Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
THE HEATHEN—MESSIAH’S INHERITANCE
"Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for
Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth
for Thy possession."
Our text is from one of the Messianic Psalms. It represents our Lord as making known to His people the Heavenly Father’s decree rewarding Him for His faithfulness as our Redeemer, assuring Him of His exaltation to the Kingdom, and declaring that with this will come the inheritance of all the earth, with power to subject all things to the Father’s will. He was to have it for the mere request—"Ask of Me." As a matter of fact, this world-wide dominion has not yet come to Messiah; the heathen are not yet His inheritance; the uttermost parts of the earth are not yet His possession. Indeed, as the Prophet declares, "Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the heathen."—
When we remember our Redeemer’s love for the race, the love which led Him to lay down His life to seek and to recover that which was lost, we are at first inclined to amazement that He has not yet asked the Father for His inheritance of the heathen. We are astonished that He has permitted the Prince of Darkness and the reign of Sin and Death to exist for more than eighteen centuries since He suffered, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." But perplexity in the matter might well be answered by our Lord’s reply to the Sadducees: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." As we come to understand the Scriptures more fully, and to appreciate how the power of God will be exercised in bringing the heathen under the domination of the Redeemer, the eyes of our understanding open, and we are enabled to rejoice accordingly.
WHY DID HE NOT ASK?
Our Lord did not ask for His great power to reign at an earlier date because He knew the Father’s Plan, and was well contented with the Divine times and seasons.
He had no wish for a change in this. He did not ask to receive the heathen for an inheritance at the beginning of the Gospel Age, but has been content to wait, and to place that request in its due time, in harmony with another feature of the Divine Program which must first be fulfilled. That other feature is the selection of the Church, the Bride of Christ, the members of His Body.
It pleased the Father to make our Lord not only the world’s Redeemer and King, but also the High Priest of an under-priesthood, the Bridegroom of the Church His Bride, the Elder Brother of these saints of glory whom the Father is pleased to develop during this Gospel Age as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to be sharers of His sufferings and of His glory to follow.
Meantime the heathen have been suffering no injustice.
Born in sin, shapen in iniquity, condemned to death, they have been having experiences with sin and death, and going down into the great prison-house for periods of unconsciousness—until the Redeemer, at His Second Advent, shall call them and all mankind from this great prison-house, the tomb. This He foretold, saying, "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth."—
Not only will this include the Church of the First-borns who have been approved of God and who, passing trial now, will come forth unto life eternal, but it will include also the remainder of mankind, those who have not had God’s approval, all of whom, because redeemed, shall come forth unto judgment—trial. A fair trial will be theirs, to determine their worthiness or unworthiness of life everlasting by the manner in which they shall receive, or by their rejection of, The Christ of God when during the Millennium He shall be made fully known.
It was also part of the Divine purpose that the whole earth should be filled with people; and hence the bringing forth of a progeny is a part of the Divine will for mankind.
The few short years of the present life, with an experience of sin and death conditions, will in due time be supplemented by the glorious period of the Millennium, with its grand opportunities for lessons of righteousness and its rewards for obedience. Its corrective "stripes," or punishments, will be to the intent that so many as possible may ultimately be entirely recovered from death conditions and brought into full accord with God in Christ. But those who demonstrate their unwillingness to come into heart sympathy with righteousness will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people.—
THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY
So, then, our Lord’s reason for not asking sooner for the heathen as His inheritance and the remotest parts of the earth as His possession, was that He knew the Father’s Plan to be a different one, the more excellent way; and He delighted to do the Father’s will. And so with all the followers of Christ. As soon as they ascertain the Father’s glorious Plan of Salvation, they find it to be soul-satisfying, and greatly prefer it to any plan of their own. Undeveloped Christians, whom the Apostle designates "babes" in Christ, are the ones who are continually praying to the Heavenly Father for a change of the Divine Program, imagining that their wisdom and their love in respect to the heathen are superior to those of the Infinite Creator. Nearly all Christian people have had their experience with such ignorance; and we are glad to suppose that the Heavenly Father laid not the sin of such presumption to our charge, but rather sympathetically appreciated our interest in the heathen, although He must have deprecated our lack of reverence, our headiness, our highminded assumption of more than infinite wisdom!
We are not saying a word against missions—home or foreign. Quite to the contrary, we believe that every Christian should labor with heart and hand to do all in his power to glorify the Father and the Redeemer, and to enlighten his fellow-men respecting the Cross of Christ, and the blessings which it secures. But while willingly, gladly, serving the Divine Cause, "instant in season and out of season," we should "learn to labor and to wait."
We should learn that the laboring under present conditions is arranged chiefly for our benefit—for the development in the minds of the Royal Priesthood of the sacrificing qualities and the graces of the Holy Spirit—meekness, gentleness, patience, faith, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love.
"WORKERS TOGETHER WITH GOD"
Let us be sure, dear friends, that any theory of ours respecting the heathen, or any other feature of the Divine Program, which in any degree implies superior wisdom, superior energy or superior love on our part, as compared with that of our Heavenly Father and our Redeemer, must be wrong. The sooner we learn to pray from the heart, "Thy will be done," the better it will be for us, the more shall we be able to get into harmony with our Lord, and the more shall we be used as His ambassadors and representatives. The wisdom of man is foolishness with God, and the Wisdom of God is foolishness with man. Hence we must not take the human standpoint in investigating or reasoning upon the Divine purposes and Program. Rather, we must go direct to the Word of God, that we may be taught of God, that we may discern the beauty, the harmony, of His plans.
It is written that "obedience is better than sacrifice"; and this being recognized, how careful it should make us to inquire what the will of the Lord is; to search the Scriptures, that we may there ascertain the Divine Program, and be found in harmony therewith! There we find that the Lord’s present work is the completing of the
Royal Priesthood, the Royal Judge, the Royal Prophet, the Royal Mediator, the Great King, for the world of mankind—for the world’s deliverance from the bondage of Sin and Death, and their assistance back to harmony with God. Thus seeing, we shall have patience in respect to the heathen, and strive now to make our own calling and election sure and to lay down our lives for the brethren, in assisting to build them up in the most holy faith, "until we all come to the measure of the stature of a Man in Christ"—the great Mediator of the New Covenant, of whom Jesus is the Head—the Church His Body.
CONVERTING THE WORLD
When will the world be converted? When will Christ ask for the heathen? When will the Father give them to Him? How long, O Lord? The Scriptural answer, dear friends, is that it has pleased the Father to select the "jewel" class during this Gospel Age by means which the world would think foolish—by means of the preaching of the Good Tidings. But His Program for the future Age is different. There are millions who have no ear to hear the preaching of the Cross of Christ. (
.) There are millions who have no eye of faith to see the glorious things of God. In fact, according to the Scriptures, only a Little Flock, comparatively, can be brought into accord with the Lord under the conditions of the present time, because sin abounds, because Death reigns, because Satan, the Prince of this world, now works antagonistically in the hearts of the children of disobedience.
Hence it has pleased God to have a different method of dealing with the world of mankind in general from that which He has adopted in dealing with the Church in this Age. In the next Age, force will be used, and not merely moral suasion. Force will be employed in putting down the reign of evil. Satan will not merely be requested to desist from deceiving the world, but will be bound for a thousand years, and be unable to deceive the nations.
Likewise, mankind will no longer be invited to accept
Christ, and to give their hearts in obedience to Him; but on the contrary, they will be compelled to be obedient.
As it is written, "Unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God." Offers of grace will no longer be held out, with reward for faith attached; instead, knowledge shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep. (
.) As a result, no one shall then say to his neighbor or to his brother, Know thou the Lord! for they shall all know Him, from the least unto the greatest of them.
HEATHEN FALL UNDER HIM
Another Psalm describes Messiah’s triumph in the Millennial Age, saying, "Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Most Mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty. And in Thy majesty ride prosperously in the cause of Truth and Meekness and Righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee." (Psa: 45:3-5.) Instead of
as in the original, and we have a picture of the conversion of the heathen as it will shortly be wrought. We are not to suppose that the Lord will ride upon a horse, or that literal arrows will literally pierce the hearts of His enemies. We are to understand this picture to signify our Lord’s triumphal conquering of the world; and that the arrows of Truth, which will go forth unto the whole world, will reach the hearts of men and smite them down. Even so we read that when St. Peter preached at Pentecost that the Jews had taken and crucified the Son of God, the hearers were "cut to the heart" —with the lance of Truth. Thank God for such arrows from the quiver of Divine Wisdom, Justice, Love! We rejoice that the heathen will thus be conquered for the Lord, and thus eventually every knee bow and every tongue confess.—
#Ac 5:33; 7:54
The work of dealing with the heathen, with the world—with all except the Church—will begin with the generation
living at the time of the establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom. In due time it will proceed and will ultimately include all that are in their graves in the reverse order from that in which they entered. And the last shall be the first to come forth—"every man in his own order," or class.—
DEEP HUMILIATION PROMISED THE WORLD
Too frequently do Bible students neglect to see whether or not their interpretations are in harmony with the context of the passages under discussion. Let us not make this mistake. Turning to the second Psalm, we find that following our text is the declaration, "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel." (Verse 9.) The application of this evidently is to the time of our Lord’s Second Advent, when the selection of the Church shall have been completed and she shall have entered into His glory as the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, symbolically pictured as the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven.—
#Re 21:1-5; 22:1-5
From that New Jerusalem, we are told, the River of the Water of Life shall flow freely, and whosoever will may freely partake of it. On either bank will grow the Trees of Life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. And the Spirit and the Bride will say, Come; and whosoever will may come, and take of the Water of Life. But in the meantime, before the nations, the world, will be ready for that blessing from the New Jerusalem, they must needs pass through a period of very deep humiliation—"A Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation."—
As for the nations of that time, the extent to which they will suffer destruction will depend largely upon their own attitude, as is intimated by the verses following our text. Those of the nations who freely and heartily accept of Messiah’s rule will be correspondingly saved from the breaking process. Hence it is urged, "Be wise, O ye
kings of the earth! Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."
But while this seems to offer leniency, mercy, these favors are conditional on the manner in which the Messianic Kingdom shall be received. Other Scriptures intimate that all the nations, not only heathen but civilized, will be found in violent opposition to the Heavenly Kingdom, and hence that all together they will be crushed as the vessels of a potter.—
THE GLORIOUS OUTCOME
The Lord tells us that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than man’s ways, and His plans higher than man’s plans. And this we find true as we come to better understand the Scriptures.
Who ever dreamed of such lengths and breadths and heights and depths of "Love Divine, all love excelling," as are implied and included in God’s great Plan of selecting first The Christ—Jesus the Head, and the Church, His Body—and then through these blessing all the families of the earth with a knowledge of Himself and the opportunities for life eternal!—
We make no claims of universal salvation; for the Scriptures distinctly speak of some who will die the Second Death, having proved themselves not sufficiently in harmony with righteousness to be worthy of eternal life—even after being brought to a knowledge of the Truth.
But the Scriptures show us that when all the unwilling and disobedient shall have been cut off in the Second Death, the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.
Let hope cheer those who weep; E’en now the rays of dawn Above the eastern hill-tops creep— We’re near the light of morn.