Even though Christmas day is not
the real anniversary of our Lord’s birth, but more properly an annunciation day
or date of His human begetting (Luke 1:28), nevertheless, since the celebration
of our Lord’s birth is not a matter of Divine appointment or injunction, but
merely a tribute of respect to Him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly
about the date. We can join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand
event on the day which the majority celebrates “Christmas Day.” The lesson for
the occasion is a most happy choice, fitting well to the series of lessons it
“THE PRINCE OF PEACE”
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (Isa. 9:6,7)
The standpoint of the Prophet in Isaiah 9:2-7 is the dawn of the Millennial Age, and in v. 2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” The reference here is to the world of mankind, all of whom will at that time recognize the presence of the Lord and His Kingdom established; for it is written that “every eye shall see him.” (Rev. 1:7) The world that has walked in the darkness of ignorance and superstition for six thousand years will then begin to see the glorious light of truth and righteousness, and in the earthly phase of the Kingdom they will see the grand illustrations and rewards of righteousness.
Though they dwell in the land of the shadow of death (i.e., fleshly Israel under the condemnation of their Law Covenant), “a light shineth brightly over them.” Yes, the light will shine with special brilliancy upon fleshly Israel: then their blindness will be turned away and the favors of the new dispensation will again be “of the Jew first and also [afterward] of the Gentile” (Rom. 2:10); and through the secondary instrumentality of the fleshly seed of Abraham shall all the nations of the world be blessed. The Ancient Worthies of that nation will be the visible rulers of the world, and their new work will begin at Jerusalem, bringing order out of confusion, peace out of discord and making Jerusalem a praise in the whole world. It was with reference to this that the Prophet wrote again, saying: “Arise, give light, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is shining forth over thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people; but over thee the Lord will shine forth, and his glory will be seen over thee. And nations shall walk by thy light, and kings by the brightness of thy shining... And the sons of the stranger shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee.” (Isa. 60:1-3, 10)
“Thou hast multiplied the nation [Israel – a reference to their gathering together again as a nation after the long dispersion of nearly two thousand years as fugitives among all the nations: and also to their reinforcement by the resurrection of their Ancient Worthies and heroes], made great their joy: they rejoice before thee as with joy in harvest, as men are glad when they divide the spoil.” (Isa. 9:3) Such, indeed, will be the joy of Israel when the blessings of their restoration to Divine favor begin to be realized.
“For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor [the heavy burdens of oppression imposed upon them and the persecutions inflicted by their Gentile enemies during the long period of their blindness and exile], as in the day of Midian” (Isa. 9:4) ─ when a great victory was won for them by Gideon’s little band of 300 under the Lord’s direction, without bloodshed and without strife. (Judges 7:1-23) Even so shall it be when the Lord shall again fight for Israel; it will not be by their own power that the victory of the final battle will be secured. (See Ezek. 38:11, 15, 23 – also compare verse 4 with Ezek. 39:8-15)
Isaiah 9:6: Why is all this return of Divine favor to Israel? Is it because of worthiness in them? Surely not; for to this day they are a stiff-necked people, and their blindness and hardness of heart continue, although we are within only a few more years of the time all these things shall be fulfilled. The reason for it is that the Lord hath remembered His Covenant with their fathers (Lev. 26:42, 45; Jer. 31:34), and that in fulfilment of that Covenant a child has been born unto them who was destined to be a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Israel; and now (at the time indicated in the prophecy) “the government is placed upon his shoulders.” Dimly this light of the world shone upon Israel at the First Advent of Messiah; but when “the light shineth in darkness, the darkness comprehended it not.”(John 1:5) “He came unto his own, but his own received him not.” (John 1:11) It is only at the Second Advent that they recognize Him as the promised seed of Abraham and their long-looked for Messiah. “They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him.” (Zech. 12:10)
“And his name is called Wonderful [What a wonder indeed to Israel specially, that the despised Nazarene, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, whom they hated and crucified and reviled, even to this day, was indeed their Messiah, and they knew Him not. What a wonder, too, to them specially, will be the forgiving love that so meekly bore their reproaches and sacrificed even unto death to redeem them from the curse of the Law, and that now returns to restore and bless them! What wonderful, wonderful love, wonderful condescend-sion and grace, and wonderful exaltation and glory and power!], Counsellor [not counsellor of the mighty God, as some translators rendered it; for Paul significantly inquires concerning Jehovah, “Who hath been his counsellor?” (Rom. 11:34) He needed no counsellor, but poor fallen humanity does need such a wise counsellor, and He will teach them and they shall walk in His ways. (Isa. 2:3)] The mighty God [“a Savior and a great one” (Isa. 19:20)], The Everlasting Father [the new life-giver to our dead race – the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)], The Prince of Peace [whose glorious reign shall be one of righteousness, bringing with it all the blessed fruits of righteousness – peace and joy and satisfaction and everlasting rest].” (Isa 9:6)
And in verse 7 of Isaiah, Chapter 9: His dominion shall increase until all things are subdued under Him. It shall extend, not only to the ends of the earth, but eventually all things in heaven and in earth are to be united under His headship as the representative of Jehovah, who would have all men honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. (Psa. 72:7; Eph. 1:10; John 5:23)
“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 37:32) Such is Jehovah’s purpose, and thus He declares that it shall be accomplished; and our hearts leap for joy as we realize, not only the glorious import of this prophecy, but also the fact that the time is at hand, and that a score or so of years future will see the kingdom established and its blessings beginning.
The common interpretation of this prophecy regards it as fulfilled upon Israel at the First Advent, and the Kingdom of God as established then in the Gospel Church; and the great increase in the numbers and powers of the nominal church of all denominations, Papal and Protestant, as the predicted increase of Christ’s government. (v.7)
Such a fulfillment would not be worthy of the record. Christ does not reign in Christendom; its general character is anti-Christian. The only sense in which Christ’s Kingdom was begun at the First Advent was in its embryo condition; and this, the only true Kingdom of Christ in the world, has, like the Lord, been unrecognized in the world, except, like Him, to be despised and forsaken and to suffer violence. Its numbers have always been small and its circumstances humble; for not many rich and great, etc., are called. (1 Cor. 1:26-29; James 2:5)
Nor did the nation of Israel at the First Advent see or comprehend the light of Christ, nor did He at that time break their yoke or deliver them from the rod of their oppressor; for in consequence of their failure to recognize the light when it began to shine upon them, they were blinded, the rod of the oppressor came upon them with increased force and they have never yet been relieved, nor will they be until their Messiah is recognized as having come again, a Second Time; this time without a sin-offering unto salvation. (Heb. 9:28)
Let us rejoice for them and for all mankind that the blessed day is nigh, even at the door. Rightly viewed, this prophecy is full of rapturous inspiration.
JACOB’S RESCUE NEAR
But evidently the Prophet’s vision, while it glanced upon the preaching of our Lord and the apostles in Galilee, and glanced down through the Gospel Age and noted how this light glinted here and there as a wonderful “lamp,” nevertheless rested not until it reached the very end of this Age. There in prophetic vision Isaiah seems to see the end of Jacob’s trouble – Israel’s deliverance from the blindness that has been upon her, her acceptance of the Lord as the Messiah the time mentioned by another prophet, when the Lord would pour upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication and they should look upon Him whom they had pierced and mourn for Him ─ at the time mentioned by the Apostle Paul, when the fullness of the Gentiles having come in (the full number of the Gentiles to complete the elect number of the Church), Divine mercy shall go forth from the Church to bless the world and shall first of all rest upon Israel according to the flesh, “They shall obtain mercy through your mercy.” (Rom. 11:31)
The third and fourth verses of Isaiah, Chapter 9, we believe, are near fulfillment. In the Revised Version it reads, “Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased her joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, thou hast broken in the day of Midian.” The nation of Israel is very much increased today, but their joy is not yet accomplished because this great deliverance here mentioned has not yet been accomplished. It is to be accomplished in the “Day of Trouble” which began in 1914, and is now recognized by many.
The fifth verse of Isaiah, Chapter 9, seems to be more intelligently rendered in the revised version: “For all the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire.” The thought seems to be that at that time there will come the end of warfare, as the Scriptures have declared. The Time of Trouble with which the Millennium will be introduced is the means by which the Lord will overthrow all the powers of evil, as it is written, “He shall cause wars to cease unto the ends of the earth.” Under the righteous reign which will then follow, men will learn war no more, but will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. At the present time the reverse of all this is in operation, nor can we hope for a change such as the Lord’s Word here and elsewhere predicts by any other power than from above. Hence our prayer as our Lord instructed and in harmony with our hopes, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
THE GOVERNMENT UPON HIS SHOULDERS
As the verses through five indicate the coming joys and blessings and cessation of war, verse six points out how this would be accomplished. This is shown by its introduction with the word “for.” This verse goes back of the promised blessings to point out how they will be introduced. (1) A child will be born ─ a son will be given ─ a gift from God. (2) Passing over his earthly ministry and faithfulness, whereby the Lord Jesus was tested and proven worthy of the favors here prophetically assured Him as the overcomer, we have the declaration that the government will be upon His shoulders. This is an old-style figurative way of declaring that the authority and honor will be laid upon the Lord Jesus. The same thought is still carried out in the armies of the world, whose generals have upon their shoulders epaulets in which the dignity of their rank is noted, is indicated. So upon our Lord Jesus the heavenly Father has placed the dignity and responsibility of being the great King who in due time, as the Father’s representative, as the great glorified Mediator, shall reign for a thousand years to restore order in the world, to put down all insubordination, to destroy every enemy of righteousness and truth and to exalt everyone who is the friend of these Divine principles.
It is worthy to note that this authority or government is conferred upon our Lord before He assumes the various offices subsequently made: remarkably few recognize the authority of this great Captain of our Salvation whom God has set forth. Only comparatively few recognize Him truly and render Him obedience and refuse not Him who speaketh from heaven. These few have the eyes of their understanding opened and see what the others do not see: and the ears of their understanding opened that they hear and comprehend what others do not comprehend. To them the Master is the Father’s representative and all in all even now ─ even before the time has come for Him to take His great power and reign, even before He has established truth and righteousness in the world. By the eye of faith they see Him, worship, adore, obey and follow Him.
KNOWLEDGE OF HIS GLORY WORLDWIDE
But it implies much more than such an acknowledgment of our Lord Jesus by the Church. It implies a world-wide knowledge, as it is written, “Unto him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11) The government or authority is not laid upon His shoulders in vain, and the fact that He has not exercised this authority in now nearly two thousand years’ triumph and ascension up on high is merely in accord with the Scriptural declaration that the Father has a “due time” (1 Tim. 2:3-6) set at which the Son shall take unto Himself His great power and reign, and in association with Himself the Church, the Little Flock, gathered out from the world during this Gospel Age.
The time when the Lord shall manifest to the world His government, His authority, His rule, is represented in Daniel 12:1, 2, by the words, “stand up.” “At that time shall Michael [another name for our glorious Lord] will stand up, and there shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone found written in the book.” Our Lord will not only have the authority He will use it, and one of the first works, we are assured, will be the suppression of evil ─ not only the suppression of Satan, the prince of this world, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and who, we are assured, will be bound at the beginning of that Millennial reign, but additionally all the works of the devil, all institutions of evil, moral, social, financial, that are now injuring the world of mankind and cooperating in effecting the groaning and travailing of the whole creation. All these will be suppressed as soon as the proper time shall come, and He upon whose shoulders the power and authority have been placed shall take unto Himself His great power and shall begin to reign. No longer, we may be sure, will any evil be licensed; no longer will the making of spirituous liquors be permitted, authorized and licensed, nor the sale of these nor any other harmful thing be allowed to do injury in God’s Holy Kingdom. (Isa. 11:9)
It will be then, at that time, that the whole world shall begin to recognize the great King whom God will thus set in the throne of the world’s dominion to rule it, to order it, to subdue it, to lift it up out of sin and degradation and to bring it into harmony again with God as it was before sin entered.
“COUNSELLOR,” MIGHTY-ONE, FATHER
The great Mediator, the Christ, “Prophet, Priest and King,” Judge, the Seed of Abraham in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed, shall have various names; His character and work shall be recognized from various standpoints. He will be the Wonderful One that in Himself He will manifest more than others the Father's character and likeness and nature. He will be Counsellor, Teacher, Instructor, Helper, Guide, for the whole world of mankind. He will be the Mighty God ─ the One with all power and authority to deal with mankind throughout the Millennial Age.
There will be no appeal from His righteous laws, regulations and decisions, because the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son: the whole matter will be left in His hands. From another standpoint He will be the “Everlasting Father.” Having purchased the life of Adam and His race with the sacrifice of His own Human life, our Lord having been granted a new life in His resurrection, will have at His disposal the life which He bought in the sacrificing of His own in such measure as will be sufficient to apply to every member of Adam’s race. Each member of our race as he shall respond to the knowledge that shall then be filling the whole earth, may receive life more and more abundantly from the glorified Christ – everlasting life, the life that was lost in Adam’s disobedience and that was redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself.
The one from whom all life for the world must precede is fitly called the father of the world, since the word father signifies life-giver; and since this father gives life everlasting, it is eminently proper that He should be called the father of everlasting life or the everlasting father. Prince of Peace is another of His titles, but this one evidently will not be appropriate to Him until, toward the close of the Millennial Age, He shall have accomplished the putting down of everything obnoxious to Divine righteousness, the subjugation of all things to Himself ─ until He shall have finished the use of the iron rod in smiting the nations, in dashing them to pieces as a potter’s vessel. Then it will be seen that the motive beyond all this activity against unrighteousness was the bringing in of everlasting righteousness, the bringing in of everlasting peace, and it will be seen that the title well fits our great King, Prince of Peace.
THE LAW OF RETRIBUTION OPERATIVE
But, some inquire, what about the sins of the world? Will there be no chastisement, no punishment, for these? We answer that it will be equally as just for God to forgive the sins of the world for Christ’s sake as it has been just for Him to forgive the sins of the Church for Christ’s sake. If the one is just, so will be the other; for “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), and is equally willing to forgive the sins of the world as the sins of the Church (the Little Flock), when to forgive the sins of the world, repenting of sin will turn from it, accepting Christ as their Redeemer.
This does not mean, however, that justice is to be ignored. In the case of the Church, note how the sins of youth may leave their scar and sting to the end of life. And so we may reasonably assume that certain stripes, or punishments, will be permitted to follow the world in just the same manner. It will be from these weaknesses and frailties that they will be gradually raised up to perfection during those blessed thousand years of Christ’s Kingdom, when Satan will be bound and not be permitted to deceive any during that period. But what about the heart condition? If conformity to the Divine Law in an outward way will bring blessings to all, will there not still be a difference between the people – some coming heartily into accord with the Father, and others merely outwardly into harmony, because this outward harmony will be the way to restitution, perfection?
Undoubtedly this is correct reasoning. It is along this line that the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46) teaches; namely, that outwardly the “sheep” and “goats” will have much the same appearance and demeanor, except to the Judge, the King, who will read the heart and ultimately will manifest to all that there has been a real heart-difference between the two classes, all of whom will have been on trial for a thousand years, receiving blessings from the kingdom.
BASIS OF THE JUDGMENT
All the while each individual will be making character. This character will be fully appreciated by the great Judge, and the individual will be rated either as a “sheep” or as a “goat.” Not until the conclusion of the Millennium will the decision of the Judge be manifested. To the “sheep” at His right hand He will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father [the kind that my Father is pleased to bless and to grant everlasting 1ifel], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt: 25:34)
Then the other class, the goats of the parable will be sentenced: “Depart, ye accursed ones [doomed ones] into everlasting punishment.” (Matt. 25:41)
Some think that those who live unrighteous lives, and are very wicked, should not receive a resurrection. But our Lord tells us there will be a resurrection of the good and the evil ─ the evil to a resurrection of judgment (mistranslated damnation) – John 5:28,29; and He is faithful that promised! (Heb. 10:23) “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” (Isa. 1:18, 19) “When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die... For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezek. 18:27, 32)
Just as the Millennial Age is for the world, the Gospel Age is for those who consecrate and are seeking to “walk in His steps” during the time when sin is in ascendancy. They are being judged daily, and if some apparently are breaking their vows in their daily walk, but have not denied the Ransom, we are not to judge them as unfit for the Kingdom, even though we know what is right and what is wrong. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Rom. 14:10) So we should be content to await the unerring and righteous judgment of Christ. Let us “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Rom. 13:14) “For if we would judge [examine] ourselves, we shall not be judged [condemned – corrected and punished of the Lord]” (1 Cor. 11:31)
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SHEEP CLASS
With the establishment of the Kingdom all who come into harmony with it will have the great privilege of doing something to help others. While the Mi1lennial blessings will be showered upon those who accept the Lord’s terms, there will be others who will need assistance. Those who have the spirit of God, the spirit of love, will be glad to carry the heavenly message of reconciliation to all humanity, glad to apply the eye-salve to the blind, glad to unstop the ears of the deaf, glad to help the sin-sick back into harmony with God.
All who will take pleasure in this work will thus be manifesting that they have God’s spirit and are co-laborers with Him. All these will be the sheep. On the other hand, those who will be careless in respect to their vow, and merely enjoy the Millennia1 blessings themselves, will be of the goat-class and will thus be marking themselves as “goat,” and correspondingly will be out of favor with the great King of kings, their Judge, the Lord of Glory.
NO END OF RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT
The seventh verse of our lesson gives another precious assurance, and that is that this Kingdom once being attained by our Lord will never be surrendered to another, never pass into other hands. Of His government and of His peace which He will establish there will be no end (Luke 1:33). Not only Israel, but all mankind will have been witnesses that the best of kings as well as the worst of kings have at times surrendered their dominion, and that the best of kings might be followed by the worst. How appropriate then the suggestion that when the kingdom of this great King of kings and Lord of lords shall have conquered the world and have subdued all things into harmony with the Divine will, it shall never again be overturned by evil.
The expression “upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with judgment and righteousness from henceforth even forever; the zeal of the Lord shall perform this,” signifies that this great Kingdom which our Lord Jesus at His Second Advent will establish – His Church as members of His body, members of His Kingdom class, His bride associated with Him – will be the outcome, the antitype of that which was typically presented to Israel in the kingdom, the government of David. As previously seen, the name David signifies “Beloved,” and the David who was the first king on Israel’s throne, and of whom it was said that he sat upon the throne of the Lord, was merely a type, a figure of the greater David, the Anointed, the Messiah. Jesus Christ, the first Lord of all, and the Church His body associated with him, constitutes the antitypical David, the antitypical Beloved of the Lord, who’s Kingdom shall be an everlasting Kingdom, “henceforth even forevermore.”
UNENDING KINGDOM TRANSFERRED
The Apostle points out (1 Cor. 15:28) that, at the close of His thousand-year reign, our Lord (His Church associated with Him) will abdicate the throne of earth. Having accomplished the work which the Father has set apart to be accomplished by the Anointed in this Millennial reign, at its close the entire authority, with the world in complete subjection to the Divine law and fully restored to the Divine likeness and all willful transgressors cut off, will be surrendered to the Father’s hands, and in accordance with His prearrangement will be redelivered to mankind, that the perfect human family, in the image and likeness of God, may rule the world in harmony with the Divine regulations. But the government will never cease, because the government with Christ will be even more particularly associated with the Father in His throne in the general government of the universe, it will be in that particular sense under the supervision of the glorified Christ.
The zeal of the Lord shall perform this. It will not be the arm of man nor the zeal of man, however good or well meaning, which could bring to pass such wonderful changes as those which the Lord has pointed out. The Lord Himself will accomplish it, He will put all things into subjection to the Son ─ all things, the Apostle explains, except Himself, for He is excepted who thus puts all things under the Son (1 Cor. 15:27).
From this standpoint, looking back over the history of the world, we get a grand view of the Divine Power and Wisdom, Justice and Love. We see how God has been continually overruling in respect to the efforts of man, to the intent that ultimately without interfering with the free moral agency of any, every man of the whole race of Adam shall be fully and thoroughly tested and proven respecting his loyalty to the Lord, and thus respecting his worthiness of life eternal. How glorious is the Divine Plan! What wonder is there that with its accomplishment every voice in heaven and in earth shall be heard expressing praise and thankfulness, glory, honor, dominion and might to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb!
It is our hope and prayer that what is given herein will increase the love and appreciation of our great Redeemer and will give us pleasure in the contemplation of the prayer, Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Hallelujah, what a Savior! He is mighty to save! Our best wishes to all our readers for a peaceful and blessed Holiday Season.
(Brother John J. Hoefle, Reprint 450, December 1993)
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Marjorie: Loving greetings through our beloved Redeemer!
I was indeed saddened to learn of Sister Delta’s passing, but we are very comforted with the knowledge that she is “asleep in Jesus’ awaiting God’s great Resurrection Day. As we understand more clearly the meaning of the Resurrection, it makes us even more joyful. This enables us not to mourn as others do who have no faith.
Warm Christian love from your sister by His grace, Ruth Roach (TRINIDAD, WEST INDIES)
Dear Marjorie and all the Brethren there, and especially Sister Delta’s family,
So sad to hear you lost dear Delta on July 11, 2010. She had a long fight. I know you will all miss her very much. It is so wonderful to know that in the coming Resurrection we will all be together again and without these frail bodies with their pain and sorrow. Please convey my thoughts and sympathy to her family as well.
Thank you for the sympathy for my Sister. She was 86 so near Delta’s age as well. No matter the age we miss our dear ones.
May the Lord comfort your hearts. Love, Hava Bausch (ISRAEL)
THY KINGDOM COME
Oh, Lord, how long ‘til the morning
When Thy Sun of Righteousness shall arise
To brighten the troublous cloudy skies?
How long ‘til that wonderful day
For which we so earnestly pray?
How long ‘til there shall reappear
The faces of those whom we hold dear?
How long ‘till we joyfully meet
Our loved ones at Thy feet?
The Times and Seasons are in Thy hand
As ordered in Thy Plan so grand,
But Lord we do feverently yearn
For our dear ones speedy return.
We pray for Thy woe to be swiftly past,
And that Glorious Age ushered in at last!
By Delta Clinard