So long as the natural Children of Israel kept the Law to the best of their ability, the Lord prospered them. But they didn’t do this. They not only were contaminated by the sins of the nations around them, but they rejected the Messiah who came to His own, and His own received Him not. It has been much the same with Gentiles who made a Covenant with God. They, too, have failed to keep their Covenant of sacrifice, and the majority has fallen into disfavor. None of them, natural Israel or Spiritual Israel, have been able to keep a perfect Law; but all those who have done so to the best of their ability have been blessed and protected from many evils of the nations around them.
But we are now discussing natural Israel: they were chosen because of their forefathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we see that there were individuals who had God’s favor before He chose Israel as a nation: Abel, Enoch and Noah, as well as Abraham, are mentioned as faithful. This chapter mentions some of the faithful Ancient Worthies, but not nearly all of them. The reason we call them “Ancient Worthies,” is because they were the “Ancients,” and verse 38 tells us, “Of whom the world was not worthy.” So Ancient Worthies is a Biblical expression. These Ancient Worthies not only kept the Mosaic Law to the best of their ability, they lived above the Law ‑sacrificed to do God’s will amidst very adverse conditions. “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” (Heb. 11:37) For doing God’s will they underwent such sufferings, the same as the faithful footstep followers of our Lord have suffered. Natural Israel, however, was blessed and favored of the Lord when they made an honest attempt to keep the Law.
Deuteronomy 7:6‑18 tells us: “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. [And that is true of Spiritual Israel in the Gospel Age – “they have been the fewest of all people.”] But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers. And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt.”
But with all these promises they didn’t hearken unto the Lord. They did this despite Joshua’s encouragement: “Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right or to the left.” (Josh. 23:6) And “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you.” (Josh. 23:10) And also this assurance, “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.” (Josh. 23:14)
Not only did God choose Israel as a nation but He specially used certain ones among them – such as the Prophets, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, et al. David is called Beloved of God – and God was pleased that Solomon asked for “an understanding heart to judge Thy people.” (1 Kings 3:9) “And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast thou asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee... riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.” (1 Kings 3:11‑13) But Solomon loved many strange women – and when he was old “his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:4)
Here are some pertinent quotes from That Servant: “Nevertheless, the Scriptures most clearly declare that the natural seed of Abraham, the Jews, are still heirs of a certain promise of God, which in due time will come to them. To their nation will come the great privilege of being the foremost nation amongst men during Messiah’s glorious reign, when the church glorified, spiritualized, will be with Him in His throne, invisible to men. St. Paul thus explains that the full number, to complete the elect Kingdom class, must be first found amongst the Gentiles, and then, these being glorified in the first resurrection, natural Israel will obtain the great earthly blessings which are still theirs and which were promised to their fathers. Natural Israel will receive blessings from spiritual Israel. ‘They shall obtain mercy through your mercy.’ – Rom. 11:25‑34.” (Reprints 5101, September 15,1912)
From this we can see that it will be the Church Glorified who will convert the Jewish nation, through the Worthies. Then the Jews will help convert the world of mankind.
You might ask why was Israel specially chosen. Let That Servant answer: “At the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry the Jewish nation was invited to become the Kingdom of God. The offer of God’s chief blessing was ‘to the Jew first.’ For many centuries they had been God’s special people. They had been called to be unto God ‘a kingdom of priests and an holy nation’ – a peculiar treasure unto God, composed of a priestly class and a chosen, holy people (Ex. 19:5,6). We do not understand that all Israel from the time of the giving of the law could have been of the heavenly Kingdom, however faithful they have been. None could be of this Kingdom class before Jesus came to earth; for He was the Forerunner of this class. The offer was made to the Jews of His day. But those of the nation who lived previously, and who had been faithful to God, true to their covenant, shall be greatly blessed of the Lord on the human plane. They shall be used to bless all nations under spiritual Israel – the Kingdom of God now being set up.
“God’s special favor to the people of natural Israel in choosing them above any other nation was especially because they were the seed of His faithful friend, Abraham. God had promised Abraham that because of his faith and obedience his seed should be blessed. It was not because they were of themselves holier or better than other peoples. (See Ex. 32:9‑13; Deut. 9:4‑8) But for their fathers’ sakes God chose them to be His people.
“At our Lord’s First Advent the time had come for the offer of membership in the Kingdom, for the testing of the whole nation of Israel, to prove whether they were ready for this choice blessing. Jesus was the One to offer this Kingdom; for He had consecrated Himself a sacrifice for sin, which would constitute a basis for the establishment of the Kingdom on earth.
TRUE AND FALSE IDEAS OF THE KINGDOM
“The sermon on the Mount, from which our text is taken, points out the earnestness and singleness of heart necessary in those who would become members of the Kingdom class. The Master intimates that not all of this favored nation who heard His message would be ready to accept it. Many were absorbed in the things of this life – in what they would eat, what they would drink, what they would wear. But in order to be ready to receive the proffered blessing, in order to be acceptable to God, they must make the Kingdom their first interest. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,’ enjoined the Savior, not the earthly things. If the Kingdom was made first, all their earthly needs would be supplied; ‘All things shall be added unto you,’ was His promise.
“Not many of the Jews were ready for so drastic a Teacher. They had their own plans – business plans, political plans, social functions. Hence this invitation of Jesus to leave all to obtain a Kingdom of which they knew nothing and which seemed so intangible did not find a very ready response. The twelve apostles were among the first to accept His offer. At the time of Jesus’ death, something over five hundred had joined themselves to Him as His disciples. Of these we are told that one hundred and twenty were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, where they received the begetting of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost some thousands of Jews came to the point of decision to make the Kingdom of God their first business. These, however, were but a small minority of the nation of Israel.” (Reprint 5917, 5918 top, July 1, 1916)
Nevertheless, there is still that promise of God to natural Israel that they will. become the foremost nation on earth. Pastor Russell gives a very beautiful picture in Volume 4:
“JEHOVAH’S FEET ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES (Zechariah 14:4,5)”
“This prophecy is generally misunderstood, and applied to the feet of our Lord Jesus, at His Second Advent. Indeed, those who thus err generally go farther and assert that it will be the feet of flesh, pierced with the nails of Calvary – not realizing that our Lord gave His human nature, complete and forever, as our ransom; and that He was raised from the dead, by the Father’s power, a glorious spirit‑being, the express image of the Father’s person. (See Volume 2, Chapter 5)
“But a glance at the preceding verse (3) shows that the Prophet speaks of the return of Jehovah’s feet; for the verse (referring to the trouble by which the Kingdom will be established) is: ‘Then shall Jehovah go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle (anciently for Israel]. And his feet will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be divided in its center, from east to west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove northward and half southward.’
“As soon as any see the fact that the feet mentioned are Jehovah’s feet, they will not dispute that this language is symbolic, and refers to the Lord’s re‑establishment of His dominion in the earth, that has long been comparatively abandoned to the ‘god of this world’ Satan, except as the Lord was represented first by the typical Tabernacle, secondly by the Temple at Jerusalem, and lastly by the present tabernacle condition of the Church of Christ, during this Gospel Age. Surely, no one will err and get the thought that Jehovah literally rests His feet upon this earth as a ‘footstool.’
“And if the placing and resting of Jehovah’s feet is symbolic, and signifies the return of Divine favor and dominion to earth, so, we may be sure, other features connected in the same prophecy are symbolic: the Mount of Olives, its peculiar division, its valley, the flight of the people, the waters of life from Jerusalem (Compare v. 8 with Ezek. 47:1‑9), etc., are all symbolic statements, pictures of grand spiritual truths.
“The olive is a meaningful symbol: in olden times it was the source of artificial light, its oil being generally used for this purpose (Ex. 27:20). Indeed, in the Hebrew the olive tree was called shemen or oil tree. Olive oil was also used as the basis of many of the precious ointments of olden time – such as that used in anointing the priests and kings, typing the Holy Spirit upon the antitypical ‘royal priesthood.’ (Ex. 30:25) And from time immemorial the olive branch has been used as a symbol of peace. (Gen. 8:11; Neh. 8:15)
“If then the olive be the symbol of light, peace and Divine blessing through the Holy Spirit, and if mountain be considered as elsewhere the symbol for a Kingdom, the significance here of the term Mount of Olives is easily seen to be the Kingdom of Light, Peace and Divine Blessing. And the standing or establishment or fixing of Jehovah’s ‘feet’ upon it, signifies that the Divine favor and law will be re‑established in the earth by and through the holy Kingdom.
“This application of the term Mount of Olives, is in full accord with Paul’s statement (Rom. 11:17,24) in which he compares Fleshly Israel with the original cultivated olive tree, and Gentile converts to wild olive branches grafted in where the natural branches had been broken off. (Compare Jer. 11:16,17) He explains that the root of the tree is in the promise of God, the Abrahamic promise, that the seed of Abraham should finally bless all the families of the earth, etc. Finally the same root or promise will bear two kinds of branches, the engrafted wild olive branches, and the re‑engrafted natural branches: when Israel shall have his blindness turned away, and shall look with the eye of faith on the Savior crucified and pierced eighteen centuries ago, a sacrifice for sin. We remember also that fleshly Israel was God’s typical Kingdom or mountain for a long time, and that spiritual Israel of this age is called to be the real Kingdom of God, as Jesus said ‘Fear not, Little Flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.’ (Luke 12:32)
“Further, from these two Kingdoms (even before Jehovah’s glory rests on them to make them His channels of blessings to all mankind) has proceeded all ‘the light of the world’ during all the darkness of the past: for are not these the representatives of the Old and the New Testaments, the two parts of the oath‑bound Covenant? Are not these related to the Lord’s two witnesses and to the two olive trees of Zech. 4:3,11,12, distinctly mentioned also in Rev. 11:4? – in that these two parts of the mountain symbolize the outcome of that covenant, the results of the witnessing – the Kingdom in its heavenly and its earthly phases?
“Here we see, then, that the two halves of the Mount of Olives mean the two parts of the Kingdom of God, distinctly separated according to a Divine order or arrangement. The separation indicates no opposition between the two parts of the Kingdom. It is, on the contrary, for the purpose of making the ‘Valley of Blessing’ between – to which all who desire Divine aid may flee and find succor under the blessed protection of both the heavenly and the earthly phases of the Kingdom.
“The Prophet David (Psa. 84) seems to have been given a foreview of this great ‘Valley of Blessings,’ close to Jehovah’s ‘feet,’ when he sings first of the saints of the Gospel Age and then of those blessed in the next Age, saying:
‘How lovely are thy dwelling places
0 Jehovah of Hosts!
My soul desired, yea, it even fainted
For the courts of Jehovah.
My heart and my flesh shout with joy
Unto the living God.
Even as the sparrow hath found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young: (so
I have found) thine altars, 0 Lord of Hosts,
My God, my King.
Happy are they that dwell in thy house:
They shall be continually praising Thee. Selah.
Happy is the man whose strong confidence is in thee,
Whose heart reflecteth (wholly)
On the paths of righteousness.
Passing through the valley of mourning,
They change it into a place of (joy) springs
[Valley of Blessings].
The Autumn rain brings them blessings [Joel 2:28]:
They go from strength to strength
That each of them may be presented (perfect)
Before God in Zion.’
“The 85th Psalm also pictures the return of Divine clemency and blessing under the Millennial Kingdom, the Olive Mountain (Kingdom) of two parts.
“The removal of one part of the mountain to the north and the other to the south is significant; the North is the direction of the Pleiades, the celestial center of the universe, the supposed seat of Divine empire. (See Vol. 3, p. 321) This would seem to indicate the ‘change’ of the Gospel Church at this time, from human to spirit conditions as ‘partakers of the Divine nature’; and the removal of the other half of the mountain would seem to signify the complete restitution, to perfect human conditions, of those Ancient Worthies accounted worthy to constitute the earthly representatives of God’s Kingdom.
“The valley thus produced would be one full of light – free from shadows: for the sun would stream through it from east to west. This speaks pictorially of the Sun of Righteousness and its full light of Divine truth and blessing scattering the shadows of sin, ignorance, superstition and death, and healing and restoring the willingly obedient of men who will flee to this valley of blessings, the valley of mercy. The valley of mercy, between and under the care of the spiritual and human phases of the Kingdom of Light and Peace (the standing of Jehovah’s feet) will surely be a ‘Valley of Blessings’ to all who enter it with broken and contrite hearts.
“We must recall, further, that while it is said to Israel only, ‘Ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains,’ yet as a name Israel meant ‘The people blessed of the Lord,’ ‘The people of God,’ ‘The Lord’s people.’ (2 Chron. 7:14) While, as we have seen, the first or spiritual blessing of the Kingdom shall come to spiritual Israel, and the second or earthly blessing shall begin with Israel according to the flesh, yet it will not stop there; for whosoever will may become an Israelite: by exercising the faith and obedience of Abraham, all mankind may become Israelites indeed, ‘the people of God.’ Hence the Prophet Isaiah declares that when Israel is called back to Divine favor, at the establishment of the Kingdom, it will include ‘Every one that is called by my (Jehovah’s) name: for I have created him for my glory; I have formed him, yea, I have made him.’ (The name Israel will then apply to all who are God’s people.) – Is. 43:7; Rom. 9:26,33; 10:13.” (Volume 4, pages 649‑654, 1897)
“Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” (Matt. 24:46,47)
(By John J. Hoefle)
STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN RUBIN MIMICS CLINTON’S WISHY‑WASHY POSTURE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
The noted Israeli media‑researcher analyst, David S. Bedein, has given the world an illuminating picture of what really took place at the Shepherdstown, West Virginia talks, revealing the political weakness of the State Department, Spokesman, James Rubin.
This close aide of Secretary of State Albright, throughout the interview by Bedein, appears to mimic President Clinton’s dubious and somewhat biased policy relative to the Israel Arab conflict.
In a feature article appearing in a recent issue of Midstream Magazine, entitled, An Insider’s Report from Shepherdstown, author Bedein – who is bureau chief of Israel Research News Agency – speaks out:
“At first glance, it would seem that the U.S. and Israel express common concerns about the ‘peace process.’ They even use the same terms and definitions on the elements of an accord: ‘cessation of hostilities,’ ‘concern for human rights,’ and facilitating an atmosphere for peace and mutual recognition.’ Yet what these platitudes mean to Israelis and to Americans is another and more complex matter.
“For example, there are 35,000 Syrian troops in southern Lebanon providing protection for Lebanese Hizbullah terrorists, who, from their strongholds, regularly attack civilian targets in Israel.
“Israel has long demanded that Syria close down this organization whose openly avowed purpose is the ‘liberation’ of Jerusalem and all of Palestine – that is, the destruction of Israel. Israel also demands that Syria disarm and disband 10 renegade PLO groups operating in Damascus, that even the U.S. Department places on the list of terror organizations.
“At Shepherdstown, when I asked James Rubin, U.S. State Department spokesman, if the U.S. would support these demands, Rubin replied that the Syrians should merely ‘restrain’ those terrorist bands. When I presented Rubin with the fact that the 10 PLO terror factions that they would continue their activities, the State Department spokesman responded with a prediction that the terrorist would transfer themselves into non‑violent political organizations and abandon the path of terror. Rubin could not offer any evidence to support this optimism.
“Another issue of passionate concern to Israelis is the cruel fate of three Israeli soldiers, one of whom is an American citizen, taken into captivity in Syria in 1982. Since that time, Syria has refused any information about them, either to their families or to the Red Cross. At ‘Shepherdstown’, I asked the U.S. State Department spokesman whether the U.S. would support Israel’s demand for the immediate release of these three men. His response was limited to expressing hope that the Syrians would be ‘helpful’ in the matter.
“For many years, international human rights organizations have been insisting‑that Syria should be held accountable for the crimes against humanity committed by its despotic regime. Even during a week of peace talks, President Assad ordered the arrest of hundreds of people identified as his opposition and ordered at least one opposition leader to be executed.
“At Shepherdstown, I raised this subject with the U.S. State Department spokesman, asking whether the American government would insist on including the matter of human rights and civil liberties reform on the agenda of the current peace talks. He would say no more than to respond that the U.S. supports human rights and civil liberties everywhere, including in Syria. He ignored my specific question, which was whether human rights and civil liberties would be brought up for discussion in one of the working groups that have been established to implement the accords.
“That same State Department spokesman, James Rubin, was also asked about the negative attitudes toward the peace process in the Syrian news media, which remains under the total control of the Syrian government. I asked if the U.S. would request the Syrian government to issue a call for peace in the Arabic language to the Syrian people.
“Rubin professed he was not aware of any problem in the Syrian media. At a later press conference, that same spokesman suggested that there were some expressions of peaceful intent in the Syrian media.
“Since our news agency monitors the Syrian media, and since we have not encountered any such conveyance of peace in the Syrian media, I asked the spokesman at the next press conference if he could provide any specific examples of calls for peace and reconciliation in the Syria media. He could not think of any nor could he provide any examples of expressions of peace in the Syrian press.”
(By David Horowitz, The Jewish Press, June 2, 2000)
MY 50TH ANNIVERSARY PILGRIMAGE TO THE PROMISED LAND
Elva Lanowick, widow of the late staunch Zionist, Casimir, is loved as one of the greatest non‑Jewish champions of Israel and the Jewish people. She recalled her first visit to the new state a half century ago and found that Israel continues as a Biblical miracle of love, growth and expansion in the face of political difficulties, including the latest, abrupt withdrawal from Southern Lebanon.
Lanowick believes in Biblical prophecy – as do most of the millions of Christians around the world, and the UN members representing the Western world’s three basic faiths, two of which sprang from Judaism. Lady Lanowick’s personal report is well worth citing as a historic document:
“Now I’m happy to try to convey to you a thorough account of my 50th anniversary pilgrimage to the Land of Promise. No, I should not say ‘thorough’ because such a journal would be extremely long.
“Yes, it was really 50 years ago that I first stepped on the soil of Israel, and, oh, how it has changed since then, mostly for the better, much better.
“We got into bumper‑to‑bumper traffic, on the divided highway that took us most of the way, first north then east toward Tiberias. Even though only 25 percent of the Israelis own automobiles, there are lots of buses and trucks, too. It was dark by the time we pulled up in front of the Bausch residence, situated on a relatively quiet street just off the main highway leading down to the center of Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee.
“I don’t need to tell most of you who know Lev and Hava, how very warmly we were received.
“Even though Israel has not had sufficient rainfall this past season, it did get enough to make the Golan Heights a rich green, dotted with the lovely brilliant‑red anemones that we call poppies. Any number of Scriptures say that G‑d gave this area to half the tribe of Manasseh. It is called Bashan in the Bible. The Golan Heights are strategic uplands where large herds of cattle graze on the green plains, cowboys ride horses, with dense oak forests and an abundance of water everywhere.
“Before 1967, this plateau served as a huge Syrian military base from which Israel was harassed, threatened and attacked. Now the Heights are the home of 19,500 Jews, living in 32 villages and one town, Katzrin, plus 17,000 Druze. The Golan’s agricultural yield is the highest of Israel; its wines rank among the finest in the world and win prizes even in France.
“I need not tell you that the Golan is a bone of contention between Israel and Syria and that even the Israeli population is divided on whether or not to return it to Syria. The latest polls indicate that the majority are in favor of keeping the Golan. Sources have said that Prime Minister Barak is willing to agree to a plan President Clinton has secretly orchestrated that would give Syria complete control of the Golan Heights, rights to the Sea of Galilee, and economic aid. But Barak has agreed to put the matter to a referendum vote in Israel.
“Some three weeks later, when I was in the Negev with Lev and Hava, we saw many young Israelis standing at road intersections in the dark of night, holding torches and signs calling for Israel not to give up the Golan. In fact, these young Israelis were at every major intersection in Israel.
“Space does not permit going into this matter at greater length, except to say that President Assad of Syria has rejected the latest proposal put forth by President Clinton. It brings to mind a lucid explanation of the Arab mentality I heard Lev explain one evening to some guests. He reminded them that he and Hava had worked with Arabs for ten years at the Peniel Guest House and had therefore learned much about how the Arabs think. He said that the most important quality to an Arab is pride – more valued by them than truth or justice. So, President Assad seems to wrestle with his pride.
“Listening to Lev that evening made me understand all the more what an asset he and Hava are to Israel. Their experience and their insight qualify them for enlightening many of their guests about the issues in Israel and, most importantly, about the Biblical background and the Biblical promises to Israel. Lev reminded us that G‑d does not work beyond the bounds of justice, and so, even from a secular viewpoint, Israel has justice on it side.”
(By David Horowitz, The Jewish Press, June 16, 2000)
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION – Do you believe the Jubilee antitype began in 1874?
ANSWER – We don’t worry about the Jubilee day, as it is a 1000‑year day, and we will know at that time whether 1874 was the right date. Brother Russell gave us many dates in harmony with Bible chronology: He gave us 1874 as the beginning of the Second Advent which many Bible Students accepted as they were watching and not sleeping, and the times revealed it. We believe the Harvest Work then began. The message of Psalm 50:5 was given to Brother Russell: “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Brother Russell and his faithful followers gathered “together” all the saints as they had a special duty to perform: the “Smiting of the Nations as given in Reprint 5632, February 15, 1915, This was the first time all the saints were gathered together during the Gospel Age. Before the Harvest the saints were in all denominations until God spewed them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16).
The “gathering of the saints” was one of That Servant’s first arrangements during the Harvest. Like the Apostle Paul who said “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) Brother Russell knew too it was his duty to “declare unto you all the counsel of God.” He then gave us a fourth elect class, an unbegotten class, in Reprint 5761 under THOSE CONSECRATING BETWEEN THE AGES. He says, “Any afterward [after the door to the High Calling is closed] coming to God in consecration, before the inauguration of the restitution work... such would come under the same condition as the Ancient Worthies.” We call this unbegotten class Youthful Worthies in contrast with Ancient Worthies. We have four Scriptures which give four elect classes. We will give you the one given by the Apostle Paul which gives four elect classes and the restitution class that are saved (2 Timothy 2:20).
QUESTION – Was Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, an Ancient Worthy?
ANSWER – So far as we know, this question never came up under Brother Russell; otherwise we would quote his opinion rather than our answer. There is nothing in the records to tell us whether Joseph was alive or dead when Jesus died, but the commentators infer that he was dead; otherwise Jesus would not have given the Apostle John the custody of His mother. Since Joseph was faithful in all the Lord told him to do, caring for Mary until Jesus was born, then caring for Jesus until He became the anointed One – Jesus Christ – Jesus would not have ignored His stepfather to give John the custody of His mother. The Jewish family arrangement was a very strong one; thus, Jesus would hardly have told Mary to leave her husband, and make her home with John.
Matthew 1:19 says Joseph was “a just man”; and this identical expression was given concerning Cornelius (Acts 10:22). Galatians 3:11 and Rom. 1:17 tell us that the “just shall live by faith”; and it would seem that Joseph lived by faith. According to Acts 24:15, which uses the same Greek word dikaios translated just, then he would receive “a better resurrection” – the resurrection of “the just.” He had the supreme privilege of caring for the boy Jesus; and this in itself was a great honor. Joseph believed God, and Gal. 3:6 says “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”