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VOL. XIX. OCTOBER 15, 1898. No. 20.
Views from the Watch Tower……………………299
Council Bluffs Convention…………………299
“Man Proposes, God Disposes”………………300
Emperor William’s Ambition………………..301
Another Motive Back of the Ambition………………………………302
Italy’s Internecine War…………………..303
Poem: “Good for those Who Love God”………………………………….304
The Prophet Isaiah’s Vision…………………..304
The Messianic Kingdom Foretold………………..307
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
COUNCIL BLUFFS CONVENTION is a thing of the past; but it will never be forgotten by those who participated. The attendance was much larger than we had expected—175 from abroad, and at the principal sessions about the same number from Omaha and Council Bluffs, friends of the truth and their friends. The visitors were chiefly from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas; but other States were fairly represented—Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakota, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kentucky, California and Washington.
The four days were a season of blessed refreshing to all, and were faithfully spent from 9 A.M. to 9 and sometimes 10 P.M., with intermissions for meals; and another day was spent in private conferences with colporteuring brethren and sisters, some of them beginners. It was remarked by many that they had never seen a convention so free from jar and friction, nor one exhibiting the spirit of meekness, patience, forbearance and brotherly love in so marked a degree. Neither the Chicago Convention of 1893, nor the previous ones at Allegheny (precious as they all were) were better than this one, if they equalled it.
The public speakers were Brothers M. L. McPhail, F. Draper and the Editor of this journal; but nearly all took part in the prayers, praises and testimonies. Testimony meetings preceded the regular meetings and were extremely profitable—not a moment was lost, sometimes two or three being on their feet to speak at one time. And such testimonies—such beaming faces—such gratitude to God for the light of present truth—such love for the brethren—were the general comments. Visitors wondered that no collections were taken, no appeals made for money, but on the contrary, offers were made to assist any attending the meeting short of funds,—tho evidently none were wealthy. During the session a discourse was preached on the real baptism and its water symbol, after which twenty-one brethren and twenty sisters were symbolically baptized. The youngest of these was about thirty years of age and the eldest two, Bro. Gephart and wife, looked to be over seventy years old. Altogether, we all rejoiced in the divine favor enjoyed, and quite a number expressed the hope that another Convention might be held ere long.
* * *
The convention spirit was contagious, and many who could not attend at Council Bluffs, because of the distance and expense, urged sub-conventions which we might attend enroute to Council Bluffs. We were obliged to decline most of these, for lack of time—the general work being retarded by every day’s absence from Allegheny. We did, however, engage to meet with the Chicago Church on Sunday, the 10th, and found that notice of the meetings had brought friends from nearby points in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. These, with the friends of the four Chicago meetings, the friends of these and others, aggregated three to four hundred. The meetings were held in the Masonic Temple and lasted from 3 P.M. until 9:30 P.M., with an intermission for luncheon, which the Chicago friends provided free, and which was shared by about one hundred and fifty, with zest and appreciation, and every way all the friends of the truth had a most enjoyable time, judging from their words and faces and
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hearty greetings and farewells, and assurances that the work centered at Allegheny has their heart-felt sympathy and prayers.
Meantime the friends at Sippo, Ohio, concluded that they, too, must have a sub-convention, and Brother Henninges of the WATCH TOWER force went to assist. He reports a most enjoyable time—the attendance running as high as one hundred and fifty. This meeting lasted three days. About the same time, also, Brother Koetitz of the WATCH TOWER force answered a similar call from Eastern Pennsylvania. It is a good sign of the spiritual condition, when there is so burning a desire to commune together respecting the exceeding great and precious promises of our Father’s Word. And “love of the brethren” is one of the strong impelling promptings to these meetings, as it should be in all our assemblings, and so much the more, as we see the Day drawing on, with its increase of light and blessing to the “wise” in heavenly wisdom, and its increase of opposition to the light by the Prince of Darkness and his deluded servants.
* * *
We arrived home on the 11th, to find Allegheny and Pittsburgh in gala dress, festooned with bunting, interspersed with cross and crown emblems. The streets are crowded with thousands of citizens and visitors decorated with the same sacred emblems of our faith, and each bears a sword whose hilt is a cross. What does it mean? Has “the offense of the cross” ceased?—are these all true knights and soldiers of the cross?—and are they on some heavenly errand bent?
Alas no! they are merely one of the sects of our time which have “a form of godliness” and use the emblems of the true Church and her Lord, because nominally they have become popular. The Sir Knights are parading as we write, and, as we look at so fine a body of men, we wish indeed that they were all soldiers of the cross in the true sense: and we know not but what some of these, as well as some in all the various divisions of the nominal church, belong indeed to the Lord our King and will yet be amongst those gathered as the “elect,” the “jewels,” for the Kingdom.
We see by the press reports that Rev. C. I. Twing, of New York City, Grand Prelate of the Grand Encampment, preached a discourse in Trinity church (Episcopal), opening the conclave, on Sunday, the 9th inst. In that discourse, as an officer of the order, he made an announcement, and presumably not without authority, which, if lived up to, would imply that this ancient order will in the near future cease its opposition to Romanism and become her ally. The Grand Prelate in his discourse said of the order:—
“We have enlisted in a glorious warfare, and we have vowed to wield our swords, not to rescue the sepulcher, or any part of the holy land from the hand of the Saracen, but in defense of the Christian religion. It is assailed not by the followers of Islam, but by those who would supplant its teachings by a system of materialism, and a denial of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.”
“MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES”
“The world by wisdom knows not God.” “Going about to establish a righteousness of their own they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”—1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:3.
Men of energy and ambition are, more frequently than others, used of the Lord; because they are instruments ready for service. If the energy and ambition be thoroughly subjected to the Lord,—controlled by a high spirituality, humility and veneration toward the Creator, and with large individuality and independence of character and firmness toward men,—it will lead to reverent and careful study of the divine will and to persistence and assiduity in its prosecution. Such characters God is pleased to use for the great things of his service. Next to our Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul is an ideal illustration of such a character: God was pleased to use him largely as a mouthpiece and as a servant of the truth—in proportion to his humility, loyalty and energy.
And likewise, but in an opposite direction, God has been pleased to use the energetic and ambitious among the worldly—whose motive power was not love, loyalty and humility, but to the contrary—selfish pride, vain-glory. God often uses such characters in another kind of service—causing their ambitious energies (“wrath”) to praise him, and the remainder (beyond what suits his purposes) he restrains. Illustrations of this stamp of character are seen in Satan, in Judas, and in persons in less prominent positions in the Church,—even to-day. These are active in planting “roots of bitterness, by which many are defiled” and sifted out, stumbled—leaving the remainder stronger and purer. See the inspired Word on this subject,—”I hear that there be divisions among you; and as to a certain part I believe it: and there must needs be also partyism among you [permitted of the Lord], that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.” “Brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses, in violation of the doctrine which ye have learned [—the royal law of Love]; and avoid them.” “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 Cor. 11:18;
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Rom. 16:17; 1 John 2:19.) It is doubtless as necessary that the Church be sifted, purged, tested, as that it be “built up;” and for either work God uses the ready and willing.
But our thoughts run specially in the channel of God’s supervision of earthly affairs and his use of
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worldly ambitions in world-affairs. In this direction Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander and Napoleon I. are notable examples of the past,—men of destiny, over whose affairs Providence had a supervision. God utilized the energies and ambitions of these men in the forwarding of his plans and the fulfilment of his predictions—and their further ambitious efforts he restrained by his superior power, as it pleased him. Our thoughts pursue this course, because we perceive such a worldly ambition to do something notable, to achieve a world-wide fame, possessing a man of opportunity to-day—the German Emperor: and we regard him as likely to be to some extent another “man of destiny.”
EMPEROR WILLIAM’S AMBITION
As Lord Hershel was guided by his science to search for a new planet and thus discovered one, so the students of the greatest of all sciences—the divine revelation, the Bible—are guided thereby to search for its promised “things to come” (John 16:13), and, as was promised, they find them and thus are permitted to anticipate history. For instance, the “Watchers” know, from the unfolding of the Scriptures which God has provided them, that astounding changes, social, religious and political, are just before us—to be accomplished within the next sixteen years: we note the Scripture testimony that just prior to the great collapse in anarchy there is to be a revival of Papal influence in the world, and that Protestantism, considerably unified or federated, will be in practical sympathy and cooperation with Papacy: and that in fact (tho not in theory) Catholicism and Protestantism will for a short time jointly rule the civilized world (through the civil powers) and appear to have begun a human Millennium; but while the cries of Peace! Peace!! are still heard, will come the great cataclysm of social revolution which shall demolish all present institutions and demonstrate the futility of all selfish human schemes, and by heart-broken discouragements prepare mankind for the great blessing which God has in store—the Kingdom of God.
Naturally, the “Watchers” are on the lookout for every sign of the times seeming to harmonize with the known coming events. Indeed, our interest in the “news of the day” is chiefly with the fragments which seem to have a connection with or a bearing upon the fulfilments of prophecy. And knowing that God generally uses “a man of opportunity” for his work, we are struck with the fact that the German Emperor, who evidently is seeking a notable destiny, has lately been giving expression to ambitions that seem closely related to Scriptural predictions. And his determination and pride will impel him so far as possible to make good his boasts: added to which he freely and repeatedly declares that he feels himself led and impelled in this direction by an unseen power, or “voice,” which spurs him on to success. And a success on one point or issue would surely lead such a man to larger schemes in the same direction. God “raised him up” to the throne of the German Empire (in probably the same way that he raised Pharaoh up to the throne of Egypt at the time of Israel’s deliverance) by taking out of the way, by death, his father—a man of very different temperament and ambitions. What would be more reasonable than to suppose of William III. that (as it is written of one brought miraculously to the throne of old) God brought him “to the throne, for such a time as this,” and for the work he is ambitious to accomplish.
The Emperor’s ambition is to restore to “religion” some of its former power by which it cooperated with the civil rulers in the control of the world. Not that he would desire to reproduce “the dark ages” of priestcraft and superstition, and of inquisition, the stake and the rack; but that he considers those evils not in the light of the Scriptures, but in the light of to-day’s world-wisdom, attributing those evils to the ignorance of the times and not to the false teachings of Anti-Christ.
He reasons that Romanism is rejuvenating and adapting itself to twentieth century conditions and can be trusted as much as Protestantism, so far as the maintenance of present governments is concerned;—and that, after all, is to him the all-important matter. Indeed, he seems to feel that the revival of Papal influence is a necessity anyway on the ground that of two evils the least should be chosen to avert the greater. Therefore he proposes to be the mediator between King Humbert of Italy and the Pope, and to endeavor to bring about a reconciliation of interests. His thought apparently is that after some parley both will consent to modifications of their claims in the interest of harmony. The pope will probably be asked to waive all claim of civil power over the provinces once known as the States of the Church, and the King be asked to grant the pope civil control of Rome. It is barely possible that this will succeed on the basis of Rome or some portion of the claimed papal territory being placed under papal control or princedom by popular vote—which would make of the pope a sort of President rather than a prince. Such a reconciliation would
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reconcile the Catholic party throughout Italy and establish Humbert’s shaky throne: and it would reinstate the pope amongst the “sovereigns” of earth. Additionally it would bring the blessing of the pope and of all the Catholics upon the German Emperor and establish his throne more securely. Finally—the governments of earth being then all at harmony with Papacy, its representative could pose as arbiter of disputes of national and international importance,—his old role.
The German Emperor’s scheme is even broader than this; for, while yet his name is popular amongst Romanists, he will attempt to exalt it amongst Protestants by assuming the part of defender, father, pope to the Lutherans of all nations. It is in this role that he has planned a visit to Jerusalem ere long—to preside with great display at the formal opening and consecration of a Protestant Cathedral (under construction twenty years), which he has about finished. This is to be specially German, but also international—for Lutheran churches of all lands have been invited to send representatives to take part in the ceremonies (and incidentally to admire and bless and honor the Emperor—who will be the centre of interest and the recognized head and front of Lutheranism).
From the Emperor’s own statement of his ambitious designs (published in the public prints) as related to General Hoffmann Scholz, and doubtless designed for publication, we furnish an extract. After telling of his various past efforts to bring about a reconciliation between the Papacy and the monarchy of Italy, he said:—
“But the good that was to be done is still to do, and I am resolved to go on with my undertaking. The entire world will gain if I can bring about the rapprochement of Leo XIII. and Humbert I. No one will doubt the sincerity of my Protestant leanings. But it is precisely because I am a Protestant that I have a clear and accurate conception of the power and influence of the Papacy.
“At the present day two great evils threaten humanity. They are Socialism and Atheism. Against each of these the pope is a bulwark. In fighting infidelity no aid should be neglected. Socialism is infidelity to the monarch or the State, and Atheism is infidelity to God.
“The Pope is the spiritual ruler of the largest communion on earth, and he is by far the most powerful and authoritative of spiritual rulers. His word is promptly and willingly obeyed by hundreds of millions of people spread throughout the globe. He can order and direct the consciences of these multitudes. He can say: These are your religious tenets: those must be your social sentiments; and suddenly he is obeyed. His power therefore for good is immeasurable.
“Kings and emperors are the divinely ordained guardians of social order and directors of social well-being, just as the leaders of religious bodies are the divinely ordained moderators of conscience. But just as kings and emperors can have their beneficent influence in the religious order, so can spiritual guides help and promote the social weal.
“The pope’s range of power is the vastest of all, and consequently the possibilities of the good he may do are the most far-reaching. I think it imperative therefore that he be put in a position to freely accomplish all the good of which he is capable. He must be liberated from his self-imposed imprisonment in the Vatican. All the trammels that surround and harass him in his daily life must be removed, so that he will then be at liberty to fight the common enemies, Socialism and irreligion. And he will be in a position to make his voice heard in the interests of peace, when nations go to war without just motive, and in the interest of humanity, when acts of cruelty or injustice are being anywhere committed.
“I have meditated long and deeply on this subject. The fact that it preoccupies me so much convinces me that I am inspired to take action in the matter. It is like one of the voices that Socrates had about with him which whispers in my ear that this also is my mission to remedy the pope’s position and open up the field for his range of well-doing. It daily urges me to act. Whether I shall succeed or not it is beyond my power to foretell. Judging from the circumstances there is every evidence that success should not be outside the bounds of possibility. I am going to do my utmost, and more than this no man can do.
“I feel for the moment that I have no other concrete and practical mission before me. To succeed in
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such an undertaking would be a climax and a crowning worthy of any man’s life. As I say, I will energetically attempt it. The small preternatural voice unmistakably spurs me on, and I think than this no better augury of success could be desired.
“For this moment I can say no more, and it does not behoove me to be too explicit about my plans. They are already laid, and my immediate actions will be a development of them. Their result will be their justification, and it will also be the justification of many acts in the past, which may have seemed strange and unaccountable to my good Protestant subjects, but which had their motive and their origin in a desire to accomplish great and enduring events …
“I shall not die until my ends in this regard are attained. Death otherwise would find a void in my existence; and I feel within me that I have not been born in vain.”
ANOTHER MOTIVE BACK OF THE AMBITION
Doubtless the Emperor thinks most, and would have others think most, of his disinterested benevolence, in the matter of the proposed peacemaking. Nevertheless, every thoughtful observer can read between the lines another motive. It is not because William loves Catholicism more or Protestantism less, that he thus exerts himself; but because he loves both Protestantism and Catholicism in proportion as they make his own imperial power secure: and he sees correctly, and so do other potentates, that all monarchs
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stand or fall together. The wealthy class sees also, as well as the royal class, that growth of general intelligence amongst the masses leads to broader views and greater demands on their part, based on new views respecting human equality, rights and privileges, incompatible with the principles of monarchy and the exploded theory of “the divine right of kings” to rule and of others to unquestioningly obey their behests.
This disposition of the people to claim and so far as possible grasp all that they consider to be their rights (sometimes unjustly and unwisely making extreme claims) is creating a reaction against liberty, not only on the part of rulers, who are put on the defensive as to every feature of law and order, but they have with them an increasing number of those who love peace and order, and who realize that too much power in the hands of the officers of the law is preferable to too much liberty in the hands of rash, inexperienced and irresponsible people, whose well-meant panaceas for the ills of human society are at very most experiments, whose success (if successful) would mean momentous changes, unfavorable to royal and financial princes and incidentally also for all either directly or indirectly associated with or dependent upon these. For instance, the ministers and churches of all denominations in Germany are supported by the Government at public expense, and would not be sure of an equivalent support for a while at least if the Government were in any manner changed.
Emperor William views with alarm the condition of things prevailing in Italy, considerable districts of which have lately been placed under martial law to prevent bread-riots. The government claims that these were incited by Roman Catholic priests, who, it claims, are continually intriguing and endeavoring to prejudice the populace against the monarchy, in hope that the latter will yield to the Pope’s demands and restore his sovereignty over the “Papal States,” or that, failing in this, a revolution will overthrow the present kingdom and establish a republic under which the pope could fare no worse. Already the Socialists and Radicals hold the balance of power in the Parliament of Italy, and hence the government greatly desires the aid of the Papal influence to maintain order, but it cannot do otherwise than meet Papal intrigue with force, to preserve the trembling monarchy. On this subject a well informed writer says:—
ITALY’S INTERNECINE WAR
“The scarcity of news from Italy at the present time is indicative of the policy of suppression begun by the new Premier, General Pelloux. He has begun his career by stifling the newspaper press of that country in a manner that has no equal in Europe. Not even Russia is under such stringent rule regarding her press as is Italy.
“Italy’s new Prime Minister has declared war upon the Vatican. Every step that his Cabinet takes is with a view to curtail the power of the pope … One feature of his program is the suppression of all societies that have or are suspected to have religious affiliations. The laws of Italy prohibit clerical ownership of property. This law was passed years ago, and was thought to be a death-blow to religious corporations. Since that time a large number of lay societies have sprung into existence, and, acting as agents for the clericals, have secured the ownership of vast and important properties. During the past five years no less than 1200 rural banks have been established, the religious character of which is shown by their being under the absolute control of the local ecclesiastics. A circular is now being drafted by the government to be sent to the local authorities, ordering the beginning of the campaign against the societies.
“With the growing dissatisfaction over high taxes on wheat, which has raised bread to famine prices, and the large internal taxation, the Vatican has forced the Quirinal to rule by the force of arms. Two generals and two admirals hold seats in the Ministry, and they hope to retain them by a policy of suppression.
“What is to be the end of all this? Already there is a cry throughout Italy that the monarchy is doomed and that the best thing that could happen would be for it to split up into a number of small republics under the general temporal control of the pope. Certainly, as matters stand now, the State can expect no aid from the clergy. The latter, as a matter of fact, are the most tireless agents in spreading the crusade against the King.”
This is the spectre that is haunting Emperor William: he fears that the trouble of a brother sovereign may result in trouble within his own empire. He realizes that one or many republics in Italy would be much more dangerous than a visit from the Cholera and the Bubonic Plague together. Royalty is in dread of the spread of popular government. Besides, he is kept busy at home, watching and circumventing the rapidly growing numbers and influence of Socialists and Radicals in the German Reichstag. If we digest the following facts we will see the mainspring of the German Emperor’s efforts as a peace-maker. He realizes that he must have aid of the Romanists, or else destroy the present form of his own government and proclaim himself an Autocrat, a Dictator, a Czar,—too dangerous an experiment to be entertained, unless all else fails. The facts referred to are these:—
Twenty-eight years ago, in the first imperial election the Socialists polled only 102,000 votes, and elected but one Deputy to the Reichstag or Parliament. In
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1890 they elected thirty-five Deputies, in 1893 the number of Deputies was increased to forty-five, and this year polling a vote of over two million ballots they have increased their representatives to fifty-seven. There are four parties in Germany—(1) The “Centrists” or Roman Catholic party (professedly under the guidance of Papal influences) has 102 Deputies, (2) The Conservatives, 80 Deputies, (3) The Socialists, 57 Deputies, (4) The National Liberals, 47 Deputies. From this it is evident that the Socialists are already quite a factor throwing their influence with one or another of the larger parties and bartering for their support in return: but the most striking thing is their rapid growth. They are conducting their efforts wisely and making no end of trouble for the Kaiser. To add to this trouble, the largest party, the “Centrists” (the Papal party) has recently started on an aggressive campaign of cooperation with the Socialists and thus will put it within the power of both of these parties to enact laws which each has coveted for years, but been unable to attain for lack of numbers in cooperation. All this seems to imply considerable and speedy trouble to Emperor William, unless he can gain the good will and cooperation of this “Clerical” or Centrist party by good offices toward the pope in his dispute with the Italian government.
The pope is a very shrewd man: he sees the trend of events too, and is working every lever that will help his cause: undoubtedly the proposed move of the Centrists of Germany was ordered from Rome and will continue to be manipulated in the interest of Papacy. The whole civilized world is to be made to feel, as far as possible, that its only bulwark against Socialism is Romanism. It is because Protestants everywhere are catching this thought that so many advances are being made Romeward by all denominations.
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“GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD”
“They tell us that in Pisa’s old cathedral
All noises, harsh and loud—
Grating of ponderous doors, shrill tones, the tramping
And murmur of the crowd—
Are caught up, softened, harmonized and blended
Within the lofty dome;
Then echoed back in one great wave of music,
Sweet as a dream of home.
“So all the harsh notes in life’s mingled music:
The burden and the woe;
The stroke that almost snaps the quivering heartstrings,
The loss that grieves us so;
In heaven’s o’er-arching dome of perfect wisdom,
Power and love, shall be
Gathered and blended in divinest marvel
Of matchless melody.
—M. L. UPTON
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THE PROPHET ISAIAH’S VISION
—OCT. 23.—ISA. 6:1-13.—
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”—Isa. 6:8.
PRECEDING lessons have traced for us the history of the ten tribes, Israel, and afterward the two tribes, Judah, down to about the time of Isaiah the prophet. We have noted the truthfulness of the Lord’s expression respecting Israel, that they were a “crooked and perverse generation,” according to their own history. They were continually gravitating toward
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idolatry, and even when corrected and brought back, through divine judgments at the hands of their enemies, their prosperity lasted but a brief season, until they were delving again in idolatry, and required fresh chastisements. The first five chapters of the prophecy of Isaiah are denunciations against Israel and Judah, mingled with exhortations to reformation, in which the Lord calls to them, saying:—
“The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider … Wash you, make you clean: put away the evil of your doings from before your eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well. … Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; tho your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; tho they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel ye shall be devoured with the sword.”
But these divine offers of mercy fell upon heedless ears, and consequently the Lord sent a different message, to which this lesson specially relates. And since the new message would be a difficult one to proclaim, a vision was given to Isaiah to encourage him, and to lead him to volunteer to be the bearer of that message. The vision represented the majesty of God, his greatness and glory: and his holiness is markedly brought to attention by the acclaim of the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” In this vision Jehovah presents himself to the attention of Isaiah as a King above all kings, as tho to suggest to the prophet, and to all to whom the vision
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would be related, the thought of divine majesty, which ultimately shall be revealed to the whole world of mankind, in the light of whose glory the majesty and tinsel-grandeur of earthly kings will be the veriest dross. The vision is a prophecy of the future, when the “glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” in the establishment of the Kingdom of God during the Millennium.—Isa. 40:5.
Only from this prophetic standpoint would the words of the seraphim be true, for the whole earth has never yet been filled with the Lord’s glory. Quite to the contrary, the earth is full of sin and violence, and every evil work prospers under the dominion of the great adversary of God and righteousness, “the prince of this world.” But God would have Isaiah, and especially the spiritual “sons” of this Gospel age, for whose benefit the prophet specially wrote (1 Pet. 1:12), know that evil shall not always prevail, but that, as expressed in our dear Redeemer’s model prayer, eventually God’s Kingdom shall come, and his will shall be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Then, with evil and evil-doers destroyed, and the knowledge of the Lord filling the earth, this prophecy will be fulfilled, and the whole earth shall be full of the Lord’s glory. But meantime the Lord’s people are to wait patiently for him—for his time for the bringing in of everlasting righteousness. And meantime his servants are to serve him, and to endure opposition from the world, as seeing him who is invisible, and as recognizing the glory of the Lord, which is as yet only in vision and promise.
The repeating of the word “holy” has an intensifying effect, as signifying superlatively holy, most holy. Thus, in vision, did God impress upon his servant, Isaiah, his own holiness and indirectly as well his grace. All the surroundings of the vision were such as to support these thoughts, the very door-posts being seen to reverberate, and the prophet’s own person thrilled with the sight and the message. Naturally and properly, his first thought was of his own unholiness, imperfection, as a member of the fallen race: he felt himself unworthy even to see so great a sight, or to be in the divine presence in vision, and immediately began to lament his own infirmity and his unworthiness, saying, Woe, I am a man whose lips are not clean enough to join with you seraphim in praising the Great King, much as I should like to do so.
Thus we ever find it: those who are brought closest to the divine presence, and who see the divine glories and majesty most distinctly, with the eyes of their understanding, and who realize most fully the holiness and perfection of our God—these feel, more than do others, their own blemishes and shortcomings and unworthiness, altho actually they are far superior to others of the human family, else they would never be granted such insights to the divine plan, character and coming glory. Humility is not only an appropriate grace for all who are blemished through the fall, but it is appropriate also to the angels, for is it not one of the fruits of the holy spirit, as pointed out by the Apostle? Whoever has a deep humility of heart, an intense appreciation of his own demerits, and of the divine perfection, is in a condition of heart ready for divine blessing and for usefulness in the divine service, while the pharisaical, who claim perfection for themselves in thought, word or deed, are in a condition of heart that is deplorable, and are wholly unfit to be used of the Lord as messengers of divine grace.
When Isaiah, in the vision, cried out lamenting his own imperfection, and that his lips were wholly inadequate to the telling of the divine glory, one of the seraphim brought a live coal from off the altar, and therewith touched the prophet’s lips. Thus, in the symbolic language of the vision the Lord said to Isaiah: Since you have realized your own blemishes and divine goodness, you shall be granted powers of speech and eloquence and words that are not your own, but which are beyond your natural ability, and inspired by the Lord;—your lips shall be inspired with the message of the great salvation, the message of love, the fire, the zeal, which shall prompt and consume that sacrifice, and with the grand results which shall flow from it: you may, in your lips at least, be cleansed from all sin, even in advance of the great sacrifice of which you shall speak as my prophet and mouthpiece.
The vision had its designed effect upon Isaiah, establishing more firmly his faith, manifesting to him the divine greatness and power, to him the highest of holy things. Thus Isaiah’s heart was quickened with a desire to further engage in the divine service, no matter what the message which the Lord would send. Consequently, when further on in the vision he heard the Lord inquire for a faithful servant, he immediately responded, offering himself, and was accepted, and the message given to him.
Thus it is also with those whom the Lord would specially use in his service during this Gospel age. None are forced into divine service: all soldiers of the cross must be volunteers—none will be drafted. The Lord does not even press us to become his servants, but, as was illustrated here with Isaiah, he shows to his faithful his character and plan, and lets them know that he is seeking such to worship and serve him, as worship and serve in spirit and in truth, and this knowledge is his “call.” This is quite sufficient for all who have tasted of the Lord’s grace appreciatively: for such to know that there is an opportunity of rendering service to the King of kings is to volunteer their services, to pray that the Lord will grant them a privilege of doing
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all their talents will fit them to do in his service. Only such are true mouthpieces of the Lord. The false prophets and teachers of error are those who affect to serve the Lord’s cause, for hire of money or for praise of men, for self-adulation or aggrandizement.
The message of which Isaiah was thus made the channel or mouthpiece of the Lord, was, as already intimated, an unpleasant one. It was a message to the effect that the divine counsel had already foreseen that all the warnings, threatenings, chastisements, which had come upon Israel and Judah, and which would yet come upon them, would fail to reach their hearts and turn them to repentance; and that, as a consequence, the land would be made desolate, the people being carried away into captivity. Such a message would be difficult to deliver to any people, yet this was the message which the Lord sent, and for which he specially prepared his servant. We are not surprised to learn that the message was resented, and altho Isaiah lived to the good old age of seventy, there seems to be reasonable ground for the truth of the claim made by tradition that he eventually died a martyr’s death, being sawn asunder. Even the ray of hope which his message contained, to the effect that a remnant of the people would be spared and returned to their land, and that the national hope would thus be revived, was no doubt considered to be the addition of insult to injury by the proud and self-willed people to whom the message was delivered.
It was not long after Isaiah had this vision that the ten tribes were carried away into captivity, and altho a reformation set in with Judah, it was but temporary, and Judah’s share in the prophesied captivity occurred about one hundred and fifty years later.
This same message of the Lord was quoted by the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul, as further applicable to Israel, at the first advent, when, on their rejection of Messiah, the nation as a whole was rejected of the Lord and scattered amongst all the nations of the earth, and only a “remnant” of Israelites indeed, who accepted the Messiah, were received into the higher dispensation of divine favor of this Gospel age, as sons of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.—Matt. 13:13-17; Jno. 1:12; Rom. 11:5-11.
Finding, as we do, in the Scriptures, that natural Israel was a type of nominal spiritual Israel, we are not surprised to find also that there is a somewhat similar message due to the spiritual house now, in the end of this age. The Lord’s message now is that the harvest of the earth is ripe, that the time of harvest has come,
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that he is seeking Israelites indeed, that he is gathering out his jewels, which, during the prevalence of evil in the past, have been undergoing polishing to fit and prepare them for coming glory, and to reflect the divine light and beauty. The message now is that nominal Christendom is hereafter to be known as “Babylon,” confusion, and that all who are truly the Lord’s people are now to hear his voice and to flee out of Mystic Babylon, that they be not partakers of her sins, and that they receive not a share of her plagues from the vials of wrath which shortly shall be poured out upon her.—Rev. 18:1-4.
While the Lord has indeed put into our mouths a new song, that we may show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and that we may tell of his loving-kindness and his tender mercies over all his works, and that eventually all shall come to a knowledge of the Lord, that they may be saved, if they will, nevertheless, this particular feature of the message of present truth, which calls God’s people out of Babylon, is, in many respects, like the message which Isaiah was bidden to deliver to the faithful of Israel in his day: it is a message that is not favorably received; a message that is resented, and that brings upon those who present it, even in the most gentle and loving manner, the maledictions and the scowls of those who love sectarianism and the worship of human theories and creeds better than they love the Lord and his message.
Those who would speak the message of present truth in love, and yet with courage and fearlessness of man, need just such an encouragement as the Lord granted to Isaiah. They need that the eyes of their understanding be granted a vision of the King in his beauty; and they need to hear distinctly uttered the fact that ultimately the Lord shall establish his Kingdom, which shall fill the whole earth with his glory. And just such a view and such a message the Lord is now granting to those whom he would use as servants and mouthpieces. The present truth, the eating of the “meat in due season,” now provided by our present Lord, affords his faithful a waking vision of the Lord’s glory, never conceived of before, but now clearly recognized by the eye of faith, in the light of the clearer truth. In this light of the divine plan of the ages we indeed see the divine character as never before,—divine wisdom, divine justice, divine love and divine power, fully coordinated, operating in absolute accord in all the great work of our God, comprehending the past, the present and the future.
In this our vision there comes to us also the seraphic testimony, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is [to be] full of his glory.” From this standpoint of the future work of our God, through the Millennial Kingdom of the glorified Christ, Head and Body, who shall bless all the families of the earth, we can see divine holiness, love, wisdom and justice, as it is not possible for them to be seen from any other. As it is, those who thus see divine grace in its effulgence,
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and who, nevertheless, realize their own imperfection and unworthiness, these it is who to-day have granted to them the opportunity of being mouthpieces of God by being touched with an antitypical coal from the antitypical altar,—touched with the consecration of the great sacrifice. And these are they who are anxious to render service to our Lord, and who are commissioned to bear the message of present truth to others.
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MESSIAH’S KINGDOM FORETOLD
OCT. 30.—ISA. 11:1-10.
“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
ONLY those who recognize the typical character of God’s kingdom of old, and the typical character of the kingdom of Babylon which overthrew it, are prepared to understand the prophecies: because in the prophecies the affairs of Fleshly Israel and those of Spiritual Israel, and the affairs of literal Babylon and those of mystic Babylon, are so interwoven as to be unintelligible, absurd, from any other standpoint. There are some who fail to recognize antitypical Spiritual Israel, who, nevertheless, distinctly see that the Babylon of old, which perished more than two thousand years ago, was not the Babylon of Revelation—mystic Babylon,—whose surpassing power and greatness were not even dreamed of in the days of the type. Many who distinctly discern mystic Babylon, and her approaching fall, have failed to discern that the natural Israelites were broken off from the root of divine promise made to father Abraham, and that the spiritual Israelites were grafted into that root, and have become heirs of its chief promises and blessings, taking the chief place of the natural Israelites, so that when they are restored, it will be to a lower, an earthly favor. The proper standpoint of view from which the entire plan of God is clear and reasonable takes cognizance of both of these facts.
In our last lesson we considered the Prophet Isaiah at the time when he was commissioned to declare to his people their utter overthrow in captivity, and that but a remnant would remain. There were three distinct climaxes to the complete fulfilment of the message: (1) It was about one hundred and seventy years from the time of his vision and the last year of King Uzziah, before Judah was carried captive to Babylon, from which only a remnant returned seventy years later. (2) The vision and the message were about eight hundred years before the final rejection of Israel by Messiah at his first advent, when only a remnant was accepted into the Gospel age, the house of sons, and the people as a whole were scattered into every nation. (3) Isaiah’s vision and message were about 2650 years before the rejection of nominal Spiritual Israel, preparatory to gathering out of the “Israelites indeed,” the Royal Priesthood, the holy nation, which, with Messiah as its Head, is now shortly to be invested with divine power and majesty, as the Kingdom of God which shall rule and bless all the families of the earth.
The remnant of natural Israel, delivered from literal Babylon, was but a type of the remnant of God’s people now about to be delivered from symbolic Babylon, Christendom, and the fall of literal Babylon, at the hands of Cyrus, was but a foreshadowing of the fall of mystic Babylon as a result of the battle of the great day of God Almighty under the antitypical Cyrus, the Captain of our salvation. And the extravagant language used throughout the prophecies in respect to the fall of Babylon was made extravagant because the divine testimony had reference to mystic Babylon, more particularly than to literal Babylon. Thus have the divine purposes been hidden, and yet declared, throughout the ages.—Compare Isa. 13:1-15 with Rev. 17 and 18,—the latter part of Isa. 13 evidently referring only to literal Babylon.
In harmony with the above suggestions, it will be found that Isaiah’s prophecies repeatedly mingle and commingle the events of his day with the events of our day—God’s providences toward his people then, and his subsequent deliverance of them to Babylonian captivity, and his later judgments upon Babylon, all of which were accomplished literally within two hundred and fifty years of Isaiah’s vision, are interspersed with declarations respecting Messiah and his everlasting Kingdom, and the blessing of the remnant of Spiritual Israel, and the eventual healing and recovery of all Israel to divine favor. An illustration of this intruding of the Messianic Millennial Kingdom into the prophecies which specially related to natural Israel and the condition of things present in the Prophet’s day, is afforded in this lesson; also in chapters 2:2-4; 8:14-18; 9:1-7; 32:1-4; 33:5-24; 52:7-15; 60:1-5; 61:7-11; 65:17-25.
In the prophecy under consideration the Lord pictures natural Israel as entirely cut off, leaving nothing behind but the root of divine promise, and yet he shows that out of this root shall ultimately come all the blessings originally promised to Abraham, and confirmed unto Isaac, unto Jacob, and unto David, the last confirmation reading, “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father and he shall be my son.” (2 Sam. 7:12,13.)
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This prophecy seems, indeed, to have a fulfilment in Solomon, but only because Solomon was a type of the greater son of David, who was also the son of God. Solomon indeed built the typical house of the Lord, but Christ, the antitypical son of David and Son of God is now building the true, the antitypical Temple, the Church which is his Body, a temple of the holy spirit, a house of sons. David himself prophetically grasps the truth of this promise, saying, “Jehovah hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from him; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.” (Psa. 132:11.) The Apostle Peter, moved by the holy spirit on Pentecost, refers to this same promise, and definitely applies it to our Lord Jesus.—Acts 2:30.
In the prophecy our Lord is not spoken of as the root out of David, but as the root out of Jesse, David’s father; because David himself is a type of Christ, his name signifying beloved. Hence also the fact that in
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many prophecies our Lord’s Millennial reign is spoken of as the reign of David, the reign of the Beloved.
It is worthy of note that the Scriptures, in speaking of the Gentile governments, symbolize them as trees, and their destruction as the cutting down of those trees. Many trees do not sprout again from their roots when once cut down, as for instance, the cedars of Lebanon to which great Babylon was likened. On the contrary, the Lord speaks of Israel as a vine of his own planting; and one peculiarity of the vine is that it seems to thrive the better in proportion as it is pruned. Thus our Lord also speaks of Spiritual Israel, as branches of himself, the true Vine, and declares that the Father prunes the vine to the intent that it may bring forth more fruit. It is said that amongst the vine-growers of Palestine it is customary to cut back the vine clear to the roots yearly, in order to get fresh sprouts therefrom. And so we find that the Lord, with Fleshly Israel, frequently pruned them by disciplines, captivities, etc., cutting off many of the branches, and preserving only a remnant. This process was followed at the first advent in the cutting off of Israel from all further share in the spiritual features of the Abrahamic promise,—except the remnant which received the Lord, and on this account were granted privileges to become members of the house of sons. (John 1:12.) During this Gospel age the Lord deals with his people not collectively, not as a nation, but individually: each branch is pruned, and every branch is expected to bring forth fruit, or else it will be entirely lopped off.
Here, then, we have the thought of the Lord, expressed through the Prophet, respecting Christ Jesus, our Lord, that he from the time of his baptism and anointing with the holy spirit, became the new spiritual shoot out of the Abrahamic promise, and out of the roots of Jesse. But they greatly err who see in this study our Lord Jesus only, and who fail to recognize the fact that he is the Head of the Church, which is his Body. The true vine is therefore the entire body of Christ, as our Lord explains. (John 15.) This stem or new Vine had its start in our Lord Jesus, and has grown and prospered and had branches which have borne their fruit under the great Husbandman’s care in all these centuries of the Gospel age. But neither the Vine nor its fruitage have been specially delightsome either to the Fleshly Israelites or to nominal Spiritual Israelites: on the contrary, our Lord’s prophetic declaration has been accurately fulfilled: “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” Our Lord and the Apostles were hated by the chief religionists of their day, not because they were evil, but because of their faithfulness to God; because that faithfulness, as a light, rebuked, as darkness, the unfaithfulness of those who hated them.
The prophecy does not touch upon our Lord’s pre-human existence, nor upon his earliest experiences while coming to manhood, nor need we. It begins with our Lord at the time when he reached manhood’s estate, at thirty years of age, when he made his consecration, and was accepted, and the acceptance was sealed by the impartation to him of the holy spirit, of which John bare record. (John 1:32.) From that time onward the spirit of Jehovah rested upon him, and was in him a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, making him alert in the use of his knowledge in reverence and submission to the divine will. Thus it is written by the Prophet again, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isa. 53:11.) While his perfection of being (in that he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners) had undoubtedly much to do with our Lord’s obedience to the divine will, yet his knowledge of God, based upon his prehuman existence, had also much to do with his implicit confidence and trust in Jehovah, that his every requirement and condition would be found eventually to be the embodiment of justice, wisdom and love—this knowledge undoubtedly was the main-spring of our dear Redeemer’s implicit obedience in all points to the Father’s will.
And the same observations are applicable in respect to the Church of Christ—the members in particular of his Body, of which he is the Head. Like their Master, each branch in the Vine is the recipient of the holy spirit, through him—for the anointing oil (typical of the holy spirit) was all poured first upon the head of the high priest and subsequently flowed down over his person. Those who are made partakers of the Lord’s spirit have that spirit as the beginning of their new life, for “if any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.” And this spirit of Christ and of Jehovah, coming upon the Body of Christ, from the Head, is to
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each (as it was to the head) a spirit of wisdom and of understanding and of counsel and of power; and a spirit of obedience to the Father’s will, in proportion as this spirit dwells in them. And herein we see the distinction that our Lord Jesus, being perfected, could receive of the Father’s spirit unlimitedly, “without measure,” while we who are imperfect, blemished through inherited weaknesses, can receive the spirit only limitedly, by measure—according to the capacity and condition of our “earthen vessel,” into which we receive this new treasure. (2 Cor. 4:7.) It is of course a part of our duty and privilege to do all in our power for the repair of the blemishes of the earthen vessels, to the intent that we may receive larger measures of the spirit of holiness, and may be the better able to retain the same.
Suddenly passing from the perfecting of Christ, Head and Body, under the influence of the spirit of the Father, down to the time when these graces which are supplied in this present age (and under which the body of Christ groweth unto a holy temple of the Lord, by the fitting, molding, polishing and fashioning, of each member), shall have been perfected, the next suggestion of the prophecy is the exercise of these graces of the divine spirit by the complete Christ in the Millennial Kingdom—in judging, blessing, correcting and assisting the world of mankind, or so many as will avail themselves of their help, to return to divine favor. The thought is that, as soon as the entire Christ (Head and Body) has been prepared for the work to be done, the work itself will be commenced. It is in full accord with this that the Apostle says that the prophets spake beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and of the glory that should follow.
Not that the sufferings of Christ were completed more than eighteen centuries ago, and the glory failed to follow; but that the sufferings of Christ, which began in our Lord, the Head of the Body, are being filled up or accomplished in all the members of his body, and, as soon as the last member of the Body has been made perfect through suffering, and been fitted for his share in the glory, then at once the glory shall follow,—follow the completion of the sufferings. (Compare Col. 1:24.) It is because there are some members of the Body of Christ still lacking to make up the elect and predestinated number, foreknown of the Lord (Rom. 8:29), that the glory has not yet been ushered in. And fortunate this is for us who hence still have hopes of attaining to this high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to become heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, to an inheritance incorruptible and never-fading, reserved in heaven for those who shall make their calling and election sure.
The glorified Church, Head and Body, will be so filled with the spirit of Jehovah—his wisdom, his love, his power—that they will be fully qualified to do all the great work which divine love and wisdom has purposed and arranged for, since before the foundation of the world.
Accustomed to the misgovernment, as the Israelites were, and as all mankind since have experienced it, it was necessary that they and all who would appreciate the coming Kingdom, should be given some assurance that the new ruling power would not only have good and wise motives and intentions, but also possess superior power of knowledge and judgment. And this is what is pointed out: that the new King would not need to rely upon the common channels of information in the giving of his blessings, and in administering of his reproofs and chastisements, but will have a super-human endowment of power, by which he shall know the very thoughts and intents of the heart, and need not to judge either by the hearing of the ear nor by the sight of the eye, as must all earthly rulers, however well intentioned. It was proper also that the Israelites and others should know that the new Kingdom would be an absolutely just and impartial one, for their experience had been that the very wisest and best of their kings had been governed largely by selfishness, so that they amassed wealth at the expense of their subjects, and made special friends of the wealthy, and granted them special privileges oftimes at the expense of the poor, the helpless, the despised. Hence, the Lord, through the Prophet, assures us that the special care of the new King will be to administer his office with equity toward all, and that the meek, the backward, the modest, undisposed to press their claims and to assert their rights, will have his special care; likewise the poor, that in the present time find few to sympathize with or to encourage or to help them, shall find in the new King a friend.
The ordinary idea of the method by which the Lord will introduce the Millennium is wholly at variance with all the testimony of the divine Word, in that it presupposes that the world will be converted to the Lord through the efforts of the Church along its present lines of progress, and that thus the world will get better and better, until the full noontide of Millennial blessing
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is everywhere spread abroad. According to this idea, the Lord began setting up his Kingdom eighteen centuries ago, and at the same rate of progress it may require, according to the most optimistic view, thousands of years to reach the Millennial degree of blessing. But, according to the facts of the case impartially considered, we can readily see that the Kingdom, which God has promised, could never come as a result of efforts such as have been put forth during the past eighteen centuries. We mention but the one fact, known to all mankind from the published reports; viz., that the increase
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of nominal Christian professors annually is small, out of all proportion to the natural increase of the human family annually, so that if every Christian professor of to-day were a very saint, and if the same ratio of conversions continued for a thousand years as at present, or if the number were doubled or trebled, the result, at the end of the thousand years would be a much smaller percentage of professing Christians than now. Those who cannot see so simple a proposition as this are evidently blinded by their love of error—their love of their own theory. Similarly blinded are those who cannot see that only a small percentage of the nominal Christians of to-day are true saints of God, and that, if the whole world were converted to the same degree as the best cities in the most civilized and Christianized countries in the world, it would still not be true that God’s Kingdom had come, in the sense that our Lord Jesus taught us to expect it: for in his model prayer he taught us to pray and to expect, not only that God’s Kingdom would come, and that it had not already come, but also to expect that, when it shall be fully established, God’s will would be done on earth even as it is done in heaven—absolutely, perfectly.
Those who expect the Millennial Kingdom to come as a result of present efforts along present lines, and who believe that the world is gradually approaching that condition by an evolutionary process, should consider the Word of the Lord through the prophet, to the effect that, when Messiah takes the reins of government, his first step will be to judge the poor, and to reprove the rich with equity, in the interests of the meek of the earth. How could this be possible, if equity had already prevailed by a gradual process, so that there were no poor, and no rich, and so that all were meek? Other Scriptures, in harmony with this, show that the very object of the beginning of our Lord’s reign is to correct the wrongs that will then be prevailing, and he himself implies that the earth will not be in a faithful and blessed condition at his second advent, by asking the question, whose answer is implied—”When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?”
The Scriptural position throughout is harmonious and consistent. It describes the present time of evil as “the present evil world,” in which “the prince of this world” rules, and in which the Lord’s people, “the body of Christ,” the heirs of the Kingdom, “suffer violence,” and that this violence, through suffering persecution, is working out for those who are rightly exercised thereby a preparation for the time when the entire body of Christ, having been thus purified and prepared, will be given the Kingdom under the whole heavens, the said dominion of earth being wrested with force from the prince of this world, and the kingdoms of this world, and bestowed upon the Son by the Father’s power, and through the great time of trouble with which this age shall end, and in which the prince of this world will be bound.
The Lord, through the Prophet, shows the means by which the righteous reign of the Messiah shall be inaugurated—the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, predicted by the Prophet Daniel,—saying, “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” It is evident, then, that there will be not only poor, needing assistance and equity, but there will be wicked at the time the Kingdom is established. (Compare Mal. 4:1,6; Rev. 19:15.) The rod of Messiah’s mouth signifies the judgments which he has already expressed, and which have very largely gone unheeded by Christendom. We remember his declaration, “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.” Christendom in general has admitted the righteousness of the Lord’s Word, but those who attempt to live according to that Word are remarkably few. Consequently, when the time shall come that judgment shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and when this judgment shall begin at the nominal house of God, the nominal system in general will fall—will fall condemned under that Word. Only the faithful few, the Lord’s jewels, shall be “accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world,” when the Lord shall smite the earth, Christendom, the present social order, with the rod of his mouth, when, as elsewhere described, “The Lord shall speak to them in his anger, and vex them in his sore displeasure”—when he shall render vengeance to his enemies, and recompense to those who have known the Master’s will and have done it not. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” “Wait ye upon me saith the Lord, for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” And “then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”*
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV., “The Day of Vengeance.”
“Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins,
Faithfulness the girdle of his hips.”
The girdle figuratively represents mercy, diligence, service, and the proclamation here is that the Messiah shall be a faithful, a diligent servant of Jehovah, in accomplishing all the work entrusted to his care.
The reference to the change of disposition in the animal kingdom, so that the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, will dwell in
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harmony, is in full accord with the general Scriptural outlines of the “times of restitution of all things.” Not only is mankind to be restored, or brought back to his primeval condition of human perfection, and harmony with God, like Adam before the fall (tho with increased knowledge and experience), but the lower animals also, which have shared in the ruin and disorder resulting from the fall, will also share in the blessing and restoration of order to be accomplished by Messiah.
In the first account of the lower animals, furnished us in the Scriptures, there is nothing to imply that they were wild, vicious and at enmity with mankind; on the contrary, the implication is that they were all thoroughly in subjection to the perfect man. We may reasonably suppose that when, under the influence of the sentence of death, mankind gradually lost more and more of the image of God originally possessed, he at the same time lost his power over the lower animals. The nature of the power possessed by the perfect Adam may still be imperfectly traced in the superior powers of certain of the fallen race in controlling the brute creation. Thus we see that some men can exercise mental force and control, not only over wild horses, but also over the most ferocious beasts of the jungle, so that they are known as horse-tamers, lion-tamers, serpent-charmers, etc. Adam was declared by the Lord to be the king of the earth, and as such he was recognized by the brute creation. (Gen. 2:19,20.) After mankind had lost the original mental power to control the lower animals, a warfare sprang up between them, in which mankind has been obliged to pit force against force, having so largely lost the power of mental control. The restoration of mankind to that condition which was lost through sin implies naturally, therefore, a restoration of the brute creation to primeval conditions, such as are suggested in the prophecy before us. The same thought is conveyed in the statement that “A little child shall lead” or control the wild beasts when brought into their proper relationship with mankind.
All of the foregoing, and, indeed, the entire Scripture testimony, shows that the heavenly rest and blessing which God has in reservation for mankind in general is earthly. It would be utterly and wholly unnecessary to change the disposition of the brute creation, if mankind were to be changed to another nature, and to become as the angels. Other prophecies speak of mankind in the restitution condition as perfect human beings, of the earth and adapted to the earth, and tell us that in the perfect condition they shall sit every man under his own vine and fig-tree, with none to molest or make him afraid, and that they shall long enjoy the work of their hands. These promises, which are the lights of the world’s hope during the Millennial age, have nothing whatever to do with the hope set before the Gospel Church of this age—a heavenly hope, the realization of which, our Lord and the apostles assure us, will require that all who would attain to it must of necessity be changed from animal to spiritual bodies, from weakness to power, from human nature to spiritual nature; because flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
The difficulty with many is in the failure to discern that the Kingdom of God per se consists of our Lord Jesus and the Church—the little flock, to whom it is
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the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom. These constitute the royal or reigning class or family of God. The world of mankind in general shall at first be the subjects of this spiritual kingdom, and afterwards become citizens or members of it, to the extent that they come into harmony with its rules and regulations, and are accepted back into reconciliation with God, and thus again become his children through Christ. Thus it is that the Scriptures declare that when this Kingdom shall be set up it will be but a small stone, a little flock, which in the end of this age shall, with divine power, smite the dominion of earth, and crush it to dust in the great time of trouble. (See Dan. 2:34,35,44,45.) But after crushing present institutions under and connected with the prince of this world, God’s Kingdom will not remain small, but will gradually expand, until it shall fill the whole earth. This is the holy mountain mentioned in the prophecy under consideration, a mountain being a symbol of a kingdom. Nothing shall be permitted to do violence or work injury throughout all God’s holy kingdom, as a result of its establishment. Love shall be the law, and divine power shall be the force which will enforce that law, and all who will not conform thereto shall be “cut off from among the people,” as the Lord has declared through the Apostle. (Acts 3:23.) How evident it is that this Kingdom has not yet come, when we see that so far from love being the rule of mankind, selfishness is the rule, individually and nationally, and that there are many influences of evil, hurting and destroying throughout the world to-day. This is an evidence that God’s kingdom is not yet set up, and hence we continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
The power by which the Lord shall accomplish the blessing of mankind, after he has crushed the power of evil and established the reign of righteousness is stated to us in this prophecy—it is to be by the spread of a knowledge of the Lord. The Apostle assures us (1 Tim. 2:4) that it is the will of God that all men shall come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved. He assures us that there can be no salvation without knowledge (Rom. 10:14,15), consequently the knowledge of the Lord being very limited throughout this
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Gospel age, only comparatively few of earth’s millions have come to such a knowledge of him as to permit them to exercise faith in God, and in the great sacrifice and pardon for sin which God has provided in Christ. But the fact that few in the present life have come to this knowledge shall not in any degree thwart the divine plan, nor make the death of Christ on their behalf of no avail, for the Lord assures us that in due time the true light of the world, Jesus, shall lighten every man that cometh into the world—this includes all the heathen, all those of imbecile mind, who could not grasp the truth, and all the infants who die without a knowledge of the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved. God has thus made ample provision, first, in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and secondly, in the Millennial age which he has provided through him, in which the knowledge of the Lord shall be caused to fill the whole earth.
Nor are we to suppose that this will be merely a little sprinkling of knowledge, such as has come to a very limited portion of the world of mankind here and there in spots during this Gospel age. The Lord’s people have received these showers of grace and truth, and sometimes appropriately sing and pray for more abundant showers for their refreshment, but the Lord’s provision for the world of mankind in general, under the Messianic Kingdom, during the Millennial age, is that this knowledge of his shall be world-wide, and ocean-deep, so that none shall thereafter be able to plead ignorance or any other excuse for failure to avail themselves of the grace of God in Christ. Hence again it is written by another prophet, that whosoever dies in that age will die not for Adam’s sin, but for his own sin; because the death of Christ has cancelled the Adamic condemnation, and has thus secured to every member of the human family a full, impartial opportunity for eternal life through faith in the Redeemer and obedience to his requirements. The Apostle says of the Jews that they are blinded; that a vail is over their hearts, that they cannot see, and he points us to the fact that in God’s due time this vail of ignorance shall be removed from Israel, and that they shall be saved from their blindness, and “shall obtain mercy through your mercy”—shall obtain mercy at the hands of elect spiritual Israel, the Body of Christ, now being selected, which will then be in power, as the kings and priests to bless and judge the world in righteousness. (1 Cor. 6:2.) Similarly, the same Apostle assures us that the god of this world is exercising a blinding influence upon the whole world of mankind (2 Cor. 4:4), and the prophets point us to the time when Satan shall be bound, and when all the blind eyes shall be opened, and when the vail of the covering of ignorance shall be destroyed from over the face of all the people, that all may look, with the eyes of their understanding, upon him who was pierced, and through whom all may have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The last verse of our lesson points us to the Millennial day, and seems to suggest another root of Jesse, as connected with the blessing of the Gentiles, and as an ensign or standard for all the people to pattern after. We understand this to signify that after the spiritual seed of Abraham and David has been exalted to the Kingdom glory, then an earthly seed, out of the same root, shall come into prominence in connection with the heavenly, and be the agent and representative of the heavenly Kingdom in the blessing of the world of mankind. The Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:16, seems to imply that while Christ and his spiritual Church of the Gospel age are the seed of the promise, nevertheless there is another subordinate seed, which shall be used of the Lord in the blessing of mankind. This latter seed seems to be referred to also in Heb. 11:39,40, where the Apostle, after mentioning the faithful worthies of the past as approved unto God, most positively states that they are not of the Gospel Church, not, therefore, of the Kingdom class per se, but that they, nevertheless, having obtained a good report through faith, will receive a share in the original promise, and be participants in the work of blessing the Gentile world, but not with or as a part of the Church, “God having provided some better thing for us [the Messianic body] that they without us should not be made perfect.” Under the ministration of the spiritual Kingdom, the ancient worthies, restored to human perfection, shall not only be the princes, the representatives of the spiritual, invisible, Kingdom, but shall also be the grand ensigns or standards set up before mankind, as illustrations of what all mankind may attain unto, if they will render faithful obedience to the laws of the Kingdom—the conditions of the New Covenant.
Whence but from heaven could men unskilled in arts,
In various ages born and various parts
Weave such agreeing truths? Or how or why
Should all conspire to cheat us with a lie?
Unasked their plans, ungrateful their advice,
Starving their gains and martyrdom their price.
It is, indeed, very generally supposed that the souls of good men, as soon as they are discharged from the body, go directly to heaven: but this opinion has not the least foundation in the oracles of God. —John Wesley.
There is not one place of Scripture that occurs to me, where the word death, as it was first threatened in the law of innocency, necessarily signifies a miserable immortality of the soul, either to Adam, the actual sinner, or his posterity. —Dr. Watts.