The Subject for our Christmas study is one of the most beautiful in the whole Bible. Genesis goes back to the beginning of the things earthly; but this lesson goes back to the beginning of all beginnings, when God was alone. The very beginning of Divine operation was the Logos - “the Beginning of the creation of God” - “the First-born of every creature.” (Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15)
“And the Logos was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) The Logos was made Jesus. Logos signifies mouthpiece, or special messenger. Not only was the Logos the beginning, or Alpha, but He was also the last, the Omega, of Divine creation as He himself informs us (Rev. 1:11; 21:6) The first and only begotten Son of Jehovah was given an exclusive place, so that “all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:3) Thus highly did the Father honor Him, as His agent in all the creative work, both as respects angels, cherubim and men (John 1:1-18).
The Greek text is not fully represented in our Common Version. Accurately translated it reads, “The Logos was with the God and the Logos was a God; the same was in the beginning with the God.” Here the majesty of our Redeemer in His pre-human condition is fully set forth, and yet He is distinctly shown to be the Son and not the Father - to be a god and not the God.
St. Paul tells us of how He was rich on the spirit plane but for our sakes became poor, leaving the heavenly comforts for the scenes of this world, darkened by sin and death (2 Cor. 8:9). “The Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) St. Paul also corroborates this, declaring that our Lord stooped from His high position, took the bondman’s form and was found in fashion as a man, of the seed of Abraham (Phil. 2:7,8; Heb. 2:16). But lest we should get the wrong thought, that He had become a sinful man, we are guarded by the assurance that He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) We are also assured that His body was especially prepared, separate and different from others of our race, all of whom were of Adamic stock and all tainted with sin and the seeds of death (Heb. 10:5-9).
The Logos, the beginning of God’s creation called also by Isaiah the Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, etc. (Isa. 9:6), we find described by Solomon, and described under the name of Wisdom, with all the details that harmonize the record with the account given by John the Evangelist as follows:
“Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his ways of old, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the fountains of the earth; then was I by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” (Prov. 8:22-30)
THE LORD AND TWO ANGELS
But on the other hand we are to guard ourselves against the thought that the Logos remained a spirit being and merely materialized, or appeared in human form. This unscriptural thought is the one held by many, and styled incarnation. The angels incarnated, or appeared in flesh, when they materialized from time to time, as described in the Old Testament Scriptures. Our Lord himself incarnated, or appeared in the flesh, to Abraham in company with others; and He talked with Abraham, who knew not that he was entertaining heavenly beings, mistaking them for human travelers.
The three strange men, Abraham afterwards learned, were angels, one of them the special messenger of Jehovah. We feel confident that this One was the Logos, the Only Begotten One, through whom the Father’s power was exercised, so that by Him all things were made that were made (John 1:3). We are clearly to distinguish between our Lord’s appearance here as a man and the appearance of His two companions, the angels, as men, and our Lord’s subsequent appearance in the world as the man Christ Jesus. The two were totally different. In the first case the spirit nature was retained, and a human body was merely created and used temporarily for a special purpose, just as our Lord after His resurrection as a spirit being appeared in various forms as a man, but was not really a man. When the due time came for the redemption of Adam and his race it was necessary that our Lord should become a man - perfect, complete as was father Adam in his original creation. When He thus became a man, or as another Scripture expresses it, “was made flesh” (John 1:14), it meant the complete laying aside of the spirit nature before enjoyed - a change or transmutation to another nature, the human.
This was necessary, because it was a man who had sinned, and because the Divine Law required a man’s life for a man’s life as the ransom price. But no such transmutation was necessary in the case of His appearance to Abraham. The Lord and His two angelic companions could have appeared to Abraham as they did to Moses as a flame of fire in a burning bush, or as the bright angel appeared to Daniel, or as an angelic form with less glory and brightness; but God was dealing with Abraham according to faith - He wished him to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Hence the angels appeared as strange men and were entertained as such, and Abraham’s hospitality was demonstrated and became a lesson to all the children of God.
THE FIRST ADVENT
While the Scriptures inform us that at the time of the Lord’s presentation “all men were in expectation of Him” (Luke 3:15), of Messiah, nevertheless we are to remember that all were expecting something totally different from what the Lord presented. They were expecting a personage of high rank, of great influence, of striking and commanding character.
Notice the quiet, unostentatious, meek manner in which our Redeemer began the announcement of His mission. Quietly He presented himself to John for baptism, and after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit, He went into absolute seclusion in the wilderness for more than a month, for forty days studying what the Divine Plan had arranged to be His course. True, He did not have the Bible, but He had the perfect memory, and for thirty years he had heard the reading of the Law and prophets in the Synagogue and was thoroughly familiar with them. He had the entire matter before His mind, and under the light of the Holy Spirit He weighed the various declarations of the Law and prophets, noted the course of sacrifice which these meant, His temptation lying in the suggestion that easier, less sacrificing courses seemed to present themselves as feasible. He triumphed over all the Adversary’s allurements and blandishments - determined not to do Satan’s will, nor even follow His own judgment, but strictly and implicitly follow and obey the outlined program which the Father had laid down in the Word. He returned to John, seeking companionship with those who were nearest to the Lord and waiting for Divine providence to guide in His affairs.
It was at this time, in the presence of His disciples, that John prophesied of Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist, and when they thus heard of his testimony respecting Jesus and the declaration that he had a witness from God that Jesus was the Messiah, they sought the Lord’s acquaintance. They followed after Him overtook Him, and inquired where He was stopping. Apparently their object was to learn of Him, to ascertain what further blessings the Lord had, and what further service than that which they had engaged in with John the Baptist. They wanted the best that was to be had. They had not the partisan spirit to say, “We belong to John the Baptist and must stand for him,” as some of the Lord’s dear people are inclined to in respect to the various denominations or groups of Bible Students.
Many have seen or heard of Jesus, as those who were with John the Baptist heard of Him, but have not learned to know Him as the Messiah - the Christ. This word Messiah covers a particular thought that today is very generally ignored amongst the Lord’s professed followers. Remarkably few Christians know Jesus to be the Messiah at all. The word Messiah signifies the Anointed. The Jews, under the great promise made to Abraham, had been expecting a Messiah, a King, a Deliverer, who would exalt them as His special people and assistants, and use them in presenting the law of God to all peoples, nations and languages, and as authorized and empowered co-laborers to enforce those laws with rewards and penalties.
The word Messiah, or Anointed, thus signifies the great King who was looked for - the great Prophet, Priest and King - for prophets, priests and kings under the Divine arrangement were anointed to their offices, and thus signified that in due time Christ would combine all three of these qualities in Himself, and associate His Church with himself in the exercise of the various offices as joint-heirs in His Kingdom. The Scriptures show us that Israel as a nation was found unworthy to enter into all these blessings and privileges, and that, after selecting the “Israelites indeed” from among that nation, the Lord during the Gospel Age, gathered to himself and associated with Him as His Church, as His spiritual Israel, the faithful ones who had ears to hear and hearts to obey the same message from every nation, kindred, people and tongues.
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Matt. 4:16)
In the Bible symbols light stands as the representative of God, of Christ, of the Church, of Truth, of influences for righteousness, which by and by as the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in its beams for the cure of all the masses of the earth. It will scatter the darkness of sin, ignorance and superstition - the works of the Prince of Darkness, who will then be “bound for a thousand years that he may deceive the nations no more until the thousand years are fulfilled.” (Rev. 20:2,3)
Of the Heavenly Father we read, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) Of Jesus we read, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) Of the Church in her earthly condition, we read, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16) Nevertheless, “The darkness hateth the light, neither cometh to the light” (John 3:21), and “the whole world lieth in the wicked one” (1 John 5:19) - in darkness. Notwithstanding the faithfulness of Jesus and the few light-bearers enlightened with the Holy Spirit, still “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.” (Isa. 60:2)
This same thought pervades the Scriptures from first to last, namely, that for six thousand years, from the time of the entrance of sin to the second coming of Jesus, the world will be subject to a reign of sin and death - it will be under a pall of darkness, ignorance, superstition, sin, etc. The only ones who will see the path of righteousness distinctly will be those guided by the “lantern” - God’s Word. They are represented as saying; “thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psa. 119:105) St. Peter writing from the same standpoint, declares, “We have a more sure Word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn.” (2 Peter 1:19)
The Prince of Darkness has been in command for centuries. The only lights of the past were the noble Prophets of the Jewish line whose lights affected few in their own nation, and were not discernible at all among the heathen world. John the Baptist, we are told, was a burning and shining light, and Jesus was a still more brilliant light, and His faithful few during the past nineteen centuries have shined forth, reflecting their Master’s light. But all of these have had comparatively little influence in the world. It still lies in the Wicked One - in darkness, seeing not, neither understanding Divine things. Indeed, “the earnest expectation of the creation longs for the Revelation of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19, Dia.)
A BETTER DAY COMING
The above text tells of a better day sure to come. It is not sure to come because of the operation of the evolutionary law, for the natural law would seem to contradict such a thought. Darkness leads on to darkness more intense, and while light begets light, darkness begets darkness, and the masses are in the darkness, and in the Prince of Darkness. Never, then, might we hope for the abolishment of darkness except in the way in which God has foretold it - through the shining forth of the Sun of Righteousness - the Church in glory (Matt. 13:43).
Our text (Matt 4:16) is a quotation from the Old Testament (Isa. 9:2); it had a beginning of its fulfillment in our Savior and in the Apostles. The people of Israel, long in doubt, uncertainty, etc., saw a great light in Jesus and His teachings. And throughout the Gospel Age, for more than nineteen centuries, this great Light has been exercising a feeble influence among men. The Light itself has been pure - the Divine Word and the principles of Divine righteousness. But, alas! few have been faithful in receiving the light in its purity and in reflecting it forth upon others.
In general the light has been corrupted by human selfishness, by sin. As a consequence the name Christian today does not stand for all the blessed light and truth and grace and faithfulness to God and to the principles of love which the Master showed forth and inculcated. Instead the name Christian today, borne by more than nine hundred millions of humanity, many of whom, judged by the Divine standard, or their “fruits,” are children of the Wicked One, children of darkness, who merely use the garment of light, the name Christian, as a heavenly livery whereby to appease their own consciences and to increase their opportunity for selfishness and acquisition quite contrary to the Leader whom they profess to be following, the “true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” O, the happy day that is coming to our poor, sin cursed earth! There shall be no more curse, thank God! Instead of the curse shall be the Divine blessing; and every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth shall be heard saying, “Praise and glory and honor and dominion and might be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, forever”! (Jude 25)
After twenty centuries of experience of the light battling with the darkness, and at times being almost quenched thereby, we might well ask, what hope is there that this prophecy will ever be fulfilled - that Jesus, as the Light of the world, will enlighten every man born into the world? The Bible answers that God will fulfill this very matter in His own time, but that God’s time cannot be hastened.
The Prince of Life and His Kingdom will cause the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep (Hab. 2:14), so that none shall need to say to his brother, Know thou the Lord, for all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34). Thus according to His promise Jesus eventually will be “the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9) Despite the fact that the Word has now been promulgated throughout the world, the great mass of humanity does not understand this true Light, because they received the Word in a mixture of truth and error. This is true not only of the heathen millions, but also of the masses in civilized lands.
For a thousand years the glorious Sun of righteousness (Christ and the Church, His Bride), will shine out. The work will be thorough and complete. Adam and his every child will be fully brought to a knowledge of the Truth, and will enjoy the blessed opportunity of coming back into harmony with God, by the restitution process of which St. Peter tells us in Acts 3:19-23. This will not mean that the world will ever become members of the Bride class, or ever attain the spirit nature. It means restitution to the condition first enjoyed by Adam, lost by sin, but redeemed by the sacrifice finished at Calvary. It means human perfection to all the willing and obedient of Adam’s race through the heavenly Second Adam and the heavenly Second Eve.
The resurrection of the just will be necessary to bring the Church to glory and joint-heirship with her Lord. But the resurrection of the unjustified (Acts 24:15), which includes practically all humanity, will be for the very purpose of permitting them to see the true Light, which God has provided in His Son and which will be shed abroad during His Millennial Kingdom.
It means a worldwide Paradise, filled with the blessings of the Lord, who has promised that the earth, as His footstool, shall be made glorious. It means that, with the destruction of the willfully disobedient, this earth will be like heaven. The Savior’s prayer will reach fulfillment; God’s will shall be done on earth even as it is done in heaven. This in turn will mean that “every knee will bow and every tongue confess” (Rom. 14:11, both of the things in heaven and of the things on earth, to the glory of God (Phil. 2:10). And this signifies that there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying on earth, even as none of these things are in heaven (Rev. 21:4).
“He was the True Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9) This is a prophetic statement, for our Lord at His first Advent did not even enlighten all of His own nation, and made no attempt whatever to enlighten the world of mankind. Nevertheless it is God’s purpose that ultimately all shall see, all shall know of His love and wonderful provision. And our Lord Jesus is that great Light, the great Enlightener, that is yet to enlighten Adam and every member of his race. When He was among men the glorious Light was not fully revealed, even though what the Jews did see caused them to marvel. Our Lord himself, according to the Scriptures, “learned obedience by the things which he suffered,” (Heb. 5:8) and was thereby prepared for His exaltation, His glorification, which He received when He had finished the work which the Father gave Him to do - when on the third day thereafter the Father raised Him from the dead by His own power, to glory, honor, immortality, the Divine nature. Now, in His highly exalted condition He is still the True Light which shineth with a brightness above that of the sun at noonday. He is to be the great Sun of Righteousness which, during the Millennial Age, shall bless and enlighten every man that cometh into the world; and we are given the blessed assurance that the Church, the Bride class, the Elect, will be with Him in that glorious mission of blessing and enlightenment (Matt. 13:43).
Then our text will have most ample fulfillment - all mankind shall see the great Light which God has provided; even those “in the shadow of death” must come forth, that all may be enlightened by this “true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” O, the happy day that is coming to our poor, sin cursed earth! There shall be no more curse, thank God! Instead of the curse shall be the Divine blessing; “And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13; Jude 25)
(Excerpts from Reprints 4987-4988 and others)
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION - What is the meaning of “other grain” used in 1 Corinthians 15:37,38: “And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.”
ANSWER - The resurrection of the Church unto spiritual life in its four elect classes, two at the beginning and two at the end of the Millennium, finds analogies in the constitution and course of nature. The Apostle Paul in these verses gives us certain analogies in nature to certain features of the resurrection, especially its process, nature and the different bodies of the resurrected classes. The different classes of the resurrected may be illustrated by various grains: wheat, the Little Flock; barley, the Great Company; rye, the Ancient Worthies; and oats, the Youthful Worthies, while corn may be used as an illustration of the restitution class. The fixity of these classes, as existing in their condition in the dying processes unto the death state, is well represented in the fixity of each kind of grain bringing forth after its kind and after no other kind. Corresponding to the preservation of the life-principle and the character of the different kinds of grain is God’s preserving the life-principle and character of each one in his own class. The sowing of the grain corresponds to the consecration and Spirit-begettal of the elect classes and the sowing of sin and error in the non-elect class. The dying and death of the different kinds of grain correspond to the dying and death of these elect classes and the non-elect class (1Cor. 15:36). The life-principle developing out of the farinaceous substance in these different grains in their dying a root that it sends downward and a shoot that it sends upward represents how the new will takes out of the Spirit (energy, power) and Word of God new-creaturely will and spiritual capacities in the four elect classes and how the new will of the restitution class will develop out of the same Spirit and Word of God the start of a new human disposition in those new human qualities. The growth of the root and shoot represent in the four new-creaturely elect classes and in the restitution class their growth in knowledge and service; and the production of new grains in the ears represent the growth in the fruits of the new-creaturely Spirit in each individual of the four elect classes and the growth in the fruits of the renewed human spirit in each individual of the restitution classes. The gradualness of the growth processes from root and shoot to the ripe grain illustrates the gradualness of the resurrection process. The ripe grains represent the perfection of the resurrection process; for we are to remember that resurrection means the perfection of body, heart, mind and will in the resurrected one. That the resurrected body is not the one laid down in death is illustrated by the fact that that the ripe grain is not the same one that was sown. The differences in nature of the resurrected ones find analogies in the different kinds of flesh and stars as well as of grains (1 Cor. 15:39-41). These are some of the analogies that the constitution and course of nature furnish illustrative of various features of the resurrection in its spiritual parts and in its human part.
(By Brother Paul Johnson, Volume 12, pages 493,494)
RELIGIOUS HATE: “Swastikas, slogans and physical assaults against Jews in Europe have reached a frequency not seen since the 1930s when Fascism was on the rise. But in the vast majority of the cases today, the assailants are young Muslims of North African heritage whose parents immigrated to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. The greatest number and most violent attacks have come in France, which, with an estimated six million Muslins and 650,000 Jews in the country, has Europe’s largest Jewish and largest Muslim populations. According to Israeli government figures, 2,556 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2002, double the number a year earlier and the most since the 1967 Six-Day War.”
(New York Times, March 22, 2003)
“‘EXCERPTS - RAV DOV BEGON: G-d shall be at war with Amalek for all generations.’ Not only ‘in the days of Mordechai and Esther’ did the wicked Haman rise up to wipe out every Jew, but in every generation ‘Haman’s’ rise up to destroy Israel. Today enemies surround (Israel) possessing that same Amalekite longing to carry out Haman’s thoughts, plans and deeds.’ In our own day as well, some of our leadership unfortunately have not opened their eyes to understand that the ‘feud’ and war between us is not just over land but also over our right to live. Yet we know that at the end of the war, the Jewish People, with G-d’s help, will emerge victorious.
“The Torah states, ‘The hand is on G-d’s throne. The L-rd shall be at war with Amalek for all generations.’ G-d is swearing that His name will not be complete, nor His throne, until Amalek’s memory is obliterated.”
(Bible Light International, May 2003)
“U.S. UNIVERSITY SPONSORS PRO-PALESTINIAN CONFERENCE: Despite wide-scale protests and request for cancellation, Rutgers University in New Jersey will host a national pro-Palestine student conference in October.
“The National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement will include sessions on how to pressure colleges to stop investing in companies that do business with Israel, as well as cultural events and rallies in support of an independent Palestinian state. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian student activists are expected to attend.
“Organizer Charlotte Kates said that she, as well as the sponsoring organization, the New Jersey Solidarity Movement - an offshoot of International Solidarity - supports Palestinian homicide bombers. ‘Palestinian resistance in all its forms has been a very powerful tool of justice,’ Kates, a Rutgers law student, told the New York Post. ‘All forms, from armed struggle to mass protest… Israel is an apartheid, colonial settler state. I do not believe apartheid, colonial settler states have a right to exist.’
“The Post’s Andres Peyser reports that Rutgers will thus be the nations third college, and the first on the East Coast, to harbor ‘a national anti-Israel hate-fest, featuring tips for destroying the Jewish state and speeches from notable anti-Semites.’ Rutgers officials said the school received nearly 230 letters from Jewish activist across the country urging the university to cancel the forum. But they said that the event would go on ‘in the name of free speech.’ As a state school, Rutgers bestows public funding to Solidarity.
“At the two previous conferences - at Berkley, Calif. and the University of Michigan - pro-Palestinian rhetoric ‘crossed into virulent anti-Semitism,’ said Shai Goldstein, director of the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League chapter.”
(Arutz 7, July 10, 2003, reported by Bridges For Peace)
“Pope John Paul II renewed his appeal for the future European constitution to cite the continent’s Christian heritage. His appeal came after a panel drafting the constitution issued its first drafts of articles on the EU’s values, objectives, and powers and on the fundamental rights of EU nationals. Absent from the drafts is any mention of God - an issue that has already led to contentious debate whether the EU’s first constitution should mention God by name and define European values as including ‘those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty.’ The question of God and religion is highly contentious in Europe, where nations have very different historical church-state relations.”
(Indianapolis Star, February 17, 2002)
“NEWTON’S PREDICTION: A collection of letters and other personal writings by Sir Isaac Newton - sold in London in 1930 and later donated to Jerusalem’s Jewish National University Library, but only recently examined - reveals that Newton predicted the world would come to an end in 2060. His calculations were based on the Bible.”
“Newton who died in 1727, won immortality for formulating the law of gravity, but he was also a theologian who wrote extensively on biblical subjects and was influenced by Hebrew Scripture.”
(World Jewry, March 2003)