PASTOR RUSSELL EXPLAINS #Isa 65:20
"THENCEFORTH there shall be no more (death of) an infant of days, nor of an old man who hath not filled his days: for the dying one shall be but a child at a hundred years old—a sinner a hundred years old he shall be accursed"—cut off from life.
These words have long puzzled Bible students. And they still puzzle such as have not recognized that as the present age is devoted to the gathering of a saintly and elect class, the coming age will be for the blessing of the world in general through the elect church. Human conditions, as well as conditions prevailing in the physical earth under Messiah’s reign, will be very different from what they are at present. The Scripture under consideration cites us to one of the peculiarities of the new age, the increased length of life. Then every one who will conform to the laws of the Kingdom may live at least a thousand years. And if then he shall stand the tests of Divine requirement he may be granted eternal life. On the other hand, the willfully rebellious continually needing to be curbed and restrained will be cut off at the close of a hundred years’ probation. Even then they will be but as children as compared to the remainder of the race. Was it not thus in the days of Adam before sin and depravity had reduced the average of human life to its present low ebb? And should it surprise us to find a restoration to this condition in the future?
Should we not remember that the coming age is styled the "times of restitution of all things."—#Ac 3:19. It was common in Father Adam’s day that a father should have his first child at a hundred years or over. In other words, at about the century mark, childhood ceased and the period of maturity began. With the weakening of the race we have had much experience crowded into few years; yet we all sometimes recognize that if we lived to be a hundred years old all of the past experience would be but a schooling of preparation for future centuries of maturity.
No end of confusion has been created by the intent of well-meaning people to apply these prophecies as the reward of the Church in heaven. Nothing in the Scriptures warrants us in thinking that there will be spiritual, heavenly sheep and oxen, wolves and lions, vines and houses, planting and building. Those who reject the clear Bible teaching respecting a Messianic reign of righteousness cannot understand the Bible at all. Not a single passage of the Old Testament tells of heavenly hopes or promises. Only a few of them teach heavenly things at all, and then indirectly. As for instance in the types of the Old Testament the garments of the High Priest, glorious and beautiful, symbolize, we believe, the heavenly grandeur, honors and glories of Messiah during the period of His reign. Similarly, God’s promise to Abraham declares that His seed, His posterity, should be as the stars of heaven and as the sands of the seashore. Nothing in this statement would necessarily teach a heavenly state or condition. Only by the aid of the New Testament and the Holy Scriptures’ illumination can we see that two seeds of Abraham are distinctly referred to, the stars indirectly implying the spiritual seed, while the sands of the seashore refer to Abraham’s natural seed. As it is written: "I have constituted Thee a father of many nations like unto God." So the spiritual seed of Abraham is now being developed. With its completion this age
OV128 will end, and the natural seed of Abraham will return to special favor and become the leading nation of the world under the guidance and direction of the spiritual and invisible, yet all-powerful Kingdom, of Messiah. The blessing through natural Israel, will gradually extend to every nation, in that the door will be opened by which all nations may come into and become a part of Abraham’s seed, and thus into harmony with Messiah’s Kingdom. Whosoever refuses this great privilege and blessing of Messiah’s Kingdom will be destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death. Consequently by the close of Messiah’s reign of righteousness, not only will all the willing and obedient have been lifted up to perfection of human nature, but they will all, of every nation, have become the seed of Abraham. And the earth, their perpetual inheritance, will have been rescued from the curse and thenceforth forever be the Paradise of God—Eden restored.
Hundred Year Old Children.
Centenarians of the present time are few, and they by no means are like children.
Usually they are wrinkled and haggard. We are to remember, however, the Bible record that several of the earlier members of Adam’s race lived nine hundred years, or, rather, they were more than nine hundred years in coming fully under the sentence against sinners. "By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world, and death as a result of sin. And thus death passed upon all men, because all are sinners." (#Ro 5:12.) Gradually, and especially since the flood, when a great change took place in our cosmogony, human longevity has decreased, while mental, moral and physical ailments have increased. In confirmation of this, and correspondingly in contradiction of the Evolution theory, we find that the ancients were stronger than we mentally as well as physically; for they intermarried brothers with sisters and cousins without injury, whereas to-day the mental weakness of the race is such that one out of every one hundred and fifty adults is in an insane asylum, and the marriage of brothers and sisters is prohibited, and even the marriage of second cousins is disapproved and held responsible for increasing weak-mindedness. We see, then, that our text describing Messiah’s Kingdom merely explains that restitution blessings will recover mankind from the effects of the fall, so that it shall then be as it was in Adam’s day—that full human rightness, maturity, will be reached in a century, and that a man dying then would be dying in childhood as compared with the remainder of the race. The further guarantee that none will die even at a hundred years of age, except willful sinners who, refusing to.submit themselves to the regulations of Messiah’s Kingdom, will then be cut off from life as unworthy of any further favor at the hands of the great Redeemer—Messiah—all of whose dealings will represent Divine Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power.
Man’s Years as a Tree’s.
The Scriptures tell us that under Messiah’s Kingdom the days of a man shall be as the days of a tree. And it is believed that some trees live to be at least a thousand years old. This is God’s provision for every man—every member of the human family after He shall have accomplished the work of this Gospel age—the selection of the spiritual seed of Abraham, typified by the priests and Levites, "The Church of the Firstborn whose names are written in heaven." Messiah’s Kingdom is to dominate the earth for a thousand years, with a view to blessing Adam and all of his posterity—with a view to uplifting them from sin and degradation and death.
The uplifting influences will begin at once following the great time of trouble with which the Kingdom will be inaugurated. The judgments of the Lord will be abroad in the earth and the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. None shall longer need to say to his neighbor or his brother, "Know thou the Lord; for all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest of them," for "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth."—#Isa 11:9. Whoever, then, by obedience to the laws of the Kingdom will avail himself of the blessed privileges of restitution (#Ac 3:19-21) will not only be helped upward out of mental, moral and physical imperfection,
OV129 step by step toward perfection, but so long as he progresses, he may live—clear down to the end of that blessed thousand years. If we had never seen trees; if our own experiences had been with vegetation such as perishes within a year, we might have difficulty in believing some one who would tell us of having seen trees centuries old. Such a statement would seem as unreasonable to us as to tell us that humanity could live for a thousand years or forever. Have we not indeed seen children old and wrinkled looking, yet only in their teens? And have we not seen others cheerful, fresh and comparatively young-looking at sixty and seventy? Let us assure ourselves that every good promise of the Holy Scriptures will surely have fulfillment. Not one jot or tittle of the Divine promise shall fail. It will surely be true then that when Messiah’s Kingdom shall have fully taken control of earth’s affairs, a person dying at a hundred years of age would be dying in infancy, because, according to the Divine arrangement, obedience on his part would enable him to live to the very close of the Millennium.
All Unrighteousness is Sin.
At the present time, God "winks" at much of the wrong-doing that there is in the world. He does not interfere with it. But of course every transgression carries with it naturally more or less of a depraving influence on the transgressor’s mind and body. The conscience is the most tender and the most important element of our human nature. Whoever violates it, whoever injures it, much or little, will proportionately be disadvantaged in the future, and will have all the more difficulty of rising up gradually out of his degradation and weaknesses, even with all the helps that will then be available. Thus will be fulfilled the Scriptural declaration, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap." With all mankind redeemed, there will be nothing whatever of the past chargeable against any on the books of Divine Justice. The great "High Priest" by his better sacrifices, will have made full satisfaction to the demands of Justice, but the weaknesses, mental, moral and physical, resulting from more or less willful and deliberate sin, must still be reckoned on, and thus every idle word and every idle thought, every idle and vicious action of the present time, by making its mark upon the characters of men, . is providing for corresponding difficulties on their part in that glorious day of their opportunity. God proposes that through Messiah’s reign He will give an opportunity to human sinners to return to harmony with their Maker. But they must show their desire for harmony with Him by responding to the blessed arrangements He will provide through Messiah’s reign. Every effort for righteousness will receive its reward, as promised. The thousand years appointed for the purpose by Divine Wisdom is surely sufficient. The earth and its inhabitants will be grandly perfect beyond our ability to describe or even to fully imagine, since we have never known a sinless Eden nor a sinless human being. The suggestion of our text is that the great Messiah will not temporize for the entire period of His reign with those who do not show a proper appreciation of opportunities when fully brought in contact with them and clearly understanding the terms of Divine grace. But one hundred years is quite a considerable period of probation, and surely every reasonable mind will concede that so long a delay in meting out the full penalty of sin, Second Death, manifests the extreme limit of reasonable mercy.
The Church’s Triumph Shorter.
The Church, whose trial is in progress during this Gospel age, receives individually a much shorter period of probation than our text declares will be granted to mankind in the future. God’s saintly people are expected to develop character and to approve themselves to God as "overcomers," within a very brief space of life. And not only so, but they are required to "walk by faith and not by sight." They merely have God’s Word as respects His Justice and Love and gracious plans, while, in the next age, the world will have the actuality instead of the promise—the world will walk by sight. "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed
OV130 and all flesh shall see it together." (#Isa 40:5.) The world during Messiah’s reign will be privileged to walk in a highway of holiness, from which all the stumbling stones will have been gathered out. But the overcomers of the Church class are required to walk in the narrow way, steep, narrow, rugged and beset with snares of the Adversary. "For we are not ignorant of his snares."—#2Co 2:11. We are not to forget, however, that these differences between the Church and the world are fully offset by the differences of reward. The overcomers of the Church are to be rewarded with glory, honor, immortality, "the Divine nature," and be joint-heirs in the Kingdom as members of the great Messiah. The world is to have no such change of nature from human to spirit, but is to have the earthly nature restored or perfected in them, if obedient, and to enjoy the earthly Eden. Truly God’s ways are equal. "True and righteous are Thy ways, Lord God Almighty! Who shall not come and worship before Thee when Thy righteous dealings are made manifest?"—#Re 15:4.
Humanity’s Final Test.
The Church’s test takes place in the present life. And in each member thereof the matter of worthiness or unworthiness of eternal life on the spirit plane for all time is determined at death. Not so with humanity in general. As we have just seen, some may live for only a hundred years, and then be cut off in the Second Death, because found unworthy of further opportunity. Others, by availing themselves of the privileges and rendering obedience to the laws of the Kingdom, may live to the very close of the thousand years, and be found unworthy of eternal life. Still others may so fully appreciate Divine Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power and may become so obedient thereto that God will be pleased to grant them eternal life. Their days, their lives, will be far more than the days of a tree. The world of mankind, at the conclusion of Messiah’s reign of righteousness, will have attained again the perfection originally enjoyed by Father Adam. Like him they will be in Eden, which then will be world-wide. Those perfect human beings will be required to stand a test—to demonstrate, to prove their absolute loyalty to God and His righteous laws, as Adam was tried, tested, proven in Eden. As Adam was promised eternal life if his test proved him loyal to his Maker, so his restored race will have before them the offer of eternal life if they shall manifest their obedience satisfactorily. Outwardly, of course, the whole world will be obedient throughout the entire thousand years, because the reign of righteousness will be so absolute that every good deed will have a reward, and every evil deed will have a punishment, with matters reduced to such a certainty and with the death of the sinner a hundred years old, the whole world would quickly come to a condition of thorough obedience to the Divine requirements. Thus it is written: "Unto Him (Messiah) every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. To the world itself there would probably appear to be no reason why any further tests of loyalty should be imposed. But God seeketh truth in the inward parts, in the heart as well as in the outward life. When Messiah, having accomplished the object of his reign of righteousness shall deliver over the perfect world from his administration of Mercy to the Father’s administration of Justice (#1Co 15:25-28) the latter will not grant eternal life to the perfected men, but instead will submit them to a test which will determine fully their heart loyalty or disloyalty. None but those who will stand that great test will be allowed to have eternal life—all others will die the Second Death.
Satan Loosed from Prison.
We are not informed of the particulars of the test that will then be applied to mankind. We merely have the figurative declaration that Satan, sin and everything which Satan represents, will be loosed for a little season at the close of Messiah’s reign. (#Re 20:7-10.) The world full of perfected humanity as the sand of the seashore will all be subjected to the test. But how many or what proportion of the whole will prove loyal and what proportion disloyal we are not informed. All that we know on the subject, and all that is necessary for us to know is that the
OV131 trial will be thorough, and just, and that all found faithful will have eternal life, and that all found unfaithful will be counted as followers of Satan and with him will be destroyed in the Second Death. The test which God will apply will be so searching, so thorough, that although his creatures will still be free moral agents, he is able to guarantee that thenceforth "there shall be no more sighing, no more crying, no more dying, because all the former things of sin and death shall have passed away."
God has glorious prospects, therefore, for the non-elect—prospects in which Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, fully coordinated, will be abundantly manifested and all the families of the earth be blessed. But if these great blessings for the non-elect are to be esteemed, how much more shall those whose eyes and ears are opened appreciate the length and breadth and height and depth of the Love of God and His provision of glory, honor and immortality or his elect Church? To all such I give the Apostle’s exhortation, Let us make our calling and election sure, by so running the race of life that we may become worthy to attain the crown of life in joint-heirship with our Redeemer—Messiah in His glorious Kingdom.
The Reward, Life—The Punishment, Death.
Not a word is said about the hundred-year-old-sinner being sent to eternal torment, just as there is not a word said in the Bible to the effect that Adam or his children were condemned to eternal torments. The sentence upon Adam which his race shares by heredity was a death sentence. This just but awful penalty has wrought havoc with our race—sickness, sorrow, pain, dying, death. God’s mercy has provided the redemption of Adam and his race through His Son, Who died, the Just for the unjust. The death of Jesus is the price which will eventually secure the release of Adam and all of his posterity from the death sentence and give to them resurrection privileges provided through Messiah’s Kingdom reign. But every one who has been enlightened and brought to a clear knowledge of God and to the opportunities provided for his salvation from sin and death is more responsible for the manner in which he accepts or refuses "the gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." As the willful, intelligent sinner in the Church now is sentenced to the Second Death (#Re 6:6; 10:28-31), so, our text tells us, it will be with the masses of mankind during the Millennial Age. If they willfully reject reconciliation to God, they will die the Second Death. God has provided a redemption and recovery from the first death, but assures us that the Second Death will be an eternal one.
Instant death from electric shock will be the method of electrocuting of such willful sinners during the Millennium, and not hanging nor decapitation. Thus it was that in olden times two of Aaron’s sons, having violated their relationship with God, and having disobeyed him, were smitten to death. Fire from the Lord smote them—an electric flash. We may be sure that torture will not be needlessly inflicted on such. They will lose everything, but will not be tortured. Stripes or punishments, chastisements, are sometimes used of the Lord, but always in a reformatory manner. "He chasteneth every son whom He receiveth." He chastens none others—none for whom the hope of chastising would accomplish no blessing.
Such will be smitten down in the Second Death.