Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
ZIONISM IN PROPHECY
[On October 9, 1910, Pastor Russell addressed a Jewish Mass Meeting, in response to a request by a Jewish Mass Meeting Invitation Committee. The invitation was signed by many prominent Hebrews of New York City. The invitation and Pastor Russell’s response follow:—]
New York, September 20, 1910.
Pastor C. T. Russell, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dear Sir:—Your sympathetic interest in the Jewish people for years past has not escaped our notice. Your denunciations of the atrocities perpetrated against our race in the name of Christianity have added to our conviction that you are a sincere friend. Your discourse on "Jerusalem and Jewish Hopes" has struck a responsive cord in the hearts of many of our people. Still we doubted for a time if any Christian minister could really be interested in a Jew as a Jew and not merely from a hope of proselyting him. It is because of this feeling that some of us request you to make a public statement respecting the nature of your interest in our people and we desire you to know that the statement you did make was very satisfactory. In it you assured us that you are not urging Jews to become Christians and join any of the sects or parties of Protestants or Catholics. That statement, Pastor Russell, has been widely published in the Jewish journals. We feel, therefore, that we have nothing to fear from you as a race. On the contrary, in that statement you mentioned that the foundation of your interest in our people is built upon your faith in the testimonies of our Law and the messages of our Prophets. You may well understand how surprised we are to find a Christian minister acknowledging that there are prophecies of the Bible still unfulfilled, which belong to the Jew and not to the Christian, and that these prophecies, according to your studies are nearing a fulfilment of momentous interest to our Jewish race and, through us as a people, to the nations of the world.
These things, Pastor Russell, have led to the formation of a Jewish Mass Meeting Committee, which, by this letter, requests you to give a public discourse, especially to our people. If you will kindly accept this invitation, will you permit us to suggest a topic for your address, which, we believe, will be very interesting to the public and especially to the Jews, namely, "Zionism in Prophecy"?
As for the meeting: We suggest Sunday afternoon at three o’clock, October 9th. We have secured an option on the Hippodrome, New York’s largest and finest Auditorium, for that date, and we hope that
this date and the place will be agreeable to your convenience. We assure you also of a large audience of deeply interested Hebrews, besides whoever may come of the general public.
Trusting to hear from you soon, we subscribe ourselves,
JEWISH MASS MEETING COMMITTEE.
Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 21, 1910.
Jewish Mass Meeting Committee, New York.
Gentlemen:—Your kind invitation to address the Jewish Mass Meeting in the New York Hippodrome Sunday, October 9th, came duly.
I thank you for the confidence which this invitation implies. The date you have selected is not only appropriate in its relationship to the Jewish New Year, but very suitable to my own arrangements, as I leave on October 12th for appointments in London and elsewhere.
Amongst the several prominent members of your race suggested for Chairman of the Mass Meeting, I select Mr. John Barrondess, because I have had the pleasure personally of conference with him and because I know him to be very loyal to the interests of your people and because I believe him to be very highly esteemed as such in the counsels of your race.
Faithfully and respectfully yours, C. T. RUSSELL.
The Hippodrome is an Opera House with a capacity of about five thousand. It was crowded that day, and many failed to gain access. The Jewish people of New York, who number more than a million, have become deeply impressed by various discourses which Pastor Russell has delivered and were alert to hear his presentation of Zionism, as foretold by the Prophets.
The speaker held his immense audience spellbound for nearly two hours, all apparently as unconscious of the flight of time as was the speaker himself. After the service the Hebrews could be seen in little groups discussing the subject. The speaker’s views were evidently shared by the majority. Altogether the meeting was something unique. Never before did Jews give such attention to the message of a Christian minister; and never before did a Christian minister give such a message to the Jews.]
WHAT PASTOR RUSSELL SAID
While once I had been inclined to discard the Bible as unreliable along the lines of Higher Criticism, I subsequently have given it very earnest study, entirely apart from all creeds and theories of men. This study has
greatly enlightened my mind and has given me a very different view of the sacred Book. I now have absolute confidence in it. I now realize, not only that there is a great Creator, but that He is definite, orderly, in His dealings with humanity, in His shaping of earth’s affairs.
For instance, Psalm 102 mentions the time, yea, the set time, for the return of Divine favor to Zion. So we find matters all through the Scriptures. In due time David, Solomon and others represented Jehovah in the kingdom of Israel and "sat upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord." Later the kingdom was taken from Zedekiah, the last of the line of David to sit upon the throne of God’s typical Kingdom. When the dominion was taken from him the Gentile governments were recognized, but not in the same manner as was Israel. None of them was designated the Kingdom of God. None of them was given perpetuity of rule.
ZEDEKIAH REJECTED—NEBUCHADNEZZAR ACKNOWLEDGED
But Gentile governments were promised a lease of power during the period when Israel would be cast off from God’s favor. Then at the end of the appointed time the Gentile lease of earthly power in turn, and God’s original provision for Israel to represent His Kingdom in the world, would return. These are the set times referred to by the Psalmist. God’s promise to David—"The sure mercies of David"—were that of the fruit of his loins one should sit on the Throne of the Lord forever.
The real purport of this promise was that Messiah, the long-promised King of Israel, would be the root and off-shoot of the Davidic line and blessed of the Lord; His Kingdom should be an everlasting one and fully competent to fulfil all of the Divine promises made to Abraham—"In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."—
So long as God acknowledged the nation of Israel as His Kingdom their kings were His representatives; but
when Zedekiah was rejected it was not inconsistent on the Lord’s part to recognize the Gentile governments, as above suggested. Of King Zedekiah we read, "O thou profane and wicked Prince, whose time has come that iniquity should have an end. Remove the diadem. Take off the crown. This shall not be the same. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it until He come whose right it is [Messiah], and I will give it unto Him." (
.) It was at this very time that God gave the lease of earthly power to Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, as is related in Daniel’s prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, but forgot his vision. Daniel the Prophet, made prisoner at an earlier date, was by Divine providence introduced to the king as the one person in all the world able to rehearse the king’s dream and to give its interpretation, and his power so to do is declared to have been of the Lord.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S VISION OF GENTILE DOMINION
The vision was of a stupendous image. Its head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar’s Empire—Babylon.
Its breasts and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian Empire. Its belly and thighs of brass represented the Grecian Empire. Its strong legs of iron represented the Roman Empire, East and West. Its feet of iron and clay represented Papal Rome. The iron continues to represent civil governments; and the miry clay, making them appear like stone, represented ecclesiasticism as it is now mixed up with the politics of the ten kingdoms of Europe. The whole period of time in which these various Gentile governments would dominate the world would last until Messiah’s promised Kingdom. And this period is symbolically stated to have been "seven times"; that is, seven years—evidently not literal years, but symbolical.—
At their end the lease of earthly power of Gentile governments will terminate in the great Time of Trouble
foretold by Daniel (12:1). Then Messiah shall stand up in the sense of assuming control of earth’s affairs and Gentile governments will cease; for all nations shall serve and obey Messiah. Then God’s Chosen People, Israel, will come to the front in the world’s affairs; for they will become the representatives and instruments amongst men of Messiah’s Kingdom, which will be spiritual and invisible, as is that of the Prince of this world, the Prince of Darkness, whom Messiah will bind or restrain during the thousand years of His Reign of Righteousness and destroy at the conclusion, when He shall deliver over the Kingdom of earth to the Father. Mankind will then be perfect; for all wilful sinners will be destroyed in the Second Death. Meantime, not only will Messiah’s Reign bless and uplift Israel, but through Israel the blessing will extend to every nation, people, kindred and tongue in full accord with the Divine promise and oath made to Abraham more than thirty centuries ago.
All this is briefly and beautifully represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, as explained by Daniel. He saw a stone taken from the mountain without human aid. He watched and saw the stone smite the image on its feet and beheld, as the result, complete demolishment of the Gentile systems. This smiting of the image in the feet symbolically represents that it will be by Divine Power that present institutions will all come to naught preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of God in their stead.
MESSIAH’S KINGDOM IN THE VISION
Then Messiah’s Kingdom, symbolized by the stone, not only will fill the place where the image stood, but gradually increasing, will fill the whole earth. From this standpoint it is not difficult for us to believe the words of the Psalmist that there is a time for God’s gathering Zion, yea, a set time—fixed and unalterable. I do not pretend to say the day or month or year in which these things would be accomplished, in which the Gentile lease
of earth’s dominion would expire and Messiah’s Kingdom assume control. I do, however, offer a suggestion: So far as I can discern, the time for these stupendous events is very much closer than many of us had supposed. The seven Times, or years, of Gentile domination, reckoned on the basis suggested in the Scriptures themselves, should be interpreted a day for a year, lunar time. Seven years in lunar time would represent 2520 days; and these symbolically interpreted, would mean 2520 years—from the time Nebuchadnezzar, the head of the image, was recognized down to the time of the expiration of the lease of Gentile power, when the stone shall smite the image in the feet. So far as I have been able to determine, the year of Zedekiah’s dethronement was 606 B.C. Thus calculated the 2520 years of Gentile lease of power will expire in October, 1914. There are some who claim that Zedekiah’s dethronement should be dated B.C. 588. If this be true it could make a difference of but eighteen years and give the date 1932. My convictions, however, favor 1914.
ZIONISM’S FUTURE ASSURED.
For more than thirty years I have been presenting to Christian people the views I am today presenting specially to Jews, at the invitation of your Committee.
Thirty years ago I attempted to tell to Israel the good tidings that God’s set time to remember Zion had come.
But that seemingly was too early. God’s set time for Israel to hear was still future. I am still waiting for God’s own time and way for the fulfilment of
, and other Scriptures relating to Israel.
About twenty years ago Providence raised up for your people a great leader, Dr. Herzl, whose name is now a household word with your race. While your people were unready for any message that I could give them they were ready for what God sent them through Dr. Herzl—a message of hope, a message of national aspiration which quickened the pulse of your people into new hope respecting the future of the Jews. Dr. Herzl’s endeavor was
to have all loyal sons of Israel rise from the dust and aspire to be a nation amongst nations and to provide a home for the persecuted of their race in Russia and Eastern Europe. Dr. Herzl struck the popular cord in the hearts of the people. At first it was purely political, and the name of Zion meant little of anything religious; but gradually Dr. Herzl and all the leaders of the counsels of your people began to see that the religious element of the movement was the most powerful.
Dr. Herzl has been succeeded by Dr. Nordau, also evidently a man of great talent and great patriotism; but Zionism languishes. I am disclosing no secret when I tell you that amongst the leaders as well as amongst the rank and file, Zionism is trembling in the balances and fearful of coming to naught. It has spent its force along the lines originally inaugurated; but it will not fail, as many fear. Without assuming the role of a seer I answer you that Zionism is about to take on fresh vigor; that its most prosperous days are yet to come. According to my understanding of the Hebrew Prophets the time of "Jacob’s trouble" is not yet ended. Further
of Russia may be expected, and further atrocities in Roumania and elsewhere. It is sad indeed to be obliged to admit that these tribulations will probably come to you from professed Christians. How ashamed I feel of those who thus dishonor the name and the teachings of my Master, I cannot find words to express! They are deluded.
They have misunderstood the Teacher whom they profess to follow. Their thought is that God will torment eternally all who do not profess the name of Christ. Controlled by delusion they are serving the god Adversary and dishonoring Jesus. But as the trials and difficulties of the patriarch Joseph were God’s providences to lead him on to influence and power and honor, so will all these experiences and persecutions work blessings for your race and tend to drive them out of their present satisfaction and make them long for home—for Palestine.
These experiences, in connection with the voice of the Prophets, which will henceforth more and more ring in your ears, will be the providences of God to accomplish for you more along the lines of Zionism than personal pride and national patriotism.
It is not my thought that the eight millions of Jews in the world will all go to Palestine, even though it has been estimated that, under most favorable conditions, the land could support more than twice that many. It is my thought that some of your most earnest and saintly people will go to Palestine quickly, that the rejuvenation there will be astonishing to the world. Further, it is my thought that Jews in every part of the world, in proportion as they come under the holy influences of God’s promises through the Prophets, will go to Palestine sympathetically—by encouraging those who can better go than themselves and by financial assistance and the establishment there of great enterprises. Permit me to suggest that in the Time of Trouble, incidental to the transfer of Gentile rule to the power of Messiah, all financial interests will be jeopardized. Many of your race, growing wealthy, will surely take pleasure in forwarding the work of Zionism, as soon as they shall realize that it is of God, foretold through the Prophets. And those of your people of insufficient faith to use their means in forwarding the Lord’s work at this important juncture will, before very long, find themselves in the condition pictured by the Prophet Ezekiel, who declares (7:19) that in this great Day of Trouble—"They shall cast their silver in the streets and their gold shall be removed; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord." The great Messenger of the Covenant whom ye delight in (
) will test and prove you as a people. Those who worship idols of gold and silver, stocks and bonds, will receive severe chastisement at His hand before He will grant them a share in the coming blessings.