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WE THINK of October, 1914, as, in round numbers, the ending of the Gentile Times. As a matter of fact, however, the first day of October is not the end of the Jewish year, which varies at its closing, just as at its beginning. It is regulated by the moon, instead of the sun. The Jewish calendar can never depart from this fixed arrangement of regulation by the moon. The date 1914 is not an arbitrary date; it is merely what the chronology of the Scriptures seems to teach. We have never said positively that the Scriptures do so teach—that the Jewish favor will begin exactly at that time, or that the Gentile Times will end exactly at that time.
We say that according to the best chronological reckoning of which we are capable, it is approximately that time—whether it be October, 1914, or later. Without dogmatizing, we are looking for certain events: (1) The termination of the Gentile Times—Gentile supremacy in the world—and (2) For the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom in the world. The kingdoms of earth will come to an end, and "the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom." (Daniel 2:44.) The Scriptures do not say that the trouble will come in an hour, or in one day, or in one year. The intimation is that the catastrophe coming upon our civilization will be a very sudden one. (Revelation 18:8,10,17,21; I Thessalonians 5:3.) But it will be very sudden if it comes within twelve months. The Flood required many days to come, and many days to assuage.
Our thought in connection with the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom is that there is a similarity between the ending of "The world that then was," and the ending of this Gospel Age. It is not our thought that the events associated with the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom will all be momentary, instantaneous—in a literal hour, or day; rather, we are to expect that it is to be a gradually increasing trouble. It is to be a culmination of trouble—"such as never was since there was a nation."
Then it will take a certain time for the bringing in of God's favor—the peace, the blessing. It will be some little time before this peace will be developed, as represented by the dove's returning to the ark, unable to find rest for its foot. The dove was again sent forth, and this time it returned with an olive twig, indicating that the blessing of the Lord was bringing about vegetation again. Thus Noah knew that the waters were considerably abated. We do not undertake to say that the trouble will all be over in a year; but, with the kind of trouble that the Bible seems to picture to our minds, we cannot see how it could last more than a year, and yet any of mankind be left alive. There would be no flesh saved—all would be destroyed. The Lord intimates that unless these days be shortened such would be the fact.—Matthew 24:22.
The Elect will constitute the Kingdom before that time. On the Divine plane they will then begin the work of blessing and Restitution; and this will have the effect of bringing the strife and trouble in the world to an end. Thus the difficulties will not be so prolonged. The olive branch will sprout, the dove will find a resting place, and the New Dispensation will be fully inaugurated.
When we look through the prophecies relating to the Times of the Gentiles, we find that there are two promises—one appertaining to the Jews and the other to the world. During this period of 2,520 years, known as the Times of the Gentiles, the Jew was to have more or less tribulation from the Gentiles. He was not to be free—he would be more or less under subjection to the "Powers that be." At the close of this period the Church will be glorified. The Kingdom will not be established until that time. At the end of the Gentile Times Messiah will appear and set up His Kingdom.
Referring to the last king of Israel, Zedekiah, we read, "Thou profane, and wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end; thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem and take off the crown; ...I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it to Him." (Ezekiel 21:25-27.) If this period of overturning be rightly understood to be 2,520 years, it would seem to end with the Second Coming of Christ and the setting up of His Kingdom. The Gentile supremacy was to pass from nation to nation until the time of the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom. That would prove that the treading down of Jerusalem would then cease—it would not continue after the end of these Gentile Times.
The lease, or permit, to govern the world was given to the Gentiles at the time it was taken away from the Jews in the days of Zedekiah—606 B. C. And during the 2,520 years in which the Jews were to have no government of their own, the Gentiles were to have the privilege of maintaining such governments as they could. One nation after another has tried to govern the world—first [R5328 : page 308] the Babylonian, then the Medo-Persian, then the Grecian, then the Roman—including Papal Rome—which was the fourth to attempt universal empire. We are waiting for the time to come when the government of the world will be turned over to Messiah. We cannot say that it may not be either October, 1914, or October, 1915. It is possible that we might be out of the correct reckoning on the subject a number of years. We cannot say with certainty. We do not know. It is a matter of faith, and not of knowledge. "We walk by faith, not by sight."
But when these Gentile Times expire, we are not to expect that the transfer will come as a flash of lightning. For instance, about May 1, when it is moving day here in New York, the one whose lease has expired is to move out. Then the new tenant will move in. This requires a little time. So it will be with the great change now imminent. He who bought the world is going to take possession. The kingdoms of this world are going to move out. In the world, when moving day has arrived, some may say, It is time now to move. And they may move out in the morning of May 1. Some may have moved on the day previous. And there are some who may stay in until noon of the day of the expiration of the lease. Others, brazen in the matter, will say, This moving makes us a lot of trouble; and they make a great deal of fuss about moving; and when they go, they leave the house in bad order.
We rather think it will be so at the close of the Gentile lease of power. The putting out will not be done before the expiration of the lease. Suppose you were a landlord and your tenant were upstairs, and should refuse to get out. What would be done? You would have to get an officer to put him out. So the officer comes and puts him out, and sets all his things in the street. We think such a procedure is a picture of how the "Prince of the world," being slow to move out, will be put out—that he will have to be bound hand and foot. (Matthew 12:29.) We think there is going to be a great deal of trouble. But we shall know fully a little later.
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it,...until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it Him." (Ezekiel 21:27.) The new King will not set up His Kingdom in a minute or an hour or a day. He has already come, and will take possession in due time. He is getting ready to take the House, and its present occupant is not quite sure as to whether he has to go out or not. We [R5329 : page 308] think he will have to be put out of the House. The Lord said that, if the strong man had known, he would have watched and not have allowed his house to be broken up.
As we understand this matter, the Church will be glorified before that time. When the lease expires, it would seem that the new tenants will be ready to take possession. And we cannot see how the new tenants could be ready to take possession unless they were glorified beforehand. If they were still in the flesh, they would not be ready to take possession. So if the Church is here in 1915, we shall think that we have made some mistake. We do not understand how they will all die between now and the close of 1914—how so many people, all over the world—people of one mind—will all pass beyond the veil in so short a time.
But we can see how the Lord might purposely leave us in a measure of ignorance in this matter. We do not know positively that the month of October, 1914, will see the Church all glorified, and the time of trouble ushered in. We merely say, Here are the evidences. Here are the proofs. Look at them for yourself and see what you then think. It is for each to accept or reject the facts. (See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II.)
So far as we can reason, this chronology is reasonably correct—a good basis for faith. "We walk by faith, and not by sight." God did not tell us that we should know the exact hour. But we have certain valuable information, and events seem to be fulfilling our expectations more and more as the days go by.
When we began to publish information respecting these dates and began to describe what was to be expected in the near future—the fulfilling of Revelation 12 and 13, for instance—there was no sign of such things. We pointed out that there would be a Federation of Churches, a general union of all Protestants, and that the Catholics would not unite with them. And at that time nothing seemed less likely than that the Protestants would all unite. Years before, the Evangelical Alliance had been formed; but various denominations were urging that it was far better for these different denominations to exist. Competition is the life of business, they said, and was the life of the Church also. That was their argument.
Now, however, that sentiment has all gradually given way, and they are unifying. But, from politeness, they do not like to throw away the name, the door-plate, the coffin-plate, of the different sects; hence they hold on to the names. The Federation is coming nearer every week, every day. But it is true that we thought that the "fire would come down from heaven" much more rapidly than it has come.
The Federation is, however, not yet so well organized that it can do very much persecuting. In various cities it has hindered the publishing of the sermons in the newspapers. Some of the newspapers have been forced to give them up. This has been done by ministers going in a body to newspaper offices and saying, We will boycott your paper. Some editors have said, Go ahead and boycott! Other editors, however, have said, Well, we do not want to run against so many denominations. To these latter, this opposition movement looked large, because it represented so many ministers. These editors did not stop to think that comparatively few of the people think enough of these ministers, even to go to hear them preach on Sunday! But the preachers have been trying to exercise power—and are trying more and more.
The time is surely coming when every effort that we can put forth will be throttled. But we intend to keep pushing the door open at every step as long as we can. We are not going to lie down, are we? These conditions have been coming gradually—and are coming on time—though not so rapidly as we were expecting. God's movements are usually very slow. But in this case we have expected something to come suddenly—something to indicate a very abrupt termination—an overturning of the present order of things. And we reason that, if this "Beast" is to have power (Revelation 13:11-17), it should be coming very soon.
Now, of course, all this can take place yet—it could easily be brought to pass, we see. There may be a temporary reign of prosperity, a co-operation with Catholicism. The Federation may continue to prosper for a year yet, and accomplish everything that they are to accomplish before October, 1914; and the fall of Babylon will follow shortly after that date. That is one of the things due to come to pass at that time.
Another thing we have been expecting is the return of the Jews to Palestine. There is more and more now [R5329 : page 309] being said about the Jews returning to Palestine, and more interest is being aroused in the matter. When we first began to draw attention to this subject of the return of the Jews to the Holy land, there was no movement at all of this kind. It has all come since. It has not as yet reached as great development as we might have expected, but it is coming. So when October, 1914, comes or October, 1915, or some other date (the Lord knoweth) and the Gentile Times terminate, it does not follow that there will be an outburst that will revolutionize the world, all in a day. But we believe that it will do so not very long thereafter.