BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor of Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
The Lesson #Ps 85
"The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."—#Ps 126:3.
WE ARE STILL in the night of weeping. Sickness, sorrow, sighing and dying continue, and will continue until the glorious morning of Messiah’s Kingdom breaks. How glad we are to have learned that then the glorious change will come to earth. The Prophet David expresses this thought, saying: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (#Ps 30:5.) St. Paul expressed the same sentiment when he declared, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God" (#Ro 8:22.) The Sons of God in glory will, with their Lord, constitute Emmanuel’s Kingdom, and at present these Sons of God are comparatively little known or recognized amongst men; frequently they are considered "peculiar people," because of their zeal for righteousness and truth, and for God. "Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is," and we shall share His glory, honor, and immortality and with Him scatter Divine blessings to all the families of the earth."
A Song of Deliverance.
Our lesson, the 85th Psalm, may properly have served several applications. The first of these would be to Israel’s deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, when Cyrus gave permission that all who desired might return to Palestine. About fifty-three thousand—a small number—availed themselves of this privilege and of his assistance. The people rejoiced in this manifestation of the turning away of Divine disfavor, and the return to them of God’s favor and blessing. The pardon of their transgressions as a nation was here evidenced in this privilege of returning to God’s favor. A secondary application of the Song is just before us. Israel has been in a far greater captivity in Christendom during the past eighteen centuries. She has the promise, nevertheless, of a mighty deliverance. The Cyrus who granted them liberty to return from literal Babylon was a type of the great Messiah who is about to give full liberty for the return of God’s ancient people to Divine favor—to Palestine. Israel’s sins have not yet been taken away, even as the world’s sins have not yet been taken away. The great Redeemer has, indeed, died for sin, and He is the sinner’s friend, but as yet He has only appeared in the presence of God for us—the Church—not for the world. He is only the Church’s Advocate now. He advocates for none except those who come to God and give Him their hearts and lives; and these are the saintly only—such as love righteousness and hate iniquity.
The world is enslaved by Sin and Death, the twin monarchs who are now reigning and causing mankind to groan. We were born in this enslaved condition, as the Scriptures declare:
OV177 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, in sin did my mother conceive me." Our race, groaning under the weaknesses and imperfections we have thus inherited—mental, moral and physical, long for the promised deliverance from the bondage of sin and death. The majority of mankind undoubtedly feel the gall of their slavery, and will be glad to be free.
Deliverance at Hand.
The great Deliverer is the antitypical Cyrus. Soon He will go forth to victory, and will establish His Kingdom under the whole heavens. Soon the Church class, the saints, "the elect," will be glorified, and then the time will come for the blessing of the non-elect—for their restitution to human perfection and to a world-wide Paradise, which Messiah’s power and Kingdom will introduce. "He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Sheol, hades, the grave, will be no more; death will be destroyed by the resurrection of the dead therefrom, "Every one in his own order." Many of the Lord’s people who can see something of the blessings due at the second advent, and who appreciate in some measure the fact that the Lord comes again to bestow the great blessings secured by His death, fail to see this other proposition; viz., that those in their graves have as much interest in that glorious reign of Messiah as those who at that time will be less completely under the bondage of corruption—death. But as surely as Jesus died for all, they all must have the blessings and opportunities which he purchased with His own precious blood. Hence we should expect blessings in the Millennial Age upon all those in the grave as well as upon those not in it; and of this we will find abundant proof, as we look further into the Lord’s testimony on the subject. It is because of God’s plan for their release that those in the tomb are called "prisoners of hope." The prevailing opinion is that death ends all probation; but there is no Scripture which so teaches. God does not purpose to save men on account of ignorance, but "will have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (#1Ti 2:4.) Since the masses of mankind have died in ignorance, and since "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave" (#Ec 9:10), therefore God has prepared for the awakening of the dead, in order to knowledge, faith and salvation. Hence His plan is, that "as all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive."
The Secret of Joy.
While the whole creation groans under its load of sin and sorrow, the saints may sing and rejoice, even in the midst of all the sorrows of life, even though they share the results of sin as fully or even more fully than do others. The secret of their joy is twofold:
(1) They have experienced reconciliation to God;
(2) They have submitted their wills to His will.
They obtained this new relationship by the way of faith in the Redeemer—faith in His blood of Atonement. They entered by the "strait gate" and "narrow way" of consecration to God—surrendering their own wills and covenanting to do the Divine will to the best of their ability. This submission of the will to God and the realization that all their life’s affairs are in God’s keeping and under His supervision give rest to the heart. They have a rest and peace in this surrendered condition which they never knew when they sought to gratify self-will and ignored the right of their Creator to the homage of their hearts and the obedience of their lives.
Believers Visualize Stories to Come.
Similarly, these have joy and peace, and songs of thankfulness to God, because to them He grants a knowledge of His Divine purposes, and shows them "things to come." These see beyond the trials and tribulations of the present time—they see the glories that will follow the present time of suffering. These see that the Church, the
OV178 saintly ones of all denominations and of all nationalities, are prospective heirs of God—heirs of glory, honor and immortality; and associates with the Redeemer in His glorious Kingdom. This encourages and stimulates them. They also see the outlines of the Divine Program for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
When they thus perceive that God is interested in their dear ones who are not saints, and interested in the whole human family, very few of whom are saints, it gives them cause for rejoicing. When they perceive that God has arranged that through Christ and the glorified Church all the families of the earth shall be blessed, it makes them "joyful in the house of their pilgrimage"—while waiting for their own change from human to Divine nature. Seeing the provision which God has made for the world of mankind, they are contented, and are glad to have God’s will done in themselves and in all the earth.
SOMETIMES I ALMOST WONDER
SOMETIMES I almost wonder if my Lord doth really know About the many little things that wound my poor heart so.
I can but wonder if He knows the anguish of my soul, When tempests beat upon my head, and surging billows roll; I wonder if He hears at night my weary, longing sighs, I wonder if He sees the tears that tremble in mine eyes!
I wonder if my burdens weigh upon His tender heart, And in my many sorrows, if His great love shares a part!
*** Ah! no, I will not wonder, I will silence every fear, I’ve read that "in His bottle He doth treasure up each tear;" I know that He who heeds the smallest sparrow when it falls, Will surely, surely hearken when His own child feebly calls; I know that He who stilled the waves on Galilee’s dark sea, Will bid the storms of life, "Be still," that rudely threaten me.
Ah! no, I do not wonder, I am sure my Lord doth know About the many, many things that wound my poor heart so!