A Lily of Christ

SONGS 6, 3-bsd

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies”
(Song of Solomon 6:3, KJV).

Once on earth did live a pure white lily,
The sweetest flower of all God’s family.
With head bent low, in reverent humility,
He was fixed to a cross, to free you and me!

White lilies are found in fields and valleys,
Among thorns they grow, graceful and lovely,
From fruitful bulbs, with fragrance alluring,
White and clean as Christ, thus so endearing.

To become a white lily with open face,
Turn fully to God, receiving His grace,
His favouring breeze with gladness embrace,
Christ’s lily, growing bright, in whatever our place.

Nothing on this earth is more chiefly desired,
Than to serve with joy as God may require,
Running the race with patience, nothing other aspired,
Daily, devotedly, even if tired.

LORD grant your wisdom, to do what is right,
Refrain from the wrong and walk in Christ’s light.
Diligently watch and pray, for victory’s gain —
As Christ’s holy name, we ever proclaim!

Our cross we bare and press forward, on —
Our crown not to lose, but to overcome!
Assured that the battle is ours to be won,
And then, finally, the rest surely will come.

Thus praising Jehovah, wholeheartedly!
As a sacrifice, living, pleasing to Thee,
By grace, we endure, all faithful to be,
Sealed thine everlasting, this is our plea! 

 

To be a lily of Christ, let us each strive to be: simple and sincere in humility (Philippians 2:3); sweet and fragrant in gentleness, compassion, mercy, and long-suffering towards all; and joyful in hope (Romans 12:12), enduring patiently (1 Peter 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:24) with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6). May we be at peace, in the valley that God has planted us in to be watered by His steams of living water, found in the Word of God, delivered to the saints by God’s grace and mercy in order for God to be glorified, honored, and praised BY ALL in due time (1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Peter 4:11).


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I AM MY BELOVED’S, AND MY BELOVED IS MINE
(Song of Solomon 6:3).

The following words are from the Reprints (R4783) of The Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence (which can be freely accessed from the Harvest Truth Data Base website at the following link and under the subheading “ZWT” (Zion’s Watch Tower): http://www.htdb.one/).

RIGHTLY understood we find the Bible to be a love story of surpassing interest. No earthly love story will compare with it. First, we have the Father’s love for our race, which, originally created in his likeness, fell by disobedience under just condemnation. What a wonderful story of parental Love blended with Divine Justice is conveyed to us in the narrative of how God so loved the world while we were yet sinners, that he gave his Only Begotten Son to be our Redeemer, that he might restore again to Divine favor and blessing whosoever wills to return after learning of his loving provision.

How different this view of the Divine character and Plan from the one which once terrorized us—when we thought of God as almighty in power and knowledge, but destitute of love and sympathy; when we thought of him according to the universally accepted false teachings as having, with cold indifference, sat in the councils of eternity, before the creation of the earth or our race, and there planned our creation and everlasting destiny; that he there deliberately arranged (“according to the council of his own will,” as the catechism expresses it) that he would place us as a race under such unfavorable conditions that only a mere handful, comparatively, would ever attain to a life of bliss, either in the present world or in that which is to come. Deciding also that the vast majority, ignorant (whom the God of this world hath blinded), steeped in inherited sin and degradation, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, should, nevertheless, be so constituted and preserved that they could never end their miserable existences; and, withal, providing, we were told, a great place for their eternal torture, from which would ascend for ever and ever, alike futile and unheeded, their prayers, their curses and their groans.

RELIEF TO KNOW THAT GOD IS REALLY A GOD OF LOVE

What a relief do we experience as finally we awake to a better knowledge of God and of his precious Word, to find that all these teachings of the Dark Ages were but a horrible nightmare, as unreal as they were cruel and unjust—as unscriptural as they are contrary to every reasonable conception of every reasonable mind, of the proper exercise of Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power—the Divine attributes. We are reminded of the nursery tales of childhood, told to children by parents and nurses who, with grossly mistaken ideas of wisdom and propriety, used them as a lash of terror with which to secure a frightened obedience. As the bugaboos of infancy faded from memory, or at least ceased to inspire terror, as we grew older and began to take note of the deceptions which had been practiced; so as children of a larger growth we have learned that many of the “terrors of the Lord”—which, however severe, are reasonable and just—have been distorted by theologians and others who would fain exercise a terrorizing influence upon the world, to restrain from evil. We have learned, in the language of Scripture, that “their fear toward me is taught by the precepts of men,” and not by any of the Divine precepts—Isaiah 29:13.

Oh, what a relief it has brought to our hearts to know God as really and truly a God of love, who is not only willing to save unto the uttermost, but able to save unto the uttermost all who put their trust in him! and who is so willing thus to save that he has made abundant [R4783] provision that every member of Adam’s race must come to a clear knowledge of his grace and to a full opportunity—by obedience to the extent of his ability—to attain eternal life through Christ Jesus.

It does us good at times to look back and view, not only the horrible pit and miry clay of sin out of which Jehovah lifted us when he placed our feet upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, but also to remember his mercy toward us in the anointing of our eyes, now in the end of the Age, that we may see wonderful things in his Word; that we may realize how he has graciously brought us “out of darkness into his marvelous light,” in permitting us to brush away the veil of superstition, misunderstanding and mistranslation which has befogged his Word, beclouded our understanding and bedimmed our view and appreciation of the great Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and every perfect gift—James 1:17.

NOT ONE, BUT MANY INDIVIDUALS CHOSEN TO BE BRIDE OF CHRIST

But our text deals specially with another part of this great love story of the Scriptures. Our loving Father, having provided a redemption for ALL our race through Christ Jesus, did more: he highly honored and glorified our dear Redeemer as a reward for those things he endured faithfully through obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:8-11), and in addition to this arranged to select a Bride and joint-heir in glory for his Son, our Lord Jesus. It was not an individual that was chosen to be the Bride, but many individuals, and yet in all, compared with the world, a “little flock,” the “elect Church,” called and in process of selection and perfection, to be “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.”

Of all the plots and peculiarities of love stories which have been conjured up by human brains, none will compare with this story of how Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her—redeeming her with his own life; and how, being rewarded with excellent glory by the Father, these who would be his companions, are invited to share his cross, his suffering, his death, and to be received up into glory with him, to share his love and his throne and the Father’s favor. We will not go into details here; we have done this before and our readers are familiar with every feature—so, instead, we pass on to consider some of the conditions of acceptance with the Bridegroom, and how we may make our calling and our election sure to this position of honor and blessing to which he has invited us.

ONLY A FEW CAN SAY FROM THE HEART, “I AM MY BELOVED’S”

Our text briefly, yet very pointedly, states the entire matter.

(1) “I am my Beloved’s.” There is no possibility for any one to get into this special elect class, “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife,” without knowing it. There is therefore no possibility that heathen philosophers or others who lived and who died without a personal knowledge of Christ as their personal Savior, can ever be members of the elect Church, the Bride; all who are of it will be able to say, “I am my Beloved’s.” Very manifestly also, for the same reason, many who are Church members “in good and regular standing,” have neither part nor lot in this matter; for only a few can say, from the heart, truly, “I am my Beloved’s.” This union with the Beloved (Christ) implies that the step of justification through repentance and faith in the precious blood has first taken place; because only the justified are “called.”

(2) It is implied that the one who can say, “I am my Beloved’s,” has not only heard of Christ but has made a definite, positive compact or contract with him. And this contract—to be his in every thought and word and deed, to the extent of our ability, if he will accept us and be our Bridegroom, is our marriage vow or covenant.

The Scriptures assure us that in the present time, while evil prevails and the God of this world blinds the minds of the vast majority, none can come to the Lord Jesus, except as the Father draws them (John 6:44). The Father is not drawing all mankind now, but only believers. He is leaving the general work of drawing the worldly for the next Age, the Messianic Age, when Christ and the Church glorified shall, as God’s agents, cause the whole earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Truth. Whenever the Truth reaches the heart and understanding its influence is to draw, although the drawing may be resisted not only in the present Age, but also in the Age to come (Acts 3:23). But, it is only the few who are being drawn to Christ by a knowledge of the Truth now, because only a few have a knowledge of the Truth. And while many resist the truth and refuse the opportunity of union with the great Bridegroom, some have gladly accepted and given themselves wholly to the Lord, thus sealing the covenant binding themselves to him and by his grace binding him to them.

IF FAITHFUL IT IS THE PRIVILEGE OF EACH TO SAY, “MY BELOVED IS MINE”

It is proper that each one should decide for himself positively, whether or not he has ever accepted the Divine invitation to give himself (Proverbs 23:26; Romans 12:1) [R4784] to the Lord, to be ultimately accepted as a member of his Bride if he continue faithful to his engagement to the end. If we are faithful, and so long as we continue to be faithful, it is our privilege to look up with confidence and be assured of the second part of our text, “My Beloved is mine.” And if we will, it is possible for us to continue in this attitude, “faithful unto death”; and so doing we may know that in the resurrection we shall be with our Lord, and be like him, and share his glory and his throne—Revelation 3:21.

How much is implied in this statement, “My Beloved is mine”! We are reminded of the Scripture which declares, “He that hath the Son hath life”—eternal life. More than this, the Apostle assures us that those who have Christ, who can truly, Scripturally say, “My Beloved is mine,” are really possessors of “all things.” For since Christ is the heir of all things, if we have become associates with him, then, indeed, “all things are yours (things present and things to come) for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:22,23). If it lifted from us a great load to know that our sins were graciously forgiven through the merit of the precious blood, how much more of a load of care does it lift from us to know that we are vitally united with the illustrious Son of the great King of the Universe—the Son in whom the Father is well pleased and whom he has made his sole associate in the glory and dominion of the Universe.

Nor does this promise of blessings in Christ apply merely to the future. The glories and honors truly are not now, but by and by to be revealed; but the Bridegroom’s care, protection, provision and comfort belong to his betrothed even now, while we are in this tabernacle; so that while we are passing through the “valley of the shadow of death,” we need fear no evil, for he is with us, and his rod and staff comfort us.

All who abide faithful to him, all who truthfully can say, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine,” have not only the promise of the life that is to come, but also [R4784] the promise of this present life. They hear the Master’s voice saying, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Age,” and in the end of the Age he is to be specially near, specially precious, and is to reveal himself to his faithful in an especial manner, even before she is so changed as to behold him in his glory.

ALL THE “EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES” BELONG TO THIS CLASS

It is the privilege of these to apply to themselves, and to realize as properly theirs, all the “exceeding, great and precious promises” of the Divine Word. These may hear the voice of the Lord, saying, I will be with thee in six troubles and in the seventh I will not forsake thee. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee.” Indeed, we are assured and “know that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called ones according to his purpose [to be the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife]Job 5:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 50:15; Romans 8:28.

These promises of the Lord have been well summed up in the expression of the poet:—

“In every condition, in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth,
At home and abroad, on the land or the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

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

What a blessing of peace, quietness of spirit, ability to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ, and sustenance and strength in time of trial, lies behind these precious assurances of the Bridegroom to those who can see and realize unquestionably, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine,” no tongue can express. It has in the past permitted his faithful ones to pass through many dark and trying experiences with a fortitude that has surprised the world, which has seen them in the fiery furnace, but has not seen that there is with them the form of the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). They have endured as seeing him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). The poor world who know not this invisible Friend above all others, and are unacquainted with this Heavenly Bridegroom, and know not his sustaining grace in every hour of trial are, indeed, to be greatly pitied. They must largely bear alone those burdens which the Lord’s people, his betrothed, are privileged to lay at the feet of the great Burden Bearer, whose invitation is, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-29).

But, if the case of the world is a sad one, because it knows not our Bridegroom, how much worse is the case of those who having once known him, and having once experienced his tender care and helpfulness in all of life’s affairs as a Counselor and Guide, have wandered off, having lost their first love; having forgotten that they were purged from their old sins, and become deaf to the “exceeding great and precious promises” pertaining to the present as well as to the future life; and are now striving merely for the things which perish, and which at most are but for a moment (2 Corinthians 4:17,18). These are in a much worse condition than the world.

As the Apostle declares, “It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment”—2 Peter 2:21.

Let us who have named the name of Christ, who have assumed his name, abide in him—by continuing in faith, in love and in zeal, to walk in his footsteps and thus make our calling and our election sure.

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Further Suggested Reading

“The Song of Solomon” by Br. David Rice. The Beauties of the Truth Periodical http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/BOTMAY02.PDF

“Notes on the Song of Solomon” by Br. Anton Frey. These study notes are from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD which can be purchased from The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Bookstore at the following link: https://herald-magazine.com/bookstore-2/

“Notes on the Song of Solomon” by Br. Frank Shallieu. These study notes are also from the “BIBLE STUDY LIBRARY” CD. (Same link as above.)

“The Song of Songs A short series of devotional meditations – No. 1 by Br. F. A. Shuttleworth, Scot., The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, April 1958. Here is the direct link: http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1958_4.htm#_Toc36391359

“I Am My Beloved’s, and My Beloved Is Mine.” The Dawn Magazine, Sept. 1989, in the Christian Life and Doctrine section.
http://www.dawnbible.com/1989/8909cl-4.htm

“SONG OF SOLOMON 2:1, 2, 16; 4:5 – The Rose of Sharon & the Lily of the Valleys.” BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/12/15/song-of-solomon-21-2-16-45-the-rose-of-sharon-the-lily-of-the-valleys/

 

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Water From The Rock

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There are two occasions in the Old Testament of Moses smiting a rock to provide water for the despairing Israelites in the wilderness. Let us examine the events, their differences, and the lessons to be learned.

Exodus 17:1-7

In this account Moses, in the name of God, smote a rock in Horeb with his rod to release water for the thirsty Israelites who had camped at Rephidim (see map below), about 1 1/2 months after the Exodus (compare Exodus 19:1). From this rock gushed water, abundantly refreshing Israel.

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Here is this account of Moses’ first smiting of the rock as recorded in Exodus 17:1-7 (KJV):

“(1) And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

(2) Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

(3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

(4) And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

(5) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

(6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

(7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”

Numbers 20:1-13, 24 

The second occasion of Moses smiting a rock for water occurred much later, near the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering. This is recorded in the fourth book of Moses, the book of Numbers, chapter 20. Here Moses and Aaron “rebelled against my word” (verse 24). For on this occasion God told Moses to speak to the rock, but in anger, and failing to credit God for caring for the Israelites, Moses asked the crowd “must we fetch you water out of this rock?,” and smote it twice.

Here is the account (Numbers 20:1‑13, 24 KJV):

“(1) Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

(2) And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

(3) And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

(4) And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

(5) And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.

(6) And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.

(7) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

(8) Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

(9) And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

(10) And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

(11) And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

(12) And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

(13) This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

(24) Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.”

Moses Not Permitted to go Into the Promised Land

One of the reasons why Moses was not permitted to lead Israel into the land of promise concerns this second occasion. Smiting the rock on the first occasion (Exodus. 17:1‑7) was by God’s direction, and the waters gushed forth. But the second time (Numbers 20:2‑12) the Lord said to Moses, “Speak unto the rock,” but instead he hit the rock with his rod twice.

Moses’ sin in the Numbers account was self‑assertion and lack of faith (R4047:6, R5315:5).

In Numbers 27:14, God clearly states to Moses that He punished Aaron and him for their disobedience. “For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin” (Numbers 27:14). By not saying that God would provide them water,  saying rather that they would give the whole community water, Moses and Aaron had disobeyed God.

Here, we are reminded of Ephesians 4:26, “If angry, beware of sinning” (Weymouth). Moses and Aaron, in anger with the Israelite complaints, took the matter in their own hands. Moses disregarded God’s direction, and failed to direct the people to God’s loving care for them. Evidently Moses remembered his striking the rock years earlier, and vented his anger here without regard for G6 mtqod’s instruction to “speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water.”

As Moses and Aaron were punished for their wrong actions, so too, God’s people may have to live with the consequences of their poor decisions or impulsive actions. However, God still provides access to the the waters of spiritual life. God knows that no one could stand before God if every mistake were recorded and not forgiven.

“(3) If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (4) But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (5) I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; (6) my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (7) O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption” (Psalm 130:3‑7, ESV).

Some time later, God led Moses up to Mount Pisgah’s top (Numbers 27:12), with an extended panoramic view of the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses saw this with his natural eyes, but Moses saw much more through the eye of faith, seeing the promises which God had made to the tribes of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “We hear not a murmur respecting the transfer of leadership and the cessation of his own labors. If God had used Moses in his service to the extent that he was pleased to do, the servant was thankful and satisfied” (R3077).

“The most unjust thing we can do is judge Moses or any other man by his deeds and not by his fruits” (R4055:5).

Antitypical Meaning of “Smiting” the Rock

Christ Jesus, the true Rock, was to be smitten but once for our sins, and as a result of that one smiting at Calvary [i.e. Christ’s death, which made possible the access to God’s grace in Christ to those God has called out of the world] the water of life would be obtained for all true Israelites to all time; and if for a season the flow was stopped it was only necessary that the Rock should be invoked in the name of the Lord, that the waters might again flow forth. Christ dieth no more; death has no dominion over him; therefore in the type the Rock should not have been smitten a second time. But the second smiting, nevertheless, made a new type, because as the Apostle explains, there are some now who crucify Christ afresh, and put him to an open shame‑some of his professed followers denying or ignoring the value of the original sacrifice, denying the blood that bought them, are counted as committing the sin unto death — Second Death — and of these Moses became a type, and as a type of a class which would have to do with the antitype of the rock, he was debarred from Canaan — Hebrews 6:4‑6” (R3077).

Any denial of the Redeemer on the part of the consecrated would signify a crucifying afresh, a smiting of the rock a second time” (R5315:4).

“We might remark here, too, that those who smote the Lord the first time, at Calvary, have the promise of full forgiveness. They shall look upon him whom they pierced, and shall mourn for him, and the Lord will pour out upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication, and they shall have full opportunity of recompense and reconciliation (Zechariah 12:10). It is those who, with greater knowledge, and after they have become partakers of the holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come, sin wilfully and count the blood of the covenant a common thing [unholy thing, Hebrews 10:29] — these are they who commit the real sin unto death, and for whom the Scriptures suggest no hope, or further opportunity, because they have sinned wilfully” (R3077).

What if Moses Had Not Smitten the Rock in the Numbers Account?

If Moses had not smitten the rock in the Numbers 20 account, would he have been permitted to enter the promised land? Br. Charles Taze Russell answers this question in R3077.

“… Moses would not have gone into the land of Canaan [even if he had obeyed God by “speaking to the rock”] because … he was the type of the Law Covenant, which must end before the people can enter into their rest. As Moses was the representative of the Law Covenant, so Joshua became the representative or type of the New Covenant and of its mediator, Jesus, the Deliverer. ‘The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ The Law was a pedagogue or guide to prepare and bring the Israelites along to the borders of Canaan, but the Law could never give them rest, could never take them into the land of promise. Christ, the antitype of Joshua, must do that. We are to remember, too, that Moses’ error in smiting the rock, did not involve him in the Second Death, nor will it work any injury to him as respects the future. It was comparatively a trivial matter, and taught him a valuable lesson which he evidently learned to the Lord’s pleasement, and his failure to go into the land of promise, therefore, should not indicate a continuance of divine indignation against him, but merely a continuance of the divine purpose in making of him a type of a class who would have to do with the antitypical rock, the antitypical water, and the antitypical smiting.”

Differences and Similarities Between the two Rock Smiting Accounts

Here are some differences and similarities noted between the Exodus and Numbers account concerning the smiting of the rock by Moses.

(1) Time — The first account occurred in the opening year of the Exodus while the other occurred near the opening of the 40th year after the Exodus. The Exodus account was in the second month of the first year, while the Numbers account was in the 1st month of the (last) 40th year of travelling.

(2) Location — Exodus account: in the Wilderness of Sin at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1); Numbers account: in the desert of Zin at Kadesh, in the first month of year 40 of their travels.

(3) Moses’ attitude — On the first occasion, Moses followed God’s instructions to the fullest and his attitude was noble and honorable, while in the closing account his attitude was angry and personal, rather than deferential: “Must we fetch you water?” were his words, rather than giving glory to God by saying something like “God will give you water,” and meekly directing the attention to Jehovah.

(4) Level of Obedience — In the opening account Moses hit the rock once as God told him to do, while in the closing account he was to speak to the rock but he disobeyed and instead hit the rock twice.

(5) The Rods — the rod in the Exodus account was Moses’ rod, while the rod in the Numbers account may have been the rod of Aaron. (Numbers 20:9, “Moses took the rod from before Jehovah” — perhaps the rod of Aaron that had been “before the testimony,” Numbers 17:10).

(6) Who was present — In the Exodus account Moses struck the rod in the sight of the Elders, while in the Numbers account, the whole assembly of the Israelites was present.

(7) All the Israelites still murmured and quarrelled during the 40 year wandering in the wilderness. Thus the only ones to enter the Promised Land of Canaan were Joshua, Caleb, and all the children of the Israelites who were less than 20 years of age (Numbers 14:20‑30).

(8) The Rock — in both cases the rock represents Christ, the Rock of Ages. “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

(9) In both cases, the waters quenched the thirst of the Israelites.

(10) Two examples of the spiritual Rock are given during the life of Moses to show that there are two time periods in history during which the spiritual waters of life do flow — first for the Church class during this Gospel Age (from Pentecost in 33 AD) and next, in the kingdom age, for the world of mankind. In the Exodus account it was thus necessary for Christ to be smitten once: Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18, John 7:32, 37. Before anyone can come unto Christ, he must thirst for the Truth. He must first have and show an appreciation of all that the Heavenly Father has to give. The waters beautifully picture the waters of eternal life that the Heavenly Father offers to those who have faith in Him, and the blessings that will flow through Him. The flowing waters satisfy the hearts of the Church class during the Gospel Age. These are pictured in the Elders in the Exodus account who were present with Moses. This water becomes a well spring of Truth in each one of us, with an opportunity to nourish others along the way.

(11) The Church’s sojourn began at the beginning of the Gospel Age, just as the Exodus account comes at the beginning of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. In Revelation 22:1 we read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Mankind will only receive that life‑giving water after the Kingdom is ushered in, just like in the Numbers account it comes at the end of the wilderness wanderings when the Gospel Age is complete. Then the resurrected world of mankind will receive the benefits of the Kingdom when they are ready to enter into the Promised Land, but on the earthly plane of existence.

(12) Christ will not then be smitten a second time. As pictured in the Numbers account, God will speak to Jesus at the appropriate time and the waters will not simply come forth, but they will come forth abundantly, as we are told in Numbers 20:11. Then the waters of life will be given to refresh all the people.

(13) The spiritual walk that we have entered into began with Christ. After crossing the Red Sea, the waters of Marah were bitter, representing the prevalence of sin throughout the world. Christ came to Jordan and offered his life and the first glimpse of the sweetened waters were given there. Next, at Elim, there were 70 palm trees and 12 wells. This relates to when our Lord sent out 70 into Galilee to preach the Gospel and he sent out 12 Apostles as the “wells” of spiritual Truth. Our Lord said he was “the true bread from heaven.” Yet the Israelites did not want that, but the quail. At Sinai, the tables of the Law were written into their hearts. Some have gone through difficult experiences like Miriam who was struck with Leprosy for 7 days, and some come back with a bad report and think it’s too much of a cost to bear, being consecrated to God. But those who endure with faith receive God’s blessings. In Numbers 21:6 the fiery serpents represent the affliction of sin, which the world can be relieved of by looking to Christ for their healing (Numbers 21:8).

Lessons

(1) Dependency on God

Not just to seek and ask God for answers and direction in our situations of daily life, but above all, in doing so, to  give God the glory in all that we say and do, and in any way the Heavenly Father permits, allow for the “hearers” as well as ourselves to recognize God’s influence in each matter. That is, see the presence of Christ through the actions, words and doings of the person(s) each does associate with in the experiences of this present life.

Example

Here is an example of a lesson to learn from Moses’ smiting the rock twice, in today’s world. If we give someone either financial or material gifts, then we should not think it is because of our power or our ability, but rather see that it is because of our Almighty Heavenly Father’s help — His love, justice, power, and wisdom working in harmony through His children called by Him, to do works that reflect Christ-likeness. We should do works in a way so as to fulfil God’s will and God’s purpose through us whom He has called to be partakers of the Heavenly calling now during the Gospel Age, from Pentecost forward.

St. Paul, by inspiration, points out to us that that rock represented Christ, that the smiting of the rock represented putting Christ to a shameful death, and that only by this means is the Water of Life provided for the people of God. As the waters of that rock followed the Israelites, so the stream of God’s favor, through the sacrifice of Christ, refreshes Christ’s disciples throughout their wilderness journey.

Refreshed in body and in faith, Israel journeyed onward, but encountered new obstacles. The Amalekites, a warlike people, considered the coming of Israel as an invasion of their country, and attacked them in battle. A people used to peaceful pursuits, as the Israelites had for centuries been, would naturally be at a disadvantage in a conflict with such opponents. Yet God gave them the victory. He indicated, however, that it was not by their prowess or skill, but of His grace that they conquered.

Moses, stationed upon a high hill, lifted up his hands in prayer to God for the people. While he did so, success was theirs; but when he ceased thus to pray, the Amalekites were the victors. Perceiving this, Aaron and Hur assisted in holding up the hands of Moses until the battle terminated with success for Israel. God thus indicated that Moses was the advocate or representative of Israel, and that without him they could do nothing.

(2) Regular Prayer = Close Communion with God

By having close communion with God through unceasing prayers, God’s people can seek the Heavenly Father’s direction and counsel in all of life’s affairs. Such complete dependency on God may by God’s grace and mercy result in a mind that desires and does only the will of God, which in turn, can result in glory, honour, and praise to our Heavenly Father through Christ.

Spiritual Israelites have conflicts with enemies too mighty for them without the Lord’s assistance. The world, the flesh, and the Devil make common cause against all who are seeking the Heavenly Canaan. We who are followers of Jesus have success in our warfare only as we have Him as our Advocate. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” Through Him we may come off conquerors, yea, more than merely conquerors, victors in the highest sense — “through Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood.”

(3) Avoiding pride.

C. S. Lewis said: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride in any form and in anybody is a dangerous thing. In a worldly way the proverb is well attested, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Moses was the “meekest man in all the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Perhaps this is one reason that this experience of Moses is recorded for our benefit — to alert us, that no matter our development of humility and meekness, we need to be careful lest a moment of self-assurance, or spiritual pride, does not cause us to forget our proper reliance upon, and respect for, our Heavenly Father.

“For the comfort of those who may feel that they have done much worse than Moses, or been much more self‑assertive, been much less careful to honor the Lord, have manifested much more spiritual pride‑for their comfort let us notice that the punishment here was severe because it was part of a type” (R5957).

“Neither are we to think that brethren who have manifested spiritual pride and done things in their own name, rather than in the name of the Lord and the name of the Class, have thereby committed the sin unto death. We are, however, to realize that a terrible danger goes with spiritual pride. … Realizing this, how anxious, how zealous we should be, not only in the eradication of every symptom of it we might find in ourselves, but also in being careful lest we should take the contagion or in any manner come under its influence or have any of its symptoms!” (R5957)

“When one attends a testimony meeting, or a Berean class, and hears no real good testimony but his own, hears no proper answer except his own to any of the questions, never sees an Elder in the chair who knows how to lead a meeting anyway — these should be considered dangerous symptoms of spiritual pride” (R5956).

The proper attitude, as all will agree, is that the Lord’s people should feel greatly humbled instead of greatly exalted and heady in respect to these opportunities for telling the Truth to others” (R5956).

“We should feel our unworthiness. We should realize that the Plan is not ours; that we have merely heard of it ourselves; that it is really God’s Plan; that we are honored as His servants to tell it out” (R5956).

“But if we allow any impression to go out that it is by any wisdom on our part, or any skill, that the beauty is seen in the Message, then to that extent we are taking glory to ourselves which belongs to the Lord, and doing injury to ourselves proportionately by failing to demonstrate our worthiness to be used by the Lord in the present and in the future. The wonderful privilege of speaking as ambassadors for the Lord, to tell of His greatness and Plan should humble us with the thought that He has privileged us, whereas He has angels, who excel in strength and whom He might have used in communicating this most wonderful Message” (R5956).

We should not feel offended if we are not elected as a deacon or Elder or assistant in the Lord’s service. Br. Russell writes that “in all meekness and humility they should feel a timidity even about taking a position where there would be such a responsibility. The admonition on this is that although all of the Church should, according to their knowledge of the Truth, be qualified to be teachers, nevertheless the safer place is not to be a teacher, knowing that such shall have the severer trial. Only a sense of responsibility to the Lord and to the brethren should make one willing to serve in such capacity, much as all ought to love to be the Lord’s representatives in the Church” (R5956).

The Need For Self‑Examination

“Let us not forget that while we are to exercise great leniency in viewing the words and deeds of others, ascribing only good intentions where they are professed, we are to scrutinize with all of our might our own hearts, our own intentions. We are to inquire why we did this thing or left undone the other thing; why we did this thing this way; why we spoke in such a tone, etc. Such a careful examination, weighing of thoughts, words and deeds, would be very unsatisfactory to a person who was not wishing to be in accord with the Lord. But those who have made a covenant with the Lord and are faithful to that covenant will find such a course to be a great blessing, comforting their hearts at the time, strengthening them for the future, and in connection with the Lord’s providences it will be fitting and preparing them for places in the Heavenly Kingdom” (R5958).

By relying on and asking the Heavenly Father through Christ to show us His way and do it, we can help keep the spiritual armour of Christ on 24/7 to protect us against sinning in a sudden moment that can creep up unexpectedly. Let us remember Moses’ situation and ask God to protect us from it happening to us, and trust that God is able to do more than we even ask for or imagine if He chooses to (Ephesians 3:20).

“To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21, ESV).

References:

Br. Charles Russell — Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence: R2299, R3077, R4047, R4055, R5285, R5315, R5955.

Bibletruth411 ‑ YouTube: “The Waters of Massah and Meribah.”

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/12/11/water-from-the-rock/

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GOD’S NAME – What Is The Heavenly Father’s Name That We Are To “Hallow” And Why?

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In Psalm 148:13 (KJV) the Psalmist David wrote, “Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.”

But what is God’s actual name?

In this study we discuss the various names mentioned for God in the Old Testament Hebrew. Each of our Heavenly Father’s names describe different shades of His magnificent character, being, and personality, allowing us to know our Father better and learn what God wishes us to develop in our character, in order to bring joy, honor, glory, and praise to the Creator of all.

Almighty God—”El Shaddai”

The basic form for the Hebrew name of God is “El.” The word “El” means “might, strength, power.” The Schofield Reference Bible states that God (El) signifies the “Strong One.”

The word “Shaddai” is formed from the Hebrew words shadthe breast—and shadahto shed, to pour out. Thus, El Shaddai is “the God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually” (Adam Clark’s Commentary, Genesis 17:1). God is “Shaddai” because He is the nourisher, the strength‑giver, and thus the satisfier, who pours Himself into believing lives.

The primary translations of this root in the scriptures are “god” (for pagan or false gods), and “God” (for the true God of Israel). However, in Strong’s Concordance “El Shaddai” is not found under the English words “God” or “Lord,” but rather “Almighty” (Strong’s 7706). “All‑sufficient” would express the Almighty God (El Shaddai) for He not only enriches, but also makes fruitful. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the first occurrence of the name “El Shaddai” in the Bible, in Genesis 17:1.

“(1) And it came to pass that, when Abram was ninety and nine years old [being “as good as dead,” Hebrews 11:12] Yahweh appeared unto Abram, and said unto him, I, am GOD Almighty,—Walk, thou before me and become thou blameless: (2) That I may set my covenant betwixt me and thee, And may multiply thee, exceedingly. (3) And Abram fell on his face,—and God spake with him, saying: (4) As for me, lo! my covenant is with thee,—So shalt thou become—father of a multitude of nations; (5) And thy name shall no more be called Abram,—but thy name shall become Abraham, for father of a multitude of nations, have I appointed thee” (Genesis 17:1‑5, Rotherham).

All‑Powerful and All‑Sufficient

We can now best understand God’s character when combining these two named attributes of God’s being: All‑Powerful (“El“) and All‑Sufficient (“El Shaddai“).

Genesis 17:1 is a beautifully clear and direct statement from God of His unlimited, supreme, divine power and this quality of God can be best described in one word as God’s OMNIPOTENCE. Even simply because of God’s omnipotence, we should focus on being “blameless” through Christ. That is, through a firm belief (based on testing/studying the Scriptures, Romans 10:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:21), and thus from a steadfast faith (1 Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 6:19) in Christ as a ransom for our sins (and for the whole world, 1 Corinthians 15:21), we are redeemed and reckoned as righteous children of God (Romans 8).

Our Heavenly Father is able to meet every need (Philippians 4:19) and protect us from any danger to our spiritual lives (Jude 1:24).

Our faith and trust in El Shaddai can turn any temporal difficulty into a spiritual blessing for our eternal interests (Romans 8:28). Our responsibility is to manifest complete faith and trust in God (Isaiah 40:28‑31, 41:10, Jeremiah 17:5, Exodus 15:2, 1 Chronicles 16:11, Luke 12:8‑10, John 12:37‑43, 2 Kings 5:13‑15, Genesis 15:6‑10). Then we can have perfect peace of mind in His all‑sufficient grace (Isaiah 26:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

“We must supply our best effort, which will always be too weak and insufficient to overcome all of our imperfections, but El Shaddai will supply whatever is needed to make up for our shortcomings. God’s name, El Shaddai, describes not only what God is, but also what He does for us. El Shaddai sustains us, nourishes us, comforts us, and provides everything we need. This should make us more grateful, more peaceful; and make us feel our complete dependence upon Him. Knowing God as El Shaddai helps us more readily to praise Jehovah, our Heavenly Father, in all the experiences of life” (Br. Allan Ross, “El Shaddai,” Beauties of the Truth, November 2014).

The Patriarchs were close to El Shaddai, our Heavenly Father. They depended on Him for everything in normal life. They were a pastoral people and depended on their crops and herds for food. If there was a drought, or a disease in their herds, they could starve. They did not have unemployment benefits or retirement plans through difficult times. They had El Shaddai and that was all they needed.

The Name “Jehovah”

Jehovahthe “Self Existing One,” “The Eternal One”—is God’s primary name. It is a translation of what is known as the Tetragrammaton. The Greek word “Tetragrammaton” means “four (tetra) letters (gramma)” because “Jehovah” comes from four Hebrew letters יהוה‎ (yod, he, waw, he)—transliterated into English as “JHWH” sometimes written as “YHWH.” Some Bible translations do render the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah, just as it occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament, such as The American Standard Version 1901 edition (in 6,823 places) and The Emphatic Diaglott (in 18 places.)

“Jehovah” is the name that God gave to himself in Exodus 3:13‑15.

“(13) Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? (14) And God [elohiym, Strongs 430] said unto Moses, I AM [hayah, Strongs 1961] THAT I AM [hayah]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [Jehovah] hath sent me unto you. (15) And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”

The RVIC Bible (by Br. Jim Parkinson) has footnotes for Genesis 3:14‑15 which read:

“(14) Or, I AM BECAUSE I AM. or, I AM WHO AM. or, I WILL BE WHAT I WILL TO BE. or, I CONTINUE TO BE THE ONE CONTINUING EVERMORE. (15) Hb. Ehyeh — future tense (all three times). From the same root as Jehovah or Yahweh.”

Similarly Br. Ronald Day explains in his website study titled “The Divine Name” the following: “Yahweh [Jehovah] is the third person singular of the Hebrew verb hayah (to be or become). In Exodus 3:14 Jehovah gives Moses a different variation of his name in the first person: ‘I will be what I will be (Ehyeh’ asher’ ehyeh’).’ (Revised Standard Version – footnote) Many translations render this ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ However, according some authorities, the Hebrew word hayah, as used in this verse, means more than just to exist. It also carries with it the thought of coming into existence, or causing to exist. Thus the third person would mean: ‘He will cause to be,’ or ‘He causes to be.’

In relation to Exodus 3:14, the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, page 1065, states that in this particular verse “a merely folk etymology of the name, based on the qal form of the verb ‘to be,’ is given.” “Grammatically, because of its vocalization, yahweh can only be a … causative form of this verb, with the meaning ‘He causes to be, He brings into being.’ Probably, therefore, Yahweh is an abbreviated form of the longer, yahweh aser yihweh, ‘He brings into being whatever exists.’ The name, therefore, describes the God of Israel as the Creator of the universe.” (Ronald Day, “The Divine Name”.) That this meaning is correct can be seen by observing the indicated meaning of Jehovah in Exodus 6:2,3 – which is discussed further in this study.

Today you will not find the divine name “Jehovah” (English) (nor “Yahweh”) in the New American Standard Bible, not even in the four places that were in the original AKJV (i.e. Exodus 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4).

The name was removed quite simply because there was many thousands of years ago a Usurper to the throne of God, the great liar, the Adversary. His first act of rebellion was to accuse Jehovah of lying to Adam and Eve about the tree of knowledge telling Eve that if she ate of the fruit she would become like God knowing all things and that she would not die. Ever since, Satan has opposed the Most High and His Son as well as all faithful followers of God’s Word. Thus, by having the divine name removed and substituted with “Lord” it made it so much easier to introduce the false doctrine of the Trinity whereas both the Heavenly Father and His firstborn son, Jesus Christ, the Logos, are called “Lord,” and the word is interchangeable to mean that both are coeternal and equal which is not true. The Heavenly Father had no beginning and no end, while Jesus had a beginning, and was God’s firstborn son (Br. Richard Tazzyman, 2017 Discourse: “I Am”).

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:13‑15).

This change of removing the name “Jehovah” stems from the 1880s when the council of the church of England recommended to the British Crown that a revision of the AKJV be produced, and at the same time a group of translators from the United States of America were invited to collaborate with the translators of the RV of the AKJV Bible to produce a version of the Bible in American English. Thus, the American Standard Version of 1901 was created. Br. Richard Tazzyman comments in his discourse “I AM” about how the original committee felt towards the importance of the divine name, in the Foreword of the 1901 ASV Bible.

“The change first proposed in the Appendix, that which substitutes JEHOVAH for LORD or GOD, is one which will be unwelcome to many, because of the frequency and familiarity of the terms displaced, but the American Revisers after a careful consideration were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish substitution which regarded the divine name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the old Testament.”

Here are two other texts with God’s name as “Jehovah.”

“I am Jehovah; this is my name, and my glory will I not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8).

“That men may know that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art El Elyon, the Most High over all the earth” (Psalms 83:18).

[Note: the difference between the name “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” is that “Jehovah” is the English word that represents the name of God, just as Jesus is the English word that represents the name of our Savior. When one uses a name in one language, it is often not the same pronunciation or form as the name in the original language. For example, with the name “Joshua” — as there was no “J” in English for some centuries, it is evident that this name that we all know as a familiar English language name today sounded different before, and as to its actual pronunciation in Hebrew, who would recognize it if we tried to simulate Hebrew in the English language. Jesus is surely not the sound his contemporaries used when they called his name. But it is our English name for him. In the same way, we know the name of God as Jehovah. Yahweh is a closer sound alike to the Hebrew, perhaps — at least some seem to think so — but even that presumably is different than a real Hebrew speaker of antiquity would have pronounced the name. There is no necessity to modify the word that English speakers know the name as. It is Jehovah. When we use that name, we are communicating. If we all began to use some other pronunciation, most people may get the point, but there would be some confusion. However, whether one prefers “Yahweh,” or the more familiar “Jehovah,” may the name of God be “hallowed.”]

By What Name Was God Known to the Patriarchs?

The name “Jehovah” appears in Exodus 3:15.

“And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, The Lord [Jehovah] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”

Only three chapters onward, we read of “El Shaddai” and “Jehovah” both being mentioned in Exodus 6:2,3.

“God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai [The All Mighty, All Sufficient God], but by my name JEHOVAH [“The Self Existing, Eternal One”] was I not known to them.”

This verse could not mean that up until the time of Exodus 6 no one knew God by the name of “Jehovah.” For even Adam knew God by the name of Jehovah as confirmed in Genesis 4:25,26.

“Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.” Adam lived 700 years after Seth begat Enos. Thus he would have been one of those that knew Jehovah by name.

In Genesis 15:2, God revealed himself to Abraham by this very name: “And he said unto him, I am JEHOVAH, that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees.”

From the very beginning the Patriarchs knew the name JEHOVAH El‑Shaddai, God All‑sufficient, since they recognized God’s continual provision made for them and the constant protection that God afforded them. However, the name “Jehovah” refers particularly to the accomplishment of promises already made; to giving them a being, and thus bringing them into existence, which could not have been done in the order of His providence sooner than until the deliverance from Egypt and the settlement in the promised land. Then the usage of “El Shaddai” became infrequent after the Law Covenant was established.

Hence in the earlier scripture mentioned — Exodus 6:2,3 — Jehovah had to be referring to the meaning of his name (as the one who causes) rather just to the word used to designate his name. In verse four Jehovah calls attention to the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them the land of Canaan. They never saw Jehovah cause the fulfillment of that promise. It is in this respect that Jehovah says that He did not make his name known to them. However, now, Jehovah is saying that he is going to cause a fulfillment of that promise. He will bring the Israelites out of Egypt into the land that he had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 6:6-8).

Thus the name Jehovah signifies the one who accomplishes what he desires and we can fully trust that His magnificent plan for man will be completely accomplished (Isaiah 55:11, 45:21).

El-Shaddai—An All-Sufficient, Covenant-Keeping God

When the patriarchs wanted to give the strongest assurance to those that were going on a dangerous mission, they used the divine name El Shaddai.

Genesis 28:1‑4—Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan‑aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother. And El Shaddai bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”

“As Abraham had sent Eliezer to find a covenant wife for Isaac, so Isaac sent Jacob to find a covenant wife—not from the Canaanites, but from Abraham’s extended family. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were all under the Abrahamic Covenant, a Covenant of Grace. As consecrated Christians, we also are under a Grace Covenant. Like Jacob, who here typified the New Creation, we have been sent on a journey and blessed by the antitypical Isaac, our Lord Jesus. So we can repeat this blessing, transferring the thought from the type to the antitype as coming from our Lord Jesus to us: ‘May El Shaddai bless thee’ (verses 3,4).

“That helps to reinforce the thought that our Savior assures us that El Shaddai, the Almighty, All sufficient One, will be with us all the way in our dangerous journey through life. He is always near, always sufficient for any contingency. In the Promised Land, the Patriarchs had complete trust in El Shaddai. If we can completely trust Him now, then we can rest in full assurance of faith in our spiritual inheritance in the Promised Land.”

“Genesis 35:9‑12—Here God confirmed His Covenant to Jacob and changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

‘God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan‑aram, and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am El Shaddai: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.’

“After this confirmation, Jacob journeyed to Bethlehem. There his wife, Rachel, died giving birth to Benjamin. Then Jacob travelled to Hebron where his father, Isaac, had died. Thus this revelation to Jacob of El Shaddai as his All Mighty, All Sufficient God was a specially needed blessing. It was a reassurance to Jacob to have the covenant confirmed to him, and to know that El Shaddai would be with him throughout his walk.

“Genesis 37:35—This text speaks of the time Joseph had been sold into Egypt, and Jacob was told that Joseph was dead.

‘All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.’

“Though Rachel, Isaac, and Joseph—the three people that Jacob loved the most—were gone, and no one on earth could comfort him, El Shaddai comforted Jacob. There was nothing that he and El Shaddai could not handle together.

“Genesis 43:14—Later, Judah promised Jacob that he would return to Egypt as surety for Benjamin. But before sending Judah, Jacob asked the blessing of El Shaddai upon him in.

‘And El Shaddai give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’

“Genesis 48:3,4—Years later, when Jacob was on his death bed, Joseph brought his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to be blessed.

‘Jacob said unto Joseph, El Shaddai appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.’

“Genesis 49:25—Jacob gave a final blessing to each of his sons just before he passed away.

‘Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by El Shaddai, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.’ ” (Br. Allan Ross, “El Shaddai”).

EL SHADDAI in the Book of Ruth

By considering the usage of El Shaddai in the Book of Ruth and the Book of Job, we understand an additional aspect of what God does for His people, that He permits short‑term pain for long‑term blessings. God’s people do not always understand His Grace when they are in the midst of a painful experience. But we must fully trust our All‑Powerful, All‑Sufficient, God. El Shaddai only allows experiences that bless us, if we take them in the right way.

In the Book of Ruth, Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons left Bethlehem‑Judah because of a famine and travelled to Moab. Within ten years of entering Moab, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Naomi was downcast and confused. If God was All‑Mighty, All‑Sufficient, why would he allow her husband and her sons to die so quickly? To answer this, we have to look at the big picture, the long‑term view. El Shaddai takes the long view.

Should Elimelech have taken Naomi and his sons and left Bethlehem to go to Moab in the first place?

No, since El Shaddai is All‑Sufficient, He would have cared for them IN the Promised Land. If Elimelech had a stronger faith, he would have kept his family in Judah and waited for El Shaddai to bless his faithfulness.

Short‑term satisfaction
of fleshly desires
will NOT bring
long‑term happiness.

As in Naomi’s case, God may allow afflictions to come so that we will return to Him. 

God took away what was keeping Naomi from being close to Him!

If Naomi had stayed in Moab we never would have heard of Naomi or Ruth. There would not be a Book of Ruth in the Bible. It was the return to El Shaddai that allowed El Shaddai to abundantly bless both Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth (who chose to return with Naomi to the Promised Land).

One of the guiding principles of this lesson is stated in James 4:8: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”

Because Naomi and Ruth returned to the Promised Land, Ruth married Boaz. As King David’s great grandmother, Ruth became identified through the lineage of Mary with David’s greatest Son and Lord, our Lord Jesus.

Because Ruth drew near to God in devotion, she received eternal blessings.

EL SHADDAI in the Book of Job

The first use of the word “El Shaddai” in the Book of Job is in Job 5:17,18, where we read the words of Eliphaz to Job.

“Behold, happy is the man whom Eloah [Strongs 433, the Majestic God] correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of El Shaddai [Strongs 7706, the All Sufficient God]: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”

The last use of “El Shaddai” in the Book of Job appears in Job 40:1,2.

“Moreover Jehovah [Strongs 3068, the Eternal One, the Existing One] answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with El Shaddai [Strongs 7706, the All‑Mighty, All‑Sufficient One] instruct him? He that reproveth El‑oah [the Majestic God], let him answer it.”

New Testament References

In the New Testament, Jesus begins to refer to God as “Our Father” when he gives us the model prayer of Matthew 6:9: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

Jesus is the first person in Scripture to begin referring to God as my heavenly Father,” and our and your heavenly Father.” Jesus only used these terms in the presence of his disciples; they were not applied to others who were not yet prospective sons. Jesus was the first son of God, who opened up a “new and living way” gives us the opportunity to also become sons of God (John 1:141 John 3:1,2).

Revelation 15:3—refers to Jehovah as Almighty.

“They sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”

We also have scriptures that declare the almighty power of our Heavenly Father.

Psalm 77:10‑15—“I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High [El Elyon, The Supreme God]. I will remember the works of Jehovah [the Eternal One]: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm [our Lord Jesus] redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.”

Psalms 91:1‑3—In these verses David represents our Lord Jesus addressing his Church.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High [El Elyon, The Supreme God] shall abide under the shadow of El Shaddai [the All‑Sufficient One]. I will say of Jehovah [the Self‑Existing One], He is my refuge and my fortress: my [Elohiym] Supreme God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

Jesus is telling his Church that we, who abide in the Secret Place of consecration in the antitypical Tabernacle, close to Jehovah, have nothing to fear despite the dangers that surround us because our God will protect us. Thus in the above passage of Scripture, four of God’s names are invoked to emphasize this—El Elyon, El Shaddai, Elohiym and Jehovah.

God Has Many Names

As the various verses shared highlight, God has used many different names to describe Himself indicating to us, that one name is not sufficient to describe the Heavenly Father. If God wanted to have only one descriptive name for Himself, He could have had the Bible written that way. But instead God has been described as “Eternal (Ezekiel 1:24)”, “Majestic,” “All‑Mighty,” and “All‑Sufficient (Ezekiel 10:4,5).”

It would be unfortunate to always read these descriptive names generically as “God” or “Lord.” So when we read Scriptures, let us consider referring to the Rotherham’s version or RVIC for a more exact translation of the original biblical manuscripts. Then there is no confusion between whether the verse refers to our Heavenly Father, or if the verse(s) refer to Jesus, Jehovah’s firstborn creation and the world’s Redeemer.

Based on the understandings shared here about the breadth of God’s being and character through an examination of the Heavenly Father’s names, we conclude with these thoughts about our God, “Whose—

  • Memory never fails,
  • Judgment is never inaccurate,
  • Plans for eternity are without any possibility of even the minutest failure,
  • Timing of His Divine plans of eternity are with unerring precision,
  • Grandest, most mighty power and skill can harness even every opposing element, animate or inanimate, making them all work together for the accomplishment of his grand designs,
  • Tireless vigilance never ceases, nor seeks relief from the pressing cares of universal dominion,
  • Eye never sleeps, whose ear is ever open, and who is ever cognizant of all the necessities, and active in all the interests, of his broad domains.”

To answer our opening question—Jehovah occupies the highest position of authority and glory in the universe. We hallow our Heavenly Father’s authority and bow in reverent and humble submission before Him in ALL His glorious attire of royal grandeur.

 

PSALM-31-23-24.jpg

 

References:

Br. Allan Ross, “El Shaddai,” Beauties of the Truth, November 2014.

Br. Charles T. Russell. “Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. Richard Tazzyman, 2017 Discourse: “I Am,” Australia. (Br Tazzyman’s discourse is to be given at the Bible Students Convention in England this year in July 2017.)

Br. Ronald Day. John 10:30 – The Oneness of Jesus and His God
http://jesusnotyhwh.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/john10-30.html

Br. W.J. Siekman. “One Lord and His Name One,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May-June 1986

Vines Expository Dictionary of OT and NT Words, page 161.

Br. Jim Parkinson’s RVIC BIBLE – The Revised Version (American Edition) Improved and Corrected from manuscripts discovered and published to A.D. 1999

 

Acknowledgement

The authors of the above references for their content utilized for the above written work.

Br. David Rice, editing.

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The Book of Revelation: A 2016 Perspective

John the Revelator  - 1 -crossFINAL

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which GOD gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” — Revelation 1:1

The Book of Revelation is a prophetic picture of the experiences and purpose of the Christian Age. Its symbols illustrate what the true Church would suffer at the hands of the false church and the glorious outcome of patient endurance through agonizing trials of faith. As with many prophecies, these events would not be fully understood by the Church until their fulfillment. But now, at the end of the Christian Age, since many of these prophecies have been fulfilled, we should expect to have a clearer insight into what the signs and symbols of Revelation mean. Indeed, this book itself reveals that the complete prophetic picture written in symbolic code would be shown only to the end time Church.

The Unfolding of the Vision

While in prison on the Isle of Patmos, the Apostle John received the “Revelation of Jesus Christ to all of the Churches.” As its name implies, it is a revealing—an unfolding. In his vision, John was shown amazing scenes which were prophetic signs of things to come. Note the first verse: “…he sent and signified it by his angel…” Signified here means “to put into signs—symbolic depictions.” This book, therefore, is written in a kind of code language, and so, when it says “beast,” it does not mean a literal beast, and when it says “angel,” it may not refer to an actual spirit-being.

When symbols such as these are understood, the results are inspiring—as we might expect from a book given by Jesus to the Apostle John for the Church living in the last days. And, while some view these signs and symbols to be terrifying, the Christian who longs for a better day finds hope for everyone in its words, as the final chapters portray.

Time Frame One: THE CHRISTIAN / GOSPEL AGE

The Book of Revelation is neatly divided into three sections corresponding to the three major time periods of GOD’s dealings with the Church of Christ and their role in the ages to come.

The first time frame is from chapters 1 – 13, which primarily refer to the history of the Church from Christ’s death to his second advent (‘Parousia’, invisible presence, in 1874). This period of time was set apart for calling out from among mankind a group of people referred to by various scriptural names: the Church, the Bride, Christians, a people for His name, the 144,000, the little flock, saints, etc. (Acts 15:14; Acts 11:26; Philippians 1:1; Luke 12:32; Revelation 21:9)

This time frame tells of the suffering of Jesus’ true followers at the hands of the powerful apostate (false) church systems, of which the Apostle Paul warned. (2 Thessalonians 2:2-7). Jesus summed up this history in only a few words: “the beginning of sorrows…” Matthew 24:4-14

The history of the Church, as shown in Chapter 1, is divided into seven time periods which are each unique in both their doctrine and experiences. Jesus watches over these seven Churches as symbolized by his appearance “in the midst of seven candlesticks...the seven Churches.” (Revelation 1:13, 20)

Recall that Jesus told his disciples they were like candles on a candlestick—“the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14-16

In Revelation 1:16 Jesus holds seven stars in his right hand. Stars are used in Scripture to symbolize teachers—both good and bad. (Daniel 12:3; Jude 13; Revelation 12:1)

In Revelation 1:20, the seven stars are identified as the seven angels sent to the seven Churches described in Chapters 2 and 3. Note that the word angel has the meaning of messenger in the Greek, and GOD has sent a special Messenger to each of the seven time periods throughout the history of the Church. The Apostle John was one such messenger.

Between Chapters 2 -11, these seven periods of Church history are illustrated three times under different symbols.

The seven Churches are listed in Chapters 2 – 3:-

(1) EPHESUS             =     33 ad, Paul
(2) SMYRNA              =    73 ad, John
(3) PERGAMOS         =     325 ad, Arius
(4) THYATIRA           =    1157 ad, Waldo
(5) SARDIS                 =    1517 ad, Luther   
(6) PHILADELPHIA  =     1667 ad, Penn (he was baptized that year)
(7) LAODICEA           =    1874 ad, Russell

The 7 Messages to the Churches (for the godly) are as follows (each message corresponds to the same church number):

(1) Jesus surpasses Judaism
(2) Gnosticism is wrong
(3) Jesus was the son of GOD
(4) Christian discipleship
(5) Reform
(6) Brotherly love
(7) Harvest message

The Scroll of Revelation 5:

The scroll contains judgments against the ungodly. In particular, the judgments of the seven trumpets. That is why the seven angels blaring forth the seven trumpet judgments follow immediately upon the loosing of the last seal — for now the scroll can be unrolled and read and its judgments expressed.

Let us compare Zechariah 5:1-4 which is clear on this point with also Ezekiel 2:9,10 :-

Zechariah 5:1-4:- Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

Ezekiel 2:9-10:- And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

The scroll contents are the seven trumpets.

Those trumpets are judgments.

Note: The scroll in Hebrews 10:7 is a different scroll than the one in Revelation 5; Hebrews 10 refers to the Old Testament. The scroll of Revelation 5 is a series of judgments that form the seven trumpets.

While the seals are being loosed, we are not progressing through the Gospel Age. We are merely seeing a vision on each loosing, representing what will later occur in the development of the Gospel Age. They are foregleams of coming events. The entire scroll is opened before the first trumpet judgment. The scroll was opened at the beginning of the age, not the end of the age.

The seven seals are listed in Chapters 6 – 8;

We believe the seals were all broken when Jesus was given the scroll after his resurrection, and that the 1/2 hour of silence was the pause before the judgment followed on Judaism.

The seals describe events that would later develop during the Gospel Age. Let us remember that the visions of the seals do not reflect the contents of the scroll. They are merely visions of coming events. Not until the seventh seal is loosed do we actually get to the contents of the scroll itself. Those contents are the judgments of the Trumpets.

The visions revealed at the loosening of each seal are these (very briefly):-

SEAL 1.  Christianity spreading rapidly
SEAL 2 False doctrine coming in
SEAL 3.  Famine for the word of GOD
SEAL 4Spiritual death rampant during dark ages

SEAL5.   Reformation and the hope for release from oppression
SEAL 6.  French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, followed by the second advent. The vision following the loosening of this seal includes events that pertain to periods six and seven of the Gospel Age. Thus when the 7th seal is loosened, we proceed to the judgments contained in the scroll.

The seven trumpets are found in Chapters 8 – 11.

The message of the trumpets contain judgments on Judaism, Pagan Rome, wayward Christendom, and the nations supporting Papacy.

Recall the text in Ezekiel 2:10, “it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.”

These judgments of the 7 trumpets and the 7 blasts under the 7th trumpet do not include original sin and the curse. The trumpets are against Gospel Age systems. The original curse was upon Adam and Eve and descended to others. Of course original sin is related to all other problems. But nothing in the trumpets speaks to Adam or Eve.

So, the trumpet judgments usually highlight a particular distress during the period of the church that corresponds to that trumpet period, and they are as follows:

JUDGMENT 1. The judgment against Judaism and the polity of Israel, that really fell hard from 66 to 73 ad with the seven years of the Roman Wars against Judea.

JUDGMENT 2. The overthrow of the Pagan Roman Empire. That would not pertain to the saints. (But it was a big relief for them.)

JUDGMENT 3. The third trumpet describes the pollution of the sweet waters of truth, which made the message “bitter” and caused the forfeiture of many spiritual hopes.

JUDGMENT 4. The fourth trumpet take us to the darkest part of the “dark ages”, when the Gospel Sun, the light of the Apostolic Stars, and the typical teachings of the Law were substantially darkened.

JUDGMENT 5. The Reformation.

JUDGMENT 6. The French Revolution (1789-1799) and subsequent Napoleonic Wars that ravaged Europe and broke up the hold of Papacy in 1799.

JUDGMENT 7. The Harvest in 1874 and its accompanying Time of Trouble from 1914 onward.

—————————————

1260, 539ad – Some Specifics about the 1260 years of Papal Power.

The date 539 ad is used as the time when Papacy came into temporal political authority. In 538 ad the Pope was left in control of Rome as Belisarius, general of Justinian the Roman Emperor from Constantinople, left Rome to pursue the Goths who had recently sieged the city. Thereafter, in 539 ad, Ravenna, the then capital of Italy, was taken by Belisarius, and he subsequently left Italy to return to Constantinople with his victory. In his wake the Pope was left as the political ally and figurehead in Italy — thus the beginning of his political authority.

This came to an end 1260 years later in 1798 when the Pope was taken out of Rome by the French General Berthier, and subsequently died in 1799 in France, Napoleon declaring that no new pontiff would be elected (though one was by other arrangements after a few months). One history of the poes throughout the age breaks for a new chapter at 1799.

1914 was the end of Gentile Times – representing the smiting of the image of Daniel chapter two, thus the end of the political assemblage that had governed Europe for so long, as the iron (political) and clay (imitation Christian church) system.

Babylon at first conquered the holy land from 607 to 603 bc — a four year period — the corresponding four year period 2520 years later is 1914 to 1918, World War I.

—————————————

Each period of the Church has its corresponding concurrent seal, vision and trumpet.

Here are four examples illustrate just a few of the many parallels between the Churches, seals and trumpets:

1.“Four angels” are mentioned in both the sixth seal (7:1) and the sixth trumpet (9:15).

2. An earthquake is shown in both the sixth seal (6:12) and in the sixth trumpet (11:13). An earthquake pictures, in symbol, the shaking up of earth’s society through discontent and revolution.

3. The return of Jesus is mentioned in both the seventh Church (3:20—he is “standing at the door”) and the seventh trumpet (11:15—his “reign” begins).

4. Increased enlightenment is shown in both the seventh Church (3:20—Jesus promises to serve the evening meal—“sup”) and in the seventh trumpet (10:7—enlightenment clears up “the mystery”).

One fascinating example of symbols related to the seals of Chapter 6 is the picture of the four horses.

Horsesin symbol, often represent doctrines, ideologies. (Isaiah 31:1-3, Deuteronomy 17:15-16).

Horsemenrepresent the teachers who bring forth those doctrines.

White horsethe 1st horse pictures the pureness of doctrine delivered to the early Church by the twelve Apostles. (Revelation 3:5, 15:6, 19:8,14)

Red horsethe 2nd horse, illustrates how the doctrine began to be polluted with sinful heresies by the developing apostate church. Red is the colour of war and speaks of spiritual warfare because of doctrinal changes. This horse represents the period of time in history from Nero (37-68 AD) until Diocletian (244-311 AD).

Black horse – the 3rd horse, represents a dark period in Church history brought about by dark age doctrines. Black is the colour of famine—Lamentations 5:10.

Pale (Greek-greenish)the 4th horse, symbolizes doctrine so sick and devoid of any life-giving qualities that the rider that sat upon him was even given the name “death.” The symbolism refers to spiritual pestilence.

This sad history portrays how the beautiful truth once given to the early Church was increasingly corrupted by the traditions of men.

But, as will be seen in Chapter 19, the white horse returns with a valiant rider—Christ in glory—who brings back life-giving truths to the end-time Church. These truths prepare the true Church for the final victory over the apostate systems.

Time Frame Two: HARVEST of the Christian Age

Chapters 14 -19 focus on the events which impact the close of the Christian Age—the Harvest.

A careful examination of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares helps in understanding this Harvest time. (Matthew 13:24-43)

During the Harvest, the world at large is experiencing troubles it cannot handle, and the Christian world in particular is faced with the kind of scrutiny that exposes false doctrines and practices.

“Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven [the Christian world] … that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:27-29

In the Harvest, three works are progressing at the same time:

  1. The unseen presence of Jesus is actively manoeuvring the affairs of the true Church and the world in preparation for the peaceable Kingdom. 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15; 14:1
  2. False Christianity is being judged by GOD and also by man based on both doctrine and conduct. Revelation 14:8,15; 18:1-9
  1. A great increase in understanding Scripture is fed to sincere, truth-hungry Christians. Revelation 14:6; 17:1; Daniel 12:4, 9, 10

This Harvest parable first summarizes the Gospel Age by stating that Jesus sowed seeds of truth which, springing up in the hearts of his disciples, transformed them to newness of life, thus becoming true Christians — wheat.

Once the Apostles died — while men slept — Satan sowed seeds of error which created false Christians — tares. This tendency toward imitation Christianity was active in the Apostles Paul’s day and developed into what he called the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin. John refered to this as the developing Antichrist. (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 John 4:3)

Revelation calls this that great city, Babylon. Revelation 14:8

Jesus taught that this combination of true and false Christianity would exist together until the close of the Christian Age, at which time a separation—a Harvest—would occur. The work of destroying the errors of the false church systems would cause true Christians to come out of Babylon and gather together where truth is being served.

The central theme of Chapter 14, then, is the time for harvesting two groups:

  • The Harvest of the earth (wheat—verses 15-16) and
  • The Harvest of the vine of the earth (tares — verses 18-19). See also Luke 17:34-37.

The central theme of Chapters 15 and 16 deals with the plagues upon Babylon the false church system.

We believe we are currently in the sixth plague. It is a lengthy one, and we have not reached the deep part of it as yet — we may in another 13 years. The sixth plague is a withering of the economic vitality of the western world. We saw things relevant to this in the market declines of 2000 and 2008, with perhaps more impending.

Here is a list of all 10 judgments, and some suggested applications:

1 — Protestant Reformation
2 — French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars
3 — Advent movement
4 — Truth movement (1874) – bothersome difficulty for nominal Christians
5 — World War I – the deadly strife that began the Time of Trouble in 1914
6 — Western weakening in Depression
7 — Modernism consequent upon World War II
8 — Papal woes in the cold war era, perhaps until 1989

9 — Financial withering
10 – Armageddon, followed by a great “earthquake”, and subsequent “hail”

The seven plagues are seven judgements or troubles during the Harvest, as a consequence of things that have transpired during the seven church periods. These seven judgments constitute the overall judgment of the 7th trumpet, which is the 3rd “woe” of Revelation 8:13. The seven circlings of Jericho on the seventh day pictures this “sevenfold” judgment of the seventh trumpet.

In Chapter 18:4, GOD warns the wheat—my people—that if they do not come out from Babylon during the Harvest, they will be subject to the “death, and mourning, and famine” which bring Christendom down (Revelation 18:8).

In the midst of the plagues of Chapter 16 appear three symbolic characters unified in a final attempt to preserve control and stabilize society over the world – the beast, the dragon and the false prophet.

The beast = Papacy.

The dragon = Political power under the influence of Satan.

The false prophet = the Church of England and their protestant allies.

The Pope (as reflected in the beast) would like to retain influence. But his authority wanes. Revelation 10:1 shows that the power of Papacy to persecute as before, closed during the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:13-11:14), the longest of all the trumpet descriptions. The “rainbow” of Revelation 10:1 symbolizes that the past distress of Papal persecution has ended and will not be repeated – just as the rainbow in the cloud after the Flood meant that the experience would not be repeated.

The Beast (Papacy), Dragon, and False Prophet will coalesce and croak like frogs endeavouring to support society. Their individual weakness is the motive for collaboration, but their efforts will prove abortive (Revelation 16:18,19).

(Note that the “four beasts” of Revelation 4:6-9, associated with GOD, are better rendered “living creatures,” distinguishing them from the dreadful beasts representing false religious systems. The four “living creatures” represent GOD’s attributes of justice, wisdom, love and power.)

In Scripture, the true Church is often represented by virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and so, by contrast, we see in Chapter 17 that Babylon is pictured as a harlot.

The harlotry of the apostate church is due to her having a unification (adulterous marriage) with the governments of this world.

The true saints, on the other hand, strive to keep themselves separate from all entanglements with the world.

In highly symbolic language then, Chapter 17 shows how the apostate (catholic) church throughout history amassed political power to further her interests and rule the western world, Christendom.

This Chapter shows the steps by which both the harlot and the people and powers she ruled (the scarlet beast) meet their ends (as systems, not as people) in the Harvest period.

The “hour” of Revelation 17:12 is the time of demise of the Catholic Church when she is eaten by the horns (political powers) and peoples (body of the beast). Note: Revelation 17:16, where better versions say the whore is destroyed by the “ten horns… and the beast.”

Compare also Revelation 18:10, in “one hour” her demise comes. The “one day” and “one hour” of verse 8 and 10 both express the relatively brief climax during which Papacy succumbs.

Chapter 18 begins when Babylon is fallen from GOD’s favor, and it ends with her total overthrown as detailed in verse 21. The focus here is on the manner in which Babylon’s destruction will affect various segments of society which have become dependent upon her for their subsistence. These elements of society are symbolically called:

the kings of the earth (18:9);

the merchants (clergy) of the earth (18:11);

every shipmaster, all the company in ships, sailors (i.e. bishops), and as many as trade by sea (18:17)

This illustrates that the world, as we know it, functions on a political/commercial basis, and the weakening of that international economic system, according to this chapter, will soon cause it to fall apart.

Chapter 19 could well be two chapters. The first ten verses deal with “the marriage of the lamb,” and the remainder describes how the current social order will meet its end.

(Note that, for emphasis, the Revelator often jumps back to a point in time, re-telling the story from another point of view.)

This “marriage of the lamb” is a symbol for the time when Jesus’ Church, his Bride, is complete — when he has gathered all of the wheat into the (heavenly) barn.

Thus, Chapter 19 confirms what we saw in Chapter 14 that the Harvest has two worksharvesting the wheat to glory and harvesting the vine of the earth—the system of Babylon—for burning. Compare also 14:19, 20 with 19:15—depicting the same event.

Time Frame Three: The MESSIANIC AGE

Although most of the prophecies of Revelation focus on the Harvest of the Gospel Age, Chapters 20 through 22 relate to the grand and promising outcome of the previous nineteen chapters, which portray the end of the old world order and the beginning of the new. We are now living in that transition time. These last three chapters of Revelation basically refer to the Messianic or Millennial Age. This age is referred to in the Scriptures by various names: the Kingdom, the thousand years, the Day of the Lord, the Day of Judgment, the regeneration, the times of restitution of all things, etc. Matthew 26:29; Acts 1:6; Revelation 20:2-6; 2 Peter 3:7,8; Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:20,21

Revelation 20 illustrates several events of the thousand-year Messianic reign of Christ with his Church:

Verses 1-3 show that the actual devil will be bound as well as a symbolic devil—the systems built upon his lies. Thus, all stumbling blocks in the way of the peaceable Kingdom will be removed. This is the reason for not only binding the literal devil, but also binding the influences of the beastly governments which have made life so difficult for the human race.

Verses 4-11 show:

  1. The reward of the true Church who will reign with Christ;
  2. Satan’s little season of testing upon the world of mankind at the close of the thousand years— the end of mankind’s period of education; and
  1. The everlasting destruction of Satan, his followers and the corrupt civil and religious systems.

Verses 12-15 : show the final judgment of earth’s billions at the end of the Messianic reign. This will be the last judgment event of history where GOD will destroy in everlasting death all those not in full harmony with His perfect law of love. Both hell and death are consigned to fire — complete destruction, oblivion—this is the second death (20:14).

By contrast, everlasting life will be the reward for all who progress to perfection through the thousand years and who stand the test of the little season because of their faith and obedience.

The Left Behind series of novels promote an overly dramatic, literalistic and sadistic view of Revelation, telling of the horrors of a vindictive GOD destroying three billion people by literal fire and earthquakes. These fictional depictions of prophecy ignore the last three chapters of Revelation—the Good News of the Bible. They ignore that Jesus gave his Revelation to John in symbolic language.

The Scriptures do speak of a momentous time of trouble coinciding with the return of Christ and culminating in Armageddon, however, as we have seen, the true purpose of Armageddon is to cleanse the earth of the corrupt ecclesiastical and civil systems under the control of Satan and his servants.

These evil SYSTEMS will be destroyed—not the people misled by these systems.

GOD does not intend to burn in eternal flames billions of good-hearted people just because they have not known and accepted Jesus now. The conversion of these people—“the remainder of men” — will be after the cleansing work of Armageddon which prepares the way for the Righteous Kingdom of Christ and his Church. (See Zephaniah 3:8-9; Acts 15:14-17) Then, under their benevolent reign, “the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” without the fetters of devilish, selfish and oppressive powers. Isaiah 26:9

Chapters 21 and 22 describe the new heavensChrist’s righteous government—which will uplift and educate the new earth—the world of mankind—thereby bringing them back into harmony with GOD. What joy to know that Jesus’ return means the restitution of all things! (Acts 3:19-22) All of the loss suffered in the opening three chapters of Genesis is here undone in the last three chapters of Revelation. It is a glorious ending, worthy of a merciful GOD.

All that was lost when sin entered the world—life, health, happiness, freedom from fear and a loving relationship with GOD—will be restored to mankind. The healing of the nations occurs because of the fruitage of the trees. These trees are the Church glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

Jesus and his Bride offer the water (truth) of life to all who thirst, without the deceptions of Satan to hinder them.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him TAKE the water of life FREELY.” Revelation 22:17

This is the true hope of the Gospel when it is finished.

Acknowledgment:

  • Bro. David Rice
  • The End Times Bible Report Quarterly – Summer 2013

Suggested Further Reading:

The Book of Revelation

 

The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/30/the-book-of-revelation-a-2016-perspective/

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