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servants and disciples of Christ, to instruct them in the way of righteousness and in the knowledge of God.
As the seven churches were comprehensive of all the churches, so each of the churches would comprehend and refer to more than the individual members of said church; so too, the angels of the churches would include more than one individual in each church, - rather all the persons who should be placed over the church to feed the flock of God, as Paul spake to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:28) saying, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." This body of men that the Holy Spirit had made overseers of the different churches throughout the world in the apostles' days are what in these letters to the churches are called angels. Now the names angel and angels in the Scriptures are applied to mortal, as well as to immortal men; the antediluvian sons of God are called “the angels that sinned." It is to these presiding officers in the churches that the seven letters to the churches are addressed, for it was their duty to correct errors and any evil practices that might arise in the Aock, to strengthen the weak, encourage the faithful, and warn the evil-doers.
What the Spirit saith to the churches as contained in these seven letters consisting of warnings and admonitions to evil-doers, encouragement to the weak, and the exceeding great and precious promises to them that overcame, and the special warning that he would suddenly come as a thief to the unprepared, as we have already proved, are to be regarded in a twofold sense; that is, as applying first to the churches as they existed in John's day, and secondly and especially to them as they will again exist in the latter days at the judgment, and at the time when Christ will actually come.
TWOFOLD APPLICATION OF PROPHECY Now these seven letters are from Jesus Christ after he had ascended into heaven to sit down on the right hand of God, but we will now show from his teaching and doctrine in the days of his flesh, before he was glorified, that the same features obtain that we have pointed out in the above statement. When Jesus was drawing near the end of his ministry, as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “ Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world? Now when it is understood that that world has two ends, her first end, and afterwards, her last end (the first end being when Titus destroyed Judah, the Temple, and Jerusalem, and the second and last end which is yet to be, in the distant future, by the hand of the Assyrian), the matter is then simplified.
The law was given in two parts. The Book of Deuteronomy contains what is called “the second law," and it is under this second law that the whole house of Israel, the twelve tribes, will be marshalled and have their second manifestation in the future, and although the children of Israel pass through two periods of existence as a nation, which are separated from each other by that long, long period of dispersion now current, which has already run for about twenty-six centuries with the house of Israel, and about eighteen centuries with the house of Judah, -- yet they are always spoken of as one people
and one nation, and their long dispersion, while they are politically dead and buried among the nations, is, as it were, struck out of their history as though it had never been, and the two ages of that nation brought together. For Israel from the day they came up out of the land of Egypt and were organized as a nation and a kingdom under the law, called "a world," the foundations of which were laid in the law at Mount Sinai whose heavens consisted of the priesthood and rulers that God placed in these heavens to enlighten the people, the earth consisting of the people of Israel upon whom these luminaries were ordained to shine; I say this nation from the day they came out of the land of Egypt, down to the time when this system of heavens and earth shall pass away, and when the law shall be fulfilled and be no more, is as a nation, regarded and spoken of as a man who has his youth and his old age, as the Lord speaks of them, saying (Jer. 2:2), “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem saying, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” Again, the Lord says to Israel by the hand of Isaiah (46: 3-4), “ And even
age, I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you. I have made and I will bear, and even I will carry, and will deliver you.” This the Lord says to the remnant of Israel. And again he says to the rebellious house (Hos. 7:9), “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not."
These Scriptures show that Israel has his youth in his former days, and his old age in the latter days, and therefore Moses also speaks to the people of Israel in his day, and through them to their descendants who should live in the latter days, even as though they were then born and standing before him and in his presence at the time he was speaking to his people in the land of Moab. This is also the manner of the prophets, and Jesus follows the same example, as we shall show in his discourse as recorded by Matthew (24) in reply to the questions that the apostles asked him touching the end of the world, saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you, for many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many; and ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows; then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another, and many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many, and because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold, but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come.
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place (that is, in the temple) (whoso readeth let him understand) then let them which be in Judea Alee unto the mountains; let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house, neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes, and woe to them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days. But pray ye that your fight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day, for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Now these words of the Lord Jesus furnish a perfect illustration of the principle of interpretation that we have been endeavoring to show; namely, that Moses and the prophets and Christ and his apostles spake not only to the people who lived in their own times, but also to the people that should live in a much later period in the latter days, as though they were present. More than eighteen centuries have lapsed since Jesus spake these words and that sign has not yet been manifested, nor can it possibly be for many centuries to come; therefore these warnings of the Son of man apply to people of the house of Israel not yet born for their complete fulfillment.
REMOTENESS OF CHRIST'S COMING And how is it possible that people with ordinary intelligence and reason can be deceived by those who advocate the nearness of Christ's coming in these times? Is there anything in the land of Judah, and in the city of Jerusalem, and in the Temple at Jerusalem in these days, to answer to the words of Christ? Where is the Temple in which the idol can be set up, and in which the man of sin (the rebellious king of Israel) sits, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God? The answer is, the Temple of God in which these things will be seen at present has no existence.
Again Jesus cautions his disciples and the churches in Judea when these signs appear, saying, “ Then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains." Who, we ask, is there of Christ's brethren in the land of Judah in these days to act upon such advice and upon such a warning as this? We answer, There
Again, who is there in that land now to pray that their fight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day, to escape the great tribulations such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be? The answer again is, There is none. Therefore they who teach that Christ's coming may transpire now at any time are deceivers without a single exception. They may have a zeal of God, but it is not according to knowledge. Once more we call attention to the words of Jesus (Matt. 24: 44-51) where
Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season ? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing, verily I say unto you that he shall make him ruler over all his goods."
These words of the Lord Jesus unmistakably contemplate the appointment of men over his household who shall occupy that position at the time of his coming in the latter days, that is, men like the apostles and like Paul and Timothy, Titus, Mark, Luke, Barnabas and others who were ordained and placed over the churches to feed the flock of God and to take the oversight thereof, and who are called "the angels of the churches," men inspired of God and qualified of God by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These words of Christ
contemplate the preaching again of the Gospel, as was done before by men sent of God who shall run to and fro, as it is written of them (Dan. 12:4; 11:32-35). They will establish churches and increase the knowledge of God among the people, and the words of Christ apply especially to these teachers and these churches who will flourish at the time of his coming to reign on the earth, when all his saints come with him.
The time of trouble, the great tribulation spoken of by Jesus (Matt. 24:21), and by Daniel (12:1), by Ezekiel (5:9), and by Jeremiah (30:6-7), is spoken of again by Jesus in his letters to the churches (Rev. 3: 10) saying, " Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour (the period) of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Daniel also testifies of these times, saying, “And they that understand among the people shall instruct many, yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil many days (Dan. 11:33); and again (verse 35), “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge and to make them white, even to the time of the end, because it is for a time appointed." This time of trouble and persecution will continue for a period of three years and a half upon the saints of God, and will exceed in severity all other times of persecution. This terrible time is yet future.
As regards the faithful and wise servants of whom Jesus speaks, whom their Lord hath made rulers of his household in that day, who will be appointed and sent of God to give meat in due season to his household, — there are many even in these days of error who claim to be apostles and ambassadors of Christ, sent of God, but says Jesus, “ Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Jesus said in his letter to the church at Ephesus, to their credit, “ Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars.” Now the world abounds with liars of the same description in these days, but a person who is properly instructed in the true gospel, and the true hope that is set before us, can detect and expose the false pretenders and deceivers, who profess that they know God, but in works deny him.
But in the latter days of Israel the Scriptures show that the Lord will again raise up and qualify men in Israel to run to and fro, and increase and revive again the truth in the earth, which will be done under the supervision of Elias the prophet of whom John the Baptist was a representative. For when Jesus Christ came in the flesh, he was preceded by a man in the flesh, a mortal man, to prepare the way for him and to make his paths straight; but when he comes again as an immortal man to execute the judgments written and to reign on the earth, his forerunner will likewise be an immortal man, Elijah the prophet, who will come as it is written of him by the prophet, saying, “ Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
But as Elijah was translated from mortality to immortality, and glorified, he will not appear among mortal men as did John the Baptist, but on the contrary will be able to appear to certain ones after the manner of Gabriel, who was sent to Zacharias to instruct him in what he should do, and afterwards to Mary the mother of Jesus, to further instruct her in the great things that the Lord was about to do, and who before appeared to Daniel in vision to instruct him concerning things to come; and also as the angel that appeared to the parents of Samson, who, after informing them of their duties regarding the child Samson that should be born to them, wrought wondrously and ascended up in the flame of the sacrifice; moreover as did the angel that appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who showed them the great things of God's covenant and taught them what they should do and how they should walk before God and be perfect, that God might bring upon them and their seed after them the things that he had promised. Jacob speaks of this angel in his blessing upon the two sons of Joseph saying, " The angel which fed me all my life long, and redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." Again as the angel clothed in linen (which proves him to have been one of Adam's race) appeared to Daniel (10:4-6) in glory, and as Jesus appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, so may Elijah who appeared to Jesus on the Mount appear also to those whom he may employ in the great work of preparing a people for the Lord, in developing in them the spirit of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lest when the Lord comes to judge his people, he should smite them with a curse and leave