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VOL. XXVIII AUGUST 15. No. 16
A.D. 1907—A.M. 6035
Views from the Watch Tower……………………243
The Missionary Without the Halo……………243
Niagara Falls Convention………………….244
Watch Tower Foreign Missions………………….244
“Having Done All, Stand”……………………..245
“The Lord Hath Done Great Things for Us,
Whereof We are Glad”……………………246
“The Ox Knoweth His Owner and the Ass
His Master’s Crib”……………………..247
“Of Your Own Selves Men Shall Arise, Speaking
“Let Me Take Out the Mote”………………..249
Reporting from Two Viewpoints…………………250
The Brazen Serpent and Its Antitype……………252
The Sin of Moses…………………………253
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LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
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MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED.
FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY.
TERMS TO THE LORD’S POOR AS FOLLOWS:—
All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied FREE if they send a Postal Card each June stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on\ our list continually and in touch with the Studies, etc.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
THIS JOURNAL IS PUBLISHED IN THE
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SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
A STRIKE at the bindery which does our work has delayed shipment of MANNA to Great Britain and also the orders of some colporteurs. It is over now, and all orders will soon be filled.
This year’s Volunteer tracts are going out very rapidly. We are doing our best to keep up with the increased demand and rejoice that an increasing number of the Lord’s people are appreciating this privilege and will gain a spiritual blessing therefrom. We request that all who send in orders specify particularly the quantities they can and will use judiciously and promptly. We will be glad to double the shipments.
THE TABERNACLE AND THE PRIESTS
These two beautiful chromos, considerably delayed, are now in good supply and should be in all of our homes—to remind us of their glorious antitypes, of which we have been studying for some time past in our “Berean Lessons.”
By getting them out in large quantities we can supply them at 30c per pair, or 4 pairs for $1.00, post or express prepaid by us. They are very handsome and easily worth several times the price. We merely aim to meet the cost. The foreign shipments will go forward at once. We regret the delay.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
THE MISSIONARY WITHOUT THE HALO
THE American conception of a missionary is “a man with a book, going out among the natives, preaching, preaching, always and everywhere preaching, ‘as a dying man to dying men.'” So says Mr. William T. Ellis, who is at present engaged in looking at the transplanted preacher with unemotional eyes. His present field of observation is China, which, he says, “furnishes the greatest variety of missionaries.” This prevalent idea is a misconception, we are told, for “there is probably as little of accosting wayfarers in China on the subject of religion as there is in America.” The missionary is a man not different from those who preach at home except as, in the minds of his supporters, a kind of religious romanticism has invested him with a halo. “The man or woman who engages in foreign missionary work,” says Mr. Ellis (in the New York Tribune, May 26), “is commonly regarded as a person of peculiar sanctity, chivalry, devotion, sacrifice, and courage.” The “real” missionary is described in these words:
“Occasionally I have met a missionary, usually young and second-rate, who takes himself quite as seriously as his friends at home take him, and who, well aware that he is one of the noble army of martyr spirits, goes about wearing his halo with all the self-consciousness of a girl with a new Easter hat.
“Most missionaries, on the other hand, feel foolish because of the false attitude in which they are placed by their idealizing admirers at home. Some of them have used quite unmissionary forcibleness of speech on this point. They say that they are neither extraordinary saints nor heroes, and that they are not living lives of physical hardship and sacrifice; those who really have hardships say nothing about them. That, in reality, they do not correspond to the image of themselves ever being held up in sermons, speeches, and articles no one knows quite so well as themselves. If permitted to speak frankly, they would say, as many have said to me, that they have fewer material discomforts than the average home missionary or country pastor.”
The missionary himself may have shared the romantic views of the home people before he entered upon the work of the foreign field; but Mr. Ellis shows how his change of view comes about through perfectly natural causes. Thus:
“The recruit reaches the field in a state of spiritual exaltation. He has renounced home, friends, country, and worldly prospects, in order to preach the Gospel to the heathen. Fully expectant of hardships and self-denial and possible martyrdom, he has nerved himself to the worst. His first shock comes when he finds a welcome awaiting him in a comfortable American home, possibly better than the one he has left. He looks about in vain for the crosses that he has strengthened his shoulders to bear. Then, instead of life on the qui vive for the conversion of the heathen, he finds existence quite a hum-drum matter. He discovers that he is not to preach to crowds or to converse by the wayside upon salvation, or to teach the ignorant or to heal the sick; two solid years must be devoted to the deadening duty of learning the language. Not romance, but routine, such as schoolboys know, is his lot. There is no glamour about mastering Chinese characters and Chinese pronunciation; it is all grind, grind, grind, until the poor student wonders whether, after all, missionary work is worth while.
“During these first years, which plane off the corners of the soul’s enterprise and initiative, the new missionary becomes adapted to his environment; the heathen are no longer a novelty; they are everywhere—in his kitchen, in his study, in every highway and byway. He meets them whichever way he turns. Soon the missionary discovers that the heathen half a world away are far more interesting than the heathen swarming about him on every hand. In this latter fact is a depressing power difficult to define or describe, but tremendously real in experience. The atmosphere of a heathen land seems to steal a man’s enthusiasm. It reins the war-horse, chafing at the bit, down to the dog-trot of the livery hack. So the ordinary missionary finds himself plodding
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along established lines and living not at all the life he expected to live when he sailed from his native shores.
“My own judgment has affirmed the criticism made to me in numerous specific cases that the dwellings of the missionaries are entirely too sumptuous for persons of their vocation. Rightly or wrongly, the Church and the world associate the idea of sacrifice with the missionary’s calling; the natives, too, quickly come to see the apparent discrepancy between the preaching of self-denial and the practise of material luxury; some of the most serious strictures upon the missionary’s style of living have come to me from native preachers. Often, I am convinced, the fault lies directly with the boards at home; some missionaries have lamented, in my hearing, the elaborateness and impressiveness of their residences. They deplore the contrast between their houses and those of the wealthiest natives. The missionary, they reason, should be the last person conspicuous for evidences of worldly position. The theory that it is necessary to ‘impress’ the heathen is utterly fallacious; the disciple cannot improve upon the spirit of his Master, the lowly Nazarene.”
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NIAGARA FALLS CONVENTION
EXCURSION RATES, ROOM ENGAGEMENTS, ETC.
This Convention is timed to take advantage of the “TORONTO FAIR” excursion rates. Besides, there are special excursions to the Falls every year from many large cities and intermediate places. Inquire of your railway agent for particulars and judge what will suit you best.
WATCH TOWER B. & T. SOCIETY’S EXCURSION
A rate of one-way fare, plus one-third, is granted by the railroads to our Society for the round trip. Remember this and use it IF YOU CANNOT DO BETTER. This is known as the Certificate Plan. You pay one full fare and get a Certificate which entitles you to purchase your return ticket for one-third the regular fare.
CHICAGO CLASS EXCURSION
There will be a special excursion train of Truth people from Chicago. They have a round trip rate of $14.05 to Toronto, Canada (via Niagara Falls), and return. They will be glad to have the company of any of the friends to whom their arrangement would be a convenience or a saving. Address, Dr. L. W. Jones, 2024 Washington Boulevard, Chicago.
TOLEDO CLASS EXCURSION
The Toledo, Ohio, friends have secured a very favorable rate via the Lake Erie night steamers to Niagara and return, $4.00 (stateroom berths, 75c extra). They, too, will welcome any to whom their arrangements may prove convenient or economical. Address, C. H. S. Kuehn, 620 Chestnut St., Toledo.
CLEVELAND CLASS EXCURSION
Cleveland, Ohio, on Lake Erie, also has fine night steamers for Buffalo and Niagara Falls. An excursion rate of $3.00 has been secured (single berths, 75c extra). Friends from other places will be welcome to join on same terms. Address, John G. Kuehn, 922 Prospect Ave., Cleveland.
ALLEGHENY-PITTSBURG CLASS EXCURSION
The WATCH TOWER CONVENTION EXCURSION Certificate tickets will be the cheapest for the friends in this vicinity—round trip, $8.87. Consequently arrangements will be made for two first-class cars specially reserved for their use, starting from here at 9 a.m. Central time (10 o’clock Pittsburg time), Thursday, August 29. Friends from neighboring places may be provided for by advising W. D. Witt, 612 Arch St., Allegheny. Such should see that their tickets read via the Pittsburg & Lake Erie R.R., and do not forget the Certificate.
Those desiring to go in advance will find a $7.45 rate on Tuesday, Aug. 27.
SECURE YOUR LODGINGS
Those who desire hotel accommodations can readily be accommodated on arrival, for Niagara’s fine hotels are numerous. But not many of our readers can afford $3 to $5 per day for this item.
Those desiring $1.50 to $2 per day hotels, or lodging only at 50c. to $1 per night (taking meals at restaurants), will do well to let us secure accommodations for them in advance through brethren of that vicinity.
Write of this to the WATCH TOWER, Allegheny, on separate letter sheet, indicating sex (and if colored), stating the number of your party, and which two would occupy same double bed. The 50c. lodging is usually for several in a room and two in each bed. Separate bed and room $1 and up each night. Add on envelope the words Convention Department.
COLPORTEURS AT THE CONVENTION
A dear friend of the Truth is desirous of helping any of the Colporteurs who may need his aid to attend the Niagara Convention. Accordingly he has placed in the Society’s treasury a sum of money to be thus used to the extent of one-half the expenses of any Colporteur now on our lists as such, and from whom we have had book orders and sales reports during July and August.
It rejoices us to believe that this worthy generosity will enable quite a number of our dear Colporteurs to attend the Convention and profit by the Colporteur fellowship and instructions who otherwise might not be able to do so. We urge such to accept the offer.
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WATCH TOWER FOREIGN MISSIONS
DEAR friends everywhere were greatly interested in the Japanese missionary’s letter published in our July 15 issue. We have pleasure in telling you that we authorized the Japanese translation before the letter was published, and made a remittance for that purpose. We will see later as to the advisability of publishing, and how many copies. You will know in due time all particulars. Meantime we must be secretive because of our numerous enemies.
The Jamaica Mission prospers finely; but the African work has not amounted to much yet. We are not without hope for it in the future, however. Brother Booth surely has considerable zeal.
Meantime we have some news from China. We
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learn that the Truth reached a lieutenant in the British forces there, who, full of zeal, interested others of his fellow-soldiers, of whom four symbolized their consecration by water baptism. His activity, we learn, made him obnoxious to the missionaries, and it is supposed that the latter secured his removal from China.
This surely means the carrying of the good tidings to still another foreign field, and seemingly under the Lord’s direct providence: for we cannot doubt that the noble brother, the lieutenant, will let his light shine out in his new environment. We hope for a report from him ere long.
And now what! The Lord, we believe, is preparing a chosen and already prepared vessel for China—to bear the water of life to probably a very few there also. He is well qualified for the work—better than we could have expected.
This opening of foreign doors to the harvest sickle seems to imply that the harvest work nears its close—possibly four years may see the open doors closing, because “the harvest is past and the summer ended.” It has been a surprise to us all around. We had little thought of foreign fields, so busy have we been in the harvest fields of “Christendom.”
By the way, Russia may well be styled a foreign mission field also. The DAWN is prohibited there, or was until lately. A few copies, however, were sent in fragments by letter-post by some of those who had feasted and desired to bless their brethren. As a result fifteen members of a German Baptist Church were excommunicated and suffered considerable ostracism, until now the majority of them have reached the United States and more liberty,—and the message continues to spread. Wonderful to relate, the very minister who opposed them and led them out of the meeting has since been convinced of the Truth and is rejoicing in it. How many who were most ardent opposers of “this way” are now colaboring with us! Let us think kindly of those who for conscience sake (misguided) oppose us and the harvest message.
Another thought: As we see so much fresh interest springing up and new believers making rapid progress in grace, knowledge and zeal, we note with pain that some once zealous colaborers are less so, and given rather to criticising those who are filled with the Spirit. We fear for these lest they lose their “crowns” to others. Nor dare we say much to them, for critics are very sensitive and easily offended. Evidently the thrashing and winnowing of harvest time are upon us. “Who shall be able to stand?” Let us fear and watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation.
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“HAVING DONE ALL, STAND”
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”—Eph. 6:13
THIS Scripture means much more to WATCH TOWER readers than to others, because we recognize that we are already in the “evil day.” Nevertheless we fear that many fail to make a personal application of the Apostle’s words to themselves. It is right enough to apply them to all in Christendom who make a sincere profession of faith in God and devotion to his cause. It is right enough to rejoice that we have by the Lord’s grace come to a considerable knowledge of his great Plan of the Ages, and have learned to some extent rightly to divide the Word of Truth and to appreciate the portions which belong to past ages and to the future, and to distinguish these from the Scriptures which appertain to the present time, and to see the harmonious relationship of the whole. It is right enough that we should feel that this implies that we have to some extent heeded the Apostle’s words, that we have to some extent taken to us the armor which God has provided in preparation for the present and approaching tests in this harvest time. But there is a danger: we fear that some in whom the good work of grace has begun are too well satisfied with their attainments. The fact that we know much more about the Word and plan than do many of our fellow-Christians is indeed a blessed assurance that we are in the school of the Lord and being taught of him; but it is no assurance that we are ready to graduate. We should all realize the force of the Apostle’s words, “Now we know in part—then we shall know even as we are known.”—I Cor. 13:12.
But even if we knew a great deal, if we knew twice as much as we now know, we should understand our acquisition of knowledge merely to correspond to the finding of the armor mentioned by the Apostle in our text. We should notice that he does not merely say that we should find the armor, but, much more to the point—he declares that we should put it on. The Lord’s object in providing us with the knowledge was that thereby we might grow in grace. Knowledge, then, is merely a means to an end desired. Well does the Apostle say, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up.” (I Cor. 8:1.) If we could get love alone without getting knowledge it would be very much to be preferred above getting knowledge alone without getting love, but God has otherwise arranged, namely, that we must have knowledge as the basis for love, and that we must have love as the outgrowth of the knowledge if we would be acceptable to him as members of the Elect Church. Hence, we are to grow in grace, and to this end incidentally we must grow in knowledge, because how could we love God if we knew him not, and how could we develop his character-likeness except as we would be sanctified through the truth?
“THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE”
The Apostle, in enumerating the blessings that are ours through Christ and the attainments possible in faith, knowledge, hope and love, declares that the
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greatest of these is love. He points out that present faith and knowledge will be dwarfed and entirely lost sight of in the perfection of knowledge into which we shall be ushered in our glorious change in the First Resurrection, and that our present hopes will then expire because the realization will have come, and will so far transcend our expectations. But he argues the superiority of love in that it will endure throughout eternity: “Love never faileth,” “God is love,” “Love is the fulfilling of the law”; the new commandment is that we love one another with a pure heart fervently. Oh, how much room there still is for progress in this direction, in the putting on of the whole armor of God!
Were we to analyze the armor we would find it not merely an armor of knowledge but very largely indeed an armor of faith, an armor containing love as one of its chief elements, and surely in every part riveted together with love. What would our breastplate be worth without this love element? Ah, we see that our dear Redeemer’s death constitutes our breastplate, that his love provided the redemption which covers us and protects us, and that it is our appropriation of his love and our reciprocating love for him and for the Father and for the divine law that led us to a full consecration of ourselves to his service. It is behind this breastplate of righteousness—of which the love of God
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and our love for God and for the Lord Jesus are the chief elements—that we are secure, justified through faith in the precious blood, counted righteous through the love and mercy of God.
And our helmet, does it signify an intellectual knowledge of the Lord? Yes! and yet it is a knowledge based not upon the things that are seen but upon the things that are unseen. Our helmet is a faith-knowledge, and the basis of this faith is an appreciation of the love of God which passeth all understanding, which has begun the good work, not only in our redemption, but in the sanctification of our hearts. The love of God for us and our love for him are most intimately related to this helmet, and whoever would put it on, whoever would be protected by it, must surely recognize the divine law and be responsive in love himself.
And what of our shield of faith? Is not the love of God, the mercy of God and of our Lord Jesus, the basis of our faith? We are not trusting either to our works or our knowledge for salvation, for both of these prove to us that we are unworthy of divine favor. We are trusting in God’s love and in the loving sacrifice of our Redeemer, and this shield can be appreciated and will be thoroughly used only by those who have received of the love of God as well as of a measure of knowledge.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is a part of this armament. But do we not see that many who have the Word of God are holding it by the blade and not by the hilt? Do we not see that a failure to appreciate the love of God has been their difficulty, so that the study of the Word and the knowledge gained respecting the Word have been comparatively valueless to them, misleading—injurious—because they received not the Truth in the love of it. Most evidently some have received the Truth in large measure and some in lesser measure, in proportion as they had the right or the wrong kind of love. Pride and self-love have hindered many from taking the sword of the Spirit in the proper manner; pride and denominational love have hindered others; and we are safe to say that all who handle the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, are in great danger of doing injury to themselves thereby, except as they speak the Truth in love—”in the love of it”—in appreciation of it as God’s great revelation of himself and of his purposes. If selfishness to any extent combines with this love, to that extent the sword is dangerous to the one who wields it. Love out of a pure heart is the only proper, the only safe condition.
The sandals of preparation for contact with the world and the ruggedness of the way are very necessary. Pride and ambition may enable us to pass over a considerable stretch of rough roadway without discouragement, but we may be sure that the Lord has so arranged the narrow way that selfish ambitions will never carry us to the end. On the contrary, the divine order is that only love for the Lord and for his flock and for his Truth will so protect us that we can go onward and upward in the narrow way clear to the end of the journey without discouragement that would turn us aside.
“The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
We are assured that the above words represent the sentiments of a considerable proportion of the readers of this journal. We are claiming nothing for the Editor, but freely admit that all the blessings are from the great Fountain of blessing, from the Lord himself. We are glad to be recipients of these bounties in common with you all, and glad to have been used of the Lord as a broken and emptied vessel to bear to his dear ones some of the refreshments he is now so bounteously providing. And we have a deep concern that the Lord’s grace be received not in vain by any of us—that we should all be profited, strengthened by the meat in due season which our present Lord is dispensing to the household of faith as never before. How else could we understand the light that is now shining upon the divine Word? And is not this understanding of the matter in full accord with our Lord’s precious promise that at his second coming, when he would make up his jewels, gather his very Elect, his Bride, he would first knock? and then to those servants who would open immediately and show their faithfulness, he would come in and sup with them? More than this, he would become their servant and gird himself and bring forth from the storehouse things new and old. (Matt. 13:52.) How wonderfully, how accurately,
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this matter is being fulfilled before us today! It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our sight. The eyes of our understanding discern clearly and we rejoice therein.
These blessings of divine truth and grace consist not only of new features but also of old features. Do they not? How many years have many of us studied God’s Word, heard preaching, read commentaries, etc., to very little account? Indeed our confusion seemed to increase rather than diminish, so that the most studious were often most confused. But now, the due time having come, our present Lord having come in to sup with us, having girded himself as our servant, having brought to our attention the things both new and old, we are feasting. All the precious food has a richer and a better flavor. It is cleaner, sweeter. For instance, setting aside those special features of the Truth which belong to the harvest time, respecting the reaping, the presence of the Lord, the fulfilment of the prophecies, etc., etc., look again at the old things that God’s people have recognized as true for centuries, and note how appetizing they are to us now, how strengthening to faith, how refreshing!
Take, for instance, the “precious blood.” From infancy we heard of the death of Christ, of its necessity, of its value. We read the Scriptures, yet we saw not the beauty and the grandeur, until now in the harvest time the Lord himself has disclosed the real significance of the word ransom—a purchase price—and shown us just how our Lord Jesus left the glory and became holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, the man Christ Jesus, and how then he “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Ah! what a store of gracious knowledge, mingled with precious love, is opened to us by this appreciation of how Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. Now we can see, as we could not previously, the meaning of the word propitiation, satisfaction. Now we can see that he was the propitiation for our sins—the sins of believers of this present time.
We can see, too, how the satisfaction which he has already rendered to Justice is the ground or basis of our acceptance with the Father, and that now we are justified through faith in his blood, and correspondingly our peace with God has a firmer foundation and is every way more satisfactory. But still more, we can see the further value of the precious blood when we understand the Apostle’s declaration—”He is a propitiation for our sins [the Church’s sins, now], and also [through the Church, his Body] for the sins of the whole world.” Now we can see how and why the gracious New Covenant will be introduced at the close of this Gospel Age—a New Covenant with Fleshly Israel, which ultimately will include all the families of the earth, signifying to them a complete release from Adamic condemnation, and a taking away of the stony heart out of their flesh and the renewing of a heart of flesh—during the Millennial Age—bringing them up from the degradation of sin and death back to all that was lost in Eden, during the times of restitution of all things. Oh, what the Atonement signifies to us now and how little it signified before! how incomprehensive it was before! Praise the Lord for the old things as well as for the new.
Take another illustration out of many: we knew something of what the Scriptures taught respecting justification, we knew something of how faith was related to this justification, but we comprehended it not, and but imperfectly realized that this justification by faith, this imputation of righteousness to believers, was merely the divine method of putting them on a plane where they could be acceptable sacrificers, and present their bodies, already acceptable to God, as living sacrifices, their reasonable service; nor did we see clearly either that this consecration to sacrifice, this setting apart or sanctification of life and heart and all to the Lord, is the condition upon which we may hope to share with our dear Redeemer in his glorious Kingdom. How real these matters become as the Lord brings to us the meat in due season, things new and old.
To illustrate further: A dear brother recently said to the Editor, “Oh, Brother Russell, I was an Evangelical Christian for years, but it seems as though I had been asleep all that time so far as Christian knowledge and experience go. How I wish I had known some of the things that are presented in the sixth volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN when I was rearing my family! How I wish that I had realized my personal responsibility as a father, and had brought my family up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—had realized my home duties, my proper relationship and obligation to my wife, children and neighbors! Everything in the divine arrangement seems so simple and so beautiful now that I wonder how I was blind to these things for so long; and evidently others were similarly blinded, for our teachers might, at least, have told us how to live the godly life, the Scriptural life;
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they might have drawn our attention to these things which so greatly make for our peace, and which are so eminently our proper course of conduct in life; but we were held in a maze, we were all as it were asleep. And it seems peculiar that we are able to awaken so few even now; that so many prefer to slumber on, and have no ear to hear, and manifest only opposition to these glorious things in which they should delight.” Very true, we agreed.
“THE OX KNOWETH HIS OWNER, AND THE ASS HIS MASTER’S CRIB.”—ISA. 1:3
This is our Lord’s complaint through the Prophet against many whom he has favored both in Natural Israel and in Spiritual Israel—that they do not exhibit the wisdom of even the brute beast. One would think after the experiences above narrated, after our blind gropings in the past, after our failure—our failure to find anything in the Bible that would satisfy our reason and our heart—that we all would know assuredly that the present satisfaction and blessing and enlightenment
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and refreshment are from the Lord himself. As the ox would be able to know his owner, we surely ought to be able to know our God and to recognize his supervision in our affairs. But not so with all. Some, we are sorry to say, seem to overlook the divine supervision of the Church and the divine arrangement respecting this harvest time and the present development of the Truth. The miraculous supply of manna to Natural Israel in the wilderness was not in our estimation more wonderful nor a better foundation for faith in the divine providences than is the present supply of spiritual manna to the Spiritual Israelites. Nevertheless some know not the Lord as their owner, but still “belong to” various sects and parties and denominations.
The Lord attaches no blame whatever to the wheat on account of the tares being mingled, but explains that in the time of harvest they are to separate. Neither does he express disapproval that his people were in “Babylon” for centuries—confused, bewildered by “traditions of men” and “doctrines of devils.” But he does tell us that he does expect that, when the true light shines upon the path of the just in the harvest time of this age, all who are awake and loyal will see the Day Star and the dawning Millennium, and that they will hear as the voice of God the message of Present Truth, and that they will be strengthened and energized by his Word as meat in due season; and that, if then thus energized and awake, they are loyal to him and to the principles of his government and to the honor of his name and to their privileges of service, they will promptly recognize the Truth as the voice of God, saying to them, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues.—Rev. 18:4.
“OF YOUR OWN SELVES SHALL MEN ARISE, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, TO DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM.”—ACTS 20:30.
The ass knoweth her Master’s crib: She knows to look for her food as of her Master’s providing, and goes again to the same crib, where she receives his bountiful supply, that she may be again and again refreshed and nourished. But our Lord intimates that the stupid ass could give pointers to some of his people. And how true this is! Here and there we find some who, after feeding at the Master’s crib, practically say to themselves and to others, “Yes, there was good, clean provender in that crib; it tasted good, I feel refreshed; but it was not specially of the Master’s providing; it was a happen-so; let us browse and wander about—we may come across another crib containing still better provender; let us nose about the various creeds, let us try Christian Science, let us try faith cure, let us try to make a crib of our own, and to fill it ourselves and eat therefrom. The Lord intimates that the ass is not as foolish as this; but if we could find one thus disposed we would say, Poor, foolish donkey, you do not know a good thing when you have it—you do not realize your Master’s care.
Turning from the Lord’s parable of the ox and the ass, we find the Apostle’s direct statement respecting the trials and difficulties sure to beset the Lord’s people along this line of forgetting who is their owner, who began the good work in them, and who it is that proposes, if we are faithful, to complete his work in us in the day of Jesus Christ—early in the morning of the Millennium. As the Apostle intimates, we find that some of the elders in the Church of Christ, instead of feeding the flock of the Lord and pointing them to their owner, to the food which he has provided, the meat in due season, are on the contrary seeking to turn the flock away—to draw disciples after themselves. Taking for granted that some of the Lord’s people are more stupid than the ass, they do their best to turn them from the Master’s crib—his provision for the necessities of his people in this evil day. Take an illustration of this: We heard recently from a little congregation of the Lord’s people, who for years have been feasting upon the things new and old from the storehouse of truth and grace provided now by our present Lord, that their Elder had admonished them that he would preach to them, or, if they wished a Bible study, he would make one for them, but that he did not wish that they should have “Dawn-Scripture Studies,” and hoped that none of them would refer to nor quote from those six volumes of “Scripture Studies” or other of the WATCH TOWER publications. He evidently desired to make them a new crib, into which he would put some new fodder, perhaps attractively topping it off with some of the kind from which they had gotten spiritual refreshment. The old crib he wished them now to entirely forget and go to no more for food. We have not yet learned to what extent those dear people have the common sense of the donkey; but we presume, in harmony with the Lord’s suggestion, that some of them will show themselves lacking even donkey sense.
“HE THAT GATHERETH NOT WITH ME SCATTERETH ABROAD”
But what motive could any professed servant of the Lord have in such a course? The Apostle explains the motive in the text above, saying it is to draw away disciples after themselves. The desire for leadership, for prominence, to be chiefest, has seemingly been the besetment and difficulty of the Church from the days of Jesus until now. On no other score did our Lord so often warn his disciples as upon this one of a desire to be chief. Whoever manifests such a spirit should be firmly, kindly dealt with, to the intent that the flock might be preserved from such a pernicious spirit, and that the leader himself might be recovered from this snare of the Adversary. Selfishness is the opposite of love, and self-seeking is an evidence of selfishness. Hence, even if the foundation of doctrine, the ransom, be adhered to for a time, let us make no mistake that selfishness would sooner or later lead into outer darkness and thereby many be defiled—injured. The love which the Scriptures set before us as being the proper growth and development of the knowledge received from the Lord—seeketh not her own, is not puffed up—is solicitous chiefly for the glory of the Lord and the good of his flock.
Failure to recognize—or, if recognized, failure to remember—that the Lord is the Chief Reaper in the
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harvest work and has full supervision of it, is a fruitful cause of error. All who are in full accord with him, fully submitted to his will, wholly desirous of having his will done in their affairs and in the affairs of the Church, should look well to it that his will shall be fulfilled in every particular: in their thoughts, their words, their deeds, as these relate to their private affairs and to the interests of the Church. His servants we are to whom we render service: and this implies that we are either serving the Lord in connection with the reaping of this harvest time or serving the Adversary, who seeks to oppose this reaping work. Where are we? What are we doing? Are we gathering with the Lord or are we with the Adversary scattering abroad? There can be no doubt as to what the result will be. The harvest work will be accomplished and every true grain of wheat will be garnered; the important question to each of us is respecting our particular share in the matter. What is our attitude in this work? To what extent are we co-laborers and under-reapers? What may we hope for at the close of the harvest, when to the faithful laborers the Master shall say, “Well done, good and faithful servants?” Can he class us with those faithful ones who have sought not their own name or fame or glory or honor amongst men, but by the sacrifice of these have sought to do the will of the Father in heaven? This is a personal matter—each must answer to his own heart as best he may be able to see it.
“LET ME TAKE OUT THE MOTE”
There is a depth of meaning in our Lord’s parable in which he represents one as desiring to take a mote, a small speck, out of another brother’s eye, whereas he had a beam, a larger matter, in his own eye. The import of the parable is that each of the Lord’s followers should look critically to himself and sympathetically at others of the household. This is the spirit of love; whoever lacks this spirit is in danger: hence we all should seek to cultivate this quality. Where an opposite spirit is entertained, encouraged, the beginnings may be small but the tendency is toward outer darkness. This spirit, we regret to say, manifests itself occasionally in various little companies of the Lord’s people—a factional spirit—a fault-finding spirit. The proper spirit, on the contrary,
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should be loving consideration for one another, a gladness to see each other developing, and a willingness to assist in as kind and gentle a manner as possible. Any other spirit is sure to bring injury, and we urge all of the Lord’s faithful to stand fast by the principle which the Lord enunciates on this subject and to cultivate in the heart the loving generosity which thinketh no evil, but, on the contrary, seeks to rightly understand and excuse an apparent error, especially if it be not along an important line of doctrine.
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD’S SOUL
Such criticisms sometimes extend to the Editor of this journal, who, by the way, has never claimed infallibility, and who does not expect to reach that which is perfect until his change in the First Resurrection. As an illustration of this wrong principle we note the fact that a typographical error crept into a recent issue of the TOWER and made us appear to teach that it was the body of Jesus which was resurrected on the third day, whereas all of our readers know that our teaching in the DAWN-STUDIES has been that not the body but the soul of our Lord was quickened in his resurrection, in harmony with the statement of the Prophet and the Apostle, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades”—in the grave. We are glad that the dear friends generally read so critically that the mistake was noticed; but were sorry to learn that one, “who for the time ought to be a teacher” and helper of the flock, improved the opportunity to speak slightingly of this journal, and risked the interests of the flock through a shaking of confidence by remarking that here is the best of evidence that ZION’S WATCH TOWER is not reliable in its instructions on Scriptural themes. What object he had in making the remark only he and the Lord know; we judge him not. We suggest, however, that a different course would undoubtedly have been more to the Lord’s glory, more to the good of the little company to whom the brother ministered, and more to his own credit and influence with that little company as a leader. He might have said: “This is a peculiar statement and I think must be a typographical error. This must be so, for it was the Editor himself who first drew the attention of all of us to the fact that our Lord was not raised from the dead a human being but a spirit being—that it was not his body that was resurrected but his soul, as a New Creature. When we come to understand this matter we shall surely find that a typographical error has crept in.”
As a matter of fact the Editor dictates his matter to a stenographer, who takes it down in shorthand and then writes it out on a typewriter; the copy thus furnished then goes to a proof-reader and subsequently to the compositor, and the printer’s proof is read by two different proof-readers. How in this case the word “body” instead of “soul” could have slipped by the attention of all the dear friends who are thoroughly versed on the subject, none of us understands. Perhaps the Lord allows such blunders for the very purpose of keeping us all very humble, and also to the intent that we all may be on the alert to note carefully what we read, and to square it all with the divine plan which we all now have so clearly in mind.
While at it, we will refer to another criticism—not, however, that the matter is of any special value, but by way of correction. In referring to the wafers which constitute a part of the offerings to the Lord on the Day of Atonement, we explained that they contained a mixture of honey, basing this explanation upon the fact that in Exodus 16:31 we are told that wafers were made of fine flour mingled with honey. Another Scripture, however, forbade that honey should be burned in any sacrifice to the Lord. There then arises a seeming conflict. If the wafers offered on the
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Day of Atonement contained honey, then that sacrifice was peculiar and different from the other sacrifices subsequent to the Day of Atonement. If on the other hand the prohibition of the burning of the honey be understood to apply to the Day of Atonement sacrifices as well as to others, then the specified “wafers” could not have contained honey, but if they did not contain honey, in what respect were they different from the other cakes mentioned in the same connection is not very apparent. So far as we can see the question is not a momentous one, but to avoid confusion or dispute, in our future editions of the Tabernacle Shadows we will omit the reference to the honey as a component part of these wafers.
“LOVE AS BRETHREN”
The true spirit of brotherhood amongst the Lord’s disciples is most necessary for them individually and collectively. Our Lord declared, “Hereby shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” By these words he evidently meant us to understand that the rules and customs to prevail amongst his dear people should not be after the standards of the world but of a much higher, much nobler, much more generous standard. To the extent that we are able to keep this in memory and to live according to this rule will be our joy in the Lord in the present time and our prospect of being joint-heirs with him in his glorious Kingdom. Let us remember his words to the disciples on the subject of self-seeking—Except ye become as little children ye shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 18:3.
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REPORTING FROM TWO VIEW-POINTS
—NUMBERS 13:17-20,23-33—SEPTEMBER 1—
Golden Text:—”The Lord is with us; fear them not.”—Num. 14:9
THE journey of about 160 miles “through the terrible wilderness” toward Canaan consumed about three months, due probably to the largeness of the camp, for modern travelers have covered the distance in eleven days. Finally they reached Kadesh-Barnea, on the border of the promised land, with the hills of the latter in full view. It was here that Moses smote the rock, contrary to the divine command, and today the place has abundant springs of water and is a regular oasis. In harmony with the divine arrangement it was proposed that they go up immediately to possess the land, but caution and fear suggested that first spies be sent out, that they might have a better knowledge of the real value of the land God had given them and also a better knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered in taking possession of it. With them, as with Christians today, the opportunity was afforded of doubting the beneficence of the divine arrangement, doubting the wisdom and love of God, and conjecturing the impossibility of taking possession of the land and the probability that even then they should find it far less attractive than the Lord at the mouth of Moses had reported.
The request of the people that the land be spied and reported on before its conquest was begun was acceded to by Moses. Twelve spies were selected, representing the twelve tribes—prominent men in whose judgment the people might have confidence. Apparently these went forth in two companies: one under Joshua made a tour of the entire country from the southern part to Jericho at the north, some 300 miles. The other band under Caleb made a shorter journey, going only so far as the valley of Eshcol near Hebron. Caleb was accordingly the first to report (Numbers 13:30; 14:24), while Joshua’s report came in later (Numbers 14:6,7). The spies were commissioned to gather information respecting the fruitfulness of the land and the desirability of the country and the character of its inhabitants, and whether they dwelt permanently in walled cities, or in movable camps like the Arabs. Two reports were returned, and in most particulars they were very much alike, telling that the land was good and fruitful and desirable, but that it would be difficult to conquer; that the inhabitants dwelt in high-walled cities, which were well nigh impregnable, and that some of the people were of great stature. Although there were but few of these giants, their fame was evidently far reaching, and the spies declared with exaggeration that in their presence they felt like grasshoppers. The majority advised against any attempt to take possession of the land, and discouraged the people, leading them to believe that it would be an utterly hopeless task for them to undertake to drive out the Canaanites, the Amalekites, the Amorites, the Hittites and the Jebusites, who had thorough possession. The minority report by Caleb and Joshua differed little from the other, except that they expressed full confidence that Israel under divine guidance and by divine aid would be fully able to conquer all the difficulties of the situation.
We cannot wonder that the people were greatly disheartened from the very beginning: they were not a warlike, but a pastoral people. Indeed with the exception of the battle which Abraham waged for the recovery of Lot and his family, and the battle a year before in the wilderness with the Amalekites, the Israelites had no experience in war and quite evidently were unprepared for such a contest as lay before them if they entered Canaan and attempted to take possession. We must admit, therefore, that the report of the ten spies that the Israelites were not capable of taking possession was in many respects a wise and just one, and the people apparently were justified in accepting it. The thing lacking was faith. They should have believed God, and have followed explicitly his leading; they should have said, Greater is he who is on our part than
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all they that be against us, and while we are under his direction we are able to do all things through his strengthening power. However, it should not surprise us that this people under all the circumstances were unable to exercise such a faith in God. Rather we might say that antitypical Israel alone might be expected to have such a triumphant faith—nor do we find that very many Spiritual Israelites today possess faith to such a degree. Indeed we should not forget that the failure of Natural Israel and the divine dealings with them in consequence were more in the sense of typical illustrations for Spiritual Israel than as real condemnations of Natural Israel. We cannot think that God expected much more of those people than was manifested in their course. Of Spiritual Israel, however, much may reasonably be expected.
THE MAJORITY IN THE WRONG
How did the people receive the two reports? Almost unanimously they decided that they had been misled, that their best course was to return to Egypt and proffer their services again to the Egyptian taskmasters. They decided that their coming out of Egypt was a mistake, that the journey through the wilderness was wasted time, and that they now stood in a hopeless position, a people without a country. They proposed to select a leader to lead them back to Egypt, and threatened Caleb and Joshua with stoning for trying to perpetuate the misleading of Moses, which they seemed to have been willing to forgive as an error of judgment. At this juncture, however, the Lord intervened, and from the bright display of his presence over the Tabernacle there went forth a judgment against some of the leaders, especially the ten spies who gave the faithless report and stirred up the people to resent the divine leading which they had previously followed. The lesson was a severe one, a plague amongst the people evidencing divine disfavor, and they were turned back again to wander in the wilderness for the remainder of forty years, a year for each day consumed in the spying of the land. The divine decree was that all the men of Israel over twenty years of age were to perish in the wilderness during those forty years of national disfavor—that not one of them was ever to enter the promised land except the two who gave the good report, Caleb and Joshua.
The commotion amongst the people incident to this report must have been great. Moses himself endorsed the report of Caleb and Joshua, and urged the people to obedience to God, as we read:—
“Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. Jehovah, your God, who goeth before you, he will fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that Jehovah thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe Jehovah thy God, who went before thee in the way, to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night to show you in what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.”—Deut. 1:29-33.
But the people in bitterness of disappointment cried out, “Would to God that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would to God that we had died in the wilderness. Wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey. Were it not better for us to return to Egypt?”
Then Joshua and Caleb exhorted the congregation, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy it out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then will he bring us into this land and give it unto us; a land which floweth with milk and honey, only rebel not against the Lord nor fear ye the people of the land.”
SPIRITUAL ISRAEL’S SIMILAR TESTS
Applying the lesson to Spiritual Israelites we find many correspondencies: First, we have leaders of the people, corresponding to the spies, on whose report much will surely depend as to the courage of the people in going forward with the divine arrangement. Some of these ministers so magnify the difficulties of the way that the people are discouraged and go not on, while others giving a truthful report encourage their brethren with assurances that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for all who are his. Perhaps indeed it would not be amiss to suppose that the twelve spies represent the whole number of the Lord’s people who in the present life enter into covenant relationship to the Lord and experience a measure of his rest. All agree that the rest of faith is a glorious one, that its fruitage is grand, and samples are presented to the people. A small minority, however, give a proper report of the possibility of Christian living—the possibility of being overcomers of the world, of fighting a good fight in the name and strength of the Lord, the possibility of entering into all the glorious things which God hath provided for them that love him. The majority, the Great Company, hold back, fail to appropriate the promises, fail to trust the Lord, and their influence is proportionately an evil one upon others with whom they have influence. Thus at the present time few by faith enter into the blessings and privileges that belong to the Spiritual Israelite, and these few are the only ones who will enter into the heavenly Canaan to take actual possession by and by; the others fail of the blessing and joy of faith in the present time, and will fail of the highest blessing in the future, whatever portion they may obtain under the Lord’s grace.
Mr. Spurgeon told a story of a man who was invited to come into his orchard to eat some of his fruit. He declined because he said he had picked up some apples from the roadside that fell from those trees, and they were poor and bitter. The owner replied that those trees were there on purpose, so that the boys would not be attracted into the orchard to steal, but assured him that in the orchard proper to which he invited him were delicious apples. As those apple trees on the outside gave not a proper sample or representation of the orchard, so many Christians give to the world a very unsatisfactory sample of the blessings of the Lord and
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the fruits of the Spirit, and in some respects bear false witness and hinder the outflow of the blessings of the Lord toward mankind in general during this age. Thank God that the time is coming when under the leadership of the Joshua and Caleb class the whole people—all who will accept the Lord and have confidence in him—may be brought into the antitypical Canaan and assisted to take possession of all the rich favors which God has promised to them that love and obey him.
“Unbelief never gets beyond the difficulties, the cities, the walls, the giants. It is always preferring them, dwelling on them, pitting them against its own resources. Faith, on the other hand, though it never minimizes the difficulties, looks them steadily in the face, turns from them and looks into the face of God, and counts on him. This is what the people failed to do, and for this they lost Canaan.”—F. B. Meyer.
“Oh, how many a glorious record
Had the guardian angel kept!
Had I done instead of doubted,
Had I warred instead of wept!”
“I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENETH ME”
There are two important lessons for Spiritual Israelites to learn: (1) Their own inefficiency—their own inability to meet the trials, the difficulties, the hindrances in their way. As the Apostle says, We cannot do the things that we would. But our extremity is God’s opportunity, and his encouraging words are, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” The Lord could have armed and equipped the hosts of Israel in some miraculous manner, making them invulnerable to the attacks of their enemies, and giving them courage for their ordeal; but this was not his plan. He wished to develop in them the necessary faith, trust, obedience, for, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Thus in Natural Israel was illustrated the divine proceeding in Spiritual Israel. God could miraculously give us powers of mind and of body which would make us superior to every outward circumstance; but instead of so doing he merely justifies us by faith, and tells us to reckon ourselves as complete, perfect, because of the imputation of our Redeemer’s merit. From this standpoint of faith all the battles of Spiritual Israel are won or lost. “According to thy faith be it unto you.” Those, therefore, who can and will exercise full faith, full confidence in all of the divine promises may go from victory to victory, from blessing to blessing, from joy to joy, from one attainment to another, and have a glorious victory in the end over the world, the flesh and the Adversary, through the imputed merit and continued assistance of him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood.
To this class the giants of opposition and despair lose their power, even as did Goliath before the sling-stone of David. The pebble from the brook—the message from the divine Word—vanquishes the enemy’s power to those who have the sling of faith. To these the fortresses of sin are not so strong as to be invulnerable, unassailable; entrenched depravity is recognized as being subject to divine power, and when attacked in the name and strength of the Lord and encompassed repeatedly with prayer, finally its strong walls fall down as did those of Jericho. So may depraved
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appetites and sinful desires be thoroughly conquered so far as our hearts are concerned, though the traces thereof may continue to some extent in our mortal flesh—reminders not only of the weaknesses of the fallen nature, but also of the triumphs of the New Mind under the leadership of Jesus.
As these victories of faith progress the fruits of the victory become ours. The grapes of Eshcol, the figs, and all the plenty of the land flowing with milk and honey but feebly picture the riches of grace and fruitage of the Spirit which accrue to those who in the name of the Lord gain the victories of faith over the world, the flesh and the Adversary. Of these fruits and graces the Apostle speaks, naming meekness, gentleness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love. And the assurance of the Word is that if we do these things, if we maintain this good fight of faith as New Creatures, we not only shall enjoy the spiritual refreshment, but eventually “an entrance shall be administered unto us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 1:11.
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THE BRAZEN SERPENT AND ITS ANTITYPE
—NUMBERS 21:1-9—SEPTEMBER 8—
Golden Text:—”As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:14,15
ABOUT thirty-eight years intervened between the narrative of our last lesson and the present one. During that time the Israelites wandered hither and thither in the desert, probably keeping Kadesh-Barnea as a kind of center of their camp, which, consisting of so many people, must have spread out over a large area of country. During that time the rebellion of Korah and his band occurred. (Numbers 16.) It was another demonstration of the same lack of faith which hindered the Israelites from entering Canaan at the first. Had Korah and his followers recognized the Lord as Governor of the nation and general superintendent of its affairs they would have accepted Moses as his representative, and would no more have thought of rebelling against Moses and the institutional government which he had established than against God himself. Lacking faith, however, in the special divine guidance of the movement, they imagined merely a general supervision on God’s part, and that Moses and Aaron and those associated with them
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were usurping authority. They took the broad grounds that God was dealing with the whole nation, and that therefore any Israelite had as much standing before him as had Moses and Aaron. The Lord’s dealing in the matter showed most distinctly their error. And the Apostle calls our attention to the same, warning us of the danger of a similar failure to note the divine leadings and to accept and follow them implicitly.
We see such a spirit today amongst some who are disposed to ignore our Lord Jesus, and to talk about the general brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, declaring that all men have access to God as his children—that sin and atonement are unnecessary—that without special call or divine appointment anybody and everybody is privileged to become a priest and to enter into any and every part of the divine service. This thought is in direct contravention of our dear Redeemer’s words,—”No man cometh to the Father but by me,” and the Apostle’s words, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” The Apostle also points out the exclusiveness of the priesthood, saying, “No man taketh this honor to himself but he who is called of God, even as Aaron.” Thus we see Christ was the one called of God to be the great High Priest, and that he in turn is calling, not all mankind, but a special class of believers under special limitations and conditions to be his members, or the under-priesthood. We do well to keep this in memory and to profit by the lesson of Korah’s wrong course.
Another connected thought is that the recognition of Moses and Aaron implied a recognition of the entire arrangement of which they were the heads. This arrangement in the Church the Apostle points out, saying that the Lord hath set in the Church the various members as it hath pleased him. (I Cor. 12:18.) We are not to forget that he does the setting; we are not to ignore it, we are not to set ourselves. The Apostle illustrates this matter of the setting of the various members of the Body of Christ, that some are hand-members, others eye-members, others feet-members, etc. He points out that there is plenty of service for each member of the Body, but not all the same service. We do not hear with our feet, and although the hands assist in talking by illustrative motions, and although they assist in discernment by feeling that which the eyes see, nevertheless it would be a mistake to suppose that God set the hands in the Body to see and to talk and the feet to hear. For the members of the Body of Christ to leave their positions in the Body to which they are adapted and for which they are set, to use some other place in the Body, is sure to bring serious confusion to themselves and to other Spiritual Israelites.
THE SIN OF MOSES
It was during this interim of waiting that Moses committed the sin which hindered him from entering the promised land. (Num. 20:2-13.) Peculiarly enough his sin was along the line of his principal excellence of character. When he was chosen to be captain of the Lord’s hosts, one of his special qualifications was declared to be, “Now Moses was the meekest man in all the earth.” (Num. 12:3.) Yet it was because of a lack of meekness that eventually he failed to reach the promised land. We may surely sympathize with Moses; we may well realize that had he not been the very meekest of men he would have been unfit from the very first for the great service entrusted to him. And is it any wonder that with the great responsibility resting upon him and all of the people looking to him for nearly forty years, he gradually grew less humble, until finally at Meribah, instead of speaking to the rock as the Lord directed, he exclaimed, “Ye rebels, must I bring you water out of this rock?” We have no thought that Moses on account of this transgression has lost his standing as one of the honorable members of the company of Ancient Worthies, but we observe in his experiences a typical lesson for all the members of the Body of Christ.
We do see that the Lord has indicated that humility is one of the chiefest graces amongst his people, and that without it we would be unfit for the Kingdom. We do see that even though the Truth appeals chiefly to the humble-minded, even though the Lord favors these alone in connection with his work, nevertheless they are in great danger of stumbling along this very line. At no time has there been greater danger than at present. The feet-class will need to be specially upheld by the Lord that they stumble not through pride or boastfulness or self-conceit. So many and so great are our privileges in connection with the knowledge of the Lord and his glorious plan, that if we for one moment think of these as being in any sense of the word our own, we begin to lose our humility and to be in danger of the sin of pride and self-assertion. Our only safety is in continually watching and praying lest we enter into temptation—lest we should think of the truths we are honoring as being in any sense our own. Surely we have nothing that we have not received of the Lord—nothing, therefore, of which we ourselves could boast. Appropriately, then, let our boast be of the Lord and his greatness and his goodness to us and to all. Humbling ourselves thus under the mighty hand of God we shall be kept from the self-assertion which was Moses’ sin, and which typified a difficulty and cause of rejection in some of the Lord’s prominent ones of Spiritual Israel. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he might exalt you in due time,” that you may be permitted to enter with the Lord’s hosts into the glorious Kingdom in due time.—I Pet. 5:6.
THE FORWARD MOVEMENT CHECKED
When finally the time arrived in the last of the forty years of the wilderness experience for the people to move forward and to enter into Canaan they essayed to go by the nearest route, through Edom. But the Edomites—descendants of Esau—forbade this and threatened them with war. Next they thought of the route pursued by the spies through Southern Palestine; but the Canaanites were prepared and fought them off and captured some of the stragglers. This seemingly
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greatly discouraged the Israelites, who supposed that because the Lord’s time had come they would have no difficulty in entering in and taking possession. They lacked faith thirty-eight years before when they should have exercised it, and now instead they had come to have a kind of credulity that was unwarranted.
So it is with Spiritual Israelites; sometimes credulity is accepted and cherished as instead of faith. Many Christians, for instance, seem to expect that they will be carried to Canaan on flowery beds of ease, without any fighting, without proving their courage, without demonstrating their faith by overcoming various hindrances and obstacles. Let us not make such a mistake; let us understand from the first that God is seeking a class of overcomers, and that there could be no such class unless there were difficulties to overcome, and that it is the patient perseverance in well doing that demonstrates true character.
Israel’s credulity shattered, they began their journey to the eastward of Edom through a dense wilderness, “and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way”—their hardships, especially their disappointed hopes of an easier route. Here a rebellious spirit again broke out and they murmured, as did their fathers thirty-eight years before, against Moses and against God, declaring that their condition of bondage in Egypt, severe as it was, was preferable to the experiences they were having. Had they possessed a proper faith in God, in his wisdom, love and power, and a proper resignation to the same, their difficulties would have been lightened, their bitterness all have been sweetened. And so it is with those of Spiritual Israel who do not exercise the proper faith in the promises of God. To them the trials by the way and the disappointments are most discouraging, and “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” (Prov. 13:12.) Here again we see necessity for faith and proper devotion. With these we can endure all things; yea, and take adversities joyfully, as the Apostle explains, “Rejoicing in tribulation.” (2 Cor. 7:4.) Hope and courage, inspired by the divine promises and strengthened by the experiences of the way, alone will keep us joyful while we are still in the enemy’s country.
LACK OF FAITH
The Israelites murmured against the whole divine arrangement, especially complaining that there was no water, and that the manna that they gathered daily was too light—not strong enough for them; they craved the flesh-pots of Egypt. Similarly some of Spiritual Israel, not properly grasping the hopes and promises, not sufficiently living by faith on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, find themselves in a half-starved condition because unable to appropriate a sufficiency of the spiritual food from lack of spiritual faith and hope. They crave the worldly things, and long to satisfy the carnal appetite, and feel themselves in a measure of bondage under the antitypical Moses. As a punishment for this rebellious condition the Lord permitted to come upon them a host of fiery serpents, the particular kind of which is not certain. They are supposed to have been called the fiery serpents because of red streaks upon the head, and because of a glistening of the skin in the sunlight. Such serpents are found in those desert parts and are very ferocious, very poisonous. Their bite so inflames the body and nervous system as to cause the feeling of fire throughout the entire body, often resulting in death in a very few hours. Such serpents are said to be numerous in those parts, but the “plague” of these seems to imply that they were present on this occasion in vast numbers as a scourge to the rebellious Israelites. Their agonies were increased by the bites of these serpents and by the dying of the members of their families. They began to realize that the chastisement of the Lord was upon them, and they cried to Moses for help, saying, “We have sinned because we have spoken against the Lord and against thee; pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us.” And Moses prayed for them.
How often it is thus with Spiritual Israelites. It seems in many instances to require several adversities to awaken them, to cause them to appreciate the great antitypical Moses, the Christ, and to come unto the Father through him for relief. In this connection we remember the words of the Prophet, and see that they well apply to the experiences of many of the Lord’s spiritual family, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.”—Psa. 119:67.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT
By divine direction Moses erected on a pole a serpent made of brass, apparently of immense size and capable of being seen by the Israelites from quite a distance. By this means God would teach Natural Israel a lesson of faith. They had sinned, the punishment of their sins was upon them, but his mercy was extended to those who would recognize it by faith. We can well imagine the credulity of the people at first, and how they would say, What benefit could come from looking at a brass or copper serpent on a pole? How could that affect the wounds? How could that heal the dying ones? Is not this a fraud upon us? What does Moses, our great captain, think of us? Why does he thus trifle with us, and why does he not prepare some special balm? However, as the news would circulate that those who looked upon the serpent were healed, we can imagine the spread of the message among the people and their efforts and zeal to help one another to look and live. We can imagine parents pointing their dying children to the serpent, others helping themselves and being helped to the doors of their tents or other points from which the serpent might be seen. We can imagine better than describe the commotion experienced throughout so large a camp by this arrangement, and we can see that it was not only a penalty for their transgression, but incidentally it became a valuable assistance to their faith. Henceforth they might more clearly than ever realize that God was their leader, that through him they could do all things, and that murmuring against him would bring divine displeasure and some unfavorable punishment.
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“HE WAS MADE SIN FOR US”
We might not have discovered without divine aid the antitypical signification of this incident. But our Lord himself directs our attention to the fact that the Israelites bitten by those serpents represented or typified sinners bitten by sin and suffering from the consequences thereof—the fall. He calls our attention to the fact that he himself was the great antitype of that brazen serpent lifted in the wilderness—that by his crucifixion he who knew no sin was made a curse for us who were transgressors. From our Lord’s explanation we perceive the great truth taught by this type, namely, that in no other way has God provided for eternal life for the people than by the acceptance of Christ—yea, more than this, the acceptance of Christ crucified.
How plainly does this show us that it is not sufficient for us to believe in Jesus as the great teacher, classing him with Plato, Zoroaster, Confucius or others, nor even by himself as a teacher above all other teachers. The lesson was that there was a redemption accomplished by our Lord in his crucifixion, which was necessary for us and without which we could not have eternal life.
And further, the lesson outlined in the type is that not only was it necessary that Christ should die for our sins, but that none could be saved through his death except by looking unto him, exercising faith in the merit of his great atonement-sacrifice. It is in harmony with this that we, seeing, look and live. It is in harmony with this that we are looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, until he becomes its finisher. It is in harmony with this that we are exhorted to look away from our own imperfections and dying conditions to the perfection of life in the Son of God, who gave himself our ransom price, and that we realize that through faith in his blood we have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to the Father, and thus eternal life through him.
ALL THE BLIND EYES SHALL BE OPENED
But alas, says one, if it be true that there is no salvation except through faith in Christ—faith in his blood, faith in his sacrifice, faith in the redemption accomplished thereby—then how few will be saved! Some tell us that they cannot accept so narrow and limited a Gospel, that they believe that the heathen are saved without looking with the eye of faith to the crucified one, that they are as much saved as we who do look. We answer that we must not be wiser than the great Teacher himself, that we must not claim to have a greater benevolence than he who gave his life as our ransom price, and who declares that no man can come unto the Father but by him, and who points out that faith in him is necessary to such an approach to the Father and the getting of life eternal.
But while looking to him from the standpoint of faith and accepting his Word, we hear from him a blessed message, which comforts our hearts and bids us rejoice. He assures us through the prophets that the hour is coming when all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped. He assures us that every eye shall see him, including those who pierced him.
Those “eyes of understanding” now blinded, as the Apostle declares, by the god of this world and the cares of this life, will all be opened wide, in God’s due time, to see the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of divine love and provision of grace in Christ. Our Lord informs us that the power of his cross is not limited to the present life. He declares, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He declares that the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth. Those who have already seen and already been cured come forth to the resurrection of life, resurrection of glory and blessing and cooperation in the great work of blessing the remainder.
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Others will come forth to judgments, disciplines, corrections in righteousness, either that they may learn to look and live, or that, persistently refusing divine favor, they shall ultimately be destroyed from amongst the people.—Acts 3:23.
THE DRAWING POWER
As soon as the Israelites began to realize the divine power behind the brazen serpent they began to respond. Similarly our Lord informs us that as a result of his being lifted up at Calvary he shall ultimately exercise a drawing power upon all mankind. Not that he is exercising this drawing power now, however, for he declares respecting those who now come unto him that they are drawn of the Father. He says, “No man cometh unto me except the Father which sent me draw him.” (John 6:44.) Thus the little flock, the Royal Priesthood, the members of the Body of Christ, are now being drawn. But the great mass of mankind are not drawn of the Father, but will be drawn by the Son, as we read, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32.) Thus we see that the drawing of all men is a future work, and to be accomplished by the Christ, while the drawing of the little flock in this present time is the Father’s work through various agencies. Let us rejoice in the divine plan, which is so complete, so harmonious, so satisfactory. Let us not mar in our minds the beauties of that plan by any false theories of our own or of other men, but let us receive with meekness the heavenly message that we may be wise, for our own benefit in making our calling and election sure now, and be prepared for a share in the heavenly Kingdom and its work of blessing all the families of the earth under the promise made to Abraham’s Seed, the heirs according to the promise.—Galatians.—3:29.
“SEPARATE FROM SINNERS”
Our Lord, we are told, was actually holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. (Heb. 7:26.) Thus, as God’s holy one, he took the sinner’s place. As the representative of Adam (and the race in his loins) Jesus tasted death for every man,—paying the sinner’s penalty. He was made sin for us, he who knew no sin. He was treated as a sinner in order that we might be received by the Father and treated as righteous through the merit of his sacrifice. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. Let us learn well the lesson, let us dread the bite of the sin-serpent and its death penalty, let us flee from this and let us receive the healing full and free; let us abide in his love. More than this, let us who at the present time have heard of the grace of God—which invites us not only to be justified through the precious sacrifice of Christ, but also to be adopted by him figuratively as members of his Body—accept the glorious proposition that we may thus become dead with Christ, that we may thus share with him in his sufferings as his members, that we may thus be members in him in the uplifted condition of the future, the glorious condition, and that from him and from us as members of his Body in glory may proceed the blessings of the Life-Giver to all the families of the earth, who will then be invited to look and to live.