Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
GOD’S OATH BINDS ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
"I have sworn, saith Jehovah...that I will
greatly bless thee, and I will exceedingly multiply thy
seed as the stars of Heaven and as the sand which is
upon the seashore...and in becoming thy seed shall
all nations of the earth bless themselves."
[At the invitation of numerous Jewish societies Pastor Russell addressed a Jewish mass meeting early in 1911, at Cincinnati.
The audience was estimated at above five thousand Jewish men, and crowds were turned away. Ladies were in evidence only in the boxes.
Pastor Russell was introduced to the audience by Attorney Rodimus, Editor of the official organ of the Zionists, "The Nation," who served as Chairman. In a few well-chosen words he presented the speaker as a friend of Israel, whose message of comfort and consolation, based upon his interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, had aroused Zionists to fresh interest in their own Holy Scriptures which promised to give to Zionism a religious propulsion far beyond anything yet expected by the Association. Whether the audience could agree with all of Pastor Russell’s deductions or not, they surely would accord him a hearing as their guest of the hour, and weigh carefully his words—especially his references to the Law and to the Prophets.
The occasion of a Christian minister being welcomed by Hebrews to address them on religious subjects is an anomaly in the world’s history. This does not signify, however, any deflection of the Jew from the tradition of his fathers; but, quite to the contrary, brings to the world’s attention the fact that a Christian minister, an acknowledged student and interpreter of the Bible, has recognized that the Jew still has a part, separate and distinct from the Christian, in the Divine program.]
Men and brethren, it affords me pleasure to address you, and I take this opportunity to thank the numerous
Jewish societies at whose invitation I am here. I am not a Jew! I am a Christian. But here I am in danger of being misunderstood. I am not a Christian of the ordinary sectarian type, according to whose creeds every Jew and everybody else except the elect are fore-doomed of God to an eternity of torture, because of not having recognized one of your brethren, Jesus, as the Messiah sent of God. I have not the slightest sympathy with that misrepresentation of the Divine Plan and of my Master’s instructions.
My Master and Teacher was one of your brethren, Jesus by name. No other Jew ever made so profound an impression upon the Gentile world. No other Jew ever magnified, and made honorable in the sight of the whole world, the Law of God given through Moses. No other Jew ever more highly honored the prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures. I esteem it a privilege to emulate His example who, in my opinion, was the most wonderful representative of our race. Incidentally, I am glad to note that intelligent Jews the world over join with me in this tribute—that they recognize that none but a great Personality could have made so deep an impression upon the intelligent masses of the world, even though they do not recognize Him as the Messiah.
Once, like many others, I misunderstood the teachings of my Master and His Apostles, and supposed that Moses, the Law Covenant of the Jewish people and the prophecies of your sacred Scriptures were all done away, all canceled, all renounced. But, my friends, a more thorough study of the New Testament has taught me that all of its presentations are founded upon the testimonies of the Law and of the Prophets; and that their teaching is that much, yea, the better part of all of God’s glorious promises to your nation are still future and, I believe, now about to be realized. I congratulate you upon the glorious promises that are yours as a people, not yet fulfilled, but amply secured to you by the word and oath
of our unchangeable God. Permit me to refresh your memories respecting some of God’s gracious promises.
GOD’S COVENANT OATH-BOUND
I remind you that your nation began with Father Abraham; that the foundation of your nationality, upon which all the hopes which thus far have brought you most wonderfully preserved as a people to the present hour are built, is God’s promise to Abraham and His oath of assurance that that promise would be fulfilled.
If it seems strange to us that the Almighty should condescend to make oaths to His creatures respecting the gracious gifts of His hand, I remind you that God knew what Abraham did not know; namely, that the promise attested by that oath would linger thirty-nine hundred years without accomplishment.
God foreknew that without His oath to that promise you as His people would naturally feel that He had forgotten it or that something had occurred to alter or amend the Divine program. Hence the oath, and the fact that this great Covenant is called the Covenant of the Oath, in which God swore by Himself, because there was not a greater, saying, in the words of our text, "Surely in blessing I will bless thee and will multiply thy seed, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; for thy seed shall be as the stars of Heaven and as the sand upon the seashore."
This Divine Promise and the Oath which makes it sure has been the Gibraltar of your faith and has kept you separate from all other nationalities for all these long centuries. And let me say that I am not here today to urge you to join any of the numerous Churches of many denominational names; but, quite to the contrary, I urge you to remain Jews and to strive more earnestly and more intelligently than ever to be worthy of, and therefore to attain, the glorious things which God has promised to you as the natural seed of Abraham—natural heirs of that Abrahamic Covenant.
JACOB’S PROMISES ALL EARTHLY
I remind you that from Genesis to Malachi nothing in your Holy Scriptures implies a change of nature from human to spiritual. Nothing intimates that you will ever be like the angels. The prophetic promises, on the contrary, tell us of restitution to the former estate—to human perfection and to an Eden home restored—world-wide.
The Jubilee system of your Law once practised taught the same lesson. On the fiftieth year every slave was set at liberty, and every piece of property reverted to its original owners. In this God is picturing man’s return to harmony with Himself—his liberation from the bondage of Sin and Death, his restoration to the image of his Creator, from which through sin he fell, and the return to him of the dominion of the earth in its glorious perfection. There your Prophets declare, "Every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make afraid." "They shall not build and another inhabit, but long enjoy the fruit of their labor."
I remind you of the wonderful word-pictures drawn by the Prophet Isaiah. He tells how the wilderness shall blossom as a rose and the solitary place be glad; that streams shall break forth in the desert. The blessing of the Lord shall be upon the earth and it shall yield its increase. He tells that then the inhabitants "shall no more say, I am sick"—when all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped; when the lame shall leap and all shall be glad. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us that then it shall no longer be necessary to say to one’s neighbor or to one’s brother, "Know thou the Lord, because all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest." The Prophets Isaiah and Habakkuk explain that in that glorious time the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the sea. Those blessed conditions, my friends, can not yet come to the world, according to the Scriptures, until first God’s blessing shall be upon His people, according
to the Oath-bound Covenant, that through you the blessing shall extend to all the nations of the earth, when the Law shall go forth from Mt. Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
I am sure that I speak directly to your hearts when I say that that glorious picture of human Restitution is far more captivating to your hearts than any suggestions of a Heavenly kind—which you cannot comprehend. We may discuss the earthly blessings in the language of the Scriptures. But even if we could describe the angelic conditions beyond the veil of human sight, they would seem intangible to you in comparison. And if I had the authority to offer any choice respecting these earthly blessings described by the Prophets and certain spiritual, intangible, Heavenly, inconceivable, incomprehensible things, you would surely say, Let others have their choice, but give me the glorious things promised to the seed of Abraham by the Lord through the Law and the Prophets.
And so it is to be, my dear friends. Those blessings are to come to you; for God’s Promise and Oath so testify.
Had we the time and were this the opportunity, it would afford me pleasure to discuss with you what I clearly see in the Law and the Prophets respecting your race, and indicating that the fulfilment of those blessings is just at the door. Should you so desire and should this great Auditorium be again placed at our disposal, I will take pleasure in calling your attention to the things that are written in the Bible which, alas! the Jews, as well as the Christians, have neglected to study. What are your prospects, according to the Scriptures? We read, "A King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall execute judgment." Is not that Israel’s King? And is not the period of His Reign the time for which you have so long waited, when your nation shall have the Divine measure of blessing and become the Divine channel, not only for your own uplifting, but for the blessing of all other nations, as the Oath-bound Covenant declares?
A HEAVENLY KING OF GLORY
Possibly some of you have imagined Messiah’s Kingdom an earthly one and Messiah Himself a great man.
It is but natural that we should pull down to our own level of thought the glorious things of Divine promise.
But doing so in this case is a mistake. Messiah, the great King, will not be a man, but a Spirit Being, Jehovah’s honored Agent, whose glory and honor will be far higher than that of angels, who will be His ministers.
Do we not remember how it is written in the Book of Daniel (7:13) that Messiah, the great King, shall come in the clouds of Heaven? To Him the Ancient of Days will give the dominion and government and all peoples and nations and languages shall serve Him. Surely we are not to expect Messiah to come as a man and to conquer the world with a Jewish army, with cannons and dreadnaughts.
No, my dear friends. God has another method by which earthly powers shall melt before His glorious Kingdom in the hands of Messiah.
Soon the next verse will have fulfilment. The mountains will melt like wax at His presence. From the Heavenly ones will come the message of God’s righteousness; and all the people of the world shall see His glory—the glory of the Divine character in the righteousness of the Divine Kingdom. All worshipers of idols of every kind will be ashamed. Those who are worshiping mammon, stocks and bonds, houses and money, will, as Mr. Carnegie has declared, be ashamed of riches which they cannot account for along the lines of the Golden Rule. The next verse, dear friends, tells of yourselves and how this Message of the Kingdom will affect you, saying, "Zion heareth it and rejoiceth; glad are the daughters of Judah because of Thy decrees, O Jehovah!"
Then follows the message that is particularly due today to all, both rich and poor, "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil. He will perserve the lives of His pious ones."
Studying the Bible from this standpoint I am sure
that, with myself, you will see that the Divine predictions of Messiah’s Kingdom indicate that it will have a glory and a power super-human, in the light of which Solomon’s glory and riches and wisdom and honor will fade. Indeed, was not Solomon merely a foreshadowing of the great King of Glory, the Heavenly One? And I, too, a Christian, am looking for the same Messiah mentioned by the Prophets. I, too, pray to God continually, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven." Not only so, but all Christian people must surely come to this same position; thus the gulf between the Jew and the Christian grows less and less until the consummation when the same glorious majesty, "the desire of all nations," shall come.—
In conclusion, I ask you to note the critical translation of my text which I have given. According to the Hebrew, the nations are to bless themselves in the Seed of Abraham.
In other words, after the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, when your nation shall have been reorganized and brought into favor with God under the New Covenant (
), and when the princes of all the earth under Messiah’s direction shall be Israelitish—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the holy Prophets—then the door of opportunity, first to the Jew, will stand open to all nations, that they all may come in, under the gracious terms of that New Covenant, as servants of God, become in this adopted sense the children of Abraham. This is the significance of the words of our text. The nations shall bless themselves in Abraham’s seed—by becoming through faith and consecration to God members thereof.
Hail to the brightness of Zion’s glad morning, Long by the Prophets of Israel foretold!
Hail to the millions from bondage returning! Gentiles and Jews the blest vision behold.