Overland Monthly / OV108 - God's Chosen People (X. Zionism is God's Call)
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OV108 X. Zionism is God’s Call
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
THOU SHALT arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, has come; for thy servants take pleasure in her stones and favor the dust thereof. Then shall the Gentiles fear the name of Jehovah and the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory."—#Ps 102:13-18.
The above Psalm is recognized as prophetic, both by Christians and Jews, each applying the matter to himself. We agree that there is a spiritual as well as a natural Israel. But we hold that Christian people have erred in applying all the Scriptures to themselves and in not discerning that a large proportion of the promised coming blessings belong to natural Israel. Failure to recognize this has worked injury and confusion to the minds of many Christian Bible students.
Appropriating to themselves promises that belong to natural Israel, Christians have been led to turn and twist and spiritualize the Word of the Lord, until they have destroyed much of their own faith in it, as, for instance, the Scriptures declare that in Messiah’s Day the wilderness shall blossom as the rose and the solitary place be glad and that the people shall build houses and inhabit them and plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them, and long enjoy the work of their hands; and that "they shall sit, every man under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make them afraid."—#Mic 4:4.
An attempt to spiritualize these promises and make them appear to apply to spiritual Israel has been robbing natural Israel of his portion of God’s favor, and has caused darkness and perplexity amongst Christian Israelites in their endeavor to harmonize these Scriptures with others which assure us that "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" (#1Co 15:50), and that ours is the heavenly calling and that the saints must be changed in a moment from human conditions to spiritual conditions, in order to enter into their reward. St.
Paul urges upon followers of Jesus that they "Rightly divide the Word of Truth." (#2Ti 2:15.) This admonition we have neglected, to our loss. From Genesis to Malachi, the Jew found not a suggestion of a change of nature from earthly to heavenly, from fleshly to spiritual. To whatever extent he has learned to spiritualize the teachings of the Law and the Prophets he has been swerved by outside influences. For instance, God’s promise to Abraham was, "Lift up now thine eyes and look to the East and to the West and to the North and to the South. All the land that thou seest will I give to thee and to thy seed after thee." Abraham must get that land first, and from him it must pass to his posterity. He never possessed
OV109 one foot of it, according to the Genesis account, which is confirmed by St. Stephen, who declared (#Ac 7:5) that Abraham received not so much of the land as to set his foot upon. This promise contains nothing whatever respecting a spiritual land or a change of nature, either to Abraham or to his posterity. This promise and others like it belong to Abraham’s natural seed, and properly they should wait and hope for its fulfillment. It will be fulfilled when, shortly, Father Abraham and the other saintly ones of the Jewish family shall, with him, be resurrected from the dead to the glory of human perfection. Thus is it written, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth."—#Ps 45:16.
These princes amongst mankind will be the visible rulers and teachers of the world. To them first will be drawn the Jews. Then, as the remainder of the world will perceive the blessings resulting to Israel they will realize that this new order of things is advantageous for all, and will submit themselves to this Semitic government. The Jews are gradually coming to see that no human being could possibly fulfill all the glorious predictions made respecting their Messiah. They are quite prepared, therefore, to note the force of Daniel’s prophecy (12:1) that Messiah will be one like God. It will not be difficult, therefore, for the Jew to comprehend that this God-like Messiah, who will combine in himself the qualities of Moses, the great teacher and law-giver, of David and Solomon the great kings, and of Melchisedek, the great priest—all on a bigger scale—antitypical—must be a spirit being and not a human being. And if a spirit being like unto the angels, his Throne and glory will not be earthly nor visible to men except by the eyes of their understanding. Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophets, etc., will be the earthly representatives of this great invisible spiritual Prince—Michael—who as God shall rule the world in righteousness and lift up the poor and the needy and humble the proud and dispel ignorance and superstition and cause the light of the knowledge of Jehovah to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.
Dominion of Sin to Be Overthrown.
Satan is Scripturally designated the Prince of this age who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience. (#Eph 2:2.) The promise of the Scriptures is that his usurpation of earth’s dominion will cease. It has been carried on through ignorance, superstition and deception. Because of it we read, "Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people." The distinct promise is that when Messiah’s reign shall begin, Satan shall be bound and the reign of sin and death shall be at an end. Instead, Messiah and his saintly Bride on the spirit plane shall reign, promoting righteousness and everlasting life. Abraham and the other ancient worthies will be the honored earthly representatives of this glorious spiritual Empire. The object and work of Messiah’s reign will be not only to estop the reign of sin and death, but, more than this, to lift up poor, fallen humanity out of ignorance and superstition, out of sin and death, out of weaknesses and frailties.
Messiah’s Kingdom, therefore, is properly termed the times or years of restitution (#Ac 3:19-21) and it is properly symbolized by Israel’s Fiftieth Year of Jubilee.
The Hindrance Will Be Removed.
The question properly arises—If God intended so glorious a future for His Chosen People, why was it necessary that there should be so long a delay? Why did he not at once exalt them in the days of Moses or in the days of David or Solomon? Why did he not at once bring in these great blessings which the Scriptures foretell? The answer is a simple one which meets all requirements:
(1) Nearly two thousand years was consumed in finding the saintly few of Israel who with Father Abraham would be worthy to be Messiah’s Princes in all the earth during his reign of a thousand years.
(2) Additionally, God purposed that Messiah should have companions on the spirit plane with himself and sharers of his nature, glory, honor and power—his Bride, even as Abraham sought a bride for the typical Isaac to be associated with
OV110 him in conferring the blessing. For nearly two thousand years this "little flock" of saintly people from every nation, people, kindred and tongue, Jews, French, Swedes, British, Germans, etc., a saintly few, will by a share in the First Resurrection be changed from earthly nature to heavenly. Thus we see that God’s great Plan for the world’s salvation by Messiah’s Kingdom has been in preparation ever since the flood, but the preparation is not yet quite completed. The Princes of Israel have been found, have been approved, and are merely sleeping in the dust of the earth (#Da 12:2), waiting until the other small elect class shall be completed, whom we shall designate the spiritual Princes or Messiah’s Bride. This work complete, the blessing of all the families of the earth will be ushered in with power and great glory. And although its introduction, it is declared, will come through a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, nevertheless that trouble cloud has such a glorious silver lining of hope and joy and blessing for Israel and for the world that all who see it in its true character may really welcome it. Short, sharp and decisive, it will make the rough places smooth. It will overthrow the pride and arrogance of man. It will humble all. It will break many hearts and overthrow many ambitions, but the eventual results will be "The desire of all nations."—#Hag 2:7.
Yea, the Set Time is Come.
So many are haphazard and thoughtless themselves that they naturally think of the Almighty from their own standpoint—as conducting a haphazard plan of dealing with humanity—a plan devoid of wisdom, justice, love and power—a plan which would reflect dishonorably on any human architect, on any human ruler, on any human statesman. Let us be through with such childish misconceptions of God. Otherwise, like the Higher Critics, we would soon esteem ourselves superior to the God of the Bible, and, correspondingly, our reverence, our worship, our obedience to Him would diminish. It is when we begin to get the proper focus upon the Holy Scriptures that we begin to realize our own littleness and the greatness of the Creator—the insignificance and absurdity of our human theories and creeds and the sublime majesty of the Divine arrangement for the children of men. We have just seen the selection of two companies of saintly characters for the Divine purpose of the world’s blessing. Should it surprise us to find that the Almighty has set time ordained from before the foundation of the world controlling every feature of his great Plan of the Ages? It should not. Should we expect that fallen and imperfect humanity will see the advisability for chronological exactness and that the Almighty God should ignore such a matter? Have men manufactured clocks and watches so that they regulate the affairs of life to the very moment in respect to the starting of a train or in respect to the hour in which a timelock would release the treasures of a safe, and shall we, then, be surprised to find that the Almighty Creator has times, yea, set times, connected with the ordering of his great.Plan of the Ages? Surely not. Hence our text is quite reasonable in this declaration that God has the time, yea, the set time, for remembering his promises to Israel and for bringing about their fulfillment? Rather this should encourage us, should stimulate our faith and make us more and more obedient to him who speaks from heaven and who tells us that the great clock of the universe is about to strike the hour which will end this present age and introduce the reign of righteousness, the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Zionism the First Call.
It is not by accident, but of Divine foreknowledge and clearly foretold in the prophecies that the nation of Israel has suffered shamefully at the hands of many Christian nations. And, alas, to our shame it must be said that many of the atrocities practiced against them are by Christians falsely so-called—Christians in name, but not in fact. Note, for instance, the recent disorder in Romania, which, fortunately, did not result to the Jews in great loss of life. But note its malevolent misrepresentation of Christ and his teachings; the so-called Greek Catholic Christians
OV111 went to the cemetery ghoulishly, dug up recently interred Jews, and flung the corpses on the doorsteps of their relatives. Alas, that such things are possible in the name of Christ! Alas, too, that there is no general protest from so-called Christian nations against such disorders, nor against the pogroms so common of late in Russia! But what does this prove? It demonstrates what all sensible people should know, namely, that there are no Christian Governments in the world—that the name Christendom is a sad mistake! When Christ’s Kingdom shall really be established amongst men no such brutalities will be permitted in any name or under any pretext. By the permission of these severe trials upon the Chosen People, God has not only, we believe, been chastening them, but, additionally, he has been keeping them together as a people, separate from all others. Had they been without persecution, doubtless they would have been swallowed up like the other peoples of the world. As it is, they are a living monument to the truthfulness of God’s Word—they are a miracle. And now when prophecy shows that God’s time has come for remembering and executing his gracious promises to Israel, his first move toward their recovery to his favor comes through Zionism. Not that Zionism was started as a religious movement; quite the contrary. It is a spasm of national pride, however commendable such a pride may be. Weary with the persecutions of centuries, the Jew hoped that by their re-establishment as a nation they would command a greater respect throughout the world and be saved from racial hatred and persecution.
They hoped, also, that the land of their fathers would furnish an asylum for the Russian outcasts of their race. The enthusiasm of Zionism spread, especially amongst the poorer Jews. Meantime other hopes and aims were set forward. Some said that Mesopotamia was the proper place, and the British gave rights of colonization; others urged Argentine Republic, and millions of dollars were spent in seeking to place Russian Jews there. Others thought to make Jewish colonies in New Jersey, and still others favored similar schemes in Texas. But none of these flourished. Colonies in Palestine alone seemed to prosper even moderately.
Meantime other hopes arose—the Russian douma promised to be favorable to the Jew and to permit his maintaining his home in Russia, inducing bands of Russian Jews to remain in the land of their adoption. But this hope has also failed them.
Persecution and evictions in Russia continue as before. The Jew is, therefore, more heart-sick than ever. His greatest prosperity has been in London and in New York City. In the latter place reside twelve hundred thousand of them. Now fear is taking hold upon their hearts that even in this land of liberty and enlightenment they may not be safe from accusations and persecutions leveled against them on account of race prejudices. Alas, poor Jews!.
The Voice—"Die Stimme.
It is at this juncture and under these conditions that God’s Chosen People to-day are awakening and listening to the voice of prophecy, which the writer has had the privilege of bringing to their attention. Zionism, we believe, is about to take on a new form. Instead of being any longer a movement of race pride and for race protection it seems evident that it will shortly be a religious movement. Back to the prophecies! Back to the Word of God! Back to the promise made to Abraham and repeatedly confirmed! Back to the oath-bound promise that Abraham’s seed shall yet bless all the families of the earth! The tide of Jewish sentiment is turning, and swiftly, too. Long centuries of training in religion have marked the Jew as a religionist as well as a money-lover. He loved his money and labored for it, because his heart had no spiritual ideal for which to labor. But the message of the prophets is now ringing in the hearts of many: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her that her appointed time is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins."—#Isa 40:1-2. At first, of course, the movement will only be amongst the poor, those not saturated with unbelief, Higher Criticism,
OV112 Evolution, etc. Gradually it will take hold—we believe—upon those more intelligent and those of wealth. When that moment shall arrive, there will be a sufficiency of funds to forward a great movement Zion-ward. Not that all Jews, nor that even the majority of them, will go to Palestine, but surely the sympathy of all who are Jews indeed must shortly go thither, and that will mean the aid and comfort of co-religionists who will be seeking an asylum. Moreover, the great time of trouble which is nearing will be recognized by the Jews as soon as by others, and Palestine will be considered one of the best places of safety for personal property.
Moreover, the Scriptures indicate that the persecutions of the Jews are not yet ended. These also will tend to drive them home. This great time of trouble will not only prepare Israel, but all the nations, to welcome Messiah’s glorious Kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace.
WITHIN my hand I gently hold the Garden’s Queen, a rose, —The softly-sighing summer wind about it faintly blows, And wafts its wondrous fragrance out upon the evening air.
And as I gaze upon the rose, so perfect and so fair, In memory’s halls there wakes, the while, a legend, quaint and old, How once upon a time, one day, a sage picked up, we’re told, A lump of common clay, so redolent with perfume rare, He marveled, and the question wondering asked, "Whence dost thou bear Such fragrance, O, thou lump of clay?" In tones of deep repose There came the sweet reply, "I have been dwelling with the rose."
The while the legend stirs my soul, within my hand still lie The petals of the rose, and from my heart of hearts I cry, "Thou lovely Rose of Sharon, may I ever dwell with Thee, So closely that the fragrance of Thy love shall cling to me!
Oh, fill me with the spirit of Thy sweet humility, Then all shall see and know, dear Lord, that I have learned of Thee; And let mine earthly pilgrimage, until its blessed close, Each day and hour bear witness, I’ve been dwelling with the Rose!"