“Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, has come; for thy servants take pleasure in her stones and favor the dust thereof. Then shall the Gentiles fear the name of Jehovah and the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” (Psalm 102:13-18)
The above Psalm is recognized as prophetic, both by Christians and Jews, each applying the matter to himself. We agree that there is a spiritual as well as a natural Israel. But we hold that Christian people have erred in applying all the Scriptures to themselves and in not discerning that a large proportion of the promised coming blessings belong to natural Israel. Failure to recognize this has worked injury and confusion to the minds of many Christian Bible students. Appropriating to themselves promises that belong to natural Israel, Christians have been led to turn and twist and spiritualize the Word of the Lord, until they have destroyed much of their own faith in it, as, for instance, the Scriptures declare that in Messiah’s Day the wilderness shall blossom as the rose and the solitary place be glad and that the people shall build houses and inhabit them and plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, and long enjoy the work of their hands; and that “they shall sit, every man under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make them afraid.” (Micah 4:4) An attempt to spiritualize these promises and make them appear to apply to spiritual Israel has been robbing natural Israel of his portion of God’s favor, and has caused darkness and perplexity amongst Christian Israelites in their endeavor to harmonize these Scriptures with others which assure us that “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1Cor. 15:50), and that ours is the heavenly calling and that the saints must be changed in a moment from human conditions to spiritual conditions, in order to enter into their reward.
St. Paul urges upon followers of Jesus that they “Rightly divide the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) This admonition we have neglected, to our loss. From Genesis to Malachi, the Jew found not a suggestion of a change of nature from earthly to heavenly, from fleshly to spiritual. To whatever extent he has learned to spiritualize the teachings of the Law and the Prophets he has been swerved by outside influence. For instance, God’s promise to Abraham was, “Lift up now thine eyes and look to the East and to the West and to the North and to the South. All the land that thou seest will I give to thee and to thy seed after thee.” Abraham must get that land first, and from him it must pass to his posterity. He never possessed one foot of it, according to the Genesis account, which is confirmed by St. Stephen, who declared (Acts 7:5) that Abraham received not so much of the land as to set his foot upon. This promise contains nothing whatever respecting a spiritual land or a change of nature, either to Abraham or to his posterity. This promise and others like it belong to Abraham’s natural seed, and properly they should wait and hope for its fulfillment. It will be fulfilled when, shortly, Father Abraham and the other saintly ones of the Jewish family shall, with him, be resurrected from the dead to the glory of human perfection. Thus is it written, “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” (Psa. 45:16)
These princes amongst mankind will be the visible rulers and teachers of the world. To them first will be drawn the Jews. Then, as the remainder of the world will perceive the blessings resulting to Israel they will realize that this new order of things is advantageous for all, and will submit themselves to this Semitic government. The Jews are gradually coming to see that no human being could possibly fulfill all the glorious predictions made respecting their Messiah. They are quite prepared therefore, to note the force of Daniel’s prophecy (12:1) that Messiah will be one like God. It will not be difficult, therefore, for the Jews to comprehend that this God-like Messiah, who will combine in Himself the qualities of Moses, the great teacher and law-giver, of David and Solomon the great kings, and of Melchisedec, the great priest ─ all on a bigger scale ─ antitypical ─ must be a spirit being and not a human being. And if a spirit being like unto the angels, His Throne and glory will not be earthly nor visible to men except by the eyes of their understanding. Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophets, etc., will be the earthly representatives of this great invisible spiritual Prince ─ Michael ─ who as God shall rule the world in righteousness and lift up the poor and the needy and humble the proud and dispel ignorance and superstition and cause the light of the knowledge of Jehovah to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.
DOMINION OF SIN TO BE OVERTHROWN
Satan is Scripturally designated the Prince of this Age who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). The promise of the Scriptures is that his usurpation of earth’s dominion will cease. It has been carried on through ignorance superstition, and deception.
Because of it we read, “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.”
The distinct promise is that when Messiah’s reign shall begin, Satan shall be bound and the reign of sin and death shall be at an end. Instead, Messiah and His saintly Bride on the spirit plane shall reign, promoting righteousness and everlasting life. Abraham and the other Ancient Worthies will be the honored earthly representatives of this glorious spiritual Empire. The object and work of Messiah’s reign will be not only to stop the reign of sin and death, but, more than this, to lift up poor, fallen humanity out of ignorance and superstition, out of sin and death, out of weaknesses and frailties. Messiah’s Kingdom, therefore, is properly termed the times or years of restitution (Acts 3:19-21) and it is properly symbolized by Israel’s Fiftieth Year of Jubilee.
THE HINDRANCE WILL BE REMOVED
The question properly arises ─ If God intended so glorious a future for His Chosen People, why was it necessary that there should be so long a delay? Why did He not at once exalt them in the days of Moses or in the days of David or Solomon? Why did he not at once bring in these great blessings which the Scriptures foretell?
The answer is a simple one which meets all requirements:
(1) Nearly two thousand years was consumed in finding the saintly few of Israel who with Father Abraham would be worthy to be Messiah’s Princes in all the earth during His reign of a thousand years.
(2) Additionally, God purposed that Messiah should have companions on the spirit plane with Himself and sharers of His nature, glory, honor and power ─ His Bride, even as Abraham sought a bride for the typical Isaac to be associated with Him in conferring the blessing. For nearly two thousand years this “little flock” of saintly people from every nation, people, kindred and tongue, Jews, French, Swedes, British, Germans, etc., a saintly few, will by a share in the First Resurrection be changed from earthly nature to heavenly.
Thus we see that God’s great Plan for the world’s salvation by Messiah’s Kingdom has been in preparation ever since the flood, but the preparation is not yet quite completed. The Princes of Israel have been found, have been approved, and are merely sleeping in the dust of the earth (Dan. 12:2), waiting until the other small elect class shall be completed, whom we shall designate the spiritual Princes or Messiah’s Bride. This work complete, the blessing of all the families of the earth will be ushered in with power and great glory. And although its introduction, it is declared, will come through a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, nevertheless that trouble cloud has such a glorious silver lining of hope and joy and blessing for Israel and for the world that all who see it in its true character may really welcome it. Short, sharp and decisive, it will make the rough places smooth. It will overthrow the pride and arrogance of man. It will humble all. It will break many hearts and overthrow many ambitions, but the eventual result will be “The desire of all nations.” (Haggai 2:7)
“YEA, THE SET TIME IS COME”
So many are haphazard and thoughtless themselves that they naturally think of the Almighty from their own standpoint ─ as conducting a haphazard plan of dealing with humanity ─ a plan devoid of wisdom, justice, love and power ─ a plan which would reflect dishonorably on any human architect, on any human ruler, on any human statesman. Let us be through with such childish misconceptions of God. Otherwise, like the Higher Critics, we would soon esteem ourselves superior to the God of the Bible, and, correspondingly our reverence, our worship, our obedience to Him would diminish.
It is when we begin to get the proper focus upon the Holy Scriptures that we begin to realize our own littleness and the greatness of the Creator ─ the insignificance and absurdity of our human theories and creeds and the sublime majesty of the Divine arrangement for the children of men. We have just seen the selection of two companies of saintly characters for the Divine purpose of the world’s blessing. Should it surprise us to find that the Almighty has set time ordained from before the foundation of the world controlling every feature of His great Plan of the Ages? It should not. Should we expect that fallen and imperfect humanity will see the advisability for chronological exactness and that the Almighty God should ignore such a matter? Have men manufactured clocks and watches so that they regulate the affairs of life to the very moment in respect to the starting of a train or in respect to the hour in which a timelock would release the treasures of a safe, and shall we, then, be surprised to find that the Almighty Creator has times, yea, set times, connected with the ordering of His great Plan of the Ages? Surely not. Hence our text is quite reasonable in this declaration that God has the time, yea, the set time, for remembering His promises to Israel and for bringing about their fulfillment? Rather this should encourage us, should stimulate our faith and make us more and more obedient to Him who speaks from heaven and who tells us that the great clock of the universe is about to strike the hour which will end this present age and introduce the reign of righteousness, the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.
ZIONISM THE FIRST CALL
It is not by accident, but of Divine foreknowledge and clearly foretold in the prophecies that the nation of Israel has suffered shamefully at the hands of many Christian nations. And, alas, to our shame it must be said that many of the atrocities practiced against them are by Christians falsely so-called ─ Christians in name, but not in fact. Note, for instance, the recent disorder in Roumania, which, fortunately, did not result to the Jews in great loss of life. But note its malevolent misrepresentation of Christ and His teachings; the so-called Greek Catholic Christians went to the cemetery ghoulishly, dug up recently interred Jews, and flung the corpses on the doorsteps of their relatives. Alas, too, that there is no general protest from so-called Christian nations against such disorders, nor against the pogroms so common of late in Russia! But what does this prove? It demonstrates what all sensible people should know, namely, that there are no Christian Governments in the world ─ that the name Christendom is a sad mistake! When Christ’s Kingdom shall really be established amongst men no such brutalities will be permitted in any name or under any pretext.
By the permission of these severe trials upon the Chosen People, God has not only, we believe, been chastening them, but addition-ally, he has been keeping them together as a people, separate from all others. Had they been without persecution, doubtless they would have been swallowed up like the other peoples of the world. As it is, they are a living monument. To the truthfulness of God’s Word ─ they are a miracle.
And now when prophecy shows that God’s time has come for remembering and executing his gracious promises to Israel, his first move toward their recovery to his favor comes through Zionism. Not that Zionism was started as a religious movement; quite the contrary. It is a spasm of national pride, however commendable such a pride may be. Weary with the persecutions of centuries, the Jew hoped that by their re-establishment as a nation they would command a greater respect throughout the world and be saved from racial hatred and persecution. They hoped, also, that the land of their fathers would furnish an asylum for the Russian outcasts of their race. The enthusiasm of Zionism spread, especially amongst the poorer Jews. Meantime other hopes and aims were set forward. Some said that Mesopotamia was the proper place, and the British gave rights of colonization; others urged Argentine Republic, and millions of dollars were spent in seeking to place Russian Jews there. Others thought to make Jewish colonies in New Jersey, and still others favored similar schemes in Texas. But none of these flourished. Colonies in Palestine alone seemed to prosper even moderately. Meantime other hopes arose ─ the Russian duma promised to be favorable to the Jew and to permit his maintaining his home in Russia, inducing bands of Russian Jews to remain in the land of their adoption. But this hope has also failed them. Persecution and evictions in Russia continue as before. The Jew is, therefore, more heart-sick than ever. His greatest prosperity has been in London and in New York City. In the latter place reside twelve hundred thousand of them. Now fear is taking hold upon their hearts that even in this land of liberty and enlightenment they may not be safe from accusations and persecutions leveled against them on account of race prejudices. Alas, poor Jews!
THE VOICE ─ “DIE STIMME”
It is at this juncture and under these conditions that God’s Chosen People today are awakening and listening to the voice of prophecy, which the writer has had the privilege of bringing to their attention. Zionism, we believe, is about to take on a new form. Instead of being any longer a movement of race pride and for race protection it seems evident that it will shortly be a religious movement. Back to the prophecies! Back to the Word of God! Back to the promise made to Abraham and repeatedly confirmed! Back to the oath-bound promise that Abraham’s seed shall yet bless all the families of the earth! The tide of Jewish sentiment is turning, and swiftly, too.
Long centuries of training in religion have marked the Jew as a religionist as well as a money-lover. He loved his money and labored for it, because his heart had no spiritual ideal for which to labor. But the message of the prophets is now ringing in the hearts of many; “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1-2)
At first, of course, the movement will only be amongst the poor, those not saturated with unbelief, Higher Criticism, Evolution, etc. Gradually it will take hold ─ we believe ─ upon those more intelligent and those of wealth. When that moment shall arrive, there will be a sufficiency of funds to forward a great movement Zion-ward. Not that all Jews, nor that even the majority of them, will go to Palestine, but surely the sympathy of all who are Jews indeed must shortly go thither, and that will mean the aid and comfort of co-religionists who will be seeking an asylum. Moreover, the great time of trouble which is nearing will be recognized by the Jews as soon as by others, and Palestine will be considered one of the best places of safety for personal property. Moreover, the Scriptures indicate that the persecutions of the Jews are not yet ended. These also will tend to drive them home. This great time of trouble will not only prepare Israel, but all the nations, to welcome Messiah’s glorious Kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace.
(Pastor Russell, What Pastor Russell Wrote for the Overland Monthly, pages 108-112)
FARMERS IN GAZA: HOW DO THOSE ISRAELIS DO IT?
After years of producing bug-free lettuce and other vegetables for Jewish farmers, the sands of Gaza have reverted to their old ways. PA farmers report failure in keeping the bugs away.
The Gaza Arabs who have taken over the hothouses of what used to be Gush Katif reported to the Israel-PA Coordination Office that they have failed in raising bug-free vegetables.
In addition, the PA workers complain that their wages from their compatriots and brethren are significantly lower now than what they received from the Israelis.
Arutz-7’s Haggai Huberman reports that the Jews of Gush Katif operated 3,600 dunams (890 acres) of hothouses as of last year, of which the PA ─ with international help ─ has managed to activate three-fourths. The Arabs had hoped to build on the Jews’ success, selling to the market the Israelis had built up over the years. The bug-free vegetables were particularly attractive to the religious and hareidi-religious publics, for reasons of kashrut.
The Jews who first arrived in Gaza some 30 years ago were repeatedly told by the Arabs who welcomed them that the land was “cursed” and that they would never succeed agriculturally. Benny Ginzberg, standing last May in the large Katif-Atzmona dairy he managed, pointed at the houses of the Arab city of Khan Yunis, several hundred meters away, and said,
“Those houses have been here since before the Six Day War. If they wanted this land, what stopped them from spreading out of here before?... When we first came, they told us that we were crazy for even trying to build something here. ‘The land is cursed,’ they told us. Well, we built something, something very great…”
Ma’yan Yadai, a 27-year-old mother of two who was thrown out of Gush Katif ─ she was originally a Croatian Catholic who converted to Judaism, fled Yugoslavia, and moved to Netzer Hazani ─ spoke about Gush Katif before a gathering of the National Council of Young Israel in New York recently. She said,
“It is difficult for me to believe that this obviously blessed area is the very same area that our Moslem neighbors called the ‘cursed land’ of El G’erara. They have told me that nobody lived in this area from the time that the last Jews left because there was not enough rain, and nothing could grow properly. They were happy when the Jews returned because the rain started again, and the land began to produce.”
Farmers in Gush Katif were considered among Israel’s most successful; their total annual exports totaled $100 million, or 15% of Israel’s agricultural exports. Of Israel’s exports abroad, Gush Katif exported to Europe 95% of the bug-free lettuce and greens, 70% of the organic vegetables, 60% of the cherry tomatoes, and 60% of the geraniums. Israel’s largest plant nursery was in the Gush Katif community of Atzmonah. Other Katif produce included spices, green, red and yellow peppers, celery and more.
Israel’s Defense Ministry sources told Huberman that the Palestinian Authority farmers were unable to develop the techniques necessary for bug-free produce.
Some of the original Israeli greenhouses were damaged or destroyed by Arabs immediately after Israel withdrew, but the PA was able to rebuild them. As of now, the only crop the Arabs are raising successfully is strawberry. (By Hillel Fende, Arutz-7, November 2005)
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE: DAY OF JUDGMENT MISUNDERSTOOD
The false view of the Day of Judgment began to be introduced in the Second Century and human fear and superstition continually made it worse and worse. The Bible, on the contrary, represented it as a period of glory and blessing. The Psalmist’s declaration, calling upon humanity and all creation to rejoice because the Lord would come to judge the earth in righteousness and the poor with equity (Psa. 98:9), is worthy of note.
A BLESSED JUDGMENT DAY
According to the Bible, the world’s Judgment Day will be the world’s time of opportunity for coming to a knowledge of God and then being tried, tested, or judged, as to their willingness to serve and obey God and his righteous government. Those found heartily obedient will be granted everlasting life with every joy and blessing appropriate to man in his perfection. Those rebellious to the light of the righteousness of Jehovah will be destroyed in the Second Death without hope of any future whatever.
That will be the time when all the heathen will have their trial, after they shall all be brought by Messiah’s Kingdom to a clear knowledge of the Truth. That will be the one time when the great masses of Christendom will for the first time hear of the real character of God and His requirements of them. Although some of them may have been in churches occasionally and may have seen Bibles, occasionally, nevertheless the eyes of their understanding were darkened. They saw not; they heard not; they understood not. The god of this world blinded them (2 Cor. 4:4).
That Judgment Day, the thousand years of Messiah’s Kingdom, will not only bind Satan, but chase away with the glorious beams of the Sun of Righteousness all the darkness, superstition and error of the world.
The Church will not be judged during that thousand year Judgment Day because her trial, her judgment, takes place now ─ during this Gospel Age. The saintly few who will gain the great prize of joint heirship with the Redeemer, Messiah, will be his Queen and sit with him in the Great White Throne of Judgment mentioned in the text; as the Apostle declares, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2)
FORMER VIEWS WERE ERRONEOUS
Our former and very unreasonable view was that man, “born in sin, shapen in iniquity,” depraved in all of his appetites, would be condemned of God in the Judgment Day on account of this heredity, and environment, for which he is not responsible. The theory was that the heathen also would be damned in that Judgment Day, because they did not know and did not accept “the only name given under heaven.” The theory was also that the masses of civilized society would in that Judgment Day be damned because they would not, and because they did not, live perfectly, notwithstanding their heredity.
Now we see that the death sentence was upon Adam and all of his race, who were in his loins when he sinned. We see that they could not be put on trial a second time until released from the first sentence. We see that their release will be at the Second Coming of Messiah in the glory of His Kingdom, when He shall cause the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth and open all the blinded eyes. Then, because of having satisfied the claims of Justice against the race, the Great Redeemer, as the Mediator of the New Covenant, will grant the world of mankind another judgment or trial ─ additional to the one given to Adam, in which they all failed and from the penalty of which failure Jesus redeemed them.
True, the measure of light and knowledge now enjoyed and willfully sinned against will work a corresponding degradation of character; all downward steps will need to be retraced.
“THE GREAT WHITE THRONE”
Symbolically, the whiteness of the throne indicates the purity of the justice and judgment which will be meted out by the Great Redeemer as the Messiah-King. The heavens and earth which will flee away from the presence of that throne are not the literal, but the symbolical. The ecclesiastical heavens and the social earth of the present time will not stand in the presence of that August Tribunal. The people will not be judged nationally nor by parliaments and systems in society, but individually. The judgment or trial will not merely test those living at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but will include all the dead.
The books of the Bible will then all be opened ─ understood. All will then see that the Golden Rules laid down by inspiration through Moses and the Prophets, Jesus and his Apostles, are the very ones which God will require of men in the future, and which Messiah will then enable the willing and obedient to comply with by assisting them up out of their sin and degradation. The judgment of that time, the test, will not be of faith, for knowledge will be universal and all the darkness and obscurity created by ignorance and superstition will have passed away. The test at that time will be of works, whereas the tests of the Church at the present time are of faith.
ANOTHER BOOK OF LIFE OPENED
Pastor Russell declared that the Lamb’s Book of Life alone is open now, and only those called to be members of the Bride class and who accept the call are written therein. But in the great day of the world’s trial or judgment another book of life will be opened. A record will be made of all who, by obedience, show themselves worthy of everlasting life on the human plane, and, if faithful, they will eventually be accepted of the Father to life eternal. All the incorrigible, all those who after the most favorable opportunities, will not give their hearts to the Lord and be obedient to the laws of the Messianic Kingdom “shall be destroyed from amongst the people.” (Acts 3:19-21)
(By Pastor Russell, What Pastor Russell Wrote for the Overland Monthly, pages 311,312)
SOMETIME WE’LL UNDERSTAND
Perhaps ‘twill be in coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And thus, sometime, we’ll understand.
We’ll catch the broken threads again,
And finish what we here began;
Heav’n will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah! then, we’ll understand.
We’ll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song hath ceased when scarce begun.
Ah, yes! sometime, we’ll understand.
Why what we longed for most of all,
Eludes so oft our eager hand;
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall―
Some day, sometime, we’ll understand.
God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, beyond, we’ll understand.
Then trust in God, thro’ all thy days,
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Tho’ dark thy way, still sing and praise;
Sometime, sometime, we’ll understand.