Acts 9:1-12, 17-20
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Saul’s transformation, from an enemy of Christ, and his Church to a friend and zealous servant, is generally termed his conversion. In our opinion, however, the term “conversion” would scarcely be appropriate in such a case. Saul of Tarsus was either a bad man or a hypocritical Pharisee, a money-lover and self-lover, as were many, or else he was an Israelite indeed, whose aim and object was the service of God, and whose persecution of the early Church was prompted by his fidelity to God. We believe that the latter description is the one which fitted his case; it is in harmony with his own testimony on the subject: “I verily thought that I did God service.” If then Saul was not only a member of the favored nation of Israel, but a true and loyal member of it, thoroughly consecrated to the Lord and serving him to the best of his knowledge and opportunity, but merely blinded for the time by prejudice and misconception, we can no more think of his case as a conversion that the cases of the other apostles. The Lord chose the original twelve because they were Israelites indeed; and he gave them the needed instruction for his service; and this he did also for Saul, though in a more striking manner. The word convert signifies to turn about in an opposite direction. But Saul was already going in the right direction; namely, in a whole hearted service of God, though his efforts were expended upon the wrong thing in the right direction. The Lord merely opened the eyes of his understanding and showed him the better how his efforts should be used. Saul needed no conversion and needed merely to be shown aright; and he proved this by as much fidelity and energy in the Lord's service afterward as he had ignorantly misused previously.
Saul was one of those Israelites who lived amongst the Gentiles, but who occasionally went up to Jerusalem to certain of the feasts. His home was in the city of Tarsus, one of the notable cities of that date ─ said to have been excelled in scholarship and fine arts by the cities of Alexandria and Athens only. He not only had the advantages of a home in such a city, but his family was one of the influential ones, as is implied in the fact that he was not only a citizen of Tarsus but also a citizen of Rome. In addition to the education of his home city he had received a special course in theology or Jewish Law at Jerusalem, under Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers of that time. His early training, therefore, and all of its conditions were favorable to producing in him a breadth and refinement of thought equaled by few; and these conditions combined with his honesty of heart and his zeal for God, though not at first according to knowledge, fitted him to become just what the Lord subsequently made of him; namely, “A chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
(1) It would appear that the circumstances connected with the stoning of Stephen only incited Saul to the greater energy in stamping out what he believed to be a very injurious doctrine ─ a heresy. Our own experience confirms the thought that an earnest, conscientious opponent is more to be respected than a cold, indifferent professed friend, and we are reminded of the Lord’s words, “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15,16) Let us have respect, therefore, for all who are warm-hearted and zealous; remembering that there is more hope of their being pleasing to God, and being accounted worthy to receive the truth, than for the lukewarm.”
(2) The Jewish priesthood was granted and exercised considerable power under the arrangements of the Roman government. It had come to exercise very much of the power subsequently used by the pope of Rome. They had power to authorize arrests and imprisonments for the infractions of their religious rules and regulations. Saul, exercising the same respect to law and authority that subsequently marked all of his dealings and teachings as a Christian, did not attempt to take matters into his own hands in the persecution of the Christians, but went about it in the manner recognized as legal ─ under the sanction and authority of the highest religious tribunal. Let us remember that nearly all persecutions have been sanctioned by some human law, and regulate ourselves under the Divine Code.
(3-9) The account here given of the opening of the eyes of Saul’s understanding is that of Luke, and was doubtless received directly from the Apostle Paul himself ─ with whom he traveled for a time. Two other accounts are given by the Apostle Paul himself. (See Acts 22:6-11; 26:12-20) The three accounts are in practical agreement, and show only such variations as might reasonably be expected, considering the fact that they were delivered under different conditions; as it was sought to emphasize or elaborate different points. Had the three accounts been exactly alike, word for word, there would have been just ground for supposing a special preparation of the text with this harmony in view. Even the seeming discrepancies of the account, when rightly seen, are additional evidences of the truthfulness of all. The account itself being simple, we need give attention only to those points which apparently conflict. All three accounts say that Saul himself heard the voice, saw the light and fell to the ground. One of the accounts adds that all with him fell to the earth as well. The account in our lesson tells that the men of his company “stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man.” Another account says, “They beheld, indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.” These accounts can be harmonized in this way: Saul himself was evidently the center of manifestation ─ “a great light shone round me.” His companions doubtless saw something of this light in a general way, but they did not see the source of the light; they did not see the glorious body of our Lord Jesus ─ “seeing no man.” Saul, however, saw the glorious body of our Lord Jesus, as he himself subsequently testified, “last of all he [Jesus] was seen of me also.” Although none but Saul was smitten to the ground, the others who stood speechless and terror stricken no doubt soon kneeled reverently about their leader. Respecting the voice ─ Saul and all that were with him heard a sound, “the voice,” but only Saul could distinguish the words ─ which were meant for him alone. A similar case is recorded in John 12:28,29, where it is stated that our Lord Jesus heard a voice from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” But the people that stood by and heard the voice understood not the words, but said that “it thundered.” Saul and all of his company in one sense of the word heard the sound or voice, but in another sense of the word he alone heard the voice. We use this same form of expression in our daily conversation today. If some one speaks to us in a low or indistinct voice, we say that we did not hear ─ we mean that although we heard the voice we did not understand or comprehend it.
The feelings of Saul, as he heard from the Lord of glory a reproof of his misdirected zeal, can be better imagined than described. Nevertheless, we can but admire the promptness with which he at once laid down the arms of his opposition, and placed himself on the side of the one whose cause he had so recently persecuted. We can imagine him praying, “Lord teach me!” In my blindness and ignorance I have been fighting against thee, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Messiah; while “I verily thought I did God service.” Having made such a great mistake I am thoroughly humbled, I can no longer trust to my own wisdom nor to the wisdom of those in whom I have heretofore confided; the chief priests, the scribes and Pharisees. Now Lord, I come to thee. Show me how I can undo some of the great wrong I have done ignorantly. Show me, and I will be glad to promptly follow and obey.
How deep a hold the matter took upon the mind of Saul may be judged from the fact that he neither ate nor drank for three days. He could not think lightly of his own blinded course. Deep contrition is always a good evidence of genuine repentance of wrong. No doubt his thoughts were busy, and, well educated in the law and in the prophets, and familiar with what he had learned concerned the Nazarene and his teachings, we may reasonably suppose that those three days of blindness and fasting were days of prayer and reflection, in which he diligently compared the testimony of the law and the prophets with what he knew of the Nazarene and his teachings. His natural sight had been destroyed, but his mental vision had been opened, and he now saw matters in a new and wonderful light.
(10-17) The name Ananias in a previous lesson was associated with ungodliness and falsehood, but here we find another Ananias of totally a different character ─ a true servant of the Lord. His hesitation (vs. 13-16) does not seem to have been caused by opposition, nor faithlessness, but rather a reasonable caution. He had heard of Saul and possibly also knew Saul’s host to be an enemy of the cause of Christ, and therefore wanted to assure himself that he was not misunderstanding the Lord. The Lord very graciously made the matter clear to him, as he always does to his faithful ones, and Ananias promptly fulfilled his mission. Here again is an illustration of Divine methods: The Lord sent upon this important errand one who apparently was a very humble member of the Church. He did not send Peter and John and James the apostles from Jerusalem with great pomp and show to receive the penitent enemy of the cross and to make a public triumph, but used an instrument ready and willing that was nearby. This should be a lesson to us that the Lord is both able and willing to use in his service the humble ones who are ready and waiting ─
“Emptied, that he might fill them,
as forth to his service they go;
Emptied, that so unhindered his life
through them might flow.”
(18-20) The scales which fell from the eyes of Saul would seem to indicate that a certain portion of the eye had been thoroughly destroyed by the great light; and the healing may be said to have been in a natural way by the removal of the injured cornea. Although informed that he received his sight, we are not informed that his eyes were made whole. Indeed, it seems very evident, from subsequent statements, that to his dying day his eyes never recovered their soundness and his sight was never again normal. It has been surmised, and we think with good reason, that the continued weakness of his eyes constituted what he terms “a thorn in the flesh.” Although under the power of the Holy Spirit he was granted many gifts of the spirit, amongst others the gift of healing, and although he exercised this gift of healing upon many (see Acts 19:11;12), yet the Lord did not relieve him from his own weakness in this respect. This must have been all the greater trial; it would seem all the more strange that he who could heal others could not heal himself; that he who had Divine Power for the blessing of others in this way, should not have the Divine Power for his own blessing. Our Lord's answer to his petition was, “My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The noble Apostle exclaims, Therefore most gladly I will suffer, if thereby the grace of God toward me shall be the greater: and thereafter he never requested the removal of this “thorn.” Several incidents in his experience confirm this conclusion. (1) Although an educated man, he seldom wrote his own letters; and of the one letter which he did write, although one of the briefest, he remarks (Gal. 6-11), “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with my own hand.” The Greek would even give the thought that these words apologize for the use of very large characters in the writing ─ such as a semi-blind person would use; (2) the Apostle comes down to us in history as “the bleared-eye Jew;” (3) when standing before the tribunal of the chief captain he declares that he did not know Ananias as the high priest; whereas, if his eyesight had been good, he could not have well helped knowing him, on account of his gorgeous apparel (Acts 23:5); (4) in writing to the Galatians he tells them (4:15) that, when he first met them, their love and sympathy for him were such that they would willingly have plucked out their own eyes for him ─ an expression which would be meaningless, unless his eyes were defective.
After a few days to gain strength from his fasting and the nervous excitement incidental to his experiences, days of communion with those whom he had come to persecute, and whom now in his renewed condition of mind he recognized and fellowshipped as dear brethren, he promptly began to preach Christ as the Son of God publicly using the opportunities afforded in the Jewish Synagogues.
Those who think of the Apostle Paul’s experiences as on a par with the conversion of sinners greatly err. Such conduct as is here related is not the conduct of sinners, enemies of God. The account of the Apostle’s enlightenment in the gospel is the account of a most noble character which commands the respect of every class in every time. And we are inclined to regard the Apostle Paul as in some sense of the word a figure, or likeness, or type of his race ─ Israel ─ and the opening of their eyes now shortly due to take place. Amongst the Jews are many who seem to be Israelites indeed, merely blinded, as the prophet and the apostle have described (Rom. 11:7-12). That nation whose blinding took place in the fifth (1,000 year) day, and which has been blinded throughout the sixth (l,000 year day), is to have its eyes opened on the third day, which will be the seventh (1,000 year) day ─ the Millennial Day. Israel also has been without food or drink of a spiritual kind during all this time. Israel also is to be a chosen vessel in the Lord’s hand as connected with the earthly agencies in bearing the message which shall bless the Gentiles and all the families of the earth. We are near to the time for the opening of Israel’s eyes. When the time shall have fully come, the Lord will send some Ananias whose touch and blessing under Divine favor shall bring sight. The name Ananias signifies, “Jah is gracious.”
(Pastor Russell, Reprints 2117, 2118, March 1, 1897)
THE SONG OF THE VINEYARD
“Let me sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard.”
This is a Divinely-inspired key, for the words were quoted by the great teacher and applied by him to the Jewish nation, as indeed the Prophet himself explains. What the Prophet styles a song we might properly term a parable or story. God is represented as having planted the nation of Israel as his own vineyard. He gathered out the stones, or removed the difficulties, and planted in it the choicest vine, the richest promises ─ promises of the Messianic Kingdom and the blessing of Israel and all the families of the earth. He provided a watch tower for it in the Prophecies and a hedge about it in the law and the prophets and in all the arrangements made for that holy nation. It was proper that he shou1d look for choice fruitage from so favorably-situated a vineyard, but the results were unsatisfactory. The fruitage was not in harmony with the promises he had planted, but wild grapes, sour, small.
This condition prevailed until the time of Jesus. Although troubles upon the nation were from time to time permitted by the Lord, the breaches were always healed and the nation was preserved. Its walls of Divine protection and guidance were maintained and its watch tower. John the Baptist was the last of the Prophets. Since his day the Lord has fulfilled to natural Israel the things mentioned in this prophecy. The hedges have been broken down. It has been laid waste. No care has been taken of it. The beasts of the field, the Gentile nations, have ravaged this vineyard and, by Divine intention, no rain of Divine blessing, comfort, encouragement and fructification have come upon the Jewish people in all these more than eighteen centuries.
THE PROPER KIND OF FRUIT
What was the proper fruitage which the
Lord had a right to expect from this vineyard and why did he not find it? He tells us in this very prophecy: “For the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: God looked for judgment, justice, but behold oppression! He looked for righteousness, but instead, heard the cry of the oppressed.” In other words, God’s Covenant with Israel was that they should have the blessed privilege of being his people, and the having of his Divine favor was dependent upon their faithful observance of the Divine Law. He knew that they would not be able to keep the law perfectly. He knew that he would not get perfect grapes, but he had a right to expect much better than he found ─ to expect heart endeavors, even if there were fleshly imperfections.
The demands of the law were supreme love for the Almighty, governing every thought and word and act, and a love for the neighbor as for oneself ─ an unselfish love. The observance of this law, in its spirit at least, to the extent of the ability of the flesh, was the requirement. Had there been such fruitage in Israel at the time that Jesus presented himself to them eighteen centuries ago, they would have been ready to constitute the spiritua1 Kingdom, which would then and there have been established, according to Divine promise. But their unreadiness led to the breaking down of their entire system. They did not have love enough toward God, nor love enough toward their fellows.
We are not to understand from this that Israel was more degenerate than the remainder of the world. The contrary of this, we believe, is true. But then the other nations had not been specially planted and specially hedged about and specially watered and specially guarded. Where more was given more was required. And when more was not found the faithful few were gathered out and the vineyard temporarily abandoned. We are glad, indeed, to note from the Scriptures that the time is coming when that same vineyard shall be restored under still more favorable conditions during the Messianic reign of glory and heavenly power. But it is still in disorder.
The succeeding verses complain of the disposition of the Israelites to take advantage of each other; and the result of this was great riches on the one hand and great poverty on the other. This Prophecy reminds us of the Great Teacher’s words when he said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, for ye devour widows’ houses” ─ you take possession of the property of the poor, perhaps, sometimes, in a technical, legal way. You are not filled with that love for your neighbor as yourself which would lead you to assist the poor, the widow and the fatherless and to be generous toward all. The sin of selfishness, avarice, indicates a lack of the Spirit of the Lord and good will toward all. The majority of the Jews of our Lord Jesus’ day were tinctured with such selfishness and hence were not in a condition of mind acceptable to the Lord for constituting the spiritual, the Bride Class ─ except the few, “the remnant,” mentioned by the Prophet.
The Lord indicated how he would punish the selfish. Ruin would come upon the great estates and the earth would not yield returns for the labor. Thus selfishness would have its reproof and penalty along temporal lines, as well as costing the loss of spiritual privileges.
APPLICATION TO SPIRITUAL ISRAEL
God’s dealings with fleshly Israel not only represent the principles of Divine government and requirements, but also the requirements of natural Israel’s service, as the Scriptures show, and they typify spiritual Israel. As natural Israel failed to be ready to accept Jesus at his First Advent ─ except “the remnant” ─ so spiritual Israel, called “Christendom,” will fail to be ready to receive him as the great Messiah at the establishment of His Kingdom. Note the care with which the Lord planted His Church, gathering out all the difficulties at the time of its establishment. Note the heavenly, spiritual promises, exceeding great, with which He surrounded the Church, as his vineyard. Note that it is of the Father’s right-hand planting. Note the watch tower of grace and truth established by the Apostles. Note the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
In the end of this Age comes a harvest time for spiritual Israel, as in the end of the Jewish Age there was a harvest time for natural Israel. Here, as there, only “a remnant” will be found worthy of the Kingdom ─ the great, nominal mass will be found unworthy. And why? Because the spirit of worldliness and selfishness is the prevalent one, instead of the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of meekness, gentleness, love. Only with the few is God first. Only with the few is there a spirit of full consecration to do the Divine will. Only with the few is there love of the brethren and a willingness to lay down life one for another (John 15:13). Only with the few is there even business honesty, justice. Today selfishness is heaping up treasure and the results, we may be sure, will be unsatisfactory ─ “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1)
Moreover, as the Prophet proceeds to show, the accumulation of wealth has generally an injurious effect upon the rich ─ idleness, music and wine and disregard of things Divine. The “remnant” now will be a sufficient number to complete the “elect.” The Kingdom of glory will be established and all the families of the earth will, shortly after the Time of Trouble, begin to recognize the long-promised blessing. Indeed, the “time of trouble” will be used of the Lord to humble the world ─ to prepare mankind to receive properly the blessings of the Kingdom.
(Pastor Russell, Reprints 4794, 4795, April 1, 1911)
BINDING THE STRONG MAN
“No man can comer into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:27)
These words were spoken in answer to the charge of the Pharisees that Jesus was casting out devils by the power of Satan, the prince of demons. Our Lord first showed how unreasonable was the charge that Satan had taken to opposing himself. His argument is that if that be true it would imply that Satan’s power was tottering to a fall, if it was necessary for him to thus work against his own plans and arrangements, associates, etc. This does not imply that Satan will never be so cornered as to find it necessary to do good works in order to deceive if it were possible the very elect, but it does imply that when that time shall come, and the adversary shall favor good works, the healing of diseases, casting out of devils, etc., it will be a sure indication that his kingdom is tottering. We believe that this is the case to some extent at the present time ─ that Satan has much to do with various faith healings that are done by Christian Science, Spiritualism, Hypnotism, etc.
But our Lord’s argument was to the contrary of all this ─ that he was not casting out devils as the minion of Satan, but on the contrary that he was opposing Satan. Then he used the words of our text, which imply that he was already binding Satan, already spoiling his goods. Satan’s control of mankind was certainly interfered with when our Lord cast out the demons and gave power and authority to his disciples to do the same throughout Palestine. This our Lord declared was a sign that a stronger one than Satan was at work. Satan was indeed powerful and had taken possession of the world and was exercising a great influence therein, and the fact that now he was interfered with to any extent and demons were cast out proved that he had met one more powerful than himself, and that the time of the complete overthrow of his dominion would come.
This text then is analogous to and in harmony with another which declared, “Now is the prince of this wor1d cast out.” (John 12:31) Our Lord again declared; “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” (Luke 10:18) Our Lord had come into the wor1d for the very purpose of mastering Satan, and in order to vanquish him he had consecrated his life even unto death, that by means of death he might destroy death and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. God had accepted the consecration, the sacrifice, and had granted our Lord the anointing of the Spirit at his baptism, and it was under the power and influence of this Spirit that he declared that as the Finger of God he cast out demons. However, the work of destroying Satan’s house was not intended to go on to a rapid completion, but rather that merely the power of the Anointed One should be demonstrated for our comfort and joy and faith, and that he should be permitted to control the world for a time further, until the full end of this Gospel Age, when his binding will be gradually accomplished and will be followed by the liberating of the whole world from his chains of error with which he has deceived all nations.
In Matthew 24:43 our Lord uses somewhat similar language, but applies it not to his own day but to the end of the Age. He speaks of his Second Advent as being unknown to the world and therefore to them as a thief in the night, unexpected. He intimates that such a secrecy respecting the time is essential; that if it were generally known to the world the Divine plan and arrangement in respect to the end of the Age would be foiled. To the Church it would be given to know the times and seasons, through the Holy Spirit enlightening their understanding respecting the Word of truth uttered through the apostles and prophets of old for our admonition. But none of the wicked would understand, only the wise, the truly wise with the wisdom that cometh from above, the consecrated. So far as the world would be concerned, its great ones, its master minds in church and in state, in business, in finances, would all be surprised in the end of this Age. The Master would be present as a thief in the night to take, first of all, his “jewels,” his Bride, his Saints, and then to utterly spoil, overthrow, the affairs of this present time, that on the ruins thereof he might speedily set up his everlasting Kingdom of righteousness.
“Ye brethren are not in darkness” ─ that day has not overtaken you as a thief, though it will thus overtake all the world (1 Thes. 5:3,4). The thief-like work of taking the Church is already in progress; by and by it will be all completed, and shortly thereafter ─1915 ─ the kingdoms of this world, with all of their associated institutions, will go down in a climax of trouble such as the world has never known because after gathering his Bride class the Lord will execute judgments upon Babylon. At that time Satan will be bound that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years are finished. (Rev. 20:3)
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 3784, June 1, 1906)
THE KINGDOM OF PEACE
“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:3)
The whole world has for a long time been boasting that civilization and Christianity have won the day, that the world has become God’s Empire and that the blessings of the Millennium are ours to enjoy. Aid Conferences and Peace Councils and Peace Commissions have flared up for the moment, only to die down. The cry of “Peace, peace,” has brought no peace. We are beginning to see that we have been deceiving ourselves into thinking that the nations of the earth are kingdoms of God. We are beginning to see that the Bible styles them “kingdoms of this world,” kingdoms of the Gentiles, and that it tells us that “the Prince of this world, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience,” is Satan, the usurper, “a liar from the beginning and abode not in the truth.”
We see it all. The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, for which the Master taught us to pray, has not yet come. We are glad, however, that the Divine promise assures us that it will come and explains to us that the All-Wise Creator is now, first of all, preparing for His Kingdom by gathering from amongst mankind a worthy, saintly few, to be associates of their King and Redeemer in that Kingdom of glory, by which the world is to be blessed.
But all are not yet convinced of these Bible truths. Some point to the coins of the various kingdoms, which declare that “In God we trust,” and that the several emperors and kings of earth are reigning “by the grace of God” and claiming that they are of Divine appointment; while the Pope also makes the still greater claim that he is the personal representative of Messiah and His Kingdom and the only one authorized to reign over and to govern the kings of the earth.
To convince the more prejudiced nothing further should be necessary along these lines than to point out the difference between present conditions and those which the Scriptures declare will prevail when He who redeemed the world by the sacrifice of himself will take his great power and reign as Messiah, the King of glory, to put down sin in its every form and death in its every form and to release and uplift all the willing and obedient of the families of the earth ─ including those who have gone down into the great prison-house of death ─ the grave, sheoI, hades.
IN OUR FAVORED LAND
The United States of America does not lead the world in the size of its standing army and in great battleships. She has no need to do so, having no threatening Christian (?) nations to menace her. Yet even this nation, walled about by thousands of miles of ocean, is making enormous expenditures on account of war.
One of the most modern of the battleships of the United States Navy is named the North Dakota, after one of the States. She cost $10,000,000.
The Minneapolis Journal shows what the money expended for this battleship would have accomplished in the State for which she is named. It would have provided a $25,000 agricultural school and experimental farm in its every county, with an endowment fund of $175,000 for each school, the interest on which would have provided $10,500 annually for the maintenance of each school. Additionally, it would have left $1,000,000 of an endowment for the State Agricultural College.
The situation in Europe is still worse. Does not this preparation of the so-called Christian nations of the world to destroy one another prove to us that there is a mistake ─ that the term Christian has been misapplied to them? Nor can we say that there is no danger, for only fear could lead to such costly preparations for war.
PRAY FOR MESSIAH'S KINGDOM
The hope for humanity is the Messianic Kingdom described in this lesson. The “mountain of the Lord’s house” signifies the Kingdom of God’s house, His Church. It will be established in the top of, or above the kingdoms of the world. It will be exalted amongst the nations and all peoples will flow to it. There will be an attraction in it for all peoples. It will lead them to climb upward. The attraction which will thus draw mankind will be the blessings of health and restitution, which the Kingdom will be prepared to grant to all peoples as they shall come into harmony with its requirements (Acts 3:19-23).
That Kingdom will be closely identified with the Zionist movement and the Holy Land. The Kingdom itself will be spiritual, invisible to men, but its earthly agents will be visible and they will be Jewish ─ “Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom,” etc. (Matt. 8:11) The Jews, already impulsed toward the Land of Promise, will go thither in increasing numbers, and all of the faithful of them will go in sympathy and representatively, through financial assistance. The Israelitish hopes and promises will attract that number strongly first. And gradually all the nations, learning of the grace of God, and the blessings of restitution to be bestowed, will say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us [as well as the Jews] of his ways and we will walk in his paths, For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.” (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2)
THE PEACE OF GOD ESTABLISHED
Verse 3 tells of how Messiah’s judgments will be manifested, favoring most the nations which are most righteous and rebuking all unrighteousness. The effect will be that wars will cease. The metal previously used in weapons of destruction will be used in plowshares and pruning hooks. The earth shall no longer be soaked with human blood, but be tilled for the blessing of the race, with none to molest nor make afraid. The Lord’s people, at the beginning of that time, are represented as saying, Let each follow his own conception of God, but Israel must follow Jehovah. And at that time he will assemble her and gather her back into her own land ─ “a remnant.” Then the Lord shall reign over them in Mt. Zion.
The original dominion was given to Adam, but lost through sin. Jesus, by his obedience even unto death, has become the strong Tower, the Fortress, the Protection, to all of God’s people. “To him will come the first dominion” and for a thousand years he shall reign for the blessing and uplifting of all the willing and obedient. (Pastor Russell, Reprints 4795, 4796, April 1, 1911)