Talents—Using Even Small Faithfully.
Question (1999)—Realizing my limitations because of lack of education, finances, knowledge of the Truth and power of expression, together with other lacks, I sometimes feel discouraged. It seems that there is so little I can do. How can I be faithful to my Lord in consecration? what hope is there for me?
Answer.—We should remember that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:26-29). None of us can do as much or as well as we desire. We all must trust to the Lord and His merit to make up for our shortcomings and to help us maintain our standing with God.
Periodic reflection on the text 2 Cor. 12:9 is also helpful as we lean on the arm of our Beloved and trust not in our own fallen flesh. Do not be discouraged if you have only one or two talents instead of four or five. Study, practice and spread the word of Truth diligently and let God’s Spirit be manifested in you. He can use that which is in your hand, even as He did with Moses (see Ex. 4). Use whatever little you have for Him and He will bless it and you. People may look on the outward appearance. “but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
Bro. Raymond G. Jolly, an earlier Editor of The Bible Standard, wrote of his encounter with one of the Lord’s “little ones.”
Some time ago we called at the bedside of a dear brother who had been bedfast for years. He expressed regret that he was so limited in his privileges of service. He had his bed moved near to the window, and each morning and each night as the people passed by on their way to and from work he would throw a tract out of the window, hoping that it might do someone some good.
We encouraged him as to this and other privileges, reminding him also to study, to watch and to pray (2 Tim. 2:15; Col. 4:2; Jas. 5:16), and to live as “an example of the believers” (1 Tim. 4:12), letting his light shine to visitors and to those who waited on him (who had not accepted the Parousia Truth); and we reminded him also of our Lord’s words, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10; see Z 5740; P ’61, p. 66). He was greatly encouraged by these and other Scriptures. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor. 8:12).
Each one “according to his several ability” (Matt. 25:15) is to do by word of mouth, by printed page, by conduct and by attitude whatever he or she possibly and reasonably can do to “show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). There are many ways of doing this besides giving discourses and chart talks, such as conducting Berean Bible studies with others (no matter where or how few attend), engaging in conversations, correspondence (including letters to newspapers), colporteur, sharpshooter, volunteer and bereaved work (see PT 538—copies are available), inviting others to meetings, etc. Everyone who is properly observant (John 4:35) can find plenty of things to do in service for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren, according to his or her ability and opportunity.
So do not become discouraged and give up hope. Continue to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58), to “fight the good fight of faith” and to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12). “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear [reverence] him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psa. 103:13, 14). Don’t think that you must do the greater things in order to prove faithful. Poems of Dawn, pp. 165, 168 and 295, should prove helpful. ’99-61
Tarshish—Ships Of Tarshish First.
Question (1968)—What is meant in Isa. 60:9 by the isles waiting for God, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring Israel’s sons from far?
Answer.—We understand that the isles here refer to the British Isles. They waited for God’s due time (though not understanding the matter), and they had certain hopes and ambitions that they desired to accomplish (something like the whole creation, which without understanding the matter is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, the promised seed
Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed—Rom. 8:19).
Britain had a certain ambition, which, as one of her policies, furthered God’s cause. This ambitious policy was the making secure of her lifeline—her access to India and Australia via the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea (and also protecting her access to Middle East oil supplies). An important link in that lifeline was the control of Palestine and Egypt as the safeguard of the Suez Canal.
This ambition was reaching out even before the Suez Canal was built and then opened in 1869, and was the main British reason for its building. This ambition was in part responsible for the first step (“the ships of Tarshish first”) taken as related to the restoration of Israel to their promised land—the sending of the British fleet into the Black Sea with orders to prevent Russia from taking over Constantinople, which step Russia intended as the preliminary of acquiring Palestine and the projected route of the Suez Canal. This demonstration of the British fleet stopped the Russian army; and the Berlin Congress of Nations, in June 1878, resulted, which, under the leadership of Disraeli, a Jew, then Prime Minister of England, made it a matter of International Law that the Jews be given the right of settling in Palestine, with the removal of onerous handicaps from them. It was these that England assumed a general protectorate over the Asiatic provinces of Turkey, among which was Palestine. Thus Britain (Tarshish) through her warships gave the first help toward Israel’s return.
That Tarshish represents Britain, at least prophetically, we gather from various Scriptures: e.g., Ezek. 27:12 speaks of Tarshish as trading, among other things, in tin, and Britain was of old noted for her tin mines. The ships of Tarshish and its “isle” or “isles” are very outstanding in prophecy (see, e.g., Isa. 23:1, 2, 6, 10, 14). We have witnessed “the breaking of the ships of Tarshish with an east wind”—the destructive effects on the British navy of the World War in its two phases (Psa. 48:7). In this great Time of Trouble—”the day of the Lord . . . when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” and when the nations cast their idols of silver and gold “to the moles and to the bats” (Isa. 2:10-22)—the ships of Tarshish (Britain) also come in for destruction (v. 16).
Britain’s waiting for God’s due for the accomplishing of her purpose as respects the Suez Canal—her ambitious policy is set forth in Isa. 60:9 as the great means of returning the Jews to Palestine. This policy was in part responsible also for the Balfour Declaration. And it was in pursuance of this policy that Britain’s ships brought many Jews back to their homeland. ’68-39
Temperature—Will Perfect Man Have To Deal with Extremes.
Question (1963)—In Gen. 8:22 we read, “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Does this mean that a perfect man in a perfect world will suffer from the present extremes of temperature?
Answer.—We believe not. When God created the earth, He prepared a garden or perfect spot eastward in Eden as a suitable place in which to try the perfect man He was about to create. When man is perfected, the entire earth will be as the Garden of Eden was in the time of Adam. It is our thought that the climate will be temperate throughout the earth, without the extremes, which are now experienced. Through the righting of the earth on its axis and certain changes in the warm and cold ocean currents, the polar ice caps will be melted and it will become temperate in those regions; and in the places where mankind suffers from the intense heat, the temperature will be more equalized. It is a well-known fact that living in too warm a climate is not the most beneficial for mankind. The changes of the seasons have been a benefit to him, and will forever continue to be so, but without the extremes we now have. See Herald ’48, 45. ’63-54
Temple—What Is Meant “Destroy This Temple, And In Three Days I Will Raise It Up” (John 2:19).
Question (1962) What did our Lord mean when He said (John 2:19), “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”?
Answer.—A suggestion as to His meaning is found in v. 21: “But he spake of the temple of his body.” Was He speaking here of the body of His flesh—the body which God had prepared for Him in order that He might be the sacrifice for sin, the body of the man Christ Jesus (Heb. 10:5), the body which He consecrated unto death and gave for the life of the world (Heb. 10:5; John 6:51)? Surely not! His fleshly body was not the “temple of his body” that He meant would be raised on the third day, for His fleshly body was given as the ransom-price for Adam and his race. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive [not in the flesh, but] in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18—R.S.V.). His fleshly body was not His temple, but merely His tabernacle. His resurrection body was not the one which the Jews destroyed, but a spirit body which they had never seen, but which was revealed to the Apostle Paul as “one born of [before the] due time” (1 Cor. 15:8), when, on his way to Damascus, Jesus appeared unto him shining “above the brightness of the sun” at noonday (Acts 26:13).
It is much more reasonable to suppose that our Lord spoke of His Body which is the Church and of which He is the Head (Col. 1:18). The Jews destroyed the Head, and all down through the Gospel Age the various members of the Body of Christ have been called upon to “suffer with him,” to be “dead with him,” to lay down their lives for the brethren (2 Tim. 2:11, 12; 1 John 3:16). The Body has been in the process of destruction from Jesus’ day until the completion of the sacrifice unto death of the final member of that Body, the last one of the 144,000.
“One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8; Psa. 90:4). Our Lord’s First Advent was in the beginning of the fifth day, over four 1000-year days having passed and the fifth 1000-year day having begun. The destruction of the Temple of God, the Church, the Royal Priesthood (1 Cor. 3:16, 17), began there in the destruction of the Chief Corner-stone and has progressed all down through the Gospel Age—during the remainder of the fifth 1000-year day, all of the sixth 1000-year day, and into the seventh 1000-year day—“very early in the morning.” In this period God abundantly fulfils His promise to “help her, and that right early” (Psa. 46:5); her night of weeping ends and joy comes to her “in the morning” (Psa. 30:5).
Now, let us see how the Lord raises up this Temple of which He was the great foundation stone, and of which the Apostle Peter declares that the Royal Priesthood are the living stones, built up a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:4, 5). As we view the matter, the Lord was dead a part of the three days and God “raised him up from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:21) on the third 24-hour day, early in the morning; and likewise the first resurrection is completed—the entire Body of Christ is raised on the third (1000-year) day following Jesus’ resurrection, early in the morning. And so during the third 1,000-year day, the Body members of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27), the living stones, are perfected with Him—the spiritual Temple. He Himself was raised from the dead “on the third day,” literally, but it was not by His own power--God highly exalted Him (Acts 2:24, 32, 33; Phil. 2:9). From this also we see that the words of John 2:19 cannot refer to our Lord’s personal resurrection. Instead, we see that they refer to Jesus on the third 1000-year day, during His Second Presence, raising up “the temple of his body”—”the Church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:24). For additional Bible proofs that Jesus’ fleshly body was not to be raised from the dead, please see No. 233—a copy free on request. ’62-55
The Christ—Explain This Term.
Question (1922)—In several issues of The Herald Of The Epiphany Jesus and the Church are spoken of as being The Christ. I do not understand this. Will you please explain the matter somewhat further?
Answer.—The word Christ—from the Greek Christos, which is derived from the word chrio, I anoint—means anointed. The word Messiah—from the Hebrew Meshiach, which is derived from the word mashach, he anoints—has the same meaning. That with which one is anointed is the Holy Spirit, as St. Peter assures us in Acts 10:38: “God anointed [literally, christed, from the Greek, chrio,] Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit.” This is also taught in Is. 11:2, 3; 61:1; and we have the fact of it witnessed at our Lord’s baptism when the heavens were opened unto Him, and the Spirit descended and lighted upon Him in the form of a dove. (Matt. 3:16.) Thus we see that Jesus was anointed—christed—by His receiving the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible speaks not only of one individual—Jesus—but also of a company—the Church—as being anointed—christed. Thus St. Paul speaking of the whole faithful Church said: “He that . . . hath anointed [Greek, chrio, from which Christos—Christ is derived, hence meaning christed] us is God, who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit.” It is for this reason that St. John speaks of our having received the “unction,” the “anointing”--chrisma—literally, christing—from God. (1 John 2:20, 27.) Hence all who receive the Holy Spirit are thereby anointed. For this reason Jesus and the faithful Church constitute Jehovah’s Anointed, the larger Christ—the Christ Body, or Company. Therefore in a number of places in the Scriptures the Church, with Jesus, is called Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:23 St. Paul, writing about 25 years after Jesus’ resurrection, says that the Christ, the First-fruits, would on the last Day be the first order, or company, to rise from the dead. Evidently in this verse he does not by the term “Christ the First-fruits” means Jesus, but rather the Church; for Jesus rose 25 years before St. Paul here prophesied of the future resurrection. Again, in 1 Cor. 12:12, 13 he compares Jesus and the Church, which consists of many members and which he here calls, with Jesus, Christ, to a human body with its members. Thus he shows us that The Christ is not one member—Jesus—but many members—Jesus and the Church. Again in Gal. 3:16 he calls the Seed of Abraham Christ; and in verse 29 he calls the Church with Jesus the seed of Abraham; hence the Church with Jesus is The Christ. This larger Christ—the Christ company—is the “one new Man” that God is making out of Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:15), and the “perfect Man” into whom the whole Church with Jesus, as the full Christ, is to grow (Eph. 4:13); and it is for this reason that Jesus is called the Head and the Church the Body of this one new man. (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 14, 27; Eph. 1:22, 23; 4:4, 12; 5:30-32; Col. 1:24.) Briefly we may sum up the matter as follows: the great Deliverer, through whom God promised to rescue the human family from the Adamic curse, and bless it with an opportunity of gaining everlasting life is composed of a number of persons, and therefore is a multitudinous Savior, consisting of Jesus and the true Church. This fact, that the Messiah—the anointed—would be a company, and not simply one individual, is the Mystery—the secret—hidden from the ages and generations before the Gospel Age, but now—during the Gospel Age—being made manifest to the saints. (Col. 1:26, 27.) This Christ class—the sons of God—during the present life has appeared on the stage of human affairs to suffer for Truth and Righteousness on behalf of the human race; and in the Millennium will appear in glory to bless and uplift the race from the curse. (Rom. 8:17-23; 2 Tim. 2:10-12.) This thought of Jesus the Head and the Church His Body constituting the great Deliverer whom Jehovah is raising up for the rescue of mankind from the curse is at once the central thought and deep secret of the Bible. Blessed is he who sees and appreciates it! ’22-4
Thief—Will He Be With Christ In Paradise.
Question (1921)—We are asked to harmonize our thought that the dead are unconscious with the promise of our Lord to the dying thief that the latter should be with Him in Paradise. (Luke 23:42, 43.)?
Answer.—As the passage is punctuated in the Authorized Version, it states that on the day, that Jesus made the promise He and the thief would be together in Paradise. This passage is an excellent example of how a difference in punctuation often makes a difference in the sense of a statement. We all recall how in our school days we had in our Rhetorics examples of the same sentences differently punctuated, making a great difference in the sense. For instance, we had the following sentence given twice, but differently punctuated each time, as an example of how the sense of some statements can be greatly altered by a change in their punctuation: “Woman, without her man, is a savage beast.” “Woman! Without her man is a savage beast!” The former statement, consisting of the same words as the latter statement, but differently punctuated, is as uncomplimentary as the latter is complimentary to the gentler sex. So the sense of Luke 23:43, as it now reads in the Authorized Version, can be greatly changed by an alteration of its punctuation. In the Authorized Version this verse occurs as follows: ”Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto you, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’” In Jesus statement, as given in our Common Version, it will be noticed that the comma is placed before the word “today.” If we should place the comma after the word “today,” and make a direct statement of the following words, as the Authorized Version does, the passage would read as follows: “Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto you today, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.’” The difference wrought by the different punctuation is this, that whereas by the first method of punctuation Jesus promises that day as the definite date of their being in Paradise together, by the latter method of punctuation, Jesus on the day of His death promised the repentant thief that at some indefinite future time they should be together in Paradise.
But some might ask. Why do you raise the point of the comma’s position? Why not accept the comma as it stands in the Authorized Version? Our answer is this: since punctuation marks were not invented until the ninth century after Christ, the comma in this verse was not placed there by Divine inspiration; and since uninspired men placed all such marks in the Bible, we have a right to investigate the question as to whether a punctuation mark is in its proper place in this or in any other verse of the Bible. If God by the inspired Luke had placed this comma where the Authorized Version places it, that fact would settle the question; but as Luke wrote these words in the first century, and punctuation marks were not invented before the ninth century, and as we have no record of this comma being where the Authorized Version places it in any Greek manuscript written earlier than the fifteenth century, the question as to whether it is rightly placed must be decided by its harmony or in harmony with these and other Scriptures. One may ask, how could we find out where the comma belongs? Our answer is, The terms of the sentence, the nature of the related events, and general Scriptural teaching, will help us to learn the proper place for the comma. If, for example, we should with the majority of Christians hold that Paradise and Heaven are one and the same place, the facts of the case would forbid our placing the comma where the Authorized Version does; for Jesus did not, nor did He expect to, go to Heaven on that day, and therefore would not have told the thief that on that day he would be with Him in Paradise. That Jesus up to the third day later had not yet gone to Heaven is evident from the fact that after His resurrection He said to Mary, “I am not yet ascended unto My Father.” (John 20:17.) He did not ascend unto Heaven until the forty-third day after He made the promise of Luke 23:43 to the dying thief. (Acts 1:3.) Hence from the standpoint of the identity of Paradise and Heaven the comma before the word “today” in the Authorized Version is wrong, as the facts of the case prove, and the comma from that standpoint would have to follow the word “today.”
A right understanding of what is meant by Paradise will further help us properly to punctuate the sentence. What is Paradise? The word is an Arabic word, and in that language it means a garden. In the Arabic Bible Gen. 2:8 reads as follows” “And the Lord God planted a paradise eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.” Paradise originally, therefore, referred to the Garden of Eden. Hence, we properly speak of Adam and Eve as being in Paradise before they sinned, and of their being driven out of Paradise after they sinned. Hence it primarily refers to the perfect, blissful abode of our first parents in their sinless condition. But by sin that Paradise was lost to us. Does the Bible speak of another Paradise? We answer, Yes. It declares that during Millennium the whole earth will be made like the Garden of Eden. (Ezek. 36:35, 36; Isa. 35:1, 2.) It was to this Paradise that the Apostle Paul was carried away, not actually, but in vision (2 Cor. 12:4), after he had previously in the same general vision been carried away unto the third heaven. (2 Cor. 12:2.) Here, too, the idea of Paradise is that of a perfect earthly abode of bliss. It is because the word Paradise is used to mean a perfect abode of bliss that God also uses it to designate His abode. (Rev. 2:7.) As the thief died before any but Jesus had received the begettal of the Spirit to Sonship (Matt. 3:16, 17; John 7:39), he, of course, could not go to Heaven, God’s Paradise. (John 3:3, 5, 13.) Further, that Jesus and he did not go that day to the Paradise of God’s abode (Rev. 2:7) is evident, because Jesus Himself denies His being there before His resurrection. (John 20:17.) Nor could they have gone to the original Paradise where Adam and Eve were, since it was no longer in existence; for with no one to dress that garden, it soon lost its perfection; and if anything paradisiac was left of it until Noah’s time, over 1650 years later, surely the Flood devastated it. Hence the original Paradise did not exist when Jesus made the promise; and therefore they did not go there that day. And since the Millennial Paradise was not yet in existence when Jesus uttered these words, they could not have gone there that day. These considerations prove that the comma is wrongly placed in the Authorized Version, and that it should be placed after the word “today.”
Another consideration proves the same thing: the word “verily” which Jesus used when answering the dying thief’s request. The Greek word translated here by the word “verily” is amen, which means, It shall be so. What shall be so? We answer, the thing for which the thief asked. And what was it that he desired? We answer: to be remembered by Jesus when He would come in His Kingdom. Amen, i.e., Yes, I will remember you when I come in my Kingdom, was Jesus’ reply. Was this request granted on that day? We answer, as the thief’s request was to be remembered by Jesus when He would come in His Kingdom, and as Jesus has not yet come in His Kingdom, the request to be remembered when Jesus would come in His Kingdom could not have been granted on that day nor since. This request will not be granted until after Jesus comes in His Kingdom, which is yet future. And the rest of the answer of Jesus shows when the remembering would take place, i.e., when the Kingdom of God would be in power in this earth, and would turn this earth into a Paradise. Then Jesus will have the penitent thief with Him. In other words, this passage proves that this thief will have a blessed portion in the earthly Paradise, which is to be restored by Jesus, when during His Kingdom He will reign over the earth. Accordingly we again see that the comma should follow the word “today,” and that the sentence should read as follows: “Verily, I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” When? After Jesus comes in His Kingdom and restores Paradise.
But some might object that, if such is the use of the word “today” in the sentence, why did Jesus not omit the word “today” altogether from the sentence, since it is self-evident that He was speaking on that Day? We answer: Unless it had been especially emphatic the word “today” would have been omitted from the statement. But there were special reasons why the word “today” was in this sentence used by Jesus. The circumstances of the case as well as the nature of the thief’s request and of Jesus’ answer make it especially emphatic to use the word “today” in this particular sentence. Let us remember that it was by Adam’s sin that the first Paradise and the Kingdom of God were lost to the race, and that it was by Adam’s sin that the whole race, including the penitent thief, became sinners. Let us also remember that on the day on which the promise was made to the thief Jesus was dying as Adam’s and our Substitute, in order to make atonement for sin, in order to reestablish God’s Kingdom among men, in order to turn this earth into a Paradise, and in order to restore men to the Kingdom of God and to Paradise. That day of Jesus’ death therefore by its events was most intimately connected with the restoration of God’s Kingdom and Paradise to the race. Hence by using the expression “today” He by what was that day occurring gave a most solemn pledge with His promise to the penitent thief. We might thus paraphrase His answer: “On this dark day, when I seem to be dying as an impostor, and do not seem to be the promised King to bless the world, you are exercising faith in My Messiahship despite contrary appearances. Therefore I, who this day am dying to undo the evil wrought by Adam on his race, dying to restore the Kingdom of God, to make the whole earth a Paradise, and to return the race to Paradise, do on this solemn day make you a promise as a return for your act of faith, and I pledge the promise by the solemnities of this day the day of My sin-atoning death, and the promise is this: you shall be with Me in Paradise, which I will restore when I come on the last Day to establish My Kingdom throughout the earth.”
Evidently the terms used in the text, as well as the teachings of other Scriptures respecting those terms, prove that on that day they would not be in Paradise; and therefore they prove that the comma before the word “today” in our Authorized Version is not only incorrect, but that it should be placed after the word “today.” Hence this passage properly punctuated is in perfect harmony with the thoughts that the dead are unconscious; of the whereabouts of the dead or of a conscious condition of the dead. *’21-32; ’52-37
Throne—Jesus Promised That The Apostle’s Would Sit In The Throne Of His Glory. Matt. 19:28.
Question (1955)—In Matt. 19:28 we read of Jesus’ promise to His twelve Apostles: “In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” some teach that this promise was fulfilled between Pentecost and A.D. 70, when, it is claimed, the twelve Apostles judged the twelve tribes of Israel. Is this viewpoint correct?
Answer.—We believe not, for the following reasons: (1) Jesus specifies that the judging of the twelve tribes would be “in the regeneration.” This regeneration does not take place until after Jesus’ Second Advent sets in, and the Church, the espoused virgin (2 Cor. 11:2), becomes His Bride (Rev. 21:9; 22:17) in the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7), the First Resurrection (Rev. 20:6). Then Jesus as the Second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45, 47), the Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6), and the Church as the Second Eve, the mother of His children (Isa. 66:10-14), will regenerate the non-elect through His ransom merit, giving perfect life, with the right to life and its pertinent life-rights, to all who will accept Jesus as their Father, i.e., to all who through obedience, faith, love and reverence toward Him are willing to become and remain His children. Also, in Acts 3:19-23, it is stated that heaven would receive (retain) Jesus until the times of restitution (which includes regeneration). These will indeed be “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” for it is then that the entire race, for whose sins also Jesus is a propitiation (1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 4:10), will, though now cut down in death, due to the curse (Psa. 90:5, 6), be revived by the restitution processes unto life, through copious supplies of God’s Word and grace (Psa. 72:6, 7; comp. vs. 1-5; 8-19).
(2) Jesus specifies that the judging of the twelve tribes was to take place “when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,” which seems definitely to locate the time as at Jesus’ Second Advent, when all nations shall be gathered before the throne of His glory for their final judgment (Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 20:11-15).
(3) Jesus specifies that the judging of the twelve tribes would be at a time when “ye [the Apostles] also shall sit upon twelve thrones.” In Rev. 2:10, 26; 3:21, He shows that it was necessary for the Apostles and others first to “overcome” as members of the Body of Christ, before they would reign with Him in His throne. It is very evident (see e.g., 2 Cor. 11:23-27) that instead of ruling in judgment over the twelve tribes of Israel during their earthly sojourn, the Apostles were, on the contrary, oppressed, rejected, persecuted and even stoned and martyred by the Jews. St. Paul did not claim that he or others were reigning in this life (1 Cor. 4:8). Rather, he shows very clearly (e.g., in Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; 4:1, 8) that the time of judging and reigning with Christ would be at the time of the Second Advent.
(4) In the parallel passage (Luke 22:29, 30), Jesus specifies that at the time the twelve Apostles would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, they would be eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table in His Kingdom. This definitely places their judging the twelve tribes of Israel at the time of the Lord’s Second Advent, when He drinks of the fruit of the vine with them anew in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).
(5) In Matt. 8:11 our Lord shows that when the kingdom of heaven is established in the earth (the twelve Apostles sitting upon twelve heavenly thrones), Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., will have charge of the earthly phase of that kingdom, though they will be princes, rather than kings (Psa. 45:16; Isa. 32:1; Heb. 11:39, 40).
(6) According to the Scriptures, the whole world will have to become proselytes to the twelve tribes of fleshly Israel in the Millennium, in order to receive their restitution blessings under the New Covenant, which will be established, not with Gentiles, but with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 16:60-62; 37:26; Zech. 8:20-23; 14:16-19; Isa. 2:2-4). It is only when the world of mankind is thus organized under the twelve tribes of fleshly Israel, with whom the New Covenant will be made, that the twelve Apostles will be found sitting upon the twelve thrones, or positions of authority, judging the twelve tribes of fleshly Israel. Of course, the 144,000, the Bride of Christ, the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1), will likewise be under these twelve Apostles (Rev. 21:14), as in the resurrection “morning” (Psa. 49:14), the saints judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2).
(7) It would have been inconsistent for Jesus to arrange for His twelve Apostles to judge the twelve tribes of Israel during the Jewish Harvest, since He Himself did so during the 3 1/2 years of His ministry; and He pronounced the final sentence upon Jerusalem in Matt. 23:34-39 (comp. Luke 19:43, 44). Their house was left unto them desolate and they were not to see Him any more until His Second Advent (Zech. 12:10), when they will say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
Thus we see from an examination of Matt. 19:28 and other related Scriptures (more could be given) that the twelve Apostles did not sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel during the Jewish Harvest, but instead that they will thus rule and judge when Jesus will regenerate “whosoever will” of Adam’s race unto life, when He in His Second Advent sits in the throne of His glory to judge the world of mankind, and when God’s kingdom is established and His will done on earth as it is in heaven. ’55-54
Time—Contrasted With Eternity.
Question (1957)—Is it proper, according to the Scriptures, to contrast time with eternity?
Answer.—No. The thought set forth by some, to the effect that there is no duration to eternity, and that it is timeless, as contrasted with time, is distinctly unscriptural; it is derived from heathen sources, especially from the heathen Greek philosophers, whose views were introduced into the creeds of the Dark Ages.
The Scriptures teach that eternity is time without beginning and without ending. Thus duration is involved in the idea of eternity. Even reason is compelled to assent to the fact that time could have had no beginning and can have no end; for we cannot reason back to a time which was not preceded by time. If we reason back billions of years, we still can say that time was before that. Again, if we reason back billions of years back of that, we still can say that time was before that; and thus we could go back an infinitude of billions of years, and still could say that there was time before that. Thus we are compelled to conclude that time had no beginning, that time has always been, i.e., that there is a past to eternity.
The same is true with reference to future time. It cannot end; it must go on forever. We cannot imagine a future time that will not have time after that time. Thus time is without beginning and without ending, always has been and always will be. This is eternity. Let us be done with the absurdity that eternity is a thing in which there is no time—no duration. There is, of course, a contrast between the transient and the eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). But to contrast time and eternity, so as to make the former imply duration and the latter exclude it, is unscriptural and unreasonable. ’57-55; ’68-55; ’87-7
Time—“There Should Be Time No Longer,” Rev. 10:6 Does This Prove That Time Will Cease.
Question (1957)—Does not the expression in Rev. 10:6, “there should be time no longer,” prove that time will cease?
Answer.—No. The correct thought, as given in the A.R.V., is that “there shall be delay no longer.” See also Rotherham, the Emphatic Diaglott, the R.S.V., etc. The “mystery of God” (v.7), which is finished in the days of the voice (message) of the seventh angel, is the same as “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,” “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26, 27). This “hidden mystery,” which was not manifest before the Gospel Age, is that the promised Deliverer, the great Seed of Abraham, would be an anointed class, consisting not only of Jesus the Head, but also of the Church, which is His Body (Eph. 5:32; Gal. 3:8: 16, 29). Thus instead of proving a cessation of time, Rev. 10:6, 7 proves that there would be no further delay when the days of the voice of the seventh angel (in which we are now living—comp. Rev. 11:18) would come—then the Church, “the mystery of God,” would be finished. ’57-55; *’68-55; ’87-7
Time—Examples Of Redeeming.
Question (1991)—A mother in average circumstances with a family might ask, What can I do? I find no opportunity to sacrifice in the Lord’s service. My time is wholly consumed in the care of my home and children—their morals as well as their temporal needs.
Answer.—Much depends upon how or to whom you sacrifice. Most mothers know well what it is to sacrifice to raise a family properly costs much self-sacrifice, as every good mother knows. You sacrifice your health, your convenience, and your time and comfort night and day. All good mothers find it thus, whether consecrated or not.
But the consecrated mother should regard the matter thus: I have given myself and my family to God for the present and the future; He has given me charge to use and dispose of my time, energy and abilities, as so many talents according to my judgment for His glory. His Word clearly teaches me that my children are my first charge; and it is God’s will that I do my best to train them for usefulness to themselves and society.
This part of your sacrifice, rendered to God, results much the same as though you had not consecrated—in sacrifice for your children; yet in your case it is as actually a sacrifice of your talents to the Lord, as though done directly to Him. In fact, it is more acceptable to Him than if you were to leave your little ones to grow up like weeds, while you go far and wide to preach the Gospel. After all, what better opportunities does a mother (or father) have than to preach the Gospel to her own children (Prov. 6:20; 31:1; Eph. 6:4), which is one of her richest privileges and duties! Let all mothers (and fathers, too) “train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
But if the spirit of consecration is back of all you do for your children (and not selfish pride), it will have this effect: while being careful for their best interests, you will remember that you have no more right simply to gratify pride in their housing, dress, etc., than in your own; and they, though neat, will not necessarily be so extravagantly dressed as some of your neighbor’s children whose care is backed by pride or vanity. You will seek to economize the Lord’s money and time in dressing them as well (as yourself), and you will say to yourself, It is the Lord’s time and money and it must not be wasted; He wants me to care for my children, but not to make dolls of them and cultivate pride in them, to spoil their dispositions and unfit them for present as well as future true pleasure and usefulness. Never before has there been such enticement to give them extravagant novelty items with more glamour appeal than real value.
Also, you would consider your children’s conduct as the more important area in their development. As the children grow up, encourage them to give of their time in helping with certain household duties (depending on age and ability). Obviously, one of the best fields of service, so to speak, is in our own families—our children, parents, etc.,—as well as among friends and co-workers. So let us give of our best efforts in making the Truth well understood and loved in the home especially, besides in our normal daily contacts.
Soon you will find that thus doing all things as unto the Lord, you will be able to save some time, etc., for use in more direct service of the Truth; and you will find time and inclination to speak to a thoughtful neighbor or caller, or to write of our message to a friend, sending or giving a suitable magazine, book or booklet, tract or card, with some appropriate words.
Thus your life is as truly consecrated and acceptable with God as that of one whose every day is spent in public preaching to multitudes. And just so it is, in whatever circumstances we may be placed—if we use the opportunities we posses, to the best advantage according to our best judgment, with an eye single to the Master’s glory, it is as acceptable unto Him, as the faithfulness and greater results of those possessing greater opportunities. And every faithful one will be able to increase his opportunities and service and shall thus increase his or her joy. ’91-7; *’99-90
Tongue—”With Stammering Lips And Another Tongue” Isa. 28:11.
Question (1958)—Does Isa. 28:11, “For with stammering [strange, A.R.V.] lips and another tongue will he [God] speak to this people,” refer to the miraculous gift of speaking in unknown tongues prevalent in the early Church? And would this throw any light on the Church’s experiences here in the end of the Gospel Age?
Answer.—In 1 Cor. 14:20-22 the Apostle Paul makes an application of this prophecy in connection with God’s nominal house of Fleshly Israel in the Harvest of the Jewish Age. In v. 20 he exhorts the early Church: “Brethren, be not children in understanding [comp. 1 Cor. 13:11]: howbeit in malice [ill will] be ye children, but in understanding be men [mature].”
Children learn from infancy onward to understand and speak just a few words at a time—“line upon line—here a little, there a little.” Surely Fleshly Israel had been like children, like infants—in understanding. Throughout the Jewish Age God had taught them through the Law and the Prophets “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10); His intention was that the Law would serve as a schoolmaster to make them ready to receive Christ when He would come (Gal. 3:24; Matt. 11:28-30). But they would not understand God’s own simple and initial instructions—instead, in their stubbornness they despised and derided them as being too elementary, and made them of no effect through their traditions (Matt. 15:6), adding so many complexities that the spirit and essence of the original simplicity was lost in a wilderness of confusion.
Outwardly moral, respectable, having a form of godliness (2 Tim. 3:5), they drew nigh to God with their mouths, but their spiritual vision was darkened their spiritual hearing dulled, and their hearts were removed far from Him (Isa. 6:9, 10; 29:10-13; Matt. 13:14-17). Thus when God sent them His own Son for their salvation, and presented to them the message of the Kingdom, they, with a few exceptions, were so stupidly drunk with the traditions of the elders (Mark 7:3, 8, 9, 13) and the wine of false doctrine that they could not see their Messiah and King in His true light, nor appreciate the Kingdom message; so, except for the comparatively few Israelites indeed, they received Him not (John 1:11)—they rejected the Kingdom message (Matt. 23:13) and crucified their King!
Therefore they were cast off from God’s favor and mouthpieceship (Matt. 23:38; comp. April ’58 Bible Standard, p. 29), for they indeed knew not the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44). Instead, God chose other mouthpieces to bear the message of the Kingdom, among whom were some who did not have much formal education (Acts 4:13). Their message and manner of presentation, accompanied with speaking in tongues, was indeed strange to the Jews, as is indicated in Isa. 28:11.
Referring to this text, the Apostle shows (1 Cor. 14:21, 22) that the presence of the miraculous gift of tongues was a sign of God’s visitation and approval upon them, designed not so much for them as for unbelievers. But so far as the majorities were concerned, it was as God had prophesied, “for all that they will not hear me, saith the Lord.” “Wherefore,” i.e., because of the dullness of hearing on the part of the unbelievers, “tongues” were “for a sign, not to them that believe [for they did not need this sign], but to them that believe not [some of whom by this miraculous gift would learn that God was now doing His work through the Christians and would thus be drawn toward the message of Truth, which heretofore they had not received].” But, the Apostle shows, “prophesying [the expounding of the Word of God] serveth not for (is not particular intended for) them that believe not, but for them which believe [whose hearts and minds are receptive and who accept the Truth in faith].” The Apostle then in the next three verses shows the superiority in usefulness of the intelligible teaching of the Word of God to the incomprehensible speaking in unknown tongues, which miraculous gift was merely for a sign for unbelievers, that they might see from such a miracle that it is of God, and so embrace the Gospel.
As we have already noted, the miraculous “gifts” of the Spirit died out forever (1 Cor. 13:8) when the Apostles and those upon whom they had conferred them had all died, the completed canon of the Scriptures being then available so that the man of God would be thoroughly furnished (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) without the help of the “gifts.” Hence the miraculous God-given gift of speaking with tongues is not to be expected here in the end of the Gospel Age. However, there is an application of Isa. 28:11 in our times. As at the First Advent, when because of their unfitness the Lord passed by the scribes and Pharisees, and gave His Truth message through the disciples, so now He is passing by the wise and prudent in Mystic Babylon (Rev. 18:1-4, 23; “the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee”) an instead is giving the Truth on His plan and Kingdom through those who are meek, humble and ready to learn of Him. How thankful we are that in due time, after the present great Time of Trouble is over, God “will turn to the people a pure language [message—the message of Truth], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zech. 3:8, 9)! ’58-39; ’63-47
Tongues—How To Know The Spirit’s Witness.
Question (1958)—If the miraculous “gifts” of the Spirit, like speaking with tongues, etc., ceased forever when the twelve Apostles and those whom they had conferred gifts dies, how thereafter has it been possible for consecrated believers to have the assurance that they have the Holy Spirit and are children of God?
Answer.—In Romans 8:16 we read, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Aside from the miraculous “gifts” given only to the early Church, there are especially seven things Biblically taught as constituting the full witness of the Spirit given for the assurance of every one of God’s Spirit-begotten people of the Gospel Age. Any one of these seven testifies to the possession of the Holy Spirit and the sonship of those who have it; but to have the complete witness of those who have it; but to have the complete witness of the Spirit, all seven are required. In brief the seven are:
(1) An appreciative understanding of the deep things of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:6-16, comp. Isa. 64:4; Mark 4:10-12; John 7:17; 14:15-17; Psa. 25:8-10, 12, 14); (2) heavenly aspirations (Col. 3:1-4, comp. 2:12 and Rom. 6:4, 5; Psa. 42:1, 2; 63:1; 84:2; 105:4; 119:2, 10, 20, 40; Matt. 5:6; 6:33; Phil. 3:12-14); (3) Divinely-given opportunities for service (Rom. 12:1; Matt. 20:1-16; 21:28, 30; 25:14-30; John 4:34-38; Gal. 6:10); (4) growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 8:9, 29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; Col. 3:12-14; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; 1 John 3:14, 16; 4:16); (5) persecution for Christ’s sake (Matt. 5:10-12, 44, 45; John 15:18, 19; 16:2; Acts 5:40, 42; Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:29; Phil. 1:28, 29; 2 Tim. 2:10-12; 3:12; Heb. 10:32-34; 1 Pet. 3:14, 16, 17; 4:14, 16, 19); (6) chastisements for faults (Heb. 12:5-13; Psa. 94:12, 13; 118:18; 119:67; Prov. 3:11, 12; Isa. 26:16; Luke 12:47, 48; Rev. 3:19); (7) trials amid temptations to disobey God’s will, to test our progress or lack of progress (Deut. 13:3; 8:2; Psa. 66:10-12; Dan. 12:10; Jas. 1:2-4, 12; 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:6, 7; 4:12; 5:8, 9). (See Christ—Spirit-Covenants, pp. 627-654, for details.)
Many regard as their witness of the Spirit such things as their feelings of exuberance, or habitual cheerfulness, or audible voices speaking to them, or their “speaking in tongues,” dreams, visions, impressions, imaginations, etc. However, when sickness, pain, losses, disappointments, family troubles, hardships, necessities, persecutions, severe contrarieties, etc., come, their witness often deserts them--and that at the times when they need it most! But not so with the sevenfold witness mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Instead of deserting us amid trials, it will keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace through Jesus Christ our Lord (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:7), assuring us that our interests are all right with God, that we have His Holy Spirit and that He is continuing to deal with us as members of His family. Praise God for this! ’58-39; ’63-47; ’69-39
Tongues—Speaking And Heb. 13:8.
Question (1976)—Some claim that speaking in tongues is to be practiced in our day because the Apostle Paul said in Heb. 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” What have you to day to this?
Answer.—This claim is an example of the great lengths to which some will go to try to find Scriptural support for the unscriptural teaching that tongues-speaking is for our day.
There is nothing whatever in Heb. 13:8 to show that throughout all of the Gospel Age Jesus would always be acting in the same way or would always be doing the same work. In the end of the Jewish Age Jesus and His disciples were doing the work of harvesting the fruitage of the Jewish Age (John 4:34-36). They were then to go to Jews only, and not to Samaritans and Gentiles (Matt. 10:5; 15:24). But later, after Pentecost, when the due time came, Jesus changed the work of His disciples, showing them that they were then to go also to the Gentiles, beginning with Cornelius (Acts 10), and start the sowing work of the Gospel Age.
In the beginning of the Gospel Age, Jesus dealt with the Church through the personal ministry of the Apostles, who alone had the power of conferring the “gifts” of the Spirit, such as tongues-speaking (Acts 8:9-24; 10:5-8; 19:1-7), and of whom there were only twelve (2 Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2; 21:14). So the gift of tongues finally ceased (1 Cor. 13:8; see our “Tongues” booklet). But later our Lord dealt with His people without the personal ministry of the Apostles but through their writings, and the continuing personal ministry of secondarily prophets, pastors and teachers (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11, 12).
Thus it is evident that Jesus would not always be acting in the same way or doing the same work.
Furthermore, Heb. 13:8 does not mean that Jesus is always of the same nature, for He was first a spirit being, the Archangel. “In a beginning [so the Greek] was the Logos, and the Logos was with the God, and the Logos was a god [a mighty one]” (John 1:1; see Diaglott). He was “the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15), “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14). In due time He was made flesh (John 1:14; Gal. 4:4), i.e., a human being, then died and was raised to the Divine nature and given a name above every name (Phil. 2:6-10; Heb. 1:3, 4). But He has been and is the same person in all three natures.
Therefore the “yesterday” of Heb. 13:8 does not refer to past eternity. We understand that it refers to the Jewish Age, which is Biblically spoken of as a day (Isa. 65:2; Rom. 10:21), while eternity is never called a day. A yesterday is a day a present day. But a day has a beginning; so has a yesterday; so the yesterday here cannot mean duration without a beginning, i.e., eternity. The days of Heb. 13:8 are evidently ages, as is proved by the Greek expression here for “forever,” which is rendered literally “for the ages.” Therefore, the word “today” in this verse apparently refers to the Gospel Age, also called a day (Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:36; 2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:13, 15). And this is followed, not by the word tomorrow, for this would imply only one Age (the Millennial Age) for Jesus’ future existence. He will live forever—“for the ages,” a term expressive of eternity. ’76-94
Tongues—Modern Day . . . Is Speaking Against Blaspheming Against The Holy Spirit.
Question (1980)—When one speaks and writes against present day “tongues-speaking,” is he not blaspheming and sinning otherwise against the holy Spirit?
Answer.—No! if the Bible taught that we are to expect “tongue-speaking” as a miraculous “gift” of the Spirit for our day, and we believed the Bible taught this, then we would be sinning against the Spirit in opposing the modern-day practice of “tongue-speaking.”
However, as we have shown in our two booklets on “Tongues” (copies free on request), the Bible clearly teaches that “tongues speaking” as a miraculous “gift” from God is for various reasons not to be expected in our day. Among these reasons are (1) the Bible teachings that only the Twelve Apostles were given the power of conferring the “gift” of “tongues-speaking” (Acts 8:5-24; 10:44-47; 19:1-6) and (2) that the “gift” of “tongues-speaking” would cease when the New Testament would be fully given to the Church (1 Cor. 13:8-12). Also, (3) facts of Church history show that the “gift” of “tongues-speaking” ceased in the Church after the Apostles and those on whom they had conferred the “gifts” died. ’80-47
Tophet—What Is Tophet.
Question (1952)—What is Tophet, and who is the king, as referred to in Isa. 30:33?
Answer.—Isa. 30:33 reads as follows: “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he [Jehovah] hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” From the description given here of Tophet, and from the meaning of the word--burning place, we understand that it means Gehenna, the lake of fire and brimstone (Mark 9:47, 48; Jas. 3:6; Rev. 20:10, 14, 15). The impossibility of exit therefrom is expressed in the words, “He hath made it deep and large.” The thoroughness of its destructiveness is explained in the words, “The pile thereof is fire and much wood,” and the eternity of its destructiveness is explained in the words, “The breath [power] of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” The king for whom it is prepared is undoubtedly Satan, the prince (ruler) of this present evil world; for he is the antitypical Pharaoh ruling over antitypical Egypt (vs. 1-14), and the antitypical Nebuchadnezzar of antitypical Babylon (vs. 27-33). ’52-96
Trouble—Why At The Present Time Are People Suffering Such Terrible Disasters.
Question (1952)—Why should this present generation suffer such terrible disasters, e.g., the World War that broke out in 1914, which in its two phases has been the most wide-spread, impoverishing and destructive war known to history, with millions horribly slaughtered, most nations left bankrupt and others fast approaching that condition, due to heavy tax burdens and great efforts to prepare for further warfare?
Answer.—Many sign and time prophecies have been pointed out in these columns showing that since Oct. 1914 (when the “times of the Gentiles” ended and when Jerusalem [the Jewish nation] ceased being “trodden down of the Gentiles” as formerly—Luke 21:24) we have been living in the great “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan. 12:1; Jesus adds, “no, nor ever shall be—Matt. 24:21); in “the time of the end” in which many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increased (Dan. 12:4). We are glad that there never again need be another time of worldwide trouble like this, “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5), “the last days” described in James 5:1-5, the “perilous times” of 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
That the great World War that broke out in 1914 was the beginning of God’s judgment upon the nations of Christendom is recognized by many serious-minded men of the world, as well as by Bible students. All are aware that Christendom has much to answer for; but just why this present generation should be called upon to suffer more than any other is a problem which some may not fully understand. The justice of the Time of Trouble upon the nations of our day should be appreciated when we recognize the fact that we stand today in a period which is the culmination of ages of experience which should be, and is, in some respects, greatly to the world’s profit; especially to that part of the world which has been favored, directly and indirectly, with the light of Divine Truth—Christendom Babylon—whose responsibility for this stewardship of advantage is consequently very great. God holds men accountable, not only for what they know, but for what they might know if they would apply their hearts unto instruction—for the lessons which experience (their own and others’) is designed to teach; and if men fail to heed the lessons of experience, or wilfully neglect or spurn its precepts, they must suffer the consequences which will come upon them.
Before so-called Christendom lies, the open history of all past time, as well as the Divinely inspired revelation. And what lessons they contain! lessons of experience, wisdom, knowledge, grace and warning. By giving heed to the experiences of preceding generations along the various lines of human industry, political economy, etc., the world has made very commendable progress in material things. Many of the comforts and conveniences of our present civilization have come to us largely from applying the lessons observed in the experiences of past generations. The art of printing has brought these lessons within the range of every man. The present generation in this one point alone has much advantage in every way: all the accumulated wisdom and experience of the past are added to its own. But the great moral lessons which men ought also to have been studying and learning have been very generally disregarded, even when they have been emphatically forced upon public attention.
History is full of such lessons to thoughtful minds inclined to righteousness; men of today have many such lessons than those of previous generations, and this generation must suffer for its neglect (Isa. 63:3-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6). Indeed, “the elements” are melting “with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein” are being “burned up” to make way for the coming reign of peace (2 Pet. 3:10-13). The Lord has gathered the nations and assembled the kingdoms, and is pouring upon them His indignation, even all His fierce anger; for all the earth is being devoured “with the fire of His jealousy” and soon He “will turn to the people a pure language” in which they will “serve Him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:8, 9). After referring to the “distress of nations, with perplexity,” “men’s hearts failing them for fear,” etc., and the clouds of trouble amidst which the Son of Man is being revealed, our Lord exhorts: “Then look up, and lift your heads; for your redemption [deliverance] draweth nigh . . . when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:28, 31). We rejoice as we see Satan’s empire crumbling in its overthrow, to make way for Christ’s coming reign on earth. ’52-29
Trouble—Time Of “Not Since The Beginning Of The World” (Matt. 24:21).
Question (1970)—In Matt. 24:21 Jesus prophesies “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” I understand that this refers to the present great Time of Trouble, which began with the outbreak of the World War in 1914 and will still continue for sometime. But was not the universal flood of Noah’s day, which destroyed all mankind except Noah and his family (only eight persons) and all breathing animals except a very few (Gen. 6:7; 7:21-23), more destructive than the great tribulation with which this Age ends?
Answer.—In 2 Pet. 3:6, 7 we read that “the world that then was [the order of affairs among men before the Flood, in the first great epoch or dispensation], being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth which are now [the ecclesiastical and social elements of the present evil order of affairs among men], by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire [a symbol of destruction] against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” In some respects the Flood may have been more universally and more completely destructive; but in other ways the overthrow of Satan’s empire, which began with the World War, will be more destructive, because the “present evil world” (Gal. 1:4) contains far more people and devil institutions and wicked practices than existed n Noah’s day, and all that can be shaken will be shaken and removed before the present great Time of Trouble is ended (Haggai 2:6, 7; Heb. 12:26, 27; Matt. 24:35; Rev. 20:11).
However, in Jesus’ statement in Matt. 24:21 He evidently does not include the time of Noah’s Flood but refers to the time only since the Flood, when “the world that was” perished (2 Pet. 3:6) and the world or epoch that now is—“this present evil world”—began. He doubtless had in mind the prophecy of Dan. 12:1, which refers to the time of His Second Advent, when He (Michael) stands up “and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” From this it seems obvious that the expressions in Matt. 24:21 and Dan. 12:1—“such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time” and “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time”—are two ways of saying the same thing.
Daniel’s prophecy makes clear that it is referring to “the world that now is” since the Flood, for it says “since there was a nation,” and there were no nations mentioned in the Bible prior to the Flood. The Bible’s first mention of nations is found in Gen. 10:5, where the Hebrew word goyim is translated both “Gentiles” and “nations”—and this was after the Flood (Gen. 10:1). Therefore, the world” that Jesus refers to in Matt. 24:21 evidently is the “present evil world” or epoch, which began after the first world or epoch perished in the Flood (see The Divine Plan of the Ages, Chap. 4, which describes “The Epoch and Dispensations”). ’70-14
Trouble—Time Of And Purpose.
Question (1970)—What is God’s purpose in permitting this great Time of Trouble?
Answer.—”God is love” (1 John 4:8, John 3:16), and everything He does in His wisdom and by His power for the fallen world of mankind is in harmony with His justice; nevertheless it is prompted by His infinite love. He punishes in order to reform; He chastises in order to correct. “He that chastiseth the heathen [the nations], shall not he correct?” (Psa. 94:10). He was the “King of old”—back in the Garden of Eden, before man became disobedient and fell into sin and its curse of death (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4, 20). Since man’s fall, God in His love has been “working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psa. 74:12), not only for His elect but also for the non-elect world of mankind (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 4:10; 2:2). His desire is to bring them back into harmony with Him, and to this end He first allows them to learn by bitter experience the terrible consequences of sin.
God has highly favored the nations of Christendom, but they have not repented for sin and turned back to Him. Instead, they have blasphemed His holy name, have perverted the Truth and its Spirit, have persecuted His servants, and in various other ways have violated the principles of truth and righteousness; and thus they have sinned against far greater light than have the heathen nations. God is now punishing them for their correction and benefit.
Of this Time of Trouble God prophesied: “My determination it to gather the nations [the peoples; it was to be an international matter—a world-wide trouble], that I may assemble the kingdoms [bring them nearer together, by alliances for mutual protection, such as The Triple Alliance, The Triple Entente, The League of Nations, United Nations, NATO, SEATO, OAS, European Common Market and the Eastern and the Western Powers, and additionally by means of rapid communication and travel, such as telegraph, telephone, radio, television, high-speed highways, railroads, steamship and airplane], to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger [this began in 1914 with the World War, foretold in Jer. 25:15-38; Joel 3:9-13, etc.]: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (Zeph. 3:8).
But notice the next verse: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language [the pure word of truth, uncontaminated by human tradition], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”
This twofold work — destroying the old arrangement and establishing the new—is shown also in many other Scriptures, for example, in Isa. 63:4; “For  the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and  the year of my redeemed is come.” Now is the great Day of Jehovah, “that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.” This is to make way for “the Sun of Righteousness”—the Seed of Abraham, which will bless all the families of the earth (Mal. 4:1, 2; Gal. 3:8, 16, 29). Satan’s empire must be overthrown before God’s Kingdom can come and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. This is “the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion” (Isa. 34:8). “He shall judge among the heathen [the nations], he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries” (Psa. 110:6).
After the shaking of all nations is completed, “the desire of all nations shall come” (Haggai 2:7). But it is necessary for God first to raise “the stormy wind” and to cause the soul of the lawless world of mankind to be “melted because of trouble.” More and more their hearts are “failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” More and more “they reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.” Before this great tribulation is ended, they will recognize their inability to solve their own problems. Then they sill “cry unto the Lord in their trouble,” and He will “bring them out of their distresses.” He will make the storm a calm. Then they will be glad because they be quiet; “so he bringeth them unto their desired haven” (Luke 21:25, 26; Psa. 107:25-30; 46:8-10; Haggai 2:22; Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 2:35, 44; 7:13, 14, 27; Rev. 21:1-5).
What a blessed prospect! Well may we look up, and lift up our heads as we see these things coming to pass—for these are signs that “the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” and that our deliverance draws nigh (Luke 21:25-32). We thank our loving God, our Beneficent Creator, that His chastenings are in His all-wise providence for our good and that He loves mankind so much that He has provided also for their salvation and gives them the punishments and corrections necessary for them to receive it (Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 3:19). “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9). ’70-14
Trouble—Time Of . . . Provisions Needed.
Question (1974)—How should the Lord’s people seek to provide for themselves and their dependents in the general distress and trouble coming upon the world in the remaining part of the great Time of Trouble?
Answer.—Let us not suppose that it will be possible for the Lord’s people to fully escape the difficulties and trials now or soon to come upon the world for their ultimate blessing (why God permits evil is Scripturally explained in the Divine Plan of the Ages, pp. 117-147; see also our booklet Why Does a Loving God Permit Calamities?—a copy free on request). The most and the best that God’s people could hope for in this direction would be an amelioration of the conditions by the exercise of that wisdom which comes from above and the spirit of a sound mind, which God so graciously gives to His dear consecrated children as they ask for it (James 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:7; Luke 11:13).
Of course, if we seek first, or chiefly, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we know that all things will by His providences work together for our good (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:28). Some of us may be destitute and many more of us may become poor so far as temporal things are concerned; but we are assured by God and know that our bread and water will be sure, for—except our own unfaithfulness--nothing, not even famine or pestilence, can take us out of Jesus’ and God’s hands (Isa. 33:16; Matt. 6:31-34; Luke 12:29-31; John 10:28, 29; Rom. 8:33-39). So “let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15).
This does not mean that we are simply to trust in God to do everything for us and do nothing ourselves to cooperate with Him. We are not to cast ourselves down from a pinnacle and expect God to work miracles for our deliverance under such a rash bantering of Him on our part. Some of the Lord’s dear children who are able to do so (as well as many of the worldly prudent) are quietly removing themselves, or making provisions to remove themselves when the trouble gets worse, from the congested and dangerous population centers, where violence, famine and pestilence are likely to be especially severe.
In Prov. 22:3 we read: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Of course, we hide ourselves primarily in the Truth of god’s Word and its Spirit (Isa. 26:20, 21; John 17:17; 8:32). Secondarily, in making proper temporal provisions for our own (1 Tim. 5:8) we are to use the spirit of a sound mind also in secular respects. With the money of the world’s present government rapidly decreasing in purchasing power, it might be wise to consider obtaining real values while they can still be purchased at fair prices with money we may have on hand for future use in fulfilling 1 Tim. 5:8 and which we do not expect to need soon. We are not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19), which others may only fight about after our death; but we are to “provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17). In fulfilling our earthly obligations we are to do all things “to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). We are to be wise stewards of all that God has placed into our hands.
In view of the increasing food shortage, it may be well, if practicable and possible, to provide for a quiet, peaceful rural place where some food can be grown. A good garden may go a long way in providing necessary, wholesome food when it will probably be hard to get it otherwise, and we will not be able to do much witnessing for the Lord because of the trouble in the world. It may take some healthful work to tend to a garden properly, but this is usually a blessing in disguise. The Apostle Paul had occasion to exhort that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10-12); and in furthering his interest in serving the Lord he sometimes labored in secular things, working with his own hands (1 Cor. 4:12; Acts 18:3). May our work, of whatever nature, be done as unto the Lord and with an eye single to His Honor and glory. ’74-86
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