Revelation 20 to 22 contains eight portraits of the true Kingdom, just as we have seen that chapters 12, 13 and 17 contain repeated descriptions of the false Kingdom—Anti-Christ's.
This repetition of the same things from different standpoints, and with other details, is a principle which applies especially to this last book of the Bible. A failure to recognize this, is, we think one of the reasons why so many of those who study this book, fail to get sense from it.
The portion of Scripture we are about to consider, is frequently read as though it were one connected narrative, instead of several repetitions of the first statement. Because of failure to rightly divide, some get the thought, that the "great white throne" is to be established after the Millennial age, and after Satan is destroyed; consequently, are at a loss to know why the dead are raised at that time, or how they could have a probation after the Millennial Age, and are much confused generally.
DIAGRAM OF REV. 20-22 .
Let us more particularly examine these pictures, all of which clearly pertain to the same period, the Millennial Age. The first, shows us that a restraint will be put upon evil, during that age of peace and blessing. This naturally commends itself to us, as the order for a reign of righteousness presupposes a restraint of unrighteousness. Satan is the best representative of evil principles, practices and persons, being the chief and leader in wickedness.
An angel is seen, with the key of the abyss, (covered, secret, hidden place,) and a chain. The key represents authority, and the chain represents strength. The word angel signifies messenger, and this picture shows us, that God will send some messenger with authority and power to subdue Evil—the adversary of truth and right. In this work of binding, many agencies will doubtless take a part—an increase of knowledge probably being one of the strongest. Yet all of these agents, are typified by the one messenger. There is that about this figure, which seems to indicate that Christ Jesus, and his body, the church of the first born, is the one in whose hand is the power and authority to bind and control Evil—"To bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgments written—this honor have all his saints." (Ps. 149:8,9.) The language, too, reminds us of one who declares that he has the keys. (Rev. 1:18.)
The binding or suppression of evil during the Millennial Age, will result from the exercise of authority and power, by our Lord, when he shall take unto himself his great power and reign. (Rev. 11:17.) But we have reason to think that the manner in which our Lord takes his great power, and binds Evil, will differ much from the general conception of it. We believe that truth binds error, and error binds truth: like light and darkness, they are constantly opposed to each other. During this Age the powers of darkness and error hold control; but light and truth will come with the new rulership.
We believe that this New Ruler has already come, (visible only, as are all the glorious and spiritual things, to the eye of faith enlightened by the Word of God,) and that the binding is already commenced. As is God's rule—"Judgment [trial] must begin at the House of God." (1 Pet. 4:17.) Errors and evils—the devil in the church, must be bound first, and truth set free, among those who profess to be children of the light; and then it will progress, overturning errors, injustice and bad government among the World's people—thus blessing both nominal church and world, though the experience may for a time, seem a curse to both.
Many may be the instruments used in this work; some fine and polished tools from the Lord's laboratory; some moral and upright Infidels, honest in their unbelief; and some God-dishonoring and defiant unbelievers; to displace errors and prepare a place for truth. So too, among the nations, he may make the wrath of man to praise him, and perhaps use bloody-handed Communists, as advocates of civil rights, and for the overthrow of evil and oppressive governments. But the result will be, that Satan shall be bound for a thousand years. The loosing for a little season, we will examine presently.
"I saw thrones and they sat upon them and judgment [Rotherham—judicial sentence] was given unto them." The thrones are those of earthly kingdoms at the present time, and all under the "prince of this world." (John 14:30) These are all condemned as unfit, and are to be overthrown, to give place to the kingdom of Christ. [The Greek word rendered judgment here, is the same rendered condemnation in the following passages: Luke 23:40; Jas. 3:1; Jude 4.]
"And I saw the persons of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God." We believe that a few of this class are now living. It is not a literal beheading, but in keeping with other figures; it is a symbolic beheading. [Some suppose this to refer to all the martyrs of past ages—but of them the fewest number were beheaded.]
Beheading, is to cut off from a head. There are many so called bodies of Christ: the Methodist body, Presbyterian body, etc., are common expressions. (The Scriptures, of course, recognize no such division into sects; but assure us that there is only one body and one head.) Of course, each body must have a head or authority, from whence comes its government and laws. These are Conferences, Assemblies, etc., and we predict that any one connected with any of these who will "witness for Jesus," as the only head of the church, and for the "Word of God," as the only standard of doctrine, will very quickly be treated as described—beheaded—cut off from those church heads. This is in harmony with the next clause [R331 : page 7] which says they worshiped not the Beast, neither his Image, neither received his mark. These, we saw in our last number, represent sectarian systems.
This Scripture shows that such as are of this bounden class, not separated—beheaded—cut off—from others than the true head, are not overcomers, while the class described, of all ages, who will live and reign with Christ a thousand years, are. "This is the first resurrection." (Vs. 5.—We omit the first clause of the verse, which, as heretofore explained, is wanting in several of the oldest MSS.)
This reference to the first resurrection, seems to indicate that it includes all of the first fruits company—both those who "sleep in Jesus," and the living who shall not sleep, but be changed at the moment of death.*
*The word anastasis, here rendered resurrection signifies—"a standing or rising up"—to bring to perfection. The bringing to perfection of mankind in general, will be a gradual work, requiring all of the Millennial Age, while the resurrection or bringing to perfection of the Bride of Christ—the little flock, will be instantaneous, and at the beginning of the Millennial Age. Remember, too, that though both reach perfection, yet one is a human and the other divine perfection.
The attainment of the divine perfection is called the first resurrection, and signifies the chief or best perfection. The same Greek word (protos) is translated best in Luke 15:22, and chief in Acts 13:50; 16:12; 17:4; 25:2; 28:7; 7:17, etc.
THE BLESSED REIGN AND END OF
REV. 2:6-10 .
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the (chief perfecting) first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
This seems scarcely to require comment. It shows the holiness, as well as blessedness of all that reigning company. Another thought is suggested, by the fact that these shall be priests to teach, as well as kings to reign. They will not only see to the execution of God's laws, but will give instruction and assistance to mankind, such as will enable them to render obedience. Yes, it is a blessed thought, that we will be both kings and priests, (Rev. 5:10) and reign with him a thousand years.
During this reign of the Christ, all will have been brought to a knowledge of the truth, (1 Tim. 2:4) the true light will have enlightened every man, ever born into the world. (Jno. 1:9.) All will have been brought to a recognition of Christ; those in heaven, (angels) those on earth (living men) and those under the earth, (those now in their graves who must be brought to life). All will have been brought to recognize the power of Jehovah's anointed; and unto him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. (Phil. 2:10,11.) And all nations that God ever made (Sodomites and all) shall come and worship before him. (Rev. 15:4.) All people shall be blessed by having an opportunity to reach human perfection, and consequent perfect happiness, and life ever- lasting. This kingdom over earth, after subduing all evil, will cease by being delivered up to God, even the Father (Jehovah), as Paul tells us: "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet: [in subjection] The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death." [The destruction of death implies the raising of mankind out of it, to perfection of humanity: abolishing death and all of its incipient stages of sickness, pain, etc. This will be a gradual process, requiring all of "the times (1,000 years) of restitution" for its complete accomplishment.]
It should be remembered, that to humanity the Millennial Age is not the perfect, but the perfecting age, to be followed by that which is perfect; even as to the Bride of Christ, the Gospel Age is not the perfect, but the perfecting period, to be followed by ages of glory and perfection, of which the Millennial is the first.
And when all things shall be put under him, then shall the Son, also, himself be subject unto him (Jehovah) that put all things under him [that gave him the power]; that God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:25,28.)
But since all things before presentation to Jehovah must be perfect, whatever their nature; and since no sin is to go beyond the Millennial Age; therefore, it would seem but proper, that those who had experienced the blessings of knowledge and restitution, should be proved or tested, before they should be considered sin-proof. Having then reached, perfection of being and having had a previous knowledge of sin and its results, perfect obedience should be expected. Therefore Satan—evil—will be loosed a little season, in order that it may be manifested, [R332 : page 7] whether their obedience results from a fear of the punishment of evil doing, or from a heart love of God, and a desire to do those things well pleasing to him.
As evil will be bound by the infliction of punishment on the evil doer, so we may presume, it will be loosed by allowing evil deeds for a time to go unpunished; much as it is during this age. (See Mal. 3:15-18.) With full liberty to do good or evil, the actions of each individual, will show his true disposition. Some will remain faithful, called holy ones (saints) others from among all nations. (The world will then be very populous—"as the sand of the sea"), will join the insurrection of evil; and the two classes will thus be manifested. (Vs. 7-10.) Then fire—judgments—will come upon them, and they will all be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, [fire representing judgment, trouble, and brimstone representing extinction of life—no life is proof against the fumes of brimstone—hence the force of the symbol, as a representative of extinction.]
The trouble and judgment into which the devil and those followers will be cast, is of the same sort as that into which the symbolic BEAST AND FALSE PROPHET, (image) are cast at the end of this Gospel Age. These we have seen to be symbols, representing, not persons but systems: and these systems are said to go alive (while they are yet active and powerful systems) into the same lake of fire or gehenna fire of trouble and destruction. This fire, is already burning we think; beginning to torment those systems and to cause pain to all who do not recognize their true characters, and the end God has marked out for them—destruction.
THE THRONE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
THE WORLD'S TRIAL FOR LIFE.
REV. 20:11-15 .
The throne or kingdom of Christ will be a pure—a righteous one, here symbolized by white, the symbol of peace and purity. "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom." (Heb. 1:8.)
The one who sat in the throne represents The Christ—primarily Jesus, the head, but also the overcomers who sit with him or share his glory and power (Rev. 3:21)—yet all one.
Now call to mind the definitions of the symbols, earth, heaven, and sea, given in our last issue; you will find them of service here: heaven—spiritual control; earth—organized society; sea—the turbulent masses without religious restraint. From before, or at the presence of, this enthroned Christ, all forms of evil oppression and injustice must flee—no place is found for them, indicating that they will be driven from one place after another, but can remain nowhere.
Earth—society—as at present organized, is a series of layers, or strata, or classes, each holding its position by oppressing those below it. (This class oppression is less in degree, in this land than in any other; yet even here, social caste is easily discernable.) The "lower classes" and "upper crust" are recognizable in the entire social fabric; both in the nominal church, and in the world. The upper classes are usually proud and haughty—the meek are oftenest found in the under strata, among the oppressed. The present system of society will pass away—not be permitted anywhere, when the throne of Justice is established in the earth; and a new earth (system of society) will take its place; viz.: the recognition of merit, not of pride and power. Then, love to God and mankind will be the ruling principle.
This change of (earth) society begins immediately on the commencement of the dominion of Christ's kingdom. (This, we understand the Word of God to teach, was due in the spring of 1878. If correct, the elements for the overturning should already be in preparation—and we believe they are.)
A symbolic statement by the prophet (Isa. 24:1,2) is in keeping with the above exposition, God says he will turn the earth up-side-down—the "upper crust"—the proud, will be debased and the humble and meek will be exalted.
Another prophecy, often mis-applied by "Second Adventists," and others, and supposed to mean that the earth will be melted by fire, and when cooled off, be a perfectly flat surface, without hills or mountains, and thus a new earth, is found in Isa. 40:4. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: the crooked (perverse) shall be made straight, and the rough places plain." This we understand to be but another way of showing that society (earth) is to be reconstructed and equality of classes obtain, in which individual merit will be recognized, blended with humility and benevolence.
But, not only does the present ("earth") society pass away, but also the present "heavens" or spiritual powers of control. Satan is declared to be "the prince of the power of the air" (heavens) who "now worketh (operates or rules) in the children of disobedience." (Eph. 2:2) This one called at present, "The prince of this world" (John 14:30), we have seen, is to be bound; consequently his control, or spiritual power, now exercised in favor of evil doing, etc., will cease, or pass away; gradually, because his binding, as shown by some prophecies, will not be fully accomplished for some 33 years.
The fact that the present "earth" and "heaven," are to be succeeded by, or give place to, a "new earth" (society), and a "new heaven" (new spiritual powers of control also unseen, good and not evil—of Christ and not of Satan), is not here mentioned, but is afterward.
"And I saw the dead, small and great (high and low—humble and proud) stand before God; and the books were opened—and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
That this will not be a marshaling of mankind in ranks, and rows, before a literal Judgment-bench, we have heretofore shown. We believe that the world of mankind, during their day (age) for trial of worthiness or unworthiness of perfect human life, will be tried in a similar way to that in which certain ones are now being tried and tested in this day (Gospel age), to prove whether worthy or unworthy of the perfection of the DIVINE nature. The Greek word here rendered judged, has the significance of tried or tested. Paul's use of the same word will prove this. We here give a quotation, in which he uses the same word (krino) three times: (We italicize the words translated from this Greek word.) "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, (1) go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints (2) shall judge the world? and if the world (3) shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Cor. 6:1,2.)
Here Paul refers to the coming trial of the world, when the overcomers of the present trial, shall be their judges—judges, who like their Head, Jesus, will not only be able to assist the world as the kings, but also to sympathize with them—having been themselves tempted, in all points.
"The dead," includes all of the Adamic race, who, during this Gospel age do not escape from the condemnation that is on the world—DEATH—by becoming partakers of spiritual life through Jesus. "By the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation," but there is "now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus;" for the law of life in Christ made such free from the condemnation of death. (Rom. 5:18; and 8:1,2.)
As during this age a little fragment of humanity escapes condemnation (death), by obtaining spiritual life offered on certain conditions, so we understand the world are to be privileged to escape from the death condemnation, by obedience to certain laws of natural life. Their right to this privilege of running for life comes as a consequence of Jesus having ransomed them.
This verse relative to the dead, [R332 : page 8] shows us how all those death condemned ones, will be on trial before the White Throne. And so surely as it is a throne of purity and Justice, their trial, as ours now, will be full, fair and impartial. The Judge himself, has already become their bail, so that they shall have a full and sufficient trial before himself, to attain perfection of human life.
The books opened, according to the rulings of which they will be tried, we understand to be the books of the Bible. The church, now on trial, is being judged according to these same books—and none now are on trial, to whom those books are not to some degree opened (understood). This too, accords with Jesus' words: "My words shall judge you in the last day (period)—the Millennial day. John 12:48. (The word here translated judge is the same word as in our text and in 1 Cor. 6:1. And the same word is rendered "sue at the law" in Matt. 5:40.)
The words of Jesus will no longer be hidden under parables and dark sayings, that hearing the people might hear and not understand; but the secret things will be uncovered ("The mystery of God"—the church—being finished) the books will be opened, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. For God "will have all men to be saved, [redeemed] and [then] to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4.
The succeeding verse is in harmony, and says that "the sea (masses of mankind not under religious restraint) delivered up the dead which were in it:" i.e. mankind will be taken out of that condition, and brought under the restraints of the White Throne. (Consequently, when all are restrained there will be "no more sea"—see Jude 13, Jas. 1:6.) "And death and the tomb delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works." (During that age or day.)
This trial includes all the world, (but, not the saints—John 5:24,) and is indeed the grand prospect held out before them. By means of that trial, the entire groaning creation, may be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty (freedom from death) of the sons of God. Rom. 8:21,22.
Another book—of life, was opened. This suggests to us that as there is a book (record), of life, in which the names of all the Gospel Age overcomers are recorded, who are worthy of divine life, so there will be a book or record kept in the next age of those worthy of perfect human life.
The book of life now about finished, will not be opened—the results or record will not be known until the full end of this age; then we will see those deemed worthy to be of the Bride the Lamb's wife: so too, the records of the next age, will not be opened until the end of that age, when those worthy of receiving back the dominion of earth, lost by Adam, will receive it.
Another feature of difference between the world's judgment of that age and ours of this, is, that though they will be required to have faith, yet their trial will be based on works—"judged according to their works." We, on the contrary, live in an age when perfect works are impossible, and our judgment depends largely on faith: According to thy faith be it unto thee, and works only according to our ability.
In the end of that age of trial, death and the tomb, and all not found written in their book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire—already described as representing wrath and destruction. That the lake of fire is symbolic, is readily seen, because death and the tomb are represented as going into the same—the tomb will be no more, and the Adamic death will be no more. (Isa. 25:7,8.) All men who are then judged unworthy of life, die: but it is the second death, and is attributable to willful sin on their own part; for the Adamic death and all its results will have been destroyed.
SORROW PAIN AND DEATH
REV. 21:1-7 .
This brings the glory side of this glorious Millennial Age to view. The former heaven and earth and sea passed away entirely, and the new are fully inaugurated at the opening of this scene. The new heavens (the spiritual dominion of Christ) and the new earth, (the reconstructed condition of society) being now established; as a matter of course there will be no more sea—people unrestrained.
As the false system, or church (anti-Christ) has during this age attempted to govern the nations of the earth, so the real church—made one with the true Christ, will possess the true kingdom over earth's nations. The one, is in Scripture called "that great City (government) that reigneth over the kings of the earth," and is also called "Babylon"; (confusion) so the other is to be a strong City called Zion and The New Jerusalem (or "the city of the Great King"—King of kings and Lord of lords.) "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be (re-) moved."
Being the dwelling place of God—it will be the place from which he will operate in blessing all the world; for "reconciliation for iniquity" having brought mankind into harmony, and having blotted out sin, it will be meet that God's power should be engaged in lifting up and blessing all—"as God has spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets." (Acts 3:21.)
Yes, God himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. It was God's plan from the very first—God so loved the world that he sent Jesus: and so, of him and through him and to him are all things and we through him. (2 Cor. 5:18.) Not only do the past features of the plan indicate that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, (paying the ransom exacted by his own Justice,) but now we learn, that the Millennial work is still His. He it is, who will wipe all tears, etc. Yet, as in times past, he will use means and agencies—Christ Jesus and His Bride are to be the agencies; and as it has been all along it will still be, God in Christ and Christ in you.
How blessed the thought that we soon shall share in the wiping away of all tears from humanity. Yet this shall be our glorious mission work during that age, for wiping is a gradual work. And the tears will last so long as their cause—imperfection, pain and death exists; and these will not be fully removed until the end of that age—Then "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." All those evils are part of the curse—results of sin; and all being redeemed by him who was made a curse for us it is proper that in due time all should have these blessings, and the curse be forever removed.
Yes, for this cause he became a man, then gave his human life as man's ransom price from sin. And thus having bought him in his low estate, he by his new (divine) life is to bless him with full ability to regain his lost estate, as perfect man—the image of his Creator.
He that sitteth in the heavens has already declared—a "time of restitution" or making new—by the mouth of all his holy prophets, and he now tells John that promise is faithful and sure—"Write, these words are faithful and true." (margin.)
He is the A and Z, the beginner and ender of the great salvation of mankind. He surely will, as he has said, give to all that are ATHIRST of the water of life freely—all men who will, may come into harmony and live forever.
Those who are worthy of the perfect human life then, are called overcomers and "inherit these things"—the earthly kingdom, just as the overcomers of this Gospel Age are called "overcomers" and inherit spiritual things, and the heavenly kingdom.
But those who do not then renounce fully the works of darkness, have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone—are subjects of the second death. This death is for their own sins, and is everlasting; will never be ended or interrupted by a resurrection. No, Christ dieth no more, and there is no ransom from that tomb, as there was from the Adamic death.
THE NEW JERUSALEM THE LIGHT
OF THE NATIONS.
REV. 21:19-27 .
This view seems to come back to our day, as its starting point. John representing the living members of the Bride company, is shown the Holy City (government) coming down to earth. But before he could see it, he had to go, in spirit, as high as possible above the earthly level. So we, the anti-type, may now see the kingdom of God coming:—the rule of the Highest commencing to direct and overthrow earthly things, preparatory to the full reception of the will of God on earth as in heaven."
"We can see his coming judgments as
they circle all the earth,
The signs and groanings promised, to
precede the second birth,
We read his righteous sentence in the
crumbling thrones of earth,
Jerusalem come down!"
But all cannot see this kingdom as already on its way to earth—"coming down." To thus recognize it, we must get away from the world and its standpoint of view; we must go in spirit (by and by in person) to the great and high mountain (kingdom of God), i.e. we must come into full sympathy and loyalty to that heavenly kingdom before sharing the King's confidence, so as to be shown its glory and power, and our future position as the Bride of the King.
We have here a symbolic description of this glorious government of earth. The entire city is of pure Gold—divine glory, an untarnishing glory—the glory of God. It has "walls of salvation"; (Isa. 60:18.) protection and security abide in it. Its walls will never crumble nor fall, for the foundations are built of precious jewels, and the wall itself of Jasper, clear as crystal—(probably a diamond). The salvation walls rest securely on the finished redemption—the completed foundations as expressed by Jesus, the Apostles, and Prophets. (Eph. 2:20.)
We have already seen, that when God's kingdom (dominion) is established on earth, mankind will be brought into harmony with it, and the literal earthly city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt upon her old heaps, and will again become the great city of earth and Israel (the children of Abraham according to the flesh), as God promised—the channel through which a blessing will flow to all the nations of earth, from the spiritual seed—Christ. (Gal. 3:16 and 29; compare Rom. 11:25-33.) And when we read that it has gates in every direction, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed thereon, it seems in perfect accord, to show Israel's position as channels, gateways, by which the world may approach to the heavenly government, and through which may come the blessings to mankind. At the gates were twelve messengers (angels). This would seem to teach that Israel will in due time be the messengers to communicate the Love and Knowledge of the Lord to all creatures.
The city had no need of the Sun (Gospel message), neither of the Moon (the Gospel reflection—"The Mosaic Law") to shine in it; for it is filled with the glory of God. Now we know in part, and see as through a smoked glass dimly; then, we shall know even as we are known, being made perfect as divine beings, having the glory of God.
But the nations of earth will still need the symbolic also the natural) sun and moon. In fact, it is when "the books shall be opened," that the pure and full light of the Gospel and of the Law will shine out and bless mankind. The prophet says: "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold (perfect) ...in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people [caused by sin] and healeth the stroke of their wound." (Isa. 30:26.) But not only will the knowledge of the Lord flow out from the opened books, but the city (government—ruling) will be such as to shed light upon them.
And the kings [saints, Rev. 5:10] shall bring the glory and honor of themselves into the city. And they shall bring the glory and honor (the choice, bright, perfected) of the nations into the city. Thus we see that this government will at first contain the glory of the spiritual kings of earth, and afterward as the Millennial age progresses, the kingdom will embrace or include all of earth's pure and good—but only those counted worthy of life. Among them, will be found none defiled—for all who will, may by that time have been cleansed from all sin and defilement.
THE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE.
REV. 22:1-3,17 .
A river of water of life is seen, and trees of life whose fruit sustains life, and whose foliage heals the people. How this calls our minds back to the Paradise from whence Adam was driven on account of sin, and to the tree of life in the midst of Eden, from which he was debarred, and from the lack of whose fruit Adam and his race died.
Oh, what a picture of the "restitution of all things, which God hath spoken"—the healing of all the curse, the blotting out of sin, and with it, of misery, pain, and death, because a ransom has been paid; and he who ransomed, is the one who gloriously restores.
The water of life which will there flow from the throne is a picture of the future; for not yet has the throne been established on the earth. We still pray "Thy kingdom come," and not until that prayer is answered, can that river of water of life flow. The water of life is knowledge—truth—for which mankind famishes now. It will flow out bountifully when the tabernacle of God is with men. Then thirsty humanity, groaning and in painful bondage to sin and death, will be refreshed and restored.
A type of humanity may be seen in the condition of Israel in the wilderness. Thirsty, they cried to the Lord for water; the rock was smitten, and from it came forth streams in the desert. So now mankind's prayers and groans (Rom. 8:21,22) have been heard of Jehovah and he has permitted the ROCK, Christ Jesus, to be smitten. Yes, and the smiting still continues, for we are permitted to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) And while one member is being smitten, it is true that the smiting is still in process; but when all the sufferings of Christ (head and body) are ended, then will flow forth streams of water of life, and whosoever will may drink freely and live forever. Typical Israel drank of the typical water from the typical rock; but the substance is of Christ and the whole world—whosoever is athirst may yet come to the river of life and drink freely. (1 Cor. 10:4.)
Knowledge of God (whom to know is life eternal) is now possessed to a limited degree by those now begotten of the word of truth, but it is as Jesus expressed it, in such, "a well of water springing up"; but in the next, the Millennial Age, it will be a full, broad river of truth and of the knowledge of the Lord. Now confined to the few—"a little flock," it will then be free to all. Then the little flock who now walk the narrow way to reach the grand prize of life—"Immortality"—will have reached and won the prize. The chaste Virgin now espoused to the Son of Heaven's King, will be united to the Bridegroom—no longer the virgin, she will be the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint heir: and her future work as Bride is shown in verse 17—"The Spirit and the Bride say come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely."
In the present Gospel age we (a) members of the espoused Virgins may be used by the Spirit, in the work of taking out (selecting) the one who shall shortly be the Bride, and share the Bridegroom's name and glory and work, and this is a grand privilege; but what comfort it brings to the heart of every one begotten of the Spirit of God (Love) to know that the very object of our present selection is to enable us to be in the next age co-workers together with the Bridegroom and our Father, in blessing all families of earth by causing the water to flow freely, and inviting them to drink into the knowledge and love of God and live forever.
Trees of life seem to symbolize saints, whose leaves—professions—teachings, will heal men, and whose fruit will be adapted to the changing conditions of men as they are brought upward toward perfection—fruit suitable for each changing season, thus restoring man, to man's estate.
"And there shall be no more curse"—the curse will be gradually removed and man gradually released, under the blessings of that glorious age. There his servants shall serve him, and reign unto the age of ages, when the kingdom shall be delivered to God even the Father.