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"Now these things were our examples [Greek tupos—types],
to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they
[typical Israel] also lusted....Now all these things
happened unto them for ensamples [Greek tupos—types]:
and they are written for our admonition upon whom
the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that
thinketh he standeth take heed
lest he fall."—1 Corinthians 10:6-12.
ST. PAUL'S WORDS have great weight with every reader of this journal. The above text, even in our Common Version, is very strong, very forceful, but its force is multiplied when we notice that in the Greek the word type is used; for a type is a very exact pattern of the antitype, which is on a larger scale.
The force of the statement is further intensified when we notice that the Ends, or Harvests, of the Ages are referred to. The Apostle lived in the Harvest of the Jewish Age; and we believe that we are living in its antitype, the Harvest of this Gospel Age. More than this, in the Greek the Apostle's words imply a special pressure, or testing, connected with these Harvests—just such pressure and testing as we know were upon the Jewish nation in St. Paul's day, and just such pressure and testing as are upon Christendom in this our day—the Harvest, or End, of this Gospel Age.
Literally, St. Paul said, "They are written for our admonition upon whom the Ends of the Ages press down." Elsewhere the same Apostle urges respecting this same time, that God's people should have on "the whole armor of God" in this "evil day," that they may be able to stand. (Eph. 6:13.) Here he suggests that in this Harvest time some of us may feel too self-confident, and hence not sufficiently watchful, careful. He urges, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The wherefore of verse 12 connects this danger of falling with those stumblings and fallings of Israel which, the Apostle tells us, are "our types."
A dear brother in the Truth writes us at considerable length concerning the five different experiences referred to by the Apostle as "our types." Studying these with apparent great care, the brother thinks that he sees double fulfilments of these types during this Harvest time. He notes the invasion of Darwinism among God's people, as corresponding to the invasion of the quails among the Israelites lusting after flesh as against the manna. The teachings of Evolution ignore the Bible statement of man's fall, of the redeeming work of Jesus, and of the ultimate blessing of the world through His Kingdom, and give the people in their stead worldly doctrines for religious food; especially the view that man has evolved from the brute by natural inherent forces. This temptation upon Christendom has led to great deflections, and through it many have lost their spiritual hopes, if not their spiritual lives.
The second temptation, pictured by the worshiping of the golden calf, the brother understands to be the worship of self and the works of self, especially evidencing itself in the Higher Criticism movement, wherein religious leaders, seemingly in self-love, set forth to the people the product of their intellects as objects of worship, instead of holding Jehovah, who is set forth in the Scripture Plan as Perfect in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power, as the One to be worshiped. The worship of money, also, he thinks is incidental to the decline of the worship of the true God. This temptation also has resulted in much spiritual harm and death.
The third temptation he also interprets symbolically, understanding it to mean improper combinations as between things spiritual and things temporal, and between things true and things false, as represented in the tendency to mix religion and pleasure and money-getting, and also the disposition to combine various religions with politics. This also, he suggests, has caused considerable destruction of spirituality in Christendom.
The fourth test, styled by the Apostle as "tempting Christ," was a rebellion against Moses, who typified Christ. The people desired to take a short-cut through the land of Edom, thus to enter the Promised Land, whereas Moses directed their course by a more circuitous journey through the wilderness. Our brother sees in this [R5267 : page 199] a type of how in our day there has arisen in all the nominal churches an opposition to the narrow way of self-sacrifice—the wilderness journey toward the Canaan of Rest—a desire to make a short-cut, taking in the pleasures of this present life and the fellowship of the world. This temptation is represented by the official removal of restrictions upon Christian conduct, by which it has become popular for Christians to become theatre-goers, novel readers, game players, society people, and social and political reformers, supposedly the highest type of Christian workers.
There is a murmuring against the "narrow way" of discipleship—a murmuring against the voice of the Lord through the Scriptures and against all those who walk in that wilderness way, in the footsteps of Jesus, and who teach others so to do. The fiery serpents have bitten many of these murmurers. Many are sick because of these bites, and only a recognition of the efficacy of the Redeemer's blood can save them unto everlasting life. Thank God, for many of them there will be a further opportunity for looking to Jesus than has been afforded in the present life!
The fulfilment of the fifth of these types of the trials and testings of this Harvest period our brother believes to be just upon us, and will be by far the most severe test, and will mean the spiritual death of large numbers. He is inclined to connect its fulfilment with THE WATCH TOWER publications and the wide murmurings against them—as mouthpieces of God.
In all of these "our types," the brother thinks he finds not only nominal Christendom involved, but also in a special sense those of God's people who see and appreciate the time in which we are living as the Harvest time, and who are enjoying the "meat in due season" now provided for the Household of Faith. It is unnecessary for us to elaborate the brother's application of the first four of these temptations, tests, as they have had fulfilment in connection with the Harvest work and THE WATCH TOWER publications. We will, therefore, be content to [R5268 : page 199] elaborate a little his view of the fifth of these trials belonging to this Harvest time, and written for our admonition, as "our types."
In Numbers 16, we have in great detail the fifth of "these things written for our admonition," as "our types." Our brother urges that the account really begins with the last four verses of Numbers 15. There the Lord directed Moses, saying, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments, throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart, and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God."—Numbers 15:38-40.
The brother points out that the word here rendered fringe is in the Hebrew tsitsith, and signifies a tassel. The Jews still follow this command. Next to their skin they wear a holy cloth a few inches long, over their chests and backs, with a hole in the center for the head, much resembling a garment worn by the priests. Upon the corners of the holy cloth they fasten tassels tied with blue ribbon. The symbolism is "Holiness to the Lord."
Interpreting this, the brother suggests that it was a new commandment or counsel given by Moses as the Lord's mouthpiece, and that it was this that led to the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On, with two hundred and fifty of the principal men of Israel. Ostensibly their rebellion was not against God, but against Moses; but really it was against God, because Moses merely acted as His mouthpiece.
Applying these things, the brother suggests that the "Vow unto the Lord" suggested in the columns of THE WATCH TOWER as an aid to greater holiness and as an assistance in remembering the Lord's commandments, was presented to the Lord's people in 1908. True, the Vow was not presented as a command from God, but merely as a suggestion of something which would help the Spiritual Israelites in their endeavor to grow in grace and knowledge and love, in holiness and in sympathetic fellowship with each other, remembering each other and all the interests of the Work daily at the Throne of Heavenly Grace. This suggestion of something for their spiritual advantage and for their protection in this "evil day," when it is a question of "who shall be able to stand," was expected to bring a hearty response from all who are "Israelites indeed."
After Moses had given the instructions from the Lord respecting the fringes, etc., to the surprise of many, there followed immediately an uprising amongst the Levites—amongst the consecrated—under the leadership of Korah. The uproar was seemingly on the question of holiness. "Two hundred and fifty of the princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown,...gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?"—Num. 16:2,3.
The suggested application of this type is that as "our type" the "fringe" tied with a blue ribbon (Num. 15:38) represents the Vow, we looking upon it as a means of grace, as an assistance toward the remembering of all the commandments of the Lord to do them, and that "Ye speak not after your own heart and your own minds." The Vow is a suggestion that we remember God's commandments and speak not after our own heart of the flesh, nor after our own wisdom, but that we remember and do all of God's will and requirements and glorify our God. The rising of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and On, with the two hundred and fifty of the principal men of the congregation, represented in type the opposition engendered against the Lord's Harvest work, now being carried on through this journal and the Watch Tower Society, and which took for its text, in opposition to the Vow suggested, "Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them." Wherefore then lift ye up so high a standard of the Lord? Why lift up so high a standard of righteous endeavor of thought and word and deed?
How Moses entreated and expostulated, and how he was reviled, is described in Numbers 16:4-35, also the final result—that Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their families were swallowed up by the opening of the earth, and the band of two hundred and fifty were destroyed by fire. This is interpreted to signify that those rebellious ones who posed as being so holy were disapproved of the Lord, and in some manner, in the antitype, will lose their spiritual life—possibly by being swallowed up, or consumed, by worldliness, business, etc. Our interpreter suggests that this taking of censers and offering of incense by these men, pictures the bringing forth of many tracts and [R5268 : page 200] pamphlets as offerings of incense to God by those who oppose us.
Aaron stood in the midst of the offerers with his censer and incense, and his offering alone was accepted. The brother also calls our attention to the sequel of the matter, which he believes may yet in some degree be future.
The children of Israel, instead of recognizing the Justice of the Lord in dealing with those who were rebellious against His Divine arrangements, condemned Moses and Aaron for the death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the two hundred and fifty transgressors, ignoring the Lord's relationship to the matter entirely. (verse 41.) A host of them gathered against Moses and Aaron, and murmured, saying, "Ye have killed the people of the Lord!" The result was that the Lord's anger was aroused against the murmurers. A plague broke out amongst them, so that fourteen thousand seven hundred perished as a result. And the remainder were spared because of the haste of Aaron in running into the midst of the afflicted people with the holy and acceptable incense. The brother suggests that this was next to the most destructive plague of the five, and that this is the portion which the Apostle specially emphasized when saying, "These things were our types." "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer."
Without fully endorsing every item of the foregoing, we must say that some features of these, "our types," fit reasonably well to the interpretations suggested. However, entirely aside from these types, entirely aside from this or any other interpretation of them, we know that we are living in the "hour of temptation" (Rev. 3:10), in the "evil day," in which this Age will be merged into the New Dispensation. We surely know that "Judgment begins with the House of God." We surely know that it is to extend eventually to all Christendom. If the Judgment, or trial, or fiery testing, of the world, will mean to them "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation," it will surely mean a time of fiery trial to the Household of Faith, with whom it begins. The question is, "Who shall be able to stand?" The answer is, the holy—the sanctified in Christ Jesus.
The spirit of rebellion against all laws, rules, regulations, human and Divine, seems to be in the very air we breathe. It is a time therefore for the child of God to be seeking peace and pursuing it increasingly, as far as possible with all, acting as peacemakers and not as strife breeders. It is a time when many seem prompted to offer incense which the Lord has not commissioned them to offer. The spirit of ambition, rivalry and desire to be greatest amongst the Lord's people is one of the most dangerous foes of the Church, not only to those over whom they rule, but also to those who will be the rulers and teachers. The lesson to every one of us is, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."
Another lesson is that loyalty to God means that we shall remember that He has undertaken the supervision of His Church's affairs, and that He is competent for all that He has undertaken. Consequently, the loyal and obedient must be careful how they undertake to be or to do, to make or to break, anything connected with the work of the Lord. They are more and more to expect and look for Divine leadings in all of their affairs, and equally in the affairs of the Church of Christ.