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.
While in Jerusalem it occurred to us that many of our friends might like very much to have some little thing as a memento, both of our journey and of the "Holy City." We had no difficulty in selecting some inexpensive ones suited to our purpose. Some small olive-wood articles—paper weights, pen-holders, egg-cups and napkin-rings.
Next came the difficulty—How many shall we purchase? How many friends have we to whom we would like to present a little token? We knew no place to draw a line, for surely all the TOWER readers are beloved as friends indeed. We could not, however, afford to purchase and pay transportation and customs and postage duty for so many—nor did we like to offer to sell them to our friends. We concluded, finally, to purchase about 1700 pieces and present them to the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY and let the society pay freight and customs tariff and packing and postage, and supply them at low prices to such as may desire them. Thus all will be accommodated, some will be pleased and the cause will be profited. These articles we ordered from the Baron Rothschild Industrial School in Jerusalem. They are olive-wood and stamped Jerusalem.
We also saw some neat but inexpensive "Flower Cards," which we surmised would be appreciated by many of you. We ordered 4000 of these; they, too, have arrived. These will be sent gratis, postpaid, as love tokens and mementoes from Sister Russell and myself. They are not printed flowers, but colored wild flowers, grasses, etc., from the surrounding country, pasted on cards in tasteful designs. These will be sent as follows: (1) One card to each person purchasing one or more of the olive-wood articles and (2) one card each to those of the Lord's poor who have written since Dec. 1, 91, requesting the Watch Tower for 1892, gratis. Thus all can have a little memento.
We will be too busy to fill orders before and during the Memorial Meeting; but orders will be filed and filled in order as received. Write order with full address separate from other orders and letter. When the article ordered is sold out, we will send one of the others until all are gone. If you have a second choice, name it in your order.
The present prospects are that there will be quite a large attendance this year. The last TOWER gave very explicit directions for all intending to come, and it should be carefully re-examined to insure no mistakes. On arrival, come to the TOWER office, 58 Arch st.
We have only to add further that friends coming from points West of Chicago and St. Louis can obtain excursion Certificates with their tickets from PEORIA, ILLINOIS, via the C.R.I.& P., or the C.B.& Q., or the J.S.E.—A.T.& S.F. Rail Roads.r1386 VOL. XIII. APRIL 1, 1892. NO. 7.
r1389 TRAVELS IN THE HOLY LAND.
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.
LESSON III., APRIL 17, PSALM 19:1-14.
It is good to meditate upon, to ponder, the Word of the Lord; for only in so doing can we receive the nourishment it is designed to give. A hasty reading of the Scriptures and a quick return of the mind to other thoughts and pursuits makes a spiritual dyspeptic, incapable of assimilating the spirit of the truth and lacking the strength and power of mature and developed Christian character. The Psalmist beautifully represents the proper attitude of all those who truly love the Lord, and who therefore delight in his Word and plan: "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night;" "I will meditate of all thy work, and talk of thy doings;" "I will meditate in thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word;" "Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors;" "I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands;" "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day; ...therefore I hate every false way....Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever;" "My meditation of them shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord."—Psa. 1:2; 77:12; 119:15,16,24; 143:5; 119:97,104,111; 104:34.
Here, as well as in the lesson under consideration, the two great books of nature and of revelation are pointed out as special themes for the meditation of those who love the Lord and who desire to know more of him.
Verses 1-6 refer to the silent yet eloquent testimony of nature to the power and skill and wisdom and goodness and glory of its divine Author. Its testimony may be read by the thoughtful of every land and of every language, by day and by night, in all the earth. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Job, considering the testimony of nature to the glory of God, says, "He is wise in heart and mighty in strength...which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number." (Job 9:4,9,10.) And the Lord, desiring to reassure Job of his superior power and grace, inquires of him, "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of [R1391 : page 110] Orion? Canst thou bring forth the constellations of the Zodiac, each in its season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? or dost thou appoint its rule on earth?"—Job 38:31-33.
Thus, by their numberless multitude, their orderly grouping in various constellations, their continual yet never conflicting movements, their perfect harmony, their magnitude and their mutual benign influence, do the shining hosts of heaven declare the glory of God, by day and by night. He who meditates upon these things will scarcely be "the fool" who saith "in his heart, There is no God;" for all nature testifies to the Creator's glory and power.
Verses 7-11 refer us to the yet superior glory of God's special written revelation of himself, given through his inspired human agents, the prophets and the apostles. This testimony not only declares the existence and power and wisdom of God, with a silent intimation of his goodness and grace, but with overwhelming force it bears to the thoughtful mind the convincing testimony of all his glorious attributes and of all his love and grace toward us in Christ.
Hear the Psalmist: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Other influences may lead to temporary and partial changes of course and action, but nothing else equals God's revealed Truth in producing a change—change of being, character, soul. It is because other converting agencies and powers are so often used (instead of this one which God has provided) that there are so many merely glossed-over, nominal Christians, as compared with the few whose entire beings are turned and fully consecrated to the Lord. People may be converted from savagery to civilization by a general knowledge; or from intemperance to sobriety by a study of the advantages of the latter over the former; or from dishonesty to honesty by learning that "Honesty is the best policy." But none of these are soul conversions. Only God's truth can produce soul conversion, as also our Lord indicates in his prayer, "Sanctify them through thy truth—thy word is truth."
"The testimony of the Lord is sure [not doubtful, but clear and positive], making wise [R1391 : page 111] [not the heady and wilful who have plans and theories of their own and who do not submit themselves to the will and plan of God, but] the simple" [the single hearted who have no will or plan of their own which they wish the Lord to adopt, but who seek the Lord's will only].
"The statutes [piqqudim—appointments: the appointed plans] of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." Yes, indeed, God's glorious, appointed plan of the ages rejoices the hearts of all who have come to a knowledge of it.
"The judgments [mishpat—ordinances or decrees] of the Lord are true; they are altogether righteous. More to be desired are they than gold; yea, than much fine gold: and they are sweeter than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb." Once, following the leadings of mistaken teachers, and catechisms, we thought of God's "Eternal Decrees" only with horror, supposing that they provided for the salvation of but a mere handful of our race and for the everlasting misery of the masses. But what a change since the eyes of our understandings are opened. God's decrees are sweet to our taste, we appreciate them greatly, we see that he has decreed a Great Savior and a great salvation, open to every creature's acceptance; and that he has provided that all shall be brought to a clear knowledge of the truth, that they may have the fullest opportunity for everlasting life upon the only condition God can make—righteousness.
"Moreover, by them [by the judgments or decrees of the Lord as to the course of righteousness and unrighteousness and their rewards and penalties] is thy servant [the thoughtful servant, who meditates on these things] warned; and in keeping them [in remembering and harmonizing with them] there is great reward."
Thus the Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation, when rightly read, harmoniously declare the glory of God; and blessed is the man whose character is ennobled and purified and blessed by constant meditation on these glorious themes. How it refreshes and strengthens every noble and generous aspiration, checks every tendency to evil and sin, purifies the heart, kindles hope, awakens zeal and starts and keeps us in the heavenly race with its glorious end in view. The great Emperor of this wonderful universe upon which we daily and nightly cast our wondering gaze has called even us to be the bride of and joint-heir with his only begotten Son, the heir of all things; and in these glorious revelations of himself is supplied the inspiration and instruction necessary to enable us to run with patience the race set before us, if we make them the centre of our meditations.
Verse 12—"Who [in his own strength or by his own wisdom and foresight] can guard against errors?" Not one; for as the Apostle Paul tells us, we have our treasure, the new nature, in earthen vessels. Not only are we weak, mentally, morally and physically, but in addition we have a wily foe: we wrestle not merely with flesh and blood, but also against principalities and unseen spiritual powers, strongly entrenched in places of power and influence. (Eph. 6:12.) Who, indeed, is strong enough in himself to guard against errors of doctrine and practice strongly entrenched in a misguided and depraved public opinion, fortified by the tendencies of his own impaired conditions of mind and heart and skilfully glossed over by the great deceiver who, with untiring effort, seeks to accomplish our deception and overthrow? Who, indeed, is sufficient for these things? The inquiry of the Psalmist implies the answer—Not one. In our own strength we cannot presume to stand, and therefore how appropriate the prayer:—
Verses 12-13. "From secret faults do thou cleanse me. Also from presumptuous sins do thou restrain thy servant; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression."
Sins of presumption are such as result from undue self- confidence, ambition or pride. Many are guilty of them without seemingly being aware of the fact: They presume in prayer to direct the Lord how they want to have numbers join some sect, whose existence God never authorized; or they say how many they want to have converted at a certain meeting; or they instruct him how the Foreign Missions should be blessed and what results they shall expect.
Others presume to decide what God intends to do aside from what his Word authorizes, and will perhaps pass lightly over such a doctrine as that of the Second Death if it stands in the way of a favorite theory which they have prepared for the Lord to follow. This is presumptuous sin.
Others, on the other hand, tell that God will everlastingly preserve the wicked in torture, and thus they are in error from attempting to be wise above what is written. Is not this a presumptuous sin?
Such presumptuous sins bring natural consequences: [R1391 : page 112] the presumptuous lose respect for that which they can do without, or can twist and turn to their own convenience. As respect for the exactness of the Bible is lost the presumption naturally increases and finds more pronounced expression in their self-assurance. Some, indeed, go so far as to interpret the language of Scripture the opposite of the way in which it reads, to favor the ideas of the presumer, whatever they may be. Thus one will read that certain wilful sinners who sin against full light and knowledge "shall be punished with everlasting destruction," and "in the second death," and will unblushingly assert that these words mean the reverse—that they mean everlasting preservation in life and in torment. Others, to support an opposite theory, will claim that the Second Death means a second blessing, and that when it is declared that at the end of the Millennial age of trial all those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life—the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, those who in spirit are whoremongers, murderers, sorcerers, and idolaters, and all who love lies and take pleasure in making them—that when these are said to be cast into the Second Death, it means that they will be blessed, sanctified and ushered into glory.
Ah! yes, beloved, this sin of presumption is one into which many who have been enlightened by a knowledge of the plan of God are inclined to fall. Instead of carefully noting and thoughtfully considering those scriptures which, while they recognize their superior advantage and special favor from God in a knowledge of the truth, also warn them of the great danger of those thus enlightened (since the present is the judgment-day of all such, who stand on trial for life, with the alternative of the second death before them)—instead of carefully observing these (See Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31; Rev. 2:11; 20:6), they ignore them, and, presumptuously leaning to their own understanding, proceed to reason in this wise:—They say, The Scriptures tell us that "God is love," so loving that he has provided salvation for all mankind. So far they say truly; but here leaving the Scriptures they begin to reason—as they claim, to the glory of God, though nothing can be to the glory of God which perverts or denies any portion of inspired truth. They say, "Yes, and we have faith (?) to believe that his love is so powerful [R1392 : page 112] that not one rebellious sinner can ever get away from it; and if one millennium is not sufficient to reform him then he shall have another and another; for all must be saved." But here are the Bible warnings of a Second Death for wilful sinners, and coupled with the statement, too, that Christ dieth no more and that, consequently, such can never be redeemed again, if found worthy of the second death for their own wilful sins, committed with full knowledge and with full responsibility. The redemption provided in Christ is complete and for all, providing full salvation for every child of Adam from all the penalties and weaknesses sustained through Adam's disobedience and fall from divine favor. But having had such a salvation put fully within their reach, each is thereafter responsible exactly as was Adam; and each is subject to the same penalty—death—if wilfully disobedient. This is called the second death because it is the penalty of wilful sin under the second trial.
But the presumptuous ones grow more arrogant and self-assertive and take the further step of denying the necessity of a ransom, claiming that the death of Christ did not redeem us from the first death, that we were not bought with a price, that they had formerly made a mistake in thinking so, and that their imitation of Christ's life is all that divine justice can demand of them or of any man. Thus they do despite to the spirit of grace manifested by Jehovah in the gift of his only begotten Son, our Redeemer, and presume to stand in the filthy rags of their own righteousness.—Isa. 64:6.
They fall into this great error in their attempt to establish their presumptuous theory. For they see that if it be admitted that the penalty of sin was death when Adam was tried, and if the death of Christ was necessary as the payment of that penalty before any could be pardoned, granted liberty to become sons of God or be resurrected (Rom. 3:24-26; Col. 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:21,22), then, since God changes not, there could be no hope of escape from the second death except by the payment of a second ransom-price for each one so sentenced.
Thus presumptuous sins pervert the judgment, make void the Scriptures and lead to "the great transgression" of "counting the blood of the covenant wherewith we were sanctified a common thing." (Heb. 10:29.) In view of such temptations and tendencies, let the consecrated ever bear in mind that their only safety is in meekness and humility, clinging close to the word of the Lord; and in meditating on its precepts and pondering over all their solemn and momentous import.—"Then shall" they "be upright, and they shall be innocent from the great transgression." And let the constant prayer of all such be—
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.
The Convention for Bible Study and for commemorating our Lord's death, recently announced to be held in Allegheny from April 7th to 14th, is just closed. It has been one of the most interesting of the kind ever held here or perhaps anywhere; for we may scarcely except the gatherings of the early Church in the days of the Apostles.
In numbers the meeting was greater than any of its predecessors—about two hundred attending from neighboring cities, towns and states, in addition to about the same number of home residents. And all these we may safely count as interested ones, because others were invited to stay away.
The visitors came various distances, and represented the following states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Manitoba Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa and Michigan. [R1393 : page 114] This meeting seemed to surpass its predecessors in spiritual tone, if that were possible—but the last always seems to be the best.
The meetings began at six o'clock on the morning of the 7th, in the various bedrooms where the friends were billeted, and continued during breakfast until nine o'clock, the hour of the public meeting—from which the time until ten o'clock was devoted to prayer, praise and exhortation. The morning session for Bible study began at ten o'clock and lasted until one. The afternoon session began at three o'clock and lasted until six. Then came a luncheon and chat followed by evening session for testimony, praise and mutual rejoicing. The latter we endeavored to close at nine o'clock, but sometimes they continued until after eleven. Even after retiring some could not restrain themselves to sleep and let others sleep. And at and between all of these meetings, the topic was the love and plan of God, the centre of that love and plan—the cross of Christ, the blessings already ours through it, the blessings yet to flow from it to the world, and the consecration of heart and every talent to the service of this loving God, this gracious plan and this mighty Savior.
All seemed to show on their faces what they attested with their voices—that their hearts were full and overflowing with the love of God and Christ, resulting from the fact that the light of the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord had shined into their hearts. The Bible study sessions lasted for five days and were followed by two days of conference by and with the Colporteurs relative to their important part in the harvest work. Five new workers decided to give their time in this blessed service which the Master has so signally blessed. Each pledged himself to earnest service to our Redeemer and King during the year beginning, and promised to remember one another continually at the throne of grace.
A number of letters containing money have recently been lost in the mails. Do not send us money. The postoffice clerks are not all honest, although many of them are so. Thieves can feel the money in the envelope and are tempted thereby to steal. Send Bank Drafts, Money Orders or Express Orders, if you would make sure of our receiving what you send.
"And he said to them, "O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory? And beginning at Moses, and through all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."—Luke 24:25-27.
The occasion of this utterance will be remembered: our Lord thus addressed two of his disciples on the way from Jerusalem to Emmaus after his resurrection. They were discussing the strange and wonderful event of the few days previous, when a stranger suddenly drew near and, walking with them, said, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk and are sad?" And, not recognizing the stranger as the Lord himself, one of them said, "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?" And he said unto them, "What things?" And they said unto him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre, and when they found not his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. And some of those with us went to the sepulchre and found it even as the women had said; but him they saw not."
Then follow our Lord's words, "O thoughtless and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter his glory?" The necessity of those things was the great lesson which he endeavored to impart to these confused and bewildered, but earnest, disciples.
From the standpoint of Christians to-day the necessity of those things is much more easily discerned than from the standpoint of the early disciples, in close proximity to those marvelous events. But, nevertheless, there are some to-day also who thoughtlessly stumble into very erroneous conclusions drawn from a reckless and heedless interpretation of the Master's plain teaching. They say, Yes, it was necessary for Christ to suffer because the path of suffering is the only path to glory. Christ had to suffer and so all must suffer; and the glory will follow as a natural consequence, as these words of the Lord teach. This is a very plausible argument to many who lean too much to their own understanding. A more reflective mind would say, No, that is not sound logic; for the glory of Jehovah was not attained through suffering; nor was that of the angels, nor was that of the Son of God in his pre-human existence thus attained. And a more attentive mind would say, No, that was not the ground of necessity for his sufferings to which the Lord referred; for he called attention to [R1393 : page 116] the divinely inspired prophecies which of necessity must be thus fulfilled. The suffering was necessary, because it was a feature of Jehovah's plan for human redemption, and was so expressed by the prophets; and we know that unless it were a feature of that plan, Jehovah would not have required it. The Apostle Paul tells why it was necessary to the plan, saying that it was in order to manifest Jehovah's righteousness in remitting the sins of the already condemned world, showing that he is just, and yet the justifier of the condemned ones who believe in Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation, a satisfaction, a substitute for them—who also freely gave his life as a man, his humanity, a ransom for the many—for the numerous posterity of Adam who had inherited his sin and condemnation.
Hear again the significant query of the Master, "Was it not necessary for the Messiah to have suffered these things?" The query is designed to awaken the thoughtless to a close observance of the justice and wisdom of Jehovah's course in this matter. Suppose for a moment that God had promised mankind salvation from death without this, which our Lord terms a "necessary" provision, what would have been the result? Thoughtful minds will at once see that such a course would have proved (1) That God is a changeable God, declaring at one time that the wages of sin is death, and afterwards reversing his decision and granting life to the condemned; (2) That either in the first or in the second case he was unjust—either that the penalty of death was too severe and therefore unjust, or else, if it were not unjust but a righteous penalty, that he was unjust in reversing such a righteous decision; (3) Such a variable course would unsettle all confidence in God. We would be continually led to question his righteousness and wisdom, and could never feel assured against a sudden and unaccountable change of his attitude and dealing toward us. If he promised us life and happiness today, we could not know that to-morrow he would not take back his word and consign us to misery or death.
Such would have been our sad condition had not this necessity to which our Lord referred been fully met by the sufferings, even unto death, of "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," in compliance with the wise and just plan of God for human redemption. (1 Tim. 2:6.) By this means mankind is justly released from the just penalty which God pronounced against us; for a loving, benevolent Redeemer took our human nature and then sacrificed it in our behalf—thus bearing, in our room and stead, the exact penalty due to Adam and inherited from him by all his posterity. Thus our debt was paid, and all who have faith to believe in the promise of life through Christ are now legally free from the condemnation under which they were born, though the appointed time for their actual release has not yet come. They hold in their possession a promissory note—the sure covenant of Jehovah—sealed with the precious blood of Christ, and payable at the "time appointed," the Millennial Age. Thus they are free men in Christ, they are saved by faith, though they still walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And, comforted by the rod of divine discipline and the staff of divine counsel and favor, they fear no evil, knowing that in due time the promise of lasting life shall be fully verified to them.
But there was another feature of necessity in the divine plan, to which our Lord referred—"Was it not necessary" also "for the Messiah to enter his glory?" The question is to you and to me as well as to those early disciples; and the fact of its being propounded implies our ability to discern the necessity. Yes, it was necessary. Why? Because we needed, not only a redeemer to assume and cancel our past indebtedness, but also an able teacher and leader—a prophet and king—to break the fetters of sin and death and lead us out of our bondage. If the promise of life and liberty were given alone, without such help, we would still be in the same sad state; for the prison doors of death are strong and securely barred and bolted, and we cannot burst them open; and the fetters of sin and sickness, of mental, moral and physical imbecility, are firmly clasped about us, and we have not the power to shake them off. And so we feel the necessity of a [R1393 : page 117] mighty deliverer as well as of a loving redeemer. And, thank God, in his only begotten and well beloved Son we have both. He is our Deliverer as well as our Redeemer, our Savior, [R1394 : page 117] our Prophet, our Priest and our King—strong to deliver and mighty to save; for though as a man he sacrificed all that he then had—his humanity—even unto death, God, accepting that sacrificed humanity as the price of our redemption, renewed his existence in a higher nature—even in his own divine likeness. And thus this second necessity of the divine plan is met in the provision of one who has "all power in heaven and in earth given unto him," and who is therefore abundantly able, not only to awaken the redeemed race from the silence of death, but also to fully establish all of them who desire and will accept of his favor in everlasting righteousness and consequent worthiness of eternal life. Thus, through the blessings of his kingly and priestly office, he will, in due time, present all the willing and obedient faultless before the presence of Jehovah's majesty, to receive his benediction and to enter fully into the eternal joys of his loving favor. In his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand—in his favor—there are pleasures forevermore.—Psa. 16:11.
Consider then, O thoughtless ones, how necessary it was that the Messiah should both suffer death, and also enter his glory. Both the humiliation and the exaltation meet our necessities in such a marvelous way that we clearly recognize the fact that only divine wisdom and love and benevolence and grace could have planned the wondrous scheme. "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only was the death and resurrection and exaltation of Christ thus necessary to God's plan of salvation as viewed from a philosophical standpoint, which the Lord would have us thoughtful enough to observe, but as viewed from the standpoint of prophecy the necessity is also clear; and we should not be slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.
Beginning at Moses, the Lord traced this line of prophecies for the two with whom he conversed, showing how they had been fulfilled in himself; and though his words are not recorded we still have Moses and the prophets and can read them for ourselves. Moses said to Israel, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me: unto him shall ye hearken." (Deut. 18:15.) And here, in the risen Christ, was the beginning of the fulfilment of that promise. Moses had also in the typical ceremonies of the Day of Atonement prefigured both the sacrificial sufferings and the subsequent glory of Christ. The sacrifice of the bullock (Lev. 16:11) prefigured the former, and Aaron—in his robes of typical glory and beauty coming out of the tabernacle after the sacrifice had been accomplished and the blood presented in the "Most Holy" as a typical propitiation for the sins of Israel, and lifting up his hands and blessing the people, till then lying prostrate on the ground to represent the whole human race in death—prefigured the resurrection glory of Christ and his coming out of the Most Holy presence of Jehovah to bless the whole world in the Millennial age. (See "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices.") Was it not indeed necessary to the fulfilment of these divinely instituted types, says our Lord, for the Messiah to have suffered these things and to enter his glory?
Again, Moses testifies of Christ in recording the incidents of the typical sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, who received him again from the dead in a figure (Gen. 22:1-18; Heb. 11:19), thus prefiguring Jehovah's offering of his only begotten Son and receiving him again from the dead.
Again, there were all those prophecies which so particularly described the circumstances of his death—"He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth;" "He made his grave with the wicked [the sinful human race] and with the rich [in the tomb of the rich man, Joseph of Arimathea—Matt. 27:57] in his death" (Isa. 53:7,9); "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken" (Psa. 34:20); "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol, the grave], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psa. 16:10); [R1394 : page 118] "They pierced my hands and my feet;" "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture;" "They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psa. 22:16,18; 69:21.) How minutely all of these had been fulfilled.
And Isaiah (53:5) said, "He was wounded [not for his own, but] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." And Daniel (9:26) said, "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself." And Zechariah (13:1) said, "There shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness." Then they told of his glorious reign, saying—"When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,...the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." "He will swallow up death in victory."—Isa. 53:10; 25:8.
Yes, it was necessary to the fulfilment of all these prophecies that Christ should both suffer death and that he should also enter his glory; and in these blessed facts all thoughtful believers may rejoice. A little while and all the faithful, as members of his body, shall have filled up the measure of his sufferings and shall enter into his glory. Then shortly his glory will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.—Isa. 40:5.r1398 THE METHODIST REVOLT.
r1394 TRAVELS IN THE HOLY LAND.
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.
LESSON IV., APRIL 24, PSALM 23:1-6.
In the precious and true sentiments of this Psalm, David doubtless took great consolation in the midst of his temptations and trials, and of the realization of his own infirmities and short-comings. As he looked back to his early shepherd life and remembered his own care for the dependent sheep of his flock, the thought of the Lord's similar care over his people came to mind. And, doubtless, with this realization of the Lord's goodness and care, came also a renewed determination on David's part to be henceforth a true sheep, that he might always remain under the shepherd's care.
While such was the significance of these words to David, to us, the Church under the care of the Anointed Jesus, our Good Shepherd, they mean more; for, as the Lord's inspired prophet, David puts these words into the mouth of all of the Lord's "little flock" of consecrated followers who obediently hearken to his voice and who in meek humility take comfort both in his chastening rod and in his blessed staff of promise and hope.
To those who are not in this attitude these words do not apply. The Lord is not a shepherd of wayward goats (however, he may permit the common blessings of sun and rain to come to all): the proud and the self-willed have no part in his tender care; and those who are truly his sheep and who can therefore claim his care and leading are, as he tells us (Luke 12:32), only a "little flock," to whom "it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom." And it is to the kingdom—the Millennial Kingdom of God, to be established over all the earth—that the Good Shepherd is thus leading his consecrated flock. Such may truly say—
Verse 1. "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want." They shall have all needful instruction, all needful grace and comfort and discipline and training and care, and such measure of temporal good as will be most conducive to their highest spiritual and everlasting blessing. In fact, all things shall work together for good to the sheep of the Lord's pasture—to the called according to his purpose.—Rom. 8:28.
Verse 2 assures us that our hunger and thirst after truth and righteousness shall be satisfied—that we shall be bountifully fed and sweetly refreshed with the meat in due season and the water of life.
Verse 3—"He restoreth my soul," etc., refers to our present justification through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ; for we are therefore now reckoned as having passed from death unto life, although the times of restitution have not yet begun. And being thus reckoned righteous, we are led by the Good Shepherd in the paths of righteousness and peace "for his name's sake"—because we are his, and because we trust in his name, in his merit, the merit of his sacrifice freely given for our sins.
Verse 4—"Yea, [although I am not actually so restored, yet by faith in the promise, through Christ, I do so reckon myself, even] though [like all the rest of the dying world] I [still] walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [I was born in this valley and shall die in it, yet] I will fear no evil [no failure of thy sure covenant]; for thou art with me, [even here, and] thy [chastening] rod and thy [faithful] staff [of promise and hope], they comfort me."
Verse 5 refers to the bountiful supply of soul-satisfying truth—the meat in due season, and the full cup of joy and gladness—prepared and spread before the household of faith even here in the midst of this valley of the shadow of death and in the presence of our enemies—Satan and his messengers, who vainly seek to stumble the feet of Christ and to subvert our faith. It refers also to our anointing with the holy spirit as members of the body of Christ.
Verse 6. In view of such present bounty and blessing, well may we rest in the assurance that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life—both of this present life and also of that which is to come; and that if, as obedient sheep, we continue to follow the leading of the Good Shepherd we shall eventually dwell in the house of the Lord forever, as members of the royal, divine family, as the bride and joint-heir of Jehovah's dear Son.
LESSON V., MAY 1, PSALM 51:1-13.
This draws our attention to the darkest stain [R1396 : page 124] upon the history of the Prophet David—the matter of the murder of Uriah and the taking of his wife. Skeptics are wont to point to that great, double sin and to sneer: "And that was the 'man after God's own heart,' according to the Bible's grand standard of morality." But the fact is that it was when David was a young shepherd just coming to manhood that he was after God's own heart. And yet in connection with this very matter of this, David's greatest sin, there is something which shows forth his better character which was "after God's heart:" and this is brought before us by this lesson. The commendable features are: (1) He did not attempt to justify his course by saying that all the kings around about did such things and worse, and that it was generally conceded by their subjects that a king had a right to do as he pleased; (2) he not only did not deny the wrong, but he did not even try to see what he could say in self-defense; he did not plead his peculiar temptation nor that it was above that of others, from the power he exercised as king; but he confessed fully and heartily in such a manner as convinces all that his heart was really better than his evil conduct had seemed to indicate. We have no right to [R1397 : page 124] condone David's crimes, but we have the privilege of noting those other qualities in him which to some extent were an offset to his weaknesses.
And it is well, too, that the Bible attests its own truthfulness in thus faithfully preserving the record of the sins of its great characters alongside the records of their faith and service. Of no other book which stands as the foundation of a religion is this true. Others tell only the good and leave the evil untold; but the Bible tells of the weaknesses of its greatest heroes except our Lord Jesus: of Paul's persecutions; of Peter's denial and blasphemy; of David's sins; of Abraham's errors, etc.
Yet this, which worldly wisdom would consider a serious drawback, God saw to be the proper thing; and many of God's people have been greatly blessed by these very records of human weakness and sin. They but corroborate God's testimony that all have sinned; that there is none righteous; that all need the grace of God to forgive the past and to lift them out of the miry pit of sin and its consequences. And many a sinner has thus been taught to have hope toward God for forgiveness and to realize that God who offers him his grace has had compassion upon others who were out of the way when they turned to him with true repentance.
Verses 1-3. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is continually before me."
David thus plead for mercy; and although he realized finally that God's favor was restored to him, he knew nothing of the real philosophy of the matter—how God could be just and yet be the justifier of those whose sins merited wrath. Ah, yes! the standpoint of the sons of God, during this Gospel age, is much more blessed. Our Father in heaven not only tells us of our forgiveness and reconciliation to his favor, but he gives us the particulars so that we may see how he has done it without sanctioning our sins or excusing them and without violating his own just law on the subject. He shows us that Christ our Lord was the Lamb of God whose death as our substitute and sin offering taketh away the sins of the world; that by his stripes pardon and healing may be granted to whosoever accepts the grace offered through him. Indeed, David's sins were not blotted out nor forgiven; for although the Lord restored to him divine favor and communion, he punished him severely for his sin, as he had foretold by Nathan the Prophet (2 Sam. 12:11,12), Absolom's rebellion being the means employed.
True, the penalty exacted was not the full penalty of sin, for that would have been lasting death. God showed mercy on David (as to all Jews under the Law Covenant established upon the basis of the typical sacrifices) in that he made allowance for his fallen condition and hence punished his sin, not with everlasting death, but with trouble, etc., in connection with Absolom's rebellion, as above stated.
And as with David and others under the typical Law Covenant, so, too, it is with God's children under the New Covenant in Christ. The death of Christ as our ransom-price cancels the original sin of Adam, and also such portion or degree of our sins and shortcomings as are involuntary and contrary to our real sentiments. But whatever proportion of a sin is wilful, designed and agreed to by us, has a penalty attached to be inflicted in either the present or the future life. And in the case of all who shall be members in the Anointed body, God declares that such sins shall be punished in the present life—saying through the Apostle "Some men's sins go before to judgment [during the present life], others they follow after" into the next life, when some shall be beaten with many and some with a few stripes. And again it is specified that in the cases of all accounted worthy to be of the glorified Church, [R1397 : page 125] they are chastened now in order that they may not have part with the world in the condemnation (trial) of the world in the next age.—1 Tim. 5:24; Luke 12:48; 1 Cor. 11:32.
Verses 4 and 5. David's confession here is to God—the wronged Uriah was dead. Anyway, in that day it was esteemed a king's privilege to have the bodies and lives of his people subject to his will; and doubtless other kings habitually did as bad. But David had been enlightened and knew better, and although his offenses would have been lightly passed over by others, David realized his guilt before God and besought his mercy. He confessed his sin that others might know, when the chastisements of the Lord should come, that God's judgments and the king's troubles were just punishments and not violations of God's covenant promises.
Verses 5-12. After confessing in verse 5 his original sin—his impairment through the fall—he shows in verse 6 his clear appreciation of the divine plan. Although fallen and weak in the flesh, and therefore unable to do perfectly, God looks for and demands purity of heart (purity of motive or intention) and this David realized he had not manifested. Hence his prayer in succeeding verses is not that the Lord shall excuse him in sin, but that his heart may be cleansed and brought into harmony with God's character and plan. Alas! how strange that some living under the still clearer light of the Gospel dispensation fail to see what David so clearly expresses, and instead some even charge God with inspiring and causing all sin and crime and wickedness. But David was right, and these would-be wise ones have become darkened and foolish in their vain imaginations.
Verse 13. What a grand principle is here set forth. It is eminently proper that those who would be used of the Lord as teachers to instruct transgressors, whether in this or the coming age, should be fully consecrated to God—clean—pure in heart. And the only way to get to this condition is to lay hold by faith upon the merits of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and to have our sins blotted out by him, and then, too, to be renewed in spirit, sanctified through the truth.r1397 ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM EARNEST WORKERS.