“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
All Bible students recognize typical lessons in the Jewish institutions, but few, we believe, realize the full depths of this subject. The Jewish nation, from Abraham’s day to the first advent of our Lord Jesus, was used of God as a typical people to illustrate great spiritual truths and lessons. Not only did their sacrifices and sin offerings foreshadow or typify the better sacrifices which can and do actually take away sin, but all the features of their history were typical of matters pertaining to Spiritual Israel.
THE LAW WAS A “SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME”
The great realities of God’s plan of salvation began at the first advent and have since been in progress. The things of previous times were at best shadows of these realities. Many of the glorious realities are still in the future and may be seen by faith through their shadows in the Jewish Law arrangement. For instance, in the jubilee type, we find the reality to be just at hand, whereas the type was instituted nearly 4,000 years ago. The Apostle, referring to these matters of the Law, declares that they “serve unto the example [copy] and shadow of heavenly things”– spiritual things. (Heb. 8:5) However strange it may appear to draw such a sharp line of distinction between the Jewish and Gospel Ages – between Israel after the flesh and Israel after the spirit – the clear discernment of this is absolutely necessary to a proper understanding of the divine word.
DEVOTION AND CONSECRATION IN THE JEWISH AGE
God’s holy people of the period before the first advent were devoted, consecrated and acceptable in His sight but, living before the appointed time, could have no part in the special call of the Gospel Age. The Apostle speaks of our Lord Jesus as the captain or forerunner of His faithful followers in the narrow way which leads to the Kingdom of glory, honor and immortality – “by a new and living way” which He opened up for His followers by his sacrificial death. (Heb. 10:20)
It would be inconsistent with this thought to suppose that any preceded Him whom God set forth to be the captain and forerunner and exemplar. The Apostle, himself a Jew and writing about the faithfulness of the Ancient Worthies, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others, concludes his favorable comment on their faithfulness to God in these words, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us [Spiritual Israel, the Body of Christ], that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:39,40) This is very explicit testimony by one who, so far from having prejudices against the Jews, tells us of his devotion to their interests and that he would gladly sacrifice personal interests in favor of the nation as a whole.
The same Apostle, writing again, refers to Fleshly Israel as the House of Servants, in contrast with Spiritual Israel as the House of Sons – Sons of God (Rom. 8:14). He did not thus demean the faithful of the natural house, but honored them, for surely it is a great honor to be servants of the Most High God; but he did lay emphasis upon the fact that the Church of the Gospel Age is very highly favored, in that its faithful few are recognized of God as the House (or company) of Sons under the headship of the Lord Jesus.
The Apostle’s words are: “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ [was faithful] as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:5,6)
JESUS’ WORDS ON THE SUBJECT
Our Lord Jesus declared, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached…” (Luke 16:16) Our Lord speaks of John the Baptist, His forerunner, and points out that he belongs to the dispensation that was passing and not to the new dispensation, and that the humblest of His followers in the new dispensation would be greater than John the Baptist, because he belonged to the old one.
Our Lord’s words were: “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28) The thought is that the Gospel Age is for the development of the Church class, and that the faithful of the Lord’s consecrated in the Gospel Age are the Kingdom of God in embryo – the members and representatives of the Kingdom which shall be shortly introduced in power and great glory to bless the world.
Prophetic testimony marks the beginning and ending of Jewish favor. The history of Israel began with the death of Jacob, who was the last of the patriarchs, and who for his faith in God was surnamed Israel, which signifies a “prince of God.” The nation of Israel was otherwise called the Children of Israel. It was when Jacob was on his death bed that he called his family and blessed them, and there it is recorded for the first time, “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel” (Gen. 49:28) – there their tribal and national existence began. They had tribulations in Egypt, in the wilderness and in the promised land; but in all of these God’s blessing was with them, their adversities were overruled for good, and they were still His peculiar people. Even when they finally went into captivity in Babylon, His favor was with them, and so they continued in His favor and under corrective chastisements until the close of their Age.
We know exactly when their Age terminated and the Gospel Age began. It was at the close of our Lord Jesus’ three and one-half years of ministry, when He offered Himself to them and was refused, except by a few, a remnant – as we read, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…” (John 1:11,12)
REJECTION OF THE SAVIOR
The exact turning point where divine favor passed from Fleshly Israel is noted in the Scriptures as taking place just five days before our Lord Jesus’ crucifixion. At that time He rode to the city of Jerusalem as their King on an ass, in fulfillment of the Prophet’s words, “…behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass…” (Zech. 9:9) It was foreknown of the Lord that He would be rejected, and is so stated by the Prophet; nevertheless, the full offer or opportunity was granted to the nation. When they received Him not, weeping over them, Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate… [Prophesying, our Lord added:] Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Luke 13:34,35) After that time the Jews were as a nation cut off from divine favor as never previously. Their house was desolate of divine favor in every sense of the word, as they freely acknowledge.
The scriptures show most conclusively that: God’s favor will return again to the Hebrew people (Zech. 9:12, Isa. 40:1,2); He will save them from their present blindness (Rom. 11:26); He will bring them back to their own land (Isa 14:1, Jer. 23:8, Ezek. 34:13, Ezek. 36:24, Ezek. 37:14); and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the holy Prophets of Fleshly Israel, resurrected from death as perfect men, will become the earthly representatives of the spiritual unseen Kingdom – Christ and the Church “…ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God…” (Luke 13:28). “Instead of [being any longer considered] thy fathers [they] shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” (Psa. 45:16). At that time, and under those influences, the true-hearted Hebrews will return to divine favor and to corresponding prominence in the world, and become channels of divine blessing for all people, as is so clearly intimated in their part of the Abrahamic promise.
GOD’S FAVOR TO RETURN
The scriptures demonstrate clearly that Israel’s period of rejection and blindness, without divine favor, is to be of the same duration as was their previous experiences under divine favor. We refer you to the chart representing the Plan of the Ages (Studies in the Scriptures, Volume I, frontispiece). Notice that from the death of Jacob until the death of Christ, the Bible chronology there set forth shows a period of 1,845 years. If we can find scriptures to prove that Israel was to be without divine favor for a like period of time to that of their previous favor, we can very easily see when the promised return of favor would be due; for 1,845 years from the death of Jacob to the death of Christ, ended A.D. 33, and 1,845 years since A.D. 33 ended A. D. 1878. We should not, however, expect that in 1878 God’s favor would instantly be manifested, because, when we look back to the time when their “house” was left desolate (Matt. 23:38), we find that there was a period of 37 years in which they, as a nation, were falling – from A.D. 33 to A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by Titus and his army. After that the Jewish people were scattered, troubled and without divine favor.
What we should expect to see then, would be a correspondingly gradual dawning of favor beginning in 1878. As adversity began to come upon them in A.D. 33, blessings should begin to come upon them in A.D. 1878, and in that very year the Berlin Congress of Nations was held, led by Lord Beaconsfield, the representative of the British government, and by birth a Jew. There was fulfilled the words of the Prophet: “…ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zech.8:23)
GROWTH OF ZIONIST MOVEMENT
The ambassadors of the great powers went along with Lord Beaconsfield and adopted the policy which he favored. Under the arrangements of that conference, Egypt and Palestine were put under the protection of Great Britain, as other Turkish states were put under the protection of other powers. From that day onward, Israel’s star of hope began to rise little by little. The Jews were granted liberties and advantages in Palestine such as they had not enjoyed previously for 18 centuries. Although these liberties were very limited and great persecutions arose against them in various countries, all these experiences were favorable to them as a people, since they led to an awakening of a fresh zeal for God, for His promises, and for the Holy Land. The divine favors and blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the holy Prophets will soon have complete fulfillment under the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
Based on the prophecies, Pastor Russell began presenting these views in print in the 1870’s, before the Berlin conference, and 20 years before the birth of the Zionist movement, formally established in 1897 by Theodore Herzl when he published his book Der Judenstaat –“The State of The Jews.” He proclaimed the movement precisely as we know it today. Up until his death in 1916, he continued to note the accumulating evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies, even though they were happening so gradually that the world in general did not realize what was taking place. Exactly as he predicted, the doors of Palestine were eventually thrown open for the general reception of the Jews, and people and money were not lacking to cause what was then a wilderness to blossom as the rose.
We now examine the prophecies which tell us the length of Israel’s disfavor and point us to the exact time it began and ended.
PROPHECY OF JEREMIAH
Jeremiah was one of the most prominent of Israel’s Prophets. He foretold Israel’s captivity in Babylon and the 70 years desolation of the land, after which the people would be brought back by divine favor. But the prophecy we now cite refers to a still more serious captivity. It reads: “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods [rulers] day and night; where I will not shew you favour.” (Jer.16:13) These days of disfavor commenced with their rejection of Messiah, and the predictions have been most thoroughly fulfilled during the succeeding 18 centuries, as the whole world has witnessed.
The prophecy could not have referred to the Babylonian captivity, the only other one they have had since Jeremiah’s day. We are sure of this because of the words of the Prophet – “into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers.” Abraham and his family came from Babylonia, hence that land could not have been referred to. Besides, God did show Israel favor in Babylon. But, as we have just seen, for more than 18 centuries Israel was scattered among all the nations of the earth, without any marks of divine favor.
Jehovah, through the Prophet, next proceeds to explain how he will re-gather Israel in due time (verses 14-15): “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north [Russia, where more than one-half of the Jews resided], and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them into their own land that I gave unto their fathers.” We then notice a succeeding verse in the same prophecy: “And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double…” (Jer. 15:18)
The Hebrew word rendered “double” is “mishneh,” which signifies a second portion, a repetition. Thus understood, the Prophet’s declaration is, that from the time of their being cast off from favor, until their time of return to favor, would be a repetition or duplication in time of their previous history during which they enjoyed divine favor. This matter is illustrated by the chart. There we see the period of favor from the death of Jacob to the death of Jesus, 1,845 years long, and there we see, in the other column, the period of disfavor of equal length beginning at the death of Jesus and terminating in 1878. We remember, however, that the disfavor came on gradually for 37 years, and we perceive that the favor returned gradually during a similar period of 37 years, which ended in the year 1914, when the Times of the Gentiles ended. (Luke 21:24) (See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume II, Study IV.)
How clear and explicit is the testimony, that He will render unto Israel mishneh, a repetition, in “a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers,” where He will show them no favor. We are glad for them that the better day is dawning – that gradually their blessings are taking the place of the curses which they drew upon themselves, saying: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25)
PROPHECY OF ZECHARIAH
Zechariah (9:12) refers to this same matter from a different standpoint using precisely the same word, “mishneh.” Jeremiah took a standpoint previous to this scattering of Israel, and foretold it as a future matter. Zechariah took his standpoint in the future, and in prophetic vision saw Jesus riding upon the ass to Jerusalem; and standing, as it were, by his side, the Prophet cries, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass…” (Zech. 9:9)
Note the precise fulfillment of these words. Every item was fulfilled, even to the shouting; and when the people shouted Hosanna, the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke them, but He refused, saying, “I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Matt. 21:4-9; John 12:12-15; Luke 19:35-40) Why? Because it had been prophesied that there would be a shout, and every item of prophecy must be fulfilled. This particularity of detail in prophetic fulfillment gives us confidence in this and other statements of the prophecies.
The Prophet proceeds to note the evil consequences to follow the rejection of Messiah. Speaking for Jehovah, he addressed Israel thus: “Turn you to the stronghold [Christ], ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double (mishneh) unto thee.” (Zech. 9:12) How distinct is this statement respecting Israel’s double, pointing us to the very day at which the turning point came in their history – “even today,” the turning point of their national career.
The same thing was taught in the symbol of the Passover; it must be eaten at the full of the moon, the moon being symbolic of the law dispensation as the sun is the symbol of the gospel dispensation. The full of the moon signified the time when their highest attainment had been reached and where the waning began.
PROPHECY OF ISAIAH
It is written that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. We have already heard two. Let us hear the third, Isaiah –another of the holy Prophets whose prophecies have been time and again distinctly fulfilled. He, too, was given a message respecting Israel’s double, but his standpoint is at the fulfillment of the double. He says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably [comfortingly] to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare 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)
Isaiah’s word, translated double, is “kephel,” which signifies double in the sense of a thing having been folded in the middle. It is in full agreement and confirmation of what we have already seen. How wonderful that God has thus particularly stated, and yet, as the Scriptures declare, has “hidden” these things in His word, so that many of the wise and prudent have overlooked them. They only began to be seen in Pastor Russell’s time because it was the time of their fulfillment, and hence the due time for them to be understood.
What more could we ask on the subject? How conclusively all this demonstrates that Israel’s period of disfavor would be of equal length with the preceding period of favor, and how simple is the demonstration that this double has already been completed.
APOSTLE PAUL’S ARGUMENT
Our hearts rejoice in these testimonies from the Lord’s word respecting Fleshly Israel’s favor, but as Christians we have another and more personal interest in these figures. We are interested in the Jew, but we are also interested in the Church of Christ, Spiritual Israel, selected during the Gospel Age. These measurements thus fixed by the Lord through the Prophets upon the affairs of Fleshly Israel serve also to measure certain great and important matters in the affairs of Spiritual Israel.
In the Apostle Paul’s dissertation on the affairs of Fleshly and Spiritual Israel in Romans chapters 9,10,11, he points out the rejection of Christ by the Jewish people, and their own consequent rejection by God, and the blindness and stumbling consequent to that rejection. He quotes from the prophecies to show that the entire matter was foreknown to God, and foretold. He then asks, “Hath God cast away his people?” He answers, “God forbid...God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Rom. 11:1,2) He then proceeds to prove that the Old Testament scriptures everywhere agree that future favor is to come to Israel, and that the future blessing of Israel is to be the precursor to a future blessing of all the families of the earth: “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles...” “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:11,15)
Paul’s argument becomes especially interesting and forceful in the 25th verse: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” This is a plain statement by the Apostle respecting Israel’s future and how it is to be brought about through the glorified Church: “Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” (Rom. 11:31)
We have already seen that their blindness began when they rejected the Lord Jesus and crucified Him. We see that it continued for more than eighteen centuries, and we have seen through the testimony of three of the Prophets that this blindness would begin to be turned away, and a general blessing and restoration to divine favor would begin as soon as their double was fulfilled.
Keeping these thoughts before us, let us investigate the Apostle’s words, “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” This phrase signifies that Israel’s disfavor or blindness was to last until the full number of the Spiritual Israelites should be completed, whom God has gathered out of every nation, people and kindred. It signifies that by 1914, the time at which Fleshly Israel’s return to favor was complete, all the special spiritual favors held forth to Spiritual Israel during the Gospel Age were completely at an end. They ended as completely as did the earthly favors which Fleshly Israel enjoyed, which ended at the time when the spiritual favors to the Church began.
This is a momentous question for the Lord’s people. To some it may bring a measure of fear to think that the time of special favor and opportunity has ended; but to others, who are living close to the Lord, it will bring a measure of rejoicing, even as the Master instructed, saying, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28) A part of our object in calling attention to these matters is that some of the Lord’s faithful people in all denominations, who have not heretofore been aroused to an interest in His word, and to an investigation of these important and grand subjects, may become enthused, quickened, refreshed, revived in their spiritual health and energy and service.
TWO SEEDS OF ABRAHAM
God used the natural Israelite, his Law and Covenant and Age, as types of the spiritual, higher, more glorious things which He has bestowed on the Church as the House of Sons, in contrast with the noble ones of the past who were honored in being of the House of Servants, the Ancient Worthies. The Law was a shadow of good things to come – every feature of it was typical of higher things. The earthly people, Fleshly Israel, had earthly promises, but the anti-typical people, Spiritual Israel, have heavenly promises.
Throughout the entire Old Testament there is not a suggestion of spiritual or heavenly conditions as being the hope set forth. Good Father Abraham was encouraged not with heavenly promises but earthly ones when the Lord said to him, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” (Gen. 13:14,15)
No such earthly promises were made to the spiritual house, but instead “…exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature...” (2 Pet. 1:4) These two seeds of Abraham were distinctly differentiated in one of the promises made to him, although he probably did not comprehend the matter fully. The Lord God said to him: “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.” (Gen. 22:17) The stars of heaven fitly symbolize the spiritual House of Sons, the real seed of Abraham in the highest sense of the word – the Christ. Jesus is this special seed of Abraham, and the faithful of the Gospel Age Church are to be his associates in the spiritual part of the promises, as the Apostle says, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29)
But if the Church inherits the heavenly part of the promises, it still leaves the earthly part to be fulfilled. The Ancient Worthies are to have the most prominent place in the world as the representative of the spiritual Kingdom when the Millennial dispensation begins. To them will naturally gather all the true ones of Israel according to the flesh; and to these in turn will gradually gather all the true-hearted of the whole world, all of whom by faith and obedience may be privileged to become the children of Abraham, “a father of many nations.” (Gen. 17:4; Rom. 4:17)
Note the harmony as well as the differences between these two dispensations – the law and the gospel, Fleshly Israel’s period of favor, and Spiritual Israel’s period of favor, the fleshly house and the spiritual house, the House of Servants and the House of Sons.
The House of Servants was established in Jacob, who was surnamed Israel, a prince with God: the House of Sons was established by our Lord Jesus, and in the scriptures is designated the true “Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:16) The House of Servants was founded in the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel): the House of Sons was founded in the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. The House of Servants had a mediator of a Law Covenant and a Tabernacle made with hands: the House of Sons has a better mediator of a New Covenant and a Tabernacle not made with hands. The House of Servants had a priesthood, with chief priest, under priests, and a Levitical order whose chief business was to “offer both gifts and sacrifices” (Heb. 9:9) under the Law. The House of Sons also has a priesthood – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood…” (1 Pet. 2:9) In this Royal Priesthood is first our Lord Jesus, the high priest, and, associated with him the Church, his body, the Household of Faith, whose chief business of life is to offer up both gifts and sacrifices.
The House of Servants had the blood of bulls and goats for sin offerings and atonement, which as types were very expressive, but which could never take away sin. (Heb. 10:4) The House of Sons, as a Royal Priesthood, has more effective sacrifices, or, as the Apostle declares, “better sacrifices” than those – which do, forever, purge us from the consciousness of sin, and fully and completely effect our reconciliation to the Father. (Heb. 9:23) The House of Servants had its capitol in earthly Jerusalem: the House of Sons has its capitol in the New Jerusalem. The House of Servants had a captivity in Babylon from which only a very few returned, because of lack of faith in God. The House of Sons had a period of captivity in mystic Babylon from which only a comparatively few returned to earnestly seek the old paths. The House of Servants had divine favor of an earthly kind for 1,845 years, ending with a great trial and testing in connection with the first advent of our Lord Jesus. The House of Sons passed a similar period of 1,845 years, into a period of trial and testing in connection with the second advent of our Lord and the establishment of His Kingdom. How could these parallels be more striking than they are?
HARVEST THE END OF THE AGE
The close of the favor to the House of Servants was called a “harvest” time, and in it the “wheat” was gathered out and the “chaff” renounced. The period of favor to the House of Sons also closes with a “harvest” time, of which the Lord prophetically told us would mean a separation of the “wheat” from the “tares” and the gathering of the “wheat” into the “garner” of the new nature, and the rejection of the tares. (Isa. 5:24; Matt. 13:30)
Do not these things impress us as being very remarkable? Could they be accidental? Do we not as Christians believe most thoroughly that our heavenly Father’s guidance directs the affairs of his people in this Gospel Age as fully as during the preceding typical age? The lesson coming to us then is that the harvest time of this Age has come, and this may well account to us for the wonderful light and knowledge and truth shining upon the pathway of the Lord’s faithful ones, the object of which is not to satisfy curiosity merely, but to ripen our characters, and to thus fit and prepare us for the glorious Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
(This article is based on a sermon given by Pastor Russell in 1904 and printed in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3. It has been edited to fit the space and to update certain language.)
PASTOR RUSSELL’S THOUGHTS ON THOSE CONSECRATING BETWEEN THE AGES
“It is our thought that with the closing of the ‘door’ of this Gospel Age there will be no more begetting of the Holy Spirit to the spirit nature. Any afterward coming to God through consecration, before the inauguration of the Restitution work, will be accepted by Him, not to the spirit plane of being, but to the earthly plane. Such would come in under the same conditions as the Ancient Worthies who were accepted of God. The Ancient Worthies came in, no call being opened to them – the High Calling not being yet open, and the Restitution opportunities not open. But they freely gave themselves up to God without knowing what blessings their consecration would bring, except that they had the intimation that they would, in the future life, have a ‘better resurrection’ than would the remainder of the world.
Our thought is that whoever under such conditions as these will make a full consecration to the Lord, to leave all to follow in His ways, and will live up faithfully, loyally, to that consecration, may be privileged to be counted as a similar class to those who preceded this Gospel Age. We know of no reason why the Lord would refuse to receive those who make a consecration after the close of the Gospel Age and its High Calling and before the full opening of the Millennial Age.
(Pastor Russell Reprint 5761, September 1, 1915)