“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” (Rev. 1:13-16)
“The Finished Mystery” an ersatz 7th volume of “Studies in the Scriptures” attributed to Pastor Russell and published after his death by the cabal who took over the Bible House and later renamed themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses. They quote from page 345 of the 1916 Watch Tower but that quote does not exist in the Reprints. The quote below, however, is on Page 19 of the volume above mentioned and attributed to Pastor Russell. We have no quarrel with it because it fits exactly our own understanding of the text.
“This One whom we thus know, thus recognize, as the Instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, we are also to recognize as having in his right hand, in His favor as well as His power; seven stars, the angels, the messengers, of the seven churches. That they are in His right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master’s guidance, protection and care in the interest of the Churches which they represented.”
However, the book then goes on to name the “seven stars” as St. Paul, St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, Luther and Russell. This part of the book is not from Brother Russell, but is the private interpretation of the writers of the book which we believe is contrary to sound Bible analysis. We disagree also with most of their time predictions, because time itself has demonstrated them to have been nothing more than the imagination of the writers of the book – a sure proof that they were not qualified to write the book at all; and anything they have presented which is not directly from Brother Russell should be given very careful scrutiny. As instance, they say: “The chronology as it appears in the Studies in the Scriptures is accurate.” With this statement we fully agree, but the Witnesses themselves (those claiming to be the “channel” for Divine Truth at the time they wrote the book) are now in complete disagreement with their own teaching in 1917; and we simply offer these few conclusions as an introduction to our own analysis of the “seven stars,” etc.
In Rev. 12:1, it is stated, “the woman [the true Church] had upon her head a crown of twelve Stars.” That these “twelve stars” are the twelve Apostles needs no elaboration; but we direct attention to the fact that there is just nothing in the statement to indicate that “star differeth from star in glory” – the twelve in the picture appear as equals. And the statement by Jesus to all twelve of them confirms this: “He that heareth you heareth Me”; they all received the miraculous gifts of the Spirit; they all were empowered to “bind and loose” on earth as occasion might require. Therefore, if the “star” to the Church at Ephesus contained more than one individual, we should be warranted in believing the six succeeding “stars” to those six churches of the Age would also have more than one individual in them.
It is our understanding that the “seven stars” are the same as the seven “angels” (messengers) of Revelation Two and Three; they are the same as the “seven shepherds” of Micah 5:5; and they are the same as the “seven pipes” and the “seven eyes” of Zech. 4:2 and 4:10. Rev. 1:20 directly states “The seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches.” The Bible seldom uses different words just to be different; there is usually a specific meaning in the different words used, and this seems to be true here. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write.” (Rev. 2:1) This might be better stated, “Unto the angel of the church for Ephesus write.” The message to be given was not for the individual benefit of the star who delivered it; it was rather “for” that Messenger at that particular time to deliver to the church. As the “seven shepherds” of Micah 5:5, these same persons would guard and protect the sheep – “take heed unto all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers.” As the “seven pipes” of Zech. 4:2 they were the channel through which the Holy Spirit was administered to the Church; and as the “seven eyes” they were God’s watchmen – “I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel” (Ezek. 3:17), “The watchmen shall …see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” (Isa. 52:8)
As the “seven stars” those shepherds of the sheep not only gave enlightenment to the Church during the night of sin and death, but they also gave a measure of light to the Christian world in general – “you appear as luminaries in the world” (Phil. 2:15, Dia.). Some of these “luminaries,” such as the Apostles, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and a few others, stand out prominently in the pages of history; but many of them have received only passing notice in the records. We instance particularly Arius, of whom many in the Christian world have never heard at all; yet he is probably one of the very brightest of them all, aside from the Apostles. We give just one example: When he was at the Council of Nice in 325 defending the Truth that there is but “one God,” he was overwhelmingly outnumbered by the bishops assembled from the then Christian world. Yet one of those opposing him shouted forth during the heated debate: This man has the populace so stirred up that if you go into a store and ask the price of bread, the answer you get back from the clerk is, The Father is superior to the Son; the Son is inferior to the Father.
While there is little mention made of him today, it is clear enough that Arius was “a burning and a shining light.” A true “luminary” in 325; and this, and similar incidents concerning the other “stars” gives us a more vivid conception of Jesus’ words concerning all the fully faithful, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43) Eventually, when the lives and works of such “stars” are skillfully written by capable writers during the Kingdom reign, we can see how the words of Jesus will then be fully understood and appreciated. But considering now the Laodicean Star, it is our understanding it contained two members, the first of whom we discuss as:
THE PAROUSIA MESSENGER
This is the title we offer for Brother Russell because he officiated during the small Parousia from 1874 to 1914, and because he made crystal clear the meaning of the Greek Parousia – as PRESENCE, and not COMING, as it is generally given in the King James translation. Once that became clear to him, it began to sweep away many of the accumulated errors of the past, leading directly to his understanding of the 16th Chapter of Leviticus, the same being a concise picture of the entire Atonement, which culminates in “the restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21)
It is pertinent to our subject to consider here Micah 5:5 as it pertains to Brother Russell. “When the Assyrian shall come into our land [The Assyrians were a very warlike and destructive people, well portraying the errorists of this Gospel Age], and when he shall tread in our palaces [by devastating the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth among God’s true people], then shall we raise up against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.” The fact that there are “eight principal men” among the “seven shepherds” is additional proof that the seven shepherds were composite groups, and not individuals.
If we view the Bible as the origin of all spiritual Truth, then we must admit that it came first of all. But if we consider those who have vitiated its teachings (the antitypical Assyrians, the errorists, and then it is clear that the error came first. With the Lord sending deliverance through His stars, angels (messengers), eyes, shepherds and eight principal men – who have “wasted the land of Assyria with the sword” (Micah 15:6) the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of Truth. If we consider Brother Russell as the seventh one of those eight principal men to appear on the Gospel-Age stream of time, all of us who are familiar with his teachings must admit that he did wield the “sword of the spirit” most mightily against the accumulated errors of the past.
It had been prophetically stated of him “I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:5); and his true calculation of the chronology, with 1914 as the end of the Gentile Times, put the finger of identification upon him as a prophet who had spoken in the name of the Lord. He had predicted the outbreak of a world war by the fall of 1914; and this had received
much ridicule from his enemies, who had contended that civilization had advanced much too far to allow of such a conflict. We have been told that when the Gideon’s had their convention in Toronto in 1913 they there openly stated that such an expectation was simply beyond belief, what with the advances in science, medicine, art and culture that had been experienced in this generation. But when the war came exactly on time many of his critics openly confessed that he had indeed spoken the truth, and should receive due recognition for it.
But here we concern ourselves mainly with two of his teachings that still vitally concern us – Tabernacle Shadows and his refutation of Combinationism as it appeared in the Chicago Parliament of World Religions in 1893. When the Parousia Messenger began his ministry, the erroneous doctrine of eternal torment as the wages of sin was so deeply entrenched that it was generally considered sacrilege to gainsay it. Many were the prominent and forceful orators who appeared as evangelists in their crusades to save the poor sinner from such an awful fate, so that Brother Russell was faced with what seemed an impossible assignment. This is so graphically revealed in Judges 6:5 and 7:12: “The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seaside for multitude.”
And against this portentous force Gideon was arrayed with his band of 300 – outnumbered by probably more than a thousand to one. This was precisely the situation when Brother Russell began his attacks on human immortality, the consciousness of the dead and eternal torment as the wages of sin. His most popular public discourse was, Where Are The Dead, which always included a good exposition on Restitution. When he sent out brethren from Bethel for Sunday discourses he always urged them to include a good portion of their public discourse on Restitution; and he occasionally remarked to brethren, “That’s the subject!” when he was to speak on Where Are The Dead.
He kept steadfastly at the subject and its pertinent errors, so that he was able to see certain victory ahead by the time he had finished his ministry. By 1916 it was considered by many intellectuals as a distinct mark of ignorance on the part of those who still regarded eternal torment as the wages of sin. This is probably best stated by repeating what Pilgrim Brother Sidney Morton once told us: He was spending some time at Bethel – as all the pilgrims occasionally did. Brother Russell wanted all the brethren to keep abreast of current events, so he appointed two or three to peruse the leading newspapers each day, and give a resume at the dining room table. This saved the remaining brethren from spending valuable time with the newspapers. On one occasion, one of the reviewers began to read:
There is a man in our town
Who thinks he’s wondrous wise;
He fell into a bramble bush
That put out both his eyes.
There were several similar stanzas, and Brother Russell was beginning to show his annoyance at what seemed to be pretty much on the vaudeville side of things, when the final lines were read:
There is a man in our town
Whose name I need not tell;
I’m sure you all must know him,
For he put the fires out of Hell.
Certainly, Brother Russell was the “principal man” of God’s Household in his day; he was the “angel” (messenger) to the Church in Laodicea; he had a message to deliver and he delivered it with telling force – until the very day his Great Captain finally said to him, It is enough! But his ministry brought upon him the most vicious attacks from the brightest lights of Satan; and they were legion. When they could not gainsay or resist the Truth he preached, they devised the most vicious sort of slander against him – he was grossly immoral, a thing he could deny, but he could not disprove; and the human mind being as it is today, the advantage was with the slanderers. Many were ready enough to believe the evil side of things. Others referred to him as “That braying Balaam’s Ass!” Here was indeed the antitype of Jeremiah’s being “let down in the dungeon... where there was no water [truth], but mire [filthy words].” (Jer. 38:6) All of this he took in stride, being mindful of Jesus’ words: “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His Household?” (Matt. 10:25) The Lord Himself had called him “blessed”; and this more than compensated for the slanders hurled at him by “the workers of iniquity.” (Psa. 37:1)
He was adamant against the Combinationist sifters, which sifting had become prominent at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Combinationism takes the position that it matters not what one believes so long as he is sincere in his belief. In that Convention in Chicago such an attitude tended to place all the assembled heathen dignitaries on equality with Christian ideals. And it might be observed that the quality of Christianity that was displayed at that Convention by some in attendance tended to confirm such a conclusion. In fact, some of the heathen were heard to remark that they thought they should be coming to America to convert us to their ways and beliefs, instead of us sending missionaries to them to charge their ideals.
Combinationism is Scriptural fornication – a combining of forbidden things. It finds its type in Num. 25:1-18, where some of the Jews were engaging in illicit union with the heathen round about in direct violation of the sixth Commandment. St. Paul pinpoints this situation in 1 Cor. 10:8: “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” And in vs. 11 he states that those things happened to them “as types” and “are written for our [special] admonition and learning, upon whom the ends of the Ages are come.” Being in the closing “end” of the Gospel Age and the opening “end” of the Millennial Age (the “ends” of the Ages), St. Paul’s admonition is specially for our benefit in this day, although it was also true in the closing of the Jewish Age and the beginning of the Gospel Age, when Paul wrote about it.
Brother Russell was rigidly opposed to Combinationism, and he made his stand known in no uncertain terms. In this he is individually typed by Phinehas (Num. 25:7, 8), who was the chief under priest at that time. Certainly, those of us who are familiar with the history of the Harvest will offer no argument against the conclusion that Brother Russell was decidedly the chief under priest in God’s Household during his ministry. Phinehas means “brazen mouth”; and those of us who know the record know there was never any compromise of principles by Brother Russell; and it was his unyielding stand against the Combinationist sifters that revealed him as “That Servant” of Matt. 25:46 for the first time to the brethren generally. For his uncompromising adherence to the “rules” many today still pray, God bless his memory. But this becomes only an empty and meaningless expression if we fail to follow the grand ideals he left. He was indeed that wonderful “man of God” and “example of and to the believers.” And with Combinationism everywhere rampant today, we do well to take heed to ourselves lest we also fall under its deceptive lures.
To start from nothing against tremendous odds – as evidence the case of Gideon with his 300 – and to achieve the success he did required remarkable ability. It could be said of him that he was versatile, efficient and immensely capable in whatever manner he applied himself. One outstanding business man once remarked that his services would be worth $2,000,000 per year to any corporation large enough to afford that kind of help. Another man once remarked to him, Pastor Russell, you have put the standard of Christian living entirely too high. His answer: I didn’t put it there, Brother; the Lord did.
While his great ability was essential to his ministry, another item contributed much to his success. When he appeared upon the scene there were many in the various systems who were longing for reform – “men in the midst of the City who sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done there.” (Ezek. 9:4) Thus, there were some who were not only ready to hear him, but they also joined enthusiastically with him in the work. Over a period of time, he attracted to himself quite a number of the best minds in Christendom; and it is elemental to the success of any enterprise that their organizers surround him with capable assistants. This That Servant did; and, following St. Paul’s counsel to “prefer one another in honor,” he freely delegated authority to any who showed the capacity to act accordingly. In this also he was a noble “example of the believers.” But he continued only to promote them so long as they also were uncompromising to principle and fundamental doctrines of the Bible. All during his ministry his shibboleth was, “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sin, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) He was a determined and unyielding foe to Combinationism to the end of his ministry.
When That Servant appeared on the scene all of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible except Restitution – were being taught in some section of Christendom; but all of them were either directly cumbered with some error, or were not clearly understood by those attempting to teach them. Before he had finished, every one of those doctrines, including Restitution, had been relieved of all rubbish, and had been made crystal clear. This was foretold in Mal. 3:1-3: “The Messenger of the Covenant... shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” The word ‘purifier’ in this text would be better rendered ‘polisher’; and who of us will not admit that That Servant did ‘Polish’ the Truth (silver) in admirable brilliance! And in doing this, he never resorted to the tricks of oratory. There were better orators than he, but certainly no better preachers. And in him was a living proof of our Lord’s sure words, “I will give you a mouth [eloquence] and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” (Luke 21:15) Every one that “was of the Truth” heard his voice gladly.
He was engaged in “the good fight” until the very day he died; and it could be said of him as one historian wrote about Martin Luther: He fell peacefully asleep in Jesus. “Them that honor Me, I will honor, saith the Lord”; and the Lord did honor him greatly. And if we wish to honor him, we can do so in no better way than to adhere to and uphold that Truth that was so dear to him. As Jesus said of Himself: “He who has My commandments [the Truth] and observes them, that is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21, Dia.) It is our hope and prayer that this brief review may prove a rich blessing to all our readers as we approach now the 96th anniversary of That Servant’s death.
THE EPIPHANY MESSENGER
The second member of the Laodicean Star was Brother Paul S. L. Johnson, whom we style the Epiphany Messenger because he clarified the Epiphany as an act and as a period of time in a manner never before done by anyone else – so far as we know. He clearly demonstrated from the Scriptures that the Epiphany would follow the small Parousia, and would be the last period of the Gospel Age, that this special period would manifest persons, principles and things with brilliance before unknown. Of course, That Servant had predicted there would be an Epiphany following the small Parousia, which would begin when the Time of Trouble would begin (See Reprints p. 2979) – but he gave no elaborate details about it, although what he did say formed the foundation for what the Epiphany Messenger wrote about it.
While the Greek Epiphaneia occurs six times in the New Testament, we here select only two texts as pointedly pertinent to our present discussion. In 2 Tim. 4:1 it is stated that “the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and kingdom.” The general concept throughout Christendom is that the “quick” in this text means those human beings still alive, and the “dead” are those in the tomb; but That Servant properly defined these classes as those quickened by the Holy Spirit and the fallen angels, with the dead including all other human beings – whether in the tomb or out of it; that is, those “dead in trespasses and sins.” “God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the [dead] world,” that “day” being the 1000-year day of His reign – a time that was future when Paul wrote, and is still future for the great mass of persons, although the foundation for its operation began to be laid in 1874. But “the quick” were to be judged in His Epiphaneia. Thus, the text would be more clearly expressed in this manner: He shall judge the quick at His Epiphaneia, and the dead at His Basileia (Kingdom).
The various features of these great accomplishments by the Lord were given in lucid detail by the Epiphany Messenger. And the second text to have our attention is 2 Thes. 2:8 (Diaglott): “Then will be revealed the lawless one (whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of His mouth, and annihilate by the appearing of His presence).” “The appearing of His presence” is literally, “the Epiphaneia of His Parousia.” The Epiphaneia (bright shining as an act and as a period of time) has been gradually eroding the very foundation stones of the Man of Sin’s structure, until today it is visibly falling over. But it has not yet fully done so, so we have here a sure proof that we must yet be in the Epiphany, and that this period will continue until the “annihilation” is fully accomplished. This feat is much nearer than many suppose; and it is our intention to say much more about it in the near future.
Another feature of this period, according to That Servant, would be to reveal those who have built their “house upon the Rock” and those who have built their “house upon the sand.” (Luke 6:48,49) So long as this revealing has not yet been fully accomplished, we have here another proof that we must now still be in the Epiphany. But the Epiphany is definitely a time of separating, and a time of combining. Of His Parousia our Lord had foretold: “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares [combine them], and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13:30) Clearly enough, from this text Combinationism would be rampant before the harvest had been completed; and it offers explanation as to why both members of the Laodicean Star were so emphatic in their denun-ciation of it, and their warning for the faithful to have none of it.
The Epiphany Messenger had emphasized that the Gospel Age would be repeated here in the Epiphany on a small scale insofar as the Truth is concerned. The chief culprit of the Gospel Age in overthrowing the Truth has been the Man of Sin (Papacy), that system having perverted or coun-terfeited every important feature of the Great Plan of the Ages. And in this Epiphany the Little Man of Sin (the Society, the self-styled “Channel”) has done the same thing with every important feature of the Harvest Truth. Most of our readers know too, how determined was the Epiphany Messenger in exposing the errors of That Evil Servant and his cohorts in the Society.
Tabernacle Shadows was basic for a proper understanding of the Harvest Truth; and Brother Russell himself said that the Six Volumes of Studies in the Scriptures all had their origin in that book. The Epiphany Messenger elaborated considerably on that contention, and emphasized that every important feature of God’s Plan was revealed in the typical Tabernacle that Moses constructed. But hardly had That Servant been buried before the Society editors began to demolish the Tabernacle teachings, which brought forth determined exposures by the Epiphany Messenger that eventually caused them to abandon the Tabernacle completely. The heat of exposure became more than they could bear. The Epiphany Messenger contended – very logically – that if Tabernacle Shadows were basic for the Parousia Truth, it must also be basic for the Epiphany Truth; it was the foundation stones, and any superstructure must therefore be built upon that solid foundation.
Thus, it became his privilege, and duty, to defend almost every feature of the Harvest Truth – just as the Gospel-Age reformers were compelled to defend every feature of God’s Plan against the encroaching errors of the Man of Sin. This embroiled all of them in constant warfare – even as their Captain had also been involved in much controversy during His stay on earth. This caused resentment on the part of many who had once been his bosom brethren; and “they walked with him no more.” And many of those who resented him became ready candidates for the evil of Combinationism.
Combinationism is an illicit union or cooperation of God’s people with persons, principles, things and practices not fully approved by God. Examples of it are evident in the union of church and state (probably the worst form of it), of denominations with denominations, of uncleansed Levite movements with other uncleansed Levite movements, of Christian people with religious-secret-societies, of Christendom generally with heathenism. Of all the movements that originated from the Parousia Messenger’s organization, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been among the most rigid against actually combining with other movements; but they have also been probably the most remiss of all of them in adopting the methods of those people they studiously avoid in actual contact.
After the death of Pastor Russell, J. F. Rutherford decided to ‘modernize’ the organization he had formed, and he introduced a sales campaign to distribute their literature after the same pattern used by business organizations to sell their products. Lest we be misunderstood, we find no fault with secular businesses using their advertising and sales ingenuity to dispose of their wares, so long as they adhere to the Truth; but the use of such methods to disseminate Christian principles, literature, etc., is violently contrary to the high ideals given by Jesus in the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew. Nor would the Parousia Messenger adopt their technique. But J. F. Rutherford had some seasoned business salesmen in his group, and these he persuaded to go from city to city to teach their sales technique toward the sale of his literature. The ideals of his adherents immediately began to decline – until now the high ideals of the Parousia Messenger, based upon sound Bible principles, and are almost completely gone from his group.
In a very short time, the Epiphany Messenger – who had a strong love for the Parousia Messenger and the ideals he had established – saw the trend of things, and objected so strenuously that a complete and irreparable separation resulted within a matter of months. Others joined themselves to him through the same motives – although the great majority, many of them not too well grounded in the Parousia Truth, remained with the Society. And in a very few years those who remained were so engulfed with the spirit of Combinationism in practice that the Parousia ideals were a lost asset. In much lesser degree, the same thing has resulted in the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, which is the organization founded by the Epiphany Messenger – not by R. G. Jolly as reported in the Trinidad newspaper last March. We ourselves say, God bless the memory of both Messengers, as we seek to “continue in the things we have been taught” by the both of them; and we abide in the conclusion of Solomon: “Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.” (Prov. 17:1)
A fitting conclusion to the foregoing is to be found in Parousia Vol. 6, p. 658: “The Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—is the only offensive armor of the Lord’s little band. The Captain prevailed in His ‘good fight’ against the Adversary, saying, ‘It is written’; and this is the battle-cry of His followers. Others than the true soldiers have fought for the Lord with carnal weapons, and with human philosophies and worldly wisdom and organization (the methods used by the Society and the LHMM, as stated above—JJH), and decrees of councils and synods
and presbyteries, but we must depend in the struggle of this ‘evil day’ upon the Word of God — ‘It is written.’ We must use no darts like Satan’s – anger, malice, hatred, strife. And ‘the Sword of the Spirit’ can only be possessed by careful study and leading of the Spirit after consecration, after enlistment in this army.”
And to the foregoing, we would add another paragraph from Parousia Vol. 2, p. 361: “We desire again to impress our readers with the fact that Papacy is the Antichrist, not because of its moral obliquity, but because it is the counterfeit of the true Christ and the true Kingdom. It is because of a failure to realize this fact that many Protestants will be deceived into cooperation with Papacy in opposition to the true King of Glory.”
The above was written over 100 years ago, but it has the ring of yesterday; and persuades us all the more in our conviction that the Parousia Messenger was indeed “the prophet unto the nations,” and that he was That Wise and Faithful Servant of Matt. 24:45. It should also now be given its true evaluation by all who “have an ear to hear what the spirit sayeth unto the Church” at this very time; and to avoid Combinationism for the evil that it is lest we “receive of her plagues.”
“We are a sweet odor of Christ to God... not like the many, which adulterate and negotiate the Word of God for their own lucre and advantage; but really from sincerity, and as from God, in the presence of God, we speak concerning Christ.” (2 Cor. 2:15-17, Diaglott footnote.)
(Brother John J. Hoefle, No. 566, October 2004)
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