And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. —Matthew 14:28, 29
Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.
A Joyous Multitude
It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.
Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.
Blessing Now, Blessing Later
The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.
Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.
This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.
A Need for Quiet
Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!
Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.
Their Stormy Challenge
He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.
It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.
But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.
Winds and waves threatened their ship;
yet there was Jesus,
walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.
Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.
Our Stormy Challenges
This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.
We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.
“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).
The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.
We Learn from Peter
We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!
In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.
The time of troublewill not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.
Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,
“Take courage. It is I!Do notbe afraid!”
What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,
“Be not afraid. It is I!”
Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.
The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.
When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.
Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”
Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.
It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.
First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.
We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!
Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.
The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthy—to accept him as our TOTAL means of support.
Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.
Our Rocky Boats
Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.
Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seen—peace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!
The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.
The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.
Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!
Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.
All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.
Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.
There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”
At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.
When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!
Reaching to Jesus
Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.
Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.
We are not arm-chair saints.
Our faith is on trialNOW.
THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.
Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.
Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.
Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:
Let the chill mists gather round me. Let the lights of earth grow dim. Leave me Jesus, only Jesus. I am Satisfied with him.
Here is a recording of Hymn No. 16 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.
“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah!Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).
“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).
As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to thee.
As with joyful steps they sped
Till they found his cradle bed,
There to bend the knee before
Him whom Heav’n and earth adore;
So may we, with willing feet
Ever seek the mercy seat.
As they offered gifts most rare
To that precious child there;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our glorious King.
Holy Saviour, ev’ry day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds thy glory hide.
Matthew 2:11 (ESV) — “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NAS) — “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.“
James 4:8 — “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”
Matthew 7:13, 14 (NAS) — “(13) Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. (14) For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Our Master tells us that it is because of the narrowness of this way that the many prefer to remain on the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:14).
Before considering this way and its dangers and difficulties, let us notice the end to which it leads—life—which may be enjoyed on various planes of being, but here our Lord uses it in reference to that highest form of life, pertaining to the divine nature—immortality—the prize for which he invited us to run.
The Divine Being, Jehovah, is the great fountain of all life, from which all these springs are supplied. All living things result from and depend on Him for life. The creature is in no sense a part or an offspring of the Creator’s essence or nature, but he is God’s handiwork infused with life.
Only in the divine nature is life independent, unlimited, exhaustless, ever continuous and neither produced nor controlled by circumstances.
Immortal signifies death-proof, consequently disease and pain-proof; it may be used as a synonym for divinity. From the divine, immortal fountain proceed all life and blessing, every good and perfect gift, as from the sun the earth receives her light and vigor.
The sun is the great fountain of light to the earth, illuminating all things, producing many varieties of color and shades of light, according to the nature of the object upon which it shines. The same sunlight shining upon a diamond, upon a brick, and upon various kinds of glass, produces strikingly different effects. The light is the same, but the objects upon which it shines differ in their capacity to receive and to transmit it.
The polished diamond is so adapted to the light that it appears as though it possessed it within itself, and were itself a miniature sun. So with man, one of the masterpieces of God’s creation, made only “a little lower than the angels.” He was so grandly formed as to be able to receive and retain life by the use of the means which God supplied, and never grow dim. Yet as the diamond can reflect no light except when shone upon by the sun, so man can possess and enjoy life only as the supply of life is continued. Man has not inherent life: he is no more a fountain of life than a diamond is a fountain of light. One of the strongest evidences that we have not an exhaustless supply of life in ourselves, or, in other words, that we are not immortal, is that since sin entered, death has passed upon all our race.
God had arranged that man in Eden should have access to life-sustaining trees, and the paradise in which he was placed was abundantly supplied with numbers of “every [kind of] tree” good for food or for adornment (Gen. 2:9,16,17). Among the trees of life good for food was one forbidden. While for a time forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge, he was permitted to eat freely of trees which sustained life perfectly; and he was separated from them only after transgression, that thereby the death-penalty might go into effect (Gen. 3:22).
Thus the glory and beauty of humanity are seen to be dependent on the continued supply of life, just as the beauty of the diamond is dependent on the continued supply of sunlight. When sin deprived humanity of the right to life, and the supply was withheld, immediately the jewel began to lose its brilliancy and beauty, and finally it is deprived of its last vestige in the tomb. His beauty consumes away like a moth (Psa. 39:11, Job 14:10, 21). “For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest” (Eccl. 9:10). But since a ransom has been found, since the death penalty has been provided by the Redeemer, the jewel is to have its beauty restored, and is again to reflect perfectly the Creator’s image when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings (Mal. 4:2). It is because of the sin-offering, the sacrifice of Christ, that “All that are in their graves shall come forth.” There shall be a restitution of all things; first an opportunity or offer of restitution to all, and ultimately the attainment of human perfection by all who will obey the Redeemer.
This, however, is not the reward to which Jesus refers as the end of the narrow way. The reward promised to those who walk the narrow way is the “divine nature”—life inherent, life in that superlative degree which only the divine nature can possess—immortality.
What a hope!
Dare we aspire to such a height of glory? Surely not without positive and explicit invitation could any rightfully thus aspire.
From 1 Tim. 6:14-16 we learn that the immortal or divine nature was originally the possession of divinity only. We read: “He [Jesus] in his time [the Millennial age] will show who is the blessed and only potentate—the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see.” All other beings, angels, men, beasts, birds, fish, etc., are but vessels holding each its measure of life, and all differing in character, capacity, and quality according to the organism which it has pleased the Creator to provide for each.
Jehovah, who alone possessed immortality originally, has highly exalted his Son, our Lord Jesus, to the same divine, immortal nature; hence he is now the express image of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3). So we read, “As the Father hath LIFE IN HIMSELF [God’s definition of “immortality”—life in himself—not drawn from other sources, nor dependent on circumstances, but independent, inherent life], so hath he given to the Son to have LIFE IN HIMSELF” (John 5:26).
Since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then, two beings are immortal; and, amazing grace! the same offer is made to the Bride of the Lamb, the “little flock” of overcomers, being selected during the Gospel age… who so run as to obtain the prize; who follow closely in the Master’s footsteps; who, like him, walk the narrow way of sacrifice, even unto death. These, when born from the dead in the resurrection, will have the divine nature and form.
This class is not to be raised from the tomb as human beings; for we are assured by the Apostle that, though sown in the tomb natural bodies, they will be raised spiritual bodies.These all shall be “changed,” and even as they once bore the image of the earthly, human nature, they shall bear the image of the heavenly. But “it doth not yet appear what we shall be”—what a spiritual body is; but “we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him,” and share in “the glory to be revealed” (1 John 3:2,Col. 1:27,2 Cor. 4:17,John 17:22,1 Pet. 5:10,2 Thess. 2:14).
Not only is this high calling to a change of nature confined exclusively to the Gospel age, but it is the only offer of this age. All others are still on the broad road—these only have as yet escaped the condemnation that is on the world. This, the only way of life now open, because of its difficulty, finds few who care to walk in it. The masses of mankind in their weakness prefer the broad, easy way of self-gratification.
The narrow way, while it ends in life, in immortality, might be called a way of death, since its prize is gained through the sacrificeof the human nature evenunto death. It is the narrow way of death to life. Being reckoned free from the Adamic guilt and the death penalty, the consecrated voluntarily surrender or sacrifice those human rights, reckoned theirs, which in due time they, with the world in general, would have actually received. As “the man Christ Jesus” laid down or sacrificed his life for the world, so these become joint-sacrificers with him. Not that his sacrifice was insufficient and that others were needed; but while his is all-sufficient, these are permitted to serveand tosufferwith him in order to become his bride and joint-heir. So, then, while the world is under condemnation to death, and is dying with Adam, this “little flock,” through the process of faith reckonings and sacrifice, are said to die with Christ… in order to become partakers of the divine natureand glories with him; for we believe that if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified together (Rom. 8:17,2 Tim. 2:11,12).
In the beginning of the Millennial age, those who now walk the narrow way will have gained the great prize for which they ran, immortality; and being thus clothed with the divine nature and power, they will be prepared for the great work of restoring and blessing the world during that age.
With the end of the Gospel age, the narrow way toimmortality will close, because the select “little flock” that it was designed to test and prove will have been completed.
“Nowis the accepted [Greek, dektos, acceptable or receivable] time”—the time in which sacrificers, coming in the merit of Jesus and becoming dead with him, are acceptable to God—a sacrifice of sweet odor. Death, as the Adamic penalty, will not be permitted forever; it will be abolished during the Millennial age; as a sacrifice it will be acceptable and rewarded only during the Gospel age.
It is only as “new creatures” that the saints of this age are on the way to life; and only as human beings are we consecrated to destruction, as sacrifices. If, as human creatures, we be dead with Christ, as new, spiritual beings, we shall live with him (Rom. 6:8). The mind of God in us, the transformedmind, is the germ of the new nature.
The new life would be easily choked; and Paul assures us that when begotten of the spirit through the truth, if we live after the flesh, we shall die (lose our life), butif we, through the spirit, domortify (put to death) the deeds of the body (the disposition of the human nature), we (as new creatures) shall live; for the sons of God are those led by the spirit of God (Rom. 8:13,14).
This is a thought of utmost importance to all the consecrated; for if we have covenanted with God to sacrifice the human nature, and if that sacrifice was accepted by him, it is useless to attempt to take it back. The human is reckoned of God as dead now, and must actually die, never again to be restored. All that can be gained, then, by turning back to live after the flesh, is a little human gratification at the expense of the new spiritual nature.
There are, however, many consecrated ones desirous of the prize, and who have been begottenof the spirit, who are partially overcome by the allurements of the world, the desires of the flesh, or the arts of the devil. They partially lose sight of the prize set before us, and try to walk upon a middle road—to keep the favor of God and the favor of the world, forgetting that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4), and that the instructions to those running the race for the prize are:
These, who love the present world, but who have not wholly forsaken the Lord and despised their covenant, receive a scourging and purifying by the fire of affliction. As the Apostle expresses it, they are delivered over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit (the newly begotten nature) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5). And if rightly exercised by the discipline, they will finally be received into the spiritual condition. They will have everlasting, spirit life as angels have it, but will lose the prize of immortality. They will serve God in his temple, and stand before the throne, having palms in their hands (Rev. 7:9-17); but though that will be glorious, it will not be so glorious as the position of the “little flock”of overcomers, who will be kings and priests unto God, seated with Jesus inthe throne as his bride and joint-heir, and with him crowned with immortality.
Ours is a rugged, steep, narrow way, and were it not that strength is furnished for each successive step of the journey, we could never reach the goal.
The difficulties of this way are to act as a separating principleto sanctify and refine a “peculiar people” to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” In view of these things, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, while we fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on “the crown of glory”—immortality, the divine nature (2 Tim. 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4).
The Highway of Holiness
While the special hope of the Gospel age is so surpassingly glorious, and the way to it is correspondingly difficult—narrow, hedged in by hardships and dangers at every step—so that few find it, and obtain the great prize at its end, the new order of things in the age to come is to be entirely different. As a different hope is held out, so also a different way leads to it.
The way to immortality has been a way which required the sacrifice [giving up, surrendering] of the otherwise lawful and proper hopes, ambitions and desires—the sacrifice forever of the human nature.
But the way to human perfection, to restitution, the hope of the world, requires only the putting away of sin: not the sacrifice of human rights and privileges, but their proper enjoyment. It will lead to personal purification and restoration to the image of God as enjoyed by Adam before sin entered the world.
The way back to actual human perfection is to be made very plain and easy; so plain that none may mistake the way; so plain that “the wayfaring man, and those unacquainted therewith, shall not go astray” (Isa. 35:8—Leeser); so plain that none will need to teach his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest (Jer. 31:34). Instead of being a narrow way that few can find, it is termed “a highway,” a public roadway—not a narrow, steep, rugged, difficult, hedged byway, but a way specially prepared for easy travel—specially arranged for the convenience and comfort of the travelers. Verses 8 and 9 show that it is a public road, open to allthe redeemed—every man. Every man for whom Christ died, who will recognize and avail himself of the opportunities and blessings purchased by the precious blood, may go up on this Highway of Holiness to the grand goal of perfect restitution to human perfection and everlasting life.
Nor will these be reckoned justified and granted a reckoned standing of holiness and perfection in the sight of God; when started upon this highway of holiness they may go up thereon to actual perfection, as a result of endeavor and obedience, to which all things will be made favorable by their Redeemer, then reigning in power. Each individual will, according to his necessities, be aided by the wise and perfect administration of the new kingdom. This, as will occur to some, is the legitimate result of the ransom.
Since our Lord, the man Christ Jesus, gave himself a ransom for all, and desires all to come to a knowledge of the truth, and thereby to actual perfection, why does he not at once make a good and broad highway for all?
Why does he not remove the obstructions, the stumbling-stones, the pitfalls and snares?
Why not help the sinner back to full harmony with God, instead of making the way narrow, rugged, thorny, hard to find, and still harder to walk in?
A failure rightly to divide the Word of truth, and to see that the present narrow way leads to the special prize, and is for the trial and selection of a little flock of joint-heirs, the body of Christ, which, when selected and exalted with their Head, shall bless all nations, has led some to very confused ideas on the subject.
Failing to see God’s plan, many try to preach a highway of holiness, an easy way to life, in the present age, when no such way exists, and they confuse and compromise the matter to fit the facts and the Scriptures with their mistaken theories.
On the highway soon to be opened, only sinful things will be prohibited, while those who travel the narrow way [now] must [page 217]:
SACRIFICE many things not sinful;
This is a pathway of SACRIFICE, as that of the coming age is to be a highway of righteousness.
Of that highway it is significantly stated in symbolic language that “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there” (Isa. 35:9). How many frightful lions are now in the way of those who would be glad to forsake sinful ways, and to pursue righteousness! There is the lion of a degenerate public sentiment, which deters many from venturing to obey the dictates of conscience in matters of everyday life—dress, home, and business arrangements, etc. The lion of temptation to strong drink hinders thousands who would be glad to see it removed. “Nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon.” No giant corporations, organized to advance selfish, individual interests at the expense of the general good, will be tolerated. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (kingdom) saith the Lord (Isa. 11:9).
Though there will be difficulties tolabor against in overcoming propensities to evil, etc., yet, in comparison with the narrow way of this age, that will be an easy way. The stones (stumbling-stones) shall all be gathered out, and the standard of truth shall be lifted up for the people (Isa. 62:10). Ignorance and superstition will be things of the past, and righteousness will receive its due reward, while to evil will be meted out its just deserts (Mal. 3:15,18). By wholesome chastisements, fitting encouragements and plain instructions, as returned prodigals, mankind will be trained and disciplined up to the grand [page 218] perfection from which father Adam fell. Thus “the ransomed of the Lord shall return [from destruction, by the grand highway of holiness]… with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”(Isa. 35:10).
Hence, the present “Narrow Way,” opened up by the merit of the same precious blood, is a special wayleading to a special prize, and is made specially
as atestand discipline
for those now beingselectedto be made partakers of the divine natureand joint-heirswith our Lord Jesusin the Kingdom of glory soon to be revealed for the blessing of all. Such as have this hope—who see this prize—may count all other hopes as but loss and dross in comparison (Phil. 3:8-15).
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.
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.
In Matthew 26:27-29 our Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples about the communion cup. “(27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,Drinkyeall of it;(28) for this is my blood of the New Testament (Covenant) shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. (29) But I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29, KJV).
When we refer to the symbol “cup,” we actually refer to the contents of the cup, “the fruit of the vine” that Jesus passed to his disciples. On this occasion, that juice represented the life of Jesus— his human life, his being, his soul — poured out in sacrifice for the remission of sin. Grape juice is sometimes referred to as the “blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11), and in this case it represented the blood of Jesus, shed for us.
Sometimes the symbol of “cup” refers to experiences, either difficult or joyous. When Jesus said in the passage above that he would “drink it new” with his disciples in the Kingdom, he there referred to a cup of joy and rejoicing, a blessed experience. Psalm 23:5 says, “My cup runneth over.” We might connect this to the delightful experiences of faith that come our way. (See Post: “Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”)
In Psalm 116:13 we read of “the cup of salvation.” We might readily connect this to the cup Jesus passed to his disciples at the last supper, for by receiving the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for us, we receive salvation. The world’s salvation shall be attained in the future, when the cup of salvation is then applied when they accept Christ by faith.
“(12) What shall I render to the Lordfor all hisbenefits to me? (13) I will lift up the cup of salvationand call on the name of the Lord [for needed aid], (14)I will pay my vows to the Lordin the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the Lordis the death of his saints.”
Let us take a moment to try to understand some words in this Psalm.
“The Death”of Christ’s body members (“his saints”) who are training for the Heavenly Priesthood of Christ during this Gospel Age (since the opening of the High calling in AD 33, from Pentecost) — is the process from the time of FULL consecration to our Heavenly Father’s service and our Heavenly Father’s ACCEPTANCE to His service. Once we are accepted — begotten of God’s Spirit — we become New Creatures IN Christ, and this is the way we are dealt with: consecration, dying daily, and finally the actual dying of the flesh. (See R5325).
The Vow of Christ and his members is faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10) — the drinking of the cup. The promised reward for doing so is the crown of glory in the Kingdom. This is represented as another cup of the future. Only those who presently share with Christ in his cup of suffering, will share with him in the cup of joy and glory, which the Father will pour for the faithful at the end of this Age — at the close of this anti-typical Day of Atonement and its sacrifices.
When in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39), this was a cup of bitter experience. If we at times experience “a cup” ofsorrow, as Jesus in Gethsemane, let us treat it as the greatest privilege and opportunity to prove our loyalty to our Heavenly Father in acquiescing to His divine and perfect will for us even in this. “While this wine of sacrifice exhausts the human nature, it invigorates and makes strong the spiritual nature” (R588:3) and no matter how trying is the cup of sorrow, “we know that ALL things [experiences] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When we commit our “cup” of any particular experience to the Lord, then we make a recognition that our cup of experience is the Lord’s. Through patient cheerful endurance in doing the Lord’s will — not rendering evil for evil nor slander for slander, but on the contrary, blessings in return for injuries (1 Peter 3:9) — may we continue to do all in our power to hold forth the Truth in its glorious beauty, so that not only its friends will be the more charmed and blessed, but that any of its enemies may be recovered from their folly.
All of these uses of the symbol of the cup, are related, in that they apply to the Christian life. In our Christian lives we enjoy the benefits of salvation, the sweet blessings of faith, and also the cup of trial, testing, and sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). Our Lord said respecting it, “I delight to do thy will, O God” (Psalm 40:8). And again, “shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)
Our Lord Jesus’ “cup” represents:
♦ Our Lord’s death our Lord’s sacrifice of his earthly rights, which was sufficient of itself to have sealed the New Covenant (R4453:4).
♦ The shed blood of Christ which is our redemption to release us from the condemnation (of Adamic sin — from the curse/sentence of death, and thus) of justice (R3526:5) was the ransom price for all (1 Timothy 2:6). His act of handing the cup to his disciples and asking them to drink of it was an invitationto them to become partakers of his sufferings (R5192:5) and drink into Christ’s death, to “be made conformable unto his death”(Philippians 3:10).
♦Jesus’s trials of great anguish endured, as he was tried and tested as a New Creature: John 18:11 — “Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
♦ One cup, though it contains the juice of many grapes. It was Jesus’ cup of which he drank, which he gave to his disciples to finish (R4475:1). The grapes cannot maintain themselves as grapes if they would constitute the life-giving spirit (R5341:3, R2772:6). Thus they must be crushed.
♦ Our fellowship in the sufferings of Christ’s (2 Timothy 2:12), in Christ’s dishonor, pain, shame, degradation (loss of self-respect, mortification), bitterness, distress and sorrows (because of seeking after that which is Godly and righteous in God’s sight) until our mortal death (R3880:3, R1637:4, R5081, R4591). We rejoice in the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ because of the glorious results (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:12).
♦ The antitype of the cup, in its highest sense, will be the new joys in the kingdom (R4703:6).
Was the juice made from wine or unfermented grape juice?
Nowhere is this cup described as wine, though it may have been (R2772:6) for (as shared in an article in the March-April 2018 Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (titled “Bread and Cup”) we read: “the vintage season in Palestine was September and October, and the Passover was about six months later. The wine made in October would of necessity be fermented before April.” If we suppose that Jesus used wine, we might feel compelled to copy the issue down to the actual drink he used, namely fermented grape juice, or wine.
However, it is an open question whether it was fermented or unfermented. “We feel sure that unfermented grape juice will fulfill the terms of the injunction” (R3879:6). Our recommendation is against a general use of wine as being possibly a temptation to some weak in the flesh. It might not be amiss to put a small amount of fermented wine into the unfermented grape or raisin juice (R2773:4) as this then would not put any others into danger of stimulating an appetite they had tried to overcome. If any one should feel himself endangered by tasting wine at the remembrance of the Lord’s death, we would recommend that such a one use grape or raisin juice instead which, though not wine, is certainly a “fruit of the vine” (R509:5).
Giving Thanks To God
Before Jesus gave the cup of the fruit of the vine to the twelve Apostles to drink, he gave thanksto the Heavenly Father. There is a lesson here for the consecrated people of God who willingly partake in the sufferings of Christ — that of remembering to joyfully acquiescein all the sufferings which the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes implied (R2773:2) and in doing so, display thankfulness and gratitude to the Heavenly Father for the privilege of being counted as worthy of running the race of the High calling in Christ Jesus to which such were called by God, and who then consecrated themselves to holy service, following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus.
“Drink from it, all of you”
Matthew 26:27 (KJV) says, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink yeall of it.’ ” The New American Standard Bible, and others, express this command from Jesus a little more clearly. “And when he had taken a cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ “ Jesus was not meaning to say “drink the entire content of what is in the cup,” but rather, Jesus was as if saying to the Apostles that all of them require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ. All of Jesus’ disciples need to drink from this cup. All of us require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ.
“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56, KJV).
During the present Gospel Age, those who are invited to receive this blessing are also called to walk in the way that Jesus walked, and join him in suffering in the present, for the hope of glory in the future.
“Wesufferwith him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
As Jesus was fully committed to his consecration to God, we should be also. The consecrated children of God experience suffering with Christ now. We leave none of the sufferings for the coming age (R3880:2, R4605:3, R4453:4, R4429:4).
Jesus Christ invited God’s called ones to participate with him in the sacrifice of EVERYTHING — earthly life, interests, hopes, aims, ambitions. All who will reign with Christ, must now drink of the cup of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, as Jesus did. We must be immersed into his death (R4591:5).
Our participation in our Lord’s sufferings show not only our interest and gratefulness in Christ’s sacrifice, but also expressing our own (individual) covenant (agreement/promise) to be dead with him and to drink of the cup of experience that he received (R325:5).
The appropriation of this by us signifies primarily our acceptance of restitution rights and privileges which our Lord has thus, at his own cost, secured for us (R2772:4).
“This is my blood”
Christ’s blood was represented through the drinking of the symbolic one cup of the fruit of the vine and it represents our Lord Jesus’ human life, his being, his soul,poured out unto death on our behalf (R2772).
As “blood maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), so Christ sacrificed his life, shed his blood, gave his life, providing redemption for us and all. His death on Calvary’s cross was the final step in his labors to provide redemption for us now, and the world in the Kingdom.
If we receive of his life for us presently, we are able also to lay down our lives in sacrifice with him.
As Jesus’ sufferings prepared him to be our high priest, to purge us from sin, so our sufferings will prepare us to be with him in glory, to assist him in purging mankind from sin.
“Of The New Testament”
The word “new” is missing in good manuscripts in Matthew 26:28, but it is included in Luke 22:20. By the words “new testament,” Christ was talking about the New Covenant, which supersedes the Law Covenant (R3364:5) and whereby through his shed blood at Calvary, the New Covenant would be sprinkled, sealed and made efficacious (R4331:6) just as Moses had ratified the Law Covenant (a shadow of this) with the blood of burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exodus 24:5-8).
When Christ and his Church is complete in glory, at the end of the Gospel Age, thenthe blood of Christ will be applied for the world. Then Israel will see their privileges under a new covenant, replacing the old covenant, and become a means of extending the blessings of the Kingdom to the world.
“Remission of sins”
Through faith in Jesus’ blood we have remission of sins for we read in Hebrews 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”
We were redeemed, not with Jesus’ example, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). Our sins could never have been forgiven by divine justice except through the divine arrangement by which Christ Jesus paid our penalty.
There is no other way to attain eternal life
except through accepting the blood once shed as
the ransomprice for the sins of the whole world.
“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).
“Until that day”
These words of Christ refer to the time the saints will join himin glory. During the present parousia, or presence, of Christ, those who have completed their service here below are being gathered into the joyous privileges above. Soon the Gospel Age of suffering will end, and all of the remaining members of the Bride class will join those who have gone before. During the Millennium thus introduced, the elect Bride class, the 144,000, shall be in heavenly glory, beyond the vail, in heaven itself.
“Drink it new”
What is this “new” wine that Christ was referring to in his words? Through these words of Christ, Jesus was saying to his followers, that if they will sufferwith him, they will participate with him in hisfuture cup of joy as sharers in his glory as immortal and incorruptible beings (R5643:4, R4703:6, R1695:2). In Romans 2:7 (ESV) we read: “(7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
Seeking after immortality means desiring with one’s entire being to be raised in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42) with a body and mind in which there can NEVER EVER be found sin or disobedience — where this is not possible or probable; where the tests of loyalty, obedience and faithfulness to God’s principles have been overcome and proven one as worthy to inherit life within one’s own self, not dependent on another for life and for purity, and where the Almighty Heavenly Father is honored above all (Revelation 14:1-5).
The saints will receive the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom, and the grand JOY of participating with the Master in uplifting the world of mankind! To have the Heavenly Father receive JOY from ALL His creation, is a thrilling thought. It gives one a foretaste of SUBLIME PEACE, beyond tranquillity. It is beyond us to fully grasp what it will be like to not have to fear ever disobeying the Almighty Father! What a wonderfully grand thing to NEVER EVER have to fear causing the Heavenly Father pain, displeasure, or grief, when sinless everlastingly! This is the ultimate JOY that can be attained by any being, created in the image of God!
♦ feeling this PEACE OF GOD in a DIVINEbody, with a perfected and DIVINE mind!
♦ a PAIN-FREE existence that brings the Ultimate Power of the Universe — Jehovah, the Heavenly Father (who’s divine love, justice, wisdom and power are beyond words), everlasting and righteous pleasure.
♦ an EVERLASTING state where causing unintentional pain, suffering, or injury is never possible!
“(9) For our knowledge is imperfect, and so is our prophesying; (10) But when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end” (1 Corinthians 13:10, Weymouth New Testament).
“My Father’s kingdom”
This kingdom of God will be experienced in the highest sense, beyond the antitypical second veil of the antitypical “tabernacle” in the presence of God Himself, by the overcomers of the Gospel Age who inherit everlasting life in the Divine Realm.
As a result of the trials and sufferings endured, there will be a jubilation in the Kingdom and hence, Kingdom glory is the end of the symbol (R5193, R2272). Primarily it is the Kingdom of the Father, but the Father has voluntarily proposed to place the dominion of the earth for 1000 years under the full charge of a Viceroy, Christ and his bride (D642).
The Passover Lamb and the World’s Sin
The passover lamb spared only the firstborn of the Israelites. The anti-typical meaning of this would be that our Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God which “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) would spare or pass over only the Church of the firstborn ones in this Gospel Age, the antitype of the passover night.
“Only the Church of the firstborn, the household of faith, the consecrated, are spared or passed over through Divine mercy, through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, during this Gospel Age. Nevertheless, the divine plan does not end with the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven” [Hebrews 12:23] and who shall share with Christ in ‘his resurrection’—the first, or chief resurrection. The appropriation of the merit of Christ firstto the Church is merely an incidental feature of the Divine Plan. Soon the Church shall have shared by the privilege now granted to believers of becoming dead withChrist to the earthly interests and alive as New Creatures by the first resurrection.Thenthe merit of the blood of Christ, the slain Lamb, will be applied to the world of mankind to legally ‘take away the sin of the world.’ When applied it will immediately satisfy Justice on the world’s behalf and turn over the world to the Redeemer for restitution blessings. Then the Lamb of God and the Church, ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,’ will prosecute the work of actually taking away the sin of the world during the Millennium” (R4556).
Acknowledgement and References
Br. David Rice — Some content and editing.
“Reprints (No. 4556) of the original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.”
The large majority of the “Watch Tower” articles which have been referred to in this post, have been written by Br. Charles Taze Russell — the Laodicean (7th Church Period) Messenger of the Book of Revelation.
And can I yet delay
My little all to give?
To wean my soul from earth away
For Jesus to receive?
Tho’ late, I all forsake;
My will, my all resign:
Gracious Redeemer, take, O take,
And seal me ever thine
Come and possess me whole,
Nor hence again remove;
Settle and fix my wavering soul
With all thy weight of love.
My one desire be this,
Thy love to fully know:
Nor seek I longer other bliss,
Or other good below.
My life, my portion thou;
Thou all sufficient art:
My hope, my heavenly treasure, now
Enter, and keep my heart.
This Hymn’s History
Author — Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was the original author of the lyrics to this hymn. The“Hymns of Dawn” Hymnal contains four of the original five verses of this Hymn (“Full Surrender,” No. 14), with some word modifications.
Composer —Unknow (in relation to the melody of “Full Surrender” (No. 14) in the “Hymns of Dawn.”
Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn
Psalm 37:4 (KJV) — “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.“
John 6:38 (KJV) — “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.“
Psalm 40:8 (KJV) — “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.“
Romans 12:1-5 (KJV) — “(1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (4) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
Ephesians 4 (ESV) — “(22) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The following words are from a “Reprint” (No. 1839-1840) from “The Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence:”
“Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass; and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.”—Psa. 37:3-7.
WHILE the Word of God abounds in precepts and admonitions, in warnings and instructions, and while it lifts high the standard of moral excellence—so high that in our weak and fallen condition we cannot attain unto it, and in our efforts to do so in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation we must of necessity encounter the wrath of all the powers of darkness strongly entrenched in the hearts of fallen fellow-men, this same blessed Word comes to the faithful children of God in the very midst of this battle of life with sweet and refreshing consolation [comfort, solace].
Consolation! What is it?
Oh, you who have never enlisted under the banner of the cross, you who have never made an honest endeavor to withstand the powers of darkness, to fight the good fight of faith, to stem the current of your own fallen nature’s tendencies, or to contend earnestly for truth and righteousness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, what can you know of the sweets of divine consolation?
It is the balmfor wounded spirits on the battle fields of time;
the cooling draughtfor fainting souls hard pressed by the relentless foe;
the soothing caress of a loving hand upon the fevered brow of a noble contender for truth and righteousness;
the gentle whisper of hope and courage when the heart and flesh begin to fail—
that is consolation, divine consolation, the only consolation that has any virtue of healing and refreshingin it.
But it is reserved only for those noble souls who are faithfully bearingthe burden and heat of the day; while those who listlessly drift with the current of the world’s favor, and of the downward tendencies of the carnal nature, can never have an intimation of its sweetness.
It is to the faithful soldiers of the Lord that the above words of the Psalmist are addressed—to the persecuted, tempted and tried. Hear them, tempest-tossed and fainting souls: they were long ago penned by the Lord’s prophet for your edification—“Fret not thyself,”but “trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
How strong is the Lord, how wise and good! His promises have never failed to those that put their trust in him.
We may feel that our efforts to be good and to do good are very unproductive, and that the opposition from within and without is very strong; but it iswhen we are weak—when we thus realize our own incompetency—that we may be “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”
Let us endeavor to make straight paths for our feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, and then lay hold of the Lord’s strength to help us pursue our course in the narrow way of difficulty and trial. The fact that we are weak and lame does not separate us from the love and power of God; for “he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust.”He knows that we have the treasure of the new nature in earthen vessels, and therefore it is that, while we strive to overcome, we have his proffered sympathy and aid and the imputed righteousness of Christ for our all-sufficient covering.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land; and verily thou shalt be fed” (Psalm 37:3).
Our food and shelterwill be sure: he will never leave nor forsake his own, but will make all things work together for good to them [Romans 8:28].
“Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”(Psalm 37:4).
This delight in the Lord is a still more advanced step in the Christian life. It is a blessed thing to learn to trust in the Lord; but it is when continued trust and responsive providences have ripened into personal acquaintance and fellowship with God that we learn to delight in him. Yes, it is when heart answers to heart, when pleading prayer brings recognized answers of peace, when the divine care and love are specially seen in the guidance of our way: in a word, when we come to feel that the Father and the Son have so clearly manifested themselves to us that we can recognize their abiding presence with us.
Ah! then it is that we begin to delight ourselves in the Lord.
Then, however dark may be the way, or however heavy may be the storm that rages about us, the balm of divine consolation is always there, so that the child of God, though often troubled on every side, is not distressed; though perplexed, he is never in despair; though cast down, he is not destroyed; and though persecuted, he is never forsaken.
To delight thus in the Lord is to have the affections centered in him; it is to have the heart in such sympathy with righteousness and truth as to see in God the fountain of all goodness and truth, the one altogether lovely.
The Psalmist expresses such an attitude of heart when, personifying our Lord Jesus, he said, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” And again, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”And again, when he says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is….Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee….My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.”—Psa. 63.
Such an experience springs only from the felt consolations of divine grace in times of sore and pressing need, and however great the afflictions or the trials of faith, patience and endurance that lead to such an acquaintance with God, there is great cause for rejoicing in them; for—
“E’en sorrow,touched by heaven, grows bright With more than rapture’s ray, As darkness shows us worlds of light We never saw by day.”
When the heart has been thus centered in God, it is its most natural impulse to commit its way to him. As one has beautifully expressed it—
“We’d rather walk in the darkwith God Than go alone in the light; We’d rather walk by faith with him Than go alone by sight.”
And how precious is the promise to those who thus learn to trustin the Lord and go on doing good, no matter how obstinate or fierce may be the persecution it may excite, and who delight in the Lord and confidentlycommittheir way to hisloving wisdom. Surely they shall have the desires of their heart, and no good thing will he withhold from them. Their fervent prayers avail much, and in his own good timetheir righteousness,however misrepresented and evil spoken of now,shall be brought forth as the light—clear, cloudless and widely manifest; and their judgment, the justice and righteousness of their hearts, as the noonday. And even while we remain here as aliens and foreigners in the enemy’s land, verily we shall be fed, both with the temporal bread and with the bread of heaven for our spiritual sustenance.
“Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”
But the Psalmist adds one more important word of counsel to the Lord’s beloved children. It is this—
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
Do not make the mistake of expecting him to give you the desires of your heart at the very instant of your request; to make your path peaceful, easy and pleasant as soon as you commit your way to him; and at once to bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. He has not promised to do that. Time is necessary for the working out of his kind providences in our individual affairs; for God works on philosophical principles and for lasting and blessed results. So—
This waiting, under severe trial or affliction, will indeed be a blessing in disguise, if the soul be rightly exercised unto patience, endurance, faith, hope, meekness, long-suffering, kindness and true Christian fortitude. And it will be in the darkness of these waiting seasons that the blessed stars of hope will shine the brightest, and the bright Morning Star, the harbinger of day, will shed his beams into the deepest recesses of our hearts. “They that wait upon the Lord,” says the Prophet (Isa. 40:31), “shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”
Blessed promises! and, to the praise of his abounding grace, his saints of the past and present all bear ample testimony of their fulfilment.
“Who need faint while such a river Ever flows our thirst to assuage? Grace, which, like the Lord, the giver, Never fails from age to age.”
Bro. 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.
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.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8, ESV).
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, ESV).
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, ESV).
“(16) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace (17) comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word”(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ESV).
“and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:23, NAS).
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7, KJV).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV).
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee”(Psalm 86:5, KJV).
All the way my Saviour leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt his tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well,
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Saviour leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for ev’ry trial,
Feeds me with the living bread;
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Saviour leads me;
Oh, the fulness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above;
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.
The History Of This Hymn
Author – Frances Jane van Alstyne (perhaps best known as “Fanny Jane Crosby,” 1820-1915). At 6 weeks old, she lost her sight due to a traveling doctor instructing her parents to apply hot mustard poultices to treat an eye infection, which burnt her corneas.
Just a year after she was blinded, her father caught a chill while working in the cold November rain, and died soon after. Twenty-one-year-old Mercy Crosby (her mother) was left to provide for herself and her daughter. This she did by seeking employment as a maid. Fanny’s grandmother (Eunice Crosby) cared for her during the day, and the two became very close.
Around the age of 15 years, she entered the New York City Institution for the Blind. On completing her training she became a teacher therein from 1847 to 1858. In 1858 she married (one of her students) Alexander Van Alstyne, a musician, eleven years her junior, who was also blind. Her first poem was published in 1831.
Fanny loved her work, and was happy in it. It is contentmentthat Fanny Crosby said “has been the motto of my life,”she says. Amongst her earliest composition (aged eight) she wrote:
“O what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be;”
She maintained this positive outlook all her life and considered her blindness a blessing, not the curse many would be tempted to call it. As she once stated:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of Godif I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”
Her grandparents spent many hours reading the Bible to Fanny and teaching her the importance of prayer and a close relationship with God. They quickly discovered that Fanny had an amazing capacity for memorization and encouraged her to learn large passages of scripture by heart, which Fanny did — memorizing several chapters each week and she could quote the Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many of the Psalms.
When Fanny was five, her mother got another job far away and they were forced to say goodbye to her grandparents.
“Whatever your affliction is, you can bear it cheerfully. That’s because God is using it to lead you to something even better.” ~ Grandmother Eunice Crosby
Fanny Crosby began her hymn writing (of around 9,000 hymns) in her forties. Publisher and hymn writer William B. Bradbury hired her to write hymns for his company, telling her, “While I have a publishing house, you will always have work!” Fanny knew she needed God’s help in this new endeavor, and once described her hymn writing process this way:
“It may seem a little old-fashioned, always to begin one’s work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration.”
Some of Crosby’s best-known songs are found in the Bible Students’ Hymnal “Hymns of Dawn,”which include: “Blessed Assurance” (Hymns of Dawn — No. 342), and “To God Be the Glory” (Hymns of Dawn — No. 360). Some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, so Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career.
One day in the fall of 1874, Fanny did not have enough money to pay the rent and no way to get it. As was her custom, she prayed in earnest that God would supply her need. Not long after she finished praying, there was a knock at the door. There at the door stood a complete stranger who spoke not a word, but handed Fanny a folded piece of paper, and then turned and left. It was the five dollars needed for the rent,the exact amount neededto stay in her flat for another month.
“I have no way of accounting for this,” she later said, “except to believe that God put into the heart of this good man to bring the money. My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way that the Lord leads me. I immediately wrote the poem, and Dr. Robert Lowry set it to music” and it is this very hymn — “ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS ME.” ~ Fanny Crosby
Although Fanny was only paid a dollar or two for each of her hymns, she and Van could have lived comfortably on this income yet Fanny’s priority was to give away anything that was not necessary to their daily survival. Hence, the Van Alstines lived in a small, cramped apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, near one of Manhattan’s worst slums, just a few blocks from the notorious Bowery, a well-known “haunt for hopeless alcoholics and the main artery of a thriving red light district and pornographic center.” Because of her proximity to this needy area, Fanny became zealous in her efforts to help the people around her. She became a great fan of Jerry McAuley, a former convict who was converted after hearing the testimony of a friend. Jerry founded the Water Street Mission, America’s first rescue mission, to minister to those enslaved to alcohol and violence as he once had been. She often mingled with McAuley’s audiences, conversing and counseling with those she met. She did not believe in pointing out people’s faults to them.
“You can’t save a man by telling him of his sins.He knows them already.Tell him there is pardon and love waiting for him. Win his confidence and make him understand that you believe in him, and never give him up!” ~ Fanny Crosby
Fanny Crosby refused to let the trials and tribulations of life get her down.
“One of the easiest resolves that I formed in my young and joyous heart was to leave all care to yesterdayand to believe that the morning would bring forth its own peculiar joy.” ~ Fanny Crosby
The life of Fanny Crosby is an excellent example of how God uses trials and tribulations to refine us, to teach us to depend on Him, and to equip us for the calling He has placed on our lives.
Composer – Robert Lowry (March 12, 1826 – November 25, 1899) was an American professor of literature, a Baptist minister and composer of gospel hymns.
IT IS safe to say that no other collection of poems has accomplished as much good as the Book of Psalms. Its sentiments seem to touch the soul at every turn — in joy, in sorrow…
THE GREAT SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCK
All the features of the Psalm are applicable to our Redeemer Himself as well as to His followers, whom He styles the sheep of His flock. To His Church He is the Representative of the Father, so fully, so completely, that He could say truthfully, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” No human being could see the Heavenly Father and live, as the Scriptures declare; and those who saw and understood Jesus to be the Son of God, caught the best possible glimpse of the Heavenly Father.
And so we all see Jesus as the Representative of the Father, the Son of the great King, the Son of the great Shepherd, Jehovah.
Jesus and His Church are more particularly the sheep of Jehovah’s flock than were the Israelites of the Jewish Age; for the relationship of the Jews was through Moses, while the relationship of the Church is through Christ and the superior Covenant which centers in Him… Jesus declared that there is only one way of entering the sheepfold; namely, through the door. And He declared Himself to be the Door.
HOW TO BECOME A TRUE SHEEP
By nature we are sinners under Jehovah’s sentence of death, and not His sheep. He has purposed a great Plan for the world in general, which will begin to operate as soon as Messiah’s Kingdom is established. However, in the interim He is receiving special sheep — during this Gospel Age; and Jesus tells how, saying, “If any man will come after Me [be My disciple, My follower, My sheep], let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
Self-denial is the first step — self-renunciation, giving up of the will to God. The Covenant reads, “Gather My saints together unto Me; those who have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice.” All who would be the Lord’s sheep must make this Covenant of Sacrifice; it is the condition under which they may be accepted.
Moreover, as the Jews could come only through their appointed mediator, Moses, so we can come into this higher sheepfold only under the antitypical, greater Moses, Christ. There is none other name given. Once having taken this step, once having come into the sheepfold by the Door — in the approved manner — we have the Message of God, saying, “All things are yours; for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” What this means is described in this Psalm (1 Corinthians 3:22,23).
ALL WANTS ABUNDANTLY SUPPLIED
The Lord’s sheep, abiding in perfection of relationship with Him, will lack nothing. Their every need will be supplied. This may not mean greater earthly wealth or name or fame or luxury.
The Lord’s sheep are New Creatures, spirit beings, who are temporarily dwelling in the flesh like other people, but who really are waiting for their change, to be completed by a share in the First Resurrection.
The Lord’s blessings to Natural Israel were earthly blessings, supplying their every earthly need; but His blessings to Spiritual Israel are spiritualfavors. “No good thing will He withhold” from these — yea, even chastisements and sorrowful experiencesthat may be necessary for their spiritual development.
The Psalm assures us that, as the Lord’s sheep, we shall be provided with green pasturesand the cool, refreshing waters of Truth. Moreover, while thus being spiritually fed and refreshed, we shall have the peace of God, as is implied in the suggestion that the sheep will lie down in the green pastures — to such an extent that the Lord’s sheep may truthfully say that they have “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” ruling in their hearts, notwithstanding outward trials, difficulties, perplexities and adversities.
[“Which of the Lord’s sheep has not found such green pasturageof spiritual refreshment in his private devotions and studiesof divine things? Which of them has not experienced similar refreshment and rest and nourishment from the Master’s provision that his sheep shall not forsake the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is — for the study of the Word, for prayer, for testimonies of the Lord’s goodness and mercy? All these opportunities and privileges, whether personally experienced or whether they are yet only in the mind through the medium of the printed page, are provisions made for the sheep by the great Shepherd. Those sheep which find no enjoymentin such privileges and blessings and refreshmentshave reason to question their faithfulness in following the lead of the Shepherd. And those sheep which, findingsuch opportunities,decline to use them, thus give evidence of lack of harmonywith the Shepherd’s gracious intentions and wisdom (R3268).”]
They [the Lord’s people] in their hearts rejoice in the sentiment expressed by the poet, “Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine” (Matthew 6:32).
But alas! Not all of the sheep have full confidence in the Shepherd and are fully resigned to have no will but His. Some are continually getting into difficulty, because they neglect the green pastures and cool, refreshing waters of Truth found in the Word of God — because,goat-like, they sometimes wander off into the desert, straying far from the Shepherd and attempting to feed themselves on the indigestible things of the present life, on which no spiritual nature can thrive.
Rod and Staff
Yet even such straying sheep the Shepherd will not leave, if they have become truly His. He goes after them, as the Psalm represents. His rodandHis staffare their comfort; [it is a rod of help, defense and chastisement].
With the rod —he beats off their enemies, the wolves that would injure;
With the crook of His staff — He wisely and carefully assists the entangled sheep out of its difficulties — out from amongst the cares of this life, the entanglements and deceitfulness of riches, and the besetments of sin and of Satan.
Many of the sheep of the Lord’s flock thus can sing, “He restoreth my soul”—
He brings me back to Himself;
He makes me again to know, to appreciate, to enjoy His provision for me and to see how much better it is than anything I could have provided for myself.
[“The prophet does not refer to a restoration of body or of physical health, but a restoration of soul, being. Some of the Lord’s most precious saints have been weary and faint and troubled—even the dear Redeemer fainted under his cross, and was neither kept whole or made whole miraculously on the occasion. The application of the Prophet’s words to the Christian experience would make these experiences, called restoring of soul or being, to correspond with our justification to life. All our lives were forfeited under the divine sentence, and by faith a complete restitution or restoration of soul is granted to the believer, that he might have something to offer in sacrifice to the Lord, “holy, acceptable” (Rom. 12:1), and that in this sacrifice service he may walk in the footsteps of the great Shepherd who lay down his life for the sheep. Thus are the true sheep led in right paths, in proper paths, advantageous to their spiritual development, though frequently trying and difficult to them according to the flesh. This favor and blessing and opportunity comes to them not for their own sakes or worthiness but through the Lord’s grace —‘for his name’s sake’” (R3268)].
A further experience is next brought to our view — the Shepherd’s leading.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.” He causes me, even bymy own stumblings and difficulties, to learn to appreciate the desirableness of His ways and the undesirableness of every other way. All His ways are perfect, are righteous. He leads us not contrary to our wills, but in harmony therewith, to prove what is the good, next the acceptable, and finally the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
THE VALLEY OF DEATH’S SHADOW
All of our lives we have been in the shadow of this great Valley of Death. Only father Adam was ever on the mountain-tops of life. He lost his footing there, and descended gradually the slopes into this Valley of the Shadow of Death. We, his children, were all born here. We are dying daily; we are surrounded by dying conditions. We have merely the hope that the Lord will lead His sheep back to the heights of life.
He is now leading His sheep of this Gospel Age — the Church, the Body of Christ.
By and by He will lead the world, during His Millennial Kingdom; as He declared, “Other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also must I bring,… and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16).
“Oh, sometimes the shadows are deep, And rough seems the path to the goal!”
The end of this Valley of Shadow is near, not merely in the sense that we shall soon reach the end of life’s journey, but especially in the sense that the New Day is about to dawn, of which the Lord, our Shepherd, declared the result: “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His beams” (Malachi 4:2). The final result will be that there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying; but the whole world will begin to emerge from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. For a thousand years they will be rising again to the glorious heights of human perfection from which Adam fell, and the right to return to which is secured for all by the death of Jesus, “the Just for the unjust.”
[“The sheep of the little flock fear no evil because of the Lord’s favor, because he is with them, on their side, and has shown his favor in the redemption price already paid. He is with them, too, in his word of promise — his assurance that death shall not mean extinction of life, but merely, until the resurrection, an undisturbed sleep in Jesus. What wonder that these can walk through the valley of the shadow of death singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord, calling upon their souls with all that is within them to praise and laud and magnify his great and holy name, who loved us and bought us with his precious blood, and has called us to joint-heirship with our dear Redeemer (R 3268).]
THE CHURCH’S BETTER TABLE
The Lord’s people of the present time have an especially prepared table, where they may partake even in the presence of their enemies. That will not be true in the future; for no enemies nor anything to hurt or injure shall then be permitted (Isaiah 11:9.)
The Lord’s consecrated people, even when misunderstood, misrepresented, defamed and opposed, are still privileged to feast at the Lord’s Table!
The table — represents God’s provision for their needs — the promises of God, the assurances of His favor, etc.
Another evidence that the Psalm belongs especially to the Church of this Age is the statement, “Thou anointest my Head with oil.” Jesus, the Head of the Church, was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. That holy anointing oil used on the priests and kings of Israel typified the Holy Spirit, which came upon the Church representatively in Jesus. And this same anointing oil has come down over all the members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, as we read in Psalm 133:2.
THE CUP BOTH SWEET AND BITTER
“My cup runneth over.” The word cup is used in the Scriptures to represent a draft, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes both. The intimation is that the Lord’s Cup signifies bitter experiences and trials in the present time; as Jesus said, “The Cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?” And this was the Cup — His Cup—which He offered to His disciples and which we, in becoming His disciples, propose to share with Him, and which is symbolically represented in the Communion Cup (1 Corinthians 10:15-17).
It is sweet and precious, in many senses of the word to be privileged to participate in the sufferings of Christ, in any sacrifices or servicesfor the Lord and His Cause.
The sweet mingles freely with the bitter. But the Lord promises that in the future the Cup of new wine in the Kingdom shall more than compensate for any bitterness of the present time.
Our Cup is full,
but we would not wish it one drop less.
[“He who would partake of the joys of the Lord must also partake of his cup of suffering; we must suffer with him if we would reign with him. But we count the sufferings of this present time as not worthy to be compared with the glories that shall be revealed in us, and hence we are enabled to rejoice in tribulation, so that as the tribulations will overflow the rejoicing likewise overflows, and with the Apostle we can say, Rejoice, and again I say rejoice!” (R3268)]
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
How precious the thought — God’s goodness, God’s mercy, with all those who are truly His in Christ — following us day by day, moment by moment, and according to the Scriptures making all things work together for our good! Then the grand finale is signified, “I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever” — in the Heavenly House, of which the Redeemer said, “In My Father’s House are many mansions;…I go to prepare a place for you,” and “I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” Then, at His Second Coming, with our glorious change, we shall enter the Father’s House in the fullest sense of the word, on the spirit plane, which flesh and blood does not inherit.
This shall be the everlasting portion of God’s Elect — the Church. The great blessings subsequently to come to the world — earthly blessings — will in no sense interfere with, but enhance, the glory of the Church; for she will be engaged with her Lord in dispensing blessings to the earthly sheep (Galatians 3:29).
“My Saviour” — Christ Jesus
Here are some free online articles in relation to the Heavenly Father — Jehovah, and his Son — Christ Jesus — “a ransom FOR ALL … to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6), as well as, about the holy Spirit (the invisible power and influence of God) with clear explanations about why the anti-Christ teaching of “the trinity” — introduced by the Roman Catholic Church system (the “Beast” in the Book of Revelation) — is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible Student Movement does not support the teaching of purgatory nor does it support the Roman Catholic System’s teaching about people being sent to a place where they burn up forever, which certainly does not reflect the perfect love of God — the Almighty Creator of all things.
Hence, for the interested Reader, we urge you to consider the following articles and posts:
Bro. 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.
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.
What is the “rose of Sharon” and who is “the lily of the valleys” as mentioned in the Song of Solomon? We begin with some background.
The Song of Solomon
The “Song of Solomon” (also titled the “Song of Songs” or “Canticles”) was written by King Solomon, who represents Jesus as King after his ascent to the Divine realm. Here Christ Jesus, our prospective bridegroom (Matthew 25:6), speaks in the form of a melodic song, to his “Bride,” “the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10, Romans 8:33) who answers him as his “Love.”
The “rose of Sharon”likely is not a rose as we know the flower. It may have been a crocus, tulip, hibiscus, lily, white daisy or some other flower that grows in a field. (We include a brief discussion about this with flower images later in the post.) Jesus may have spoken of this when he referred to the “lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27,28), meaning some humbler but delicate flower.
Song of Solomon 2:1 (RSV) — “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”
In the above verse, the prospective Bride of Christ is speaking. Notice that in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the text says not “the rose,” but “a rose,” and it is likewise in the NIV. This indicates humility. In other words, “I am a common, lowly flower of the low lands.”
“It is the bride, then, who is here declaring that she is as one of these common or ordinary flowers of which there were so many. She says, in effect, ‘I am no different and no better than my companions, my sisters, in this great floral throng’ ” (F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1”).
The rose and the lily are to be thought of in the collective sense: the “valleys” (plural) would have more than one lily, for example. Many flowers, a class of flowers, is referred to. The virgin class, these common little flowers, realize that God has called them as individuals into His family, and perhaps in time they see why He has picked them because they are poor in spirit, meek, though rich in faith. When they realize that they have this faith, they have a measure of confidence and hope that He really has called them. The HOLY ONE who inhabiteth eternity dwells with the lowly and contrite in heart (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).
As mentioned earlier, in verse 1 the virgin class has said “I am the lily of the valleys.” Now, in verse 2, Christ Jesus is, as if, responding, “Yes, you are as the lily, but you are amidst thorns.“
“He proceeds once again to tell her of what and how he thinks of her… ‘As the lily among thorns’ she is seen in harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation (Philippians 2:15) … She isin moral contrast with all her surroundings; He adds no more; His words, though few, give her heart to know that He is content with her; she is what He can delight in; no more is needed.
“The Lord would have her follow in His footsteps; as she beholds Him in His beauty, in His fragrance, and His humility, she hears Him say: ‘As I am, so are ye in the world. He that saith He abideth in Me ought himself also to walk even as I walked.’ [See 1 John 2:6.] To be like unto him, she must go down into the fertile Valleys, and there must she abide. She must draw strength and nourishment from the hidden springs and the rich soil of His Word, and His life must flow into her until she blossoms out in His likeness” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, in the Bible Students Library CD).
The beautiful lily has no thorns growing upon her. In her words, there is nothing which is sharp, to wound her Lord or those around her. There are no unkind actions growing upon this plant that is being prepared for the Garden of Heaven. There are no unworthy, uplifted attributes found upon the one whom God will choose as the bride of His Son. She [her character] must be:
harmless, yet steadfast,
humble, yet standing in pure dignity,
upright and beautiful,
maintaining the Faith once for all delivered unto the saints,
spotless and fragrant.
“Each lily in the company stands for His glory and His delight alone. He has invited many to be the bride; but though many have received the invitation, only a few will He choose” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).
The Thorns– Who or what do these represent?
“The ‘thorns’ would be not only worldly people but professed Christians. The ‘daughters’ are the same ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ in Song of Solomon 1:5 and 2:7. Even among nominal Christians who have similar hopes,the virgin class appear as fanatics and oddballs. ‘So is my love among the daughters.’ The word ‘love’ is ‘friend’ in the Hebrew, but of course it has a much deeper meaning than our English word. We sing, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus,’ but he is singing, ‘What a friend I have in my consecrated followers’ ” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Song of Solomon).
The Bride calls Christ her “beloved.” She is saying that Christ feeds among the lilies.
“The ‘lily’ is the common little flower of the lowlands, so Jesus ‘feeds’ (has communion and fellowship) among this humble, meek class. In olden times, receiving hospitality gave one a feeling of security and protection. If you could get into the tent of an enemy and converse with him and plead for mercy, he would never kill you. The safest place would be in the house of the enemy. George Washington, with all of his problems, had a rule that during dinner no strife or unpleasantness could mar the peace or be discussed. A principle of ancient times was not to bring problems to the table of fellowship” (Br. Frank Shallieu, Notes on the Songs of Solomon).
“Having once again turned her face toward her dearly beloved Bridegroom‑to‑be, she feels herself reassured, and very happy, yet still too possessive; for she says, as it were, to herself, ‘My Beloved is mine.’ But she is destined to grow both in grace and in the knowledge of her Lord (2 Peter 3:18), until she is able to say ‘I am my beloved’s; and my beloved is mine’ (Song of Solomon 6:3). In the meantime she will have to strive earnestly to make herself really worthy of becoming one day, the Lamb’s wife! True, she has been ‘called’; yea, she has even been ‘chosen’ so to speak; but to be with Him as His Beloved, throughout all the ages of eternity, will depend uponher being‘faithful’(Revelation 17:14). This is a faithfulness in her love of,and for, Him; to have doves’ eyes, to see none other, ever, but ever and always Jesus only!” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).
“She now beholds Him ‘feeding among the lilies.’ In her soliloquy she mentions this, noting that He is almost invariably found ‘feeding among the lilies.’ Regardless of what the flower here referred to may have been, it was undoubtedly intended to represent the ‘pure in heart’ who shall one day see God (Matthew 5:8) — those, who like the wild flowers of the field neither toil nor spin[with distressful anxiety] but who, in accepting whatever divine providence may permitto come unto them, are arrayed even now, in garments whose glory and beauty transcend that of Solomon’s (Matthew 6:28‑29). The espoused virgin seems now to sense the fact that like unto Jehovah of old, who was fed by way of the willing sacrifices of His people upon His altar (See Leviticus 21:17‑21, Psalm 50:14, Hebrews 13:15), so too, her beloved was ‘feeding’ upon the loving consecrations and dedications of the pure in heart. The ‘sweet fragrance’ of these ‘lilies’ is to her beloved, as was the ‘sweet savor’ of the burnt‑offerings and peace‑offerings to Jehovah of old! He gathers the lilies in chapter 6. He delights to gather the saints (who are called lilies) together, and then He comes down to feed among them. He comes into the companies of His saints, when they are thus gathered, to get something for Himself” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 31).
Song of Solomon 4:5 — “Thy two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies.”
The suggestion that the roes “feed among the lilies” is a most beautiful one. The roes are enriched in life and health by what they feed upon; and this shows in their beauty and grace, as well as in the fleetness of foot.
The roe or gazelle is the smallest animal of the antelope kind; it is only about two feet in height, and not more than half the size of the fallow‑deer. Its eyes are remarkably soft and expressive. It is noted for its swiftness in 1 Chronicles 12:8, speaking of men who were “as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” In 2 Samuel 2:18, “Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.” In the Song of Solomon 2:9, “The voice of my beloved! behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills: my beloved is like a roe or a young hart.”
Whatever goodness and cheer can flow out of the fully consecrated child of God into the lives of others, is but the outgrowth, the result, of what one in Christ feeds upon “among the lilies,” among the consecrated saints of God, in their gatherings, when and wherever these fellowship in the Lord. And, of course, this is what shows, for not only are her “breasts” beautiful and graceful, but they are full of wholesome “nourishment” for others. We cannot help but here think of an expression used by the Apostle Paul when writing to the beloved at Thessalonica:
“I was like a mother that lovingly nurses her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, Way’s Translation).
“The ‘two breasts’ speak of affections that are balanced. They set forth symbolically the tenderness and sensitiveness of spiritual affections. Grace governing the heart, would secure this; the one who loves God would love his brother also; and there would be no partialities as to the truth, no attaching ourselves to one aspect of the truth in such a way as to lose interest in the whole circle of truth” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).
The fleetness of foot, and the sensitivity to anything unwholesome or harmful, reflects the disposition in the character of the espoused virgin. In order to love, and to do good unto others, regardless as to who or what they may be (Galatians 6:10), she must not allow herself to remain for any length of time in an atmosphere that might cause the flow of her loving kindness toward any to be stopped, or even retarded. To this end, all professing to be saints of God should guard themselves against “bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking” so as to remain “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:31,32). The prayer that should ever remain on the lips of the espoused virgin should be:
“I want a principle within Of jealous godly fear; A sensitivity of sin, A pain to feel it near. “Quick as the apple of an eye, O God, my conscience make: Awake my soul, when sin is nigh, And keep my soul awake.”
Roes are timid creatures, sensitive to any disturbance and ready to flee from it on swift foot. The Lord wishes us to cultivate and exhibit affections that are delicately sensitive, that are quickly alarmed by the approach of anything that is of the world or the flesh or the devil. This holy sensitiveness can only be preserved as it is nourishedupon appropriate food. The garbage of the world is fatal to it. The fawns “feed among the lilies.” This is where He feeds His flock (Song of Solomon 2:16, 6:3). If the spouse is herself a “lily among the thorns,” her affections must feed in conditions that correspond with her true character. How refined the purity of such a feeding‑place! A place where one is surrounded by a beauty and glory that has been directly conferred by God. Where all is in contrast to the thorns around, and is marked by harmlessness, simplicity, and irreproachableness. (See Philippians 2:12‑15.) In such conditions spiritual affections can be suitably nourished. They are conditions which do not pertain to the world nor to nature; they belong to a sphere where all is the product of grace [God’s loving kindness; unmerited/undeserved favor] (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).
“Still blushing profusely under the barrage of the sweet things He has been saying to her, she fain would change the subject. She, therefore, interrupts Him, to tell Him that it will not be too long to wait ere she shall be His forever — to have and to hold! “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).
“It is still night, and the time of His rejection, but we are not children of the night. As children of the day we ardently long for it to come, but there can be no day until He appears who alone can usher it in. Then we shall have done with the night and shadows. Until then, the bride will seek those things which are above, and set her affections on things above, not on things on earth. She wants to be above this world“ (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon, page 41).
Meaning of “Rose of Sharon”
From an Old Testament place name, “Sharon” in Hebrew means “plain,” referring to the fertile plain near the coast of Israel.
Here are two maps of the Plain of Sharon in Israel. The area is fertile and is near the Golan Heights, which belongs to Israel since 1967. (Some think it contains high oil reserves —more oil here, than in all of Saudi Arabia. If so, perhaps this will be a factor inducing Gog’s attack on Israel in the future.)
Flowers growing in such a low‑lying terrain aptly reflect the “beauty” and the “fragrance” of Him, who, though once in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, made in the likeness of man. “Being found in fashion as a man, [he] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the [humiliating] death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6‑8).
“Our Lord Jesus, ‘the beginning of the creation of God,’ was willing in harmony with the Father’s plan to humble himself, to take a lower nature and to do a work which would imply not only a great deal ofhumiliation, but also a great deal ofpain and suffering. The Apostle points out how the ‘Only Begotten’ proved his willingness and humility by complying with this arrangement; and that after he became a man he continued of the same humble spirit, willing to carry out the divine plan to the very letter, by dying as man’s ransom‑price; and not only so — when it pleased the Father to require that the death should be a most ignominious one in every respect, perhaps beyond the requirements of the ransom merely, he did not draw back, but said: ‘Thy will not mine be done,’ and stooped even to the ignominious ‘death of the cross’ ” (R2228:2).
What kind of flower was the “rose of Sharon” and the “lily of the valleys”?
The “rose of Sharon” is a name that has been applied to several different species of flowering plants that are valued in different parts of the world. The identity of the plant referred to in the Bible is unclear and is disputed among biblical scholars. Wikipedia says that it does not refer to actual roses, although one of the species it refers to in modern usage is a member of Rosaceae.
The Hebrew phrase was translated by the KJV editors as “rose of Sharon.” However, the Septuagint and the Vulgate render it simply as “the flower of the field.”The Hebrew word occurs three times in the scriptures (here in the Song of Solomon, Isaiah 65:10,Isaiah 35:1). The last one reads “the desert shall rejoice and bloom as the rose.” Here, the word rendered “rose” in the KJV is rendered “lily” (Septuagint, Vulgate and Wycliffe), “jonquil” (Jerusalem Bible), and “crocus” (RSV). Varying scholars have suggested that the biblical “rose of Sharon” may be one of the following plants:
(1) A crocus— “a kind of crocus growing as a lily among the brambles” (“Sharon,” Harper’s Bible Dictionary) or a crocus that grows in the coastal plain of Sharon (New Oxford Annotated Bible). Gesenius has no doubt that the plant denoted is the Colchicum autumnale (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible).
(2) A tulip— “a bright red tulip‑like flower… today prolific in the hills of Sharon” (“Rose”, Harper’s Bible Dictionary).
(3) Tulipa agenensis — the Sharon tulip, a species of tulip suggested by a few botanists.
(4) A lily, Lilium candidum, more commonly known as the Madonna lily, a species of lily suggested by some botanists, thought likely to refer to the “lily of the valleys” mentioned in the second part of Song of Solomon 2:1.
(5) (Polyanthus) Narcissus — “Rose,” Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.
Etymologists have tentatively linked the biblical חבצלת to the words בצל beṣel, meaning “bulb,” and חמץ ḥāmaṣ, which is understood as meaning either “pungent” or “splendid” (The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon).
From Smith’s Dictionary: “It appears to us more probable that the narcissus is intended than the crocus. The narcissus and the lily (Lilium candidum) would be in blossom together in the early spring, while the Colchicum is an autumn plant.”
(6) Marshmallows — “W.M. Thomson, in The Land and the Book suggests that what is really referred to by the rose of Sharon is the marsh‑mallow” (Br. Anton Frey, Notes on the Song of Solomon).
(7) Anthemis palestina — Better known as the common daisy, dots the fields of Palestine after the rains. Dr. Ha‑Reubeni (Professor of Biblical Botany, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) points out (Nature Magazine, December 1934) that it is “beautiful at all hours of the day, even when old and drying. When it has dried up, it is gathered with the dried grass and cast into the furnace.” He adds “the daisy has a crown, which gives special aptitude to the comparison with Solomon, the crowned King.”
(8) Anemone — According to F. A. Shuttleworth (in “The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, April 1958) in the Eastern world, the lily of the valleys is that flower known in the West as the anemone with its rich petals of red and purple. Here is an image of these (below).
What do all these flowers have in common?
All these flowers have things in common: simplicity, in natural beauty that reflects God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18); sweet fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15), that reflects the sweetness of cheerful, willing, patiently enduring sacrifice to bring glory to God by accepting and doing the Heavenly Father’s will; joy, which is infectious, as it brings joy to all who look at their beauty of colour. Their head is either bowed low, reminding us of humble reverence in seeking to know and do the Heavenly Father’s will through Christian servitude in the School of Christ, or held high, reflecting saints who hold high our “head,” Christ Jesus. May God be praised, honored, and glorified in all that is done to please Him through Christ (Matthew 5:16).
Br. Charles Taze Russell, Reprints (R) of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. These Reprints can be read online at The Harvest Truth Data Base (Version 9) website here: www.htdb.one
“A little while;” now he has come;
The hour draws on apace—
The blessed hour, the glorious morn,
When we shall see his face.
How light our trials then will seem!
How short our pilgrim way!
The life of earth a fitful dream,
Dispelled by dawning day!
Then, O Lord Jesus, quickly show
Thy glory and thy light,
And take God’s longing children home,
And end earth’s weary night.
A little while; with patience, Lord,
I fain would ask, “How long?”
For how can I, with such a hope
Of glory and of home,
With such a joy awaiting me,
Not wish the hour were come?
How can I keep the longing back,
And how suppress the groan?
Yet peace, my heart! and hush, my tongue!
Be calm my troubled breast!
Each passing hour prepares thee more
For everlasting rest.
Thou knowest well, the time thy God
Appoints for thee is best.
The morning star already shines;
The glow is in the east.
Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV) —
“12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (RVIC) —
“(50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall all fall asleep, but we shall not all be changed (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death was swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? (56) But the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: (57) but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, RVIC – The American Revised Version Improved and Corrected, 2000).
Song of Songs (“Canticles”) 8:14 (NAS) —
“Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices.”
The comments below, are a direct quote from “Notes on The Song of Solomon” by Anton Frey in the Bible Student Library CD:
Solomon, expecting to be gone from her immediate presence, though within hearing and speaking range, admonishes her to remain in the beautiful and fragrant gardens. It would be from these that she should be able to maintain communications with him, though not able to actually see him. He went to make the final preparations for the taking of her to her new home; there, to make her his bride, his wife! Already, some of her belongings have been transported to the Palace—the treasures, which she wishes to keep with her, forever and a day! As she now waves to him, she says, very earnestly, “Make haste, my dearly beloved, be like the roe, or the young hart upon the mountains of spices”—return speedily for me, for I can scarcely wait!
The words of the “espoused virgin” at this time, are not any different from those she has uttered to her beloved “Solomon,” from the very beginning of the Gospel age; for they do most beautifully express her hopes—“Come quickly, Lord.” She would have Him be swift, like the roe, or the young hart. She has already told him that she would eagerly be awaiting him—his return to take her to her heavenly home, where he will make of her, his bride, the Lamb’s wife! How she does look forward to the day when he shall change her name to his—“Jehovah Tsidkenu”—the Righteousness of Jehovah (Jeremiah 33:16; 23:6). Her bridal garments are all in readiness (Psalm 45:13, 14) and, already, some of her treasures (tokens of his love given to her during their period of courtship) have been transported to the Royal Palace! Is this not also, the significance of the Master’s words, “I go to prepare a place for you”? (John 14:2) “Come quickly, Lord,” she says… He responds, “I (shall indeed) come quickly” (Rev. 3:11, 22:7); and to which, her final salutation is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Let us strive to be worthy of a love so great and tender as His [Christ’s]. Let us seek ever and always to glorify Him before others; and, never, no, never, prove ourselves unworthy! Contemplate… the transcendency of His love; think upon what He has declared He thinks of His beloved: then, endeavor, more and more, to grow into the image and likeness—His “Ideal”!
Hebrews 10:37 —
“35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
2 Peter 1:12 —
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”
The three “stepping stones” to understanding Christ’s invisible presence and “parousia” which IS (part of) “the present truth” which the Apostle Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 1:12 are: 1260, 1290, and 1335 and these numbers are prophetic markers all found in both the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.
Bro. 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.
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.
Suggested Further Reading —
Click on the links below for the specified article/content matter.
This testimony sonnet is for you written, For praise to God, through Christ who was smitten, To comfort those mourning for righteousness sake— Suffer for Christ, your election sure to make!
Some still remain who need to hear, For ’tis not too late with Christ to share. With fortitude and strength divine from above, Present on the altar every labour of love.
Let us, begotten of Him, overcome the world, Layer upon layer of character, impearled. Should this cause many a tear to flow, It will be mingled with Christ-like joys, we know.
Often, when the head is bowed low, And tears in anguish like a waterfall flow, With no courage in self, nothing good within, “Depend on God for mercy and grace,” we sing.
Dead to the world, we feed the New Mind, Sharing God’s precious Truth with various kind. Could we keep the promises of the glorious Word, Only for self? Letting God’s Plan be unheard?
As we trumpet Christ’s Millennium soon to come, As ambassadors, sharing the hope now to some, Opposing us the world, flesh, and devil, these three, From these tempters let our conduct be free.
If told to stop sharing the Kingdom to come, Booklets or tracts dust-binned by some, Rejoice, dear pilgrim, keep carrying your cross, Even if those served count your words as but dross.
Why should we flee, terrified of man, when reviled? Is not this a test for those reconciled? All previous instruction through God’s Holy Scriptures, Helps us in such moments to be counted as victors!
Are not these trials the opportunities prayed for, Without them, what testimony of sonship, and more? The answer may follow through unbidden tears. How God’s mercy does strengthen us through these carnal years.
Are not tribulations what our Lord has forewarned? It would cost, the consecrated, all that we owned! To be worthy of belonging to Christ alone, Means sharing his sufferings, to the world unknown.
God understands the sum of your tears perfectly, Each drop in a jar labelled “shame,” mournfully, Others fallen to one labelled “ridicule and scorn,” But Christ’s name on our foreheads, will forever be worn!
Those who sow in tears for righteousness now, Shall reap fullness of joy when fulfilled is our vow. When, later, the Truth floods each heart and mind, Then your clay jar of tears, will Christ to them remind.
If your tears have been your meat, both day and night, Rejoice in afflictions, walking in Christ’s light. They prepare you for glory beyond all comparison, Patiently accept them, kindly, like a good Samaritan.
As we continue for Jesus, representing his cause, Man cannot stop us declaring, even through closed doors. As martyred for Truth’s sake were the apostles, but John, Through tears may your trumpeting “ALL FOR JESUS” go on!
Put your trust in Jehovah to overcome all fears, Our Master in Gethsemane, offered loud cries and tears! Jesus was heard for his reverence, by One above who all sees, Things misinterpreted by man — so please be at ease.
It is our Heavenly Father whom we are to please, If dimly considered by even friends, and trustees, Job’s friends gave him scorn, while he “poureth out … unto God,” So you, put your confidence, in the power of His rod.
Aaron’s rod reminds us, antitypical under-priests, Of our privilege of service, which our heavenly joys increase. Be productive, put on the fruits of Christ-likeness, To become heavenly “stars” in Christ’s brightness.
Recognizing in each experience a divine appointment, Changing from glory to glory since our sanctified anointment. Each labour to deaden all of self-will, Leads the heaven-bound follower, God’s will to fulfil.
Now hidden in a jar, our tears soon will be no more, When in glory and immortal, we are united with Christ. When the Day of Sacrifice soon is complete, Beyond the vail then gathered, all the Gospel’s true wheat.
Whom they once pierced, Israel shall finally recognize, Accepting Christ as Messiah, no more false surmise, Tears then of joy will stream down their face, For God’s Spirit shall be poured upon all by His grace.
Then God shall wipe away tears from all eyes, No longer Adamic sin will cause all to die. With minds then brightened with Godly righteousness, Mankind will learn, and then show, their own faithfulness.
When tears shall turn into JOY FOR ALL, Then tears no more shall ever again fall. Jehovah’s Universe shall eternally stand, God’s glory will then forever expand!
O, how the Apostle bore the burden of the Church’s peace and tranquillity upon his heart as he languished in dungeon dampness, or spent the days in weary toil, making tents that he might continue spending and being spent in the service of the Church he loved so intensely, until he had been literally poured out as an offering on the sacrificial altar of devotion to them! And how sympathetically we may enter into his disappointments and anxieties as again and again he is reminded of the immaturity, carnality and contentiousness of so many for whom he would willingly die, as we see those burning tears of affection blinding his afflicted eyes as he laboriously pens his fervent entreaties to these bickering, factional brethren! Our tears must flow in unison with his and for the same reason that today as in his day the unity of the faith is so often marred or disrupted by the same things.
But there were bright and happy experiences mingled with St. Paul’s frequent disappointments, oases in the way, where the seeds of truth had fallen and germinated, producing the luxuriant greenness that shone out in pleasing contrast to all the barrenness around, where the Gospel of Christ had been permitted to exercise its grace and power and make manifest its sanctifying, ennobling, maturing effects. If in writing to the Corinthians he must reprove and lament and deplore much of what he found there, not so in writing to the Thessalonian brethren. To these dear brethren he could write with the strains of our text as a sweet melody in his heart, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” He could point to these faithful brethren who had always been loyal, responsive, and reciprocative as a living testimony of the Gospel’s fruitage. We may again share with him his joy as he remembers the operations of grace in his own life, of all that “seeing Jesus” had meant to him personally, and of his energetic enthusiasm to make Him known to others; and we can enter into his joy as he writes these precious sentiments of commendation and love, “And you followed the pattern set you by us and by the Master, after you had received the message amid severe persecution, and yet with the joy which the Holy Spirit gives, so that you became a pattern to all the believers throughout Macedonia and Greece. For it was not only from you that the Master’s message sounded forth through Macedonia and Greece; but everywhere your faith in God has become known so that it is unnecessary for us to say anything about it” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8, Weymouth). “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (Verse 3).
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, 4).
“These prospective kings and priests are urged to look away from the afflictions and persecutions incidental to their sacrifice and loyalty to Christ; that they look to Jesus, the author of their faith, who is also to be its finisher; that they remember his example and what he endured and that everyone whom the Father accepts into the house of sons under this call must expect to have chastisings, disciplines and various testings of faith and obedience for the development and crystallization of character.” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, R.4513).
Here is an overview of the written content from the video “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this post.
In recent times Television and Radio news commentators, have filled our consciousness almost daily with catastrophic events happening throughout the world. Who can forget the tragic collapse of the twin towers on November 9th, 2001, when thousands of innocent people lost their lives because of a hand full of terrorists. Earthquakes are increasing at an alarming rate all around the world, which in turn, often produce the heart wrenching scenes of Tsunamis, wiping away entire cities with tens of thousands of lives lost in Indonesia, and the more recent one in Japan. The world is plagued with terrorist attacks. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought not against conventional armies, but suicidal terrorists. Throughout the Middle East we see people uprising in revolt against their nations leaders. The masses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and many other countries, are held down in poverty and oppression of rights. As a result, they demanded the removal of all their corrupt leaders, and governments. Other countries are worried that terrorists or radical governments might acquire a nuclear weapon to destroy their enemies resulting in a nuclear holocaust.
Armageddon In The News
These catastrophic events and increasing threats are resulting in the Medias News anchors using the term Armageddon ever more frequently. People are wondering if all this trouble is an indicator that we are approaching Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation?
In Revelation 16:13-20 (ESV) we read:
“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Political power under the influence of Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [Papacy – the Roman Catholic Church], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the Church of England and their Protestant allies]. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Strongs 717 – “the hill or city of Megiddo”]. (17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
The destruction in Armageddon is highly symbolic picture language. By many, the word Armageddon has come to be misunderstood as a final great cataclysmic event that will destroy by fire the heavens and our literal planet earth, together with all remaining unbelievers. Let us explain in relation to the words of 2 Peter 3:10.
This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.
The Heavens and The Earth
The heavens being destroyed couldn’t possibly be referring to the literal heaven of God’s abode or the billions upon billions of stars in the starry heavens above as in this NASA deep space shot, in which each speck of light is not a star, but a galaxy.
Nor could the destruction of the earth be referring to our literal planet earth on which we live, for notice God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 1:4.
This scripture is a plain easy to understand literal statement. The earth will abide forever!
How then, can 2 Peter 3:10 be understood which says the earth will be destroyed by fire?
Since the Bible was inspired by God, we realize it must be harmonious with itself. Hence, the heavens and earth that are to be destroyed can only be understood in a symbolic sense.
We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this present evil world.
“In their case the god of this [evil] world [the Adversary] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Thus, the symbolic heavens and earth that will be burnt up with fire, refers to the destruction and removal of all the works of injustice and iniquity of Satan’s evil empire.
All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed inArmageddon.
The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.
God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteousone. This new heavens and earth refers tothe kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.
We notice God’s kingdom for which we pray for, is going to be right here on earth.
Thus the new heavens isn’t referring to a new literal heaven, but to the new spiritual ruling power of “The Christ,”that will govern over a new earthly society. Not a new planet, but to a new holy righteous kingdom here on earth.
A Great Time of Trouble
A great time of trouble will remove this present evil order. Yet, let us take note what immediately follows after—a great time of blessingto mankindhere on planet earth! The kingdom of God!
Psalm 46 speaks of the time of trouble that will melt the earth at the end of the age. It begins with giving comfort to his faithful people as the trouble time approaches.
This is the same end time trouble referred to in Revelation and in 2 Peter chapter 3. The elements melt as he brings desolation or destruction to earths evil social structure. But now notice what immediately follows in the very next verse after the symbolic earth melts from the heat of trouble.
After the symbolic melting of earth, the earth is still here!
God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. It’s God’s kingdom time, the time God will be exalted among the nations.
And where are the nations? God says, “I will be exalted in the EARTH!”
Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.
The previous melting, was only symbolic of the destruction of Satan’s evil empire that will be removed, and replaced with God’s kingdom. Similarly we read about this in Zephaniah 3: 8,9.
Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:
After the removal of the present evil order of society, the kingdom of blessings will immediately follow.
All mankind will be gradually raised from the tomb of death, and will be instructed with a pure language, that is a pure and true understanding of God’s word, his plans and His will for mankind to follow in order to go on to receive everlasting life.
Now we come to our theme text of Haggai 2:6-8 (KJV).
“(6) For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; (7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory,saith the Lord of hosts. (8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.
This is prophetic of the same shaking of Armageddon and the end time of trouble that will remove Satan’s empire—the present symbolic heavens and earth. But again, let us notice what immediately follows in the very next verse!
“‘(9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.’”
What a glorious precious promise!
After the trouble, the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth will come. A time when THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME when they are raised from the tomb in God’s kingdom.
What is the desire of all nations, of all people?
→ peace → health → freedom from all fear and anxieties, → EVERLASTING LIFE!
The opportunity for all these and more is what God has promised for all mankind in God’s promised Kingdom on earth.
One might ask, then, if God intends “the desire of all nations” to pass, then:
WHY did God not do this from the very beginning of Creation?
WHY has God allowed man to suffer pain, sickness and death for thousands of years?
In order to find the answer to this universal question, may we suggest that for a few moments we try to imagine ourselves being God! That’s rather difficult but let us give it a try! Imagine having just finished creating the Angelic host and all the stars, galaxies and planets.
Let us try to envision our beginning to contemplate creating a new human race of intelligent beings. Our first thought might be that of creating him in such a way that it was impossible for him to ever do anything wrong, for in this way, humanity will live forever never having any pain or sickness.
But upon further thought, we may realize no, this would not be good because then humans would be mere robots, programmed to love God rather than truly desiring from their own hearts to love God.
We would want our children to love and obey us because they want to, not because they have to without any choice.
We would want them to have a mind of their own, to have freedom to make their own decisions.
As we consider various possibilities, we gradually develop a fantastic plan. A plan that:
is kind andloving!
provides for freedom of choice!
teaches our children to learn by experiencing right from wrong!
provides an opportunity to live forever in perfect happiness.
allows our children to love and serve us, not because they have to with no choice, but because they love us for what we are, and for what we provide for them.
This is the plan of God that he provided for his new human family. As we further consider that plan, we will see that it is the most loving, most just, most reasonable plan for mankind that you could ever imagine.
Adam and Eve in Eden
When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a simple test:
Obey and live, or disobey and die.
God knew Adam would fail his test, because of a lack of experience, but Godpermitted it as an act of love for man’s ultimate greatest eternal blessing.
Man was to learn from experience to discern right from wrong and also to experience the disastrous effects of disobedience so that…
after evil is eradicated, for eternity the lessons of the past will serve as a reminder of what JOYS REMAIN ETERNALLY for all who OBEY the Heavenly Father’s principles.
The Scriptures promise, that very soon every single one who has ever lived will gradually be raised from the sleep of death in God’s promised kingdom.
In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For asin Adamalldie, even so in Christshallall be made alive.”Notice ALLwill be made alive. This includes every man, woman and child that has ever lived on the face of the earth… Jew, Arab, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, good or bad… ALL are promised to be made alive in God’s kingdom!
Because the one perfect man Adam sinned, the death penalty came upon him and all of us as his children. But God’s love provided for another perfect man Christ Jesus, to give his life as a ransom to redeem father Adam. Thus, it was Jesus’ ransom merit that provided the legal basis for justice to be satisfied, and allow everyone that has ever lived to be resurrected from the dead.
The KEY to understand God’s ultimate plan for his human creation is to recognize that the scriptures teach that there are two salvations for mankind:
A heavenly salvation.
An earthly salvation.
Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.
It is to this earthly kingdom that ALL the remainder of mankind (the good and the bad) will be raised in the 1000-year Millennial kingdomof God. As each one will be raised from the dead in this kingdom, they will be guided and instructed in the laws of the kingdom. They will be given every opportunity to gradually change their ways to develop Christ -like qualities.
By that time, all mankind will have experienced the great contrast between disobedience (prison) and obedience (joyful life). Thus, with experience being the best teacher, this vast contrast will enable most of mankind to pass their individual test and go on to live forever in perfect happiness.
A Foretaste of the Future
We can see that the plan God has adopted for his new human creation will result in most all of mankind loving and obeying their Creator for all eternity, not because they have to with no choice, but because they want to with all their being. It will be then that words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:10,11 shall be fulfilled.
With this brief summary of why God permitted evil for man’s ultimate good, let us note a few of the many Scriptures that describe the blessings of what the kingdom of God will be like.
In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:
“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose… Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped… Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert… and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calfand the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them”(Isaiah 11:6, NIV).
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (Kingdom), for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”(Isaiah 11:9).
“He will destroy in this mountain [kingdom,] the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9, RSV).
After the shaking trouble of Armageddon, truly “the desire of all nations shall come” in God’s glorious kingdom!
Signs of The Time of the End
Since Jesus died so long ago, one might wonder when will this resurrection take place and the kingdom of God be established? The disciples asked Jesus this very same question in the 24th chapter of Matthew:
Jesus proceeded to outline evidences that would enable those who were watching to recognize when this time would be.
Matthew 24:21,22—“For then shall be great tribulation,such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”
But someone might say, there has always been trouble, and people often feel it is worse than ever before. What makes our present day trouble, a special sign? What makes it a special sign is the last phrase,
“And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.”
Recall for a moment the devastation that took place in Hiroshima Japan on August 5th1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.
Over 200,000 people died and countless others were injured with radiation burns.
By today’s standards that bomb was relatively small. Its destructive power was the equivalent of exploding only 13,000 tons of TNT explosive.
On October 30, 1961 Russia exploded a test hydrogen bomb, that had the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT—3,846 times greater explosive powerthan the one bomb on Hiroshima!
Today there are eight countries that have nuclear warheads: China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. There are currently about 31,000 nuclear warheads owned by these eight countries. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5000 million tons of TNT. That’s 200,000 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!
We can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign of the end of the age when he said:
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22).
Never before in the history of man would it have been possible to destroy all life on earth. Today there are enough nuclear warheads to destroy all flesh on earth many times over. But how thankful we are God has promised the trouble will be shortened. And when Satan’s present evil heavens and earth are removed, they will be replaced with the new righteous heavens and earth of God’s kingdom.
In the book of Daniel, God gave us additional signs to know where we are in the stream of time.
“And at that time shall Michael [Jesus] stand up, … and there shall bea time of trouble, such as never wassince there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1-4, KJV).
Again a great time of trouble like never before, but note what will come after the trouble in the next verse… THE KINGDOM TIME!
“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, (2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Daniel 12:1,2).
The resurrection of the dead will begin!
Then in verse 4, God gives us two more signs to help us know when this time of trouble followed by the kingdom would be. It wasn’t going to be in Daniel’s day, but in “the time of the end.”
We have witnessed both of these signs. Think for a moment how fast knowledge is increasing. The accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, a period of 150 years, redoubled again in just 50 years by 1950, redoubled again in 10 years to 1960, and again in 8 years to 1968.
The telephone, electric light, automobiles, sound recording, radio, television, jet airplanes, modern appliances, computers, space travel, trips to the moon, cell/mobile phones have been changing so rapidly we can’t keep up. And now with the internet—via a press of a button—information about any topic from around the globe can be accessed.
The “increase of knowledge” was one of the signs Daniel gave us of the nearness of the kingdom of God and it made possible the next sign Daniel gave us: “…many shall run to and fro!” (Daniel 12:4, KJV).
Are we not running to and fro today?
Think for a moment how just a little more than 100 years ago, man’s common transportation for thousands of years was a horse and buggy. Sir Isaac Newton was scorned by his peers when he predicted man would someday travel at speeds of 50 miles per hour. Little did he realize that man would fly across the ocean at 1300 mph and travel through space at 25,000 mph.
“Many shall run to and fro”—this is certainly our day! Another evidence that we are on the very brink of the establishment of God’s Kingdom!
The Fig Tree
Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus gave another very important sign that would indicate the time of his 2nd presence and the end of the age in Matthew 24:32-34.
“32 Now learn a parable ofthe fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
From many Scriptures throughout the Bible we realize the fig treealways represents the nation of Israel. Leaves sprouting on a tree is a sign that the tree has sprung to life after a dormant winter. Thus, what Jesus was actually telling us, is that when we see Israel come alive as a nation after being without a homeland for thousands of years, then we will know that God’s kingdom is right at the door.
Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!
As we recall the past, we see how Israel as a people were dispersed among all nations, persecuted bitterly, having to live in Ghettos, hunted and exterminated as undesirables. Yet Israel’s hope was strong in God’s promises of a return to their homeland.
We recall the words uttered so often by Jewish people, “next year in Jerusalem.”
This hope was fulfilled in an historic miracle of our day, after thousands of years without a homeland.
By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.
In war after war, outnumbered 100 to one, the tiny Israeli forces could not be overpowered.
And so it has continued to this day because God’s time clock has struck, for Israel to return to their land!
The Fig tree has blossomed!
Remember this was a sign Jesus gave to show the nearness of his kingdom. The Apostle Luke adds something in his account that makes our faith even stronger, writing the following words:
If the Fig Tree pictures Israel, “all the trees” would refer to other nations.
So Luke is telling us that together with Israel putting forth leaves (springing into life), many other nations would be putting forth leaves—sprouting into existence. And when we see this happen we would know the kingdom of God was near at hand. What does history tell us? It ties in exactly with Israel becoming a nation.
Up until 1945 the number of independent nations in the world remained relatively constant for centuries. A total of 70 were in existence in 1945. But since the ending of the 2nd World War in 1945 notice what’s happened! Today, there are 196 nations! More than 125 new independent nations have sprung into being which previously were held as colonies. Yes, Israel simultaneously with other nations has put forth leaves, sprouting into existence! We are the ones who have witnessed the fulfillment of this!
Let us recall what Luke and Matthew told us:
“When ye see these things come to pass, know ye the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).
“When ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).
What a thrill to our hearts to realize this means we are on the very brink of the greatest event in all human history—the establishment of God’s Kingdom!
If this is so, then why all the continued trouble?
This is again in fulfillment of prophecy. For just as a contractor must remove an old structure from a building site, before he can build a new skyscraper, so with God. He must first remove Satan’s present corrupt systems of society, before they can be replaced with Jehovah’s kingdom of blessings.
Notice how this was portrayed in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2:31-45 Daniel interprets a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that pictured the four Universal World Empires,and their removal. Here are three images to explain the image according to Bible prophecy:
The stone that struck the image—pictures how God’s kingdom will grow and fill the whole earth. This prophetic dream is in essence, another symbol of the removal of the present corrupt heavens and earth being replaced by the new heavens and earth of God’s kingdom, which will fill the earth with blessings.
Then in verse 44 of Daniel 2, we are given another prophetic corroboration of 1914 as the time when the stone of God’s power initially strike the image beginning the “time of trouble” which will be culminated in Armageddon.
We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.
Thus this Scripture is telling us, that when the kings still existed in 1914, it was God’s initial kingdom power that struck a blow which startedthe time of trouble.It started to break in pieces the monarchies and colonies of the kingdoms, and the breaking down process will continue until it ultimately removes all the kingdoms in Armageddon.
God’s plan is truly the most kind, the most loving, the most just, the most blessed and reasonable plan for mankind, that you could ever imagine.
We leave you with one of the most precious closing verses of the book of Revelation. Earlier we consider Revelations reference to Armageddon. But now notice how Revelation’s closing promises show us that Armageddon is not the end, but in reality it’s the prelude to the beginning of the new heavens and earth, the most glorious time period awaiting you and me and everyone that has ever lived—God’s Kingdom!
Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!
Br. George Tabac—The content for this post is based on Br. George Tabac’s script of his video titled “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed on the BibleTruth411 YouTube channel, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAnPWMXrW0
When down hearted and discouraged At the trend of life’s affairs, Seek,alone, the quiet places; Give yourself to earnest prayers.
There’s a hint for us, emphatic, In the way our Savior walked; In the open, solitary, Oh, how oft with God he talked.
For all troubles that infest the Pilgrim’s tortuous, earthly way, Holy Writ sets forth the antidote— Importunately pray.
I rejoice that God has told us Always, how to overcome; How the victory is realized, The finished fight is won.
We may often feel dejected, But we never need despair, If we seek, with Christ, the mountain, There to wrestle long in prayer.
Pray until the heavens’ open, And the earth recedes from view; Till in all our fiery trials, God’s grand purposes shine through.
THE PRAYERS OF THE NEW CREATION
PRAYER TO GOD, communion with Him, is a great privilege and an evidence of His favor. God does not grant us this privilege, however, in order that He might be informed of our desires, for since we are imperfect ourselves our desires cannot be perfect: “We know not what things to ask for as we ought;” and He does for us better than we know how to ask or think. Nor does God permit us to pray to Him that we may inform Him regarding matters here; for He knoweth the end from the beginning, as well as every intervening step. But He has instituted prayer for our benefit and comfort and instruction.
The object of prayer is to bring the heart and the mind of the child of God into contact with the heart of God, that he may be enabled thus most fully to realize the Fatherhood of God, His love and His deep interest in every item of our welfare; that in deep affliction we may unburden our hearts to God and thus have forcibly brought to our attention His love and care and wisdom—for our encouragement, not His; for ourstrengthening, not His, and for our joy.
This opportunity is not for us to instruct Jehovah how to arrange matters for the best, but to bring our hearts to realize Him as the Center of wisdom and power, that having unburdened our hearts, we may be prepared to listen for His answer and advice through His Word. And he whose knowledge of prayer is confined to the meager information he has imparted to God with “much speaking,” and who has never learned to listen for the answer to his prayer from the Word of God, has, as yet, measurably failed to appreciate the object of prayer.
Earnestness in God’s service will bring His children to Him frequently, to realize at His feet His sympathy with them in the difficulties, discouragements and trials of life, as well as to ask His guidance and overruling of every affair of life, and through His Word to hearken to His wisdom, which will enable them to serve Himacceptably.
The province of prayer is to ask for only such things as God has already declared Himself well pleased to grant. And while we may freely speak to Him as a Father, and tell Him how we understand His Word, and the confidence and trust we have in its ultimate fulfilment, yet we must not only avoid telling the Lord of our will and our plans, and what we would like, but we must avoid and put far from us any such spirit, and must recognize, and bring ourselves into full accord with His will and His plan for accomplishing it. If this thought were appreciated, it would cut short some of the “long prayers,” “much speaking,” and “vain repetitions” by which some endeavor to instruct the Lord in their wishes regarding every matter under heaven. It would send them speedily to the Word of God to search diligently the Plan of God that they might labor as well as pray in harmony with it.
While assuring us that the Father cares for us, and is well pleased to have us come to Him with sincere hearts, the Master informs us of the conditions upon which we may expect an answer. He says, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”—John 15:7.
“ABIDE IN ME”
The conditions of the above statement, or promise, are two; the first is, abiding in Christ. But what is it to abide in Christ? Only those can abide in Christ who are in Christ, who have come into Him by faith, repentance andconsecration; and to abide in Him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and the opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and His service will abide, and it will be manifest that our will has been wholly consecrated—swallowed up in the will of Christ.
The other condition is also a weighty one: “If My Word abide in you.” Ah! how evident it is that our Lord meant to associate Himself and His Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, in the lives of all who are truly His! They must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord; to know what He has promised and what He has not promised; to know what they may ask and what they may not ask; and, ascertaining these, one fully consecrated—one controlled entirely by the will of God—will not want to be, to have, or to do anything except that which will be pleasing to the Lord in respect to himself.
When this position has been reached, the will of Christ governing him, the words of Christ abiding in him, we can readily see that whatever would be asked by one thus well informed with respect to the Divine promises and fully submissive to the Divine will would be things which the Father would be pleased to grant in answer to his requests.
These requests would probably be as simple as was the Master’s petition when He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine, be done!” (Luke 22:42.) In such a condition prayers are always answered; but in such a condition the prayers would be very modest. One’s prayers under such circumstances would be more a thanksgiving for blessings, an expression of confidence and trust, and the committal of his way unto the Lord, confidently realizing the promise that to him under such conditions, all things (even seeming disasters and troubles) shall work together for good. Hence, whatever came, such a one could realize his prayer answered. He could rejoice evermore because he is prepared to rejoice in tribulation as well as in prosperity, in the path of service. He has no will to oppose whatever God permits, knowing that it will work out good.
Such, amongst the Lord’s people, could not pray that their own will be done; for they have no will except God’s. Those who abide in Christ, and in whom His Word abides, can pray for their enemies and those who despitefully use them and persecute them, though they cannot pray God to open the blinded eyes of their enemies at once, nor in their way. Realizing from the indwelling Word of God’s promise that the blinded eyes shall all be opened to the Truth, they can abide His time. Going to God in prayer they may express their forgiveness of their persecutor, their interest in him, and their patient waiting for the day when “the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea”—ocean deep—and His will shall be done on earth even as it is done in heaven.—Isaiah 11:9.
ANSWERS OFTEN DELAYED
The answer to our prayer is not always granted immediately; but after we have made sure that our requests are in accord with the promises, those things which lie very close to our hearts become our continual prayer, associating in our minds with all of life’s duties and interests, the heart gravitating continually toward the thing we have desired of the Lord, and on suitable opportunities repeating to Him the request. This is the kind of prayer which the Lord commended, saying, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1.) The Lord’s people ought to continue asking for the right things with some degree of persistency, and should not grow weary, hopeless, faithless, faint in their hearts.
Doubtless there are many reasons why the Lord does not promptly grant all of our requests which are in accordance with His will, in harmony with His Word. We may not know all of these reasons; but some of them are apparent. Undoubtedly one reason for the Lord’s delay in answering us is often to test the strength and the depth of our desires for the good things that we request of Him.
For instance, He informs us that He is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to us who ask than are earthly parents to give good things to their children. Yet the giving of His Holy Spirit is a gradual process; and we are enabled to receive it only in proportion as we are emptied of the worldly or selfish spirit. It requires time to become thus emptied of self and prepared for the mind of Christ; in some it requires longer for this than in others; but all need emptying in order to receive the refilling.
He that seeketh findeth, but the more he seeketh the more he findeth; to him that knocketh it shall be opened, but his continual knocking and his increasing interest in the knocking means his increasing desire to enter, so that as the door of privilege, of opportunity, swings slowly open before him, his courage and his strength increase as he seeks to avail himself of the opening. Thus every way the blessing is greater than if the Lord were to answer the petitions hastily.
We are to think of our Heavenly Father as rich and benevolent, kind and generous, yet wise as well as loving. We are to suppose that He will have pleasure in giving us the desires of our hearts if those desires are in harmony with His plan, which He has already framed on such lines as to include not only our very highest and best interests, but the highest and best interests of all His creatures. Then, whatever comes, His well-informed children can have all the desires of their hearts, because their hearts are in full accord with the Lord; and they desire nothing of the Lord except the good things of His purpose and promise.
“DESIRE, UTTERED OR UNEXPRESSED”
When thus considered, not as a begging arrangement, nor as an occasion of instructing the Lord as to our wills, but as a season of union and communion of heart withthe Father, in which we may relieve our burdened or perplexed hearts and realize Divine sympathy, calling to mind Divine promises, reviewing Divine care, and expressing our confidence in God’s many promises, thus bringing those promises afresh and close to our hearts, as though God now audibly uttered them in our hearing—thus considered, how proper, yea, how necessary is prayer to the true child of God! He cannot live without it. To break off this communion would be like stripping a tree of its leaves; their removal would stunt and hinder its development.
But to suppose that Christian life depends solely upon prayer without earnest study of God’s Word, is like supposing that a tree could flourish from its leaves only, without roots and soil. Both are needful. As good soil and roots will produce leaves and fruitage, so, likewise, the promises of God’s Word absorbed by us will naturally lead to good works and to communion with God in prayer, without which the fruits of the Spirit would soon wither and disappear.
No wonder, then, that Jesus both by precept and by example said, “Watch and pray”(Matthew 26:41), uniting the conditions necessary to our development. Some prayand neglect to watch; others watch and neglect to pray. Both these errors are serious; and it is not possible for us to decide which is the more serious neglect, since either would work disastrous loss of the great “prize” for which we are running.
Nowhere is prayer defined as a duty, though its necessity is stated. The Father desireth such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23); and it would be contrary to this principle to define prayer as a duty, and to stipulate a set time or place or a formal manner. The earnestness of the service and the peculiarity of the circumstance will regulate the frequency and the subject matter of prayer.
No form of prayer is furnished in the Scriptures. Even the Master, when asked by the disciples for instruction on the subject, gave them, not a form to repeat, but merely an idea or example of how to arrange their prayers to God. He did not say, Pray this prayer, but, “After this manner pray ye.” Our prayers, then, should be after this manner—not an assortment of extravagant demands, but the simple expression of the earnest heart: first, acknowledging and paying homage to God as our Father, the Almighty and Hallowed One; second, expressing our expectation and trust that His Kingdom is coming according to promise, and our eagerness for it, and for the time when His will shall be done on earth as in Heaven; third, our reliance upon Him for “daily bread,” which He has promised us; fourth, our acknowledgment that our ways are not perfect and of our reliance upon His favor (granted through Christ Jesus) for forgiveness; and our willingness to exercise forgiveness toward our debtors, toward those who trespass against us.
“Israel—A Prince With God.” Reprints of the Original Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence: R.2864. http://www.htdbv8.com/1901/r2864.htm Here is a passage from this Reprint article (R.2864):-
Israel—A Prince With God
Golden Text:—“Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”—Luke 18:1 .
FLEEING from his father’s home, Jacob traveled a distance of nearly five hundred miles to Chaldea, the original home of his grandfather Abraham, where his uncle Laban still lived. His esteem for the promise of God had made him a pilgrim and a stranger, a wanderer from home, just as Abraham’s faithfulness to the call had taken him from home in the opposite direction. While the blessings God had promised to Jacob were earthly and temporal, and in these respects differed from the promises which are made to spiritual Israelites, nevertheless, in order to prove Jacob’s worthiness of the blessings—in order to test his faith in God’s promises, he was permitted to pass through various trying experiences and disappointments. One of these was a love-affair with Rachel, his cousin, for whom he served his uncle in all fourteen years, seven before he got her as a wife, and seven years afterward; his uncle taking a dishonest advantage of him in the arrangement. Nevertheless, we see Jacob’s patience and persistency, and note with pleasure that he never for a moment seems to have doubted the promises of God that he should be blessed as the inheritor of the Abrahamic promise.
“Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” would seem to apply well to Jacob’s career. So energetic was he in Laban’s service, so successful in all that he undertook, so persevering, that his uncle soon considered his service indispensable, and was glad to make favorable terms with him to have him remain and take chief charge of his property. Shrewdly Jacob bargained for an interest in the increase of the flocks and herds, etc., as his salary, and practically became a partner. There was nothing dishonest in his making a bargain with Laban that all the brown sheep and streaked and speckled goats should be his; nor was there anything wrong in his scientifically increasing the proportionate numbers of these colored and speckled animals. Laban became aware, before long, that he had a very capable and shrewd son-in-law, and, moreover, that the Lord’s blessing was with him. He fain would have had him remain permanently in Chaldea, but Jacob’s mind was full of the Abrahamic promise and of the reiteration of that promise to himself in the vision at Bethel, and he desired to return to the land of promise. He surmised, however, not without good cause, that his uncle would use force to restrain him from leaving, or to take from him some of the cattle, etc., which were properly his under the contract, and hence he chose an opportunity for leaving when Laban was absent.
Laban was evidently a powerful sheik, having many servants, and indeed Jacob had become so by this time, as the narrative shows that he was able, shortly after, to give away as a present to his brother Esau, 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 camels, 50 head of cattle and 20 asses. But when Laban pursued, with the full intention of bringing back Jacob, his family and servants and flocks and herds, God interfered, warning Laban in a dream, saying, “Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob from good to bad”—margin. In consequence of this dream, and Jacob’s subsequent fair statement of his side of the case, showing clearly that he had not wronged Laban, but that Laban had repeatedly dealt hardly with him, he was let go on his way in peace.
If we draw a lesson from these incidents respecting ourselves, as heirs of the promises of God, spiritual Israelites, it would be that while our hearts are full of rejoicing in God’s promises we should not expect these to come to us wholly without our effort to secure them. If God has promised us spiritual blessings, we should put forth the effort to attain these, just as Jacob had put forth his efforts to attain the temporal blessings promised him. If adversity seems to go with us, and we meet with disappointments and more or less fraudulent conspiracy to take away from us our spiritual blessings, as Jacob met with disappointment which seemed for the time to interfere with his temporal blessings, we, like him, should patiently wait for the Lord,and trust and hope and labor on, knowing that the Lord will bring out the promised results in the end;knowing that he is on our part, and greater than all they that be against us.
We noticed in previous lessons the peaceabledisposition of Abraham, and also of Isaac, and now we note that Jacob not only left home and abandoned his share in the father’s house, and family property belonging to the birthright he had purchased, rather than quarrel with his brother, but that similarly in dealing with his uncle he refused to quarrel; he submitted himself; he trusted to the Lord to bring out the results rather than to his own strength for a conflict, either mental or physical. The Lord apparently would have the spiritual Israelites learn this lesson: “Seek peace and pursue it;” “Patiently wait for the Lord, and he will bring it to pass.” It is not of God’s arrangement that the spiritual Israelites shouldcontend with carnal weapons; but rather that they should submit themselves to the powers that be, learning the lessons which accompany such submission; and have developed in them the faith, the trust,the hope in God, necessary to a maintenance of their relationship to him, and growth in his grace.
As Jacob and his caravan approached Palestine his confidence in God, and his reliance upon the Lord’s promise to bless him, did not hinder him from taking a wise, generous, reasonable course for the conciliation of his brother. He did not stand upon his rights, and say: I purchased the inheritance, and was obliged to flee from it, and now I am differently situated, and will seek my first opportunity to take from Esau the cattle and substance which he received of my father’s estate which are rightfully mine, and should there be any quarrel in the matter, let him look to his own side, for right is on my side and I may exert as much force as is necessary to obtain it. Quite to the contrary of this, Jacob said to himself: I care nothing for the earthly inheritance, I abandoned that all when I left home, and I do not intend to lay any claim to it, now or ever. I merely got what Esau did not appreciate, and now, if he can come to realize that I am not after the property, it will assuage his wrath, his malice, his envy. On the contrary, I will be generous to him; I will send him a valuable present, thus showing him that so far from wishing to take from him earthly goods I am disposed to give him more. Moreover, I will send such a message by my servants as will show him that I treat him as my superior—my lord, and that I rank myself as his inferior. He shall see that I am neither wishing to take the honors of his birthright nor its earthly emoluments, though all of these were purchased—I resign freely all of these temporal good things and honors, that I may have the Lord’s favor, as represented in the original covenant with grandfather Abraham. He carried out his program successfully, and Esau became his friend. The lesson for spiritual Israelites along this line is,—We should not be sticklers for full justice and the last penny in earthly matters. Rather we may use the earthly mammon generously to make and keep the peace, and to forward our spiritual interests. Our readiness to do this will measure or gauge our appreciation of the spiritual interests, in comparison to which earthly blessings, “Mammon” should be esteemed as loss and dross.
A MODEL PRAYER.
Jacob’s prayerat the time he was anticipating a meeting with Esau is recorded in this lesson, and may be considered one of the best examples of prayer to be found in God’s Word. It is so full ofconfidence and trust in God. It recounts the original promise to Abraham, its renewal to Isaac, and its second repetition to Jacob at Bethel, and the Lord’s promise there given him, that he would bring him again to his home country. It shows the humilityof Jacob’s mind, which cried out, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shown unto thy servant; for with my staff [only] I passed over this Jordan [when fleeing from home], and now I am become two bands [great companies].” He tells the Lord of his fear of Esau, yet shows that his fear is offset by his confidence in the Almighty. It was at this time, and doubtless in answer to this prayer, that the angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob, and so full of faith in the power of God, and in the promise of God was Jacob that he laid physical hold upon the angel, declaring that he would never let go until he got a blessing.
Here, the lesson proper, relating to Jacob’s struggle with the angel, comes in. The angel appeared as a man, as was frequently the case in olden times; Jacob had recognized him, nevertheless, and laying hold of him urged that he as God’s representative, sent to meet him, should give him a blessing. We cannot suppose for a moment that the angel was not powerful enough to release himself from the grasp of Jacob, and hence that the wrestling and struggle between them kept up until the morning light, the angel vainly pleading, “Let me go,” and Jacob as persistently holding on and declaring, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.” We must suppose, on the contrary, that the Lord was well pleased to bless Jacob, and had sent the angel for this very purpose; and that the circumstances were intended as an opportunity to draw out Jacob’s longing desires in this respect; to demonstrate to himself how much he really desired the Lord’s favor, the Lord’s blessing. And when the desired result had been obtained—when Jacob had evidenced the intensity of his desire for harmony with God and such blessing as God alone could give—then the blessing came—Jacob’s victory. Not that Jacob prevailed to get from God, through his angel, something the Lord was not pleased to grant; but that he prevailed to obtain the coveted blessing by manifesting thezeal, the energy,thepatience, and thefaith which God was pleased to see and reward.
The lesson of the spiritual Israelite in this circumstance is in harmony with our Lord’s words, “Men ought continuously to pray and not to faint.”God wishes us to be persistent, and our persistence measures and indicates the depth of our desires.
If the blessing in answer to our prayer does not come in the moment of asking we are to continue “instant in prayer,”—patiently waiting for the Lord’s due time, faithfully trusting him that he is willing to give the blessing which he promised, even though he may for a time withhold it with a view to our becoming the more earnest in seeking it.
Although Jacob was a natural man, not a “new creature in Christ Jesus,” nevertheless his prayer is a model one, in that he did not specify even the earthly things which had been promised him. All he asked was a blessing, in whatever manner the Lord might be pleased to give it. Alas, how many spiritual Israelites seem to have a much less keen appreciation of proprieties in such matters than had Jacob! Many ask and receive not because they ask amiss, for things to be consumed upon their earthly desires—wealth or fame or temporal good things. (James. 4:3.) How many forget that the Lord has already promised to take care of the temporal necessitiesof his spirit-begotten children, and to do for them better than they would know how to ask or to think. How few seem to remember that as new creatures our conditions and desires should be specially for the things that pertainto the new creature, and that it is this class of blessing the Lord invites us to ask for and to wrestle to obtain, assuring us that as earthly parents are pleased to give good gifts to their children, so our Heavenly Father is pleased to give the holy spirit to those who ask him. (Luke 11:13.)
If the Lord’s consecrated people could all be brought to the point where the chief aim in life, the burden of all their prayers, would be that they might have a larger measure ofthe spirit of the Lord, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of the truth, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of a sound mind, what a blessing it would mean!
If, then, they should wrestle with the Lord until the breaking of the day their hold upon him would be sure to bring the desired blessing. The Lord has revealed himself to his people for the very purpose of giving them this blessing; nevertheless, he withholds it until they learn to appreciate and earnestly desire it.
Jacob got the blessing and with it a change of name. He was thenceforth called Israel,which signifies “Mighty with God.” This new name would thenceforth be continually a source of encouragement to him, an incentive to fresh zeal and trust in the one whose blessing he had secured. All of Jacob’s posterity adopted this name. They were all known as children of Israel, or Israelites; for God acknowledged the name as applicable to all of the nation. Similarly, in antitype, we have Christ Jesus our Lord, the true, the antitypical Israel, the one who, through faith and obedience to the Father, has prevailed, has overcome the world and the flesh and the Adversary, and has received the divine blessing as the result of his struggle. He has been highly exalted and is declared now to be prince or ruler of the kings of the earth. He has sat down with the Father in his throne.—Revelation 1:5.
Nor does the analogy end here; for, as Jacob had twelve sons, so our Lord Jesus had twelve apostles; and these, and all who come into Christ through their ministry of the gospel, are accepted as the true, the spiritual, Israel. The same name belongs to all of these that belongs to the Head. As with fleshly Israel there were some who were “Israelites indeed,” and others who were not, but of the synagogue of Satan, in the spiritual Israel there are nominal and real Israelites; and only the latter will ultimately obtain the blessing and be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. And the name, “Victor,” or “Mighty with God,” will be a name which will apply to everyone of the Lord’s faithful ones in the same manner that it applied to Jesus himself. Each one will be required to manifest his loyalty to the Lord, his faith, his trust, and only those who love the Lord and the promise he has made that they will hold on to his promise, and will not let him go without a blessing—only such will receive the great blessing, only such will be able to overcome the world, the flesh and the Adversary. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith”—in God and in his promises.
Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on its perch and never falling off? How does it manage to do this?
The secret is the tendons of the bird’s legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch so tightly.
From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of holding things which are most precious to us—honesty, purity, thoughtfulness, honor, character. That secret is the knee bentin prayer, seeking to get a firmer grip on those values which make life worth living. When we hold firmly to God in prayer, we can rest assured he will hold tightly to us.
“Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.”—Psalm 105:4