VOL. XXXVI JUNE 15 No. 12
A. D. 1915--A.M. 6043
Conquest of the Antitypical Canaanites............179
Christians to be Non-Resistant................179
Battle of Spiritual Israel Today..............181
Courage in this "Hour of Temptation"..........181
Prayer--Its Use and Abuse.........................182
"Abide in Me and I in You"....................182
Blessings Easily Gained not Appreciated.......182
Evidences of Possession of the Holy Spirit....184
The Source of True Promotion......................185
Putting Down and Setting Up in
"Ask What I Shall Give Thee"......................187
Are Dreams Significant?.......................188
Dedicating the Temple.............................188
Preparation of the Living Stones..............189
Work of the Glorified Church..................189
How We Are to Wait on the Lord....................190
Traits Necessary to Success...................190
An Interesting Letter.............................191
Colporteuring in Office Buildings.............191
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OUR CONQUEST OF THE ANTITYPICAL CANAANITES
"Be thou strong and very courageous."--`Joshua 1:7`.
JOSHUA records these words of Jehovah God, spoken to him at the time when, after Moses' death, he took command of Israel. The Israelites had then had their forty years' experience in the wilderness, and were just about to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land of Canaan. Joshua had become Moses' successor. The people had learned many lessons in their wilderness experiences; and now that Moses was dead, they looked to Joshua as their leader.
Joshua expressed his inability to serve in the place of Moses, through whom God had signally manifested Himself. But the Lord assured Joshua that He would bless him all the days of his life, even as He had blessed Moses. Joshua had been found faithful in all his experiences. He was one of the two survivors of the wilderness experiences who, when starting out from Egypt, were over twenty years of age. Because of the faithfulness of Joshua and Caleb, the Lord had promised them that they alone of all the adults who left Egypt should enter the Promised Land. The others had died in the wilderness, save Moses and Aaron, Aaron dying in Mount Hor and Moses a little later in Mount Nebo, before the people crossed over Jordan.
The Lord's exhortation for Joshua to be strong and very courageous was in connection with the instruction that the Israelites were to take possession of the land of Canaan and destroy the inhabitants of the land. This command of God has been a stumbling-block to many. They have supposed that the Bible could not be of God when it bears such instructions. They have felt that it would be an act of injustice for the Israelites to go in and possess Canaan. What right, they say, had Israel to kill those people and take possession of their land? It belonged more to the people who already possessed it than to anybody else. To invade their country, destroy their lives and confiscate their lands and their possessions would be very unjust. The course of Israel is held up as an illustration of the "land-grabbing" disposition of the natural man, which has seemed to grow stronger century by century, notwithstanding the increase of civilization and his professed appreciation of justice.
This is the view that many take, and much to their own injury; for they do not understand the matter they discuss. When we say that they do not understand the matter, we do not mean that they are people of inferior mind, but that they have not taken God's viewpoint. From any other than the right viewpoint, the whole course of Israel in this matter must seem to be unjust and ungodlike. From the right viewpoint, however, the matter is seen to be reasonable, just and righteous altogether. The sins and abominations of these Gentile people were such that their destruction was a very desirable thing. God had a great surprise in mind for this land of Canaan, which they inhabited. Moreover, the Jewish Age was an Age of Types. Both Israel and these corrupt Gentile nations were typical.
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CHRISTIANS TO BE NON-RESISTANT
In the present Age, the Lord's people are not to take possession of either the persons or the property of others. They are not to destroy life under any circumstances. They are not to battle with any kind of carnal weapons. They are to be non-resistant. We are not of those who would defend the course of the professed Christian nations of modern times along these lines. As Christians, guided by our Master's example and instruction, we should seek to do good to all men as we have opportunity, and to leave them in peaceable possession of their homes, their property and their liberties. There is a great difference between the Divine Law of Love, which is the motive power operating in the true children of God today, and the law of selfishness, under which the masses of mankind--including the vast majority of nominal Christendom--still operate, and will continue to operate until the New Dispensation shall be fully ushered in by Divine Power.
Nevertheless, seeing that the true Church is separate from the world in the Lord's Plan and His dealings, we can look with comparative equanimity upon the overriding of justice and equity by the kingdoms of this world, and may realize that the Lord, especially at the present time, is taking advantage of their natural disposition toward warfare and conquest and empire-building. He will cause the wrath of man thus to work out certain features of His Plan which will prove later on to be for the blessing of the whole world, those now in their graves as well as those yet living.
Not being able to see behind the veil into all the gracious purposes of our Heavenly Father, and not being wise enough to know how these purposes could be carried out, the peoples of the earth are groping on in darkness, thinking they are managing their own affairs, not knowing that a
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Mighty Hand is so directing the affairs of nations that His own glorious designs shall be outworked in all things, not knowing that nothing can thwart His purposes. The Lord's people occupy largely the position of spectators in respect to the course of this world--its policies, politics, conquests, its frantic efforts to carry out its selfish projects. --`John 17:16`.
Were we to take a hand in the affairs of the world, on either side of the great questions with which they are grappling, we would surely be working contrary to the Divine Program. The Lord does not purpose to give the victory now to either party in the strife. We are to be separate from the world and to give our thought and attention, our sympathy and interest, to the affairs of the Heavenly Kingdom; and while our voices, if ever raised at all on such questions, should be raised on behalf of justice, mercy and peace, yet we can view with great composure whatever events and changes may take place in the world, knowing that our Heavenly Father has all power to overrule these matters to His own praise and to the ultimate good of mankind.
A RETROSPECTIVE VIEW
But the world tells us that we are too peaceable. They say that mankind could not get along without a certain amount of warfare. We answer that no one can understand God's methods except as he is guided by His Word, by the Spirit of the Truth. God's dealings are different in different ages and for different purposes. These seemingly conflicting presentations of God's will are perfectly reasonable and harmonizable from the proper viewpoint.
Let us see. Back in Eden, the sentence, "Dying thou shalt die," was pronounced upon Adam because of wilful disobedience to the Divine instruction that a violation of God's command would bring death. After the fall, mankind gradually became more and more estranged from the Lord. Many of the angels, who then had access to earth with powers of materialization, fell from their holy estate. Mankind became a prey to these angels who "lusted after strange flesh." (`Genesis 6:1-4`; `Jude 6,7`; `2 Peter 2:4`, Diaglott.) This condition of things was finally overthrown by the great Deluge of Noah's day.
But in time the world again became very sinful. Then God made selection of one man from amongst mankind; namely, Abraham. He promised that if Abraham would walk in His ways, He would guide Abraham's affairs to his good and make of him a great nation and would bless his seed. And so we have Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God's special servants. The descendants of Jacob, God took into covenant relationship with Himself during the days of Moses. Under Moses as their mediator, God promised to be their God and to recognize them as His people. If they would be loyal to Him, He would bless them. If they should be disloyal to Him and go over to the idolatry of the neighboring nations, then He would punish them for their sins and give them chastisements; but He would not forsake them.
The peoples of Canaan were in a very degraded condition morally. They had progressed so far in sin that it was no longer advantageous that they should continue in possession of Canaan. The Israelites were to drive out these peoples--and they were to be destroyed when necessary. There were certain nations which God especially commanded Israel to utterly destroy.--`Deuteronomy 20:10-18`.
When thinking of this command of God, we are to rid our minds of the superstitions of the past. These people who were to be slain did not go into eternal torment, but into death, into Sheol, Hades, the tomb. This would be an unconscious sleep. Those who perished by the sword are still asleep; they are not in pain, not in anguish of any kind. They are merely cut off from life until the general awakening time; for God has made a provision whereby those people may return to life, may be called forth from their sleep. All the blessings of everlasting life God has made provision for through Messiah. Messiah is to have a Kingdom; and this Kingdom is to rule the world in righteousness (see `Psalms 96`, `97`, and `72`), blessing not only the living, but also those who have fallen asleep in death. (`Isaiah 25:6-9`; `Hosea 13:14`; `Romans 14:9`; `8:20,21`, Diaglott.) Many Scriptures declare this in unmistakable terms. Indeed this is the tenor of the entire Word of God. The Divine Plan runs like a golden chain through the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
This great Messiah, who is yet to bless all the race of Adam, must needs be their Redeemer, and thus the Owner and Deliverer of the people, as the Scriptures declare. Through His sacrifice for man He has obtained the "keys of Hades and of death," as He tells us. (`Revelation 1:18`.) He gave His life as the offset to Father Adam's life. This purchase price has not as yet been applied for the world in general, but will be applied, we believe, in the very near future. The Millennial Kingdom of Christ is for the very purpose of giving all of Adam's children, not previously enlightened, as well as Adam himself, a full opportunity for everlasting life, after having had experience in the nature and results of sin.
From this broad viewpoint, we see that with these peoples of ancient Palestine--the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, etc. --it was a blessing that they died at the time they did. Vile and debased in morals, they were no benefit to themselves or to others. It was all the same whether they died by some kind of disease--consumption, pneumonia, cholera --or in some other manner.
Should any one ask, Why did God choose to have these ancient peoples die in battle instead of by disease? The answer is that the peoples inhabiting the land would be a constant menace to the morals of the people of Israel. They were not only idolatrous, but practised licentious rites, divination, etc. Furthermore, God purposed that the land should be put to a far different use. He had a great Plan, in which it was His design that Canaan should play an important part. The land and its inhabitants were to be typical of God's dealings with Spiritual Israel in the Gospel Age. The type in which the land of Canaan was designed of God to figure could not be carried out without the expulsion of these heathen, or their destruction.
SPIRITUAL ISRAEL EXPELLING THE CANAANITES
Is it asked what type was here shown? We believe that the expulsion and destruction of these sinful nations by Israel was a type of how the people of God today, Spiritual Israel, are to take possession of their human bodies. We are, as New Creatures, to conquer, to destroy, these tendencies of the flesh which would enslave us. If we do not overcome and destroy them, they will overcome and destroy us. We are to vanquish the evil propensities, evil habits, vices, thoughts, desires, which have inhabited our minds, and are by our new wills to take entire control and fill the place of the former occupants with holy, pure thoughts, desires, ambitions, purposes, habits.
These human bodies are now the property and possession of the Spiritual Israelites, the New Creatures in Christ. There is to be no peace between the New Creature and his flesh. We are to take warning from Natural Israel in this respect. Failure on their part to drive out
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and destroy their enemies completely, as God commanded, was a source of constant trouble and ensnarement, and a cause of much idolatry and sin to Israel. And their experiences "were written for our admonition." Our warfare against spiritual foes must result in the utter destruction of the fleshly mind, and will also mean the death of the human body.
This warfare of Israel against their enemies may also be a picture of conditions in the Millennium. During the Millennial Age the world, under the guidance of Christ and the Church, will be brought into a condition which will fit them to have possession of the whole earth. Satan will be bound for a thousand years. Sin and the curse of Adamic death now resting on the world will be destroyed, together with everything contrary to righteousness. All
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these things belong to the reign of that "strong man" who has so long oppressed the world. Christ, the Antitype of Joshua, will then be in control, and will show man how to exterminate these things of sin and thus eventually come into possession of the earth, the Eden of God, and each man be a king, a sovereign.
While the Natural Israelite was to be a man of battle and to take possession of the land of the enemy, we are not to see in this fact anything that was not in it. For instance, it was not the Israelites who were to say that they would go up and possess the land of Canaan. It was God Himself who was to give them possession. Nor are we to think that God was negligent of the real interests of these Gentile peoples. He declares that their iniquity had come to the full. It was no longer profitable at that time that their lives should be prolonged. Thus we see that justice was not infringed upon in giving the Israelites that land for an everlasting possession. This had been previously foretold by the Lord; but the testimony of the Lord, at the time the promise was made, was that it would not then be an appropriate time for its fulfilment, but that there should first be a dark time, until the iniquity of those nations had come to the full.
BATTLE OF SPIRITUAL ISRAEL TODAY
Coming down to the Gospel Age, we see that the Spiritual Israelites have had a great conflict. It is a warfare against the whole world--no warfare so mighty and so momentous has ever been waged. Yet the conflict fought by the Lord Jesus and His followers has not been a fight with guns or other carnal weapons. We have today millions of people in great camps intent upon destroying one another. They are being goaded on by their rulers. There may be here and there a Christian among them, one who has truly given his heart to God; but these are the exceptions. The great mass of the world acknowledge that they have taken no such step as consecration to the Lord. Yet they are instructed by their rulers that they are God's people and are fighting His battles.
According to the Bible, only the saintly, only those who have taken the specific steps laid down by the Master for His disciples, are Christians at all. All others professing to be Christians are merely imitations--"tares." Through a study of the lives of saints of olden time true Christians are enabled to see more clearly the mind of God, the will of God, for themselves. They gain from the lives of Moses, Joshua, the Prophets, and other faithful ones of past ages lessons of faith, of courage, of zeal. They are instructed that all these Scriptural records are meant as types and as admonitions for the Gospel Church; and they are thereby warned, strengthened and encouraged.
The Lord's people should not feel strong in themselves nor boastful, but, on the contrary, very humble and very insufficient--just as Joshua did. All of God's children are to realize their insufficiency in their own strength. They should feel that God has called them to a great work, and that they would make an utter failure unless the Lord gives His blessing. They are to look to the Lord and to receive His promises into good and honest hearts, believing that these promises are theirs, so long as they are loyal and true to Him. Thus doing, they may be strong, very strong; they may be very courageous.
SHINING EXAMPLES OF THE PAST
We have noted the courage of our Lord Jesus Himself, with a whole nation against Him! It has been thus with all His faithful followers--most of them the poor of this world, who have had very little wealth or influence or honor of men. The true people of God throughout the Gospel Age have been a humble class, yet they have been very strong and courageous. The people in the days of the Apostles "took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus" and had learned of Him. Those disciples of Jesus had seen His readiness to lay down His life in the Father's service. They had seen His courage when He was facing death of the most cruel kind, when He said, "The cup which My Father hath poured for Me, shall I not drink it?" And so we who have followed the Master since then have taken note of the spirit which our dear Lord manifested at all times, under the most trying and crucial experiences; and it has proven a wonderful inspiration to us.
The faithful ones have all along as a rule been little known in the world. They have not usually been of the great, the learned, the rich. In the past there may have been some prominent ones, some of noble birth, who were saints of God, living up to what light they had in their time; but they were the exceptions. We know that there have been many true saints who have lived quiet, uneventful lives, yet who have seemed to live up to all the light they possessed and to walk with God until they fell asleep in death. The world has generally ignored these saints of God, even when they were not actively persecuted. We cannot surely know who are entirely loyal and sincere at heart; but we may be sure that "the Lord knoweth them that are His."--`2 Timothy 2:19`.
COURAGE IN THIS "HOUR OF TEMPTATION"
Coming down to our own day, there never was a time when more strength of character and more courage were needed than just now. The iniquities of the whole world, and especially of so-called Christendom, have now about come to the full; and all present governments are about to be swept away, to make room for the glorious Kingdom of God under the whole heavens--the glorious Reign of the King of kings. All the ecclesiastical systems of today, calling themselves the Church of Christ, are arrayed on the side of error and are battling against the Truth and its advocates. So we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Whoever starts out to battle in his own strength against this stronghold of error will be sure to be defeated. But if he goes in the strength of the Lord of Hosts, and has Divine direction as to what he shall do or say, he may well be of good courage. Many earnest hearts are now asking for the Bread of Life, they are captives in Babylon or are famishing out in the "field," the world. These need our assistance.
Our strength will be tried--our hold upon God and upon the Truth, and our courage in defending the Truth. These will surely be put to the test; for Babylon is opposing our way. God will not have any in the Kingdom who
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have not faithfully endured. Yet in meekness let us seek to instruct those who oppose themselves to the Word of the Lord; and let us look for the hungry and thirsty ones.
We do not know in what form some of our trials and tribulations will come. But we who are living in this "evil day," yea, in the very close of this day--in the final "hour of temptation"--surely need to have on the whole armor of God. We need to have our loins girt about with Truth; we need the helmet to protect our minds, our intellects, from the shafts of error; we need the breastplate of righteousness; we need the Sword of the Spirit-- the broad two-edged Sword; we need the sandals of "preparation of the Gospel of Peace." We need all these to overcome the Canaanites in our own breast, and to overcome all the surrounding obstacles.
Thus armored and furnished, we may indeed come off "more than conquerors" in the great conflict, which is daily increasing. We shall conquer "through Him who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood." Let the promise of the Master be our daily inspiration: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne."
"Arise, then, O Army of Gideon!
Let him that is fearful return;
Jehovah wants only the zealous,
Whose hearts with the love of Truth burn!
"Your sword is the 'Sword of the Spirit';
Your lamp is the light from His Word;
Your pitcher, this poor earthen vessel
You break at the voice of your Lord.
"Is your light burning bright in your pitcher?
Doth your trumpet give forth certain sound?
Soon the Sword of the Lord and of Gideon
The enemy's host will confound.
"For sure is the victory promised,
And great is the peace He awards;
Then 'stand' in your place, all ye faithful--
The battle's not yours, but the Lord's!"
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PRAYER--ITS USE AND ABUSE
"And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint." "Pray without ceasing." --`Luke 18:1`; `1 Thessalonians 5:17`.
IN THE first text under consideration, we see that our Lord used a parable to point out the lessons He designed to give. A parable is a word-picture designed to illustrate some truth, but is not necessarily a statement of facts. On the contrary, it seems very rarely to be a statement of facts, but is merely a suppositionary case. More than this, in a parable the thing said is never the thing meant, literally. The wheat and the tares of one of Jesus' parables were not literal wheat and tares, but were the children of the Kingdom and the children of the Adversary. So the parable here is of an unjust judge, who had no appreciation of justice. Notwithstanding
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this, a poor widow came to him again and again importuning for help. To get rid of her he finally gave her the relief desired.
The Lord uses this parable as an illustration of our coming to the Heavenly Father--not that the Heavenly Father is an unjust Judge nor that the Church is a widow, but that the parable is merely an illustration of the reward of importunity in prayer. The woman's persistency in continually coming to the judge illustrated what Jesus wished to emphasize. In concluding the parable, He says that if an unjust judge would grant this poor widow her petition because of her continued asking, what might we expect of our Heavenly Father? When His children cry unto Him day and night, He is sure to hear their prayers. This implies that the prayers are proper ones for the Lord to answer. We cannot think that God would do anything but that which is just and right and proper, and in harmony with this thought the instruction to the Lord's people is that in coming to the Lord in prayer we should make sure that we ask only for the things pleasing to Him. Therefore Christians who live near to God are the best qualified to offer prayer that would be acceptable and would be answered.
"ABIDE IN ME, AND I IN YOU"
Our Lord Jesus was thoroughly informed regarding proper prayer. We have His own testimony, "I know that thou hearest Me always." He never had a refusal, because he always asked the things in harmony with the Father's will. There must be two conditions met in order that our prayers may be answered. We must first have accepted Jesus as our Savior, and then have made a consecration to God in His appointed way. These steps must both be taken before we can be in Christ at all. When accepted of the Heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, we become New Creatures in Him. It is to the New Creature that all God's promises apply. Whoever has not become a New Creature by being begotten of the Holy Spirit is outside of all these promises--but not outside of hope; for we see that, in God's Plan, there is a broad hope for all the world. But in this "acceptable time," none can offer acceptable prayer except in this special appointed way.
There is but one sheep-fold in the present time. Only those who are in this fold are in God's favor. These have a right to pray. But there is a second consideration, after consecration has been made; namely, Are these abiding in Christ or are they going out of harmony with Him? God's Word must abide in us--not merely that we should once have read the Bible through, or that we read so many verses or chapters each day--but the Word must remain in us, its teachings and principles must be assimilated and incorporated into our lives. Thus we shall be able to see what God's mind is, what is pleasing to Him, what we should ask for and what we should not ask for, under His terms. All who thus abide in Christ, and in whom His Word abides, may ask "what they will." They may ask anything that is guaranteed in God's Word, and this means that they may ask whatsoever they will; for His Word dwells in them richly, and they would not think of asking anything not authorized therein.
BLESSINGS EASILY GAINED NOT APPRECIATED
Our lesson teaches continuity in prayer--not merely that we pray once, and then say, "I have prayed about this matter, and now I will leave it." But the question may arise, "Why continue to ask? God knows every need. Why not leave the entire matter with Him?" The Scriptures seem to answer this question by showing us that we need to ask for our own benefit, that we may be ready to appreciate the answer when it comes. If we get things without our realization of our need of them, they would come to us so easily that in our fallen condition they would be unappreciated.
Indeed it is true that the majority of people receive daily many, many blessings that they are never thankful
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for; they do not appreciate them. God sends the sunshine and the rain, as our Lord Jesus told us, upon the evil and the good; and He intimates that these are great blessings from God. Yet how few people really appreciate the rain as a blessing from God! How few, when they see the sunshine, appreciate the blessing God is sending to them through the sunshine! Because these blessings are very common, and come without the asking, they are very little appreciated by the majority.
But the Christian, having the eyes of his understanding opened, appreciates more and more all these blessings as from the Lord. Therefore as he comes to realize his needs, and what is promised in the Lord's Word, he knows that he may advantageously go to the Lord in prayer that these needs may be supplied. His heart has come into that receptive attitude where he is ready to receive God's blessings thankfully and profit by them.
What, then, should we ask for as God's children? What do the Scriptures tell us to ask for? In the first place, they tell us not to use "vain repetitions." How should we understand this? Our Lord explains that we should not use vain repetitions "as the heathen do," who think that they will be heard on account of the number of times they repeat the prayer. The Chinese, for instance, have praying wheels, by which they can say a hundred prayers a minute. Thus they save time, voice, etc. But such prayers are only vain repetitions. Many professed Christians, we believe, practise vain repetitions; they say many prayers, which we fear often do not come from the heart, but are said over and over from an imaginary sense of duty or obligation.
NOT FOR OLD CREATURE, BUT FOR NEW
The proper heart condition would be one in which we would feel the need of the Lord's blessing and assistance, and would go to Him in a trustful attitude, presenting our petition, and waiting for His time and way to answer. As to the things that we should ask for, the Master points out in one of His discourses that the heathen, the people of the world in general, all not believers, ask for earthly blessings--"What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" So might a child pray for these earthly things in its innocence of mind. But children of God should pray for earthly blessings only to the extent that they would minister to the growth or usefulness of the New Creature.
As the Christian grows in grace and in knowledge he should come to realize more and more that he is a New Creature, and that the New Creature is to pray for itself and not for the old creature. The New Creature must take into consideration the needs of the mortal body which is its tabernacle and its servant, but must ask for this body only what will be necessary that the New Creature may properly develop, and may accomplish the work given him to do by the Lord. He may ask nothing merely that the old creature may be gratified; for the old creature is reckoned as dead. He may ask the Lord to supply his real needs according to His unerring Wisdom.
We should pray for strength to overcome the flesh, for wisdom to know how to deal with ourselves, for strength of character and for the development of the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. We should pray for spiritual food, for grace and wisdom to keep our garments unspotted from the world and to put on the whole armor of God. We should ask for wisdom as to how to understand the Word of God, and how to appreciate the Spirit of the Truth. All these things would be proper subjects of prayer, because they are part and parcel of what goes to make up the New Creation.
In these prayers for the higher things, we are not ignoring the body and its needs, though we are not to seek after the things that the Gentiles seek (the name Gentiles including all those who are not in covenant relationship with God). Those who are in this covenant relationship with God should not ask as do those who are not in such relationship. God does not hear the prayers of those who have never come into His family. They have not been instructed to pray. And we are to pray for things different from those for which they would pray. In all the words that Jesus spoke there is no suggestion that His disciples should pray for better shoes or dress or better home or how to pay off the mortgage. Jesus and the Apostles never prayed for such things. What they prayed for is a suggestion of what we should pray for.
We are to distinguish between prayer, petitions to God, and adoration. Any one may worship God, may bow down and adore Him. But in the matter of prayer there is a limitation. Only certain persons may pray to the Lord with any assurance of being heard. And these are they who have become His people by a definite covenant. Any who have come into such covenant relationship with God have the privilege of prayer. This was true of the Jews under the Law Covenant arrangement; and it is true of us who have made a Covenant of Sacrifice with the Lord through Jesus Christ. But even when privileged to pray, we must note the conditions of acceptable prayer. The conditions are that we should pray in harmony with the Divine will and not seek to bend the Divine will to ours. This would lead us to study the Word of God to find out the things which the Lord has promised us, and we should not ask outside of the Divine promises.
BODY CARED FOR AS PROPERTY OF NEW CREATURE
We should appreciate the fact that throughout the Gospel Age the Lord deals with His children as New Creatures in Christ, and that all His promises to us are to the New Creature. The New Creature is interested in the old body, because this body is its property. The body's interests are ours as New Creatures only in so far as these interests are beneficial to us in making our calling
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and election sure to our Heavenly inheritance, in so far as their consideration will in no wise interfere with our spiritual interests--but no farther. We are not, therefore, to tell the Lord what we prefer, but are to take what He sees best to give; for this will be what is for our best interests. This does not mean that we are not to mention to God our bodily needs. But we are to do so in the way that our Lord indicates to us in His sample prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread," our daily provisions, acknowledging that the daily food comes from Him, whether it is fine or common, bountiful or not. It will all be for the best interests of the New Creature.
The prayer of one who asks only in harmony with the Lord's Word is certain to be answered. Good earthly parents are pleased to give good gifts to their children, gifts that they see are for their children's real interests. But if they see that the child is unappreciative of favors received, they might the next time withdraw the favors until proper appreciation is manifested. And so it is with our Heavenly Father. In bestowing His best gifts He waits for us to become really hungry for them. He does this that His blessings may do us the more good when they are granted.
PRAYER FOR SPIRIT-BEGETTING UNNECESSARY
In respect to the giving of the Holy Spirit some people
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have a wrong conception. Many not consecrated pray that the Lord would give them the Holy Spirit; but they have not studied the Scriptures enough. The Lord gives the Holy Spirit without our asking for it specifically, just as with the disciples at Pentecost: they presented themselves before the Lord and waited. They were praying, but they did not know enough about the Holy Spirit to pray for it. But the Lord gave the proper thing at the right time. And so it is with us, irrespective of prayer for the Spirit, provided we meet the required conditions. When we make our consecration to God through Christ, we do not need to ask for the begetting of the Holy Spirit--no more than a child in its natural conception. The child does not ask for its own begetting. How could it? But after we have received the spirit-begetting, we should pray that we may have God's sentiment, God's mind, God's will, as our sentiment, our mind, our will.
God loves righteousness and hates iniquity. So we, realizing that we are surrounded by evil and selfishness, need to cultivate the spirit of love, that we may have that spirit which would appreciate and love righteousness. We are to learn gradually to love righteousness and to hate injustice and iniquity in large things and in small. We are to hate unrighteousness so much that we would scorn to do an injustice or an injury knowingly to anybody. The New Creature sees these things but dimly at first-- what are just and what are unjust things, what are righteous and what are unrighteous things. We wish to have the Lord's sentiment as our sentiment in everything. Thus by studying the Lord's character as revealed in His Word, and striving day by day to be conformed thereto, we are "changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord." And thus we become more and more filled with the Spirit.
EVIDENCES OF POSSESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As the child of God develops, the possession of the Holy Spirit is more and more evidenced in his meekness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love. These are the elements of character, of disposition, that God wishes us to have. These are to rule in our hearts, in our thoughts, and more and more in our outward lives. Anger, malice, hatred, strife, evil-speaking, envy, jealousy, all these are evidences of the unholy spirit, the spirit of the world and the Adversary, which we as children of the Heavenly King are to put away. They are the works of the flesh and the Devil.
Since all of us have a measure of the unholy spirit in our flesh, some more and some less, it is right to pray daily for a larger measure of the Spirit of the Lord, more and more of the spirit of harmony with His perfect will. But we must cooperate with these prayers; for the Lord never arbitrarily fills any heart with His Spirit, even after the begetting has taken place. By coming to the Lord in sincere prayer for these blessings continually, by asking along these lines, we shall be preparing ourselves to look for the evidences of the Holy Spirit in our life. We shall be enabled to see whether we have more meekness than we once had, or whether we still lack in meekness. We shall perceive whether we are more gentle and more patient, whether we have more self-control, and in what respects we especially need to develop more in spiritual fruitage. Undoubtedly all of these qualities are lacking to a greater or less extent; but as we watch and pray, we shall learn to find the answer to our prayers; and as we grow in knowledge, in love, in Christlikeness, we grow in likeness also to our Father in Heaven.
IMPROPER VIEWS OF PRAYER
Prayer, as we have shown, is very essential, absolutely indispensable, to Christian growth, yea, to spiritual existence. Yet we have never thought of praying in the extreme way that some do. We have never thought of telling the Lord all about His Plan and of our wishes as to how He shall govern the Universe, and when and how to bring to pass our own will. We think there is far too much praying along this line. The sooner it is stopped the better. In answer to the request of His disciples, the Master gave them a sample prayer, which was surely very different from the prayers that the majority of people offer, who seemingly do not heed the example at all.
The proper thing is to hearken to the Word of the Lord and not do too much speaking to Him. We are to do a great deal of listening, while He speaks to us. The poet has well expressed this important thought:
"Master, speak! Thy servant heareth,
Waiting for Thy gracious Word,
Longing for Thy voice that cheereth,
Master, let it now be heard!
I am listening, Lord, for Thee!
What hast Thou to say to me?"
We understand that the Bible is the Divine presentation of the Divine will, purpose, plan, concerning us as His children. It is the Truth that the Lord designs shall sanctify us. "Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth." So declares our Master. He does not say, Sanctify them through prayer! The Master's prescription is that we study the Word and become sanctified thereby. And who is wiser than He? If we have not written a volume on prayer, it is because we find no Scriptural authority or precedent for so doing.
While prayer is absolutely indispensable to the Christian, as we have said, yet it is the Word of God which teaches us God's will and Plan and which points out the way for us to go. We believe it is the failure to see this that has been largely responsible for the great want of faith of many professed children of God. No amount of praying will make up for a neglect of the study of the Lord's Word, which is the only Lamp to our feet given us as our Guide in this long, dark night in which sin has reigned in the world. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."--`Psalm 119:105`.
We are to "pray without ceasing." We are to do this in the sense of not being discouraged when the good things promised us and asked for do not come quickly. We are to remember that the Word of Promise is sure. We are to rest in these promises and to continue to ask and to wait for their fulfilment--patiently, hopefully. Thus we pray unceasingly, "Thy Kingdom come," not by repeating the words every moment or every hour, but by continuing the thought, the expectation, the waiting for it, and by laboring in the interests of that Kingdom and in the preparation of our characters in order that we may have a share in it. We have known some to fall into difficulty by supposed communion with God--remaining on their knees for some time beside an empty chair on which they tried to imagine the Lord to be seated, etc., etc. We believe that they were in danger of falling into a snare of the Adversary by such unscriptural proceedings.
For our part we feel that the Lord has already granted so many blessings that we would be ashamed to ask for many more. Our own requests, therefore, must be few. The Editor's presentations at the Throne of Heavenly Grace are thank-offerings, praise-offerings, indications of his devotion to the Lord and trust in Him, petitions for wisdom and grace to guide in life's affairs. We recall the
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Divine promises all the time, and not merely when on our knees. We seek to live in harmony with our prayers, and would encourage others to do the same. However, we are not all constituted alike; and having stated the matter from the Bible viewpoint, as we believe, also as viewed in the SCRIPTURE STUDIES and in other WATCH TOWER articles, we must leave it, trusting that the Lord's providence will guide His people aright.
THE HOLY SPIRIT THE SPECIAL OBJECT OF PRAYER
The reason why the prayers of so many Christians are unanswered is that their prayers are for things God has not told us to pray for or that they were not offered in sincerity. They have asked for wealth or temporal blessings, or perhaps for the conversion of a specified number of souls at their revival meeting, or something else unauthorized, or they have not really desired what they asked for, if it was for spiritual blessing. The Lord might grant a request for some temporal thing to a babe in Christ who prayed in his ignorance, not being properly
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instructed. But it would be different with an advanced Christian. The little child at the table might ask for something improper and violate the rules of etiquette without blame; while a person of mature age, advanced in education and in knowledge of etiquette, should know better. The things for which the Lord's children should especially pray are specified in His Word. The Holy Spirit is the special gift of God to His children.
When we come to know that the Holy Spirit is the influence, the disposition of God, then we know what we are praying for. We want more and more of the Holy Spirit of God, that it may make us more gentle, more kind, more loving; we want more and more of the mind of Christ (mind and Spirit being used here interchangeably). We realize that we must strive to have this mind of Christ. If we day by day cultivate the spirit of the Devil, we cannot expect ever to attain the mind of Christ. If we determinedly cultivate the Spirit, the mind, of Christ, then the spirit of the Adversary can gain no entrance into our hearts; and we shall become more and more sound in mind. We come to know more and more the perfect will of God as we are filled with His Spirit. Thus we are being prepared for an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom.
PRAY IN FAITH, NOTHING DOUBTING
The Lord in the lesson under consideration, tells us that we must not "faint," the word faint being used in the sense of faint-heartedness--"Consider Jesus,...lest ye be weary and faint in your minds"; "for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." We may ask for more of the Holy Spirit, feeling that we need grace along some particular line. For instance, we may feel that we need more patience. While praying for patience, we should not say, "I shall never be patient; I was not born that way!" But we are to expect our prayer along this line to be answered. We are to ask and then wait for the patience, continuing our petition, knowing that the patience will come, if we strive for it in harmony with our prayers. An excellent and practical way to assist in this is to impose a punishment upon ourselves for every outbreak of impatience.
The Lord's people have long been praying, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth." This prayer has been offered for more than eighteen hundred years, and God's children have not yet seen His Kingdom established. Shall we cease to pray? Ah, no! We are assured that it will indeed come. Even now it is at the very doors! God's Kingdom shall be fully set up; and the time will come when there will be no disloyalty in all the earth, as now there is none in Heaven. Our prayers will not bring God's Kingdom one minute sooner than He has planned, but we pray by way of assuring the Lord that we are waiting for the Kingdom and expecting it in harmony with His sure promise. By so praying and not fainting, the children of the Lord are strengthening themselves. God's glorious Kingdom will be manifested--and soon! Then all who have attained the character-likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be exalted to reign with Him in this Kingdom.
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THE SOURCE OF TRUE PROMOTION
"Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south; but God is the Judge. He putteth down one, and setteth up another."--`Psalm 75:6,7`.
ONE watching the stars night after night, would observe that while each one has its own motion, yet all seem to revolve around a fixed point which we call the North Star. This fixed star is apparently motionless, and therefore is a point by which a man may gage his course. As we all know, the magnetic needle of the mariner's compass always points due north.
From the clearer astronomical knowledge of our day, it has been ascertained that while the planets of our solar system revolve around our sun, yet there are vast numbers of other suns each having its own retinue of planets, which with their satellites are revolving around it as a center. Furthermore, Science declares that there is a far mightier Center, around which these countless millions of suns revolve, accompanied by their planets and satellites. This great Center seems to be associated with the Pleiades, particularly with Alcyone, the central star of this renowned group. For this reason the suggestion has been made that the Pleiades may represent the Residence of Jehovah, the place from which He governs the Universe. This thought gives new force to the question which the Almighty asked the patriarch Job: "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth the constellations of the Zodiac in their season?"-- `Job 38:31,32`.
There seem to be fewer stars in the North than in any other part of the heavens. Thus the North seems to have been given a very prominent position, the other points of the compass giving it homage, as it were. This fact was observed by the ancients, as the Prophet Job declares--"He stretcheth out the North over the empty space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." (`Job 26:7`.) Throughout the Scriptures the North seems to be closely associated with Jehovah's government of the earth.
LESSONS IN THE RESULTS OF SIN
For six thousand years this planet Earth has been a rebellious province in the Universe of God; and God has permitted mankind to work out their own designs, to manifest what they could do. He not only gave His chosen people Israel certain promises and blessings, but He afterwards gave opportunity also to various nations of the world to exercise great power, to become indeed world-empires, as representatives of Gentile wisdom, to show what the unregenerate heart could give to men in the way of order, law, prosperity, blessings, peace. The
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period during which He gave this opportunity to the nations is Scripturally called the "Times of the Gentiles," a period of 2,520 years, which began with Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at the time the Lord permitted His own typical kingdom of Israel to be overthrown, to so remain until Messiah's Day.--`Luke 21:24`; `Ezekiel 21:25-27`.
During this interim the world has had four great universal empires. These world-governments have attempted to bring various blessings to mankind, yet they have all proven weak so far as righteousness is concerned, and strong so far as evil and viciousness are concerned. Evidently this is the great lesson which God designed that mankind should learn--that in this fallen condition human government cannot be a success; that perfection of being and perfect conformity to the Divine Law alone can give true happiness; that mankind in their present sinful, dying condition, can meet with only ultimate failure and disaster. Thus through actual experiences mankind will come to realize their own helplessness and their need of God.
But while God has been permitting man to prove his own weakness, He has also been preparing for the blessing of the whole world, as He has foretold in His Word. The time when He will take charge of man's affairs, through the Kingdom of Messiah, will be the time when true and lasting promotion will be realized. All who will then come into harmony with God will receive this true promotion--the attainment of all the good things which were originally provided for mankind in God's Plan, but which were lost by the disobedience of our first father and our first mother, Adam and Eve.
"God is the Judge; He putteth down one and setteth up another." The Lord will put down the attempt of the great usurper Satan to rule the world. Satan, originally Lucifer, conceived an ambition to exalt himself to "sit upon the sides of the North," to "be like the Most High." (`Isa. 14:12-17`.) But very soon now he will be bound for a thousand years, and will finally be destroyed.
So far as earthly kingdoms are concerned, we may say that God has a general supervision over them in so far as they might otherwise thwart His purposes; and He sometimes puts down one and favors the exaltation to power of another. We are not able to say, however, that this putting down or setting up is in the nature of Divine judgment for sin; for some of those put down have not been the unworthy, and some of those raised to power have not been the best, but often very evil. God has been merely so overruling as to cause all things not only to work together for the ultimate outworking of the great Plan which He has arranged, but also to teach men the necessary lessons of the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
"MOUNT ZION ON THE SIDES OF THE NORTH"
God's particular dealings with the world will be in the future, and for the first thousand years will be through the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. All things are of the Father, and by the Son. In this glorious work of judging the world, Christ Himself will be the Judge, and the Church, His Body, will be the associate judges. They will render righteous judgment in all cases, will set up only those who come into full accord with God, and will overthrow and eventually destroy all others.
In the meantime God has a special dealing with His people--those who have already left the world, who have consecrated their lives to Him, who have been accepted through the Lord Jesus Christ and counted members of Christ's Body. These are in the way to a promotion, a prominence, greater than that of all others. Satan's ambition
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was for self-exaltation; Christ's ambition, on the contrary, was to please the Father and to do good. So likewise the class called to be Christ's associates in the Kingdom have a similar purpose and spirit to that of their Lord and Head. They also seek to do only the will of the Heavenly Father. They also are moved, not to promote their own selfish interests and to gratify their fleshly propensities, but to lay down their lives in carrying out God's great Purpose and Plan.
This is the class which will receive the preeminence over all other classes, all other stations, in earth or in Heaven. With their Lord they are to receive glory, honor, immortality. They will be exalted far above angels and be granted the Divine nature, as has been their Master and Forerunner. (`Romans 2:7`; `1 Corinthians 15:53,54`; `1 John 3:2,3`; `1 Corinthians 1:26,27`; `2 Thessalonians 2:14`; `2 Peter 1:4`.) These will share the First Resurrection, Christ's Resurrection. (`Revelation 20:5,6`; `Philippians 3:10`.) Their mortal bodies, now merely the instruments of the New Creature, will be laid down forever in death--"Sown in weakness," they will be "raised in power"; "sown in dishonor," they will be "raised in glory"; "sown an animal body," they will be "raised a spiritual body."
A careful study of the above citations of Scripture will be very helpful to those who are comparatively new in the study of the High Calling of the Church of Christ. It is a subject but little understood by Christians in general. But such is the great promotion which God purposes to give His true saints of this Gospel Age, and this promotion can be received from no other quarter than God Himself, on His own terms. This is the glorious inheritance of Zion. When she has been thus exalted and glorified with her Lord, it will be said of her, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the North, the City of the Great King." (`Psalm 48:2`.) Thus the great eminence which Lucifer in his pride and presumption sought to grasp, that he might "sit upon the sides of the North," will be granted as a reward to The Christ, Head and Body.
PUTTING DOWN AND SETTING UP IN THE CHURCH
This is the great prominence which the people of God, called to this high station, should be seeking, by faithfulness, humility, love and zeal in the service of the Lord. During the present life, experiences of developing and testing are necessary preparations for this exaltation. All those begotten of the Holy Spirit as New Creatures are now called the Church of Christ, although the elect Church proper will not be organized and completed until the First Resurrection. Not until then will the personnel of the Church of glory be manifested. But God deals now with all those who have made a Covenant of Sacrifice. (`Psalm 50:5`.) When they meet, even two or three of them, the Lord's presence is in their midst; and each has the Lord's blessing in proportion as he has His Spirit. God is now judging in the Church through His Son. He is not judging the world at present.
The principle expressed in our text is operating now in the Church--the setting up of one and the putting down of another. That the Lord does take an active part in the affairs of the Church we truly believe. St. Paul says that "God hath set the members, every one of them, in the Body as it hath pleased Him." (`1 Corinthians 12:18`.) This surely indicates a Divine supervision in the Church. We believe that a great deal of trouble is caused by the failure of many of the Lord's people to view matters from this standpoint. They are too apt to forget about the supervision and oversight which the Lord is taking of His Cause. Some therefore have felt great distress
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if they were not elected to be a Deacon or an Elder in the Church. Instead of looking at the matter from this viewpoint--that the Lord Himself has the supervision of the affairs of His Church--they are too liable to think, It was that brother who opposed me, or this brother, etc.
We believe that these take a wrong view. Perhaps the Lord permitted the matter to result thus in order to test their humility. The Apostle James intimates something of this kind: "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted, and the brother of high degree in that he is made low." We should look beyond the mere circumstances of the moment; we should consider and remember well that all prominence, all promotion, and all control of the Church, is in the hands of the Lord. Not only might the Lord wish to give a lesson to a brother who might have been a faithful Elder or a faithful Deacon, but it might also be a good lesson to the Class. They might have failed to appreciate what zeal, energy and ability this brother had. If so, their neglect to reelect him to the position would in time prove a lesson to them. The same is true in the case of a brother who has energy, zeal and ability with spirituality, who has never been elected to eldership by the class.
In any event it is for each of the Lord's children to exercise faith, and to remember that real prominence, true exaltation, is of the Lord. As the Apostle Paul shows, he that "desires the office of an overseer [from a real wish to serve], desires a good thing." So it is not wrong to appreciate such office in the Ecclesia; and we are to appreciate it when we are chosen Elders, because we shall thus have special opportunities for service and for laying down our lives for the brethren. But we are not to be self-seeking in the matter.
When brethren who have served as Elders or Deacons are not reelected, yet are rightly exercised and manifest no resentment, but say, "I am just as glad to serve in one place as another," and enter cheerfully into whatever service is open to them, it will no doubt prove a blessing to their own hearts, and also a blessing to the Class, who note their Christlike spirit. So such brethren should say to themselves, "I will do everything I can to forward the Lord's Cause. The vote of the Class has not given me the responsibility of initiative and direction, but I will do my best to help on in other ways the work of the Lord." Thus they would show the proper spirit of humility and submission to the Lord's providence in the decision of the Class.
"HE CALLETH HIS OWN SHEEP BY NAME"
We believe the principle of our text should be considered in the daily lives of all the Lord's people. Some may fail to see the particular interest which the Lord takes in each one who is His. Every true child of God is the Lord's in the particular sense of having entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice. We should always remember this. Thus as we grow in grace we shall undoubtedly come to see that all "the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, and He delighteth in his way." "He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken." (`Psalm 37:23`; `34:20`.) The Lord will surely direct the path of such. The Master emphasized His peculiar and personal interest in each of His followers. He calls Himself their Shepherd, and says, "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." (`John 10:3`.) This means a very special supervision of the affairs and interests of each one of His true disciples. Whatever may come to these is not a matter of chance or luck.
The steps of the world are not ordered of the Lord. But God's people in proportion as they walk by faith and realize that "all things are working together for good to them that love God, to the called according to His purpose," in that proportion will they be able to have joy, blessing and peace in every experience that comes to them. Failing to do this, some of God's people, we continue to see, are fretting and chafing, feeling that things are working wrong with them, fearing that the Lord has forgotten them, or that the brethren have forgotten them, and that everything is amiss in their case. They are failing to recognize that God has to do with all backsetting. If He sees best not to promote them, not to use their talents for a time as they would like, let them learn a lesson of humility and submission, of patience and trust. Let them be willing to cheerfully await God's own good time for their promotion.
To us, then, the great lesson of our text is that promotion, exaltation, cometh neither from the East nor the West nor the South, but from Jehovah, who alone is the Judge, who setteth up one and putteth down another --and all in love. If the putting down seems at times to be the result of mistakes or lack of appreciation on the part of the brethren, let us remember that it has come in the providence of the Lord, and is designed of Him for our good, and perhaps for the good of others in one way or another. The experience will prove a blessing if received in the right spirit. "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." Nothing can by any means hurt us if we keep close to the Lord. Then in due time, we shall be promoted to sit with Christ in His Throne.
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"ASK WHAT I SHALL GIVE THEE"
--JULY 18.--`1 KINGS 3:4-15`.--
WHAT ARE DREAMS?--WHEN THEY SHOULD BE FOLLOWED --SOLOMON'S DREAM--HIS HEART CONDITION REFLECTED--HIS REALIZATION OF HIS RESPONSIBILITIES--HIS HUMILITY --HIS REQUEST OR CHOICE--GOD'S APPROVAL AND THE
"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning
of wisdom."--`Proverbs 9:10`.
WE HAVE nothing to indicate that Solomon ever became very haughty, proud, although he certainly would have been a marvelous man had his great wisdom, honor and wealth not affected in some degree the childlike simplicity which he expressed to the Lord in the dream recorded in today's lesson, which gives us a wonderful insight into Solomon's true character. Incidentally, it is valuable to every man, every woman, particularly at the beginning of life or in connection with the starting of any enterprise, and in proportion as the enterprise is a serious or a difficult one or one directly related to God and His Word.
Solomon initiated his reign by making a feast to some of his friends and the prominent people of his realm. The place chosen was Gibeon. The account tells us of his offering a thousand burnt offerings unto the Lord. This does not signify that a thousand animals were burned entire; but rather that certain portions of them, particularly the fat, were burned as an offering to the Lord, while the food portions became the basis of the
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feast. Less meat was eaten then than now, except on such feast occasions. We can see the wisdom of such a general acknowledgment of God and of His inauguration of a new king; and the feast for the people signifies figuratively the good will of the king and his desire to make his reign one of prosperity, blessing, rejoicing, and helpfulness to all. The Divine ordering of the matter was recognized by the Israelites, who perceived that all things were to be done with an eye to God's approval.
ARE DREAMS SIGNIFICANT?
It was during this feast, which probably lasted several days, that Solomon had the wonderful dream here narrated. That it was supernatural there can be no doubt. Similarly God revealed Himself to others in ancient times, and especially to His people Israel, who had come into covenant relationship with Him at Mount Sinai under Moses. But God was not in similar relationship with other peoples, who were, as we read, strangers, foreigners, outcasts--not in covenant relationship with Him.
Although the Christian Church is peculiarly in relationship with God, and in a much closer relationship than were the Jews under their Law, nevertheless we must not suppose that all dreams which even consecrated Christians may have are to be regarded as inspired. Very evidently the majority of our dreams are merely wanderings of our mind because we are not soundly asleep. For God to make fewer communications with Spiritual Israel by dreams would not signify a lesser interest in their affairs, but rather that He has otherwise provided for them, for their guidance--in the Bible. Additionally, we learn that He wishes us to walk by faith and not by sight; and to direct us continually by dreams would be to interfere with this walking by faith.
St. Paul gives us the key to the matter, saying that "the Word of God is sufficient," that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." (`2 Timothy 3:16,17`.) But there is nothing to hinder God from using a dream as a means of instructing His spiritual children if that should seem at any time to be the appropriate course. Many of the Lord's people have had more or less experience with such profitable dreams, which seemed to give them the needed instruction or suggestion. Nevertheless there is but one sure way of receiving dreams; namely, to interpret them only in full accord with the Scriptures. The Apostle suggests that if an angel should proclaim to us any other Gospel than this, it should be rejected; and similarly, if a dream should suggest any other Gospel, it should be rejected. The Divine Word is to be the great talisman, test, standard, for everything for the Christian.
SOLOMON'S WISE CHOICE
In Solomon's dream the Lord appeared to him, saying, "Ask what I shall give thee." So God is asking of all who would become His children. He desires to do them good, but He wishes them to realize their needs and to make requests accordingly. The Apostle suggests something along this line, saying, "If any man [Christian] lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally."
Solomon's answer in his dream shows us a beautiful simplicity of character for a young prince just come to the throne. He recounts God's mercy to his father David, and declares that this was in proportion as King David had walked faithfully with God in righteousness of heart. He expressed appreciation of the fact that God had brought even him to the throne because of Divine appreciation of his father David. Then he recounted to God his own littleness, weakness, and insufficiency for the great position. Touchingly he declared, "I am but a little child." This reminds us of the Apostle's words, "When I am weak, then I am strong." This was really the strength of Solomon's character; namely, that he was meek, was teachable, like a little child--not boastful or self-confident, not blind to his privileges and obligations.
Because of the responsibilities of the kingdom, for which he felt himself so incompetent, Solomon prayed, "Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to
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judge Thy people [to administer justice to them], that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?" Is it any wonder that we read further that in the dream the Lord manifested His good pleasure at this request? "And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment [justice]; therefore, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee, all thy days."
"I knelt before Thy gracious Throne,
And asked for peace with suppliant knee;
And peace was given: not peace alone,
But love, and joy, and ecstasy."
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DEDICATING THE TEMPLE
--JULY 25.--`1 KINGS 8:22-30`.--
WHAT THE TEMPLE TYPIFIED--DOUBLE ANTITYPES--THEIR DEDICATION--KING SOLOMON'S PRAYER--GOD'S PERSONALITY--
HIS DWELLING--PLACE IN HEAVEN--"THE GLORY OF
THE LORD FILLED THE TEMPLE"--ITS ANTITYPE.
"My House shall be called a House
of prayer for all people."--`Isaiah 56:7`.
POSSESSED of reverence for the Lord, full of zeal for Him, full of appreciation of the Divine promise that King David's successor should build the House of the Lord, the Temple, for which David had for years made preparations of money and valuables, we find King Solomon speedily giving attention to this matter. In the fourth year of his reign, preparations had reached such a development that the construction of the Temple was begun; and seven and a half years later the scenes of this Study were enacted--when the Temple was ready for dedication. Strange to say, it was dedicated about a month before it was completely finished. Doubtless this contained some important typical lesson, which we may some day more fully understand.
Built of white marble, the Temple must have been a very imposing structure, although not lofty. It was of but one story; nevertheless, its position on the mountain top surely gave it a very commanding appearance, its glittering, white walls overtopping the entire landscape. But we are interested in the Temple of Solomon more than in any other building because it was a type, as well as a reality. Let us note the Apostle's references to it
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and his declaration that its antitype is found in God's holy people--the Church. We read, "Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" "For ye are the Temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."--`1 Corinthians 3:16`; `2 Corinthians 6:16`.
PREPARATION OF THE LIVING STONES
In the picture which the Apostle thus brings to our attention, the Church corresponds to the Tabernacle rather than to the Temple. As God was with the Children of Israel from the time they entered into covenant with Him until the Temple was dedicated by Solomon, He indicated His presence by a manifestation of the Shekinah Light in the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. And so with us now as Christians: from the time we become sons of God-- from the time of our consecration, justification, sanctification and begetting of the Holy Spirit--our bodies are tabernacles, or temporary dwelling-places, of God's Holy Spirit. His Spirit in us is represented originally by the begetting influence which we receive as the start of our new existence as New Creatures in Christ Jesus; and that light, or holy illumination, spread abroad in us fills us with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God more and more. The Tabernacle in one sense of the word was a temple--in the sense that any place where God is would properly be called a temple, a holy place. But, as suggested, it is preferable that we think of our fleshly bodies as tabernacles of God--His temporary dwelling-place. In a fuller sense, by and by, there will be a great transfer. The Lord's saintly ones will be changed from flesh to spirit by the power of the First Resurrection, and will thus be more perfectly represented by the beautiful Temple which Solomon built.
But there is a still more beautiful thought brought to our attention by St. Peter. He tells us that the various members of the Church of Christ--the saints--are living stones, which are in process of chiseling and polishing, preparatory to the uniting of all these in one grand, glorious Temple of God beyond the Veil. (`1 Peter 2:5,9`.) Any not enduring the chiseling and polishing will be discarded as unfit for the glorious Temple.
The bringing together of these living stones beyond the Veil will be by the Resurrection Power, beautifully illustrated in the erection of Solomon's Temple, of which we read that its stones were prepared at the quarry and then finally assembled for the construction of the Temple, and that they were so perfectly shaped and marked for their various places that they came together without the sound of a hammer--without need for chiseling or for other labor upon them at the time of the construction. So, St. Paul says, the Church is God's workmanship. (`Ephesians 2:10`.) And His work will be so perfectly accomplished that there will be no need of rectification or alteration beyond the Veil.
It is this viewpoint that is especially interesting and profitable to the Lord's people. Such of them as can realize that they have been called of God to this High Calling, to membership in the Temple, can fully appreciate thereafter the necessity for the trials and difficulties of life which are shaping them, fitting them, for Heavenly glory, honor, immortality. These are the "all things" working together for good to them that love God--preparing them for the spiritual blessings and services of the future.--`Romans 8:28`.
WORK OF THE GLORIFIED CHURCH
When we think of the Church as the Temple under construction, it impresses upon us the thought that there is a future work to be accomplished. Why construct a Temple, and then not use it? Serious injury came to us through various errors of the past: for instance, the thought that the Church alone is to be saved and all the remainder of mankind to be lost; and a further thought, that at the Second Coming of Christ the world is to be burned up, and the Divine Plan ignominiously terminated. With such a view, the construction of the Church as the great Temple would seem to be a waste; since there would be nobody to be blessed by it.
However, as our eyes of understanding open more and more clearly, we begin to see beauty in the Divine Plan and arrangement. So far from God's Plan terminating at the Second Coming of Christ, it will merely begin there, so far as the world is concerned. The Church, in one figure, will be the Royal Priesthood for the blessing of all the families of the earth. (`Galatians 3:29`.) In the other figure, the Church will be the great Temple through which all the world of mankind may have access to God and return to harmony with Him.
Thus, eventually, this glorified Church, or Temple, will be the House of Prayer for all people, all nations-- not that they will pray to a house, but that they will
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approach God through the glorified Church, in which His Presence will be manifested and His mercy will be available to all. From this viewpoint, the Temple with its Shekinah glory represented the Church in the glory of the future, in association with Christ; and God will dwell in and operate through that glorious Church for the blessing of the world, represented by all those who will worship God looking toward His Holy House.
DEDICATING THE TEMPLE OF GOD
There is an important thought in connection with a dedication which some seem to overlook. It was necessary for the Tabernacle to be dedicated, or set apart to God, before He deigned to recognize it and to use it. Similarly with all of God's people; it is necessary that they should positively and formally dedicate themselves to God and to His service before being recognized of Him and filled with His Spirit. It is not enough that they should know of Him and of the Lord Jesus Christ, and be persuaded of these things--not enough even that they should know something of the glories of the Coming Age as revealed in the Word of God. It is necessary, also, that they make formal dedication of themselves to God, fully surrendering their own wills that God may come into them by His Holy Spirit and, accepting their sacrifices, constitute them thereafter His tabernacles.
When the Temple was ready for dedication, Solomon presented it to God with the prayer which constitutes the basis of today's Study--a prayer beautiful in simplicity and indicative of King Solomon's perception of the great truth that God is a personal God, whose dwelling-place is not everywhere, but in Heaven. It shows us that the king fully understood that the Temple which he had made, like the Tabernacle before it, merely represented God's power and grace amongst His people. The presence of the Temple indicated that there were sinners who needed to be atoned for by its arrangements, and that mercy and forgiveness would be needed and that prayers toward God would be appropriate. "Hear Thou in Heaven Thy dwelling-place; and when Thou hearest, forgive."
So during the Millennium, all the world will have the opportunity of approaching God through His great Temple of which Jesus is the Chief Corner-Stone, and the Church the living stones under His Headship. And God will hear the prayers thus properly presented, and will forgive the sins of the people; and as a result the
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work of Restitution will progress to a grand completion.
As Solomon dedicated the Temple, so the Church of Christ will be dedicated, formally presented to the Father. The great Antitype of Solomon will do this; namely, the Lord Jesus Christ, presenting us all as His members, as the Temple which is His Body, reared up on the Third Day--the Third Thousand-Year Day from the time of His death--the dawning of the Great Sabbath. (`John 2:19-22`.) As a result of the dedication, the glory of the Lord will fill the House. The fact that the typical Temple was filled with the glory of the Lord before it was entirely completed seems to imply that at this present time there will be some manifestation of God's favor toward His Church in glorification while yet the work of construction is not quite finished. However, it is difficult to read prophecy in advance of its fulfilment. We must wait to see what will be the fulfilment of this feature.
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
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HOW WE ARE TO WAIT ON THE LORD
"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart."--`Psalm 27:14`.
THE expression, "Wait on the Lord," does not mean so much a rendering of service to the Lord, as a waiting for the Lord, a waiting before Him, to see what is His will for us. We do not understand that it has the thought of ministering to the Lord, as a servant would wait on his master, but of patient watching until we learn what our Lord would have us do. Each child of God should wait to be guided by Him, and not run on before Him unmindful of what is the Lord's purpose for him. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
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and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths," is the counsel of the Wise Man. (`Proverbs 3:5,6`.) Many of the children of God have made mistakes along this line.
Having committed our ways to the Lord, we should go forward only as He leads us. If we are not clear as to His will, let us not be in too great a hurry, nor try to guide ourselves, but present the matter to the Lord in earnest prayer, asking that we may have no will or way of our own, but may be guided only as He wills. Then let us wait and watch for the indication of His providence, and follow as He seems to lead, leaving the results with Him. We are not to follow our own choice, without evidences that it is God's will. The question may sometimes be asked of us, "Are you going to do this way or that way? Are you going to this place or to that place?" Our attitude and our reply, if we have not as yet clearly ascertained the Lord's will in the matter, should be, "I am not yet fully decided. I will consider the Word of the Lord, to see how His instructions seem to apply in this case." Or, "I am watching to see what the Lord's providences seem to indicate, and am praying over the matter, that I may be guided aright." The poet expressed the right thought:
"I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much."
Those who wait on the Lord do not always seem to prosper best, from outward appearances. But the Psalmist declares that we should be of good courage as we thus wait on God. We are pursuing the right course, and shall have His blessing. We make no mistake when we wait upon Him. Others may seem to be getting ahead of us at first, but we are to "wait on the Lord."
Take no step unless you feel sure that the Lord is directing and guiding. Watch for the meaning of His providences. Study His Word. Let not your faith depart from its moorings. "Be of good courage!" "Good" courage is courage of a good degree, not merely a little courage. Be of strong courage; "and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." The word heart here may be understood to mean the soul, the being-- especially the intelligent portion of us. The Lord will support us, He will fortify us and make us strong to bear, strong to do His will as it is made known to us. They that wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing.
TRAITS NECESSARY TO SUCCESS
Courage, fortitude, persistency, in the service of the Lord are very necessary to the child of God. Such traits are needful even to the world. Whoever lacks these qualities of character is pretty sure to make poor success in life. Lack of courage, lack of hope, is one of the chief causes of failure in the world. Our text, however, calls attention, not to the world, but to those who belong to the Lord. The precious promises of God's Word, which are only for His people, those who are wholly His, give these every reason for hope; they have full authority to be strong and of a good courage. The children of God will have trials and experiences similar to those of the world, besides experiences and trials peculiar to them as followers of Christ. These come not to us in a haphazard way, however, as to the world, but are under the direct supervision of the Lord.
Those who are new in the service of the Master might think for a time that matters should run smoothly for them, that they should not have the difficulties common to the world; that now as they were God's children He would protect them from afflictions and mistreatment. But as they study the Lord's Word, they soon see that this is not true; they see that they are to walk by faith, and not by sight. They learn that they are not to expect to have outward and tangible manifestations of His favor, but that they are to suffer with Christ--that hereunto they were called. (`1 Peter 2:20,21`; `Acts 14:22`.) They learn that they must be obedient, and they come to see what obedience means.
The Master learned obedience--learned what obedience meant--"by the things which He suffered." The narrow way is not an easy path. His followers learn that the Lord is now calling a class that have faith in Him, a class who accept His Word fully. In time they come, too, to see that "If God be for them, who can be against them?" If matters do not go as they had expected, if trials come, they will say, "We know that all things work for good to them that love God."
So these learn, as they are guided by the Word of the Lord, that they are to be of good courage as they pursue their onward way. There are many difficulties to be surmounted, and it requires courage to surmount difficulties. But the courage born of faith in God and in His "exceeding great and precious promises" strengthens them when otherwise they might be overwhelmed. It gives them a strength to which all others are strangers.
TRUST WHERE WE CANNOT TRACE
If a child of God becomes discouraged and loses his hope and strength, it is because he has lost his hold upon the Lord's promises to help. To lose courage is to lose
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faith. Loss of faith and courage makes a child of God powerless before his foes. We must trust our Father even when the meaning of His providences is veiled from our eyes and when our efforts to serve Him seem to be hedged up. We look back at the Apostles and their experiences. The Apostle Paul was very desirous of carrying the Message of the Gospel to others. Several times he tried to go into Asia, but he was not permitted to go. He began to wonder why this was, why his efforts continued to prove failures. But the Lord revealed to him that he was to go into Greece instead. In his first Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica, he writes, "Wherefore we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again, but Satan hindered us." (`1 Thessalonians 2:18`.) But we are sure that the Lord would overrule the machinations of Satan and cause them to work out His own glory, and the lesson of patience and submission would be a blessing to His children.
We see that in the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord had not lost faith in God, but was fearful for a time. As He came to the closing hours of His experiences on earth, He wondered whether or not He had faithfully conformed to all the Father's requirements. He knew that the slightest infraction of God's Law would mean His death. Had He completed His sacrifice acceptably? Would He be ushered from death into Heavenly glory by a resurrection? Then He received from the Father the assurance that He had been altogether faithful. All the trials and difficulties which the Master underwent in the laying down of His life preceded Him as a sweet incense, a precious perfume, beyond the veil, into the Most Holy as shown in the type.--`Leviticus 16:12,13`.
A PROPER FEAR
After the Jewish high priest had crumbled the sweet incense upon the fire of the golden altar, after its fragrance had penetrated beyond the second veil and had covered the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, he then himself passed beneath the veil. Every time the high priest raised the veil thus to pass under it he probably feared; for in case he had failed in any particular to carry out his sacrificial work acceptably he would have died as he passed under the veil. So our Lord Jesus knew that His work must be acceptable in the most absolute sense, else He would forever forfeit His existence. He would become as though He had not been; He would lose all.
There was no earthly being to give our Lord encouragement along this line. There was no one to say, You have done everything perfectly; you could not have done better. So the Master went alone to the Father for this assurance and for strength and courage. He prayed, "Not My will, but Thine be done"; and the Father heard His prayer and gave Him the needed assurance and strength. He was heard in respect to that which He feared; and during all that night and the following day, up to the hour of His crucifixion, He was calm and courageous.
So the Lord's people should have a proper fear. Proper fear is good for them. But it should not proceed to the point of hindering their efforts and dissipating their courage. They should have the fear enjoined by St. Paul when he said, "Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." (`Hebrews 4:1`.) This proper fear the Master had. He never became discouraged, never held back from the work which the Father had given Him to do. His fear was a filial one, which engendered a watchfulness and care, a circumspection of walk and of life, that He might be wholly pleasing to the Father. This all Christians should have. We should watch lest we neglect some privilege or duty.
This proper fear will lead us to careful inspection of ourselves. We should ask ourselves, "What do I believe? Why do I believe it? We should go over the ground again. We should again go over in our minds the proofs of the correctness of our Faith. By so doing, the Lord will strengthen us in the Faith, He will strengthen our heart. If any hope in themselves, and lean upon their own strength mainly, it will be to their advantage that the Lord shall allow them to come to the point of discouragement, that they may become more timid, may lose all self-assurance, may realize their utter helplessness and weakness and their need of leaning wholly upon the Lord, of looking constantly to Him for guidance and support. As the Lord's children thus learn to wait upon Him, to them is fulfilled the promise, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."--`Isaiah 40:31`.
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AN INTERESTING LETTER
COLPORTEURING IN OFFICE BUILDINGS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
For some time I have been wanting to tell you about our wonderful privileges and opportunities in the Harvest; and today when I read your letter in the May 1 WATCH TOWER to the departing members of the Bethel Family--that some of them might enter the Colporteur service--I felt prompted to write, that these and others might be encouraged, and that especially now, in your travels, you might encourage the Colporteurs in their work.
For the last year Sister and I have been making it a specialty to call on the business men in the large office-buildings; and have had very good success. We do not feel that this is due to any great ability on our own part, but that it is all by the Lord's grace and His "ever-present help."
Many dear Colporteurs do not realize what a great privilege they are neglecting when they do not call upon the business men; or, after calling on several they fail to arouse interest and become discouraged, while if they would persevere they would find their efforts crowned with success, just as much or more than in the homes.
We also find that delivering is so much easier among the business men, as we often get orders for several sets in one office, and sometimes for several hundred volumes in one building, all of which are quite sure to be delivered.
Business men, on account of the present financial condition, are becoming more and more awake and are looking for an explanation; besides, hundreds of these men are reading the sermons, have absorbed a great deal of Present Truth, and are anxious to get the books.
Many of us have been timid about entering the large office-buildings, fearing to meet these busy people. By letting them know that we will not be a nuisance to them, detaining them only a few moments, they usually grant us a little time, or tell us when they will be at leisure. It is best to see the Manager of each office before speaking to the employees.
In all the cities there are thousands of stenographers, bookkeepers and professional people, who cannot be reached at their homes, and therefore have never come in contact with the STUDIES. Many of them are earnest Bible students, and we feel it a great privilege to meet these and bring them just the help they need and are often looking for.
While at present sister and I principally are working in the cities, yet we have also had the same experience in the smaller places. Business men in the small towns are even more easily approached, and invariably want the whole set of STUDIES.
We are still rejoicing in the Master's service, and received many rich blessings at the three-day Convention here.
Yours in our Redeemer,
FRIEDA SCHLATTER.--Kansas City, Mo.
International Bible Students Association Classes
STUDIES AND LECTURES UNDER THE AUSPICES OF PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION