My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (James 5:10) In discussing the Old Testament prophets we shall speak of them in one of their two divisions: There are four Major Prophets, and twelve Minor Prophets. The Majors are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; and it is to these that we shall confine these articles. Also, we shall make only passing comment on the adversities of these great men, confining ourselves mainly to their ancestry, their work and their life.
Much of what we shall write herein is taken from the works of a group of highly educated men ‑ heads of universities and the like ‑ but we shall refrain from quotation marks for convenience. One of these men says that Isaiah is the most distinguished of writing prophets who heralded the Assyrian crisis of the eighth century BC. The spiritual movement inaugurated by these inspired men, was, from the political point of view, an episode in the expansion of the Assyrian empire, and the breaking up of small nationalities in Western Asia. Of them all, Isaiah had the longest and most varied activity. His public career covered the last forty years of the century, being nearly coextensive with the successive reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah. During all that time he watched the course of events with the keen eye of a statesman and the profound insight of a prophet, and adapted his message to the exigencies of a rapidly evolving situation. Hence it happens that while in the case of Amos and Hosea, and his younger contemporary Micah, a general acquaintance with the historical circumstances may suffice for the understanding of their writings, for any real comprehension of the work of Isaiah a close study of political developments is an indispensable preliminary.
A Striking Coincidence – The following is from Isaiah 2:5‑8: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Therefore thou has forsaken thy people the House of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east [the worldly wise], and are soothsayers like the Philistines [type of Christian sectarians in this Gospel Age]... Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses [animals of war], neither is there any end of their chariots [organizations of war]: Their land also is full of idols [they are interested in about everything except the Truth]; they worship the work of their own hands.”
Consider now the close similarity of the foregoing to Rev. 3:14‑20: “Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans [present‑day church systems] write... I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing [this was certainly the attitude of Christendom from 1874 to 1914]... Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” As Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were vociferous in pronouncing the overthrow of both the houses of Israel, so was That Servant doing the same for Christendom prior to 1914.
But after 1914 Isaiah 1:8 is a most appropriate reference: “The daughter of Zion [type of Christendom] is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.” Here are suggested to the imagination of the Prophet a very striking illustration: The “night lodge,” a frail structure consisting of four poles stuck in the ground, with cross‑pieces supporting a couch, and a slight roof or awning overhead, was erected for the watchers who guarded the fruit or crop from thieves and wild animals ‑ like a besieged city, or watchtower.
And the prophets had to receive the scorn and ridicule of the “good people. in Israel – just as did That Servant during his ministry here in the end of the Age.
Back to the Prophet ‑ The material prosperity described above had resulted in an outburst of social evils, that seem inseparable from oriental government, is discussed on about every page of the prophet’s writings. In Israel it resulted in the creation of large landed estates and the expropriation of the race of peasant proprietors who had been the strength of the old Hebrew commonwealth. Writes the prophet, “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!” (Isa. 5:8)
Great prosperity proved to be the downfall of all the universal empires; and it seems Israel should be included with that group. On the night that the Medes overthrew Babylon – whose streets were literally paved with gold – the king was eating and drinking himself drunken in the banquet hall, when that peculiar writing came on the wall: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” (Dan.5:27) Much the same could be said of the Medes; then the Greeks under Alexander; then the Romans when their wealth had exceeded description.
When Isaiah began his prophetic work it is said there was systematic forms of abuse which turned the Law into an engine of robbery and oppression. “Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” (Isa. 1:23) It is little wonder that they were eventually carried away to Babylon for seventy years – “until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths.” (2 Chron. 36:21) And when viewing this debauchery the prophet read the sure presage of a terrible day of reckoning and judgment close at hand.
But the forebodings of the prophet were not heeded by the ruling classes of Samaria or Jerusalem. In both capitals the prevailing spirit was one of optimism and careless security. It seems the politicians did not realize that their sudden good fortune was mainly due to the Assyrians being occupied elsewhere. But eventually the Jewish King Menahem was forced to give to the king of Assyria a bounty of a thousand talents of silver. (2 Kgs. 15:19)
When the Northern Kingdom was carried away (eventually becoming the ten lost tribes, because there is no reliable record what became of them), it put a real scare into King Hezekiah. He proceeded to strengthen the garrison at Jerusalem with a force of Arabian mercenaries. This and other actions that he took made a reconciliation with Assyria impossible, and brought upon him the full fury of Assyria’s vengeance. Note here the prophet’s summation: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (Isa. 10:5,6)
The gory fulfillment of the above is graphically described in 2 Kgs. 25:5‑7, 19‑21: “They took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon... and they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon... They took the principal scribe of the host... and threescore men of the people... and the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah... So Judah was carried away out of their land.”
Here are some of the king of Babylon’s own words on this affair: “I captured 200,150 people, young, old, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen and flocks without number, I brought out from their midst, and reckoned as spoil... I shut him up like a caged bird... the Arabs and his brave soldiers whom he had brought in for the defense of Jerusalem, his royal city, took to flight.” They took also all the holy vessels of the temple, including the ark, which has never been recovered; and there is some talk that it may have been hidden in some cave, and will yet be found. A sorry end indeed for God’s “chosen people”!
Isaiah’s Vision – Going back now to sometime before the terrible defeat, we mention the vision that came to Isaiah in Isa. 37:21‑35. The spiritual truths impressed on the prophet’s mind by this memorable experience are those which we shall see unfolded throughout his whole subsequent ministry. As of now, it is enough to say that the vision left on Isaiah’s mind an abiding sense of the reality of Jehovah’s power and presence in the midst of His people, and the consciousness of a life‑long mission to be discharged in His service. His eyes had seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. The alacrity with which he offered himself for this work, without knowing in the least what it might involve, is an indication of the ardent temperament of the man, which contrasts strikingly with the hesitation of another prophet at a similar moment in his experience. (See Isa. 6:8; Jer. 1:16)
It must have been soon after that vision that a son was born to Isaiah whom he named Shear‑Yashub (“Remnant will turn”), thus giving expression to a distinctive element of his teaching, viz., the conviction that there was in Israel an indestructible spiritual kernel which would survive the impending judgment, and form the nucleus of the new people of God. That Isaiah quickly gained a hearing, and made good his position as the exponent of a definite religious conception of national policy is clearly apparent from several incidents of his appearance in public life.
Here it is convenient to divide Isaiah’s ministry into four periods, which although very unequal in length are marked each by features peculiar to itself. (1) The first period extends from the death of Uzziah to the beginning of the reign of Ahaz. (2) The second is the critical time of the Syro‑Ephramite invasion. (3) In the third the center of interest is the fall of Samaria. (4) The fourth is the period of anti‑Assyrian intrigue at Jerusalem, culminating in the invasion and deliverance at that time.
At that time the social state of Judah was very similar to that of North Israel in the days of Amos, and Isaiah deals with the evils of the age in the spirit of his predecessor. From the arrangement of his discourses his criticism becomes more incisive and discriminating as time goes on. In Chapter 2 of his book his attention is directed to the outstanding evidences of ungodliness and worldly pride in the still prosperous country of Judah. Idolatry, superstition, trust in wealth and warlike resources, which Isaiah declares can be purified by contact with the “Holy One of Israel.” Then in Chapter 3 he touches on the social evils, the oppression and injustice practiced by the rich and powerful on the poor, and the luxurious fashions of the women of Jerusalem. Later he comments on the sins of action and of thought characteristic of the upper class and the lawless extension of landed estates, their drinking festivities, their unjust judgments, their heedlessness of Jehovah’s working, mocking and defiant skepticism and perversion of moral distinctions, and the prevalent delusion that Jehovah could be propitiated by costly and elaborate ritual without regard to the character and conduct of the worshipers.
His descriptions of the coming judgment exhibit all the qualities of his powerful and versatile genius. Indeed, he is probably properly described as “the gentleman of the Old Testament.”
His forecast of coming events that he proclaimed at the time of the Syro‑Ephraimic war were remarkably verified in the subsequent history of Judah. It may be in order here to state that the Higher Critics in the past 150 years have attempted to discredit much of what Isaiah wrote, which they judge with the wisdom of this world, rather than relying upon the words of 2 Pet. 1:21: “Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Thus they often spoke in the present tense concerning future events (“God calleth those things which be not as though they were.” – Rom. 4:17”); and the skeptics try to make capital of such statements. The 53rd Chapter of Isaiah is an excellent example of such a statement.
It is readily apparent from what Isaiah wrote that he is one of the outstanding intellects of all time; and his great enlightenment by the Holy Spirit gives added brilliance and inspiration to his book. He had attracted to himself at that time a band of men known as “disciples” – apparently much the same as Jesus also did – and this could represent the most influential phase of his activity. The history of religions shows that the most enduring of all spiritual influences are those communicated through the close fellowship of a great personality with a limited number of susceptible minds – through the relation of master and disciples. This was outstandingly true of Jesus. “When they perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Isaiah’s great ability with satire, his scathing criticism of the Jewish deflection, and his evasion of the Jewish aristocracy eventually caused him to be “sawn asunder.” (Heb. 11:37)
The fate of Samaria apparently profoundly affected the public mind in Judah; and it probably gave a new direction to Isaiah’s own thoughts of the future. The extinction of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes – by far the larger and the stronger of God’s people offered the most impressive vindication that had as yet occurred of the prophetic interpretation of Providence; and especially so of the truth of Isaiah’s predictions. In no way had he exaggerated the awful fate of the northern kingdom. The proud boast of the Assyrian could not but strike terror in the hearts of the people of Judah: “Shall I not, as I have done to Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?” (Isa. 10:11) If Jehovah had failed to avert the doom of Israel, what assurance was there any longer that He would or could protect the smaller Judah?
Isaiah had correctly foreseen the annihilation of Samaria; and he had predicted further judgment upon Judah. However, he foresaw the eventual “Kingdom of God”; but we may be certain he did not see that Kingdom with anything like the clarity with which we now see it. Now comes the last and most eventful stage of his career, as he stood alone in opposition to the anti‑Assyrian party that had ascendance in the royal council. The nations about Judah were forming a confederacy against the Assyrians; and it showed a much better chance of success than did Samaria; but Isaiah foresaw and proclaimed the failure of this effort also. Judah was leaning toward Egypt for assistance; and the prophet told them: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not by me... that go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth... to trust in the shadow of Egypt. Therefore, shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame.” (Isa. 30:1‑3; 31:1; 36:6‑9) The prophet severely criticized all effort to gain political salvation by human wisdom, and the help of heathen states.
However, his later statements were very much modified, as he recognized the arrogant offense that the Assyrian committed against the majesty of Jehovah, and that his humiliation was sure to follow such flagrant audacity. Thus he encouraged Judah’s king that their Great God would exact vengeance upon the Assyrians. Thus the prophet never wavered. His confidence remained unshaken, when all around him had become paralyzed with fear. To Isaiah Jehovah was “The Holy One of Israel.” Also, he conceived Israel as the “community” in which Jehovah reveals himself as He truly is, and by which His character as the Holy One is to be recognized, and exhibited to the world. The prophet’s one thought was “to sanctify the Lord of Hosts.” But his expression of Israel’s king was just about everything that a king should not be – which did not make him popular with the king, of course.
The operation of the Holy Spirit on Isaiah’s mind caused him to see Israel that would be in the distant future – when God’s kingdom would be established in the earth – but he applied it to his day, which naturally befogged his judgment for that time, and which caused him to conclude that “Zion” would be spared in the coming judgment of the nation in general. Thus he wrote, “The Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it.” (Isa. 14:32) And further, “Jehovah has laid a foundation stone in Zion, and He that believeth shall not be ashamed.” (Isa. 28:16)
THE CHARACTER AND GENIUS OF ISAIAH
The possibilities of the prophetic office are nowhere more splendidly illustrated than in the career of Isaiah. More remarkable than any one feature of his make‑up, rarely found in one individual, is the balance and harmonious working of his writings and efforts. He speaks of himself as being in the grasp of the Divine hand (Isa. 8:11); and of Jehovah of Hosts as revealed “in his ears” (Isa. 22:14). Never perhaps has there been another prophet like Isaiah, who stood with his head in the clouds and his feet on the solid earth, with his heart in the things of eternity and a mouth and head in the things of time, with his spirit in the eternal counsel of God and his body in a very definite moment of history. No other Old Testament writer has the same power of picturesque and graphic description, or has at command such a variety of distinct and vivid impressions from nature. The forest conflagration, the inundating flood of waters, the earthquake, furnish him with emblems, strikingly effective, of the final catastrophe in which the existing order of things is to perish.
As a master of style Isaiah is supreme among the prophets. While others seem conscious of the labor of expression, he wields the resources of the language with the ease and dexterity of a perfect artist in words. There is an astonishing directness and sureness of touch in his phrase, as of one who knows when he had hit the mark and does not need to strike a second time. The high level of literary excellence maintained in the prophecies depends largely on the fact that they faithfully preserve (though doubtless with some elaboration) all the effects of the spoken word. The style is one obviously formed for the purposes of the orator, who must carry his audience with him at the moment, trusting nothing to a sustained effort of attention on their part. Hence it is absolutely free from affectations and obscurities; and even the fondness for paronomasia which is often attributed to Isaiah is really shown very sparingly and never without telling oratorical effect. It would hardly be possible to characterize the style of Isaiah better than by the statement of one writer, referring to the qualities of Homer’s genius: Plainness of thought, Plainness of style, Nobleness, and Rapidity. And each of these terms may be applied to Isaiah. In this case the style is the man; and in the plainness and nobleness, and rapidity of Isaiah’s recorded discourses we read the signature of the glowing and impetuous nature, the lucid intellect, and the quick decision of character which made this prophet so great a force in the history of his time.
The more we consider the Prophet Isaiah the more we are impressed with the superior quality of his mind. We would classify him as one of the greatest in human history. Gibbon, an unbeliever, has classified the Book of Job as the greatest piece of literature in existence today; and we would include the Prophet Isaiah in his company.
The Prophet emphasizes the God of Israel – His greatness, His oneness, His strength – in contrast with the heathen gods that infested Palestine and the surrounding country at that time. God is magnified in His greatness, His strength in contrast to the worthless visionary gods of the heathen roundabout. His writings were undoubtedly prompted in large part to the fact that Israel had gone after Baal and other fictional deities, which the Prophet decried in no uncertain terms. In Isa. 8:10 there is this: “Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word [of the heathen gods], and it shall not stand: for God is with us.” Again in 37:16: “Thou art the God, even thou alone.” No multiplicity of Gods in the faith of Isaiah. This is further stressed in Chapters 44, 45 and 46. Our God is also the stronghold of Zion, whence cometh His Law.
The Jews greatly resented these expressions, which were indirectly a proper criticism of them; and they mishandled the Prophet in shameful fashion – so much so that tradition has it that they actually sawed him “asunder.” (Heb. 11:37) But it is well worthy of note here that subsequent generations of Jews held Isaiah in reverential awe; and fully accepted his expressions that the God of Israel was in Zion – and Zion would stand forever. That is why the Jews clung so tenaciously to Jerusalem under the devastating attacks of the Roman Emperor Titus in the year AD 70. At that time they could not understand that the great and precious promises concerning Zion were yet in the far distant future, many of which promises were to be considered figuratively and not literally, as the Jews then attempted to do.
Many professed Christians make the same mistake today; and the superb quality of the Prophet’s writings have provided a Roman Holiday for the Higher Critics – some of whom capitalize on the 53rd Chapter of his book (which is written in the present tense) and say the Prophet could not possibly have written that because Jesus did not appear until many hundreds of years after the Prophet was dead. Therefore, that part of his book must have been written by another. Of course, these people ignore completely St. Paul’s words that “God considers those things that are not as though they were” taking place in the immediate present.
Much of this article is taken from the writings of others, but we stand amazed at the glowing tribute and high esteem in which he is held by others than ourselves. The time and manner of his death are not known with certainty; but doubtful Jewish tradition affirms that he was martyred by Manasseh, having been sawn asunder, and the supposition is that Heb. 11:37 alludes to the manner of his death. The supposition is that he did not live through his 80th year.
His life’s experience and remarkable mental brilliance bear a striking resemblance to the history of That Servant; and we receive a great mental uplift from the known story of their lives. Truly, the words of Jesus apply to both of them: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43) Further from the words of Jesus: “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and yet ye would not!” n (Matt. 23:37)
A BEAUTIFUL KINGDOM PORTRAYAL
Our treatise on Isaiah would not be complete without mentioning Isaiah, Chapter 35, as it gives us one of the finest descriptions of the coming Kingdom of God that is to be found anywhere in the Bible; so we now embellish this article with a brief resume of it:
“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them [the resurrected world of mankind]; and the desert shall blossom as the rose... the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it... they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God... Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: Behold your God cometh... with a recompense; He will come and save you.
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped [both literally and figuratively. “The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth.” – Isa. 11:9]... In the wilderness [this present evil world] shall waters [especially “the water of life.] break out.
“An highway shall be there... It shall be called the way of Holiness [no evil or ignorance will be found there]; the unclean [the sinners – Acts 3:23] shall not pass over it [their uncleanness shall be washed away – Acts 3:19: “Your sins shall be blotted out”]; the wayfaring men, though fools [“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” – Psa. 14:1] shall not err therein [be led astray by deceptive error]... The Ransomed of the Lord shall return [from the grave – “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” John 5:28,29)... with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads... and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Rev. 21:4, 5: “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he [God] said unto me, Write, for these words are true.”
“Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:21) However, they wrote mechanically, often not understanding what they wrote. “I heard, but I understood not.” (Dan. 12:8) We do not claim to write by inspiration; but we do believe we have the Holy Spirit sufficiently to understand now much of what the prophets did not understand. “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:9)
The evidences are many that we are now in “the time of the end.” That the time of the end is not a 24‑hour day is readily apparent. It is a period of time, beginning in 1799, and will yet continue for some years. During this time it is recorded that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan. 12:4)
Aside from the printing press, gunpowder and the wheel, no notable inventions came until after 1799. In 1804 came the first Bible Society, which engaged in extensive distribution of the Bible. Then came “Fulton’s Folly” – the first steamboat – in 1807. Next the steam engine in 1813. In 1874 the first commercial typewriter; then the telephone and the electric light. Then the automobile; the airplane in 1903, followed quickly by the fine inventions of much useful machinery in agriculture, in construction, etc., with tremendous improvement in the printing press, computers, etc., etc.
It is our fond hope that this treatise of Isaiah will appeal to our readers. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” (Psa. 97:11) “He that hath an ear, let him hear.” (Rev. 2:7)
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
(Reprint No. 323, May 1982)
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION – In 1 Timothy 3:16 St. Paul says, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” Does he mean by this that we should avoid controversy in our witness of the Truth?
ANSWER – If St. Paul meant what the questioner seems to think, then he directly contradicts himself in other places. In 2 Timothy 3:16 St. Paul says one of the four cardinal purposes of inspired Scripture is “for reproof [for refuting]”; and he says in Philippians 1:17, “I am set for the defense of the gospel.” Jesus Himself certainly engaged in much controversy for the Truth during His ministry on earth. The King James version offers a very poor and misleading translation in the words “without controversy.” The Diaglott renders it “confessedly great” – that is, “without any doubt,” or “no room for argument or chance of successful dispute.”
“The Mystery of Godliness,” which St. Paul says is “confessedly great” is the fact that the Christ is a composite company, consisting of many members – “Christ in you the hope of glory.” This has been a great mystery completely hidden from the world of mankind in general during this Gospel Age. It is one of those things which “the natural man receiveth not.” (1 Cor. 2:14)
It is one of the great paradoxical expressions of the Bible that God’s people are “Sons of peace,” that they should “seek peace and pursue it”; yet they are fighting a great part of their time as “good soldiers.” Their fighting for the Truth is not a matter of natural choice with them, as all of them would much prefer that all men everywhere receive the Truth in meekness and rejoicing; but the “god of this world” has blinded the minds of many, so that the true followers of Jesus have been forced to “fight the good fight” if they would be faithful in the covenants they have made. Hear the words of Jesus in Luke 12:51‑53, Dia.: “Do you imagine that I am come to give peace in the land? I tell you, No; but rather division. For from this time, five in one house will be divided; three against two, and two against three: a father against a son, and a son against a father; a mother against the daughter, and a daughter against the mother.” And it has been the Truth – and the Truth alone – that has caused controversy and divisions.
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Emily: Greetings in our dear Lord’s precious Name!
Thank you so very much for the most welcome first letter dated April 8. Your letter and paper (No. 372) do so much to remind me what a blessed privilege it is merely to know of God’s irrevocable plan of salvation for the human race – and then to consider that God has invited us to participate in this grand process boggles the human mind.
I have often thought about the moments in the age to come when every human being will be privileged to perceive God and Jesus Christ clearly and their love for humanity and to realize there will be a resurrection for all who have died in Adam. What a joyous moment that will be! “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” (Romans 15:21; Isaiah 52:15)
Dear Sister, I have in Greek all the Bible Studies of Brother Russell (6 Volumes), a book of his sermons and the “Heavenly Manna.” These are my daily luxury. On the other hand, I have read on page 7 of your paper about the book, “About Pastor C. T. Russell.” I would like to please ask you to send a copy of this book with a complete list of your publications. Also, if possible, send me please all the back papers of the last few years and let me know the cost.
I am very glad to receive your first kind letter with your interesting spiritual paper. Praise the Lord, it’s very encouraging for me to hear every time about all my dear brethren everywhere and specially about his spiritual activities in God’s field and his growth in Christ.
Thanks for your cooperation. My warm Christian love to all brethren there.
Yours in His service, ------- (GREECE)
Dear Sister Emily: Greetings in the dear Name of our Redeemer and Savior!
Thank you for your letter of March 14, 1994 and paper No. 372. From mid‑March to April 10, my wife and I were in travel to U.S. and Canada, and I did not answer yours earlier.
For eleven days in the States, we were staying at The Bible Students Retirement Center, Portland, Oregon, where we met and talked with many brethren.
One brother came to Japan five times, and in the last two visits we attended the Bible Study Class – not all of the days as it was held in Tokyo, ten hours by bus from Osaka. It was five years ago we first met him and other Japanese brethren.
Until that time, we were members of the United Church of Christ in Japan. They hold traditional doctrines such as Trinity, Immortal Soul, Eternal Torment in Hell, etc., etc. When we first met the Truth, we were surprised and shocked. Later we met many U.S. brethren, mostly The Dawn group in Phoenix, San Diego and Columbus.
Last year two U.S. brethren came to Japan and stayed at our house in part of their itineraries. We had a nice study and fellowship. We also attended The General Convention last year in Newberg, Oregon.
As most of the Japanese brethren, we live isolated and do not have meetings regularly. Sometimes we go to the church in our neighborhood to have Christian fellowship.
Ransom, Sin‑Offering and New Covenant are still difficult to understand. We are studying these almost everyday. Fortunately, my wife and I are retired now and have some time for the study. Your continued guidance to us is appreciated.
Sincerely in Christ, ------- (JAPAN)
Epiphany Bible Students Association:
I have come under the influence of the Jehovah Witnesses, but have not officially joined or been baptized.
I am writing to your group because, after much research, I feel uneasy about joining the Witnesses. My research has led me to your group, which may have the full answers for me.
Would you send me any information you have as to your differences with the Jehovah Witnesses.
Thank you, ------- (OHIO