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Our double number for February seems to have been generally well thought of by our readers; and the offer to supply extra copies of it at five cents a copy was taken advantage of quite freely,—some ordering as many as a hundred.
As we printed quite a large edition, we still have plenty and will continue the half-rate offer. If more convenient for you, send us the addresses, plainly written, and we will attend to the mailing of them.
While a few have written of their disappointment in connection with the cancellation of the Allegheny Spring Meeting arrangements, we have heard from a far larger number who approve the program and favor a Chicago meeting. And we trust that eventually we may all see that the Lord has guided in the matter for the general good.
Do not forget the Missionary Envelopes. We have a new lot and supply them now at the reduced price of 25 cents per hundred, and $2.00 per thousand. This includes free delivery to you at your Postoffice.
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Tract No. 1, "Do the Scriptures Teach that Eternal Torment is the Wages of Sin?" has been translated into Swedish, which is Tract No. 9; and into Norwegian, which is Tract No. 13. We do not send these out except when specially ordered. Any who can use these judiciously are welcome to order them—freely. These, as well as Nos. 1,2,3,4,5,6,10 and 14, are supplied in quantities without charge—out of the Tract Fund.
Patent Binders of a size suitable for the TOWER for two years' issues, and with the name of our journal and the dates 1893-1894 stamped in gilt on the side, are now ready. Those therefore who hereafter order Binders should specify whether they want these for coming years or those for 1891-1892 which have no dates stamped on them. These are extremely desirable for preserving your TOWERS in a convenient form for future reference. Price fifty cents each.r1499 VOL. XIV. MARCH 1, 1893. NO. 5.
r1499 JESUS IN THE SYNAGOGUE.
r1500 THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME.
r1501 "LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL MEN."
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR
READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE
LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO
LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
I. QUAR., LESSON XI., MARCH 12, ESTHER 4:10-17;
Golden Text—"Judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."—Prov. 31:9.
In the story of the book of Esther we have a glimpse of the condition of the Jews under the dominion of Persia. From chapter 3:8,9 we learn that they were scattered all over the Persian provinces and were living in a measure of temporal prosperity, and that their destruction and the confiscation of their property and goods would be a large acquisition to the king's treasury, since ten thousand talents of silver were willingly appropriated to accomplish this end.
The incident of this lesson furnishes also an instance of the Lord's providential care over them and his preservation of them as a people when their destruction was threatened by a wicked and capricious king. And this marked providence is specially noteworthy in view of the fact that these were the descendents of those Jews who failed to go up to Jerusalem to restore and to build it, when Cyrus issued the decree that all who desired might do so. They had not been zealous for the Lord, but nevertheless his loving kindness did not forsake them, and when they cried unto him he heard and answered their prayer.
I. QUAR., LESSON XII., MAR. 19, PROV. 23:15-23.
Golden Text—"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."—Eph. 5:18.
VERSES 15,16 manifest the right desire and ambition of a true parent for a son—viz., wisdom and righteousness. The ambitious aim of some parents is to have their own sons men of wealth, or power, or fame, or social prominence: but none of these things are worthy of their ambition. It is the wise son (wise in heavenly wisdom) that maketh the glad father.
VERSES 17,18. It is indeed folly to envy sinners and thereby to miss the joy and peace which naturally flow from a heart full of the love and reverence of the Lord; for there is an end of their brief pleasures, while those whose joy is in the Lord have a never failing source of consolation.
VERSE 19. The guiding of the heart in the right ways of the Lord is more important than the guiding of our actions, because if the heart is right the actions will regulate themselves accordingly. "Keep thy heart, for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23.) By communion with God in prayer and through the Word of truth our hearts are kept in the love and service of God; and it is therefore only by constant use of these means that our hearts can be guided in the right way.
VERSE 22. This is but another way of saying, Honor thy father and thy mother. And the obligation of honor to parents never ceases, though that of obedience does when the years of maturity and discretion are reached.
VERSE 23. Truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding are not dear at any price, and when secured should never be sold or compromised for the short-lived advantages of error. Buy the truth, and sell it not: in meekness and with a ready and appreciative mind seek instruction in the ways of God's appointment, but never take counsel with the ungodly. In God's Word a refreshing understanding of the truth is gained and the wisdom that cometh down from above is secured, with all the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
The Golden Text—Eph. 5:18—does not refer to literal wine, but to the spirit of the world, which is thus symbolized. Christians are here counseled not to become intoxicated with the spirit of the world (See also Isa. 28:7), but to be filled with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of the truth, that so they may bring forth its precious fruits in abundance.
Golden Text—"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."—Psa. 119:105.
Alas! how many of the virgins espoused to Christ are "foolish;" how many have failed to secure the oil, the spirit of the truth, in God's appointed way, and are now beginning to find that they walk in darkness—that their lamps have gone out. Only those who have the spirit of the truth (oil) in themselves—honest hearts, zealous for the right—will be able to get light from God's Word, shortly. But to such humble, honest ones God provides a light, a lamp, which shines now and will continue to shine in the dark places until the day dawn.—2 Pet. 1:19.r1502 "OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
r1504 ZION'S WATCH TOWER
r1504 VOL. XIV. MARCH 15, 1893. NO. 6.
r1504 CHRISTIAN UNION VS. UNITY.
r1505 THE ONENESS OF THE DIVINE FAMILY.
II. QUAR., LESSON I., APR. 2, MATT. 28:1-10.
Golden Text—"Now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruit of them that slept."—1 Cor. 15:20.
The familiar account of the Lord's resurrection is before us, and the brief record calls up a train of reflections worthy of our deepest reverence and profoundest gratitude. In the resurrection of Christ we have the assurance that death shall not always have dominion over us. His death satisfied the claims of justice against us, and his resurrection is the proof to us of the Father's acceptance of his sacrifice—our corresponding price—for the cancellation of our debt.
So important was this feature of the divine plan that the Apostle says that if Christ be not risen our faith is vain and there is no evidence that our sins are forgiven. (1 Cor. 15:14-18.) "But," he adds, "now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruit [R1505 : page 90] of them that slept." (Verse 20.) And if the resurrection of Christ was but a first fruit, then the after fruits must in due time also appear. And so we read, "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of God], and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment" [krisis, trial].—John 5:28,29. And again we read that "God hath appointed a day [the Millennial age] in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained"—Jesus Christ.—Acts 17:31.
Thus in the resurrection of Christ we have assurance of a resurrection of all men—both of the Church and the world. The former are to have part in "his resurrection"—"the first resurrection"—and are to be joint-heirs with him in his Millennial kingdom; they are to be kings and priests unto God, and of the "Seed" of promise through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Rev. 20:6; Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:17; Rev. 1:6; Gal. 3:29; Gen. 28:14), while the latter, through this risen and exalted body of which Christ Jesus is the head, are to be granted (offered) the blessings of full restitution to the former estate of human perfection lost in Eden,—a full resurrection or lifting up to human perfection.—Acts 3:19-21.
It is only the long deferment of the "appointed day" of resurrection or restitution that makes this hope and promise seem like an idle tale, but now the time draws very near, as all may see who study the evidences presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. II. and III., "The Time is at Hand" and "Thy Kingdom Come."
In this lesson we have also a beautiful example of the loving devotion of some of the Lord's followers—the Marys who improved the very earliest opportunity to honor him whom they so loved. And their devotion was richly rewarded in being the very first to see the Lord and receive from him the message to bear to the other disciples.
For a particular account of our Lord's doings during the forty days after his resurrection, and the character of his change from natural to spiritual conditions, etc., see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., pages 107-172.
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR
READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE
LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO
LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
The Book of Job is credited with being the finest piece of literature in the Hebrew language. It is a poem: and all scholars admit that no translation yet given does it justice. Martin Luther, after reviewing his last effort to translate it into the German, said, "Job is suffering more from my version than from the taunts of his friends, and would prefer his dunghill to my translation of his lamentation." The Book of Job "is admitted, with hardly a dissenting voice, to be the most sublime religious poem in the literature of the world," said Samuel Cox. "I call that one of the grandest things ever written with pen....There is nothing written, in the Bible and out of it, of equal literary merit," said Thomas Carlisle.
Whoever was used of God as the penman, his name is not given. The book is introduced with a prose narrative of Job's losses and sufferings, and of his patient endurance, then follow the poetic colloquies between Job and his three friends, then Elihu's argument, then the Almighty's address, then Job's confession. The conclusion, relating Job's return to favor and blessing, and his death, is in prose.
Some have assumed that the Book of Job is merely a parable and Job himself, therefore, merely an imaginary character. But if this were the case, the teachings of the book would not be different. However, we see no cause to doubt that such a person did live and pass through the experiences related. In Ezek. 14:14 and James 5:11, Job is classed with other holy men, which would not be the case were [R1505 : page 91] this narrative merely a parable. Besides, there are particular details given (respecting Job, his family and friends, and especially Elihu's genealogy), such as are not common to parables.
The fact that Job lived one hundred and forty years after his adversities, or in all probably over two hundred years, together with the fact that neither he nor his friends make any allusion to Israel or Moses or the Law, nor to Abraham and God's covenant made with him, seems to indicate beyond doubt that he belonged to the Patriarchal age; possibly living about the same time as Abraham. His home was evidently in Arabia and probably not far from Palestine.
Job is introduced as a man of great learning and influence; as a man of great piety who knew and reverenced God and appreciated justice; as a man of great generosity, who considered the widow and the orphaned; and as a merchant-prince of great wealth, who, by his numerous servants and three hundred camels, carried on an extended and very prosperous traffic. Suddenly disaster came upon him and he was bereft of his children, his wealth, his influence and his health. He sought in vain for an explanation as to why God should permit such evils to befall him, yet still trusted in God, saying, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,"—while his wife urged that it had been without divine appreciation that he had sought to do justice and mercy all his life, and exclaimed, "Curse God and die!"
His three friends came to visit him, and, taking much the same view, told him in lengthy argument that he must have been a great sinner and a hypocrite. But, conscious of his own heart-honesty toward God, Job defends himself and goes to too great an extreme in declaring his innocence, but silences his critics. He seems to realize his need of some one to represent his cause before the Lord, and cries out that he is as righteous as he knows how to be; that he cannot reason the matter with God, being so much beneath him in knowledge and power; that the wilfully wicked are not so troubled, while he who has pursued righteousness is so afflicted that life has no further pleasure and he wishes he had never been born. (Chapters 9, 10 and 16.) Feeling his own insufficiency [R1506 : page 91] to state his case before the great Jehovah he desires "a days-man [i.e., a mediator] betwixt" God and himself.—Chapters 9:33; 16:21.
Job's masterly reply to the false reasonings of his friends (which many improperly quote as inspired), and his expressions of confidence in God and of his ultimate deliverance, are clearly presented in Chapter 13:1-16. And then with prophetic wisdom, in Chapter 14, he presents a most wonderful statement of the course of God's dealing with mankind.
The question which perplexed Job and confused his reasonings was the same that for centuries has confused others of God's people; namely, Why does God permit evil (calamities, afflictions, etc.) to come upon his faithful servants? and why are the wicked permitted to flourish? But not until the Gospel dispensation was it possible for any to know the mind of God on this subject; for it is one of the "deep things" which could only be revealed by the Spirit of God, and only to those begotten of that spirit as Paul explains. (1 Cor. 2:10-14.) And the Holy Spirit was not thus given, as a guide and teacher, until after Christ had redeemed us and ascended up on high, there to present his sacrifice as the price of our return to divine favor, peace and communion.
Although many are still in the dark on this subject, it is now open and clear to all the earnest ones to whom "it is granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven," to understand "the deep things of God." (Matt. 13:11; 1 Cor. 2:10.) These see that the reign of evil, the reign of sin and death, under Satan, the prince of this world, is permitted for two reasons: first, that all men may gain a full experience of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its legitimate fruit; and secondly, that God's people may be fully tried and tested as to their loyalty to God in the shadow of affliction and trial, as well as in the sunshine of health and prosperity. Thus, while God did not directly cause the evil state of things which surrounds us in nature and among men, but let it come upon men as the legitimate result [R1506 : page 92] or fruit of disobedience, sin, yet he does make use of even the wrath of man and the sins of men and the animosity of Satan to work out grand designs which they do not comprehend, and of which his children know only by faith in his Word of revelation. For instance, how little did Satan and those malicious Jewish priests and Pharisees and those heartless Roman soldiers know that they were assisting in the working out of the divine plan when tempting, mocking, insulting and crucifying the Lamb of God! And so it is with the many afflictions of God's people—especially those of the "little flock," "the bride of Christ,"—they are designed to fit and polish them for the greater usefulness and honor in the future developments of God's great plan; and thus, regardless of the wilfulness or the ignorance of the persecutors, these trials of faith and patience are working out for such a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory—preparing the called ones to be heirs of glory, by cultivating (in those who are properly exercised by such experiences), patience, experience, brotherly sympathy and love—which is God-like-ness. Such, and such only, can rejoice in tribulation and realize that all things (bad, as well as good, unfavorable, as well as favorable) will be overruled in God's providence for their ultimate benefit.
But, returning to our consideration of Job, let us note in Chapter 14 some of his prophetic wisdom. The first four verses graphically picture what all of experience realize—that human life under present conditions is full of trial and sorrow, from the cradle to the tomb. And Job shows that he realizes that as a son of fallen parentage he could not be perfect, free from sin, "clean," in the full sense of that word.
In verses 5,6, he tells the Lord that he recognizes the fact that the authority and power to limit man's days are in his hands, but urges (not seeing the ministry of trouble), Why not let me and all men live out our short time in peace—even as we would not afflict a hireling who already has a heavy, burdensome task!
Verses 7-10 are close reasonings respecting the utter hopelessness of man in death, so far as any powers of his own are concerned. A tree may die and yet its root retain life, which, under favorable conditions may spring up into another tree. But when man dies there is no root left, no spark of life remains—he giveth up the spirit of life, and where is he?
Having confessed that there is no ground for hope inherent in man, Job begins to express the only, the real hope of our race—a resurrection—see verses 12,13. Man lies down in death and loses all power to arouse himself—nor can he be resuscitated from the sleep of death by anyone, until God's due time—the resurrection morning, the Millennial day—when the present symbolic "heavens" shall have passed away, and the "new heavens" or new spiritual ruling power—Christ's Kingdom—shall have come into control of the world. In this Job fully agrees with the teachings of our Lord and the apostles.
The more he thinks of that blessed time when evil shall no more have dominion, but when a King shall reign in righteousness and princes execute judgment, the more he wishes that he might die and be at rest, and exclaims (verse 13), "Oh, that thou would'st hide me in the grave [sheol]; that thou would'st keep me secret [hidden] until thy wrath be past; that thou would'st appoint me a set time and remember me." Job had faith in a resurrection, else he would never have uttered this prayer for death,—for hiding in the grave. But he preferred death, and desired to "sleep" (verse 12) until the "morning," for one reason only—that he might have no further experience with sin and with God's wrath—evil.
While a short period in the end of the Gospel age is specially called "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God," because it will be "A time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," yet the entire period from the time when Adam fell is called a time of divine wrath, and properly so, because in all this long period "the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness," in a variety of ways. While love is a controlling principle in the divine government, it can operate only in harmony with justice and wisdom; and it was both just and wise to let man feel the real weight of condemnation to death [R1506 : page 93] incurred by wilful transgression, in order that when love should in due time provide a ransom and a resurrection, the culprit might the more gladly avail himself of the provided favors of restitution and everlasting life. Thus, death and all the evils now permitted to come upon the culprit race (in which also the "new creatures in Christ" are given a share, for their development in grace) are manifestations of God's wrath which will be yet further shown in the great time of trouble; to be followed by full and clear manifestations of divine love and favor in Christ and the glorified Church during the Millennial age.—Rom. 1:18.
Job desired to be hidden in the grave until the reign of sin and death should be ended;—until in due time the light of the goodness of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ, our Lord, shall bless all nations;—until, as the Sun of Righteousness, Christ shall shine upon humanity with healing beams. It was for this culmination that Job longed and prayed and waited.
In verses 14 and 15, he puts the question pointedly, as though to determine and settle his faith; but he immediately answers affirmatively. "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee [and awake out of the sleep of Adamic death. Compare John 5:28,29]: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands"—for his people are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.—Eph. 2:10.
When Job had refuted the arguments of his three friends, Elihu (whose name signifies, God himself) spoke from a different standpoint, reproving the three friends as well as Job himself. Elihu shows Job that he had been reasoning in part from a wrong premise—that he must not expect to fully comprehend all the ways of one so far above him, but must trust in God's justice and in his wisdom. And in Chapter 33:23,24 he shows the one thing needful to man's recovery from the power of death and his restoration to divine favor, saying, "If there be with him a messenger as defender, one of a thousand [i.e., a rare one] to declare his own righteousness for man, then will God be gracious unto him [man] and say, Release him from going down to the grave: I have found a ransom."
This is indeed the case with man. God's wisdom and justice cannot be impugned—the sentence of death is justly upon all men through father Adam (Rom. 5:12), but God has provided us "a days-man," an advocate, Christ Jesus our Lord; and he, in harmony with the Father's plan, became a man, and then gave himself a ransom-price for all by paying the death-penalty that was upon Adam. And as soon as "the bride," otherwise called "his body" and "the temple," is complete, this great Mediator will stand forward to declare his righteousness as for or applicable to every one who will accept it when brought to a full knowledge of God's provision.
Then will follow restitution, as pictured in verses 25 and 26. Physically these for whom the Mediator stands shall be restored to a perennial youth, in which death and decay will find no place: they shall find acceptance and communion with God in joy and peace; and he will restore to them the original perfection lost through sin in Eden. But an acknowledgment of God's justice and that the restitution was unmerited will be required as is indicated by verses 27,28: "He will chant it before men, and say: I have sinned and perverted the right; and it was not requited me. He has redeemed my soul from going into the pit and [R1507 : page 93] my life that it may be brought to the light."
In conclusion Jehovah addresses Job, reproving his temerity in attempting, with his little knowledge, to judge God. This Job acknowledges, and finds peace in trusting God. Job's three friends, however, are severely reproved by God; but when their sacrifice is offered for them by Job they are restored to divine favor, while at once Job's prosperity returns—his friends and influence, the same number of children as before, and his wealth exactly doubled,—for he had twice as many flocks and herds and camels.
This ending of Job's career with a general restitution, is incomprehensible to those who have never seen that the plan of God in Christ provides for a time of restitution of all things lost in Adam, to all of his race who will accept them under the terms of the New Covenant. (Acts 3:19-21.) But those who do see this plan of God can readily see, too, that Job's experience [R1507 : page 94] was not only actual, but also typical. He seems to represent mankind. Man was at first in divine likeness and favor with all things made subject to him. (Psa. 8:4-8.) Because of Adam's sin Satan* obtained an influence in human affairs which has resulted in degradation, sickness and death; but God has never really forsaken his creatures, and is even now waiting to be gracious unto all in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.
II. QUAR., LESSON II., APRIL 9, JOB 5:17-27.
Golden Text—"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."—Heb. 12:6.
This lesson is from the words of Eliphaz, whom God reproved for speaking unadvisedly according to human philosophy. It was his own wisdom as expressed in verse 27. The same false impressions prevail in many minds, dark respecting God's dealings with his children. The Golden Text expresses the true view.
II. QUAR., LESSON III., APRIL 16, JOB 23:1-10.
Golden Text—"What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."—John 13:7.
II. QUAR., LESSON IV., APRIL 23, JOB 42:1-10.
Golden Text—"Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord: that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy."—James 5:11.r1507 ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM EARNEST WORKERS.