The non-Christian observer watching the agony of the Jew has some very difficult questions to answer, such as these.  Remembering how God used to avenge every insult offered to Israel, how are we to explain this total abandonment of the Jew to judgment?  Again, no nation has so wept and prayed and fasted, or so scrupulously sought to obey the Law, yet for two thousand years God has not relented from national judgment for one moment.  How is this explained?  Again, seventy years’ captivity sufficed to cure Israel of idolatry for ever, and restore them to God’s favour.  What depth of crime, that must have gone deeper than idolatry and has never been cured, has kept God alienated for two thousand years?  Finally, within the short compass of seventy years’ captivity God gave Israel three extraordinarily brilliant stars - Zechariah, Jeremiah and Daniel: how is it that not one prophet from God has illuminated for Israel the midnight darkness of two millenniums?  What has Israel done commensurate to such agony?



We are met at once by one tremendous fact as plain as history can make it.  It all dates from Calvary.  And a fact no less decisive is that at Calvary Israel came to its final conclusion concerning the Christ of God.  In Isaiah 53. we read: We esteemed Him smitten of God.”  This was true of sudden disease, and especially of leprosy.  The Jews could not have thought Jesus a physical leper, or He would never have been allowed to enter the temple.  They held Him to be a spiritual leper; and Calvary extraordinarily confirmed the judgment. For the law said: He that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut. 21: 23), or, as the Hebrew is, is the curse of God”.  The crucifixion, to the Jews, is final; and the modern Jew says so.  The very form of his punishment,” says the Jewish Encyclopaedia (article “Jesus”), would disprove his Messiahship.  No Messiah that Jews could recognize could suffer such a death.”



So the great stumbling-block to the Jew is the blood atonement of Calvary.  A modern Jew of front rank ability thus expresses it:- The death of Jesus, as an atonement for the sins of the world by means of his blood, is found to be utterly repugnant to our moral sense.”  The situation is most startling.  No nation in the world has ever so testified to the necessity of atonement by blood as the Jewish, the whole of whose ritual was based on cleansing through blood.  Yet so effectual has been their decision at Calvary that ever since their theologians have decided that atonement is without blood, and therefore their rejection of our Lord is total.  The Jew just quoted, continues:-The argument of the Jews against the claim of Jesus is now practically the same as the objection which certain of his contemporaries replied to him: ‘For a good work we stone thee not, but for blaspheming and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.’  That is, the Jews deliberately adjudicate Jesus once more, after two thousand years, as a moral leper.



So now the sharp clash explains itself.  Two thousand years of judgment are exactly balanced by two thousand years of passionate refusal of Calvary, manifestly, therefore, a crime in the sight of the Most High commensurate with such a judgment.  For it was within actual sight of Calvary that the doom was invited by the Jew in the moment that it was foretold by our Lord.  His blood be upon us, and on our children” (Matt. 27: 25), “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23: 28).  The crucifixion of the Jew has replaced by his own choice the crucifixion of his Lord.  No nation, or individual, in any age of the world’s history, could make a more colossal, or a more awful blunder.  The life of Jesus might have warned them, the miracles of Jesus might have warned them, above all, the resurrection of Jesus, publicly attested, and publicly known, ought to have startled them out of this gigantic blunder.  Jesus was a curse, for as their greatest prophet had warned them twelve times in a single chapter - He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all” (Isaiah 53: 5).



So the agony of the Jew is solved.  We preach a crucified Messiah, to the Jews a stumbling-block” (1 Cor. 1: 23).  The Jew has accepted no less than twenty-four Messiahs, all of whom have turned out either impostors or else self-deluded fanatics.  Can a nation which has made the gigantic mistake of accepting twenty-four false Messiahs be infallible in rejecting the twenty-fifth?  What accentuates the crime, and explains the agony, is that all these Messiahs have appeared since Christ, except Judas of Galilee, who was a contemporary of our Lord; the last in 1872.  It has been a studied rejection and acceptance.



But Israel will yet come back to blood atonement, and already many are accepting Him whom they have pierced.  The Rev. W. E. Wilner, President of the Hebrew-Christian Alliance of Czechoslovakia, writes:- When I inform you of the number of Jews writing for baptism you will think I am mad; twelve to fourteen thousand are asking for baptism here.  At one meeting I have instructed more than 300 baptismal candidates.”  What is it that makes atonement for the soul?” asked a Jewish rabbi’s son of his father.  It is the blood,” answered the father, quoting Leviticus, 27: 2.  Then why are there no blood sacrifices in our synagogues,” persisted the boy.  The old man had to confess sadly that no sacrifice could be lawfully offered except at Jerusalem.  Then,” said his son, we have no atonement.”  His father could offer him no help here, for the orthodox Jews have no adequate answer to such an argument.  And so began the search for atoning blood which ended for the rabbi’s son at the foot of the Cross.









Once for all the Incarnate Son of God died to redeem man kind, and thereafter death had no more dominion over Him.  To make Good Friday commemorate only the brutal ending of a holy life would be to debase it immeasurably.  Many saints have ennobled history, yet none was sinless; many martyrs have surrendered their lives, yet none by dying could win forgiveness and eternal hope for the guilty human race.  To turn to the Cross is to look upon an example of perfect holiness, the greatest of teachers, the bravest and most patient of sufferers.  Yet something more, something wholly different, is needed by men and women crushingly burdened by the weight of sin, their own and the world’s, by feelings of remorse, and impotence, and what has seemed like vain desire.  A pattern of goodness, a teacher of wisdom, is welcome enough; yet no one less than the Divine Saviour can satisfy a soul when once it has become conscious of its ultimate need.  Those therefore who in spirit turn to Calvary come not merely to pity or revere a martyred leader, but in penitence and gratitude to worship their Lord.  Such is the part of the Good Friday message which remains unaltered and unalterable through the centuries.


                                                                                                  - The Times, March 21, 1940.



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Our Lord felt acutely the difficulty of finding in nature a parallel to what was to happen to the Church of Christ in its growth down the ages; and it extraordinarily confirms His embarrassment that commentators, practically without exception, have missed the truth for which He found it so difficult to find a natural illustration.  How shall we liken the kingdom of God? or in what parable shall we set it forth?” (Mark 4: 30).  Turning the telescope of His divine foresight down two millenniums of Church history, the development of the little group in the Upper Room is so utterly abnormal, so contrary to all laws of growth, that Nature, in its ordinary activities, can show few parallels, and the Creator Himself says it.*


* The invariable exposition of the parable - the conversion of the world by Christian principles - contradicts all our Lord’s own unparabolic teaching, and makes any difficulty in finding a simile absurd.  Any seed and any tree would be sufficient.  The legitimate expansion of the Seed has already (immediately preceding, Mark 4: 26) had a parable devoted to it.  Moreover, our Lord had said (Matt. 13: 35) that He was about to reveal “things hidden from the foundation of the world”.  Messiah’s coming universal Reign over all the earth was no secret: on the contrary, the absorption of literal world-empire springing from the Gospel He first - then history - revealed.






The first decisive factor, the key to the lock, is the symbol which the Holy Spirit makes throughout Scripture of Trees.  The Holy Spirit’s utterances and Christ’s are one; and a tree is, throughout, the symbol of a Kingdom: earth is over-shaded by the forest of the kingdoms of the world.  In the Book of Judges (9: 8) we have the Fig, the Olive, the Cedar, and the Bramble, all explained as kingdoms.  The trees went forth on a time, to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive treeIsraelReign over us.”  So, picturing imperial power with world-wide rule, Nebuchadnezzar is described as a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth” (Dan. 4: 10).  The peril of this greatness is embodied in a warning:- Behold the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one, to the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs” (Ezek. 31: 3).






Now if kingdoms are trees, the seeds of the tree are manifestly the germinal principles, the hidden roots, out of which a kingdom grows; and these, in the kingdoms of the world, may be expressed as wealth, population, power and glory - the root facts which alone make powerful nations.  Finance creates armaments; armaments are vast according to population; population creates power; and power - in wealth, arms, population - crowns a nation with glory.  These bedrock principles of national power can be righteously used in God-blessed nations, such as in Israel under Solomon: on the other hand, how deeply evil they can be we see to-day in cruel and murderous nations: in either case, they are the acorns that produce the mighty oaks of the world.






Next, the Lord, to show the germinal principles of the Church of God - principles He Himself had sown - takes, as it were, mustard seed in his hand: which, when it is sown upon the earth, [is] less than all the seeds that are upon the earth” (Mark 4: 31): that is, the principles at the root of the Church are tiny, powdered ash as compared with the principles on which the nations are built.  Instead of riches, poverty - Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation” (Luke 6: 24): instead of numbers, paucity - Few be they that find it” (Matt. 7: 14): instead of power, harmlessness - Resist not him that is evil” (Matt. 5: 39): instead of glory, humility - Whosoever would become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20: 26).  No monarch or statesman ever dreamed of founding a kingdom on principles so humbling and self-denying on every point of human greatness as did our Lord; and from such mustard-seed nothing could normally grow but the tiniest of herbs.






But now what has historically happened?  Exactly what our Lord foresaw.  Yet, when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs” (Mark 4: 32), “and became a tree” (Luke 13: 19).  It went in minute; it comes out gigantic: it has sucked out of the earth - that is, the world - a greatness not belonging to it: it has broken the law of its growth, and the pot-plant, or shrub, has become a forest giant.*  Out of the powdered mustard-seed, says a traveller in Palestine, Dr. Thomson, I have seen, in the Plain of Acre, a mustard tree as tall as a horse and its rider.”


* The seed of the moss is microscopic; so is the plant that springs from it” (Govett).





[* We would be justified in applying some of what here follows to a large section of today’s apostate PROTESTANT church also!]



Now we see history’s startling confirmation of the parable.  The Church, sown of God to be a lovely but despised shrub, expands, consciously and purposely, into a forest monarch.  Take point by point.  (1) Wealth. Up to the date of the War, the annual income of the Vatican was £10,000,000, and the upkeep of the Papal Palace alone cost quarter of a million sterling; and its monastic institutions, taken together, form one of the wealthiest corporations of the world.  (2) Population.  The Church of Rome’s abolition of conversion for entry into the Church, and substitution of a magical rite in infancy, has so broken down the barriers between the Church and the world, enormously increasing her membership, that she now numbers the gigantic total of more than 300,000,000; and she is pictured at last as seated on “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues(Rev. 17: 15). (3) Power.  The Pope is surrounded with armed men; he has re-created, with Mussolini, a temporal kingdom; and his ambassadors are in nearly every capital of the world.  And (4) Glory: Rome’s Easter festivals in St. Peter’s are among the most gorgeous shows in Europe; and the Pope himself is crowned with a triple tiara, as ‘King of kings’.






One detail still more closely photographs the facts.  It becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches” (Mark 4: 32).  Great Sacerdotal and State Churches arose, identical in principle, though on a less gigantic scale, with vast unconverted memberships, great wealth, State power, and vestments, thrones and palaces rivalling the glory of kings.  And as the Lord’s photograph covers all history, and so the full-grown Mustard Tree is at the end, we shall yet see these mighty branches - the Greek Church, the Anglican, the Armenian, the Coptic - incorporated into Rome.  The peril of a Church which allows itself to grow into earthly greatness can never be fully known until Eternity dawns.






The final phase, consequent on the tree’s full growth, completes the picture.  The Church develops into a spiritual empire so magnificent, so worldly, as to become a lodging place for the sower’s deadliest enemies: so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof.  Our Lord reveals that the birds, which He had just described (Mark 4: 15) as evil spirits, are thieves of the seed, which (He says) is the Word of God: birds, not always visible or audible within a tree’s leafage, especially when lodging there at night, but secretly watching to remove the seed - the Scriptures of God.






One of the most amazing admissions ever made in the history of controversy is that of Father Hugh Benson, the son of an Archbishop of Canterbury who became a Roman priest, in which he identifies Roman ‘miracles’ with Spiritualism.  He says:- It would be possible to multiply parallels [between Roman Catholicism and Spiritualism] almost indefinitely.  Communications made at a distance by other than physical means; phantasms of the living (called by the Church ‘bi-location’) and the dead; faith-healing; the psychical effect of monotonous repetition; the value of what the Church calls ‘sacramentals’; that is, of suggestive articles (such as water) in which there is no intrinsic value; the levitation of heavy bodies [as the known and recorded ‘spirit levitations’ of St. Theresa and Ignatius Loyola]; even the capacity of inanimate objects to retain a kind of emotional or spiritual aroma of the person who was once in relation to them, as in the case of relics (Atlantic Monthly, Aug., 1910).  So also here is an actual spirit communication, confirming the identity from the side of the Spiritualists:- What is every celebration of the Mass but a materializing séance carried to the highest Spiritualistic point?  And what is the teaching of the Church as to the invocation of all Saints but Spiritualism pure and simple?” - (Contemporary Review, Oct., 1910).






A still more startling development, nearer home, reveals the birds twittering even in the Branches.  As far back as Feb. 10, 1916 The Guardian, after a careful defence of intercourse with the dead, wrote:- Men and women all over the country have been made more certain of the fact that their dead are speaking to them than they are of their own existence.  It behoves us not to be content with ‘warning’ them, out of our ignorance, of ‘grave dangers’ which we have imagined for them, but to find out the grounds of their conversion.”  But a far graver portent is now here.  Three years ago, on the suggestion of the Archbishop of York, a Committee was appointed by the Archbishops to investigate and report on Spiritualism.  The result was reached a year ago, and it has been communicated to the Bishops, but so far it has been withheld from publication: a majority report of 7 to 3 endorses Spiritualism, and among the signatures in favour of Spiritualism are the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Dr. Matthews, Dean of St. Paul’s, and Canon Anson, Master of the Temple.  It is little wonder that Psychic News (Mar. 9, 1940), the world’s most widely circulated Spiritualist paper, acclaims it Spiritualism’s great triumph, and says (Mar. 23, 1940):- “The majority has decided that Spiritualism has proved communication with the dead, and suggest a closer working between the Church and Spiritualism.”  Thus the Church of England, if we assume (as the majority report does), that Spiritualism is intercourse with the dead and not with demons, is on the verge of officially endorsing Necromancy, of which Jehovah says,- WHOSOEVER DOETH THESE THINGS IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD” (Deut. 18: 12).*


* In 1920 the Church of Scotland appointed a Committee to investigate Spiritualism which reported two years later.  In the words of Dr. Norman Maclean, an ex-Moderator:- “The Church decided that psychical research was not contrary to the teachings of the Christian faith, and that members of the Church were not forbidden to exercise their minds in this field.”










The Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland is the first Christian group to support, officially, the coming World-Empire, in the teeth of prophecy.  Its Council says:-There must be an international organization enjoying the support of peoples as well as governments.  To ensure this, some surrender of national sovereignty is indispensable.  Such an organization must not be regarded as a mere experiment, but as a necessary expression of permanent human relations.  The international body must have its appropriate organs, including courts of law and equity and an adequate force to ensure respect of decisions.  The exercise of force should be limited to action taken by or with the approval of the international body.”




It is deeply gratifying to note the rousing shock of current events.  Professor Karl Barth has just written:- “Even if human calculation gave a hundred per cent, certainty, we as Christians have to remind ourselves that there are such things as ‘miracles of the antichrist’, absolutely unexpected and astonishing achievements of the ‘beast out of the abyss’, which God has His own grounds for permitting, the occurrence of which could for the time being bring to naught all the calculations, not only of the ‘rational’ portion of mankind but also of the Church and of Christians, be these calculations never so well-grounded.  We do not know whether Hitlerism is not capable of such a miracle - there is much in its development hitherto which tends in this direction.  Perhaps the nations of Europe may be destined to resist this enemy in vain, and finally to have to live a life of dishonour under the rule of undisguised Lie, a life comparable to that of men and Christians in Germany to-day.”




Nevertheless all things point to the climax; and one certainty is, there are Christians who have never known, or have totally rejected, the Coming of our Lord who will be shocked into faith.  It happened in a past generation.  Near the end of his life Bishop Gore wrote a review in the International Review of Missions, in which he said that he had been accustomed to hold the view that the world would be gradually converted through the preaching of the gospel.  But recent events had caused a profound change in his outlook; large tracts of the world that had been Christian for centuries had become pagan, and the deliverance he looked for, instead of being gradual, would be apocalyptic, through the revelation of God’s Son from heaven.




An Anglo-Catholic Brother Edward thus writes to the Guardian (Feb. 17, 1940):-  May not a good deal of the bewilderment in men’s minds to-day be due to a mistaken idea of God’s purposes?  Have we studied them?  From whence comes this expectation of ‘a better world’, ‘a world won to Christ’, in this present age?  Is it not true that from Christ’s own lips we have a different expectation?  Verily humbly, and conscious that I am going contrary to much modern teaching, I would suggest that Christ’s charge to His Church was to bear witness to every nation; further, that He implied that the result of that witness would be that from every nation some would respond, but the majority would reject, and that the normal result of Christian witness would be persecution and martyrdom.  Apostasy, tribulation and the reign of Anti-christ – these were the expectations of the Apostles and of the Early Church.  Why should we be dismayed if we see these things beginning?  See that ye be not troubled’.  The purpose of the Church is seen to be, as the Body of Christ, to share Christ’s life of witness, suffering and translation; and of Israel, when restored, to gather in the nations.”




The problems connected with our Lord’s return become even more thrilling as the event draws nearer; and Mr. Lang, in his usual careful thinking, challenges the current view – an extraordinary example of ‘wishful thinking’ – that all believers, including the grossest backslider, will escape all coming judgments and at once ascend with Christ the throne of the world.  It is most difficult to understand how the grave warnings of our Lord and the Apostles, constantly repeated, could have been so ignored, and can still remain so unheeded.  The issue at stake is far graver than a mere divergence in exposition: it is the fearfully practical issue of our plunge into Great Tribulation, or our escape; the inconceivable glory of enthronement over the world, possibly only a few years hence, or a lost crown and throne.


Mr. Lang, although there will be differences of judgment on subordinate points, handles the main issue with grace and understanding, and leads us toward the highest.  LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN” (Rev 3: 11).


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1. A Jew should be able to explain why so many of the best Gentiles have chosen for their Saviour, their Messiah, their God, a despised, rejected, and crucified member of a race which the Gentiles themselves have oppressed and persecuted.  This is the most incredible and supernatural fact in the world.



2. A Jew should he able to explain, since his own ritual for the Day of Atonement says he has no mediator, where he expects to find one.  Would a just God have caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease, if He had not offered his chosen people His Perfect Sacrifice?  He did not so treat Abraham.



3.  A Jew should be able to explain what hope he can have of the forgiveness of his sins or of God’s acceptance of him, if as the Law demands, sacrifices are required.  (“It is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the soul - Leviticus, the 3rd Book of Moses, ch. 17: 2).  If he thinks that his own meritorious acts or the acts of other Israelites can justify him in the sight of God, how can he find an unblemished life, as the Law demands?



4.  A Jew should be able to explain the words of Jacob in Genesis 49: 10.  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the peoples be.”  Has not the sceptre passed from Judah?  Where is Shiloh?  Since it is 2,000 years since a law-giver departed from Judah, what Scriptural ground has any Jew for expecting another Messiah [before Jesus’ Second Advent]?



5.  A Jew should be able to explain why the Jews were driven from their promised land 2,000 years ago.  All through the Law and the Prophets it is repeatedly said, if they were driven out, that it would be because of sin.  See Deut. Chap. 4., Chap. 28: 30; Jer 11. and most of the book.  Daniel’s prayer repeats very clearly why the Jews were carried off to Babylon and why they were restored.  The Babylonian captivity was only seventy years long.  Must not something very serious have happened about 2,000 years ago, that the Jews have been dispersed so long?


6.  How can there ever again be the necessary historical setting for the Messiah to fulfil all Old Testament predictions?  Example - The form of capital punishment necessary to fulfil Psalm 22: 16, “They pierced my hands and feet,” is [now] obsolete.



7.  In Zechariah 12: 10 in the account of the final siege of Jerusalem and its deliverance from its enemies, we read, And they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for His first-born.”



8.  A Jew should be able to explain Psalm 110.  Jesus said: How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Spirit, “The lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’  David, therefore, himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son?” (Mark 12: 35-37).



9.  A Jew should be able to explain how any Jew, who spends his time in the pursuit of money and pleasure, can have any hope of salvation when the Law says, Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might” (Deut. 6: 5).  Making money one’s God is daily breaking the first two [greatest, and most important of God’s] Commandments.



10.  A Jew should be able to explain how Isaiah 53, which describes a perfectly holy and unblemished Person can possibly refer to a nation which confesses its extreme guilt in its own ritual every day of Atonement and in its sacred writings.



11.  A Jew should be able to explain why the Rabbis, in translating the Law and the Prophets into English, did not translate such a prophecy about the Messiah as Isaiah 9: 5.  Why did they, as their own advertisements said, avoid anything to appear in the translation contrary to the canons of the synagogue?  Is the synagogue greater than the Prophets?



12.  A Jew should be able to explain how by any mere accident so many prophecies in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms were unfulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth [at the time of His First Advent].



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It is unutterably wonderful to realize what we are quite likely to live to see - broken tombs;* and we are only too slow to realize that a select resurrection from the dead has already taken place, and exactly forestalls what is coming.  Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened” (Matt. 27: 51).  The moment the Veil split, the tombs were rent: the offered Sacrifice saves the dead, backward: I will ransom them from the power of the grave” (Hos. 13: 14), and instantly the ransom is paid, the power of the grave snaps.


[* Surely the tombs need not be broken!  For a body, like that of our Lord’s, will simply pass through the tombs!]



Judgment earthquakes are coming, and such have occurred all down history.  Frank Brangwyn, R.A., who visited Messina after the earthquake had plunged 76,000 Sicilians into sudden death in 1908, writes:- Messina appeared as if it had been shaken by the Last Trump.  Before the earthquake it had been one of the most iniquitous cities in Europe, and afterwards it continued to be so.  The amazing thing was that everyone seemed to be happy - cutting one another’s throats.  The place was brimful of ruffians, battening on disaster.  There were are-lamps in the main streets and murder in the shadows.”  It is deeply significant that a chief newspaper of Messina, Il Telefono, published in its Christmas issue a parody daring the Almighty to send an earthquake: three days after the earthquake came.



But the earthquake, at the Crucifixion reveals a portent much more wonderful.  Earthquakes can be the travail-pangs of that with which earth labours - the holy dead - are to be born afresh out of death; and it is immediately after the immense earthquake in the Sixth of Revelation that we find the countless multitude in the heavens.  So it has already happened.  The tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city.”  It happened only after our Lord, the First of the Firstfruits, had risen.  While the earthquake burst open the graves themselves, our Lord’s unlocking the Gates of Hades, as He came up, liberated the souls of the dead.  The graves were unlocked by the Crucifixion: the occupants were summoned up after the resurrection.



So now we see one of the most wonderful historical examples of what is foretold in prophecy as still to come to pass - a select resurrection from among the dead.  And many - not all saints: it was a select resurrection - bodies of saints - the only place in the Gospel where the disciples are called saints, because blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Rev. 20: 6); and so only on distinguished saints, distinguished for their saintliness, could the honour of rising immediately after the Son of God be conferred - that had fallen asleep were raised”.  It was a resurrection in which there not only were no wicked, but a resurrection in which there were not all the saints - the vaster multitude of saints were missing.  The words ‘after His resurrection’ belong to the whole sentence, not merely to ‘coming forth’” (Alford): for our Lord alone is the first-begotten from the dead’ (Rev. 1: 5).



Thus we learn, by a vivid example before our eyes, that Resurrection is graded: after Christ’s resurrection, these; after these, resurrections yet to come: for whilst the Incarnation ensures the ultimate resurrection of the whole of mankind, priority in blessing involves priority in rising from the dead.  Observe the extraordinary emphasis laid by the Holy Spirit on resurrection being physical.  Not, “saints that had fallen asleep were raised”, but, the bodies of saints that had fallen asleep were raised: no phantoms, no ghosts, no unsubstantial visitants from the spirit-world - such as Spiritualists have daily contact with, and are pressing upon us as if they were resurrections - but the bodies which had been laid in the tomb; the same bodies that had died, rose.  And note here a lovely fact.  Is anything more pathetically fragile than human beauty, or more frail and transient than human bodily vigour?  We are waiting for the full beauty and bloom that is imperishable: if men would only wait God’s time, and seek His gifts in God’s way, they would get at last all that the world holds dearest - wealth, glory, power, beauty, health.



So now we are able to see that prophecy is a mere continuation of what has already happened in history.  For coming forth out of the tombs they entered into the holy city - an exquisite forecast of the coming flight upward of the risen saints into the Holy City above: the veil of the Temple had just been rent, so admitting into the Holy of Holies - and appeared unto many- to whom our Lord, after His resurrection, had probably not appeared.  The evidential value of this is extraordinary.  Many human beings have already actually witnessed the first section of the First Resurrection: it is no longer merely a prophecy: what we are waiting for, and what may occur at any moment - the completion of later sections of resurrection - has already physically and actually (in part) occurred, and been seen by human witnesses.  And it is exceedingly characteristic of God’s action in these matters that we are wholly ignorant who personally these saints were; not one is named; their catalogue remains a secret in the Book of God - exactly as none can, until the actual event occurs, tell who first will now rise in rapture and resurrection.  Even Paul did not know it of himself. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended: if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3: 13).  But this actual experience, an historical fact, makes all difficulty to prophecy vanish.  Permitted to show themselves openly to those whom they loved and knew, their bodily contact not only proved our Lord’s resurrection and its enormous saving effects on both the living and the dead, but actually demonstrated the coming physical rising of the saints.  A cluster of firstfruits has already broken from the tombs.



Suddenly the curtain drops: no word is uttered of the next step in their history: they are simply gone.  To imagine that they died again would make this rising no true proof of our Lord’s resurrection; nor would it have been a true sample of the First Resurrection – incorruptibility - had they died afresh; nor, as a matter of fact, were their bodies ever found on earth as corpses, like that of Lazarus, when he died finally; nor is there any record of God having buried them, as He buried Moses.  Moreover all cases of mere resuscitation, the temporary suspension of death - and nothing else was ever known before our Lord’s resurrection - lived out (like Lazarus) their restored life on earth, and amongst men; and it is hardly conceivable - and there is no adequate purpose visible - that these died again when our Lord ascended, not many days after their resurrection.  Moreover, it was as saints they rose, in honour and glory - not as Lazarus, merely to show forth the power of Christ: they were Enochs, who was not, for God took him.”  So in some spot in the heavens from where Elijah came for the Transfiguration, thither doubtless these saints were rapt; and the very discussion of what became of them reminds us exactly of the search that was made for Elijah by the Sons of the Prophets (2 Kings 2: 27); and of Enoch, who was not found” (Heb. 11: 5), though sought for; and it is exactly the speculation which will again fill the world.  Augustine supposes they died again; Origen and Jerome, and the majority of the Early Fathers, believe that they ascended with Christ to glory.  As Dean Alford puts it:- Having appeared to many after His resurrection, -  possibly during the forty days, - they went up with Him into His glory.*


* This also solves a minor problem.  Our Lord’s resurrection and ascension were, in the Old Testament type, the solitary sheaf gathered even before the firstfruits, and carried into the Holy Place (Lev. 23: 10) the first of the firstfruits.  But a ‘sheaf’ is not a single grain, but a plurality of grains and stalks: so here.  And this solitary sheaf was offered to God seven sabbaths before the rest of the firstfruits (ver. 15) so the rapture of this sheaf, this group, was two thousand years before our later firstfruits and harvest.



The conclusion is overwhelming - the summons that we concentrate on our own preparation for the rending rocks.  We say, with Paul:- If by any means I may attain unto the out-resurrection from among the dead [See Greek text…] Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on” (Phil. 3: 11).  As Bishop Ellicott says:- If ‘by any means’: in this formula the idea of an attempt is conveyed, which may or may not be successful: [See Greek …] the resurrection from the dead; i.e., as the context suggests, the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 5).”  Distinguished saints were chosen, as examples of earth’s future kings, for the Transfiguration, which was a designed forecast of the [Millennial] Kingdom (Matt. 16: 28; 17: 1) - Elijah from among the living, and Moses from among the dead; and our Lord had already defined who will reign:- they that are accounted worthy to attain to that age, and the resurrection which is out of the dead[See Greek …] (Luke 20: 35).*


* The graves will not only be open but empty.  The present head of the “I Am” movement, a blasphemous cult which parodies the Rapture, claims that the founder, Guy Ballard, was rapt; but the undertaker says that he embalmed “the body of a good-sized man and that man was identified by the attending physician as Ballard.



Follow light, and do the right, for man can half control his doom,

Till you find the deathless angel seated in the vacant tomb.








Warfare and Controversy


1.  WARFARE.  The tragedy of Christians fighting one another deepens.  Forty-two per cent. of Germany’s Protestant pastors (who number about 17,000) have been mobilized for war; over fifty per cent. of the French Protestant pastors have been mobilized; and more than half the missionaries of these belligerents are also under arms.  Two of the French Protestant pastors, Henri Roser and Philippe Vernier, who are conscientious objectors, are in prison. Hundreds, if not thousands, of ministers of the Gospel may be bayoneting each other at any moment.



2. CONTROVERSY.  But, nearer home, there is another warfare to be avoided.  It is our daily prayer that Grace may control and permeate this magazine, and we would deeply value our readers’ co-operation in this prayer.  For the dangers of controversy - inevitable as controversy is - are acute for us all.  An apt illustration has just been sent us.  Accompanying a quotation from Rapture by the Editor of the DAWN, Dr. T. T. Shields, the chief Baptist minister of Toronto, makes this comment in his Gospel Witness (April 4, 1940):-  It is sheer, unmitigated rubbish.  We not only reject it, we repudiate it, and abhor it.  In our view, anyone who could write thus, and equally those who believe it, need the services of a psychiatrist.”* Paul, like our Lord, could use straight, strong words, expressive of passionate convictions; but, apart altogether from the subject under discussion, he rarely if ever uses language such as this of a fellow-believer.  Much less may we.  Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11: 1).


* Thus Govett, Pember, Seiss, John Wilkinson and Hudson Taylor - three of whom are the greatest students of prophecy the modern age has produced, and two are founders of two of the greatest Missions to Jew and Gentile share with our Lord (Mark 3: 21) and Paul (Acts 26: 24) the ascription of insanity, though in this case from a fellow-believer.  We stress the point in order to wake ourselves and our readers to our own peril: as lawlessness increases, it is certain to infect even the most unexpected sections of the Church of Christ. Happily, before us all lies a golden possibility:-He giveth more grace” (Jas. 4: 6).



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It seems certain that not until the Church is in the immediate neighbourhood of the removal of the Holy Spirit from the world shall we realize the enormousness of the fact of His personal presence now on earth; and that moment is drawing near.  We are so apt to assume, coolly and casually, all that His presence means, that only His withdrawal can make us realize what it is, and what that departure involves.  For He is about to leave the earth.  While always omnipresent as God throughout the universe, in the sense that He came at Pentecost - the sole representative of Deity personally in the world, fulfilling all the mighty purposes of God among men for two thousand years - in that same sense He departs, the work for which He descended being over; and it is only when the enormous vacuum is at the doors that we shall begin to realize that His departure necessarily cancels all the specific activity for which He came.






The actual descent of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” (1 Pet. 1: 12) is vividly described. Suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2: 2).  Our Lord had said,- If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16: 7): ten days after the Lord’s ascension, when the whole process of a satisfied Law had been accomplished, and our High Priest had taken the Blood into the Holy of Holies on high, the [Holy] Spirit descends to dwell with the Lord’s people, and to spread throughout the whole world the infinite blessings of the Gospel.  In the words of N. F. Douty:- Pentecost is absolutely unique, positively unparalleled in the Church’s experience, in respect of the Holy Spirit’s manner - appealing to the physical senses, appealing to ears and eyes.  I say this is absolutely unique.  It stands out alone and apart from all the rest of the Scriptures.”  But it is extraordinarily significant that Pentecost is linked, both in Joel and in Peter’s quotation of Joel, with the judgment terrors of the Day of the Lord - that is, with His coming absence.  I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2: 28).






Our Lord Himself carefully describes the world-wide work of the [Holy] Spirit: therefore we begin to realize at once what must happen when that work ceases.  To the Church He is the Paraclete, the Comforter in the place of Christ; and He does three main things.  (1) When he, the Spirit of truth, is come not before: therefore it ceases when He is re-called - he shall guide you into all the truth” (John 16: 13).  The truths of nature are only God’s surface thoughts, which can be mastered by a created intellect; but the far profounder designs of God are revealed through the Spirit for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2: 10).  The studied official falsehood of great nations to-day will give birth to something still graver: the Guide into all truth will be gone.  How unutterably solemn! how we ought, at this moment, to yield to the Spirit’s leading into any and every truth!  (2) He shall declare unto you the things that are to come.”  One of the great functions of the Holy Ghost on earth is to wake the Church, and to warn the world, on all that is coming: hence His departure will be a dense fog, a universal doubt, just before the dawn.  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60: 2).  (3) He shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and declare it unto you.”  The Spirit floodlights Christ, as our Lord walks among the Lampstands of the Churches: all the forces of the Incarnation are in the Church through the presence of the Spirit of God” (Gwilyn).  So again we see what will happen.  A seven-branched Lampstand, fed with the Oil of the Spirit, pictures the one, catholic Church (Zech. 4: 2): when the oil ceases, the lights go out: Church-standing is over when the Spirit departs, and the Church, as the Church, is no more on earth; and all spiritual comfort departs with the Comforter.






The Spirit’s activity in the world, as distinct from the Church, is summed up as the Gospel in brief.  He, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me- a damning fact peculiar to this dispensation; of righteousness, because I go to the Father - so proving God’s acceptance of an imputed righteousness offered to all; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged - and therefore a coming Hell is a fact.  The work on the world which will cease is conviction of sin, at this end; judgment, hopeless and final, at the other end; and in between a perfect righteousness offered to all.  The three thousand conversions on His arrival on earth were a sample, a forecast, of all revivals down the Christian ages, created wherever the Spirit moves.  This will cease. Behind all saving evangelism, all missionary activity, all vast spiritual movements is the Holy Ghost, the sole power of it all; and He will have gone.  The unutterably solemn consequence our Lord Himself states:- When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?” (Luke 18: 8).






So Paul presents the Holy Ghost as the barrier that blocks the fierce pressures of Hell.  For the mystery of lawless   ness doth already work- moral anarchy has threatened the world from Paul’s day; but there is ONE THAT RESTRAINETH* - the enormous activity of the Spirit in Church and world efficiently curbs Hell - “now - that is, only so long as the Spirit is on earth.  When the dam breaks, the flood bursts.  There can be no question at all as to who this Restrainer is: if one Person, and one alone, is to be described as the blocker of Hell, it can only be the Holy Ghost.  In the words of Bishop Ellicott:- All that mass of un-combined, and so to say, unorganized ‘lawlessness’, which, though at present seen only in detail, and not revealed in its true proportions, is even now aggregating and energizing, and will hereafter find its complete development and organization in the person and power of Antichrist.”  So long as the Holy Ghost is on earth, the appearance of Antichrist is impossible; and therefore Paul drops a most studied warning, which will be increasingly needed.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day - the Great Tribulation – shall not come except the man of sin be revealed”; and he can be revealed only when the Restrainer is gone – then shall that wicked one be revealed: all anticipation of the Tribulation before the Spirit's departure is an error.


* 2 Thess. 2: 7.  The old English word ‘let’, meaning a hindrance, we still have in the phrase “without let or hindrance”.  






The words Paul uses are peculiarly fitted to express the disappearance of Deity.  There is one that restraineth now, until he be- not rapt, nor, like the human Christ, ‘carried up’ into heaven (Luke 24: 51), but simply - until he become out of the midst”; [See Greek, ] that is, self-removed, gone; leaving the manner of the removal wholly undefined” (Ellicott).  And simultaneous with the Spirit’s departure from the earth is Satan’s descent on to the earth, where he remains the most powerful spirit for three and a half years, giving all his authority to the Antichrist.  The consequences are awful.  Then shall be revealed* the lawless one, even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”  The block hindering the avalanche is removed; and the return, later on, of the Holy Spirit in a fresh descent - when the seven Spirits of God are sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5: 6) - is not for grace, but for judgment.  The Two Witnesses, so charged with the Spirit as to be the two Olive trees, two Lampstands, use that power to smite the earth with every plague” (Rev. 11: 6).


* Before the disappearance of the Spirit, Antichrist is not known as Antichrist, nor is his true character fully revealed: on the other hand, if the Ten Kings first create his power (Rev. 17: 13) by putting their dominions under him, he must not only be a familiar public personage but must already be known as an exactly suited World Emperor.  But his ‘revelation’ comes later. “BE REVEALED: appears unveiled in all his naked deformity; no longer working secretly, but openly, and in an undisguised form; no longer the mystery, but the revelation, of lawlessness” (F. J. Gloag, D.D.).






But Paul reveals that there is another block to Hell which is yet to be removed, and which is expressed in a neuter not a masculine - not “one that restraineth”, but, “that which restraineth”; and as it is named before, in this passage, he refers to the Spirit at all, it cannot be merely the Spirit’s activity.  And now ye know - through what he has just said: they now realize what the restraint is – THAT WHICH RESTRAINETH, to the end that Antichrist may be revealed by its removal.  What then had Paul said?  We beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him” (ver 1). As the only conceivable solitary masculine - therefore a person - blocking evil is the Holy Spirit, so the only conceivable solitary neuter - therefore an institution or group of persons - blocking evil is the Church, or more exactly the body of sanctified saints.  The Hinderer and the Hindrance disappear together.*  Paul has described those whom he is addressing as the Restraint.  Ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost; so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth” (1 Thess. 1: 6).


* Paul is careful not to name the Church: for to do so would be to proclaim ‘the rapture of the Church’ - an expression which never occurs in Scripture.  The ‘hindrance’ which is purposely removed as such, closely resembles the ‘Hinderer’: unsanctified believers, notorious backsliders, so far from being restraints on iniquity. are one of the world’s most powerful stumbling-blocks.



One day Robert Murray McCheyne, while preparing his diary and memoirs, wrote:- Oh, God, help me to live so as to be missed.”










A Swedish friend of mine (writes Mr. J. N. Harris in the Daily Telegraph, May 22, 1940), one of the principal engineers of the Swedish Cellulose Co., said to a German that many Swedes thought the Germans wanted to make Hitler another Napoleon.  This annoyed the German, who said: “Napoleon? oh no!  Much greater than Napoleon.  Why, sir, I would like you and your countrymen to know that we are creating a great religion around Herr Hitler.”  Then,” said the Swede, “I suppose you want to make him another Christ?”  Instantly the whole manner of the German changed.  He jumped to his feet, his face all aglow with intense fervour, and said: “No, no; not Christ; but much greater than Christ.”



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(From pages 156-160 and 204.  Heb. 4: 6-9)



6. “Since therefore it remaineth that some should enter therein, and those to whom the good news were first proclaimed entered not in because of disobedience, He a second time defineth a day - saying by David - ‘Today’ - after so long a time, as has been before said – ‘To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’”



The rest of God, offered to Israel, was never enjoyed by them.  But the counsels of the Most High cannot be defeated.  He has determined that He will rest, when His redemption-work is over.  The expression My rest,” spoken of in the future, proves it.  And He will have companions in His joy.   He has decided, both positively and negatively, who of men shall partake with Him in this bliss.  Some believers He has excluded by oath. Some He has determined to admit, under His oath likewise (chap. 6.); of which more by- and - by.



The principle here is the same as in the parables of the Great Supper, and the Wedding Garment.  Those first invited would not come to the King’s feast.  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage” (Matt. 22: 8, 9).  The first invited were rejected through their disobedience; those who enter shall enter as the obedient men of faith.



God has now announced another day of invitation into the kingdom of the Christ and God.” [see Eph. 5: 5.]  His rest shall be glory” (Isa. 11: 10).  God will see to it, that His Son shall have companions in His millennial kingdom.  He defines this period of the call as, To-day.  To impress the present force of the invitation, the time is named TO-DAY.”  And to attract to it the more attention, and to show its present force, the word ‘TO-DAY’ is repeated, after some words of introduction have been thrown in.



David is the writer, so long after Moses and Joshua.  David though seated in the land of promise, and on the throne of Jehovah’s kingdom over Israel, does not say, that the long promised rest has come; although God had given him rest from enemies.  The great Warrior-King of Israel could say, four hundred and fifty years after Moses: We are strangers before Thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on earth are as a shadow, and there is no abiding” (1 Chron. 29: 15).  Thus, then, he tells us, that the door into the new Eden is open, and that his subjects and himself were still to seek an entry, by diligent listening to God, and self-distrust; since the admission to that reward was encompassed with the same difficulties, within and without, as at first; and administered by the same Jehovah, on the same principles, as in the day of Moses.  Israel then believed and obeyed at the Passover, and at the Red Sea; but, as it regarded their introduction to the land of rest, they failed.  It is so still with most Christians.  While they believe to the saving of the soul in Jesus as their Priest, they do not believe in Him as their Leader to the great prize, or give credence to the millennial kingdom to which He invites them.



He defineth a day.”



The “day” of the wilderness was “forty years”.  This new day has been greatly prolonged since David’s time; yet it shall have an end.  It is the day of God’s testing His people, whether they will believe His testimony to the coming glory, and obey Him, as the way to enter it.  Hear [and obey] His voice, and you shall enter.’  Harden your heart, and you shall be shut out.’



A period is now near, when the day of grace and invitation shall close.  It is called the end of the age”.  It is to be a day of visitation of vengeance, and of judgment, cutting off the foes of God and His Christ (Rom. 9: 28).  If the day of patience in the wilderness ended so sadly, this of the world’s sorer trial will end worse still.



It is still to-day”.



It is God’s part to define the times and seasons, and to close them when He wills.  Be it ours to labour on for God, looking for His glory as our reward.  The six thousand years of redemption-work are still running on. Tis the day of good news, of mercy still, and the throne of grace.  For the [regenerate] believer the world is still the desert; and the fight with the spiritual rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6.) still goes on.



David’s days, and Solomon’s, though they brought the glory of the kingdom, and rest from foes in the land of promise, were still not the rest of God.  God could not rest even in David; much less in Solomon, who turned to idolatry.  Nor did Israel rest in Jehovah.  Therefore it is still the time to instruct each one his fellow, saying: Know the Lord.”  It is still the time to exhort one another, not to give up the hope of the kingdom of Christ’s millennial glory, or the conflict through which we must pass in the way to it (Acts 14: 22).  But soon this day of peril and war shall merge into that day of the prophets, when the Righteous Judge shall assign the entry into His [coming] kingdom, and the crowns of reward to His faithful ones.



8. “For if Joshua had given them rest, He [God] would not have spoken of another day after these things.”



These words set aside an objection of great plausibility against the argument.  For it might be said by Israel: It is true, that the generation whom Moses led out perished in the desert, and never obtained the hope of their calling.  But the next generation were led in by Joshua, with God’s full tide of power on their behalf, and they rested in the land of promise; the land which we of this day enjoy.  It follows, therefore, that the call to diligence in order to enter the rest is over, and the rest has been long enjoyed.  Scripture itself speaks of that day as one of rest’ (Josh. 14: 15).



Now this is partly true.  Joshua’s partial clearing of the land by the sword, and settling the children of Israel in it in peace, was typical of the greater and complete repose one day to be.  It is said, too, that the land had rest from war.  But that [rest] falls every way short of the rest OF GOD, of which Paul [the Writer of Hebrews, i.e., the Holy Spirit] is speaking.  Israel gave God no rest, even when they had in triumph entered the land.  They fell away from Him to idols continually, and were again and again troubled by foes. But the coming day is when God shall rest in His people, and His people shall rest in Him.  Of Israel, says God, in that day:- The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty: He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3: 17; Isa. 14: 3; Jer. 1: 34).



But of Israel now, the Lord says: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and chased us out, [marg.] and they please not God, and are contrary to all men” (1 Thess. 2: 15).



If Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day after these things.”



Joshua’s was an attempt, under God’s hand, to see if there could be rest for (1) the fallen flesh under its best-form, (2) in the old and blighted creation.  But it could not be.  The Lord gave them rest round about according to all that He sware unto their fathers” (Josh. 21: 44).  But while they rejoiced in the gifts of Jehovah, they did not rejoice and rest in Jehovah.  Much less could Jehovah rest in them.  And here is the turning-point of the matter, for the coming rest is God’s [millennial] rest.



If, [argues Paul], as you pleaded, both God’s call and His rest are long past, there would be no new day of invitation to the rest, or of warning against loss of it, as now.’  But God is still inviting us to His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2: 12).  Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6: 33; Luke 12: 31).  Run for the prize of your calling!  The call from God is still uttered.  ‘“To-day - listen! Seek the rest of God!  Beware lest you lose it!’ are still the calls of the Lord Jesus.  But after these things - (1) the conflict, and (2) the reward - the wilderness and the rest, there will be no such day again to all eternity.  There will be no new trial of men for salvation, or perdition.  All will be fixed: the lost in their fire, the saved in the new world.



He would not have spoken of another day.”



That is, of another day of good news; of the listening to God’s invitation and obeying it - in order that you may enter the joy of God’s rest.  The days, both of redemption-labour, and of redemption-rest are limited [See Greek …]. The eternal day comes after the seventh-day rest of millennial glory.



9. “There remaineth therefore the keeping of

a sabbath-day’s rest for the people of God.”



Thus we have reached the close of the argument which began with the first verse of this chapter.  The objection was that both the time of God’s call, and of His rest, had long ago been completed.  It was admitted by Paul that this was true of the works of creation.  But the ninety-fifth psalm had spoken of a future rest of God, and had called all who heard the invitation to seek that coming day of glory.  To this it has been objected, that the rest of God had been enjoyed by the tribes of Israel, after their introduction into the land by Joshua.  To which it is replied, that, the day in which the call of the psalm was uttered, refutes that idea.  For David, near five hundred years after Joshua, speaks of his time as being the day of peril and of work, which must needs precede the day of repose and joy.  It is still to-day, when Christ is on high, calling us, at the end of these days, to be His companions in the reign of His glory.  Then God shall rest in His people, and His [obedient] people shall have rest both within and without.



The Apostle here changes the word for rest”.* He now uses the uncommon word sabbatism.  Why?  On purpose to knit his present argument with what is testified of God’s creation-rest in Genesis 2., and with the feasts of the Law.



The coming day of sabbath-keeping is a special form of rest, of which God hath from the first given the type. Thus Moses is again constituted a witness to us, in this Epistle.



The coming rest is to be:-



1. A sabbath day of holy convocation”.  The ransomed of the Lord shall assemble, His approved ones of past generations. They shall come together to keep the feast of resurrection. There shall no servile work then be done by these anointed priests and kings.  The Christ, the Creator, the better Joshua, the Redeemer, shall institute the feast, shall bless and hallow it: it shall be a time of rest after toil; when disturbers shall be imprisoned, and earth and heaven rest.



2. It shall be the seventh day, the great day of God’s appointing; and upon the same scale of length as the six previous redemption-days.



3. It shall be the day of God’s complacency in His works, both of creation and of redemption.  For after the work was complete we read: And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good (Gen. 1: 31).”  In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exod. 31: 17).



Therefore God shall, before the coming day of His rest, remove those works in which He cannot feel pleasure. Therefore, O [redeemed] people of God, provoke Him not now, in this day of trial in the wilderness.  For if He be grieved and angry with you, you will not then rest with Him.  The righteous, by faith, shall [then] live; but if he draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in Him” (Heb. 10: 38).  Paul himself therefore feared, lest he should, in reference to that reward, prove rejected (1 Cor. 9: 27).  Wherefore we are ambitious, that whether present or absent, we may he well-pleasing to Him” (Greek) (2 Cor. 5: 9; Heb. 11: 5, 6).



4.  God, and they who attain the kingdom, shall rest together, after working together.”  (1) Under the Law, rest was to be furnished for Jehovah by man.  He was bound over to work and to rest with his God.  (2) Under the Gospel, the Lord has bestowed on us a better rest of soul in justification, than Israel knew.  And on the footing of that we are to move onward to the complete [millennial] rest to come.  Man had no rest with God, in God’s creation-sabbath, which was broken.  But many will rest with Him in the unbroken Sabbath to come.










The Apostle prays for his converts:-The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the presence (in the air) of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5: 23).  This is progressive sanctification, a life-long process and growth, and in those cases where it is accomplished will win its possessors a share in the First Resurrection and the reigning with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.  If we endure we shall reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2: 12).


He is “able to guard us from stumbling and to set us before the presence of His glory without blemish in exceeding joy,” (Jude 24); and will also do it provided we are trusting and obeying, and feed continuously upon the Holy Scriptures, praying without ceasing.  As Bonar says, “Nothing but constant intercourse will carry on the soul”; or Rutherford, “Many want a cheap Christ, but the price will not come down.”  Few pay the price, and few will win the crowns and reign with Christ.


The teaching held by many and taught for nigh a century that if one be a child of God, a member of the Body, sin, worldliness, pleasure, and money-making, etc., will only entail “loss”, and that all Christians without exception will be “caught up” at the same moment when the Lord arrives in the air, has wrought immeasurable mischief, and violates as well as misapplies those Scriptures the Lord has mercifully given for the [regenerate] believers’ guidance, counsel, and warning.  Let us remember that the proof of our faith is more precious than gold, and shall be found unto praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1: 7).  We must be acquiescent to His will, and then be quiescent in His will. 





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Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord,

and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place” (2 Chron. 29: 5).



Shut doors (verse 7) - fitful attendance; extinguished lamps - worldly walk; un-offered incense - prayerlessness; abandoned sacrifices - a worship without joy or praise or thanksgiving.  In one church in the Indian revival one hundred and ten believers confessed to sins unknown except to God: among them was an orphanage matron who confessed to falsification of accounts, and restored hundreds of rupees; and nearly all acknowledged sins against the seventh Commandment.  A certain woman in that church had refused to obey God by confessing Christ; she was also said to have had a vision of our Lord, and disregarded it.  Then came the smitten conscience.  She writhed on the ground in agony, and her supplications for pardon were most pitiful: moving away through the congregation, she cried that she saw Hell opening after her, ready to engulf. But the discovery of the filth ended in its removal: with a boundless joy she realized the pardoning mercy of God, and in after days that woman was a burning light in the Temple of God.  Hear the solemn word of Christ:- Ye are “clean every whit”; nevertheless, “If I wash not [thy feet], thou hast no Part with me.”  Filth of [false] doctrine, filth of temper, filth of heart, filth of walk, - these choke the outrush of the waters from under the Temple’s threshold: but they can be carried forth.  Standing in view of eternity, I can unhesitatingly declare that neither in Great Britain nor in America has there been revival in any solitary church where the Higher Criticism reigns” (A. T. Pierson, D.D.).






Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people; for the thing was done suddenly” (29: 36).



One match exploded the gunpowder, but it was God who had laid the train: every revival is produced by the local arrival (as at Pentecost) of the [Holy] Spirit of God.  In an American revival a couple of centuries ago, Jonathan Edwards tells us that the mere naming of the Holy Spirit in certain districts of the Revival would overwhelm souls with transports of joy, even to unconsciousness.  An old-time preacher was once preaching on Christ, and he paused and said, The Lamb - bless His Name! - not the Lion, but the Lamb of God; and all the people burst into tears.  When the Wesleys and Whitfield, with some sixty brethren, were continuing instant in prayer, about three in the morning the power of God so came upon them that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.  Often,” says Whitfield, I have, seen these meetings overwhelmed with the Divine Presence.”  Says C. G. Finney:- This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of one who is highly charged with it.  Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power, when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God.  Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place, will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin, and in many instances converted to Christ.”






The posts - announcing the great awakening – passed from city to city; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them” (30: 10).  God’s arrival in power rouses the sharpest crisis with Hell: the wedge of life He drives in sharply sunders and divides.  A correspondent wrote in the Welsh Revival:- This is to me the saddest after-experience of those wonderful days of power and blessing.  Hundreds have been excommunicated, or told directly or indirectly they were not wanted, some because they were baptized, some because they started a Sunday school in a benighted neighbourhood without first securing the sanction of the minister and the local Church Union, some because in the society meetings they would give expression to the joy and delight they found in Christ Jesus.  Others have left because the minister preached against what had become divine realities to them since their eyes were opened, or were ‘New Theologians’; others because they found the atmosphere of the chapels intolerable.”  We do well to heed the solemn warning of Peter:- Beware lest that befall you, which is spoken in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish ; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, if one declare it unto you” (Acts 13: 41).  Nevertheless, doubters can become believers.  In the Japanese Revival, one night, in the College at Doshisha, the whole of the one hundred and fifty students did not sleep at all.  There were scores of anxious souls among them crying for mercy all over the college, and the consequence was that most of them were definitely brought out into the light, became real evangelists, went out and took the fire into neighbouring towns and villages.  When I first went to Japan in 1890,” a missionary writes,some of the brightest spots were towns that had been influenced by that revival in 1884.”






Nevertheless divers humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.  Also in Judah was the hand of God to give them one heart.  And the priests and Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves” (30: 11).  At a meeting of ministers in a revival zone, the Spirit of God suddenly wrought so great a conviction of their own absolute unworthiness, though that was not the subject under discussion, that all were bathed in tears; until, with the realization that their sufficiency was of God, their joy became boundless.  The Levites were ashamed.”  The consciousness of sin in the people of God, when God approaches, can become an agony.  Here is a case.  A man, who had been owned of God in the Welsh Revival, came forward suddenly to speak.  He at once broke down pitifully, confessing that God had told him to speak, and through cowardice he had disobeyed.  He rolled on the ground in agony, and cried that a fire, like the fire of hell, was burning at his heart.  For fifteen minutes the suspense to the agonized and groaning congregation was terrible: until, with a bound of joy, the man broke into praises to God for certain pardon, and his Hallelujahs could be heard far beyond the furthest limits of the meeting.  When the man was in that agony, we are told, all the people felt as if they were standing before the Great White Throne, and trembled with fear.  It is better to be thus humiliated now (if need be) than before the Angel Host, and the whole Church of the first-born, at the Judgment Seat of God.



5. JOY.



So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon, there was not the like in Jerusalem” (30:  26).  A visitor to the Indian Revival says:- I have noticed three stages in this Revival.  First the spirit of repentance, and along with it agonizing prayer - the carrying of the filth out of the Temple : “then their wailing turns into prayer, and the Lord opens their mouths, and they confess their sins to God and to each other” - casting the filth into the brook Kidron: then the Spirit of power comes on them, when there is laughter and joy unspeakable.”  Nothing short of such an awakening seems likely to fling back the advancing tides of horror;- nothing short of it seems likely to flood our gates once again with joy: but God abides; God can still visit earth with increasing power and glory; and it is our magnificent opportunity to beseech our God to visit once again a cleansed Temple, if we remove the filth from the Church of God.











Perilous times are upon us, and evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse: may it be mine to watch and pray always, that I may be counted worthy to escape all these things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man


                         - JOHN WILKINSON, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews.






For this is to be our divine model in still graver issues than a pre-Tribulation rapture of some or all or none.  Mr. Hugh Miller, writing in the Record (April 19, 1940), says of the Second Advent:-On the minds of what percentage of professing Christians does the possibility or even probability of such a happening actually occurring in their lifetime make a profoundly permanent impression?  From summing up opinions expressed by all sorts and conditions of men and women to a skilled investigator, would he be justified in putting the figure at more than one-half per cent?  Is it not more likely that one eighth per cent. would be too liberal a reckoning? It would appear so.”  How anyone, in view of these figures, can suppose that the Church as a whole is so “watching and praying” as “to escape all these things that shall come to pass” (Luke 21: 36) is, to us, a mystery.  Nevertheless, love and patience grant, even to deniers of any Advent, what God grants us all - liberty of judgment.  Divisions on non-fundamentals, which need never cleave asunder Christian fellowship, are inevitable: “there must be divisions among YOU, THAT THEY WHICH ARE APPROVED MAY BE MADE MANIFEST” (1 Cor. 11: 19).  No approval or disapproval really matters but that of the Judgment Seat of Christ.






Meanwhile the shock of to-day’s events unveils the Advent in unexpected quarters.  Christian Victory records one more unlikely discoverer of a near climax.  The former Editor of The American Mercury, H. L. Mencken,

a man not known as a Fundamentalist, declared:- “The silence of the theologians is one of the incredible phenomena of these dangerous days.  What I desire to point out is that the New Testament offers precise and elaborate specifications of the events preceding the inevitable end of the world, and that a fair reading of them must lead any rational man to conclude that the events are now upon us.”






Grace can re-kindle flames that seem completely dead.  Francis Newman, the brother of the Cardinal, who, though in his early manhood among the Brethren, became for the rest of his life an open apostate, on his deathbed declared that once more Christ was everything to him.  From a daughter-in-law of Canon Mozley Mr. G. H. Lang learned that her husband, returning from Newman’s funeral, told her that it had been stated over his grave, by his request, that he died trusting for salvation to the precious blood of Christ.  Mr. Lang’s comment is just (Anthony Norris Groves, p. 266):- “The most pronounced, prolonged repudiation of the Faith, and public opposition thereto, is no sufficient proof that the opposer never was a true believer.  This bears directly upon the right application of those passages of the New Testament which deal with the backsliding, moral and intellectual, of persons treated in these passages as believers.”






I know not now why doubts and cares

Should dim my faith by haunting fears;

I know not why when needing rest

My heart remains still sore opprest;

I know not now when seeking aid

The answer is so long delay’d;

I know not now why burning tears

My heart should harass through the years.



I know not now why life should be

A school of discipline for me;

I know not now why grief and pain

Should check one’s course and should remain:

I know not now why sore distress

The heart should fill with weariness;

I know not now why He should show

On me such marvellous grace below:

All this some day I’ll understand

When I have reach’d the Better Land.









Faith to go forward in the dark,

Faith, Lord Jesus, to embark

Once more on life’s wild, troubled sea,

In the nidst of earth’s calamity.



Faith to know that Thou dost still

Look down in mercy; at Thy will

Outstretched Thine arms, and fill’d with love,

Ready the hearts of men to move.



Faith to ‘press on* with Thee our Guide,

For Thou art with us by our side;

Thou seest, what we cannot see;

By faith we follow only Thee.

* Phil. 3: 3: 14, R.V.


Faith to look above earth’s night,

Away from lawlessness and man’s might,

Away from struggle, sadness, war,

To Thee, the Bright, the Morning Star.









The Lord is coming!  The Word testifies it; the Spirit has spoken it; holy men have written it; the Church has been looking for it; the Saints to-day are longing for it; the redeemed in glory wait for it; the Devil and all the evil spirits know it to be a fact, that Jesus is coming again [to rule this earth in righteousness and peace*].  Only the Churches do not seem to know it.


[*Isa. 9: 6, 7: Rev. 15: 4.]

                                                                                                                             - A. ERDMAN.






What Charles Wesley foresaw is now patently nearer.  A preacher on the National Day of Fasting in February, 1756, said:-One disappointment and defeat has succeeded upon another.  Our enemies have scarce failed of success in any of their schemes.  Perhaps there was never a period in which not only Great Britain, but even Europe itself, were in more imminent danger.”  The conditions were such that Charles Wesley believed they betokened the coming of the Lord, and he wrote a hymn “On the Expected Invasion.”  Believing this to be a sign of the distress of nations.  One verse ran:-



Come, thou Conqueror of the nations,

Now on Thy White Horse appear:

Earthquakes, deaths, and desolations

Signify Thy kingdom near:

True and faithful,

’Stablish Thy dominion here.






It is painful to note how un-shocked earthquake sufferers can be.  Thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down” (Mal. 1: 4).  Some years ago a citizen in St. Pierre, in Martinique, built a large storehouse composed of iron and stone, boasting that he had built it forever.  The eruption came, and an eye-witness says – “A few crumbling walls remain; while the foundation, one solid sheet of iron, is lifted and doubled in two over the iron gates.”  Christian workers in San Francisco stated that after the fearful earthquake, and the rebuilding of the city, they found hearts far harder to reach than before.  Letters reached Paris from Martinique written on the eve of the great eruption.  My own calmness,” wrote one who never wrote again, “astonishes me.  We are all calm.  Edith alone is frightened.  If death waits us, there will be a numerous company to leave the world.”






London by again be rebuilt; but the gravity of the modern age is the coming of Divine destruction.  There was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty; AND THE CITIES OF THE NATIONS FELL” (Rev. 16: 18)., - which, presumably, must include the great capitals of the world.  Yet it is most blessed to know that to-day’s earth-shocks can shock souls into the arms of the Saviour.  In the Chilian earthquake of 1939, a woman of strong Christian faith, wrongfully accused by her husband of an illegal act, was imprisoned in the city of Chillan, in the women’s jail controlled by nuns.  Her good behaviour and cheerfulness astounded them.  Two became deeply interested in their unusual prisoner and asked her to tell them the secret of her happiness.  She began to open up to them the glories of the Gospel of John.  Then, on January 24, 11.30 pm., came the earthquake.  The entire jail was demolished except the little corner in which these three women were discussing the Gospel.  All the nuns and women prisoners were killed in the jail except these three women.  The two nuns were so impressed with the marvellous manner of their escape that they attributed their deliverance to the presence of their godly prisoner.  At the last account, these nuns were earnestly studying the Holy Scriptures which had made their prisoner to rejoice.  Now she was free.  Yet further evidence of God’s hand was seen.  The authorities had sent a pardon for her which came too late to be released that night.






A recent writer expresses a real comfort for souls perplexed over the world situation.  Once I decided that I could not believe in the goodness of God in the presence of the world’s evil; and then I discovered that I had run headlong into another and even more difficult problem: What do you do about all the world’s goodness on the basis of no God?  All the victories of good over evil how can we, thinking of these on the basis of no God, explain them as the casual, accidental, by-products of physical forces going it blind?  I think it cannot be done.  The mystery of evil is very great upon the basis of a good God, but the mystery of goodness is impossible upon the basis of no God.”






Antinomianism – the refusal of all law as now associated with Christ – is characteristic of an anaemic Church.  Dr. R. J. Campbell totally denies War as judgment.  That the war, with all its slaughter and misery,” he says, “is a judgment of God upon the nations for their wickedness and disregard of His laws are false, and if meant literally is almost blasphemous.”  So our Lord’s descent, for the most awful war of all, yet to be, is regarded as impossible.  Any kind of literal ‘coming on the clouds of heaven,” writes Professor J. A. Findlay (British Weekly, Sept. 29, 1938), “by which a kind of submission might conceivably be forced from a reluctant world, would involve an appeal to naked force utterly out of keeping with all that we know of Jesus of Nazareth.  The fact that so many thoughtful Christians are hesitant about the doctrine of the Second Coming is not due to innate unbelief, but to the conviction that they would be denying all that they had learned about God and Jesus either in the Gospels or in experience.”  Vast multitudes will soon have cause to cry:-Hide us from THE WRATH OF THE LAMB!” (Rev. 6: 16).








The Advent holds the master-key to the world problem.  Mr. F. Baily, the secretary of the Guild of Prayer for the Return of our Lord, writes (Guardian, June 21st, 1940): “Those who do possess this hope of divine intervention are the only happy people in the world to-day, because they see beyond its immediate turmoil the glory of the [Millennial] Kingdom we may expect Christ so soon to set up.  For, assuming that victory has been achieved, how is a bankrupt, famine-stricken, diseased European continent to be reconstructed (coming so soon after another major war) unless some manifested divine power is available?”






If we obey Christ and please Him in this present age, we shall receive the Age to Come.  He will raise us from the dead, and we shall live and reign with Him.  The saints shall judge the world.


- POLYCARP, early in the second century.



He drew a circle, that shut me out,

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout:

But Love and I had the wit to win;

He drew a circle that took me in.