by Epiphany Bible Students

As stated in Part One of this subject, it is our intention to use mostly quotations from That Servant, and we now proceed on that basis. Our first offering is from Reprints 5168, column 2 (written January 15, 1913 – just one and one half years before the outbreak of the Great War):

“The fact that so many have been thus accepted since 1878 seems to imply that there has been a considerable vacancy in the list of the elect, and that it is gradually filling up. It is not for us to say how much of a vacancy remains, or when it will be filled. We fully believe, that it will be filled before the close of ‘the Times of the Gentiles,’ which we think will end with October, 1914.

“As for others who have not yet consecrated themselves, we can say with St. Paul, “I beseech you... brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.’ (Rom. 12:1) Do your best. It may be that there is an opening and you may get in. Consecrate your time, your talents, all that you have, to the service of God. He is a good paymaster; whatever reward He may give you will be a prize.”


From Reprint 5631, column 2: “We are not surprised at these conditions; for long ago they were foretold in the Word of God. We were assured that our day would witness the fulfillment of the prophecies along these lines. Wherever we look, we witness the disintegration of the present order, whether we view the conditions from a social, or religious, or a financial standpoint. The lease of power to the Kingdoms of this word has expired. [It expired at the end of the Gentile Times when the day of God’s special wrath came – in the Epiphany, the great Time of Trouble.] It was foretold by the Prophet Daniel that ‘in the days of these kings,’ before their utter overthrow, the God of heaven would set up a kingdom [when the last saint had been selected, the Kingdom was “set up”] which should smite and break in pieces all the kingdoms of men, the beastly kingdoms of Daniel’s dream. When these kingdoms would be given to ‘the people of the saints of the Most High,’ they were to ‘smite them in pieces as a potter’s vessel.’ This intimates that in some sense of the word the Lord will take possession of these before they have been completely overthrown; that some of the kingdoms represented in the Gentile image will be remaining at that time.

“What time, then, is signified by the expression ‘in the days of these kings,’ when the Kingdom of God was to be set up in power? To our understanding the first step in the setting up of this Kingdom was the raising of the sleeping saints of the Gospel Age, which we believe was in the Spring of 1878. Then began the glorification of the Church. The work of setting up the Kingdom has, we understand, been progressing from that date, arid is now merely lacking the last members of the Church class. When these shall have taken their places as members of the Church in glory, the Kingdom will be fully set up.

“This does not signify that there may not be a part of the Kingdom work begun while some of the members of Christ are still in the flesh. Indeed some Scriptures seem to imply that there will be a Kingdom work done this side the veil, while a work of still greater magnitude and authority is progressing on the other side of the veil. We read, ‘Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.’ (Psa. 149:5) This seems to imply, as we have mentioned before, that there is a special work to be done while these saints still have beds, while they are in a condition of repose – not ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine’ (Eph. 4:14), but fully at rest in God’s great plan. The Scriptures go on to say that they have a two‑edged sword in their hands – which is the Word of God. They use it as the sword of the Spirit. This would not be true of them on the other side of the veil. They would have no use for a sword there. The Scriptures also declare that the high‑sounding praises of God are upon their lips. This, too, seems to be applicable to those this side the veil.” (Written February 15, 1915)

Then from Reprint 5632: “The final phase, ‘to execute the judgments written,’ would seem to imply that there would be something for the saints on this side of the veil to do in connection with the execution of the judgments upon the nations. As to just what this means, we have not yet fully learned. But we see nothing here to conflict with the thought that the Lord’s Kingdom may be properly understood to have begun operations and that the present smiting of the nations is under Kingdom control. The fact that some of the members of the Kingdom class are still in the flesh does not militate at all against this thought. We see the kingdoms of this world now being dashed to pieces, and we axe expecting to see the process continued until they are completely ground to powder. ‘They shall become as the chaff of the summer threshing‑floor, and the wind shall carry them away. Then shall they be found no more at all.’ (Dan. 2:35) [“And this honor have all the saints.” – Psa. 149:9]

“THE KINGDOM OF GOD SET UP: Because certain ‘important things are to be accomplished, we see that God is permitting what to others might seem to be purely human devilishness. For a wise purpose He permits this reign of lawlessness, this condition which evokes universal odium. Our thought is that we should look for still further evidences day by day that the Gentile Times have ended, and that God’s Kingdom has begun its work. [God’s Kingdom is the Christ Company]... The present step is the war of the nations. The next step will be Socialism – an attempted Socialism – among the people. Then the third step, Anarchy, will gradually come on. When this symbolic fire shall prevail, then the world will realize what we are trying to tell them now; namely, that God’s Kingdom is taking control, and that these various demonstrations are evidences that our Lord is taking His great power. [Armageddon, or world‑wide Revolution, is the final step, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.]

“At the sounding of the seventh trumpet Messiah was to take unto Himself His great power and reign. That trumpet is now sounding! ‘And the nations were angry and thy wrath [the great Time of Trouble starting in 1914] is come.’ (Rev. 11:18) Surely the nations are angry now! They act as if they were bereft of common sense. We see readily enough that the spirit of selfishness has prevailed there right along, but that some hindrance or fear heretofore held them back. But finally, when the Lord’s ‘due time’ has come to permit it, they broke through their restraint. The Lord has at this particular time especially to do with the affairs of the nations. And this war was allowed to occur at about the end of the Gentile Times, at the appropriate time when they are to be dashed to pieces with the iron rod of the iron rule (Psa. 2:6‑12). It is our judgment that we shall see more of this iron rule and its breaking influence, not only upon the nations, but upon society at large. Now in this great day of the Lord everything that can be shaken is to be shaken to pieces and shaken out, to the intent that nothing unrighteous or unworthy shall remain. God Himself is doing the shaking (Hag. 2:6,7).

“THE TIME FOR JUDGMENT IS RIPE: We believe that the Times of the Gentiles ended just on time, as shown in Volume 2 of Studies in the Scriptures. The hand of justice is now doing the breaking – the nations shall be broken as a ‘potter’s vessel.’ The whole cataclysm of trouble may be upon the world during the next ten months, or it may be longer deferred. We believe that the time for the setting up of the Kingdom was on September 21, 1914. [Otherwise the “judgment written” (Psa. 149:9) would not have been pronounced; the ejection is now going on.] At that time, when it was due for our Lord to take His great power and reign, the nations were already angry. They were at war over a month in advance of the time, because so angry.

“The due time for the ‘wrath’ was September 21, 1914. We are expecting to see this wrath still more manifest. The nations have been in just this same unloving spirit one toward another for a number of years, but apparently they have been under some forcible restraint. We believe that God’s time had not yet come. We wondered, and many people wondered, how their anger could be restrained much longer; much has been written about it in the newspapers. When the Balkan war came [1912‑1913], it was because the nations were angry; and it very nearly led to this conflagration. Austria tried to precipitate the trouble at that time, but the German Kaiser held back. Now the restraining hand has been removed. The time is ripe.” (Reprint 5632, February 15, 1915)

In 1914‑16 the first smiting of Jordan was taking place, although Brother Russell did not then fully realize it. However, we should keep in mind that the River Jordan in some instances types the human race under the curse; and its rapid fall in a very short space from the clear water of the mountains to the “sea of salt” the Dead Sea graphically portrays the downward course of the human race under the curse of sin and death. As the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea, it ends in the lowest body of water on earth’s surface 1296 feet below sea level.

From a second viewpoint the Jordan types Christendom, which also has experienced a tragic fall from the pristine purity of the early Church under the Apostles to its present depraved position of Babylon. And it is this latter picture that is represented in the first smiting of Jordan. As the war progressed after its commencement in 1914, the people of Christendom became more and more divided into two very distinct classes – the Conservatives and the Radicals. Those of us who had personal experience with that first smiting recall very vividly how pronounced the cleavage became. We had some of the radicals tell us personally, “Just wait till the war is over, and we’ll then show the Uppercrust what this is all about.” And the turmoil everywhere in evidence now offers pronounced testimony to the seriousness of that division.

And of that first smiting we have the clear Scripture – “This honor have all his saints.” (Psa. 149:9) Under this latter heading Brother Russell quotes more from the same Psalm:

“‘Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two‑edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all his saints.’ (Psa. 149:5‑9)

“We are frequently asked whether we understand that there is to come a time when the Lord’s people, the saintly ones, while still in the flesh, will have a full understanding of the entire Word of God, including the dark expressions of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Revelation, etc. In reply we usually remind the questioners that eighteen hundred years ago St. Paul wrote, ‘Take unto you the whole armor of God’ (Eph. 6:13,17), including ‘the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God’; and that we are therefore to understand that St. Paul himself and other Christians of his time had the ‘Sword of the Spirit.’ We are sure, however, that they did not understand certain portions of the Word of God which were not then due to be understood; for instance, that portion of Daniel’s prophecy which the angel said was to be sealed up until ‘the time of the end,’ and many other prophecies which were not then unfolded. This has always been more or less true ever since. Prophecy unfolds gradually. Today more is due to be understood than ever before.” (Reprint 5803, bottom, November 15, 1915)

We are convinced that there were quite a few saints in the various Truth groups after Brother Russell’s demise who disagreed with one another on certain Scriptures; but during the smiting – when That Servant was with us – they were all in harmony on the work then due to be done, and in one group. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” (Isa. 52:8) And we do know there was complete harmony in the Truth group about the work they were to do then. The “gathering” of the saints was complete after they were sealed in their foreheads with Present Truth. As That Servant has said, prophecy unfolds gradually. Today more is to be understood than ever before. Today we know some things that Jesus Himself did not know when He was on earth. “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt. 24:36) We know that we are in “that day.”

“We are not to understand that the Bible will have no value in the incoming Age, but rather to the contrary of this. Our thought is that the Bible will be used then. not so much as a sole means of communicating God’s will, but as a source of information, much as we now use histories. It will enlighten men respecting God’s laws, etc. There is nothing to indicate that every matter that the Bible treats will be seen clearly by the Church while we are on this side the veil. The Apostle says that ‘now we see through a glass obscurely’; but that beyond the veil we shall see ‘face to face.’ We shall see clearly; for we shall then be like our Lord. Now we know in part, but then ‘we shall know even as we are known.’ (1 Cor. 13:12)” (Bottom of Reprint 5803, and top of 5804)

Indeed, we believe that the Restitutionists – the obedient – will understand more of the Bible than we do now. The faithful Restitutionists will be able to understand all the doctrines of the Bible, we believe – including the two salvations, the “Great” and the “Common.” The only thing that the “natural man” cannot now appreciate is spirit-begettal – “the things of the spirit” – nor will it be necessary for them, as they will not be of the heavenly class. And it is true now of the fully consecrated unbegotten, they understand the doctrines of the Bible – all necessary for the work the Lord gives them to do, and all that is necessary to be of the Worthy Class. In fact, all now in Present Truth understand much more than any of the saints before the Harvest period; and some understand more than some spirit‑begotten. However, it is also true of the spirit-begotten – the Little Flock and the Great Company – that they will understand enough to continue in their class standing. However, the Worthies are different from the Restitutionists in that the faithful will be spirit‑begotten at the end of the Kingdom and receive a heavenly reward. The Restitutionists will not have this opportunity, nor will they have heavenly aspirations. They will be happy with “paradise on earth.”

“THE WORK NOW GOING ON: In speaking of this present time [1915], as we think, the Prophet David says, ‘Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud upon their beds.’ The children of God should be joyful at all times – even in tribulation – knowing that these experiences work out for us a development of character and a preparation for the Kingdom glories. The Psalmist here foretells that the saints at this time are at rest upon their beds, while they sing God’s praise. This statement might be meaningless to us until we understand from other Scriptures that these beds represent creed or the sum total of one’s religious belief.

“While some are reclining on a short creed bed, which cramps and fetters them, and the narrow covers of which cannot give them warmth and comfort, the true saints of God have at this time beds of full and proper size, and a cover which is warm and ample. They are shown in this prophetic picture as taking their ease, resting in faith, while others are restless and uncomfortable. But while thus resting in these good beds, representing their mental attitude and heart condition, and while praising the Lord, they are using skillfully the ‘two‑edged sword.’ This sword in their hands is the Bible. The thought is not necessarily that God’s people have absolute knowledge of every feature of God’s Word; but that they have all the knowledge needful to the efficient use of the sword at this time, all the knowledge designed for the saints now, when this prophecy applies.

“‘Let the high‑sounding praises of God be in their mouths’ (Psa. 149:6), urges the Psalmist. We believe that this is more and more becoming true. The saints can praise God more intelligently and fully now than ever before. We can see our Lord’s character better, because much of the ignorance, misconception, mysteries and obscurity have fled away. God’s Word is shining out with more brightness than ever. We cannot see that our Brother John Calvin could have had very much of the ‘high‑sounding praise of God’ in his mouth, for it is surely not a high‑sounding praise to declare that our God would assign thousands of millions of humanity to an eternity of torture. Nor can it be said of people today who teach this same horrible doctrine, that they have the ‘high‑sounding praise of God in their mouths.’

“God’s name is blasphemed, and His glorious character traduced and misrepresented every day. The world is told that God has a devilish plan – that He has made a hell in which to torture a very large part of humanity; and that He has the devils there already doing the torturing, and that this will go on throughout eternity. There are no high‑sounding praises connected with any such beliefs and teachings. But the Lord’s people who keep close to His Word are now able to tell forth the wondrous Story of God’s love. wisdom, justice and power as never before. And the Truth is surely accomplishing a work in the binding and fettering of error. We believe that the words of the Psalmist in this text are being fulfilled at this time. To some extent at least we are already engaging in the great work here depicted.”

(Reprint top of 5804, columns 1 and 2, November 15, 1915)

The Epiphany Messenger has elaborated on the above truths, as well as the 40‑year Harvest and the two and a half years overlapping from the Parousia into the Epiphany period. When he taught that the Epiphany and the Time of Trouble are identical – one and the same period – he was not bringing out any advancing Truth, because That Servant had also taught that the Epiphany and the great Time of Trouble are one and the same.

“To the very best of our ability we have endeavored to make clear that the parousia of our Lord is wholly different from His epiphaneia. Both of these Greek words are translated coming in our common Bible, but in the Greek they have very different significations. The word parousia signifies presence, but does not signify any outward manifestation of that presence. It is used in respect to the first stage of the Second Advent, in which our Lord is said to come ‘as a thief in the night’ to reckon with His own servants and to take the faithful of them with Him to the heavenly mansion or condition prepared for them.

“Our Lord’s parousia and gathering of the elect, we understand, has been in progress since 1874. It will continue until all of the ‘elect’ shall have been gathered and glorified. [The quotations of a later date show where That Servant changed his mind about the glorification of all the saints by 1914.] In one sense our Lord will continue to be present as the world’s King to the conclusion of the Millennial Age; but His parousia in the sense of secrecy of presence, will terminate when, as the Scriptures declare, ‘He shall be revealed in flaming fire [judgments], taking vengeance on all who will not obey the truth, ‘ but enlightening and revivifying all who will hear and, to the extent of their opportunity, obey His message. The parousia is to the Church and for the Church only. The epiphaneia or apokalypsis of the Lord in power and great glory is not to the Church nor for the Church, but to the world and for the world. ‘When he shall thus appear we also shall appear with him in glory,’ the Apostle declares. (Col. 3:4)”

(Reprints 4543, bottom, column 1 and 2, January 1, 1910)

“AN ASTOUNDING STATEMENT: At the epiphaneia, or bright shining, of the Lord’s manifestation, God will have completed His present work of directing the Church, and the world will be informed that they are under a different dispensation. When the world shall have come to understand the matter fully they will know the truth of our Lord’s words in His last prayer with His disciples, that the Father loves the Church as He loves the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a very astounding statement. It shows that there is nothing selfish in our Lord. He did not say, ‘They will always be inferior to me. They will never have the glory that I shall have.’“

(Reprints 5359, top, column 1, par. 2. December 1, 1913)

There is much more by That Servant on the Parousia and Epiphany, but the above will suffice for now. We all know that Brother Johnson’s expectancy for the duration of the Time of Trouble – or Epiphany – did not mature; but the duration of this Epiphany has continued much longer than That Servant also expected. And some of the Lord’s people have stumbled over these miscalculations, which we believe were permitted by the Lord for the testing of His people. However, those very mistakes did energize the Lord’s people to continue with zeal to “preach the Gospel.” At the First Advent the disciples did not realize that the Kingdom was about 2,000 years in the future. Had they known, it would have discouraged many of the believers at that time.

Some of the Lord’s faithful people today, who believe they consecrated when the High Calling was still open, cannot give up their hope of being of the Christ Company. Of those who still entertain that belief we believe they number far more than the 144,000 who will constitute that select group. But we maintain a tender sympathy for such, because of our own experience along the same line. It is probably well to recall here that none in the Truth Movement believed the High Calling was closed until Passover 1918 – almost four years after it had been an accomplished fact: Thus, considerable effort was put forth to win others to that Company – when, in fact, it was an impossibility. However, the many errors that were produced by the Society after 1916 caused us to leave them; although we feel indebted yet for the solid truths we learned before leaving them, which they were teaching at that time. And, while some of our very good friends stayed with the Society, it is our opinion now that they made their calling and election sure.

“Let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isa. 1:18), if there were enough saints in at 1881, then all who came in after that time would be those who had taken the crown of those who lost their crowns after that date; and those who took those crowns then lost them were also filled by others. Isn’t it reasonable that the vacancy was filled by 1914? Isn’t it reasonable to believe that there could be no more spirit‑begettals after that date? We believe that all the saints had been sealed in the forehead before That Servant’s demise, although those who were begotten by 1914 did not receive the forehead sealing of Present Truth at that time – but all of them did receive the forehead sealing in time to participate in Jordan’s first smiting. (See Psalms 149:9)

The faithful Ancient Worthies would have been eligible candidates for the High Calling, but they lived too soon for that. The glowing words of Jesus concerning John the Baptist eloquently confirm this: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven [the 144,000 members of the Christ Company] is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11) Much the same situation now prevails here in the end of the Age. We believe there are Youthful Worthies today who would have been eligible for the Christ Company, but they were born too late. They make the same consecration as did the saints – to be dead to self and the world and alive to God.

That Servant saw the truth of this condition – and so expressed it – although he did not use the name Youthful Worthies. He simply referred to them as a “class” who would be accounted worthy to share with the Ancient Worthies “in honor and service” in the Kingdom arrangement. Some of the Ancient Worthies probably suffered more than did some of the saints of this Age; and we believe we have already seen some of this same condition as respects the Youthful Worthies, and we may yet see more of this.

That Servant thought he might die a martyr’s death (although we are told he prayed to be delivered from such an experience), and the Epiphany Messenger was fully convinced he would be “violently seized.” However, both of them died in bed. Brother Johnson believed as he did because he expected to see at least the beginning of Anarchy. He has been dead now about 31 years [51 years in 2001], and we have not yet experienced Armageddon. This latter could begin any day now, which is sure to produce many casualties and shedding of blood. Then the prophecy of Ezek. 7:19 will apply: “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord.”

However, our readers may seek solace in the prophecy of Zeph. 2:3: “Seek righteousness, seek humility, peradventure ye shall be concealed, in the day of the anger of Yahweh.” (Rotherham) Present generosity will probably receive some consideration at that time; only the very hardened criminals will abuse those who have befriended them.

It is stated of the Ancient Worthies that “these all obtained a good report through faith.” (Heb. 11:39) Thus, any others who share “in honor and service” with them will also “obtain a good report through faith.” The eleventh Chapter of Hebrews contains a refreshing history of those Ancients, and St. Paul tells us in Heb. 12:1‑3 that their examples should stimulate us to better things. God does all things for the good of all, and He knows what is best for us. “Wherefore... let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Presently, those of us who will be of that Class have a greater knowledge of God’s Plan of Salvation than did any of those Ancients. Some of them did not even understand what they wrote (Dan. 8:27; 12:8,9) – although we now understand much of what they wrote.

It is our hope and prayer that we have refreshed the minds of the Lord’s people by reproducing some of the salient Truths given to us by the faithful Mouthpieces of God. “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” (2 Peter 1:12)

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy. Let thy mercy, 0 Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” (Psa. 33:18,22) (John J. Hoefle, Reprint No. 411, June 1990)



Last week, the American Jewish Committee issued a strong statement criticizing the “sad fate” that befell Israel in UN history. In comparison to 188 of the 189 UN members who served in the Security Council and other UN organs, the only exception until very recently was Israel. The AJC revealed the following shocking facts:

“On November 29, 1947, the UN took what the New York Herald‑Tribune described as ‘one of the few great acts of courageous collective statesmanship which our shattered postwar world has been able to achieve.’

“What was it? On that momentous day, the General Assembly voted to divide the bitterly disputed territory of the Palestine mandate between two new states – one Arab and one Jewish.

“For the democracies of the world, this was a major victory. The vote promised, or so it seemed at the time, to open up new possibilities for the UN and for Israel – a country that has much to contribute to the world.

“But, sad to say, that is not what happened! At the UN today, Israel remains what Israel has been for many years – a second‑class citizen.

“How bad is it? Consider this: Of the 189 member nations of the UN, 188 may be elected to serve a term on the powerful Security Council. Libya, for example, may serve on the Council. So may North Korea and Iran. So, in fact, may Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

“But one country in the world – and one country only – may not sit on the Security Council. That country is the State of Israel. An outrage? Absolutely.

“The American Jewish Committee (has) led the fight to end the demeaning insulting treatment to which Israel has been constantly subjected at the UN.

“Recently we scored a major victory in that fight. Here’s the situation: In order to be eligible to serve on the Security Council, a country must be a member of one of the UN’s five regional groups.

“In geographical terms, Israel is part of the Asian group. But for years, Arab and Islamic countries denied Israel the right to be a member of this grouping.

“Israel stood alone. In all the world, it was the only country that did not have the required affiliation. Literally dozens of times, we met behind closed doors with top-ranking diplomats from around the world. We demanded an end to this injustice in the most public forums. We placed full‑page advertisements in The New York Times. These ads galvanized world attention and forced WEOG nations to act.

“Perhaps most important of all, thousands and thousands of supporters of the American Jewish Committee made their voices heard in postcards to top officials of Western European nations.

“And recently, the Western European and Others Group extended an invitation to Israel to join its caucus on a temporary basis. The New York Times attributed this victory to the American Jewish Committee’s relentless diplomatic and public relations campaign.

“This move marks an important step forward out of Israel’s isolation at the UN. But there’s a catch. Israel’s invitation is only temporary. It was extended on the condition that Israel not seek membership on the Security Council.

“Nor, under the restrictive terms of this invitation, may Israel be present at UN posts in Rome, Vienna, Nairobi or – importantly – Geneva, the meeting place of the UN Human Rights Commission, a perennial bastion of Israel‑bashing.

“In essence, Israel has been told: You may finally join the community of nations, but only if you stay in the back of the room and keep quiet.”

(By David Horowitz, The Jewish Press, February 16, 2001)


Charley Reese’s assertion that “the Israelis have voted for war and against peace” (Feb. 13) contains a tiny kernel of truth. By a landslide margin Israelis did vote against the so‑called peace process.

Why? Not because they oppose peace – the people of Israel desperately desire peace – but because of the growing recognition that the process itself was flawed; that it is simply impossible to achieve peace with those who refuse peace if it requires any concessions on their part.

In reality, it would be just as accurate to say that it was the Palestinians who elected Ariel Sharon. The sobering truth is that Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians almost everything they asked for: He offered them a Palestinian State; he offered them the territory that was roughly equivalent to the return of the 1949 borders; he offered them a capital in Jerusalem; he offered them, amazingly, even shared control of the Temple Mount.

Yet, not only did they turn Barak down, they responded to his incredible offer with personal vilification and the worst display of violence and anti‑Semitic rhetoric seen since the start of the Oslo Accords.

With Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat and his henchmen are getting exactly what they deserve – a man who may very well match their own political and ideological rigidity. A man who, just like them, may very well say “no” to proposals thought fair and evenhanded by the United States.

To be sure, in the face of ongoing Arab violence and terrorism, Sharon will not be nearly as flexible and as willing to make compromises as was Barak. It has been the nonstop Palestinian hostility during these past five months that convinced 62 percent of Israelis – including many who had been in the “peace camp” – that Barak’s way would prove disastrous for Israel.

So, sorry, Charley, but let’s be honest: It was the Palestinians who, once again, missed the opportunity.

Still, peace may one day come to the Middle East. But it will come only when Israel finds a genuine partner for peace; it will come when Israeli concessions will be matched by, at least, some concessions on the part of the Palestinians; it will come when those who sit opposite Israel at the peace table will not revert back to bloodshed whenever they cannot get what they want through negotiations.

Until that time, the Palestinians may well have to learn to live with Ariel Sharon, a man who, because of Palestinian intransigence and virulent hatred of Israel, they themselves put into office.

(By Aaron D. Rubinger, rabbi of Congregation Ohev Shalom In Orlando, FL, Orlando Sentinel, February 20, 2001)