NO. 734: TIMES OF REFRESHING - TIMES OF RESTITUTION

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 734

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive [retain] until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)

It has been our custom for many years to pay tribute at this time of year to Pastor Russell, That Wise and Faithful Servant, to commemorate his death on October 31, 1916. We believe his steward­ship doctrine was a correct understanding of the Atonement, the central teaching of which is Restitution. It has been said that once Brother Russell received the Truth on this doctrine, he never delivered a public discourse in which Restitution did not have a prominent place. In keeping with this, we present this treatise.

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In Acts 3:19-24 the Apostle Peter called to the attention of the Jews the promise that God had made to Abraham, saying, “And in thy seed shall all the nations [peoples] of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) The word “restitution” in the text means restoration; or, as Rotherham states it, “the times of the due establishment of all things . . . But, indeed, all the prophets, – from Samuel and those following after, as many as have spoken, have even announced these days.” (Acts 3:19-24, Rotherham) The Apostle Peter here describes the refreshing times to come, as opposed to the present dry and dying condition of the human race – which he elsewhere likens to grass that withers and sears for lack of rain. (1 Pet. 1:24) He proceeds to stress that the Prophet Samuel and all who came after him had spoken of these refreshing times to come.

This was one of the first public speeches that came from any of the Apostles after Pentecost, and it is in fact just another way of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Often it is recorded of Jesus that He went about “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:35; Mark 1:14), which the Apostle Peter here declares to be the “times of restitution.”

It would seem that such an important and far-reaching doctrine as this should have prominent recognition wherever and whenever the Christian religion is preached. But what do we find? So far as we are concerned, we have never once heard Acts 3:19-24 even mentioned from the pulpits of Big Babylon, much less has any attempt been made to explain it. Since men usually preach the things they understand and love, we can but conclude that the silence on this part of Scripture is due to the lack of knowledge of those who should be declaring it.

All during the Gospel Age, since the death of the Apostles (or shortly thereafter), the doctrine of Restitution was completely lost, as represented by parable of the woman who had ten pieces of silver, lost one and sought diligently until she found it. She then called her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” (Luke 15:8-9) The woman in the parable is the Church, which lost sight of one cardinal doctrine of the Bible – Restitution – and it was not until the Harvest that this great Truth was with great rejoicing once more recognized. After the Harvest work had attracted a following, and the Pilgrims began to circulate, That Servant often urged them all to preach Restitution. That was especially emphasized with the Sunday speakers that were sent from the Bible House on weekends. It was indeed “Good Tidings of Great Joy” to all who received it with grateful hearts.

RESTORING THAT WHICH WAS LOST

Jesus said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) After the transgression in the Garden of Eden four things were lost – things which man once had in his pristine purity. (1) He lost his intimate and friendly relationship with his Creator. (2) He lost his perfect home: “The Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man.” (Gen. 3:23-24) (3) He lost his original dominion over earth: “Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) Noting this loss of dominion, the Apostle Paul said, “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Heb. 2:8) (4) He lost his life. Man was not created to die – he was created to live – and the Scripture is clear enough that he would have continued to “live forever” had he remained in his perfect Edenic home, from which he was driven out “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.” (Gen. 3:22)

Just as four things were lost, there are four component parts to the Restitution, the restoration, as clearly set forth in Psa. 103:2-5: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: [1] Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; [2] Who healeth all thy diseases; [3] Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; [4] Who crowneth thee with loving­kindness and tender mercies . . . thy youth is renewed like the eagles.”

The first of these processes came without any effort on man’s part and generally with little or no knowledge that he is receiving this “benefit.” St. Paul says of us who presently believe, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Thus, Christ made Himself an offering for sin for us before we knew anything about it being done. He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) In “due time” all men will recognize what we now know – that a propitiation for sins was provided by the Redeemer without men asking for it – Christ forgives all iniquities.

The same may be said for the second Restitution process, the healing all diseases. In the resurrection day it is self-evident that the disease which brought man to the grave must be cured before his awakening; otherwise, he would immediately die again. The natural and artificial causes that have caused death for centuries must be eliminated in all men before they are returned from the grave. This also will be accomplished without men asking for it.

The third process will operate somewhat differently. Redemption from destruction will require cooperation on the part of the recipient. “God our savior . . . will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4) But this knowledge of the Truth will not be forced down the throats of the unwilling; they must show some desire for it and willingly cooperate in the educational process. That educational process will not only teach men the religious truth on the facts of life and death, it will also teach them the physical, mental, moral and religious philosophies of life which will enable them to live forever in perpetual youth. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (Hos. 13:14) That power which now turns man to destruction, to the grave, will be stayed. Death will be deprived of its present power over all. Then will come to pass the prophecy: “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth.” (Job 33:24-25)

The fourth process, the “crowning,” will also require the cooperation of the recipient, who will receive it with a clear understanding of its import. It is emphasized in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” (Matt. 25:34) In times past, when a prince inherited a kingdom from his father, he was seated on the throne and a crown placed upon his head. Figuratively speaking, this same procedure will be followed when the Restitution process is complete. Each one of the “sheep” will inherit a kingdom – perfect human life with its accompanying life rights – just as Adam had in Eden when he was given dominion over all things on earth. He was then in every sense a monarch over all he surveyed.

However, the Restitution processes cannot be completed fully until the causes that now send men to the grave have been eliminated. St. John states this very graphically: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-4)

The angel who gave those words to John evidently realized the disbelief with which the message would be received by the present sick and dying race, for he then emphasized it with these words: “Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Rev. 21:5)

The logical conclusion is that the Restitution processes will eliminate all crime, thievery, violence, moral depravity, and sickness. There will be no more need for locked doors; no more destructive armies; no more rigid police protection. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4)

THEN COMETH THE END

St. Paul graphically confirms this outcome: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits [Jesus] of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by [a] man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die [all who were in Adam die; this would exclude Jesus, for He was never in Adam], even so [all who are] in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits [meaning the entire Christ Company, and not merely Jesus only]; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming [presence]. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:20-26)

“The end” is the end of the Little Season, when Christ will have ruled over the earth to the full elimination of Satan and his evil acts and death and the dying process. The “last enemy” is the dying process – all the mental, moral, physical and religious ills now prevalent in the human race. Then the conclusion of St. Paul will be realized: “That through death he [Jesus] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14)

The foregoing is vividly illustrated in what is perhaps the grandest type of the entire Old Testament: “And the Lord said unto Moses [type of Christ], Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians [Pharaoh and his hosts being typical of Satan and his henchmen] . . . and the sea returned to his strength . . . and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea . . . and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.” (Exod. 14:26-31) The destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea typically sets forth how Satan and all who are on his side will be forever destroyed. The “goats” of the parable in Matt. 25:31-46 will come to their complete annihilation, leaving the “sheep” as the unmolested and perfected rulers of all they survey – free from all the evils that Satan’s deceptions have inflicted upon the human race.

DOCTRINE OF RESTITUTION DISTORTED

That Servant gave a very clear and convincing presentation of the Times of Restitution; and his entire following was almost a solid unit in accepting it the way he taught it. But what do we find since his death? We find many who once seemed to understand the subject have now perverted it out of all recognition to the manner in which they had once accepted it. Chief among these are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who now have consigned Adam to annihilation, which is actually a denial of the Ransom – although they would not admit that.

Since Adam was the only perfect man on earth aside from Jesus Himself, and since the word Ransom itself means a corresponding price, an exact duplicate, Adam is actually the only one who could be ransomed. Therefore, St. Paul gives the philosophy: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) When ransom was provided for Adam, that act became the inheritance for all of us – just as all of us inherited the death penalty for sin passed on him. The Witnesses now leave out a very large section of the human race in their presentation of Restitution. To all who understand the philosophy of the Ransom, it is an elementary conclusion that if Adam is not to be awakened, none of the rest of the world will be awakened.

They are now telling us that all living today who do not accept them will never be awakened, although they admit that Satan is still blinding the eyes of unbelievers. They are dividing the Sheep from the Goats now during this Time of Trouble when, more than ever, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (2 Cor. 4:4) They tell us that those who will never be awakened will therefore never have the opportunity of Restitution when the Devil is bound, and nothing but truth will be taught.

The Prophet Isaiah tells us this: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. . . . And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isa. 35:5,8) The highway is the established New Covenant. It will not be a “narrow way” but instead a public roadway, open to all. The unclean who refuse to go up it will “be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) Also Rev. 22:5 tells us, “And there shall be no night [error] there.”

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses say all present “unbelievers” in them will be annihilated in the approaching Armageddon, it is a far cry from the “good news” taught by That Servant, who had a message of hope for the groaning creation. And they claim That Servant as their founder! He is not the founder of their errors; he was the founder of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which the errorists took over after his death. Their teachings reveal that they do not understand, or will not accept, the meaning of “the gospel of the Kingdom,” as St. Paul so clearly states: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) Most of these “heathen” have never intelligently heard the name of Christ (nor have they heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses).

According to the Witnesses, this annihi­lation in Armageddon will include the majority of the people living – quite a few of whom are honorable, benevolent and kind – their besetting sin being that they cannot accept the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their errors. They can no longer teach: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29) (Judgment is mistranslated damnation in the King James Version. Judgment is for all restitutionists. See Diaglott.)

Nor can they teach: “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) For a number of years they put forth their “Jonadabs” as the Restitution class. They still retain much the same view, except that they now call their Jonadabs the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9-17. All Bible logic is against such an interpretation, because the language and setting of Revelation 7 clearly depict a class on the spirit plane – “before the throne – which is in Heaven. They have set aside That Servant’s interpretation of this text and substituted their own interpretation, which is error.

We continue to teach the Gospel of Christ, the Good Tidings to all mankind, the grand and glorious Restitution work of that blessed Kingdom, which will include all current unbelievers as well as current believers in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Another group, The Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, also teaches a superior Restitution class that is being developed now – “Consecrated Epiphany Campers.” To refute this error we need only bear in mind that we are still in the Gospel Age, the Faith Age; and during this Age the merit of Jesus is only for Himself and His house – for all those who honestly accept Him as their Savior and walk a “narrow way.” During this Faith Age there is only one place where His merit can be obtained, and that is inside the Court of the antitypical Gospel-Age Tabernacle. The LHMM has their non-existent class outside the linen curtain of the Gospel-Age Tabernacle – outside the righteousness of Christ in this Faith Age.

Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6) and there is only one manner in which that “way” can be obtained, and that is by taking the step from the Camp, through the antitypical Tabernacle Gate, and into the Court, whereby “justification by faith” has been obtainable all during the Faith Age. It is still the only way, because we are still in the Gospel (faith) Age. We would emphasize that a place in the typical Tabernacle represents a condition in this Faith Age antitype.

For those who have received Harvest Truth, there would seem to be little excuse for such distortions. According to the Prophet Malachi, one of the specific missions of Jesus at His Second Advent would be to “sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Mal. 3:3) The “silver” in this text represents the Truth and the Truth has shone with great brilliance during the Harvest period. While the Truth on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the state of the dead, etc., were understood fairly well by some groups in Christendom before 1874, it remained for the Harvest Messenger to refine and elaborate upon every one of them with telling force. The word “purifier” in our text is from the Hebrew taher, one meaning of which is to make bright or to polish. Thus, at His Second Advent our Lord not only refines, purges the dross of error from the Truth, but He also brightens or polishes it.

Note that He “shall sit” as a refiner and polisher. At the time of the First Advent it was the custom for a speaker to sit, while the audience stood. In the Talmud the phrase to sit is almost synonymous with to teach. Jesus was indeed the teacher; but when He said the Scribes and Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat” (Matt. 23:2), He meant they were setting themselves forth as the teachers of the people – just as Moses had done when he gave them the Law at Sinai. Jesus now sits on His throne, as does a king and as a judge sits on his bench, etc. Thus, He is the executive, the authority, the official opponent of error and developer of the Truth. This is true not only of religious truth, but also to a large degree of secular truth. Satan has done an excellent job of corrupting secular and religious truth over the centuries, and none but our all-powerful Divine Lord is capable of undoing the damage. He has come with the “golden crown” on His head as evidence that He has the power and the authority to eliminate the damage of the past. (Rev. 14:14)

To polish anything requires a cleansing agent to be applied with muscular strength. Since 1874 especially, this has been accomplished mainly through much controversy. The Truth comes out in controversy; those who object to controversy are actually objecting to one of the special missions of our Lord since 1874, and are imposing a deception on those who listen to them.

Our chief purpose in giving this explanation is to focus attention upon the “outer darkness” of those who once saw Restitution in its brilliance and clarity, but who have now sullied it so badly by their perversions (See Matt. 25:30 on the “unprof­itable servant” with the Berean Comments). The evidence clearly points to something being woefully wrong in the hearts of such.

“ALL MEN TO BE SAVED” – SOME CONTRARY VIEWS

Like all other fundamental teachings of the Bible, the text stating that God “will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4), has been given the extremes of erroneous interpretation. Some contend that if God will have all men to be saved, that is a guarantee of eternal life for every human being that has ever lived. Universalism goes even further, insisting that even the Devil and his angels will also eventually be saved, despite the clear statement of St. Paul to the contrary. (Heb. 2:14) Others contend that God would like to have all men saved, but He just can’t seem to accomplish it. All of these perversions are based upon a misunderstanding of the salvation process.

God will have all men to be saved. But saved from what, to what? St. Paul offers us the proper help: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) All of Adam’s progeny inherited the death sentence from him through no fault of their own. It is relief from that sentence from which God wishes all men to be saved. Often in human affairs we hear of a condemned man being “saved from execution” by official decree; but that does not mean that he will continue to live forever. It simply means that he is saved from the sentence passed upon him by the judicial process.

Much the same explanation may be given for the entire human race being saved; they will be saved from the sentence now hanging over them, and thenceforth will be given the privilege of regaining perfect life, as Adam had it, if they wish to take advantage of it. If they do, they will be classified as the “sheep” of the parable; if they do not, they will be classified as the “goats” of the parable, and will be sentenced to death once more – for their own transgression, not for one inherited from another.

This is well stated by the Prophet Jeremiah: “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:29-30) No longer will the iniquities of the fathers be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. (Exod. 20:5)

Some years back we corresponded with a preacher who insisted that St. Paul’s words mean that every man will eventually receive eternal life – although there is just nothing in the text to warrant such a conclusion. Man will be relieved from the present load upon his back, and given the opportunity, under favorable conditions, to free himself from its effects if he will take advantage of the opportunity. Nothing more than that; nothing less. The preacher argued that the “everlasting punishment” of Matt. 25:46 simply means “age-lasting” and that man will continue to receive one opportunity after another – for a full Age – until he eventually avails himself of eternal life. But the same Greek adjective aionios is used to describe both the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the unrighteous. This would force the logical conclusion that the life received by the sheep will also be limited to the Age. Note the footnote for verse 46 in the Emphatic Diaglott:

“The Common Version, and many modern ones, render kolasin aionioon, everlasting punish­ment, conveying the idea, as generally interpreted, of basinos, torment. Kolasin . . . is derived from kolazoo, which signifies [primarily] to cut off; as lopping off branches of trees, to prune . . . The righteous go to life, the wicked to the cutting off from life, or death.”

If we cut the limb from a tree, we know that limb will no longer continue to live; it withers and disintegrates – in much the same manner that Adam withered for 930 years, then disintegrated in the grave. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19)

“THE MEEK SHALL EAT AND BE SATISFIED”

At the birth of Jesus the angel declared, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) St. John elaborated: “He is the propitiation for our sins [those who accept Him in this present Age]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

As we look back with joy at the Savior’s birth and the subsequent atonement for all people, so the ancients looked forward to it. Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) A beautiful prophecy on the subject is presented in Psalm 72: “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth [times of refreshing]. In his days shall the righteous flourish [the sheep of the parable]; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth . . . Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him . . . daily shall he be praised . . . they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth . . . All nations shall call him blessed . . . Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.” Truly, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11)

Biblical names are often significant of the character and accomplishments of the persons to whom they are given. Thus, Jesus is the Latin word for Joshua, or Jeshua, which means “Yahweh is salvation,” the name being very expressive of the work He would do. Thus, He not only delivers, or saves believers in this Age, but in the next Age He will deliver the world in general from the sentence now resting upon men. This He will accomplish by His Priestly, Mediatorial, Kingly, Legislative, Judicial, Prophetic and Paternal offices, by His good Word and works. He “forgiveth all thine iniquities.” (Psa. 103:3) He is indeed “mighty to save!” (Isa. 63:1)

Then will be realized the words: “The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever . . . all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations . . . A seed shall serve him . . . They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born.” (Psa. 22:26-31)

(Reprint of an article by Brother John J. Hoefle, with some modifications. Originally printed in No. 217, July 1, 1973.)

P.O. Box 2246, Kernersville, NC 27285-2246; epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com


NO. 733: THE FINAL SHAKING

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 733

“Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:26-28)

Revelation definitely identifies Armageddon as the great final earthquake: “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon . . . And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” (Rev. 16:16-18)

Armageddon is a Hebrew word signifying the Hill of Megiddo, or the Mount of Destruction. Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, and commanded an important pass into the hill country. This locality was the great battleground on which was fought many of the famous battles of Old Testament history. There Gideon and his little band alarmed and discomfited the Midianites, who destroyed one another in their flight. (Judges 7:19-23) There King Saul was defeated by the Philistines. (1 Sam. 31:1-6) There King Josiah was slain by Pharaoh-Necho in one of the most disastrous conflicts in the history of Israel. (2 Chron. 35:22-25) There also King Ahab and his wife Jezebel lived, in the city of Jezereel, where Jezebel afterwards met a horrible death. (2 Kings 9:30-37)

Those battles were typical, that is they were symbols of something greater. The defeat of the Midianites released the people of Israel from bondage in Midian. Thus Gideon and his band typified our Lord and the Church, who are to release mankind from their bondage to sin and death. The death of King Saul and the overthrow of his kingdom by the Philistines opened the way for the reign of David, who typified Messiah. King Ahab typified the civil government, symbolically called the “Dragon” in Revelation. Queen Jezebel symbolically foreshadowed the great harlot, Babylon (the false Christian church system married to earthly governments), and as such she is mentioned by name: “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which called herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants.” (Rev. 2:20)

In the Scriptures, the name Armageddon is associated with the great struggle between Truth and Error, right and wrong, God and Mammon that will close the Gospel Age and usher in the Messianic Age. The Lord has purposely used highly symbolic language in the last book of the Bible, evidently to hide certain impor­tant truths until the due time for their revealing. But even in the due time, only the “wise” among God’s people will know. (Dan. 12:10)

In 1 Kings we have a record of the Lord’s demonstration to Elijah, who typed the true Church in the flesh.[1] It states: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)

Here are the four mani­festations by which the Lord is revealing Himself to mankind, the first three preparing mankind for the final one, when the blessing of all the families of the earth will come. These manifestations are:

(1) The strong wind, rending the rocks. Wind seems to be used in Scripture to represent war, which will lead to:

(2) An earthquake. Throughout the Scriptures earthquake seems to represent revolution. The conditions following a great war arouse discontent among the masses leading to revolution. Although severe, those revolutionary experiences will not be sufficient to prepare men to hear the voice of God. That will require:

(3) The fire from Heaven. This is an epoch of Divine judgments and chastisements upon a maddened, but unconverted world, wild in anarchy, as other Scriptures show us. The results of the wars, revolutions and anarchy and the failure of the schemes of the world will prepare mankind for God’s revelation of Himself in:

(4) The still small voice. Yes, He who rebuked the winds and waves of Galilee will in due time speak to the people, saying, “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39)

Mark the harmony of Psalm 46 with these thoughts drawn from Elijah’s lesson. After portraying in symbol the dashing of the kingdoms of this world, the shaking of society by revolution and the figurative melting of society under the fire of God’s judgments, and after every hope of man in his own power is gone, the still small voice is heard commanding, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen [the nations], I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psa. 46:10)

Mankind’s difficulty is largely due to ignorance of God. Men fail to know Him, partly at least because of their high opinion of their own wisdom and ability to get along without God. They will soon learn differently and will then be willing to hearken to divine wisdom, and say, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, to the  house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2) “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psa. 25:10)

The lesson to the Lord’s people from these symbols is that God has the power to bring order out of present chaos. We are to “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psa. 37:7) We are to labor on diligently and fervently to the extent of our opportunities and abilities and “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13) “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9)

The trouble is inevitable; the powerful causes are all at work, and no human power is able to arrest their operation and progress toward the certain end; the effects must follow as the Lord foresaw and foretold. No hand but the hand of God can stay the present flow of events; and His hand will not do so until the bitter experiences of this conflict have sealed their instruction upon the hearts of men.

The French Revolution provides an example of what Armageddon will be like. In the symbolic language of Revelation, the French Revolution was indeed a “great earthquake,” a social shock so great that all “Christendom” trembled until it was over; and that terrible and sudden outburst of a single nation’s wrath, more than two centuries ago gives an idea of the fury of the coming storm, when the wrath of the angry nations will burst the bands of law and order, causing a reign of universal anarchy following the earthquake of Armageddon.

We should remember that the French Revolution occurred in what was then the very heart of Christendom, in the midst of what was regarded as one of the most thoroughly Christian nations in the world, the nation which for a thousand years had been the chief support of Papacy. In fact the French Revolution is alluded to by Jesus in His Revelation to John on Patmos as a prelude to, and an illustration of the crisis now approaching. (Rev. 12: 15-16) (See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume III, pages 50-54 and 64-69.) Nominal Christianity has not cured the pestilence of infidelity and anarchism and is powerless to avert the further outbreak predicted in the Scriptures to be the greatest trouble ever to be known to earth. (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21)

SOME GRAND PARALLELS

That Servant showed how wonderfully the introduction of the New Covenant by Christ at the beginning of the Millennial Age was typed by the introduction of the Law Covenant by Moses:

“At the institution of the Law Covenant, at Mount Sinai, Moses seems to have been a type of the complete Christ (head and body) at the introduction of the Millennial Age, when the New Covenant will be introduced to the world – after ‘the sound of the great [seventh] trumpet,’ and the black darkness and ‘great earthquake,’ etc., of the Day of Vengeance shall have appalled mankind and made them ready to hear the voice of the Great Teacher, and glad to accept His New Covenant. This is distinctly pointed out by the Apostle (Heb. 12:18-22) who seems to mark every step of the parallelism. Israel had been approaching and had finally reached Mount Sinai, that might be touched, and from which such fearful sights and sounds emanated that all feared and quaked: but we are approaching Mount Zion and its wondrous glories and blessings far superior to those at Sinai; but accompanying these greater blessings will be the more terrible trumpet, blackness and earthquake shaking – the final shaking of all that can be shaken (all that is sinful and contrary to the divine will), that only that which is true and enduring may remain. The solution of the whole matter is in the words: ‘Wherefore we [who anticipate thus] receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God accept­ably.’ (Heb. 12:28)” (Studies in the Scrip­tures, Volume IV, page 630)

He also showed how the world’s deliverance was typed by Israel’s deliverance from Egypt:

“The deliverance of Israel from Egypt and from the plagues which came upon the Egyptians seems to illustrate the coming emancipation of the world, at the hands of the greater than Moses, whom he typified. It will be a deliverance from Satan and every agency he has devised for man’s bondage to sin and error. And as the plagues upon Egypt had a hardening effect as soon as removed, so the temporary relief from the pains of this Day of the Lord will tend to harden some, and they will say to the poor, as did the Egyptians to Israel, ‘Ye are idle,’ and therefore dissatisfied and will probably, like them, attempt to increase the burden. (Exod. 5:4-23) But in the end such will wish, as did Pharaoh in the midnight of his last plague, that they had dealt more leniently and wisely long ago. (Exod. 12:30-33) To mark further the similarity, call to mind that the troubles of this Day of the Lord are called ‘seven vials of wrath,’ or ‘seven last plagues,’ and that it is not until the last of these that the great earthquake (revolution) occurs, in which every mountain (kingdom) will disappear. (Rev. 16:17-20)

“Another thought with reference to this Day of Trouble is that it has come just in due time – God’s due time. In the next volume of this work, evidence is adduced from the testimony of the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament, as well as from Jesus and the apostolic prophets of the New Testament, which shows clearly and unmistakably that this Day of Trouble is located chronologically in the beginning of the glorious Millennial reign of Messiah. It is this necessary preparation for the coming work of restitution in the Millennial Age that precipitates the trouble.” (Studies in the Scriptures Volume I, page 336)

In Revelation we are shown that war has been miraculously hindered to give opportunity for “sealing” the Lord’s consecrated people in their foreheads (intellectually) with the Present Truth: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth . . . And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the ser­vants of our God in their foreheads. (Rev. 7:1-3)

We understand the “four angels” to be the leaders of the “four corners” or sections of earthly society (government, aristocracy, bourgeoisie, and labor – the “messengers of wrath”). They are holding back the “four winds,” which we understand to be the fallen angels, restrained until the proper time, but which on coming together constitute the “whirlwind” of revolution and anarchy foretold by Jeremiah. (Jer. 25:32) The “wind” here is war; it is not the “whirlwind,” which will only come when the fallen angels are more fully loosed than when they were causing the war. The wind, as this text implies, must precede the whirlwind, which occurs as a result of the hostile meeting of the fallen angels.[2]

JACOB’S TROUBLE

But there is another great trouble, which is not mentioned in 1 Kings 19:11-12, because it is not to be upon the whole world. This trouble will be upon fleshly Israel. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jer. 30:7) There is great trouble upon them now, but we cannot say for certain that this is Jacob’s Trouble. We will not be able to discern this until more time has passed and we observe events that follow. But one thing is sure and that is God’s promise that He will save them. “For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” (Jer. 30:11)

 In the midst of the trouble God will reveal Himself as Israel’s defender as in ancient times, when His favor was with them nationally. Their extremity will be His opportunity; and their blindness will be removed. The testimony of all the Prophets is that the power of God will be so marvelously manifested in Israel’s deliverance by His fighting for them (and thus for all), with weapons which no human power can control, including pestilence and various calamities, poured upon the wicked (Israel’s enemies and God’s opponents) until speedily all the world will know that the Lord has accepted Israel again to His favor, and become their King, as in olden times. Soon Israel and the whole world will learn to appreciate God’s Kingdom, which shall speedily become the “desire of all nations.” (Hag. 2:7)

GOD’S WISE PROGRAM

If this great cataclysm of trouble were all we had to look forward to, we would think it the course of wisdom to say nothing about it. We would say: Do not think about it or speak of it; for it will be bad enough when it comes. But when the Bible tells us that the great trouble is designed merely to sweep away the outgrown religious systems, social systems, political systems, etc., and that God will on the wreck of all these things establish the Kingdom of Messiah for the world’s blessing, then we are glad of the trouble, and see that it is a necessary thing. This knowledge would be a great comfort and relief of mind to many bewildered ones who see the trouble coming on with increasing momentum, yet who cannot see the ultimate good to result, who feel that revolution and anarchy are confronting the entire world, but do not see the golden lining to the black clouds of trouble.

Speaking about this Time of Trouble, St. Paul says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day.” (1 Thess. 5:4-5) God’s people should have general information regarding His plans, purposes and arrangements.

Referring to the new order of things after the fire of God’s retributive vengeance has burned up present evils, God, through the Prophet, says: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” (Zeph. 3:9) He also says, “They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (Isa. 29:24) In other words, all people will be in harmony because they will all know the Truth. Ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:11; Isa. 45:23)

Can we not see the wisdom of the great Creator’s program? He has determined to permit mankind to convince themselves of their own impotency, of their need of a God, and of the fact that there is a God, and that His glorious purposes for humanity are revealed in His Word. It is no wonder that the Bible speaks of that revelation of the Lord as the “still small voice” of God, speaking to mankind through Messiah’s Kingdom!

St. Peter gives us a vivid picture of the new order of things in Messiah’s Kingdom. He says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up . . . the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved . . . Nevertheless we, accord­ing to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:10-13)

The “new heavens” will be the glorified Church, consisting of Jesus the Head and His Bride class, selected from the world during the past centuries. The “new earth” will be the new social order under the control of the new heavens. There will be no patching of present institutions, but a clean sweep of them by the fire of Divine wrath preceding the establishment of the new order, where only that which is righteous, just, equitable, true, will be recognized.

We rejoice that such glorious things are coming – even though the world must necessarily reach them through the tribulation of the Time of Trouble. Happy are those whose eyes and ears of understanding are open now; and who are in such heart relationship with the Lord that He can make known to them in advance something of the riches of His grace, and show them how the coming troubles will work out blessings for the human family.

(This paper is drawn from various writings of Pastor Russell and Brother Johnson.)

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TWO CLASSES IN THE RESURRECTION

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

The excerpts below are verbatim quotations from the March 15, 1951 Herald of the Epiphany.

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“We have been asked, in view of the fact that some will never reach the condition of perfection, which the word resurrection means, how shall we understand the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 24:15, that both the just and the unjust are to be resurrected? This Scripture seems very plain and simple if we give careful attention to what we read. Those Jews who stood by and heard the defense of the Apostle before Governor Felix, of which the words of Acts 24:15 are a part, believed that all of the just would have a resurrection, and that an opportunity of the resurrection would be given the unjust. That is what they had been taught from their forefathers. And now the Apostle Paul was reiter­ating this, their conviction. He says, ‘There shall be a resurrection, both of the just and the unjust’; that is to say, the resurrection for which God has provided, and which is yet to come, is not only for the good, but also for those who are now evil.

“The thought is not that those who remain in an unjust condition will be granted a full resurrec­tion. The text does not state that all the unjust will be resurrected, brought to per­fection of life. There are some now justified who will have a share in the resurrection, even as there are others who are not now justified who will also have a share in the resurrection. And all mankind will have a share in God’s provision for a resurrection. The just will have a special resurrection, which will be a reward for their special obedience. . . .”

“So we have the resurrection of the highest class of the just – the “little flock” on the Divine Plane; that of the Great Company, on a lower spirit plane; that of the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, on the earthly plane – four classes who pass their trial, their testing in the present life. But it has been provided in the Divine Plan that the remainder of men may gradually be raised fully up, out of every frailty, back to the original perfection that Adam had in the beginning. They are unjust now; they have never come into relationship with God. . . .”

“They that have done good will come forth to a resurrection of life. Some of these will receive a resurrection of life on the human plane, others on the spirit plane, still oth­ers on the highest order of the spirit plane – the plane of the Divine nature. Then Jesus tells us about the other general class – those who have done evil. This includes all whom God cannot approve and accept. Those who are not accepted are those who have not done good, according to God’s standard; they have done evil; they are unjustified. Many of them have been respectable, moral people, but they are not worthy of the ‘better resurrection.’ . . .”

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The foregoing is in full agreement with the faithful teachings of the Two Messengers; and was also the teaching of The Present Truth publication for some time after the demise of the Epiphany Messenger. We feel justified in concluding that at the time it was written the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement had not yet invented another class of “the just” – a justified consecrated class in the Camp. Nor had they then “discovered” that the Epiphany Messenger had taught such a class.

That Servant set out all four classes of the just – the Little Flock, Great Company, Ancient Worthies, and the unbegotten consecrators here in the end of the Age (from 1881 until Restitution begins) who would be rewarded in honor, service and a “better resur­rection” with the Ancient Worthies, although he did not give a definite name to them, so far as we know. There is copious Scriptural support for the four classes of the just. Thus the Epiphany Messenger merely elaborated on these four classes; he did not invent them. In particular, he enlarged upon the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies in the Epiphany period.

Some Truth groups ignore Brother Russell’s teaching of a class of consecrators “be­tween the Ages” who if faithful, will be rewarded in honor and service with the Ancient Worthies. (See Hebrews Chapter 11) They continue to teach that the High Calling is open to new consecrators – although they do teach correctly that Armageddon is imminent, etc. Appar­ently they have forgotten about this class of unbegotten consecrators here in the end of the Age.

However, so far as we know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the LHMM are the only groups who have invented a new class never taught by That Wise and Faithful Servant. The Witnesses do not claim support from That Servant for their invention, but the LHMM declares that the Messengers do support their notion – although they have been unable to produce anything from their writings to support their claim. Should they attempt a class study of Epiphany Volume 4, and teach just what that book says, that would be error, according to their present teaching. The same would also be true for Tabernacle Shadows, because it also is silent on a class of consecrators in the Camp before the New Covenant is inaugurated.

The Law of Liberty given to the Household of Faith during this Age applies only to the Fully Faithful. However, the world in general has a certain amount of liberty to do either good or evil, some of the evils being restrained by the laws of our land. The world is also restrained from any evils which would hinder God’s plan, or unduly inter­fere with His people. But the very opposite will be the case in the Mediatorial King­dom. Under the Works Salvation they will be put under martial law; they will not be permitted to do evil to others, either willingly or unwillingly. That will be a very pronounced change from being under the present Grace Covenant, which is now the Law of Love and Liberty for the Household of Faith so long as they are faithful. If the House­hold of Faith were under the same law now that will prevail in the Mediatorial Kingdom, the Great Company would not be permitted to perpetrate the evils they have committed all during this Age.

In Parousia Volume VI, p. 378, there is this: “The world will not be left to a Law of Love during the Millennium, but will be ruled with Justice and Mercy under a law of obedience to the Kingdom . . . [Those] having become pupils in the school of Christ . . . these, and these alone, can be safely put under the Law of Liberty. If they lose the spirit of sonship, they cease to be sons, cease to be under this Law of Liberty.”

Now a statement from Epiphany Volume 3, page 108: “The Little Flock comes out from under this merit by the completion of its sacrificial death; the Great Company by the completion of its constrained death.” These elementary truths should protect all in the Household of Faith who have “good and honest hearts” from such gross errors now emanating from these two groups – the Witnesses and the LHMM – who are flagrantly mixing the Two Distinct Salvations, the Res­urrection of the Just and Unjust, as described above.

The LHMM also mixes the imputative Merit for the Faith class, and the applied Merit for the Restitution class. According to them, the Camp now receives tentative justifica­tion – a faith justification that requires the imputation of Christ’s Merit to give it any validity; whereas, the Camp never receives the imputative Merit – either now or during the Kingdom. When the New Covenant is inaugurated that will be an actual application of the Merit. Thus, they not only mix the Two Distinct Salvations, but they also pervert the doctrine of the Merit as they grossly revolutionize against the teach­ing of That Servant on the Merit of Christ for the Faith class now, and for the world of mankind in the Kingdom. They now teach that all who accept Christ in the Kingdom will be of the Household of Faith during a works dispensation!

(Excerpt from No. 226 by Brother John J. Hoefle, April 1, 1974, with minor revisions.)

[1] For a discussion of the Elijah type, see our May 2016 paper, The Elijah Message – The Voice in the Wilderness.

[2] For Brother Johnson’s detailed discussion of Rev. 7:1-3, please see Epiphany Volume 5, p. 147.


NO. 732: THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 732

“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess. 5:17-18)

The privilege of praying to God, of holding communion with Him, is a great privilege and an evidence of His favor. God does not grant us this privilege, however, that He might be informed of our desires, for since we are imperfect our desires are not perfect, “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Rom. 8:26) He does for us better than we know how to ask or think. Nor does God permit us to pray to Him that we may inform Him regarding earthly matters, for He knows the end from the beginning as well as every intervening step. (Isa. 46:10) He has instead instituted prayer for our benefit, comfort, and instruction.

The object of prayer is to bring the heart and mind of the child of God, whether in joy or sorrow, into contact with the heart of God, that he may thus be enabled most fully to realize the fatherhood of God and His love, care and deep interest in every item of our welfare. When we are deeply afflicted, we may unburden our hearts to God and thus have forcibly brought to our attention His love and care and wisdom. This is for our encourage­ment, strengthening, and joy, not for His.

This opportunity is not for us to instruct God how to arrange matters for the best, but it is to cultivate in our hearts the realization that He is the center of wisdom and power; it is the opportunity to unburden our hearts, that we may be prepared to listen for His answer and advice through His Word. He whose knowledge of prayer is confined to the meagre information he has imparted to God with “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7), and who has never learned to listen for the answer to his prayer from the Word of God, has yet to appreciate the object of prayer.

Earnestness in God’s service will bring His children to Him frequently, leading them to realize His sympathy with them in the difficulties, discouragements and trials of life. It will lead them to ask for His guidance and overruling of every affair of life. It will lead them to heed His wisdom through His Word, enabling them to serve Him acceptably.

The province of prayer is to ask only for such things as God has already declared Himself well pleased to grant. While we may freely speak to Him as a Father and tell Him that we understand His Word and have confidence and trust in its ultimate fulfilment, we must avoid telling the Lord of our will and our plan, and what we would like. Not only must we avoid telling Him these things, we must also avoid and banish any such sentiments from our hearts, and must recognize and bring ourselves into full accord with His will and His plan of accomplishing it. If this thought were appreciated, it would cut short some of the “long prayers,” “much speaking,” and “vain repetitions” by which some endeavor to instruct the Lord in their wishes regarding every matter under heaven. (Matt. 6:7; Mark 12:40) It would send them speedily to the Word of God to search diligently the Plan of God that they might labor and pray in harmony with it.

While assuring us that the Father cares for us, and is well pleased to have us come to Him with sincere hearts, the Master informs us of the conditions upon which we may expect an answer. He says: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)

“ABIDE IN ME”

The conditions of the above statement, or promise, are two; the first is, abiding in Christ. But what is it to abide in Christ? Only those who are in Christ, who have come into Him by faith, repentance and consecration, can abide in Christ. To abide in Him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and the opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and His service will abide, and it will be manifest that our will has been wholly consecrated – swallowed up in the will of Christ.

The other condition is also a weighty one: “If my words abide in you.” It is evident that our Lord meant to associate Himself and His Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, and in the lives of all who are truly His. They must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord; to know what He has promised and what He has not promised; to know what they may ask and what they may not ask. Ascertaining these things, one who is fully consecrated – one who is controlled entirely by the will of God – will not want to be, to have, or to do anything except that which will be pleasing to the Lord.

One who reaches this position where the will of Christ governs him and the words of Christ abide in him would be well informed with respect to the Divine promises and fully submissive to the Divine will. We can readily see that whatever things anyone in this position would ask would be things which the Father would be pleased to grant.

These requests would probably be as simple as the Master’s petition when He prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) In such a condition prayers are always answered; but in such a condition the prayers would be very modest. Prayer under such circumstances would be more a thanksgiving for blessings, an expression of confidence and trust, and the committal of one’s way unto the Lord, confidently realizing the promise: “All things [even seeming disasters and troubles] work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28) Hence whatever comes, one who prays thus could realize his prayer answered. He could rejoice evermore because in the path of service he is prepared to rejoice in tribulation as well as in prosperity. He has no will to oppose whatever God permits, knowing that it will work out for good.

Such among the Lord’s people could not pray that their own will be done; for they have no will except God’s. Those who abide in Christ, and in whom His Word abides, can pray for their enemies and those who despitefully use them and persecute them, though they cannot pray for God to open the blinded eyes of their enemies at once. Realizing from the indwelling Word of God’s promise that the blinded eyes shall all be in due time opened to the Truth, they can abide His time. Going to God in prayer, they may express their forgiveness of their persecutor, their interest in him, and their patient waiting for the day when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9), the day when His will is done on earth even as it is done in heaven. (Matt. 6:10)

DO NOT “ASK AMISS”

We cannot single out an ungodly friend and request God to work a miracle on him, though we may pray for wisdom to rightly divide the word of truth so that, if possible, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God might thus shine into the understanding of that friend. This would be in harmony with the Word. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) As the Apostle James instructed: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” (Jas. 1:5)

We may not ask for riches and honor; nor for fine material things. To seek or pray for these is contrary to the Spirit of the Master. But we may ask, “Give us this day our daily bread,” assured that the Father knows what kind is best, and what things are needful to us from His standpoint for our spiritual interests as well as temporal, future as well as present.

We may not pray for the increase in numbers of any of the many sects of today, well knowing that Jesus would not approve of thus fettering with human tradition those whom He calls to liberty. He would not approve, but would condemn the sects of today as He did those at His first advent: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:6) He would declare to them, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect [useless] by your tradition.” (Matt. 15:6) We can neither labor nor pray for the advancement and growth in power, wealth, influence and numbers of any of these sects, knowing their very existence to be contrary to God’s Word, and their advancement a hindrance to the light of Truth.

Nor can we today either labor or pray for the perpetuation of the governments of this world. If the Word of Christ abides in us, we are not in darkness and we know that “the times of the Gentiles” are about fulfilled, and the time for the establishment of God’s Kingdom is at hand. For that new Kingdom we may pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth,” patiently awaiting the fullness of God’s due time. As children of the light who are not left in darkness, that day will not come upon us unawares. We know the success of the heavenly Kingdom for which we pray means the destruction of these earthly kingdoms. (Dan. 2:44)

When we pray in harmony with Paul’s exhortation “for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2), our prayers will not be that those kings may be continued in power and control, for this would be in direct opposition to God’s expressed plan, which is to break in pieces and consume all these. Our prayer for kings, etc., must be merely that God overrule and direct by raising up or casting down among the nations, as would be most in harmony with His wise plans. Although God has given over the world to the rule of “the Prince of this world” and his faithful agents, at the full end of Gentile Times He shall come “whose right it is” to take the dominion, associating with Him His faithful followers according to His many promises. (Ezek. 21:27; Dan. 7:14,18,22)

God has not given present rulers unlimited power. He will suffer them to take their course only so far as it does not interfere with His plans – there it must stop. The “wrath of man” shall not work ruin to the plan of God, for God will cause the wrath of man to work to His praise; He will restrain all that does not. (Psa. 76:10) This is the thought conveyed by the Apostle: Pray for God’s guidance and direction over all affairs of life and over rulers to the end that the piety and sobriety and growth of the Church might be conserved, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:2)

Though we may labor toward it, we cannot expect and pray for the conversion of “all men, for “kings,” etc., well remembering the Master’s prayer, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. . . . That they all may be one  . . . that the world may believe [in due time] that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:9,21) In none of Jesus’ prayers did He ever pray for Caesar, or Pilate, or Herod; nor did He make any special effort to reach out to them with the gospel message. He instead recalled what was written by the Prophet: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18) When He gave the disciples an example of prayer it contained no prayer for kings and rulers or for “all men,” except as implied in the expressions of forgiveness of debtors, and the prayer for the coming Kingdom which will bless all men.

We cannot pray to our Father to grant abundant harvests, send rains, prevent famines, droughts, wars and pestilences, for we find no example by the Master of such presumption. We realize from His words that God will permit these things until the reign of Christ is inaugurated. (Luke 21:9) Further, we are informed by the Master that the present day will be one of trouble caused by the new King binding the strong ruler of earth and spoiling his house. (Matt. 12:29) Hence we pray for none of these things, but with trust and peace look with patience to the future, praying for our Father’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as in heaven. Even in the midst of the present necessary unrest and trouble we rejoice in confident hope, knowing that all things are so overruled as to work out the accomplishment of our Father’s grand designs, revealed to us in His Word.

Instructed by the abiding Word of Christ, we cannot ask release from pain and trouble and death, but with Jesus we can only ask that if it be possible, the cup of trouble, shame, and misrepresentation might pass, that we suffer not as evil doers; and yet with Him we must say: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) “Father, glorify thy name!” (John 12:28)

We may pray for the healing of others, but not for ourselves. It was truly said of the Master, that He saved others, but He could not save Himself and be a sacrifice at the same time. Yet, in requests for the healing of others we must remember that the time for full restitution of life and health to the world has not yet fully come. Jesus did not heal all the blind and sick in Judea, and what healing He did was merely to show forth the power and blessing of His coming glorious reign which has not yet fully dawned. Hence our prayers for the sick should be with full confidence in God’s ability to heal, yet not demanding it, always letting the words of our Lord abide in us: “Thy will be done.”

To pray in other than this spirit is to “ask amiss,” to ask for things to be used for our own “lusts” (desires). (Jas. 4:3) Desires for ease, for earthly prosperity, for a sect and its growth and honor are all earthly “lusts” contrary to the Spirit and Word of Christ. Most prayers seemingly are of this sort, and therefore amiss.

How proper and how necessary is prayer to the true child of God. When properly considered, it is not merely a begging arrangement or an occasion for instructing the Lord as to our wills. It is to be considered as a time of union and communion of heart with our Father in which we may relieve our burdened or perplexed hearts by realizing Divine sympathy and care. It is a time to express our confidence in God’s many promises, bringing them close to our hearts, as though God now audibly utters them in our hearing. To break off this communion would be like stripping a tree of its leaves: it would stunt and hinder its development.

But to suppose that Christian life depends solely upon prayer without earnest study of God’s Word, is like supposing that a tree could flourish from its leaves only, without roots and soil. Both are needed: good soil and roots will produce leaves and fruitage, and, likewise, the promises of God’s Word absorbed by us will naturally lead to good works and to communion with God in prayer, without which our fruits would soon wither and disappear. No wonder, then, that Jesus both by precept and example said, “Watch and pray” (Matt. 26:41), uniting the two conditions needed for our development. Some pray and neglect to watch; others watch and neglect to pray. Both these errors are serious.

Although prayer is nowhere defined as a duty, it is stated to be a necessity. The Father desires those to worship Him as worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) It would be contrary to this principle to define prayer as a duty, and stipulate a set time or place or formal manner.

“AFTER THIS MANNER PRAY YE”

No form of prayer is furnished in the Scriptures. Even the Master, when asked by the disciples for instruction on the subject, gave them, not a form to repeat, but merely an idea or example of how to arrange their prayers to God. He did not tell them to pray a specific prayer, but instead instructed them to pray “after this manner.” (Matt. 6:9-13) Our prayers should not be an assortment of extravagant demands, but the simple expression of the earnest heart, after this manner:

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” First we acknowledge and pay homage to God as our Father, the Almighty and Hallowed One. The term “Our Father” is one of special endearment. The affection of a true father for his child, being one of the most precious in the world, is used to illustrate the relationship of the Lord’s consecrated members to the Creator. Time spent in the School of Christ as disciples and learners is required before we are able properly to appreciate the meaning of this word “Father” as applied to God. The more we come to know of the love of God, which passes all understanding, and the more we are enabled to draw near to Him through faith and obedience, the more precious will this term Father become. In addressing our petition to the Lord our first thought is to be not a selfish one respecting ourselves or others precious to us, but God is to be first in all of our thoughts and aims and calculations. We are to pray for nothing that would not be in accord with the honor of our Heavenly Father’s name.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” As God and His glory and honor are to be first in the minds of His children, so their next thought should be for the coming glorious Kingdom, which He has promised will bless the world. We should express our expectation and trust that His Kingdom is coming according to promise, and our eagerness for it. This anchor of hope in the future Kingdom will enable us to pass with comparative safety and quiet through the trials, storms and difficulties of this present evil world.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” We are next to acknowledge our continual dependence upon the Lord, day by day, for the things needed – accepting for each day the Lord’s providential care and direction of our affairs. Daily bread should here be understood in the broad sense of necessary material things. The Lord’s people, who recognize Him as their Father, must trust Him as children, while using the various means and opportunities within their reach. They are responsible for providing for themselves necessary things, yet they recognize the Divine provision and care which has pre-arranged matters so as to make their present conditions and blessings attainable.

“Forgive us our debts.” Next we acknow­ledge that our ways are not perfect and that we rely upon His favor (granted through Christ Jesus) for forgiveness of our debts – our offenses, our sins. To petition the Lord for forgiveness of sins implies that we are at heart opposed to sin, and that sins we have committed have not been willful. We ask that the Lord forgive and accept the intentions of our hearts in place of actual, complete, perfect obedience to the Divine requirement in thoughts, words and actions.

“As we forgive our debtors.” Next we express our willingness to forgive. As we are imperfect and cannot keep the Divine Law, so likewise others are imperfect. As we realize that we need Divine compassion and mercy for our shortcomings, so the Lord teaches us that we must exercise similar benevolence toward our fellow men, both inside and outside of the Household of Faith. He lays down this rule very stringently: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:15)

“Lead us not into temptation.” The thought is not that we fear God will tempt us, for as the Apostle James tells us, God tempts no man. (Jas. 1:13) Our prayer is an entreaty that He guide our steps in life so that no temptation, no trial, comes upon us that would be too severe for us to bear and escape. The Apostle Paul assures us that this is the Divine will and that such a prayer is in accordance with it. He says that God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with every temptation provide also a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13) God is not responsible for the temptations caused by the Adversary, our own fallen natures and the weaknesses of others; However, He is able to guide the way of His people so that they will not be overwhelmed by them.

“Deliver us from [the] evil [one].” Never has there been a time when there was greater need of this petition than at the present. The Evil One is specially seeking to trap and ensnare the Lord’s people at the present time; and the Scriptures inform us that God is permitting this; and that thus He is sending strong delusions upon the world and upon the nominal church. (2 Thess. 2:11) He has promised, however, that those who are seeking to walk in His steps shall not stumble, shall never fall, but shall have an abundant entrance ministered unto them into the everlasting Kingdom. (Prov. 3:23)

The question, then, is one of loyalty of heart to the Lord. The trial of this day “shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3:13) This trial will be so severe that if it were possible the “very elect” would be deceived (Matt. 24:24); but this will not be possible; for the Lord will specially care for them, staying the adverse forces so that His true people may put on the armor of God and be able to stand when the evil day comes. (Eph. 6:13)

“PRAY WITHOUT CEASING”

With Christian growth, the earnest child of God will come to understand the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.” (1 Thess. 5:17-18) Communion with God and the feeling of continual trust in His goodness and care will become interwoven with all the affairs of life, so that unceasing prayer and continual thankfulness will become as natural as breathing. But this continual prayer and thanks­giving can never replace fellowship in the worship of God.

Though not specifically commanded, how appropriate that earthly families should blend their hearts and bow their knees in Divine worship, and in submission to the Divine will. How much this tends to unify those hearts and lives. If there are children, how blessed must such an example be to them. How appropriate that the little “olive branches” be trained to look to their Creator in the days of their youth, not with formal and long prayers, but with the evidence before them of parental trust in and love for God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, as expressed in a simple, earnest, trustful prayer after the manner illustrated by our Lord Jesus.

As children see their parents recognizing and bowing to the superior will and wisdom of their heavenly Father, they learn from the example the lesson of obedience and submission to parental authority while learning to know and reverence their Creator. As soon as children come to a reasoning age, prayer should be presented to them in the same way God presents it to us: not as a requirement but as something to be done from a willing mind and a thankful and loving heart.

What is true of our earthly families is no less true of God’s family, of which we are members – the Household of Faith. To bind us together in love, God has arranged to make the various members more or less dependent on each other for the blessings He is willing and ready to bestow. Thus He would unify the Household in His method of providing spiritual food, as the human body is dependent as a whole upon its various members for the natural “daily bread” which God supplies.

This being true, we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves with those of like precious faith, preferably in person but if that is not possible, through the printed word or other means of commu­nication. When we are assembled, how refreshing and appropriate it is to ask our Father’s blessing upon the meeting. We ask His blessing that the spirit of love may move those assembled, that the Truth might be discerned by sincere and hungry souls, and that all might be built up in the most holy faith. As we draw near to God in prayer we bring our hearts into a condition of readiness to receive those blessings.

While the offered prayer is to God it should not be forgotten that the prayer influences all who join in it. Jesus and the Apostle Paul teach that it should be uttered in such a voice and manner as to enable those present to appreciate and intelligently join it. Jesus said, in connection with one of the few of His recorded sayings, “Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42) Likewise, Paul exhorts those who lead the company in prayer to seek to do so in such a manner that all may be able to hear and acquiesce in it. (1 Cor. 14:14-17)

We have no sympathy, however, with the custom of some of pretending to pray to God, while really addressing those assembled. Although our prayers should be distinct and intelligible to the hearers so that all may profit, yet it should never be lost sight of that it is God who is addressed and not men.

“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

(Derived from Reprints 797 and 4983.)

________________________________________________________

A LITTLE ONE’S PRAYER

Dear Lord, as slumber comes

To close my weary eyes,

To your Throne of grace

My voice in prayer does rise.

For the blessings of this day

I give you thanks and praise,

And help me be as Jesus was,

Good in all my ways.

As I lay me down to sleep

Please an angel send,

To watch beside me all the night,

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

P.O. Box 2246, Kernersville, NC 27285-2246; epiphanybiblestudents@gmail.com


NO. 731: GOD'S GOODNESS AND MERCY TO HIS PEOPLE - PSALM 107

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 731

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psa. 107:1)

This Psalm is a prophecy which has special application to our time. It was not even remotely understood until the time of the Harvest, since as That Servant so well stated, prophecy cannot be clearly understood until it has been fulfilled, or is in the course of fulfillment.

There are seven distinct divisions in this Psalm, including the summation (the number seven represents Divine completeness). We understand these divisions to treat of the following: (1) the Little Flock (Psa. 107:1-9); (2) the Great Company (Psa. 107:10-16); (3) fleshly Israel during the Gospel Age, with special emphasis on the end of the age (Psa. 107:17-22); (4) the world in general during and at the end of the great tribulation (Psa. 107:23-32); (5) the people and conditions of the Millennium (Psa. 107:33-38); (6) the good and evil in the Little Season (Psa. 107:39-42) when “he [Satan] must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:3); (7) the summation. (Psa. 107:43)

THE LITTLE FLOCK

“Let the redeemed of the Lord[1] say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Psa. 107:2-3; see also Matt. 8:11) The “redeemed of the Lord” here refers to a special class of the redeemed, and not to all the world of mankind in general. They are the Little Flock and they are here exhorted to “say so,” that is to acknowledge and proclaim the Lord’s mercy to them. He has redeemed them from the hand of the enemy, the great Antichrist, the Papacy, and the little Antichrist, sectarian Protestantism. Surely they have cause for thanking Him!

This Little Flock is the “us‑we‑ye” referred to in many Scriptures, for example: “Thou . . . hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins . . . ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:1‑2)

They have indeed been a conglomerate lot – a cross section of the human race, as to color, nationality, intellectual achieve­ment and circum­stances. “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:4) “They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” (Psa. 107:4-5) Compare Heb. 13:14: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” After all of the foregoing, “Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” (Psa. 107:6) This statement is repeated in the following three divisions of the Psalm. (Psa. 107:13,19,28) The underlying thought in each instance is that when the various classes call upon Yahweh in true penitence, He is ever ready and willing to hear and give them the relief they seek.

In response to the petitions of the Little Flock, the Psalm tells us that “He led them forth by the right way [a straight road], that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Psa. 107:7) He gave them the instruction and the ability to “make straight paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:13), that they might journey to a “city to dwell in” – New Jerusalem – “Zion, the perfection of beauty.” (Psa. 50:2) Theirs is the promise, “The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.” (Psa. 128:5)

We see that there is no criticism in the first nine verses of this Psalm, which relate to the Little Flock, whereas there is sharp denunciation of the next three classes that are discussed in verses 10 through 32. After He has heard their petitions and given them the needed relief, however, the prayer of thanksgiving is identical from all four classes: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” (Psa. 107:8,15,21,31)

THE GREAT COMPANY

“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned [spurned] the counsel of the most High.” (Psa. 107:10-11) The contrast here is between the Little Flock and the Great Company as regards the Truth. “Ye [the Little Flock] are all the children of light . . . we are not of the night [of sin], nor of darkness.” (1 Thess. 5:5) In their darkness (error), their groping about in confusion, they sit “in the shadow of death” – that is the Second Death constantly casts a shadow in their direction, leading them into devious and sundry activities, to which their unholy ambition prods them.

While the Great Company did not appear as a class throughout the Gospel Age, individually there were many times more of them than of the Little Flock all during the age, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) Their confused views on “the straight road” prompted them to build Great Babylon; and here at the end of the age they have repeated the performance. While in Azazel’s clutches they become especially ambitious in works of false propaganda, building false religious sects, and indulging in slander against their more faithful brethren. Thus they are deceived into believing they will accomplish great works, win great numbers,[2] and gain great favor. So often are we reminded of those at the first Advent of whom it was said: “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) But in this day when He will “make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” they will learn by sad experience that “the praise of men” is a very transitory and unprofitable possession. (1 Cor. 4:5)

Among the afflictions (humiliations) that come to them, their defeat in controversy is probably at the head of the list. Of those who have rebelled (revolutionized) against the words of God, St. Paul says, “And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood [various errors which bring them severe humiliation]; in order that all those may be judged who believed not the truth, but approved the iniquity.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12, Diaglott)

God has given definite instructions for the conduct of His people and their ministry of the Truth – such as the autonomy of each ecclesia, the settlement of differences between brethren, methods of study and spread of the Truth, etc. To set aside any of these things would be to spurn “the counsel of the Most High,” considering His instructions of little worth. Some of the Lord’s people during this Epiphany have replaced the Berean method of study (Acts 17:10-11) with “textbook” methods, which is also spurning the counsel of the Most High.

During the age this has led to the erection of autocratic systems in some sects, and in loose and irresponsible conduct in others. Most of these perversions have been traceable directly to the crown‑losers, who often have been held in higher esteem by the general public than their Little Flock brethren. John Calvin, for instance, is considered to be one of the sharpest intellects of the entire age, and he readily attracted a following – so much so that he persuaded his supporters to burn at the stake Little Flock member Michael Servetus because he could not tolerate the Truth that Servetus presented.

The end of the Gospel Age is the time when “He maketh manifest.” We may definitely conclude that they who have rebelled against the sayings of God or spurned the counsel of the Most High are of the Great Company. This is the only way we have of knowing those who “received not the love [the motivating conduct] of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:10) Such a conclusion would not be proper for any slight departure or even for some gross departures from the Truth or God’s arrangements, unless they then persist therein after the offense is clearly directed to their attention. Their conduct is not a safe guide for reaching such a conclusion because we cannot know what degree of Adamic depravity afflicts the individual, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) There are some who believe that Brother Russell was the last saint; thus, by the death of a man they relegate all others out of the Little Flock by one broad judgment. Such a decision is in itself a rebelling, revolutionizing, against the words of God, because there is no Scriptural support for such a thought.

There was a time, up to about 1910 or 1912, that Brother Russell was firmly convinced that the entire Christ Company would leave the earth by the autumn of 1914. Someone once asked him if 1914 came and went, and he was still on earth, would he then conclude that he too was of the Great Company. To this he answered an emphatic, No! It was the same with the Epiphany Messenger, who thought all the saints would be glorified by the end of 1956. If someone had asked him if he would think he was of the Great Company if he were still living after 1956, his answer also would have been an emphatic, No!

Of those who actually fell from the Little Flock and were delivered to the “fit man” for buffeting experiences in the wilderness of adversity we are told: “Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness [erroneous and sinful ways] and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” (Psa. 107:12-14) This identical thought, stated in a slightly different fashion, is found in Revelation: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb . . . For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them [after bringing down their heart with labor], and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters [clear unadulterated Truth]: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:14,17) “For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron [enslaving erroneous practices] in sunder.” (Psa. 107:16)

FLESHLY ISRAEL DURING THE GOSPEL AGE

“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.” (Psa. 107:17) The “transgression” for which the Jews have been afflicted is their treatment of the Messiah, when “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11) The “iniquities” are their many violations of the Mosaic Law, which they repeatedly did against one another and against the Prophets that Yahweh sent them. “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 7:11-12)

For 1845 years the Jews had enjoyed the special blessings from Yahweh. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) The land of Canaan, which the Lord had given them, was a goodly land, with an excellent climate – a place in which it was easy to live. Their abuses of their blessings reached a climax when they rejected the Lord of Glory; and He pronounced upon them the penalty: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt: 23:38-39) That day their religious house was left to them desolate; then began the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” (Zech. 9:12) The word “double” is from the Hebrew mishneh, which means repetition. That is, they would receive a repetition of disfavor for the same length of time they had received the favor – 1845 years.

So completely was this prophecy carried out that, after the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD, the entire Jewish religious ritual of the Aaronic priesthood was so completely demolished – desolated – that the Tribe of Levi was lost in the dispersion. This loss prevents them from now having a high priest; and any attempt to carry on as did Aaron and his successors is now an empty performance.

“Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.” (Psa. 107:18) The scourges they have received during their “double” in this Gospel Age have indeed been horrible – enough to take away their appetites, and bring them to the brink of the grave. During their stay in the land of Israel they had been very much an agricultural people; but that was no longer practical for them, because they were often forced to flee to another city or country, and they could not take their farms with them. Consequently, they were forced to become businessmen, and to keep their assets as liquid as possible – to be carried with them if they were forced to leave on short notice. On numerous occasions, during their dispersion, they employed all the ingenuity at their disposal to regain the land of their fathers. They attempted to buy it; they attempted to regain it by force; they used all the tricks of diplomacy; but to no avail. The sentence of “desolation” against them by Jesus was not lightly spoken; by the bitter dregs of experience they were to learn: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11)

The sentence of desolation was pronounced upon them in the year 33 AD; and, if they were to have 1845 years of disfavor – a double of their time of favor – it would bring us to the year 1878, at which time the Berlin Congress of Nations decreed for them certain rights in Palestine which were the opening wedge in their efforts to regain their homeland. Since that time they have been in what the Bible terms “Jacob’s trouble.” “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it . . . and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him.” (Jer. 30:7-8)

The trouble is to have two phases, the first part a rather mild experience. “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them [offer enticing bait to bring them back to the land of Israel]; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity [the violations of the Mosaic Law] hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” (Jer. 16:16‑18) There was good evidence of rapacious hunters in Germany during World War II; and those atrocities tended to sharpen the desire of Jews everywhere to once more have a land of their own – which was eventually realized in 1948.

Although they are now established as a nation, they are yet to experience the second phase of Jacob’s Trouble described in the prophecy of Zechariah: “Behold the day of the Lord cometh . . . I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.” (Zech. 14:1‑3) Then will be fulfilled the words of the Psalm: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word [the Truth about their Scriptural past, present and future], and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa. 107:19-20) After that, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:37; Zech. 12:10) They will then “praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men . . . [and they will] sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psa. 107:21-22)

THE WORLD DURING THE TRIBULATION

The world of mankind during and at the end of the great tribulation are “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters.” (Psa. 107: 23) During this “present evil world” the capitalistic system has been the dominating economic force, doing business through “great waters.” “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind [the wind of Rev. 7:1], which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.” (Psa. 107:25-26) In the literal ocean it is wind that produces roaring waves, which roll high, thus making huge deep clefts in between them. This is indeed a vivid illustration of what the symbolic wind, the First World War, did in 1914. Although the United States was not involved then, the New York stock market received such a jolt that it closed for three months after August 1, 1914. That trouble did truly dissolve the souls of the market traders, who had no way to buy or sell on that exchange.

The World War in 1914 was the greatest calamity in history up to that time; but the rolling waves have continued to make “depths,” each being lower and more severe than the previous. When the market crash came in 1929, it brought on the depression of 1930‑32; and the “depth” of those years probably caused more distress than did the years 1914‑1918, because it was wider in scope, and brought distress upon more people – although probably not as many deaths as did the war.

Next came the rolling waves and depths of the 1939‑1945 period, which was a much deeper calamity than the 1914‑1918 or the 1930‑1932 distresses. The waves rolled higher, and the depths were much deeper than any previous episode. One man from England, who had been there during 1914‑1918, and who still had relatives in that country, said at the outbreak of the conflict in 1939 that he felt like lying down in the gutter and weeping. When the German army overran Belgium in 1940 they defeated an opposing army of two million men. It was described by writers at that time as the most destructive battle in all history. The roaring waves, caused by the tempestuous wind, rolled higher and deeper than ever before.

Just ahead is the next period of rolling waves and roaring depths – Armageddon, which will prove even more severe than any of the previous happenings since 1914; and this will shortly be followed by Anarchy, which will be worst of all, ending in Jacob’s Trouble, and the destruction of all existing institutions.[3]

After the great tribulation has fully accomplished the dissolution of present elements this will come: “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (Psa. 107:28-29) Then, “Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” (Psa. 107:32) The word “elders” in this text is from the Hebrew zaqen, which is the same word that is translated “old men” in Joel 2:28. Thus, the “assembly of the elders” here means the Ancient Worthies who will be sending forth the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem – after the tribulation has passed. (See Isa. 2:3) The world will then have learned through excruciating experience what they could not learn by instruction.

THE MILLENNIUM AND LITTLE SEASON

“He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” (Psa. 107:33-34) Here the restitution class during the Millennium is brought to our attention. The rivers which are turned into a wilderness and the watersprings into dry ground are the streams and fountains of Babylon. They will be utterly dried up in the Kingdom time. Though a fruitful land in some respects to its inhabitants, God is going to devastate it.

In its place the people will be given the true knowledge of God. “He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into water­springs. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.” (Psa. 107:35-38) The 35th Chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful companion text for this Psalm: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isa. 35:1)

The trial in the Little Season, at the end of the Millennial Age, is then brought to our attention: “Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.” (Psa. 107:39-40) All of the restored world of mankind will be thoroughly tested by the affliction and oppression which Satan and his underlings will bring upon them. God will pour out His contempt upon those who are unfaithful. These were on the way to becoming kings of the earth, and hence are mentioned as princes. They will be caused to wander into the symbolic wilderness, the Second Death, where there is no way, such as God’s people have to follow. They will go into utter annihilation.

“Yet setteth he the poor [the humble] on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.” (Psa. 107:41) These are the “sheep” class who will stand amid the temptation which Satan will bring at the end of the Millennium. They will be the blessed of the Father who will be given the earthly dominion. (Matt. 25:34) It is at this time that evil will become eternally inactive, for we are told, “All iniquity shall stop her mouth.” (Psa. 107:42)

THE SUMMATION

The last verse of the Psalm is a summation: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving­kindness of the Lord.” (Psa. 107:43) The “lovingkindness of the Lord” is His great Plan of Salvation for the human race. He who is wise to understand this Psalm here in the end of the age will have a clear understanding of the entire Plan. The wise are the same as those mentioned by the Prophet Daniel, when he says that in the time of the end the wise would understand: “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10) None could under­stand before that time, no matter how learned or pious they were. But it is to those wise in the wisdom of the Lord, especially here in the Epiphany period, that the understanding of these things is given.

This wisdom surely does help them to see and understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. God is continually showering His blessings upon us, since every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights. (Jas. 1:17) All our gifts of heavenly affections, all our gifts of the graces in growth, in strengthening, in balancing and in crystallization, are gifts from Him. All our encouraging and restraining providences are gifts from Him. Our opportunities of service, our trials and tests, our chastisements, our privileges of enduring persecution for truth, righteousness and holiness, and all our victories over the devil, the flesh and the world as to sin, error, selfishness, worldliness and the dying process, as well as our prospective victory over the grave, are gifts of our Father’s love. These call upon us to thank our Father as the Source and our Lord Jesus as the Agent of their bestowal. Therefore, we should exhort our souls to give thanks to them.

Let the Little Flock give thanks; let the Great Company give thanks; let the Youthful Worthies give thanks; let the faith-justified give thanks; let Fleshly Israel give thanks; and let the Ancient Worthies and the world of mankind in the Millennium give thanks. Let their thanks come from pure dispositions, thoughts and motives, expressed in fitting words and responsive works. The Source and Agent are worthy of gratitude and the recipients of their gifts are unfit to receive them unless they are grateful.

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever!” (Psa. 107:1)

(Derived from Brother Hoefle’s paper No. 338, August 1983 and Brother Johnson’s article from The Present Truth No. 383, November 1950)

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QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST

Question: Who are meant when it is said, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven”? (Matt. 8:11)

Answer: As already pointed out in the Studies in the Scriptures series, the Gospel Church only will constitute the Kingdom in its highest and strictest sense; but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Ancient Worthies will be the chief ministers of that Kingdom in the world of mankind, and all mankind will be invited to come into harmony with the spiritual Kingdom, that God’s will may be done in this, as an earthly class, as it is done in the heavenly class. In this sense of the word, all who shall accept of the terms and conditions of the Kingdom will sit down, or be at rest and at peace with God, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faithful of the earthly class. Thus it will be seen that the Lord is pointing to a large class of the world of mankind who will ultimately become citizens of the earthly phase of the Kingdom. This same thought is represented in Revelation, where it is intimated that all the worthy will enter into the city – the Kingdom – while without will be all the unworthy, who love and serve sin, subjects of the Second Death. (Rev. 22:14-15)

(From Reprint 3457)

[1] When “Lord” appears in all capital letters, as it does in this Psalm, we know it is from the tetragrammaton YHWH or YHVH in the original Hebrew Bible. It represents the proper name of the Almighty Father and not just a title. Although we quote from the King James Version here, we refer readers to the Rotherham translation where the name “Yahweh” is used throughout this Psalm.

[2] Such as by filling the Epiphany Camp with consecrated ones outside the linen curtain of Christ, and deceiving them into believing they will have the preeminence in the Kingdom in superiority to the Jews.

[3] Brother Hoefle witnessed the rioting in Detroit in 1967 and the immense destruction it produced. He commented at the time that once Armageddon topples over the present governments, it will not be very long until Anarchy follows.


NO. 730: HATED WITHOUT A CAUSE

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 730

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (Jas. 3:16)

The story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37) is beautiful in its simplicity as well as deeply interesting and instructive from various viewpoints. One lesson is that it is unwise for a parent to show great preference for one child above another, thus cultivating among the children a spirit of envy.

Another lesson teaches that it is unwise to tell even our dreams to unsympathetic ears, as when Joseph told his dreams to his brothers. In one dream, he saw eleven shocks of wheat bow down to one shock, representing his. In the other dream, he saw the sun, the moon and the eleven stars all doing homage to him. Joseph was not to be blamed for having these dreams. Unlike the majority of dreams, they apparently came from the Lord. Joseph was not even to blame for artlessly telling the dreams to his brothers; evidently this was the very thing the Lord intended. The Lord foreknew the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, and how envy would be cultivated in their minds. He gave the opportunity for this to happen, for He planned Joseph’s subsequent experiences. The envy of his brothers merely helped to accomplish them.

We may, however, learn the lesson that in general it is wise to keep to oneself truths not necessary for another to know if they might merely arouse opposition. Jesus encouraged this thought when He cautioned not to “cast ye your pearls before swine.” (Matt. 7:6) Deep truths connected with the Divine Plan and with Christian hopes are better told only to those for whom the Lord intended them, namely the meek, the humble.

“WHICH THINGS ARE AN ALLEGORY”

The most important feature of this lesson is that Joseph is a type, or prophetic picture of Jesus, and more broadly the entire body of Christ. Jesus was the heavenly Father’s beloved Son; He was rejected by His brethren, betrayed for silver, and delivered for envy. (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10)

Joseph was kind to his brothers and was on an errand of mercy to them when in their envy they plotted his death. Later they sold him into slavery in Egypt. His brothers hated him without a cause – merely because he was good, because his father loved him, and because God in the dreams fore­shadowed his coming exaltation. Joseph’s brothers should have said, “Let us rejoice that we have so noble a brother, and rejoice if it be God’s will that he be very highly exalted. God’s promise made to our grand­fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and to our father Jacob, may thus be reaching a fulfilment. Let God’s blessings come in whatever way He sees best. We will rejoice with our brother, as we see that he is pleasing to God and to our father Jacob and we will seek to copy his character.” Instead, they were envious to the point of cruelty.

God’s providence continued with Joseph and blessed him as a slave, and through much tribu­lation finally brought him to the throne of Egypt – next in influence and power to Pharaoh himself. It was then that the famine of the land drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph had wisely stockpiled. Thus was fulfilled his dream that his brothers would bow down, as illustrated in the eleven sheaves which bowed down before his.

Later when his father and the entire family came to Egypt to live in Goshen, they all paid homage to Joseph as the representative of Egypt’s government, thus fulfilling the second dream. But these experiences were obscure at the time. It appeared the Lord had less love for Joseph than for the rest of his family, until the time came for his exaltation to the throne. Then everything changed.

Joseph, like Jesus, was hated without a cause. We read the prophetic statement: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head.” (Psa. 69:4) Jesus quoted this statement and applied it to Himself, saying, “They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25) The brethren of Jesus were the Jews who crucified Him, although no cause for death was found in Him.

We see it was for envy that they delivered Him up and called for His crucifixion, because His works were good and theirs were evil; because He taught the way of the Lord more perfectly than they; because He declared to them that the time would come when all would recognize Him as the Messiah – coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory – and all would bow to Him.

Just as disaster, treachery and shame prepared for Joseph the way to glory and honor on the throne of Egypt, so it was with Jesus. His trying experiences proved Him loyal to God and led onward to His exaltation to the right hand of Divine Majesty. St. Paul refers to this, saying of Jesus, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) Again he says, “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9) The experiences of Joseph – all his humiliations – prepared the way for him to be succored and honored by Pharaoh. Again we read of Jesus: “Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect [through suffering], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:8-9)

The Scriptures assure us that in God’s great Plan, not only Jesus is to be exalted to the Throne as the world’s Messiah, but with Him is to be a company of brethren, sharers of the same glory, honor and immortality. And these brethren, in God’s great Purpose, are required to pass through similar experiences to those of their Elder Brother Jesus. Their experiences, therefore, are illustrated also in Joseph’s experiences. They are not equal with their Elder Brother. He is designated their Head, their Chief, the Captain of their salvation. We read that God “in bringing many sons unto glory” made “the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10), and all of the company of sons received under this great Captain must similarly be perfected through sufferings.

The Apostle John declares, “As he is, so are we in this world;” and again, “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 4:17; 1 John 3:1) Joseph’s brothers were blind to the fact that their brother would be their savior from famine, as well as the savior of the Egyptians; the world likewise fails to realize that only through Messiah will any have eternal life.

Jesus forewarned His elect followers that they must also expect to be hated unjustly: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me . . . But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:18-25)

We give in full the same prophetic text from which our Lord quoted: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head . . . Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me . . . Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psa. 69:4-9, 20-21)

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FACTS

Consider the facts: Jesus and His followers, according to Divine intention, have suffered shame and contempt. We perceive that in the case of Jesus and the early Church, the persecution came from their brethren according to the flesh – from the Jews. And since then, all through the Gospel Age, the persecutions of the Church, the brethren of Jesus, the Household of Faith, have also come from their brethren. These brethren are not Jews, but Christians. As the Jewish religionists in Jesus’ day persecuted their more righteous brethren, since then nominal Christians have been the chief persecutors of the Lord’s faithful followers. This persecution has come upon faithful souls of nearly every denomination and, sadly, from unfaithful souls of nearly every denomination. Presbyterians, Covenanters, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists have all endured perse­cutions from blinded brethren, who in nearly every case professed that the persecuting was done for the glory of God. As the Lord through the Prophet expresses the matter, “Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” (Isa. 66:5)

Already the world in general, including the Jews, realize a great mistake was made in persecuting Jesus unto death and to some extent similar transgressions against the faithful followers of Jesus have been recognized. And yet the same blindness, from the same envious disposition, leads to persecution even in our day. The majority admit that they have little distinct knowledge about God or the Bible. They pray for light singing, “Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom.” Yet if any light appears, if any voice of love or tenderness is heard, directing them toward the dawning of the New Day, clearly pointing out the riches of God’s grace and the lengths and breadths of His mercy, immediately their quest for light ceases, and their stones of ridicule and slander are hurled. And why? It is for fear there will be change, that someone will get further light, that the Divine promise will be fulfilled, and a new Dawn be ushered in.

But what is the philosophy of these facts of history? Why has God permitted, yes even ordained that Christ should suffer, and that all who would walk in His steps must share in His experiences of ignominy and shame and reproach – suffering with Him? The Father used the trying experiences to test the love and loyalty of His Son, and to demonstrate His obedience to angels and to men. Intending to confer upon Him very great glory and honor, the Father would have all to see, as He saw it, the worthiness of the Logos, subsequently Jesus.

In a symbolic picture, Heavenly hosts of angels acknowledge the propriety of the high exaltation of Jesus saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5:12) If a demonstration of the worthiness of Jesus, the Logos, was necessary or proper, it seems much more necessary that an elect Church, being gathered from among a fallen race, should be proven loyal to God to the very last – even unto death.

There is a difference, however. In the case of the Master, it was a demonstration that He was perfect before He left the Heavenly glory, and perfect also when He became the Man Christ Jesus – “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) “In him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5) In the case of His followers, the imperfection of the flesh still remains; but they are judged, not according to the weaknesses of their flesh, of heredity, but according to the love and zeal of their hearts. And this loving zeal is witnessed to by their endeavor to walk faithfully in the footsteps of their Leader and Savior, overcoming to the best of their ability the weaknesses of their flesh, “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)

(From Reprint 5214, with editing.)

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JUSTIFICATION IN THIS AGE AND THE NEXT

The primary power of God’s people is the Truth, and their secondary power is God’s Arrange­ment for the proper use of that Truth. Thus, the counsel to “give attendance” to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13) is sound advice for every time of the Age and we believe a clear and comprehensive under­standing of the doctrine of Justification will enable us to “continue in the faith” – never to stray away from the general Truth structure. (Col. 1:23)

There are two kinds of Justification taught in the Bible – Justification by Faith and Justification by Works. Since our present Bible is specifically designed for those who “live by faith,” it is only proper that Justification by Faith receive the preponderance of favor in the past, present and future – until Justification by Works gains the ascendancy in our Lord’s Mediatorial Kingdom.

Since the time that Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), Justification by Faith has had two com­ponents – Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification. Herein much controversy has arisen among God’s people, some claiming there is no such thing as Tentative Justification and others claiming it not only operates now but will continue to operate even during the period of Justification by Works.

It is our opinion that those who deny completely a Tentative Justification for this Faith Age are thus forced to abandon large sections of that Truth which made them clean. (It forced JFR to discard completely Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices.) It is difficult to determine just how they now interpret Jesus’ words: “I say to you, Till Heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one tip of a letter shall by no means pass from the Law, till all be accomplished. (Matt. 5:18, Diaglott) Jesus was clearly telling us that the entire Law arrange­ment – of which the Tabernacle with its ceremonies was the central feature – was typical, and that all those types must continue until the antitypes appeared to fulfill them to completion.

In a flimsy attempt to justify his rejection of Tentative Justification, JFR falsely claimed that Brother Russell rejected the teaching of Tentative Justification before he died; but this claim is directly disputed in the foreword of Vol. 6, Oct. 1, 1916. There Brother Russell set forth Tentative Justification and Vitalized Justification as separate and distinct. Many other citations leave no doubt about Brother Russell’s conviction about Tentative Justification. [1]

Many others have joined JFR in the denial of Tentative Justification; and, since this teaching is a fundamental part of the Old and New Testaments, we are justified in concluding that those who now deny it, must come under the classification of “Those who are perishing, because they admitted not the love of the Truth in order that they might be saved. And on this account God will send to them an Energy of Delusion.” (2 Thess. 2:10,11, Diaglott) In our Lord’s announcement of the sentence upon the “unprofitable servant” (the Great Company) of Matt. 25:30, Jesus stated that he would be cast into “outer darkness” – meaning he would be given over to error. (See also 1 Thess. 5:5-6 and the Berean Comments on 2 Thess. 2:11.)

Jesus told the Disciples: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3); and the conclusion must automatically follow that those who reject “the word” which once made them clean would then become unclean – become afflicted with antitypical leprosy – “he shall be defiled; he is unclean.” (Lev. 13:46) And this uncleanness will remain with that Class until the full end of the Gospel Age – “unclean until the even.” (Lev. 14:46) Their cleansing will be accomplished in the “great tribulation” of Rev. 7:14, when they shall experience the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of Matt. 25:30. Until this cleansing is accomplished, we may reasonably expect such unclean ones to cast out (refuse to fellowship) God’s fully faithful people who resist such rebellion (revolutionism). Keep in mind that it is always the Truth that produces the separation between the Fully Faithful and the Measurably Faithful. Thus, the “hail” (the hard convincing Truth) sweeps away “the refuge of lies” (Isa. 28:17) revealing those who have received the Truth in the love of it, and those who receive the punishment of “outer darkness:” error and revolutionism, leprous uncleanness. Thus, we should “think it not strange” as we see this separating influence operate to a completion – “until the even.”

BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES

While we have great respect for the teachings of Brother Russell, we believe every doctrine should also be clearly taught in the Bible, especially one as weighty as Tentative versus Vitalized Justification. We should be able to substantiate our position – and not by one text only, but by at least two or three witnesses. (Matt. 18:16) It is the failure to consider all that is written on various doctrines that has produced the great falling away since Apostolic times. Therefore, if we find our thoughts disputed by even a single text, we may be sure that one of three things is true: Either the text is spurious; we have a faulty translation; or we ourselves have the wrong interpretation. It is “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18); and, since the Bible is the inspired word of God, it likewise cannot lie – it cannot contradict itself.

Consider our first witness: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [believing] husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14) The word “holy” in the text is from the Greek word hagios, which means set apart, separate, holy. It is the same word that is translated “saints” more than sixty times. Clearly enough, a newborn infant could not possibly be a saint, but they receive a reckoned saintly standing because of their saintly parentage; and, since their parents are in the antitypical Tabernacle Court, their children would evidently have to be there with them until such time as those children reach an age of accountability and can determine for themselves whether or not they wish to retain their Faith Justification and continue in the saintly footsteps of their parents.

No one with the faintest understanding of Faith Justification would claim that the justification of infants is vitalized! Therefore, this indisputably proves a Tentative Justification. Note also that we are also clearly presented with two kinds of Tentative Justification: one acquired by mature, intelligent desire and cooperation, and the other by infants through no will or cooperation of their own. It is that justification described in Rom. 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access [we have been introduced – see Diaglott] by faith into this grace [favor] wherein we stand.” This Tentative Justification – standing – is our “introduction” to God, which gives us “peace with God.” We do not have the “peace of God” until we offer ourselves to do His will in accordance with Rom. 12:1; if accepted, this then gives to us “the peace of God, which passeth all [human] understanding.” (Phil. 4:7) Only after that do we actually possess a “living” (zeal‑inspiring) faith.

Our second witness is from Romans chapter 4: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed [had faith in] God, and it was counted [reckoned] unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3) Here it is clearly stated that Abraham’s Faith Justification did not actually make him right; it merely accounted, or reckoned, him righteous. Thus, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Rom. 4:7) Their sins are no longer held against them because of their Faith Justification. Certainly no one who was ever in Present Truth would contend that Abraham and David had justification similar to the justification held by those of this Gospel Age who had come into the Body of Christ – vitalized through a real imputation of Christ’s merit.

Now note this: “How was it then reckoned [to Abraham]? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncir­cumcision. And he received the sign of circum­cision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” (Rom. 4:10-11)

All schooled in Present Truth know that ancient circumcision was a type of the Gospel Age consecration, the physical circumcision typing the figurative circumcision of the heart when one offers his heart and will to God in consecration. St. Paul clearly states that Abraham’s righteousness was accounted, reckoned, to him before circumcision – that he might be the father of all who believe – all who experience a Faith Justification before they present themselves to God in consecration – before they experience the antitypical circumcision of the heart. St. Paul was truly a great logician, and his reasoning is so clear and direct in this fourth chapter, that it seems unbelievable that any who were once in Present Truth could cast it aside and then attempt to besmirch Brother Russell by saying he had also cast aside these compelling Scriptures.

St. Paul then says that this Faith Justification arranges our “access” (introduction) to God. (Rom. 5:1-2) It is merely an introduction, not an intimate relation­ship, but it will enable us to gain intimacy of soul with our Heavenly Father if we follow the appeal to “present your bodies a living sacrifice” in consecration. This we are now in a position to do as a result of our tentative, reckoned, Faith Justification: “Be ye transformed by the renewing [renovation] of your mind.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

As our third witness we offer what we consider the most compelling proof for Tentative Justification: the Atonement Day type of the wilderness Tabernacle. (Lev. 16) The pattern given to Moses in the mount was emphatic that all animals used in that service must be “without blemish” (Lev. 1:3), have no visible flaws of any kind. We ask, did those animals have their physical perfection as a result of their presentation to Aaron in sacrifice, or were they offered up that day because they were previously found to be perfect? The answer is clear: They were already “without blemish” when they were selected from among the children of Israel and brought into the Court, before they were tied at the door of the Tabernacle. Their being tied there represented the consecration and presentation of those who were about to enter the Holy “in newness of life” through an instantaneous vitalization of that reckoned perfection which was already theirs before consecration. It is this tentative faith justification, this reckoned perfec­tion that is our access or introduction to God. It is this that enables us to enter into the Holy – into Divine sanctum, into vitalized justification, a condition exclusive to this Gospel Faith Age and exclusive to those only who are begotten to “newness of life” through direct imputation of the merit of Jesus.

Every antitype is greater than its type. Thus, Jesus as the antitype of the Atonement Day bullock was infinitely greater than was the type, requiring only the one sacrifice of Himself to forever cleanse from sin all who come to the Father by Him. The members of His Body were also far greater than their Atonement Day type as represented in the Lord’s goat. Therefore, if the animals in the type were “without blemish” (typically perfect) before being presented at the door of the Tabernacle, must this not be much more true of their Gospel Age anti­types? God can make no allowance for sin, thus He could not enter into a “covenant by sacrifice” with fallen beings unless the sin barrier were first removed. Therefore He must first provide a way – an introduction – for fallen man to come to Him. This He accomplished by arranging for a tentative, reckoned perfection – a Tentative Justification by Faith.

NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME

No fallen human could arrange this intro­duction to God by his own skill or merit; it must come through an intercessor, through one who could give him a reckoned perfection. This He arranged through Jesus – “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26) The Tabernacle type gives clear confirmation of this by the linen curtain which surrounded the Tabernacle structure and its surrounding plot of ground. The Divine Presence was portrayed by the Shekinah Light shining forth from between the Cherubim in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. None could reach that presence except through Jesus – by first coming through the Gate into the Court, and inside the linen curtain, there to be reckoned perfect, righteous (“the fine linen is the righteous­ness of saints”Rev. 19:8). Being provided proper introduction to God at the first veil, they progress in life’s pilgrimage through the Holy to the Most Holy, to “ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17)

Abraham lived before the typical Tabernacle was erected at Sinai, but the same arrangement was reckoned to him, and to all with “the faith of Abraham” from Abel to John the Baptist. “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) While none of the Ancients ever had more than a tentative, reckoned justification, that came to them through a reckoned standing inside that linen curtain, giving them a righteousness they could never attain of them­selves. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6)

Brother Johnson wrote of the Youthful Worthies: “From the standpoint of having ‘the faith of Abraham’ (Gal. 3:7,9) they are, of course, like him, of the Household of Faith . . . They are, however, somewhat different from the Tentatively Justified who do not now consecrate. The latter during the Epiphany cease altogether to be of the Household of Faith, having used the Grace of God in vain.” (E‑4, page 406)

After That Servant’s death, JFR denied the doctrine of Tentative Justification altogether because it stood in the way of his “new light.” Brother Johnson clearly refuted his “new light,” and established the doctrine of Tentative Justification in the Scriptures so unmistakably that no Epiphany enlightened brethren need be deceived. He stated that “those faithful consecrators from 1881 until Restitution sets in, for whom there are no crowns available, and hence no Spirit-begetting for Gospel Age purposes possible, will be the Millennial Associates of the Ancient Worthies in reward and service.” (E-4, page 342)

Advancing Truth does not set aside the Truth already established, as some deceivers seem to think; all advancing Truth must be based upon the Truth already established from the Word of God.

(Excerpts from No. 255 by John J. Hoefle, September, 1976, with editing)

[1] See these Reprints: 4525, p. 360; 4547 pp. 12-13; 4579 p. 93; 4655 p. 247; 4901, p. 394; 5023, p. 152; 5206-5208 pp. 92‑94; 5410-5411, p. 67; 5660-5661, pp. 103-104; 5774-5775, pp. 292-293; 5959, p. 281.