NO. 108: "THE THIRD WATCH"

by Epiphany Bible Students


No. 108

My dear Brethren: – Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!

(A reprint of No. 18, Jan. 1, 1957, with pertinent revisions and additions)

In Luke 12:37-38 Jesus said, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.... And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.” These words were addressed primarily to the Saints, but “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch” – Mark 13:37. During the ministry of Jesus the Roman army maintained a strong guard in Jerusalem, a fresh troop probably being installed each evening at six o’clock, the same as is true with the American army. The individual guards were relieved every three hours, each relief being known as a “watch,” the first watch being at six p.m., the second at nine, the third at midnight, and the fourth at three a.m. When the watch was changed at midnight and at three a.m. a trumpet sounded, the same being referred to as the first and second cock-crowing. There­fore, when Jesus said to Peter (Mark 14:30), “Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice,” He was telling Peter that before the sounding of the second “cock” at three a.m. that same Peter would have denied Jesus three times.

Jesus never used words idly or without special significance; therefore, He did not do so in this instance. “The morning cometh, and also the night” (Isa. 21:12), the reference here being to the Millennial morning and the night of trouble that would come abreast of it. For those awake to its significance, this morning has given light of great brilliance; but to those not understanding it, it has been a “day of trouble, of clouds and thick darkness.” For those on the alert it would seem proper to observe that they have been in a watching attitude, the first one of these watches being the period of forty years from 1874 to 1914. During that watch the hopes were high and certain that by its end the Household of Faith would all be gathered to their Lord and the Kingdom established; and great was the disappointment of many when 1914 did not confirm all they had expected.

But those whose faith failed not girded themselves for the second watch – the forty years from 1914 to 1954 –; and early in this watch the “signs of the times” seemed to point with certainty to the fulfillment of many Kingdom prophecies before that watch would be completed. Surely, the fall in 1917 of Czarist Russia was of great portent; it was one of the greatest and most absolute governments in all history. And other events shortly thereafter brought into clear focus Isa. 24:20, “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,. and shall be removed like a cottage.” But the virility of the Old Order is not to be denied, nor is “The Strong Man” easily bound. Thus, the second watch has come and gone; and the third watch is already several years with us.

When Jesus said, “If He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch,” it would seem a reasonably strong inference that He would come for His own before the third watch is completed. It should be noted that the expression “shall come” does not always refer to His second advent to earth. Note, for Instance, Matt. 24:50: ‘‘The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him.” The reference here is to That Evil Servant, who did not appear as such until over forty years after Jesus had returned in 1874; yet a superficial reading might cause us to conclude it was something that would occur at the same time as the Second Advent. But, during the first watch, and again in the second watch, and now in the third watch, those who are faithfully watching will still embrace the words of the Psalmist (63:6) – “My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.... when I meditate on thee in the night watches.” In Vol. E-12, pp. 368-369 Brother Johnson says that in 1914 “Satan began the antitypical 70 years’ depopulation of Christendom”; and it would seem almost certain that some of God’s elect will remain until toward the end of that work – just as Jeremiah was one of the last to leave Israel during the desolation of Israel.

THE FIGURE FORTY IMPLIES TRIAL

We have repeatedly stressed that the Bible does not use words unnecessarily; and we know the destruction of the first world is typical of the destruction of this Present Evil World. Therefore, when we are told in Gen. 7:12 that “the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights,” we are hardly warranted in giving that just a 40-year antitype. The figure forty in Scripture is used to designate a trial time – “tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years” (Heb. 3:9). In substantiation, we quote Brother Edgar’s observations, as published in Reprints 3574, col. 2, par. 2, June 15, 1905 Watch Tower:

“When we turn back to the early history of the typical kingdom, we find that Saul, David and Solomon each reigned 40 years. It is clear that the reign of Saul represents the Jewish age, that of David the Gospel age, and that of Solomon the Millennial age. The fact that the duration of each reign was 40 years indicates that it represented a complete period of testing and sifting. This would appear to be the thought underlying the number 40 in all instances in which it is used in the Scriptures. For instance, there were the 40 years’ temptation of the children of Israel in the wilderness, Christ’s 40-days’ tempta­tion, etc. They all seem to foreshadow the years of harvest at the end of the Jewish, of the Gospel, and (possibly) of the Millennial ages.”

Therefore, if we construe the three “watches” as the three forty-year trial times beginning with 1874, we note some interesting conclusions: (1) The Parousia forty years had to do mainly – though not exclusively – with the trial time of the Little Flock. By the time it was over at September 16, 1914 every crown-retainer of the Harvest had his name written in that “book” from which none can ever be “blotted out.” At the conclusion of that forty years many others murmured because of un­realized expections – “and they walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66) To such the Truth speedily lost is appeal; they had built their house upon Christ “as sand,” and this was quickly made manifest.

(2) The first forty years of the Time of Trouble beginning with 1914 – or the first half of the Epiphany, represented by the “forty days” of rain (The Epiphany and the Time of Trouble are identical) had to do mainly – though not exclusively – with the trial time of the Great Company. By the time that forty years was finished in September 1954, every crown-lost leader in Little Babylon – and the great bulk of lesser lights among the crown-losers in the various Truth groups – had been mani­fested by the sixth Slaughter-weapon Man of Revolutionism, the last leader of whom was R. G. Jolly. His 1938 deflection was merely against arrangements; but his deflection after Brother Johnson’s death was persistent and numerous revolutionisms against Parousia and Epiphany Truth; and this became clearly manifest to some of us by September 1954. The conclusion of that trial time also gave severe trial to some because of unrealized expections. One of the more prominent leaders in Truth circles was unyielding in his prediction that the Ancient Worthies would return by 1956; and he, and those who accepted his foolish conclusions, has since faded pretty much into the Limbo of spiritual inactivity – just as was time of many who had been so positive in their predictions respecting 1914. In 1914 and 1954 the Scripture was forcefully apparent that “judgment must begin at the House of God” (1 Pet. 4:17); the depth of the profession of their faith was manifested in those claiming to be in “present truth.” And this was more apparent with the Epiphany Truth people at 1954 than with any others.

(3) The second forty years of the Epiphany, and the third “watch,” represented by “forty nights” of rain, beginning in 1954, is having to do mainly – though not exclusively – with the trial time of the Youthful Worthies; and this will run to its logical completion. The world in general is also being more severely “tried” in this second forty years – these “nights” of the antitypical “rain” (the third watch). This is evident on every hand in international affairs, where Governments are being toppled by the “sea” (the lawless, restless elements of Society) with increasing regularity. Also, in ways not known world wide, conditions internally are becoming unbearable – even here in the U.S., as an example: In many Detroit public schools it is now necessary to have policemen patrolling the corridors all day long to pre­vent lawless students from knifing the teachers and other students. Such a condi­tion was unheard of – would have been considered unbelievable – in the “second watch” from 1914 to 1954, the forty “days” of rain of the Time of Trouble.

Immediately after the completion of the Parousia trial time there appeared a Levite (J. F. Rutherford), who usurped to himself all the prerogatives of That Servant – he professed to “sit in Moses’ seat.” Those who disagreed and resisted him were speedily and unjustly labelled “sifters,” and the decree went forth to “avoid them.” And, as should be expected from such a reprobate power-grasper, he quickly brought forth much error and was the chief offender in Revolutionism (the sixth Slaughter-weapon man). One of his principal and primary errors was the denial of Tentative Justification, which so perverted the Tabernacle Shadows’ teachings that he was eventually forced to reject that book in toto. This “overthrew the faith of many” among the Great Company.

At 1954, after the completion of the second trial time (at the and of the “second watch”) appeared another Levite (R. G. Jolly) who also professes to “sit in Moses’ seat.” He also labels as “sifters” – and decrees that his adherents “avoid them” – any who resist his Revolutionisms. And, in true style with the perverter after the first 40-year trial time, we find also with him that one of his main perversions is on Tentative Justification. He now has that teaching out­side the linen curtain (the righteousness that cometh from Christ alone in this faith dispensation) and in the Camp. This also is “overthrowing the faith of many” among the Youthful Worthies, as this perversion forces him to other perver­sions, prominent among such being his denial of further opportunity to enter the Youthful Worthy Class – in direct contradiction to the teaching of both Parousia and Epiphany Messengers that Tentative Justification inside the linen curtain and Youthful Worthy opportunity would avail even after Armageddon and “until the beginning of Restitution.” Yet, in this spiritual bedlam he continues to ‘‘Herald the Epiphany” (see front cover of The Present Truth), although claiming we are now in the Basileia. The Epiphany Bible Students Ass’n (our own group) is now the only group adhering to the Truth on Youthful Worthies as given by Brothers Russell and Johnson, as we continue also to “herald the Epiphany” – the same being identical with the Time of Trouble.

Be it noted that Tentative Justification was a dominant factor in the teaching of revolutionistic Levites at the end of both trial periods, the main difference being this: After 1914 That Evil Servant eliminated Tentative Justification entirely for any Age; whereas, R. G. Jolly now has it in EVERY Age – right on through the Millennium. But note also: It was after tampering with Tentative Justification that each Levite brough forth his “strange fire” (false doctrine), That Evil Servant immediately with his “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”; and R. G. Jolly with his Campers Consecrated, who may also live right into the Kingdom – or, so he says. Of course, time itself has completely eliminated the “Millions” doctrine – it is no longer even mentioned in those words; and time will also demonstrate the “folly” of R. G. Jolly and his kindred Campers Consecrated.

THE HOURS OF REVELATION 18

As a companion thought with the foregoing, it would seem in order to consider Rev. 18:8,10,17 and 19. In Vol. E-5, 422 (28) Brother Johnson states that the “one day” of v. 8 is the Millennial Day, an hour of which would be 41 years 8 mos. At the time he wrote that he could not see clearly the conditions existing today – ­any more than we can now see clearly the conditions five, ten or twenty years hence. It is now only too apparent that much of what Brother Russell expected in 1914 and what Brother Johnson expected respecting 1954-56 has not materialized; and this should sober us all in our attempts to pry into the future in too much detail -­“sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” However, if we consider the “hour of judgment” of v. 10, the “hour” of v. 17, and the “hour of desolation” of v. 19 as three different hours – instead of all of them being the same hour, we may reach some informative conclusions. But just as Brother Johnson eventually saw much detail respecting 1914-16 that was not at all apparent at the time, so we too may eventually see much detail respecting 1954-56 that is not now readily apparent. A pointed example in this respect is Brother Russell’s observations on Psa. 149:7-9, “to execute upon them the judgment written” – which event he discussed as a future matter, although it was going on right at the time he was talking about it.

It is stated that in one hour Babylon’s judgment came. If that hour began in 1874, it would end 41 years 8 months later at Passover, 1916; and it was at that date that the last Saint was brought into Present Truth. While the judgment had been pronounced early in the hour, it was not until its full end that it could be truly said, ‘‘The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee.” At that date the judgment had come to the full.

Then at Passover 1916 began the second hour (v. 17) – “so great riches is come to nought” (“in one hour such great wealth is laid waste” – Dia.); and this hour will and at about January 1958. Have we seen any evidence of the wasting in this second hour? Yea, verily – much more than appears on the surface! The rule of ‘hard money’ has almost completely disappeared; Governments have issued so much worthless paper that no one with any financial intelligence believes it will ever be redeemed with gold, which is still the only international money of any value. Few govern­ments today want the paper of other governments; and there is not nearly enough gold even to transact international trade in its present-day volume. There are only three ways to do business: (1) By cash – Gold; (2) by credit–- paper promises to pay; (3) by barter. At best the barter system is cumbersome; and then it is only work­able when governments have mutually desirable com­modities. It cannot work at all between, say, two agricultural countries, since they cannot trade wheat to each other for agricultural machinery; nor can it work between two industrial countries, as they cannot trade each other machinery for foodstuff. It should here be noted that it was the failure of the Austrian Reichsbank in late 1931 that caused such international turmoil as to force England off the Gold Standard, which in turn forced the United States to do the same some months later.

The amount of paper issued in various countries is staggering beyond compre­hension. In France today the Franc is about 400 for one American dollar; and this is the same Franc that was the unit of value in France before the second hour of wasting began – just as our dollar is the unit of value here. With the Franc deterio­rated to 1/4 cent, one may buy little more than a toothpick or a match with one of them; and even the Frenchmen do not want them except for day-to-day convenience. It is well known that the peasants of France have their little gold hoards, which the government has repeatedly tried to tempt into exchange for paper Francs; but the peasants will have no part of a rotting and wasting currency, which gives every evi­dence of being worth even less in the days ahead. Several years ago in Czecho-Slovakia the people awoke one morning to be greeted with the news that the currency unit had been shrunk to one for fifty; thus, a man having $5,000 in the bank was given $100, and told to start all over accumulating more. It caused widespread riots, resulting in many deaths and injuries.

In the United States the overall debt today is over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS, and this staggering figure is increasing about 70 billion more each year. This in­cludes national, state, municipal and private obligations. If we figure just four per cent interest on that, the yearly interest is forty billion – over $200 for each man, woman and child in the United States. Thus, a man and wife with three children faces an annual interest burden of over $1,000 – as an average. To express a solid cold opinion on this might involve “things not lawful for a man to utter”; but it should not require a very vivid imagination to arrive at certain conclusions, and it would indeed be an ironic fate should we eventually see the capitalistic system ‘‘wasted’’ by the Frankenstein of its own creation – caused to collapse by a top-heavy interest system of its own making. Of this there will be more to say “in due time.”

Coming to the hour of v. 19, the hour of desolation, which began about January, 1958: We have often been asked when the violent features of Armageddon will begin. If the calculations and conclusions herein are correct, then it will not begin be­fore 1958; but please understand we do not say it will begin then. However, it will certainly be accomplished to the full in the third hour. It is pointedly sig­nificant that governments never fall so long as the army remains loyal. It seems almost certain that Armageddon would have overtaken some countries ere this had it not been for the American army which is there to preserve order; nor is there any likelihood of violent disturbance in any countries where a loyal American army con­tinues to police it. And, since the “hour of desolation” is in its initial begin­ning, the spirit of a sound mind should forbid us from making conjectures about details yet future. We may relax in the assurance that “the vision is yet for an appointed time.... it will surely come, it will not tarry”; and it is for each of God’s people to order his affairs in keeping therewith.

Therefore, Dearly Beloved, let us not be weary in well doing, but strive earnestly to “maintain the true word in our teaching, so that we may be able both to exhort by the sound instruction, and to confute the opposers. For there are unruly persons, foolish talkers and deceivers... whom it is neces­sary to silence.” (Titus 1:9-11, Dia.) It is certain that if we “maintain the true word in our teach­ing” that the promise of Luke 21:15 is ours – ‘‘For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” – nor will it ever become necessary for us to “flee” from our adversaries’ attacks. Thus, shall you “sanctify the anointed Lord in your hearts, and be always prepared with a defence for every one demanding an account of the hope that is in you; but with meekness and fear, having a good conscience that in what they may speak against you, they may be ashamed, who slander your good conduct in Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:15,16)

Sincerely your brother,

John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim

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QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST

QUESTION:. – What do you consider to be the proper work for the remaining saints at this time?

ANSWER: – We believe that the saints, as well as all the fully faithful of other classes, should continue to “bear witness to the Truth,” even as they did during Brother Johnson’s ministry. As to a specific work, that would depend somewhat upon their locality and the group with which they are affiliated. We be­lieve that the Epiphany-enlightened saints should continue to “bear witness” toward Little Babylon, even as they did when Brother Johnson was still with us. The Epiphany Truth is still “Present Truth,” and will continue to arouse persecution to all who proclaim it from a good and honest heart; and such pertinent Truth would be a great blessing to our brethren in the sects of Little Babylon. Certainly, Brother Johnson’s death did not obliterate any of the Truth he taught, and the instructions he offered, regarding those outside the Epiphany Movement – the same being substan­tially as follows: (1) To help their saintly brethren in other groups to come to a knowledge of “Present Truth”; (2) To win new Youthful Worthies; (3) To expose the revolution­isms of uncleansed Great Company and Youthful Worthy members – particu­larly their leaders – whether formerly Epiphany-enlightened brethren or other groups in Little Babylon; (4) To engage in antitypical Gideon’s Second Battle as opportunity affords; (5) To “preach the Word,” either verbally or with such literature as may be available; (6) Mainly, of course, to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (maintain your priestly standing); and (7) To “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” – by faithfully pursuing this course unto the end. (Matt. 24:13)

It was thus minded that we prepared the Gideon tracts to be used toward Big Babylon; and The Three Babylons tract for Little Babylon. We were prompted to pre­pare The Three Babylons tract because we know that these pertinent Epiphany Truths are still applicable to each and every one of the 59 groups today, the same as they were during Brother Johnson’s life; and are now pointedly applicable to the LHMM, which has completed the sixty groups under bad Levite leadership – and to J. W. Krewson’s LHMM “cleansed nucleus.” This tract contains only pertinent Epiphany Truth produced by Brother Johnson, with a few additions by us – made clear since his passing – but in full harmony with what he himself had produced during his life. Those additions made clear since his death are (1) The large Gospel-Age Samson is representatively still with us, and will continue so until after Armageddon (a truth now repudiated by both LHMM’s – the “cousins”); (2) The call to Youthful Worthiship is still open, and will continue so until after Armageddon (another truth now repudiated by both LHMM’s – the “cousins”). Self-evidently, Brother Johnson could not offer comment on these two points, because the present position of the self-appointed Pastors and Teachers of the two LHMM’s was unknown to him.

Quite a few of those Epiphany brethren who retain their priestly hope have clearly demonstrated by act, and by letters written to us, that they are in full accord with the foregoing; they have joined wholeheartedly with us in helping dis­tribute the three pertinent tracts for Antitypical Gideon’s Second Battle toward all sections of Christendom, and have also participated in the distribution of The Three Babylons tract toward individuals and groups in Little Babylon, with many faithful Youthful Worthies also participating in the same spirit they did under Brother Johnson’s supervision. To all such faithful brethren we offer the same “comfort and consolation of the Scriptures” that the Epiphany Messenger gave to them.

We were keenly aware of the fact that those who had “continued in what they had learned and been assured of” were more or less shelved – could not in good faith distribute the pertinent literature presented by many of the sects in Little Babylon, realizing that by doing so they would be directing the readers to systems of error, along with some Truth, especially if the newly interested ones contacted such groups and became innoculated with their various errors on the newly consecrated; namely, only a quasi-elect consecration, or the High Calling still open – with none of the sects in Little Babylon teaching a Youthful Worthy hope still available, a most important and vital “present truth” given us by the last two Principal-Men. At the present time none of them are “feeding that that standeth still” – the tenta­tively justified (Zech. 11:16–See E-6:177) with the Truth. Rather, they are choking them (preventing them from gaining an elective salvation in many instances) with various errors as did the Jewish sects in our Lord’s day – “traverse sea and land to make one proselyte... and make him a son of Gehenna doubly more than yourselves.” (Matt. 23:15, Dia.) And toward such the fully faithful still have a message to deliver!

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LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST

Dear Brother Hoefle: – Grace and peace in our dear Lord’s Name!

In answer to your question, Yes, Sister ------- and I joined with Bro ------- at his home and celebrated the Memorial..... Usually, in previous years, we have held the Memorial at our home....... It is a great privilege we have on an occasion to be so honored; and we constantly thank our dear Heavenly Father for His loving care and Providences from day to day.

Thank you for the Advance Copy of the May article – A Treatise on the Resurrection – ­which is extremely interesting. Sr ------- and I do enjoy reading and studying the articles we receive monthly. As we have stated before, we receive a rich blessing. Thank you again for your previous letters to us. They are such a comfort, and you bring to our remembrance so many lovely thoughts, and statements from the Holy Writ, which makes us feel so good. We shall write you again in the near future about more tracts; and be assured of our request to our dear Heavenly Father on your behalf, that He may con­tinue to bless you and give you strength to carry on this great work.......

Warmest Christian love to all the dear friends there.

Your Brother & Sister in the one Hope (NEW JERSEY)

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Dear Brother Hoefle: Christian greetings!

Your kind letter of March 14 was received with much appreciation and thanks. It is nice to know that our brethren remember us in their prayers. We celebrated our Lord’s Memorial on the 26th of March as we intended. Twenty-six (26) friends attended, but twenty-four (24) partook. Brother Roach delivered a most inspiring address. The other brethren officiated.

We all join in sending warm Christian love to you, Sr. Hoefle and all the brethren.

Yours by His Grace ------- Sec’y TRINIDAD ECCLESIA

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Dear Brother Hoefle: Christian greetings!

I am grateful for your letter of March 16 concerning our Lord’s Memorial. The three of us, Sisters------- and myself, were able to observe the Memorial together. I am sure we all received a blessing from it. Our number being small, and with me being separated from the Sisters a good many miles, makes the work seem very lonely at times. Therefore your letters are always a blessing.

For now I would like to have two Parousia Volumes and a Manna book if available. Please accept this contribution for the books and for the Lord’s work.

With Christian love, Brother------- (CALIFORNIA)

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Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and Peace!

Thanks for your letter of the 16th received this morning. It was just lovely to read your letter re the ‘Passover Service’ to be held this year on the 26th of the month. We look forward to a blessed time, as we look for the Lord’s assurance of His love and care for us.... May the dear Lord abundantly bless you all as you partake of the Passover Supper on the 26th. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and will be specially so when just as we know your loving thoughts will be of us. Even though our number be few, His promise still is ours – ‘Where two or three are together,” etc.......

I shall hope to send you a report of our experiences next weekend. Later, as soon as possible, a few thoughts on the January issue.

Faithfully your Brother in His Service  ------- (ENGLAND)

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Epiphany Bible Students Ass’n

Mount Dora, Florida – Gentlemen: Please send me copies of the following: What is the Soul? Where are the Dead? The Three Babylons, and the Resurrection of the Dead. Many thanks! ------- (CALIFORNIA)