by Epiphany Bible Students

No. 20

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

It seems appropriate at this time to offer some comments on Psa. 32:8: I will Guide Thee With Mine eye.

At the outset it should be observed that this is primarily a Little Flock text, as vs. 9 reveals another class who are not guided by God's Eye. And this text reveals al­so not only what God will do, but likewise how He will do it. The Fully Faithful, the “more than con­querors”, of this Gospel Age have been guided by God's Eye in that a look has usually been sufficient for the most of them to forsake any pretense of wrong con­duct; they have avoided every appearance of evil. But this has not been true of the Measurably Faithful, to whom reference is made in vs. 9, those “whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.” (Please note the Berean comments on this verse.) Thus, it should be readily apparent that all who embrace the text heading this article will in­deed do so to their profit if they accept it with an understanding mind and a “good and honest heart.”

But there is another application of this text – the Eye of God also refers to the faithful teachers of God's people, primarily Jesus Himself, secondarily the Star Mem­bers, and in a lesser degree all faithful teachers. The words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, are parallel to Paul's words, “Christ made unto us justifica­tion, sanctification and deliverance” (1 Cor. 1:30). In Tabernacle phrase, it should be stated ‑ “I am the Gate, the First Veil and the Second Veil.” The Court of the Tab­ernacle types Justification, which brings “peace with God” to all who enter therein; and leaves those without as more or less aliens and strangers to God. And none may en­ter the Court condition except through the Gate — Christ: “No Man cometh unto the Father (in justification) but by me.”

Then, Jesus is the Truth, as portrayed in the first veil. During the time of the high Calling the Truth really opened up to the Faithful only after spirit‑begettal, as repre­sented by entering the Holy through the first veil. Before spirit‑begettal, the deep things of the Truth were not understood by those represented in the Court, the Camp, or beyond, because “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit” — l Cor. 2:14. “The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”

And for those who continued faithful unto the end in the Holy, Jesus is also their Life, their Deliverance; by bringing them victoriously into the Most Holy, where they receive “the crown of life”. Therefore, all who accepted “the way, the truth, and the life” were guided by God's Eye unto full fruition of their hopes; and the principles herein stated would apply to all others of God's faithful people if they follow after righteousness “in a good and honest heart” – whether or not in the High Calling.

After Jesus departed this earth, there were other “Eyes” to guide God's people. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 2:2: “I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He was here guiding those brethren to faith in the Ransom (Jesus); and to “follow his steps” in the narrow way to the Cross (Christ, and him crucified). And in this St. Paul “guided” them by his deeds as well as by his words. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” — l Cor. 11:1. And all who accepted that guidance of that faithful “Eye”, then or since, could not fail to gain that which they sought.

Much could be said of others of God's “Eyes” all during the Age; but we note par­ticularly John Wessel, who was the Principal Man of the Philadelphia epoch of the Church. The last words on his deathbed were these: “I know only Jesus and Him crucified” – al­most exact quotation of St. Paul. During his entire ministry he had contended that a justifying faith made active in love was sufficient unto salvation. This great man died just about the time Luther was born; and Luther commented during his own ministry: “It could plausibly have been said – I borrowed everything from Wessel.” We may be prone to discount the “eyes” of the past because they did not possess the comprehensive know­ledge we have today; and it is true that they had their limitations. But the promise was as sure to them as it is to us – “God shall supply all your needs”; and, when we consider the doctrine of John Wessel, we realize the “needs” of that day were supplied. They had sufficient for “the victory that overcometh the world” – enough to “make their calling and election sure” —; and none have more than that today, regardless of the great increase of knowledge that is ours. “The Greatest of these is love”, says St. Paul; and those having love – then and now – have the “greatest”, regardless of how much or how little of knowledge they may possess.

And now; what shall we add concerning the two “Eyes” of our own time – those with whom we had intimate association. Surely, their guidance was a great blessing to all who availed themselves of it; they watched over God's people as they “that must give an account”, and we have the prophetic testimony concerning them, “I have done as thou has commanded me.” We do not claim for them infallibility – they never claimed it for themselves; thus, they made their mistakes — even as you and I. A heckler once said to a brother – “You're only a follower of Pastor Russell.” To which the brother re­plied, “Yes, I admit I'm following him, because I haven't been able to catch up with him.” Both of these Star Members were true noblemen, shining “examples of the believ­ers”; and well may we join in the prayer, God bless their memory!

Since their departure God's people have come into troublous and grievous times – caused mainly by leaders who are not true “eyes” to guide the Household. “Moved by unholy ambition in various forms, the truth of the Apostle's words is coming home to us – “They shall make merchandise of you.” And blessed indeed are those among us who are able to discern the genuine from the counterfeit – to “continue in the things they have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom they have learned them.”

It should be noted that the Measurably Faithful of the past and present have been those most disinclined to accept the guidance of God's faithful “Eyes”; nor have those Measurably Faithful provided a true guidance to those they have influenced. Rather than accept the true guidance, they have been “as the horse or the mule” – always running wild when not restrained by the “bit and bridle”; they have been the “brethren that hated you, and cast you out for my name's sake.” (Isa. 66:5) Perhaps the outstanding illustration of this for the entire Gospel Age is the atrocity of John Calvin against Miletus Servitus, the latter being one of God's faithful “eyes”. Not content with burn­ing this true Nobleman at the stake, Calvin had the fagots placed some ten or fifteen feet away, so that Servitus was slowly roasted, as we might bake an apple.

Surely, the atrocities of the past should sober us all, should cause us to seek the guidance of the true and faithful “Eyes”, that thus we may be “a workman that need­eth not to be ashamed.” Let us consider the two “Eyes” of our own day, and ask our­selves what they would have done in the crucial circunstances which confront us. Better yet, “consider Him”! Amid the turmoil and strife of this our troublous day, if we just ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do if he were in my place”, we will usually find the answer readily available if we ask our question in “a good and honest heart.” And so, may one and all strive to receive the “blessing that maketh rich”, and to make for ourselves a living reality of this blessed subject text — “I will guide thee with mine eye.”

Some Thoughts for the Memorial

“When the time was come that He should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) The determination of Jesus as expressed in this text offers an example in perfection of the grace of patience in its true biblical meaning – ­cheerful continuance in well doing amid contrary cir­cum­stances. His course herein was against all human concept as viewed by the natural man; hence, Peter said to him, “Be it far from thee Lord; this shall not be unto thee.” And Jesus gave him appropriate correction: “Get thee behind me, adversary: thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:22,23) Jesus knew full well that the “fulness of time” had come – that it was not the time to wait for his enemies to come to him (which, had He done, would have dis­played only the passive grace of longsuffering) – ­that the active aggressive grace of patience should now be perfectly revealed in and by Him. And, “hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21)

      Be it noted that those who condem­ned Jesus to the cross were not the “beggarly elements” of that time, not the irreligous; it was the “good” people who were guilty of that – those who would not cross the Gentile door “lest they should be defiled for the feast.” And, a “As he was, so are we in this world.” The Heathen Pilate strove to avoid the tragic miscarriage of justice; and it was the high Priest of Israel who “had the greater sin” in the matter. It was those people schooled in the Law, who “sat down and watched Him there” – watched the tragedy of the cross as the idly curious might watch a street‑corner side show – watched the final hours of agony of “the Lord of Glory” with a calloused indifference that would be unbelievable were it not written in the sacred record.

And Jesus, knowing in the final hours of that awful night, that he had “finished the work God gave him to do”, resigned Himself to what was to be. The time for contro­versy had passed – “now is your hour, and the power of darkness”; so he “held his peace.” “No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself.” There is in this a lesson for us, too: The day previous and the day following our observance of the Memorial should be a time of calm meditation insofar as lieth in us. If any wish to be contentious at that time, let them go their way for the time being; there will come more suitable occasions to answer such.

Nor should we allow the “maddening maze of things, as tossed by storm and flood” to make us bitter or morose or hateful. It is a time at which we should lift our minds to the highest spiritual levels possible – to repose in the sublime reflections of the past, to “consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.” “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” And again, “The kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but righteousness and joy and peace in the holy spirit.” Nor should we allow those of contrary disposition to deter us in these resolves. As it was in Jesus' day, so it has been all through the Age: “Thou hast them there that say they are Jews, but are not; but are of the synagogue of satan.” As we have now come into “the evil day” when “the end of all things is at hand”, let us embrace with full determination the Apostle's words: “Above all things, have fervent love among yourselves.” Jesus stated of this time in which we live: “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold”; but, “he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.” These words are a warn­ing to all; and blessed are they who give ear to them. “The leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypoc­risy” abounds in all quarters; but God's faithful people will accept and do – particu­larly at this season – what St. Paul admonishes: “Purge out the old leav­en.”

In the type the lamb was taken up five days before it was killed; and that was typ­ical of Jesus, the Greater Lamb, presenting himself to the Jews on Palm Sunday, five days before He was “lifted up.” But there was another compelling reason for the five­ day interval: That most memorable of nights, when the Angel of Death would “Pass over” the Jewish firstborn, was not to be approached flippantly or carelessly. As each family took up its own lamb, and removed all leaven from the home, the course of these five days would put them into a proper mental attitude and contrition of heart for that awe­some night. And this is well in keeping with St. Paul's words to all who commemorate the antitype: “Let a man examine himself” – not five minutes before the service, per­haps in public confessionals; not just an hour before the service; but let each do so in “sincerity and in truth” during the days preceding it. As most of us know, Brother Johnson always counseled all to read Brother Russell's treatise on the Passover in Vol­ume 6; and we now counsel the same. Over the years this writer has each year read Exo­dus 12 five days before the Memorial, with the Berean Comments; then the same with the pertinent writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – one each day, with the Berean Comments. This has always proven most refreshing and helpful for this writer to “exam­ine himself”; and we venture the opinion that any who follow this, or a similar course, will most likely “eat and drink worthily” in full discernment of the Lord's body and blood.

This year those of us in Mount Dora, Florida and vicinity will “keep the feast” at 1507 N. Donnelly at 7:30 Friday April 12; and any and all are cordially invited to join with us who do so “in sincerity and in truth.” In view of the confusion so prev­alent regarding the date, a few remarks are here properly in order. We regard Nisan 1 as arriving with the first new moon nearest the Spring Equinox; and we regard the cor­rect date for the Memorial observance as Nisan 14. Generally, the moon is substantially full at Nisan 14; but the status of the moon then is not the determining factor for the service. In exodus 12 the moon is not even mentioned; the date is arbitrarily given as Nisan 14. Over the years the Jewish Rabbis have veared to the “traditions of the fath­ers”, so they begin their Passover service when the moon becomes full – rather than on Nisan 14. In 1957 our calendar declares the moon as full on Sunday, April 14; but this should not influence us. Also, over the years Christians have been influenced by the “traditions of the (Church) fathers”. so that Good Friday occurs this year on April 19, with Easter on April 21. The method for arriving at these dates is by determining East­er as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. And, as prev­iously stated, the first full moon this year occurs on Svmday, April 14, which forces Easter for the following Sunday — April 21. Some are inclined to be contentious about these calculations; and we do not wish to quibble with such. We think the Scriptures are clear enough, and that we should follow the Scriptures insofar as we are able.

With this writing comes the Christian love of the writer to all God's people where­ever they may assemble. And we especially offer a prayer for the Lord's nearness and rich blessing in the preparation for, and participation in this coming service. “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”