And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. —Matthew 14:28, 29
Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.
A Joyous Multitude
It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.
Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.
Blessing Now, Blessing Later
The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.
Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.
This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.
A Need for Quiet
Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!
Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.
Their Stormy Challenge
He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.
It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.
But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.
Winds and waves threatened their ship;
yet there was Jesus,
walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.
Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.
Our Stormy Challenges
This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.
We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.
“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).
The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.
We Learn from Peter
We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!
In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.
The time of troublewill not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.
Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,
“Take courage. It is I!Do notbe afraid!”
What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,
“Be not afraid. It is I!”
Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.
The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.
When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.
Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”
Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.
It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.
First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.
We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!
Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.
The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthy—to accept him as our TOTAL means of support.
Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.
Our Rocky Boats
Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.
Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seen—peace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!
The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.
The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.
Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!
Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.
All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.
Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.
There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”
At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.
When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!
Reaching to Jesus
Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.
Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.
We are not arm-chair saints.
Our faith is on trialNOW.
THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.
Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.
Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.
Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:
Let the chill mists gather round me. Let the lights of earth grow dim. Leave me Jesus, only Jesus. I am Satisfied with him.
Here is a recording of Hymn No. 16 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.
“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah!Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).
“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).
As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to thee.
As with joyful steps they sped
Till they found his cradle bed,
There to bend the knee before
Him whom Heav’n and earth adore;
So may we, with willing feet
Ever seek the mercy seat.
As they offered gifts most rare
To that precious child there;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our glorious King.
Holy Saviour, ev’ry day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds thy glory hide.
Matthew 2:11 (ESV) — “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NAS) — “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.“
James 4:8 — “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”
Matthew 7:13, 14 (NAS) — “(13) Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. (14) For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Our Master tells us that it is because of the narrowness of this way that the many prefer to remain on the broad road to destruction (Matthew 7:14).
Before considering this way and its dangers and difficulties, let us notice the end to which it leads—life—which may be enjoyed on various planes of being, but here our Lord uses it in reference to that highest form of life, pertaining to the divine nature—immortality—the prize for which he invited us to run.
The Divine Being, Jehovah, is the great fountain of all life, from which all these springs are supplied. All living things result from and depend on Him for life. The creature is in no sense a part or an offspring of the Creator’s essence or nature, but he is God’s handiwork infused with life.
Only in the divine nature is life independent, unlimited, exhaustless, ever continuous and neither produced nor controlled by circumstances.
Immortal signifies death-proof, consequently disease and pain-proof; it may be used as a synonym for divinity. From the divine, immortal fountain proceed all life and blessing, every good and perfect gift, as from the sun the earth receives her light and vigor.
The sun is the great fountain of light to the earth, illuminating all things, producing many varieties of color and shades of light, according to the nature of the object upon which it shines. The same sunlight shining upon a diamond, upon a brick, and upon various kinds of glass, produces strikingly different effects. The light is the same, but the objects upon which it shines differ in their capacity to receive and to transmit it.
The polished diamond is so adapted to the light that it appears as though it possessed it within itself, and were itself a miniature sun. So with man, one of the masterpieces of God’s creation, made only “a little lower than the angels.” He was so grandly formed as to be able to receive and retain life by the use of the means which God supplied, and never grow dim. Yet as the diamond can reflect no light except when shone upon by the sun, so man can possess and enjoy life only as the supply of life is continued. Man has not inherent life: he is no more a fountain of life than a diamond is a fountain of light. One of the strongest evidences that we have not an exhaustless supply of life in ourselves, or, in other words, that we are not immortal, is that since sin entered, death has passed upon all our race.
God had arranged that man in Eden should have access to life-sustaining trees, and the paradise in which he was placed was abundantly supplied with numbers of “every [kind of] tree” good for food or for adornment (Gen. 2:9,16,17). Among the trees of life good for food was one forbidden. While for a time forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge, he was permitted to eat freely of trees which sustained life perfectly; and he was separated from them only after transgression, that thereby the death-penalty might go into effect (Gen. 3:22).
Thus the glory and beauty of humanity are seen to be dependent on the continued supply of life, just as the beauty of the diamond is dependent on the continued supply of sunlight. When sin deprived humanity of the right to life, and the supply was withheld, immediately the jewel began to lose its brilliancy and beauty, and finally it is deprived of its last vestige in the tomb. His beauty consumes away like a moth (Psa. 39:11, Job 14:10, 21). “For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest” (Eccl. 9:10). But since a ransom has been found, since the death penalty has been provided by the Redeemer, the jewel is to have its beauty restored, and is again to reflect perfectly the Creator’s image when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings (Mal. 4:2). It is because of the sin-offering, the sacrifice of Christ, that “All that are in their graves shall come forth.” There shall be a restitution of all things; first an opportunity or offer of restitution to all, and ultimately the attainment of human perfection by all who will obey the Redeemer.
This, however, is not the reward to which Jesus refers as the end of the narrow way. The reward promised to those who walk the narrow way is the “divine nature”—life inherent, life in that superlative degree which only the divine nature can possess—immortality.
What a hope!
Dare we aspire to such a height of glory? Surely not without positive and explicit invitation could any rightfully thus aspire.
From 1 Tim. 6:14-16 we learn that the immortal or divine nature was originally the possession of divinity only. We read: “He [Jesus] in his time [the Millennial age] will show who is the blessed and only potentate—the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see.” All other beings, angels, men, beasts, birds, fish, etc., are but vessels holding each its measure of life, and all differing in character, capacity, and quality according to the organism which it has pleased the Creator to provide for each.
Jehovah, who alone possessed immortality originally, has highly exalted his Son, our Lord Jesus, to the same divine, immortal nature; hence he is now the express image of the Father’s person (Heb. 1:3). So we read, “As the Father hath LIFE IN HIMSELF [God’s definition of “immortality”—life in himself—not drawn from other sources, nor dependent on circumstances, but independent, inherent life], so hath he given to the Son to have LIFE IN HIMSELF” (John 5:26).
Since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then, two beings are immortal; and, amazing grace! the same offer is made to the Bride of the Lamb, the “little flock” of overcomers, being selected during the Gospel age… who so run as to obtain the prize; who follow closely in the Master’s footsteps; who, like him, walk the narrow way of sacrifice, even unto death. These, when born from the dead in the resurrection, will have the divine nature and form.
This class is not to be raised from the tomb as human beings; for we are assured by the Apostle that, though sown in the tomb natural bodies, they will be raised spiritual bodies.These all shall be “changed,” and even as they once bore the image of the earthly, human nature, they shall bear the image of the heavenly. But “it doth not yet appear what we shall be”—what a spiritual body is; but “we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him,” and share in “the glory to be revealed” (1 John 3:2,Col. 1:27,2 Cor. 4:17,John 17:22,1 Pet. 5:10,2 Thess. 2:14).
Not only is this high calling to a change of nature confined exclusively to the Gospel age, but it is the only offer of this age. All others are still on the broad road—these only have as yet escaped the condemnation that is on the world. This, the only way of life now open, because of its difficulty, finds few who care to walk in it. The masses of mankind in their weakness prefer the broad, easy way of self-gratification.
The narrow way, while it ends in life, in immortality, might be called a way of death, since its prize is gained through the sacrificeof the human nature evenunto death. It is the narrow way of death to life. Being reckoned free from the Adamic guilt and the death penalty, the consecrated voluntarily surrender or sacrifice those human rights, reckoned theirs, which in due time they, with the world in general, would have actually received. As “the man Christ Jesus” laid down or sacrificed his life for the world, so these become joint-sacrificers with him. Not that his sacrifice was insufficient and that others were needed; but while his is all-sufficient, these are permitted to serveand tosufferwith him in order to become his bride and joint-heir. So, then, while the world is under condemnation to death, and is dying with Adam, this “little flock,” through the process of faith reckonings and sacrifice, are said to die with Christ… in order to become partakers of the divine natureand glories with him; for we believe that if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified together (Rom. 8:17,2 Tim. 2:11,12).
In the beginning of the Millennial age, those who now walk the narrow way will have gained the great prize for which they ran, immortality; and being thus clothed with the divine nature and power, they will be prepared for the great work of restoring and blessing the world during that age.
With the end of the Gospel age, the narrow way toimmortality will close, because the select “little flock” that it was designed to test and prove will have been completed.
“Nowis the accepted [Greek, dektos, acceptable or receivable] time”—the time in which sacrificers, coming in the merit of Jesus and becoming dead with him, are acceptable to God—a sacrifice of sweet odor. Death, as the Adamic penalty, will not be permitted forever; it will be abolished during the Millennial age; as a sacrifice it will be acceptable and rewarded only during the Gospel age.
It is only as “new creatures” that the saints of this age are on the way to life; and only as human beings are we consecrated to destruction, as sacrifices. If, as human creatures, we be dead with Christ, as new, spiritual beings, we shall live with him (Rom. 6:8). The mind of God in us, the transformedmind, is the germ of the new nature.
The new life would be easily choked; and Paul assures us that when begotten of the spirit through the truth, if we live after the flesh, we shall die (lose our life), butif we, through the spirit, domortify (put to death) the deeds of the body (the disposition of the human nature), we (as new creatures) shall live; for the sons of God are those led by the spirit of God (Rom. 8:13,14).
This is a thought of utmost importance to all the consecrated; for if we have covenanted with God to sacrifice the human nature, and if that sacrifice was accepted by him, it is useless to attempt to take it back. The human is reckoned of God as dead now, and must actually die, never again to be restored. All that can be gained, then, by turning back to live after the flesh, is a little human gratification at the expense of the new spiritual nature.
There are, however, many consecrated ones desirous of the prize, and who have been begottenof the spirit, who are partially overcome by the allurements of the world, the desires of the flesh, or the arts of the devil. They partially lose sight of the prize set before us, and try to walk upon a middle road—to keep the favor of God and the favor of the world, forgetting that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4), and that the instructions to those running the race for the prize are:
These, who love the present world, but who have not wholly forsaken the Lord and despised their covenant, receive a scourging and purifying by the fire of affliction. As the Apostle expresses it, they are delivered over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit (the newly begotten nature) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5). And if rightly exercised by the discipline, they will finally be received into the spiritual condition. They will have everlasting, spirit life as angels have it, but will lose the prize of immortality. They will serve God in his temple, and stand before the throne, having palms in their hands (Rev. 7:9-17); but though that will be glorious, it will not be so glorious as the position of the “little flock”of overcomers, who will be kings and priests unto God, seated with Jesus inthe throne as his bride and joint-heir, and with him crowned with immortality.
Ours is a rugged, steep, narrow way, and were it not that strength is furnished for each successive step of the journey, we could never reach the goal.
The difficulties of this way are to act as a separating principleto sanctify and refine a “peculiar people” to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” In view of these things, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, while we fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on “the crown of glory”—immortality, the divine nature (2 Tim. 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4).
The Highway of Holiness
While the special hope of the Gospel age is so surpassingly glorious, and the way to it is correspondingly difficult—narrow, hedged in by hardships and dangers at every step—so that few find it, and obtain the great prize at its end, the new order of things in the age to come is to be entirely different. As a different hope is held out, so also a different way leads to it.
The way to immortality has been a way which required the sacrifice [giving up, surrendering] of the otherwise lawful and proper hopes, ambitions and desires—the sacrifice forever of the human nature.
But the way to human perfection, to restitution, the hope of the world, requires only the putting away of sin: not the sacrifice of human rights and privileges, but their proper enjoyment. It will lead to personal purification and restoration to the image of God as enjoyed by Adam before sin entered the world.
The way back to actual human perfection is to be made very plain and easy; so plain that none may mistake the way; so plain that “the wayfaring man, and those unacquainted therewith, shall not go astray” (Isa. 35:8—Leeser); so plain that none will need to teach his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know the Lord from the least unto the greatest (Jer. 31:34). Instead of being a narrow way that few can find, it is termed “a highway,” a public roadway—not a narrow, steep, rugged, difficult, hedged byway, but a way specially prepared for easy travel—specially arranged for the convenience and comfort of the travelers. Verses 8 and 9 show that it is a public road, open to allthe redeemed—every man. Every man for whom Christ died, who will recognize and avail himself of the opportunities and blessings purchased by the precious blood, may go up on this Highway of Holiness to the grand goal of perfect restitution to human perfection and everlasting life.
Nor will these be reckoned justified and granted a reckoned standing of holiness and perfection in the sight of God; when started upon this highway of holiness they may go up thereon to actual perfection, as a result of endeavor and obedience, to which all things will be made favorable by their Redeemer, then reigning in power. Each individual will, according to his necessities, be aided by the wise and perfect administration of the new kingdom. This, as will occur to some, is the legitimate result of the ransom.
Since our Lord, the man Christ Jesus, gave himself a ransom for all, and desires all to come to a knowledge of the truth, and thereby to actual perfection, why does he not at once make a good and broad highway for all?
Why does he not remove the obstructions, the stumbling-stones, the pitfalls and snares?
Why not help the sinner back to full harmony with God, instead of making the way narrow, rugged, thorny, hard to find, and still harder to walk in?
A failure rightly to divide the Word of truth, and to see that the present narrow way leads to the special prize, and is for the trial and selection of a little flock of joint-heirs, the body of Christ, which, when selected and exalted with their Head, shall bless all nations, has led some to very confused ideas on the subject.
Failing to see God’s plan, many try to preach a highway of holiness, an easy way to life, in the present age, when no such way exists, and they confuse and compromise the matter to fit the facts and the Scriptures with their mistaken theories.
On the highway soon to be opened, only sinful things will be prohibited, while those who travel the narrow way [now] must [page 217]:
SACRIFICE many things not sinful;
This is a pathway of SACRIFICE, as that of the coming age is to be a highway of righteousness.
Of that highway it is significantly stated in symbolic language that “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there” (Isa. 35:9). How many frightful lions are now in the way of those who would be glad to forsake sinful ways, and to pursue righteousness! There is the lion of a degenerate public sentiment, which deters many from venturing to obey the dictates of conscience in matters of everyday life—dress, home, and business arrangements, etc. The lion of temptation to strong drink hinders thousands who would be glad to see it removed. “Nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon.” No giant corporations, organized to advance selfish, individual interests at the expense of the general good, will be tolerated. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (kingdom) saith the Lord (Isa. 11:9).
Though there will be difficulties tolabor against in overcoming propensities to evil, etc., yet, in comparison with the narrow way of this age, that will be an easy way. The stones (stumbling-stones) shall all be gathered out, and the standard of truth shall be lifted up for the people (Isa. 62:10). Ignorance and superstition will be things of the past, and righteousness will receive its due reward, while to evil will be meted out its just deserts (Mal. 3:15,18). By wholesome chastisements, fitting encouragements and plain instructions, as returned prodigals, mankind will be trained and disciplined up to the grand [page 218] perfection from which father Adam fell. Thus “the ransomed of the Lord shall return [from destruction, by the grand highway of holiness]… with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”(Isa. 35:10).
Hence, the present “Narrow Way,” opened up by the merit of the same precious blood, is a special wayleading to a special prize, and is made specially
as atestand discipline
for those now beingselectedto be made partakers of the divine natureand joint-heirswith our Lord Jesusin the Kingdom of glory soon to be revealed for the blessing of all. Such as have this hope—who see this prize—may count all other hopes as but loss and dross in comparison (Phil. 3:8-15).
Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of“Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.
Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.
In Matthew 26:27-29 our Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples about the communion cup. “(27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,Drinkyeall of it;(28) for this is my blood of the New Testament (Covenant) shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. (29) But I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29, KJV).
When we refer to the symbol “cup,” we actually refer to the contents of the cup, “the fruit of the vine” that Jesus passed to his disciples. On this occasion, that juice represented the life of Jesus— his human life, his being, his soul — poured out in sacrifice for the remission of sin. Grape juice is sometimes referred to as the “blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11), and in this case it represented the blood of Jesus, shed for us.
Sometimes the symbol of “cup” refers to experiences, either difficult or joyous. When Jesus said in the passage above that he would “drink it new” with his disciples in the Kingdom, he there referred to a cup of joy and rejoicing, a blessed experience. Psalm 23:5 says, “My cup runneth over.” We might connect this to the delightful experiences of faith that come our way. (See Post: “Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”)
In Psalm 116:13 we read of “the cup of salvation.” We might readily connect this to the cup Jesus passed to his disciples at the last supper, for by receiving the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for us, we receive salvation. The world’s salvation shall be attained in the future, when the cup of salvation is then applied when they accept Christ by faith.
“(12) What shall I render to the Lordfor all hisbenefits to me? (13) I will lift up the cup of salvationand call on the name of the Lord [for needed aid], (14)I will pay my vows to the Lordin the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the Lordis the death of his saints.”
Let us take a moment to try to understand some words in this Psalm.
“The Death”of Christ’s body members (“his saints”) who are training for the Heavenly Priesthood of Christ during this Gospel Age (since the opening of the High calling in AD 33, from Pentecost) — is the process from the time of FULL consecration to our Heavenly Father’s service and our Heavenly Father’s ACCEPTANCE to His service. Once we are accepted — begotten of God’s Spirit — we become New Creatures IN Christ, and this is the way we are dealt with: consecration, dying daily, and finally the actual dying of the flesh. (See R5325).
The Vow of Christ and his members is faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10) — the drinking of the cup. The promised reward for doing so is the crown of glory in the Kingdom. This is represented as another cup of the future. Only those who presently share with Christ in his cup of suffering, will share with him in the cup of joy and glory, which the Father will pour for the faithful at the end of this Age — at the close of this anti-typical Day of Atonement and its sacrifices.
When in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39), this was a cup of bitter experience. If we at times experience “a cup” ofsorrow, as Jesus in Gethsemane, let us treat it as the greatest privilege and opportunity to prove our loyalty to our Heavenly Father in acquiescing to His divine and perfect will for us even in this. “While this wine of sacrifice exhausts the human nature, it invigorates and makes strong the spiritual nature” (R588:3) and no matter how trying is the cup of sorrow, “we know that ALL things [experiences] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
When we commit our “cup” of any particular experience to the Lord, then we make a recognition that our cup of experience is the Lord’s. Through patient cheerful endurance in doing the Lord’s will — not rendering evil for evil nor slander for slander, but on the contrary, blessings in return for injuries (1 Peter 3:9) — may we continue to do all in our power to hold forth the Truth in its glorious beauty, so that not only its friends will be the more charmed and blessed, but that any of its enemies may be recovered from their folly.
All of these uses of the symbol of the cup, are related, in that they apply to the Christian life. In our Christian lives we enjoy the benefits of salvation, the sweet blessings of faith, and also the cup of trial, testing, and sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). Our Lord said respecting it, “I delight to do thy will, O God” (Psalm 40:8). And again, “shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)
Our Lord Jesus’ “cup” represents:
♦ Our Lord’s death our Lord’s sacrifice of his earthly rights, which was sufficient of itself to have sealed the New Covenant (R4453:4).
♦ The shed blood of Christ which is our redemption to release us from the condemnation (of Adamic sin — from the curse/sentence of death, and thus) of justice (R3526:5) was the ransom price for all (1 Timothy 2:6). His act of handing the cup to his disciples and asking them to drink of it was an invitationto them to become partakers of his sufferings (R5192:5) and drink into Christ’s death, to “be made conformable unto his death”(Philippians 3:10).
♦Jesus’s trials of great anguish endured, as he was tried and tested as a New Creature: John 18:11 — “Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
♦ One cup, though it contains the juice of many grapes. It was Jesus’ cup of which he drank, which he gave to his disciples to finish (R4475:1). The grapes cannot maintain themselves as grapes if they would constitute the life-giving spirit (R5341:3, R2772:6). Thus they must be crushed.
♦ Our fellowship in the sufferings of Christ’s (2 Timothy 2:12), in Christ’s dishonor, pain, shame, degradation (loss of self-respect, mortification), bitterness, distress and sorrows (because of seeking after that which is Godly and righteous in God’s sight) until our mortal death (R3880:3, R1637:4, R5081, R4591). We rejoice in the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ because of the glorious results (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:12).
♦ The antitype of the cup, in its highest sense, will be the new joys in the kingdom (R4703:6).
Was the juice made from wine or unfermented grape juice?
Nowhere is this cup described as wine, though it may have been (R2772:6) for (as shared in an article in the March-April 2018 Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (titled “Bread and Cup”) we read: “the vintage season in Palestine was September and October, and the Passover was about six months later. The wine made in October would of necessity be fermented before April.” If we suppose that Jesus used wine, we might feel compelled to copy the issue down to the actual drink he used, namely fermented grape juice, or wine.
However, it is an open question whether it was fermented or unfermented. “We feel sure that unfermented grape juice will fulfill the terms of the injunction” (R3879:6). Our recommendation is against a general use of wine as being possibly a temptation to some weak in the flesh. It might not be amiss to put a small amount of fermented wine into the unfermented grape or raisin juice (R2773:4) as this then would not put any others into danger of stimulating an appetite they had tried to overcome. If any one should feel himself endangered by tasting wine at the remembrance of the Lord’s death, we would recommend that such a one use grape or raisin juice instead which, though not wine, is certainly a “fruit of the vine” (R509:5).
Giving Thanks To God
Before Jesus gave the cup of the fruit of the vine to the twelve Apostles to drink, he gave thanksto the Heavenly Father. There is a lesson here for the consecrated people of God who willingly partake in the sufferings of Christ — that of remembering to joyfully acquiescein all the sufferings which the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes implied (R2773:2) and in doing so, display thankfulness and gratitude to the Heavenly Father for the privilege of being counted as worthy of running the race of the High calling in Christ Jesus to which such were called by God, and who then consecrated themselves to holy service, following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus.
“Drink from it, all of you”
Matthew 26:27 (KJV) says, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink yeall of it.’ ” The New American Standard Bible, and others, express this command from Jesus a little more clearly. “And when he had taken a cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ “ Jesus was not meaning to say “drink the entire content of what is in the cup,” but rather, Jesus was as if saying to the Apostles that all of them require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ. All of Jesus’ disciples need to drink from this cup. All of us require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ.
“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56, KJV).
During the present Gospel Age, those who are invited to receive this blessing are also called to walk in the way that Jesus walked, and join him in suffering in the present, for the hope of glory in the future.
“Wesufferwith him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
As Jesus was fully committed to his consecration to God, we should be also. The consecrated children of God experience suffering with Christ now. We leave none of the sufferings for the coming age (R3880:2, R4605:3, R4453:4, R4429:4).
Jesus Christ invited God’s called ones to participate with him in the sacrifice of EVERYTHING — earthly life, interests, hopes, aims, ambitions. All who will reign with Christ, must now drink of the cup of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, as Jesus did. We must be immersed into his death (R4591:5).
Our participation in our Lord’s sufferings show not only our interest and gratefulness in Christ’s sacrifice, but also expressing our own (individual) covenant (agreement/promise) to be dead with him and to drink of the cup of experience that he received (R325:5).
The appropriation of this by us signifies primarily our acceptance of restitution rights and privileges which our Lord has thus, at his own cost, secured for us (R2772:4).
“This is my blood”
Christ’s blood was represented through the drinking of the symbolic one cup of the fruit of the vine and it represents our Lord Jesus’ human life, his being, his soul,poured out unto death on our behalf (R2772).
As “blood maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), so Christ sacrificed his life, shed his blood, gave his life, providing redemption for us and all. His death on Calvary’s cross was the final step in his labors to provide redemption for us now, and the world in the Kingdom.
If we receive of his life for us presently, we are able also to lay down our lives in sacrifice with him.
As Jesus’ sufferings prepared him to be our high priest, to purge us from sin, so our sufferings will prepare us to be with him in glory, to assist him in purging mankind from sin.
“Of The New Testament”
The word “new” is missing in good manuscripts in Matthew 26:28, but it is included in Luke 22:20. By the words “new testament,” Christ was talking about the New Covenant, which supersedes the Law Covenant (R3364:5) and whereby through his shed blood at Calvary, the New Covenant would be sprinkled, sealed and made efficacious (R4331:6) just as Moses had ratified the Law Covenant (a shadow of this) with the blood of burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exodus 24:5-8).
When Christ and his Church is complete in glory, at the end of the Gospel Age, thenthe blood of Christ will be applied for the world. Then Israel will see their privileges under a new covenant, replacing the old covenant, and become a means of extending the blessings of the Kingdom to the world.
“Remission of sins”
Through faith in Jesus’ blood we have remission of sins for we read in Hebrews 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”
We were redeemed, not with Jesus’ example, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). Our sins could never have been forgiven by divine justice except through the divine arrangement by which Christ Jesus paid our penalty.
There is no other way to attain eternal life
except through accepting the blood once shed as
the ransomprice for the sins of the whole world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
“Until that day”
These words of Christ refer to the time the saints will join himin glory. During the present parousia, or presence, of Christ, those who have completed their service here below are being gathered into the joyous privileges above. Soon the Gospel Age of suffering will end, and all of the remaining members of the Bride class will join those who have gone before. During the Millennium thus introduced, the elect Bride class, the 144,000, shall be in heavenly glory, beyond the vail, in heaven itself.
“Drink it new”
What is this “new” wine that Christ was referring to in his words? Through these words of Christ, Jesus was saying to his followers, that if they will sufferwith him, they will participate with him in hisfuture cup of joy as sharers in his glory as immortal and incorruptible beings (R5643:4, R4703:6, R1695:2). In Romans 2:7 (ESV) we read: “(7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
Seeking after immortality means desiring with one’s entire being to be raised in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42) with a body and mind in which there can NEVER EVER be found sin or disobedience — where this is not possible or probable; where the tests of loyalty, obedience and faithfulness to God’s principles have been overcome and proven one as worthy to inherit life within one’s own self, not dependent on another for life and for purity, and where the Almighty Heavenly Father is honored above all (Revelation 14:1-5).
The saints will receive the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom, and the grand JOY of participating with the Master in uplifting the world of mankind! To have the Heavenly Father receive JOY from ALL His creation, is a thrilling thought. It gives one a foretaste of SUBLIME PEACE, beyond tranquillity. It is beyond us to fully grasp what it will be like to not have to fear ever disobeying the Almighty Father! What a wonderfully grand thing to NEVER EVER have to fear causing the Heavenly Father pain, displeasure, or grief, when sinless everlastingly! This is the ultimate JOY that can be attained by any being, created in the image of God!
♦ feeling this PEACE OF GOD in a DIVINEbody, with a perfected and DIVINE mind!
♦ a PAIN-FREE existence that brings the Ultimate Power of the Universe — Jehovah, the Heavenly Father (who’s divine love, justice, wisdom and power are beyond words), everlasting and righteous pleasure.
♦ an EVERLASTING state where causing unintentional pain, suffering, or injury is never possible!
“(9) For our knowledge is imperfect, and so is our prophesying; (10) But when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end” (1 Corinthians 13:10, Weymouth New Testament).
“My Father’s kingdom”
This kingdom of God will be experienced in the highest sense, beyond the antitypical second veil of the antitypical “tabernacle” in the presence of God Himself, by the overcomers of the Gospel Age who inherit everlasting life in the Divine Realm.
As a result of the trials and sufferings endured, there will be a jubilation in the Kingdom and hence, Kingdom glory is the end of the symbol (R5193, R2272). Primarily it is the Kingdom of the Father, but the Father has voluntarily proposed to place the dominion of the earth for 1000 years under the full charge of a Viceroy, Christ and his bride (D642).
The Passover Lamb and the World’s Sin
The passover lamb spared only the firstborn of the Israelites. The anti-typical meaning of this would be that our Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God which “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) would spare or pass over only the Church of the firstborn ones in this Gospel Age, the antitype of the passover night.
“Only the Church of the firstborn, the household of faith, the consecrated, are spared or passed over through Divine mercy, through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, during this Gospel Age. Nevertheless, the divine plan does not end with the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven” [Hebrews 12:23] and who shall share with Christ in ‘his resurrection’—the first, or chief resurrection. The appropriation of the merit of Christ firstto the Church is merely an incidental feature of the Divine Plan. Soon the Church shall have shared by the privilege now granted to believers of becoming dead withChrist to the earthly interests and alive as New Creatures by the first resurrection.Thenthe merit of the blood of Christ, the slain Lamb, will be applied to the world of mankind to legally ‘take away the sin of the world.’ When applied it will immediately satisfy Justice on the world’s behalf and turn over the world to the Redeemer for restitution blessings. Then the Lamb of God and the Church, ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,’ will prosecute the work of actually taking away the sin of the world during the Millennium” (R4556).
Acknowledgement and References
Br. David Rice — Some content and editing.
“Reprints (No. 4556) of the original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.”
The large majority of the “Watch Tower” articles which have been referred to in this post, have been written by Br. Charles Taze Russell — the Laodicean (7th Church Period) Messenger of the Book of Revelation.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8, ESV).
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, ESV).
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, ESV).
“(16) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace (17) comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word”(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ESV).
“and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:23, NAS).
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7, KJV).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV).
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee”(Psalm 86:5, KJV).
All the way my Saviour leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt his tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well,
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Saviour leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for ev’ry trial,
Feeds me with the living bread;
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Saviour leads me;
Oh, the fulness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above;
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.
The History Of This Hymn
Author – Frances Jane van Alstyne (perhaps best known as “Fanny Jane Crosby,” 1820-1915). At 6 weeks old, she lost her sight due to a traveling doctor instructing her parents to apply hot mustard poultices to treat an eye infection, which burnt her corneas.
Just a year after she was blinded, her father caught a chill while working in the cold November rain, and died soon after. Twenty-one-year-old Mercy Crosby (her mother) was left to provide for herself and her daughter. This she did by seeking employment as a maid. Fanny’s grandmother (Eunice Crosby) cared for her during the day, and the two became very close.
Around the age of 15 years, she entered the New York City Institution for the Blind. On completing her training she became a teacher therein from 1847 to 1858. In 1858 she married (one of her students) Alexander Van Alstyne, a musician, eleven years her junior, who was also blind. Her first poem was published in 1831.
Fanny loved her work, and was happy in it. It is contentmentthat Fanny Crosby said “has been the motto of my life,”she says. Amongst her earliest composition (aged eight) she wrote:
“O what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be;”
She maintained this positive outlook all her life and considered her blindness a blessing, not the curse many would be tempted to call it. As she once stated:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of Godif I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”
Her grandparents spent many hours reading the Bible to Fanny and teaching her the importance of prayer and a close relationship with God. They quickly discovered that Fanny had an amazing capacity for memorization and encouraged her to learn large passages of scripture by heart, which Fanny did — memorizing several chapters each week and she could quote the Gospels, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and many of the Psalms.
When Fanny was five, her mother got another job far away and they were forced to say goodbye to her grandparents.
“Whatever your affliction is, you can bear it cheerfully. That’s because God is using it to lead you to something even better.” ~ Grandmother Eunice Crosby
Fanny Crosby began her hymn writing (of around 9,000 hymns) in her forties. Publisher and hymn writer William B. Bradbury hired her to write hymns for his company, telling her, “While I have a publishing house, you will always have work!” Fanny knew she needed God’s help in this new endeavor, and once described her hymn writing process this way:
“It may seem a little old-fashioned, always to begin one’s work with prayer, but I never undertake a hymn without first asking the good Lord to be my inspiration.”
Some of Crosby’s best-known songs are found in the Bible Students’ Hymnal “Hymns of Dawn,”which include: “Blessed Assurance” (Hymns of Dawn — No. 342), and “To God Be the Glory” (Hymns of Dawn — No. 360). Some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, so Crosby used nearly 200 different pseudonyms during her career.
One day in the fall of 1874, Fanny did not have enough money to pay the rent and no way to get it. As was her custom, she prayed in earnest that God would supply her need. Not long after she finished praying, there was a knock at the door. There at the door stood a complete stranger who spoke not a word, but handed Fanny a folded piece of paper, and then turned and left. It was the five dollars needed for the rent,the exact amount neededto stay in her flat for another month.
“I have no way of accounting for this,” she later said, “except to believe that God put into the heart of this good man to bring the money. My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way that the Lord leads me. I immediately wrote the poem, and Dr. Robert Lowry set it to music” and it is this very hymn — “ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS ME.” ~ Fanny Crosby
Although Fanny was only paid a dollar or two for each of her hymns, she and Van could have lived comfortably on this income yet Fanny’s priority was to give away anything that was not necessary to their daily survival. Hence, the Van Alstines lived in a small, cramped apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, near one of Manhattan’s worst slums, just a few blocks from the notorious Bowery, a well-known “haunt for hopeless alcoholics and the main artery of a thriving red light district and pornographic center.” Because of her proximity to this needy area, Fanny became zealous in her efforts to help the people around her. She became a great fan of Jerry McAuley, a former convict who was converted after hearing the testimony of a friend. Jerry founded the Water Street Mission, America’s first rescue mission, to minister to those enslaved to alcohol and violence as he once had been. She often mingled with McAuley’s audiences, conversing and counseling with those she met. She did not believe in pointing out people’s faults to them.
“You can’t save a man by telling him of his sins.He knows them already.Tell him there is pardon and love waiting for him. Win his confidence and make him understand that you believe in him, and never give him up!” ~ Fanny Crosby
Fanny Crosby refused to let the trials and tribulations of life get her down.
“One of the easiest resolves that I formed in my young and joyous heart was to leave all care to yesterdayand to believe that the morning would bring forth its own peculiar joy.” ~ Fanny Crosby
The life of Fanny Crosby is an excellent example of how God uses trials and tribulations to refine us, to teach us to depend on Him, and to equip us for the calling He has placed on our lives.
Composer – Robert Lowry (March 12, 1826 – November 25, 1899) was an American professor of literature, a Baptist minister and composer of gospel hymns.
IT IS safe to say that no other collection of poems has accomplished as much good as the Book of Psalms. Its sentiments seem to touch the soul at every turn — in joy, in sorrow…
THE GREAT SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCK
All the features of the Psalm are applicable to our Redeemer Himself as well as to His followers, whom He styles the sheep of His flock. To His Church He is the Representative of the Father, so fully, so completely, that He could say truthfully, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” No human being could see the Heavenly Father and live, as the Scriptures declare; and those who saw and understood Jesus to be the Son of God, caught the best possible glimpse of the Heavenly Father.
And so we all see Jesus as the Representative of the Father, the Son of the great King, the Son of the great Shepherd, Jehovah.
Jesus and His Church are more particularly the sheep of Jehovah’s flock than were the Israelites of the Jewish Age; for the relationship of the Jews was through Moses, while the relationship of the Church is through Christ and the superior Covenant which centers in Him… Jesus declared that there is only one way of entering the sheepfold; namely, through the door. And He declared Himself to be the Door.
HOW TO BECOME A TRUE SHEEP
By nature we are sinners under Jehovah’s sentence of death, and not His sheep. He has purposed a great Plan for the world in general, which will begin to operate as soon as Messiah’s Kingdom is established. However, in the interim He is receiving special sheep — during this Gospel Age; and Jesus tells how, saying, “If any man will come after Me [be My disciple, My follower, My sheep], let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
Self-denial is the first step — self-renunciation, giving up of the will to God. The Covenant reads, “Gather My saints together unto Me; those who have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice.” All who would be the Lord’s sheep must make this Covenant of Sacrifice; it is the condition under which they may be accepted.
Moreover, as the Jews could come only through their appointed mediator, Moses, so we can come into this higher sheepfold only under the antitypical, greater Moses, Christ. There is none other name given. Once having taken this step, once having come into the sheepfold by the Door — in the approved manner — we have the Message of God, saying, “All things are yours; for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” What this means is described in this Psalm (1 Corinthians 3:22,23).
ALL WANTS ABUNDANTLY SUPPLIED
The Lord’s sheep, abiding in perfection of relationship with Him, will lack nothing. Their every need will be supplied. This may not mean greater earthly wealth or name or fame or luxury.
The Lord’s sheep are New Creatures, spirit beings, who are temporarily dwelling in the flesh like other people, but who really are waiting for their change, to be completed by a share in the First Resurrection.
The Lord’s blessings to Natural Israel were earthly blessings, supplying their every earthly need; but His blessings to Spiritual Israel are spiritualfavors. “No good thing will He withhold” from these — yea, even chastisements and sorrowful experiencesthat may be necessary for their spiritual development.
The Psalm assures us that, as the Lord’s sheep, we shall be provided with green pasturesand the cool, refreshing waters of Truth. Moreover, while thus being spiritually fed and refreshed, we shall have the peace of God, as is implied in the suggestion that the sheep will lie down in the green pastures — to such an extent that the Lord’s sheep may truthfully say that they have “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” ruling in their hearts, notwithstanding outward trials, difficulties, perplexities and adversities.
[“Which of the Lord’s sheep has not found such green pasturageof spiritual refreshment in his private devotions and studiesof divine things? Which of them has not experienced similar refreshment and rest and nourishment from the Master’s provision that his sheep shall not forsake the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is — for the study of the Word, for prayer, for testimonies of the Lord’s goodness and mercy? All these opportunities and privileges, whether personally experienced or whether they are yet only in the mind through the medium of the printed page, are provisions made for the sheep by the great Shepherd. Those sheep which find no enjoymentin such privileges and blessings and refreshmentshave reason to question their faithfulness in following the lead of the Shepherd. And those sheep which, findingsuch opportunities,decline to use them, thus give evidence of lack of harmonywith the Shepherd’s gracious intentions and wisdom (R3268).”]
They [the Lord’s people] in their hearts rejoice in the sentiment expressed by the poet, “Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine” (Matthew 6:32).
But alas! Not all of the sheep have full confidence in the Shepherd and are fully resigned to have no will but His. Some are continually getting into difficulty, because they neglect the green pastures and cool, refreshing waters of Truth found in the Word of God — because,goat-like, they sometimes wander off into the desert, straying far from the Shepherd and attempting to feed themselves on the indigestible things of the present life, on which no spiritual nature can thrive.
Rod and Staff
Yet even such straying sheep the Shepherd will not leave, if they have become truly His. He goes after them, as the Psalm represents. His rodandHis staffare their comfort; [it is a rod of help, defense and chastisement].
With the rod —he beats off their enemies, the wolves that would injure;
With the crook of His staff — He wisely and carefully assists the entangled sheep out of its difficulties — out from amongst the cares of this life, the entanglements and deceitfulness of riches, and the besetments of sin and of Satan.
Many of the sheep of the Lord’s flock thus can sing, “He restoreth my soul”—
He brings me back to Himself;
He makes me again to know, to appreciate, to enjoy His provision for me and to see how much better it is than anything I could have provided for myself.
[“The prophet does not refer to a restoration of body or of physical health, but a restoration of soul, being. Some of the Lord’s most precious saints have been weary and faint and troubled—even the dear Redeemer fainted under his cross, and was neither kept whole or made whole miraculously on the occasion. The application of the Prophet’s words to the Christian experience would make these experiences, called restoring of soul or being, to correspond with our justification to life. All our lives were forfeited under the divine sentence, and by faith a complete restitution or restoration of soul is granted to the believer, that he might have something to offer in sacrifice to the Lord, “holy, acceptable” (Rom. 12:1), and that in this sacrifice service he may walk in the footsteps of the great Shepherd who lay down his life for the sheep. Thus are the true sheep led in right paths, in proper paths, advantageous to their spiritual development, though frequently trying and difficult to them according to the flesh. This favor and blessing and opportunity comes to them not for their own sakes or worthiness but through the Lord’s grace —‘for his name’s sake’” (R3268)].
A further experience is next brought to our view — the Shepherd’s leading.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.” He causes me, even bymy own stumblings and difficulties, to learn to appreciate the desirableness of His ways and the undesirableness of every other way. All His ways are perfect, are righteous. He leads us not contrary to our wills, but in harmony therewith, to prove what is the good, next the acceptable, and finally the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
THE VALLEY OF DEATH’S SHADOW
All of our lives we have been in the shadow of this great Valley of Death. Only father Adam was ever on the mountain-tops of life. He lost his footing there, and descended gradually the slopes into this Valley of the Shadow of Death. We, his children, were all born here. We are dying daily; we are surrounded by dying conditions. We have merely the hope that the Lord will lead His sheep back to the heights of life.
He is now leading His sheep of this Gospel Age — the Church, the Body of Christ.
By and by He will lead the world, during His Millennial Kingdom; as He declared, “Other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also must I bring,… and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16).
“Oh, sometimes the shadows are deep, And rough seems the path to the goal!”
The end of this Valley of Shadow is near, not merely in the sense that we shall soon reach the end of life’s journey, but especially in the sense that the New Day is about to dawn, of which the Lord, our Shepherd, declared the result: “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His beams” (Malachi 4:2). The final result will be that there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying; but the whole world will begin to emerge from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. For a thousand years they will be rising again to the glorious heights of human perfection from which Adam fell, and the right to return to which is secured for all by the death of Jesus, “the Just for the unjust.”
[“The sheep of the little flock fear no evil because of the Lord’s favor, because he is with them, on their side, and has shown his favor in the redemption price already paid. He is with them, too, in his word of promise — his assurance that death shall not mean extinction of life, but merely, until the resurrection, an undisturbed sleep in Jesus. What wonder that these can walk through the valley of the shadow of death singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord, calling upon their souls with all that is within them to praise and laud and magnify his great and holy name, who loved us and bought us with his precious blood, and has called us to joint-heirship with our dear Redeemer (R 3268).]
THE CHURCH’S BETTER TABLE
The Lord’s people of the present time have an especially prepared table, where they may partake even in the presence of their enemies. That will not be true in the future; for no enemies nor anything to hurt or injure shall then be permitted (Isaiah 11:9.)
The Lord’s consecrated people, even when misunderstood, misrepresented, defamed and opposed, are still privileged to feast at the Lord’s Table!
The table — represents God’s provision for their needs — the promises of God, the assurances of His favor, etc.
Another evidence that the Psalm belongs especially to the Church of this Age is the statement, “Thou anointest my Head with oil.” Jesus, the Head of the Church, was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. That holy anointing oil used on the priests and kings of Israel typified the Holy Spirit, which came upon the Church representatively in Jesus. And this same anointing oil has come down over all the members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, as we read in Psalm 133:2.
THE CUP BOTH SWEET AND BITTER
“My cup runneth over.” The word cup is used in the Scriptures to represent a draft, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes both. The intimation is that the Lord’s Cup signifies bitter experiences and trials in the present time; as Jesus said, “The Cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?” And this was the Cup — His Cup—which He offered to His disciples and which we, in becoming His disciples, propose to share with Him, and which is symbolically represented in the Communion Cup (1 Corinthians 10:15-17).
It is sweet and precious, in many senses of the word to be privileged to participate in the sufferings of Christ, in any sacrifices or servicesfor the Lord and His Cause.
The sweet mingles freely with the bitter. But the Lord promises that in the future the Cup of new wine in the Kingdom shall more than compensate for any bitterness of the present time.
Our Cup is full,
but we would not wish it one drop less.
[“He who would partake of the joys of the Lord must also partake of his cup of suffering; we must suffer with him if we would reign with him. But we count the sufferings of this present time as not worthy to be compared with the glories that shall be revealed in us, and hence we are enabled to rejoice in tribulation, so that as the tribulations will overflow the rejoicing likewise overflows, and with the Apostle we can say, Rejoice, and again I say rejoice!” (R3268)]
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
How precious the thought — God’s goodness, God’s mercy, with all those who are truly His in Christ — following us day by day, moment by moment, and according to the Scriptures making all things work together for our good! Then the grand finale is signified, “I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever” — in the Heavenly House, of which the Redeemer said, “In My Father’s House are many mansions;…I go to prepare a place for you,” and “I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” Then, at His Second Coming, with our glorious change, we shall enter the Father’s House in the fullest sense of the word, on the spirit plane, which flesh and blood does not inherit.
This shall be the everlasting portion of God’s Elect — the Church. The great blessings subsequently to come to the world — earthly blessings — will in no sense interfere with, but enhance, the glory of the Church; for she will be engaged with her Lord in dispensing blessings to the earthly sheep (Galatians 3:29).
“My Saviour” — Christ Jesus
Here are some free online articles in relation to the Heavenly Father — Jehovah, and his Son — Christ Jesus — “a ransom FOR ALL … to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6), as well as, about the holy Spirit (the invisible power and influence of God) with clear explanations about why the anti-Christ teaching of “the trinity” — introduced by the Roman Catholic Church system (the “Beast” in the Book of Revelation) — is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible Student Movement does not support the teaching of purgatory nor does it support the Roman Catholic System’s teaching about people being sent to a place where they burn up forever, which certainly does not reflect the perfect love of God — the Almighty Creator of all things.
Hence, for the interested Reader, we urge you to consider the following articles and posts:
Bro. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of“Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.
Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.
Thankfulness for the Heavenly Father’s limitless love and mercy aids in the growth in grace and develop “the fruits” of God’s character — “(22) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Some one has suggested that these fruits of the spirit of God might be defined as the following:
Joy — is Love exultant;
Peace — is Love in repose;
Longsuffering — is Love enduring;
Gentleness — is Love in society;
Goodness — is Love in action;
Faithfulness — is Love on the battlefield of life.
“Since as Christians we have learned that it is our privilege to be always rejoicing — to rejoice evermore and in everything give thanks — we need not, like the world, wait for special manifestations of Divine favor to call forth our praise, our homage of heart and our grateful obedience to the Lord. Rather, learning that Divine providence is in all of our affairs, ready to shape them for our good, we may rejoice ‘whatever lot we see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth us.’ Someone has well said: ‘If we are not ready to praise God where we are, and with our conditions and circumstances as they are, we should not be likely to praise Him if we were differently circumstanced and our conditions just that which now seems to us most desirable. Daniel could sleep better in the den of lions than Darius in the royal palace; he who could not find rest in a lion’s den, when that was the place for him, could not gain rest by a mere removal to a palace’ ” (“From Philippi To Athens,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Aug. 1921).
It is our own self which must be changed, not our circumstances or our possessions, in order to for us to have a heart that overflows with joy and praise.
How do you change self?
(1)ASK God for help —
James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.“
Before reading any further, please take a moment now, to pray to the Heavenly Father through Christ, asking for God’s Divine help in your matter … concerning your current situation — asking for God’s help to be pleasing to Him, thankful for your current circumstances as ALL THINGS are WORKING OUT FOR YOUR GOOD according to Romans 8:28 — “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.“
(2)APPLY EFFORT —
Attaining a crown of glory is dependent upon our progress in Christ. Effort is required, as indicated in the following Scriptures:
“(13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:11).
What Should We Be Thankful For?
For a start, we have an eternal gratefulness for being blessed with the richest favors of divine grace in that knowledge of Divine Truth which reveals to us the high privilege of becoming sons and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that does not fade away, and which is reserved in heaven for the called and chosen and faithful according to God’s purpose.
God’s favour toward us revealed to usthe hope of everlasting life, as justified, human sons of God and, we understand we have access to full restitution to the divine favor and likeness, as was at first possessed by our father Adam.
And how great was our joy when first, by faith, we claimed this precious promise for ourselves and realized that legally, through merit of the precious blood of Christ shed for our redemption, we had passed from death unto life, and that in God’s appointed time the everlasting treasure with all its attendant glory and blessing would actually be ours! But! Beyond even this, are the “exceeding great and precious promises” to those of this justified class who have been called, according to God’s purpose, to become the bride and joint-heir of his dear Son!
What a grand aspiration to attain to, that is still available to all who seek to know and please our Divine Father in every single aspect of their existence — who are seeking to fill up their void of loneliness and pain and despair with that peace of God which surpasses all understanding found from finding the best vocation in the world — offering their lives as living sacrifice unto God, and walking as Christ did, being trained to become empathetic priests of God to uplift mankind during the Millennium! To be the “spot lights” which magnify and illuminate God’s love, justice, wisdom and power is truly even now, the most joyful moments of this carnality!
What a perfect goal to aim for!
Then, in addition to all these blessings of hope and promise, we had the blessed realization during all the year, and with some of us for many years past, that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, as the Psalmist aptly represents the present life, our blessed Shepherd’s rod and staff have been our comfort and our safeguard.
How often has the friendly crook of the Shepherd’s staff protected us from wandering off into by paths and kept us in the narrow way; how his chastening rod has from time to time aroused us from dreamy lethargy and urged us on our way. And at such times we have recalled the comforting words:
“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Spiritually, we have feasted on the bounties of divine favor; while in things temporal, under whatsoever circumstances we have been placed, having the assurance that all things work together for good to them that love God, we have realized that Godliness with contentment is great gain, having promise of the life that now is (so long as God wills us to remain here), and also of that which is to come.
Let us give Jehovah not only the praise of our lips, but also the incense of truly consecrated lives, throughout the year upon which we are just entering.
With the start of this New Year, let us consecrate ourselves anew to the Lord in the sense of re-affirming and emphasizing that covenant. Tell our dear Lord that it is still our purpose to keep our ALL upon the Altar of Sacrifice during 2018 and until it is wholly consumed in His service. Then, let us proceed with studious care from day to day to pay these, our vows of Full Consecration, unto the Most High.
As we look back and with sorrow view the imperfections of even our best efforts, and then forward and see the lion-like difficulties that seem to obstruct our onward course, we will need greatly to reinforce our waning Courage with the special promises of Divine Grace to help in every time of need. We have the blessed assurance that “the Lord will give strengthunto his people” (Psalm 29:11). “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).
As soldiers under our great Captain, we have enlisted in no uncertain struggle, except our own faint-heartedness or unfaithfulness should make it so. We are fully supplied with the whole armor of God, and will be amply protected against all the fiery darts of the adversary if we accept it and carefully buckle it on; we are forewarned of all the snares and dangers that beset our onward way, so that we may avoid and overcome them; we are fully informed as to the policy and course of the Captain under whose banner we have enlisted, and of the part we are to take under his leading.
We have our Beloved Jesus’ constant presence with us, even to the end of our course. His inspiring voice may always be heard above the clash and din of battle—
“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE YOU the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32)
“Let not your heart be troubled,neither let it be afraid!” (John 14:1)
“Greater is he that is IN you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
If we are weak and incline to faint-heartedness we have only to remember the blessed promise, “The Lord will give strength unto his people;” and by our faithfulness in the service we shall glorify God and he will deliver us gloriously from all our foes, both seen and unseen.
How To Pay Our Vows?
When we consecrated ourselves fully to the Lord, we made a promise to God that we would hold nothing back for self.
Our consecration to God, includes:
ALL our possessions, our time, our physical energies and our mental attainments; the sacrifice of ALL our former earthly ambitions, hopes and aims, so that we should no longer pursue them to any extent. This, and nothing less, is what our vow of Full Consecration signifies.
It also signifies, further, that these possessions or personal qualifications, which the Lord terms talents, are not only to be released from the service of the worldly ambitions, etc., but that they are to be so released, not for aimless inactivity, but for the purpose of being utilized in an opposite direction—in the service of God, of his plan and of his children.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Lord illustrated very clearly how we are expected to pay our vows of consecration to the Most High. He says, “It is like a man who, intending to travel, called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his respective capacity; and straightway took his journey.”
Here are some Bible verses that teach us something important about thankfulness.
Psalm 100 (ESV)
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever. A Psalm for giving thanks.
(1) Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! (2) Serve the Lord with gladness!Come into his presence with singing! (3) Know that the Lord, he is God!It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (4) Enter his gates with thanksgiving,and his courts with praise!Give thanks to him; bless his name! (5) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,and his faithfulness to all generations.
Ephesians 5:18-20 (ASV) —”Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”
Psalm 136:26 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 106:1 (KJV) — “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 107:1 (KJV) — “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV) — “(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
John 6:11 (KJV) — “And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”
“A little while;” now he has come;
The hour draws on apace—
The blessed hour, the glorious morn,
When we shall see his face.
How light our trials then will seem!
How short our pilgrim way!
The life of earth a fitful dream,
Dispelled by dawning day!
Then, O Lord Jesus, quickly show
Thy glory and thy light,
And take God’s longing children home,
And end earth’s weary night.
A little while; with patience, Lord,
I fain would ask, “How long?”
For how can I, with such a hope
Of glory and of home,
With such a joy awaiting me,
Not wish the hour were come?
How can I keep the longing back,
And how suppress the groan?
Yet peace, my heart! and hush, my tongue!
Be calm my troubled breast!
Each passing hour prepares thee more
For everlasting rest.
Thou knowest well, the time thy God
Appoints for thee is best.
The morning star already shines;
The glow is in the east.
Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV) —
“12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (RVIC) —
“(50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall all fall asleep, but we shall not all be changed (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death was swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? (56) But the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: (57) but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, RVIC – The American Revised Version Improved and Corrected, 2000).
Song of Songs (“Canticles”) 8:14 (NAS) —
“Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices.”
The comments below, are a direct quote from “Notes on The Song of Solomon” by Anton Frey in the Bible Student Library CD:
Solomon, expecting to be gone from her immediate presence, though within hearing and speaking range, admonishes her to remain in the beautiful and fragrant gardens. It would be from these that she should be able to maintain communications with him, though not able to actually see him. He went to make the final preparations for the taking of her to her new home; there, to make her his bride, his wife! Already, some of her belongings have been transported to the Palace—the treasures, which she wishes to keep with her, forever and a day! As she now waves to him, she says, very earnestly, “Make haste, my dearly beloved, be like the roe, or the young hart upon the mountains of spices”—return speedily for me, for I can scarcely wait!
The words of the “espoused virgin” at this time, are not any different from those she has uttered to her beloved “Solomon,” from the very beginning of the Gospel age; for they do most beautifully express her hopes—“Come quickly, Lord.” She would have Him be swift, like the roe, or the young hart. She has already told him that she would eagerly be awaiting him—his return to take her to her heavenly home, where he will make of her, his bride, the Lamb’s wife! How she does look forward to the day when he shall change her name to his—“Jehovah Tsidkenu”—the Righteousness of Jehovah (Jeremiah 33:16; 23:6). Her bridal garments are all in readiness (Psalm 45:13, 14) and, already, some of her treasures (tokens of his love given to her during their period of courtship) have been transported to the Royal Palace! Is this not also, the significance of the Master’s words, “I go to prepare a place for you”? (John 14:2) “Come quickly, Lord,” she says… He responds, “I (shall indeed) come quickly” (Rev. 3:11, 22:7); and to which, her final salutation is, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Let us strive to be worthy of a love so great and tender as His [Christ’s]. Let us seek ever and always to glorify Him before others; and, never, no, never, prove ourselves unworthy! Contemplate… the transcendency of His love; think upon what He has declared He thinks of His beloved: then, endeavor, more and more, to grow into the image and likeness—His “Ideal”!
Hebrews 10:37 —
“35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
2 Peter 1:12 —
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”
The three “stepping stones” to understanding Christ’s invisible presence and “parousia” which IS (part of) “the present truth” which the Apostle Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 1:12 are: 1260, 1290, and 1335 and these numbers are prophetic markers all found in both the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.
Bro. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.
Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled ““Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.
Suggested Further Reading —
Click on the links below for the specified article/content matter.
“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense.” Psalm 141:2
This is the same thought elsewhere expressed in the Bible—that the prayers of God’s people rise up before him as a sweet perfume (Revelation 5:8).
The incense of old, which typified the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3), was composed of a rare mixture of spices, giving forth a peculiarly sweet odor and nobody was allowed to make that incense except the priests who were to offer it (Exodus 30:34-38; 37:29).
Thus again the Lord shows us that the privilege of prayer, of approaching him in an acceptable manner, and praying directly to the Heavenly Father through Christ, is confined to the anti-typicalpriests, called by Apostle Peter the “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).
“Only those of the Lord’s people who have consecrated their lives to him, even unto death, are thus represented as members of the sacrificing priesthood, to whom the Apostle wrote, saying,‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, and your reasonable service’(Romans 12:1). The Lord has pledged to this particular class that he will hear them… he will answer them—not necessarily according to their natural preferences, but he will heed the spirit of their cry and give tothem, according to his wisdom, the experiences and blessings most helpful” (R5692).
Luke 18:1 reads “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
“In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore,” declares the prophet (Psalm 16:11).
We must not grow disheartened and discouraged because of the delay in the answer to our prayers.
“Consider Jesus lest ye be weary and faint in your minds,”“for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Hebrew 12:3; Galatians 6:9).
The Motive Behind our Prayers
The Apostle James speaks of some who offer improper petitions. He says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts“ (James 4:3).
The word lusts here signifies desires.
“We are not to ask to gratify fleshly desires. An example of this, could be praying to the Heavenly Father to send us a million dollars, telling Him that we knew what to do with the money, and how to use it in His work. The Lord probably would not give it—for we would probably be asking amiss. But it might be that we would think that we were asking wisely.
“Whenever we ask anything from theLord, we should scrutinize our motives to see if there is any personality connected with the matter. In our own case we should ask ourselves: Do we want that million dollars in order that we may shine in the use of it? If so, such a prayer would be a grossly improper prayer. We might offer such a prayer at the beginning of our Christian experience, and the Father would not chide us for it. We would excuse a child for doing what we would not excuse in one of adult years.
“In respect to this matter of prayer our Lord gives us a cue. It is this:
“If ye abide in Me and My Words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”(John 15:7).
“For God’s Word to abide in us implies that we have a knowledge of God’s Word. This necessitates the studying of the Word of God, that we may know what to pray for… We should consider what the Word of God teaches on this subject, and if any one has become well acquainted with the Word of God, he should know whether or not he has met the conditions which will sanctify his prayer. It is only after he has come to this position that he may continue to make his request, nothing doubting. But very likely he will then find that he has not a very large list of petitions that he can present” (R5311).
♦The New Creature’s Greatest Need
In order to pray properly, the child of God should know what he may pray for. The things that the heavenly Father is pleased to give to his children are heavenly things.
“The new creature is on trial for the new nature—for glory, honor, immortality. And he can receive these only as he is worthy. The terms on which he is received into spiritual relationship with the Father are that he shall mortify, deaden, the earthly impulses and seek to have the spiritual impulses quickened(R5311).
With persistence inour petitions to God we will know what is proper to pray for by studying the words of Jesus and the apostles and the prophets of old. The spirit-begotten ones may thus understand what are the rights and privileges of sons of God. To these the Heavenly Father is more willing to give the holy Spirit than earthly parents are willing to give good gifts to their children(Matthew 7:11).
“The holy Spiritis the one thing which the new creature needs” (R.5310).
Thus, the most important thing that the New Creature in Christ is to pray for, is for the holy Spirit—the spirit of holiness, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Truth, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of love. The Master’s words are, “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good (earthly) gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him?”(Luke 11:13).
God is particularly willing to give us the holy Spirit, and especially pleased that we ask for it.
This does not mean that earthly interests will be ignored, since our Heavenly Father knows perfectly what things of an earthly character we have need of, just as He knows whatwe have need of for our spiritual welfare (R5311).
The child of God should feel that it is a privilege to have the Lord’s approval of every thought, every act, and every word (R5310).
“What we do is God’s work, not ours… Today the Lord may be leading us by the still waters and in green pastures… Tomorrow the pathway may be thorny and through rough places. Thus day by day we grow in knowledge and grow in love, and we should be ready for whatever experiences may come to us: ‘Content whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me’ ” (R5312).
The prayer of one who asks only in harmony with the Lord’s Word is certain to be answered.
“It is best not to use any set form of words in prayer, but merely to think in advance what you desire of the Spirit—more faith, more patience, more meekness, more love.
♦Praying For Wisdom
In James 1:5, we are encouraged to pray for wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not.”
By this wisdom we may be enabled to speak and act in a way that will be helpful to others.
“In order to have the holy Spirit in large measure, we must keep near to the Lord… The illumination of the Spirit will… become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections and to the degree of our consecration to the Lord. This we manifest by the zeal with which we study his will as expressed in his Word, and with which we practice that will in the affairs of life. These are the means by which we may supply the oil to keep our light burning brightly. But while we are endeavoring to do this, we must see to it that we do not come into contact with anything which will tend to extinguish the flame of sacred love in our hearts.
“The world, the flesh and the devil are all in opposition to the light of the holy Spirit. To whatever extent they are brought into contact with the light, to that extent they smother itt. We should ever be on our guard lest we allow anything to dim or to extinguish our love for the Lord, for the truth or for holiness and Christ- likeness” (R5129, R5130).
What else should be prayed for and what are the effects of this?
Here are suggestions of what we are to pray for.
Our affections must be upon the spiritual food—upon the bread which came down from heaven and upon all the precious promises of God of which Christ is the center and substance. These we must seek, these we must appropriate; and for these, therefore, the substance of our prayers will be. Thus our watching, praying and daily seeking will be in full accord. Moreover, thanksgiving must largely take the place of requests, from the time that we learn of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine provision, for both the New Creation and for our dear ones according to the flesh, and for all the families of the earth. What could we ask for more or better than God has already promised?
♦ Daily bread—But is not this something for the flesh? This is a necessity, and the Lord has warranted us in praying for our necessities.
“We are to use our judgment the best we may; yet we are not to trust to our own efforts alone, but to the Lord’s supervising care. If, therefore, the temporal supply be scant, we are to learn the lesson of frugality and care of what we have.
“We should learn very early in life not to be wasteful. When Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes, and then instructed his disciples to take up the remainder of these in their baskets, he illustrated his economy.
“We are to eat with thankfulness what we have, if it is merely bread and water, or potatoes and salt. There is nothing to indicate that we are to ask for pie or cake or ice-cream, but for the necessities. If in God’s providence He furnishes the necessities and withholds the luxuries, then we are to be satisfied, to be thankful (R5311).
Let us also ask ourselves daily: Did we waste anything today? Did we eat too much today—twice as much as we had need for? “If so, the Lord will probably teach you some lesson, and it will be for your good as a New Creature. But if you have used wisdom and economy, He will provide the things needful. As the Prophet says, “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (R5311).
♦ “Deliverance from the Evil One—which should lead us to see that there is an Evil One, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to resist his attacks successfully. We need the Lord’s help at all times, and we need to pray continually and not to faint (R5311).
♦ Forgiveness of our trespasses daily—which are the result of our fleshly imperfections. “Our trespasses of the flesh today should be a great deal less than similar trespasses with us ten years ago or five years or even one year ago” (R5311).
♦God’s Kingdom to come—By praying without doubting it, we are strengthening in our faith more and more.
“Let our affections be set on things above, and not on things beneath—upon the robe of Christ’s righteousness and our future glorious apparel, when we shall be like our Lord and see him as he is, rather than on earthly apparel” (R5311).
♦ Express thanks for Divine care and to request a continuance of the same.
“Prayer and praise should always go up to heaven arm in arm, like twin angels walking up Jacob’s ladder, or like kindred aspirations soaring up to the Most High” (Spurgeon).
“The prayers recorded in the Bible are generally not lengthy. God accepts as our prayers all the good thoughts and sentiments of our minds, as well as those expressed by our tongues” (R5311).
♦ Pray for each other—In relation to this point, “the Editor” in the Reprints (R2576) of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, writes an encouraging comment in relation to a letter received from a Brother in Christ (i.e. Br. W. E. Vanamburgh from South Dakota, USA):
“We cannot express in words our deep appreciation of the love of the brethren so often expressed in their letters… We assure these dear brethren and all that their love is most heartily reciprocated. We love the brethren and take pleasure in laying down our life in their service.We are glad to know that you remember us and the Lord’s ‘harvest work,’ which he as been pleased to center here in Allegheny, in your prayers. If we may judge from the letters received, thousands of prayers ascend daily on our behalf. We cannot tell you how deeply we appreciate this: it keeps us humble as we remember our needs, and it strengthens us as we remember the Lord’s sufficiency and his willingness to pour out his blessings in answer to your prayers and ours.
These prayers and the divine power to which they are attached are to our hearts a bulwark against the many Satan-blinded foes who beset you and us continually because of our loyalty to the Lord and his Word.”
“The Scriptures not only encourage public and audible prayers amongst the Lord’s people, but point out, also, that he who prays should remember his audience in connection with his ministry, and perform the service so that he who hears may be able to say ‘Amen,’ whether audibly or in his heart” (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) (Volume 6, Studies in the Scriptures, page 688).
♦ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem—“They shall prosper that love thee”(Psalm 122:6).
These words are as true of the Heavenly Jerusalem (government of peace) and her children of peace, as they are of the earthly Jerusalem—which now is, and is in bondage with her children (Galatians 4:25).
“But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother”(Galatians 4:26).
“Those who are praying the Lord’s blessing upon his cause are seeking to serve it and are proportionately blessed. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of Zion and the Lord’s cause now, are standing in a slippery place and are in great danger of falling” (R2071).
“The true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).
Worship “in spirit and in truth” does not apply simply to prayer, praise, supplication and thanks giving. It goes deeper than all these. It takes hold upon the affections, upon the heart, and hence signifies not an act of worship but rathera life of worship—a life in which, through the begetting of the spirit and the knowledge of the divine plan, the individual becomes so at-one with God and all the features of the plan of God that it is, in the words of our Lord, his meat and his drinkto do the Father’s will. This is worship in spirit and in truth. It will find its expression… also in all the acts and words of life (R2071).
♦ Pray for God’s will to be done.
“We are not to tell God what to do for we have no means of knowing what is His will in matters in general.
“Our Lord Jesus did not pray in a mandatory fashion. With his petitions, he said, “Not My will, but Thine, be done”—I have no will of my own; for I have given up my will and I desire to have Thy will done. This is a prayer of full submission. It did not mean that our Lord did not pray in faith, nor that he would not get what he desired. It meant that he desired to learn the Father’s will; and he learned that the Father willed that he should drink the cup of suffering to the very dregs” (R5203).
Results of Prayer
It is the privilege of the Lord’s people to ask in order that they may have fullness of joy and the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,”rejoicing greatly in hope of the glorious things which the Father has in store for us and which the holy Spirit reveals through the Word.
“The joyful Christian is the thankful Christian. The thankful Christian is the one who is making the best use of his life. By reason of having exercised thankfulness of heart, he will be the better prepared for the kingdom” (R5203).
It is truly an enormous privilege to have access to the presence of God, entering by faith into the Most Holy.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”(Hebrews 4:16).
Br. Charles T. Russell—The content of this post is derived from a combination of various Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
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 millenniumfrom 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 the third day he 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.
Hence Israel is now being restored—presently as a nation, and later, in the Kingdom, to individual life after they recognize Jesus as their Redeemer.
Three Dispensations in the Divine Plan
There are three large 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, but to 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 seventhangel 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 Christ and 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 all will 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“obedient shall 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).
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”(1 Peter 3:14-17, ESV).
What is Godliness?
Here are some words of the Psalmist David in Psalm 15:1-5.
“(1) O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; (3) who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; (4) in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (5) who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”
the condition of righteousness (Matthew 5:10, 1 Timothy 6:11, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 10:2, Proverbs 11:18, Psalm 34:15, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 34:19, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:12, Romans 1:17, 5:19, 6:13);
an opposition to sin—as God is opposed to sin (Psalm 1:1, Psalm 37:28);
a condition in harmony with justice—as God is just (Micah 6:8, Romans 2:1, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 33:5, Zechariah 7:9-10);
generosity and kindness and love—as God is generous and kind and loving (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Psalm 37:21);
There arekind, generous and noble charactersin the world who arenot Christians. These may have more or less of opposition from others who are evilly disposed—as darkness always opposes light; yet these noble people exercisemoderationin their righteousness—they arenot righteous overmuch. These fine characters might occasionally get some persecution, politically or otherwise; but even the enemies of such would have respect for them.
Living godly versus living godly in Christ Jesus
Because of their special relationship to Christ Jesus, God’s people:
have a special enlightenment.
see more clearly the principles of God’s Justice.
have a more exacting rule by which their lives are governed.
have an intelligent knowledge that they have entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice.
realize that they are not to compromise their religion in any way; not to compromise with sin or with the world.
uphold the principles of righteousness, evento the detriment of their own earthly interests.
consecrateallof theirtime, talent, influence, money to the Lord’s service, and in relation to the use of their blessings from God, they ask themselves:
“What is the Lord’s will, the Lord’s way?”
How would the Heavenly Father want me to use my time, talents, influence, money etc… in His service, in the cause of Christ?
God’s people would wish to use their money for the preaching of the Gospeland the publishing of it in various ways. They would reason: There are many opportunities for people to get education along earthly lines, and I believe the Lord would have me as His child to use His money to help people get spiritual education.
The godly who arenot in Christ Jesus—those who have a measure of Godlikeness:
do not see these deeper things of the Divine Plan and the special arrangement God has made with the Church.
may indulge in a great many things that would not be wrong for the world—not sinful, not immoral, not unkind.
might feel perfectly free to give of their money for various causes and purposes, that would be reasonable and proper in themselves— such as attending a football match or a theatre production; spend a certain amount each season on the opera; be patrons of art and music and literature—adopting a course that will win the approval of society; or spend a thousand dollars—or ten thousand dollars—on a single painting, because he wants art to flourish. Or he might buy a fine piece of sculpture to adorn his home, but this is not the course for true Christians, who must consider the Lord’s will for them as His servants.
The Christian has limitations which the worldly do not have.
But we are glad!
Glad for all good men and good women, who can be good and noble even though not in Christ Jesus.
Glad to esteem them.
There are noble people in the world. There are some godly ones (to a certain degree) outside the Church, and they are likely to come to see something of the Truth, if they are really noble characters.
The godly of this world will get a blessing in the Restitution time. Every godly thing that they have done, every act of generosity, will get its reward. By cultivating their higher sentiments, they will have fewer steps to retrace.
Specially GODLY are Specially PERSECUTED
The persecutions which come to the godly inChrist Jesus are special persecutions. We are not to expect much of this fromthe Body of Christ.
Persecution is not merely one act or one word—it is a succession of unkind words and actswith a view to punishing some one for adhering to an opinion or course of conduct.
Persecution comes from a certain class called by Jesus the world. But the class that Jesus called the world are those who had a formof godliness, but did not have the power thereof. The Apostle speaks of a class who would take the name of the Lord upon them and misuse that name. There are people in the world today who do not know nor want to know the difference between Truth and error—and who keep out of the way of being told. They somehow know that there would come a certain measure of condemnation to themselves if they recognized the real factsand did not act in accordance with them.
They are not all bad people by any means. There are very many good people among the tares; but there is no real wheat among the tares—no real nutriment.
These tares pose as the Church of Christ; the tare systems pose as Christianity. And from this class usually come the persecutions. They try to crowd out the wheat, or to choke it and make it unfruitful. It was so in our Lord’s day. Those to whom the Lord referred as persecutors were not the Gentile world of His day, but the worldly ones of the Jews—those who werenot fully consecratedto the Lord, but who thought they were.
Nicodemus was a fine character, and Gamaliel was a fine character—and so were a great many who did not become Christ’s disciples at all but were seeking after righteousness; as, for instance, the young man who came to the Lord and asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”The Lord answered, “Thou knowest the commandments.”The young man said, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth up.” He was a noble character, and Jesus looking on him loved him, even though he was not a disciple. And Jesus said to him. “One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me.” But he went away sorrowful. He did not want to become a member in Christ Jesus.
He did not want to give everything to the Lord.
He was very rich—“had great possessions,” and he preferred to hold on to his wealth.—Mark 10:17-22.
There were others who went through many of the forms and ceremonies, and who kept the various admonitions of the Law, and its feasts and fasts; but they were not the “Israelites indeed in whom was no guile.” And later they became the persecutors of Christ and those who walk in His steps of sacrifice.
Professed Christian Persecutors
And so those who live godly in Christ Jesus have their persecutions, not so much from the worldly class as from professing Christians. There is a class in Churchianity today that has a great deal of pride and self-satisfaction.
Some say respecting those who proclaim Present Truth and who live saintly lives as followers of Jesus Christ:
If we let these people alone and let them teach these things, all that we have been upholding for centuries will crumble.
Did not Luther hand down Truth to us?
Did not Calvin give the Church Truth?
Have we not the teachings of Wesley?
No, no; we will not have these “new doctrines”!
But we see that these people are persecuting the Truth and its representatives because ofmisunderstanding.
We should have a great deal of sympathyandnot feel specially angry with them.
This does not mean that we should be glad of persecution—no persecution “for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous.” (Hebrews 12:11.) But if we know that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake, then we know the Spirit of God rests upon us. It is those who know that they suffer for Christ’s sake, and who take it gladlybecause it is the will of God, that may rejoice, because the persecution is working out in them blessed effects. Let us then
“Be still beneath His tender care, For He will make the tempest cease; And bring from out the anguish here, The afterward of peace.”
“The Lord Your God Doth Prove You”
WHY does God permit His people to suffer?
WHY does God not shield those who are His from suffering, just as a loving parent would shield a child?
The Scriptures reply that it is because God is working out a great Plan that will eventually bring blessings to all who will do righteously. God wishes to show the evil effects of sin and the deteriorating effects of Adamic disobedience. God’s purpose is that after the Six Days of Sin and Death are ended, in the Seventh Day there shall be a blessing for the whole groaning creation. “Jehovah God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”—Isaiah 25:8.
And there is a particular reason why God should permit persecution to come upon His consecrated ones. “The Lord your God doth prove you,” test you. Why?What is He proving?
We profess to be His loyal children. We profess to be laying down all that we have. And now “the Lord your God doth prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul.“—Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3.
How muchwill you endure?
How patiently will you endure?
To what extent will you endure?
Those who will endure most, and endure most patiently, will give evidence of the best character. And those who demonstrate the best character will have the highest positions in the Kingdom. Each will get a position according to his faithfulness. But as star differeth from star in glory, so it will be in the Kingdom.
He who fights
the greatest fightagainst his own nature
and demonstrates most the love and zeal of his heart,
such is the one who will have a high place.
The Solitary Way
Alas! How few may know the grace it takes To tread the solitary way. Alone! Ah, yes, alone! No other human heart Can understand the nameless sorrows there— The nights in weeping spent, and yet, when dawns The day, to greet the world with radiant smile, And scatter sunshine while you whisper low To your poor heart, “Canst bear a little more?”
Alone! Poor heart, and dost thou question, Why? Dost think it strange that thou must walk this way? Ah, no! Thou dost but follow in His steps Who went before, and of the people there Was none with Him! Alone? Yet not alone— Hath not thy blessed Lord and Master said, “My presence shall go with thee”? Ah, my soul, fNo longer, then a solitary way!