“2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3 For you have died,and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).
“8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11, ESV).
Not to ourselves again,
Not to the flesh we live;
Not to the world henceforth shall we
Our strength, our being give.
The time past of our lives,
Sufficeth to have wrought
The fleshly will, which only ill
Has to us ever brought.
No truce with vanity,
Or this world’s idle show;
Lust of the flesh and eye, or pride
Of life, we shall not know.
Dead to the world and all
Its gayety and pride
To its vain pomp and glory be
When he who is our life
Appears to take the throne,
We, too, shall be revealed, and shine
In glory like his own.
Shine as the sun shall we
In the bright kingdom then;
Our sky without a single cloud,
Ourselves without a stain.
Like him we then shall be
Transformed and glorified;
For we shall see him as he is,
And in his light abide.
(1) If, therefore, ye have been raised together with the Christ, the things on high, be seeking, where, the Christ, is—on the right hand of God, sitting; (2) The things on high, hold in esteem, not the things upon the earth: (3) For ye have died, and, your life, is hid, together with the Christ, in God,— (4) As soon as, the Christ, shall be made manifest—our life, then, ye also, together with him, shall be made manifest in glory;
(5) Make dead, therefore, your members that are on the earth—as regardeth fornication, impurity, passion, base coveting, and greed, the which, is idolatry,— (6) On account of which things cometh the anger of God,— (7) Wherein, ye also, walked, at one time, when ye were living in these things; (8) But, now, do, ye also, put them all away,—anger, wrath, baseness, defamation, shameful talk out of your mouth: (9) Be not guilty of falsehood one to another: having stript off the old man, together with his practices,
(10) And having put on the new—who is being moulded afresh unto personal knowledge, after the image of him that hath created him,— (11) Wherein there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, bond, free,—but, all things and in all, Christ: (12) Put on, therefore, as men chosen of God, holy and beloved, tender affections of compassion, graciousness, lowliness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, (13) Bearing one with another, and in favour forgiving one another—if any, against any, have a complaint,—according as, the Lord, in favour forgave you, so also ye; (14) And, over all these things, love, which is a uniting-bond of completeness;
(15) And let, the peace of Christ, act as umpire in your hearts, unto which ye have been called in [one] body, and be thankful: (16) Let, the word of the Christ, dwell within you richly,—in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, with gratitude, raising song with your hearts unto God: (17) And whatsoever ye may be doing, in word, or in work, all things, [do] in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto the Divine Father through him:— (18) Ye wives! be submitting yourselves unto your husbands, as is becoming in the Lord; (19) Ye husbands! be loving your wives, and be not embittered against them;
(20) Ye children! be obedient unto your parents in all things, for, this, is, well pleasing, in the Lord; (21) Ye fathers! be not irritating your children, lest they be disheartened; (22) Ye servants! be obedient, in all things, unto them who, according to the flesh, are your masters,—not with eye-service, as man-pleasers, but with singleness of heart, revering the Lord,— (23) Whatsoever ye may be doing, from the soul, be working at it, as unto the Lord, and not unto men,- (24) Knowing that, from the Lord, ye shall duly receive the recompense of the inheritance,—unto the Lord Christ, are ye in service; (25) For, he that acteth unrighteously, shall get back what he had unrighteously done, and there is no respect of persons;
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.
According to thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember thee.
Thy body, broken for my sake,
My bread from heav’n shall be;
Thy testamental cup I take
And thus remember thee.
When to the cross I turn mine eyes
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my Sacrifice,
I must remember thee.
Remember thee and all thy pains
And all thy love to me;
Yea, while a breath, a pulse remains,
I will remember thee.
Then of thy grace I’ll know the sum,
And in thy likeness be,
When thou hast in thy kingdom come
And dost remember me.
James Montgomery (1771-1854)
James Montgomery was the oldest son of John Montgomery, an Irish minister of the Moravian Church, and was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, on November 4, 1771. At the age of seven he was sent to school at Fulneck in Yorkshire to prepare for the ministry.
It was during his years at Fulneck that his parents were sent to the West Indies as missionaries. Both of his parents died there. He left Fulneck in 1787 and received work as a merchant in Mirfield. Despite his great dislike for the work, Montgomery worked in Mirfield for a year and a half. Then he took a similar position at Wath only to find it quite as unsuited to his taste as the former. He finally set out for London with a copy of his poems in the hope of finding a publisher for them. In this he failed. He did, however, get in touch with Mr. Robert Gales of Sheffield, the owner and editor of the Radical Sheffield Register. Since Montgomery soon shared the views of Mr. Gales, he became co-editor.
When Mr. Gales was forced to leave England to avoid prosecution, in 1794, Montgomery took over the paper and became its owner and editor. Montgomery changed the name of the paper to the Sheffield Iris. During the first two years of his editorship Montgomery was imprisoned twice in the Castle of York and fined, once for three months for commemorating the fall of the Bastille and again for six months for reporting a riot in Sheffield. But Montgomery did not remain a strict radical all his life. At the age of forty-three he returned to the Moravian congregation at Fulneck and became an active member.
He was a zealous worker for missions and was an active member of the Bible Society. Montgomery was also a bitter opponent of slavery. He could not forget that his parents had given their lives as missionaries to the wretched blacks of the West Indies. His father’s grave was at Barbados, and his mother was sleeping on the island of Tobago.
Besides contributing poetry and hymns to the world for a period of fifty years, Montgomery lectured on poetry and literature. In 1833 he received a royal pension of $1,000.00 per year. James Montgomery never married. He reached the ripe old age of 83. He died at Sheffield, April 30, 1854, and was honored with a public burial.
He wrote 400 hymns, of which 100 are still in common use. A perusal of almost any English evangelical hymn-book will probably reveal more hymns by this gifted and consecrated man than by any other author, excepting only Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. Among his longer poems are The West Indies, a poem in honor of the abolition of the African slave trade by the British Legislature in 1807; The World before the Flood, 1813; The Pelican Island, 1828.
Henry W Greaorex (1816 – 1858)
Henry W Greaorex was an English-American musician. He was born in Burton upon Trent, England. He received a thorough musical education from his father, Thomas Greatorex, who was for many years organist of Westminster Abbey, and conductor of the London “concerts of ancient music.” He came to the United States in 1839. In 1849, he married the artist Eliza Pratt. Prior to settling in New York City as a teacher of music and organist at Calvary Church, he played at churches in Hartford, Connecticut, including Center Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church in the adjacent city of West Hartford, Connecticut. Greatorex frequently sang in concerts and oratorios. For some years he was organist and conductor of the choir at St. Paul’s chapel. He died in Charleston, South Carolina, aged 42 years.
Greatorex published a Collection of Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Chants, Anthems, and Sentences (Boston, 1851). One of Greatorex’s best-known compositions is a setting of the Gloria Patri, widely used in Protestant denominations for the singing of the doxology in services to this day. The words of “Gloria Patri” are:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, Both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The Bible Students’ fellowship does not agree with the false teaching of the Trinity—introduced by the anti-Christ Roman Catholic Church system—that is reflected as the “Beast” in the Book of Revelation. This false teaching that God, Jesus and the holy Spirit are one and the same personification, is not what the Bible teaches. Here is what the Bible teaches about the Heavenly Father—Jehovah, his Son—Christ Jesus and the holy Spirit—the understanding of God—:
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.
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
In Genesis 1:1‑5 (KJV) we are first introduced to the “light” of the sun.
“(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (5) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.“
“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) evidently refers to the light of the sun, which was sufficient for general illumination, but not sufficient to break through the mists to become an identifiable object in the heavens, until the fourth day when it was “appointed” (as the word there can mean), together with the moon and stars (Genesis 1:16). Genesis 1:11 shows that there were already plants and trees on day three, which required sunlight to grow. The sun was in place and burning before the earth was suitable for life.
The Length of Each Day of Creation
The days of creation recorded in Genesis chapters 1and 2 were epoch days of creative activity, of undefined length.
The word “day” customarily describes a normal day of 24 hours, but very often has a broader usage for any defined period of whatever length. For example, Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Here “day” is a period that includes all of the seven days reported earlier.
In Hebrews 3:8, Paul refers to the “provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness”—which refers to a period of years, not a single day.
When we speak of Jesus’ day, we mean a period of history long ago, not a single day.
The work involved in these “days” of creation required lengthy periods of time for the natural processes to reach maturity, or completion.
Zechariah 14:7-9 provides another example, this time from prophecy, of the greater use of the term “day.”
“(7) It shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time [at the close of the Millennial day that spans 1000 years] it shall be light. (8) And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (9) And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”
The metaphorical use of the word “day” is usually apparent from the context.
The Third Day
In John 2:19-22 we read about Jesus being raised on the literal thirdday:
“(19) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (20) Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? (21) But he spake of the temple of his body. (22) When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”
However, if we take the above passage to refer to the metaphorical body of Christ, that is, the body of believers in Jesus, then it is apparent that any application of the three days would be on a larger time frame. In this case the saints are raised on the third millennium from the time of Christ.
In Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV) we read about this “third day.”
“(1) Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (2) After two dayswill he revive us:in thethird dayhe will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (3) Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
In both of these cases—John chapter two and Hosea chapter six—the three days involved are evidently millennial days 4, 5, and 6 as counted from Adam. On the sixth millennium,which includes our day, Israel has been under process of restoration. Jesus’ first advent was in the fourth Millennial day, counting from Adam. Here are those “days”—
(1) 3958 B.C. to 2958 B.C. (2) 2958 B.C. to 1958 B.C. (3) 1958 B.C. to 958 B.C. (4) 958 B.C. to 43 A.D. (5) 43 A.D. to 1043 A.D. (6) 1043 A.D. to 2043 A.D.
The words of Hosea 6:1-3 is thus about natural Israel (not about Spiritual Israel—the Bride of Christ) because in verse one, we read that God has “smitten” them. God has not smitten the Church. But Israel was “smitten” following their rejection of Christ. God did smite Israel during the Roman wars that closed the Jewish Age. They were cast off in 33 A.D., in day “four”from Adam. After the close of day four, and the close of day five, thus “after two days,” they began to be restored in 1878 and forward, on day “six” from Adam.
Three Dispensations in the Divine Plan
There are threelarge periods of time in the Divine Plan. Sometimes these are termed “Dispensations,” because the administration of these three periods varied. Sometimes they are called three “worlds,” drawing from these three scriptures—
World that Was—2 Peter 3:6—Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water [the Flood], perished.
Present Evil World—Galatians 1:4—“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
World to Come—Hebrews 2:5—“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”
Epoch 1 – The World That Was
This epoch lasted from the time of Adam and Eve until the flood. In this period some of the angels were allowed to exercise influence in a way that was later restrained. It was not subdivided into ages because God’s method of dealing with men did not vary from Adam’s fall to the flood. God had given man his law, the law of conscience written into his nature. However, after he sinned God left him measurably to his own downward course, that man might learn through experience the wisdom of God in requiring obedience. The disastrous effects of sin were manifested showing that the tendency of sin is downward to greater degradation and misery, showing the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost”—man’s first estate—would ever be accomplished.
Epoch 2 – The Present Evil World
The second great epoch (Galatians 1:4, 2 Peter 3:7) spans from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom of God. It is under the limited control of Satan, the usurper, “the prince of this world,” who has no interest in Christ’ followers except to oppose, tempt, annoy, and buffet them (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Malachi 3:15).
In this present evil world, or epoch, whoever will live godly shall suffer persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree (2 Timothy 3:12, Psalm 37:35).
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,”and until the era or “world to come” does come, Christ’s kingdom will not control the earth. For this we are taught to hope and pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.” Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,”and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.”Satan now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).
The current epoch is divided into three “ages.”
(a) The Patriarchal Age.God’s dealings and favors were with various patriarchs, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At Jacob’s death his descendants were called “the twelve tribes of Israel.” They were together recognized of God as his “peculiar people,” and through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors.
(b) The Jewish Age (or the Law dispensation).God specially blessed the nation of Israel during this age from Jacob’s death until Christ’s death, as evidenced in the following:
Giving the Israelites His law,
Making a special covenant with them,
Giving them the Tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King,
Sending them prophets,
Sending them His Son, Jesus, who performed his miracles and taught in their midst. Jesus ministered to the Israelites, and instructed his disciples the same during the time that he was with them. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel“(Matthew 10:5,6). Jesus explained, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”(Matthew 15:24).
This national favor ended with their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, as shown by Jesus’ words five days before his crucifixion, “Your house is left unto you desolate”(Matthew 23:38).
(c) The Gospel Age.From Jesus’ death, the good tidings of justification have been heralded for nearly 2000 years not only to the Jewish people, but to all nations; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. During this Gospel age there is a class called to special favor, to whom special promises are made. Namely, to those who by faith accept Christ Jesus as their Redeemer and Lord and follow in his footsteps.
The aim of this age is not to convert nations, butto call out a “little flock” as Jesus foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom in an age to follow this.
The thousand years of Christ’s reign is the first age in the “world to come” (Revelation 20:4). During the Millennial age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19‑21). Then, all tears, sorrow, pain, and death resulting from the fall of Adam in Eden shall have been wiped away (Revelation 21:4). Following this 1000 year Millennium, there will be “a little season”of final testing time for the world of mankind (Revelation 20:3,7-10).
Revelation 11:15 says that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and His Christ [Jesus].”Thereafter our Lord Jesus exercises his power to remove present powers, and establish his Millennial Kingdom in order to bless the world in righteousness.
There are seventrumpet periods in Revelation. The seventh of these commenced in 1874 with the return of Christand his subsequentparousia, or presence. Acts 3:21 connects this to the beginning of the“times of restoration.” There the process of restoring Israel commenced.
At the end of the Millennium will come the close of the seventh millennial“day,” introducing day number eight. At this time there will be “alittle season” for the testing of mankind. Those found unfaithful and rebellious, disobedient to God and His principles, will not continue further. Thus the world is cleansed, purged, “circumcised” as it were, on the eighth day—evidently represented by circumcision of old being on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).
Revelation 11:18, part of the description of the seventh trumpet, refer to the raising of the sleeping saints. “The time … that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets [Jesus’ New Testament spokesmen, compare Ephesians 3:5], and to the saints [holy ones of the Gospel Age].” The Millennium will be introduced subsequent, at the close of 6000 years, which we anticipate about a generation future, with the year 2043.
When that kingdom is established, all of the Bride class will have been gathered to glory, ready to serve as priests and kings with Christ to uplift the world (Revelation 20:6). Gradually allwill be raised to life again, and have an opportunity to gain life everlasting.
Revelation 11:18,19 shows that the transition period into the Kingdom involves a general time of trouble. Evidently this commenced in 1914 with World War I. Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil [plunder] his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house”(Mark 3:22‑27). Jesus has entered the house of the strong man, Satan, and is in process of disrupting his affairs, incident to removing the influence of Satan altogether.
Satan is the “strong man” of the Present Evil World. The disruption of his “house,”and the binding of that strong usurper, is the necessary predicate for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Satan will remain bound for “a thousand years,”allowing the world to grow and learn without the adversary’s deceptions.
“2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”
The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then. It will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous shall flourish”(Psalm 72:7). Then the “obedientshall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9).
Heavens and Earth – Not Literally Destroyed
This earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. Though ages pass and dispensations change, still the earth continues—“The earth abideth forever“ (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
In 2 Peter 3:12, Peter refers to the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”Here “the heavens” symbolize the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and “earth”(verse 10) symbolizes human government and social arrangements.
The first heavens and earth, or social arrangement, ended at the flood, “being overflowed with water” (2 Peter 3:6). “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). The order and arrangement of things then existing ended at the flood. But the physical heavens (sky and atmosphere), and the physical earth, did not pass away.
Likewise, the present social structure, political and ecclesiastical, will pass away in deference to the Kingdom of Christ. The beginning of this work occurs in the “Day of the Lord”which “shall burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1). But the complete integration of mankind into the new arrangement, the “new heavens” and “new earth”(2 Peter 3:13) will require time, as the work of the Kingdom proceeds.
Society will become reorganized in harmony with earth’s new Prince, Christ Jesus. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements give place to the new and better kingdom, based on justice and equity. The more we examine God’s plan of the Ages, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty and order.
“Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”(Ephesians 1:11). Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will” (Br. Charles T. Russell, The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 74).
BE still, and murmur not, poor heart, When God shall lead thee to a “desert place,” And bid thee dwell apart; If ravens in the wilderness Did feed the servant of the Lord, will He For thee, His child, do less?
Nor fear, sad heart, its loneliness, – Hath He not said, “I never will forsake Nor leave thee comfortless?” Have faith, thy Master may design To fit thee thus for Kingdom work and bliss, – And wilt thou then repine?
Be patient, let His will be done; Be calm, be strong, that He may finish there The work He hath begun. “A little while,” He soon will come, And say to thee, “It is enough, my child, My faithful one, come home!”
Psalm 121 A Song of the Ascents. (1) I raise my eyes to the mountains. From where will my help come? (2) My help comes from Jehovah, The Maker of heaven and earth. (3) He will never allow your foot to slip. The One guarding you will never be drowsy. (4) Look! He will never be drowsy nor go to sleep,The One guarding Israel. (5) Jehovah is guarding you. Jehovah is the shade at your right hand. (6) By day the sun will not strike you, Nor the moon by night. (7) Jehovah will guard you against all harm. He will guard your life. (8) Jehovah will guard you in all you do From now on and forever.
Reprint 4311 titled “HELP FROM THE LORD.” The Reprints of the Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
[NOTE: The Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence can be read from the Harvest Truth Data Base website here: http://www.htdbv8.com
Here is an extract from Reprint 4311:
The Lord’s dear people never needed help more than at the present time. The difficulty with some, however, is that they do not realize their need.
“When they are strong, then they are weak.”
“Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”
“Let us fear, lest a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”—Heb. 4:1.
The text reminds us further that those who need help and who realize it should:
Look to the LORD GOD for it— not relying upon their own strength or wisdom nor upon the assistance of their fellows.
We are not to despise assistance from any quarter, but our chief reason for receiving any assistance should be our conviction that it has come from the Lord, whether through the ear or through the eye and the printed page or however.
We are to remember that we are contending against a great Adversary and wily foe, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to conquer, but that our only HOPE is in abiding in the Lord’s love, by seeking to do those things which are pleasing to himand heeding the counsel of his Word and the leadings of his providence.
A little carelessness along these lines, and the Adversary might readily entrap us and ensnare us and then lead us captive at his will. Ah, yes! we have the assurance of the Lord that there is but one place of safety at this time—into which more and more deeply we penetrate day by day. This place of safety is under the shadow of the Almighty,which figuratively signifies very close to the Lord.
“No harm can come nigh that dwelling place,” so far as the New Creature is concerned. Trials, tribulations, slanders may be exercised against us [R4311 : page 14] according to the flesh, but these cannot harm us as New Creatures,nor even disturb our peace of soul, while we are close to the Lord.
WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF SATAN’S DEVICES
Recently we called attention to the fact that the evil spirits, the fallen angels, are to be permitted special liberties in this “evil day”; and that we might expect from them intrusions and deceptions from materializations. But while guarding that point we omitted to note another, perhaps equally dangerous, or more so, because more subtle. This we must consider now. Undoubtedly the fallen angels have had more or less power throughout the past, not merely to obsess or physically possess those who yield their wills, but power to measurably influence the minds of those who would resist them, and always by putting darkness for light. As a notable illustration of this, remember Judas, who, after brooding over the fact that our Lord’s cause was not bringing him great honor and wealth, premeditated shaking matters up, incidentally gaining thirty pieces of silver and arousing our Lord to practically assert himself and take a stand, in harmony with his power.
It was after this brooding that he was still further offended, while he ate at the Lord’s table and said, “Is it I?” And when the Lord had intimated that it was he who would betray him, he became more determined to do so. We read, “Satan entered into him.” His does not seem to be the case of obsession, but rather of domination of the mind. Satan, who had been striving to gain control, got the mastery when Judas was angry with the Lord’s reference to him as a traitor.
Our thought is that the evil spirits have been restrained in considerable measure from intruding upon the minds of men. Otherwise the world would have become Bedlam long ago. But our thought now is that their liberties with the saints will be increased, with a view to the closing test or decision in respect to character, which is now due.
“Judgment must begin at the house of God,” but it is to extend in this hour of temptation or trial to “all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth.” That which will begin with the Church will end with the world, producing the most awful state of affairs imaginable, “A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1.) This power of intrusion will contain, we believe, evil suggestions, promoting slanders and back-biting and temporarily, at least, derange the judgment and lead to violences of various kinds, of which the same person, under other circumstances and conditions would not have thought. In a word, the difficulty will be a dementia of passion, strife, hatred and unreason.
We see evidences along this line at the present time and it is our duty to sound the warning for the benefit of those not already so twisted as to be unable to appreciate the situation. Such manifestations of evil spirits—malice, hatred, envy, strife, evil-speaking, back-biting, slanders, etc., circle around the VOW and those who have taken it, with violence and opposition for which we cannot otherwise account. Those under this influence seem impervious to argument, to reason, but open to every imaginable suggestion of evil. They seem to lose entirely the spirit of love, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of a sound mind… It bids us have sympathy for the deluded ones and be on guard for ourselves.
Some suggestions in this Reprint article are given.
Desiring God’s rule more and more in our own heart, and asking God to keep us humble and in reverential fear to His will lest we should attempt to grasp something which the Lord had not put into our hands.
More carefully than ever, guardevery thought and word and deed to avoid every high imagination and to keep us from saying or writing unkind words.
Strive to daily remember the harvest laborers and to consider our privileges in the harvest work by filling our mind and hands with the work the Lordhad already committed to us.
Be on guard against Spiritism and Occultism in every form.
Our urgency on this subject is similar to that of the Apostle, when he says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable [R4312 : page 14] service.” (Rom. 12:1.) And “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.”
After what we have witnessed of the power of evil operating in the minds of some and producing characteristics which the Apostle denominates “Works of the flesh and the devil,”we can scarcely be surprised at anything which the Adversary might accomplish along these lines. But while we fear lest we should come under any such influence ourselves, and while we watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, we should not be cast down, nor hindered in any measure or degree, in respect to the service of our King.
He is able and willing to keep inperfect peace those who are trusting him, those who are following his leadings and coming close to him, even “under the shadow of the Almighty.”
So then, while still expecting the attacks of the Adversary along the lines of materialization, hypnotism and occultism in general, we perceive that from inoculation of our minds with evil surmisings, saints have probably the most to dread.
How can we be on guard against this insidious snare? The reply is:
By keeping very close to the Lord.
Apparently the least deviation from the principles of righteousness in our thoughts,the least violation of justice or love in our thoughts, would open the way for the enemy to inject poison, leaven, malice, envy, hatred and strife.
Let us remember Psalm 121 and lean on the Precious Promises striving to continually “think on things above” and rest in the shelter of the Most High.
Br. Charles Taze Russell – Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
There are many names and titles of Jesus found in the Bible, and each of them contains a description or illustration of his life and work. Let us examine some of those names, and gain the lessons to be found in the deeper meanings in Jesus’ name.
First, let us look at the most familiar name, Jesus. Matthew 1:18‑23 tells about the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph in a dream explaining to him to call the boy who would be born to Mary “JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” These words directly reference the words of Isaiah 7:14.
Bible dictionaries tell us that Jesus is theGreek form of the Hebrewname Joshua and both these names are English adaptations of these respective forms of the word just as Elisheba (the wife of Aaron, Exodus 6:23) is a Hebrew form, and Elisabeth (mother of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5) is a grecianized form, but both of these names also are English adaptations. The full form of the name Joshua has two parts—Jeho‑shua, or Jehovah‑shua, meaning Jehovah saves. Later, this name assumed the form Jeshua (sometimes pronounced Yeshua), from which came the Greek form Jesus. But the Hebrew origin of the Greek name Jesusliterally meansJehovah saves, or, God saves, and that name was given to our Lord to describe the mission of his life, to save the people from their sins, as we just read in Matthew 1:21.
Why did not Joseph call Jesus’ name Immanuel,like Isaiah prophesied? Here’s where understanding the meaning of names makes everything clear.
The word El means might, strength, power. The Schofield Reference Bible states that God (El) signifies the Strong One. In the Old Testament El refers not only to God, but also to mighty men of earth. The word El was often made part of peoples’ names to include a reference to God. For example, the name Elijah, or El‑i‑Jah, begins with El and means Jehovah is God. The name Daniel, or Dan‑i‑El ends with El and means God is my judge.
“Notice the above texts carefully and critically and all will agree that the context in every case shows the meaning of the Hebrew word Elto be powerful one. How clearly it is stated in the last three quotations that JEHOVAH is the chief “el”and ruleth over all other el—powerfulones. And it should be known to all, that JEHOVAH is the name applied to none other than the Supreme Being—our Father, and him whom Jesus called Father and God. (John 20:17.) The meaning then of the words ‘Mighty God’in our text, is,—He shall be called the mighty powerful. And so he is, for to him the Father has given all power in earth and heaven—(Matt. 28:19, and 11:27.) ‘He is Lord of all’—next to the Father for “The head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3.) They are one in mind, purpose, etc., because Jesus gave up his own will and took the Father’s(John 5:30) just as we must give up our will, mind, spirit and receive the Father’s if we would be made heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.Does any one ask further proof of a distinction of persons? If so we request such to read Matt. 22:44—Jesus’ application to himself of Psa. 110:1, remembering that the words used by David, translated Lord [Master]are totally distinct and entirely different words, the first one being Jehovah, and the other adon. We give Young’s translation of this verse—’The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord—sit at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’” (Reprint 296, Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence)
In the name Immanuel, the suffix ‑El is at the end, which tells us that the word God is part of that name. Bible dictionaries say that the first part of that name, Immanu, means with us. Thus, the entire name means God is with us. Indeed, God was with mankind in that He turned His favor toward mankind when he gave us his only begotten son to be Jesus—the savior of the world.
Since both names, Jesus and Immanuel, convey the thought of God sending his son Jesus to be the savior of the world, what is the deeper meaning of the name Jesus—which the son of man was to be named by Joseph?
It is salvation! But what does “being saved” mean?
Let us first explain what the Bible says is the punishment for sin.
Is it Hell?
No. It is simply death.
The Bible answers in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” God’s punishment upon Adam in the Garden of Eden extends to all of Adam’s progeny, the entire world of mankind, as explained in the following three Scriptures.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17).
“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalms 51:5).
This scripture explains to us that death is unescapable. Right from birth, humans inherited the penalty God imposed upon Adam, and that is whyeveryone dies.
The good news of salvation is all about being saved from death.
What are we saved to, and how? The Bible answers in the following way.
“(3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (4) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3‑6).
“(21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).
The word ransom means a price of release. As by one man’s (Adam’s) sin of disobedience, death came upon him and all mankind, so too, by one man, Jesus, mankind is saved from the just penalty of death. Jesus’ willing sacrifice of his life on the cross provided a ransom, a price of release for Adam and all mankind. The scales of God’s justice remain balanced, yet mankind is allowed relief from the penalty of death. They can be freed from condemnation because Jesus provided the price of release by accepting the penalty upon himself. Mankind may thus be freed from condemnation, and released from death in a resurrection.
Those who come into Christ presently are released from condemnation now. Romans 8:33,34, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Others will have their condemnation lifted during the Kingdom (Revelation 22:3).
Now the deeper meaning of the name Jesus is clear: we have the whole picture of salvation, and its two main features—the ransom and the resurrection. Jesus is the savior of the world because by his ransom sacrifice he saved mankind from death, to a resurrection to life. We also gain a correct understanding of the nature of man, specifically that he is mortal human flesh, and does not have an immortal soul. For if man had an immortal soul that could not die, then there would be no need for the resurrection of the dead, which is so clearly taught in the Bible.
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
What will this resurrection be like, and when? Let us answer that question by considering the five names of Jesus found in Isaiah 9:6,7 (a prophecy of Jesus’ birth, and a scripture we often hear read or even sung in Handel’s Messiah).
“(6) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
(7) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”
The first few words of Verse 6 refer to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The rest of these two verses fast‑forward to a time yet future, as the tense changes from present tense (“unto us a child is born”) to future tense (“and the government shall be”). It is apparent that Jesus’ government, Jesus’ kingdom of peace, is not yet established with judgment and justice. When it is, all mankind will say, this is the government we have always wanted, but never had. This promised government, this kingdom, was the most frequent topic Jesus preached about, during his three and a half year ministry on earth. When Jesus taught his disciples, and us, how to pray in the model prayer, He included these words.
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
In Isaiah 11:9 we read, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
“Mountain“ is used as another word for kingdom or government. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, just as the Apostle Paul wrote in that scripture we read earlier, “God wills that all men will come into a knowledge of the Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus will be mankind’s Counselor, or teacher, in that Kingdom.
When will Christ’s kingdom be established “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)? Examining John 18:36 sheds light on the answer to this question. In the context, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate to answer the charge that claimed Jesus had committed treason against Caesar by claiming to be King of the Jews, which if true would be punishable by death, hence why Pilate put the question directly to Jesus in John 18:33. “Art thou the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence”(John 18:36).
At first reading, it might be thought that Jesus is saying, I am indeed a king, but my kingdom is not of this world, this planet, this earth; my kingdom is in heaven. But that is not what Jesus is saying. A closer examination of the names of Jesus helps us gain a deeper understanding of his life and work. The word world in Jesus’ reply is kosmosin Greek and it means order. When Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this kosmos, he was as if saying, I am not establishing my kingdom now; it is not of this present order, but there is a new world order coming. And when it does, that new world order, that new social order, that new kosmos, will be my kingdom, here on earth.
In relation to the resurrection to life in God’s Kingdom on earth, some sincere Christians believe that this world will be destroyed by literal fire(based on Scriptures such as 2 Peter 3:12) and that only the true followers of Jesus who have done their best to live a righteous life will be saved from destruction by being taken up to heaven.
That is not what this means.
In fact, Ecclesiastes 1:4 says the opposite: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”
How do we harmonize these two seemingly contradictory scriptures?
We do so by recognizing that 2 Peter 3:12 is symbolic. Here the Greek word for elementsis stoicheion, which, like that other Greek word,kosmos, means an orderly arrangement.It is describing the end of the old social order of things in this present evil world, not the end of the planet.
In Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Hebrew word for earth, means the dirt, the planet—these will never pass away.
Jesus will be the world’s Counselor, instructor, teacher, and guide to give assistance and direction, whereby the billions of resurrected people will return to harmony with Jehovah and to the enjoyment of the blessings provided through the ransom.
His name, The Mighty God, or Mighty, Mighty One, will be recognized then, on earth, as well as in Heaven. As the Heavenly, Divine Being he became after his own resurrection, he will have all the power necessary not only to resurrect mankind, but also to bring to pass justice and righteousness for everyone.
The name, The Everlasting Father, will apply to him as the Life‑Giver of the world, during the thousand years of his reign. In all that time he will be giving “life more abundant” to mankind—everlasting life to all who will obey him—therefore his title, The Everlasting Father, or the Father who will give everlasting life to humanity, is a fitting one. All the world of mankind, resurrected on the human plane, will obtain their right to everlasting life as human beings in an earthly Paradise from their Redeemer, who will then be their King.
His name, The Prince of Peace, will not apply to Him at the beginning of His reign when He will be tearing down the old order of this Present Evil World. However, true peace will speedily be establishedand he shall be known as The Prince of Peace, whose reign will be undisputed and uncontested. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end,” there will be no rebellion, and his kingdom will not pass away.
Combining all these names and the future works they reveal to us, his name will be Wonderful—the one who will be recognized by all as the embodiment, the expression, of Divine Justice, Love, Wisdom, and Power. That will be the Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth.”
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Another name or title of Jesus mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.“
The meaning of this title is fairly straightforward, and this scripture also tells us what the other Scriptures have been telling us about Christ’s kingdom, namely, that it is not yet fully established, but will be, in his times, and we believe that time is soon as we will examine a little later.
A Bible dictionary gives the following definition for the name Christ:
(1) Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), regarded by Christians as fulfilling Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, (2)The Messiah or anointed one of God as the subject of Old Testament prophecies.
An ordinary dictionary says that Christ comes from the Latin Christus, which in turn comes from the Greek Khristos, which means anointed. Thus, the name Christ carries the thought of, anointed. We can understand that because we have a few English words derived from Christ which convey the idea of anointing. We speak of babies and even ships being christened, with some ceremonious application of a liquid in the manner of anointing.
So when we say the compound name “Jesus Christ,” we are saying, Jesus Anointed, or Jesus, the Anointed one.
What, then, is the deeper significance of this name of Jesus, Anointed, or the Anointed One?
In Old Testament times, a special anointing oil was prepared according to a formula given by God Himself in Exodus chapter 30. It was to be used only to anoint the persons who were to serve as Israel’s priests, as well as the furniture and utensils used in the sacrifices God commanded the nation of Israel to offer on various occasions. This anointing signified that the ones being anointed wereauthorized to serve as priests. This holy anointing oil was so restricted in its usage, that if anyone used the holy anointing oil for any other purpose, or if anyone concocted an oil like the holy anointing oil, they were to be put to death (Exodus 30:32‑33).
A different oil was also used to anoint Israel’s kings, in a type of inauguration ceremony, to signify the authority of the one being anointed to legitimately assume the office of King. The one doing the anointing was often a prophet whom the people recognized as God’s spokesperson; authorized by God to anoint a king to his office.
We can think of these words anointing, or anointed, as an Old Testament equivalent of what we commonly see today when a president, or governor, or other high official, is sworn into office by placing his hand on a Bible and taking the oath of office administered by a judge or other official.
We now see that this term, Christ, defined as anointed, has a deeper meaning of authorized by God Himself to serve in the capacity or office given to them.
The word “Messiah”comes from a Hebrew term meaning “to smear or anoint.” When grease or oil was applied to objects by Israelites, the commonly used term was “anoint.” However, the name “Messiah” is used in reference only to persons, rather than to “anointed” objects. As mentioned before while discussing the name Christ, persons who were anointed had been appointed and given authority for specific offices and tasks given to them. So, then, “Messiah” is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name, “Christ.”
Since Old Testament times, Jews have been looking for the Messiah to come and fulfill all the prophecies that foretold his work of delivering Israel from their oppression as a people, and their scattering as a nation. Even today, religious and even non‑religious Jews will say something like, “When Messiah comes, Israel will prosper and the world will be a better place.” So the name Messiah has a connotation of delivererto the Jews. This matches nicely with the equivalent name Christ, because ever since Jesus died and was resurrected, Christians have been looking forward to his return, or coming again, as mankind’s deliverer. Thus the name Messiah is associated withJesus’ return. Jews in general do not believe that Jesus Christ is their long awaited Messiah. But when they see the establishment of his kingdom and how it meets and exceeds their grandest expectations, they will.
The restitution, or restoration, of all things meansto restore mankind, and the earth, to the perfection Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.
The spiritual part of the restitution phase has begun since our Lord’s second presence(invisible to the world, but visible by the eyes of understanding to the spirit begotten of the Gospel Age).
The presence of Christ is referred to by the wordparousia in the New Testament, in scriptures such as Matthew 24:3 (where the word “coming” is properly translated “presence”).
Whenmankind is restored to perfection, then they will be tested individually, as Adam was.
If they are obedient they will live—if they are disobedient they will not.
In that future test, mankind will have the enormous advantage of their past experience with sin and its consequences, that will enable them to
choose life through obedience, and pass the test.
This doctrine of Restitution now gives us the third “R” in a trio of precious truths concerning salvation:
Let us now consider our key scripture, Colossians 1:26,27.
“(26) Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Remembering that the anointingrepresents authorization to a work or office, like the priests and the kings of Israel, this passage tells us that Jesus’ close, footstep followers, can be, like he was, anointed or authorized to join him in his kingdom work.
Is not this thought incredible!
The following Scriptures support this:
“If we suffer (with him), we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7).
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”(1 Corinthians 15:53).
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
This means that there are actually two resurrections, and therefore, two salvations (See the HOPE & RESURRECTION posts: PART A, PART B, and PART C).
There is a first resurrection, now during the Gospel Age (from Christ’s ascension until the end of the age of the High Calling, ending six millenniums of the permission of evil), to a salvation of glory, honor, and immortality in heaven (Romans 2:7). This is for the very few who share in Christ’s sufferings by living their lives as peculiar people, a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), following in Jesus’ footsteps.
Then there will also be a general resurrection in the future, on a perfect earth, of the rest of mankind, to a salvation in God’s kingdom.
Why is it taking so long for the Kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for, to come?
Why is it taking Jesus so long to establish his kingdom and do all the things his names imply?
Here is the answer:
Before the general resurrection and earthly salvation can begin, the first resurrection to the heavenly salvation must be complete. Romans 8:19 explains:
“The earnest expectation of the creature [all mankind] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [the completion of the Bride class].”
All this truth is embodied in the name Christ—Jesus, the anointed redeemer, and the anointed class, his footstep followers, who will reign with him as kings and priests in his kingdom.
By examining the several names and titles of Jesus and their meaning, deeper illustrations of our Savior’s teachings, life, and work can be learned.
In the name Jesuswe see his work of salvation, from death to life, which the doctrine of the Ransom teaches us about.
In the names Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting father, the Prince of Peace, we see when that due time when that Ransom will have its fullest effect. It will be in the coming Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” In that Kingdom the resurrection will take place. Everyone who has ever livedsince Adam and Eve were created will be raised from death to lifeby the Everlasting father or life‑giver and taught by that Counselor in the peaceful kingdom where none will hurt anyone else.
In the name Messiah we see the return of Jesus when the spiritual phase of the restitution period begins, after which time shall commence the process of resurrecting, teaching, and guiding mankind back to the perfection enjoyed by Adam and Eve before sin entered the world. Since restitution means to restore to a previous state or condition, here mankind shall be restored to perfect bodies, perfect minds, and perfect characters. After that restitution work is complete, everyone in that kingdom will be equipped and ready to pass the test that Adam failed: obey and live, disobey and die. But this time mankind will have the enormous advantage of experience with sin and its consequences, which will enable them to choose life through obedience, and live.
In the name Christ, which means anointed and is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word Messiah, we see Jesus, authorized by God to be our Savior and to accomplish all things required for the salvation of mankind. More than this, the scriptures tell us that there is also an anointed class of Jesus’ true footstep followers who are also called to be assistants in Jesus’ work for mankind in the kingdom. These footstep followers will have a first resurrection in heaven, following which will come a resurrection for the remainder of mankind on earth. This is the key doctrine of the two salvations.
In learning about Jesus’ life and work, we have gained some key insights into commonly held misconceptions that are not supported by the scriptures. We have seen that there is no Hell of torment, and that man does not have an immortal soul.
[NOTE: The word “many” in the above Matthew 20:28 verse reaffirms that many are involved in being freed from the sentence of death. Thus similarly, in Romans 5:19—manywere constitutes sinnersbut really,ALL of uswere (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8).]
God began to build his bridge, So many years ago; But not the usual kind of bridge, Beneath which waters flow. This bridge began at Calvary, And it is not finished yet; A chasm still exists you see— Conditions must be met.
On this side of the chasm, there is selfishness and sin. On that side of the chasm—only holiness has been; On this side of the chasm, there is greed and what is vile. On that side of the chasm, there is happiness and smiles.
To walk along the Bridge of God, Will take a thousand years; It’s strong enough to take the weight, Of mankind’s pain and tears. There is no need to worry, No need to run and chase; For great and small—yes, everyone, Is invited to a place…
A place where love shall be the law, And everyone a friend; A place where TRUTH the password is, And kindness never ends.
So if upon God’s Bridge you’d tred Look to the one who made— The Bridge of God quite possible, For down his life he laid. Yes, on that hill at Calvary, He died for you and me; He is the Way, the Truth, the Life— The Bridge of God, you see.
Excerpt from Reprint Number 1243-1245, “Views From The Tower,” from “The Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” This reads, as follows:
“The only safe place for God’s children is as far as possible out of all the strife. Remember the statement of the Bible, “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” and lay in a large stock of both. These two qualities will serve to separate you and your aims from the worldly and their aims, ambitions and greeds. Rather be willing to be classed as “old fogy” and “lacking ambition,” and to earn a humbler livingwith godliness and contentment and the great gain of peace of heart, communion with the Lord and some more time to spend in his service, doing good unto all as you have opportunity—especially to the household of faith.
Look at the list below and choose which you will have as your experience. You cannot mix them: an attempt to do so will only discomfort yourself and others. Choose the second list and endeavor to shape your course accordingly.
Ambition for self:Ambition for God:
Malice Brotherly kindness
Strife Joy, Peace
Bitterness of soul Fellowship with God
The Lord says to all, even to those who are not saints: “Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Leave, in general, most of your grievances and wrongs for the Lord to make right.
Trust in the Lord and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed and generally blessed.—Psalm 37:3.
LOVE AS A STIMULUS.
Ah, yes! Love would do instead of ambition and selfishness to push the world along the highway of progress. But how few have pure, unadulterated love. This love is one of the choicest fruits of the spirit of God. It is not, consequently, to be found growing wild in the worldly heart. It is found only very imperfectly developed in Christian people, absolutely perfect in none, and approximately perfect only in a very few—the saints. And of these few we remember that the Lord declares there are not manyrich or great or wise. This “little flock” is mainly composed of the poor of this world (both in mind and in purse),whose only riches are riches of faith.The world will not think of these, their words and examples, but will go on blindly, talking about love and practicing selfishness, hatred, malice and envy, and all the unlovely elements of the spirit which is the reverse of the spirit of love, until the great time of trouble, which God’s Word predicts, shall be precipitated.
While presenting, above, the only course of peace and blessing under the present condition of society governed by ambition and selfishness, we well know that the moderate course will not be pursued. Selfishness, envy, covetousness and hatred are souring the hearts of all classes, except the few in whom the very spirit of gratitude and love and appreciation of the numberless blessings of our day lead to thankfulness of heart toward God, the giver of every good gift.
What lies between the present and that grand perfection for men? The Millennium—a thousand years of discipline under the most just and loving and sympathetic government conceivable; and yet under the strictest rule the world has ever known. This is God’s bridge for spanning the chasm between the present state of sin, selfishness and imperfection and that future state of holiness, love and perfection. Its foundations were laid eighteen hundred years ago [NOTE: today, it is now nearly 2000 years ago] at Calvary—when “the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all;” and soon it shall be testified in God’s due time to all men, and all shall have the fullest opportunity of crossingover by obedience and love to perfection and life by the bridge of restitution, and such alone as will not cross will perish in the second death.
But God’s word reveals, too, that selfishness will be permitted to bring upon men one more final and to many an everlastingly profitable lesson, before the bridge of restitution is thrown open. This lesson will come in connection with the entrance of the world upon the restitution age, which as a bridge connects the present with the state of final perfection. In their rush for the coveted blessings and liberties God designs to give to all, selfishness is about to cause the great crush—the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, nor ever shall be again.
It is toward this bridge or age of judgment and trial, leading to Paradise restored, that all men, though ignorantly, are heading…
…It is God, through Christ, that is opening up the times of restitution of all things. They think that present day inventions and blessings are of men—an increase of human wisdom. They do not see that the flood of light which is now illuminating the world is of God, who has raised the curtain so that, as predicted, men are running to and fro and knowledge is increased.—Daniel 12:4.
A very few scattered here and there understand the real situation. These are God’s holy ones, his special friends.He has revealed to them the real situation through his Word.They know what others are ignorant of, that the blessings now beginning are but a foretaste of greater ones yet to come, and long promised by Jehovah “by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21.)
These strive not so anxiously as the others for their full rights and full share of present blessings.
They thankfully take what comes, acknowledging that every good and perfect gift comes from their Heavenly Father.
And what they do get, even in the present time, thus affords them more pleasure than the greater number of comforts does to others.
“The little that a righteous man hath is betterthan the riches of many wicked.” (Psalm 37:16.)
Even their faces distinguish them from others.
Whatever their condition, whether sickness or health, whether very poor or in comfortable circumstances, these have peace within and realize that godliness with contentment is a great gain.Theirs is indeed a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. (John 14:27.)
These are always rejoicing, and now so much the more as they see the great blessings of the Millennium drawing near.
They arecontent to receive their share of coming blessings in God’s way and in God’s due time.
These, if they cannot obtain their rights under present laws and regulations, will wait for justice,remembering the Apostle’s words:
“Be patient, brethren; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh”—his Kingdom will give full justice to all; wait for it. (James 5:7.)
They remember that it is written,
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord;” and again,
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath;” and again,
“The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” (2 Timothy 2:24,25.)
They remember, too, the outward characteristics of godliness enumerated by the Apostle—sobriety, modesty, hospitality; not strikers, not greedy of filthy lucre, patient; not brawlers, not covetous.(1 Timothy 3:2,3.)
They remember, also, that they are to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, who was the personification of gentleness, humility and love.
These may be in the very midst of the trouble and anxiety of the world andyet retain in their hearts the peace of God which passeth all understanding. “
Let’s begin with the words of Matthew 28:19‑20 (KJV) –
“19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
WHAT IS OUR WORK?
We are definitely not travelling alone in this narrow way since GOD called out a faithful band of servants who, with every talent consecrated to His work, are steadily pursuing their course in the narrow way. We know some of them by name and by character and by their steady and progressive activity in the blessed work. And though not all of these have a copious amount of talents, they, nevertheless, quietly and unobtrusivelygo about from day to day preaching the wonderful words of life, and GOD is with them and is leading them on. Their hearts are full of joy and hope and they are kept securely amidst all the perils of this evil day. No amount of discouragement from the adversary, stops these that still remain amongst our midst, from continuing on with FULL ZEAL in the LORD’s work.
The ones who have the greatest appreciation of Truth,
are those who are FULLY enlisted in the LORD’s service.
If we bury our one or our many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family — whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science, philosophy, music or art; or upon business, politics or pleasures; or in pampering pride and appetite– then as unfaithful servants we will sooner or later go into outer darkness, by being caught in some of the snares of this “evil day.” and will be led farther and farther into error and away from truth. (R.1282)
In no single case have we seen one drift away from the Truth in these last years of the Gospel Age among those who were very active and FULLY enlisted in the LORD’s work, whose one aim and endeavor was to herald the truth and to bless others with it. (R.1282)
“To such the LORD says, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’ – Ye shall never fail, for so an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ .” (R.3696).
Each royal priest is the peer of each other one in authority and dignity of priesthood; though in talents, intelligence, etc., and therefore in fitness, they are not all equals. (R.1137:4)
Some stewards do not quickly enough note talents which might be utilized in the Lord’s service. (R.1047:5)
Jesus’ words of Matthew 28:19‑20 to the apostles, apply to all fully consecrated disciples of Christ – who are authorized to preachthe Gospelin any and every way, publicly or privately, by word, pen, or printed page.
THE THREE PARTS OF JESUS’ COMMISSION
PART 1 – MAKE DISCIPLINES of all nations
The word “disciple” signifies pupil, in the school of Christ, in the primary department. We are to first inform those who have ears to hear that they are sinners through the fall, but that GOD has made a provision for their rescue.
“We have a commission to proclaim the Gospelaccording to our opportunities and abilities.”(R5588:1)
The work of the Evangelist comes first, to make disciples. So let us continue to preach as the twelve disciples preached, “by the wayside” (Matthew 13:4) or wherever you find a hearing ear(Mark 4:9).
Pastor Charles Russell encourages and suggests, the following:
“If you lack talent for preparing a discourse, READ FORCIBLY AND CLEARLY something touching the subject you consider most needful to your hearers.” (R. 1047:5)
“This Gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” (Matthew 24:14)
Since Christ died on Calvary as our Passover Lamb, the message of redemption has gone out to all who are willing to be disciples of Christ – no longer restricted to the Jewish people. The early disciples became witnesses to the Truth, and we should follow that example.
“Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
PART 2 – BAPTIZE them
Immersion is the correct translation and the original method of baptism, as acknowledged by many authorities. Water immersion is the outward symbol by which believers confess their faith in Jesus as their Redeemer. When a Christian devotes his or her life to GOD, one is “immersed” into the will of GOD, and thus into the service of Christ whom GOD appointed as our Lord and Master.
In Romans 6:3-11, Apostle Paul adds another dimension to our immersion into Christ – namely, immersion INTO the sacrificial DEATH OF CHRIST:
“Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
WHO CAN PERFORM THE IMMERSION SERVICE?
“All authorized to teach are equally authorized to baptize. That includes every follower of Christ, not excluding females, only that modesty indicates that they should avoid such public services except in rare necessary cases” (R1541:4).
“All baptized would be commissioned to perform this symbol for others; and, if no consecrated could be found, an unconsecrated believer, or even a worldly person or unbeliever, might do it.” (Volume 6, “Studies in the Scriptures,” page 454).
The following words are recommended by Pastor Charles Russell for any immersion service:
There is the thought amongst some Bible Students that the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 may have been altered during the third century to support the development of the false doctrine of the trinity. This is well explained in a study titled “In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” by Lenard Griehs (“Beauties of the Truth”, January, 1991). The evidence for this seems good.
However, if one favors the text as it appears in the common version, following are some comments that are helpful.
“Into the name of” – signifies into accord with, into fellowship with (R5587).
By the words“The Father”‑ the meaning is that “all of Christ’s disciples are to recognize the Father’s name as standing for righteousness; and they are to become dead to every other principle than that which His name represents, and to be thoroughly immersed into that name of righteousness, justice, truth.” (R.5587 )
“These words do not imply three baptisms in one. The use of the three names is as if you were using a firm name, such as Smith, Jones and Brown; all three names would be used to show that it has the authorization of the whole firm. The Divine Three ‑ Father, Son and holy Spirit ‑ are related to our faith in the Creator, Redeemer and Regenerator; and this suggests the three steps in bringing men into the divine image.” (R.197:3)
The words “Of the Son“‑ shows that we ignore all sectarian names, Protestant or Catholic, but rather, recognize the name of Jesus, Yeshua, the Messiah, and desiring to be his members, his Bride and his Body, “the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23, NIV).
The term“holy Spirit“ refers to GOD’s spirit, influence and character in our lives. The word in the Greek is “pneuma”, which means spirit (not “ghost” as in the King James version). The use of these words in Matthew 28:19 has been understood to signify that the immersed candidate’s own spirit or will becomes dead, and GOD’s holy will and mind are to become their will and purpose.
PART 3 ‑ TEACH them
The word “teach” in verse 19, is from a Greek word “matheteuo” and signifies proselyting or making disciples of.
It is not a command to convert the worldbut to gather out of all nations those willing to be disciples of Christ.
In verse 20, the words “teaching them” means instructing them regarding GOD’s divine character and plan, the graces of the spirit and the rooting out of the spirit of worldliness and selfishness. Not astronomy, geology, nor any of the vain philosophies about which the world speculates, but “the things which I have commanded you.” (R5045:4, 3200:2).
In Jesus’ words “observe all that I command you” we are reminded that all men are sinners, that Christ came to give himself a ransom, that he is the only way to life, that whosoever would come must take up his cross, that all believers are one with him, that every branch in him must bear fruit or be taken away, that those who trust in him are to hope for and expect his second coming, that we have a hope to be of those of the first resurrection, and that love is the fulfilling of the Law.
Jesus reassures, encourages, and strengthens usthrough his words to the Apostles, “I am with you always,” and we see this by the gift from GOD of the holy Spirit of GOD to guide and lead us through the age. By this, means Jesus is present with us in spirit. As our high priest, he sees to our spiritual interests. Jesus has been with his representatives in all their labors of love and self‑denial throughout the entire age so we are NEVER alone! We have the companionship of him who promised, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”(Hebrews 13:5).
In our Lord’s words, “even unto the end of the age,”the word “end” is from the Greek word suntelia, which means the ending period of the age. Now, in the present “Harvest,” or ending period of the Gospel Age, beginning with 1874 as pointed to in Daniel 12:12, Jesus is actively engaged on behalf of his saints to complete the Church, and inaugurate a period of transition into his Millennial Kingdom.
Jesus’ work for his people includes raising his sleeping saints in the first resurrection! Once the last member of the 144,000 shall have gone through the 2nd vail into the Divine Realm, then Jesus with His Bride, the Elect, shall establish his Kingdom, bless the nation of Israel with the New Covenant, and thus bless all mankind.
We are now not only in the Harvest, the ending period of the age, but even in the closing years of the harvest period itself.We have some years to go. Some brethren point to Acts chapter 27, and Paul’s voyage to Rome, as indicating the travel of the Church through the Harvest to the Kingdom, the center of world authority.
In this case, it is feasible that the 14 days of storm which precede the “Armageddon” crash of the ship of state, could suggest 14 years of distress closing the harvest.
In this case, those who consider that the blessed Millennium might commence another 27 years hence, find a milestone along the way, by which to check their expectations.
Meanwhile,let us not neglect our opportunities to represent the Truth to all who may have a hearing ear.
We seek the last grains of wheat for the heavenly barn – so that thereafter the blessings of life can flow to the world. Then, through the elect, raised to heavenly glory, the inhabitants of the world shall all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, and secure wonderful, everlasting, earthly blessings.
“Let us remember, too, while using all the WISDOM we can in this service, that the Lord’s object in giving us a share in his workis not so much what we can accomplish as in the blessing that the labor will bring upon us. This will be an encouraging thought to the dear ones who are engaged in the “Volunteer” work; and if they find many discouragements and but small resultsthe reflection that the Master knoweth them that are His, and that He appreciatesevery sincere effort made to serve His cause and to lay down our lives on behalf of the brethren, will give courage and strength to those who otherwise might faint by the way” (R. 2811).
“Let us see to it, not only that we do with our might what our hands find to do, but also that our every sacrifice and gift to the Lord and His cause isso full of love and devotionthat the Lord will surely approve it; as done from love for Him and His, and not from vainglory” (R3166).
Charles T. Russell – “R” represents the “Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” The numbers next to the “R” represent the page numbers of the reprinted articles.
Our hearts o’erflow in prayer and praise To thee most gracious Lord, That thou hast opened up our eyes To understand thy Word. That thou hast sought us out to run This narrow heavenly way. O lead us by thy Spirit, Lord, For this we daily pray.
We’re thankful for our blessings too. We never should complain, For even trials are stepping stones That bring us lasting gain. Sometimes discouragement comes in To hide our face from thee. “Tis then, we pray, grasp tight our hand That we may closer be.
Give us fresh courage to go on, For in OUR strength, we’re weak. We “need thee every hour,” dear Lord, Thy will alone we seek. With gratitude and courage then, O let us follow on. By faith we see the prize in sight As we behold the dawn.
(from “Poems of the Way” – compiled by Br. Martin Mitchell)
He loves me! Oh how much the thought entails, Love that is perfect, love that never fails. That strengthens me in sorrow or in strife, Soothes all the trials and the cares of life.
Higher than highest Heaven; so sublime This love that lifts me up to heights Divine, Enfolds me, fills my grateful heart with praise, And lights my pathway with its golden rays.
So high it overlooks man’s dreadful sin And plans the fallen race to save, and win Mankind for righteousness. To give them life And free them from the bonds of sin and strife.
A love so deep that nothing can molest The calm and stillness of its perfect rest; So deep the very lowest of our race, In Time shall feel His power and know its grace.
Not e’en the silent shadows of the grave Can hide from Him the soul He seeks to save; For in due time He’ll call them back again, Reveal His love, mankind shall serve Him then.
Its length? It teaches out through endless ages– This love that’s sung by prophets and by sages– The love that never fails, knows no cessation– Eternity its limit of duration.
So broad, this love, it takes the whole world in. It sees the vast extent of human sin, Yet knows no barriers of blood or race But reaches all with its unfailing grace.
It fills the universe, it lights the stars. No selfishness its perfect beauty mars. Increasing–as the need for it increases– It knows no limits, varies not, nor ceases.
Lord let me lose myself in that great love, Knowing Thou watchest o’er me from above. Oh let me feel the Everlasting Arms That shield from all that threatens or alarms.
Then shall the earthborn shadows flee away And self shall be absorbed in love’s pure ray. Thine image on this faulty tablet trace And every earth stain from my heart efface.
Till love like Thine I may–in measure–know And daily like the perfect pattern grow. Then, by Thy grace, I’ll hear Thy sweet “Well done.” Life lived in love, eternity begun.
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) – ‘Let us then approach GOD’s throne of grace with CONFIDENCE, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’
Philippians 4:6 (ESV) – ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD.’
(note: ‘supplication’ – the action of asking or begging for something earnestly and humbly.)
Psalm 27:4 – ‘One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.’
THE STRONGER LOVE
All earthly love is a thread of gold, Most fair but what the touch of time may sever: But His is a cable sure, of strength untold O, His love, it lasteth ever! And this great love he will on thee bestow The fullness of his grace make known, Earnest of glory grant thee here below If thou wilt be his own!
‘For GOD so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Yahweh GOD to us in Christ hath given The proof and pattern of a love divine, And human love above, though nobly striven. GOD’s love is greater far than thine or mine. For Christ came down from heights unknown to us, And thus did show to GOD and man a love– A love maintained through trial torturous; A love beyond all loves, save GOD’s above.
GOD Is Love 1 John 4:7-21 (ESV) reads,
7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from GOD, and whoever loves has been born of GOD and knows GOD. 8Anyone who does not love does not know GOD, because GOD is love. 9In this the love of GOD was made manifest among us, that GOD sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved GOD but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if GOD so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen GOD; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of GOD, GOD abides in him, and he in GOD.
16So we have come to know and to believe the love that GOD has for us. GOD is love, and whoever abides in love abides in GOD, and GOD abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love GOD,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love GOD whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves GOD must also love his brother.
Reference: “Poems of the Way” – Compiled by Martin C. Mitchell.