Gamble—Is It Right For God’s People To Do.
Question (1986)—According to the Scriptures, is it right for God’s people to gamble, especially in legalized forms, such as state lotteries and betting on horse races?
Answer.—We believe not. The increase, especially in legalized gambling, has been very great in recent times. Over 80 countries have their lotteries. Many European (including Britain), S. African, American and some Asian countries have legalized casino gambling. Also there is much gambling, often legal, on football, basketball and other sports. In a number of states in the U.S.A., government lotteries have been legalized and have become very popular, with individuals in some cases winning millions of dollars. The amount that is gambled annually is billions in various countries.
Newsweek stated, “The trend can be attributed partly to the general permissiveness of society; like alcohol, marijuana and sexual freedom, the institution of gambling is steadily losing its shock value and becoming accepted as a part of modern life. “Roman Catholics, many Protestants and Jews do not officially protest against it. In fact many churches sponsor their own bingo games, raffles and other forms of gambling. The anticipation of possibly winning and the conjoined excitement works like a drug on many. First it is a diversion, then an obsession and in some cases it becomes possession. Some become compulsive gamblers, of which there are said to be more than 10 million in the U.S.A. alone. Some consider compulsive gamblers as being worse than alcohol and drug addicts. Sooner or later almost all who practice gambling become losers, because the amounts paid out to winners must be a lot smaller than the total wagered or the gambling business would fail. There must be many losers for every winner!
Gambling is based on selfishness, on a desire to get without working for it that, which belongs to others (even if they are willing to give it up). It stems from a get-rich-quick desire. The Apostle Paul says, “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the [a] root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10). This applies to gambling as well as other get-rich-quick schemes. Gambling fosters greed and covetousness, which the Scriptures tell us to get rid of (Psa. 119:36; Luke 12:15; 1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:3, 5; Heb. 13:5).
Gambling often makes people lose self-control, become dishonest, thieving and very inconsiderate of others. It causes some to lose their wages and deprive themselves and their families of food, clothing, housing, etc. Many find that they are soon seriously in debt because of gambling, and this brings many other serious problems. Some compulsive gamblers are helped to quit by appealing to an organization called “Gamblers Anonymous.” But the best way to give up gambling or any other bad habit is first to make sure of being repentant for sin and believing in Jesus as Savior and to give one’s heart and life to God in consecration, and then appeal to God and Christ for help and strength to overcome.
Those who are consecrated to God have given Him their all—including money and other earthly possessions—and are to be good stewards of it for Him. Surely He would not approve our using money in our stewardship in gambling or in any other way that would be displeasing to Him! It is not right for any of God’s people to think that if they wager some money and win they will please Him by using the winnings to further His work.
Many gamblers make more or less of a goddess of “Lady Luck” and enlist her help in winning. Isa. 65:11 may have some bearing here. The last part is translated thus in the ASV: “that prepare a table for Fortune and that fill up mingled wine unto Destiny” (comp. KJV margin, Rotherham, etc.). The Hebrew word gad, trans-lated “Fortune” in the ASV, etc., seems to refer to the tribe of Gad in Israel, and to mean a troop (Gen. 30:11; 49:19). But it seems to be associated with Baal (Josh. 11:17; 12:7) and to mean Fortune. Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon explains: “The God Fortune, Gad, worshipped by the Babylonians and Jewish exiles, Is. 65:11. He is elsewhere called also Baal, Bel, i.e., the planet Jupiter, Stella Jovis, which was regarded throughout the east as the genius and giver of good fortune.” The Hebrew word meni, translated “Destiny” in the ASV, is given by Gesenius “the name of an idol which the Jews in Babylon worshipped along with Gad.”
It is therefore quite clear that God’s people should not gamble. But if, e.g., one’s name is drawn out of many to be given a free prize, without the payment of any money, such a free prize, if won, should be thankfully accepted. ’86-7
Genesis 1:26—The Words “Us” And “Our.”
Question (1970)—In Gen. 1:26 we read: “God said, Let us make man in our image.” Who are referred to here by the words us and our?
Answer.—The words “God said” prove that the Father only is the Speaker. Obviously He spoke thus to His “only begotten Son,” the Logos, the precarnate Lord Jesus (Psa. 89:27; Prov. 8:22; John 1:1; 3:16; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:5; Rev. 3:14). Jesus existed “before the world was” (John 17:5; 1:1, 2). He acted as God’s Agent in the creation of all things (John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16, 17).
Whether the angels who co-operated in the creative works under the Logos (Job 38:4-7) are also included in this term “us” cannot be positively determined from this passage or from other Scriptures. But at least the Father and the Son are included. The relation of the Two in creation is as follows: The Father was the Architect of the creative plans and the Supplier of the materials for creation, while the Son was the Contractor who took the plans and material and with the assistance of the angelic hosts worked them up into the finished product under the direction of the great Architect of the universe. ’70-38
Genesis 1:26—“In Our Image”
Question (1970)—What is meant in Gen. 1:26 by “in our image”?
Answer.—That a physical image is not here meant is evident from Jesus’ statement that none has at any time seen God’s shape (John 5:37); for if a bodily image were meant, every time we look upon one another we would
be seeing God’s shape. According to the Bible the expression “the image of God” refers to the perfection of the original man in his intellectual, artistic, moral and religious faculties as such, and in the capacities of these faculties. This would mean that every one of man’s intellectual, artistic, moral and religious faculties was perfect in quantity and quality.
In the Bible the word image is frequently used to mean character, i.e., the quality of the mind and heart as distinct from the body. Thus in Psa. 73:20 the evil disposition of the wicked, which God abhors, is described as their image (Heb., tzelem—the same Hebrew word that is translated image in Gen. 1:26). Jesus’ Bride, His Body and its members, was predestinated to be conformed to His image (character, disposition—Rom. 8:29). So, too, when speaking of the first man the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor. 11:7) he was the image and glory of God (he reflected on the human plane the disposition of God); for frequently God’s character is in the Bible shown to be His glory—just as the glory of a good man is his good character.
In 2 Cor. 3:18 we not only see the glory of God and His image identified, but are told that by devoutly and steadfastly looking at that glory in the Bible as a mirror we are by God’s Spirit changed into the same image from the glory of a less near image into the glory of a more near image. In Eph. 4:24 we are told that the renewal of God’s image in us is the renewal of us in the “righteousness and holiness of the Truth” (so the Greek). Here we are shown that the Truth taken through the head into the heart renews us after God’s character in righteousness and holiness. Col. 3:10 expresses the same thought: “the new man, which is renewed by knowledge [the intellectual hold of the Truth] after the image [character] of him [God] who created him.” The reason given in Gen. 9:6 against murder is that man had been created in God’s image (character likeness).
Thus these Scriptures prove that the image of God in Adam was his similarity to God in disposition—his mental, artistic, moral and religious faculties were like God’s in kind and perfection, though, of course, not in range, quality and quantity. ’70-38
Genesis 4:26—Calling By The Name Of God.
Question (1970)—In Gen 4:26 we read: “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” What does the last statement mean?
Answer.—The margin gives as an alternate rendering: “call themselves by the name of the Lord.” But this is incorrect, for it renders a passive by the reflexive voice, for which there is a form in Hebrew distinct from the passive. The literal translation (there is no word for men here in the Hebrew is: “to call by [or on] the name of Jehovah was then begun,” i.e., in the days of Enosh (see margin and other translations) the custom was formed of using the name of God, or the word for God, in the names given to people. Thus Enosh’s grandson, who was born when Enos was 160 years old (Gen. 5:9-13), was named Mahalaleel; this name means praise of God—Mahalale means praise and el means God. Thus the name God entered first into the name of a human being in the naming of Enosh’s grandson.
The translation, “to call on the name of Jehovah [in the sense, either to pray or to make oath] was then begun,” could also be correct; but the thought of praying thus being first begun would be incorrect, as it contradicts the fact that Cain and Abel had previously prayed, i.e., at the time of their sacrifices. Understood as teaching that in Enosh’s day a beginning of making oaths by God, the second translation may be the right one. But we are more inclined to the former than to the latter translation. ’70-94
Glory—“Changed From Glory To Glory.”
Question (1961)—In what sense of the word are Christians “changed from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)?
Answer.—This text applies only to truth consecrated Christians. After we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) we are called to sonship; and after we accept that call by making a full consecration of ourselves to God (Rom. 12:1) we are made recipients of His spirit of holiness; and after we receive this spirit, which is not one of fear, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7), we are guided by it and taught by it respecting the things pleasing and acceptable to our Heavenly Father; we are, so to speak, under this influence molded and fashioned into His likeness, the likeness of His dear Son, our Lord and Savior.
This molding and fashioning we are required to do so to a considerable extent for ourselves (Phil 2:12), but are stimulated to such transformation of character (Rom. 12:2) by the light of the knowledge of the Divine character, which we behold in God’s Word. This transforming of our characters is not instantaneous but gradual—we grow more and more like God and Christ, we are changed from glory to glory in our minds, our wills, our hearts—our characters. This change will not be complete until in the resurrection we receive our new bodies. Meanwhile we “with open face (with no intervening veil of unbelief, prejudice, fleshly-mindness, fear or superstition, but with simplicity of heart and mind] beholding [contemplating with devoutness, appreciation, reverence and adoration] as in a glass [as reflected in the mirror of God’s Word—James 1:23—and His plan contained in His Word, and as reflected in the life of the living Word, Christ Jesus] the glory of the Lord [the grandeur of His character of wisdom, Justice, love and power, perfectly blended] are changed [in proportion as we appreciate, contemplate and copy it] into the same image [character likeness] from the glory to glory [from glory of a less near likeness to the glory of a more near likeness, until the likeness is complete], even as by the Spirit of the Lord [the power of God which is in the Word, and through which the character is changed as we imitate God and Christ].” ’61-15
God—Himself Has A Body.
Question (1976)—Does Jehovah, the Heavenly Father, the Most High, God have a body?
Answer.—That God is not simply a great mind without a body, but has both, the Scriptures clearly prove when they assert that He has a shape (John 5:37), that the resurrected Spirit, Jesus, is His image (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:18), that Christ’s Body, or Bride, the saints, will have spirit bodies like His (1 Cor. 15:40-49; 51-54; 1 John 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:4), and that they will see His face (Rev. 22:4), which cannot be done to a bodiless mind, because it would not have a face. Moreover, a face implies a body, though not necessarily a material body. Also, the memorable scene of Ex. 33:18-23 clearly proves that God has a body. And because God is a Spirit (John 4:24). He must have a body that consists of a spirit substance. Also, His having heaven as His abode implies this (Psa. 73:25; Eccles. 5:2; Matt. 5:16, 45; 6:9, etc., etc.)
The Scriptures, in ascribing immortality to God, imply that His body consists of life principle. This seems to be the thought of John 5:26: “As the Father hath life in himself,” i.e., inherent life, self-existence. Surely this passage teaches that God has immortality. But why does He have immortality? The passage implies that it is because He has life in Himself, i.e., His very essence is immortality.
But God’s soul (Heb. 10:38) is His essence. And His soul, like every other soul, consists of two parts: life principle and a body. Therefore His body also seems to consist of life principle. This then is apparently the thought of the expression, “As the Father hath life in himself.” If God’s body consists of life principle, we can readily see why He must be immortal—death-proof; for the death of any individual is the separation of the life principle from the body.
If, therefore, God’s body consists of life principle, it follows that there can be no separation of life principle from His body, since His body is life principle. Also, Jesus in His resurrection attained to the same condition—immortality. “life in himself” (John 5:26). This also is true of the saints, His Bride, in their resurrection (1 Cor. 15:53, 54, 45-49; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2). Because of this, on them the Second Death has no power (Rev. 2:11; 20:6). Therefore the highest order in the spirit world, God and Jesus and His Bride--those of the Divine nature—having self-existence, immortality, seem to have bodies consisting of life principle.
That no other spirit have such bodies, and hence are not immortal, is proven by the fact that Lucifer, (Isa. 14:12-20), now Satan, a cherub (Ezek. 28:14, 16), and thus a member of the highest order of the other spirit orders, will be destroyed, annihilated (Isa. 14:15; 27:1; Ezek. 28:16-19; Heb. 2:14). But this must be kept in mind: God is no creature; He was not created; He always has been in existence. And this must be so, since He is the Creator of all things made. ’76-6; ’83-31
God—Is He The Father Of All Men.
Question (1958)—In Acts 17:29 the Apostle Paul seems to include natural men who are unbelievers as being among “the offspring of God.” How should we understand this?
Answer.—God represents Himself as the Life-giver, or Father, of every living thing, since all life proceeds from Him; but, especially, He is the Father, or Life-giver, of all created in His image and likeness. Adam, the first man (1 Cor. 15:45), was thus created (Gen. 1:26, 27), and therefore was a son of God (Luke 3:38); and although in his posterity much of that original image and likeness has since been lost through sin and depravity, it is, nevertheless, still proper to speak of man from the standpoint of his original creation. It is to be remembered, however, that according to the Scriptures the entire human race, which according to the Scriptures the entire human race, which was in Adam’s loins at the time of his transgression, shared in his transgression and condemnation, and thus lost their standing of sonship in God’s family (Rom. 5:12-21), becoming alienated and at enmity with Him (Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21). All are God’s offspring, i.e., all sprang from, or derived their life from the Almighty; but He recognizes as sons only those who are in harmony, in fellowship with Him, and this now includes only those who are reconciled to Him through the precious blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:10; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19), who laid down His perfect human life as a ransom-price, a corresponding price (1 Tim. 2:6), for Father Adam, who before he sinned and forfeited his life was also a perfect human being—“very good” (Gen. 1:31). Only such as are thus reconciled to God may escape His wrath, which abides on the sinful human race as a whole; only such become again “the sons of God” (John 1:12; 3:36; Acts 4:12). ’58-93 ’74-94
God—“Before Abraham Was, I Am.”
Question (1972)—In Ex. 3:14 God identified Himself to Moses as “I AM THAT I AM” AND I AM’; and in John 8:58 Jesus said, “Before Abraham was I am.” Does this prove that Jesus and God are one and the same person?
Answer.—No. Some try to draw this conclusion, because of God and Jesus both using the same expression “I am.” But the Apostle Paul also used the same expression in 1 Cor. 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Obviously this does not prove that the Apostle Paul and Jehovah God are one and the same person! When God in Ex. 3:14 stated His name as “I am who I am” and “I am,” He was indicating, not His appellation, but His character and nature. Similarly, the Apostle Paul was indicating his character when he said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
And similarly, Jesus was indicating His nature when He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus here affirmed that He had existed before Abraham and had ever since continued to exist. Please notice the expression “I am”—present tense. Why this? It is used to express that a non-terminated existence, viz., that of Jesus, which He as the Logos had before Abraham lived, had never up to the time of His speaking in this text come to an end, which proves that when the Logos became flesh (John 1:14), He did not die while undergoing the transfer from a spirit plane to the human plane of existence. Without dying, the same person was transferred from one nature to the other (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6, 7) and lived continuously during the transfer. Jesus in John 8:58 was not trying to prove that He and His Father were one and the same person. To have done so would have been to deny God’s Word and His own teachings in general. ’72-94; ’94-93
God—Harmonize God’s Character With His Dealings With Pharaoh.
Question (1952)—How can we harmonize God’s character with His raising up Pharaoh to make known His Power and Glory as taught in Rom. 9:17?
Answer.—We are not to understand this language to mean that God coerced Pharaoh’s will and made his heart wicked. Rather, we are to understand that the time having come for Him to deliver His oppressed people from their oppressors, and for His justice to mete out condign punishment to the Egyptians for their wickedness toward Israel, God by death removed other prospective heirs to the Egyptians throne, so that the particular Pharaoh of our question, whose obstinate character should be depended upon, without external coercion, to resist the purpose of God to deliver Israel, would be on the throne of Egypt at the time of Israel’s deliverance and of Egypt’s punishment. Thus God raised him up in the sense of paving the way to his successorship to the Egyptian throne, without in any way forcing him later to do things contrary to his will. In doing this God followed a principle frequently exemplified by Him. When, for example, God desired to work out a gracious feature of His plan, like committing the Covenant to Abraham, the saving of a part of the antediluvians to Noah, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and their leading through the wilderness to Moses, the deliverance of the Jews from Haman to Mordecai and Esther, He chose such agents whose holy characters, freely of themselves, without any external coercion, naturally disposed them to do just what God desired to have carried out. Likewise in carrying out certain wrath features of His plan, He chose such wicked persons, like Balaam, Korah, Jezebel, etc., whose evil characters freely of themselves, without any external compulsion, naturally inclined them to do the wrongs that would further the carrying out of the wrath features of His plan. Thus God by manipulating the affairs of Egypt in such ways as to advance the particular Pharaoh of Rom 9:17 to the throne for the time of Israel’s deliverance, raised him up and kept him on Egypt’s throne amid such circumstances as made a great manifestation of His Power and Glory in the earth. Thus God made the wrath and opposition of Pharaoh to inure to God’s glory without in anyway coercing his will or making him wicked (Psa. 76:10; Rom. 9:21-24). ’52-48
God—“There Shall No Man See Me, And Live.”
Question (1961)—In view of the general Scriptural teaching that no man can see God and live (Ex. 33:20), how are we to understand Ex. 24:10, 11?
Answer.—In Ex. 33:20 God told Moses, in reply to his earnest request to see God’s glory, that no one can see the literal face of God and live—“Thou canst not see my face.” Nevertheless, God promised to grant Moses’ earnest request by putting him “in a cleft of the rock” and covering him while His “glory” passed by, and after that permitting him to catch a glimpse of that glory-light representing God to him; but God explained, “my face shall not be seen” (vs. 21-23)—the glory-light shining out from it is so bright that it would destroy a human being if he were to see it.
In the instance mentioned in Ex. 24:10, 11, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the 70 elders were not permitted to see Jehovah’s body, for “no man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). Nor did they see the glory-light shining from His body. What they saw was a vision, a representation or tableau of His body, just as the three Apostles saw representation of Moses and Elijah in the “vision” on the mount (Matt. 17:1-9; see our June issue—a copy free on request). Not only is this suggested in v. 10 by the ascription of feet to Jehovah and by the description of a symbolic pavement under His feet, but also by the word in v. 11 which is translated “they saw” in the expression, “they saw God,” which in the Hebrew is chazah (the same word is used also, e.g., in Isa. 1:1; 2:1), from which the Hebrew words for seer and vision are derived, e.g., chozeh, seer (2 Sam. 24:11; 1 Chro. 29:29; 2 Chro. 9:29; 29:25, 30), chazon, vision (Hab. 2:2, 3), chazoth, vision (2 Chro. 9:29), chazooth vision (Isa. 21:2; 29:11), chizayon, vision (Zech. 13:4; Joel 2:28). The Hebrew, therefore also suggests that they saw a vision, a representation, of God, but not God Himself.
We should keep in mind that a “vision” is not the real thing, but a representation of it. Thus when St. Peter saw the sheet with all manners of beasts descending from heaven, he saw a representation of Jews (the clean animals of the vision) and Gentiles (the unclean animals of the vision), not Jews and Gentiles themselves as such. When St. Paul saw the man of Macedonia calling, “Come over and help us,” he did not see a real Macedonian, but a representation of one. Thus, too, St. John in Revelation saw not real dragons, beasts, cities, etc., but representations of them—visions of them. Thus in visions not the real things, but representations of the real things are seen. ’61-54; ’68-62
God—“One Lawgiver—Able To Save And To Destroy.”
Question (1972)—In the Bible God instructs us through Jesus to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Yet we read also in the Scriptures that God and Jesus destroy (annihilate) their enemies. How are we to understand this?
Answer.—To understand the harmony in these Bible statements, we must keep in mind that there is a vast difference between God, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe, and His creatures, especially mankind, and more especially fallen mankind. God is the great Lawgiver (James 4:12), in the sense that the laws governing all of His creatures who are free moral agents originate from His heart and mind, and have been written by Him in their hearts and minds, though marred greatly in man because of the Adamic fall. Accordingly, because of being the Lawgiver, He is also by right the Law-enforcer. He has reserved to Himself the right to preserve or to destroy His creatures (Matt. 10:28), depending on whether or not they will love and practice His law, His principles of truth and righteousness. He cannot look with favor upon evil (Hab. 1:13; Job 34:10, 12). In Psa. 145:20 we read, “The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.”
Because God has the office of Lawgiver and Law-enforcer, none of His creatures has the right to take to himself the privilege of occupying His judgment seat, and to destroy others. “Who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12). Even the great and mighty prehuman Jesus, the Logos, otherwise known as “Michael the archangel [comp. Dan. 10:13, margin], when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9). But since then God has “committed all judgment to the Son” and has “given him authority to execute judgment also” (John 5:22, 27). Therefore Jesus now has the right under God to be the Law-enforcer—to preserve the righteous and destroy the wicked. He will destroy (annihilate) Satan and all who under a fair, complete, individual trial for life manifest that they are inseparately linked with evil and are God’s enemies (Heb. 2:14; Ezek. 28:19; Psa. 37:20; 72:9; 92:9; Matt. 25:31-46; Luke 19:27; 1 Cor. 3:17; 15:25, 26).
God’s character is absolutely perfect in wisdom, justice, love and power (Job. 37:23; Jer. 9:23, 24; Deut. 32:4; Rom. 11:33, 34; 1 Tim. 1:17; Psa. 89:14; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:8-10, 16, 19; Matt. 19:26; Rev. 19:6). The same is true of Jesus. But it is not so with man. He is fallen, and in general very imperfect because of heredity and environment (Psa. 51:5; Rom. 3:10-13), and therefore very unfit to have God’s judgment entrusted to him.
Even Christians, true disciples of Christ, who are lifted out of the condemnation of Adamic sin (Rom. 8:1), still have immaturities in character and also fleshly imperfections (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1). Therefore even they are not qualified as humans, or as New Creatures in this life, to have God’s judgment committed to them. First they are to “add” to their characters and develop in the fruits of the Spirit—in Christlikeness (which is Godlikeness)—including unselfish love (Gal. 5:22, 23; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; 1 Cor. 13; Col. 3:14), even for enemies (Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:17, 19-21). As they grow in this unselfish love, they are fitted more and more to deal even with enemies along the lines of proper principles, and not with the animosity, resentment, hatred, spitefulness and vengefulness of the fallen human nature.
Of the Little Flock, when crystallized (made unbreakable) in Christlikeness—and thus fully qualified to have God’s judgment committed to them—the Apostle Paul wrote, “Know ye not that [when glorified in the Divine nature] we shall judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3). They as glorified kings and priests under Jesus in the heavenly realm, will aid Him in His judgment work in the Millennial Age, rewarding the righteous of mankind and destroying (annihilating) in the Second Death those who after a full and complete trial for life are found incorrigible and therefore unworthy of life (Acts 17:31; Dan. 7:9, 13, 14, 22, 27; Matt. 19:28; 25:31-46; Luke 22:29, 30; Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:4, 6, 11-15; 21:8). ’72-29
God—Does He Ordain Capital Punishment.
Question (1972)—Is executing murderers justifiable?
Answer.—For human society’s benefit God ordained that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). For murder committed “presumptuously”—premeditated—He decreed death invariably; but if unpremeditated (manslaughter), He provided for mercy—a way to escape death (Ex. 21:12-14; Lev. 24:17; Deut. 19:1-13; Num. 35:10-34; Josh. 20). He knew that these regulations would tend to keep life sacred and lessen murder, so that bloodshed would not pollute the land (Num. 35:24).
It is good to see among nobler people a humane constructive, merciful spirit that seeks to uplift the fallen and to rehabilitate prisoners rather than to destroy them. (Prisons should be geared to rehabilitating inmates, in sharp contrast with the treatment given to them in the darker past.) But sentences for murders are now often too light and paroles granted too soon.
The feeling that a great responsibility is associated with taking human life in a judicial way is right. No murderer should be executed unless clearly proven guilty of killing with premeditated, willful, malicious intent. But public sentiment today is much too lenient; it opposes capital punishment for even the worst of these. This, we believe, results generally from disregarding God’s laws mentioned above. As punishment relaxes, crime inevitably increases greatly, as it has in our day.
By capital punishment, society does not send criminals into horrible and eternal torture (as some have supposed), but merely hastens (for the good of all) the death penalty still upon the whole world (Ezek. 18:4, 20. Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22). Hopefully, many criminals in their Judgment Day (Acts 17:31; 2 Pet. 3:7, 8; Rev. 20:2, 3, 7, 12), will repent and reform, and gain eternal life (2 Tim. 4:1; Isa. 26:9; 28:17; Acts 3:19-23). ’72-30
God’s—Repenting The Nature Of It.
Question (1971)—If God foreknows all things and never changes His mind, why does Gen. 6:6 say, “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart”?
Answer.—The casual reader usually understands this passage to mean that God was sorry for having created man, even heartbroken over it. However, such is not the teaching of this Scripture. To bring its thought clearly before our minds several things in it must be explained:
(1) To what does the “it” refer in the expressions “it repented” and “it grieved”? Certainly not to God’s creating man; for God foreknew man’s sins and also what He would do about them (Acts 15:18). If God had repented of man’s creation He would have destroyed him, and thus the human family would now be nonexistent. Nor does the passage say that God repented for having created man. What then was the it of this verse? We reply, man’s wickedness, even as the previous verse says: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; and it [the wickedness just described] repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it [the wickedness of man] grieved him at his heart.”
(2) The next thing that may be obscure to the casual reader is the expression “in the earth,” which occurs in v. 6 and also in v. 5 (in each instance the Hebrew for “in the earth” in identical and may be translated by either the preposition in or on). The word earth in the Bible means not only the literal earth—the planet on which we live—but also the symbolic earth—human society (Gen. 4:14; 6:11-13; 9:11; 11:1; Isa. 60:2; Jer. 22:29; Micah 1:2; Matt. 5:13). The form of society that prevailed before the Flood was somewhat communistic, like that which prevailed among the North American Indians. This form of society through man’s increasing selfishness became increasingly evil, until the conditions described in Gen. 6:1-5 developed. The words “in the earth,” therefore, in vs. 5, 6 refer to the somewhat communistic form of society prevailing before the Flood.
(3) The word “repented” as used in v. 6 also causes some difficulty. We generally use the word to mean to sorrow, to grieve, over some matter. But in the Bible the word here translated “repented” in referring to God means to change either one’s mind or one’s procedure, as, for example, in Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Psa. 90:13; 110:4; Jer. 4:28; Ezek. 24:14; Hosea 13:14; Jonah 3:9. Knowing the end from the beginning, God never needs to change His mind, nor does He ever do so (James 1:17). But He frequently changes His procedure. Thus He follows all His purposes unto a completion, and then takes up other purposes, thus changing His procedure, but not His mind, which all along had planned the change of procedure. For example, when He had finished His Patriarchal-Age purposes He changed His procedure, taking up His Jewish-Age purposes, which in turn being completed, He changed His procedure, taking up His Gospel-Age purposes; and as these are gradually completed He gradually changes His procedure, taking up His Millennial-Age purposes. If the word “repented” in Gen. 6:6 is understood to mean, not a change of mind, but of procedure, the last difficulty in the verse vanishes.
Accordingly, Gen. 6:6 means that man’s wickedness in the somewhat communistic form of society existing before the Flood occasioned God’s changing the procedure He entered into when, having made man, He placed him and his progeny into the somewhat communistic form of society, in which man’s wickedness pained God deeply. The succeeding verses and chapters describe the means by which God changed His procedure, i.e., the Flood and the organization of society on a different basis—private ownership of property, competition in business and government in national and international relations. Historically, the somewhat communistic form of society was so changed; and thus God changed His procedure, but not His mind, which had all along been made up to make the change of procedure when it would be due. ’71-6
God—“It Repented The Lord.”
Question (1989)—If God foreknows and can declare “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10), and never changes His mind (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17), why does Gen. 6:6 say, “It repented the Lord that he had made man in the earth, and it grieved him at his heart?
Answer.—The casual reader usually understands Gen. 6:6 to mean that God was sorry for having created man, that He was even heartbroken over it. But such a thought works disharmony with other Scriptures. To bring this text’s thought clearly before our minds, several things in it must be explained.
The first of these is the word “it” in the expressions “it repented” and “it grieved.” To what does this “it” refer? Certainly not to God’s creating man; for God foreknew “from the beginning of the world” mankind’s sins and what He would do about them (Acts 15:18). Had God repented of man’s creation, He would have destroyed him, and thus the human family would now be non-existent. Nor does Gen. 6:6 say that God repented for having created man.
Word “It” refers to man’s wickedness
It says that it repented Jehovah that He had made man in the earth. What repented Him?—to what does the it of this verse refer? The word it here obviously refers to man’s wickedness, even as the previous verse says! “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination [the whole imagination, purpose and desire] of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; and it [the wickedness just described] repented the Lord . . . and it grieved him at his heart.”
Having seen that the word “it” used twice in verse 6 refers both times to man’s wickedness described in v. 5, we are ready for an explanation of the next thing that, to the casual reader, is obscure in v. 6—namely, the expression “in the earth,” which occurs both in v.6 and in v.5. The word earth in the Bible means not only the literal earth—the planet on which we live—but also the symbolic earth—society (Matt. 5:13; Isa. 60:2; Gen. 4:14; 6:11-13; 9:11; 11:1; Deut. 32:1, etc.). The form of society that prevailed before the flood was somewhat communistic, like that which prevailed among the North American Indians. Such a form of society through man’s increasing selfishness became increasingly evil, until the vile conditions described in Gen. 6:1-5 developed. The words “in the earth,” therefore, in vs. 5 and 6 mean in the communistic form of society prevailing before the flood.
Word “repentance” can mean change of procedure
The word “repented” as used in v. 6 also causes some difficulty. We generally use the word to mean to sorrow, to grieve over some matter. But Biblically the word here translated “repented” means to change either one’s mind or one’s procedure (Jer. 4:28; 1 Sam. 15:29; Psa. 90:13; 110:4; Num. 23:19).
Knowing the end from the beginning, God never needs to change, nor does He ever change His mind (James 1:17); but He frequently changes His procedure, i.e., He follows all His purposes unto a completion, then takes up other purposes—thus changing His procedure but not His mind, which all along had planned the change of procedure. For example, when He had finished His Patriarchal-Age purposes, He changed His procedure, taking up His Jewish-Age purposes, which in turn being completed, He changed His procedure, taking up His Gospel-Age purposes; and these being now nearly completed, He is changing His procedure, and beginning to take up His Millennial-Age purposes. If the word “repented” is understood in Gen. 6:6 to mean, not a change of mind, but of procedure, the last difficulty in the verse vanishes.
Hebrew word kiy can be translated “because” or “though”
In trying to find the true intent behind the words of this text, it is essential to ask. Has this word “that” been rendered properly in translation? The Hebrew word used here is kiy; it is an all-purpose particle with many English equivalents besides the word “that.” Included in this list are our words “because,” “forasmuch as,” “inasmuch as,” “though,” and although.” If the word “because” is used instead of “that,” we could paraphrase the verse: The wickedness of man caused God to change His procedure as respects man because it was God Himself who had created man [and thus it was proper for God to change His procedure] in society in the first place, and God was grieved at man’s wickedness. If the word “though” (or “although”) is used instead of the word “that,” then we gain the thought that God was grieved at the state of man on the earth though (although) He had created Man in the first place.
Accordingly, the verse would mean that man’s wickedness in a communistic form of society occasioned God to change His procedure entered into when He placed Him in a communistic form of society; and man’s wickedness therein pained God deeply. The following verses and chapters describe the means by which God changed His procedure, i.e., the flood and the organization of society on the basis of private ownership of property, competition in business and government in national and international relations. And we find that the communistic form of society was so changed; and thus God changed His procedure, but not His mind, which had all along been made up to make the change of procedure when it would be due.
This verse has been another case where writers of the Bible used certain phrases out of an incomplete understanding of Jehovah’s character and methods (prior to His further revelations as His dealings with man unfolded)—similar to the perplexing expressions in Exodus about “God hardening Pharaoh’s heart,” Or else the Hebrew writers were using a phrase which people at that time knew to take accomodatively, whereas English translators have inaccurately rendered the expression out of an incomplete understanding of Hebrew idiom or of Jehovah’s character. ’89-54
God’s—Four Great Attributes.
Question (1973)—In your writings you often refer to God’s four great attributes.” What are these, and where are they shown in the Scriptures?
Answer,—The Scriptures stress as God’s four greatest character attributes His wisdom, justice, love and power. There is no one literal passage in the Scriptures that expressly mentions all four of these Divine attributes, though there are several figurative ones that picture forth all four of them under the symbols of a lion (power), an eagle (wisdom), an ox (bullock, used in the atonement sacrifice—justice) and a human face (love). (See Ezek. 1:5-14, Rev. 4:6, 7.)
In Job 37:23 all four of them are mentioned, two of them expressly and two of them by other terms: “He [the Almighty] is excellent in power, and in judgment [discernment, i.e., wisdom], and in plenty of justice: he will not [willingly] afflict [here love is indicated].”
So also in Jer. 9:24 they are all indicated, either expressly or impliedly: “I am the Lord who exerciseth [a function of power] lovingkindness [love], judgment [wisdom], and righteousness [justice], in the earth: for in these things [power, love, wisdom and justice] I delight, saith the Lord.”
So, too, partly by implication and partly by expression these four attributes are set forth in Deut. 32:4: “His work [the expression of His power] is perfect: for all his ways are judgment [wisdom]: a God of truth [the basis of wisdom and love] and without iniquity, just and right [justice] is he.”
There are, of course, many other passages that treat of at least one or another of these Divine attributes. Thus wisdom as a Divine attribute is set forth in Rom. 11:33, 34; Eph. 1:8; 1 Tim. 1:17, etc. Power as a Divine attribute is set forth in Gen. 17:1; Psa. 115:3; Matt. 19:26; Luke 1:37; Rev. 19:6, etc. Justice as a Divine attribute is set forth in Ex. 20:5; Psa. 89:14; Jer. 50:7, etc. And finally, love as a Divine attribute is treated of in John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:8-10, 19, etc.
Thus God’s four greatest character attributes, the highest of all His graces of character, are prominently set forth in the Scriptures. ’73-6
God’s—Love Never Violated.
Question (1972)—Does God violate His love when He destroys (annihilates) the incorrigibly wicked?
Answer.—“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16); therefore everything He does is in full harmony with disinterested, unselfish, love. As already mentioned, He is perfect also in His wisdom, justice and power and He never violates any of these character attributes in anything He thinks, says or does. Accordingly, it is in harmony with His wisdom, justice, love and power that He will destroy (annihilate) Satan and all other incorrigibly wicked beings.
The following illustration may help us to see this matter more clearly. Suppose that a mad dog, one afflicted with rabies, comes into a community, foaming at the mouth and endangering the lives of all the people. What should be done? Should the dangerous animal be allowed to have his liberty? Surely not! And if an officer of the law, considering the welfare of everyone concerned, were to destroy the dog, thus putting him out of his misery and protecting everyone in the community, would we say that he had violated wisdom, justice and love? Surely not! It would be in justice and in love, in proper consideration for all concerned, that he would thus act for the general welfare of the community.
God has promised to create “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (Isa. 65:17; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21). This will be in the third world, or epoch, “the world to come,” which will last forever (Heb. 2:5; Isa. 65:17-25; 25:6-9; 26:9 see The Divine Plan of the Ages, pp. 66-73, 222, 223, 241, 242). It will have new “heavens”—new powers of spiritual control—Jesus and His faithful followers (Dan. 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 27; 12:3; Matt. 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:41, 42; Rev. 11:15; 20:1-6; 22:17). Under Christ’s benign reign mankind will be restored to human perfection and Edenic conditions as they obey the righteous, loving and wise arrangements of the new “earth,” the new order of human society, instituted by Christ and the Church for and among the whole race, the dead as well as the living (Psa. 22:27-31; 86:9; Isa. 2:1-4; 11:1-16; 29:18-24; 35:1-10; Micah 4:1-7; Rom. 14:9; Phil 2:9-11).
Will God in His infinite wisdom, justice, love and power allow Satan and his willfully and persistently wicked demons and humans to eternally mar and disturb the perfect conditions then prevailing in heaven and in earth? Surely not! A brief trial or testing will at the end of the Millennium, in the “little season,” be brought upon all of the human race then living, to determine whether or not they are worthy of living for ever amid those perfect social arrangements on earth; only the worthy ones, the righteous, will be given eternal life, and those found unworthy, the irreformably wicked, will be cut off in “the second death”—everlasting destruction—Rev. 20:7-9; 21:8; Acts 3:23; Rom. 6:23; 2 Thes 1:9; Psa. 37:9-11, 20, 22, 29, 35-38; 145:20; Prov. 2:21, 22; Matt. 25:34, 41, 46 [kolasin, “everlasting cutting off”]). Then, with all the wicked-ones (including Satan himself—Heb. 2:14 [katargeo--“to render entirely inactive, or useless”] Ezek. 28:19) destroyed-completely and eternally annihilated—“all iniquity shall stop her mouth” (Psa. 107:42). It is God’s loving-kindness and consideration for the welfare of all that prompts Him to put an end to all-evil, both in heaven and on earth. ’72-29
God’s--Providence Over The World.
Question (1964)—I have recently lost a loved one in death. He had many good qualities of character, but never accepted Jesus as his Savior and never consecrated his life to God. Your teachings emphasize that God’s providential care is over His consecrated ones. Am I to get the thought that God had no providential care over the interests of my loved one?
Answer.—“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psa. 145:9). Hence, in a wide sense God’s providential care attaches to every creature.
“The whole creation is His charge,
But saints are His peculiar care.”
When thinking of your loved one, consider him as one of the many children of Adam whom God so loved as to give for them His only begotten Son, to die for them. (John 3:16, 17). Jesus “tasted death for every man”; He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”; for “God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4, 6). The Gospel Age is the day of judgment, not for the world, but for the Church (1 Pet. 4:17); but God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31)—and here is where your loved one comes in; for Jesus said (John 12:47): “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the whole world.”
Soon God’s Kingdom will be established on earth, and Christ and His Church, as Abraham’s Seed, will bless “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:16-18; 28:14; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29). This is God’s great provision for the children of men (including your loved one), to assist in the blessing of whom He first selects and perfects the Church, giving them a heavenly inheritance as spirit beings. Viewing the matter from this standpoint, there is no human creature that is not a subject of Divine providence and care. But those who now accept Jesus as their Savior and dedicate their lives to God are under His special care and instruction. He surrounds them with special providences (Psa. 34:7). ’64-63
God’s—Good Pleasure Toward The World.
Question (1969)—What is God’s good pleasure toward the world of mankind in general, the non-elect?
Answer.—”God our Savior . . . will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge [Greek, epignosis, an accurate knowledge] of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). His good desires and plan, however, are all centered in Christ (Eph. 1:10); therefore He has appointed no other name than Jesus’ name by which anyone can be saved, and no other conditions for obtaining salvation than faith in Jesus’ blood (in His ransom-sacrifice), obedience to the precepts of righteousness, and dedication to God and the doing of His will faithfully. No man can come unto the Father except by Him. “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12; John 14:6). All must become His disciples if they would have everlasting life.
To this end, the great compassionate love of Jehovah toward all His fallen, disobedient creatures of Adam’s race was manifested in the gift of His dear Son to be our redemption price—even while we were yet sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8). For the same reason, as a part of the same will or good pleasure of Jehovah concerning men, He has arranged to establish His Kingdom under Christ on earth (Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 27; Rev. 5:9, 10; 11:15; 20:4, 6). He has arranged that Christ, His King and Representative, shall awaken the dead and reign to bless and uplift men, to bring all who in this life have not had an opportunity for salvation to a knowledge of His goodness, perfection, hatred of sin and good will toward all, manifested in His provision for everlasting life on earth through Christ (Luke 2:14; Isa. 11:9; 25:6-9; 40:5; Jer. 31:34; Hab. 2:14), that they might be saved fully from the Adamic dying process and come fully into with Him, and by obedience to God’s precepts and arrangements gain everlasting life on earth as a part of the “sheep” class (Matt. 25:34-40; John 10:16).
Yet God is not pleased to accept men into everlasting life in His Kingdom on earth without testing and proving them as to whether, after they obtain full knowledge, ability and freedom of choice, they will sincerely love and choose the right and hate and reject the wrong. Therefore He has been pleased to appoint a day (the Millennial Day) in which He will judge the world in righteousness. The Judge of all is to be the Christ—Jesus and His Church; and the work shall be so thoroughly done in the final testing in the “little season” at the end of the thousand years that no lover of righteousness shall be sentenced to the Second Death, and no lover of evil shall escape that sentence (Acts 17:31; 3:23; Rev. 20:3, 7-9, 13, 14; 21:8).
The utter, complete and eternal annihilation of the incorrigible after the final test will be in demonstration of God’s unceasing hatred of sin. He is not a God that has pleasure in wickedness or persons inseparable linked with it (Psa. 5:4). “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11).
“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” “Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect . . . a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Psa. 18:30; Deut. 32:3, 4). ’69-70
God’s—Favor Is It Denoted By Large Numbers.
Question (1971)—A member of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” group has pointed me to the large attendance at some of their assemblies and their many converts, as a proof that God is specially favoring them and approves their doctrines. What would you say to this?
Answer.—For a long time shallow religionists have used such “proofs” However, the fact that a religious group can stage a large mass meeting, whether it be the Mohammedans, the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the Catholic Holy Name Society, or any other group, does not of itself prove that God’s favor is upon them or that He approves their doctrines. As history proves in innumerable instances, a multitude can be wrong almost as readily as one can be wrong.
The Scriptures show that in many instances in the past those approved by God have been very few comparatively, and that they usually have not had a large following. Noah is a marked example. He pre-ached for 120 years (Gen. 6:3) without getting any following. Jeremiah is another example. Elijah is still an-other. There were 850 prophets of Baal and the groves (1 Kings 18:19), while Elijah stood alone (v. 22): yet he was unmistakably the only one approved of God.
A test that will determine whether any religious group’s doctrinal interpretations are approved by God is found in B. S. No. 262, page 6, viz., “Every Bible passage or doctrine must be interpreted harmoniously: (1) with itself, (2) with all other Scriptures, (3) with all other Scriptural doctrines, (4) with God’s Character, (5) with the Ransom and Sin-Offerings, (6) with the purpose of God’s Plan and (7) with facts.”
In our booklet entitled, The Teachings of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” Examined in the Light of the Scriptures—a copy will be supplied free on request) we have examined many of the main teachings of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and have shown which of these teachings agree with the Scriptures and which of them are contrary to the Scriptures and the Ransom. ’71-78
God’s—Doing Things Permissively.
Question (1976)—How can we harmonize 2 Sam. 24:1, which says that it was God who, in His anger against Israel, “moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah,” with 1 Chron. 21:1, which says that “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel”? Was it God or Satan who moved David to commit this sin?
Answer.—It was both—God permissively and Satan actively. By Hebrew and Greek idiom (as well as by modern usage) a person is sometimes said to do that which he permits to be done. So the thought is that God permitted David to be moved, motivated. “God cannot be tempted with evil,” and accordingly He would never tempt anyone to do evil, or look upon evil with approval (James 1:13; Hab. 1:13). In the Bible God is often said to do what He merely permits to be done; and so in this case: He permitted Satan to tempt David. Satan was the active mover, while God merely withdrew His supporting grace, and the king fell under Satan’s temptation.
For similar instances, note that Ex. 7:13 (compare 10:20, 27) states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, whereas Ex. 8:15 states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. God only indirectly by His longsuffering, mercy and goodness was repeatedly the occasion of Pharaoh hardening his own heart by his presuming on God’s goodness, His generosity.
Note also the case of Job. Who brought upon him his twofold form of affliction: (1) the loss of his property, sons and most of his servants and (2) his physical sufferings? Job 1 and 2 show that both God (permis-sively, by partially removing the “hedge” around him—1:10) and Satan (actively) brought upon Job the testing of his faith, and as a result of his faithfulness God highly rewarded him (James 5:11; Job 42:10).
And again, note Jer. 4:10: “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul.” Surely God personally does not practice deceptive and lying! The thought here is that God did it by allowing it to be done. God meant it for the eventual good of all those concerned.
Similar illustrations are found in Job 14:19, 20; Ezek. 14:9-11; 20:25, 26; Rom. 9:18; 11:7, 8 and 2 Thes. 2:11. ’76-39
God’s—People Using Various Organizations And Means.
Question (1996)—Did God’s true people, e.g., in the Harvest times, avail themselves of the help of various organizations in furthering their work for the Lord?
Answer.—We think that within certain proper bounds they did; and certainly the true Church has done so all through the Age. While the true Church is not to identify herself with organizations, nor to give them her work to do instead of doing it herself, nor to give them charge of her work, nor to accept their errors, she has made use of certain helps that were available for her use.
Thus St. Paul made use of the governmental machinery of the Roman Empire to escape from the hands of the Jews, in order to keep himself available for the Lord’s work (Acts 22:25; Chap 23). He made use also of the meeting place of the Areopagus (the council at Athens), and of a meeting specially called by its members to give him a chance to preach the Gospel (Acts 17:19-31). He made use of ships owned and operated by Roman corporations, as means of furthering his journeys as a herald of the Gospel. For years after Israel was cast off from the Lord’s favor, he made use of synagogues and their meetings to preach the Gospel.
Throughout the Gospel Age the faithful made use of the organizations of the various churches to present the Truth. Repeatedly in the reaping time our Pastor and the pilgrims addressed various church meetings advertised by those church agencies, and also frequently used their baptismal pools for immersions.
Pastor Russell accepted the appointment by New York’s governor to act as New York’s delegate at the National Purity Congress, and lectured at one of its sessions. He accepted the invitation of the directors of the Illinois State Fair to speak at a large meeting for which they advertised and supplied the auditorium, etc. He accepted the invitation of the directors of the Panama and Pacific Fair at San Francisco in 1915 to hold a session of the Oakland Convention in the auditorium on the fair grounds, while the rest of the convention was held in the Oakland auditorium at the special invitation of the city of Oakland.
Not a few others of the Parousia conventions were held under similar conditions — such as those at Niagara Falls, Chautauqua, Springfield, etc. It will be recalled that from 1910 to 1914 repeatedly did our Pastor speak on Zionism at meetings that the Jews had arranged for him.
And, what fruitful and Divinely pleasing use for sending forth the message have we made of the post office, railroad, airplane, bus, automobile, telephone, telegraph, tape recorder, printing press, news agency, theaters, motion picture; TV and radio!
Additionally, the Truth brethren have held private and public meetings in schools, libraries, courthouses, churches, community rooms, lodges, YMCA’s and YWCA’s, hotels, motels, etc. etc. ’96-38
Gospel—Was It Preached “In All The World” In The Apostle Paul’s Day.
Question (1958)—Will you please harmonize Matt. 24:14 and Col. 1:5, 6, 23 with your teaching on our being now in the “harvest” or end of the Age?
Answer.—The statement of Matt. 24:14 does not imply that the whole world will receive the Gospel and be converted by it before the end of the Gospel Age. Quite to the contrary, it expressly states that the preaching is to be for “a witness unto all nations.” It does not give any indication as to how the witnessing will be received.
From the form of the question, it would appear that the questioner considers Col. 1:5, 6 to mean that the Gospel had already been preached to every nation in the world in the Apostle Paul’s day. If this be the questioner’s thought, it is evidently quite incorrect, for it is obvious that many of the nations on earth at that time had not yet heard the Gospel. When St. Paul referred to the “world” in v. 6, it is manifest that he had in mind only the nations of the then known world, in all of which, generally speaking, the preaching of the Gospel was then to be found. Note, e.g., a similar use of the word “world” in Luke 2:1. It is evident that Caesar’s decree did not impose taxation upon all nations on earth, though it did so upon all the nations in the Roman Empire, the “world” mentioned in this text.
Furthermore, if in St. Paul’s day the Gospel had already been preached to every nation on earth, the end of the Gospel Age should have come at that time, as our Lord declared (Matt, 24:14); Satan should have been bound and the Millennial Kingdom should have been set up then (Rev. 20:1-7), nearly 19 centuries ago.
Besides, as we look over all the world today, we know that neither now nor at any time in the past has the Gospel converted all the world—in fact, the proportion of heathen to Christian has increased greatly and is continuing to increase greatly in our day. The most that we can say today is that now, finally, the Gospel has been preached as a witness to every nation—the Bible, which is the Gospel message, has been translated into all the national tongues of the world. Thus every nation (through some representatives) has been made acquainted with the letter of God’s message, at least; and this is in full agreement with our position that we are now in the “harvest” time or end of the Gospel Age (Matt. 13:39) and in the dawning of the Millennium.
In respect to Col. 1:23, we will suppose that the questioner refers to the clause, which says, “The gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.” To assume that this implies that the Gospel was already preached to every creature under heaven in the Apostle’s day, and hence that there would be no need of a presentation of Christ to any in the future, because all have had a full and fair opportunity of knowing of the grace of God in the present life, would be a most unreasonable interpretation of the Apostle’s words. We believe that his meaning is as follows:
God’s grace for over two thousand years was restricted to Abraham and his fleshly seed,—the one nation of Israel; and was not sent to any other nation under heaven (Amos 3:2). And even when the Gospel “began to be preached by our Lord,” it was restricted to the same “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24): it was not until Israel had stumbled through unbelief, and been rejected of God (Matt. 23:37, 38), and after our Lord Jesus had “tasted death for every man” “for the sins of the whole world,” and had risen from the dead, “Lord of all,” that He authorized the preaching of the Gospel to others than the Jews, i.e., to the Gentiles. His message was, “Go ye and teach all nations,” etc.
In harmony with this the Apostle tells us in Col. 1:23 that the Gospel, which we have heard is open to every human creature under heaven—there, is no longer any restriction of it to the Jews. The difficulty in the translation is in the word to: the proper thought would be better conveyed by the word for. The Greek word here is en, and although its first meaning is in, yet it is frequently used in the sense of for, being so translated six times, both in the A.V. and the R.V. Instances: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ” (1 Pet. 4:14). “Well reported of for good works” (1 Tim. 5:10). “They think they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7), etc. ’58-21; ’63-53
Gospel—Preached To The Dead.
Question (1960)—How are we to understand 1 Pet. 4:6: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit”?
Answer.—Here again, as in v. 5, the “dead” are those who are “dead in trespasses and sins,” legally dead. Jesus referred to such dead ones when He said: “Let the dead [mankind under death condemnation] bury their dead” (Luke 9:60). Unless one has the Son of God, he can have no life in him; no one has had even a reckoned life unless he is in conjunction with the Lord Jesus, who under God is the great Giver of life (1 John 5:12; John 3:36). So then, the whole world is dead legally; and, in harmony with v. 5, the Apostle explains in 1 Pet. 4:6 that the Gospel was preached to those who became new creatures, who were legally dead, “by nature children of wrath, even so others” (Eph. 2:3), that through repentance for sin, acceptance of Jesus as their Savior and consecration of their lives to God they might through faith be counted alive, reckoned as having “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14), and thus might be fitted for their trial for life everlasting here in the Gospel Age; for, as the Apostle explained (1 Pet. 4:17), “the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”
And how were these new creatures to be judged, tried? According to men, they would be considered as still in the flesh, a part of the world—merely imperfect human beings. But according to God, they would be judged as new creatures, begotten of His Spirit, and living in the spirit. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1). “Wherefore henceforth [after becoming new creatures] know we [who have ‘the mind of Christ’—1 Cor. 2:16] no man [no one--see Diaglott] after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16, 17). Now, says the Apostle, that is the reason that the Gospel was preached to those of the Adamic race who became new creatures, that, although they are judged by men according to the flesh, they nevertheless live according to God in the spirit. ’60-55; ’68-15
Gospel Age—No World Conversion.
Question (1983)—Do the Scriptures show that Christians are to expect to convert the world in this Gospel, or Church Age, before Jesus’ Second Coming?
Answer.—No. Some evangelists and others who have claimed that Jesus will not come in His Second Advent until after the world is converted, appeal for proof to Matt. 24:14: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” But Jesus here said nothing at all about world conversion; He said merely that the Gospel would be preached worldwide (comp. Acts 1:8) “for a witness” before the end of the Age. He said nothing at all how the witnessing would be received and how many it would convert. Long ago the reports of the Bible Societies showed that the Gospel had been published in every language of earth (though not every dialect).
Some point for proof of Gospel-Age world conversion to Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Jesus did indeed here and elsewhere tell His followers to preach the good tidings to all everywhere as they would have opportunity, but again He says nothing at all about how this preaching would be received and how many it would convert.
Some appeal for proof of Gospel-Age world conversion to God’s words to Jesus in Psa. 110:1: “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool.” They claim that Jesus sits on a fixed throne in the heavens until the work of subduing all things, converting the world, is accomplished for Him by the church. But “right hand” does not here refer to a fixed locality, but rather to a position of power (Matt. 26:64), authority (Matt. 28:18) and rulership, which Jesus will always have next to the Father, regardless of where He goes.
The Bible shows clearly that when Jesus comes in His Second Advent “the nations are angry” (Rev. 11:8), far from converted, that then He and His Church will break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel and subdue and rule them with an iron rod (Psa. 2:8, 9; Rev. 2:26, 27) and that then “he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:23-25) and has subdued all things unto Himself (Phil. 3:21).
Statistics make it very evident that the world is not being converted. Figures in 1886 showed a world population estimated at 1,424,000,000, including 856, 000,000 (about 72%) heathen—counting all who are not Jews. Christians or Muslims as heathen (see The Divine Plan book, pp. 15-18). The corresponding statistics for the beginning of the 1980’s are a world population of 4,414,900,000, including 3,417,400,000 heathen (over 77%), (World Almanac 1982 and Encyclopedia Britannica 1981). The number of those dying without Christ was estimated at 100,000 daily in 1886. It would be far more now. ’83-71
Gospel Age—God’s Work Selective.
Question (1983)—How do we know that God’s Gospel-Age work was to be a selective work and not a world conversion work?
Answer.—Many Scriptures show that God’s Gospel-Age work was to be and has been a selective work, a work of selecting out from among mankind the pre-Millennial seed (children) of Abraham, those who perseveringly exercise a faith like his (Rom. 4:1-25).
Through this seed God will bless and convert the world in the soon-coming Millennial Mediatorial Reign of Christ (Gen. 12:3; 22:16-18; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29; Psa. 22:27-31; 72; 86:9; Isa. 2:2-4; 11:6-10; 25:6-9; 35; 65:17-25; Dan. 2:31-45; 7:11-27; Micah 4:1-4).
Jesus in His First Advent preached the Kingdom message with the purpose of doing a selective work, and not a world conversion work. He purposely spoke in parables to “them that are without,” “that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:12; Matt. 13:10-17). In other words, Jesus purposely did not seek to convert all.
In the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go ye therefore and teach [make disciples of, see margin, ASV] all nations, baptizing them” (Matt. 28:19). Again a selective work is indicated, not a world conversion effort.
Acts 3:19-21 sets forth Jesus’ Second Advent, to be followed by “the times of restitution [restoration, ASV] of all things.” This restitution indicates world conversion, not in the Gospel Age, but afterward, in the Millennial Age.
Acts 15:14-17 shows God’s Gospel-Age work of selecting out some from among the people—“to take out of them a people for his name.” This is to be followed by restoring Israel’s kingdom and arranging in the Millennial Mediatorial Reign for blessing and converting “the residue of men [the remainder after some have been selected out in the Gospel Age].” No Gospel-Age world conversion here!
Rom. 8:19-23 sets forth those selected during the Gospel Age as those “which have the firstfruits of the Spirit.” They are clearly set forth as separate from mankind in general—”the creature [the creation, ASV],” who in the Millennial Age will receive the afterfruits of the Spirit (Joel 2:28) and “be delivered from the bondage of corruption [the Adamic death sentence] into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” In other words, the world will be converted in the Millennium, and not before.
Rev. 5:9, 10 plainly describes Jesus as selecting His Church in the Gospel Age: “For thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” And why are they selected out of mankind? That they may be “unto our God kings and priests; and . . . reign on the earth.” Rev. 20:4, 6 says these selected as kings and priests “shall reign with him a thousand years.” They will not rule over each other, but will rule over, bless and convert the world of mankind, the non-elect, in the Millennium.
More Scriptures could be given showing the selecting work of the Gospel Age (see our Millennium book), to be followed by the world conversion in the Millennial Age, but the above should suffice for now.
Let us remember that here in the end of the Age God does a special work of gathering and making up His jewels (Mal. 3:17; Psa. 50:5; Isa. 56:8). Let us continue to be as shining lights in this dark and evil world, steadfastly holding forth the Word of Life (Phil. 2:15, 16) by word and the printed page, for the selecting of more of the jewels the Lord is seeking as the pre-Millennial seed of Abraham, but realizing that world conversion is not for now, but for Christ’s soon-coming Millennial Mediatorial Reign. ’83-71
Great Company—Meaning Of.
Question (1963)—What is meant by “The Great Company”?
Answer.—There were many during the Gospel Age who originally were called in the one hope of the High Calling, to be members of Christ’s Bride (Eph. 4:4; Heb. 3:1), but who, after having been begotten of the holy Spirit, fell short, some more, some less, of attaining to that high honor, reserved for the Little Flock alone—the highest honor in God’s great celestial domain, next to that of God and Christ. Nevertheless, they are loyal to God in heart; hence He does not cast them aside, but saves them by His mercy extended to them through Christ.
The Bible speaks of these Spirit-begotten new creatures, not as a “little flock,” but as “many people,” “a great multitude” (Rev. 7:9; 19:1, 6). They are not “more than conquerors”—as are the Little Flock (Rom. 8:37); but they are, nevertheless, victors—they have special tribulatory experiences, amid which they wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb; hence they will be awarded palms (instead of crowns) of victory; and while they will not be privileged to sit in the throne (Rev. 3:21) and reign as kings and priests, as joint-heirs with Christ, they will be privileged to serve God eternally “before the throne,” as part of the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven—the Great Multitude will serve as antitypical Levites in God’s Temple and as Noblemen in God’s Kingdom (Heb. 12:23; Rev. 7:9-17).
While not of Christ’s Bride, they are referred to as “handmaids” (Joel 2:29), the Bride’s “damsels” (Gen 24:61), “the virgins her companions that follow her,” “into the King’s palace” (Psa. 45:14, 15), and are for the first time here in the end of the Gospel Age brought to the fore as a class and invited to be present in heaven as guests at “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).
The great majority of Gospel-Age new creatures, often referred to as “born-again Christians” (or, more correctly, Spirit-begotten Christians; see BS No. 219—a copy free on request), are not of the very select company, the Little Flock, the 144,000 (Rev. 7:4; 14:1), but are of the Great Multitude—generally spoken of as the Great Company. ’63-61
Great Company—Nature And Inheritance.
Question (1961)—Is not the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9-17 and 19:1-9 the Restitution class, and therefore not a Spiritual class?
Answer.—We think that they do not represent the Restitution class, but a Spiritual class. This is clearly implied in Rev. 19:6, where their voice is distinguished from the voice of many waters, peoples (Rev. 17:15)--i.e., those who will be of the Restitution class. More clearly yet is it implied in the family figure in vs. 7-9 by the fact that they are described as those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In this picture the Bridegroom is Jesus, the Bride is the Little Flock, the Guests at the Marriage Supper are the Great Multitude. The following order of events connected with a family proves that these Guests could not be the Restitution class: First, there is the marriage; second and afterward, the marriage supper; third and still later, the begetting of children; and fourth and finally, their birth. The Great Multitude, the theme of Rev. 19:1-9, being the Guests at the Marriage Supper, cannot be the Restitution class, which will be children of this Marriage, begotten and born after the Marriage Supper.
The figure of Levites and Noblemen used in Rev. 7:15 likewise proves them not to be of the Restitution class. The expression, “serve him day and night in his temple,” proves them to be antitypical Levites. Here the figure is that of Priests, Levites and Israelites. The Priests are Jesus and the Church; the Israelites are the Restitution class; part of the Levites are the Great Company (Mal. 3:2, 3). The fact that the Levites had no inheritance in the land proves that the Millennial Levites will all either be or become spiritual; hence none of them will ultimately be of the Restitution class.
To be before God’s kingly throne (Rev. 7:15), but not to stand before His judicial throne (Rev. 20:12), means to be a nobleman and officer of the Kingdom. Here in the Kingdom figure (not in the court figure where He functions as Judge) The Christ in the throne is the King; the Great Company are the officers, nobles, before the throne; and the Restitution class are the subjects of the King and the subordinates of His officers, nobles; therefore, they are not represented in this scene, which implies a palace scene; for their place is outside of the palace.
Psa. 45: introduces the same and additional distinctions: v. 1 introduces Jehovah; vs. 2-9 introduce Jesus; vs. 9-13 introduce the Church as Jesus’ Bride; vs. 14 and 15 introduce the Great Company as the Bridesmaids; v. 16 introduces the Ancient Worthies as Christ’s children and the Restitution class’s princes; while v. 17 introduces the Restitution class, separate and distinct from all other classes.
Psa. 107 also introduces the same and other distinctions; vs. 2-9 treat of the Little Flock; vs. 10-16 treat of the Great Company; vs. 17-22 treat of Fleshly Israel cast off from, and later restored to God’s favor; vs. 23-32 treat of mankind during and just after the Great Tribulation; vs. 33-38 treat of the Restitution class during the Millennium; vs. 39 and 40 treat of the wicked, and vs. 41 and 42 treat of the righteous during the Little Season after the Millennium.
What Paul says of the man that committed fornication with his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5:5) proves that the Great Company will be spiritual; and hence will not be the Restitution class. “Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh [for the overcoming of his evil disposition, that he might learn not to fornicate any more, even as Hymenaeus and Alexander were delivered unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme any more, 1 Tim. 1:20], that the spirit [the New Creature] may be saved [by being awakened from the dead as a spirit] in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Num. 32 and Josh. 1:12-15 show that 2 1/2 tribes of Israel, i.e., Ruben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh, were given their inheritance on the side of the Jordan river “toward the sunrising,” i.e. on the east, while the other 9-1/2 tribes of Israel were given their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan. The inheritance of the 2-1/2 tribes, on the east side, represents the inheritance of the elect, who will all eventually become spirit beings, whereas the inheritance of the 9-1/2 tribes, on the west side, represent the inheritance of the non-elect who will eventually become perfect earthly beings, i.e., Restitution. The 2-1/2 tribes in their inheritance on the east represents those who will all eventually be even a heavenly inheritance, the Little Flock (Ruben), the Great Company (Gad) and the Worthies (half the tribe of Manasseh; these consist of the Ancient Worthies—Heb. 11, etc.—and also the Youthful Worthies, who consecrate or dedicate their lives to God—Rom. 12:1—after the High Calling closes here in the end of the Gospel Age; the Worthies will be Spirit-begotten and Spirit-born at the end of the Millennial Age). The 9-1/2 tribes (including the other half tribe of Manasseh) in their inheritance of the west, standing for ten tribes (10 being the number of perfection or completion for natures lower than the Divine), represents the entire Restitution class in their earthly inheritance. Hence the Great Company’s inheritance on the spirit plane, is separate and distinct from the inheritance of the Restitution class.
The above Scriptures and Scriptural evidences, among others, clearly prove the Great Multitude is not the Restitution class, but a Spiritual class. ’61-22; *’76-46
Online Questions and Answers
If you have a Bible Question you would like answered
with Scriptural references
please click the button below: