Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
GOD PREPARING FOR THE HARVEST
[Given in Glasgow, October 29, 1911]
"Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need
that I write unto you, for yourselves know perfectly that
the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; for
when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden
destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman
with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that Day should overtake you as
a thief; ye are children of the light."
The common tendency of the human mind is expressed by St. Peter, who prophesies of the present time that the worldly will be saying, "Where is the promise of His presence!...All things continue as they were from the foundation of the world." Ignorance of God’s Plan is to be expected of the world, but the true people of God have the promise of His special instruction so that they need not be in darkness respecting the Divine Program.
Our world for six thousand years has been the battle field between the forces of light and darkness, truth and error, righteousness and sin; the Prince of Darkness, otherwise styled the "Prince of this world," has led his forces in person, and has controlled the masses and is still controlling them. The Prince of Light is represented in a feeble way by ambassadors who are specially cautioned by Him that they must not use carnal weapons nor carnal methods, but must in meekness correct those who oppose them. They must be subject to "the powers that be" to the extent that their consciences will permit, and so far as possible live peaceably with all men.—
This experience of subjection to the powers of evil has been a hard lesson, difficult to learn; a trial of faith as well as of endurance, the value of which has been difficult sometimes to appreciate. But these must walk by faith and not by sight if they would please the Captain of
their salvation. For centuries the prayer has gone up to God from their hearts, "How long, O Lord!" Reason assures them that it cannot be the Divine purpose to forever permit the victory of sin and death.—
PLOWING, SOWING, REAPING
God represents Himself as a great Husbandman.
Each Age is a "season" and bears its own crop. Each Age has its own time for the plowing of the field, the sowing of the good seed, and the harvest work. As Bible students we have already noted the work accomplished in the Age which ended with the Flood, the different work accomplished during the Patriarchal Age, and the still different work accomplished during the Jewish Age, which lasted from the death of Jacob, and particularly from the giving of the Law, down to the death of Jesus.
Our Lord’s ministry of three and a half years was a harvest time to the Jewish people in the close of their Age in favor or "day of visitation." He said to His disciples, "I send you forth to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor; other men labored and ye are entered into their labors." (
.) The plowing and sowing connected with the Jewish Dispensation was in the far past. The Egyptian bondage served to do a plowing work as also Israel’s escape from that bondage and the forty years of wandering in the wilderness before they reached Canaan. The giving of the Law and the establishment of them as a people, the lessons of their sacrifices, and the exhortation of their Prophets, all constituted a seed-sowing, harrowing and cultivating experience.
In the end of their Age Jesus gathered the ripe fruitage of that experience—those sanctified thereby and developed in character and obedience to God.
The crop gathered by our Lord and the Apostles in the Jewish harvest numbered thousands. These were gathered out of Judaism and from under the Law Covenant into Christianity—gathered under a covenant applying
only to the "Church which is the Body of Christ."
This covenant, under which they became associated with Messiah, reads, "Gather together My saints [holy ones] unto Me," saith the Lord, "those who have made a Covenant with Me by sacrifice." (
.) All coming thus into relationship to Jehovah as members of the Body of Messiah came by way of the cross—through a recognition of their own imperfection, and of Jesus and His sacrifice as the satisfaction for their sins, a covering for their blemishes, by which alone their sacrifices were rendered "holy and acceptable to God."—
SOWING FOLLOWS REAPING
The reaping work of the Jewish Age merged into the sowing work of the Gospel Age as the invitation to become joint-sacrificers with Jesus was extended to those having hearing ears amongst nations aside from the Jews. For eighteen centuries this sowing work, with "harrowing" experiences and various cultivations, has been in progress. Now in turn we have arrived at the harvest of this Gospel Age—the reaping time, the time of gathering into the garner—beyond the veil—by the power of the First Resurrection.
"None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" (
), is the Lord’s declaration.
Our text declares that "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness" respecting this time. This implies either that the brethren are very few or that a considerable number of them have not yet become sufficiently awake to a discernment of the times and seasons in which we are living.
Many of the brethren and many of the world and many of the "wicked" do realize that we are living in strange times and under peculiar conditions. These try to persuade themselves, however, that what we see today is merely a recurrence of what has repeated itself time and again during the past centuries. Thus they lull themselves, saying, "Peace and safety!"—
This attitude is what the Scriptures foretold, "When
shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon
It is only "ye, brethren," who are privileged to have the clearer light respecting present and future conditions. We know that we are in the Harvest time of this Age—the reckoning time—the testing time—the time when the "wheat" is to be gathered into the Heavenly "garner" the time when the field is to be cleared of all "tares" in a fiery trouble—the time when the plowshare of trouble will be run through the world of mankind to prepare the whole world for the New Dispensation just about to begin.
THE PLOWMAN OVERTAKES THE REAPER
Illustrating the Divine methods and the rapid following of events in the Divine Program, the Lord through the Prophet tells us that "the plowman will overtake the reaper." (
.) So accurately timed is every feature of the Divine Plan that part fits to part and work to work closely. The Harvest of the present time is the gathering of the fruitage of this Gospel Age—the gathering of "the Church of the First-borns, whose names are written in Heaven"—those who have made a covenant with Jehovah by sacrifice.
The Head of the saintly Messiah, developed and glorified eighteen centuries ago, is Jesus. The members of the Body of this Messiah have been gathered from every nation, first from the Jews and then from all nations.
God’s call and selection of saintly sacrificers in this Gospel Age ignore all sectarian, all denominational, all national lines—"The Lord knoweth them that are His."
The winds of violence, "the powers of the air," which will shortly be loosed, and which will produce the terrific "storm," are being held back until the sealing of God’s servants in their foreheads shall have been accomplished.
This sealing in the forehead implies an intellectual appreciation of Heavenly things, and is intimately associated with the Harvest work—the sealed are the ripe wheat
SM188: being gathered for the Heavenly garner. As soon as the sealing work shall have been accomplished the winds of strife and trouble will be let loose according to the Master’s declaration, and the result will be a "Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation"—no, nor ever shall be the like again. The awful lessons which will then be learned by humanity will be sufficient for all time. The strife, the hatred, the malignity, the anarchy of that day of trouble are depicted in various places in the Word of God.—
The trouble time impending is indeed declared to be a time of Divine wrath, and we must not lose sight of that feature of it. Divine Justice has indignation against inequity and selfishness in general, for selfishness is but another name for sin. All sin is selfish, and all selfishness is sin. The captains of industry, the captains of education, and captains of wealth have today greater opportunities and therefore greater responsibilities than the kings of the earth for their dealings with their fellowmen.
Similarly, there are leaders of the people, presidents and secretaries of unions, etc., who are also captains, and who also have great responsibility. All perceive that the world of humanity is rapidly nearing a crisis. The almost miraculous opening of the eyes of understanding which God has recently granted has brought to the world mechanical inventions and chemical processes which are making the world rich with amazing rapidity.
Although these blessings are in considerable measure reaching the masses of mankind and uplifting all to a higher plane of comfort, nevertheless general education has opened the eyes of human understanding correspondingly.
"The common people" are looking with amazement at the luxury of the rich as the barbarians of old looked upon the much lesser splendors of Rome. They are covetous, they are hungry for what they term their "share" of the bounties being dispensed by Providence with so lavish a hand.
Even if the vast increase of wealth through machinery, chemistry, etc., were to be evenly distributed we doubt if it would satisfy these new-born minds.
TWO POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
There seem to be two possible solutions: (1) To convert all of the wealthy into saints, whose pleasure it would be to administer the flood of wealth now rolling in upon them for the general blessing of mankind, along the most benevolent lines imaginable; or (2) To convert into saints the masses of mankind and so imbue them with Heavenly hopes and prospects that they would not particularly care for earthly good things nor crave them, but rather rejoice to be "the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom."—
We confess that neither solution seems to be practicable.
We cannot believe that either can be accomplished; hence we must believe what the Bible teaches, that an awful conflict is about to be precipitated between these two classes, because neither one nor the other can be fully converted to the Lord’s way. How glad we are that the Bible shows that the culmination of the conflict will bring everlasting peace a just, loving, equitable and satisfactory adjustment of earth’s affairs, under Messiah’s glorious Reign of a thousand years!
THE DIVINE ARRANGEMENT
Someone may ask, Would not these same difficulties beset any new government which Messiah or others might institute? Will not the element of selfishness forever persist in the human heart, and will not this imply that to all eternity there will be a strife of selfish interests?
We answer, No. The Divine Plan solves the problem perfectly. Jesus has demonstrated His unselfishness as respects earthly things. His laying down of His life not only proved His loyalty to righteousness and to the Father’s will, but proved also His unselfishness—His
love—"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends."—
This friend of humanity is to be the great King of the world in the New Dispensation, and His associates in the Kingdom, the Bride class, are to be such only as have His spirit and disposition of obedience to the Father’s will—self-sacrifice and love for fellowman—unselfish love. Under present conditions these may not always be known, nor their true character and unselfishness be discerned, because they have the treasure in "earthen vessels," which do not always fully present their true benevolence of heart.—
The Divine provision is that such of these as shall demonstrate their unselfishness of heart and loyalty to the Lord shall be given new bodies in the resurrection—"sown in weakness, they will be raised in power; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown an animal body," with Adamic weaknesses and fleshly imperfections, they will be raised spirit bodies—perfect, complete, lacking nothing. —
These, in association with their Redeemer, will constitute the Kingdom class which is to rule the world for a thousand years under the Headship of Jesus. Surely, we can trust these, we can have confidence in them. The fact that God has elected them, and that He is pleased to give over to them the rulership of the world for a thousand years testifies beyond peradventure their worthiness and capability.
That Government will not be a republic, but a monarchy, a theocracy, a Divine Kingdom. Christ and His Bride will be the King and Queen of the New Dispensation, supplanting Satan and the fallen angels, who for centuries have been in control. The Kingdom of God will be as invisible as the kingdom of darkness has been. It will operate through human agencies, as does the other.
But even its human agents have been provided. The Scriptures inform us that the worthy ones of the Jewish
Dispensation and before, will be the Princes in all the earth who will represent Messiah’s Kingdom amongst men. Not only so, but they will be perfect men, made so by participation in the "resurrection of life." How grand the prospect!—Psa. 45:l6.
The Time of Trouble, although it will be awful, will be short, as typed in the terrible trouble which came upon the Jewish nation following the harvest work of their Age. Then will come the leveling process, which in the Divine order will prove to be a blessing to everybody.
In other words, the socialists and anarchists are not so far from a correct conception of what must ultimately prevail, but they are far astray respecting the methods by which it will be obtained. Their attempt to grasp the rudder of the world’s affairs shows an utter lack of appreciation of the mighty influences with which they seek to contend. Their efforts will merely precipitate upon themselves and upon others the terrible trouble which the Scriptures foretell.
God’s people are distinctly warned that they must keep hands off, must not interfere with the powers that be—their reliance must be upon the Lord and not in the use of carnal weapons. St. James, writing on this subject, declares the coming trouble and tells that it will be specially severe upon the rich: "Go to now, ye rich men; weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you." (
.) No doubt the troubles will be equally upon the poor; but to them they will seem less severe since they have been accustomed to less. To God’s people is the message, "Be patient, brethren, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh"; "Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord." (
.) "Seek meekness, seek righteousness, it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger."—