There have been four universal Empires as explained by Daniel in his
interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:31-45). The first was Babylon, second was Medo-Persia, who conquered Babylon. Greece
conquered Medo-Persia and became the third. The fourth was Rome, which held universal sway at the time
of our Lord’s birth. “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” (Luke
2:1) Rome was
by far the strongest and endured longer than its predecessors.
We only give this brief synopsis of the first four, because we are more concerned with the Fifth. However, Daniel’s interpretation of the dream continues “And in the days of these Kings [the so-called “Christian kingdoms” or “Christendom”] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms; and shall stand forever.” (Dan. 2:43,44)
The Holy Roman Empire, the Papal system has long claimed that it is the kingdom which the God of heaven here promised to set up, and that, in fulfillment of this prophecy, it did break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms. The truth, however, is that the nominal Church merely united with earthly empires, and that papacy was never the kingdom of God, but merely a counterfeit of it. One of the best evidences that papacy did not destroy and consume these earthly kingdoms is that they still exist. But now it has lost its power and shows signs of dissolution, and will quickly crumble when smitten by the “stone,” the true Kingdom.
The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, which smites and scatters the Gentile powers, represents the true Church, the Kingdom of God. During the Gospel Age this “stone” kingdom was being formed, “cut out,” carved and shaped for its future position and greatness - not by human hands, but by the power or spirit of the truth, the invisible power of Jehovah. It is entirely cut out now and is smiting and destroying the kingdoms of this world. Not the people, but the governments, are being destroyed. Our Lord Jesus came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them (John 3:17).
The stone, during its preparation, while being cut out, might be called an embryo mountain, in view of its future destiny; so, too, the Church could be, and sometimes is called the Kingdom of God. In fact, however, the stone does not become the mountain until it has smitten the image; and so the Church, in the full sense, will become the Kingdom to fill the whole earth when “the day of the Lord,” “the day of wrath upon the nations” or the “time of trouble,” will be over, and when it will be established and all other dominions have become subservient to it.
Call to mind now the promise made by our Lord to the overcomers of the Christian Church: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” “and he that ovecometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my Father.” (Rev. 3:21; 2:26,27; Psa. 2:8-12.) When the rod of iron has accomplished the work of destruction, then will the hand that smote be turned to heal, and the people will return to the Lord, and he shall heal them (Isa. 19:22; Jer. 3:22,23; Hosea 6:1; 13:4; Isa. 2:3), giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isa. 61:3; Luke 4:18).
The stone class, the true Church, during its selection or taking out of the mountain, has been esteemed by the world as of no value. It has been despised and rejected of men. They see no beauty in it that they should desire it. The world loves, admires, praises, and defends the rulers and governments, though it has been continually disappointed, deceived, wounded and oppressed by them. The proud are now called happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up in power (Mal. 3:15). Can we not see, then, that the destruction of these kingdoms by the smiting of the stone, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom, means the liberating of the oppressed and the blessing of all? Though for a time the change will cause disaster and trouble, it will finally yield the fruits of righteousness.
But now, calling to mind the difference of standpoint, let us look at the same four universal empires of earth from the standpoint of God and those in harmony with him, as portrayed in a vision to the beloved prophet Daniel. As to us these kingdoms appear inglorious and beastly, so to Him these four universal empires were shown as four great and ravenous wild beasts. And to this view the coming Kingdom of God (the stone) was proportionally grander than as seen by Nebuchadnezzar. To get Daniel’s description of these four beastly empires see Dan. 7:2-7.
Of the fourth beast, Rome, Daniel says: “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly… and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and, behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man and a mouth speaking great things.” (Dan. 7:7,8)
Here the Roman Empire is shown; and the divisions of its power are shown in the ten horns, a horn being a symbol of power. The little horn which arose among these, and which appropriated the power of three of them to itself and ruled among the others, represents the small beginning and gradual rise to power of the Church of Rome, the Papal power or horn. As it rose in influence, three of the horns, or powers of the Roman Empire, were plucked out of the way to make room for its establishment as a civil power or horn. This last especially notable horn, Papacy, is remarkable for its eyes, representing intelligence, and for its mouth its utterances, its claims, etc.
After giving some details regarding this last or Roman beast, and especially of its peculiar or Papal horn, the Prophet states that judgment against this horn would be rendered, and it would begin to lose its dominion, which would be consumed by gradual process until the beast should be destroyed (Rev. 17:11).
No matter what may be the means or instrumentality used, the cause of this fall will be the establishment of the Fifth Universal Power of earth, the Kingdom of God, under Christ, whose right it is to take the dominion. The transfer of the kingdom from the fourth beast, which for its appointed time was “ordained of God,” to the fifth kingdom under the Messiah, when its appointed season has come, is described by the Prophet in these words: “And behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given unto him [Christ head and body complete] dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13,14) This the angel interpreted to mean that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and all dominions shall serve and obey him (Dan. 7: 27).
“For ye see your calling, brethren that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things in the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Cor. 1:26,27) As a rule it has been the poor, who have been called, but they must be rich in one respect; rich in faith, rich in the spirit of faith, rich in the exemplification of that faith, rich in ministering to that faith, rich in commending that faith to others and rich in helping others to come to that faith. God has promised the Kingdom to the faithful, who love Him supremely with all their heart, mind, soul and strength as the all-gracious Jehovah, the God of perfect wisdom, power, justice and love. These will be heirs of the Kingdom in due time because they have been proven faithful to God unto the end.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” (2 Tim. 4:1) The Apostle Paul is here writing to his beloved son, Timothy. He gives him a very solemn charge before God and the Lord Jesus, because it could be given before none greater. He says that the Lord Jesus and the Father “shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom.” By the quick, we understand those who are not under a death sentence, like new creatures, quickened by God’s Holy Spirit (Eph. 2: 21,15; Col. 2:13) and the fallen angels. By the dead, we understand the human family to be meant, as dead either in trespasses and sins, under the Adamic death sentence, or in the death state, in the graves. This tells us the time that the judgment would take place. It will be at the time of His revelation, His manifestation, the Epiphany, and at the time of His Kingdom. In getting their judgment at these particular times, they will first, be instructed; second tested according to the instruction given them; third, striped for reformation, if they fail to live up to the instruction they had; and finally, a sentence will be passed on them. This will be the fulfillment of this passage.
Continuing our discussion, we desire to take up another line of thought, the invisibility of this Coming Universal Empire. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20,21) This passage requires some explanation and some correction in the translation. With their usual impudence in their treating our Lord, the Pharisees demanded, as though they had a right to command our Lord, when the kingdom would come. “He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [with outward sight, visibly].” Neither will they be able to point to the kingdom class, saying, Look over there, you will see it! “for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Literally this should be translated: in your midst. The Kingdom class, who, glorified as spirit beings, of the Divine nature, are thoroughly invisible, just as the angels of God are invisible. We have an illustration in Satan’s kingdom. He by usurpation has gotten control of a kingdom among the children of men. He is thus controlling the matters of politics, trusts, corporations, mergers, etc. He rules over them as a tyrant and executioner. He uses this rulership invisibly. We can only see the effects of his reign. This invisibility is an illustration of the Kingdom of God when it rules over the earth. The Christ, Head and Body, will be present, but invisible in the Divine nature, having immortality and incorruptibility. They will not be seen by the world, either before the Millennium or during the Millennium, or forever afterwards, even as Jesus says of Himself, in John 14:19: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more.”
Another line of thought in connection with the Coming Universal Empire is its phases. There are two phases of this invisible empire. This we get in a general way from Isa. 2:3: “And many people shall go and say [the many people of the nations of the earth, who in the Millennial Age, recognize that Christ and the Church are ruling over the earth, will make a general proclamation among one another, saying], Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain [Kingdom] of the Lord, to the house of Jacob [fleshly Israel]; and he will teach us of his ways [His doctrines, precepts, histories, prophesies, types and moral teachings; in other words, every teaching will be required at that time], and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [Zion is The Church, Head and Body] shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem [this will be the visible phase of the Kingdom, the Ancient and Youthful Worthies].”
Isaiah 32:1 is another passage to the point: “Behold, a king shall reign in righteous-ness, and princes shall rule in judgment.” The King here is the Christ the Head and the Church His Body. These as the heavenly phase of the Kingdom, will reign in righteousness, with the wisdom, power, justice and love of God, which they will gloriously represent in all of their acts and all of their deeds. The princes that shall rule in judgment are the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, who by doctrinal teachings among mankind, will exercise rulership as the visible representatives of the invisible Christ and the Church, with their associates, the Great Company.
SUBJECTS OF THE EMPIRE
We will now show who the subjects of that Empire will be. First, we quote Psalms 22:27-29: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the Kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.” Both Jews and Gentiles, the whole human family, everyone, will remember the experiences they had with evil and the experiences they had with good. These will cause them to turn against evil and, at least for a while, cling to the good and turn to the Lord. Every nation on earth will come before the Lord and worship Him, for it is written, “All the nations thou hast made shall come before the Lord and worship Him.” (Rev. 13:8) Jehovah will be the One who will have established Christ and the Church as His Kingdom. Christ and the Church will be there in full power and authority as the representative of God. All they that be fat upon the earth shall eat and worship (the fat are those that are full of love). They will appropriate to themselves the blessings of that glorious time and will on that account carry out their consecration to God and serve Him with willing hearts of delight in wisdom, justice, love, and power. All that go down into the dust (Eccl. 3:20) shall bow before Him (i.e., all the dead).
In Psalms 98:2,3, we read as follows: “The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness that he openly shewed in the sight of the nations [here translated heathen]. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” Here again the Heavenly Father shows Himself in wisdom, justice, love and power, to be the One that is working out salvation from the curse that came upon the race, by heredity through Adam, condemnation that came upon the Jews, even the best of them, because they could not keep the Mosaic Law, and by the curse that the Jews brought upon themselves when they said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children” (Matt. 27:25), when they rejected our Lord. All these will be given the opportunity of seeing the salvation that God will prepare before the eyes of all nations. “He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel” - both natural and spiritual Israel will be shown that mercy. Natural Israel condemned in heredity, condemned by the Mosaic Covenant, condemned also by the voice of the prophets, both the four major and the twelve minor prophets, as well as the prophets who wrote the books of Joshua, Ruth, the two books of Kings and Chronicles. All of these will have mercy shown unto them, yea, “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” The whole earth, every-one on earth, will be enabled to see that glorious salvation as it will be worked out for the children of men. They will see it with the eyes of understanding first, and those who obey will see it as it is fulfilled in the New Covenant provisions, when they obey these and are faithful to their consecration vows in connection with that covenant. Those who prove faithful under the experience of righteousness in the Millennial Age and turn heartily to the Lord, will experience the salvation of the LORD, and those who hypocritically pretend to be loyal to God, will be destroyed some at the age of one hundred, the accursed sinner, according to Isaiah 65:20, and some at the end of the thousand years, when Satan is loosed and brings upon them the destruction merited by their hypocrisy. All, however, will for a while see this salvation.
The results of the Coming Universal Empire are illustrated in 1 Cor. 15:20-26. We quote from the Improved Version: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become a first-fruit [Jesus] of them that slept. For since by man [Adam] came death, by [a] man also [Jesus] shall come the resurrection of the dead. For as all in Adam die [Jesus did not die in Adam, for He was not in Adam, and therefore our correction of the translation], even so all in Christ shall be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ a firstfruit [the Church is meant]; afterward they that are Christ’s at [during] His presence. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” God will be the final judge over the earth and will exercise His judgment through Christ and the Church, as His Vicegerent. Thus we see that not only persons are these enemies, but also things. Death is an enemy it was an enemy to Jesus while He was in the flesh, it sought to destroy Him through the Jews, but He was faithful unto death; and by that faithfulness He was pronounced the One who could put to death the last enemy, even the dying process and the death-state.
But the reign will not be one of force only; side by side with the force will be the olive branch of mercy and peace for all the inhabitants of the world, who, when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, will learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9). The sin-blinded eyes shall be opened; and the world will see right and wrong, justice and injustice, in a light quite different from now - in “seven-fold” light. (Isa. 30:26; 29:18-20) The outward temptations of the present will largely be done away, evils will neither be licensed nor permitted: but a penalty sure and swift will fall upon transgressors, meted out with unerring justice by the glorified and competent judges of that time who will also have compassion upon the weak (1 Cor. 6:2; Psa. 96:13: Acts 17:31).
We see clearly that the number atoned for by our Lord’s sacrifice for sins the general lifting of the “curse” legally - gives no criterion by which we may judge the number who will by obedience of faith get actually free from sin and its curse and return to at-one-ment with the Father, by availing themselves of the opportunities opened to all by our dear Redeemer. There is no proposition on God’s part, nor any reasonable ground for supposition on man’s part, that Divine favor and life everlasting through Christ will ever be attained by any except those who shall come into the fullest heart-harmony with God, and with all his laws of righteousness. We rejoice, however, that the knowledge of God’s grace and other opportunities far better than are now enjoyed by the world shall in God’s “due time” be extended to every creature. (1 Tim. 2:6) With the lesson learned from the Time of Trouble, especially from anarchy, all mankind will be ready for Messiah’s Kingdom, and The Fifth Universal Empire, will then be ushered in and be “the desire of all nations.” (Haggai 2:7)
Glory be to God forever and ever for this glorious hope that Jehovah, our heavenly Father, has given us; and let everyone say, Amen and Amen forever and forever, Amen.
“SONGS OF THE NIGHT”
“The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Psa. 126:3)
We are still in the night of weeping. Sickness, sorrow, sighing and dying continue, and will continue until the glorious morning of Messiah’s Kingdom breaks. How glad we are to have learned that then the glorious change will come to earth. The Prophet David ex-presses this thought, saying: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psa. 30:5) St.Pau1 expressed the same sentiment when he declared, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God.” (Romans 8:22) The Sons of God in glory will, with their Lord, constitute Emmanuel’s Kingdom, and at present these Sons of God are comparatively little known or recognized amongst men; frequently they are considered “peculiar people,” because of their zeal for righteousness and truth, and for God. “Beloved now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” and we shall share His glory, honor, and immortality and with Him scatter Divine blessings to all the families of the earth.
A SONG OF DELIVERANCE
Our lesson, the 85th Psalm, may properly have served several applications. The first of these would be to Israel's deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, when Cyrus gave permission that all who desired might return to Palestine. About fifty-three thousand - a small number - availed themselves of this privilege and of his assistance. The people rejoiced in this manifestation of the turning away of Divine disfavor, and the return to them of God’s favor and blessing. The pardon of their transgressions as a nation was here evidenced in this privilege of returning to God's favor.
A secondary application of the Song is just before us. Israel has been in a far greater captivity in Christendom during the past eighteen centuries. She has the promise, nevertheless, of a mighty deliverance. The Cyrus who granted them liberty to return from literal Babylon was a type of the great Messiah who is about to give full liberty for the return of God's ancient people to Divine favor to Palestine.
Israel's sins have not yet been taken away, even as the world's sins have not yet been taken away. The great Redeemer has, indeed, died for sin, and He is the sinner's friend, but as yet He has only appeared in the presence of God for us ─ the Church ─ not for the world. He is only the Church’s Advocate now. He advocates for none except those who come to God and give Him their hearts and lives; and these are the saintly only ─ such as love righteousness and hate iniquity.
The world is enslaved by Sin and Death, the twin monarchs who are now reigning and causing mankind to groan. We were born in this enslaved condition, as the Scriptures declare: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, in sin did my mother conceive me.” Our race, groaning under the weaknesses and imperfections we have thus inherited ─ mental, moral and physical, long for the promised deliverance from the bondage of sin and death. The majority of mankind undoubtedly feel the gall of their slavery, and will be glad to be free.
DELIVERANCE AT HAND
The great Deliverer is the antitypical Cyrus. Soon He will go forth to victory, and will establish His Kingdom under the whole heavens. Soon the Church class, the saints, “the elect,” will be glorified, and then the time will come for the blessing of the non-elect ─ for their restitution to human perfection and to a world-wide Paradise, which Messiah's power and Kingdom will introduce. “He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Sheol, hades, the grave, will be no more; death will be destroyed by the resurrection of the dead there-from, “Every one in his own order.”
Many of the Lord's people who can see something of the blessings due at the Second Advent, and who appreciate in some measure the fact that the Lord comes again to bestow the great blessings secured by His death, fail to see this other proposition; viz., that those in their graves have as much interest in that glorious reign of Messiah as those who at that time will be less completely under the bondage of corruption ─ death. But as surely as Jesus died for all, they all must have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with His own precious blood. Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial Age upon all those in the grave as well as upon those not in it; and of this we will find abundant proof, as we look further into the Lord’s testimony on the subject. It is because of God’s plan for their release that those in the tomb are called “prisoners of hope.”
The prevailing opinion is that death ends all probation; but there is no Scripture which so teaches. God does not purpose to save men on account of ignorance, but “will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4) Since the masses of mankind have died in ignorance, and since “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave” (Eccl. 9:10), therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence His plan is, that “as all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive.”
THE SECRET OF JOY
While the whole creation groans under its load of sin and sorrow, the saints may sing and rejoice, even in the midst of all the sorrows of life, even though they share the results of sin as fully or even more fully than do others. The secret of their joy is twofold: (1) They have experienced reconciliation to God; (2) They have submitted their wills to His will. They obtained this new relationship by the way of faith in the Redeemer ─ faith in His blood of Atonement. They entered by the “strait gate” and “narrow way” of consecration to God ─ surrendering their own wills and covenanting to do the Divine will to the best of their ability. This submission of the will to God and the realization that all their life’s affairs are in God’s keeping and under His supervision give rest to the heart. They have a rest and peace in this surrendered condition which they never knew when they sought to gratify self-will, and ignored the right of their Creator to the homage of their hearts and the obedience of their lives.
BELIEVERS VISUALIZE STORIES
Similarly, these have joy and peace, and songs of thankfulness to God, because to them He grants a knowledge of His Divine purposes, and shows them “things to come.” These see beyond the trials and tribulations of the present time ─ they see the glories that will follow the present time of suffering. These see that the Church, the saintly ones of all denominations and of all nationalities, are prospective heirs of God ─ heirs of glory, honor and immortality; and associates with the Redeemer in His glorious Kingdom. This encourages and stimulates them. They also see the outlines of the Divine Program for the blessing of all the families of the earth. When they thus perceive that God is interested in their dear ones who are not saints, and interested in the whole human family, very few of whom are saints, it gives them cause for rejoicing. When they perceive that God has arranged that through Christ and the glorified Church all the families of the earth shall be blessed, it makes them “joyful in the house of their pilgrimage” ─ while waiting for their own change from human to Divine nature. Seeing the provision which God has made for the world of mankind, they are contented, and are glad to have God's will done in themselves and in all the earth.
(What Pastor Russell Wrote for the
Overland Monthly, pages 176-178, 1909)
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
I am devastated over the news of dear Emily’s death. While I had been expecting such news for a while nevertheless it came as a shock. It came exactly 25 years to the day after the death of my dear Mother. Yes, now they are asleep in Jesus and we are comforted in knowing that they will have a “better resurrection.” They both will make wonderful teachers in the next age bringing the world up to perfection. I am still very saddened with your news as I looked to Emily as my spiritual guide and will miss her very much. Emily did such a wonderful job since Brother Hoefle’s death. Love, ___ (VIRGINIA)
Dear Sister Marjorie and peace through our beloved Lord,
The information of Sister Hoefle’s demise was received with sadness. I quickly sent the information to our brethren all over to observe a memorial service in honor of her, those far distant brethren to observe in their distant districts. While the nearby ones to come to the National H/Qs on January 27.
January 27, 2008 by 10:00 a.m. the normal Service meeting started which I preached. Five classes joined with me to observe the memorial service. The memorial was blessed with many brethren in attendance. After the lecture all went outside the hall and marched in line around the big hall which is built in her memory with hymn No. 47. In the church again we sang hymn No. 250 for dismissal.
Information reached me from other classes celebrated by Brother J.E. Tom with good attendance, and Brother Titus E. Umoh in the area where he officiated the attendance was also good.
Dear sister sincere greetings to you, Brother Williams, and others supporting the work in which all the brethren’s condolence overflows together with Sister Emah and family.
Warm Christian love, Brother Emah (NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA)
Dear Sister Williams,
One of the Brethren from Florida told me of Sister Hoefle falling asleep in death (John 11:11-14). You all have our deepest sympathy. She was a precious saint. I still have her letters she wrote over the years to me. Christian love, ___ (TEXAS)