My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Comes once more the Memorial of our Lord’s death, which may be held this year any time after 6 p.m. April 10. Our method for reaching this date is as follows: The March moon news this year at 1 a.m., March 29 at the 30th Meridian East (the Meridian nearest the City of Jerusalem), thus starting that day at 6 p.m. March 28, the same being also Nisan 1. Counting to Nisan 14, as required in Exodus 12, brings us to 6 p.m. April 10, consequently, any time that evening would be appropriate for the observance – for partaking of the bread and the wine as established by Jesus “on the night in which He was betrayed.” This year, as in all years past, it is quite likely that many of the Lord’s Household will disagree with the date we have herein named; but this is not sufficient cause for disfellowshiping any one. Such dissenters should still be regarded as brethren so long as they “keep the feast in sincerity and in Truth.” We would remark, however, that, as Truth people, we should endeavor to keep the sacrament at the right day and hour insofar as we are able to do so.
It is well to call to mind once more that Christendom in general is influenced not at all by the date of Nisan 14; it has been completely ignored for centuries. The Council of Nice (325AD) arbitrarily determined that the memorial of the crucifixion should always recur on a Friday – the first Friday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. While it is true that this year 1968 that method will fix “Good Friday” and Nisan 14 relatively near each other, yet there are some years in which the two dates are almost a full month apart. But considering now the various groups that do have regard for Nisan 14, there is much divergence of opinion among them, some using the Meridian nearest Jerusalem (as we ourselves now do), some using the Meridian at Greenwich, England, some using the Meridian nearest Philadelphia, Pa., USA, etc. And with those, some determine Nisan 1 as beginning at 6 p.m. the evening before the moon comes new (as we do), with others using the evening beginning at 6 p.m. after the moon comes new. It will become readily apparent that there must be at least one day’s difference in the date, even with many of those who attempt to use Nisan 14.
Our own reason for our calculation is this: At the time the Passover was instituted – and at the time the Memorial of the antitype was given on Thursday evening by our Lord – the Greenwich Meridian, and others now used, had not even been heard of at all. Thus, the Jews had no other choice than the Jerusalem time. Also, most of the Bible was written in Palestine, so why look some other place for any of its time settings? The trek of civilization westward is no excuse at all for changing what was standard practice when the Bible was written – and when our Lord was on earth. Or, so we view it anyway – with malice toward none, but with charity for all who have a different method of reckoning.
“WHAT MANNER OF PERSONS OUGHT YE TO BE”
The question properly arises, Who should partake and whom should we welcome in our midst for the solemn service? Our answer would be – All those who profess to keep it “in sincerity and in Truth” – unless their acts openly belie their professions. There are only two reasons for denying any one welcome that night – they are gross immorality or gross doctrinal deflection. But of those properly admitted it should not require great elaboration to determine that there will be varying degrees of zeal and good character attainment – based largely upon the number of years and the amount of effort expended in obtaining “the knowledge of our Lord Jesus,” and the wise use made of that knowledge. Thus, St. Paul states, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor (carry the heavier load of the ministry) in word and doctrine (preaching and teaching).” (1 Tim. 5:17) And of the lesser brethren some will have improved their opportunities more than others; but this does not imply that the younger or the weaker should not have generous reception at the gathering.
It is a sage observation that Virtue is its own reward; and those who do “all things heartily as unto the Lord, and not unto men” have a certain compensation unto themselves alone, which is sufficient in itself – regardless of what others may consider. In fact, the entire Gospel Age is replete with examples of brethren with “good and honest hearts” who have been “cast out” by their less faithful brethren, but whose record convinces us that they were not without compensation from the Lord. This has been true of almost all the Star Members, as well as of many of those who were co-laborers with them and partakers with them in like manner of their afflictions. This is beautifully stated by Jesus in Mark 10:28-30 (Dia.): “Peter began to say to Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee. Jesus said, Indeed I say to you, There is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, on My account, and on account of the glad tidings, who will not receive a hundredfold now, in this time.... with persecutions; and in the Age to come aionian life.” Clearly enough, then, the better characters have a superior reward now in this life to those who have been less zealous in improving their opportunities. A quotation from E-14:70 is thus appropriate:
“This does not mean that the same amount of reward would be given in this life; for the more one sacrifices in the Lord’s spirit, the larger are the blessings of the hundredfold in this life; and the less one sacrifices in the Lord’s spirit, the less is his hundredfold; for the true sacrificers receive the hundredfold of the sacrifices, which in some are larger, in others are smaller.”
It is well stated that “We whip the horse that pulls the hardest”; and this was outstandingly true of the One whose memory we now discuss. “He hath poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12); for “Reproach hath broken my heart.” (Psa. 69:20) And, while “He set us an example that we should follow in His steps,” there was never any suggestion by Him of asceticism or purposeless suffering. Always He expended Himself in “the spirit of a sound mind.” But, as one writer has stated: “All creators are hard, but first of all to themselves.” Thus, Jesus never asked His followers to do anything He himself had not already done. “When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them” (as Teacher and Leader and Example). Not with silver or gold have we been brought to know the love of God, nor have we been able to purchase with filthy lucre “the peace of God which passeth understanding.” Rather, these things come by keeping “the feast in sincerity and in Truth.” And, so long as we see others doing this, we should not write them down because of any minor differences, such as the correct date for keeping the feast. Let us do things as nearly right as we know how, but make liberal allowance for others who seem to be walking in the same path as we even though their knowledge on all things may not be as complete and secure as our own. St. Paul’s counsel is most timely here: “A servant of the Lord must not be contentious, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, patient under evil; in meekness correcting the opposers; perhaps God may give them a change of mind in order to a knowledge of the Truth” (2 Tim. 2:25, 26—Dia.), keeping in mind that some one, at some time, followed Paul’s advice toward us; and it has resulted in “that Grace wherein we now stand.”
Every antitype is greater than its type. This is markedly shown in the typical lamb which Israel slew that Passover night as they were preparing to leave Egypt. That lamb was so inferior to “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (“Christ our Passover, which is sacrificed for us”) that no argument whatever is needed to prove the point. However, lest the foregoing counsel to moderation be misunderstood, and carried to such an extreme that evil result, it is well we consider some of the events leading up to the typical Passover. In Exodus 5 Moses and Aaron were entreating Pharaoh to “Let us go.... and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest He fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.” (v. 3) Especially has this been applicable since 1874, when the full truth on the Passover – typical and antitypical – became so very clear. The attendant “sacrifice” was also much stressed since that time, with many not heeding the various warnings, thus succumbing to “the pestilence that walketh in darkness.” “They admitted not the love of the Truth in order that they might be saved. And on this account God will send to them an energy of delusion, to their believing the falsehood.” (2 Thes. 2:10,11, Dia.)
Human frailty has ever been prone to point the accusing finger at the man across the road, quoting Scripture that applies directly to the accuser. This was tragically true of the Jews at the first Advent; and their course was typical of nominal spiritual Israel here in the end of the Age. And, since “Judgment must begin at the House of God,” the various Harvest siftings (pestilence) took their toll also from among many who claimed to be in “Present Truth.” Many of them have received “an energy of delusion,” in accordance with That Servant’s prediction along that line: “Great delusions are just before us, and some of them may come closest upon those possessing the most light of Present Truth” (See Berean Comment 2 Thes. 2:11). And, because of this, it was the sad duty of those not tainted by such “pestilence” to wield the “sword” (controversial Truth refuting the errors of the wayward) against some who had walked arm in arm with them in the Harvest reaping work. But to those who remained faithful to their “covenant by sacrifice” the promise was sure, “There shall no plague (no pestilential sifting error) come nigh thy dwelling!” Thus, the words of the poet are appropriate here:
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways
And what is mine shall know my face.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
Perhaps some of the above was prompted by St. Paul’s own words in similar strain: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38, 39)
Nor need our human limitations concern us. The Lord’s judgments are not, like human judgment, based solely, or mainly, on outward appearance, such as great knowledge and talent, but mainly on heart characteristics. “Man looketh on the outward appearance (physical, financial, intellectual attainments), but the Lord looketh on the heart” (true character qualities). On the other hand, the Lord does not despise great knowledge and talent, as many among the “unstable and the unlearned” seem to think – but, if used in harmony with His “good will,” are sanctified to the advantage of His cause, and for the good of His people – but in all cases the main emphasis is upon the characteristics of the heart – “a good and honest heart.”
The instructions to Moses relative to keeping the original Passover in Egypt were very meticulous – as is true of all the ordinances of God. These are detailed in Exodus 12, and are very adequately treated in Parousia Volume 6. We strongly urge our readers to read the chapter on the subject in that book, this present article being intended only as a supplement to that. The command to the Israelites was also very rigid that they “shall keep the Passover a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.” (Ex. 12:14) And our Lord’s injunction to the Gospel-Age Church is equally compelling respecting observance of the memory of the antitype: “This do in remembrance (as a Memorial) of Me.”
All of this was further emphasized in Numbers 9, one year after the original Passover in Egypt - “Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed season” – the Spring season, after the Vernal Equinox. This charge was given in “the wilderness of Sinai” – typical of the Church’s Gospel-Age experience in its wilderness condition. (See Rev. 12:6) Furthermore, the entire Gospel Age is the antitype of the night of the first Passover in Egypt; and all of us are witness that the period between the first and second Advents was indeed a trialsome and long-drawn-out night time. Jesus had promised that He would come again, and the opinion was prevalent that He would do this within the lives of those then living. Had the truth been disclosed that His absence would be for more than eighteen hundred years, there is little doubt that those who would then have become His followers would be very few indeed. This conclusion could also probably be given concerning Abraham and God’s promise to him that he was to have goodly Canaan land as his everlasting inheritance. Little did he realize that more than three thousand years would pass before the promise would finally be realized. This may even have been true of the Parousia Church under That Servant. The promise of 1914 was a mighty incentive to good works and the keeping of the “sacrifice.” Similarly also was the date 1954. Many would have become weary with the “burden and heat of the day” had they reckoned how long the realization of their hopes would be delayed.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; and, when the delay is accompanied by trialsome privations and physical and mental abuses, the heaviness of heart becomes the more onerous. Thus, the precious promises are abundant to those who have undertaken the wilderness journey. “In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And the close relationship between Jesus and His faithful Church is clearly shown in a critical translation of Luke 22:20: “This cup (that which is being poured out for you) is by My blood the New Covenant “that is, as each one drank of it “the same night in which He was betrayed,” the indication was clearly present that they were participants in that same cup with Him. And the same has been true ever since of all who have “kept the feast in sincerity and in Truth.” But none would have been able to do this without the “exceeding great and precious promises” – the antitypical shewbread in the Holy, the Sarah features of the Abrahamic Covenant.
But of those who have promised to “keep the feast,” and then failed to do so, the threat of death is the penalty for such. This is clearly revealed in Num. 9:13: “The man that is clean (that is, one who has been reckoned clean – justified by faith through the merit of the atoning blood).... and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people.” Although all should partake of the bread and the wine if at all possible, it is not failure to partake of the emblems that would destroy one, but rather failure to carry out faithfully the covenant implied in them – the failure to purge out the old leaven of sin, error, selfishness and worldliness from his character. Thus, it has been properly stated that new creatures that die impenitent go into the second death.
Despite the tremendous amount of error that crept into !he Church after the Apostles passed away, the Truth as due, and the spirit of the Truth, has always been with God’s faithful people. And while it is probably true that few attained the reward of the High Calling in the interim between the Harvests, we may be cure some did! This then forces the conclusion that they had sufficient for their needs, meager though it may now seem to us who have been blessed with so much “Present Truth” here in the end of the Age. All this is clearly portrayed by the cloudy fiery pillar resting “on the tabernacle” during Israel’s march from Egypt to Canaan. The Tabernacle typed the true Church, and the pillar typed the Truth as due, the picture thus clearly revealing that the true Church always had Truth sufficient for its needs during the wilderness journey of the Gospel Age. And from this we may be equally positive that the due Truth and the spirit of the Truth will continue to prevail until the last of the Elect have finished their course with joy.
But, side by side with this, we may be also equally positive that the unfaithful, or the measurably faithful – those who stray from the enlightening influence of that Pillar – will experience measurable darkness, depending on the distance they stray from the light of that Pillar. This is also strikingly displayed in the type: The true priests, who ministered to the Tabernacle itself, would receive full light from the Pillar; the Levites – farther away – would have less light; the Israelites in the Camp nearest to the Tabernacle would have more of that light than those on the outskirts of the Camp. This is very evident to those about us today. The believing and repentant throughout Christendom have a measure of light from the Gospel. Thus, those countries which have enjoyed most religious freedom are the most enlightened. Most of the great inventions, and the major part of the fine art and literature, have come from those countries. Truly, “the entrance of thy word giveth light”!
At times in the type the Pillar seemed to tarry long – so long that the Israelites became restive, became involved in various improprieties to the extent that many of them were slain by the resultant plagues that the Lord allowed to come upon them. The same principle has been manifest in the Gospel Age. As the Lord seemed to delay His coming, the Church became impatient, concluded that He intended for them to take things into their own hands, and became condemned according to the words of Isa. 30: 1-3: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel together, but not of Me.... that go down into Egypt.... to trust in the shadow of Egypt (the retreats, resources and ways of this present evil world).... Therefore, the trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your confusion.” The boy asked his father, What is a financier? The father’s answer: He’s a man who can get experience without paying for it! Having seen the many mistakes of God’s people over the years, it would seem we should profit by them without receiving the reproof of the ‘plagues” which have plagued many of them. Thus, if the Word seems slow in unfolding, if the “vision” seems to tarry, if the Lord seems to delay, let us not try to take matters into our own hands - as many have done. Those who run ahead of the Lord have always come to grief, as witness the many instances of it here in this Epiphany night. The outstanding example is, of course, “that evil servant, who said in his heart, My Lord delayeth.’’ (Matt. 24:48)
Thus, especially at this particular season it is expedient that each resolve to “wait on the Lord,” knowing that “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Let us be content to advance when the Pillar advances, and equally content when it seems to tarry long.
To all who faithfully “wait on the Lord,” advancing only when they know what to do, how to do it, and with the providential circumstances to see the thing through to the finish, to such the Lord has promised certain victory. Spiritual Israel is yet fighting a “good fight” – for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren; and for all who do so from “a good and honest heart” there is the strong assurance of victory over sin, error, selfishness and worldliness, and a full inheritance in goodly Canaan land - both now and in the life to come. We herewith send to all our readers the prayer for the Lord’s special blessing in the preparation for, and participation in this year’s “remembrance”; and we would conclude with just a few lines from Reprints, page 4836:
‘‘At the Memorial season all of the consecrated should manifest their love, loyalty, obedience, faithfulness, by symbolizing the Redeemer’s death.... and to remember that none can enter instantaneous perfection in the resurrection until his trial be finished successfully in the present life, and by passing into death.”
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ.” (Heb. 13:20,21)
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION: – St. Paul admonishes us to “consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.” (Heb. 12:3) Who are “the sinners” of this text?
ANSWER: – The Bible often furnishes hints or helps that enable us to deduct proper interpretations of difficult texts; and we believe we find in James 5:19, 20 (Dia.) what enables us to define properly the sinners mentioned in the question. “If any one among you wander from the Truth, and some one turn him back; know you that he who turns back a sinner from his path of error, will save his soul from death.” Here is a clear statement by the Apostle that those who “wander from the Truth” are sinners. This was certainly true of those Scribes and Pharisees, and others in respected position who opposed Jesus. St. Paul says that those were the people who had the “oracles of God committed unto them” (Rom. 3:2); and it is a matter of record that those who were entrusted with the care and preservation of the inspired writings of the Old Testament were so imbued with their responsibility that they would have defended them with their lives if necessary.
In a broad sense “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19), but the general sort of evil men everywhere apparent have not only not been given to abuse of true believers, but they often find in them certain admirable qualities which they give limited respect. One such outstanding example is Pilate, who eventually sentenced Jesus to the cross. Yet, in the dialogue that is recorded for that night Pilate asked the question, “Am I a Jew?” (John 18:35) After more questions and answers, Pilate “went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in Him no fault at all.” (v. 38) Clearly enough, Pilate was not one of the “sinners” who was contradicting Jesus. Rather, he viewed Him with a detached appraisal that saw in Him much to be admired, and which brought from Pilate the exclamation, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5) Compared with this man, Pilate rated His accusers (the “sinners”) and their “contradiction” as just so much refuse, and they aroused his contempt. But it could certainly not truthfully be said of Pilate that he had “wandered from the Truth,” because he had never been “in the Truth.”
‘The Lord’s faithful followers today have much the same experiences as He did. “The Lord your God proveth you.” (Deu. 13:2) In proportion as we are able to take our Lord’s viewpoint in our experiences in life, we may be calm. If the Father permits trying experiences for our testing, or for the testing or proving of others – in ways we may not understand – it is for us to rejoice to have His will be done - enduring the same “contradiction of sinners” as did He. If we faithfully endure to the end, the reward will be ours. If we prove our loyalty and keep our faith that God is supervising our affairs (“I know that Thou hearest Me always,” said Jesus), and that no good thing will be withheld from those who are walking uprightly, we shall some day hear His “Well done.”
Our English word ‘contradiction’ properly translates the original, implying verbal contradiction of His words. As we consider our Lord’s case, we see that the people opposed Him, not physically (until that last night and day), but in His words, His teachings. And when such “sinners” ‘contradict’ the Lord’s faithful people, St. Paul counsels that we be not wearied or faint of mind. Such steadfast continuance can but increase our reputation in the Lord’s sight – if we endure faithfully, joyfully, “in His steps.” Such “sinners” can do us no real or lasting harm – though they may instigate siftings of tares from the wheat, for which they usually blame others than themselves.
And, while the foregoing is primarily applicable to crown-losers, it has also a limited application to Youthful Worthies who “wander from the Truth.” Birds of a feather flock together; so we should properly expect the same class of characters doing the same class of ‘contradicting,’ and encouraging each other in their “contradictions.” It is well to emphasize here, however, that all crown-losers - as individuals and as a class - are styled “sinners” in the Bible; but this is definitely not true of all Youthful Worthies. The latter as a class are reckoned as a faithful class, along with the Ancient Worthies and the Little Flock; it is only certain individuals among them who should be viewed in the same light as the “sinners” (in partnership with the crown-losers).
St. James exhorts the faithful Church, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” Those to whom the Apostle wrote his letter already knew of the sufferings of Jesus; they already knew of the faithfulness of the Apostles; and of St. Stephen and of others who had “spoken in the name of the Lord.” Yet, he is now urging, Look back into the past and see what patient endurance has been displayed by all who had lived holy lives. Such examples should be lessons of encouragement to us, in addition to those we have in the living present. In fact, in Hebrews 12, St. Paul first mentions the “great cloud of witnesses” (the Ancient Worthies – a faithful class) before directing our attention to “Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.” In like manner we would urge all faithful Youthful Worthy brethren today also to be an “example of suffering affliction, and of patience,” which gives the assurance of certain victory in “the good fight,” and to be partners with the Ancient Worthies in reward and service. (See Epiphany Vol. 4, p. 337)
Back in the Parousia days it was logical to look for the antitypical Scribes and Pharisees – the contradicting “sinners” – in Big Babylon, in spiritual Israel – just as Jesus found their types in fleshly Israel, those to whom He came, but who received Him not. They were those who had “wandered from the Truth.” And now especially we find a class in Little Babylon who also have “wandered from the Truth” the “sinners” astray on their “path of error”; so we should “think it not strange” if they also are lusty and vociferous in their “contradiction” of the Truth, and of those who faithfully present that Truth. We believe this explanation will commend itself to all who have not “wandered from the Truth.”
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: Greetings in our dear Redeemer’s Name!
Your good letter received, and as always the contents are so helpful and encouraging, which means so much to us as we strive daily to serve our dear Master. We want you to know that we held a service commemorating the death of our dear Pastor Russell and dear Brother Johnson. We enjoyed our service and felt that our dear Lord’s presence was with us.
Thank you, Brother, for the reports sent to us. How sad to note such little thought given to our dear Brothers Russell and Johnson – two great servants.
Speaking of the times in which we are living, they do not look good - but soon we know Christ’s Kingdom will be established..... Enclosed is a check for $ for the Truth fund – and may our dear Heavenly Father continue to bless you as only He can bless – and strengthen you in your every effort to serve the dear brethren. Sister joins in sending you and dear Sister Hoefle our warmest Christian love and greetings – also to all the dear ones in Mount Dora.
Your brother and sister by His Grace ------- (NEW JERSEY)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Greetings through our Lord’s Name! I will now answer your good and interesting letter of the 9th – and am happy to hear about all the good meetings you had with the friends. I was sick for about five weeks – had a cold. A lot of people here are sick.
Will you please send me some more tracts. I gave all the tracts out. Someone laid one down, so I left it for the minister. I am studying Volumes 9 and 14, and do I find some wonderful things in them! I had a lot of time to study when I was sick.
My prayer is that the good Lord’s rich blessings be with you and all with you.
Your sister in the Truth ------- (PENNSYLVANIA)
Epiphany Bible Students Ass’n
Dear Sirs! I was very much interested in The Herald of the Epiphany that you sent me. Could I please have another copy for a friend – also one of Where are the Dead.
Sincerely yours, ------- (CONNECTICUT)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace from our Lord and Shepherd!
I sent 5 lbs. to Brother ------- air mail. Dear Brother, read page 13 in The Day of Vengeance .... The New Covenant, His Kingdom will be with the Jews. They will go up to the God of Jacob to learn of His ways. The Ancient Worthies as the princes – the earthly representatives, ........ Must go to work now. Your brother by His Grace ------ (ENGLAND) Psa. 23; Hymn 23, 114 and 109