"See, I have set before thee this day life and death." Deut. 30:19.
These were the words of Moses to Israel when he had delivered to them the law of God, promising life to the obedient, and threatening certain death to the disobedient. Accompanying these solemn words through Moses, we have also the affirmation and exhortation of Jehovah through the prophet Ezekiel (33:11), "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live: Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
The same alternative had been placed before Adam in Eden, and through his transgression, the sentence of death had already passed upon all the race; and there could be no release from that sentence until a ransom or substitute had been given, and no redeemer had yet appeared.
The above words follow the giving of the law to Israel; But, God knew that his law was the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and that therefore, it was impossible for Israel to keep it. Was it then mere mockery for God to set before them life, when he knew they could not attain it? and to present death as a possibility, when he knew it was certain?
In view of the fact that not one gained life under that law, it would certainly appear to be mockery, were it not for the fact that further enlightenment through New Testament teachings, proves Israel to be a typical people [See "Tabernacle Teachings."] Israel is seen to typify the world of mankind; and the sin-offerings, sacrifices, atonement, etc., made typically for them, prefigured the real and effectual sacrifices and atonement made for the whole world.
So we must regard this promise of life, and this warning of possible death, as given to the whole world through Israel their type. When? when the law in full, is given and expounded to the whole world, by that "Great Prophet of whom Moses was a type, (Acts 3:22; Deut. 18:15.)—the Christ, head and body—in the in-coming Millennial Age. When they thus receive that law, the first death will have been passed, and because of the ransom given they will have been awakened from it, to have the privilege of running for life as individuals; released from the former sentence or condemnation which came on them through Adam. They may then run for life with the full assurance of obtaining it, if they run lawfully. Yet that there is a possibility of failure is proved positively by the words of Ezek. 33:11-16, to all those who believe God true, and not a mocker.
We see then that the Millennial Age is the world's appointed Judgment Day. Then the final issue of life and death will be before the world. But we have learned further, that not only is Israel a type of the whole world, and God's dealings with them typical of his dealings with the world in its day of Judgment, but we learn that Israel is also typical of the Gospel Church in this day of Judgment. (See Tab. Teachings.)
Since the Gospel Church enters upon its reward before the world's judgment begins, it is quite clear that our judgment must be finished before that time. In other words, our judgment must be finished within the limits of this present life. Death ends all opportunity for those who have during this age, consecrated themselves entirely to God. Solemn thought, that every moment we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Before us, are now placed the FINAL ISSUES of life and death, which will in the future be placed before the world.
True to his diabolical character, the great deceiver is specially busy now among the consecrated, as he will be with the world when loosed for a little season in the end of their judgment day (Rev. 20:3). His object now, as it then will be, is to deceive those running for life, and if possible, to deprive them of it. He cannot then, nor now, deceive those trusting implicitly in the word of the Lord, with full purpose of heart to serve and obey him; but those not so trusting and not fully so disposed, he will deceive, not as to what is truth, but as to what the result of such a course will be. He will repeat the lie given in Eden, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), reasoning variously as emergencies may require:—with some, that God is too good to pass the sentence of death again, and that even if he should, he would rescue them from it as he did from the Adamic death. And as an angel of light he will praise the goodness and love of God and attempt to prove how it will overleap and overpower his justice. Others, he will deceive as to the nature of death, attempting to prove it a blessing in disguise, or a necessary step in an evolution to a higher nature, or a symbolic expression to imply the destruction of evil, or what not? Anything but the dread penalty of wilful sin as set forth in the Scriptures to be total extinction of existence. He will also attempt to deceive as to the merit and efficacy of the ransom, without full recognition of which, God has declared that none may have life. Acts 4:12.
All these various deceptive devices which will be brought to bear upon the world in the end of their judgment day, after they have been fully enlightened, tasted of the good word of God, and the powers (opportunities and advantages) [R742 : page 5] of the world to come, are now being advanced among those now on trial—consecrated believers. Are such able to meet them? If not, we must charge God with unfaithfulness in leaving his sheep unprotected among the wolves. But no, God is true, and it is not possible to deceive his elect—those who still maintain a full purpose of heart to trust and obey him. His truth, our "shield and buckler" is made so plain now that no such child of God can fail to see it, and therefore to rest in it.
Hear further the words of the Prophet: "I command thee [spiritual Israel now—the world in the age to come] this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, that thou mayest live...But if thine HEART turn away, so that thou WILT NOT hear, but shalt be drawn away [deceived or allured] and worship other Gods and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish....I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life." Deut. 30:15-19.
Not from such earnest words of warning would any reasonable mind gain the idea that death, from which Jehovah says "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die" and again "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth"—is a blessing, a death to sin, or a necessary step by which to gain a higher nature. Could any of the elect (those in the right condition of heart) be so deceived? Nay, if any are deceived, the fault is chargeable to themselves, and not to God.
It is a duty imperatively demanded of the watchmen on the Tower of Zion today, not only to point out to Spiritual Israel the blessed and inspiring promises now nearing fulfillment, but also to warn of present and approaching danger. If any of those whom God hath placed in such positions of trust, fail to watch or to warn, their blood shall be required of his hand. True, none will be lost solely on account of the watchman's unfaithfulness, but on account of their own unfaithfulness. The watchmen nevertheless will be held to account as though all depended on his warning.
In obedience to his high trust, Paul thus faithfully warned the church, and pointed out in language that cannot be mistaken by unbiased minds, the blessing and cursing, life and death, set before us. Heb. 10:25-31.
Another device of the adversary in this critical hour, is to endeavor by sophistry and deception, to diminish the incentive for which we run the "Narrow Way"—making it appear that there is little advantage to be gained by such sacrifices as we are required to make—representing that only mere selfishness can see in the word of God a prize (the divine nature) for the Gospel Church above what the world shall share. Of course the inference is, that it is folly to thus run for what the world will in due time get without such exertion.