My dear Brethren:
Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Inasmuch as Psalms 27:1‑4 has been suggested for the 1956 Motto Text, it seems proper and desirable to offer some few additional comments to those already presented in the January Present Truth. This Psalm is from the writings of David, one of the greatest Jews of all time. He was King, General, Administrator, Poet and Musician – “a man after God's own heart” –, although the first mention we have of him in Sacred Writing is the Son of Jesse, a lowly shepherd boy. At the time of writing the 27th Psalm he had come a long way up the troublesome and trying pathway of life; and his own life's experiences along that way undoubtedly prompted and measurably ordered the inspired words which now refresh, inspire and counsel us. Such were his experiences, that from the very marrow of his bones could he plead with the Lord – “Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me” (Psa. 27:12). Well was he aware that he was to be King in Israel; yet he patiently waited out the years until God's “due time” had arrived to make the throne vacant by removal of the long‑disgraced Saul. But, in full assurance that he was to “sit upon the throne of the Lord in Israel”, yet little did he realize that his waiting upon the Lord was enabling God to perfect in King Saul a type “for our admonition and learning” some three thousand years after David had “gone the way of all the earth” – a type which he would have destroyed had he slain King Saul when the opportunity was there (1 Sam. 24:10). Here we have a striking instance when a man's failure to “wait upon the Lord” would not only have been to his own immediate disadvantage, but which would actually have voided God's purposes for the future interests of His people.
But of all David's accomplishments, that of Poet seems to have brought him the grandest and most complimentary appellation; he is fondly described as The Sweet Singer of Israel. He was the greatest religious Poet ever to arise in the Jewish nation. And, as in all his titles does he so pointedly and aptly type the Parousia David, yet as The Sweet Singer of Israel does he most appropriately type That Wise and Faithful Servant – who also was the sweetest singer of all Gospel Age Israel, except the One whose headship he so admirably and nobly accepted. His harmonious blending of the ten strings of the Harp of God have truly been “sweeter than honey from the honeycomb”, melody sublime to every ear that is “of the Truth.” Therefore, his expressions on Psalms 27, as well as on all Scripture on which he wrote, are well‑nigh impossible to equal, and certainly none have surpassed them. Little wonder is it that some brethren so often affectionately referred to him as “That Wonderful Man of God.” As a “good soldier,” he often waited on the Lord “thru evil report and good report.” Hence, the mere quoting of his writings are certain to embellish in most ornate fashion any pages on which they appear –whether those pages emanate from the Pope of Rome or from the most confused Parousia or Epiphany errorists, many of whom mingle his writings with theirs to add color, substance and appeal to their “sleight‑of‑hand”.
And praise akin to the foregoing may be sung for the writings of the Epiphany Messenger also, whose article on Psalms 27:14 in the May 1, 1945 Present Truth is reproduced almost in its entirety in the January 1956 Present Truth, and composes about 95% of the article to be found on pages 2‑6 of this last issue. Thus, it is not our thought to supplant that article; rather do we accept Brother Johnson'scounsel that his Epiphany writings form a base on which we may elaborate and enlarge, as and when expedience may direct. With that thought in mind, the following comments are addressed to all God's faithful Israel. There are two reasons why we should “wait upon the Lord”. First, we must know His will for us. When we are “young men” in God's family, we may often think we know His will for us quite clearly; but the experience, training, and growth in grace and knowledge that can come only with the years cause us to reflect that much of our judgment in those early days was sadly mingled with “wishful thinking” – that our waiting on the Lord then avoided much chagrin and heartache for us later on. And, as we may find ourselves waiting on the Lord now, we may five, ten or fifteen years hence realize full well that our waiting on the Lord in 1956 was truly in the nature of sound judgment. However, St. Paul, in his great consecration text of Rom. 12:1‑2, informs us that years faithfully applied in the study, spread and practice of the Truth will give us “the spirit of a sound mind”, which will enable us more readily and accurately to evaluate God's leadings and intentions for us: “Transform yourselves by the renovation of your mind, that you may ascertain what is the good, and well‑pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Dia.). Such “renovation” comes in but one way – our faithful and honest‑hearted application to the study, spread and practice of the Truth. As all God's faithful servants grow old in His service, they realize with increasing force the truth of Paul's admonition in Rom. 12:2.
Secondly, even though we may certainly be convinced that we know God's will in a given circumstance, we may yet need to wait for strength sufficient to carry out His purpose. The providences of God's people vary widely; therefore, it is properly written, “They also serve who only stand and wait”. Thus, God exalts whom He will exalt, and – “do not be in a hurry about it either” is the counsel of That Wise and Faithful Servant, as expressed in the December 22 Manna comment.
Perhaps the outstanding Old Testament example of “waiting on the Lord” is Moses. From Pharaoh's house, with its “soft raiment” (Matt. 11:8), with its “foods pleasant to the taste” (Luke 7:25), and the “pleasures of sin” that were there (Heb. 11:25), it was a far, far step to the Wilderness of Midian, with its raiment of goatskin, its course diet and rugged terrain. And in this latter circumstance did Moses wait on the Lord for forty years. Probably it is that waiting that gained for him the sublime compliment, “The meekest man in all the earth”. He was the meekest – most leadable, most teachable – because it is quite probable no other living man would have waited on the Lord for full forty years in Midian as did Moses. In addition to the humdrum monotony of such a life, there was most certainly no intelligence there capable of giving Moses anything approaching warm intimacy of soul – even though Jethro be titled a “prince of Midian” (See Ex. 2:16, margin). His thoughts had to be pretty much his own – even as Jesus had “meat to eat that ye know not of” (Jno‑ 4:32). Most of God's people today live a commonplace work‑a‑day existence, certainly far removed from regal or courtly surroundings. Yet, how many of them could be transferred from these ordinary and modest circumstances to the rigors of Midian for even one year without much murmuring and complaining against God and His providences? This is truly a sobering thought; and poses a question which each may properly ask himself with a view to that true self‑examination which “searcheth the reins and the heart”. Certainly, timely and good is the counsel of St. James – “Take, my brethren, the prophets for an example” (Jas. 5:10).
And a fitting partner for Moses in waiting upon the Lord may be found in the New Testament in “that disciple whom Jesus loved”. The Apostle John attended the General Convention of Apostles and brethren at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15. That was about the year 50 A.D.; and that is the last record we have of him for about 40 years – until he gave us his inspired writings during the last years of his life. This is not to suggest that he lived anything approaching the isolated life for those 40 years as did Moses in Midian. But, surely, God did seem to forget him by withholding inspired writings from him until long past the time when the majority of men would be “sleeping with their fathers”. Yet, in his old age, after such a long wait on the Lord, he was given some of the most important, intricate and sublime of all Bible writings.
But an acceptable waiting on the Lord must most certainly be coupled with a true humility – a proper self‑estimate. Having a correct estimate of self, none will deign to “wait on the Lord” to make him something for which he does not have the capacity; or give to him powers of wealth or position beyond his ability to manage and still “hold the head”. Many have yearned to be Elders, Pilgrims, Star Members, not realizing their incapacity; nor understanding clearly that “no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb‑ 5:4). Therefore, “Not by power (natural human will‑power or determination), nor by might (natural muscle and brawn), but by my spirit, sayeth the Lord”. No amount of will‑power (determination) will put any one into the Body of Christ, because “God hath set the members in the body”; and no amount of determination will qualify one for Elder, Pilgrim or Pastor and Teacher, if he be not endowed with a qualified heredity that has been quickened “by my spirit”. It is for each to improve his “talents”, because it is indeed “required of stewards that a man be found faithful”; and thus purging himself he will be found a “vessel unto honor” as it pleaseth the Father and our Beloved Lord Jesus to bestow upon him. If we do our part, and that with a fully sanctified will power, then God will most certainly do His part toward us as we wait upon Him, for –“He is faithful that promised”.
But, the most eloquent appeal to wait on the Lord would be measurably stinted unless it be stated – and in forceful and clear language – that once we learn what God's will is for us in any given situation, and if the necessary strength be available, then it would be just as wrong to longer wait as it would have been to run ahead of Him before we knew His will. After Moses had waited in Midian for 40 years, and once the Lord had made clear to him he must then return to Egypt, he would have incurred only the Lord's strong displeasure had he determined to wait longer in the house of Jethro. And so with Jesus, when he was come to manhood, He delayed not to “do thy will, 0 God”. Also, He did no waiting on the Lord when His “times” on earth had been filled to the full. “When the days of His retirement were completed, He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, Dia.). And so with each of us, if our surroundings become Godless or our providential circumstances clearly indicate a change of course, we should ever have our “sandals on our feet” if we would faithfully do the will of God. Thus, where one may wait on the Lord, another perhaps should be moving on to the battle.
Nor should any faithful Pastor and Teacher “wait on the Lord” to defend the Truth when the Truth is attacked or errors are introduced to contaminate God's people. Rather, in such cases he should proceed to the battle even at the cost of life itself, because “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (Jno. 10:11). And such errors should be attacked boldly and openly, and not by “private explanations” or by a depraved and undercover whispering campaign. Anytime we see the latter methods used, we may reasonably conclude that such a “Pastor and Teacher” is in reality not honestly attempting to defend the Truth, not “waiting on the Lord”; rather, he is attempting to defend himself. These were the methods employed by That Evil Servant and his henchmen against faithful Brother Johnson, when so often they quoted Prov. 6:19, “God hates him that soweth discord among brethren”. When one attacks error and sin, as did Brother Johnson against leprous Levitical leaders, it was not he who was guilty of sowing discord; rather the errorists and evildoers were the real culprits; and the very Scripture they quoted was the one by which the Lord judged them. They complained, too, about the hard and rough words that were used against them; were they not showing a better spirit by their soft words and their wounded feelings? So often did Brother Johnson quote Psalms 55:21, “The words of his mouth are smoother than butter, but war is in his heart”. Yes, the “twin brother” of earth's most reprehensible character, one Judas Iscariot, soothed his peace‑loving followers with “buttered words”; and those who craved the buttered words of error and deceit instead of the plain talk of Brother Johnson, got what they ordered – Jehovah's Witnesses. And here the question would seem timely and pertinent: How do you like what they got? It would seem appropriate to quote here a sample of those buttered words, taken from the March 1918 Watch Tower:
“With deep regret we here mention that the practice of some is to go about the classes and at first, by soft and smooth speech, assure the dear sheep that they have deeply the interest of the Lord's work at heart; and then suddenly they bring a tirade against the work as the Lord is conducting it through the channel he has used for the past forty years... This is just another evidence of the great shaking now in progress... It would seem that any one who is loyal to the Lord and his cause and the brethren would not seek to disrupt his work; at least, if they could not see eye to eye with the manner in which it is being conducted, the proper spirit would prompt such to remain quiet or quietly to withdraw. Any other spirit would not seem to be the spirit of the Master.”
The foregoing are the “buttered words” of That Evil Servant – a person to whom thousands referred as “Dear Brother Rutherford”; and this they were doing at the very time he was attempting to assassinate Star Member Brother Johnson (1 John 3:15, see Berean Comment). He had been quite prominent during the Parousia, probably second in prominence and prestige to Brother Russell in the publicity given him as “The Judge”; he had done valiantly for the Truth and the Brethren; had rendered Brother Russell excellent personal service – so much so that Brother Russell named him as one of the Society's Board of Directors and a member of the Editorial Committee of the Watch Tower. It should be specially noted that some of his most notable works – for instance, A Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens – was accomplished after 1914, after he had lost his crown, but while the restraining hand and priestly guidance and protection of Star Member Brother Russell were still upon him. But, just as “Satan as lightning fell from Heaven” (Luke 10:18) – very swiftly and precipitately – so also fell this erstwhile shining Little Flock Member; and his is a tragic example and a sombre warning to all of us, of the depths to which one may possibly sink once he loses his crown, then becomes separated from the sanctifying influence of a Star Member and does “despite unto the spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29). “If the light that is in thee become darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matt. 6:23). “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned; in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die” (Exek. 18:24). One of the three sins specifically attributed to That Evil Servant was his failure to “wait on the Lord” – “said in his heart, My Lord delayeth” (Matt. 24:48). Perhaps at another time there will be much more to say about this, d.v.
Inasmuch as this writing has been induced by Brother Johnson's article in the May 1945 Present Truth, which article is reproduced in the January 1956 Present Truth, it would seem fitting and respectful to conclude this presentation by quoting from Vol. E‑5, page 18 (16); which quotation offers a refreshing contrast to the above excerpt from the 1918 Watch Tower, and clearly reveals it was never Brother Johnson's attitude to “wait on the Lord” once the Lord had revealed to him clearly and indisputably the Truth necessary to “refute the gainsayers”:
“In every instance we and our supporters have resisted these revolutionisms. The columns of The Present Truth contain many articles exposing these errors of doctrine and wrongs of practice. The Lord has enabled us in every case successfully to refute these errors of doctrine and to reprove these wrongs of practice..... Our course in this respect has been misrepresented as a contentious and cantankerous one by the revolutionist, who at first attempted to answer our presentations. But our replies so completely crushed their answers that they have ceased attempting replies, alleging that they stand for peace and will have nothing to do with controversy, thereby pretending great meekness in contrast with what they allege to be our contentious spirit! When did our Lord, our Pastor and other faithful servants of the Truth keep silent when their presentations were attacked and errors were introduced (Micah 5:5.,6)? Certainly they acted as we do in similar conditions, and not like the revolutionists.”
And may our Good Heavenly Father grant to each of His people the refreshment and strength of heart and mind that will bring to one and all that “blessing that maketh rich”, indeed!
Sincerely your brother
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim