My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
In the 25th Chapter of Matthew there is recorded three parables by Jesus, the same being some of the last expressions before His death. In verses 1‑13 we have a recitation about the Little Flock and the Great Company – the “wise” and awake Little Flock versus the “foolish” and sleepy Great Company. Verses 14‑30 treat also of the Little Flock and the Great Company – the “good and faithful Little Flock” compared with the “wicked and slothful” Great Company (the “unprofitable servant”). And verses 31‑46 describe the two classes of Restitutionists – the faithful and obedient “sheep” on the right hand, and the disobedient and wicked “goats” on the left hand. A proper analysis of these three parables requires a clear understanding of “rightly dividing the word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) – giving to each one its proper time setting; and this we shall now endeavor to undertake.
WISE VIRGINS – FOOLISH VIRGINS
This parable has proper application only to the end of this Age, and has to do with the Little Flock and the Great Company in Big Babylon just prior to and shortly after the Lord’s Second Advent. Although the “wise virgins” have their part in the recital, the elaboration is more with the “foolish virgins,” their conduct and their failures. However, in Matt. 7:21‑27 Jesus contrasts these two classes during the entire Gospel Age, classifying them there as “wise men” and “foolish men”; and this parable applies to every member of the Little Flock and every member of the Great Company. Thus, we are justified in referring to every one of the Little Flock as “wise,” and every one of the Great Company as “foolish.”
In the Matthew Seven version we are told the reason for the wise and the foolish – one class is wise because he “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them”; but the other class is foolish because he “heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not.” Those that hear and do “built his house upon a rock”; whereas those that hear and do not “built his house upon the sand.” And of both classes it is said that “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house” – with the one upon the rock remaining firm and impregnable, with the one upon the sand toppling over, “and great was the fall of it.” And upon these statements we now offer some explanation.
All four of the above parables had almost no explanation at all until the Harvest time, when “a faithful and wise servant... gave them meat in due season” (Matt. 24:45) – when the Lord clearly distinguished between the Little Flock and the Great Company. Thus, we find the Parousia Truth replete with finely detailed comment on the Great Company. Especially was this true during the final twenty years of the reaping period. During this period three explanations were given for the Matthew Seven parable: First, the “wise man who built his house upon a rock” is the entire Little Flock, and the House is the true Church (built up – perfected in every good word and work); and the “foolish man who built his house upon the sand” is the nominal church, with the house thereof being Babylon. The fall of this Babylonish house began in 1914, and is continuing ever since.
Only those acquainted with the history of events since 1914 will fully appreciate this conclusion. In the Fall of 1917, when the Bolsheviks toppled over the Czarist regime in Russia, they gave the Greek Catholic Church a lethal blow, because the Czar was the titular head of that church. Therefore, since that date the Greek Church has been without a head – just as the Jewish House has been without a High Priest since the dispersion in AD 70. Czarist Russia was one of the greatest and strongest of empires in all history, which made the Greek Church also a very powerful influence in world affairs. In many of the churches was to be found the supposed dead bodies of the saints that had never decayed – encased in glass containers about the rostrum of those churches. When the Bolsheviks took over, they took those bodies onto the front steps of the churches, picked them apart before the gazing public, and demonstrated that they were nothing but cotton frauds. Thus, that “house built upon the sand” has been falling ever since; and its complete collapse will be very much in evidence when the “burning flame” of Armageddon accomplishes its devastating work.
The second interpretation, which dovetails with the first and is in harmony with it, defines the wise builder as the Little Flock as a class – building upon gold, silver and precious stones – while the foolish builder is the Great Company that built upon wood, hay and stubble. It is common knowledge that the Great Company always courted the unclean public – to gain great numbers, do great works, according to their own idea of things. This is graphically described in Ezek. 44:10,11: “The Levites [typical of the Great Company]... went astray away from Me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary [serving before the throne]... they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people... Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity.” The basic mistake in all this is given in Ezek. 44:7: “Ye have brought into My sanctuary strangers [not the elect Little Flock], uncircumcised in heart [not consecrated to do the Lord’s “good and acceptable and perfect will”]... to pollute it.” All during the Age the crown‑lost leaders – men of great intellect, such as St. Augustine, John Calvin, etc. – have devoted their energies to construction of the systems; and we have now come to “the day when every man’s work will be made manifest, because the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire [the destructive influences now at work on all hands]”. (1 Cor. 3:13) Their house “built upon the sand” is rapidly crumbling to ruin.
The third interpretation is a moderation of the second above, making individuals of the “wise man” and the “foolish man,” with the houses representing the individual faith and character structures of the builders. This is shown in Matt. 7:21‑23, where the introduction to the builder parable is given: “Not every one [individual] that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to Me... have we not in Thy name done many wonderful works [many of the structures in Babylon are among the finest and most impressive in the entire world]? Then I will profess unto them, I never approved of you.” (See Diaglott)
It is well to note here that the word hear has three meanings in the Bible: (1) to take in sound through the physical hearing organ, the ear; (2) to understand; and (3) to obey. Clearly enough, the first meaning could not apply here, because many hear who do not understand, and who have no desire whatever to obey. They are represented in the Sower Parable as that “seed which fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up.” (Matt. 13:4) Therefore, we conclude that the second meaning is the one to be applied in the parable, because all who give themselves to the Lord during this Age understand sufficiently to know what they are doing; but these are eventually divided into two classes – those who hear and obey, and those who hear, obey for a time, but become “weary in well doing,” then become classed with the “foolish man.” Thus, we conclude that every one of the Great Company may be described as “foolish”; and, while there have been many such individuals all during the Age, it is only in the end of the Age that they appear as a special class; and Jesus says we may recognize them by the building they have erected: “By their fruits [their building – character structure, etc.] you will discover them.” (Matt. 7:16, Dia.)
THE ROCK – THE SAND
In 1 Cor. 3:11‑13, Dia., St. Paul states this: “No one can lay another foundation besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. And if, on this foundation, any one build up gold, silver, costly stones; wood, hay, straw; the work of each will become manifest.” Here also the house built upon the rock, and the house built upon the sand are stated in other words. At one time every member of the Great Company was of the Little Flock; consequently, all began building on the rock – Jesus became the foundation for their character structure, but this is in no sense a reflection upon His character. “He left us an example,” which the “few” followed to the end, even as the “many” (a “great multitude”) did not do so. But, as in the natural building process, when the foundation be faulty, the superstructure may appear beautiful, thus highly deceptive to the unskilled eye, yet it will not stand the ravages of time and tide. This is presently being manifested on all sides. The central feature of every good character is agape love; but this feature is not found in sufficiency in those who build upon wood, hay, straw – in those who build their house upon the sand. And, “because they admitted not the love of the Truth... God will send to them an energy of delusion.” (2 Thes. 2:10,11, Dia.) Thus, it is their faulty foundation that fails them when “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew.” The work of those who build upon Christ as the rock survives; whereas, the work of those who build upon Christ as the sand is destroyed when the test is applied – all depending upon the quality of the builders.
While the rock and the sand in the parable both represent Christ, they do not represent Him from a character standpoint, because His character has no “sand holes” in it; He has no weaknesses. He is ever the rock and fortress of the faithful – impregnable and secure. Therefore, we must conclude that attitudes and activities of the builders are represented by the rock and the sand. Thus we would understand the rock to represent Jesus as the Stayer, the Supporter, the Helper and the Strengthener of the faithful in their trial periods; and the sand to represent Him not as such to the measurably faithful (the Great Company), but their Forsaker, their Abandoner, the One who leaves them to their own weak resources during trials. Jude 22,23, Dia., is directly to the point: “Some indeed do you pity; but others save by fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” While their works are being burned, they themselves are saved so as by fire.
This is set out in another form in 1 Cor. 1:30, Dia.: “You are in the Anointed Jesus, Who became our wisdom from God, righteousness also, and sanctification and redemption.” The manner in which these four features is used determines what kind of building is developed. First, as to wisdom, “the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psa. 19:7) This wisdom comes through Christ as the rock (the Truth), our Teacher, causing us to know the Truth and to develop the spirit of the Truth. “The meek will He guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way.” (Psa. 25:9) Some acquire a head knowledge – often an impressive head knowledge – without “admitting the love [spirit] of the Truth.” Thus, their structure is defective; their house is built upon the sand. Because of their flimsy foundation the Lord permits them to imbibe more or less of error, even though they may be constant attendants in Truth circles. Their bad heart condition automatically distorts their thinking; usually they become easy prey for ambitious leaders who lead them astray. They use such overly much as a crutch, which causes their house of sand to collapse tragically once the crutch is removed. We have been witness to very much of this during this time of trouble, which has been upon us since 1914.
Secondly, Christ is made unto us righteousness – justification. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) But, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Therefore, wisdom (by instruction) must first appear to develop even a little faith, which, when sufficiently developed, brings the hearer to righteousness – justification. Both those who build upon the rock, and those who build upon the sand, have Christ as their justifier. However, here again both classes receive the same complete and perfect justification when they fully accept Christ as their Savior. He is made unto us righteousness. But this justification will not be fully maintained unless a determined and continual effort is made to practice justice. This the wise man does, but the foolish man does not. In this matter also the wise build upon Him as the rock; whereas, the foolish build upon Him as the sand. This violation of justice may appear in some very early in their Christian walk; in others it may be years in appearing. Instead of developing a “good conscience,” they display a bad conscience, and thus “the end of the commandment” (1 Tim. 1:5) is lost to them in small or large degree.
Thirdly, “Christ is made unto us sanctification” – setting apart for a holy purpose. Here again, at the outset both those who steadfastly build upon Christ as rock and those who build upon Him as sand began with perfect sanctification, which perfection the one class eventually allows to deteriorate. They are those who “draw back” and cause the Lord to lose His pleasure in them. Some eventually draw back to complete destruction of their building; they cease all effort to build at all. This would not be true of any who ultimately gain “palms of victory” – those who continue to make some effort to build. While their house will fall in this trial time, they themselves will finally be saved “so as by fire,” although their works will be burned.
All who come into the Household in this faith Age have three activities required of them. The first, and most important, is a work in themselves – perfecting themselves in every good word and work. The second, and next important, is helping those of like precious faith to do the same thing. “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16) The third, and least important, is witnessing to the world “for sin, for righteousness, and judgment to come.” Those who build upon the rock view these requirements in proper perspective, giving to each its proper rating, and pursuing them with all diligence. But those who build upon the sand have generally reversed the order, placing most stress upon the third, next upon the second, and least of all upon the first. Thus the crown‑losers all during the Age have busied themselves with gaining great numbers and doing great works, which has made them more or less reprehensible – especially to those who had sufficient of the Holy Spirit to analyze the situation properly.
It is they also who “hated their brethren, and cast them out.” (Isa. 66:5) In this they have openly said, “Let the Lord be glorified” — and have been hailed by “the unstable and the unlearned” for “their much speaking.” Many who have built upon Christ as the sand have been great orators – great stage performers — and have often molded public opinion as they would clay in the hand. Yet all of them are classified as FOOLISH! Jesus gave special warning against such actions in Matt. 6:2: “When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Hypocrite in this text is from the Greek hypokritai, meaning an actor. Many who have built upon the sand have been quite expert at putting on an act – to be seen of men; and, since they have accomplished their purpose, Jesus says of them that “they have their reward.” They have done “many wonderful works,” (Matt. 7:22) but the final judgment of the Lord is, “I never approved of you.” Here is the footnote in the Diaglott concerning this text: “The phrase of sounding a trumpet before them seems only a figurative expression to represent their doing it in a noisy, ostentatious way. Erasmus and Beza justly observe that theathandi in verse 1 is a theatrical word; that hypokritai signifies disguised players in masks; and that sounding a trumpet may allude to music of the stage.” Upon such conduct the Lord voices emphatic disapproval; and those who resort to such tactics must justly be classified as those who build their house upon the sand.
Fourthly, “Christ is made unto us deliverance.” This means saving us from our enemies; and it has two applications – one during our earthly course, and the second in deliverance from the death state. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day [the resurrection day].” (2 Tim. 1:12) In this present life the Lord always delivers those who build their house upon the rock. He delivers them from the snares of the world, the flesh and the Devil; and gives them victory over them. “God will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) As He rescues us from such evils, He is indeed our Deliverer! But this He does only for those who build upon the rock, allowing those who build upon the sand to reap the rewards of their sowing. This is markedly revealed in King Saul of Israel, who is a type of the crown‑lost leaders during most of this Age. He and both his sons suffered defeat and death in one day at the hands of his enemies – typical of the Armageddon day here in the end of the Age.
The battle ground is mainly the mind of new creatures, and continues until it overwhelms the unfaithful, partially defeats the measurably faithful, but gains full victory for the fully faithful – who are “faithful until death.” This complete victory is not just one battle; it is one battle after another, some of which may be lost, but they arise to battle anew, repairing the break in the battle line until they “possess the gate [place of chief prominence] of his enemies.” (Gen. 22:17) Such victory comes to those who build upon the rock because of their faith, loyalty and obedience, and their endurance of hardness as good soldiers. Such never allow the thorns (the cares of this life) to choke them. But the foolish who build upon the sand allow the cares of this life, along with surfeiting and drunkenness (figurative and literal) to weaken their combative qualities to such a degree that defeat becomes more or less a habit with them – much the same as a prize fighter loses his endurance and skill through physical dissipation. Many of them become good runners, rather than good soldiers, thus disgracing their Captain and adding to the burdens of their faithful fellow soldiers, as they leave holes in the line of battle. The Lord guarantees to give the meek (Psa. 25:9), the hungry (Matt. 5:6), the humble (Matt. 18:4), the honest and good (Luke 8:15) His Truth; but He will not give it to others.
Time has demonstrated that the majority in the Parousia Truth Movement built upon Christ as sand, imbibing more or less of error, which revealed their glaring deficiencies once the restraining hand of the Parousia Messenger was removed. And the same may be said for those in the Epiphany Movement also. “By their fruits you will discover them” – the wise having built their characters through application of the Truth; whereas, the foolish built their characters – such as they are – through imbibing vicious and destructive errors. This building upon Christ as sand does not at all reflect upon the character of their great Captain, who is without sin. Their description is so very well set forth in Isa. 4:1: “We will eat our own bread [erroneous teachings]), and wear our own apparel [their spotted robes]: only let us be called by Thy name [Christians], to take away our reproach.” Thus they build upon Christ as sand. The entire matter is determined by the doing or not doing “these sayings of mine.”
RAIN DESCENDED – FLOODS CAME – WINDS BLEW
While the entire Gospel Age had those who build upon the sand, they were never separated as a class until the end of the Age. This is typified in the Tabernacle picture, which nowhere reveals a Great Company class. The last work of the High Priest on the Atonement Day was leading Azazel’s Goat to the Gate and delivering it to the fit man, thus forcing the conclusion that such would not appear as a distinct class until the end of this Age. And the sub‑heading above states how each class would be tested here at the end of the Age.
Rain in Bible usage designates the Truth. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain... as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” (Deut.32:2) And certainly the Truth has appeared in great volume here in the end of the Age to test each house for the quality of its building. Especially in the years just prior to 1914 That Servant stressed the truth on the Great Company, demolishing all their arguments, and causing rampant confusion in the camp of the antitypical Midianites. And during the period since 1916 the same statement may be made about those who have built their house upon the sand. Instead of being “good soldiers,” they have all become good runners. The “rain” has been beating upon their house with great force. “The hail [hard cutting truth] shall sweep away the refuge of lies.” (Isa. 28:17)
In like manner “the floods came.” Floods are water mixed with discoloring soil – the same being expressive of error mixed in with the Truth. This also has made its appearance – especially since 1916, from which time the clear Parousia Harvest Truth has had all sorts of error mixed into it, more perhaps than at any time during the Age in so short a time. During this period some have rejected completely Tabernacle Shadows, and have put repulsive error in its place; others have rejected the chronology; others have rejected in full or in part the teaching that the Jews will have preeminence during the Kingdom reign; others teach that the Epiphany as a period of time is already past, and this despite the fact that St. Paul clearly teaches that the “man of Sin” would be annihilated with the Epiphany of His Parousia (2 Thes. 2:8,Dia.). The floods of error have produced trying times for those who have built upon Christ as the sand.
Also, the “winds blew.” Biblical winds often represent wars – either physical or spiritual. Since 1914 we have seen plenty of evidence of physical wars; but there has also been plenty of spiritual wars during the Parousia between the Truth Movement and the sects of Big Babylon; and since 1916 between those who have retained Parousia Truth and those who have attempted to ravish it. Indeed the spiritual wars since 1916 have been very prominent among those who once claimed to embrace the Parousia Harvest Truth; and many is the house that has thus fallen during this time. The “foolish man” is even more apparent now than was true before the 1914 physical “wind” began to blow. The physical evidence on all hands abundantly corroborated the presence of the wise and foolish virgins, and the truth of the Lord’s statements concerning both.
THE TALENTS PARABLE
In Matt. 25:14‑30 Jesus gave this parable, giving to one servant five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. The interpretation of this story is well explained in the Berean Comments, so we shall not repeat it here other than to deal with the servant who neglected to use his one talent, thus receiving the Lord’s criticism and His description as the “unprofitable servant,” for which he was sentenced to “outer darkness” – error. This parable is an impressive companion with the one explained aforegoing. When the “floods came,” they depicted the same thing as the “outer darkness” of the parable now being considered. In both instances they create havoc for the “foolish man” who built his house upon the sand.
Whatever excuses we may be inclined to make for the “foolish man” and the “unprofitable servant,” some of whom at one time had five talents, and others two talents, the Lord makes very clear that having just one talent is not to be accepted as such excuse. The Lord never calls the worthless or the indolent to the elective salvation; or perhaps it would be better stated that the worthless or indolent find no appeal in the elective salvation, because they are “weary in well doing” before they even start. Thus the point is stressed that all who were called in the “one hope of their calling” had sufficient ability to make that calling and election sure had they but used the means at their disposal. The meaning of this parable also was reserved for the end of the Age, when the “good and faithful servant” and the “unprofitable servant” were so clearly classified.
THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS
While the application of this parable (Matt. 25:31‑46) does not apply now, its meaning has been made quite plain, a thing not done until the end of the Age. But this parable also has been distorted out of all recognition to the interpretation given it by the Parousia Messenger. He properly gave it a Kingdom setting; whereas, some now attempt to apply it to the present, with its attendant confusion. The failure to “rightly divide the word of Truth” has been the cause of great bedlam all during the Age. In the past many have been trying to preach, “The spirit and the bride say, Come,” when there was no bride. The Witnesses are attempting to separate the sheep and the goats now, but out of the other side of their mouth they tell us that the bride is not yet completed – more than 10,000 of their “remnant” are still living. And other features of the Gospel‑Age program are yet clearly not completed. Therefore, there is no bride in the sense of Rev. 22:17 – “the water of life” is therefore not yet available to the Millennial sheep. Thus, here again the “rain and the floods” are beating upon the house of the “foolish man”; and its fall will become convincingly apparent when Armageddon will make known “their folly to all.” These people proclaim Pastor Russell as their founder, but they have distorted Restitution out of all resemblance to the way he taught it.
Often we hear it said that consecration is always in order, but this truth must be in harmony with God’s purposes before proper application can be made of it. Cornelius was in a consecrating attitude, but his presentation of himself was not acceptable until the “due time” for the Gentiles to come into the Body of Christ. Likewise now, any of the Restitution class wanting to consecrate before the Highway of Holiness is opened up for them, would be in a corresponding position – because the spirit and the bride are not yet saying, Come. This is elementary Parousia Truth, which should need no elaboration for those who have “continued in My Word.”
Another group perverting Restitution is the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement – these two being the only groups, so far as we know, who have gone awry on this doctrine. All who have a sound understanding of Harvest Truth know there can be no mixing of the elective and the free‑grace salvations; and the confusion of these two groups forces them into other errors to substantiate their teaching. The Witnesses have eliminated the Jews entirely in their plan, consigning them to eternal annihilation. The LHMM merely remands them to a secondary position in the Kingdom (replacing them with Campers Consecrated as the “first” and chief restitutionists), grossly revolutionizing against the Apostle Paul’s teaching and the teaching of the Parousia and Epiphany Messengers – namely, the restitution blessings to the Jew first. Here is a clear illustration of a “house built upon the sand”; and we may rest in the calm conviction that “great will be the fall of it.”
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free [those who build upon the rock]. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day [those who build upon the sand].” (John 8:31,32; 12:48)
Sincerely your brother, John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
LETTER OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle:
Glad to get your letter. I have my stenographer answering this for me. I am visiting in Ambridge at my granddaughter’s. Thank you for answering my question on Psychiatrists and Spiritism,
Your messages are just like the Star Members’s writings, as you hold to the Truth.
I am sorry to hear about your Aunt. You may write me here if you like, as I am not sure how long I will stay. The Lord bless you and all with you!
Your sister by His Grace,….(PENNSYLVANIA)
Dear Brother Hoefle:
Please place my name on your mailing list once again. My new address is posted on the envelope. The fellowship enjoyed through your letters is greatly needed and appreciated in these troublous times. Sincerely your brother , ……. (CALIFORNIA)
Epiphany Bible Students Ass’n:
Thank you for The Herald of the Epiphany – the Editions you sent to me. They are most interesting and I would like to get God’s Great Sabbath Day you suggested
Very truly yours, …..(KANSAS)