By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, to the glory of God."—#Php 2:10,11.
FOR six great Days of a thousand years each the world of mankind has experienced a reign of Sin and Death. Physicians, both physical and moral, have been unable to effect a cure. God alone is able to roll away the curse which He Himself imposed, and to give mankind His blessing instead.
In the past we have been so intent on following our own sectarian schemes and theories that we have neglected the proper study of the Bible. Indeed, not until our day has such a study been possible for the masses. Only now do they have the Word of God in their possession in convenient form in every family, and only now is education so general as to permit all to read, all to study, all to know the good things of the Divine promises.
The Creeds of the Dark Ages did indeed din into our ears the message of the curse.
Yea, they distorted it and made it a message of eternal torture; whereas the Scriptures declare that "the wages of sin is death"—not eternal torment. In our darkness we mistranslated and misinterpreted God’s Word to our own confusion, swallowing also some interpolations without proper scrutiny. No wonder that we were nauseated by those creeds! No wonder that the intelligent portion of humanity was in danger of being driven into infidelity—away from God and from His Book, which we misunderstood and misrepresented!
Bible students are arousing from their sleep and finding that they have long suffered from nocturnal hallucinations. The true message of the word of God is spreading, and with it goes increase of faith, together with joy, peace and godliness.
Foregleams of the New Day.
We have all noted the fact that ours is the most wonderful day of earth’s history. Our eyes open wide as we note the contrast between the blessings which surround us and those enjoyed by our fathers. Surely we are all amazed at what we see of progress in invention of labor-saving machinery, of educational arrangements, of improvement in stock-breeding, in horticulture, etc. We reflect further that with the progress of invention the necessity of arduous labor and sweat of face for the daily bread will soon be at an end; and the necessary leisure, conveniences and comforts which will permit every man to be a nobleman will soon be available to all.
What do these things mean? Why have they come suddenly upon us in one generation? Yea, and give no indication of slacking, but rather of progressing to still greater wonders! What is the explanation of all this?
The Bible alone gives the reply to these queries. It explains to us the meaning of the reign of Sin and Death which we and our forefathers have shared. It tells us that our sorrows, aches, pains and weaknesses—mental, moral and physical—are all the results of sin—of the sin which Father Adam entailed upon us by the laws of heredity for the six great Days of a thousand years each, already past.
Then to our astonishment the Bible opens the door of the future and bids us look abroad and see the better Day which God promises. It explains that He has been giving us lessons respecting the exceeding sinfulness of sin, but that all the while He has sympathized with and loved His creatures. It tells us that as a beginning of the
OV349 Divine purpose of rolling away the curse and of giving instead Divine blessings, Jesus came into the world and died for Adam and his race, "the just for the unjust," to cancel their judicial obligations—the death penalty upon them—and thus to give them an opportunity in God’s due time to return to their former estate, to all that Adam lost—to the perfection which was his when he was in the image of God, and to all that was his in his glorious estate—Paradise.
That Day Has Come.
Chronologically we are already in the great Seventh Day, or Thousand-year Sabbath: we are already forty years into that great Day. This fact explains the blessings which are ours and which are coming to us increasingly. This progress will continue throughout the great Thousand-year Sabbath of Messiah’s Kingdom. The Bible promises that the Messianic Reign shall bring blessedness to every creature—not only to the living, but to the dead; for "all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth."—#Joh 5:28,29, R.V.
All must be given a full opportunity to come into harmony with the Creator and to attain perfection and everlasting life. Only by personal, willful, intelligent sin can any one’s blessings be turned into the second curse of God, the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption.
Incidentally, let us note that the coming of those blessings is, in one sense, premature, in that they have come to us before the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.
Consequently, instead of being happier because of these favors, the world is more unhappy, more discontented, than ever. The Scriptures show that the discontent will culminate in a short, sharp period of anarchy, from which the world will be rescued by the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom.
The permission of the light and blessings of our day, in advance of Messiah’s Rule, the Creator intends shall teach humanity a great lesson respecting their own fallen condition and their need of the very help which God is providing in Christ. None shall have the opportunity of erroneously supposing that God’s blessings, coming to unregenerate hearts, will make them thankful and happy. The new heart is necessary to real happiness.
We also incidentally see that if God had sent or permitted the light of our day with its blessings a thousand years sooner, then the discontent of humanity would have culminated in anarchy a thousand years sooner—and before the Divinely arranged time for the establishment of Messiah and His Bride, the Church, in glory for the ruling, blessing and uplifting of humanity.
Truth Discerned Aids Faith.
As we gradually come to realize that we are living in the dawning of the time for the long-promised blessing, this Sabbath Day of earth, when the curse shall roll away, it gives us a fresh interest in all the affairs of the present life, as well as in those features of the Divine Plan which are yet future! The knowledge makes life worth living.
Millions of people live a treadmill existence, unworthy of themselves and joyless, because they have not come into the family of God and have not been taught to understand the deep things of His gracious purposes.
The first step is an acknowledgment of the Creator and a consecration of life to Him, and then an application of our hearts to know His will, in order that we may do it. One day of such living is worth more than a year of the aimless meandering common to the masses. All who have entered into this blessing should rejoice therein. All who have not done so should seek the Door, Christ, and be glad to walk the narrow way, following His footsteps into grace and peace Divine.
We may indeed rejoice in the lessening of the sweat of face coming to mankind, in the dawning of this New Day. We may indeed rejoice in the
OV350 greater spread of knowledge to every class. We may indeed rejoice in the more comfortable housing, feeding and clothing of our race. We may indeed praise the Day which is ushering in these blessings, and which through irrigation canals and artesian wells, scientific study and teachers, books and newspapers, is making the wilderness to blossom as the rose, and many blades of grass to grow where one alone grew previously, bringing increased fruitfulness. But much is to be desired still—much that we cannot accomplish for ourselves. We need an outside influence, an outside power—the very one which the Word of God declares is about to take control—Messiah’s Kingdom.
Our blessings thus far are not drawing the masses nearer to God—not making them more thankful, more holy, more reverential, more loving. On the contrary, we are becoming more strifeful, more self-willed, than any previous generation—less inclined as a world than ever before to worship and reverence the God of all grace—less inclined to believe that there is such a Being at all. At the present rate of growth of irreverence, it would seem as though the time might soon come when no knee would bow and no tongue confess, to the glory of God.
But here we look to God to see what provision He has made for present conditions; and as we look, our hearts are cheered. We have the Divinely solemn declaration that the full end of the reign of Sin and Death has come. And we have outlined in God’s Word proofs that we are now living in the time when that new Reign of Righteousness shall be inaugurated. We have prayed for it with more or less of faith all our lives: "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as it is done in Heaven."
Permit not faith to let go her hold; the Word of God cannot fail. As He is bringing to us the temporal blessings promised in His Word and appropriate to this time—the New Dispensation—let us trust Him for every other feature of His promised blessing. He who has begun the good work is able to complete it. If He has promised and has sworn to this promise, that all the families of the earth shall be blessed in Abraham’s seed, surely we may rely upon it. If we see at present only the Spiritual Seed of Abraham in full harmony with God through Christ, and they not glorified, let us wait patiently for the Lord, knowing that He will fulfill His promises in due time.
The Church, the Elect, are indeed the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. This class, as the Bride of Christ, must be completed and must be united to their Redeemer by the change of the First Resurrection before they will be qualified to share with Him the great work of blessing the Natural Seed of Abraham. —#Ga 3:8,16,29.
The completion and glorification of the Church will mark the time for the establishment of the Messianic kingdom. Then will begin the pouring out of the Divine blessing and the removal of the curse. Satan will be bound for a thousand years. The knowledge of God will gradually fill the whole earth. The natural Seed of Abraham will be the first to receive the Restitution blessings—to return to the image and likeness of God in the flesh, and to have returned to them Paradise conditions and Divine favor.
The ancient saintly ones of the Jewish race, we are assured, shall be made princes in all the earth for the correction of their brethren, Natural Israel, and for the instruction and assistance of the people of every nation, kindred and tongue—the living and the dead.
Rapidly the knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole earth. Corrections in righteousness will be meted out to all not doing their very best to come into harmony with the Divine Law. Blessed rewards of increasing perfection of mind and body will gradually come to the willing and obedient in that Day. The wilful evil-doers shall be cut off in the Second Death. Then, as a result, before the thousand years of Messiah’s Kingdom shall expire,
OV351 every knee shall bow, to the glory of God.
Meantime, also, the blessings of Paradise will be coming to the earth as a whole. God will make the place of His feet glorious. (#Isa 60:13, 66:1.) Jesus will see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. (#Isa 53:10,11.) All those who have suffered for righteousness’ sake during the reign of Sin and Death will be more than compensated therefor in the blessings and joys of the New Dispensation. The knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. The glorious Divine character will be made manifest, not only to angels, but to men. The infinitude of God’s love, justice, wisdom and power may then be seen by all; whereas to-day, under the reign of Sin and Death, with minds beclouded by the errors instilled by the Prince of Darkness, the opposite condition—darkness—covers the earth and gross darkness the heathen.
What a glorious consummation is before us! What lengths and breadths of human possibility in perfection we see with the eye of faith! Man was made in the image and likeness of his Creator, and the earth was provided to be his everlasting home. The curse that has rested upon the earth and its king has brought both to angels and to men valuable lessons, which perhaps could not have been learned under any other process of instruction.
The result will be glorious, as described by the Master himself. There shall be no more sighing, no more curse there, nor sorrow nor pain nor any more dying; for all the things of sin and death will have passed away. He who sits upon the Throne will make all things new.—#Re 21:4,5.
The Prophet Isaiah declares that Jehovah will do these things, and that every knee shall bow to Him and every tongue confess. (#Isa 45:23.) St. Paul applies this Scripture, and declares that it will be fulfilled through Jesus, and incidentally it will be fulfilled by the Church through Jesus. The thought is that in acknowledging Christ and the Church and in bowing to them, the world will be bowing to Jehovah; for the Logos, Jesus, the Redeemer, forever will be the Representative of the Father and His Power..Hence all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father—not honor the Son as the Father, but as the Father’s direct Representative—Heir of all things.—#Joh 5:23; #Heb 1:2.
The elect Church of the present time already bows the knee to Jesus as the Representative of the Heavenly Father, and already enjoys a great blessing through this special relationship into which she has entered and which is to be completed in her resurrection change. Jesus, as the great King of Glory, and His Bride class, as the great Queen of Glory, will be distinctly separate from the world—sharers of an altogether different salvation. These, begotten of the Holy Spirit, are promised a participation in the Divine nature, which is far above that of the angels, the Apostle assures us.
For the same reason that God is invisible to men, Christ and the Church will be invisible, though all-powerful. The blessings of human Restitution that they will bring mankind will be conveyed through earthly channels, of whom Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets and faithful ones of Israel will be leaders, or princes, as God has declared. These shall not judge by the hearing of the ear or by the sight of the eye, but shall judge righteous judgment.—#Isa 11:3.
No mistakes will be made; no evil deed shall fail of just recompense; even attempts to commit crimes must cease. Every knee shall bow to the Power then in control, and every tongue confess to the justice of the arrangement. Gradually the new order will appeal to the hearts of mankind, and what at first was obedience by force will become obedience from love and appreciation of righteousness. Eventually all who obey merely because of compulsion will be cut off in the Second Death.