Overland Monthly / OV073 - God's Chosen People (III. Israel's "Double"-A Fact and a Theory)
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OV73 III.—Israel’s "Double"—A Fact and a Theory
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
IT IS A FACT that the history of the Hebrew people divides itself naturally into two equal parts—1845-1/2 years of favor, followed by 37-1/2 years of trouble and disruption, and 1845-1/2 years of disfavor, followed by 37-1/2 years of returning favor and arising from the dust. It is a fact also that this division of Israel’s experiences is distinctly shown in the Bible—in their own Scriptures. So remarkable a fact would be worthy of deepest attention by both Jews and Christians, even if it were not noted in the Scriptures. But when it is found clearly outlined in the inspired prophecies this secondary fact bids all take notice who have respect to the Bible as the Divine message. If our Hebrew friends would investigate and see this, it would add impetus to the Zionist movement, and, in general, to all the reviving hopes of God’s Chosen People. Surely such remarkable facts cannot be considered accidental!
Surely they show design on the part of the Great Supervisor of earth’s affairs! Surely they indicate that he who called Israel to be his Chosen People is the same who scattered Israel as the prophets foretold; and the same who promised that in his own due time He will not only regather a remnant of that people to the promised land, but return to them Divine favor. Under that influence they will become the great nation of earth to which all other nations will flow, and from which, according to the original promise God’s blessing will flow to every nation, people, kindred and tongue, during the thousand years of Christ’s reign—the Millennium. But we must not be content with assertion. We must prove these facts.
Israel’s 1845-1/2 Years of Favor.
There is no question as to when the nation of Israel had its beginning. It was at the death of Jacob, when he called his twelve sons to his bedside and gave to them collectively his blessing—their participation in the great promise which God made to Abraham and confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob with an oath. (#Ps 105:9,10.) We are not to expect the Word of the Lord to state the period of time from the death of Jacob to the spring of A.D. 33, when unwittingly the Jews crucified the Lord of Glory. (#Ac 3:17.)
Rather we are to understand that the Divine method has been to secrete the various features of the Divine Plan and to permit them to be understood only as they become due of fulfillment, as a proof to us of Divine foreknowledge.
Accordingly it is not surprising that the exact date of Jacob’s death—the exact beginning of the Jewish.
OV74 nation, is left in a degree of obscurity; yet fully revealed by a circuitous route. St.
Paul, once a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and therefore well-versed in the traditions of his day, and further, we believe, Divinely inspired in his utterances, furnishes the statement that the giving of the Law was 430 years from the making of the Covenant with Abraham. The first feature of the Law was the Passover on the night preceding the exodus from Egypt. This being fixed, we have merely to ascertain the time between the coming of Abraham into the land of promise, when he became heir of the Covenant, and the death of Jacob, which, we will demonstrate, was 232 years. Abraham was seventy-five years old when the Covenant was made with him at the death of Terah (#Ge 12:4), and Isaac was born twenty-five thereafter.—#Ge 21:5.
Thus, from the Covenant to the birth of Isaac 25 years From the birth of Isaac to the birth of Jacob (#Ge 25:26). 60 " From the birth of Jacob to his death (#Ge 47:28) 147 " Total years from the making of the Covenant with Abraham to the death of Jacob, the beginning of Israel’s national history was 232 " From the Abrahamic Covenant, the day Abraham entered Canaan, to the day Israel left Egypt (#Ex 12:41), at the Passover 430 " Deduct the period from the Covenant to Jacob’s death, as above 232 " Thus we have what we seek, the length of time between Jacob’s death and the exodus of his posterity, which was 198 " To this add the period of the wilderness 40 " The period in Canaan until the division of the land between the tribes *6 " The period of the judges *450 " The period of the Kings of Judah *513 " The period of the Desolation. *70 " The period from the Desolation by Cyrus the Median King to A.D.1 *536 " Total years from Jacob’s death to the beginning of the period known as Anno Domini 1813 " From A.D. 1 to the crucifixion of Jesus at the Passover in the Spring of A.D. 33—Jewish reckoning 32-1/2" Total period of Israel’s waiting for the Kingdom under Divine favor and recognition. 1845-1/2" (*Space does not permit our giving the details respecting the various periods above mentioned, but we have it clearly demonstrated in print and will be pleased to loan the book of evidences to all who will send post card request (with a promise to return the book by mail. Address the writer at Brooklyn, N.Y.) Our Hebrew friends may be disposed to question our fixing the date of the end of their favor in the Spring of A.D. 33, because that date is identified with Jesus and his death. But in his prediction five days before death he said as he wept over the Holy City, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets and stoneth them that are sent unto you. How often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Now I say unto you, Your house is left unto you desolate. Ye shall see me no more until that day when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (#Mt 23:37-39.) However, all reasonable people should be amenable to facts. The death of Jesus is a fact witnessed to by the millions whose faith has been built contrary to ordinary logic upon the vicarious death of one who was executed by his countrymen, not for claiming he was Jehovah, but because he declared himself—"the sent of God"—"the Son of God"—"the Messiah." Interpret the fact how we may, it is there, and deserves consideration. History tells us that Israel’s national
OV75 troubles began shortly after the death of Jesus. The history of the 37-1/2 years between the death of Jesus and the utter destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and his army (A.D. 70) is so elaborated by the Jewish historian Josephus as to need no comment from us. Josephus shows that during that period insurrection broke out and increasing turbulence, until, at the end, practically nothing remained to be done but for the Roman authority to assert itself, and then it was futile. Israel as a nation, as a Kingdom, perished in A.D. 70, as many of the prophets had foretold. Now the remarkable fact is to be noted that a corresponding period of 1845-1/2 years from the death of Christ A.D. 32-1/2 brings us to A.D. 1878, a year memorable for the meeting of the Berlin Conference of Nations, at which a Hebrew, Disraeli, as the representative of Great Britain, was accorded the place of chief honor as the leading spirit. Moreover, the decisions of that Conference had a weighty influence in the affairs of God’s Chosen People. Under the ruling of that Conference of the Great Powers of Europe the various Balkan States, divisions of the Turkish Empire, were placed under the supervision of the Governments whose interests were contiguous.
By that division of responsibility for peace in the Turkish provinces, Egypt and Palestine, as portions of the Turkish Empire, come under the protection of Great Britain and France. The French made only a partial success of their venture in digging the Suez Canal and in the turning over of that canal to the British, the French abandoned their responsibilities in Egypt and Palestine, to the British, although the Egyptian Government and the Turkish authority are both recognized. The effect has been the considerable opening up of Egypt, which the British found to be to their financial interest to exploit. Palestine nearby was too poor to be worthy of exploitation, but nevertheless profited greatly by the British influence in Egypt. The greater peace and security prevailing under the lee of the British flag has been beneficial to the land during the intervening thirty-two years. Meantime, God’s blessing has been returning in a remarkable degree to the Hebrew people in the various lands to which they were scattered. In this time they have risen to prominence not only financially, but also in literary and scientific circles. In a word, ever since the Berlin Conference in 1878 Israel’s star has been in the ascendant.
Even the persecutions permitted by providence in Russia (and other persecutions the Scriptures indicate may yet be expected) have had a beneficial influence in arousing that nation and making many of them long for the home land, one result of which is the Zionist Movement, which more and more is captivating the hearts of patriotic Israelites: especially such of them as still have reverence for the Promise and Oath of God to father Abraham, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." From an entirely different line of prophecy we will later show that according to the Scriptures Israel is to be rehabilitated as a nation in the near future—about the year 1915. The Scriptures, however, indicate that at that same time they will have great distress as a people. "It is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be delivered out of it." (#Jer 30:7.) The deliverance will be so marked, so notable, that the whole world will begin to realize that Israel’s outcast period, cut off from Divine favor, was not designed to be forever, but merely for an equal period of time to that in which they enjoyed God’s favor. Some may be inclined to remind us that Israel experienced various captivities and despoliation prior to A.D. 32-1/2. We assent to this, but call attention to the fact that in all those trying experiences they still had special evidences of the Divine supervision and that their tribulations were designed for their purification and blessing. On the other hand, the period since A.D. 32-1/2 is particularly marked by the prophet as being without Divine favor. "I will scatter you into all lands, where I will show you no favor." The prophet Isaiah, referring to this period of cutting off from Divine favor, declares: "Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a remnant ever so small, like Sodom should we have been, unto Gomorrah should.we have been compared." (#Isa 1:9.) Isaiah (53:1) again prophesied respecting the failure of
OV76 Israel to hear the Divine message, saying: "Lord, who hath believed our report." And again he writes prophetically of their rejection of Messiah: "I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall kneel down to the slaughter; because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spoke, ye did not hear; but ye did what is evil in my eyes, and that wherein I had no delight did ye choose. Therefore, thus hath said the Lord Eternal, Behold, those who serve me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, those who serve me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, those who serve me shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed; behold, those who serve me shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry out from pain of heart, and from a broken spirit shall ye howl; and ye shall leave behind your name for an oath unto my elect ones, when the Lord Eternal will slay thee; but his servants will he call by another name." —#Isa 65:12-15.
Many Jews realize the fitness to them, during this long period in which they have been outcast from God’s favor, of not only the above prophecies, but others which declared that the Lord would make them "a by-word and hissing amongst the nations" where he would scatter them. And again, that they should be without prophet and without priest many days—without any communication with God whatever. When noting the fulfillment of these prophecies against Israel we must not forget the equally strong testimonies of God through the prophets, that "he who scattered Israel will gather them again." "Behold, the days are coming, saith the Lord, when it shall not be said any more, The Lord liveth, who hath brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, as the Lord liveth, who hath brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north (Russia, where nearly one-half of the Jews reside), and from all the countries whither he had driven them; and I will cause them to return unto their land which I have given unto their fathers"—#Jer 16:14-15.
Moreover, it is explicitly declared that the Lord will no more forever after that scatter his people, but, on the contrary, that at that time he will enter into a New Covenant with them, providing for them a better Mediator than Moses—Messiah—of whom Moses wrote: "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul, which will not hear that (obey) prophet, shall be destroyed from amongst the people."—#De 18:15,18. (#Ac 3:22- 23.) The completeness of their scattering and the apparent hopelessness of their case must be apparent to every thinking Hebrew. They not only have no king, but they have no priest. The demoralization incident to their scattering was so great that not a Jew in the world can positively affirm to what tribe he belongs, and consequently none is able to trace his lineage to the tribe of Levi and Aaronic ancestry. Having no priest, they can have nothing even simulating the Day of atonement and its typical sacrifices for sins. According to the rationale of their own teachings they are entirely cut off from fellowship and relationship with God, except as that relationship subsists in the original Covenant which God made with Abraham and confirmed with the Divine oath.
This Double, or Parallel, Foretold.
If we now have the facts of history before us clearly; if we see that Israel was in Divine favor from the death of Jacob to the death of Christ, and that there their decline began, and that a similar period of time from the death of Jesus brought them to a revival of Jewish hopes in A.D. 1878; And if we see that the 37-1/2 years of failing then are paralleled now by 37-1/2 years of rising to favor and influence, let us rejoice in what we see and look further. We shall next look to the prophecies which distinctly foretold this "double" or parallel of Israel’s favor with a like period of disfavor. After the declaration, "Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods.(rulers) day and night, where I will not show you favor." (#Jer 16:9-13.) then we read verse 18, "And first (before the return of favor) I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double," literally "two-fold," from the Hebrew word mishneh. What could be plainer than this?
The prophet declares that from the time of Israel’s casting off from all favor until the time of their return to favor would be a repetition or duplication in time of their previous history, during which they enjoyed Divine favor. We have already indicated this double or "two-fold" feature of Israel’s history and that the turning point was at the time of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah when they cried to Pilate against him, saying, "His blood be upon us and upon our children." The Lord took them at their word, and they have endured a severe retribution. Meanwhile their hearts and minds have been blinded by prejudice for four substantial reasons: 1. The teaching of some that Jesus in his one person was both the Father and the Son, both the Almighty and the Messiah. This erroneous teaching the Jewish mind properly rejects as both unscriptural and irrational. 2. They did not realize how great their Messiah must be—that in order to give them eternal life as human beings, and through them to extend the same opportunity or blessing to others, the Messiah must first die, must first sacrifice his earthly life, that he might give it to Israel and to the world, while the Father, Jehovah, exalted him to the heavenly plane as a reward for his obedience and self-sacrifice. 3. Another matter which they did not perceive, and which they are not to be specially blamed for not discerning, was the fact that God proposed the selection of a small handful of humanity, to be associates with Messiah in his glorious Kingdom work of blessing Israel and the world in connection with the New Covenant promised to Israel in #Jer 31:31 and elsewhere. This fact, that the Messiah would have a Church or "Body" associated with himself and on the spirit-plane is nowhere specified in the original Abrahamic promise, although it is implied. When the Lord said to Abraham, "Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore," the star feature of the illustration represents the higher or spiritual or heavenly seed of Abraham, the Church. The nucleus of this spiritual "seed of Abraham" was selected from amongst the Jews, and the remainder is being gathered since from amongst the Gentiles. This spiritual seed is being gathered out during the second half of Israel’s mishneh, "double" or "two-fold" experiences. 4. Another matter which has confused our Hebrew friends on this subject is the fact that they do not discern as between the nominal Christian Church numbering hundreds of millions, and the saintly few lost to human sight in this great mass—the saintly few who constitute the "Church of the Firstborn," the antitypical Levites and priests. Even to Christian people, as the Apostle declares, this election or selection of the saints of this Gospel Age as the spiritual seed of Abraham is a "mystery." —#Col 1:26,27.
The Very Turning Day Indicated.
Next we notice God’s testimony through another prophet which indicates the very day on which Israel’s "double" turned—the very day on which the first-fold or division of Israel’s experiences of favor ended, and on which the second-fold or division of Israel’s disfavor began. Before we quote the prophecy we call attention to the fact that different prophecies take different standpoints, and then speak as though the prophet stood at that particular time and place. For instance, Jeremiah stood in his own day and said, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will do," thus and so, and render unto you "double." The prophecy we are now quoting is different. Zechariah (#Zec 9:9-12) in prophetic vision took his stand at the end of Jewish favor on the very day when their "double" or mishneh turned, on the very day when Jesus fulfilling his prophecy, rode on the ass to the brow of the Mount of Olives and there, overlooking Jerusalem, wept over it and declared "Your house is left unto you desolate." Note the proof of this. The prophecy says: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee. Righteous and victorious is he; lowly and riding upon an ass, upon a colt the foal of a she-ass." (This is the same one who ultimately shall cut off the battle-bow and speak peace unto the nations, and whose dominion shall be from sea to sea and from the rivers to the ends of the earth.)
OV78 But first national power was to pass from the Jews for a time, and thus we read (#Zec 9:12), "Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope!" This is the invitation of Messiah "to the Jew first." But foreseeing the rejection of the invitation by the nation as a whole, the Lord through the prophet adds, "Even to-day do I declare that I will recompense two-fold unto you." Or, as in our Common Version, "Even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee." Reputable Jewish witnesses in the New Testament show that Jesus thus offered himself to Israel as their King, and at the same time as their Passover Lamb, on the 9th day of the first month A.D. 33—five days before his crucifixion as the Passover Lamb—on the very day when the Passover Lamb should have been taken into the houses of those who would be protected by its blood of sprinkling and nourished by its flesh. We are not faulting Israel in general for not being sufficiently spiritual to discern the blessed opportunities that were theirs, for we find that similar conditions have prevailed in the meantime and prevail to-day all over Christendom. Only a small number, either of Jews or Gentiles, have been sufficiently saintly to be accounted members of this elect, select, spiritual seed of Abraham, or even to understand this "mystery." Yet, shortly, as members of the Great Messiah and under the headship of the glorified Jesus, the saintly, spirit-begotten church will begin to perform to Israel, and through Israel to all nations, the glorious promise to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
She Hath Received Double.
Let us now notice a third Scripture which speaks of Israel’s "double." (#Isa 40:1-2.) As Jeremiah looked at the matter from the far past, and told what would come; and as Zechariah stood at the turning point and told of the very day when the second half of Israel’s experiences began, Isaiah took a still different standpoint. Coming down prophetically to the end of the "double" in 1878, he cries: "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to the heart of Jerusalem and call out unto her that her time of sorrow is accomplished, that her iniquity is atoned for; for she hath received from the hand of the Lord double (the second half of her experiences, outcast) for all her sins." Slow, indeed, to comprehend all the things that are written would be the heart that could see nothing in these wonderful coincidences, and, to such, it would be useless to multiply evidences or to exhort to faith. An appreciation of the Divine Word necessitates first of all a right and teachable attitude of mind. Those who have not yet attained that condition of heart must needs wait. If they cannot receive instruction by the eye or ear or heart of Faith they must needs wait until the actual demonstrations of the "time of trouble" coming, and the subsequent uplifting of Israel, in harmony with these prophecies, shall be fulfilled. The proof that Israel’s disfavor will completely terminate in A.D. 1915 and thenceforth their national polity be reestablished, we leave for a future article.