R2279-90 The Wheat Harvest – Its Close Nigh At Hand

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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In a back number of the WATCH TOWER (1893) you quote from a subscriber who says:—”It is evident that a portion of the forty years of the Gospel harvest will be a ‘night,’ without opportunity for labor, and this harvest time is now nearly half consumed. Since there probably will be ten years of ‘night’ but little more than a decade remains for active service.”

Then follows an editorial comment in these words: “May not this imply that the forty-year day will be practically divided in the middle, and hence that from 1895 onward the darkness may be expected to gather more and more?”

These suggestions seem to me to be the first steps toward the unfolding of a great truth. It will occur at once to any person who gives the subject careful thought that as, during the harvest season, the days are somewhat longer than the nights, the same should be true of the Gospel harvest, and this is the experience of those who are now laboring as co-reapers with the Master. The time of harvest is more than half gone, but the daylight still continues; there is still here and there an “Israelite indeed” who, when he hears the “joyful sound” is glad to come “out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

But as, in a literal harvest day, the length of the daylight does not greatly exceed that of the night, so, in this harvest time, we should expect the present favorable opportunity for effective service to soon draw to a close; and indications are not wanting to the watchers in Zion that ere long the last “over-ripe” (parched, thirsty) head of wheat will have been gathered, and the harvest of this age will have been fully reaped.—See Matt. 13:30 and Rev. 14:16, Revised Version, margin.

In Matthew 13:24-30,36-43, our great Teacher and Chief Reaper, in speaking of this time of harvest, has called it a wheat harvest, and it would seem that if we could by some means ascertain what is the representative wheat-harvesting day of the world, and what its length is, we might learn something of value. At first thought this may seem a difficult thing to do, but with the Lord’s help the problem may be solved more easily than one would suppose. The first step in its solution is to find


Thanks to the labors of those who “run to and fro” in this day of increased knowledge, this is a very simple matter, and below are given, from the American Agriculturist hand book for 1897, the latest and most reliable statistics available of the wheat crop of the world.

[Brother W. here furnishes statistics for each state in the United States and for the several wheat-producing countries of the remainder of the world. These statistics show that Minnesota and North Dakota produce the largest crops of the United States, and that Russia, France, Hungary, Germany and Italy are the chief wheat countries of Europe in the order named, British India being chief in Asia.]

We give the summary as follows:—Continent 1895.

North America……………………… 538,563,000
South America……………………… 85,000,000
Asia……………………………… 404,578,000
Africa…………………………… 48,842,000
Australasia………………………… 32,461,000
Grand Total…………………………2,562,677,000

If you will kindly take an atlas and look up the location of these countries, you will be surprised, first, to find that in every instance the larger portion of the country named lies within the Temperate Zone (north or south), while in the great majority of cases the entire country lies wholly within that zone. But you will be still more surprised if you investigate the matter further, to find that in the few countries which do touch or project into other zones, the wheat producing provinces lie entirely within the Temperate Zone. This means that


Of the wheat production of India, the Encyclopedia Brittanica says:—”Broadly speaking, it may be said that wheat does not thrive anywhere south of the Deccan” (which lies on the border between the Torrid and Temperate Zones). The entire civilized region of Egypt lies in the Temperate Zone, and the sections of Western Australia and Queensland which extend north of the tropic of Capricorn are barren and uninhabited.” It is interesting to note, however, from the Encyclopedia Brittanica that wheat has been “grown in Norway as far north as latitude 65 degrees,” only 1-1/2 degrees from the arctic circle. We thus have conclusive evidence that practically all of the wheat of the world is grown in the Temperate Zone.

[Brother W. next proves satisfactorily (we omit the evidences which are lengthy) that the 45th parallel is the center of the wheat producing belt: and this line he finds runs through the principal wheat state of these United States—passing through its capital city, Minneapolis, the greatest wheat and wheat flour market in the world;—with twenty-six flouring mills producing over 10,000,000 barrels per annum.

Seeking next for the date of harvest, he gives abundant statistics to prove that the first day of August would represent the average middle of wheat harvest the world over, and continues—]


Having thus ascertained beyond all reasonable question that the center of the world’s wheat belt is the 45th parallel of latitude, and that its representative harvest day is August 1st, it becomes a comparatively simple matter to ascertain the length of the average wheat harvest day. It is only necessary to find the time of sunrise and sunset on the 45th parallel of latitude on August 1st.

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[Further elaborate calculations are given here, showing that—] From 4.48 A.M. to 7.24 P.M. is 14 hours and 36 minutes, which, if these calculations are correct, is therefore the length of the harvest day of the world.


We are now ready to apply what we have learned. If the length of the harvest period from October 1st, 1874, to October 1st, 1914, be considered as a day, part of which is light and part darkness, we can easily find what portion of the forty-year period will correspond with the daylight. To begin with, we will reduce the forty years of “harvest” to months. 40 times 12 equals 480 months. Now, taking the length of the average harvest day, we have 14 hours and 36 minutes =14.6 hours=14.6/24 or 146/240 or 292/480 of the day. The 14 hours and 36 minutes from sunrise to sunset, therefore, corresponds to 292 months from the time when the Sun of Righteousness arose, October 1st, 1874. (MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., p.188.) 292 months equals 24 years and 4 months. 24 years and 4 months from October 1st, 1874, brings us to February 1st, 1899, as marking the close of this harvest day (sunset), and would seem to indicate that by that time the harvest work [of gathering from the world] will be finished [—tho much threshing and winnowing may still be in order]; i.e., that the last of the “overcomers” will have been sealed with the knowledge of present truth, and the shadows of the night, wherein no man can work, will then begin to settle down.

But, even after the sunlight is withdrawn, it seems probable that there will still be a period corresponding to twilight, in which those who are really anxious to labor in the Master’s cause may find the opportunity. It is plain that there must come a time when the last member of the prospective bride of Christ will come to a knowledge of the truth. It is clear also, that after that time has come, he or she must, to some extent at least, “spend and be spent” in the Master’s service. This being the case, it follows as a matter of course, that the “door” of opportunity will not be immediately and forever closed when the last saint has been sealed, but that the shadows will gradually deepen. It seems clear to me, therefore, that while it will still be possible to work for the Master after February 1st, 1899, it will not be possible to do any further [outward] harvest work, for the last overcoming saint will have been “sealed in his forehead” with a knowledge of the truth before that time. It behooves us all to do with our might what our hands find to do, while it is called to-day.


From a careful study of Revelation, I became convinced long ago that the 10th chapter refers, in general, to the rise and development of present truth, but specifically to MILLENNIAL DAWN; please see also pages 88, 89 of Volume III.

As nearly as I can ascertain, the publication of the first volume of this wonderful set of Bible helps was looked for eagerly by all the friends of the truth, and the book itself was and still is regarded by its author as his first clear and systematic presentation of the divine plan of the ages. In support of this I quote from pages 114, 115 of Harvest Siftings, as follows:—”It was about this time that. … I took occasion to promise MILLENNIAL DAWN, which should present the Plan of the Ages in the clearer, more orderly manner made possible by the new light shed upon every feature of it by the lessons from the Tabernacle;” and again: “Some who have The Three Worlds or the old edition of Day Dawn, would perhaps like to know my present opinion of them—whether I still think them profitable books to loan to truth seekers. To this I reply, Certainly not; because the very immature views of God’s truth therein presented fall far short of what we now see to be God’s wonderful plan. … All now so clear was then blurred, mixed and indistinct. Neither had we seen the steps or planes, shown upon the Chart of the Ages, MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., which have assisted so many to distinguish between justification and sanctification, and to determine their present standing and relationship to God. … Even Food for Thinking Christians I no longer commend, because it is less systematic than later publications.” Again, in speaking of these earlier works it says: “Things which are now clear as noonday were then cloudy and mixed.”

Thus, by your own words, it is apparent that the light of truth did not shine upon all the features of the Divine Plan until we were well on in the harvest day—until noonday—until the “Sun” had reached the zenith and poured its light-giving rays into the secret recesses of the deep things of God. And what was noonday to you was noonday to all, as soon as The Plan of The Ages had been published.

To find, therefore, the time of publication of the Plan of the Ages will, it seems to me, be to find midday of this harvest season, and this can be easily done. On the fourth cover-page of every paper bound copy of The Plan of the Ages occur these words: “Special Issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, representing numbers 3, 4 and 5 of Volume VIII.,” which numbers correspond to November 1st, 1886, December 1st, 1886 and January 1st, 1887. As the middle date of these three is December 1st, 1886, that is evidently the midday hour of this harvest day.

In the “Helps” in the back of my Bible I find the following remarks under the heading “The Day and its Divisions:” “The hour varied in length with that of the daylight to be subdivided. To compute any given hour of a Jewish day in modern terms is thus a matter of some complication, as only one hour of the Jewish day,—that of noon—would always correspond with one hour of our day.” Reckoning back, therefore, from this important hour, midday, to sunrise, (assuming the publication of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., to have been midday in this 40 year harvest day) we find that the difference between October 1st, 1874, and December 1st, 1886, or, in other words, the first half of the harvest day (from sunrise to noon), is 12 years and 2 months. Accordingly, the last half of the day, or from midday to sunset, will be of the same length. 12 years and 2 months from December 1st, 1886, brings us to February 1st, 1899, and exactly confirms what we had previously learned. If this were all the evidence to show that February 1st, 1899 marks the date of sealing of the last overcomer, it would be sufficient, but there is still more.

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After mentioning, in Chap. 6, the various epochs which, under the symbols of seals, mark the events connected with the rise and fall of Papacy and with those of “the time of the end,” Revelation 7:2,3, says: “And I saw another angel [messenger] ascending from the East [the messenger of the covenant—the Sun of Righteousness], having the seal of the living God [the seventh and last] and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” The balance of the chapter, verses 4-17, seems to me to be a parenthesis, thrown in to conceal, until God’s due time, the meaning of the first verse of chapter 8. If I understand the subject correctly, this verse closes the subject of the seals, the balance of chapter 8 dealing with an entirely different subject.

Correctly translated, the verse reads, “And when he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven during half an hour.” The word “silence” has a double significance. It not only conveys the impression of a time of deep study and thoughtfulness, but of a calm before a storm, and as here used seems to me to plainly mean both. Please note carefully that this time of silence takes place

(1) While the saints are being sealed.

(2) While the winds of the time of trouble are withheld, and see how perfectly it coincides with both thoughts.

Again, Christ and his Church, since April 1st, 1878 (the date when “He took to himself his great power and began his reign”) really constitute the heaven, and as the prophecy, “He uttered his voice [i.e., broke the “silence”], the earth melted,” is not yet fulfilled, I hold it to be unmistakable evidence that the time of silence and the work of sealing are one and the same thing; and that both began April 1st, 1878. This is the date when it was first possible to apply the Lord’s command, “Come out of her, my people;” for it was not till then that Babylon was cast off; this is the date marked in the time parallels as the time when our Lord took to himself his great power and began his reign; it marks the rejection and commencement of the fall to everlasting destruction of what has constituted the heavens all down during the Gospel age; it indicates the beginning of the return of favor to fleshly Israel; it is the end of the 360-year periods or “times” of Revelations; it is the date when the first resurrection (of the Church, the body of Christ) began, and the time from which it is said, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now henceforth.” It is, therefore, a focal point toward which the rays of prophecy converge.

Moreover, since then the work of “sealing” the saints has progressed in an orderly, systematic and wonderfully thorough manner. During all this time the winds of the time of trouble have been held and the “silence in heaven” which commenced, as we have shown, on April 1st, 1878, still continues. The seventh seal, by way of contrast with the other seals, is called the “Seal of the living God.” It lies wholly within God’s day,—the seventh thousand-year day, the Millennium,—and the events which occur under it are specially under God’s direction. The scale, therefore, by which the half hour of silence should be measured is not the “year for a day” scale by which God measures human events, but is the scale by which God measures his own work. In speaking of the events of this day of judgment, Peter says, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8.) Using this divinely provided scale it becomes a very easy matter to find the length of the half hour. One half hour is one forty-eighth of a literal day. One forty-eighth of a thousand years is 20 years and 10 months. 20 years and 10 months from April 1st, 1878, brings us again to February 1st, 1899, as marking the date when the last overcomer will be sealed, and the storm of the great time of trouble will begin to break. Perhaps it will be worth mentioning that by this scale one hour would be 41 years and 8 months, this corresponds with the period from the beginning of the seventh thousand years or Day of the Lord, to October 1st, 1914, and reminds one of Rev. 18:10,17,19, where it is thrice repeated that “in one hour” the judgment and desolation of Babylon takes place.


In several places in MILLENNIAL DAWN reference is made to the fact that the French Revolution is a type of the great time of trouble or “night,” into which we anticipate the world will soon be plunged; and it seems probable that if we can find the length of that period of unrest, we may be able to learn something of further advantage. After mentioning the gathering of the National Assembly, and their claim on June 17th, 1789, that they were the legitimate representatives of the French people, Anderson’s General History, page 572 says:—

“Thus was inaugurated that tremendous social and political convulsion known as the French Revolution, which in its progress not only overturned the government of France, but threw the whole of the civilized world into violent commotion, uprooting institutions that had withstood the assaults of ages. The king and his ministers, dismayed at the determination shown by the lower order and desiring to check their proceedings, attempted to exclude them from their hall and thus suspend their sittings. … An insurrection of the populace of Paris ensued, and the Bastile, a noted prison, was stormed and captured by the mob, July 14th, 1789. The excited populace then proceeded to Versailles and demanded that the king and royal family should return to Paris, and Louis felt himself obliged to comply.” (July 17th, 1789.)

Concerning king Louis’ memorable journey from Versailles to Paris, Abbott’s “Life of Marie Antoinette,” says:—

“As on the morning of the 17th of July, the king entered his carriage, with a slender retinue and with no military protection, to expose himself to the dangers of his tumultuous capital, this whole body formed in procession, on foot, and followed him. A countless throng of artisans and peasants flocked through all the streets of Versailles, and poured in from the surrounding country, armed with scythes and bludgeons, and

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joined the strange cavalcade. Every moment the multitude increased, and the road, both before and behind the king, was so clogged with the accumulating mass that seven hours passed before the king arrived at the gates of the city. During all this time he was exposed to every conceivable insult. As Louis was conducted to the Hotel de Ville a hundred thousand armed men lined the way, and he passed along under the arch of their sabres crossed over his head. The cup of degradation, he was compelled to drain to its dregs.”

As the first great result of the French Revolution was to humble royalty, to destroy reverence for “names” of men, (Rev. 11:13), we are safe in fixing upon the date of the humbling of the French monarch, July 17th, 1789, as the time when something more than claims had been made, or mob violence attempted, and the people had begun to know their power and to use it. We therefore look upon this date as the real beginning of the “tremendous social and political convulsion” of that period.

Now looking ahead to the great time of trouble coming, we know that it will only come to its final end when Isaiah 2:2-4 is fulfilled—”And many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” With this in mind we look amid the troublous events which stirred France from end to end a century ago, for a personage who was not only a mighty factor in those events, but who, so far as he was able, so shaped them as to cause them all, eventually, to work together for his own aggrandizement. Needless to say we find him in the “Man of Destiny”—Napoleon Bonaparte, he who so narrowly missed becoming a universal monarch that he is described at length in that wonderful eleventh chapter of Daniel, in which they all find a place.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., chapter 2.

As all students of history know, Napoleon, during the latter part of the French time of trouble, caused the fickle populace to really play into his hands. He became successively the First Consul, then Consul for life, and finally Emperor. But even when he had been crowned Emperor of the French he had not yet attained the height of his power, and we must look for an event in his life which will correspond with the homage which, about October 1st, 1914, we expect will be paid to the rightful Lord of Earth. Such event did occur, and by those who feared and hated him was considered of such importance that it caused a coalition to be formed against him by the combined governments of Europe. From Arnault and Panckoucke’s Life of Napoleon, Part I., page 206, I quote a description of this event:—

“Napoleon no longer indulged the least hesitation in putting upon his head the iron crown of the kings of the Lombards. In reality, as Napoleon had established royalty in France, he could not think of suffering a republic to subsist in the north of Italy, and as, during his Consulship, he had prepared the French for an imperial regimen, he had also brought the Italian republic into such a state that it was impossible to preserve its independence. From its first existence this republic had been led by him, as it were, in leading strings, but from the moment he was declared Emperor of France a change in the Italian constitution was to be expected. In order to be more sure of the assent of his new subjects, he used the same means as he had adopted in 1802. He summoned the Italian consulta to meet him at Paris for the professed purpose of adding those modifications and changes that times and circumstances had rendered necessary. On the 17th of March, 1805, therefore, M. de Melzi, Vice President of the Italian republic, arrived at Paris at the head of a deputation from the Cisalpine Republic, to express their cordial acquiescence in a monarchial and hereditary government, and also their wishes that Napoleon, being (already) proclaimed king of Italy, would not suffer a year to elapse before he came to be crowned,” etc.

This, I believe, was the proudest day of Napoleon’s life, when the representatives of that country which for two thousand years had—under one form of government or another—ruled the world, came to lay their homage at his feet and beseech him to be their lord.

Anderson’s General History, page 579, under the heading “King of Italy,” says:—

“Napoleon received the crown of France from the hands of the Pope; and subsequently, at Milan, caused himself to be crowned King of Italy, with the famous “iron crown” of the Lombards (1805). These assumptions of power led to another coalition against him, on the part of England, Austria, Russia, Sweden and Prussia.”

From this date, March 17th, 1805 (when his imperial power was first recognized by the Italian government), back to the beginning of the French Revolution, July 17th, 1789, was 15 years and 8 months, and if I am acting upon right premises this should be the length of time from October 1st, 1914, back to the beginning of the great time of trouble. 15 years and 8 months back from October 1st, 1914, brings us again to Feb. 1st, 1899, and confirms all we have previously learned!

Having found the length of the “night” to be 15 years and 8 months, it may be of interest to note if we divide this into four equal watches,—as was the Jewish custom,—where the end of the cock-crowing or third watch, and the beginning of the morning or fourth watch will occur. 15 years and 8 months equals 188 months; three quarters of 188 months would be 141 months, or 11 years and 9 months. 11 years and 9 months from February 1st, 1899, brings us to November 1st, 1910. This synchronizes very closely with the teachings of the pyramid (Vol. III., p. 363). The difference of one month from October 1st to November 1st, suggests that possibly the “month” referred to by Brother Dickinson in the November 1st, ’96, TOWER may have a literal as well as a symbolic fulfilment, and that some great catastrophe, the worst event of the year of October 1st, 1910 to October 1st, 1911, may occur about that time, and that as Christ has promised his followers that if worthy they would be permitted to escape the severest troubles of this coming day of wrath, he will take the last one to himself before that catastrophe has come. It seems reasonable, also, to suppose that it will take but a very short time after the last members of the body of Christ (the light of the world) have been taken from the earth, until the darkest hour of that dark night will have involved Great Babylon in inextricable confusion and dismay.

In love and fellowship, Your brother in Christ, July 12, ’97


— March 15, 1898 —