"The House of Israel"
proclaiming the truths of the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred,
tongue, and people, God's church on earth today is fulfilling the ancient
prophecy, "Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the
world with fruit." Isaiah 27:6. The followers of Jesus, in
co-operation with heavenly intelligences, are rapidly occupying the waste
places of the earth; and, as the result of their labors, an abundant
fruitage of precious souls is developing. Today, as never before, the
dissemination of Bible truth by means of a consecrated church is bringing
to the sons of men the benefits foreshadowed centuries ago in the promise
to Abraham and to all Israel,--to God's church on earth in every
age,--"I will bless thee, . . . and thou shalt be a blessing."
of blessing should have met fulfillment in large measure during the
centuries following the return of the Israelites from the lands of their
captivity. It was God's
the whole earth be prepared for the first advent of Christ, even as today
the way is preparing for His second coming. At the end of the years of
humiliating exile, God graciously gave to His people Israel, through
Zechariah, the assurance: "I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in
the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and
the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain." And of His
people He said, "Behold, . . . I will be their God, in truth and in
righteousness." Zechariah 8:3, 7, 8.
promises were conditional on obedience. The sins that had characterized
the Israelites prior to the captivity, were not to be repeated.
"Execute true judgment," the Lord exhorted those who were
engaged in rebuilding; "and show mercy and compassions every man to
his brother: and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger,
nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother."
"Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment
of truth and peace in your gates." Zechariah 7:9, 10; 8:16.
Rich were the
rewards, both temporal and spiritual, promised those who should put into
practice these principles of righteousness. "The seed shall be
prosperous," the Lord declared; "the vine shall give her fruit,
and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their
dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these
things. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the
heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so I will save you, and ye
shall be a blessing." Zechariah 8:12, 13.
Babylonish captivity the Israelites were effectually cured of the worship
of graven images. After their return, they gave much attention to
religious instruction and to the study of that which had been written in
the book of the law and in the prophets concerning the worship of the true
God. The restoration of the temple enabled them to carry out fully the
ritual services of the sanctuary. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, of
Ezra, and of Nehemiah they repeatedly covenanted to keep all the
commandments and ordinances of Jehovah. The seasons of prosperity that
followed gave ample evidence of God's willingness to accept and forgive,
and yet with fatal shortsightedness they turned again and again from their
glorious destiny and selfishly appropriated to themselves that which would
have brought healing and spiritual life to countless multitudes.
to fulfill the divine purpose was very apparent in Malachi's day. Sternly
the Lord's messenger dealt with the evils that were robbing Israel of
temporal prosperity and spiritual power. In his rebuke against
transgressors the prophet spared neither priests nor people. "The
burden of the word of the Lord to Israel" through Malachi was that
the lessons of the past be not forgotten and that the covenant made by
Jehovah with the house of Israel be kept with fidelity. Only by heartfelt
repentance could the blessing of God be realized. "I pray you,"
the prophet pleaded, "beseech God that He will be gracious unto
us." Malachi 1:1, 9.
Not by any
temporary failure of Israel, however, was the plan of the ages for the
redemption of mankind to be
Those to whom the prophet was speaking might not heed the message given,
but the purposes of Jehovah were nevertheless to move steadily forward to
their complete fulfillment. "From the rising of the sun even unto the
going down of the same," the Lord declared through His messenger,
"My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place
incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name
shall be great among the heathen." Malachi 1:11.
of "life and peace" God had made with the sons of Levi--the
covenant which, if kept, would have brought untold blessing--the Lord now
offered to renew with those who once had been spiritual leaders, but who
through transgression had become "contemptible and base before all
the people." Malachi 2:5, 9.
evildoers were warned of the day of judgment to come and of Jehovah's
purpose to visit with swift destruction every transgressor. Yet none were
left without hope; Malachi's prophecies of judgment were accompanied by
invitations to the impenitent to make their peace with God. "Return
unto Me," the Lord urged; "and I will return unto you."
It seems as
if every heart must respond to such an invitation. The God of heaven is
pleading with His erring children to return to Him, that they may again
co-operate with Him in carrying forward His work in the earth. The Lord
holds out His hand to take the hand of Israel and to help them to the
narrow path of self-denial and self-sacrifice,
to share with Him the heirship as sons of God. Will they be entreated?
Will they discern their only hope?
How sad the
record, that in Malachi's day the Israelites hesitated to yield their
proud hearts in prompt and loving obedience and hearty co-operation!
Self-vindication is apparent in their response, "Wherein shall we
reveals to His people one of their special sins. "Will a man rob
God?" He asks. "Yet ye have robbed Me." Still unconvicted
of sin, the disobedient inquire, "Wherein have we robbed Thee?"
indeed is the Lord's answer: "In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed
with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all
the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in Mine house, and
prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the
windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be
room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your
vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome
land, saith the Lord of hosts." Verses 7-12.
the work of men's hands, that they may return to Him His portion. He gives
them the sunshine and the rain; He causes vegetation to flourish; He gives
health and ability to acquire means. Every blessing comes from His
bountiful hand, and He desires men and women to show their gratitude by
returning Him a portion in tithes
offerings--in thank offerings, in freewill offerings, in trespass
offerings. They are to devote their means to His service, that His
vineyard may not remain a barren waste. They are to study what the Lord
would do were He in their place. They are to take all difficult matters to
Him in prayer. They are to reveal an unselfish interest in the building up
of His work in all parts of the world.
messages such as those borne by Malachi, the last of the Old Testament
prophets, as well as through oppression from heathen foes, the Israelites
finally learned the lesson that true prosperity depends upon obedience to
the law of God. But with many of the people, obedience was not the outflow
of faith and love. Their motives were selfish. Outward service was
rendered as a means of attaining to national greatness. The chosen people
did not become the light of the world, but shut themselves away from the
world as a safeguard against being seduced into idolatry. The restrictions
which God had given, forbidding intermarriage between His people and the
heathen, and prohibiting Israel from joining in the idolatrous practices
of surrounding nations, were so perverted as to build up a wall of
partition between the Israelites and all other peoples, thus shutting from
others the very blessings which God had commissioned Israel to give to the
At the same
time the Jews were, by their sins, separating themselves from God. They
were unable to discern the deep spiritual significance of their symbolic
service. In their self-righteousness they trusted to their own works, to
the sacrifices and ordinances themselves, instead of relying upon
the merits of
Him to whom all these things pointed. Thus "going about to establish
their own righteousness" (Romans 10:3), they built themselves up in a
self-sufficient formalism. Wanting the Spirit and grace of God, they tried
to make up for the lack by a rigorous observance of religious ceremonies
and rites. Not content with the ordinances which God Himself had
appointed, they encumbered the divine commands with countless exactions of
their own devising. The greater their distance from God, the more rigorous
they were in the observance of these forms.
these minute and burdensome exactions it was a practical impossibility for
the people to keep the law. The great principles of righteousness set
forth in the Decalogue, and the glorious truths shadowed in the symbolic
service, were alike obscured, buried under a mass of human tradition and
enactment. Those who were really desirous of serving God, and who tried to
observe the whole law as enjoined by the priests and rulers, groaned under
a heavy burden.
As a nation,
the people of Israel, while desiring the advent of the Messiah, were so
far separated from God in heart and life that they could have no true
conception of the character or mission of the promised Redeemer. Instead
of desiring redemption from sin, and the glory and peace of holiness,
their hearts were fixed upon deliverance from their national foes, and
restoration to worldly power. They looked for Messiah to come as a
conqueror, to break every yoke, and exalt Israel to dominion over all
nations. Thus Satan had succeeded in preparing the hearts of the people to
Saviour when He should appear. Their own pride of heart, and their false
conceptions of His character and mission, would prevent them from honestly
weighing the evidences of His Messiahship.
For more than
a thousand years the Jewish people had waited the coming of the promised
Saviour. Their brightest hopes had rested upon this event. For a thousand
years, in song and prophecy, in temple rite and household prayer, His name
had been enshrined; and yet when He came, they did not recognize Him as
the Messiah for whom they had so long waited. "He came unto His own,
and His own received Him not." John 1:11. To their world-loving
hearts the Beloved of heaven was "as a root out of a dry
ground." In their eyes He had "no form nor comeliness;"
they discerned in Him no beauty that they should desire Him. Isaiah 53:2.
life of Jesus of Nazareth among the Jewish people was a reproof to their
selfishness, as revealed in their unwillingness to recognize the just
claims of the Owner of the vineyard over which they had been placed as
husbandmen. They hated His example of truthfulness and piety; and when the
final test came, the test which meant obedience unto eternal life or
disobedience unto eternal death, they rejected the Holy One of Israel and
became responsible for His crucifixion on Calvary's cross.
parable of the vineyard, Christ near the close of His earthly ministry
called the attention of the Jewish teachers to the rich blessings bestowed
upon Israel, and in these showed God's claim to their obedience. Plainly
the glory of God's purpose, which through obedience they might have
fulfilled. Withdrawing the veil from the future, He showed how, by failure
to fulfill His purpose, the whole nation was forfeiting His blessing and
bringing ruin upon itself.
was a certain householder," Christ said, "which planted a
vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine press in it, and
built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far
country." Matthew 21:33.
Saviour referred to "the vineyard of the Lord of hosts," which
the prophet Isaiah centuries before had declared to be "the house of
Israel." Isaiah 5:7.
when the time of the fruit drew near," Christ continued, the owner of
the vineyard "sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might
receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat
one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants
more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he
sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the
husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir;
come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they
caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him."
portrayed before the priests their crowning act of wickedness, Christ now
put to them the question, "When the lord therefore of the vineyard
cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?" The priests had been
following the narrative with deep interest; and without considering the
relation of the subject to themselves, they joined
people in answering, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and
will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him
the fruits in their seasons."
they had pronounced their own doom. Jesus looked upon them, and under His
searching gaze they knew that He read the secrets of their hearts. His
divinity flashed out before them with unmistakable power. They saw in the
husbandmen a picture of themselves, and they involuntarily exclaimed,
regretfully Christ asked: "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The
stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the
corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and
given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall
fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it
will grind him to powder." Matthew 21:34-44.
have averted the doom of the Jewish nation if the people had received Him.
But envy and jealousy made them implacable. They determined that they
would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They rejected the
Light of the world, and henceforth their lives were surrounded with
darkness as the darkness of midnight. The doom foretold came upon the
Jewish nation. Their own fierce passions, uncontrolled, wrought their
ruin. In their blind rage they destroyed one another. Their rebellious,
stubborn pride brought upon them the wrath of their Roman
Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple laid in ruins, and its site plowed
like a field. The children of Judah perished by the most horrible forms of
death. Millions were sold to serve as bondmen in heathen lands.
God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He
will finally accomplish through His church on earth today. He has
"let out His vineyard
husbandmen," even to His covenant-keeping people, who faithfully
"render Him the fruits in their seasons." Never has the Lord
been without true representatives on this earth who have made His
interests their own. These witnesses for God are numbered among the
spiritual Israel, and to them will be fulfilled all the covenant promises
made by Jehovah to His ancient people.
church of God is free to carry forward to completion the divine plan for
the salvation of a lost race. For many centuries God's people suffered a
restriction of their liberties. The preaching of the gospel in its purity
was prohibited, and the severest of penalties were visited upon those who
dared disobey the mandates of men. As a consequence, the Lord's great
moral vineyard was almost wholly unoccupied. The people were deprived of
the light of God's word. The darkness of error and superstition threatened
to blot out a knowledge of true religion. God's church on earth was as
verily in captivity during this long period of relentless persecution as
were the children of Israel held captive in Babylon during the period of
God, His church is no longer in bondage. To spiritual Israel have been
restored the privileges accorded the people of God at the time of their
deliverance from Babylon. In every part of the earth, men and women are
responding to the Heaven-sent message which John the revelator prophesied
would be proclaimed prior to the second coming of Christ: "Fear God,
and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come."
have the hosts of evil power to keep the church captive; for "Babylon
is fallen, is fallen, that great city," which hath "made all
nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication;" and to
spiritual Israel is given the message, "Come out of her, My people,
that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her
plagues." Verse 8; 18:4. As the captive exiles heeded the message,
"Flee out of the midst of Babylon" (Jeremiah 51:6), and were
restored to the Land of Promise, so those who fear God today are heeding
the message to withdraw from spiritual Babylon, and soon they are to stand
as trophies of divine grace in the earth made new, the heavenly Canaan.
day the mocking inquiry of the impenitent, "Where is the God of
judgment?" met with the solemn response: "The Lord . . . shall
suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant. . . . But
who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He
appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He
shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the
sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto
the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah
and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in
former years." Malachi 2:17; 3:1-4.
promised Messiah was about to appear, the message of the forerunner of
Christ was: Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and
Sadducees; "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2.
Today, in the
spirit and power of Elias and of John the Baptist, messengers of God's
appointment are calling the attention of a judgment-bound world to the
solemn events soon to take place in connection with the closing hours of
probation and the appearance of Christ Jesus as King of kings and Lord of
lords. Soon every man is to be judged for the deeds done in the body. The
hour of God's judgment has come, and upon the members of His church on
earth rests the solemn responsibility of giving warning to those who are
standing as it were on the very brink of eternal ruin. To every human
being in the wide world who will give heed must be made plain the
principles at stake in the great controversy being waged, principles upon
which hang the destinies of all mankind.
final hours of probation for the sons of men, when the fate of every soul
is so soon to be decided forever, the Lord of heaven and earth expects His
church to arouse to action as never before. Those who have been made free
in Christ through a knowledge of precious truth, are regarded by the Lord
Jesus as His chosen ones, favored above all other people on the face of
the earth; and He is counting on them to show forth the praises of Him who
hath called them out of darkness into marvelous light. The blessings which
are so liberally bestowed are to be communicated to others. The good news
of salvation is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
visions of the prophets of old the Lord of glory was represented as
bestowing special light upon His church
in the days
of darkness and unbelief preceding His second coming. As the Sun of
Righteousness, He was to arise upon His church, "with healing in His
wings." Malachi 4:2. And from every true disciple was to be diffused
an influence for life, courage, helpfulness, and true healing.
The coming of
Christ will take place in the darkest period of this earth's history. The
days of Noah and of Lot picture the condition of the world just before the
coming of the Son of man. The Scriptures, pointing forward to this time,
declare that Satan will work with all power and "with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10. His
working is plainly revealed by the rapidly increasing darkness, the
multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only
is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the
professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will
develop into darkness deep as midnight. To God's people it will be a night
of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth's sake.
But out of that night of darkness God's light will shine.
"the light to shine out of darkness." 2 Corinthians 4:6. When
"the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face
of the deep," "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
Genesis 1:2, 3. So in the night of spiritual darkness, God's word goes
forth, "Let there be light." To His people He says, "Arise,
shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon
thee." Isaiah 60:1.
says the Scripture, "the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross
darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory
shall be seen upon thee." Verse 2. Christ, the outshining of the
Father's glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God
to men, and of Him it is written that He was anointed "with the Holy
Ghost and with power," and "went about doing good." Acts
10:38. In the synagogue at Nazareth He said, "The Spirit of the Lord
is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor;
He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them
that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke
4:18, 19. This was the work He commissioned His disciples to do. "Ye
are the light of the world," He said. "Let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father
which is in heaven." Matthew 5:14, 16.
This is the
work which the prophet Isaiah describes when he says: "Is it not to
deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast
out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that
thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break
forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and
thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy
rearward." Isaiah 58:7, 8.
Thus in the
night of spiritual darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His
church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn.
All around us
are heard the wails of a world's sorrow. On every hand are the needy and
distressed. It is ours to aid in relieving and softening life's hardships
and misery. The wants of the soul only the love of Christ can satisfy. If
Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The
sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed.
many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many
have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them.
There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the word of
God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor
physician heal. Pray for these souls. Bring them to Jesus. Tell them that
there is a balm in Gilead and a Physician there.
Light is a
blessing, a universal blessing, pouring forth its treasures on a world
unthankful, unholy, demoralized. So it is with the light of the Sun of
Righteousness. The whole earth, wrapped as it is in the darkness of sin
and sorrow and pain, is to be lighted with the knowledge of God's love.
From no sect, rank, or class of people is the light shining from heaven's
throne to be excluded.
of hope and mercy is to be carried to the ends of the earth. Whosoever
will, may reach forth and take hold of God's strength and make peace with
Him, and he shall make peace. No longer are the heathen to be wrapped in
midnight darkness. The gloom is to disappear before the bright beams of
the Sun of Righteousness.
made every provision that His church shall be a transformed body,
illumined with the Light of the world, possessing the glory of Immanuel.
It is His purpose that every Christian shall be surrounded with a
spiritual atmosphere of light and peace. He desires that we shall reveal
His own joy in our lives.
shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon
thee." Isaiah 60:1. Christ is coming with power and great glory. He
is coming with His own glory and with the glory of the Father. And the
holy angels will attend Him on His way. While all the world is plunged in
darkness, there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will
catch the first light of His second appearing. The unsullied light will
shine from His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all
who have served Him. While the wicked flee, Christ's followers will
rejoice in His presence.
Then it is
that the redeemed from among men will receive their promised inheritance.
Thus God's purpose for Israel will meet with literal fulfillment. That
which God purposes, man is powerless to disannul. Even amid the working of
evil, God's purposes have been moving steadily forward to their
accomplishment. It was thus with the house of Israel throughout the
history of the divided monarchy; it is thus with spiritual Israel today.
The seer of
Patmos, looking down through the ages to the time of this restoration of
Israel in the earth made new, testified:
beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all
nations, and kindreds, and people, and
stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes,
and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation
to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four
beasts ["living creatures," R.V.], and fell before the throne on
their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and
wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God
forever and ever."
heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many
waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the
Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor
to Him." "He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that
are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Revelation
7:9-12; 19:6, 7; 17:14.