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BEFORE we leave the dear friends here to go to another city, some of you will wish to say, "Brother Russell, we may not see you again for quite a while; and we wish you would say something about the hopes of the Church for the near future. Do you think that the Church will be changed very soon?" We answer, We do not know. We admit that there are many things that we do not know. If we knew all about the Book of Revelation, we would get out the Seventh Volume very soon. There are a few things of which we are not just sure. We do not like to do any guess-work. We could guess about some things, but we do not allow ourself to guess. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God."—1 Peter 4:11.
"But, Brother Russell, what is your thought as to the time of our change? Were you not disappointed that it [R5845 : page 38] did not come when we hoped that it would?" you will ask. No, we reply, we were not disappointed. Two years before that time we pointed out in THE WATCH TOWER that we did not think the change would come October, 1914. But, Brethren, those of us who are in the right attitude toward God are not disappointed at any of His arrangements. We did not wish our own will to be done; so when we found out that we were expecting the wrong thing in October, 1914, then we were glad that the Lord did not change His Plan to suit us. We did not wish Him to do so. We merely wish to be able to apprehend His plans and purposes.
"What do you think of things now?" you ask. "What would you think are the present indications?" To this we say, We have already mentioned in THE WATCH TOWER and in talks given to the friends what is our thought as to the type of Elijah and Elisha in the close of the earthly career of the Prophet Elijah. We will briefly refer to it again here, and perhaps might add a word further. We recognize that the Church of God is the antitype of Elijah because she is, with her great Head, The Christ of God. It is The Christ in the flesh that antitypes the Prophet Elijah. His experiences during his career as God's Prophet typified the experiences of The Christ class during all the more than eighteen hundred years of their earthly career. His closing experiences would parallel, we understand the Scriptures to teach, the closing experiences of the last members of the Christ Body in the flesh.
We remember that when the Lord would take up Elijah into the heavens He brought certain things to pass that would make a parallel to the taking away of the last members of Christ. We believe that this is a reasonable inference. We have seen how the Lord, upon the day that Elijah was to be taken away, sent him to four successive places—Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and Jordan. At each of these different places Elijah evidently thought that the Lord would take him. And so it has been with us. During this Harvest of the Age the Lord, through His Word, has seemed to send His people to four different points of time—1874, 1878, 1881 and 1914. At each of these points of time the watching saints who realized that the end of the Age was upon the Church have thought that the "change" might come. They watched for it. When they came to each of these points, the Lord said, "Go to another place." Finally we reached the last place of the four—October 1st, 1914. This was the last point of time that Bible chronology pointed out to us as relating to the Church's experiences. Did the Lord tell us that we would be taken there? No. What did He say? His Word and the fulfilments of prophecy seemed to point unmistakably that this date marked the end of the Gentile Times. We inferred from this that the Church's "change" would take place on or before that date. But God did not tell us that it would be so. He permitted us to draw that inference; and we believe that it has proven to be a necessary test upon God's dear saints everywhere.
Did the Times of the Gentiles end by October 1st, 1914? It certainly looks very much as if they did. The great nations of the world there began to go to pieces under the terrible shaking process then begun. The shaking is still going on, day by day, week by week, and will continue until the work of destruction is complete. Do we see anything definite as yet as to when we are to finish our earthly course? We do not see anything positive thus far. If any of you find out anything, we wish you would tell us.
What do we expect? We expect just what the picture points out. Of late we have been thinking considerably of what took place when Elijah and Elisha came to the river Jordan. They stopped there and stood talking. Something must be done before they could go further. So the Lord's people have been standing for a time since we came to October, 1914. Then Elijah took his mantle, wrapped it together and smote the waters of Jordan. The waters divided to right and left, and the Prophets went over dry shod. After they had crossed, they went on, talking together. They had received no further instructions from the Lord. They simply walked on. Suddenly the chariot of fire appeared and separated them, and Elijah was taken away in the chariot by a whirlwind.
What does this signify in antitype? We think that it signifies a division between the Little Flock and the Great Company. We are to be careful not to form a judgment as to who are to be of the Great Company, however. Some say to us, "What do you think of such a brother?" We are not to judge one another. It is not for us to say that such a one belongs to the Great Company class. We are to consider all the friends as one people. Only the Lord knows who are His wholly faithful ones, and He is leaving the matter to be manifested at the end of the earthly career of the Little Flock. The Lord Himself will do the dividing.
Right here we will give you a little illustration of how serious a mistake might be made along this very line. On one of our tours we were in a car with one of the Pilgrim brethren and another brother living in that vicinity, plainly dressed. The Pilgrim brother remarked, "That is Brother So-and-so, and I do not think that he is very much interested." He intimated that he thought the brother was one of the Great Company class. We asked him why he thought so. He replied, "I don't know; but he does not seem to take a very active part in the service nor does he attend the meetings." Now we will tell you the facts concerning this brother. That man whom the Pilgrim brother thought was probably a member of the Great Company class was one who had given about twenty thousand dollars to the Lord's work, and he was living in very humble circumstances and wearing very plain clothes because of his sacrifice in [R5845 : page 39] the interests of the cause of Christ. The Pilgrim brother knew nothing of this, and had no particular interest in the matter. Thus you see how any of us might be deceived in respect to each other. "The Lord knoweth them that are His."
When the Lord's time comes for separating His Little Flock class, He will make no mistake. It will be the Little Flock that will go in the chariot, and no others. Let us, therefore, keep ourselves in the love of God. Never mind what any one else thinks. Of course we are to love and serve the brethren; but even when we do our best, some of the brethren may misunderstand us. But trust it all in the Lord's hands. He will take care of the entire matter. Do not decide about anybody else; but let each of us watch himself, and see to it that he keep his heart in the right attitude toward the Lord and the brethren. St. Paul says, "Judge nothing before the time." (1 Corinthians 4:5.) All will soon be manifested. We shall see the Elijah class taken away in the chariot; the others will not be taken. Then we shall see the radical division. We shall know all about it then. The Lord will attend to it.
Now, as to the meaning of the fire and the chariot: Fire always represents destruction, and a chariot of fire would seem to signify some very trying experience that will separate the Elijah class from the Elisha class, and bring the deliverance of the Elijah class.
"Brother Russell, are you not afraid of alarming us?" some may ask. No! We are all very desirous of getting into the Lord's Chariot, surely. It is the best thing in all the world. "But it means trouble!" Well, we desire trouble, if this trouble will be our chariot to take us Home. We are waiting for it day by day. When Elijah's chariot came, it was in a whirlwind that he was carried into the heavens, into the atmosphere, beyond earthly vision. What did the whirlwind signify as regards the Church? "Does it mean more trouble?" you will ask. We think it does. Dear friends, we are waiting for that chariot and whirlwind. "What will it be?" Well, we know that the Lord pictures the great time of anarchy that is coming as a great whirlwind. He says, "Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; they shall not be lamented, neither gathered nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground."—Jeremiah 25:30-33; 30:23,24.
To our understanding the Elijah class will be amongst the first to be affected by the great whirlwind of anarchy. We believe it signifies that many of the Lord's people—all of the faithful at that time—will be taken from the present life in some anarchistic movement. We would not talk about these things to the public; for the public would not be interested in them. The Master said, "Cast not your pearls before swine." We are talking about it here because we think that all here are deeply interested, and are expecting to share in the chariot and whirlwind experiences. Here is the point, then. We think that our final experiences will be during some kind of anarchistic uprising. For some time we have been wondering just how all the Church would be taken. If the "change" comes to each one by death in the usual way, it would seem very wonderful to see the consecrated all over the world die suddenly. Neither can they all die of old age; for this would mean that some would have to live a good many years yet.
But here is the way the Lord pictures the matter: First, there will be the chariot of fire. We do not know what this will be; but we understand that some fiery experience will cause a separation between the two classes of the Lord's people. Then will develop the whirlwind of anarchy. Perhaps this will be mobs that will destroy the lives of the faithful ones. We do not know. We cannot now imagine just what it will be. We do not wish to think anything foolish; we are merely studying the type, or picture. We do not intend to do anything to get into trouble. To do so would be like what the Devil suggested to Jesus: "Cast Thyself down from the pinnacle of the Temple." We are to be just as wise, kind, meek, gentle and as faithful to the Lord as we know how to be, and then have our minds perfectly calm and restful. When the Lord's time for us comes, all will be right. Let us rest in His love and wisdom and care. What He provides for His children will be the very best thing for us, and we shall be glad to have it.
"Are you expecting the fiery chariot any minute now, or do you think it some little distance off—perhaps some months yet, or perhaps a year or more?" will be asked. At least a year, or probably more, is my thought. Something else is coming first, dear friends. We do not as yet see clearly just what it is; but this matter of Elijah's rolling his mantle together and smiting the waters of Jordan seems to mean something, and also the crossing of the river. This picture is not given for nothing. "What does it mean?" you ask. Ah, we know that most prophecies are understood only after they are fulfilled! We might, however, have a suspicion. "What would that be?" Something like this: In Bible symbolic language, water represents Truth, and it also represents peoples. Both of these are given in Scripture as being symbolized by water. (Revelation 17:1; Jeremiah 51:12,13; Revelation 17:15; 22:1,2; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Ephesians 5:26.) Furthermore, Jordan means testing, or judging down. Now who or what would be judged in the antitype?
We answer, we believe that the peoples of earth, the public in general, are to be judged by the Truth. The peoples are represented by waters. It would seem that in some way the people are to be judged and tested; and that a division of public sentiment is to be caused, in connection with the Truth. Waters are to be separated from waters, people from people, the Truth being received by some and rejected by others. Elijah wrapped his mantle together and smote the waters; and they were divided. Elijah's mantle was the outward indication, or sign, of God's power with him, and represented God's power and blessing with the Church. The mantle was in Elijah's hand when he smote the waters with it. So the Church, it would seem, will use what is in their hand, the power and authority of the Truth, the power of God, in smiting the waters—peoples.
"Do you think that this has not yet taken place?" may be a question in your minds. We think it has not as yet fully taken place. "Do you not think that the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION has had a part in this?" It may be. "Will there be something more?" We do not know. We RATHER THINK THERE IS SOMETHING MORE. We do not state this positively. We are keeping watch to see in what way God will exercise some very wonderful power causing some division as respects the Truth. We are merely thinking aloud with you. We are looking for some very pronounced division on the subject of the Truth, something that will eventually lead up to a [R5846 : page 40] great hatred. You remember that in our Lord's ministry He presented certain truths that caused the Scribes and Pharisees to hate Him. It was their hatred that led up to His arrest and crucifixion. The hate was there. They said, "We must kill Him."
We shall not do anything foolish; we shall not go out on the streets to stir up trouble. We are to exercise the spirit of a sound mind—gentleness, meekness, patience, brotherly-kindness and love. We are to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." (Galatians 5:22,23; Matthew 10:16.) All these instructions we must not forget. But when we see any trouble coming upon us when we are doing what is right, when we are obeying the Lord, then we are able to take it as from Him. If we do not manifest the Master's spirit, if we speak proudly or boastfully to people, then we shall have it to regret that we did not follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
So, then, you see what we are looking for. Whether this will take place in a few months or in a few years more we may not be sure. But we think we shall see something that will bring a division in the sentiments of the people before we get into the fiery chariot. And now, dear brethren and sisters, we leave you with these thoughts, asking God's blessing upon us all.
"Mine eyes can see the glory of the presence of the Lord;
He is tramping out the winepress where His grapes of wrath
I see the flaming tempest of his swift-descending sword:
Our King is marching on."
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—FEBRUARY 13.—PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11.—
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye
through His poverty might become
rich."—2 Corinthians 8:9 .
ST. PAUL, then a prisoner in Rome, wrote these words of our lesson to the Philippian brethren, whom he so dearly loved and from whom he had received so many proofs of their love for him. No other Church is mentioned as having aided St. Paul in his times of need. Their special assistance to him is mentioned—twice in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16), once in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9), and now at Rome.
The Epistle to the Philippians has been styled an epistle of joy—so richly did the Apostle's heart seem to respond to the faithfulness of the brethren there. He would have them know that he appreciated their love, and that such love should abound toward each other and toward all. His joy would be filled full in proportion as he could realize that the brethren had the proper mind of Christ, its love and harmony. He exhorted, therefore, that they remember the conditions on which such character could be developed. Nothing should be done by them through strife or for vain-glory. All of their conduct should be marked by lowliness, humility and willingness to discern the good qualities of others—noting wherein others were superior to themselves.
This would not mean that they should deceive themselves, but that they should be on the alert to appreciate true quality and character wherever found—looking for noble qualities in others, and generously hoping that they existed even when not discerned—considering the interests of the Lord's cause, and ignoring self-will or pride. Therefore they should not look merely at their own things or interests, but also upon those of others—the rights of others, the ability of others. This, the Apostle assures us, is a mark of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of a sound mind, which comes to the followers of Jesus as they grow in grace and the Master's character-likeness.
This mind, or disposition, the Apostle declares, was fully exemplified in Jesus. In His pre-human condition, when in the form of God, a spirit being, Jesus was humble. He did not meditate usurpation of Divine authority to exalt Himself, to seek a name higher than His own, as Satan did. He had no thought of robbing the Divine glory and honor by putting Himself upon an equality with God the Father. On the contrary, He had the same spirit that He had afterwards, when He declared, "Not My will, but Thine, be done"; and again, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me"; and again, "My Father is greater than all."—Luke 22:42; John 6:38; 10:29; 14:28.
The Master always had this disposition of reverence for the Father and of full trust and confidence in the Divine Wisdom, Love, Justice and Power. Hence, when the time came that the Father had purposed—when He would send a Savior into the world, first to redeem it and later on to become its King and Deliverer—and the proposal to render this great service to God and to men was proffered to the great Logos—"the Only Begotten of the Father"—it was promptly accepted. "I delight to do Thy will, O My God!" was the response of the chiefest of all God's creatures. This involved a great humiliation—leaving the dignity of the chiefest on the spirit plane, to become a human being—a man amongst men—"the Man Christ Jesus"—not a sinful man, but a perfect one, in the image and likeness of God, as was the first Adam originally—"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."
After Jesus by the change of nature found Himself a man amongst men, He still preserved the same loyalty to the Father. He was only a child when we hear Him say, [R5847 : page 40] "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49.) Having learned that He could not attend to the Father's business until He reached the age stipulated in the Sinaitic Law, He remained quietly at home until nearly thirty. Then promptly He went forth to John the Baptist at Jordan; and by a public immersion He testified His full obedience to the Father's will—the full consecration of His life, even unto death.
Then there came upon Him a begetting of the Holy Spirit, as testified by John. Then, too, God granted that spirit-begotten One a special mental illumination; as we read, "The heavens [the higher things] were opened unto Him." The Divine Plan was made plain which involved His own death as the Antitype of the serpent raised on the pole by Moses, as the Antitype of the bullock of sin-offering slain by Aaron, as the Antitype of the Passover lamb slain by the Israelites and eaten by them for their strengthening and deliverance from Egypt—delivering the people of God from Satan's yoke of bondage to sin.
In all these experiences, we find that the Master was faithful, loyal to God, loyal to His covenant, loyal to the [R5847 : page 41] principles of righteousness. Thus it is written of Him, "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." (Psalm 45:7.) The oil of gladness represented the holy joy of our Lord and the holy prospects which sustained Him during this period when He made Himself of no reputation, and became poor indeed—finally losing even His life—all in loyalty to God's will and the Program marked out in the Bible.
His final cry on Calvary was, "It is finished!" His baptism into death was finished—His full approval for obedience to God and the principles of righteousness, all that the Father had given Him to do in the way of sacrifice, had been accomplished. Ah, then it was God's turn to act! Would He leave His faithful One in death? Nay, "faithful is He who promised," who performed His good promises to His faithful Son.
The Apostle tells of this, saying, "Him hath God highly exalted, and given Him a name which is above every name"—a title and honor, a distinction, a place above all others. (Verses 9-11.) He was received into glory; and all the angels of God worshiped Him whom the Father had thus exalted to His own right hand, giving Him, additionally to what He had resigned, glory and immortality—the Divine nature. Well can we understand the acclaim of the Heavenly ones: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing."—Revelation 5:12.
But there is more glory yet to come to the great Redeemer. Those who crucified Him, yea, all the world of mankind, for whom He tasted death, are yet to be made aware of His great sacrifice on their behalf and of the great honor and high exaltation which came to Him as a result. He is to be the world's King of Glory and is to reign for a thousand years. As Verse 10 declares, eventually every knee on earth will bow, and every tongue will acknowledge Him; and all others not willing thus to recognize and obey Him are to be destroyed from amongst the people as "natural brute beasts." (2 Peter 2:12; Jude 10.) "And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:23.) And all this glorifying of the Son will directly be to the Father's glory; for the entire Plan of Salvation is of the Father and through the Son, as the Apostle assures us.—1 Corinthians 8:6.
Now then, let us not lose the point of the Apostle's lesson expressed in our Golden Text. While the world by and by is to profit by the Redeemer's great sacrifice and subsequent Kingdom, and all are to have the opportunity of being restored to human perfection and a world-wide Kingdom, a special blessing of God is for the Church, who now accept the Redeemer, consecrate their lives, as He did His, to the Father's will, and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. They shall become His joint-heirs in the Kingdom, and reign with Him a thousand years—yea, and beyond.
The essence of this lesson is elsewhere expressed by the Apostle Peter. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:6.) Only the humble-minded are prepared to learn the great lessons which must be learned before they will be ready for exaltation that would be profitable to themselves or to others. The course of selfishness and self-seeking is illustrated in Satan, who has failed and is ultimately to be destroyed. The same self-seeking spirit is styled the spirit of the world; and it is about to lead the world to the great catastrophe foretold in the Bible—from which, however, they will be rescued by Messiah and His Kingdom, and will have the opportunity of learning the great lesson of humility and obedience and of getting the reward.
Jesus, on the contrary, has illustrated to us the proper course which leads to glory, honor and immortality; namely, the course of full self-abasement and of full submission to whatever may be the Divine will. As the Savior has entered into His glory as a reward for His obedience, so the faithful of His people, the Church, demonstrating their humility and obedience, will be sharers, His joint-heirs in His future Kingdom of glory.