as the Ransom and foundation for God’s Plan of Atonement (Exodus 38:25-27).
Myrrh, a bitter herb, represents suffering, and aloes is used for healing. Thus these two elements represent the suffering of Jesus, from which comes the healing from sin and death from Jesus’ death. When Jesus is depicted as a king in glory, his “garments smell of myrrh, and aloes”—these very two fragrances (Psalm 45:8). For Christ in his resurrection glory has achieved a death of suffering that brings healing for the world.
Does the Bible teach us to celebrate or commemorate Lent?
“Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means ‘spring.’ The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
“Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a ‘mini‑Easter’ and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.”
There is no direct reference of this practice, of Lent, in the Scriptures. However, this pleasant custom probably has benefited various ones who applied themselves to it through the centuries, if it focused their minds and hearts on proper spiritual values. However, if afterward its observers supposed they were free at other times to practice worldly principles, then they would have missed the true value. A consecrated believer should remember that their life of service here first of all involves purity of heart and mind, always (James 3:17).
The Catholic Church believes that “Lent” is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self‑examination and reflection. This may have useful benefits. However, for the true Christian, their entire consecrated life should be one of devotion.“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).
Fasting can be a good practice at any time of the year, both for our physical benefit, and for mortifying the things of the flesh, to focus on things of the Spirit. Sometimes eating less can cause the mind to sharpen. We are to be continuously humble and lowly of heart, as was Jesus (Matthew 11:29, Luke 2:37). Weaning away from earthly attractions, it can help us also to be satisfied with whatever God permits us to have in other temporal commodities also—food, housing, car, or job. God gives us what we need. If we experience some discomfortfor the flesh, it can augment our hopefor and appreciation of the spiritual values, and spiritual promises,that exceed anything Earth can provide.
Regarding the practice of Baptism at Lent season—perhaps this custom also had some beneficial results. However, it is not something mentioned in the New Testament, and Baptism is appropriate at any time of year, when the believer determines to proceed in full commitment to God, with a personal consecration of themselves and their life to Him.Thus it is not reserved for a particular month of the year. See the post titled: What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ? and What Does Being Consecrated To The Lord Mean?
“Our best wish for all the people of New York and of the whole world would be that all or at least some of them, may observe Lent and join in such petitions heartily: if but one in a hundred of those who will observe the Lenten season will do so, it will surely mean a great revival in their own hearts.
“To us who observe the Memorial Supper on its anniversary only, the occasion is one of the greater solemnity, and may well be approached with the greater reverence. We commend to all of ‘this way’ (Acts 9:2) that the interim between now and the Memorial (April 10th) be specially a season of prayer and fasting—drawing near to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:5). True, the Lord’s consecrated people are continually to live as separate from sin and from the mind of the flesh as possible, and are to “pray without ceasing”; but, as the Apostle intimates, there may profitably be special seasons of this kind; and surely none more appropriate than this Memorial season. The fasting which we urge may or may not affect the food and drink, according to the judgment of each, respecting what diet will best enable him to glorify God and to keep his “body under.” We refer specially to abstention from all “fleshly lusts which war against the soul”; these appetites always under restraint with the saints, may well be specially mortified at this time.”
However as the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 7:29‑31, our “fasting” or “mortification” should be a daily act moment by moment to those who have fully enlisted in the Priesthood of complete consecration in the “School of Christ” as far as it be reasonably possible and all depends on one’s level of maturity in Christ:
” ‘This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, (30) and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, (31) and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29‑31).
Concerning our opening text (Acts 12:4), let us consider the relationship between the Easter festival and the Hebrew Passover.
Passover is the oldest and most revered festival in Judaism. It is observed in the spring, in the month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious new year (Exodus 12:2). As Jewish months began with a new moon, the timing of Passover about halfway through the month puts it about the time of full moon. The afternoon that Jesus died was the time a full moon, and this represented that Israel’s favor was full—but because of their rejection of Christ, their favor would wane and diminish.
The Jewish Passover, under the administration of Moses, commemorated Israel’s deliverance from centuries of Egyptian bondage.The firstborn among the Israelites where passed over by the angel of death during the final plague suffered by Egypt. That tenth plague forced Pharaoh to release the Israelites from a life of compulsory servitude.
The Passover is celebrated on an annual basis in accordance with the instructions that were given by God to Moses:
“The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.” (Numbers 9:1‑4)
Our Lord Jesusbecamethe antitypical Passover Lamb (John 1:29) when he gave his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, during the time of the Jewish Passover.
Though the Easter festival became well‑established and accepted by Christians by the second century after Jesus’ death, there had been considerable debate between the Eastern and Western divisions of the Church over the exact date the event should be celebrated.
The Eastern Churchpreferred to not hold it as an annual Sunday event, but rather to observe it on whatever day Nisan 14 fell. These early Christians wanted to time the observance according to the timing of the Hebrew type. The Western Church, on the other hand, wanted to remember the resurrection of Jesus always on a Sunday—Easter Sunday—regardless of the day of the week indicated by the Jewish calendar (Exodus 12).
Emperor Constantine wished to resolve this issue at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. The question of the Easter date was one of the main issues of concern. After lengthy dispute, the council was unanimous in its decision that Easter should always fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. After further discussion, it was decided that March 21st was to be the date for the spring equinox. This dating process has been the general guideline for most of Christendom ever since.
In Remembrance of Me
Students of the Bible stand free from many of the long‑standing traditions that have been passed down to us from the past. Their faith is based on the meaning and partaking of the symbolic emblems that represent our Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death. Jesus’ request given to his disciples that night in the upper room were, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Every consecrated child of God joyfully accepts the privilege of partaking of the bread, representing Jesus’ flesh, and drinking of the cup, representing Jesus’ shed blood. This is the true meaning and purpose of observing this most important occasion each year on the 14th day of the first month Nisan.
Church of the Firstborn
In his letter to the Hebrew brethren, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “church of the firstborn” whose names are “written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). Elsewhere, he explains that they are walking with our Lord in “newness of life” (Romans 6:4). They also remember his death, and solemnly renew their consecration to God annually by partaking of the meaningful symbols, bread and wine.
In keeping the type of Exodus 12, the blood of each lamb that was slain in Egypt that night was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the houses of Israel.
Each Jewish household represents the household of faith, that is, all believers in Christ. This includes both spirit begottenand non‑spirit begotten, both fully consecrated andnot yet consecrated, both the baptized into Christ andnot‑yet baptized into Christ, who believe in the blood of Christ as the redemptive value that saves us from the curse of Adamic death. On that night, however, only the firstbornwere under jeopardy, as only the firstborn has a spiritual life that could be lost.
That all believers benefit from the Passover sacrifice is reflected in the deliverance of all the Israelites through the Red Sea, subsequent to the Passover night. (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Here are some lovely words by Br. Charles Russell on the Household of Faith, from Reprint 5457. “These words “Household of Faith”—are broad enough to include not only those who are fully in the way, but also those who have made more or less of an approach unto the Lord and the Truth. The very fact that any one is drawing near to the antitypical Tabernacle is a strong reason why we should wish to encourage him to press on. He has come a part of the way, even if he has not made a consecration.
“In a strict sense,the Household of Faith, of course, includes only those who are consecrated. But the words of the Apostle justify us in believing that those who are considering the matter, counting the cost, would in a broad sense be counted as of the Household of Faith. And we are to give these special assistance—all in whom we see any prospect of consecration. Our constant desire and effort should be to point men directly or indirectly to the Lord. Thus we shall be showing ‘forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ ”
Each slain lamb—represents the antitypical Lamb of God: Christ Jesus.
The firstborn Israelites in each family—illustrate the Christ, head and body, the “church of the firstborn.”
The bitter herbs that were eaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—illustrate the trials and afflictions that are experienced by the Lord’s people during the present Gospel Age.
The unleavened breadeaten with the lamb (Exodus 12:8)—represents our wish to be purged from the leaven of sin, as we feast upon the merits of our Lord’s sacrifice for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The household joining eating the Passover lamb—represents our common participation, our sharing together, of the merits of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16,17).
Those who are faithful to their High Calling will be privileged to share in the deliverance of the poor groaning creation during Christ’s future kingdom, as proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:22, 23).
Christ our Passover Lamb
The Apostle Paul directs our attention to the significance of the Passover type and our need to purge out all unrighteousness and sin (pictured by leaven). He wrote to the Corinthians brethren,
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth“ (1 Corinthians 5:7,8).
The Jewish people were to slay their Passover lambs on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) of the Jewish New Year. This was the exact time many centuries later when our Lord Jesus, as the antitypical Passover Lamb, died for the sins of the whole world of mankind.
All who recognize Jesus as the true Passover Lamb and have accepted the merit of his shed blood on their behalf, may appropriate the merit of that blood by purifying their hearts from a consciousness of evil. Because of their faith in the blood of Jesus, they are privileged to enjoy a new relationship and standing before God.
The Lamb of God
When John saw Jesus coming toward him, he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Later, the Apostle Peter, when comparing earthly riches with the true value of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18), speaks of the exceeding value of Jesus’ blood of sacrifice, as “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot“ (verse 19).
God’s wonderful plan of reconciliation for the sins of the whole world will become manifest to all during the Millennial Kingdom soon to be established. The meaning of “Christ our Passover” takes on a deeper significance when we look forward to the time when the entire human family will praise God for the gift of his beloved Son, the “Lamb of God,” that takes away the sins of the world.
The Dawn Bible Students’ Magazine—for content from the article from Highlights of Dawn, April 2006. “Easter—It’s Pagan Origins and True Meaning,” used to present this post.
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
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 faithhas 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 sakein some way, shape, or form, it meansYOU ARE NOT working to your full potential in CHRIST.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesuswill be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an examplefor 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?
Torid 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.
Sending messages of comfort to all who write messages on the Old Ron email list.
Sharing tapes or truth literature.
Testifying at Testimony meetings.
Sharing hymns, psalms, and Bible Scriptures over the phone or conference calls etc.
Sharing bible study magazine articles or poemswritten.
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.
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 upConvention/Camp Book Tables.
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 /Conventionlessons.
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.”
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!
Bro. Homer Montague, for source material from his article in the Herald of Christ’s Kingdom (MarchApril 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.
After the Jewish high priest had crumbled the sweet incense upon the fire of the golden altar, after its fragrance had penetrated beyond the second veil and had covered the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, he then himself passed beneath the veil. Every time the high priest raised the veil thus to pass under it he probably feared; for in case he had failed in any particular to carry out his sacrificial work acceptably he would have died as he passed under the veil.
So our Lord Jesus knew that His work must be acceptable in the most absolute sense, else He would forever forfeit His existence. He would become as though He had not been; He would lose all.
There was no earthly being to give our Lord encouragement along this line.
There was no one to say, You have done everything perfectly; you could not have done better.
So the Master went alone to the Father for thisassuranceand forstrengthandcourage.
In Luke 22:42-39 we read:
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Praythat you may not enter into temptation.”41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
The Heavenly Father heard His prayer and gave Him the needed assurance and strength.
He was heard in respect to that which He feared; and during all that night and the following day, up to the hour of His crucifixion, He was calm and courageous.
So the Lord’s people should have a proper fear.
Proper fear is good for them.
But it should not proceed to the point of hindering their efforts and dissipating their courage.
They should have the fear enjoined by St. Paul when he said, “Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.”(Hebrews 4:1.)
This proper fear the Master had.
He never became discouraged, never held back from the work which the Father had given Him to do.
His fear was a filial one, which engendered a watchfulness and care, a circumspection of walk and of life, that He might be wholly pleasing to the Father. This all Christians should have. We should watch lest we neglect some privilege or duty.
This proper fear will lead us to careful inspection of ourselves.
We should ask ourselves, “What do I believe? Why do I believe it? We should go over the ground again. We should again go over in our minds the proofs of the correctness of our Faith. By so doing, the Lord will strengthen us in the Faith, He will strengthen our heart.
If any hope in themselves, and lean upontheirown strength mainly, it will be to their advantage that the Lord shall allow them to come to the point of discouragement, that they may become more timid, may lose all self-assurance, may realize their utter helplessness and weakness and their need of leaning wholly upon the Lord, of looking constantly to Him for guidance and support.
As the Lord’s children thus learn to wait upon Him, to them is fulfilled the promise, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”—Isaiah 40:31.
Br. Charles T. Russell – The above post is mostly a citation from a Reprint article from “The Original Watchtowers and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” – R.5711