N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
Two have written that they feel discouraged because unable to do labor in the harvest field as colporteurs. They seem to feel that if not colporteurs they are not overcomers. This is a serious mistake; and since others may feel similarly, we reply publicly, although we have stated the same things in substance in previous TOWERS.
While the colporteur work is one of the best means of serving the truth, it is by no means the only one. If you have not the needful strength for travel, or if you have a large family dependent on you for support, or if you have not the gifts necessary to success in that work, you may know that it is not your work. Then look about you, while you pray the Lord to show you what you can do—most to his praise, most in the service of his truth, most to the blessing of his people.
However humble your talents may be, rest assured they will be accepted if presented in the name and merit and love of Christ. But be assured that you have at least one talent, else you would not have been granted an acquaintance with the truth. Be assured, too, that whatever the number of your talents, they must be used—must not be buried in pleasure or business or work of an earthly, selfish sort. If you do not use your talents (whatever they may be), it will be a proof of your lack of love, and hence a proof of your unworthiness to be one of the Lord's "little flock," all of whom will be so full of love for him and his that to sacrifice earthly good things in his service will be a part of their chiefest joy. And surely these are objects to draw upon our love and service, always and everywhere;—the Church of Christ in general, excepting only the "goats" and "wolves," are fainting for the true bread and the true water of life—truth. Under such conditions, while God's children are striving for what we can give, to be idle or pleasure-seeking would be almost criminal,—surely loveless.
So, then, if you cannot do one thing, be all the more diligent to do another. Tracts can be distributed, and it needs just such as yourself to hand them out effectively with perhaps "a word in season," in the evenings, or on Sundays,—in the cars, in the hotels and on the street corners. The brethren and sisters in Cleveland have distributed thirty-five thousand (35,000) tracts during the past month, and the results are showing favorably. Turn to your TOWER for May last and read again our suggestions—"Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."—Page 140.r1683 VOL. XV. AUGUST 1, 1894. NO. 15.
r1686 "THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD."
III. QUAR., LESSON VI., AUG. 5, MARK 1:1-11.
Golden Text—"Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."—Mark 1:11.
This lesson presents the subject of baptism in two different aspects—(1) a baptism unto repentance; and (2) a baptism unto entire consecration to the will of God, even unto death. The first was the baptism which John preached: the second was that which our Lord instituted and exemplified. Both are distinctly referred to in Acts 19:3-5.
The preaching and baptism of John were [R1687 : page 253] a special call to God's covenant people, Israel after the flesh, to repent of their sins and their failure as a nation and as individuals to live up to their early covenant with the Lord. (Exod. 19:8.) The stirring theme of this last and greatest (most honored) prophet was that the Messiah, the King, had come; that his Kingdom was at hand; and that Israel, the chosen people, whose privilege it was to be the heirs of Kingdom, should at once prepare their minds and hearts, repent of their sins and be fully consecrated to God, that so they might be counted worthy to inherit the covenant blessings.
John came to that people in the spirit and power of Elias—i.e., with the same disposition, zeal, energy and power of eloquent persuasion, that characterized the ancient prophet. Even his dress and abstemious mode of life were marks of similarity; and so striking was the resemblance that the priests and Levites inquired, "Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet?" (Mal. 4:5; Deut. 18:15,18; John 1:21.) But John replied, "No...I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias."—Isa. 40:3; John 1:23-27.
Though John came in the spirit and power of Elias, and would have fully answered as the antitype of Elias had he been received by the Jewish people (Matt. 11:14), yet he was not the Elias, the Great Prophet, referred to by the Prophet Malachi (4:5,6); for the Lord, foreseeing Israel's rejection of John's testimony concerning Christ, had in mind another antitypical Elias, viz., the true Gospel Church in the flesh, which, in the spirit and power of Elias, is the forerunner of the spiritual Christ complete, Head and body.—See M. DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. viii.
That the Kingdom of Heaven was "at hand" in John's day, was true, regarding that Kingdom and its formative or embryo state—the state in which during the entire Gospel age it has suffered humiliation and [R1688 : page 253] violence (Matt. 11:12);—but it was reserved for the Elias (the Church) of to-day to declare "the Kingdom at hand" in its glory and power.
John's preaching drew great multitudes of all classes who confessed their sins and were baptized; but when later they failed to see either the King or the Kingdom in earthly glory, as they had anticipated, they lapsed into unbelief, only a small remnant heeding the prophecies of the humiliation of the Kingdom prior to its exaltation. Hence but few accepted Christ and became identified with his cause as prospective heirs with him of the Kingdom.
With the baptism of Jesus that ordinance received a new significance. He had no sins whereof to repent or to symbolically wash away, but as a perfect man he had something to offer as a living sacrifice to God. He had a human nature which he desired should be completely submitted to the will of God, even unto death; which complete subjection was symbolized by his baptism, or immersion, in water. The baptism in water was the symbol of his consecration, and the subsequent anointing with the holy spirit, outwardly testified by the opening heavens, the descending dove and the approving voice, was God's recognition and acceptance of his sacrifice. (Verses 10,11.) And the same anointing, the same baptism, is promised to all who follow in his footprints. (See Verse 8; 1 John 2:27.) As in the type (Lev. 8:12; Psa. 133:2), the anointing came first upon the Head, the High Priest of our profession, and from him it descends upon all the members of his body, the Church.—See THE TABERNACLE SHADOWS, page 32.
III. QUAR., LESSON VII., AUG. 12, MATT. 4:1-11.
Golden Text—"In all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."—Heb. 4:15.
Our Lord's temptation immediately followed his consecration and baptism, and as a logical consequence. The temptation came from Satan, "the prince of this world" (John 14:30; Luke 4:5,6), who came to our Lord just as he comes to his followers—as an angel of light, and with his real character and purposes cloaked.
VERSE 1. Immediately after his consecration, being full of the holy spirit, of zeal to accomplish his appointed mission, our Lord's most natural and reasonable impulse (which was truly the leading or prompting of the holy spirit within him) was to withdraw in solitude for meditation upon the sure word of divine law and prophecy, and for prayer, that thus he might fully comprehend the purpose of God in sending him into the world, and gain strength to accomplish it. For although as a perfect being our Lord, even as a child of twelve, surprised [R1688 : page 254] the Doctors of the Law by his wisdom and perception, yet he could not grasp the full import of the prophecies and of his own share in them until after he had been baptized or anointed with the holy spirit of God, following his presentation of himself to God's service.
With the intellectual endowments of a perfect man it was not necessary that he should take with him the scroll of the law and the prophets, when he turned aside into the wilderness for meditation; for, having been a student of them from his youth up, they were all doubtless stored in his perfect memory. As there he meditated in solitude upon the law and the prophecies touching the work before him, carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture and reasoning on them, with increasing clearness and under the influence of the holy spirit, the divine plan opened up before him, showing a pathway of humiliation and sacrifice culminating in death, and accomplishing almost nothing for the present amelioration of suffering humanity. Though times and seasons for the full accomplishment of the restitution of all things were wisely hidden from his view (Mark 13:32), as they were also wisely hidden from the Church's view until the realization of it was near at hand, he doubtless foresaw that considerable time must elapse and that the pathway to that glorious culmination must necessarily be a narrow, difficult, and to the eyes of men, an inglorious one.
Such a realization, when first dawning on the mind, would naturally bring with it some measure of disappointment to one whose sympathetic love and zeal so longed to lift the load of sin and misery from fallen humanity. God's appointed time for blessing was evidently at quite a distance in the future: his grand designs mature slowly; and only in the light of their full accomplishment can the necessity for all the painful steps thereto be appreciated. Consequently, until such time the loyal and obedient sons of God must walk by faith, and not by sight. This his only begotten Son did, thus setting us an example that we should follow in his steps.
The natural craving of the loving, benevolent, perfect heart of Jesus to lift up and bless humanity opened a way for Satan to present a temptation to him which would verily be a trying one; and he improved the opportunity, his object being to thwart, if possible, the divine purpose by turning our Lord aside from it and absorbing his time and energies in other pursuits. Accordingly, his first temptation was that recorded in
VERSES 5,6. A Scripture was brought to his attention which seemed to imply that it was God's plan that he should attract attention to himself, and introduce himself to the people by leaping from the pinnacle of the Temple into the valley below, and, by being preserved from harm, attract the attention of the people to himself and to the providence of God over his physical life, and thus to his acceptance as Israel's King and Messiah. The suggestion was plausible, but our Lord saw that such a transgression of the laws of nature was not probably God's will; and then he recalled a Scripture which settled the question as to his duty,—"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Thus this temptation was ended. He must serve and trust God—not prove or test providence by disregarding his clearly understood laws of nature. It doubtless was Deut. 6:16 that decided the Lord's course in this temptation. Although filled with the spirit, he relied upon what was "written" for his replies to temptations. And our Lord's spirit or disposition was far from that of tempting God with unreasonable and unnecessary requests: he claimed no temporal favors—no protection against the legitimate, natural results of any presumptuous experiment. Thus, discerning the real spirit of God's Word by the spirit of God which was in him, our Lord refused any misapplication of it, made manifest by its lack of harmony with its true spirit, intent or purpose.
Similar temptations have come to thousands of God's people in the claims of Spiritualism, Christian Science, etc.; and those who succumb to them have their reward in the deceptions of the Adversary who leads them boldly on from one presumptuous claim to another, until they are hopelessly entangled in his ensnaring net. Those who would escape this snare should meet it as the Lord met the temptation; for it is written, "Seek not unto them that peep and mutter and have familiar spirits,"—i.e., are spirit mediums.—Lev. 19:31; Isa. 8:19.
Other common forms of this temptation are: (1) Eating what you know does not agree with your system and asking God to bless it and keep you from experiencing its legitimate effects; (2) otherwise sowing to [R1688 : page 255] the flesh and asking God to give a crop of spiritual blessings; (3) from curiosity or other motives tampering with things known to be evils, and expecting blessings to result,—as, for instance, the reading of literature which you have proved to be off the true foundation (the ransom), and praying God to keep you in the truth. These are temptings of God's providence, and as such should be put far away from every real child of God. "Hearken, and eat ye that which is good," instead of tempting God by eating that which is bad and praying and hoping for blessings from it.
(In reference to the above Scripture—Psa. 91:11,12—we remark that its proper application is to the Church, of which Christ Jesus is the Head and of which his living saints are the feet. These are the "feet" now being borne up by God's messengers of truth lest they stumble in this evil day in which all others will surely stumble.)
VERSES 8,9. The power of the kings and potentates of this present world or order of things was brought before his mind with the suggestion that with some maneuvering and wire-pulling, he, as a perfect man, and therefore so far superior to all other men, could soon win his way to a chief place of power and dominion over the whole world, which place of power he could at once begin to utilize for the blessing of mankind. In this view of the situation he mentally saw himself in the top of a very high mountain (kingdom)—an autocratic emperor having dominion over the whole world and using his power for the betterment of the entire race.
That was a suggestion worthy of the consideration of such a benevolent heart; but again he stopped to consider how it was written. "To the law and to the testimony!" said the prophet; and to the law and to the testimony he went, impelled by the same spirit of meekness and obedience that led to his consecration and baptism, to see if this suggestion was in harmony with the plan of God.
As he carefully considered it, he found it was not so—that he was not then to be exalted among men to power and influence, but that, on the contrary, he was to be despised among men, and that they would turn their faces from him, and not toward him; that he was to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thus the suggestion was seen to be out of harmony with the divine plan, and it was promptly recognized as a temptation of Satan, who was again repelled by the "sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God;" for, said he: "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
He had come to serve the Lord's plan, and therefore not to accept any suggestions out of harmony with that plan. He foresaw that the suggested course would involve many compromises of truth and righteousness with evil men then in power in order to gain the coveted place of power and influence, just as all office-seekers under the present order of things have always found it. They must bow down and do homage to the "prince of this world" by the sacrifice of many of the principles of truth and righteousness in order to be installed in power. This the Lord would not do; nor will any of his followers; for, like him, they will discern the temptation and say, "Get thee hence, Satan."
This same temptation has been presented to the Church, the body of Christ, throughout the entire age; and the result of this test of her fidelity has been that only a very small minority of those who nominally constituted the Church proved to have the spirit of the Head, which rejected the temptation and faithfully pursued the narrow way of the divine appointment. Early in the Church's history the spirit of the "prince of this world" offered power and influence in consideration of the sacrifice of Christian principles and doctrine; and the masses of professed Christians accepted the offer, in consequence of which the great antichristian systems of nominal Christianity have been exalted, while the true saints, whose names are written in heaven (Heb. 12:23), have, like their Lord, been despised and rejected of men—men of sorrows and acquainted with grief; because of their unflinching determination to worship God and serve him (his plan) only.
VERSES 3,4. One more temptation awaited our Lord. During the forty days and nights of profound meditation and study and of brave resistance and conquest of temptation, he seemed to forget the demands of nature for food; or perhaps the spirit of sacrifice impelled him to ignore them [R1689 : page 256] in the interest of his mental and spiritual work, his perfect physical constitution permitting him to endure the privation longer than other men could. But, not until afterward—after forty days of fasting—did he seem to realize the cravings of hunger. And then there was nothing in the wilderness to satisfy it. Then came the suggestion to call in the aid of divine power to support by miraculous manner the life which he had consecrated to sacrifice,—by commanding that the stones be made bread. This temptation was equivalent to that which comes also to many of the consecrated Church—viz., to request of God the healing of the body and the protection of the natural life which is consecrated to death.
Our Lord's reply was, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." That is, our meat and drink should be to do the will of our God and to finish his work (John 4:34) at any cost to ourselves; and to ask to be relieved from the legitimate effects of such a course would be out of harmony with the very spirit of sacrifice, which in the present time is the way to eternal life.
Our Lord had the power to turn the stones to bread; and later he did turn water into wine, and, to feed the multitudes, he twice made food out of nothing—increasing two fishes and three small loaves into an abundance for thousands. But these miracles were an unselfish use of his power. He never used that power selfishly: to have done so would have been an avoidance of his covenant of sacrifice; and such a suggestion was this temptation.
The same principle attaches to our prayers and efforts for the sick: they should be unselfish. We, the consecrated, are not authorized to call upon divine power for the healing of our own infirmities. Our Lord healed the multitudes, but when weary himself simply sat down and rested. On the same principle, the Apostle Paul healed the multitudes, but did not cure himself. He sent napkins and handkerchiefs to the diseased, but when the consecrated were sick he sent none to them. Compare Acts 19:12; 28:7-9; 2 Tim. 4:20; 1 Tim. 5:23 on this subject. Also see TOWER for July '88. We have only a few of this number, but we will lend a copy to anyone requesting it who will promise to return it after reading.
In consideration of these temptations of our Lord, we realize how true is the statement of our Golden Text—that our High Priest "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." He was not tempted like the world—to godlessness, vice and criminality; but like the Church—(1) To a deceitful handling of the Word of God for the purpose of gaining its apparent support for human theories, instead of patiently waiting until the long time and painful processes of God's plan mature; (2) To ambitious efforts to gain present power and advantage, even for the apparently good purpose of blessing others now instead of waiting God's time and conforming all our present efforts to the present direction of his plan; (3) To take the sacrifice off the altar when we begin to realize what fortitude and zeal are necessary to fully render it.
These, in general terms, are the great temptations which assail the Church, as they assailed her Head; and their source and channels are—the world, the flesh and the devil. The devil is the instigator, and the environments of the present world and the natural and often legitimate desires of the flesh (surely legitimate in our Lord's case) are the mediums through which his temptations are presented.
VERSE 11. "Then the devil leaveth him." The spirit of the Lord in Jesus was more than a match for the tempter, and the sword of the spirit did its work, as it always does. With this weapon "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (Jas. 4:7.) No power of art or spurious logic can stand against it; for it is mighty and shall prevail.
"And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." But they came uninvited. As on a similar occasion subsequently (Matt. 26:53,54), he declined to ask any temporal favors; but the Father graciously granted on this occasion even the temporal favors; though on the later occasion it was withheld that the divine purpose might be accomplished in the sacrificial death of his beloved Son.
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"The Rev. Dr. John Joseph Nouri, D.D., LL.D., Chaldean archdeacon of Babylon and Jerusalem, pontifical delegate general of Malabar and ex-grand secretary of the Metropolitan archdiocese of India and Persia, has found Noah's ark! At least he says he has, tells a very straight though somewhat gorgeous story about it and has gained believers among men of piety and learning. He is of the Orthodox Greek church and his labors have been chiefly in Africa and southwestern Asia.
"After spending several years in African explorations, Dr. Nouri crossed the east mountains to the coast of Abyssinia, and was received with great honors. His expedition up the Euphrates and over the Ararat was an expensive affair, but he got there, camped on the plateau and climbed the two peaks. Between them is a valley, and from each side of it rise the peaks—one 16,000 and the other nearly 18,000 feet high. Starting in March, they found the snow-drifts impassable, and waited another month. Then they climbed to within sight of a narrow plateau almost on the summit, and on that plateau they saw the ark.
"'The bow and stern,' says the archdeacon, were clearly in view, but the center was buried in snow and one end of it had fallen off and decayed. It stood more than 100 feet high and was over 300 yards long. The wood was peculiar, dark reddish in color, almost iron colored in fact, and seemed very thick. I think the cold has preserved the wood. I am very positive that we saw the real ark, though it is over 4,000 years old.'
"Though within rifle shot they could not reach it, the slope from the 'bench' on which it rested being a glare of ice and snow, and they could not remain till the midsummer thaw. Many educated gentlemen, including preachers, have called upon Archdeacon Nouri and found him a most fascinating talker. He speaks ten languages with considerable fluency, having also a smattering of the local dialects of various places. He is by birth a Syrian of the old Chaldean stock, and is a man of great wealth. His credentials are a study in themselves. His commission for Persia and India is signed by all the Greek bishops of those countries to the number of eighty." —Selected.r1690 VOL. XV. AUGUST 15, 1894. NO. 16.
r1693 FORGIVENESS VERSUS MALICE.
III. QUAR., LESSON VIII., AUG. 19, JOHN 1:35-49.
Golden Text—"We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ."—John 1:41.
These were among the first disciples* of the Lord, and, being attentive hearers and believers on him, they received a special call to follow him, both as learners and assistants in his ministry. And having obeyed this call they were afterward formally ordained as apostles and in due time endued with favor from on high and with authority as apostles of the gospel dispensation.
(1) Observe the humility and self-abnegation of John in pointing out his cousin according to the flesh as "The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,"—the long-looked-for Messiah, whose rising popularity must soon eclipse his own. John had no ambition to be greatest, but esteemed it a privilege and honor to be simply—"a voice crying in the wilderness, Make straight in the desert a highway for our God." And when some of John's disciples came to him, evidently expecting to find in him some of the spirit of rivalry, saying, "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to him, John answered and said, A [R1694 : page 270] man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom which standeth and heareth him rejoiceth greatly, because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He [as the light] must increase, but I must decrease."—John 3:26-36.
And when a deputation of priests and Levites came from Jerusalem to ask him—"Who art thou? he confessed,...I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?"—what a temptation there was here to claim to be some great one and to exalt himself in the estimation of his fellow-men. But there was no sign in him of self-exaltation. He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias....I baptize with water, but there standeth one among you whom you know not; he it is who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose."
How beautifully this grace of humility and self-abnegation shines in the characters of those ancient worthies whom the Lord was preparing for the earthly phase of his Kingdom. And verily, said Jesus, "among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist." (Matt. 11:11.) Well have the apostles Paul and James directed those who are called to share in the spiritual phase of the Kingdom to the patient, humble faithfulness of the ancient worthies (Jas. 5:10; Heb. 11), as examples for our imitation.
VERSES 29-37 show how deliberately John turned his disciples over to Jesus. Previous to his baptism John knew Jesus only as his cousin. The spirit of God had directed him to baptize with water and to proclaim the coming Messiah; but he testifies that he knew not who it would be until he saw the promised sign fulfilled in the descent of the holy spirit upon his humble cousin, Jesus.
To a proud or ambitious mind familiar acquaintance or relationship is generally more conducive to a spirit of rivalry; but it was not so with John. He was ready at once to exclaim in the presence of his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
(2) Next we note the manner in which the several disciples here named recognized Jesus as the Messiah. John had specially drawn attention to the prophecies concerning him, and by his correspondencies with those prophesies they recognized him, saying, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." They, in common with others, supposed him to be the son of Joseph, the mystery of his incarnation evidently not being generally known at that time.
The law and the prophets and his works were God's witnesses of Christ at his first advent; and to the same testimony we are referred for the evidences of his second advent.* In addition to the testimony of the law and the prophets these early disciples were invited to "Come and see" for themselves, that the power and wisdom of Jehovah rested upon his Anointed. And they came and saw, not only that the spirit of holiness and grace was in him, but also that the power of discerning of spirits (of reading the thoughts and intents of the hearts) and of working miracles was granted to him. (Verses 47,48.) Thus God ratified the testimony of his holy prophets, and fully convinced those who were Israelites indeed and in whom was no guile. Later the same gifts—of miracles, discerning of spirits, healings, prophecy, etc., were granted to the Apostles, and for the same purpose.—Heb. 2:3,4; 1 Cor. 12:1,4,8-11.
III. QUAR., LESSON IX., AUG. 26, JOHN 2:1-11.
The golden text of this lesson suggests its import: this beginning of Christ's miracles manifested forth or typified the glory of his coming Kingdom and power. The circumstance of our Lord providing wine for a festive occasion, and that, too, by the performance of a miracle, as if to emphasize the propriety of its use on such occasions, is quite a difficulty in the way of advocates of total abstinence, and quite an argument in the mouths of those who favor the use of wine as a beverage. But both the difficulty and the argument disappear before a [R1695 : page 272] clear conception of the object of the miracle.
Calling to mind Matt. 26:29—that our Lord would no more drink of the fruit of the vine with his disciples until he should drink it new with them in the Kingdom; and also the prophecy of Isaiah 25:6, "In this mountain [the kingdom of God] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things,...of wines on the lees well refined"—we recognize in the exhilarating wine an apt symbol of joy and gladness. To partake of the cup of the Lord in the present time signifies to share in his sufferings, humiliation and death; but to partake of his cup in the coming age will mean to share in his glory and joy. That will be the new wine in the Kingdom.
The first miracle was given to symbolize this ultimate object of the work upon which he was then entering, which was to glorify his Church and then to spread a feast of fat things (of rich blessings) and of wine (of joy) before all people. How appropriate that such a foreshadowing of future glory should be the first of his wonderful works.
In observing the typical features of the miracle we notice, (1) That its performance was on the occasion of a wedding, following the wedding ceremony. So the joy and blessings of Christ's Kingdom, both to the Church, his bride, and also to the world, will follow the marriage of the Lamb and his espoused virgin Church.
(2) Next we notice that this typical marriage was on "the third day" (verse 1), reminding us very forcibly of our Lord's statement to some of the Pharisees (Luke 13:32): "Go ye and tell that fox [Herod], Behold I cast out devils and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected; "and again (John 2:19,21,) "Destroy this temple ["the temple of his body"—the Church], and in three days I will raise it up." The three days here referred to were days of a thousand years each—the fifth, sixth and seventh thousand-year-days from creation. Jesus then lived in the fifth; and now, in the dawning of the seventh, his body will be "perfected" and "raised up" to kingdom power and glory. The marriage of the Lamb will be in the third day of her existence as the body of Christ, and in the seventh of the world's history.
(3) We notice that the miracle consisted in the turning of the water in the vessels for purification into the desirable beverage, the "good wine." Water is a symbol of truth (Eph. 5:26), the use of which is for refreshing and cleansing the Lord's people; and it is through this very cleansing agency that the Church is to be glorified and the world blessed. Divine truth, having by its blessed inspiration to godliness and holiness, accomplished its cleansing purifying work, will be gloriously realized in the blessings and joys of the Kingdom.
(4) The Lord's reply to Mary, who informed him of the lack of wine, is also significant. "Jesus said to her, What [is that] to me and to thee, O woman? Mine hour has not yet come." (Verse 4—Diaglott.) The "woman," the Church, need not yet inquire for the new wine of joy. The hour for exaltation and glory has not yet come, and as yet we have to do only with the dregs of the cup of humiliation and sacrifice. And if we partake of this cup now we will surely drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom. Let us take the advice of Mary—"Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it," and in due time faithful obedience to all his directions will be amply rewarded by the privilege of participating with him in the joys of the Kingdom, the "new wine." And following that will come for all people the feast of fat things and of wines on the lees.
By the early disciples this typical significance could not have been discerned; but they did see in the power that could work such a miracle the evidence of his claim to be the Son of God, while to us in the light of the dawning Millennial day the finer lines of type and prophecy are due to be understood and are clearly manifest.
The occurrence has no more bearing on the temperance question than had the taking of a colt to fulfill the prophecy of Zech. 9:9 (Matt. 21:1-5) a bearing on the question of the rights of private property. All things belong to God and have their legitimate and illegitimate uses. Under the rule which Paul gives (1 Cor. 8:13), the disuse of wine as a beverage is certainly commendable under present conditions, while its limited use for medicinal purposes is warranted by 1 Tim. 5:23.
III. QUAR., LESSON X., SEPT. 2, JOHN 2:13-25.
Golden Text—"Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise."—John 2:16.
The several accounts of this action of our Lord by the other evangelists place the occurrence [R1695 : page 272] unmistakably near the close of his ministry, while John here mentions it in connection with events at the beginning of his public work. It would appear, however, that the one event was referred to by them all, the last verse of John's account, like the others, showing the hostile attitude of numerous opponents who sought his life, which disposition did not make its appearance in the very beginning of his ministry.
This authoritative action of Jesus had a peculiar fitness as a type near the close of his ministry. It immediately followed his triumphant entry into Jerusalem in fulfilment of the prophecy—"Behold thy king cometh unto thee, etc." (Zech. 9:9); and this course in the temple was an assumption of authority consequent upon this rightful claim to be the king of Israel—a claim, however, which was rejected by the Jews. "He [R1696 : page 272] came unto his own [people], and his own received him not." (John 1:11.) Then, seeing they put away the favor of God from them and proved themselves unworthy of it, he turned to the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name, which selection has required the eighteen centuries of the Gospel age; and that fleshly house of Israel and this spiritual house, the Gospel Church, stand related to each other as type and antitype; both as to circumstances and time. As an event shortly preceding his crucifixion, this cleansing of the temple finds its antitype in a similar work here, beginning at the corresponding date—1878 (See M. DAWN, VOL. II., page 239); viz., the casting out (from the spiritual temple—his body, the consecrated Church) of such as are unworthy to be of that body, while the worthy ones, the pure in heart, are being correspondingly blessed.
When asked for a sign of the authority by which he did these things, Jesus pointed forward to his future power—after his death and resurrection. (Verses 18-21.) He had no authority to begin the actual work then; that which he did being only typical, and for our profiting, not theirs.
VERSES 23-25 (Diaglott). Though the people at this time seemed greatly impressed by his miracles, and, shouting Hosanna! before him, seemed ready to accept him as the Messiah and to proclaim him king at once (See also Matt. 21:9-11), Jesus did not trust them; for he knew the fickleness of their hearts, and having the gift also of discerning of spirits, he needed not that any man should testify of them, for he knew what was in them.—Luke 20:41-47.
The Golden Text—"Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise"—should have the most careful consideration of all those who profess to be of his consecrated house,—the true temple. In this time of cleansing, sifting and purifying of the temple of God, none will be permitted to remain in it whose purpose is in any way to make merchandise of God's holy things.
III. QUAR., LESSON XI., SEPT. 9, JOHN 3:1-16.
Golden Text—"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."—John 3:16.
VERSES 14-15. The reference here is to the circumstance recorded in Num. 21:4-9, when the bite of a fiery serpent was cured by a look at the brazen serpent which Moses raised up. The fiery serpents here represented Sin, from whose deadly bite all humanity is suffering. But Christ, who knew no sin, was made a sin-offering on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21—Diaglott.) He is the antitype of the brazen serpent. The lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness prefigured the lifting up of Christ on the cross of Calvary; and the look of faith to him and the merit of his sacrifice for salvation is the never-failing cure for sin, as it is also the only hope of our fallen race.
VERSE 16 suggests the cost of the world's salvation to our Heavenly Father. His only begotten Son was the delight and treasure of his heart; and all the painful process of his humiliation and sacrifice even unto an ignominious and cruel death were at the expense of the fondest affection of him who loves as never man loved. With the assurance of this example of divine love for our race, the Apostle Paul (Rom. 8:31-39) would further encourage our faith, saying, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"