FAITH THE FOUNDATION OF JEWISH CHARACTER
The resurrection of Jewish hopes as represented in Zionism is amazing, not only to well-informed Gentiles, but also to the more learned of the Jewish peoples. Seventeen years ago  the writer visited the Holy Land to note the evidences of rejuvenation resulting from the increase of rainfall in that region, in harmony with certain prophecies of the holy Scriptures to which he then had been calling attention for more than fifteen years. On that occasion he endeavored to awaken Jewish interest in the prophecies relating to their reestablishment as a nation in their own land, and the Divine blessing then to be poured out upon the Promised Land and the chosen people. But no Jew at that time seemed to have a hearing ear. Amongst the poorer classes of them there was indeed a temporary animation of countenance, but the dejected look returned as they replied that the prophesied blessing could not come until after the year 6,000 a.m., and that their chronology showed this to be about 150 years off. We attempted to show them from their own Scriptures that 6,000 years had already elapsed, and that the “Times of the Gentiles” would soon expire ─ in 1915 ─ and that, according to the Scriptures, great blessings would then be poured upon them as a people. But they merely sighed, and by looks and actions said, “A Gentile cannot tell us about our own Scriptures; surely our rabbis are more wise and would give us such consolation, if it were true.”
On our return from the Holy Land our report of prevailing conditions was quite widely published in America and Great Britain, and we sent special copies of it to the managers of the Jewish Colonization Committee, representing Sir Moses Montefiore’s bounty: also to the managers of the Baron de Hirsch Jewish Colonization Fund. The latter Association was then expending millions of money in endeavoring to establish Jewish colonies in Argentine Republic, while the former was laboring in Palestine. We called the attention of the latter Association to the Scriptural declaration that Israel would be regathered to its own land, and that efforts expended elsewhere would be comparatively fruitless ─ as they have since proven.
We do not claim that our influence has contributed in the slightest degree to the marvelous awakening of the Jewish people in respect to the rehabilitation of their land and their nation. We are merely noting how marvelous the change that has come over that people since that time! Now Jews voluntarily inform us that they read regularly our weekly discourse, and are specially interested in the items which touch upon Jewish welfare and coming national glory. And, we have been invited by Hebrews to lecture before them on the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, in which they are evincing a deep and a growing interest.
When Zionism first made its appearance it appealed only to the “poor Jews.” The rich and prosperous Jews very generally sneered at Zionism as impracticable, foolish, etc. Prominent Rabbis preached against it, declaring that America is the promised land of the Jew, from which no Palestine prospect could attract him. They declare themselves unorthodox ─ Jews by race and not by faith ─ iconoclasts, agnostics. Editors of Jewish papers expressed similar views, evidently feeling that the Zionist movement would bring discredit on their race in the eyes of the Gentiles. Meetings were held in which Zionism was decried and made sport of, and American citizenship held up as the ideal for the Jewish youth, etc.
Gradually Jewish sentiment has veered more and more toward Zionism, until today Jewish journals find it advantageous to have a Zionist Department. And rabbis and editors find it not wise to run counter to the steadily increasing current of Zionist sentiment. Now they admit that a rejuvenation of Palestine is in progress, that Zionism has a hold upon the hearts of the poorer Jews in every land, and particularly in Russia. Now they admit that the poor of their race have heart-longings for Palestine, which impulse them toward it rather than elsewhere. Now they admit that the rehabilitation of Israel in her own land would not only be advantageous for their poorer brethren, but possibly add to the influence of the less orthodox, who would not think of leaving this and other lands, where they are enjoying so great financial prosperity that they are not thinking particularly of the future nor of the past.
The Power of Jerusalem’s Hope
Do we consider it strange that an influence, a hope, should so quickly spread abroad over all the earth amongst the eight millions of the Hebrew race? Do we consider it “extraordinary patriotism” that, after eighteen centuries of absence from their fatherland, the thought of returning thither should so pulsate the hearts of their whole nation? Do we marvel still more, when we consider that they have been a longer period out of that land than ever they were in it? If these are the interrogations of our mind, they merely prove that we do not comprehend the sentiment which now for nearly thirty-eight centuries has influenced Abraham and his seed!
The fact is, that the Jew is not well known even amongst his most intimate Gentile acquaintances. And he cannot be broadly and intimately understood, except from the standpoint of his religion, which few Gentiles comprehend, and which with the majority of Jews, even, is a matter of prejudice and pride, rather than of clear understanding and religious conviction.
isolated from other nationalities by Divine command, and in accordance with his
religions convictions, the Jew became a stranger and an alien to the world at
large; and it, resenting his claim of Divine favor and religious superiority,
has disdained the Jew and ostracized him ─ yea, and persecuted him even, in a
most un-Christian manner. Cut off thus from social intercourse with Gentiles ─
shut up by himself, the Jew has cultivated a spirit of social resentment.
Crowded in upon himself, he has had the ambition to cope with the Gentiles in
every field of progress in a competitive and not a fraternal spirit. For a long
time forbidden to own and till the land, he abandoned agriculture and confined
himself within certain limits of cities of the old world, and has distinctly
marked his “Jewish Quarter.” Finding that the
Gentile came to him generally under stress, if at all, he has engaged in pawnbroker businesses, and applying to it his natural energy, he learned how to make that business profitable ─ but thereby frequently increased the animosity of his Gentile neighbors. Gradually his strong character has become chiefly enlisted in money-making ─ and in this he has a large following amongst the Gentiles, though the latter are comparatively less successful in the strife.
Not until our day, since the overthrow of Jerusalem, has the Jew really had full, fair treatment and equal opportunity with other nationalities in certain parts of Europe and in this land. Now his persevering energy places him in high positions of influence in banking, in merchandising, in newspaper work and in literature. Yet, however great his achievements, however wealthy he may be, there is a great gulf socially between him and his Gentile neighbor. Nor can we claim that this is purely an objection to his religion, for many Gentiles of high social rank hold to very similar religious tenets ─ Unitarians and others. This social chasm the Jew admits and resents, but does not understand. It would appear to be due largely to the fact that his commercial instincts have in these long years gained such ascendancy as to dominate him in whatever field he may exercise himself. The money sentiment, the cash value, How much is it worth? How much can I get? What will it profit? are sentiments which, to a lamentable degree, afflict all of humanity ─ some more, some less. But with the Gentiles there are sentiments, there are occasions, there are things and circumstances, into which he enters quite separate and apart from commercialism. This super-commercial sentiment our Hebrew friends generally find it difficult to appreciate and impossible to attain.
What can be the foundation from which proceeds the irrepressible hope and courage of the Jew, which have carried him through bloody seas of persecution, through social ostracism, against the current of prejudice and superstition, to his present lofty stand in the world? Why has he not been crushed, as have other people? Why has he not disappeared from the face of the earth as a race, as have other races? Why is it that today, after thirty-eight centuries, he is such a force, such a power in the world financially, that the wealthiest Governments are indebted to him and dare scarcely undertake a war without his cooperation in raising the funds? What is the secret of Jewish hope, courage and pride?
The Chosen Seed of Abraham
The key of the situation is given us in the Bible, and nowhere else. The relationship of Jewish people and the land of Palestine and the Bible, rightly understood, constitute a proof that there is a God: that he has a great and wonderful Plan or method by which he is dealing with mankind; that his Plan is connected with the Jewish nation, and that the Bible is the record of that Plan. But here we must remember the truthfulness of the poet’s expression:
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.”
It is a mistake to suppose that the Bible was written for the world or intended to be understood by the world. Its own testimony is to the contrary of this ─ that the Divine purposes are intended to be concealed from mankind in general and to be understood only by those who come into heart harmony with the Divine intention, and who from this standpoint “search the Scriptures.” It should not surprise us, therefore, that our Jewish friends have not comprehended clearly the Scriptures, which they so reverently and pains-takingly preserved from Moses until Christ. And may we not truthfully say that the same lack of understanding very generally prevails, even amongst Christians? Is not the fact that comparatively few of the Lord’s people have been privileged to comprehend the length and breadth and height and depth of the Divine Plan, fully in agreement with the Scriptural declaration that such knowledge has been intended throughout the Age only for a very small minority? The hindrances which have blinded so many are the creeds, traditions and Talmud. “The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him [and His Word] and he will show them his covenant.” (Psa. 25:14)
The Scriptures seem to indicate, however, that the time is at hand when “The mystery of God shall be finished,” and when the understanding of the Divine Plan may be comprehended by increasing numbers, and amongst these the reverential Jews. Indeed, the Jew should be specially attracted by the outlines of the Divine Plan set forth in the prophecies of his own Scriptures. They explain the experiences of Israel while still in God’s favor, and the experiences of the past eighteen centuries of their disfavor, and show how both of these will work together eventually for the blessing of Israel and through Israel for the blessing of the Gentiles.
The Divine Promise to Abraham’s Seed
As the very foundation of Israel’s every hope, the mainspring of that people’s courage, the motive power of their energy, their perseverance and their pride, has been the Divine promise made to Abraham, their illustrious ancestor, “the friend of God.” To Abraham, after certain tests of character ─ obedience, loyalty, faith ─ God made a Promise which constitutes the hope, both of Israel and the Gentiles. It reads, “In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) Abraham’s son Isaac was indicated by the Lord to be the channel through which this blessing should proceed. Later on, Isaac’s son Jacob was indicated as a further channel. At Jacob’s death the Divine blessing passed, by Divine direction, not to a single one of his posterity, but to them all as a whole nation.
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, which signifies a prince influential with God ─ in Divine favor. This name Israel, indicative of so much of honor and Divine favor, was subsequently applied to the whole nation of Jacob’s descendants, who became known as Israelites, or Children of Israel. It was understood by that nation that they were the seed, the posterity mentioned in the promise made to Abraham ─ in whom “all the families of the earth should be blessed.” They correctly understood that this would signify a great exaltation for their little nation. They had full confidence in that great Promise, because the Lord had secured it to them in a most remarkable manner ─ he made oath to it. Since he could swear by none greater than himself, he said, “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; therefore, I will greatly bless thee and I will exceedingly multiply thy Seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand upon the sea-shore… and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 23:16-18)
This hope in God ─ that they were his chosen people whom he would use as the channel of Divine favor to all nations ─ has ever been the mainspring of Jewish courage and pride. Not all Jews have inordinate self-conceit as the basis for success. Some of them are fearful and some deficient in self-esteem; but they are nerved by the conviction that God was specially interested in them, and the hope that he will yet fulfill to them his Oath-Bound Covenant. A faith so persistent (for thirty-eight centuries) must surely be pleasing to God, and must challenge the administration even of their enemies. Christian Bible students well know that much of the Bible consists of Israel’s past history and prophecies of their coming glory. The past eighteen centuries have been merely a parenthesis in which spiritual Israel has been in process of selection from every nation. The speedy return of Israel to God’s favor marks another onward step in the Divine Plan of the Ages. According to the Scriptures, their coming uplift to Divine favor marks the Millennial epoch of blessings so long promised by God through the Hebrew prophets and attested also by our Lord and his apostles, mark the words of Peter ─ “Times of Refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Jesus Christ, whom the heavens must retain until the Times of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21) Jewish Restitution is the first item of the many blessings then to be poured upon mankind by a gracious Creator.
As in future articles we shall outline various Scriptural prophecies in which the Jew is vitally interested, it is our hope that not merely our Hebrew friends will be interested, but also Christian Bible students and non-professors. The coming blessings will be abundant to the blessing of all mankind, but the Jew first, for “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew;” “For the gifts and calling of God he never repents of.” (Romans 11:2; 29:32)
ISRAEL’S NEW COVENANT
The chosen people look back to the great Covenant which God made with Abraham, their progenitor ─ the Covenant confirmed by Almighty God with an oath that his people might have full assurance in respect to its ultimate fulfillment. But Israel recognized that, incidental to the blessing of the world, the Divine Law must be established and mankind must be blessed legally. Hence they point back to Moses and the Covenant which God made with their nation through him. True, there were disappointments connected with that Law Covenant. As a people they had expected much more from it than they ever obtained. They had expected that by obedience to its requirements they themselves would become possessors of everlasting life. They expected additionally that Jehovah God would then use their nation for the blessing of other nations by bringing all the world of mankind under the dominion of the Law of God, that the whole world might receive blessing, restitution and everlasting life through the Law Covenant.
Notwithstanding their great disappointment in that they did not gain eternal life themselves ─ nor national exaltation ─ they still maintained a hold upon that Covenant and trusted for its blessings yet to come.
When in their perplexity they cried to the Lord for relief and for explanation why the blessings hoped for did not come, they received answer from him through the prophets that before those promised favors could be fulfilled, the great Messiah must come. He would be a great Teacher and Ruler like unto Moses, but much more powerful. He would embody in himself all the qualities of Judge, Priest, Mediator, Law-giver and King. Under his superintendence Israel would yet be blessed and become the channel of Divine blessing to every nation. Moses foretold this greater Prophet, saying, “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22,23; Deut. 18:15,19) Hence the hearts of Israel waited for the Messianic Priest and Kingly Mediator who would do for them abundantly more than Moses had been able to accomplish, though they had profited much through the ministry of their great Law-giver. This antitypical Moses, Messiah, is referred to by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, I will send my messenger [John the Immerser] and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly [not quickly, but unexpectedly] come to his temple [the Church is the Temple], even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in.” (Malachi 3:1)
A New Mediator
This sending of the New Mediator implied a New Covenant, or at least a renewal of the Law Covenant under the more efficient Mediator ─ Messiah. This renewal of the Sinaitic Covenant at the hands of Messiah, the superior Mediator and Helper of the chosen people, is specially referred to in Jeremiah 31. This Prophet was the one through whom the Lord prophetically speaks as though in our day, at the close of Israel’s long period of exile from Divine favor. The time is indicated by the words of verses 28-29, which read: “It shall come to pass that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build, and to plant, saith the Lord. In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”
This preface was sufficiently explicit! It indicated, not any period in the past of Israel’s history, but the period that is immediately at hand, about to be inaugurated. The “sour grapes” refer to the evil influences of heredity ─ to the fact that the sins of the parents have influenced and affected the children of all humanity, so that all are sinners in fact, regardless of their intention; for we were all “shapen in iniquity; in sin did our mothers conceive us.” (Psalm 51:5) But the great time of dispensational change is at hand. This condition of heredity shall no longer prevail against the race. Instead of falling further, the rising up, the restitution, shall begin, and only those who willingly and willfully and knowingly transgress the Divine Law shall be held responsible, and receive the penalty of sin, “Dying, thou shalt die.”
These prefatory words sufficiently introduce the main feature of this message respecting the New Covenant. We read, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah; not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my Covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
The superiority of this New Covenant to the old one is clearly indicated. The old one was written merely on tables of stone. The new one the Lord will cause to be gradually written in the hearts of all who come under the beneficent influences of his Kingdom. The old Law needed to be impressed upon them continually, every Sabbath day and oftener; but the New Law would not need to be referred to; for all would know it, since it would be written in the heart and conscience of all, from the least to the greatest. The Old Law Covenant under Moses as Mediator needed to be revived by a repetition of its sacrifices of bulls and goats every year, in order to cleanse away the sins of the people and to bring them Divine forgiveness for another year. But the New Law Covenant would be exceedingly better in that, by better sacrifices, it would forever do away with the necessity of the yearly repetition of Atonement Day. The sins and iniquities of the people would then be so thoroughly eradicated as to need no further sacrificing.
Waiting for the Great Mediator
For more than three thousand years Israel has waited for its better Mediator ─ waited and hoped and prayed. Thank God! we can now proclaim that his advent is nigh at hand; that his power and glory and honor and dignity will be all that they have ever expected ─ and much more. But he will be a spiritual Mediator, invisible to men. His power and glory will be seen on earth only through their operation as he shall cast down the unfit and lift up the worthy, the down-trodden. This great Mediator will take to himself his great power and reign, as soon as the time appointed by Jehovah shall have arrived. And we have reason to believe that the time of his establishment of his Empire on earth will be at the close of Israel’s Seven Times of disfavor, during or shortly after A.D. 1915, in or just after the great time of world-wide trouble which will then be upon the earth.
This great Priest referred to in the Scriptures “the King of Glory,” will be as invisible to men as is the Prince of Darkness, Satan, whom the Scriptures recognize as being now the “Prince of this World.” In connection with the Time of Trouble, the Prince of Glory will bind the Prince of Darkness, restraining him from every power to further deceive mankind throughout the glorious Millennial period which will then be inaugurated. And of course this great spiritual King must have earthly representatives and agents amongst men, even as the Prince of Darkness has used sons of Belial as his servants ─ many of them unwittingly, ignorantly, serving him. But the Prince of Life will use only the pure, the holy, the reverent, the godly. And none of his servants will be under restraints of ignorance or bonds of superstition. On the contrary, the righteous will then flourish and the evil-doers shall be cut off (Prov. 11:28; Psa. 37:9).
God has already made selection of those wonderful personages who shall represent Messiah to Israel and to the world. They were selected long ago according to their trials of faith and obedience and patient endurance for righteousness’ sake. They are a noble band. They are all Hebrews ─ select members of the chosen people, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and all the prophets, besides others too numerous to mention, who through trying ordeals of faith and patience and loyalty demonstrated their love for righteousness, for Truth and for God. These are worthy. These are God’s “elect” for this great purpose. Nor will it serve the Divine purpose that these should be awakened from the tomb in the condition in which they went down into death. Nay, by their faithfulness under trying conditions they proved to the Divine satisfaction their loyalty to the core. And their reward shall be that they will come forth from the tomb under more favorable conditions than do their fellows. They will come forth perfect in mind and in body, glorious specimens of perfect manhood, such as God approves. They will be examples to Israel and to all the nations of what each member of Adam’s race may attain if he will be obedient to the terms of the Covenant.
The Advantages of the New Covenant
We have already indicated some of the advantages of the New Covenant. For a thousand years the great Mediator will stand between Divine Justice and Israel to give to all the willing and obedient the blessings of Divine favor ─ blessings of which they would not be worthy themselves, because imperfect through the fall ─ blessings intended in God’s Providence to afford them the opportunity of gradually rising up, up, up, to the full perfection of manhood in the likeness of the Ancient Worthies their instructors and guides, the representatives of Messiah amongst men. Ah, that will be a glorious day for the chosen people! All that they ever dreamed of, and far more, will be their glorious portion. Nor will these wonderful privileges be theirs alone, for, although the Covenant will be made with Israel, the privilege of coming into that Covenant relationship with God will be extended to all nations, permitting all to become Israelites, through faith, through obedience to that Law of the New Covenant.
The difficulty with the Mosaic Covenant was that Moses, in important respects, was incompetent as a Mediator. But Messiah will be far more competent to carry out the requirements of the office of Mediator, and will succeed in the great work which Moses undertook but in which he failed. Moses’ work at the very most, however, was typical of the perfect work of the Messiah-Mediator. The basis of God’s arrangement with Israel to be his Covenant people was the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement ─ the blood of bulls and goats. But these at most made satisfaction for only a year. Messiah as the more competent Mediator, in a greater Day of Atonement, has offered more acceptable sacrifices to the Father which can and do effect a cancellation of sin for all time and for all people who will come under his New Covenant arrangement.
Is it asked how the New Covenant will go into effect with those who are under the Sinaitic Covenant? We answer that the Law feature in both cases is the same; but that the difference between the old Law Covenant and New (Law) Covenant will be merely the substitution of the new Mediator and his more efficient work for Moses and his typical, insufficient work. The chosen people have had some sad experiences while waiting for the great Messiah-Mediator of their New Covenant. But the glorious results will more than compensate for all disappointments in respect to the delay. Instead of merely living as a nation under Divine favor for a few years and then lapsing into death, as under the Law Covenant, they will, under the arrangements of the New Covenant, obtain life eternal and full human perfection, in which it will be possible for them absolutely and continuously to have approval of the Divine Law.
More than this, their mission as the agents of God under the New Covenant, for the blessing of all the Gentiles, will mean the bringing of the Gentiles up to the same glorious standards of human perfection and eternal life under the blessed arrangement of the Messiah-Mediator. Surely, then, all who love the Divine promises to the chosen people and the New Covenant through which those promises will be fulfilled, may well pray, O Lord, thy Kingdom come! Messiah, come quickly! End the reign of sin and death! Exalt thy chosen people and bless all the families of the earth!
(Pastor Russell, What Pastor Russell Wrote for the Overland Monthly, pages 63-66 and pages 89-92)
“Let such as have laid their all upon the altar of sacrifice continually bear in mind that, while the Word of God contains both earthly and heavenly promises, only the latter belong to us. Our treasure is in heaven; let our hearts continually be there. Our calling is not only to the spiritual nature, but to the highest order of the spiritual, the Divine Nature ─ “so much better than the angels.” (2 Peter 1:4; Heb. 1:4)) This heavenly calling to the Divine Nature is confined to the Gospel Age: it was never made before it, and it will cease with its close. An earthly calling was made, though imperfectly understood, before the heavenly calling, and we are told that it will be continued after the Gospel Age. Life [for those restored as human beings] and immortality [the prize for which the body of Christ is running] have both been brought to light during this age. (2 Tim. 1:10) Both the human and spiritual natures will be glorious in their perfection, yet distinct and separate. No insignificant feature of the glory of God’s finished work will be the beautiful variety, yet wonderful harmony, of all things, animate and inanimate ─ harmony with each other and harmony with God.” (By Pastor Russell, The Divine Plan of the Ages, pages 203, 204)
“We may be sure that any consecrating and performing a full sacrifice of themselves in the interest of the Lord’s cause after the heavenly class is complete, will find that the Lord has plenty of blessings of some other kind still to give; and that all of his blessings, are for such consecrators, self-sacrificers. Possibly they may be counted in with the Ancient Worthies who had the sacrificing disposition that is pleasing to God, prior to the beginning of the “high calling.” (By Pastor Russell, The New Creation, page 157)