Earth—Will The Planet Be Burnt Up.
Question (1962)—In 2 Pet. 3:7 we read “But the heavens and the earth, which are now by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” Does this mean that this planet, on which we live, will be burned up literally?
Answer.—Some have so taught, but they are not able to explain in harmony with such a teaching how the heavens also will be burned up literally, with literal fire; for the heavens consist of the sun and the billions of other stars or suns, which are already a molten mass, on fire, and are not burned up and destroyed. Obviously it is not the literal heavens and the literal planet or sphere called earth that are to be destroyed, even as in the previous verse the Apostle Peter speaks of “the world [or ‘heavens and earth’] that then was [before the Flood], being overflowed with water, perished.” The literal heavens and the literal earth did not then cease to exist, but rather the religious and civil arrangement of things existing on our planet before the Flood was then destroyed, i.e., ceased to exist.
Similarly, “this present evil world,” or order of affairs (Gal. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:12), with its heavens and earth (its false religious and secular powers) is to “pass away with a great noise [commotion]”; it is “reserved unto fire,” the fire of God’s wrath”; it is to be devoured by the fire of his [God’s] jealousy” (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-12; Zeph. 1:18; Hag. 2:6, 7; Heb. 12:26-28)—fire is used in the Bible to symbolize destruction. But the literal earth will remain, with people, even unconverted people, on it, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language [a pure message, the message of truth], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:8, 9; Isa. 24:6; Matt. 24:21, 22; The Divine Plan of the Ages, p. 317).
The literal earth, this planet or sphere, and the literal heavens are eternal, for the Church, to whom Jesus promised an eternal home in heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:17; Heb. 10:34; 2 Pet. 1:4), “have a building of God [a new spiritual body], an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1); and those of the world (but not of the Lord’s Church) who will be saved unto eternal life will “inherit the earth; for yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shalt not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. The transgressors shall be destroyed together”; “All the wicked will he destroy” (Psa. 37:9-11, 22, 29, 34, 38; 145:20; Prov. 2:21, 22; Isa. 60:21; Matt. 5:5). “The earth abideth for ever” (Eccles. 1:4; Psa. 104:5; 119:90). God created it to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). And He says, “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with my glory” (Num.14:21; Hab. 2:14; Psa. 72:19; Rev. 5:13); “all flesh shall see it together,” after it is revealed (Isa. 40:5), for “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” and reverence Him (Isa. 52:10; Psa. 67:7). We therefore, “according to his promise, look for new heavens [with Christ and His Church, instead of Satan and his evil angels, in control] and a new earth [human society organized on a new basis], wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13; Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1-5). ’62-23
Earth—Turning It Upside Down.
Question (1960)—What is meant in Isa. 24:1 by the Lord turning the earth upside down?
Answer.—Just as lions, bears, leopards, sheep goats, trees, rivers, the sea, wind, thunder, lightning, hail, rain, heat, cold, sun, moon, stars, etc., are used as symbols in the Scriptures, so also the earth is used symbolically. As a symbol it refers to the social order—organized human society. This can readily be seen from such texts as: “Thou has driven me out this day from the face of the earth [society]” (Gen. 4:14); “the whole earth [human society] was of one language” (Gen. 11:1); “I am the Lord in the midst of the earth” (Ex. 8:22); “Hear, O heavens [the higher, religious, ruling powers], and give ear, O earth [surely not the literal earth]”(Isa. 1:2); “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22); “be ye joyful O earth” (Isa. 49:13); “Ye [followers of Christ] are the salt [a seasoning, purifying, healing and preserving factor] of the earth [the social order]” (Matt. 5:13); Rev. 7:1, 2 refers to “four angels [the messengers of wrath, i.e., certain rulers, aristocrats, proprietary business men and proprietary farmers, and laborers, who bring about the trouble, and thus pour out the sufferings, the wrath of the Time of Trouble] standing [each group stationed in the section of society to which it belongs] on the four corners [government, aristocracy, bourgeoisie and labor] of the earth [organized human society—the literal earth does not have four corners] . . . to whom it was given to hurt the earth [organized society] and the sea [the rebellious, restless and lawless masses of mankind].”
With reference to this symbolic earth, organized human society, God’s Word shows us that in its present form, it is to reel to and fro like a drunkard, to be moved, shaken, dissolved, melted, removed as a cottage, and to pass away (Psa. 46:1; 75:3-10; Isa. 24:1-4, 17-20; Haggi 2:6, 7; Heb. 12:26, 27; Rev. 20:11; 21:1). In Isa. 24:1 we read: “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty [in this Time of Trouble God is emptying human society of its foolish counsels and selfish arrangements, and many of its inhabitants have died and will die; however, we are not to think that God will literally make the earth entirely empty of all inhabitants, for the context, as well as Jesus’ prophecy, shows that some flesh shall be spared in the great tribulation of our day; though comparatively few, there will be some left—v. 6; Matt. 24:21, 22], and maketh it waste [He is sweeping away Satan’s order of affairs with the besom—broom—of destruction—Isa. 14:23], and turneth it upside down [the whole world is upset, in a disordered, chaotic condition, topsy-turvy, and at its wit’s end in confusion; the higher classes and elements are being made low, and the lower elements, the masses, are being exalted] and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof [countless numbers of homes have been torn asunder, the work of many lifetimes has been reduced to rubble, and millions of families have been torn apart and scattered to the winds—and the end is not yet].”
In the books, Battle of Armageddon and The Millennium (announced on pages 64 of this issue), there are extended discussions and many Bible proofs on the complete overthrow of Satan’s present order of affairs and the establishment of the incoming new heavens and, new earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13). “Come near, ye nations, to hear; . . . let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things [evil and selfish] that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath [taking the future standpoint] utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter; . . . it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance” (Isa. 34:1, 2, 8).
And thank God for the following, also written from the future standpoint: “Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psa. 46:8-10; comp. Isa. 2:2-4; 9:6, 7).
It is this end that God is overthrowing Satan’s empire of sin, selfishness and error and turning the earth upside down. “Every valley (the lowly and meek] shall be exalted and every mountain [kingdom] and hill [less autocratic government] shall be made low [the conditions of society will be leveled]: and the crooked [the perverse] shall be made straight, and the rough places [errors, inconsistencies, false doctrines and stumbling-stones] plain: and the glory of the Lord [the splendor of His holy character in His blessings and salvation] shall be revealed, and all flesh [the whole world of mankind] shall see it together [in the incoming reign of peace]” (Isa. 40:4, 5). ’60-63; ’68-63
Earth—Mankind’s Eternal Home.
Question (1970)—Why did God create man on earth if He intended him to live in heaven?
Answer.—There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that God intended man ever to live in heaven. Rather, the Bible shows clearly that man was created to dwell in and to have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28; Psa. 8:4-8; Heb. 2:6-8). “The earth abideth for ever” (Eccles. 1:4). God “laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever” (Psa. 104:5). He “formed it to be inhabited” (Isa. 45:18). “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given [not merely leased for a few years] to the children of men” (Psa. 115:16).
God created the angels to live in heaven, but He created mean “of the earth earthly” (1 Cor. 15:47), adapted him to earthly conditions and gave him the earth as his eternal home. Satan usurped the control of this world by beguiling Eve through his subtlety (2 Cor. 4:4; 11:3) and through her reached Adam and led him into sin and death. “Adam was not deceived” (1 Tim. 2:14); he sinned willfully. Therefore it was by Adam that “sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12, 18, 19; 1 Cor. 15:22).
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), cessation of life; so Adam and all his race, that was in his loins when he sinned, would at death cease to exist for ever were it not that God in His great compassion “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish [eternally cease to exist], but [on the contrary] have everlasting life” (John 3:14-17). Jesus left the glory that He had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5); He became flesh, a human being (John 1:14); He “took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham [as a human being].
As one perfect human life—Adam’s—was lost in Eden, so it took one perfect human life—that of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5)—to satisfy Divine justice on Adam’s behalf as a ransom, a corresponding price. It was “the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom (Greek antilutron—a corresponding price) for all” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6). As a man, Jesus had no children of His own: “Who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living”; He “poured out his soul unto death” (Isa. 53:8, 12). He “was delivered [unto death—the wages of sin] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 3:18). If the wages of sin is eternal life in torment, then we are all destined to suffer that penalty, for Jesus never paid such a price to Justice for our redemption.
“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11; Luke 19:10). What was lost? Adam lost for himself and his race perfect human life in a perfect earthly condition. This is what Jesus came to seek and to restore to mankind; and He will do so for the willing and obedient of mankind in the Millennial Age, in “the times of restitution of all things,” during His Second Advent (Acts 3:19-21. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited” (Isa. 45:18). It will be the everlasting home of mankind: “The meek shall inherit the earth”; “the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever”; but “evildoers shall be cut off”; “yet a little while and the wicked shall not be”—“the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off” (Psa. 37:9-11, 20, 22, 29, 34, 38). This is the “everlasting punishment” (Greek, everlasting cutting off—see Diaglott) spoken of by our Lord in Matt. 25:46, and symbolized in v. 41 by “fire”—which term is used to represent, not torment, but complete destruction; for God says that “all the wicked will he destroy”; “they shall be as though they had not been” (Psa. 145:20; Obad. 16). The “lake of fire” is not a place of life in torment; it is “the second death,” utter, complete and eternal annihilation; and “hell” (the unconscious condition in the sleep of the first death) will be cast into it when all the dead are awakened and “come forth” (John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:12, 14, 15; 21:8).
The Church of the Gospel Age, consisting of New Creatures begotten to the Divine nature, was promised salvation to eternal life in heaven, to be with the Lord and to assist Him in blessing all the families of the earth (John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Heb. 10:34; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:16, 17; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29). But this is an exception to the general salvation of mankind in “the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4). The willing, obedient, sheeplike ones of mankind in restitution are to have their eternal home on earth; but the unwilling, disobedient, goatlike ones “shall be destroyed [not preserved in fire] from among the people” (Acts 3:22, 23). ’70-79; ’90-66
Earthquake—The In (Matt. 28:2).
Question (1965)—According to Biblical Numerics, is the account of the earthquake in Matt. 28:2 authentic?
Answer.—Yes. Here again, referring to “The New Testament in the Original Greek Text,” compiled by Westcott and Hort (which we consider, generally speaking, the best available Greek text of the New Testament), we find that the sum of the numeric values of all the Greek words in Matt. 28:2 is 10,290, which divided by 7=1,470, which divided by 7=210, which divided by 7=30. So here we have a treble proof of the genuineness of this Greek text, which in itself is a complete sentence. But if this verse’s first clause, which treats of the earthquake, and whose sum in numerics is 1927, a number not evenly divisible by 7, is omitted, it would leave as the rest of the verse’s numerics 8,363, which, again, is not evenly divisible by 7. Accordingly, Biblical Numerics proves that Matt. 28:2 is genuine, that “there was a great earthquake” at the time of Jesus’ resurrection. ’65-71
Egypt—Mr. Sadat’s Visit To Israel.
Question (1978)—What results may be expected from Mr. Sadat’s visit to Israel?
Answer.—Mr. Sadat’s bold action has reduced hostility and has raised the hopes of many for peace between the Jews and Arabs. It has greatly improved relations between Israel and Egypt and at least some of the other Arab nations. We are glad for the sake of all involved, for the people desire peace. But we are not to expect that a durable and lasting peace will be established now, because more of the great Time of Trouble, including “Jacob’s trouble,” Phase II, described in Ezek. 38:39; Zech. 12; 14:1-5, must intervene before real and lasting peace comes, in the Messianic Millennial Kingdom reign. ’78-15
Elder—And Bishop The Same Office.
Question (1996)—According to the Scriptures, is there any difference between the office of a bishop and that of an elder?
Answer.—In common usage in the nominal church and otherwise, there is a considerable difference between them; but according to the Scriptures, there is no difference in the office designated by these two terms. This is evident from the following facts:
(1) The two Greek terms refer to the same office. The word usually translated bishop is episkopos, from epi, meaning upon or over, and skopos, meaning a watcher, an overseer, and a guardian. Hence a bishop is an overseer. The word generally translated elder is presbuteros, literally meaning an older, elder, more mature person. In the local church, an elder is an elected servant who is regarded as more mature in the qualities needed to fill this office, one who is at least capable of serving acceptably the spiritual interests of the local church. The word bishop refers more to the burden, or toil, of the service, and the word elder to the honor of the office.
(2) The terms bishop and elder are used interchangeably in the Scriptures. The very same persons who are called “elders” (presbuteroi) in Acts 20:17 are in v. 28 called “overseers” (episkopoi). Similarly, the term “elders” of Titus 1:5 corresponds with the term “bishop” of v. 7, and the qualifications are given in vs. 6-9. These offices are identified also in 1 Pet. 5:1-4 as referring to the same persons.
(3) The Apostle Paul in addressing the Philippians (1:1) and not using the Greek word for elders at all refers to them as overseers, bishops (episkopoi). Thus he speaks of all the officers of the church at Philippi as bishops and deacons. The plural of the word bishop here, as in Acts 20:28, proves, of course, that the Apostle did not use the word in the modern, nominal church sense of bishops, of whom there is not a number in one church, but used in the sense of the elders.
(4) The Apostle Paul in 1 Tim. 3:1-13 mentions only two offices in local ecclesias, calling the first bishops (vs. 1-7) and the other deacons and deaconesses (vs. 8-13).
Thus it is evident that the Bible teaches that there is no difference between the office of a bishop and that of an elder; for both terms refer to the same persons, who are overseers and more mature in the qualities needed to fill the office. Because of the widespread and general misuse of the term bishop, referring it to a much higher office in the church than that of local elder, we do not use it, but prefer the term elder to designate the main office in the local church.
Some have wondered why elders are not mentioned in the lists of church servants given in 1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11, if this is the preferable term to be used. Since (1) the Bible uses the term elder also for offices higher than that of local elder, i.e., for the office of the twelve Apostles (1 Pet. 5:1; 2 John 1; 3 John 1) and the office of the non-Apostolic general elders, “secondarily prophets,” who also served the church in general (such as Barnabas, Timothy, Titus, etc.—E 6, pp. 103-106; E 7, pp. 277-298), and since (2) elders were not mentioned in 1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11, it is evident that clearness as to the ones meant by the expression “pastors, even teachers” justifies the absence of the word elders from these passages. The “pastors, even teachers,” i.e., the local elders, have as their essential function the instructing and other shepherding care of the local churches. ’96-39
Elect Classes—Scriptures Showing Four Elect.
Question (1970)—What are some of the Scriptures showing the four elect classes?
Answer.—We will here note seven of them:
(1) Joel 2:28, 29 mention the four elect classes and also the two restitution classes—the quasi-elect and the non-elect. V. 29 presents the two classes of the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, selected under the High Calling of the Gospel Age (“in those days”—the days of the Gospel Age, described in the previous verses), namely, the Little Flock and the Great Company (“the servants and the handmaids”). V. 28 shows that “afterwards,” after those days of the Gospel Age, i.e., in the Millennial Age, God will pour out His spirit for all humanity; and The Christ’s “sons and daughters” of restitution—the stronger and the weaker, i.e., the quasi-elect and the non-elect—shall prophesy (declare the Truth), under the tutelage of the Ancient Worthies and the Youthful Worthies; for “your old men” (Hebrew, zekenim, translated “elders” in Psa. 107:32 and “ancients” in Isa. 24:23)—“of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38); hence the designation “Ancient Worthies”)—“shall dream dreams” (receive revelations of the deeper truths); and “your young men” (literally “youthfuls”; hence by analogy designated “Youthful Worthies”) “shall see visions” (receive revelations of the simpler truths). These two classes of the Worthies, one developed during Old Testament times, before the High or Heavenly calling was opened, and the other after its close, in the Harvest of the Gospel Age, are during the thousand-year Judgment Day to “rule in judgment” (Isa. 32:1) as the earthly phase of God’s Kingdom.
(2) The four elect classes are pictured in the priests and the three groups of Levites encamped on the four sides of the Tabernacle, separate from the twelve tribes of Israel (who represent mankind in general, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God—Rom. 8:19).
(3) The four hills of Jerusalem (Psa. 121:1) stand for God’s four elect classes: Mt. Zion, the Christ class—Jesus and His 144,000 Body members (Rev. 14:1; Isa. 2:3; Obad. 17, 21; Micah 4:7, 8; Rom. 11:26; Heb. 12:22); Mt. Moriah, the Ancient Worthies; the hill Akra, the Great Company; and Bezetha, the Youthful Worthies.
(4) The mountains and the little hills of Psa. 72:3 also picture the four elect classes. This entire Psalm describes the Millennial reign of Christ, implying that Jerusalem will be the seat of government (v. 16). Literal Jerusalem was built upon two mountains, Zion and Moriah, and upon two hills, Akra and Bezetha. Zion and Moriah represent the heavenly and the earthly phases of the Kingdom respectively--i.e., The Christ and the Ancient Worthies as the two higher powers of the Kingdom (v. 16, “top of the mountains,” etc.). Akra and Bezetha represent the tributary (subordinate) powers of the Kingdom, i.e., the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies. As Moriah was the first height (“mountain”) of literal Jerusalem to be built by the Israelites, so the Ancient Worthies were the first part of the Kingdom to be developed. And as Zion was the second height (“mountain”) of the city to be built by the Israelites, so the Little Flock was the second part of the Kingdom to be developed. As the hill Akra, one of “the little hills,” was the third height of Jerusalem to be built by the Israelites, so the Great Company is the third class among the powers (the subordinate power in the heavenly phase) of the Kingdom to be developed. And as the hill Bezetha was the fourth and last height of Jerusalem to be built by the Israelites, so the Youthful Worthies are the last of the powers (the other subordinate power, in the earthly phase) of the Kingdom to be developed. The world of mankind are symbolized by the valley sections of literal Jerusalem. The thought of this passage seems to be that the two phases of the Kingdom, co-operated with by the subordinate powers of the Kingdom (the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies), will be used by Jehovah to bless the world of mankind with peace and prosperity through righteousness during the Millennium.
(5) The four elect classes are pictured also in the four kinds of vessels mentioned in 2 Tim. 2:20: “In a great house [the great house of the typical Aaron—Lev. 16:6; Num. 17:2, 3; 3:6-9, 17-20—consisted of his sons and the three typical classes of Levities—the Kohathites, Merarites and Gershonites; accordingly, in the great House of our Great High Priest there are four classes antitypical of these] there are not only vessels of gold [the Little Flock, Mal. 3:3] and of silver [the Great Company, Mal. 3:3], but also of wood [the Ancient Worthies] and of earth [the Youthful Worthies—the wood and earth indicating that the Ancient Worthies and the Youthful Worthies will be in the earthly phase of the Kingdom]; and [additionally] some [vessels] to honor [the quasi-elect, the “sons” of restitution], and some to dishonor [in the sense of less honor these would be the non-elect, the “daughters” of restitution].” Thus 2 Tim. 2:20 presents the same six saved classes as are set forth in Joel 2:28, 29 and as are pictured in Noah’s Ark.
(6) As already seen, the four elect classes are pictured in Noah’s Ark.
(7) They are pictured also in the four evergreen trees: the cedar (the Little Flock—Psa. 92:12), unto whom the other three elect classes will come: the fir tree (the Ancient Worthies—Isa. 60:13), the pine tree (the Great Company), and the box tree (the Youthful Worthies) together (in co-operative service), to beautify the place of God’s sanctuary (A Levitical work—Num. 3:6-9; the tabernacle of God will then be with mankind—Rev. 21:1-5); and He will in restitution make the place of His feet glorious (the earth is His footstool—Isa. 66:1; Matt. 5:35, Acts 7:49; Num. 14:21). ’70-71
Enoch—The Translation Of.
Question (1961)—When Enoch was “translated,” was he taken to heaven?
Answer.—The Apostle says, “Enoch was translated that he should not see death [i.e., experience death; see Psa. 89:48; Luke 2:26; 9:27; John 8:51, 52]; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). It is evident that he was translated, transferred, carried across, and was still living on this side of the Flood. Therefore is good reason for believing that Enoch and Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20; Heb. 7:1-8) are one and the same person. The evidence is this: St. Paul’s says of Melchizedek that “it is witnessed that he liveth” (Heb. 7:8). In so many words it is nowhere witnessed in the Old Testament that Melchizedek lived on without dying. Enoch, according to St. Paul explanation, is the only human being of whom the Old Testament “witnessed that he liveth” (Gen. 5:24; comp. Heb. 11:5). Therefore these passages identify Enoch and Melchizedek as being evidently the same person.
Melchizedek, “King of righteousness,” seems to have been the one who engineered the building of the Great Pyramid. Marvelous indeed are not only its geographical, mathematical, astronomical and other scientific secrets, but also its delineation of the history of mankind and the unfolding of God’s great Plan of Salvation for the Church and the world, chronologically and otherwise—so much so that many who have reverently studied it have come to the conclusion that it contains more than human wisdom, and that its structure, chambers, passages and measurements all testify that it is indeed God’s Stone Witness, mentioned in Isa. 19:19, 20, which “in that day,” the incoming Millennial Age, in which we are now living, marvelously corroborates the salient teachings of His Word (see Thy Kingdom Come, Chap. X).
In Jude 14 we read of Enoch’s prophesying of the Lord’s coming with myriads of His saints, to execute judgment upon the Second Death class; yet we have no written record of Enoch’s prophecy. If Enoch was translated so that he would not experience death in order to do a great work for God on this side of the flood in building the Great Pyramid, then his prophecy could have been given through certain of its measurements, which testify regarding the executing of judgment upon the Second Death class.
In Gen. 5:22 we read that “Enoch walked with God . . . three hundred years.” As Moses needed Divine instruction on how to build the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:9, 40; 26:30), so, in view of its much greater intricacy, doubtless much more instruction, stretching over a much longer period of time, was needed preparatory to building the Great Pyramid. But, while Enoch was translated that he should not experience death, he was nevertheless under the death sentence that passed upon Adam and all of his race (Rom. 5:12), and whether he has by this time entered into the tomb or not (which we do not know), he is still under the sentence of death and will be until that “curse” will be lifted in the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth, when He will apply the merit of His blood, His sacrifice, on behalf of all mankind. So far He has appeared in the presence of God for the Church only, and hence has during the Gospel Age offered salvation to those only who would become of that class (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24), but soon He will offer salvation to the world also, and they will receive restitution, or restoration to human perfection on earth (Gal. 3:8; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 2:2; Rev. 22:17; Acts 3:19-21).
From the Divine standpoint everyone including Enoch, is dead who is either under the Adamic death sentence or whose life to any extent has been impaired as a result of the curse (Eph. 2:1). The whole world in this sense of the word is dead, and the curse of Adamic death must be removed from them by the ransom merit of Christ, who died for them, before they can be made actually and fully alive. It will be noted that nowhere is it indicated that Enoch was taken to heaven. Gen. 5:24 merely states that “Enoch walked with God: and he was not [he disappeared from among men]; for God took him [translated him].” We do not know where God took him; but we do know that he was not taken to the heaven where God dwells, for Jesus said (John 3:13): “No man hath ascended up to heaven.” ’61-46; *’63-86
Eternal Fire—The Vengeance Of.
Question (1964)—What is meant by “the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7) that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah?
Answer.—Jude 7 reads: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” This cannot refer to the people of these cities suffering eternal torment in fire, for the fire that destroyed these cities did not last forever. It was not everlastingly trying to destroy these cities without accomplishing it; rather, it burned until it had completely destroyed them, once for all, for ever—and these cities have been, are and for ever will be suffering the “vengeance,” the destruction, that the fire brought upon them. Thus here, as in many other cases, the cause is put for the effect.
Sodom and the other cities seem to represent the religion-political systems of this present evil world (Gal. 1:4; Rev. 11:8). Sodom seems to represent primarily the Great Antichrist—the Beast (Papacy)—and Gomorrah, the image of the Beast (federated Sectarian Protestantism), while the other cities represent lesser similar systems. The complete destruction of these cities types the complete destruction of these systems, in the great Time of Trouble here in the end of the Age. Jesus mentioned this destruction in Luke 17:28-30: “As it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” The people were engaged in their ordinary occupations, when fiery destruction from the Lord came upon them suddenly. Similarly, the destructive troubles of this Time of Trouble come upon the people while they are unaware, and while they are crying, Peace and safety (1 Thes. 5:1-5).
The Apostle Peter states (2 Pet. 2:6) that God “turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes [thus totally destroying them] condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly.” Thus God typed by the destruction of the wicked people of those cities the eternal destruction—in the Second Death—of the incorrigibly wicked of the Gospel and Millennial Ages.
In undergoing the punishment they suffered—destruction by fire and brimstone—they were used by God to work out a picture of the punishment of the incorrigibly wicked, i.e., eternal destruction, extinction, annihilation—the Second Death, which is also pictured by the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8; see B.S. 279—a copy free on request). ’64-15; ’79-87
Eternal Torment—Is It A Reality For Man.
Question (1921)—From Time to time we have been receiving questions from some of our readers asking us to harmonize our presentations on eternal torment, the nature of man and of the death condition, with certain Scriptures that seem to them not to be clearly in harmony with our explanations of these subjects. We will take pleasure in this issue and in some succeeding issues in interpreting these Scriptures in a way that will set forth their harmony with themselves, with other Scriptures and with our past presentations. The questions on them mainly concern the nature of man and the death state. Having believed from childhood that man is conscious as a spirit after death, it seems hard for some clearly to see the beauty, reasonableness and factualness as well as the Scripturalness, of the Bible teaching that man is a human being—not a mixture of human and angelic natures—and that therefore in death he is unconscious.
Answer.—The first of these questions refers to the “eternal fire” of Jude 7. Advocates of eternal torment use the expression, “eternal fire,” in Jude 7 as a proof of the eternal torture of the wicked in fire. Even if we should accept the translation of the Authorized Version, the verse does not teach such a thought; for the fire from which the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the inhabitants of the surrounding cities suffered punishment did not last forever. This fact, i.e., that the verse states that they suffered the punishment of eternal fire, when they at most suffered the punishment of but a few minutes of fire, proves that the translation of the Authorized Version is incorrect; for as it stands it teaches that their few minutes of suffering by fire were eternal. What is the difficulty? We answer, that we here evidently have a faulty translation, because the translation states something to be what it was not, i.e., states that something that lasted but a few moments lasts to all eternity. The American Revised Version, which we consider to be one of the best of all English translations, in the margin renders the verse as follows: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them . . . are set forth as an example [type] of eternal fire, suffering punishment.” The thought would be clearer still, if we should put the words in the following order: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them . . . in suffering punishment, are set forth as an example [type] of eternal fire.” In other words, St. Jude in this verse explains that God typed by the destruction of the cities of the plain the eternal punishment of the incorrigibly wicked; for in their undergoing the punishment that they suffered—destruction by fire and brimstone—they were used by the Lord to work out a picture of the punishment of the incorrigibly wicked, i.e., eternal destruction, extinction, annihilation. The Bible in its clear, literal passages teaches that destruction, annihilation, is the punishment of the wicked. (Job 31:3; Ps. 9:5 (prophetic); 37:10, 35, 36, 38; 104:35; 145:20; Isa. 1:28; Ezek. 22:27; Matt. 10:28; Acts 3:23; 1 Cor. 3:17; Phil. 3:19; 2 Thes. 1:9; Jas. 4:12; 2 Pet. 2:1, 12; 3:16.) Jude 7, by the figurative expression fire, shows that destruction, annihilation, is the punishment of the incorrigibly wicked; for in Scriptural symbols fire is used to represent destructive troubles and destruction, for the reason that fire is a destructive agent. It does not preserve, it destroys whatever combustible thing is put into it. (Luke 3:17; Zeph. 3:8, 9; 1 Cor. 3:13, 15; Judges 9:15, 20; Job 31:12; Ps. 18:8; 21:9; Isa. 26:11; Mal. 4:1.) Hence the expression, eternal fire, in this verse means eternal destruction, which is the penalty for willful sin; and God, according to Jude 7, pictured this punishment forth in the destruction of the cities of the plain. Accordingly this passage like all other Scriptures teaches the eternal punishment of the incorrigibly wicked to be, not eternal torment, but eternal annihilation.
Another of these questions relates to the Transfiguration scene of Matt. 17:1-9. In the scene described in Matt. 17:1-9 we recall that our Lord is set forth as transfigured before Peter, James and John, and that while He was so transfigured there appeared in the sight of the sight of the three disciples Moses and Elijah speaking with Him. The matter of the appearance of Moses and Elijah at first thought seems to imply that these two prophets, who had died centuries before, must have been conscious while dead. Hence arises the question: How can the appearance of these two prophets and their speaking with Jesus be harmonized with the thought that all the dead are unconscious? This question touches a difficulty that some have in harmonizing this Scripture with our presentations. We believe that it is in perfect harmony with our previously given thoughts; for the transfiguration scene is a vision, a representation of something, not its actuality. Jesus Himself called it a vision in verse 9 when He said, “Tell the vision to no man until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead.” In a vision we have a representation of things, not the very things themselves. Thus in the book of Revelation we have a series of visions, among which, for example, the Roman Empire is represented by a red dragon; the Apostate Church is represented by a Harlot and a City, Babylon; the true Church by a chaste Virgin and a City, New Jerusalem; Jesus and the Church are represented by the Tree of Life, etc. The vision that Peter saw (Acts 10:9-17) is another example to the point. So in all visions, the thing seen is not the reality, but a representation, a figure, of the reality. That is why Jesus was transfigured. Fortunately there are two Scriptures that explain this vision sufficiently for us to see what is represented. One of these explanations is given us by St. Peter, one of the three who saw the vision. (2 Pet. 1:16-18.) He assures us that this vision represents the Second Advent, the Power and Kingdom of Christ, “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “His Majesty.” According to St. Peter’s explanation, what they saw in the “holy mount” was Christ in His Power, Second Coming and Kingdom. Certainly they did not at that time see His actual Second Presence and Kingdom, and the Power associated with these, for they have not even yet been manifested to men. Therefore it must have been a vision, a representation of these, even as Jesus said that it was a vision (verse 9), though of what it was a vision He did not as far as the record stands, at that time tell the disciples.
He, however, prefaced the Transfiguration scene with a statement that proves it to be a representation of His Millennial Kingdom—though not the Kingdom itself, which has not yet come to earth. On account of the break made by a new chapter between Matt. 16:27, 28 and Matt. 17:1-9 most people fail to connect these two Scriptures, which, there being no chapters in the Bible until nearly 1500 years after St. Matthew wrote this Gospel, were connected as God caused the book to be written. These verses should be read connectedly by us, because they treat of the same subject. Jesus shows in verse 27 of Matt. 16 that at His Second Coming and Kingdom (Matt. 25:31) He would reward all according to their works. Then, still speaking of His Second Coming and Kingdom, He says (verse 28) that some of His hearers should not die until they had seem Him coming in His Kingdom. But all of His hearers have died at least 18 centuries ago, and still the Kingdom is not here. How, then, shall we understand His words that some of His hearers should not die until they had seen Him coming in His Kingdom? We answer: Three of His hearers, Peter, James and John, in the Transfiguration scene saw Him coming in His Kingdom—not in its actuality, but in a vision of it, in a representation of His Second Advent and Kingdom; for the declaration having been made that some should not die until they had seen Him coming in His Kingdom, the next thing recorded is the fulfillment of the declaration of Jesus given in verse 28, i.e., the transfiguration was wrought by Jesus to enable some of His hearers before their death to see Him in a vision of His Second Advent and Kingdom, which in reality were not to come until centuries later. Hence these were seen, not in their reality, but in a representation of them. Thus these three disciples in the Transfiguration scene saw—in a representation of it—our Lord coming in His Kingdom. Additionally they saw, by the vision of Elijah, a representation of the Church, the spiritual phase of the Kingdom—for Elijah is a type of the Church (see the Do You Knows in this issue)—and by the vision of Moses they saw a representation of the Old Testament Faithful, the earthly phase of the Kingdom. Thus viewed the Transfiguration scene gives a complete representation of the Kingdom—in its Head, Jesus, and in its two phases, the Overcoming Gospel Church and the Ancient Worthies. Accordingly, the literal Elijah and Moses were not in the holy mount at all; only representations of them were there, they themselves being dead—unconscious in the tomb—awaiting their awakening, when they will be parts of the earthly phase of the Kingdom. Thus this passage is in beautiful harmony with the thought that the dead are unconscious; and the reason that it is by any considered to be out of harmony with the thought is the fact that they do not study it in the light that itself, its connection with its parallel passages shed upon it. ’21-25
Eternal Torment—Its Origin.
Question (1977)—How and when did the eternal torment idea originate, and then obtain so much acceptance in the nominal Christian church?
Answer.—It had a heathen origin, though as held by the heathen it was not the merciless doctrine that it afterward became, when it gradually began to attach itself to nominal Christianity—when after the Apostles fell asleep in death (Acts 20:19-21), the heathen philosophies were gradually blended with Christian teachings. It remained for the apostate early church to tack to heathen philosophy the horrible details later so generally believed, to paint them upon the church walls, as was done in Europe, to write them in their creeds and hymns, and so to pervert the Word of God as to give a seeming Divine support to the God-dishonoring error.
Therefore those who hold to the eternal torment doctrine receive it, not from Jesus or the Apostles or the Prophets, but from the compromising spirit of the papacy, which sacrificed truth and reason, and shamefully perverted the doctrines of Christianity, adopting and adapting heathen theories to win “converts” from the heathen religions and to raise money from its ignorant and deluded subjects. Papacy taught that this place of torment was prepared for all who did not seek the protection of “The [papal] Church.” All heretics were sure to go there; while those of ‘The Church” not counted worthy of heaven, were permitted to tarry in purgatory, there to suffer reformatory punishment, which might be shortened and relieved by the liberality of their friends in securing the prayers and masses of the priests.
No other doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church ever did so much toward holding her captives in the bondage of fear and dread, and toward increasing her revenues. The Protestant churches, in emerging from Romanism, rejected the doctrine of purgatory, but retained the more hideous doctrine of eternal torture in a burning hell. Though the increase and spread of knowledge and understanding of the Bible has proved this doctrine to be false, yet like papacy, finding it to be such a powerful agent in gaining and binding subjects, and exacting revenues, the Protestant churches are loathe to part with it; and since reasoning and enlightened minds question this dogma, their policy has often been to put the brakes on reason, and to discourage investigation. If this bondage of fear and dread were once broken, and God’s children were to rely entirely on His Word, they would be free from the errors of the great systems of Babylon. ’77-13
Eternal Torment—Is It “Everlasting Punishment.”
Question (1977)—In Matt. 25:46 we read, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Does not this mean that the wicked suffer eternal torment?
Answer.—No. The Greek word here translated “punishment” is kolasin (derived from kolazo, which has as its primary meaning to cut off, to lop off, as in pruning the branches of a tree—see e.g., Thayer, Liddell and Scott, Young’s Concordance and the Diaglott). Thus the punishment for incorrigible sinners is an everlasting cutting off—the Second Death—utter, complete and eternal annihilation (Job 31:3; Psa. 9:5; 37:38; 92:7; Psa. 1:28; Phil. 3:19; 2 Thes. 1:9; 1 Tim. 6:9; 2 Pet. 2:1, 12). ’77-86
Eternal Torment—Fire A Symbol Of Destruction.
Question (1977)—In Matt. 25:41 the punishment is described as “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Does not this mean eternal torment for the wicked?
Answer.—No. Here fire is used to denote the destruction of the wicked, including Satan, whom the Scriptures such as Heb. 2:14; Isa. 14:15; Ezek. 28:19, declare plainly shall be utterly destroyed, annihilated—“never shalt thou be any more.” In the Scriptures, fire is frequently used as a symbol of destruction (see e.g., Lam. 4:11; Zeph 3:8; Mal. 4:1, 3; Matt. 3:10-12; Rom. 12:20; Heb. 12:29; James 3:6; Rev. 17:16), but is never used as a symbol of preservation. ’77-86
Eternal Torment—States That The Devil Shall Be Tormented Rev. 20:10.
Question (1977)—How about Rev. 20:10, which states that the devil “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”?
Answer.—Rev. 20:10 refers to the Beast and False Prophet (systems—the Papacy and Federated Sectarian Protestantism—the “mother” and “daughters” of Rev. 17:5), saying that they also, when in “the lake of fire and brimstone” (the Second Death—destruction, annihilation), “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Some take this expression as being proof of the eternal torment doctrine; but a correct translation in harmony with other Scriptures overthrows their claim.
A careful examination of these verses reveals that the Greek verb translated “torment” here is basanizo, which all Greek lexicographers agree (see especially Thayer and Liddell and Scott) has as its first meaning to test, to examine; and that its second meaning is to test by torture or to examine by torture, which is derived from the ancient custom of testing persons by torture, e.g., the chief captain’s telling some to examine St. Paul by scourging (Acts 22:24); and that its third meaning is to torture or to torment. The word apparently first means to test, even as the noun basanos, from which the verb basanizo is derived, primarily meant a touchstone, a thing used to test metals, etc.; but since many of the tests of ancient times were by scourging, the word began to take on the meaning, testing by torture. Finally it came to mean torment alone.
The translators, whose minds were doubtless filled with the doctrine of eternal torment, took the third meaning of the word in this case, whereas if we take the first the matter becomes clear, and harmonious with all of the literal expressions on the subject mentioned above. “They shall be tested day and night for ever and ever.” Eternally will the perfect minds of God’s creatures who are found worthy of life examine the nature, character, fruits and history of the devil, the Beast and the False Prophet (systems); and as often as they examine them, they will draw from their examination the true conclusion, that these three things are deservedly in the symbolic lake of fire and brim-stone—utter, complete and eternal annihilation. ’77-86; ’78-55; ’99-14
Eternal Torment—“The Smoke Of Their Torment.”
Question (1977)—Is not eternal torment shown in Rev. 14:11, by some having “no rest day nor night” and “the smoke of their torment ascending up for ever and ever”?
Answer.—At first glance it may seem so, but a careful study of this verse shows that such is not the case. Rev. 14:8-11, which also contains the Greek word basanizo, indicates that Great Babylon as a whole, including the “mother” and “daughters,” will be cast into the lake of fire. We read, “There followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice. If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
In the symbols of the Bible, angels are sometimes used to represent impersonal, as well as personal things, e.g., the strong angel (Rev. 5:2) represents the Law Covenant, which found none during the Jewish Age worthy to become the Interpreter and Executor of God’s plan (the book). We understand the angels in our text to represent certain great Truth messages. The nominal church, Babylon, in its two parts is the great city, the great religious government. From one standpoint the reason that Babylon has fallen is that she has made all the nations stupefied with her errors, the doctrines which her union of church and state, symbolic fornication, caused her to teach. Those who worship the Beast and his Image are those who are subject to these systems and serve them. Receiving the mark in the forehead would indicate accepting the creeds or beliefs of the Beast and Image, while the mark in the hands would indicate practice of their deeds.
In the great Time of Trouble, in which Babylon is destroyed, all such will learn what the wrath of God is, for they will be forced to undergo those experiences. His cup for the nations is a cup of indignation in the sense that it flows from His displeasure with them. They shall be tormented (basanizo, tested, touchstoned) with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb, i.e., those nations and persons who with heart and soul are in these instructions will be solely tested when these systems are destroyed in the great Time of Trouble. As the fire and brimstone, utter annihilation, is applied to these institutions, it will be a most severe test to their members. This testing takes place in the presence of the Lamb, during the time when our Lord is present in His Second Advent.
The smoke of their torment (the lesson, the remembrance, of their testing under this terrible experience) will ascend forever and ever, in the sense that it will eternally come up in men’s minds. There will be no real rest of heart and mind to those who accept the false doctrines and engage in the wrong practices of Papacy and Federated Sectarian Protestantism, when destruction comes to these institutions, which they think are God’s Church.
Rev. 19:2, 3 gives a similar thought: “For true and righteous are his judgments [God’s decision against Babylon as a whole and its execution]: for he hath judged the great whore [has sentenced Babylon to destruction] which did corrupt the earth [society] with her fornication [her illicit union with earthly governments], and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand [has vindicated by His sentence and its execution His servants who throughout the Gospel Age have suffered at the hands of Babylon] . . . And her smoke rose up for ever and ever [the lesson of Babylon’s experiences will come up for eternity into the minds of the perfected race, who will recognize that Babylon is justly in eternal annihilation]. Compare Isa. 66:24. ’77-86; ’78-55; ’99-14
Eternal Torment—The Rich Man In Hell, In Torments.
Question (1977)—Does not the “rich man” being in hell, “in torments” (Luke 16:19-31), prove that the doctrine of eternal torment is Scriptural?
Answer.—No. Jesus in this parable (Matt. 13:34; Mark 4:34) used “a certain rich man” to represent the highly favored Jewish nation. This nation properly called Abraham “father” but at Jesus’ Advent it died to its favored position (Matt. 23:37-39). Lazarus was used to represent the Gentiles, who then died to their condition of disfavor and were symbolically carried into Abraham’s bosom, the condition of covenant favor (Acts 15:14; Rom.11:25). During the Gospel Age, in its condition of disfavor, in hades (oblivion), the Jewish nation surely has been “in torments.” (For a complete exposition of this parable, see BS No. 371—a copy free on request.) ’77-87; ’78-55
Eternal Torment—Not Sin’s Penalty.
Question (1977)—How do we know that the penalty of sin is not eternal torment?
Answer.—The Bible plainly states that the penalty of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Consider well the fact that our Lord Jesus took the place of sinners under the first (Adam’s) condemnation for sin (Rom. 5:12, 15-19). Had the penalty for sin been everlasting torment, He, in paying our penalty, would have been compelled to suffer whatever the sinners were condemned to suffer as sin’s penalty. It is written (Isa. 53:6) that Jehovah “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2:24). He died, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).
Jesus “gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6)—for we were all in Adam’s loins when he sinned and brought upon himself and his race the death penalty (Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4, 20). One perfect human life was thus lost and one perfect human life was laid down as a ransom, or corresponding price; for “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14) and Jesus said (John 6:51): “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Thus in providing the ransom-price, the corresponding price, for Adam and the race that was in his loins when he sinned, Jesus, in paying the debt for sin, tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). He “died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3)—note carefully, He does not suffer everlasting torment for our sins. Hence if there were no other evidence on the subject, this alone would be sufficient to prove that “the wages of sin is death” and not everlasting torment.
Those who like to think that the wages of sin is eternal life in torment (always for others, of course, but never for themselves!) will have a hard time explaining how they can themselves possibly escape such a fate, seeing that such a debt as the wages of sin has never been paid on their behalf! If the wages of sin is eternal life in torment, then Adam and all his race must suffer eternal torment, for Jesus never paid such a debt on our behalf!
Furthermore, it is hard to understand how Christian people who claim to be civilized to such an extent that they would not tolerate parents roasting their children in an oven, or roasting or otherwise practicing cruelty to dumb animals, and who claim to have too much love in their own hearts to torture their own children in fire, no matter what the children would do, can truly worship, reverence and love a God who they claim is not even up to their own standards of civilization and love and compassion, and who they claim will eternally torture and torment the great bulk of His human creatures. ’77-87
Eternal Torment—Hell Fire Is It Still Being Preached.
Question (1977)—Is eternal torment in literal hell fire still being preached very much?
Answer.—It is still taught by some, mostly “fund-amentalists,” in evangelistic campaigns, revivals, sermons, books, magazines, tracts, radio and television programs, etc. They thereby frighten people and thus make converts (Matt. 23:15).
As evidence that some, even in this 20th century of boasted civilization, mature thought and Christian awakening, still hold to the teachings of eternal torment in literal fire, and publish and urge others to buy and circulate such terrible misrepresentations of God’s character, we reproduce below an excerpt from “The Sights of Hell,” a 20th-century “book for children and young persons,” written several decades ago by the Reverend (?) J. Furniss, and evidently intended to frighten the younger generation into accepting Christianity, even as many of the older generation have been “converted” through fear. An excerpt reads:
Look into this room. What a dreadful place it is! The roof is red-hot, the walls are red-hot, and the floor is like a thick sheet of red-hot iron. See, on the middle of that red-hot floor stands a girl! She looks about 16 years old. Her feet are bare. She has neither shoes nor stockings on her feet; her bare feet stand on the red-hot burning floor. The door of this room has never been opened since she first set her foot on the red-hot floor. Now she sees that the door is opening. She rushes forward. She has gone down on her knees on the red-hot floor. Listen! She speaks. She says: “I have been standing with my bare feet on this red-hot floor for years. Day and night my only standing place has been this red-hot floor. Sleep never came on me for a moment that I might forget the horrible burning floor. Look at my burnt and bleeding feet! Let me go off this burning floor for one single moment, only for one single, short moment! Oh, that in this endless eternity of years I might forget the pain only for a moment!”
The devil answers her question: “Do you ask for a moment: for one moment to forget your pain? No, not for one single moment during the never-ending eternity of years shall you ever leave this red-hot floor!”
“Is it so? asks the girl, with a sigh that seems to break her heart, “Then at least let somebody go to my little brothers and sisters who are alive and tell them not to do the bad things which I did, so they will never have to come and stand on the red-hot floor.”
The devil answers her again: “Your little brothers and sisters have the priests to tell them these things. If they will not listen to the priests, neither would they listen even if somebody should go to them from the dead.”
Oh! That you could hear the horrible, fearful scream of that girl when she saw the door shutting, never to be opened any more. The history of this girl is short. Her feet first led her into sin, so it is her feet most of all which are tormented. While yet a very little child she began to go into bad company. The more she grew up, the more she went into bad company, against the bidding of her parents. She used to walk about the streets at night and do very wicked things. She died early. Her death was brought on by her bad life.
Another illustration of eternal torment in the same book is “The Red-hot Oven,” described as follows:
See! It is a pitiful sight. The little child is in this red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out! See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of the oven. You can see on the face of this little child what you can see on the faces of all in hell—despair, desperate and horrible! . . . God was very good to this child [!!!]
When the author of the above wrote this, he was probably under the influence of Dante’s Inferno or some other similar writing based on Dark-Age theology. It is not so difficult to understand how people of the Dark Ages, when it was popular to burn at the stake those who did not agree with the generally accepted “orthodox” thought or religious belief, could entertain such misconceptions of God’s eternal punishment for sin, so contrary to His Word, which says that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord: (Rom. 6:23).
Lest some think that in recent years the Roman Catholic hierarchy have repudiated and no longer preach the hideous, blasphemous eternal torment doctrine, note that in recent years the pope, aroused by some statements in a book The Devil, by Giovanni Papini, stated that “eternal hell is the punishment for grave sins committed on earth.” He deplored the lack of understanding among some modern writers about the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine of “never-ending punishment after death.” Of course, by this he means never-ending torment.
A further evidence that the blasphemous eternal torment doctrine is by some still believed and still being preached, is a recent widely advertised motion picture by Estus Pirkle, entitled “The Burning Hell.” It includes scenes showing punishment in a fiery abyss, and is being advocated by some for showing in churches, with the claim that it will make many converts. It is quite evident that it will be used for scaring people into accepting Christ and joining the churches, and that such converts will be made through fear, and not through the love of God.
It is difficult to understand how professed Christians in this day of enlightenment, who claim to believe in God’s Holy Word and reverence His holy character, could thus blaspheme His holy name. And yet we must admit that from the pulpit, in evangelistic campaigns, in revivals and on radio and television, we still hear quite often, in these “latter times” (1 Tim. 4:1), the preaching of eternal torment in literal fire and other related “doctrines of [fire-proof] devils,” in an effort to win church members, to “convert [scare?] sinners” and thus to “save souls”!
Those who preach that the wages of sin is eternal life in torment refer to certain Scriptures which they claim support their theory, e.g., (1) Matt. 25:41—“everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (though in their paintings, etc., they do not portray the devils as being in torment, but rather as tormenting humans; and they avoid such Scriptures as Heb. 2:14 and Ezek. 28:19, which show that the devil shall be destroyed—”and never shalt thou be any more”); (2) Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 14:10, 11; 20:10—these texts mention torment, but are much misunderstood (full expositions of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and these other passages—all in harmony with all other Scriptures, reason and facts—will be supplied free to all who write us for BS 371 and 467); and (3) Rev. 20:14—”Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (though eternal torment advocates are at a loss to explain how hell could be cast into the lake of fire, if hell itself is the lake of fire; hence they usually avoid Christ’s explanation here and in Rev. 21:8, that the lake of fire is “the second death,” for they prefer to think it is eternal life in torment). ’77-14
Question (1995)—If a human father who loves his children, protects and aids his children when they are in difficulty and distress, etc., why does the Heavenly Father allow such terrible afflictions and sufferings to come on the world of mankind, without protecting them or aiding them? Does He really care what happens to the human family?
Answer.—We must keep in mind that mankind in general do not have the father-child relationship with God. When Adam sinned, he lost this relationship for himself and all his posterity. Fallen mankind in general are considered by God as in wickedness, alienated from Him, because of Adam’s disobedience (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; Col. 3:5-9; 1 John 5:19). Only those who come to Him through the steps of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and King, and individual dedication or consecration to God can be considered by Him as His children.
As shown in the chapter on “The Permission of Evil” in the book The Divine Plan of the Ages ($2.00, post paid), and as well in our May 1995 issue; God has a great, far-reaching, educational purpose in permitting evils to come upon mankind. Knowing of His kind provision for all the willing and obedient of mankind to have everlasting human life when His Kingdom is set up on earth (Matt. 6:10), He permits them to go on their wayward course, bearing whatever experiences come to them. He gives assurance that in the long run these experiences will work out a blessing.
God has an especially tender regard, however, for all who have taken the steps to come to Him through Christ. He exercises special watch care over them (Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 12:6, 7; Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 5:7). He will not allow anything to befall them, which is not conducive to their spiritual welfare (Psa. 34:6-10). Of course, if He sees best, He may in some cases allow their present life to terminate rather abruptly. Sometimes God’s true and faithful people have died along with unbelievers, in fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquake, etc.
God does allow His children to suffer at times. He knows that only through suffering can certain qualities be developed (Rom. 5:1-5; Heb. 5:5-8; 12:11; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:7; 4:12, 13). But He will never permit any trialsome experience to be too great (1 Cor. 10:13). He will either ameliorate it, if it threatens to be too severe, or will give added help and strength through the workings of His holy Spirit to enable one to endure the suffering (2 Cor. 12:9).
DOES GOD CARE ABOUT THE HUMAN FAMILY?
Does God care about the human family? Of course He does — very much. John 3:16 tells us that it was because “God so loved the world, that the gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Apostle Paul says (1 Tim. 4:10) “we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” God has not yet saved all men from the curse of death and the sin and evils in the world, because He now is dealing only with those who are His children through faith in Christ Jesus. But He does promise to save all men eventually (John 12:32; 1 Tim. 2:4).
Does that sound like a God who does not care? Surely not! We know from the Scriptures that the Heavenly Father permitted His only begotten and dearest Son to suffer and die that He might be “a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6; John 1:29). And God so cares for the world that He has “appointed a day, in the which he will judge [instruct, correct and sentence] the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men [emphasis added], in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31; comp Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22).
God, through Jesus will raise all mankind from the death state (John 5:28, 29) and will give each and every one of them a full, fair opportunity to gain everlasting life as perfect human beings (Isa. 26:9; 35:8-10; Hab. 2:14; John 1:9; 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who have the faith of Abraham (Gal. 3:6-9) can then assist others to receive the blessings of the promises given by God to Abraham as recorded in Gen. 12:1-3, that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Mankind’s great adversary, Satan, will be restrained that “he should deceive the nations no more” while they are undergoing their trial for everlasting life (Rev. 20:3; Matt. 25:31-46).
Only the incorrigibly wicked will be destroyed (Psa. 45:20.) The faithful of mankind will rewarded with life everlasting as perfect human beings in an earthly paradise (Isa. 35; see The Bible Standard, No. 444). Only then, and not before, will mankind in general who do not now have faith in God, be truly His children (Rom. 8:19-22).
Indeed, the Heavenly father has already shown great love for the human family by providing this wonderful earth, with its manifold blessings, for their home, etc.; and He will further demonstrate His marvelous love for them (1 John 4:19) in the great Millennial Day yet to come, when His Kingdom will be established on earth (Rev. 21:1-4). At present He is dealing with those who are His children through a justifying faith in Jesus — the only way in which God can be pleased with any of the human family and accept them into His family (Acts 4:12; Heb. 11:6).
God has heard the cry of the groaning, oppressed human family and He will surely deliver them (Psa. 107:23-31). In the Millennial Kingdom they will look back on their present experiences with death and sin and profit by their knowledge (Psa. 22:27-31; 90:12). Yes, our Heavenly Father does care. ’95-60
Evil—Is God The Instigator Of All Things Amos 3:6.
Question (1995)—Does not Amos 3:6 prove that God is the instigator of all things, good and bad, including sin, crime and wickedness? Likewise with Isa. 45:7 — “I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”
Answer.—To comprehend these two texts, two things must be borne in mind: (1) the proper significance of the word “evil,” and (2) the special covenant relationship of Israel with God.
First, the primary significance of the word “evil” is, according to Webster, “Anything that causes displeasure, injury, pain, or suffering” or “That which produces unhappiness; anything that directly or remotely causes suffering of any kind.” Its synonyms are injury, mischief, harm, and calamity, “Moral depravity or badness” is a secondary definition of the word “evil,” by the same authority.
This secondary meaning grows out of the first as a matter of course: all badness is evil, whether it implies moral perception and accountability or not. The decay or badness at the heart of an apple is evil, just as truly as the decay of morals at the heart of a man. The one is a physical evil implying no moral quality or responsibility; the other is a moral evil and does imply moral responsibility.
In Isa. 45:7 the word “evil” stands opposite to the word “peace” and so carries the thought of trouble, war or some similar evil opposed to peace. If moral badness were meant, the contrasting word might be “righteousness” or “goodness.” This is a rule of language.
Second, when we consider that these words of Jehovah relate specially to Israel. His typical and covenant people, we have a clear light thrown upon them. As God has a special interest in and care over all His Spiritual Israel, bound to Him by the ties of their covenant of consecration to Him, so He had a special care over Fleshly Israel as a nation, under the conditions of their Law Covenant.
A reference to the terms of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel will show this. The Lord’s declaration or promise to them was that if they as a nation would observe the laws, which He gave them, He would be their God, and their shield and defender from all evils, such as wars, pestilences, famines, etc., and would bless them with peace, prosperity and plenty. But if they would neglect God’s statues, and would become idolaters and promoters of evil like the nations about them, God declared, as a part of His covenant with them, that they would be afflicted with sicknesses, famines and pestilences, and be delivered into the hand of their enemies. See the particular description of the blessings promised and the evils threatened in Lev. 26:3-25; Deut. 11:13-28; 28:1-8, 15-23, 36-49.
EVILS PERMITTED UPON ISRAEL FOR THEIR INIQUITIES
Although God had so particularly warned Israel of what to expect, they seem to have the idea that their blessings and calamities were matters of chance and circumstance as with the godless nations about them; and in Amos 3:6 God points out to them that, according to His covenant with them, their calamities could not come without His knowledge and permission. This is clear also from the context (vs. 1, 2): “Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known [recognized, covenanted with] of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
This passage, then, does not teach that Jehovah is the great sinner, the inspirer of all wickedness, crime and sin in every city; it teaches the very reverse — that the evils mentioned were calamities which God would permit or bring upon Israel because of their iniquities.
The lesson of Isa. 45:7 is similar. God, having chastened Israel by their captivity in Babylon, points out that the circumstances leading to their return to their own land are no less remarkable, none the less of Him and by Him because accomplished through Cyrus, the heathen warrior. The spirit of war and the lust for power and gold which hold sway among men and nations are not inspired of God; but when the time for Israel’s deliverance came, God permitted the hosts of the Medes and Persians to come against Babylon and prospered the way of the more noble and benevolent Cyrus to the seat of power, at the proper time to permit him to decree the restoration of Israel to their own land at the end of the predicted 70 years’ desolation.
In this case, as in others, no room is found for charging the Almighty with sin, crime and wickedness. He in no degree interfered with the moral sense of Cyrus or of Israel, but, as always, merely took advantage of the aims and desires of carnal men and overruled their courses (not their motives) to the accomplishment of His plans to bless and help His people, whom He had previously, according to His covenant, permitted Babylon to conquer and take into captivity.
We assert on the basis of the foregoing additional evidence that God’s word conscientiously interpreted is a full vindication of the Divine character; that even the texts cited to sustain the blasphemy that God is responsible for absolutely “all things” — the evil as well as the good — clearly and emphatically contradict it; and we warn all to beware of theories — their own or other men’s — which make necessary a defamation of the Divine character for their support; that God is the instigator and author of all the crime, sin and wickedness of the world, in order to prove that He must by and by retract and work righteousness in all, and preserve all everlastingly, and that without a ransom. Let God be true though it make “every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). ’95-61
Ezekiel 9:5-7—Smiting And Slaying Children.
Question (1976)—In Ezek. 9:5-7 we read the command given to the slaughter-weapon men: “Go ye after him [the inkhorn man] through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary . . . Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.” Does this refer to literal smiting and slaying, to literal eternal destruction, or annihilation, in Armageddon, of even little children, as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” teach?
Answer.--No! We are well aware of the erroneous teaching of the “J.W.” leaders on this subject, and how instead of a love gospel, as taught from the Bible in the Studies in the Scriptures, they use a fear gospel to cause people to join, actively serve and stay in their ranks—fear of eternal annihilation in Armageddon for them (and their immature children) if they hear and do not loyally accept and further the “J.W.” doctrines.
The “J.W.” leaders claim that all, even the little children, of those who reject the Watchtower Society’s teachings will perish eternally in Armageddon, never to have any resurrection awakening and future opportunity for salvation.
For example, in their book “The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah—How?” (p. 166, par. 2), the “J.W.” leaders state: “How fitting it was, then, that the foreheads of Jehovah’s worshipers were marked, for the ‘six men’ would strike at the head! Seeing a mark on the forehead would hold them back from smashing that head. Age or sex was no reason for an offender against Jehovah to be spared, neither singleness nor marriage. Unmarked parents would not have their minor children marked . . . Hence they would be the ones responsible for the killing of their little children.”
This is similar to the “J.W.” leaders’ anti-Ransom teaching concerning all “the men, the women, the children and babies” (including those not fathered by materialized fallen angels but either directly or indirectly by Adam) who were drowned in the Flood. They state: “Apparently there is no hope of a resurrection for those dying in that executional flood.”
The Scriptures make it very plain, however, that “the man Christ Jesus,” a perfect man, was the anti-lutron, the corresponding price, for the perfect man Adam, and all the as yet unborn race in his loins (1 Tim. 2:5, 6; 4:10; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Heb. 2:9), and that therefore Adam and all of his race are guaranteed that they will be saved from the Adamic condemnation and be brought to an exact knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim. 2:4), and then have a full and complete opportunity for obtaining everlasting life. Those who have not had their opportunity in this life, such as children of immature years, must have it after the resurrection awakening (see our Hope for the Unsaved Dead booklet—50 cents). For a further refutation of the “J.W.” errors, see our “J.W.” booklet (10 c) and Bible Standard Nos. 362 and 435 (copies free on request).
Obviously the slaying by the slaughter-weapon men does not refer to literal slaying, though multitudes will lose their lives in the destruction of nominal Christendom (represented here by Jerusalem) in the rapidly approaching violent fighting stage of Armageddon, in the present great Time of Trouble, which began in 1914. If the slaying were literal, then the inkhorn, the ink, etc., would be literal also. But the slaying is symbolic, as are the inkhorn, the ink, the slaughter weapons, etc. The slaughter-weapon men doing the smiting and slaying represents the errorists, the sifters, smiting with their errors and thereby causing those not properly marked with the truth of God’s Word to die to their standing before God—to lose out in their calling.
The smiting and slaying began with the sanctuary, with the ancient men, then continued out in the courts and in the city (Ezek. 9:6, 7). This represents the sifters beginning their evil work among the consecrated, Spirit-begotten Truth people, in the antitypical Holy, singling out first among these the leaders and the elders. Thus the sifters defiled the house, the Spirit-begotten ones, with error (1 Cor. 3:17); and the defiled parts lost their standing before God. Many have gone so far that they have died as new creatures, i.e., have ceased to be God’s people, and have gone into the Second Death (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29).
The smiting and slaying in the courts and in the city represent the spreading of the sifting error among the tentatively justified Christians in the antitypical Court condition and also among the unjustified nominal people of God in the antitypical Camp, which corresponds to the city. In these spheres also many lost their standings before God. However, not being Spirit-begotten, they did not go into the Second Death. ’76-47; ’79-15
Ezekiel 38:12, 13—What Is The “Great Spoil.”
Question (1979)—What will be the nature of the “great spoil” (Ezek. 38:12, 13) that Israel’s enemies will seek to take “in the latter days” (v. 16)?
Answer.—We understand that the “latter days” here refer to the time of the second phase of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) on regathered fleshly Israel, which is still in the future. (The first phase the regathering phase, is still continuing—Jer. 16:15, 16; Amos 9:14, 15.) Israel’s great wealth, which is rapidly increasing along many different lines, is symbolized by the terms “silver and gold” and “cattle and goods.” this “great spoil” evidently includes the tremendous wealth, worth billions of dollars, lodged in the Dead Sea’s minerals and also probably some great oil resources.
The U.S. News & World Report stated recently that there is a river of oil 46 miles long under the land of Israel. All the geological reports state that Israel has great potential for the production of oil. The major oil companies have large oil holdings in Arab lands; so have not extended into Israel. However, in 1955 near Ashkelon oil was discovered for the first time; and by 1957 twelve wells were in production. Oil has recently been discovered by Israeli engineers off the shore of territory formerly held by the Egyptians. This discovery came at the time of President Sadat’s historic visit to Israel, and may be a factor in Middle East peace negotiations. Incidentally, it is thought that Deut. 33:18, 19, 24 may help to locate positions for interior and offshore drillings for oil. The “spoil” (great wealth) that Israel’s enemies will covet and seek to take may well include much oil. ’79-7
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