Overland Monthly / OV067 - God's Chosen People (II. Hope Long Deferred Now Reviving)
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OV67 II.—Hope Long Deferred Now Reviving
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
ONE OF THE MOST remarkable things in history is the perseverance of Jewish hopes; and this confirms the inspiration of the Bible, which sets forth that hope, tells of its long-delayed fruition and assures us that Israel’s hope will persist until its realization. In subsequent articles we will consider the Jewish prophecies and types, which show that the Israelitish dreams of world-wide influence as God’s peculiar people are speedily to be realized. We will also show from the Hebrew Scriptures why the fulfillment of the glorious promises made to Abraham and his posterity have been so long delayed—the necessity for the delay and the advantages accruing therefrom. For the present we content ourselves with the bare statement that, according to the Bible, Palestine will be flourishing with a large population of Jews at the close of the year 1914. The Scriptures indicate that the gathering will be "out of all nations," and with considerable wealth and general prosperity. We are not to understand that this means that all the Jews of the world will go to Palestine, but that some of the most pious and zealous from every quarter will gather there. At that time will occur what the Bible terms "Jacob’s Trouble," in conjunction with a world-wide trouble, financial, religious, political, social, eventuating in anarchy, and, later on, in Israel’s exaltation as the earthly exponent of Messiah’s spiritual Kingdom. Let none think of us as prophesying, but merely as announcing our interpretations of prophecy, which we have been presenting to the public for the past thirty-four years.
In 1874, Socialism had scarcely been born, and Zionism was not dreamed of until twenty years later. Now Socialism is the great menace of all the Governments of the civilized world, including Japan, and Zionism is forging ahead with great strides. In God’s province the doors to Palestine as a home have been barred against the Jews for the past sixteen years. And it is during this period that the Jews have begun to specially long for their home land. The Zionist movement is their cry to Heaven, and to each other and to the world. The barring of the doors to Palestine undoubtedly made the Jews more anxious to re-enter it. The embargo was not lifted until Turkey’s peaceful revolution put into power men of more modern thought, who have canceled the prohibition and made the Jews welcome to Palestine on the same terms as other peoples. Six months passed under the new privileges with apparently small results, causing.
OV68 astonishment to those who had expected a speedy influx of the exiled people to the Land of Promise. The Zionist Congress, which closed its session in Hamburg, Germany, on the last day of 1909, disclosed the secret of the delay of the Jews to avail themselves of the opened door. It appears that Dr. Max Nordau, the great leader of the Zionists and President of the Association, has been exerting all of his great influence to hold back the Israelites from entering Palestine, until he could bring pressure to bear upon the new Turkish Government to secure from it Charter rights making of Palestine a Jewish State. Dr. Nordau reasoned that the Turkish Government would be greatly advantaged by the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish Government tributary to Turkey—autonomous, but under the Turkish suzerainty. Such a charter the Turkish Government has continued to refuse, reiterating, however, its Welcome to the Jews, to all parts of the empire including Palestine, with the general privileges of Turkish citizenship. Moreover, they reminded the Jews that Turkey is one of the few nations which had never persecuted the children of Abraham.
The Pent-Up Hopes Irresistible.
At one time it was feared that the Zionist Congress just closed in Hamburg would mark a breach in the society, because Dr. Nordau, its President, with many of its influential members, insisted that the Zionist movement must halt until its demands of an autonomous Government for Palestine should be granted, and because the masses of the Zionists were restive and insisted that the opened door should be promptly entered, leaving the results to God’s providence. They reasoned that God, who had promised the regathering of Israel, and who had opened the way, is abundantly able in his own time to fulfill all the other provisions of the great promise made to Abraham—that his seed, his posterity, should yet bless all the nations of the earth. Sentiment ran high at the Congress, and, notwithstanding the love and esteem in which the Society’s President was held and the weighty influence of other leaders under him, the Congress with kind preambles and resolutions of respect for its leaders, passed over their heads a resolution ordering the gradual transfer of all the interests of the Zionists to Palestine. Thus the future center of Zionism is decreed to be the Holy Land. The funds which have been in process of collection for banking purposes, etc., are to be centered there—the words "gradually transferred" are understood to signify as prompt a transfer as wisdom could sanction in dealing with the various interests and assets of the institution. Witnesses present at that last Zionist Congress tell of the earnestness and intensity of manner manifested by the delegates representing Israelites in all parts of the world. America, by virtue of donations, membership in Zionist Societies, etc., would have been entitled to a sufficiency of representatives in the Congress to have constituted a majority. But the representation was comparatively small, the cost of travel, no doubt interfering—perhaps, also, a desire to save the expense in favor of further donations to the work.
It is remarkable that so few wealthy Jews have contributed either their influence or money to further the patriotic efforts of their poorer brethren, some of whom so greatly need just such a homing place. However, since the Scriptures indicate the accumulation there of wealth, we have no doubt that during the next few years circumstances will be so shaped providentially that wealthy Jews, as well as poor ones, will congregate there. Meantime, in full accord with prophecies, the climate of Palestine is greatly improving, by reason of greater rainfalls. And a Hebrew named Aaronson has discovered a new kind of wheat, similar to our own, but specially adapted to the soil and climate of Palestine. Coincidentally, Turkish despatches inform the world that the Turkish Government has commissioned Sir William Wilcox, of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, Chief Engineer of the Survey of the Tigris-Euphrates Delta, to proceed with the reclaiming of Mesopotamia, the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, presumably the site of the Garden of Eden, the cradle of the race, and the home land of Abraham before he removed to Canaan. This considerable work, it is estimated, can be accomplished in about
OV69 three years. It will tend to bring modern civilization and wealth to that quarter, and will doubtless co-operate in the rejuvenation of Palestine. Thus, gradually, the geographical center of the earth, the Jerusalem vicinity, is resuming importance in the eyes of the world. Those who view the matter through the prophetic telescope foresee the time when "the Law shall go forth from Mt. Zion (spiritual Israel on the heavenly plane) and the Word from Jerusalem, the To-Be Capital of the world under the Millennial Kingdom arrangements. Thither all the nations of earth will send their ambassadors and from thence take their laws. Upon such as will conform to these arrangements the Divine blessing will rest, uplifting them gradually from sin, ignorance and superstition to mental, moral and physical perfection. Thus, according to the Scriptures the whole earth will gradually become the Garden of the Lord—Paradise.
And those times or years of restitution will bring the willing and obedient of mankind back again to the full perfection of being, mental, moral and physical, which God intended and exemplified in Father Adam. Thus eventually all the terrible results of Adam’s disobedience and fall will be blotted out through the long-promised Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of God under Messiah the Mediator of Israel’s New Law Covenant, whose gracious provisions will be open to all the nations of the earth.—#Ac 3:19-23; #Jer 31:31; #Zec 14:1-6,14-20.
World Empire Ambitions.
Everybody knows that since the days of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, many of the nations of earth have cherished the ambition that the fates had decreed their superiority above other nations, and that all other nations should submit to their rule for their own advantage. This conceit prompted Nebuchadnezzar to be the first conqueror of the world. Cyrus the Mede concluded that he was still more fit to be the world’s emperor and established the dominion of the world-wide Empire of the Medes and Persians. A little later the conceit was grasped by a young man scarcely out of his teens, and Alexander the Great conquered the world and gave its scepter to Greece. Later on the Caesars wrested the power and made Rome Empress of the world. Still later, the Popes became the virtual rulers of earth, under a claim of spiritual authority. Napoleon ended the papal empire of earth and sought to appropriate the honors of world domination to himself and France. History shows us that he almost accomplished his designs. The Bible explains that he failed, not because of incapacity, but because of the Divine foreordination that the fifth universal Empire of earth will be that of Messiah—a spiritual and invisible reign of Christ and the saintly elect members of the church, his Bride, operating through fleshly Israel, then to be restored to Divine favor and made chief of the nations of earth and the channel of Divine blessing. It is not so generally known, even to Christian Bible students, that the Jews entertained this idea of world empire long centuries before Nebuchadnezzar grasped earth’s scepter. Fourteen hundred years before Nebuchadnezzar became the world’s Emperor, God promised this honorable station to Abraham and his seed—to a nation from his loins. For Abraham’s assurance and for the assurance of all afterward interested in that promise, God made oath to him, so that by two immutable things, His Word and His Oath, we and all in accord with the Divine Purpose might know of a surety that the promise or Covenant is not a conditional one—that it could not fail, that the fulfillment, though long deferred, would be sure.—#Heb 6:18.
Those who have wondered at the indomitable spirit of the Jew which has preserved his nationality for more than thirty centuries, while other nations in many lands have bloomed and faded and died. The Chinese, indeed, do show a great persistency, yet they have no acceptable history connecting them definitely with the remote past and with creation, as have the Jews alone. The secret of this history and national persistency is found in the relationship between Israel and God. And the beginning of that relationship and dominating hope is marked by God’s promise and oath to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." The thought of blessing the
OV70 world was not with Israel, as with other nations, merely a dream of imperial power, dignity and rich revenue. Their ambition based upon this promise made to Abraham was that they as a nation consecrated to God and accepted by God as his peculiar people would be used by the promised Messiah as his agency or channel for bringing the whole world into subjection to the Divine Law—for their moral as well as their physical blessing and uplifting out of sin and death conditions. And this hope is soon to be realized. This hope, this ambition to be God’s people, to be God’s servants, to be God’s channels of blessing to the remainder of mankind, attached itself to the Hebrew mind in its every contact with the promises of God, the Law and the prophecies, and with all their experiences under Divine provisions, which were accepted as necessary instructions of God to qualify them for their foreordained service to mankind. Thus their early experience in reaching Canaan through the wilderness were accepted as lessons necessary for their development. Their experiences under the Judges were disheartening, but accepted as necessary instructions and preparations. Then came the Kingdom Epoch in their history, when the reign of Saul, David and Solomon marked periods of progress in the direction of their long-cherished hopes. Especially in Solomon’s day they felt that the promises to Abraham was about to be fulfilled. Notwithstanding the fact that Solomon conscripted the labor of the people for the construction of his great temple, and notwithstanding the fact that he taxed them heavily for internal improvements, etc., they submitted in a measure of cheerfulness, because the wisdom, the riches and the greatness of that king attracted world-wide notice and seemed to be leading on to the grand climax of their hopes—the establishment of the seed of Abraham as the chief nation of earth, from whose capital, Jerusalem, the Law would go forth to every nation, people, kindred and tongue. Indeed, it is quite probable that Israel’s boast of Divine promise of the rulership of the world spread abroad amongst the other nations and awakened in them a rival ambition. It should be noticed, however, that Israel sought its dominion of the world under Divine supervision and not through conquering armies and ambitious generals. Solomon extended the boundaries of his kingdom merely to the limitations which had been outlined in the Divine assurances and, instead of seeking to conquer the world, his was known as the "kingdom of peace." From the time of Solomon’s death, Israel’s history is a record of disappointments as respects their great hopes of world domination. The division of the nation into two parts, Judah and Israel, and subsequently their overthrow by Syria and Babylonia shook the conceit of many in respect to the Divine Promise, so that when in the days of Cyrus, in harmony with Divine Providence, the millions of Israelites who had gone into captivity as settlers in other lands, preferred to remain where they were, when given the opportunity of returning to the promised land. Less than fifty-five thousand out of the many millions had so great a love for God and so strong a hope in the Abrahamic promise as to brave a return to the desolated land from which their fathers had been forcibly removed. And just so, we believe, it is to-day.
The Jews who would regather to Jerusalem now, according to Hebrew prophecy, will be the devout, the faithful, who still trust in that Abrahamic promise.
The masses now will prefer to remain in symbolical Babylon, as the masses in the day of Cyrus preferred to remain in literal Babylon. During the 536 years from the time of the return of the faithful fifty thousand under the decree of Cyrus, down to the time of the building of Herod’s Temple, more gorgeous than that of Solomon, the Israelites had a variety of trying experiences, all of which should have tended to keep them very humble and near to the Lord. As a matter of fact those trying experiences did make of the Jews a peculiar people, a religious people, more advanced along moral and religious lines than any other nation on the earth. But, naturally enough, the religious nation was not composed of the pure in heart only.
Their priests became to a considerable degree Higher Critics and politicians of the sect known as "Sadducees" or Reform Jews who believed merely in the present life and doubted the fulfillment of the Abrahamic
OV71 promise—hoping vaguely that possibly Israel might some day attain an influential position, not by Divine interposition, but by human wisdom and politics. On the other hand, there was a strong holiness party at that time amongst the Jews known as the Pharisees, who went to the opposite extreme and magnified the letter of the Law to such a degree that they entirely lost sight of its real spirit or intent. Nevertheless as between these two great extremes there was then, as we should expect, a minority in heart-harmony with the Lord and his Promise, and still "waiting for the consolation of Israel," —"Israelites indeed" in whom was no guile.
Natural Israel—Spiritual Israel.
It was at the climax of Israel’s second attainment of national importance and dignity as a subordinate kingdom, under the Roman Empire in the days of Herod, that a great transaction occurred, which few of the Jews then understood and which few since understand, and which few even of Christians understand Scripturally. The Divine Purpose contemplated a greater Kingdom and a greater blessing of all the nations of the earth than the most hopeful of the Jews had even dreamed of—a blessing and uplifting to perfection and harmony with God and eternal life. They did not see that their sin-offerings were merely typical, and that, according to the Law, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, signified that a man’s life would be necessary to redeem a man’s life—to redeem Adam and his race from the sentence of death. They did not see that before Messiah could legally bless the world and emancipate them from sin and death and secure to them eternal life, he must first redeem them through the sacrifice of himself—typified in various of the typical sacrifices of their law. Hence they expected Messiah’s manifestation in power and great glory (now soon to be revealed), and this hindered them from accepting as him the lowly One who submitted himself to a death and crucifixion—although he was holy, harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners, the anti-typical Passover Lamb.
The intervening period of nearly nineteen centuries has greatly perplexed the Jews.
They perceive their cast-off condition—that they have been without prophet or priest or other mark of Divine favor all these centuries, subject to persecution. Had they seen what we are now about to relate the situation would have been clear and easily understood; but God did not wish to have it understood until his "due time." The Jews perceived nominal Christendom confused in doctrines and practices, "a cage for every unclean and hateful bird." (#Re 18:2.)
They could not believe that God had cast off their nation and had accepted instead as his peculiar people the nations styled Christendom. They reasoned that much of the theology and many of the practices of nominal Christendom were heathenish, pure and simple. They did not see that in that great mass of nominal Christians there were here and there saints of God, and that these alone from the Divine standpoint composed the spiritual Israelites—a little flock, containing not many rich, not many great, not many wise, not many learned, not many noble, according to worldly estimation. The explanation of this matter, which the Scriptures term the "mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations," is this: It is the Divine Purpose to have two Israels—both of them specified in the promise to Abraham. First, a spiritual Israel whose destiny is to share in the "first resurrection," and be like unto the angels, spirit beings invisible to men. As Messiah was typified by Isaac, Abraham’s son, this spiritual class, intended to be his joint-heirs on the spirit plane, were typified by Rebecca, Isaac’s wife. This spiritual Messiah, Jesus and his Church exalted through suffering and as a reward for faith and obedience and self-sacrifice, must first be completed and exalted to the.heavenly condition before the earthly blessing can come to natural Israel, fulfilling to her all the gracious promises which have encouraged the hearts of her children these many centuries. And the fulfillment, when realized, will far exceed all anticipation. Thus the promise to Abraham was divided into two portions; for God said to him: "Thy seed shall be (1) as the stars of heaven (spiritual Israel), Messiah and his elect Bride," and (2) "Thy seed shall
OV72 be as the sand of the sea shore"—natural Israel and the multitudes of mankind who shall receive the Divine blessing through both spiritual and natural Israel. For the Scriptures indicate that as all nations are privileged to come to the United States and become citizens, so during the reign of Messiah all nations will be privileged to become Israelites and thus to share in the blessings of Israel’s New Covenant. (#Jer 31:31; #Ro 11:27.) Thus ultimately all the willing and obedient of the human family will be adopted into Abraham’s family. At the conclusion of Messiah’s reign of a thousand years, the whole earth will be filled with Abraham’s seed or posterity, and lifted up to full perfection and harmony with God; because all the unwilling and disobedient will ere then have been utterly destroyed by Immanuel in the Second Death.
ONLY A LITTLE WHILE
ONLY a little while to walk with weary feet, Only a little while the storms of life to meet, Only a little while to tread the thorny way, Only a little while, then comes the perfect day.
Only a little while to spread the truth abroad, Only a little while to testify for God, Only a little while, the time is fleeting fast, Only a little while, earth’s sorrows all are past.
Only a little while, then let us do our best, Only a little while, then comes the promised rest.
Only a little while, oh, what a word is this!
Only a little while, then comes the perfect bliss.
Only a little while, then death shall be withdrawn, Only a little while, then pain and tears are gone; Only a little while, then by the Crystal Sea, Only a little while, then we shall dwell with Thee.
Only a little while, Lord, let Thy Kingdom come!
Only a little while, Thy people sigh for home; Only a little while, the City bring to sight, Only a little while, come end earth’s dreary night!