WHAT GOD WINKED AT
In respect to Jehovah’s Word, we carefully examine our text! Let us consider the time period of “this ignorance God winked at” which was from Adam to the death of our redeemer. In this time period God left men in ignorance; also He did not interfere, did not chide, but proceeded with His own work. Here is a definite statement from an inspired source informing us that the millions who lived and died in heathen darkness prior to the coming of Christ are not held responsible and will not be punished for that ignorance. However, as soon as Jesus had died, God offered forgiveness and reconciliation to those who would believe in Jesus. This He could not do until the ransom was paid at Calvary, “but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” God had now provided a Redeemer: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened . . . for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1); yes, those who had a change of heart could cleanse themselves in that day [in the Millennial Age]!
Jehovah, “he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness,” has arranged for a period of time “a day” of one thousand years, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Pet. 3:8). The entire Millennial Age is to be a thousand-year Judgment Day, in which the whole world is to be brought to a knowledge of the truth. We are now 148 years into this Day of Christ, the Millennial day, 1,000 years long, in which the world will have its trial, its test with Christ and the Church being its judges. The world’s trial day of individual testing is during the “times of Restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21); My Word shall judge you in the last day (John 12:48). There can be no judgment without a trial, and there could be no trial without knowledge; hence all must be brought forth from the condition of death for the purpose of being tried for life, under the conditions of the New Covenant. Revelation 11:18 says: “the time of the dead, that they should be judged.”
After being instructed in God’s word, under full knowledge and opportunity, the world of mankind will receive a fair trial that will take cognizance of their weaknesses and frailties. John 5:22 says: “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Our Bible text says: “by that man [ Jesus Christ] whom he hath ordained.” “For he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Psa. 96:13). Jesus head and body: “The saints shall judge the world” (1 Cor. 6:2).
The word “winked” here is used in a figurative sense to signify that God took no notice of, paid no attention to. During the long period of approximately 2500 years from the Flood to the First Advent of our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, the world of mankind lay in ignorance, weakness, and vice (1 John 5:19), but, as our text declares, God took no notice of it as a whole. He gave His attention entirely to a few patriarchs and to the little nation of Israel (Amos 3:2), the descendants of Abraham with whom He made a special Law Covenant.
Israel entered upon a great schooling period: first, in a condition of subjection in Egypt, and later, under the command of Moses, passing from Egypt to Canaan, with a wandering of forty years in the wilderness; still later under judges, and then under kings, etc. God did not wink at sin among the Israelites, whom He adopted as His “peculiar people” under the Law Covenant mediated by Moses.
We read that every disobedience received a “just recompense of reward” (Heb. 2:2). Stripes, punishments, and captivities, under Divine supervision and predicted through the Prophets, were the portion of the chosen people of the Lord. Obedience on their part brought blessing, and disobedience and idolatry brought chastisements (Lev. 26)—God winked at nothing as respects His chosen people.
At first glance this is perplexing. If we would not understand the Divine Plan, we would be inclined to expect that the favored nation would be excused more than others—that it would be the people whose imperfections would be winked at. But not so: Israel was chosen for a purpose. And in order to prepare them for their mission and to fit them to fill it, the Lord chastened and scourged them for their sins and thus educated and assisted them out of degradation more than others. As a result, when our Lord came into the world to be man’s Redeemer, Israel, under the chastising, scourging, instructing experiences of many centuries, was by far the most advanced nation in the world along religious lines (Rom. 3:1, 2).
Thus, it was that when the Redeemer presented Himself, some, “a remnant,” were “Israelites indeed” and ready to receive Him (John 1:12)—five hundred during His earthly ministry and several thousand more at the following Pentecostal season. It is but reasonable to suppose that no other nation in the world would have furnished any such numbers ready of heart for Messiah and consecrated fully to Him. Note, for instance, that St. Paul’s preaching to the Athenians on Mars Hill apparently touched very few (Acts 17:34). “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” Paul anticipated the question of his hearers— Why do you come around now to tell us of this God? If he is our Creator and we are his children, why did he not long ago send us a message? And are we responsible for not having worshipped him when we knew him not? The Apostle’s answer is, you are not responsible up to the present time. Such ignorance or idolatry God winked at or let go unnoticed, because until now his great plan had not reached that stage of development which authorized the sending of the message to you. Now the message is for you. God has sent it. He commands all men everywhere to repent—of sins, all unrighteousness, and to come back into harmony with himself.
THE JUSTICE OF GOD’S WINKING
The Almighty informs us that Justice is the very foundation of all of His dealings: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face” (Psa. 89:14). He cannot be less than just, although through Christ He has provided to be more than just—that is, loving and merciful. There must have been a justice in this winking mentioned by the Apostle. What was it?
The Apostle explains that owing to a death sentence that was upon the world in general, and no provision having yet been made for a redemption from that death penalty and a resurrection deliverance, it would have been illogical for God to give laws to the world of mankind commanding repentance, etc. Why? Because they were already condemned to death, the extreme penalty of the Divine Law. No more could be done to them than to destroy them, however badly they lived; and nothing that they could do would make them deserving of eternal life. So long as that death sentence rested upon them and no prospect was offered of release from it, God let them alone, and justly enough “winked” at their imperfection and did not lay it specially to their charge.
With the Jew it was different. God instructed that nation through the Law and the Prophets and chastenings for their wrongdoings, and thus prepared in them a group of “Israelites indeed,” ready for spiritual things. Additionally, He wished to use them and their experiences as types or lessons for Spiritual Israel yet future. These types, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the New Testament, have constituted very helpful lessons to the One True Church of this Gospel Age—Spiritual Israel—for the Law Covenant had “a shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1; 8:5).
But before having this dealing with Israel, God made a covenant with them, promising them life eternal if they would obey (Neh. 9:29; Gal. 3:12). They gladly accepted the proposition and strove to live righteously, strove to keep the Law. They did not gain eternal life under the Law, because the message came to an end, and then the good tidings of great joy were permitted to go to all the Gentiles on the same terms that the Jews had enjoyed.
The Gospel or “good news” consists of the information that God in His mercy has provided that the death sentence upon Adam and his race shall not they could not keep it; not that the Law was defective, but that they, like all other members of Adam’s fallen race, were imperfect. God knew of their weaknesses and allowed them to be disappointed in the outcome of their Covenant, but nevertheless He made it a great blessing to them—a means of instruction, which, as we have seen, ultimately prepared several thousand to be of so ripe a condition of heart as to be ready for the Savior and to become His disciples.
The Jew, then, had this advantage over the Gentile up to that time: He had God’s promises. He knew the Law of God. He was profited by striving to do the impossible thing of keeping it perfectly. Had God not chosen the nation of Israel to bring them under the schooling processes of the Law Covenant (Gal. 3:24), he would have “winked” at their ignorance, etc., as He did at the transgressions of other nations up to that time.
NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT
What is the secret of this change on God’s part—from winking at the sins and imperfections of the world to commanding them to repent? If it was just to wink at their sins for thousands of years, why did not God continue to wink at them? The Apostle answers the question, telling us that this change in God’s dealing which sent forth the message that the world should repent was based upon the fact that His eternal purposes had by that time reached the stage of development which justified the giving forth of such a message.
The Son of God had left the glory of the Father which He had before the world was: He had humbled Himself to become a man. As the Man Christ Jesus He had been obedient to the Heavenly Father’s wish and had laid down His life sacrificially—first, that it might benefit consecrated believers during this Gospel Age; secondly, that it might bless the world of mankind during the Messianic reign (1 Tim. 2:6; 1 John 2:2).
For a time, these good tidings were confined to the Jewish nation (Matt. 10:5, 6), but 3½ years after the crucifixion the limit of Israel’s exclusive favor respecting be perpetual, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust (Acts 24:15), and that the provision for this has already been made in and through the death of the Redeemer. Is it inquired what advantage would there be in a resurrection awakening of the dead if therewith all were to be placed back just where they are at present?
The answer is that there would be no advantage in such a resurrection awakening. If the Jew could not keep the Law, and if the very best-intentioned of the Gentiles have found themselves to be imperfect and their efforts to stand approved before God in the present life to be failures, what good could result from merely awakening them from the sleep of death? Would it not be wiser and better every way to let them perish like the brute beast?
We answer that God’s Word reveals a very grand outcome to His Plan of Salvation. The word resurrection, as Scripturally used, signifies much more than resuscitation. It signifies awakening and more, uplifting out of all sin and death conditions, up, up, up to perfection (Luke 20:35, 36)—to all that was lost by Father Adam and redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice.
“GOD HATH APPOINTED A DAY”
This, then, is the meaning of the Apostle’s argument. By providing the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the Church and the world, God has made possible a fresh trial or judgment for Adam and his race. Adam’s first judgment or trial day was in Eden. There he lost everything by his disobedience and brought upon himself and all of his race the Divine sentence of death. Christ appeared that He might redeem Adam and his race, for the very purpose of giving them individually another full, fair trial or judgment for life everlasting or death everlasting.
That general Judgment Day mentioned by St. Paul in our text is neither a damnation day nor a 24-hour day. It is the thousand-year day of Christ—the period of His Mediatorial reign, when Satan will be fully bound, all evil influences will be removed and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God will be made to fill the whole earth. St. Peter reminds us, “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” (2 Pet. 3:8). This is the key to the expressions, “The Day of Christ,” “The Day of Judgment,” etc.
The Mediatorial reign will be the Day of Judgment, or trial, in the sense that all mankind, the living and the dead, will then be brought to a full knowledge of God and to full opportunity to regain by resurrection processes a complete uplift from all weaknesses, imperfections, etc., which have resulted from our share in Adam’s sin and our own weakness and ignorance. Sins to the extent that they were willful will to the same extent be punishable and receive “a just recompense of reward” (Heb. 2:2). Every good endeavor will be rewarded and every transgression will be punished.
From this standpoint we see the force of the Apostle’s argument, that it is the Divine intention to grant to every member of Adam’s race another trial of four parts:
1. Instruction in righteousness;
2. Testing after extensive instruction;
3. Correction after extensive instruction and testing;
4. Sentencing after a full knowledge and understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.
This is another show of God’s Loving-kindness, “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee” (Psa. 63:3), to determine afresh and individually the worthiness or unworthiness of each to have eternal life. But why should this fact make any difference to the world in the present life? Why did not God wait until the Messianic Age and give them all a surprise? Why did He send them the message of His love and a revelation of this knowledge of His future dealings? Did He not know what the past 19 centuries have proven, viz., that few of mankind would have the “hearing ear,” and that fewer still, after hearing, would repent of sin, and so love righteousness and so hate iniquity as to sacrifice the interests of the present life by espousing the Gospel message, and seeking to live a godly life, in opposition to all unrighteousness?
Yes, we answer, it is written, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). God surely knew that the message of His grace would generally fall upon ears that were dull of hearing. That we might know this He caused it to be written in the prophecies in advance, that few would have the hearing ear for His message of love and mercy. Why, then, did He send the message? We answer that there were two reasons for His so doing:
He intended that a witness should be given so that those comprehending would have an incentive to a reformation of life. He wished all to know that their responsibility in life would be proportionate to their knowledge of this fact of redemption. This principle is stated in the Scriptures by our Lord. He declares that he who knew not and was disobedient would be punished with comparatively few stripes, while those who knew better and sinned with deliberation would be punished with many stripes—in that New Dispensation (Luke 12:47, 48).
Another reason for the promulgation of this good message of the Day of the Lord’s Judgment is that God wishes to use this message as a primary lesson, to do a primary work of instruction for a special class called the “Consecrated Epiphany Campers,” whom He is seeking in the present time, before the inauguration of His Mediatorial Kingdom.
This class is specially called out of the world now in advance of the Millennial Mediatorial Reign of Christ, that they may eventually be Abraham’s seed, which will bless all the families of the earth (Gal. 3:8, 16, 29). These, according to the Scriptures, are to be associate judges of the world with Christ. St. Paul asks, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2). We do know it, thank God! And we know that they will be thoroughly competent for that work. Their experiences in their earthly lifetime, in battling against the world, the flesh and the devil and coming off conquerors through the assistance of the great High Priest, will make them competent judges of the world, competent to assist and to bless the world, and competent servants in assisting the Worthies with the work governed from the spirit plane.
BUILDING UP YOURSELVES
We are glad to warn all men everywhere to repent, and glad also to give them the good reason why they should repent—to tell them of God’s appointed time, the Messianic Epoch, in which all shall have a full opportunity of gaining eternal life through Christ. We are glad to assure them that every endeavor for righteousness put forth now will bring large returns of character development and better position them. We warn them, with the Truth message, that every willful transgression, all willful ignorance, will react upon them to their disadvantage and make for their shame and lasting contempt, under the glorious sunlight of that New Day. It will search out and expose to all matters; and these have given them to the Priesthood, from whom they went out to the Levites, who in turn with the Priests have given it to the Campers.” Our Great Jehovah has set in place progressive arrangements for the distribution of His Word. In PT 1983, p. 79 we read, “Since the Gospel-Age Church of the Firstborn has left the earth; the consecrated of our humanity their weaknesses, their sins, to the extent that these have been recognized or approved or have not been resisted.
There are some of the elect whose judgment or trial is in progress now. We trust that these are striving with might and main to make their calling and election sure through faith in the Redeemer’s sacrifice and obedience to His law of the spirit of life—the law of love. Now is their Judgment Day, their day of testing or trial (1 Pet. 4:17). We will not stand or fall as congregations or denominations, or lodges or societies or families. Our testing is an individual one and nothing short of loyalty of heart to the Lord, to His Truth and to the brethren, will fit us for the Kingdom. May God give each one of us grace and patience to stand amid the testing, so that we may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing (Jas. 1:4)!
As Bible Students that study the times and seasons of God’s Plan of the Ages, we now recognize the work of calling the very elect has been completed. We now view the post 1954 camp in 2022. There are many more brethren who have consecrated since the fall of 1954, who have their standing in the Camp, as Consecrated Epiphany Campers. The Consecrated Epiphany Campers in the Truth are the highest class of the antitypical Nethinim, who serve in sympathetic unity with their Youthful Worthy brethren, who are antitypical Levites in the Court. Furthermore, they are very closely related to these Youthful Worthy brethren, both being of the same antitypical tribe of Manasseh. We wish to bring our attention on progressive transition to examine carefully the pre-1954 use of God’s Word and compare the same Scripture in a post-1954 use. Throughout all following ages to this day, we understand this to be the method God is using. Yes, during this expanded Gospel Age Harvest work, God has found chosen vessels to bring forward His present Truth.
We read in E 11, p. 340, “God gives Jesus the understanding of the truths respecting these stages as due. Jesus has been giving that understanding as due to the Parousia and Epiphany messengers as they have studied the pertinent day ‘Those Consecrating Between the Ages’ are God’s place of residing, meeting with and blessing the people. Upon them the antitypical cloudy fiery pillar, the Truth as due and its Spirit, rest, and they are the depository of these.” Let us now consider some thoughts on transition.
The Bible uses virgins to represent consecrated people (Psa. 45:14, 15; Rev. 14:4; Cant.1:3; 6:8; comp. Rev. 7:9; 2 Cor. 11:2; see E 17, p. 284). In E 6, p. 575, concerning “the women that publish the tidings” (Psa. 68:11, ARV), Bro. Johnson stated: “We understand the (pre-1954) thought as follows: The women here are symbolic. They refer to the consecrated, who consist or will ultimately consist of the Little Flock as one symbolic woman, the Great Company as 60 symbolic women, and the Youthful Worthies as 80 symbolic women. All of these symbolic women are referred to in Cant. 6:8, 9, while individually they are the virgins without number of v. 8.” This obviously applies to that time in the Epiphany when the Little Flock was still in the flesh. Concerning the Little Flock in this period, Bro. Johnson stated (E 11, p. 708): “As one of her [the Little Flock’s] spheres of work there are 60 Great Company groups (threescore queens) and 80 Youthful Worthy groups (fourscore concubines) and consecrated ones in both classes, whom to count no one is able (without number; Rev. 7:9).”
During the Little Flock’s Epiphany sojourn in the flesh [1914-1954] there were only two other classes of the Lord’s consecrated people—the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies. In expounding Cant. 6:9, in E 11, p. 709, Bro. Johnson stated: “The Great Company as individuals and as God’s daughters (2 Cor. 6:18) came to an understanding of her (the Little Flock) daughters saw her and spoke highly of her (blessed her), as also did the 60 Great Company groups (queens) as such and the 80 Youthful Worthy groups as such (concubines); and they spoke very highly of her (praised her)” (comp. E 10, p. 274). We have three classes of God’s consecrated people fulfilling their course in this life—the Little Flock, the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies referred to in Cant. 6:8, 9. This was an acceptable pre-1954 application.
In Oct. 1954 the Youthful Worthy call ended (E 10, p. 114; PT ‘58, pp. 91-93) and then the building up of the Epiphany Tabernacle Camp as distinct from the Court began (PT ‘59, p. 56). From that time onward, another class, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers, is being called and prepared as special assistants to the Ancient and Youthful Worthies in the earthly phase of the Millennial Kingdom. They are the first to consecrate of the quasi- elect, the “fifth order of the seed of Abraham” (E 11, p. 293; E 12, pp. 185, 188; PT ‘57, pp. 20-27; PT ‘70, p. 59). Then in the time since the completed rapture of Christ’s Bride, (we leave the following statement to show the progressive transition) there were three classes of God’s consecrated people fulfilling their course in this life—the Great Company [now completed], the Youthful Worthies and the Consecrated Epiphany Campers.
These seem to be represented in the post-1954 application of Cant. 6:8 by the three groups of women in special relationship with antitypical Solomon—our Lord. The Great Company, who are New Creatures, in the Kingdom’s spiritual phase, are—next to the Little Flock—in the closest relationship with antitypical Solomon; therefore, they are fitly represented by Solomon’s queens, who among these three groups had the closest relationship with him. The Youthful Worthies are in the next closest relationship; therefore, they are represented in Solomon’s concubines, who had the next closest relationship with him. And the Consecrated Epiphany Campers are in the next closest relationship; therefore, they are well represented in the virgins, who had the next closest relationship to Solomon, though not yet in a connubial relationship.
Their standing is otherwise pictured by Israelites in the Camp, which is a lesser standing than that of the Great Company and Youthful Worthies, pictured by Levites in the Court. And like the Great Company and the Youthful Worthies the C.E.C.s are “without number,” for there is no specified number of any of these three classes. We thank and praise God and our Lord Jesus for this and other further unfoldings of related present Truth, so timely for the strengthening of the Consecrated Epiphany Campers and for the firm establishment of the faith of all of us upon the Word of God.
How wonderful it is to live during the great transition period, in the closing of the Gospel Age and the ushering in of the Millennial Age, to witness the stately steppings of our King of Righteousness, present in His Second Advent! Jehovah is now primarily dealing with the Consecrated Epiphany Campers under Millennial Camp regulations. What joy and peace the progress up to the Present Time brings to the consecrated child of God; as His prospective sons (Joel 2:28; Isa. 60:4).
How important it is then that the Consecrated Epiphany Campers, as well as the Youthful Worthies, write their names, inscribe their characters, carefully into the book of life, in harmony with the principles of truth, righteousness and holiness embodied in the earthly features of the Oath- bound Covenant, to which full loyalty and obedience will be required under the New Covenant soon to be inaugurated! Those who pass successfully the harder tests of the present time will doubtless prove themselves victorious also under the easier tests under the New Covenant and will be given everlasting life. But it is essential that they prove themselves faithful under the special testings with which God favors them now, if they would have His “Well done” and maintain their standing and have the special place of favor he has reserved for them in His Kingdom.
We can be assured that God has not “winked” at the required work necessary to develop the Consecrated Epiphany Campers; rather He is very focused on presenting all advancing Truth needed for the development of this fifth order of Abraham’s seed.