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QUESTION.—Since it was the priests who were to offer the sacrifices and since no one could be a priest except he was called of God, how was it that some of the Ancient Worthies, Job and others, who were not priests, offered up sacrifices?
Answer.—The sacrifices which these offered were not sin offerings. They did not offer up sacrifices according to the types of the Law, as the Day of Atonement sacrifices, for instance. This whole arrangement of the Jewish Law, by which the sacrificing was taken out of the individual's hands and put into the hands of the priests, was [R4667 : page 267] a new departure in God's dealings.
Abraham, we know, presented offerings before the establishment of the Priesthood. The exact time in which Job lived we do not know. We merely know that he was Job of Uz, and walked before God with a perfect heart; but we think we are justified in supposing that he did not live during the Law dispensation, with its typical sacrifices. If this be true, his course was in full line with Abraham's course when he offered up sacrifices. When Abraham was stayed from offering his son, he offered up the ram caught in the thicket, as the Lord directed.
What these patriarchs did in the matter of offering up sacrifices was evidently a token on their part of appreciation of God and of the fact that a sacrifice for sins was necessary, just as Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and offered them to God, though he was not called to be a priest; but none of these sacrifices was accepted in the same sense that the sacrifices were accepted under the Law. None of these sacrifices ever made the offerers themselves perfect, nor did they atone for anyone else; they were merely the same as a prayer would be, a manifestation of a good desire of heart and of appreciation of God and a desire to reverence him, and a recognition of the fact that sin required some atonement. So when the Lord showed how this sin-atonement was to be made he pictured the work of this Gospel Age. He appointed a priest to represent the Lord Jesus, and under-priests to represent the Church. A work of sacrifice was done on a particular day of the year—the Atonement Day—representing the work of this Gospel Age in which these "better sacrifices" for sin are offered; and under this larger arrangement no one is permitted to offer the sacrifice [R4667 : page 268] except a priest, God thus indicating that the work is entirely under his supervision and direction.
Question.—What is meant by "Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise."—Isa. 26:19.
Answer.—Seemingly the addition of a few words by the translators has caused difficulty in connection with this text. They inserted the words to make the passage clear, as they thought, but instead they obscured it, through failure to see that God's dead men are those who are members of the Body of Christ.
Omitting the words "together with," and "men," the passage reads properly enough? "Thy dead shall live; my dead Body, they shall arise," thus referring, we believe, to the resurrection of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Lord's peculiar people. And this is a general signal, as it were, for the blessing of all mankind. In due time all the dead shall be awakened. Moreover, they awaken not to suffering and to torment, but to sing. They shall come forth to learn of the goodness of God, his merciful provisions, and shall avail themselves of these provisions, in the "Times of Restitution of all things." "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust" of the earth.
Question.—When did Christ become the express image of God, as recorded?—Hebrews 1:3.
Answer.—Surely our Lord Jesus was an express likeness of the Father's person before he came into the world; he left that glory, however; he became a man—"he humbled himself." It was from this standpoint that he prayed, "Glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." There is a glory of human nature which our Lord possessed while he was a man, "the man Christ Jesus"—a perfect man in the likeness of God. However, the Apostle's reference in the above text was not to his prehuman existence nor to his earthly glory as a perfect man, but to the glory which he attained in his resurrection, as the Apostle declares, saying, "Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things on earth and things under the earth." (Phil. 2:9,10.) This, we believe, was the particular time to which the Apostle referred.
We are not to understand that he began to purge our sins when he left the heavenly glory nor when he made his consecration, nor when he died on the cross. In all these sufferings our Lord was demonstrating his worthiness of the high exaltation. Having fulfilled the Law and laid down his life, our Lord had the human life, the earthly nature and earthly rights, to dispose of. He had not forfeited these by sin. They were his, therefore, to give away. When "he ascended up on high" he presented this merit of his as the satisfaction for our sins, the sins of his followers, to purge or cleanse, not only those who were waiting in the upper room at Pentecost, but also all others of the same class down through this Gospel Age, till the full number of the "elect" should be found.
Answer.—In the light of what we have been discussing of late in THE WATCH TOWER, it is evident that the merit of Christ is applied, on behalf of the Church during this Gospel Age—on behalf of all who essay to be of the Church; it is used to impute to those who desire to become sacrificers and who consecrate themselves to God that they may present an acceptable sacrifice and thus become members of the spiritual class and joint-heirs with Christ. This applies to the "great company" as well as to the "little flock." It applies to all who are begotten of the holy Spirit because they could not be begotten of the Spirit except by the imputation of Christ's merit to their earthly sacrifice.
It follows, then, as a matter of necessity that before the merit of Christ's death could be applied on behalf of the Ancient Worthies or Israel, under the New Covenant arrangement for Israel and the world, it must be released as respects all those to whom it is now imputed for the purpose of giving them the opportunity of attaining the spiritual station. This would prove conclusively, we think, that the "great company" class will be resurrected before the Ancient Worthies will be brought forth.
Answer.—In olden times when they wore flowing garments, girdles were constantly worn for two purposes; one was to gird up their garments—as, for instance, we sometimes sing, "Gird thy bridal robes around thee." The girdle, therefore, was useful in keeping the garments in their proper place, or position, so that they would not be disordered in appearance, nor cause one to trip and fall. Then, secondly, the girdle was used for its effect upon the loins during active labor. For instance, when one was engaged in a strenuous occupation, such as lifting a heavy weight or carrying a heavy burden or running a race, the muscles of the abdomen would play an important part.
Even in speaking we find the muscles of the abdomen contract, and thus give us the more force and strength of voice. In any kind of manual labor this is found to be the case, and these muscles become comparatively rigid. It is the custom, therefore, among workmen, even today, to wear a belt. When they have particularly severe tasks they take another "hitch" in their belt—that is, they pull it up a few notches more, making it a little tighter around the waist, the object being to support the muscles of the abdomen and to enable them to accomplish more labor with less fatigue; and when they are at rest they slacken the belt.
This seems to be the special thought of the Apostle here—"Gird up the loins of your mind." As there are loins in the body and they have their important part to perform and we strengthen them in time of exercise, or necessity, so with our minds. We who have devoted ourselves to be the Lord's people, to do his service, realize that our minds need to be strengthened. We need to be of good courage. We need to be fortified against all disposition to lassitude.
When we undertake to gird up the loins of our minds it signifies that we have determined upon a course of activity; that rest and ease are put aside and that we are now engaging in an important work which we realize requires all the strength that we possess. The Christian has a great task before him, to lay down his life in the Lord's service, to accomplish all that he may be able to accomplish in respect to the use of opportunities which [R4667 : page 269] the Lord has provided us as his servants, his followers, that we may have a good report to give when he calls us to render our account; that we may say, Thou gavest me two; or, Thou gavest me five talents and I have gained, two; or, thou gavest me five talents and I have gained, beside, other five.
Question.—Why did the disciples forbid the man whom they found casting out devils? Why did they not allow him to go on and do the best he could in casting them out? What was the ground of their objection?
Answer.—Evidently the Apostles when sent forth had very similar sentiments to those which prevail today. Our Catholic friends, for instance, would say, You do not have the Apostolic ordination; therefore, you cannot preach. You cannot serve in any religious capacity. Our Episcopalian friends would seem to say, No, you did not have the holy hands of the Episcopal Bishop laid upon you.
A little disposition of the same nature is manifested by nearly all of the denominations—What authority have [R4668 : page 269] you? So the disciples, finding a man who was casting out devils in Jesus' name, said, What authority have you to cast out devils? Jesus did not send you out as one of the twelve; he did not send you out as one of the seventy. You have no business in this work.
Our Lord's answer to them showed that they were laboring under a mistaken view. While they were specially commissioned to perform miracles, yet if anyone else could do the same things, it was not their province to hinder or object in any sense of the word, but rather they should have taken the broad, sympathetic view, and said, My dear friend, I see you are casting out devils. You are doing a good work. We are glad you can cast them out because of all the poor people you can relieve. The fact that you have not followed with us indicates that you do not know our Master, and we should be glad to have you come and get acquainted with him, too.
And so, we think, it should be with us. Whenever we find anyone doing a good work, helping the world in any sense of the word, whether it be by keeping a mission or helping the heathen or helping a newsboy, or by some other work, to oppose sin or relieve suffering, we should be sympathetic to the extent that we see they have good hearts, good intentions, good desires. Instead of working against them or hindering them in any manner, we should speak an encouraging word and endeavor to lead them to fuller light. This does not mean that we should follow with them and leave our special commission of teaching the Truth which the Lord has given us, but that we should not object to the Lord's using various agencies for accomplishing his work. We should not think that we alone have the privilege of engaging in his work; that we have patent rights on his work, and can hinder others from doing what they may be able to do and take pleasure in doing.
Question.—Our Lord declared that many in that day shall say, "Lord, Lord, have we not taught in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" And his declaration continues that he will then say to such, "I never knew you. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." (Matt. 7:22,23.) How shall we understand this in harmony with the above statement of our Lord that his disciples should not forbid him who followed not with them, but who cast out devils in his name?
Answer.—We would understand that God may permit people to do certain good works who are not fit for the Kingdom class, who are not fully submissive to the Lord Jesus and his Headship, who are not fully taught and used of him. They may be exercising a certain amount of faith and the Lord may recognize them to that extent, but he will not guarantee that anybody who has power to work miracles and preach publicly, will be granted a place in the Kingdom. We are therefore not at liberty to say that everyone who is engaged in mission work or slum work will be in the Kingdom. He may be doing a good work; but he may not be of that special class which the Lord is now seeking. We are not to object to his work, if it is a good work. It is not ours to interfere with him, for the Lord is able to take care of his own work. It is our work to take care of ourselves, although we are not to acknowledge or co-operate with those who we believe are associating error even with good works. We should not in any sense lend our influence to the assistance of evil.
We are to take the standpoint of leaving to the Lord the management of his own affairs, the interests of his cause in general. He is abundantly able to attend to the whole matter. We are to see to it that our hearts are fully submissive, and that our heads, our wills, are under the Headship, Leadership of the Lord; that his will is done in us, and that our sacrifices are not made to be seen of men, but are made as unto God; thus we shall have his approval in that day. To such he says he will be glad to give acknowledgment, and to confess them before the Father and his holy angels.
Answer.—The Apostle's argument (I Cor. 15) respecting the resurrection is that God will give to every seed its own kind of body. "There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body." Mankind in general, therefore, in the resurrection, will come forth with natural bodies—"that which is born of the flesh is flesh" and that which is born of the flesh dies or "sleeps" for a time, and will be awakened "flesh." That which is born of the flesh and subsequently begotten of the holy Spirit is reckoned as a New Creature, and when the New Creature falls asleep, it is asleep as a spirit being—is asleep waiting for the resurrection change. In this case the resurrection change is thus expressed by the Apostle: "Sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown an animal body, raised a spirit body"; but anyone not begotten of the holy Spirit will, of course, not change his nature in the grave. There is no change in the grave either for good or evil: "As the tree falleth so shall it lie"; the awakening will be according to the character of the individual. If he has become a New Creature in Christ he will be raised or perfected as a New Creature, in the resurrection. If he is a good natural man he will be awakened a good natural man; if he is a bad natural man he will be awakened a bad natural man; if he is one of the Ancient Worthies, we understand he will be awakened a perfect man.
Answer.—Our Lord entered upon his Melchisedec priesthood individually, personally, at the time of his resurrection, when, as the Apostle declares, God announced, "Let all the angels of God worship him." In this individual sense he became the Melchisedec Priest, although only the "Head" was yet formed. Since the intelligence is in the head, we can see how the head might stand for the body, as could no other member of the body. A hand stretched forth might represent the body, but it could not have the intelligence of the head, and we could not say that the presence was there, but as soon as the Head was born from the dead, as soon as the Head was accepted as the Melchisedec Priest, that soon the whole matter would have a standing with God, the intelligence residing in the Head. We agree, however, that we shall not exercise our full office as a Melchisedec Priest until the whole Church shall be with their Head in glory, members of his Body. A Melchisedec Priest is a blessing Priest, a Priest who has the power to bless. Melchisedec was able to bless Abraham. Far superior, therefore, to the Aaronic priesthood is the Melchisedec priesthood.
Our Lord could not have been this Melchisedec Priest until his resurrection, evidently, because he had nothing with which to bless. Before he could do any blessing he must himself lay down his life, and by laying down his human life in obedience to the Father, he would thus receive or have to his credit the merit which he could draw upon in the blessing of us, and ultimately all the families of the earth.
Answer.—"Thou art a Priest for the age," or rather, a Priest ever, an ever-Priest, a lasting Priest; not one who would pass away by death; not one who would drop his office in some unsatisfactory manner, but one who would fully accomplish all the purposes for which he was appointed as a Priest. Our Lord was appointed a Priest because there was necessity for a Priest. It is not an office that would be necessary amongst the angels, who are perfect, but it is an office necessary amongst men, because of their imperfection. To be a Priest, therefore, to the end or completion, would mean that he would be a Priest, Mediator, Reconciler, Harmonizer in this matter of estrangement between God and man. Therefore, this office will end with the Millennial Age, when he shall have accomplished all this work and will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. Then he will be a Priest no more. There will be no need of a Priest of any kind, sacrificing or reigning. The very significance of the office is that of intercessor or mediator, or assister in some manner of those who are in some difficulty.