MATTHEW 26:27-29 – Drinking from Christ’s One Cup

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In Matthew 26:27-29 our Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples about the communion cup. “(27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) for this is my blood of the New Testament (Covenant) shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. (29) But I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29, KJV).

“The Cup”

When we refer to the symbol “cup,” we actually refer to the contents of the cup, “the fruit of the vine” that Jesus passed to his disciples. On this occasion, that juice represented the life of Jesus — his human life, his being, his soul — poured out in sacrifice for the remission of sin. Grape juice is sometimes referred to as the “blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11), and in this case it represented the blood of Jesus, shed for us.

Sometimes the symbol of “cup” refers to experiences, either difficult or joyous. When Jesus said in the passage above that he would “drink it new” with his disciples in the Kingdom, he there referred to a cup of joy and rejoicing, a blessed experience. Psalm 23:5 says, “My cup runneth over.” We might connect this to the delightful experiences of faith that come our way. (See Post: “Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”)

In Psalm 116:13 we read of “the cup of salvation.” We might readily connect this to the cup Jesus passed to his disciples at the last supper, for by receiving the ransom sacrifice of Jesus for us, we receive salvation. The world’s salvation shall be attained in the future, when the cup of salvation is then applied when they accept Christ by faith.

Notice the context of Psalm 116:12-15:

“(12) What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? (13) I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord [for needed aid], (14) I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (15) Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Let us take a moment to try to understand some words in this Psalm.

“The Death” of Christ’s body members (“his saints”) who are training for the Heavenly Priesthood of Christ during this Gospel Age (since the opening of the High calling in AD 33, from Pentecost) — is the process from the time of FULL consecration to our Heavenly Father’s service and our Heavenly Father’s ACCEPTANCE to His service. Once we are accepted — begotten of God’s Spirit — we become New Creatures IN Christ, and this is the way we are dealt with: consecration, dying daily, and finally the actual dying of the flesh. (See R5325).

The Vow of Christ and his members is faithfulness unto death (Revelation 2:10) — the drinking of the cup. The promised reward for doing so is the crown of glory in the Kingdom. This is represented as another cup of the future. Only those who presently share with Christ in his cup of suffering, will share with him in the cup of joy and glory, which the Father will pour for the faithful at the end of this Age — at the close of this anti-typical Day of Atonement and its sacrifices.

Our Lord used the symbol of “cup” also in in Matthew 20:22, when he answered James and John that their only hope of sitting with him in his throne lay in their partaking of his cup of suffering and sharing in his baptism — into death (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 6:3-8, 2 Timothy 2:11,12, Colossians 3:3, Galatians 3:27).

When in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39), this was a cup of bitter experience. If we at times experience a cup” of sorrow, as Jesus in Gethsemane, let us treat it as the greatest privilege and opportunity to prove our loyalty to our Heavenly Father in acquiescing to His divine and perfect will for us even in this. “While this wine of sacrifice exhausts the human nature, it invigorates and makes strong the spiritual nature” (R588:3) and no matter how trying is the cup of sorrow, “we know that ALL things [experiences] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Both Christ and his followers have rejoiced in their tribulations, not counting their lives dear unto them, that they might win the great prize. We can rejoice in tribulation because of our hope in Christ which is founded upon the most precious promises of God (Hebrews 6:19, 2 Corinthians 3:12, Colossians 1:5, Romans 5:4, 2 Timothy 4:8, Philippians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 9:25, James 1:12, Romans 8:18). As the tribulations will overflow, the rejoicing likewise overflows, and with the Apostle Paul, we can say, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

When we commit our “cup” of any particular experience to the Lord, then we make a recognition that our cup of experience is the Lord’s. Through patient cheerful endurance in doing the Lord’s will — not rendering evil for evil nor slander for slander, but on the contrary, blessings in return for injuries (1 Peter 3:9) — may we continue to do all in our power to hold forth the Truth in its glorious beauty, so that not only its friends will be the more charmed and blessed, but that any of its enemies may be recovered from their folly.

All of these uses of the symbol of the cup, are related, in that they apply to the Christian life. In our Christian lives we enjoy the benefits of salvation, the sweet blessings of faith, and also the cup of trial, testing, and sometimes the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalms 23:4). Our Lord said respecting it, “I delight to do thy will, O God” (Psalm 40:8). And again, “shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Our Lord Jesus’ “cup” represents:

Our Lord’s death our Lord’s sacrifice of his earthly rights, which was sufficient of itself to have sealed the New Covenant (R4453:4).

The shed blood of Christ which is our redemption to release us from the condemnation (of Adamic sin — from the curse/sentence of death, and thus) of justice (R3526:5) was the ransom price for all (1 Timothy 2:6). His act of handing the cup to his disciples and asking them to drink of it was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings (R5192:5) and drink into Christ’s death, to “be made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

 Jesus’s trials of great anguish endured, as he was tried and tested as a New Creature: John 18:11 — “Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” 

 One cup, though it contains the juice of many grapes. It was Jesus’ cup of which he drank, which he gave to his disciples to finish (R4475:1). The grapes cannot maintain themselves as grapes if they would constitute the life-giving spirit (R5341:3, R2772:6). Thus they must be crushed.

Our fellowship in the sufferings of Christ’s (2 Timothy 2:12), in Christ’s dishonor, pain, shame, degradation (loss of self-respect, mortification), bitterness, distress and sorrows (because of seeking after that which is Godly and righteous in God’s sight) until our mortal death (R3880:3, R1637:4, R5081, R4591). We rejoice in the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ because of the glorious results (1 Peter 4:13, Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:12).

 The antitype of the cup, in its highest sense, will be the new joys in the kingdom (R4703:6).

Was the juice made from wine or unfermented grape juice?

Nowhere is this cup described as wine, though it may have been (R2772:6) for (as shared in an article in the March-April 2018 Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine (titled “Bread and Cup”) we read: “the vintage season in Palestine was September and October, and the Passover was about six months later. The wine made in October would of necessity be fermented before April.” If we suppose that Jesus used wine, we might feel compelled to copy the issue down to the actual drink he used, namely fermented grape juice, or wine.

However, it is an open question whether it was fermented or unfermented. “We feel sure that unfermented grape juice will fulfill the terms of the injunction” (R3879:6). Our recommendation is against a general use of wine as being possibly a temptation to some weak in the flesh. It might not be amiss to put a small amount of fermented wine into the unfermented grape or raisin juice (R2773:4) as this then would not put any others into danger of stimulating an appetite they had tried to overcome. If any one should feel himself endangered by tasting wine at the remembrance of the Lord’s death, we would recommend that such a one use grape or raisin juice instead which, though not wine, is certainly a “fruit of the vine” (R509:5).

Giving Thanks To God

Before Jesus gave the cup of the fruit of the vine to the twelve Apostles to drink, he gave thanks to the Heavenly Father. There is a lesson here for the consecrated people of God who willingly partake in the sufferings of Christ — that of remembering to joyfully acquiesce in all the sufferings which the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes implied (R2773:2) and in doing so, display thankfulness and gratitude to the Heavenly Father for the privilege of being counted as worthy of running the race of the High calling in Christ Jesus to which such were called by God, and who then consecrated themselves to holy service, following in the footsteps of Christ Jesus.

“Drink from it, all of you”

Matthew 26:27 (KJV) says, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it.’ ” The New American Standard Bible, and others, express this command from Jesus a little more clearly. “And when he had taken a cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ “ Jesus was not meaning to say “drink the entire content of what is in the cup,” but rather, Jesus was as if saying to the Apostles that all of them require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ. All of Jesus’ disciples need to drink from this cup. All of us require the redemption that is in the blood of Christ.

“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56, KJV).

During the present Gospel Age, those who are invited to receive this blessing are also called to walk in the way that Jesus walked, and join him in suffering in the present, for the hope of glory in the future.

“We suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

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As Jesus was fully committed to his consecration to God, we should be also. The consecrated children of God experience suffering with Christ now. We leave none of the sufferings for the coming age (R3880:2, R4605:3, R4453:4, R4429:4).

Jesus Christ invited God’s called ones to participate with him in the sacrifice of EVERYTHING — earthly life, interests, hopes, aims, ambitions. All who will reign with Christ, must now drink of the cup of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, as Jesus did. We must be immersed into his death (R4591:5).

Our participation in our Lord’s sufferings show not only our interest and gratefulness in Christ’s sacrifice, but also expressing our own (individual) covenant (agreement/promise) to be dead with him and to drink of the cup of experience that he received (R325:5).

The appropriation of this by us signifies primarily our acceptance of restitution rights and privileges which our Lord has thus, at his own cost, secured for us (R2772:4).

This is my blood”

Christ’s blood was represented through the drinking of the symbolic one cup of the fruit of the vine and it represents our Lord Jesus’ human life, his being, his soul, poured out unto death on our behalf (R2772).

As “blood maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), so Christ sacrificed his life, shed his blood, gave his life, providing redemption for us and all. His death on Calvary’s cross was the final step in his labors to provide redemption for us now, and the world in the Kingdom.

If we receive of his life for us presently, we are able also to lay down our lives in sacrifice with him.

As Jesus’ sufferings prepared him to be our high priest, to purge us from sin, so our sufferings will prepare us to be with him in glory, to assist him in purging mankind from sin.

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“Of The New Testament”

The word “new” is missing in good manuscripts in Matthew 26:28, but it is included in Luke 22:20. By the words “new testament,” Christ was talking about the New Covenant, which supersedes the Law Covenant (R3364:5) and whereby through his shed blood at Calvary, the New Covenant would be sprinkled, sealed and made efficacious (R4331:6) just as Moses had ratified the Law Covenant (a shadow of this) with the blood of burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exodus 24:5-8).

When Christ and his Church is complete in glory, at the end of the Gospel Age, then the blood of Christ will be applied for the world. Then Israel will see their privileges under a new covenant, replacing the old covenant, and become a means of extending the blessings of the Kingdom to the world.

“Remission of sins”

Through faith in Jesus’ blood we have remission of sins for we read in Hebrews 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”

We were redeemed, not with Jesus’ example, but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19). Our sins could never have been forgiven by divine justice except through the divine arrangement by which Christ Jesus paid our penalty.

There is no other way to attain eternal life
except through accepting the blood once shed as
the ransom price for the sins of the whole world.

(R2772:6)

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

Until that day”

These words of Christ refer to the time the saints will join him in glory. During the present parousia, or presence, of Christ, those who have completed their service here below are being gathered into the joyous privileges above. Soon the Gospel Age of suffering will end, and all of the remaining members of the Bride class will join those who have gone before. During the Millennium thus introduced, the elect Bride class, the 144,000, shall be in heavenly glory, beyond the vail, in heaven itself.

“Drink it new”

What is this “new” wine that Christ was referring to in his words? Through these words of Christ, Jesus was saying to his followers, that if they will suffer with him, they will participate with him in his future cup of joy as sharers in his glory as immortal and incorruptible beings (R5643:4R4703:6, R1695:2). In Romans 2:7 (ESV) we read: “(7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”

Seeking after immortality means desiring with one’s entire being to be raised in immortality (1 Corinthians 15:42) with a body and mind in which there can NEVER EVER be found sin or disobedience — where this is not possible or probable; where the tests of loyalty, obedience and faithfulness to God’s principles have been overcome and proven one as worthy to inherit life within one’s own self, not dependent on another for life and for purity, and where the Almighty Heavenly Father is honored above all (Revelation 14:1-5).

The saints will receive the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom, and the grand JOY of participating with the Master in uplifting the world of mankind! To have the Heavenly Father receive JOY from ALL His creation, is a thrilling thought. It gives one a foretaste of SUBLIME PEACE, beyond tranquillity. It is beyond us to fully grasp what it will be like to not have to fear ever disobeying the Almighty Father! What a wonderfully grand thing to NEVER EVER have to fear causing the Heavenly Father pain, displeasure, or grief, when sinless everlastingly! This is the ultimate JOY that can be attained by any being, created in the image of God!

Imagine:

feeling this PEACE OF GOD in a DIVINE body, with a perfected and DIVINE mind!

a PAIN-FREE existence that brings the Ultimate Power of the Universe — Jehovah, the Heavenly Father (who’s divine love, justice, wisdom and power are beyond words), everlasting and righteous pleasure.

an EVERLASTING state where causing unintentional pain, suffering, or injury is never possible!

“(9) For our knowledge is imperfect, and so is our prophesying; (10) But when the perfect state of things is come, all that is imperfect will be brought to an end” (1 Corinthians 13:10, Weymouth New Testament).

“My Father’s kingdom”

This kingdom of God will be experienced in the highest sense, beyond the antitypical second veil of the antitypical “tabernacle” in the presence of God Himself, by the overcomers of the Gospel Age who inherit everlasting life in the Divine Realm.

As a result of the trials and sufferings endured, there will be a jubilation in the Kingdom and hence, Kingdom glory is the end of the symbol (R5193, R2272). Primarily it is the Kingdom of the Father, but the Father has voluntarily proposed to place the dominion of the earth for 1000 years under the full charge of a Viceroy, Christ and his bride (D642).

The Passover Lamb and the World’s Sin

The passover lamb spared only the firstborn of the Israelites. The anti-typical meaning of this would be that our Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God which “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) would spare or pass over only the Church of the firstborn ones in this Gospel Age, the antitype of the passover night.

Only the Church of the firstborn, the household of faith, the consecrated, are spared or passed over through Divine mercy, through the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, during this Gospel Age. Nevertheless, the divine plan does not end with the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven” [Hebrews 12:23] and who shall share with Christ in ‘his resurrection’—the first, or chief resurrection. The appropriation of the merit of Christ first to the Church is merely an incidental feature of the Divine Plan. Soon the Church shall have shared by the privilege now granted to believers of becoming dead with Christ to the earthly interests and alive as New Creatures by the first resurrection. Then the merit of the blood of Christ, the slain Lamb, will be applied to the world of mankind to legallytake away the sin of the world.’ When applied it will immediately satisfy Justice on the world’s behalf and turn over the world to the Redeemer for restitution blessings. Then the Lamb of God and the Church, ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,’ will prosecute the work of actually taking away the sin of the world during the Millennium” (R4556).

Acknowledgement and References

Br. David Rice — Some content and editing.

“Reprints (No. 4556) of the original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.”

The large majority of the “Watch Tower” articles which have been referred to in this post, have been written by Br. Charles Taze Russell — the Laodicean (7th Church Period) Messenger of the Book of Revelation.

Suggested Further Reading

“Are We Actual Or Reckoned New Creatures?” The Reprints (No. 5325) of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ Second Presence.

“The Ransom.” by Br. David Rice. Faithbuilders Fellowship Journal.
http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2007/02_ma_07.pdf

“Bread and Cup” by Br. James Parkinson. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, March-April 2018.

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

“Who Is the World’s Ransom and Why?”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/29/who-is-the-worlds-ransom-and-why/?share=press-this&nb=1

“Nehemiah 8:10 — The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength.”
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/20/nehemiah-810-the-joy-of-the-lord-is-your-strength/

 

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1 CORINTHIANS 15:45 – How Long Until the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

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“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life‑giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Of the two natures, human nature and spirit nature, Br. Charles T. Russell wrote in R1259:5: “As surely as there are natural, human or earthly bodies, so surely also there is such a thing as a heavenly or spirit body.”

Adam was the first human man and all the peoples of the earth are descended from Adam, no matter how different in color, stature, intelligence, etc. they may now be (R2344:6). Adam generated no children until first Eve had been taken from his side (R4556:2). The first Adam is the sample of what an earthly body will attain to in the resurrection. (R1855:2, R3564:3).

The Apostle Paul in this statement from 1 Corinthians 15:45 does not contrast Adam and Jesus, but speaks of the “first Adam” and the “last Adam.” Christ is very unlike Adam. Jesus was obedient. However, Adam and Eve in some respects foreshadowed Christ and the Church in the sense that Christ will be the Great Life‑giver, or Father of mankind, while the Church (Hebrews 12:23, 2 Timothy 2:10) will be the mother or caretaker of the regenerated hosts (R5141:5, 777:1).

Jesus as the “Last Adam”

Jesus, as a “last Adam,” presently lifts us from condemnation and restores us to the fellowship of God through redemption. The saints have been regenerated by our Lord from heaven, but rather than grow to human perfection, they sacrifice their justified bodies in the service of Christ for a higher calling, theHigh calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). These, if faithful to their calling, will become, symbolically, a spiritual “bride” for Christ (Revelation 21:2). Then Christ and the Church will together restore and uplift the world, and bring them back to perfection during the Millennium. In this way Christ will be a “second Adam” or life giver to the world, and the Church will be a second “Eve” to nurture and assist them.

Adam was made a living soul since he was given a natural body, which is earthly. The “last Adam,” or life‑giving being, is Jesus, who from his resurrection forward is a glorious spirit being of highest magnitude.

“Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3, KJV).

Eve was drawn from Adam when his side was opened up after he passed into a deep sleep. She was formed from a rib of Adam, “bone of my bones” (Genesis 2:23). Jesus also was caused to pass into a deep sleep, the sleep of death, and then his side was opened up by the spear of the soldier at the cross (John 19:34). From this came blood and water, which represents redemption and the water of the Spirit, by which the Church class is developed.

The Church class are “bone” of Jesus’ bones, in the sense that bones represent one’s hopes for the future. We share the same hopes for glory in the service of God, as our Lord Jesus had. Of Jesus it was said that “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36). That means that despite the tortuous trials and treatment suffered by Jesus, not one of his prospects for the future was in the least damaged. Those same prospects are sure for his bride also, “bone” of his bones.

The Bride of Christ shall be made Christ’s joint‑heir and help mate in the Kingdom who’s role will be to nourish and instruct all the willing and obedient back into harmony with God during the Millennial age (R4556:2, R5967).

“The plan of God proposes that the second Adam shall in relation to Adam take his place as the life‑giver to a race who shall possess the earth and enjoy it… as Father to our race does our Lord correspond to Adam—as the second Adam” (R4556:2). He is called the second Adam, in that he takes the place of the first Adam—undertakes to be the Father and life‑giver to Adam and every member of his race” (Expanded Biblical Comments). Upon condition of their obedience to him, they may then obtain everlasting life.

Our Redeemer presently enlivens us, in the respect that our old nature has been lifted from condemnation. This allows us to present ourselves in devotion and service to God, in order that we may grow a new life, a spiritual life, a heavenly life, to be secured in the first resurrection. Of that life God is Father, our “Heavenly Father.” “In accepting Christ as Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned no longer as a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the ‘last Adam,’ having a new life in Christ” (R1438:1). Our renewed standing is then laid down in sacrifice to God for the prospect of a heavenly life above. Our higher prospect is mentioned in Ephesians 2:6, NIV, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

How Long from the Creation of Adam to the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

The period in question, judging by the Hebrew Scriptures, was on the order of 4000 years. As we are now on the order of 2000 years further, brethren of our fellowship recognize that it is now timely for the blessed Kingdom of God to become established on Earth. For there is a long standing view, held even by Jewish Sages in pre‑Christian times, that God intended a millennium of blessing for the world following six millenniums of sin and death.

The Holy Scriptures refer to a “day” with God as a thousand years:

“A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday [one day] when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

By this measure, the six days of labor in the Jewish economy represent 6000 years of sin and death, and the sabbath of rest represents the 1000 year Millennium of restoration (Revelation 20:1‑6).

Ezekiel 46:1 (ESV) expresses this concept symbolically. “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day [the 7th day, which represents the Millennial Age of Revelation 20:4‑6] it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon [when a new covenant will be inaugurated with Israel] it shall be opened.”

With this hope in mind, Christians throughout history have endeavoured to estimate when the close of 6000 years may come.

 A Historical Perspective

In the days of William Miller and the early Adventist Movement, they supposed 6000 years were drawing to a close in the mid 1800s. In fact, William Miller concluded that Christ would return in 1843, assuming that 6000 years would end then. When Christ did not return as expected, some brethren gave up their faith but others simply recognized that they needed to keep looking. Br. Nelson Barbour was among those. He came to believe that Jesus would return in 1873. Therefore, he assumed that 6000 years would end about that time. He went looking, and found in EB Elliott’s work, “Horae Apocalypticae,” written in the early 1800s, a version of Bible chronology suggested there that shows how 6000 years might conclude somewhere near the year 1872.

Br. Barbour was a younger associate of Br. Miller, so he followed Br. Miller’s assumption that 6000 years would approximately mark the return of Christ. As far as we know, Br. Barbour did not consider another option—namely that 6000 years would take us to the completion of the Church, rather than simply to the return of Christ.

Br. Russell met Br. Barbour in Philadelphia in 1876, and accepted the prophetic package, as it seemed reasonable. At the time they anticipated that the Church would be complete in 1878, after that they supposed it would be in 1881, and subsequently the expectation was reset to 1914. But concerns persisted. It seemed that a seventh “day” had commenced, and yet the “thousand years” of Revelation 20:4,6, was deferred. How could this be explained?

Some of the dear brethren seem unaware of the perplexity expressed on this issue by Pastor Russell himself. However, his words are clear and to the point about the uncertainty. It thus surprises us that even some who honor and revere his service bypass the important and specific points he advised brethren of, respecting this. However, the issue did not escape the attention of brethren in Pastor Russell’s own day. Thus, near the end of the year 1900, the following specific question was submitted to Pastor Russell.

“I understand from Revelation 20:4-6 that Christ will reign one thousand years, and from verses 2 and 7 that Satan will be bound during that period. If Christ began to reign in 1878, and Satan will not be bound until 1915, the two periods do not seem to synchronize; and … both extend beyond the seventh-thousand year period which … began in the Autumn of 1872. … Can you assist me?” (R2739

Pastor Russell’s answer is very different from what some appear to suppose it should have been.

Some today appear to suppose that the right answer would have been, “The reign, the binding of Satan, and the 1000 years all began in 1874.”

But not a word of this in Pastor Russell’s actual reply.

Instead, he refers to the “obscurity” of the issue as “an open question” that, at the time, was “not now ‘meat in due season for the household of faith.’ ” However, Pastor Russell did affirm the following part of the answer.

“The Scripture declaration respecting the saints, the ‘overcomers’ is, ‘They lived and reigned a thousand years.’ The reign of the saints cannot be properly said [R2740: page 368] to begin before all the ‘jewels’ have been gathered, nor before ‘the times of the Gentiles’ end, in 1914.”

It is clear from this direct answer to the brother’s question—on an issue that was declared as of then unresolved—that the 1000 years of Revelation 20:6 would not begin until the Church was complete. It was not apparent how this synchronized with the then-current view that 6000 years had been completed.

Pastor Charles Russell continued to affirm his view that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 would not commence until the Church was completed. Nor does he express any view other than this, respecting Revelation 20 directly. In R3460 (Diagram 3), you will find a diagram showing 1000 years beginning in 1914, when he supposed the Church to be complete. He later supplemented this with the following comments in later years.

R5115“The Church shall have passed into glory … Messiah will then reign for a thousand years.”

R5604 “The great Battle of Armageddon … will precede … Messiah’s glorious rule of a thousand years … (Revelation 20:6).”

R5692“Messiah’s kingdom shall be fully inaugurated. Then these shall … reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4.)

R5919The Kingdom cannot come until the Royal Family is ready to take the Throne. Jesus, indeed, has long been ready; but in harmony with the Father’s Plan He has waited and has been doing a work in the preparation of the Church, His brethren, who are to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom—otherwise styled ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.’ (Romans 8:17; Revelation 21:9,10.) Then for a thousand years the Restitution privileges will be open to the whole world of mankind. It will no longer be necessary to preach; for all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest, and unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Jeremiah 31:34; Philippians 2:9-11.)”

There is more. Sometime late in the year 1913, Br. Russell changed the chart to accord with the expression cited just above. Early on, the period from the parousia of Christ forward was labeled “Millennial Age.” But late in 1913, Pastor Russell changed the designation to the broad Messianic Age.”

Why this change?

The reason seems apparent. Strictly speaking, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-6 would not begin until the end of the Harvest. Thus, if one begins a period incipiently from the parousia forward, better to give it a more general designation, “Messianic Age,” to avoid the inference that the 1000 years proper, of Revelation 20:4-6, had commenced.

A perceptive awareness of these points is the foundation for a recent presentation by Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications,” which explains these points in remarkable detail. This presentation is specially excellent for brethren with high regard for the teaching of Pastor Russell.

What is the Answer?

What, then, is the answer to the question that has spurred so much discussion during the Harvest period? Namely—how does one reconcile the end of 6000 years early in the harvest of the Gospel Age, with the fact that the thousand years of Revelation 20:4-6 begins at the close of the harvest?

The answer is now at hand.

In the century and a half since the harvest began, and decades after Pastor Russell completed his course, the history of the Old Testament has clarified. 

Not because of the wisdom of men, but because it was God’s due time for greater clarity, to direct the Church to the approaching climax of their hopes.

The timeline from the Hebrew scriptures directly, respecting the synchronisms of the kings of Israel and Judah, shows that some of the kings of Judah (and of Israel) overlapped one another, in periods of coregencies. The testimony of these facts comes from the scriptures directly. However, the issues had not been solved while Pastor Russell lived. It was premature. “We may see some day just how [these synchronisms in the Hebrew Scriptures] can be harmonized, but at present we do not” (Question Book, page 42).

The overlapping of Judean kings, testified to in the Old Testament Scriptures, reduces the period of Kings from 513 years to 463 years. Affixing the end of this period to the firm date of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, establishes the year in which Israel’s last king, Zedekiah, lost his throne, was in 587 bc.

This means that we can now date the spring of Solomon’s fourth year to 966 bc, at which time was founded (but not yet operational) “Solomon’s Temple,” referred to in 1 Kings 6:1. From that text we can then place the Exodus at 1445 bc. (Note: 1445 bc is discussed in the following post: STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night.)

As detailed in Volume Two of Studies in the Scriptures—“The Time is at Hand,” by Br. Charles Russell (page 43-47)—the time from Adam to the Exodus is widely agreed among brethren to be 2513 years. That is:

From Adam to the Flood

From the Covenant with Abraham to the giving of the law.jpg

If we now count from the Exodus date of 1445 bc, a period of 2513 years backward to Adam, the result is the date 3958 bc for the creation of Adam. Six thousand years forward from there will be the year 2043 ad—thus the date opening the Seventh Millennium, which apparently is the same as the 1000 year Millennium of Revelation chapter 20.

Now the answer to the conundrum that Pastor Russell said was an “open question” in his day, can be resolved—for it is timely, inasmuch as the end of the harvest approaches. The resolution is straight forward. The end of 6000 years of permission of evil synchronizes with the close of the harvest, rather than with the opening of the harvest. With this key, all is harmonious.

 

Acknowledgements

 

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