PSALM 139 – “Search Me, O God”

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“You, Lord, are intimately acquainted with every part of my life and thoughts — past, future, present — though such a realisation staggers the natural mind. Everywhere is near You. Your nearness knows no limits. There is neither height nor depth of human experience beyond your sharing or perception. All that I am, comes from You. You are the Cause, and Yours the skill that from my beginning called forth and watched over every stage of my growth, thus turning Your thoughts into my being. The comprehensiveness of Your thoughts defies my imagination, and by them, I am brought forth, not unto myself, but unto You — Your presence, care, and love. Where can any evil, stand in Your presence? May it flee before You, and thus before all whom You cause to stand near You. And may that nearness discover and eradicate all trace of error, that I may walk with You always.”

This paraphrase of Psalm 139 surely expresses the wonder of the dealings of the Lord and His care for each one of His people. It is an intimate confession of the surprise and the awe brought to us by the Truth when we are let into Divine secrets, and when we are thus confronted with the mystery, WHY? Why, Lord, are you interested — in this worthless lump of clay? Who am I Lord? And who are these Thy people? What claims have we upon Divine love? And yet, we are here only because You made us, Lord. We are what we are because that is how You made us. And we are in Your presence, because that is where You had in mind for us to be.

If the lips were King David’s, the words were of the holy Spirit. Their full appreciation requires also the Spirit of God in the heart of the Readers.

Five Parts, Like Genesis to Deuteronomy

The psalms are not in chronological order. This is apparent, in that psalm 137, describing conditions during the captivity in Babylon, is followed by a whole series from the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, psalms 138 to 145, centuries before the captivity. Nevertheless, the Jews have long believed that the psalms are grouped according to a pattern, a series of five themes, which they have likened to the five books of Moses, from Genesis. We find our psalm, 139, in the last of these — the Deuteronomy portion. The book of Deuteronomy is one of retrospect. It looks back over the forty years of wilderness wanderings. This psalm of David also looks back over many years. It looks back with wonder at the countless thoughts of God towards him, the trials, the failings, the over‑rulings, in every experience, God was there.

Perhaps, looking back, we too may be able to recognise in general terms a sequence in our own individual lives. Our own Genesis of beginnings, our first reaching out towards the Lord. In my case, and that of many other brethren, that Genesis beginning coincided with the reading of Volume one of “Studies in the Scriptures — The Divine Plan,” by Pastor Charles Taze Russell. Joseph Rotherham, translator of the “Emphasised Bible,” left his own testimony concerning this book. “The chapter on the Permission of Evil alone is worth more than the price of the whole Volume and is the fullest discussion of this great mystery and the nearest approximation to a probably correct solution of it with which we are acquainted.” (With Volume One selling in those days for only 60 cents, that was a bit of an understatement!) The Lord had set our feet upon a Rock. Many millions of copies of this Volume went out throughout the world. The seed was widely sown, yet from those millions comparatively few were to respond to the sickle‑like message of the harvest of the age.

“Whose hearts the Lord opened.”

It was not you or me, but the Lord; and this must have an awesome effect upon our minds. Why did the Lord open my eyes? Those first vague desires, that impulse to follow, though I knew not whither I was going, why me, Lord?

With each of us, that Genesis stage would soon develop into our Exodus — the effect of Truth in releasing from captivity to the ways and thinking of this present evil world, and the power of the evil one. Again the blessedness of that release was not by our effort. It was the Lord, our Deliverer. He opened our eyes to the vanity of all below, and by various means loosened our grip upon the things of this earth.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed;
There was not a wound in mine aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed,
Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,
In wisdom that taught and fried,
Till the soul He sought was trusting in Him
And nothing on earth beside.

The book of Leviticus was concerned with the Divine sanctuary, the consecration of the priesthood, and the implications of approach to a Holy God. We came to realise that salvation lay in something more than the endeavour to live a high moral life of separation from the world.

At what great cost the Lord made provision for our sinful state.

With this deepening realisation came the longing to know Him better, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire into His sanctuary. With deepening appreciation we learned what consecration really meant — and so beside His sacrifice we were led to lay down our little all. That consecration is still to be brought to completion. Such a state of resolution was the result of heaven’s love overflowing into our hearts. Again; it was the Lord.

A period of wilderness experiences was to follow, our book of Numbers stage. In many ways these wilderness tests and trials of faith are still ours today and probably will be until the journey’s end, yet already, perhaps, they are merging into our Deuteronomy stage of retrospect.

Tonight, we can look back over the whole of life’s journey so far. Do we see a hotch‑potch of seemingly disconnected experiences?

Did our path seem to ramble, first this way, then another, without particular sign of progress or achievement?

That’s what we mean by wilderness wanderings. Did we notice that Rock? — The Rock that followed us? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul sanctioned the Jews’ tradition that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the Israelites from place to place, supplying its life‑giving pools throughout the wilderness way. Deuteronomy 32:4-37 identifies the Rock as the Begetter and the Former, the Saviour and Defender of the Lord’s people; the Source of Truth sweeter than honey, and of the Holy oil, and in all these works, perfect beyond compare.

Someone was watching, watching us every step of the way. Watching us even this moment, and perhaps now, as we look back, helping us to trace the way of the Lord’s dealings in our lives.

“Deep on my heart let memory trace
His acts of mercy and of grace.”

Never did we walk alone, for He had said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

And with that special Angel of His presence, Our Blessed Lord and Head, came other angels, some of them visible angels with human faces. The Janes and Wills, the Mays and Hildas, Judys, Evas, Franks and Harrys, and Jims, the home ecclesia brethren, and other dear brethren both here and throughout the land, each to play a part in our lives, as helping hands along the way. We had so many helps, so many blessings. We can now look back with deepest gratitude to the Lord. He Who designed the Great Ages of His Plan, had turned His wondrous skills to me.

Toward the End of Our Journey

Psalm 139:16 in the Hebrew, “In Thy book each day was planned.” “Thou hast searched me and know.” He knows it all; with vision divine He knows each turn of our path, He knows how it all will end; he knows what is required to achieve that end.

If we have begun our Deuteronomy stage, we know it is not only one of retrospect — it is forward looking also. Never have we been nearer to our journey’s goal. The river at last pours out into the boundless waters of the sea. The nearer it gets to that estuary the greater is the influence of what lies so close ahead. It is moved by its tides, as the great ocean waters mingle with its own. And so with the saints as they anticipate their home‑coming now so near. The abundant entrance, the joyous throng of welcoming overcomers who have gone before — already we sense that sweet taste of victory through Christ — already does that joy unspeakable bring its glory‑glow into our hearts. Soon, the day will arrive for each of us to finish this present course — our Graduation day! Are our gowns ready? Will it be marked, that last step of the way? Will we find a label stating, “This is your final test of faith”? We wait on Pisgah’s mount until that “vision glorious” melts into its full blessed reality.

Looking now forwards towards that veil we perceive but the semblance of what lies beyond. Through that pattern of blue, and purple, and scarlet threads, set in the fine twined linen of cunning work: we but vaguely perceive the hazy outline of heavenly things, depicted in the cherubim. But once we pass that veil, the scales of all present limitations will fall from our eyes, and with vision clear as the noon‑day sun, we shall see Him Whom our soul loveth, face‑to‑face.

Then too shall we see what He has wrought. A new creation, after the likeness of Him that made it. Then, from within those encircling arms of our Father, we shall be blessed with full retrospective wisdom, know at last the reasons for so many puzzling circumstances and experiences of the way.

Even now, can we not anticipate something of the wonder of that blessed hour? Lord, that I might view my present walk, each test, each trial, each concept of Thy Truth, against the glory of that perfect day. Oh that with retrospective wisdom blest, I could retrace each step, remould each thought, with noonday vision of my Father’s face. It is, then, in blessed realisation of all we have come to know of our Father thus far, that our hearts echo the refrain of the psalmist in this song of retrospective wisdom.

Bruising

This whole psalm, 139, is an expression of the awe and wonder of this knowledge of the Lord — that is, His knowledge of us. Verses 2‑5: we have the concept of His omniscience. He knows it all. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. How thankful we are of that. Did we ever feel, “My way is hid from the Lord.”? “I am on my own, He does not know; He does not heed”? Verse 11 of the psalm (139) says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me.” The Hebrew word translated “cover me” is used only three other places. Each time it retains its true meaning, to bruise me. Job speaks in 9:17, of being bruised or broken by the stormy tempest the Lord had allowed into his life.

Genesis 3:15 speaks of the bruising of the seed of the woman. Is there then a hint in this verse 11 of the psalm of the powers of darkness under which both Jesus and His followers would be bruised? Was His arm then shortened that He could not use those very trials to achieve the end He has in mind?

If it pleased the Lord to “bruise” Him, or any other of His children, it is to an end more wonderful than anything they are caused to bear. But only by His permission can the bruising come.

Isaiah 49:14,15. — Does Zion cry “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me”? “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget [a mother’s mind is full of so many things. We can recall one sister who, arriving home from the daily shopping chores, suddenly remembered that she had left the pram at the store!] yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Looking back, can we not each testify with the conviction of retrospect.

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

“The billows that guarded my sea-girt path,
But carried my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest” (“Stream in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman).

The woman was at her wit’s end, dejected and desolate, Genesis 16:6. Her life had become so hard that she had tried to run away. But to go further into the wilderness meant she would certainly perish.

It was then

that the Lord sent His angel to tell her to

go back

and submit to her trials.

What a message! Wherein lay the comfort? Where was the way of escape?

“Go back! Submit!”

Yet with wonder Hagar realised that the Lord knew everything about her, He knew, and He cared! With awe she had come in that moment of crisis to know the name of the Lord. Genesis 16:13, You‑Are‑The‑God‑Who‑Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Did our experience match?

At time of need, did the message come: “Don’t run away! Submit!” Was it in storm that we found our anchor, and first came to realise what it was for?

In that experience Hagar knew she had heard the voice of the Lord, and had seen Him in new light. Forever in her mind that place would be a memorial to a precious divine understanding of human need. She had found a well, and she called it “The Well of the one Who Lives and Sees Me” (NKJV). Never would that well run dry. And the child born from that experience was called “Ishmael,” “God hears.” God really does hear!

Searching

Psalm 139:1 — “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and know.” The following verses show it is an on‑going ever‑present tense. It is said that “the word rendered searched, has a primary reference to mining into the earth as for precious metals.” Digging deep into the inner recesses of our heart. As the result of that searching and sifting, we can confidently say, “Thou, Lord, seest all that is in my heart. Nothing is, or can be, concealed from thee. You know everything about me, yet You still love me!”

It is with this deep consciousness that the psalm begins; and all that follows is but an expansion and application of this revealing. God knows me altogether; He sees all that is there in my innermost being. He sees more in me than I can see in myself. He is fully acquainted with every stage and step of my past life. How does He do this? We may well ask!

More to the point; Why?

Why does He condescend?
Why does He notice?
Why trouble to know me, and everything about me?

It would, of course, be true to say; “known unto the Lord are ALL His works from the beginning.” He is not confined to our concept of time. It is part of His nature, His ability, His attribute of omniscience, to know all things. Is there anything He does not know? But knowing in this intimacy is for us, part of a close relationship, that of a Father and His child. Jesus said (Matthew 6:8), “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And for our Father to see and know, is for Him to oversee and supply the needs of His child.

Helping

Psalm 37:25 — “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” How many of our dear elderly brethren today can echo those words! Yes, maybe sometimes the bread we need turns out to be the “bread of affliction” in 1 Kings 22:27. It is the harsh treatment of one imprisoned by straightened circumstances, like Hagar. Here the word “affliction” is defined as something “to bring one to the state of submission.”

Paul found that imprisonment is not so bad, when shared with the Lord. But sometimes this same expression “bread of affliction” means the sustenance that the Lord specially provides in the midst of trial, as in Deuteronomy 16:3. The Lord will use many means, many messengers, to supply those needs. In 1 Kings 17:4 He uses ravens. In Psalm 23, as in the darkness the enemies circle around the flock, we find a table prepared before us.

So Jacob too was to find as he lay himself down in his stony place. Nor was he the first, nor would he be the last, to discover in the midst of trial the wonders of a God Who sees all, sees our past, and our present, and understands our needs. He knows and sees also what we cannot see, the outcome, the end to which the path is leading and He sends His messengers to our aid with the blessed assurances of His Word of promise. For there Jacob saw a ladder linking all the array of heavenly resources to the pressing needs that moment of one fleeing before the threat of death. He saw Angels ascending and descending.

Do we share Jacob’s vision?

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O could we hear the sound of many wings of angels’ flight on wondrous mission bent! Could we but see each messenger speed forth, to aid, to strengthen, comfort and support! Could we perceive the interest of a spirit world — some rising, some descending, all sent forth along the sunlight shafts of love divine … breaking through clouds … opening prison doors! With ease and grace their wonders they perform, whispering words behind us, beckoning on, guarding, guiding, watching every step of every saint, to keep in all their ways … beholding constantly a Father’s face.

Before we cry, they take our hand to bear us up, and lift us high above the stumbling stones of earth, beyond the things of time and sense to glory realms, eternity’s domain, where dwells our Lord. See, He prepares, within His Father’s House, a place “reserved” (oh blessed thought!) in heaven — for me? Sweet are such messages of love. Beautiful the flight of those who bring them to my longing heart — and loan to me their wings. How wonderful those holy sons of light whose flight from heaven’s courts was made for me, who readily descend to sinful earth to grapple with dark powers to save me harm. Yet their successes apprehended not by our poor minds, we rarely even notice that smoothed path, nor sense their effort, vigilance, or zeal in faithful ministration for our sake.

An angel’s mind accepts such poor acclaim. They joy to do it in the Father’s Name, and recognised or not, they serve the same.

His Presence

Psalm 139:7‑8 speak of His presence. It is as though He is everywhere, and in everything He is the Cause. The heights — and the very depths of human experience — He is there.

Psalm 139:7 — “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Adam ran to hide from that Sacred Presence.

The psalmist was not trying to flee from the Lord’s presence, far from it. He is testifying from his own experiences that there is no place, no trial, no circumstance in life, that is beyond the range of divine awareness, too great, or too little, for Him to share. There is no situation beyond the reach of His eternal arms, or beyond the need of His purpose in us. He uses those two words, presence and spirit, or breath, interchangeably. In every place, He is so close that we can feel, as it were, His breath.

Psalm 139:6 — “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Psalm 139:17,18 — record the wondrous admiration of the psalmist. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Like a child who falls contentedly to sleep upon his Father’s breast, he wakes to find himself there still, within those same unfailing arms. “When I awake” — Our spiritual life is made up of awakenings, rousing of the senses, from our first awakening to the light of Truth and Love and the realms of things eternal. Perhaps in moments of holy contemplation the Lord awakens our mind to depths of truth we had not before suspected. Perhaps at times of great pressure, when the foes of the soul are too strong for us at such a moment, He opens our eyes, like the eyes of Elisha’s servant, to those great forces working together for us — the Hosts of the LORD, the limitless supply of all the divine resources.

Perhaps, like Jacob, our hours of weariness have become times of vision and great reassurance of divine promise so that we feel we have just awakened to the personal watch care of our God and His never‑failing faithfulness, so that we too are constrained to say, “SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, and I knew it not.”

Our spiritual life is made up of such awakenings. There is yet to be the ultimate of all our awakenings, and each awakening of our present course makes it nearer.

Here is that moment of sweet release from all limitation of human frame, the moment of victory. This is the awakening “where sin and sense molest no more,” and the mind soars like the eagle to the sun, to gaze upon and to comprehend all the glorious fullness of truth’s ultimate reality. In Scripture it is compared with the full light of noonday. Doubly precious not only will that moment of blessed truth introduce us into the closest, fullest, relationship and awareness of the glories of eternity, it also will mark the completion, the bringing to perfection, of Our Heavenly Father’s most wondrous purpose for us.

The moment of reaching the goal, the reaching out and grasping of the prize of the high calling, the moment too, that will be, that He reaches His goal for me — His work in me finished, and the great seal of divine approval pronounced, “It is very good,” and, as in a dream, I will realize that He speaks of His work in me! And His “well done,” shall be, though all eternity, enough for me.

Only in the peaks of our present spiritual experience can we remotely sense that height of the Father’s triumph in His achievement, the bringing of His child to glory, the setting of the jewel in His crown. “They shall be Mine.” That moment of awakening to see what He has wrought! Will it not surpass our brightest hopes and sweetest dreams? The years of pilgrimage all lead to this. That delight in the Lord, deepening with time, will be answered in the granting of the heart’s desires, to be experienced in ten thousand joys, all compressed into that moment of change. And central to all our joys, Dear Lord, I am “Still, still with Thee.”

Searching

Psalm 139: 23,24 — “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This has to be searching with intent — the intent of the purifier of silver, and the trier of gold. His thoughts towards us — so many; so high, and humanly unattainable. Here is the response He seeks. The depth of the desire He has imparted in our hearts for holiness, the yearning to be all that He wants us to be; all this is expressed in our earnest plea,

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This is the cry so patiently He waits to hear.

This is the prayer that He alone can answer, and answer it He will, for He it was who has inspired in us this thirst after Him, as of the little deer for the water brooks.

Our Father can make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). What a precious realisation! But He knows those that are His;

He knows the sincerity of our cry for Him to help us search out every corner of our heart for that hidden crumb of leaven, that would pollute His sanctuary.

“Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”

He never asks what He cannot achieve, and how we long for it!

We cry to Him to search out and remove the dross, the ways and weaknesses that cannot co‑habit with a Holy God — Whose dwelling place we are!

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The psalmist commences with the acknowledgement of the Lord’s ability to scrutinize and lay bare before His eyes all that we are. Now he responds with earnest plea of these verses 23 and 24 that those holy eyes search out all trace within us of anything that would grieve our Father’s heart.

“Oh may thy goodness chase away all hindrance to Thy love.”

Do I really long to see my God? Are all my springs — in Him? Does the Spirit He has poured into our hearts answer for us?

If my Heavenly Father desires me for His rest forever, then the honour and the glory cannot be compared with any earthly joy!

Thus do our hearts’ desires with our Father’s desires, merge into that blessed oneness of which our Master spoke in that sacred prayer in John chapter 17.

The psalmist prays that the Lord would examine him with that closest scrutiny, so that he might be under no delusion or self‑deception. To search that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires. Here is a prayer of deep sincerity; a prayer that also implies self‑distrust. Self‑examination is required but is limited in its efficiency.

Each Moment

The goal is closer now; that glorious end of the Lord, that once had seemed so far away. Every moment, we stand upon the brink of realization of that blessed hope. But every moment too, we are already experiencing the joy of that fellowship, the sacred sharing of everything, with our Father, and the consciousness of His great love from which neither life nor death can now ever separate.

So what thought can we carry away with us, today and every day, to keep us poised, as it were, that will recapture for us all the blessings of this searching song? One constant thought helps me. I trust it may also help each one of you.

“This moment belongs to You, Lord. This moment, this knife‑edge of time on which I forever dwell, belongs to YOU.”

A New Song

In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

Is this that song which only Thy saints can sing? This psalm — this beautiful song — the melody that fills the life with the holy awareness of God, to be sung by those whose mind and vision have been enabled by the Spirit’s invitation to “Come up higher”? This song that enables us to break through the boundaries of natural sight into the greater and grander realm, to see the King in His beauty, in the land of far horizons, the immeasurable dimensions of the Divine, that constitute the glory that will fill eternity?

If we have learned this song, how can we keep from singing?

We each can say Psalm 40:3‑4 — “You, Lord, have put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. How Blessed indeed is that one that you have brought to make the LORD our trust …”

How can I keep, from singing!
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, not far‑off hymn,
That hails a New Creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul —
How can I keep from singing?

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above post.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/09/17/psalm-139-search-me-o-god/

 

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

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

The King of Babylon – King Nebuchadnezzar

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

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

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

Nebuchadnezzar's image

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

The Festival

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

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

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

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

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

The Hour of Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons From This Bible Account

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement

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

Suggested Further Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Streeter-Daniel-Paperback_cropped_with_shadow-424x600

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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My Goal Is Christ – Hymns of Dawn No. 4

My Goal Is Christ – Hymns of Dawn No. 4

“(13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:13-15, ESV).

Lyrics

1.
Ah, tell me not of gold or treasure,
Of pomp and beauty here on earth!
There’s not a thing that gives me pleasure,
Of all this world displays for worth.

Each heart will seek and love its own;

Chorus
My goal is Christ and Christ alone,
My goal is Christ and Christ alone.

2.
The world and her pursuits will perish;
Her beauty’s fading like a flower;
The brightest schemes the earth can cherish
Are but the pastime of an hour.

Each heart will seek and love its own;

3.
Against this tower there’s no prevailing;
His Kingdom passes not away;
His throne abides, despite assailing,
From henceforth unto endless day.

Each heart will seek and love its own;

4.
And though a pilgrim I must wander,
Still absent from the One I love,
He soon will have me with him yonder
In his own glory-realms above.

Triumphantly I therefore own,

The History Of This Hymn

Author – William Hunter (1811-1877)

Hunter, William, D.D, son of John Hunter, was born near Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland, May 26, 1811. He removed to America in 1817, and entered Madison College in 1830. For some time he edited the Conference Journal, and the Christian Advocate. In 1855 he was appointed Professor of Hebrew in Alleghany College: and subsequently Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Alliance, Stark Country, Ohio. Over 125 hymns were written by William Hunter. Some of these have been translated into various Indian languages.

ComposerEdwin Othello Excell (1851 -1921)

Excell_EO - Hymns of Dawn No. 4 composer.jpgE. O. Excell, was a prominent American publisher, composer, song leader, and singer of music for church, Sunday school, and evangelistic meetings during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

His 1909 stanza selection and arrangement of “Amazing Grace” became the most widely used and familiar setting of that hymn by the second half of the twentieth century.

Excell compiled or contributed to about 90 secular and sacred song books and is estimated to have written, composed, or arranged more than 2,000 of the songs he published. The music publishing business he started in 1881 and that eventually bore his name was the highest volume producer of hymnbooks in America at the time of his death.

Excell was the son of German Reformed minister and self-published author J. J. Excell. He was born in Uniontown, Stark County, Ohio and attended public schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania. After marrying in 1871 near Brady’s Bend, Pennsylvania, he relocated to that state and supported his family for several years as a plasterer, bricklayer, and singing instructor.

Excell was the son of German Reformed minister and self-published author J. J. Excell. He was born in Uniontown, Stark County, Ohio and attended public schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania. After marrying in 1871 near Brady’s Bend, Pennsylvania, he relocated to that state and supported his family for several years as a plasterer, bricklayer, and singing instructor. His focus was turned to sacred music through his experience leading songs at revivals and worship services of Methodist Episcopal churches, first in East Brady and then, starting in 1881, Oil City, Pennsylvania. Between 1877 and 1883 he studied music formally at the Normal Musical Institutes of George F. Root where he also received vocal training under Root’s son, Frederick. He moved to Chicago, base of Root’s operations, in 1883 to pursue music publishing in earnest.

Excell was described as “a big, robust six-footer, with a six-in caliber voice” and extraordinary range that enabled him to solo as baritone or tenor. Publisher George H. Doran observed him leading songs at a revival and later noted that Excell “was a master of mass control; he might easily have become conductor of some mighty chorus”. These talents fostered his early success as a rural singing teacher in Pennsylvania and helped secure a position as church choirmaster for the two years preceding his move to Illinois.

Hymn Book Purchase

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

The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/
The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

Br. Charles Taze Russell

pastor-russell-in-his-study.jpg

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

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

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

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

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

1.

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

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

Armageddon In The News

2.

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

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

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

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

3.

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

The Heavens and The Earth

4.

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

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

5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.

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

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

7.

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

8.

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

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

A Great Time of Trouble

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

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

9.

 

10.

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

11.

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

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

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

Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.

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

12.

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

13.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a glorious precious promise!

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

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

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

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

WHY

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam and Eve in Eden

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

Obey and live,
or
disobey and die.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Salvations

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

  • A heavenly salvation.
  • An earthly salvation.

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

 

But note:

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

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

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A Foretaste of the Future

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

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Kingdom Blessings

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

In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of The Time of the End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The resurrection of the dead will begin!

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

56.

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

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

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

Are we not running to and fro today?

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

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

The Fig Tree

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

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

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

Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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The Fig tree has blossomed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Image 1
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Image 2
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Image 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 21:4-5

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

Acknowledgment:

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

Suggested Further Viewing/Reading

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

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

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

 

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

MATTHEW-4-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Plot Thickens

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

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

Can we find any novel more engaging than that?

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

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

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

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

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

This grand novel provides still more!

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

Is this not a great plot?

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

Then what shall the Bride do with this robe?

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

What pattern?

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

What does the embroidery represent?

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

What are the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit?

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

How long does it take to embroider these?

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

Why?

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

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

Why?

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

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

 

The invitation

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

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

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

Then what?

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

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

The marriage will be our collective union with the Lord.

How will it be brought about?

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

And is there a supper, or something?

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

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

And what next?

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

Were they disloyal?

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

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

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

Is there anything more?

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

Then who is to do that great work?

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

Can anyone make a greater drama than this?

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

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

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

1-corinthians-9-24

Acknowledgement

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

Br. David Rice—Editing.

Suggested Further Reading

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

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Do Not Rush In – (…Where Angels Fear to Tread.)

PROVERBS-19-2

 

Gradually, Jehovah God, reveals to us his plan,
Of all the wondrous things he’ll do, to raise up sinful man;
How often in the past we’ve seen, so many rush ahead,
And lose out on the blessings that they could have had instead.
 

We do recall the bowl of stew that Esau rushed to eat,
And thereby lost the birthright-he cast it to his feet;
Saul rushed ahead of Samuel, offered up the sacrifice,
And so doing, lost the Kingship-he valued not the price.
 

Judas the betrayer, he rushed in to “meet the sword”
For thirty silver pieces, he so surely sold the Lord;
And Peter he did rush to say, “My Lord I’ll ne’er deny,”
But later begged with deep regret, forgiveness from on high.
 

And even Lot’s two daughters, rushed ahead to found the seed,
Lacking faith in God, who would, provide the One we need;
And not forgetting Moses, who rushed in and struck the rock,
The Promised Land was never his, for God held key and lock.
 

And though King David was a man after God’s own heart,
He rushed ahead-against God’s will-a census he did start;
Then, looking at Bathsheba, he did steal Uriah’s wife;
And the price, he had to pay, was his offspring’s life.
 

Ananias and Sapphira-rushed in and lived a lie,
They grieved God’s holy spirit, and so they had to die;
Achan hid the garment, the silver and the gold
He was stoned for disobedience, back there in days of old.
 

So many lessons we can learn, by looking to God’s Word,
For waiting on God patiently is much to be preferred…
To rushing in, where even…all God’s angels fear to go,
So, let’s follow their example, all God’s people have below.

 

A poem from “Where Eagles Gather” – Rosemary Page, Blackpool, England

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The Expanse of Divine Love – 3 poems

PSALM 63, 3 - WITH CROSS & address

 

THE EXPANSE OF LOVE DIVINE

He loves me! Oh how much the thought entails,
Love that is perfect, love that never fails.
That strengthens me in sorrow or in strife,
Soothes all the trials and the cares of life. 

Higher than highest Heaven; so sublime
This love that lifts me up to heights Divine,
Enfolds me, fills my grateful heart with praise,
And lights my pathway with its golden rays.

 So high it overlooks man’s dreadful sin
And plans the fallen race to save, and win
Mankind for righteousness. To give them life
And free them from the bonds of sin and strife.

 A love so deep that nothing can molest
The calm and stillness of its perfect rest;
So deep the very lowest of our race,
In Time shall feel His power and know its grace.

Not e’en the silent shadows of the grave
Can hide from Him the soul He seeks to save;
For in due time He’ll call them back again,
Reveal His love, mankind shall serve Him then.

Its length? It teaches out through endless ages–
This love that’s sung by prophets and by sages–
The love that never fails, knows no cessation–
Eternity its limit of duration.

So broad, this love, it takes the whole world in.
It sees the vast extent of human sin,
Yet knows no barriers of blood or race
But reaches all with its unfailing grace.

It fills the universe, it lights the stars.
No selfishness its perfect beauty mars.
Increasing–as the need for it increases–
It knows no limits, varies not, nor ceases.

Lord let me lose myself in that great love,
Knowing Thou watchest o’er me from above.
Oh let me feel the Everlasting Arms
That shield from all that threatens or alarms.

Then shall the earthborn shadows flee away
And self shall be absorbed in love’s pure ray.
Thine image on this faulty tablet trace
And every earth stain from my heart efface.

Till love like Thine I may–in measure–know
And daily like the perfect pattern grow.
Then, by Thy grace, I’ll hear Thy sweet “Well done.”
Life lived in love, eternity begun.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV).

[Note: “supplication” is the action of asking or begging for something earnestly and humbly.]

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4 ).

————

THE STRONGER LOVE

All earthly love is a thread of gold,
Most fair but what the touch of time may sever:
But His is a cable sure, of strength untold
O, His love, it lasteth ever!

And this great love he will on thee bestow
The fullness of his grace make known,
Earnest of glory grant thee here below
If thou wilt be his own!

————

“For GOD so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

*******

LOVE DIVINE

Yahweh God to us in Christ hath given
The proof and pattern of a love divine,
And human love above, though nobly striven.
God’s love is greater far than thine or mine.
For Christ came down from heights unknown to us,
And thus did show to God and man a love–
A love maintained through trial torturous;
A love beyond all loves, save God’s above.

*******

God Is Love

1 John 4:7-21 (ESV) reads,

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from GOD, and whoever loves has been born of GOD and knows GOD. 8Anyone who does not love does not know GOD, because GOD is love. 9In this the love of GOD was made manifest among us, that GOD sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved GOD but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if GOD so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen GOD; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of GOD, GOD abides in him, and he in GOD.

16So we have come to know and to believe the love that GOD has for us. GOD is love, and whoever abides in love abides in GOD, and GOD abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love GOD,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love GOD whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves GOD must also love his brother.

 

Reference:

“Poems of the Way” – Compiled by Martin C. Mitchell.

 

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